Who is the Addict?

>>You probably all know someone who is constantly texting on her cell phone and just can't seem to stop. You might jokingly call her addicted, but is there truth behind that statement? Can a person really develop an attachment to a simple object like a cell phone that is so strong that he or she can't seem to live without it and shows signs of addiction to it?

>>The Center for Online Addiction says that
at least 5 to 10% of all the people in the world are addicted to online gaming, gambling, email, or other type of internet activity. In the average house in the US, two hours is spent gaming a day. In Spain two children have been sent to a mental health institution for their cell phone addiction. One 16 year old boy surveyed for an article in NewScientist says that he spends about 70 hours per week on the computer. He admits that if he can't go on the computer he gets shaky and is irritable, but like many addicts is in denial that he has a problem.


>>One twenty-five year old woman is also in denial. She exercizes several hours each day, and even walked out of her university exam to satisfy her compulsive need to exercise. Now she has to work out for a certain amount of time a day in order to feel alright and not have headaches or be irritable, anxious, and nauseous.

Practically anything can be addictive. When a love relationship is lost, people can often show signs of addiction. They can become so obsessed that they don't want to do anything and can't seem to think of anything else. Mark Griffiths of Nottingham Trent University in the UK says that all addictions share some common similarities. He says that an addiction can be characterized by people becoming completely consumed with something that dominates their lives and is all they can think of. Another sign is that people need more and more of their "drug" to satisfy their addiction.

A statistic shows that 75% of adults in the US gambled in the past year. It is estimated that 10% of everybody in the US will one day develop an addiction to gambling.The heart rate of slot machine players was tested and was found to be above normal. Their bodies' reaction was similar to a drug high. It took more gambling however, for the experienced players to get their heart rate up as opposed to new players, showing that they are increasingly becoming more addictive.

Gamblers were even found to experience the following withdrawal symptoms:
- moodiness
- irritability
- nausea
- stomach cramps
- headaches
- sweating
- hallucinations
And it's not just gamblers who experienced withdrawal symptoms. Shopaholics were found to have hallucinations, depression, and sweating when they were unable to shop.

Addictions release
dopamine in the brain, which stimulates a desire to have more of what is being consumed. Dopamine is much like adrenaline and helps us feel pleasure or pain, as well as experience emotions. Some researchers believe that higher dopamine levels in the brain could cause a person to become more likely to develop an addiction.

In addition to this, chronic drug users have an increase of the production of
delta Fos B, a gene regulator in a part of the brain called the nucleus accumbens. When animals had higher levels of sugar in their diet, their delta Fos B also went up, suggesting it is possible to be addicted to sugar. A psychologist from Princeton University named Bart Hoebel thinks that we can indeed become addicted to certain food products. When he gave rats high levels of sugar their dopamine levels went up, as they also went up when they were given drugs.

Even though some of these addictions may appear to be less serious than drug addictions, they can still be very dangerous and cause a lot of damage. I still think that people waking up early in the morning to wait in a long line to get their coffee because they need it to go through their day is more than just a morning ritual. Especially when they're cranky when they don't have it.


Phillips, H. (2006, August 26). Just can't get enough. NewScientist, 191(2566), 30-35.
(2008). Spain treats child phone addicts. BBC News, Retrieved from
(n.d.). Dopamine - A Sample Neurotransmitter. Retrieved from

VO2 (the) Max

A young eleven year old boy named Jashaun Agosto is an extremely talented athlete for his age-- and that is an understatement. But can his accomplishments be credited merely to hard work, practice, and a little natural ability thrown in for good measure? Recent studies have shown that Jashaun's VO2 max (the maximum capacity your lungs have to take in oxygen) measured to be abnormally high. With such enormous amounts of oxygen pumping through his body, his muscles are able to work a lot harder for a lot longer than the average kid. This gives him a major advantage when it comes to physical endeavors. However, this is not the only case where this has occured.Lance Armstrong also rose to stunning heights of athletic achievement, and his VO2 levels were once again higher than average. His heart was also larger than usual and could beat over 200 times a minute. Another benefit that Armstrong had was extremely low lactic acid levels. Acids build up in the muscles when people get tired, and this in turn stops the muscles from contracting. But increased lung capacity does not deter from the fact that even natural born athletes need to practice.

Lovgren, S (2005, 07 22). The science of lance armstrong: born, and built, to win. National Geographic News, Retrieved from

Singing Wings

Scientists have found that the South American songbirds actually produce sounds by vibrating their feathers rather than using their beaks. Birds use their feathers for a variety of reasons. They give them heat and help them communicate with each other, as well as obviously giving them the ability to fly. These birds vibrate feathers that are shaped like clubs against a ridged feather, which produces a sound that is used to catch the attention of the female birds. These special feathers allow this bird, called the winged manakin, to make beautiful music in a bizarre way.

Kaplan, M. (2009, November 11). Bird "Sings" Through Feathers. Retrieved November 18, 2009, from National Geographic:

Itchis Annoyingus
I randomly wondered the other day what exactly an itch was. I decided to look it up and found out there have been a lot of studies and research done on this topic. Itches are caused by the chemical histamine which is a molecule from mast cells in the skin. In response to the chemical, neurons transmit a message to the brain that signals it to commence the itching sensation. The message goes to a part of the brain called the thalamus and is carried to the cerebral cortex, when the feeling is finally received and you feel the effects. Scratching temporarily relieves itchiness by stopping the spinal chord nerves from sending the itching message to the brain in the fist place.
Itches can be caused by the movement of hair on the skin or by dry skin as well as a variety of other reasons. Sometime the itching is mild, but other times it is more severe. One woman actually scratched all the way through her skull and down into her brain.
Contrary to what was once believed, itching is a different sensation than pain. Lab rats had the receptor cells that responded to itches removed from them. Although they no longer itched, they did still feel pain.
I think they should do some more studies about whether we can make ourselves be itchy by the power of suggestion, because I don’t know about you, but I’ve been scratching a lot throughout this post.

The Science of Itching. (2009, August 6). Retrieved November 18, 2009, from Time:
Itch. (n.d.). Retrieved November 18, 2009, from Science Daily:

Got An Itch