JOURNYS Issue 5.1

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Journal of Youths in Science


Our Genes, Our Choices, Our Destiny SHEDDING LIGHT ON:




AURORAS art by grace chen


The Journal of Youths in Science (JOURNYS) is the new name of the student-run publication Falconium. It is a burgeoning community of students worldwide, connected through the writing, editing, design, and distribution of a journal that demonstrates the passion and innovation within each one of us.


Torrey Pines High School, San Diego CA Mt. Carmel High School, San Diego CA Scripps Ranch High School, San Diego CA Westview High School, San Diego CA Del Norte High School, San Diego CA Cathedral Catholic High School, San Diego CA Beverly Hills High School, Beverly Hills CA Alhambra High School, Alhambra CA Walnut High School, Walnut CA Lynbrook High School, San Jose CA Palo Alto High School, Palo Alto CA Mills High School, Millbrae CA Lakeside High School, Evans GA Blue Valley Northwest, Overland Park KS Olathe East High School, Olathe KS Delhi Public School, New Delhi, India

All submissions are accepted at Articles should satisfy one of the following categories: Review: A review is a balanced, informative analysis of a current issue in science that also incorporates the author’s insights. It discusses research, concepts, media, policy, or events of a scientific nature. Word count: 750-2000 Original research: This is a documentation of an experiment or survey that you did yourself. You are encouraged to bring in relevant outside knowledge as long as you clearly state your sources. Word count: 1000-2500 Op-Ed: An op-ed is a persuasive article or a statement of opinion. All op-ed articles make one or more claims and support them with evidence. Word count: 750-1500 DIY: A DIY piece introduces a scientific project or procedure that readers can conduct themselves. It should contain clear, thorough instructions accompanied by diagrams and pictures if necessary. Word count: 500-1000 For more information about our submission guidelines, please see


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Contact us if you are interested in becoming a new member or starting a chapter, or if you have any questions or comments. Website: Email: Mailing: Torrey Pines High School Journal of Youths in Science Attn: Brinn Belyea 3710 Del Mar Heights Road San Diego, CA 92130


FALL 2012

Volume 5 Issue 1

CHEMISTRY 4 Gifts of Nature: Auroras |HARSHITA NADIMPALLI 5 The Chemistry of Love | GHA YOUNG LEE 7 Omniphobic Substances | MATTHEW PADDOCK 8 Biosynthesis of Chromogranin A| SUMANA MAHATA 10 Ionic Liquid | OLIVER A. QUINTERO



Tethered Cord


BIOLOGY Tethered Spinal Cord Syndrome | BHAVANI BINDIGANAVILE 14 Our Genes, Our Choices, Our Destiny|MELODYANNE CHENG 16 Shedding Light on Bioluminescence | JOY LI 18 People in Science: Dr. Shu Chien | ERIC CHEN 20

PHYSICS & ASTRONOMY 21 Life on Mars|AHMAD ABBASI 22 Nuclear Fusion|TYLER JOHNSON 23 Roller Coaster Desgin|FABIAN BOEMER 25 A Heavenly Abode|SIDDHARTH TRIPATHY 28 Space-Based Missile Defenses|ERIC CHEN


BEHAVIOR & PSYCHOLOGY Danger of the Color Red | DANIELLA PARK 29 The Last Minute| KONRAD KERN 30 31 OPINION EDITORIALS 31 The Crucial Role of Government in Scientific Endeavors|NEAL NATHAN FALL 2012 | JOURNYS | 3

Gifts of Nature:


Only the luckiest of people have gotten a chance to see nature’s gift to mankind that is the auroras. The name ‘aurora’ can be traced back to the Roman goddess of dawn, Aurora, and many other legends of civilizations in ancient history when the science behind the auroras was not fully understood [1]. To name just a few, the Aborigines thought that auroras were the dances of the gods, the Sámi natives of Scandinavia thought that the auroras had the power to resolve conflicts, and the Algonquin native American tribes saw auroras as a reminder from their creator god, Nanahbozho, telling them that he did not forget about them. Numerous other tales of early civilizations made attempts to explain these mysterious lights that were visible in the night sky. Now, the mystery behind these phenomenons can be fully understood. The auroras are beautiful curtain-like light displays that look as if they are being projected into the sky with a three dimensional effect. Unlike the technology we use today to create aesthetic pleasure, however, auroras are one hundred percent natural. So now several questions can be posed pertaining to this phenomenon: what really causes the sky to light up in different colors, what determines the auroras’ brilliant color display, how do the auroras affect the environment, and how can someone view this spectacle? There are two kinds of auroras: aurora borealis (Northern Lights) and aurora australis, (Southern Lights), which occur in the Arctic and Antarctic regions respectively. There are two concepts of science that can explain how these auroras form. First, there is the science behind the outer level of interaction between the KRISTINE PAIK/GRAPHIC Sun and Earth particles. Both types of auroras are caused by collisions between energized gas particles from the Earth’s atmosphere, and charged particles, mostly composed of electrons and protons, released by the Sun [3]. The charged particles are carried to the Earth from the Sun through a solar wind, which is a stream of charged particles ejected by the sun’s magnetic field at an extremely high speed. As the solar wind nears the Earth, it is obstructed by the magnetic field, so the wind splits in half and travels towards the poles. After entering the Earth’s atmosphere at the polar regions, the solar wind’s charged particles interact with the gas particles in the Earth’s atmosphere [2]. Second, there is a science behind the primary level of interaction, which occurs within the atoms themselves. When the charged particles from the sun collide with the gas particles from the Earth’s atmosphere, the electrons in the gas particles get very excited as their energy increases. This is because some of the energy from the particles, which are in motion, transfers to the electrons during the collision [4]. As these electrons return to their original energy levels after they lose the energy they gained, they emit visible light, which in turn joins the light emissions of other electrons and combines to form the auroras. Since the auroras are a result of the particles carried to Earth by the solar wind, it is actually a possibility that other planets in our solar system have auroras; this would depend on whether or not they lay in the path of the solar wind and have dense enough atmospheres with gas particles that could 4 | JOURNYS | FALL 2012

Written by Harshita Nadimpalli Edited by Daniella Park, Reviewed by Dr. Jim Kadonaga

react with the charged particles from the Sun. In fact, NASA has picked up activity on Saturn and Jupiter that is very likely a form of aurora [2]. The auroras put on a light show with numerous colors, the most commonly seen being a pale yellow-green. Auroras can be a single color, or have a multitude of colors like green, red, blue, or purple, depending on the collisions of the particles and the altitude at which they collide. The difference in colors is explained by the fact that different gas particles emit different colors of light when they are in the excited state [5]. Green and red light is caused when the sun’s particles collide with oxygen atoms. However, green light is formed up to 150 miles in altitude, whereas red light is formed above that. On the other hand, blue and purple light is formed when the sun’s particles collide with nitrogen atoms; blue light is formed up to 60 miles in altitude, while purple light is formed above that [6]. In addition, the bottom edge of an aurora is usually around 60 miles high, and as the intensity of an aurora increases, its distance from the ground decreases (so a very intense aurora might be as low as 50 miles) [3]. Not much research has been conducted regarding whether the auroras have long-term effects on the environment or not, but it is generally known that the auroras mostly affect the higher altitudes in which they take place and/or the ground directly below where they occur. Although some ionization of the areas directly below the aurora can interfere with radio waves, the effects of auroras are mostly limited to convective currents between the magnetosphere and ionosphere, near or inside the aurora. Sometimes the changes in temperature can also cause stronger winds [3]. Other than that, auroras provide a brilliant display in the skies without disturbance. For the readers who are already planning vacations to the colder regions of the Earth to see auroras, here are a few tips. Aurora activity tends to be higher and more evident when the solar winds are higher (since the solar winds carry the charged particles necessary for the auroras to occur); although there is always at least a faint trace of aurora activity some place on the Earth. In addition, trips should be planned to destinations such as Alaska, Canada, Siberia, Greenland, and Scandinavia during the winter season, because aurora sightings are more likely in these locations [7]. Once there, one should look for the aurora in a clear, dark sky, which can be anytime throughout the day; however, the best time to spot an aurora display is around midnight, when it is completely dark [1]. Pictures of auroras are great, but seeing one in person is a breathtaking and unforgettable experience. 1. “Northern Lights.” 2. “Auroras.” 3. “Frequently Asked Questions about Aurora and Answers.” FAQ/ (2012). 4. “Two Ways to Excite Electrons Into High Energy States.” info_8508063_2-electrons-high-energy-states.html (2011). 5. “Colored by the Atmosphere.” (2003). 6. “How Does the Aurora Borealis (the Northern Lights) Work?” (2000). 7. “Auroras: Paintings in the Sky.” (2001).



Edited by Joy Li, Reviewed by Dr. Gang Chen & Dr. Hari Khatuya

Teens now have a new interest they were oblivious to before: love. The word itself is banal—unoriginal— for people are constantly exposed to it every day in different forms of media. For example, Chad Swiatowicz from University of Florida showed in his master’s thesis that the percentage of modern era songs devoted to love is roughly rounded to 60% [1]. As shown, love is an aspect often so celebrated that its power is underestimated. No other topics manage to be the main inspiration of so many human expressions such as music, painting, literature, and movies. What makes love so dominant in human culture? What exactly is this concept people symbolize with the word “love”? Humans may have difficulty defining love, but science does not. After all, science is “the business of determining the hidden essences of things” [2]. Try to see love as science sees it—with adrenaline, dopamine, oxytocin, and other hormones which will be discussed throughout the passage. Helen Fisher of Rutgers University claims that “there are three main stages of love – lust, Attraction, and attachment” [3]. Lust is initially caused by instinctive sex hormones, testosterone and estrogen, which are found in both genders. Then, the Attraction between two people takes place. Attraction is a convoluted hormone relationship controlled by the brain. The brain structures can be classified into various systems. One system, named the limbic system and located in the central part of the brain, is responsible for the manipulation of emotions, and thus is the source of love. This was discovered when researchers figured out how to make voles fall in love. By injecting the voles with hormones and stimulating their brains, the researchers could make them have a preferred partner. In addition, by blocking the hormones, “[the] voles’ sex [became] … a fleeting affair, like that [of] their rakish montane cousins” [4]. In other words, researchers were able to create love with hormonal stimulations. When they discovered the general source of love, they wanted to analyze it deeper by studying the relationship between love and hormones in greater detail.

In the Attraction stage of love, dopamine, phenyl ethylamine, adrenaline, and serotonin are released. Dopamine is a significant neurotransmitter that transfers neural signals and stimulates neurons. It is what makes people feel pleasure and is released when one becomes fond of someone else, or in colloquial terms, when one “has a crush on” someone. As dopamine is released, it binds to its matching presynaptic receptors, which results in a momentary state of happiness. Fisher’s studies show that dopamine is responsible for “increased energy, less need for sleep or food, focused attention and exquisite delight in smallest details of this novel relationship” [3]. Then enters phenyl ethylamine, which is not only a biological stimulant responsible for excitement, but also the source of affection. Phenyl ethylamine is what gives people energy to talk to or think about their lovers all day and/or night long. Phenyl ethylamine is naturally found in chocolate, which is presumably why chocolate is such a popular gift for Valentine’s Day. People hypothesize that the tradition is created because humans instinctively know chocolate will make their partners be more loving and energetic. As phenyl ethylamine creates the love and energy, an adrenaline rush is added to spice the effect. For example, when one becomes conscious of the person of interest, adrenaline is responsible for an increase in heart rate, nervousness, contractions of muscles, and dry mouth. Adrenaline, often known as epinephrine, is released by the adrenal medulla. It orders cells to break down and diffuse extra glucose into the bloodstream when it binds to its corresponding adrenergic receptors. This type of adrenaline rush tends to recur. The recurring is caused by another neural chemical named serotonin. Serotonin controls nerve impulses. When one is “in love”, serotonin continuously targets more than 500,000 neurons in the hypothalamus, stimulating the release of adrenaline. This effect makes one keep on thinking about the person of interest. Inversely, Fisher’s further studies show that low serotonin, by providing more space to fantasize about matters other than the excitement itself, is responsible for romantic FALL 2012 | JOURNYS | 5

love. Similar to the effects of high serotonin and adrenaline is the effect of endorphin, which makes people oblivious to pain and more receptive to pleasure. Endorphin is a naturally made painkiller, which works by interrupting sensory signals normally sent to the brain. When endorphin, as well as serotonin, adrenaline, endorphin, phenyl ethylamine, and dopamine, are fully in action, the Attraction stage of love is activated. The mix of chemicals defines the nervous, exciting, yet pleasurable characteristics of love that humans have always struggled to depict. The next stage is the Attachment. Chances are, one has chanted K-I-S-S-I-N-G in some point of his or her life as a child. “First comes love, then comes marriage, then comes a baby in a baby carriage” is a famous chant playfully sung by young children. To a scientist, however, it is a humorous interpretation of the release of oxytocin and vasopressin. Oxytocin is a type of hormone that increases one’s chances of getting married, similar to vasopressin. Vasopressin normally controls thirst, but is sometimes used as a long-term love stimulant. Both vasopressin and oxytocin are released as Attraction transitions into Attachment, a long-term bonding of couples which results in marriage and offspring. The two hormones may aid the transition by interfering with the pathways of dopamine and adrenaline, one of the major Attraction hormones. In Attachment, oxytocin instinctively makes one want a child to continue the life cycle and preserve his or her DNA. Oxytocin may seem out of place since it is normally responsible for sexual pleasures, but it was recently discovered that it also controls uterine contractions in childbirth and instinctive maternal love. To prove this, Diane Witt, an assistant psychologist in New York, conducted a lab suppressing oxytocin release in sheep and rats [3]. This caused them to be disinterested in their own offspring. Witt also showed that injection of oxytocin to sheep and rats that do not have offspring of their own caused them to show responsibility and affection to another female’s children. Humans follow the same pattern; the release of this hormone during Attachment arouses a person’s instinctive longing for a child to look after, which is a developed form of love after Attraction. In another experiment, scientists proved the role of vasopressin in the Attachment stage. They discovered that when vasopressin releasing in voles was blocked, the voles did not protect their partners from other suitors, and their long-term bond was not effective anymore. Therefore, it was concluded that vasopressin also plays a significant role in longterm relationships. Scientists confidently claim that oxytocin and vasopressin are both the reason why humans have not gone extinct yet. As attractive as love many seem, nothing can ever be perfect; love’s major flaw is that it is highly addictive. Dopamine, the pleasure hormone, has the same effect on the brain as drugs. As dopamine

is periodically released, the body adjusts to the high level of the neurotransmitter - the same response when drugs are applied. As the body mediates the sudden changes, more and more of the substances are needed to feel the effect. Eventually, the person feels skittish and bereft when dopamine is not released in large amounts – but now the primary source of that much dopamine is the sight of the person of interest. This means that, when addicted to dopamine, one constantly misses that person. The same applies not just to dopamine, but also to phenyl ethylamine, adrenaline, and endorphin - the stimulation hormones. Even though humans enjoy stimulation, it is all too easy to become addicted this way. The addiction explains why relationships seem to become dull as the they last longer. After a period of time, people expect more from their partners. The excitement from the Attraction stage fades as more hormones are needed to feel the stimulation. According to Cynthia Hazan, a professor at Cornell University, the heart-pounding romantic period of love lasts for only 30 months at most [5]. The ostensible blandness mostly leads to separation. However, it is after couples separate that they feel the weight of hormone addiction in the form of immense pain. Their bodies are not used to such low levels of stimulant hormones, resulting in an uncomfortable amalgam of malaise, melancholy, physical ache, and mental torment. The strength of such emotions due to hormone addiction, as well as the inevitable fact that love is an intrinsic instinct to reproduce, is why love has such influence in human culture. Take Mando-pop as an instance. In the culturally famous Mando-pop, “the vast majority of … [them]… are about love, [and] approximately half to four fifth of love songs are about breaking up” [6]. Love’s stimulation, the strength of its addiction, and the pain naturally make love the most popular and central topic of life. But even so, love has never been able to be elucidated perfectly, despite the fact that people have been, and still are, exposed to it everywhere and every day. Humans are complicated. They use complicated tools, interact uniquely, and even have complicated ways of how love works. For most other species of animals, love is merely a creation of offspring happening at a certain time of the year. For humans though, love consists of various types of hormones and emotions. Love has developed in such a way that a man and a woman would be bonded strongly and safely for decades, and therefore resulting in pain when the process is disturbed. So we conclude that the chemistry of love is our privilege – it is the root of the most stable, cooperative, and thrilling lifestyle genetics can offer to us. Next time we are exposed to a love-related subject, it would be worthy to view it through the eyes of science and appreciate our hormones that create the most entertaining life possible.

“Chances are, one has chanted K-I-S-S-I-N-G in some point of his or her life as a child.”

REFERENCES 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6.

Keen, Cathy. “University of Florida News – Love Still Dominates Pop Song Lyrics, but with Raunchier Language.” University of Florida News. University of Florida, 31 May 2007. Web. 24 Nov. 2011. <>. Bloom, Paul. How Pleasure Works: the New Science of Why We like What We like. New York: W. W. Norton, 2010. Print. “The Science of Love.” Your Amazing Brain. Http:// Web. 24 Nov. 2011. < htm>. The Science of Love: I Get a Kick out of You | The Economist.” The Economist - World News, Politics, Economics, Business & Finance. The Economist, 12 Feb. 2004. Web. 25 Nov. 2011. <>. Lee, Eunhee. Hari-hara’s Biology Cafe. Seoul: KungRee, 2002. Print. Moskowitz, Marc L. Cries of Joy, Songs of Sorrow Chinese Pop Music and Its Cultural Connotations. Honolulu: Univ. of Hawaii, 2010. Print.

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Imagine having a product so slippery that nothing could be adhered to it, a surface so smooth that even the stickiest of substances would slide right off. A team of U.S. researchers, led by Harvard University’s professor Joanna Aizenberg, has discovered a product that does just that; and appropriately named it SLIPS: Slippery LiquidI n f u s e d Porous Surface(s) [1]. The group was inspired by a simple mechanism found on the rim of pitchers of the carnivorous plant Nepenthes. The surface is so slick that when ants step on it their feet will not stick to the slippery coating of the plant, causing them to slip and fall into the digestive juices below. This adaptation enables this plant to trap prey for nourishment in their nutrient deficient environments. The secret behind Nepenthes’ slippery structure is its microscopic porous skeleton covered with a thin, lubricating layer of low-surface tension film [2]. The pores in the skeleton essentially lock the fluid in place and create a surface that is so flat and smooth it is unreactive to all other substances [1]. A synthetic version of this system was engineered by professor Aizenberg’s group, who constructed the skeleton using both nanoposts functionalized with polyfluoroalkyl silane and Teflon nanofibers with pores ranging in size from 200-300 nm. Low surface MICHELLE OBERMAN/GRAPHIC tension perfluorinated liquids, such as the electrical coolant Fluorinert, were then applied atop the skeleton to act as a lubricating film [1]. SLIPS is not the first of its kind. In fact, many other substances have been discovered or created that can also repel specific molecules with ease. For example, the Lotus leaf easily repels water, a liquid with very high surface tension, by positioning its hairs in a way to allow air between the leaf surface and the droplet, preventing them from ever contacting one another [3]. In 2008, a joint project of Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the Air Force Research Laboratory developed some of the first synthetic omniphobic substances to ever be published [5]. While these substances had the ability to repel other

substances, none of them were as repellant or durable as SLIPS. SLIPS has been shown to be so repellant that the liquid retention force (how strong SLIPS affinity for other substances is) was calculated to be six times less than most repellent substances previously discovered. Due to its fluid nature, SLIPS also has the ability to self-heal or regenerate upon damage or disturbance, by surface-energy driven capillary action. The researchers observed that when they damaged a sample by scraping it with a knife or blade, the surface seemed to repair itself almost instantaneously while maintaining the repellent qualities, making SLIPS self-healing. SLIPS is also able to withstand extremely high pressures of up to 676 atmosphere (atm), equivalent to hydrostatic pressure at a depth of approximately 7 kilometers underwater, and still maintain properties and functions perfectly [1]. This resistance to pressure is nearly 100 times higher than that of any other super-repellant substances discovered in the past. This “opens up applications in harsh environments, such as polar or deep-sea exploration, where no satisfactory solutions exist at present,” opined Professor Joanna Aizenberg of Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering and Kavli Institute for Bionano Science at Harvard. SLIPS, unlike other omniphobic substances, is completely transparent. This allows it to be used for many modern-day applications, such as a covering for car windows to inhibit water adhesion or for use on smart phone screens to prevent smudging and scratching. It is also able to perform effectively in cold and freezing conditions due to its low surface tension. Thus, the bio-inspired surface is not only able to work in a variety of conditions, but it is also simple and cheap to manufacture too [4]. Sadly, this versatility is also its largest drawback. Lead author Tak-Sing Wong, a postdoctoral fellow in the Aizenberg lab, pointed out that SLIPS is susceptible to evaporation and shearing because of its fluidic nature. In order to overcome this, lubricants with minimal evaporation potential and a high viscosity are going to be used with a fluid replenishing system in order to overcome this frailty. This small problem limits the applications of SLIPS at the current moment, but more research and engineering may soon fix this impediment for good. The newly developed omniphobic substance, SLIPS, has the potential for use in many different aspects of modern life to help improve society. Due to its ability to repel a wide range of microscopic organisms and large organic molecules, SLIPS will be able to reduce the amount of cleaning and disinfecting needed to be done in many fields of work, including medical and chemical [5][7]. The application of SLIPS’ uses are virtually limit-less, and range from biomedical fluid handling devices to new methods of fuel transport, anti-fouling, and anti-icing [1][7]. If SLIPS works as hoped, we may have products ranging from cars that never need to be washed to pipes that never clog, or self-cleaning plates and dishes to clothes that never get dirty. The flexibility of the substance is best summarized by professor Aizenberg’s comment: “Everything SLIPS!”

REFERENCES (2011). 5. Tutejaa, A.; Choib, W.; Mabryc, J. M.; McKinleyb, G. H.; Cohena, R. E.; “Robust Omniphobic Surfaces.” Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. 105(47), 18200-18205 (2008). 6. Yuan, Z.; Chen, H.; Zhang, J.; Zhao, D.; Liu, Y.; Zhou, X.; Li1, S.; Shi1, P.; Tang, J.; Chen, X.; “Preparation and characterization of self-cleaning stable superhydrophobic linear low-density polyethylene.” Sci. Technol. Adv. Mater. 9, 045007 (2008). 7. Epsteina, A. K.; Wong, T.-S.; Belisleb, R. A.; Boggsa, E. M.; Aizenberg, J.; “Liquid-infused structured surfaces with exceptional anti-biofouling performance.” PNAS 109(33), 13182–13187 (2012).

1. Wong, T.-S.; Kang, S. H.; Tang, S. K. Y.; Smythe, E. J.; Hatton, B. D.; Grinthal, A.; Aizenberg, J.; “Bioinspired self-repairing slippery surfaces with pressure stable omniphobicity.” Nature: Intl. Wkly. Jrn. Sci. 477, 443-447. (2011). 2. Bauer, U.; Federle, J; “The Insect-trapping Rim of Nepenthes Pitchers: Surface Structure and Function.” Plant Signaling and behavior 4(11), 1019–1023. (2009). 3. Zorba, V.; Stratakis, E.; Barberoglou, M.; Spanakis, E.; Tzanetakis, P.; Anastasiadis, S. H.; Fotakis, C.; “Biomimetic Artificial Surfaces Quantitatively Reproduce the Water Repellency of a Lotus Leaf.” Advanced Materials 20(21), 4049-4054 (2008). 4. Rutter, M. P.; “Slippery slope: researchers take advice from carnivorous plant — Harvard school of engineering and applied sciences.” Harvard School Eng.& Appl. Sci. http://

FALL 2012 | JOURNYS | 7

Cholinergic and Peptidergic Regulation of the Biosynthesis of the Chromogranin A Gene

By: Sumana Mahata Reviewed By: Dr. Reiner Fischer Colbrie


Chromogranin A (human CHGA/mouse Chga) and catecholamines are co-stored in vesicles and co-released from adreno-medullary chromaffin cells, in response to cholinergic [1] and/or peptidergic (secretin and pituitary adenylyl cyclase activating polypeptide (PACAP)) stimulation following physical exercise or environmental and emotional stresses [2-4]. Here, changes in Chga transcription are investigated using a Chga promoter/luciferase reporter plasmid, where the Chga promoter drives the expression of the luciferase gene [5]. Thus, an increased production of luciferase indicates an increased amount of Chga promoter activity. The luciferase protein emits light in the presence of its substrate luciferin, [with Mg2+ and ATP] which is detected in a luminometer. For these studies, immortalized pheochromocytoma cells (PC12 cells) were used, which were generated from X-ray-induced tumors in the adrenal medulla of a rat. PC12 cells were transfected with a Chga promoter/luciferase reporter plasmid; the transfected cells were treated with nerve growth factor (NGF), nicotine, secretin, and two doses of PACAP. Cells were harvested 18 hours after treatment and processed by a luciferase reporter and a protein assay. It was found that PACAP was the most effective in inducing the transcription of the Chga gene. Therefore, peptidergic stimulation is more potent than cholinergic stimulation in augmenting transcription of the Chga gene.



Hypertension (high blood pressure), which affects over 25% of U.S. adults, is a complex disease, influenced by multiple environmental and emotional stresses and genetic factors [6]. Low physical activity (a sedentary lifestyle, smoking, and obesity) also contributes to the development of high blood pressure. The activity of the sympathetic nervous system (where catecholamines act as neurotransmitters) increases during stress, which causes hypertension by increasing the heartbeat (tachycardia) and constricting the blood vessels (vasoconstriction). Hypertension is one of the risk factors for strokes, heart attacks, heart failures, and chronic kidney failures, and therefore it is important to understand the mechanisms of the development of hypertension. CHGA/Chga, a 48-kDa acidic polypeptide (chain of amino acids), is the main protein found inside the catecholamine (norepinephrine or epinephrine) storage vesicles of adrenomedullary chromaffin cells and neuroendocrine vesicles [7]. This protein is stored and released from the same vesicles that contain catecholamines in the chromaffin cells by a process called exocytosis (all or none), which releases the entire contents of each vesicle. The catecholamine and CHGA secretion from the adrenomedullary chromaffin cells is influenced by cholinergic [acetylcholine and its analog nicotine (an ingredient in cigarettes)] and peptidergic (secretin and PACAP) stimuli conducted by neurons located in the thoracic spinal cord, which extend out to the adrenal chromaffin cells through the thoracic splanchnic nerve, which provides the nerve supply to the adrenal gland. Acetylcholine released from the end of the splanchnic nerve stimulates the secretion of both norepinephrine and epinephrine, while PACAP, released from the same nerve, mostly stimulates the secretion of epinephrine. After their release from the adrenal medulla, catecholamines increase heart rate, respiratory rate, the constriction of the blood vessels, the breakdown of glycogen to glucose (glycogenolysis), and the breakdown of lipids (lipolysis), all in response to stress. Catecholamines prepare the body for the fight-or-flight response. Chromaffin cells release more CHGA and catecholamines in hypertensive individuals to combat the excessive stress that increases their heart rate and vasoconstriction. Since CHGA is co-stored and co-released with catecholamines in response to cholinergic and peptidergic stimulations, it was tested whether cholinergic and peptidergic transmitters increase the resynthesis of the protein after its release. This was accomplished by activating the transcription of the Chga gene using the Chga promoter/ luciferase reporter plasmid (circular double stranded DNA that can replicate independently of chromosomal DNA) in PC12 cells.


Day 1: Cell Splitting - A 10% solution of Poly-L-Lysine was incubated in a 37ºC water bath for 30 minutes. Then, 0.5 ml of this solution was added to all of the wells of a 24 well plate so that the seeded cells attach to the plate. The plate was then incubated at 37ºC for 1 hour. The Poly-L-Lysine was then removed using a Pasteur pipette attached to a vacuum. To wash the wells, 1 mL of water was added to each of the wells; after swirling, 8 | JOURNYS | FALL 2012

the water was removed. Next, PC12 cells, which were previously cultured in a 10 cm tissue culture dish, were transferred to the 24 well plate at a confluency of 50% to 60%. The plate was left overnight in the 37ºC cell culture incubator with 6% CO2. Day 2: Transfection and Treatment - 1300 µl of Dulbecco’s Modified Eagle’s Medium (DMEM) was added to both a 15 ml conical tube and a 1.5 eppendorf tube. Then, 52 µl of Chga promoter/luciferase reporter plasmid was added to the conical tube, while 14 µl of transfectin (a cationic lipid reagent used for transferring plasmid inside the cells) was added to the eppendorf tube and mixed by gentle vortexing. The contents of the eppendorf tube were added to the conical, and left for 20 minutes in the tissue culture hood. Then, 12.4 ml of DMEM with serum was added to the conical tube; 100 µl of the solution was added to each well. The plate was left in the cell culture incubator for 5 hours. Next, 5 µl of the chemicals and hormones were added to the wells with the following final concentrations: NGF- 100 ng/ml, Nicotine- 1 mM, Secretin- 1µM, PACAP- 100 and 200 nM. The plate was shaken lightly horizontally and vertically by hand and incubated in the cell culture incubator for 18 hours. Day 3: Harvesting and Luciferase and Protein Assay - The media was removed from the cells and was washed with 0.5 ml of Phosphate Buffered Saline (PBS). Then 125 µl of lysis buffer was added to each well to lyse the cells. The plate was placed in a shaker for 15 minutes. A Berthold Luminometer tube was washed 2 times with 4 ml of water by inserting a 4 ml polystyrene tube into the tube holder. The luciferase assay buffer was made using 6 ml of water, 0.7 ml of 1M Tris Acetate, 0.07 ml 1M Mg-Acetate, 14 µl 0.5M EDTA, 150 µl 200mM ATP, and 100 µl of luciferin, the substrate for the luciferase enzyme. For this assay, 40 µl of the cell lysates were added to the 4 ml polystyrene tubes. The luminometer was washed again, but with 2 ml of luciferase assay buffer. Next the tubes were arranged in the luminometer chain in order of well, but preceded by 4 blank tubes as a control. The measurements were then recorded. For the protein assay, 1 ml of the protein buffer was added to 25 cuvettes (1 control). Then, 5 µl of the cell lysate was added to each cuvette and vortexed. Each cuvette was added to the spectrophotometer to record absorbance. The measurements were recorded and calculated with dilution factors in mind.


Data are expressed as the mean ± the standard error of the mean. Each treatment group was compared to the control, or mock, group by oneway analysis of variance (ANOVA). Statistical significance was concluded at p<0.05.

RESULTS (One Trial Shown):

NGF and nicotine caused ~1.5-fold increase in Chga promoter activity as judged by luciferase reporter protein content. Amongst the peptidergic transmitters PACAP was more effective than secretin resulting in 2.27fold increase in Chga promoter activity as compared to 1.8-fold by

secretin. The increase in Chga promoter activity was higher when PACAP dose was increased to 200 nM.



Both the cholinergic and peptidergic transmitters are effective in inducing the transcription of the CHGA gene, but PACAP is the most effective. However, nicotine, a cholinergic transmitter, is able to cause hypertension simply by dramatically increasing catecholamine release from the adrenal medulla. This also demonstrates yet another reason not to smoke or quit smoking because, in addition to pulmonary diseases, it causes cardiovascular diseases as well. Acknowledgements: Many thanks to Dr. Kuixing Zhang, Dr. Manjula Mahata, Dr. Daniel T. O’ Connor, and Dr. Sushil K. Mahata for supervising me in my efforts and helping me understand the mechanisms of the transmitters in chromaffin cells. REFERENCES

secretin) transmitters activated the resynthesis of CHGA as shown by the expression of the luciferase reporter protein. PACAP was found to be the most effective transmitter in inducing the transcription of the Chga gene. The difference in effectiveness between the cholinergic and noncholinergic transmitters may rely on their different signal transduction pathways to induce Chga transcription. Because the transmitters are not lipid soluble, they are unable to penetrate the plasma membrane to

1. Wakade, A.R. 1981. Studies on secretion of catecholamines evoked by acetylcholine or transmural stimulation of the rat adrenal gland. J Physiol 313:463-480. 2. Guo, X., and Wakade, A.R. 1994. Differential secretion of catecholamines in response to peptidergic and cholinergic transmitters in rat adrenals. J Physiol (Lond) 475:539-545. 3. Przywara, D.A., Guo, X., Angelilli, M.L., Wakade, T.D., and Wakade, A.R. 1996. A noncholinergic transmitter, pituitary adenylate cyclase-activating polypeptide, utilizes a novel mechanism to evoke catecholamine secretion in rat adrenal chromaffin cells. J Biol Chem 271:10545-10550. 4. Mahata, M., Zhang, K., Gayen, J.R., Nandi, S., Brar, B.K., Ghosh, S., Mahapatra, N.R., Taupenot, L., O’Connor, D.T., and Mahata, S.K. 2011. Catecholamine biosynthesis and secretion: physiological and pharmacological effects of secretin. Cell and tissue research 345:87-102. 5. Wu, H., Rozansky, D.J., Webster, N.J., and O’Connor, D.T. 1994. Cell type-specific gene expression in the neuroendocrine system. A neuroendocrine-specific regulatory element in the promoter of chromogranin A, a ubiquitous secretory granule core protein. J Clin Invest 94:118-129. 6. O’Connor, D.T., Insel, P.A., Ziegler, M.G., Hook, V.Y., Smith, D.W., Hamilton, B.A., Taylor, P.W., and Parmer, R.J. 2000. Heredity and the autonomic nervous system in human hypertension. Curr Hypertens Rep 2:16-22. 7. Winkler, H., and Fischer-Colbrie, R. 1992. The chromogranins A and B: the first 25 years and future perspectives. Neuroscience 49:497-528. 8. Deluca, M. 1976. Firefly luciferase. Adv Enzymol Relat Areas Mol Biol 44:37-68. 9. Day, J.C. 2009. “The Bioluminescent Reaction.” BIOLUMINESCENT BEETLES by JC DAY. 10. Nakatsu, T., Ichiyama, S., Hiratake, J., Saldanha, A., Kobashi, N., Sakata, K., and Kato, H. 2006. Structural basis for the spectral difference in luciferase bioluminescence. Nature 440:372-376.

FALL 2012 | JOURNYS | 9


Since luciferase bioluminescence was used to detect the Chga promoter activity, it is important to know the chemical reaction underlying the luciferase reaction produced by the Chga promoter/luciferase reporter plasmid. In the luminescence reaction, light is produced by the oxidation of the luciferase substrate known as luciferin; this reaction is typical in fireflies, who use different patterns of light to communicate with members of its own species[8]. First, adenylate is formed when ATP and Mg2+ are added to the luciferin; this also releases a pyrophosphate. The addition of O2 makes a peroxide intermediate, which turns into a dioxetanone intermediate by breaking an adenosine monophosphate [9]. This decomposes to form oxyluciferin in an excited state. When the excited molecule falls to the ground state, it releases photons, which produces either a red color or a green color [10]. The luminometer measures the number of photons emitted, which varies as the color changes. This reflects the amount of luciferase protein produced from the recombinant plasmid, which correlates with the transcriptional activity of the Chga gene. When chromaffin cells release their vesicular contents of costored catecholamines and CHGA in response to stress by exocytosis, the cell works to replenish these products. In the experiment, it was found that the nicotinic/cholinergic and peptidergic (PACAP and

induce Chga transcription. Instead, they use various signal transduction pathways to lead the cell to produce CHGA; these pathways are different for the different transmitters. Nicotine binds to the nicotinic/cholinergic receptor located at the plasma membrane and opens its sodium channel, which prompts the transfer of sodium ions from the outside of the cell to the inside. The entry of sodium ions depolarizes the plasma membrane by adding positive ions, which opens voltage-gated calcium channels, allowing the entry of calcium ions into the cells. The exocytosis of chromaffin vesicles requires an increased amount of calcium ions inside the cells. These ions activate protein kinase C, which adds a phosphate ion to mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) and activates it. This, in turn, adds a phosphate ion to cyclic AMP response element binding protein (CREB) and this binds with the cyclic AMP response element (CRE) in the CHGA promoter on the gene, inducing the synthesis of CHGA. PACAP and secretin, however, bind to the G-protein-coupled PACAP and secretin receptors upon their release from a sympathetic nerve terminal, resulting in the stimulation of adenylyl cyclase, which is attached to the plasma membrane and the receptor. This produces cyclic AMP, which adds a phosphate ion to protein kinase A. This adds a phosphate ion to CREB, which binds to the CRE in the Chga promoter and stimulates transcription. Since CHGA and catecholamines are co-released when people are under stress, these findings show the actions of the catecholamines and are important in the development of hypertension in response to stressful situations. This is one mechanism by which smoking contributes to the development of hypertension in individuals: by increasing the amount of neurotransmitters in the adrenal medulla. Since about 20% of the people in the U.S. are smokers, nicotine (the major component of tobacco smoke) may account for the development of hypertension in many individuals.

On the Synthesis of a New Wide Electrochemical Window Ionic Liquid for Advanced Electrochemical Endeavors BY: Oliver A. Quintero ABSTRACT


With the popularization of more complex electrochemical endeavors involving electrodeposition, the limitations of aqueous solution electrolytes have become apparent. Consequently, much research has recently been dedicated towards developing room-temperature ionic liquids, compounds that have readily made a name for themselves as “next-generation” electrolytes. Here, we report the synthesis and basic physical and electrochemical properties of a new ionic liquid based on the N-Propyl-N-methylpiperidinium (PP13+) cation and the hexafluorophosphate (PF6-) anion. As an ionic liquid, [PP13] [PF6] is chemically stable, non-volatile, and it remains highly conductive`. In this work, cyclic voltammograms demonstrated its remarkably wide electrochemical window, which was compared to that of the standard [PP13][TFSI] ionic liquid. We also investigated the electrodeposition of tin at a stainless steel electrode in this new ionic liquid by cyclic voltammetry and other electrochemical techniques. Metallic tin deposits suggested by these voltammograms, which exhibited reduction peaks associated with tin deposition, were officially confirmed by Raman and SEM. All in all, this new ionic liquid shows potential, inter alia, as an effectual electrolyte for novel electrochemical enterprises.

1. INTRODUCTION: Aqueous solutions have proved useful for a myriad of electrochemical applications, but their scope remains limited nonetheless. Waterbased solutions hinder certain undertakings in the realm of applied electrochemistry because they have limited electrochemical stability windows, are often volatile, and sometimes necessitate hazardous agents. Of these much needed novel electrolytes, room-temperature ionic liquids (RTILs) are perhaps the most promising. In general, ionic liquids are composed of organic cations and inorganic or organic anions. Not only do most RTILs have inherent ionic conductivity and conveniently wide potential windows (the voltage range between which the substance does not get oxidized, nor reduced), but they also maintain the benefits of aqueous solutions for electrochemistry. Moreover, ionic liquids show promise to overcome safety issues related to various electrochemical reactions: they are both thermally and hydrolytically stable, nonflammable, non-corrosive, and have no measurable vapor pressure up to 200oC [1,3-6]. A RTIL can be formulated to have an electrochemical window that allows for electrochemistry on particular metals (see table 1 and figure 1) [2,7,8]. Current research proposes that, with their high ionic conductivity and electrochemical stability, ionic liquids can serve as better electrolytes in valuable devices ranging from rechargeable lithium batteries to fuel cells and hybrid supercapacitors [4,9]. They may serve as advanced hightemperature lubricants as well as to treat nuclear waste and make suitable replacements for traditional organic solvents as “green” solvents, lessening environmental levels of volatile organic carbons [1,10]. Evidently, these various applications provide much reason to pursue research on RTILs. We have pursued the synthesis of an ionic liquid based on the N-Propyl-Nmethylpiperidinium (PP13) cation and the Lithium Hexafluorophosphate (LiPF6) anion. We intend to verify that [PP13][PF6] can in fact be efficiently synthesized and serve as an effective RTIL. RTIL

Potential Electrodepositable in Window (V) RTIL




metals with E° btwn. -22.4 V (e.g.: Sn, Ge, Au)


[TMBA][TFSI] 5.2

metals with E° btwn. -3.51.7 V (e.g.: Si, Sn, Ge)




metals with E° btwn. -33.1 V (e.g.: Si, Sn, Ge, Au)

This work



metals with E° btwn. -3This 4.3 V (e.g.: Si, Sn, Ge, Au) work Table. 1. The electrochemical windows of 4 ionic liquids and some metals that can accordingly be electrodeposited with them. 10 | JOURNYS | FALL 2012

Fig. 1 Potential windows of the RTILs listed above were all calculated with silver reference electrodes.

2. METHODS 2.1 Preparation of RTILs - The RTIL N-methyl-N-propylpiperidiniumbi s(trifluoromethanesulfonyl)imide ([PP13][TFSI]) was made in a similar

Fig.2. A schematic representation of the synthesis process of [PP13][TFSi] and [PP13][PF6] RTILs. Thick arrows indicate solids or slurries, while thin arrows represent liquids. Experimental solvents, temperatures, and times appear in lighter font

fashion to that previously synthesized by Sakaebe et al.11. The N-methylN-propylpiperidinium—Lithium Hexafluorophosphate ([PP13][PF6]) RTIL was synthesized similarly. The N-methyl-N-propylpiperidinium— Lithium Tetrafluoroborate ([PP13][BF4]) RTIL preparation involved combining the PP13-Br previously prepared with a stock lithium in a 1:1 molar ratio aqueous solution. Typically, finished batches of ionic liquids ranged from 10-15g. 2.2 Characterization of new RTIL - Characterization of the new ionic liquid [PP13][PF6] began with thermogravimetric analysis and differential scanning calorimetry (TGA-DSC). A Mettler-Toledo TGA/DSC 1 instrument provided information regarding the heat capacity and phase transitions of the fine white powder ([PP13][PF6]). In addition, an Electrothermal® melting point apparatus 8000 was utilized to compare the melting points of PP13-Br and LiPF6 (reactants) to that of [PP13][PF6] (product). The [PP13][PF6] ionic liquid was further characterized by a Thermo mass spectrometer controlled by Xcalibur 2.0 software. Finally, Phosphorus-31 nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) measurements were performed on LiPF6 and [PP13][PF6] dissolved in deuterated water and deuterated chloroform, respectively.

2.4 Electrochemical Applications of [PP13][PF6] - We attempted to deposit tin on the stainless steel by chronopotentiometry and recorded this process through Amperometric i-t Curves at a constant -2.4 V on the CH Instruments Electrochemcial Workstation Chi440. To confirm the presence of and characterize deposits on the stainless steel, a Renishaw inVia Raman Microscope and a FEI Quanta Feg 650 scanning electron microscope (SEM) were utilized. 3. RESULTS AND DISCUSSION The reaction between PP13+ and TFSI- resulted in a product quite different from the one PP13+ and PF6- combined to form. The first chemical reaction presented below produced a colorless and slightly viscous liquid at room temperature, just as [PP13][TFSI] was described by Sakaebe et al [10]. Dissimilarly, the second reaction shown formed a clear, waxy solid, which was easily crushed to a fine white powder at room temperature. PP13TFSI(l)+ LiBr(g) (1) PP13-Br(aq)+ LiTFSI(aq) → (2) PP13-Br(aq)+ PF6(aq) → PP13PF6(l)+ LiBr(g)

Fig. 5. TGA graph displaying weight loss and heat flow of the substance (in a N2 atmosphere heated from 25oC to 200oC) shows phase change around 90oC The substance was much more specifically characterized by mass spectrometry, Since mass spectrometry revealed a species with a molar mass of 142.16 (see figure 6) as the most abundant in the sample, we gained some conclusive proof that the synthesized solid product contained PP13+, which basically has the same mass. Fig. 6. Mass Spectrometry indicating the presence of a 142.16 g/mol positively charged species (PP13+) making up the substance created by a reaction between PP13-Br and LiPF6 Phosphorus-31 NMR results established the presence of phosphorus in the material, finally confirming its composition as [PP13][PF6]. Signals like those visible in figure 7(A) at about -143.7 ppm are typical for the PF6- ion. These seven equally spaced, splitting peaks result form the magnetic effects of six coordinated F atoms, which are located in an octahedral structure surrounding the P nucleus. According to first-order rules, when the P nucleus is coupled to six equivalent F nuclei, the P pattern is 7 lines of intensity given by the ratio about 1:6:15:20:15:6:1. However, these typical peaks do not appear in figure 7(B)(i) because when PF6- anions bind to organic moieties (such as PP13+), signals are at about -10 ppm, as highlight by figure 7(B)(ii)[12].



Fig. 4. Basic chemical reactions that produced the RTILs. Compound


Melting Point (oC)







product 89 Suspected [PP13][PF6] Table 2. Melting points of PP13-Br, LiPF6, and the substance they formed when combined. The melting point apparatus tests confirmed the material formed by this reaction as one with a melting point near 100oC, therefore, different from both of the substrates. Above, table 2 clearly illustrates significant differences in a main physical property among the reactants and product

B(ii) Fig. 7 A) NMR of LIPF6 dissolved in deuterated water; B) NMR of [PP13] [PF6] dissolved in deuterated chloroform. The results of electrochemical measurements on the [PP13][TFSI] RTIL FALL 2012 | JOURNYS | 11


2.3 Electrochemical Measurements - Cyclic Voltammetry evaluated the electrochemical stability window of the ionic liquids and their mixtures with a tin salt. The [PP13][TFSI] RTIL was loaded into a three-electrode celll with a glassy carbon working electrode, platinum counter electrode, and silver quasireference electrode. The [PP13][PF6] and SnTFSI mixture was likewise evaluated with a cell over sand heated to 100oC on a Thermolyne nuova II stir plate with a stainless steel working electrode, platinum counter electrode, and silver quasireference electrode.

of the reaction.

were similar to those obtained in others’ past research [2,8,10]. Through a number of cyclic voltammetries like the one depicted in figure 8(a), we concluded the electrochemical window of our [PP13][TFSI] to be 6.1 V. Upon observing figures 8 (A) and (B)(i), it is obvious that cyclic voltammetry demonstrated a remarkably wide electrochemical window of the new RTIL, [PP13][PF6], roughly 7.3 V. This implies not only that the ionic liquid had negligible impurities, but also that it could serve as an electrolyte exceptionally well suited for the electrodeposition of several kinds of metals (even better suited than [PP13][TFSI]).




-2.4 V were plated with explicit tin deposits and even exhibited some tin nanorods, those that underwent cyclic voltammetry showed less desirable bulk tin deposition. Overall, the electrodeposition of tin in the ionic liquid [PP13][PF6] exceeded expectations in its ability to facilitate the electrodeposition of easily oxidizable or highly electropositive metals.




Fig. 8. Cyclic voltammograms of electrochemical cells using the [PP13] [TFSI] and [PP13][PF6] RTILs. Solid black vertical lines represent the ionic liquids’ anodic or cathodic limiting potential.

Fig. 11. SEM images and accompanying data that confirm deposition of bulk metallic tin on stainless steel electrodes that underwent cyclic volrammetry (11(A)) and chronoamperometry (11(B)). The tallest peak, which was identified as tin, indicates the most abundant element in the deposits.

— -2.4 V vs. Ag(QRE) Fig. 9. Cyclic voltammogram of electrochemical cell using [PP13] [PF6] and SnTFSI mixture. T=100oC, scan rate: 50mV/sec, working electrode: stainless steel

Fig. 12. i-t curve (T=100oC, V=-2.4V, working electrode: stainless steel) and SEM images revealing a great deal of definite tin deposition and even some tin nanorod formation (12(B)) on stainless steel electrodes that underwent chronoamperometry at -2.4V.

Above, figure 9 illustrates the electrochemical manner in which tin was deposited on the stainless steel electrode. Experiments held at a constant -2.4 V potential left deposits on stainless steel that were plainly visible to the naked eye. Raman and SEM characterizations confirmed that electrodeposits on the stainless steel electrodes did contain tin, but not oxides of any sort (see below). Fig. 10. SEM characterization proving the deposits on the stainless steel electrodes were tin-containing, but not oxides.

A more in-depth analysis of the tin deposits revealed that their form varied depending on whether they underwent cyclic voltammetry or chronoamperometry (see figures 11(A), 11(B), 12(A), and 12(B)). While the stainless steel electrodes that experienced chronoamperometry at 12 | JOURNYS | FALL 2012

4. CONCLUSIONS: On the whole, we have synthesized, characterized, and applied a very promising new ionic liquid. Although its melting point (~90oC) is relatively high among RTILs, [PP13][PF6] offers electrochemical properties superior to those of [PP13][TFSI], a previously reported ionic liquid that has successfully found several electrochemical applications11. Furthermore, because the [PP13][PF6] ionic liquid could electroplate tin metal so well, there is reason to believe tin could function as the anode of a high energy density battery with a [PP13][PF6] electrolyte. In future experiments, we may attempt to employ this ionic liquid as the

primary component of a battery. In short, this new ionic liquid is one truly appropriate for advanced electrochemical endeavors involving electrodeposition and, presumably, many other tasks as well. Acknowledgements: The author thanks The Welch Foundation and The University of Texas at Austin for The Welch Summer Scholar Program, which wholly supported this research. He especially thanks Dr. Sankaran Murugesan and Professor Keith J. Stevenson for sponsoring the work in spite of their busy schedules. He also acknowledges the entire Welch Summer Scholar group and staff in the Analytical Chemistry laboratory of the UT Austin Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry for their useful insights and assistance.

REFERENCES: [7]Ong, S. P., Andreussi, O., Wu, Y., Marzari, N., & Ceder, G. (2011, May). Electrochemical windows of room-temperature ionic liquids from molecular dynamics and density functional theory calculations. Chemistry of Materials, 23, 2979-86. [8]Abbott, A. P., Beyersdorff, T., Borisenko, N., Chen, P.-Y., Compton, R. C., Dalrymple, J., . . . El Abedin, S. Z. (2008). Electrodeposition from ionic liquids (F. Endres, A. P. Abbott, & D. R. MacFarlane, Eds.). Berlin, Germany: Wiley-VCH. [9]Snook, G. A., Best, A. S., Pandolfo, A. G., & Hollenkamp, A. F. (2006, June). Evaluation of a AglAg+ reference electrode for use in room temperature ionic liquids. Electrochemistry Communications, 8, 1405-11. [10]Anderson, J. L., Ding, J., Welton, T., & Armstrong, D. W. (2002, November). Characterizing ionic liquids on the basis of multiple solvation interactions. Journal of the American Chemical Society, 124, 14247-54. [11]Sakaebe, H., & Matsumoto, H. (2003, May). N-Methyl-N-propylpiperidinium bis(trifluoromethanesulfonyl)imide (PP13-TFSI): Novel electrolyte for Li battery. Electrochemistry Communications, 5, 594-98. [12]Lee, H.-H., Wang, Y.-Y., Wan, C.-C., Yang, M.-H., Wu, H.-C., & Shieh, D.-Y. (2005, February). The function of vinylene carbonate as a thermal additive to electrolyte in lithium batteries. Journal of Applied Electrochemistry, 35, 615-623.

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[1]Liu, Y.-S., & Pan, G.-B. (2011). Ionic liquids for the future electrochemical applications. In A. Kokorin (Ed.), Ionic liquids: Applications and perspectives (pp. 627-42). Rijeka, Croatia: InTech. [2]Matsumoto, H. (2005). Electrochemical windows of room-temperature ionic liquids. In H. Ohno (Ed.), Electrochemical aspects of ionic liquids (pp. 35-54). New York, NY: Wiley. [3]Belhocine, T., Forsyth, S. A., Nimal Gunaratne, H. Q., Nieuwenhuyzen, M., Puga, A. V., Seddon, K. R., & Whiston, K. (2010, November). New ionic liquids from azepane and 3-methylpiperidine exhibiting wide electrochemical windows. Green Chemistry, 13, 59-63. [4]Appetecchi, G. B., Scaccia, S., Tizzani, C., Alessandrini, F., & Passerini, S. (2006, July). Synthesis of hydrophobic ionic liquids for electrochemical applications. Journal of The Electrochemical Society, 153, 1685-91. [5]Matsumoto, H., Sakaebe, H., Tatsumi, K., Kikuta, M., Ishiko, E., & Kono, M. (2006, February). Fast cycling of Li/LiCoO2 cell with low-viscosity ionic liquids based on bis(fluorosulfonyl)imide [FSI]-. Journal of Power Sources, 160, 1308-1313. [6]Yoshida, Y., Muroi, K., Otsuka, A., Saito, G., Takahashi, M., & Yoko, T. (2004, January). 1-Ethyl3-methyimidazolium based ionic liquids containing cyano groups: Synthesis, characterization, and crystal structure. Inorganic Chemistry, 43, 1458-62.

The Greater Division:


{ } BY Bhavani Bindiganavile EDITED BY Sarah Watanaskul


Tethered Cord


Our society

has taken pride in its ability to not only accept differences in our lifestyles, but also take pride in them. However, the medical universe has not been able to take this same pride. Unfortunately, some illnesses are not afforded this luxury of acceptance and understanding; too often they are forced into a group that they do not belong in and as a result do not get the special attention they deserve. Tethered Spinal Cord Syndrome is one of these diseases. Tethered Spinal Cord is a neurological disorder in which tissue attachments allow limited movement of the spinal cord [1]. It is a problem for both children and adults, and is currently one of the most common birth defects [1]. However, this does not make up for how much damage this disorder can cause, with each progression of the disease taking abilities away. To be diagnosed with a tethered spinal cord is quite a hard hit to take. It is also a very rare one; the syndrome is known to affect a small portion of the US population: only 200,000 cases per year [1]. Although it is an illness that has been known since the 19th century, it is still in the research stage [1]. This is because it is commonly considered

14 | JOURNYS | FALL 2012

to be the same as a spinal cord illness known as Spina Bifida. Spina Bifida is also an illness that leads to nerve weakness and incapability. Both disorders have the same symptoms. However, there is one main difference. Spina Bifida, itself, refers to a group of spinal disorders, but it mainly refers to the problem in which an infant’s backbone and spinal canal does not close [3]. Due to this constant misclassification, tethered cord patients have not been able to truly understand their illness. Tethered cord can be diagnosed at both birth and adulthood. Testing for the disorder occurs at infancy if a hairy patch, dimple, or lesion is seen on the lower back. Foot or spinal deformities can also be indicators of a tethered cord. Those who are not diagnosed at birth show symptoms of leg weakness, lower back pain or scoliosis [3]. Although these symptoms are closely related to those of Spina Bifida, it is believed that these issues are caused because the neural tube of the fetus did not grow properly during its development [3]. A patient who suffers from tethered cord syndrome usually faces difficulties with sensory and motor tasks. Foot or leg numbness is quite common. Bladder and bowel control is also lost due to the

disorder. Those who have been diagnosed too late in the progression of the disease may face the possibility of complete loss of these bodily functions [2]. Those who did not show early symptoms can face these issues later on based on how much strain is placed on the spinal cord. Strain can come from pregnancy or sports [2]. A tethered cord can also be caused by a spinal cord injury or scar tissue. Scar tissue could block the fluid flow around the spinal cord. The usual manner of testing for this illness is through an MRI scan, which gives doctors the ability to look at the spinal cord and its shape and surroundings. [2] Additional testing includes the MMT or Manual Muscle Testing. This is a test of muscle strength conducted by physical therapists. Muscle weakness is easy to detect through these tests. Orthopedic deformities and issues with gait while walking show the presence of a tethered cord [3]. Patients with tethered cord are usually guaranteed a normal life expectancy. It is the quality of their lives which is at stake. To help reinstate or ensure a good life, there are options for this disorder. A shunt is sometimes placed to drain fluid out of the spinal cord, which can sometimes develop because of tethering [1]. Surgery, however, is usually the best option to help the tethering. If the symptoms are critical, neurosurgeons typically opt for surgery. The surgery includes dissection into the back and removal of vertebrae to make the spinal cord more visible. Lasers, scalpels, or scissors are then used to dissect the scarred attachments away. The surgery does have a high success rate, if done in time. If symptoms are caught early in the progression of the disease, the surgery is known

to stop further damage. However, surgery cannot reverse damage [3]. In children, untethering is sometimes necessary. Physical growth is usually the main reason behind this, causing untethering to usually happen during adolescence or midadolescent years. Although surgery is a good option, it is an extremely painful procedure that takes weeks and sometimes even months for recovery. Knowing this, researchers have tried to see if anything can be done to prevent or minimize tethering. Materials such as decron or teflon have been placed in the back to try and prevent scarring [3]. This produced the opposite result, causing more scarring. Due to this, there is currently no known way to prevent tethering at birth or to prevent it after birth besides surgery. To live with this condition is quite a relative experience. Each patient lives differently. Not all symptoms are present in every patient. Treatment is not possible for everyone and some are not as fortunate as others. However, the common factor in all people suffering from a tethered cord is their hindered lifestyle. This is especially evident in children with the disorder. Some may end up living their lives in wheelchairs, and not being able to control their own body is something that they become used to [2]. It is extremely hard for patients with a tethered cord psychologically as well, for they are faced with everyday problems and problems of their illness. Tethered Cord Syndrome is not something that can easily be defined; only the people who experience the physical and emotional pain of it can explain the trials that they are forced to live through every day.

REFERENCES 1. 2. 3. 4.

“NINDS Tethered Spinal Cord Information Page.” (2011) Walker, M. , Dias, M. “Tethering Spinal Cord.” “Tethered Spinal Cord Syndrome.” (2005) “Positive Posture Fights Lower Back Pain.” N.p., 5 Aug. 2010. Web. 9 Oct. 2012.

FALL 2012 | JOURNYS | 15


[ [ Genes,





“ andthe.....our


lifestyle choices can impact gene expression generations later

16 | JOURNYS | FALL 2012 16 | JOURNYS | FALL 2012


Jean-Baptiste Lamarck (1744-1829) was exposed to have committed an infamous blunder within the scientific community when Darwin’s theory of evolution discredited his Lamarckian theory of acquired characteristics. Generations of students, scientists, and scholars juxtaposed Lamarck’s theory of evolution with Darwin’s, mocking the ludicrous idea of use and disuse. Lamarck’s ill-famed theory proposed that a giraffe could elongate its neck over its lifetime by continually stretching towards the highest branch on an acacia tree and pass on its modified genes to create long-necked offspring. Centuries later, it is shocking to consider that Lamarck may have been partially correct in his theory that the environment can indeed affect offspring, at least through the regulation of gene expression by epigenetic processes. Epigenetics, or the study of inheritable modifications to gene expression caused by changes other than those to the genome itself, presents the innovative idea that the environment and our lifestyle choices can impact gene expression generations later. On the macroscopic scale, epigenetics also plays a startling role in regulating gene expression in organisms. In a groundbreaking study at Duke in 2000, Professor Randy Jirtle and his team changed the expression of the agouti gene in mice offspring by supplementing the diet of pregnant mothers with methyl-rich foods, revealing the true extent of epigenetic effects on gene expression [1]. Such a simple change to their diet drastically affected offspring, whose golden-furred mothers expressed the agouti gene and died early of disease, obesity, cancer, and a variety of other health problems [2,3]. With the addition of a methyl-enriched diet including garlic and onions, however, obese mice expressing the agouti gene produced pups that were slim, brown, and obviously healthier [4,5]. Another study of a similar nature suggests that diet changes do not only affect pregnant mice and their immediate offspring, but also affect humans over several generations. In 2007, Dr. Bygren and his fellow researchers explored the long-term effects of brief periods of extreme dietary change in the lives of grandparents inhabiting a rural part of Sweden [6]. Dr. Bygren noted, at certain young ages, “paternal grandparents [who] had experienced at least 1 year of good availability [of harvest]…[also experienced] more premature deaths among [grandchildren]” than grandparents who did not have any fruitful harvests [6]. Conversely, his research also observed longer lifespans in offspring with grandparents that experienced periods of starvation. Therefore, Bygren’s observations clearly suggest that the diet of grandparents influenced offspring generations later, linking overabundance of food among grandparents to shorter lifespans of their grandchildren and shortage of food to longer lifespans. Eventually, the researchers specified in a later study that extreme dietary changes evoked sex-specific responses in future generations, predominantly in male descendants [7]. Consequently, their findings illuminate the thrilling array of possibilities provided by epigenetics that could ultimately allow us to decide our own destinies. Best of all, improved diet habits could potentially result in genetically fit offspring, naturally. However, the extent of epigenetics reaches far beyond just diet. In fact, many other environmental factors are shown to affect offspring as well. In another trans-generational study led by Dr. Bygren in 2006, researchers explored the effects of smoking on generations of families. They compared the varying ages when grandfathers began smoking and discovered that “earlier onset of paternal smoking was associated with increased BMI in…[grandsons] at 9 years” [7]. Dr. Bygren and his colleagues thus determined that a grandfather’s choice to smoke affected not only his own health, but also the health of his grandson two whole generations later. The researchers’ exciting findings further emphasize the importance of maintaining a healthy lifestyle for the sake of our progeny. Other than emphasizing the importance of lifetime choices with the knowledge that choices made during our lifetime can directly affect the lives of our grandchildren, epigenetics also provides hope

in the medical field for patients suffering previously fatal diseases. Recently, epigenetics has provided a cure for many patients suffering myelodysplastic syndromes (MDS), which are fatal cancerous diseases with no previous form of treatment [8]. Through epigenetics, researchers managed to treat patients for MDS by infusing the diet of patients with methyl groups and thus inducing histone methylation [8]. Increased histone methylation silenced overexpression of target genes promoting cancerous growth in MDS patients [8]. As a result, with the success of the epigenetic approach to curing or at least treating MDS, epigenetics truly exemplify an important aspect of future science and medicine fields. Ultimately, the revolutionary research stresses the need for people of all ages and backgrounds to make life choices carefully for the health of their possible posterity. Hopefully, these discoveries will positively impact not only dietary awareness, but also promote better habits in every aspect of life. Epigenetics also teaches us that the courage to share our ideas, not just within the scientific community but also around the world, can pay off. If studies continue to unearth findings similar to those previously discussed in this paper, Lamarck might continue to be famous throughout the scientific community and the world, but this time, his legacy will be of fame rather than infamy. REFERENCES 1. [1] Morgan, H. D., et al. “Epigenetic Inheritance at the Agouti Locus in the Mouse.” Nat Genet 23.3 (1999): 314-8. Print. 2. [2] Dolinoy, D. C., D. Huang, and R. L. Jirtle. “Maternal Nutrient Supplementation Counteracts Bisphenol a-Induced Dna Hypomethylation in Early Development.” Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 104.32 (2007): 13056-61. Print. 3. [3] Lu, D., et al. “Agouti Protein Is an Antagonist of the Melanocyte-Stimulating-Hormone Receptor.” Nature 371.6500 (1994): 799-802. Print. 4. [4] Duhl, D. M., et al. “Neomorphic Agouti Mutations in Obese Yellow Mice.” Nat Genet 8.1 (1994): 59-65. Print. 5. [5] Watters, Ethan. “DNA Is Not Destiny.” Discover Magazine, 22 Nov. 2006. Web. 06 Feb. 2012. <http://discovermagazine. com/2006/nov/cover>. 6. [6] Kaati, G., et al. “Transgenerational Response to Nutrition, Early Life Circumstances and Longevity.” Eur J Hum Genet 15.7 (2007): 784-90. Print. 7. [7] Pembrey, M. E., et al. “Sex-Specific, Male-Line Transgenerational Responses in Humans.” Eur J Hum Genet 14.2 (2006): 159-66. Print. 8. [8] Issa, J. P. “Epigenetic Changes in the Myelodysplastic Syndrome.” Hematol Oncol Clin North Am 24.2 (2010): 317-30. Print. 9. [9] Adams, Jill U. “Obesity, Epigenetics, and Gene Regulation.” Nature Education, 2008. Web. 06 Feb. 2012. < scitable/topicpage/obesity-epigenetics-and-gene-regulation-927>. 10. [10] Cloud, John. “Epigenetics, DNA: How You Can Change Your Genes, Destiny.” TIME Magazine, 06 Jan. 2010. Web. 06 Feb. 2012. <,9171,1952313-3,00. html>. 11. [11] “Environmental Epigenetics.” National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences. National Institutes of Health, 06 Feb. 2011. Web. 06 Feb. 2012. < index.cfm>. 12. [12] Issa, Jean-Pierre. “Epigenetic Theory.” Interview by Sarah Holt. NOVA, 16 Oct. 2007. Web. 06 Feb. 2012. < body/epigenetic-therapy.html>.

FALL 2012 | JOURNYS | 17



g i h L t O g n i n d de

bioluminescence by Joy Li

Edited by Michelle Oberman

Imagine you are walking along the beach one night. The air is hot and h u m i d , and the ocean waves crash gently in the background as a refreshing breeze blows through your hair. It is very dark and the moon casts a silvery glow over the cool sand beneath your feet. You close your eyes and take a deep breath, smelling the salty tang of the night air and feeling the fine spray of ocean mist in your face. For a moment, everything is quiet and peaceful. Then, you open your eyes and look out toward the ocean. To your surprise, it is glowing. What is the cause of this phenomenon, you wonder? The answer—bioluminescence. Bioluminescence, meaning “living light”, is the way certain animals produce their own light. Scientists have known about bioluminescence as far back as 2500 years ago, but only in the 1600’s was it discovered how exactly animals produced their own light [1]. Most scientists believe that “the ability to make light has evolved at least thirty separate times in different animal groups over the past hundred million years” [2]. Bioluminescence first began when sea creatures themselves started evolving. Creatures that lived in the more shallow parts of the ocean developed keener eyesight in order to survive, but as the more shallow areas got crowed, many animals began moving to deeper parts of the ocean in order to avoid danger and competition. Over time, these animals developed the ability to produce their own light. Sometimes called “cold light” because it does not require or generate much heat, bioluminescence is much more efficient than light bulbs. With light bulbs, 97% of the energy needed is turned into heat, while only 3% is actually used to generate light [3]. Bioluminescence, which is caused by a chemical reaction, is much more effective; nearly all the energy used in the reaction is converted to light. The three components that are needed in order to produce a bioluminescent chemical reaction are luciferin, luciferase, and oxygen [3]. A luciferin is a light producing substance, and a luciferase is an enzyme that acts as a catalyst and allows the reaction to take place by greatly lowering the activation energy. However, luciferin and luciferase are terms that could apply to a variety of different chemicals that react to form bioluminescence. Sometimes, the luciferin is instead a protein—known as a photoprotein—in which case the process would need a charged ion in order to begin the reaction. Different animals use different chemicals to produce light, and even today, scientists still are not sure how some animals produce their own light and how they control it. Some animals can even steal and use luciferin and luciferase from animals they consume. But although different animals produce light in different ways, the basic chemical reaction is the same. The luciferase allows the luciferin to combine with oxygen, and this produces light photons which allow the animal to essentially light up. Neurological, mechanical, chemical and other undiscovered factors are all triggers that could initially cause the reaction [1]. Many animals create the luciferins and luciferases by themselves—either in their skin 18 | JOURNYS | FALL 2012

Reviewed by: Dr. Dhananjay Pal

or in unique light producing organs called photophores. Most bioluminescent animals create light up to about 440-479 nanometers [1]. Bioluminescent life forms can be found on land and—most commonly—underwater. On land, bioluminescence can be found in hundreds of different species of fireflies, bacteria, and fungi. In the ocean however, there are thousands of bioluminescent life forms, ranging from tiny single-celled organisms to various kinds of fish, octopuses, and shrimp. Underwater, bioluminescent glows are usually blue because the color penetrates best through water; on land, the most common color is green because it reflects well against plants [4]. However, there are many more shades of bioluminescent glows—everything from red to violet. Many undersea bioluminescent creatures can be found at depths from around 660—3300 feet, or 220—1100 meters [2]. This part of the ocean is known as the twilight zone, and it is where most of the underwater bioluminescent life forms reside. In fact, almost 90% of the animals that live in the twilight zone are bioluminescent [3]. To get down this deep in the ocean, scientists use submersibles, which are a type of submarine or underwater craft that is usually used for deep sea research. Whether they live on land or underwater, bioluminescent animals use their ability to light up for similar purposes. One purpose is to confuse predators. For example, a certain species of squid will release a glowing chemical cloud when being attacked. Then, disguised by the cloud, it will make its escape while the predator is distracted. Another way animals use bioluminescence is to attract makes—an example being Bermuda fireworms. In addition, anglerfish also use bioluminescence to attract prey. Most anglerfish live at depths below 1000 meters, and females have a glowing, bioluminescent appendage which they dangle in front of themselves to lure in prey [3]. Krill also use bioluminescence, but for a different reason. They use bioluminescence to confuse predators and to signal to each other. However, even though animals use bioluminescence in so many different ways, they rarely light up unless it is a life or death situation. Lighting up when it is not absolutely necessary could attract the attention of many potential predators, which is why most bioluminescent creatures light up sparingly. So why is it that, if bioluminescence is so important to so many deep sea creatures, have most people never even heard of it? The answer lies in the nets that are used to capture the bioluminescent organisms that dwell in the sea. The nets, while capable of ripping apart some of the more fragile sea creatures, cannot catch some of the faster ones, so scientists have only been able to study a portion of the animals that live in the deep sea [2]. But even though bioluminescence remains a mystery for many people, it is still an important part of our lives. Most bioluminescent creatures live underwater, and studying marine biology is important because people depend on the ocean for survival. The ocean covers almost three quarters of our planet, and from it, people get food and water [2]. New medicines and medical techniques have also been discovered through the study of the plants and animals that live in the ocean. For example, radioactive scans can cause more harm than good, but scientists could replace these harmful scans with bioluminescent “tags” that are equally adept at identifying cancerous cells or tissues. Bioluminescence itself also helps with chemistry, genetics,




e colog y, and medicine [5]. In genetics, bioluminescent proteins can monitor gene activity. The glowing proteins can be spliced into the genes of other organisms so that the cell glows when that particular gene is turned on, alerting scientists that the gene is being used [6]. Scientists also study bioluminescence to discover a way to create light chemically without needing or producing any heat. There have been many new and novel proposed uses for bioluminescence as well. They include bioluminescent Christmas trees—which can use bioluminescence to light up instead of regular lights, thus reducing any potential dangers that the artificial lights could cause [5]. Also, replacing lights on the side of the road with, say, glowing trees would save a lot of energy, but would still have the same effect. Other proposed uses include bioluminescent plants and crops that light up when they need water, and using bioluminescence to detect

contaminated food, particularly meat [5]. Bio-identifiers could also be used for escaped convicts and mental patients, but perhaps the most interesting idea of them all are glowing pets. Instead of your regular Labrador retriever or cat, how would you feel about glowing Labradors and cats running around your house? With bioluminescence, the possibilities are endless. So next time you step out onto the beach and see that mysteriously glowing ocean, you will know that bioluminescence is what is behind the stunning phenomenon. Maybe in the future, you will see glowing trees lining the road during Christmastime and people walking their luminescent dogs. Who knows what could be next? Even now, there is so much more to be learned about bioluminescence. Continuing to study it could open up a whole new world of possibilities.

REFERENCES 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6.

Wilson, Tracy V. “How Bioluminescence Works.” HowStuffWorks. 10 July 2007. Web. 3 Mar. 2012. < zoology/all-about-animals/bioluminescence.htm>. Collard III, Sneed B. in the Deep Sea. Tarrytown, NY: Marshall Cavendish Benchmark, 2006. Print. “Bioluminescence.” LIGHTS ALIVE: About Bioluminescence. San Diego Natural History Museum, Web. 3 Mar. 2012. < lightsalive/biolum1.html>. “Bioluminescence.” Bioluminescence-New World Encyclopedia. Web. 3 Mar. 2012. <>. “Bioluminescence.” Bioluminescence | Cause of Color-WebExhibits. Web. 3 Mar. 2012. <>. Latz, Michael I. “Biological Light in the Ocean Darkness.” Scripps Insititution of Oceanography, Web. 3 Mar. 2012. < html>.

FALL 2012 | JOURNYS | 19

People in Science:

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A local San Diego Scholar recently earned the National Medal of Science in 2011 from President Obama, adding to his collection of prestigious awards. He was already one of only eleven renowned scientists to have earned awards from all three national institutes: the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, and the Institute of Medicine. Despite the fact that he does not have a degree in Engineering, his influential work in this area has earned him the well-deserved award from the National Academy of Engineering. Dr. Shu Chien grew up in Mainland China and moved to Taiwan while he was in college. He received his M.D. in 1953 from National Taiwan University, and later received his Ph.D. in Physiology from Columbia University in 1957. He is now a world-renowned researcher and pioneer in the integration of many science fields. An expert on physiology and bioengineering, Dr. Chien became the founding chair of UC San Diego’s Department of Bioengineering in 1994. In 2008, Dr. Chien also became the founding Director of UC San Diego’s new Institute of Engineering in Medicine. I was fortunate enough to interview him after listening to one of his recent speeches at the San Diego Chinese American Science and Engineering Association. The information below is extracted from Dr. Chien’s speech and from the interview conducted afterwards.

JOURNYS: You received the National Medal of Science at the White House in 2011. Can you describe your experience there? Dr. Shu Chien: My time in White House was wonderful. We had a ceremony in the East room, and there were about 200 people. When we all sat down, President Obama gave a wonderful speech. The National Medal of Science is an award given only once a year, to all the fields of science, not just one, but every field, including math, engineering, statistics, physics, and others. Last year, there were two from math, two from chemistry, one from molecular biology, one from immunology, and one was me from bioengineering and physiology. Another five were technologies for the invention of various things, such as wireless devices and so forth. J: Who or what initially inspired you to pursue a career in the sciences? DSC: I had a chance to skip a grade in high school to go to college if I passed an exam. I always loved math so I wanted to study it in college, but because I skipped the prerequisite classes, I couldn’t become a math major. I was admitted to medical school instead. After medical school, I was choosing between clinical medicine and basic science research. I decided to pursue research in what I considered to be the most important parts of the human body, either the brain or the heart. At that time, a Columbia University professor was visiting Taiwan, and invited me to study cardiovascular physiology. I grabbed the opportunities as they appeared in my life, and that’s how I got here. J: What are some breakthroughs and applications emerging in this field of bioengineering? DSC: A new application for this field is systems biology. Systems biology is using a bioinformatics approach and a holistic view to analyze the structure and function of biological systems from genes and molecules to cells and organs. An example is taking the whole body or a whole cell as a system and deciphering the interplays among its components and not just treating individual elements in isolation. Another application is wireless technology integration for gathering patient data remotely and automatically. New nanotechnology could also be used for targeted cancer treatment to improve efficacy and reduce side effects.

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DSC: One of the obstacles is that sometimes, research funding is not easy to get. I am very fortunate because most of the time I had very good funding. When funding shortage happens, you have to rearrange the priorities. Another important thing is that you have to find the right person to work with. People are the most important element in any kind of work. If you can’t find the right people to do the job, that would be a problem.


by Eric Chen


Dr. Shu Chien

J: What are some obstacles that you come upon in research, and how do you deal with those problems?


J: Are inter-disciplinary or multi-disciplinary majors a good choice for today’s students to prepare for future research? DSC: Definitely! Science is going to be more and more interdisciplinary. The boundaries set in the old days are no longer sufficient. It was fine before, but now math, physics and chemistry are in biology, engineering, medicine, and everywhere else. Most importantly, you should have a strong foundation in the three fundamental science subjects: math, physics, and chemistry. These are the foundations of everything. If you’re strong in these three, then you can do anything. But if you are weak in one of them, then you will be less effective. J: What should be done to increase the interest of high school students in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) classes? DSC: This is very important, because the great scientists today had a great STEM foundation. In order to increase interest among students, we need to expose them to the joy of science, and let them develop interest. J: How should interested students get hands-on lab experience?

DSC: You have to contact as many professors as you can. Many professors do not have room in their labs, and mine currently has no open spaces. You have to contact one, and even if it does not work out, you have to keep on searching until you get one. J: You mention that people should take on new opportunities. However, when presented with multiple choices, how should one choose between them?




DSC: That’s hard. When I was choosing between basic science and clinical medicine, I chose basic sciences. I will never know what would have happened if I had chosen clinical medicine, but I just don’t worry about it. If you find it hard to choose between the two, that means that both choices are good, so it doesn’t matter what you choose, but you’ve got to choose. Just put your foot down and choose one. Once you choose, stick with that decision, and keep looking forward. Don’t regret your choice or wonder what you could have done differently. J: If you were to give advice to students seeking to pursue careers in areas such as medicine, science, and engineering, what would it be? DSC: I have summarized my life experience in to seven C’s, which are helpful to move forward and succeed in what you do. The seven C’s are: Compassion, Commitment, Comprehensive life-long Learning, Creativity, Cooperation, Communication, and Consummation. You need to have these seven things in mind all the time. J: Is there anything else that you would like to let high school students know? DSC: Well I think besides the seven C’s, I think it is important to be honest, ethical, and generous in what you do. You should approach teamwork with a 60/40 perspective. This means that you should give sixty percent and take back only forty percent. These are some characteristics that you should have when doing anything.

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by Ahmad Abbasi

edited by Frances Hung

The possibility of life on Mars has enticed people’s imaginations since the beginning of the science fiction era. Despite the myriad of research and rovers sent to Mars, scientists can only develop theories on the subject. There still is no concrete evidence that directly answers the question of the existence of life on Mars. However, the notion is captivating. What types of organisms are being searched for on Mars, and why? What are the signs that bolster the possibility of life on Mars, and what are those that undermine it? One of the first flybys to Mars was performed by the Mariner 4 probe. In 1965, it took the first photographs of the Martian surface. These photographs showed a dry Mars, without rivers, oceans, or any signs of life. The pictures revealed that the surface of Mars was still covered in craters, which showed a lack of weathering and plate tectonics for the last 4 billion years. They also revealed that there was no global magnetic field to protect the planet from life threatening cosmic rays. The probe calculated the atmospheric pressure of the planet to be about 0.6 kPa, in comparison to Earth’s 101.3 kPa, which means that liquid water could not exist on the planet’s surface. After the discoveries made by the Mariner 4, the original quest for life on Mars was narrowed down to a search for bacteria-like, unicellular organisms, rather than for multicellular organisms, which were too vulnerable to the harsh environment. Later, in the 1970s and 1980s, the Viking probes carried out experiments that were designed to detect organic materials and microorganisms in Martian soil. These tests were then put together to look for microbial life similar to that found on Earth. When the results arrived from Mars, the results were ambiguous. While most of the experiments detected no organic compounds in the soil, the Label Release Experiment (LR) came up with positive results. This distinct experiment set out to insert a nutrient solution into a Martian soil sample, and then measure the changes in the gaseous model container to determine whether the changes were organically induced via multiplying bacteria. The experiments carried out by the Viking probes had some interesting, yet polarizing, implications and interpretations. The LR’s designer and principal investigator, Dr. Gilbert Levin, believed and still firmly believes that his experiment proved life. However, many scientists on the Viking missions came to the conclusion that the positive results of the LR experiment only existed because of the presence of oxides in the soil and chemical reactions that occurred when the nutrient solution was mixed with the oxides. Furthermore, they believed that the oxidant chemicals in the soil could have produced the effect of the LR experiment without life being present. Another belief held by scientists contemporary to the LR experiment is that because the gas chromatograph, which was designed to identify natural organic matter, did not detect organic molecules, the LR data cannot serve as evidence of life. Others, including Rafael Navarro-Gonzalez and Levin himself, think that the equipment used by the Viking program (to search for organic molecules) may not be sensitive enough to detect small amounts of organics. They suggest that the equipment is inadequate to begin with. As a result of this great variety of interpretations, the results of the Viking mission concerning life can be considered inconclusive. Currently, researchers take the notion of water on Mars contentiously. According to lead scientist Dr. Tom Pike and his members, Mars may have been arid for more than 600 million years, making it too hostile

for any life to survive on the planet’s surface. Others, including Andrew Knoll, a paleontologist, believe that water has recently been found. However, they think that chemical and mineral evidence suggests that water on the planet is so salty and acidic that it would not support any life forms, not even microorganisms. They therefore classify potential water on Mars as uninhabitable. Advocates of the idea of water have opposing beliefs. Researchers at the American Space Agency claim that the Mars Exploration Rover Spirit recently became stuck in wet ground on Mars. They conclude that water favorable for life on Mars formed more recently than previously thought. One of NASA’s latest landers, Phoenix, supposedly dug up chunks of Martian ice. From that discovery, it was maintained that water still exists on Mars and that microorganisms are using it. Furthermore, a research team led by Brown University found evidence of a long-sought mineral that suggests Mars was home to many watery environments, including regional pockets of habitable neutral and alkaline water. Unfortunately, once again, the beliefs regarding water and their implications towards the existence of life on Mars are perplexing and directly contrasting. Despite all of these scientific theories, humanity may never know the truth of Mars. However, we can continue to observe, cogitate, and hypothesize, in the hope of one day understanding its nature. Indeed, with each step we take in understanding the nature of Mars, we take a step closer to understanding the truth of the origins of humans on Earth. As Bill Bruford, a professional English musician, would say, in not knowing the origins of us humans, “We were from totally different social backgrounds. This is what is very hard for an American to understand, but we could have been five guys from Mars.” Understanding the truth of where humans came from is definitely not the only way understanding the nature of Mars is beneficial. As pointed to earlier, the presence of Martian life could help us in shaping life forms on Earth for all sorts of industrial and agricultural applications. There are still many more ways of how life on Mars could benefit us. In the end, the deciphering of the unknown regarding life on planets other than ours may be humanity’s ultimate aspiration. Indeed, Barney Oliver, the famous scientist who made many contributions in many fields, including that of radar, would say, “Years of science fiction have produced a mindset that it is human destiny to expand from Earth, to the Moon, to Mars, to the stars.”


REFERENCES 1 Chambers, P. Life on Mars; The Complete Story (Cassell, London, 1999). 2 “The Limitations on Organic Detection in Mars – like Soils by Thermal Volatilization – Gas Chromatography – MS and their Implications for the Viking Results.” (2006). 3 “Life on Mars.” 4 Webster, G., Hoover, R., Marlaire, R., Frias, G. “Missing Piece Inspires New Look at Mars Puzzle.” (2010). 5 “Surface of Mars an Unlikely Place for Life After 600-Million-Year Drought, Say Scientists” (2012). 6 Ostman, B. “Evidence Says no Life on Mars” (2008). 7 Hough, A. “News Uncovers New ‘Life on Mars’ Evidence after Rover Got Stuck in the Mud” new-life-on-Mars-evidence-after-rover-got-stuck-in-the-mud.html (2010). 8 “NASA Reveals Life on Mars” RSS&ATTR=News (2011). 9 Lewis, R. “Life on Mars? Brown-led Research Team Says Elusive Mineral Bolsters Chances.” (2008). 10 “Mars Quotes.” (2012). 11 “Mars Quotes.” (2012).

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NUCLEAR FUSION by Tyler Johnson

edited by Namana Rao CRYSTAL LI / GRAPHIC

For hundreds of years nature has been an inspiration for problem solving. Observing the design of nature has helped in the development of almost all aspects of life. Now scientists are attempting to imitate the greatest known power source in the solar system, the sun. The process that keeps the sun burning bright is called nuclear fusion. Nuclear Fusion is simply when two light atomic nuclei fuse together resulting in the creation of a heavier nuclei, a free proton or neutron, and a massive amount of energy. Nuclear fusion produces absolutely no harmful material that can pollute the environment. There is no fossil fuel or rare uranium atoms needed. Only hydrogen isotopes which are easily synthesized from water are needed as fuel. Another ecological advantage is that the new nucleus that is formed is often Helium which is in a large shortage globally. Scientists have constructed numerous methods to achieve nuclear fusion, however, all known methods use more energy to fuse the atoms than is released in the reaction itself. Even though the particles are of the smallest objects in the known universe they have an incredible electrostatic force keeping their nuclei from getting close to each other. In order to push through the electrostatic (Coulomb) barrier, created by the positively charged protons in the nucleus, the particles must have more energy than what is keeping them apart or undergo a phenomenon called quantum tunneling. Through basic laws of physics it can be interpreted that by increasing the velocity of a particle its energy increases as well. Additionally, velocity is directly proportional to the temperature of an object, by the kinetic theory of matter. So by increasing the average velocity of a collection of particles the temperature increases with it. The correlation between velocity, temperature, and energy is why incredibly hot stars are the only natural places nuclear fusion occurs. Nuclear fusion events are not common because the conditions for them are tremendously strenuous. Nuclear fuel (mainly consisting of hydrogen isotopes) must be heated to approximately 40 million degrees Kelvin to have enough energy to fuse. The engineer Wilson Greatbatch once said “Our present nuclear fusion reactors are classified by the methods used to support the nuclear fusion reaction, which takes place at a temperature much hotter than the surface of the sun.” The process of heating a nuclear fuel to the ignition point is called thermonuclear fusion. However, a somewhat baffling phenomenon occurs in these situations called quantum tunneling that allows a few particles with energy less than that of the coulomb barrier pass through and fuse. In classical mechanics (how we describe the macroscopic world), if a person were to throw a ball at a barrier, such as a wall, one would expect the ball to just bounce back from the wall. However, in quantum mechanics matter is not held to such restrictions due to two principles: wave-particle duality 22| JOURNYS | FALL 2012

and the Heisenberg uncertainty principle. From these two principles it is gathered that even behind the barrier there is a non-zero probability of the particle being there, and although the probability may be exponentially small there can always be a particle or two that miraculously passes through. In the Standard Model, which modern physics is highly based upon there is a group of particles called leptons. The electron is a familiar member of the lepton group. However, one lepton in particular has caught the eye of physicists. The lepton known as a muon particle (µ-) can be used to induce nuclear fusion through a process called Muon-catalyzed Fusion (µCF). A muon is similar to an electron in that it has a negative charge, but contains 207 times more mass. When a muon is introduced to a hydrogen atom it will replace the electron orbiting the nucleus and subsequently cause the hydrogen isotopes to get 207 times closer to one another. When these atoms get so close together the residual force that holds nuclei together is able to overpower the electromagnetic force by being in the range at which virtual pions can be exchanged between subatomic particles, which are the mediating particles of the strong nuclear force. The now close together particles have a much higher probability of fusion, resulting in the particles being able to overcome coulomb’s barrier at room temperature! The real issue lies in the production of the muon particles. In order to produce a muon, a particle called a negative pi meson or pion (-π) first must be created. These pions are not to be confused with the virtual pions that mediate the strong nuclear force because these are what are known as real particles while the virtual pions mentioned before hand are merely disturbances in the electromagnetic field dubbed as virtual. Real negative pions immediately decay into muons. Unfortunately, the energy required for the creation of the particle is more than is created in the nuclear reactions. To add insult to injury muons have a mean lifetime of 2.2μs or about one millionth of a second, which extremely limits the amount of fusion events each muon can cause. The most efficient system so far produces around 100 fusion events. But, even with 100 nuclear fusion explosions of raw energy the amount of energy needed to produce a muon is still far greater than the output of energy. The possibility of a useful room temperature nuclear fusion reactor lies in the discovery of an efficient muon source. Our knowledge of physics is great; however, there is a vast amount of things still unknown. A step towards understanding how our world works is also a step towards keeping it going. Many people fear progress in the field of nuclear physics because of nuclear meltdowns and the looming possibility of this science being turned into even more devastating weaponry, but the fact remains that the world needs an alternative energy source. There needs to be an energy source that helps the environment instead of destroying it, keeps nations unified instead of splitting them apart and one that can hopefully ends the trend of passing on a worsening situation to the generations to come. Nuclear Fusion is a very promising field of science and if perfected can benefit the world. REFERENCES 1 Nave, R. “Nuclear fusion.” html (2000). 2 Kurtus, Ron. “Kinetic theory of matter.” (2011). 3 “Wilson Greatbatch Quotes.” 4 Nave, R. “Barrier penetration.” barr.html (2000). 5 Matsuzaki, Teiichiro. Muon catalyzed fusion for energy production. Riken Research (2009). 6 Strassler, Matt. “Virtual particles: What are they?.” articles-and-posts/particle-physics-basics/virtual-particles-what-are-they/ 7 Nave, R. “Leptons.” (2000).

Roller Coaster Design by Fabian Boemer

edited by Polina Cherezova

Anxiety, fear, acceleration, weightlessness. A myriad of sensations all experienced within a few minutes. This is the wonder, the glamor of the roller coaster. Capable of speeds topping 140 miles per hour, and climbing to heights of over 450 feet, rivaling 30 story skyscrapers, the roller coaster is a technological phenomenon. These multi-million dollar behemoths leave millions of riders in awe each year. In 2010, 189 million people visited theme parks worldwide, largely to experience the thrill of roller coasters. Roller coasters are designed to give riders the experience they seek, with a precise, calculated blueprint. The laws of physics, the human thresholds for safety and thrill, and a robotic reliability merge to form the basis of roller coaster design. Roller coaster design, therefore, has enabled a generation to experience the thrill of a lifetime. A typical roller coaster consists of a few elements. First, passengers enter a car, the vehicle they ride when traversing the track. The car varies between coasters, based on arrangement of passenger seating, and orientation of the passengers. Variations include stand-up, inverted, and 4th dimension designs. A group of connected cars forms a train, which varies only by the number of cars. The train rides along a track, essentially an ordered set of geometric elements that serves as a guide for the train. The geometry of the track, based on its constituent parts, known as elements, forms the basis of roller coaster design.

Each element, or section of the track, can be plotted in three-dimensional space. Three geometric parameters define each element. First is the arc-length of the element. Next, is the vertical angle, the angle between the forward direction and the x-y plane. Finally, the azimuth angle (annotated as θ) is the angle between the projection of the forward direction in the x-y plane and the x-axis. Elements are plotted such that their initial azimuth angles equal zero. Based on these parameters, three geometric functions are determined along the length of each element. First, the position vector defines the coordinates of each point in the element. Second, the forward vector is the derivative of the position vector with respect to arc-length, and lays tangent to the element. Finally, the radial vector, defined as the second derivative of the position vector with respect to arclength, points to the center of curvature. The curvature, the magnitude of the radial vector, must be zero at the start and end of each element, to ensure continuous curvature between elements. Manipulating parameters and functions of each element allows coaster engineers to construct familiar designs, such as the corkscrew, loop-de-loop, and ascending and descending hills and drops. Each particular element in a roller coaster must adhere to the basic physics principles on which each coaster is designed. The roller coaster car is not equipped with a motor, and must therefore rely on potential


FALL 2012 | JOURNYS | 23

energy being converted to kinetic energy to generate acceleration. A typical roller coaster begins with a hill, powered by chains or motors. As the coaster ascends, it gains potential energy, given by the formula PE=mgh, where m=mass, g=gravity, and h=height. Notice a coaster with more cars will increase the mass, in turn increasing potential energy. Likewise, a larger hill (more height) will increase potential energy. At the summit of the first hill, the coaster has large potential energy, but little kinetic energy. As the coaster begins to descend, potential energy is converted to kinetic energy. Kinetic energy is given by the formula KE=(mv2)/2. Again, a larger train, with more mass, will increase kinetic energy. In a perfect system, the sum of potential and kinetic energies will equal a constant, k. However, the coaster relies on outside forces, such as air resistance, friction between the cars and track, and brakes on the track, to decrease this sum. By the end of a coaster, k will decrease to zero, and the coaster stops. The coaster design is based on these concrete principles, allowing for precise calculations of forces riders experience in each element. The most critical force to monitor, as coasters become increasingly inventive and extreme, is the gravitational force. These G-forces, based on standard gravity as 1 G, measure acceleration, not force, of a coaster car. A G-force larger than one indicates the passenger feels acceleration larger than earth’s gravity, while a zero G-force indicates weightlessness. Safety measures generally limit allowed G-forces to 4 Gs. Based on Newton’s second law of motion, force equals mass times acceleration. In roller coasters, G-force is the acceleration, and force is the weight the passenger experience. Thus, an average American male of 190 lbs. experiencing 4 G’s would feel 4*190= 760 lbs. of force. Imagine three large sumo wrestlers sitting on your stomach, and it is obvious why coasters maintain a 4 G maximum acceleration. The loop-de-loop, the climax of any coaster, is designed to minimize G-forces. Initially, coaster designers built loops in a perfect circle. However, these circular loops require greater entry speed to complete, increasing the G force passengers undergo. In response, modern roller coasters employ clothoid loops, with a large radius through the bottom half, and a smaller radius through the top of the loop. Clothoid loops roughly resemble a teardrop. The large radius on the bottom of the loop reduces centripetal acceleration, thereby reducing the G-forces. The smaller loop on top increases the centripetal acceleration, allowing the coaster to finish the loop without losing much speed. This, in turn, allows trains to enter loops at a lower initial speed, thereby further reducing G-forces.

Roller coasters are based purely on principles of physics. Designers exhaustively calculate the acceleration, velocity, momentum, G-forces riders experience every moment of the ride. After the coaster is constructed, thousands of test runs, equipped with water-filled dummies and acceleration-sensitive measuring equipment, ensure the coaster runs as smoothly and optimally as designed. Strict guidelines for inspection, computer-monitored controllers, and careful design ensure roller coasters are among the safest thrills to be had. The chance of a fatal injury at a theme park is only one in 1.5 billion. By comparison, the chance of fatal injury in a car crash is nearly 15 in 10,000, over 2 million times as high. Roller coasters are essentially controlled physics experiments. The predictability of their outcomes, the precise designs, the computable parameters for every second of the ride, allows roller coasters to unleash new human experiences. The roller coaster has become a trademark of amusement parks worldwide, thrilling a generation of people.

REFERENCES 1 Levine, A. “The World’s 10 Fastest Roller Coasters.” (2012). 2 “Tallest Roller Coaster.” (2011). 3 Jeffers, G. et al. 2010 Theme Index: The Global Attractions Attendance Report. 4, documents/2010%20Theme%20Index.pdf (2010). 4 “Roller Coaster” (2012) . 5 Weiss, D. L. Dynamic Simulation and Analysis of Roller Coasters University of California, Davis (1998). 6 Morris, C. C. Amusement Ride-Related Injuries and Deaths in the United States: 1987-2000 U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (2001). 7 Zador, P. L., Krawchuk, S. A., Voas, R. B. Relative Risk of Fatal Crash Involvement by BAC, Age, and Gender DOT HS 809 050 (2000).

24 | JOURNYS | FALL 2012

A Futuristic Design of a Heavenly Abode by Siddharth Tripathy

The topmost, smaller torus is allocated for agricultural purposes. By maintaining it at 0.7 g, maximum yield per square meter of agriculture is achieved through better growth of root systems of plants. The industrial and manufacturing sectors are established in the lowest torus, which is also configured at 0.7g gravity to minimize the amount of dust floating around due to industrial processes. Cylindrical spaceport accommodates passenger spacecraft and cargo ships on the lower part of the central axle. It is also equipped with robotic arms and automated systems for cargo handling and mining operations. The industrial zone is located close to the docking port for ease in transportation of materials and products. At the central part of this symmetrical space settlement, a non-rotating cylindrical shaped central utility center is built; this provides zero-g recreation and entertainment facilities for the space residents. Staying here can be an exciting experience for space tourists. The top most rotating cylinder with dome shaped transparent ceiling serves as a cosmological observatory. Residents as well as tourists can enjoy the beautiful, external space view and observe celestial bodies through advanced telescopes. Lastly the cylindrical axle, which is the backbone of settlement, is maintained at micro-gravity with its central zone called transport module which provides space elevator service for both human and materials. Details of Structural design 1. Central Axle and Spokes: The central axle is cylindrical in shape and provides the backbone support. The link between the central axle and each torus is made through three cylindrical radial spokes situated at 120o to each other. Safety and stability of our space settlement mainly depends on the proper design and planning of the spokes and hence these are to be securely attached to the axle. The spokes and the central axle cylinder primarily serve as transportation corridors linking the residential, agricultural, and industrial tori. Further water distribution pipes and electrical cabling are to be laid inside those pathways for convenience in operation. The radius of the spokes is fifty meters to permit easier transportation and maintenance. As the central axle is stationary and the four tori are rotating, it is necessary that the spokes should not come into direct contact with the rotating tori. An arrangement is provided where the

Fig. 1 Front view of proposed settlement FALL 2012 | JOURNYS | 25


Someday Earth may become uninhabitable either due to collision with a large asteroid or due to severe natural disasters. Therefore, systematic planning to move off the planet and settle in space may be prudent. This will not disturb the Earth’s biosphere. My space settlement design aims to provide exceedingly proficient and enjoyable living amenities with provisions for future expansion. The configuration is envisioned to emerge as a major scientific research laboratory as well as a business hub in space in the near future. Various important zones of the settlement are demonstrated in the following figure. The proposed space settlement design is based on multilevel architecture, which is capable of providing a clean environment for both residents and plants. Hence the industrial, agricultural and residential sections are separately located at various levels. Four parallel and rotating tori are supported on a cylindrical central axle through radial spokes at 120o angles. Two parallel tori, located in the center of the structure, accommodate the space residents in a distributed manner such that, in case of a failure in any of the residential torus, they can be accommodated in the other. Both the residential sectors rotate close to one rotation per minute (rpm) to maintain a pseudo-gravity of around one g, and are pressurized zones with atmospheric composition similar to Earth’s biological living conditions. Additional curved pathways with cylindrical inner modules (gravity varying from zero g to about one g) are provided in two residential zones to facilitate major scientific research laboratories where experiments can be carried out at sub-g levels.

edited by Apoorva Mylavarapu


spokes make use of electromagnets of same charge preventing any direct contact with the central axle. 2. Internal Arrangement with layout of different sectors The space settlement has been planned to keep residential and commercial zones effectively distributed in the two mirror symmetric tori to facilitate business planning. A center of commerce interfaces among consumers, business and human resources. Facilities like medical institutions, educational institutions, religious centers, amusement parks, shopping complexes, sports facilities, banks etc. shall also be located in these two residential sectors. Aesthetically appealing parks with ornamental trees and bushes, monuments, and water bodies will spread over the entire down surface area of the space colony. The layout has been planned to optimize various factors like quality of life, living conditions, transport, and communication. Also, scope for future expansion has been ensured through free space provisions. The agricultural torus divides its total available area for growing and harvesting crops, animal husbandry and facilities for food processing, package and storage are provided. Similarly the industrial module distributes and allocates its area for manufacturing, metal pre-refining processing, textile, fiber, glass, plastic and robotics industries etc. Electrical power generation and distribution grids for supply and storage are located in this area. Advanced research will be conducted in the cylindrical corridor modules connecting the two residential sectors. Major subjects like genetic, microbiological, extra-terrestrial material research, psychological impact of long-term space living, etc. can be studied.

ment. A medical quarantine module is located here, where people from residential zones infected with contagious and fatal diseases are kept under strict medical supervision to check spreading of disease. 4. Central Utility Center The micro-g cylindrical utility center located on the central axle allocates space for various purposes. This utility center has a zero-g research center providing opportunities, such as critical medical research, for different scientists. Zero-g creates scope for several types of entertainment. It houses a huge sports complex, an amusement park, a science city, a museum, swimming pools and an orbital hotel for fun, thrill and unparalleled adventure. Various zero-g physically stimulating activities are available here to enhance the mental alertness of the space residents and allow the residents to enjoy the feeling of being totally weightless. Regular sports like soccer and tennis, and adventure sports like bungee jumping and wall climbing can be enjoyed in the sports stadium. Some space tourists may also benefit from using the zero gravity zones for medical therapies.

5. Docking Port A cylindrical space port with a conical top is located at the bottom end of the central shaft below the industrial torus and is non-rotating to ensure safety. It has separate arrangements for the passenger’s port and the cargo port. Spacecrafts carrying passengers from earth and other space settlements will dock into the passenger port after the space port traffic controller gives permission. A spacecraft preparing to dock projects a suspension cylinder, which is guided into the docking bay with magnetic plates, and the space3. Low to high gravity zones craft lands with its pull. The spaceship air locks are adjusted. Four curved tubular pasThen, the loading of passengers and cargo will sages connect each torus start, followed by regular maintenance, repair, with the adjacent torus. and refueling. Passengers leaving the space colThese tubes are pathway ony have to wait in the lounge, which is near corridors which can be utithe central space elevator. Special cargo hanlized for immediate escape dling facilities and conveyor belts will separate in case of emergency. The the cargo of residents, tourists, and transit pasfour curved corridors of rasengers and accordingly transfer cargo to the dius 80 meters connecting residential torus, orbital hotel, or respective two residential zones are space craft. The space craft detaches from the shaped, modularized and departure terminals after passengers board and pressurized specifically to heads towards its destination. Robots are used be utilized as scientific and to ensure precise docking of the space crafts, research laboratories, and Internal view of the residential torous inspection and damage repair. Cargo ports are as a space adaptation center dedicated to cargo handling, cargo loading and for the transient population. Biological and biomedical re- unloading which are handled completely through fully ausearch activities under the effect of varying gravity condi- tomated systems. A dedicated dock is provided in case of tions in space can be well-monitored in this zone. The tran- emergency repair of spacecraft. sient population is most likely to experience several medical and psychological disorders, as they are suddenly exposed 6. Cosmological Observatory Staying at the space settlement can be an exciting exand unaccustomed to the space environment. Also due to perience to its residents as well as to space tourists from frequent space journeying, several unhealthy symptoms earth. Space observations, panoramic views of earth, and like vomiting, sleeplessness, headache, drowsiness, lethargy, astronomical discoveries and breakthroughs are possible and claustrophobia affect their health. The adaptation center acclimatizes the transient population to space living and in the observatory located towards one end of the central also trains them for better adaptability in the space environ- axle corridor. The roof of this zone is built up of layers of 26 | JOURNYS | FALL 2012

transparent material enabling a breath-taking and mesmerizing view of the outer space and also a study of various celestial objects. Astronomers can closely analyze important cosmological phenomena using the high resolution optical telescopes provided here.


Construction Materials Selection of materials for construction of the space settlement will be done keeping in mind various important criteria such as optimum radiation shielding of residents, protection against damage due to frequent space collisions and debris, adequate thermal insulation, and availability of suitable raw materials (resources in the moon and nearby asteroids) for the economic feasibility of the structure. Materials from metal to alloy sheets are mostly processed in the lunar base after extraction from lunar soil and nearby asteroids; some are also carried from earth. The agricultural torus and the space observatory will have transparent ceilings to help natural plant growth and to give a splendid view of the stars, moon and earth. In the residential sector, Phosphorescent Organic LED screens activate an artificial sky so that duration of day/night can be controlled automatically. Sequence of Construction The construction sequence of the proposed space settlement has been planned in the following suitable manner to facilitate handling of the construction materials through robots, optimum structural stability, and completion of the project in scheduled time. It is described in the sequence below and in Figure 2. 1-UNO - Construction of central axle is undertaken first. 2-DUO - Central utility centre is attached to the axle. 3-TRIO - Twelve spokes are attached to the central axle to support the four tori. 4-QUADRO - First segment of four tori are constructed simultaneously. 5-PENTO - Second segment of four tori are attached . 6-HEXO - Third segment of four tori are completed with complete linkage to central axle. 7-HEPTO - Seventh Sequence - Pathway corridors interconnecting the tori are attached. 8-OCTO - Docking port is constructed. 9-NANO - Finally the cosmological observatory is fixed on the top end of the central axle and it completes the structural design

Figure 2 Construction Sequences This futuristic design of space settlement is innovative, and can offer customized living amenities for permanent human habitation outside Earth. Space tourism will flourish and huge revenues will be earned. Though initially construction of such a colony will be time consuming and costly, eventually it will be prove to be economical in providing exciting opportunities to mankind through space colonization.

REFERENCES 1 Heppenheimer, Thomas A. Colonies in Space. Harrisburg: Stackpole Books, 1977. Web. 2 O’Neill, Gerard K. Space Settlements: A Design Study. Honolulu Hawaii: University Press of the Pacific, 2004. Web. 3 O’Neill, Gerard K. The High Frontier: Human Colonies in Space. New York: William Morrow & Company,1977. Web. 4 Johnson, Richard D., and Charles H. Holbrow. Space Settlements: A Design Study. Washington: Scientific and Technical Information Office, National Aeronautics and Space Administration, 1977. Print. 5 O’Neill, Gerard K. “The Colonization of Space.” Physics Today 27.9 (1974): 32-40. Print. 6 Griffin, B. N. Design Guide: The Influence of Zero-G and Acceleration on the Human Factors of Spacecraft Design, NASA, Johnson Space Center , August 1978. Print. 7 Hall, Thomas W. “Artificial Gravity and the Architecture of Orbital Habitats.” Space Future. 20 Mar. 1997. Web. 20 Feb. 2012. 8 Spencer, John, and Rugg, Karen L. Space Tourism: Do You Want to Go?. Burlington, Ont.: Apogee, 2004. Print. 9 Baldo, M. A., S. Lamansky, P. E. Burrows, M. E. Thompson, and S. R. Forrest. “Very High-efficiency Green Organic Light-emitting Devices Based on Electrophosphorescence.” Applied Physics Letters 75.1 (1999): 4-6. Print.

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Space Based Missile Defenses




Wars have always been on land in the past, but Star Wars may become the new reality. The space frontier opens up many new opportunities for development, both good and bad. Many countries are developing their nuclear missile technologies, including Russia, China, US, Pakistan, and Iran. With so many countries advancing their space weapon technologies, the US is looking further into developing its military defense systems. Space Based Missile Defenses (SBMDs) may be the key to keep the US safe and prevent international conflict that could result in another World War. SBMDs are designed to deflect and neutralize nuclear missiles as they struggle up out of the atmosphere, or while in boost phase. Interceptors ram the warhead at a very high closing speed, destroying the target using only kinetic energy. This approach is described as “hitting a bullet with another bullet.” Another defense approach uses directed energy, in the form of lasers, to destroy the target. These space missiles target other missiles in the beginning of their ascent, a period in which the missiles are most vulnerable to neutralization. If nuclear missiles are left active after the boost phase, they can launch decoys that make targeting very difficult. As a result, deflecting nuclear missiles early on increases the success rate and lightens the load for missile defenses at a later stage. By implementing a missile defense system in space, the advantage of height is also taken into account. Installing the unit into space allows it to have much greater range and speed than missile defenses on land, sea, or air. The increase in range allows SBMDs to replace hundreds of thousands of land and sea based missile defenses. Because of this range, the maintenance cost will be greatly reduced. One single unit can reach any point on Earth within 90 minutes. Individually, 90 minutes may seem like a long time, but a group of SBMDs can reach a threatening missile almost instantaneously. These improvements are ideal for reducing government spending, improving security, and maximizing efficiency. Rogue nations such as Iran and North Korea are striving to develop nuclear warheads in an attempt to gain dominance in the new frontier, and estimates say that Iran is in position to develop such weapons by 2015 (FPA). The threat is imminent, and the SBMD system is a potential solution to this problem. Ideally, the implementation of such a system would prevent rogue

by Eric Chen








edited by Ethan So CAUTION




nations from uncontrollably developing nuclear technologies. Without SBMDs, the possibility of a Third World War would be increased, and in comparison to the previous world wars, the war would be far more destructive. Through the implementation of SMBDs, the US would be able establish hegemony in space as well as on Earth, and thus help to ensure peace. As attractive as this defense system may seem, there are many who oppose the idea of such a defense system. Critics say that if the US develops such a system, it would increase rather than decrease the probability of war. Others say that instead of preventing nuclear war, the SBMDs would spur other nations onto the fast track of nuclear arms development. Some countries would have the suspicion that the US would be developing nuclear warheads and not just a defense system. This would cause other nations to feel pressured to develop their nuclear capabilities. This attempt to “militarize” space by the US would destroy the relations with Russia and China. Russia would be pushed into reinforcing their already strict nuclear position, and China would be pressured to quickly develop their nuclear capabilities. The risk of a space race limits the possibilities that the US has to implement this system. Another main issue for this plan is the sheer cost. Although one SBMD can replace thousands of land, sea, or air based missile defenses, a single unit in still expensive. Considering the current economic state of the US, an expensive plan would not do the economy any good. Sending a pound of anything into space costs $10,000, so sending a developed defense system would cost many times that. As mind-boggling as the cost of one massive unit would be, effective defense would not require just one unit, but many more to be effective. Many critics say that the cost of this plan makes it unreasonable, but yet others still believe nuclear defense is worth the cost. Should the US implement SBMDs, or should they wait to see how other countries will react? The cost of this plan and the risk of a space race seems like a lot to risk, but so does the possibility of a Third World War. Implementing the SBMD system could either be a heroic or possibly a disastrous move. Policymakers have not yet made the decision, but one thing is for sure – whatever the decision, the result will be tremendous.

ANGELA WU / GRAPHIC REFERENCES 1 Peterson, Scott. “NPT 101: Which Countries Have Nuclear Weapons? -” The Christian Science Monitor - 3 May 2010. Web. 28 Nov. 2011. <http://www.>. 2 Kleinberg, Howard. A Global Missile Defense Network: Terrestrial High-Energy Lasers and Aerospace Mirrors. UNC Wilmington, 2011. Print. 3 “Frequently Asked Questions.” The Missile Defense Agency - MDA - U.S. Department of Defense. Web. 28 Nov. 2011. <>. 4 Krepon, Michael. “Avoiding the Weaponization of Space.” The Stimson Center | Pragmatic Steps for Global Security. Nov. 2004. Web. 28 Nov. 2011. <>.

28 | JOURNYS | FALL 2012


Danger of the Color RED

by: Daniella Park edited by: Frances Hung

Getting back an unsatisfactory test score with countless red marks is a painful experience most high school students have to endure. While students try to justify the unsatisfactory grade—the lack of sleep the day before, the crushing amount of homework due for another class—one factor these students do not often suspect is the color of the shirt the person in front of them was wearing when they took the test. Although it seems like an unlikely reason for the grade, merely seeing the color red can impair the overall performance of test takers [1].

Color comes from a single beam of white light, which can be observed indicating a loss of concentration [1]. All the test takers were unaware through a triangular, flat-sided block of clear glass otherwise known as of red’s effects. a prism. As it enters the prism, the white light slows down, since light Elliot justifies these findings with the term avoidance motivation; travels more slowly through glass or plastic than through just space. The because the test takers exposed to the color red are trying to avoid doing colors that make up white light slow down at different rates, creating the poorly, they end up losing focus on what they should be concentrating on diverse colors in the visible spectrum. The wavelengths of the different [5]. These findings indicate that avoidance motivation can be activated colors determine the amount of refraction (the bending of light). Violet, subtly and without the knowledge of the individual [1]. This fear of failure, which travels in shorter waves, is refracted the most while red, which one all high school students can relate to, may stem from the fact that travels in larger waves, is refracted the least [2]. The visible colors are most teachers use red ink to correct their students’ work. Additionally, believed to have universal meanings, as the warm colors (red, orange, and red is often connected with danger yellow) correlate to the feelings of warmth, comfort, anger, and hostility or avoidance in general, one reason and the cool colors (blue, purple, and green) correlate to emotions such for its usage in stop signs and brake as tranquility, sadness, and indifference [3]. lights. Elliot observes that modern In his study, Andrew Elliot performed six experiments to test his primates, when competing over the hypothesis stating that the color red impairs the performance level of test same mate, often turn red on their takers. In his first experiment, chests or faces due to testosterone 71 US undergraduates were surges. These changes signal tested on their anagram coding other competing primates to stay abilities using three random away, since the primate with the tests that contained a number testosterone surges is viewed as colored either red, green, or the dominant and more powerful black. While red is a warm competitor [5]. It is highly likely color that often provokes the that this association between CINDY YANG/GRAPHIC feeling of danger, green is a testosterone and color leads to cool color which is associated the avoidance motivation found with the meaning of “go”, as in those exposed to red in the experiments; can be seen in their usage in scientists still debate whether this characteristic traffic lights [1]. The results is innate or evolutionary. revealed that those who took If the link between red and danger is innate, the test with the red participant there is no way to avoid avoidance motivation. number scored 20 percent Even if the human brain is processed to connect lower than those who had the TENAYA KOTHARI/GRAPHIC the two together, knowing the harmful effects green or black tests [4]. In the the color red has on test takers will not diminish second and third experiments, factors like colors, location, and test type its effects. Therefore, underestimating the color is elementary, as it could were altered. The results for both were similar to the first experiment, as be the final subtle factor that either makes or breaks a grade. the test takers with the test marked with red trailed significantly behind the test takers with the green or white test. Experiment four changed the tasks from language-based to number-based and altered the color REFERENCES manipulations using the HSV model, which defines color in terms of 1 Elliot, A.J., Maier, M.A., Moller, A.C., Friedman, R., Meinhardt, J. Color and psychological functioning: The effect of red on performance in achievement contexts. Journal of hue, saturation, and value that correlate to brightness, and those exposed Experimental Psychology: General 136, 154-168 (2007). to red had the lowest mean average of correctly answered questions. In experiment five, the test takers were asked to identify the desired number 2 The World of Science (Backpack Books, New York, 1999). of easy and hard questions on their tests. Interestingly enough, out of 3 Cherry, K. “Color Psychology - The Psychology of Color.” od/sensationandperception/a/colorpsych.htm (2012). the people prompted by various color manipulations, those exposed to red chose the greatest number of easy questions, showing no desire to 4 Cherry, K. “Will the Color Red Hurt Your Test Results.” http://psychology.about. challenge themselves. In the last experiment, electroencephalography com/b/2007/11/13/color-and-test-results.htm (2007). (EEG) was used to identify the effects of color on frontal cortical 5 Gramza, J. “Red & Lower Test Scores.” asymmetry in order to test a possible reason for the poor performance php3?article_id=218392927 (2007). levels of participants exposed to red. EEG measures the electrical activity of the brain by tracking and recording brain waves. Participants in the red condition evinced more relative right frontal activation than others, FALL 2012 | JOURNYS | 29

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According to Dr. Ferrari, a notable expert in procrastination research, there is no “band-aid solution” for procrastination. It begins with insight, and then understanding what you have to do. Procrastinating has many effects on personal health as well as the health of many of the relationships you have [6]. The best chance at solving procrastination is simply to plan things out ahead of time and make sure you’re focusing on only that one thing. Once you have taken a stand and are committed to breaking procrastination’s hold on you, simple things like exercising, eating a healthier diet, waking up early, planning a schedule, and tuning out distractions allow time for your frontal lobe to process things in more efficient manner and help organize your thoughts for the task ahead[6]. All in all, procrastination is a natural impulse that all humans experience from time to time. While the exact origins of procrastination are unknown, a stressful life and upbringing are known to be key factors. The best way to get around this is by simply planning things out, and leading a more relaxed life. Procrastination is not inherently bad for us, as it is simply an impulse used to protect us from our stress; however it is when procrastination becomes a habit that it starts to threaten our wellbeing and our personal ways of life.

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At some point in their lives, each human-being has experienced their share of procrastination. Some of us are more prone to it than others, and many people wonder, “What is procrastination and why do we do it?” Procrastination is defined as “putting off activities that were planned or scheduled, for activities that are of a lesser importance” and is actually a normal reaction to stress. There is a biological conflict that happens in our brains when faced with a task that is a lot more than just a feeling of laziness. To understand procrastination fully, one must comprehend the reasons for procrastination, the effects of procrastination, and prevention of procrastination. It may come as a surprise to many that procrastination can be traced to a biological reaction and is not necessarily part of a lazy habit or lifestyle. The human brain is truly amazing, with so many parts working to not only sustain life and consciousness but also to regulate our emotions. The limbic system, located within the pleasure sensor of the brain, is one such part that has been directly linked to biological procrastination [1]. Running at a near-constant rate, the main function of the limbic system is to regulate, calm, and control our emotions [1]. It plays a key part in our survival and has been linked to self-preservation behavior. However, it also attempts to calm us when overladen with stress and one technique of doing this is the powerful suggestion of procrastination. When this happens, the limbic system attempts to put off immediate duties until later and find a stress-free environment. This instantly causes a reaction within another part of our brain – the prefrontal cortex. The prefrontal cortex is located directly behind the forehead and is responsible for decision-making and higher order critical thinking [2]. Many have encountered this when deciding whether or not to put off something for the time being. Because of its vicinity to the pleasure sensor, the limbic system is very persuasive in its attempts to regulate our stress [1]. Procrastination is not inherently bad, and more often than not takes a huge load off our shoulders at the time being. However, there is more to the reasoning behind procrastination than just the biological component. As previously mentioned, there are many reasons why our minds convince us to procrastinate. Today, twenty percent of our population identify themselves as chronic procrastinators, but why does it affect them more than others [3]? According to an MSNBC study, early signs of procrastination cannot be discovered at birth but are influenced by families and friends as our lives develop. Children of authoritarian fathers, for example, are more likely to become procrastinators. This may be a form of rebellion, but what is known is that these types of children turn towards their friends for support instead of their parents, who are more supportive of their excuses, thus leading to a more procrastinating nature [3]. Along with the origins of procrastination, there are many widespread reasons that apply to us all. According to Nicki Button, a psychologist, “some of these causes include fear, perfectionism, trouble getting started, and insufficient time planning and feeling that the task is too complex” [4]. These are the basic causes of procrastination that affect us all, subjecting us to put things off. The effects of procrastination vary depending on the situation, but the primary one is stress. By putting things off to the last minute, the mind is filled with anxiety that has a negative impact on your mind [5]. Additionally, a myriad of problems arise when putting things off to the last minute. These include lower happiness, a lack of self-confidence, and negative behavior, all of which have noticeable effects on one’s personality [5]. So how can people stop procrastinating? Well, the first step in stopping procrastination is to take a stand [6]. There are a couple of ways to do this.

by Konrad Kern edited by Joy Li

30 | JOURNYS | FALL 2012

MAHIMA AVANTI/GRAPHIC REFERENCES 1Button, Nicki. The science behind procrastination. The Cornell Dai. Sun. http://cornellsun. com/node/39255 (2011). 2. Association for Psychological Science(Note to Editor, this was the author given). Why we procrastinate and how to stop. Sci Dai. releases/2009/01/090112110106.htm (2011). 3. Nelson, Jennifer.Why you procrastinate and how to stop. MSNBC Today. http://today. (2010). 4. Vasquez, Manuel. NSTA Learning Center. (2010). 5. Pychyl, Timothy. Awareness: a key piece in the procrastination puzzle. Phyc. Tod. http:// awareness-key-piece-in-theprocrastination-puzzle (2011) 6. Ferrari, Joseph. Still Procrastinating: The No Regrets Guide to Getting It Done (John Wiley & Sons, New York, 2010).

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The Crucial Role of Government in Scientific Endeavors by Neal Nathan edited by Nathan Manohar

*DISCLAIMER: The views of the author do not necessarily reflect the views of the Journal of Youths in Science With the upcoming Presidential and Congressional elections, there has been a lot of rhetoric regarding the role and size of government in everyday events ranging from income taxes to abortion. With Republicans and conservatives favoring a minimized size and role of government regardless of the ramifications directed at the average American citizen, and Democrats favoring a government that has policies and regulations that are conducive to helping and protecting the average American citizen, the dichotomy is further made apparent when the two sides describe their stances on science-based policies. This piece will strive to prove that government plays an essential part in furthering scientific endeavors and a necessary role in science-related industries ranging from energy to healthcare, clarify the ever increasing dichotomy between the two parties, and convince you the reader and future voter that the Obama Administration and Democratic Party is operating the correct campaign in promoting the scientific community. Many conservatives pose the question of why government is justified in investing in research and development and other scientific policies. Although this concern can be fair in that the government should espouse policies and campaigns of efficiency that maximize the utility of the tax payer’s dollars, it is imperative to evaluate the consequences derived from the employment of the plans of both parties before making rash actions. Experts such as Vannevar Bush, the former president of the Carnegie Institution in Washington and vice president of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have answered this fundamental question by asserting the constitutional claim that the “[f]ederal government, by virtue of its charge to provide for the common defense and general welfare, has the responsibility of encouraging and aiding scientific progress.” Therefore, government has the constitutional duty to invest in scientific investigation and innovation, and enable its constituents to exercise their natural rights regarding their health. With this understanding of the legal justification, recognition of and action on this explicit moral responsibility for government to provide for the “general welfare,” is imperative under the utilitarian framework of a democratic government that predicates that the state strives to mitigate the suffering of its people a

n d enact

policies and invest in beneficial scientific programs. Over the years, government has acted on this responsibility and invested in scientific operations, and the overwhelming majority of outcomes derived from government’s intervention has been fruitful, and have helped the people as a whole. Let’s take a look at a few things that we have today thanks to the federal government. As a direct result of government involvement, the Centers for Disease Control is able to produce and provide vaccines, and the National Science Foundation is able to “develop and promote” federal science policy and to implement policies aimed at supporting “basic research in non-profit organizations (Independent).” Furthermore, through the creation of the Environmental Protection Agency, which Republicans want to dismantle and Gov. Romney wants to weaken, if not eliminate, the federal government is able to gain in net profits 58.5 to 522.2 billion dollars annually [1]. In addition to the profitability of this agency, solely based on the most recent ruling regarding air quality improvements in 27 states on the eastern part of the country, the following benefits are expected: 13,000–34,000 lives saved (which EPA describes as avoiding “premature mortality”), 15,000 fewer heart attacks, 19,000 fewer hospital and emergency room visits, 820,000 fewer cases of respiratory symptoms, and 1.7 million more work days (because workers are not too sick to go to work) [2]. These statistics demonstrate the objective benefits that the people reap from governmentderived initiatives, and the fact that a Romney Administration would eliminate these regulations that save lives underscores dangers of a President who fights solely for the profits of corporations rather than for the average American citizen. Not to mention that Romney has not fully embraced the concepts of global warming and climate change, and employs Andrea Saul as campaign press secretary and chief spokesperson for the Romney campaign, who “worked on anti-climatescience campaigns on behalf of Exxon,” at a lobbying firm that worked to undermine climate science on behalf of corporations [3]. Moreover, the EPA proposed Clean Air Act alone, would greatly augment these benefits of effective regulation by providing $2 trillion worth of benefits with only $65 billion in costs [2]. Without the EPA, these regulations would not have been implemented or enforced. Therefore, the assertions by the Republican, Tea, and Libertarian Parties


that we can do away with this vital agency that acts toward the best interest of citizens and literally saves life, is entirely fallacious and immoral, as this agency enables the scientific investigation and action that protects the American people. Now this article is not insinuating that Republicans and conservatives are disregarding the welfare of American citizens for the sake of alleviating the federal deficit, but rather that members of these two ideologies are advocating haste actions for the wrong reasons. If Republicans excessively cut federal spending like they plan to do if they take total control of the branches of government, then individual state spending for programs has to increase, and with states cutting on spending, then local spending would have to increase, and with cities and towns cutting spending, these helpful programs and agencies will have to be shut down, and people will have to go without healthcare or work. Without care of the consequences, Republicans are vowing to decrease regulations to support corporations and the “privileged class,” and to chop away parts of the government in order to have “freedom,” an issue that opens up another can of worms that proves conservatives to be agents of contradiction. In addition to establishing programs, research endeavors, and enacting policies to protect and provide for the average citizen, the government directly enables the achievement of scientific knowledge through the Department of Education. An agency, which Gov. Romney wants to drastically reduce till its only purpose is to hunt after teacher’s unions and dismantle organizations that fight for teachers [4]. It is through the establishment of educational standards regarding science, that students and future scientists are able to learn science subjects in accordance to these standards that ensure the maximization of benefits from learning science in school through the achievement of the fundamental components of scientific knowledge. The government also facilitates secondary and more in depth knowledge by providing essential federally funded grants. These publicly derived scholarships are imperative as the private sector despite record profits is not willing to invest in research and development or even “job create.” Under the Obama Administration achievements in the scientific and research based fields include: removed restrictions and provided support for embryonic stem-cell research and new biomedical research, extended the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology, supported Landsat Data Continuity Mission to enhance earth mapping and surveying, provided new federal funding for science and research labs, provided grants to early-career researchers, and optimized the Security of Biological Select Agents and Toxins in the United States. Furthermore, President Obama has championed the Green Industry with the following results: First President to create detailed vision for clean energy economy, wind power growth up 39% due to government stimulus, almost 5 million charging stations by 2015, and the creation of more than 68,000 permanent jobs in the clean energy sector [5,6]. While Mitt Romney argues for a fossil fuels-based energy plan practically

written by big oil companies that takes drill baby drill to the next level and asserts for more drilling with less regulation, thus increasing risk and probability of accidents and spills such as the Deep Water Horizon spill in the Gulf of Mexico, President Obama provides an “all of the above,” plan that is comprehensive in addressing energy needs. The Obama administration, with the presence of effective regulation, has increased the federal lands available for obtaining oil, increased national oil production and oil reserves, and invested in renewable energy in a manner that creates green jobs and research right here in America. Therefore, not only does the government play a vital role in maintaining the health of our country and economy, but also enables President Obama to initiate policies that facilitate growth and discovery in the scientific field. The other side of aisle dismisses these accomplishments by labeling them as detrimental, as the hands of “big government” fostered these advancements. Former Republican presidential candidate Jon “Huntsman’s declaration in support of both evolution and humancaused global warming made him an outlier,” compared to his fellow contenders: demonstrating a lack of fundamental knowledge by the Republican presidential hopefuls in 2012. Furthermore, according to the NY Times, “Federal financing of science research, which has risen quickly since the Obama administration came to power, could fall back to pre-Obama levels if the incoming Republican leadership in the House of Representatives follows through on its list of campaign promises.” Therefore, the Republican party in its war on science is advocating policies against the scientific community and launching a campaign of cuts on nonmilitary research and development rather than find ways to either implement a fairer tax code, or cut from wasteful spending in the military. If Republicans gain control of government, they will continue to gut the budget of the National Institutes of Health. The NIH is an agency that utilizes every dollar spent as, for every dollar it awards for research, nine dollars are added to the economy. Republicans will also impose draconian regulations (ironic, huh?) that significantly undermine the NIH. Recent plans have included regulations to make sure that the secretary of Health and Human Services certifies that every single grant awarded is of “scientific value,” a Republican proposed regulation that would drastically slow down scientific research that is already hampered and unable to perform helpful experiments due to the lack funds [7]. Thus, the Republican Party proposes legislation that is not only not in the best interests of the country and the American people, but also specifically targets and weakens the scientific community. Due to the benefits conferred by the government’s involvement in science, and the Obama Administration’s support for research and investigation, the Democratic Party must gain the support of scientists and others, and President Obama must be re-elected to a second term in order to reignite the Bunsen burners of change and catalyze the curiosity of a country. l

REFERENCES 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7.

Vaughn, Garrett. “The U.S. EPA’s Regulatory Clean Air Benefit-Cost Estimates.” Master Resource: A Free-market Energy Blog. Master Resource, 31 Mar. 2011. Web. 02 Sept. 2012. <>. United States of America. United States Environmental Protection Agency. Air and Radiation. EPA. By United States Environmental Protection Agency. Environmental Protection Agency, 25 Nov. 2011. Web. 3 Mar. 2012. <>. Sheppard, Kate. “Political MoJo: Romney Spokeswoman Promoted Climate Change Denial on Behalf of Exxon.” Mother Jones. Mother Jones, 8 Aug. 2012. Web. 27 Aug. 2012. <>. Stein, Sam. “Mitt Romney’s Caution On Department Of Education Owed To ‘94 Campaign Ad.” The Huffington Post., 17 Apr. 2012. Web. 27 Aug. 2012. <>. Obama’s Achievements Center. “Obama Administration’s Achievements (Thus Far).” Obama’s Achievements Center. Obama’s Achievements Center, 2012. Web. 3 Mar. 2012. <>. Schultz, Ed. “The Ed Show.” The Ed Show. MSNBC. 18 Jan. 2012. The Ed Show on MSNBC TV. MSNBC, 19 Jan. 2012. Web. 3 Mar. 2012. <http://www.msnbc.>. Transcript. McClure, Julie. “ASBMB Policy Blotter “House Appropriations Committee”” ASBMB Policy Blotter. ASBMB Policy Blotter, 25 July 2012. Web. 27 Aug. 2012. <>.



EDITOR IN CHIEF Apoorva Mylavarapu INTERSCHOOL COMMITTEE MEMBERS Angela Wang (Westview), Michelle Banayan (Beverly Hills), Kenneth Xu (Scripps Ranch) CHAPTER PRESIDENTS Anunay Kulshrestha (Delhi Public School), Deanie Chen (Olathe East), Kevin Li (Palo Alto), Mohammed Alam (Mt. Carmel), Namana Rao (Blue Valley Northwest), Olav Underdal (Del Norte), Rahel Hintza (Cathedral Catholic), Seaton Huang (Lakeside), Tiffany Chen (Lynbrook), Wendy Tang (Mills), William Ton (Alhambra) ASSISTANT EDITOR IN CHIEF Sarah Bhattacharjee (Torrey Pines) MANAGING EDITORS Sharon Liou (Westview), Fabian Boemer (Scripps Ranch), Alvin Wong (Alhambra), Jerry Chen (Del Norte), Reeny Thomas (Cathedral Catholic), Samarth Venkatasubramaniam (Palo Alto) ASSISTANT MANAGING EDITORS Alexandra Vignau (Cathedral Catholic), Spencer Yu (Palo Alto), Vaibhav Jayaraman (Del Norte) VICE PRESIDENTS Allison Zhang (Palo Alto), Andrew Lee (Palo Alto), Danni Wang (Blue Valley Northwest), Devonne Hwang (Alhambra), Emily Veneroth (Cathedral Catholic) Jeremy Fu (Palo Alto), Kathryn Li (Palo Alto), Lilia Tang (Palo Alto), Melodyanne Cheng (Torrey Pines), Michael Zhang (Westview), Parul Pubbi (Torrey Pines), Rachael Lee (Torrey Pines), Sarah Lee (Torrey Pines), Timothy Han (Alhambra), William Hang (Scripps Ranch)

Indrani Sinha-Hikim, Ms. Janet Davis, Prof. Jelle Atema, Dr. Jim Kadonaga, Dr. Jim Saunders, Dr. Jody Jensen, Dr. John Allen, Dr. Jon Lindstrom, Dr. Joseph O’Connor, Ms. Julia Van Cleave, Dr. Karen B. Helle, Dr. Kathleen Boesze-Battaglia, Dr. Kathleen Matthews, Ms. Kathryn Freeman, Ms. Katie Stapko, Dr. Kelly Jordan-Sciutto, Dr. Kendra K. Bence, Dr. Larry G. Sneddon, Ms. Lisa Ann Byrnes, Dr. Maple Fang, Mr. Mark Brubaker, Dr. Michael J. Sailor, Mr. Michael Santos, Dr. Reiner Fischer-Colbrie, Dr. Ricardo Borges, Dr. Rudolph Kirchmair, Dr. Sagartirtha Sarkar, Ms. Sally Nguyen, Ms. Samantha Greenstein, Dr. Saswati Hazra, Dr. Simpson Joseph, Dr. Sunder Mudaliar, Dr. Sushil K. Mahata, Ms. Tania Kim, Dr. Tanya Das, Dr. Tapas Nag, Prof.Thomas Tullius, Ms. Tita Martin, Dr. Todd Lamitina, Dr. Toshinori Hoshi, Ms. Tracy McCabe, Ms. Trish Hovey SCIENTIST REVIEW BOARD COORDINATOR Sumana Mahata (Torrey Pines)

CONTRIBUTING AUTHORS Ahmad Abbasi, Bhavani Bindiganavile, Daniella Park, Eric Chen, Fabian Boemer, Gha Young Lee, Harshita Nadimpalli, Joy Li, Konrad Kern, Matthew Paddock, Neal Nathan, Oliver Quintero, Siddharth Tripathy, Sumana Mahata, Tyler Johnson CONTRIBUTING EDITORS Apoorva Mylavarapu, Daniella Park, Ethan Song, Eva Lilienfeld, Frances Hung, Hope Chen, Joy Li, Margaret Guo, Michelle Oberman, Namana Rao, Nathan Manohar, Polina Cherezova, Sarah Watanaskul DESIGN EDITORS Grace Chen (Torrey Pines), Eva Lilienfeld (Torrey Pines), Mike Zhang (Westview), Apoorva Mylavarapu (Torrey Pines) GRAPHICS EDITOR Wenyi (Wendy) Zhang (Torrey Pines)

STAFF ADVISOR Mr. Brinn Belyea


SCIENTIST REVIEW BOARD Prof. Aaron Beeler, Dr. Akiva S. Cohen, Dr. Amiya Sinha-Hikim, Mr. Andrew Corman, Dr. Aneesh Manohar, Dr. Arye Nehorai, Dr. Benjamin Grinstein, Mr. Brooks Park, Dr. Bruno Tota, Mr. Craig Williams, Mr. Dave Ash, Mr. Dave Main, Mr. David Emmerson, Dr. Dhananjay Pal, Dr. Erika Holzbaur, Dr. Gautam Narayan Sarkar, Dr. Greg J. Bashaw, Dr. Haim Weizman, Dr. Hari Khatuya, Dr.

CONTRIBUTING GRAPHIC DESIGNERS Aisiri Muralidhar, Amy Chen, Angela Wu, Cindy Yang, Crystal Li, Grace Chen, Jennifer Fineman, Katherine Luo, Kristine Paik, Lucy An, Mahima Avanti, Michelle Oberman, Tenaya Kothari

FALL 2012 | JOURNYS | 34



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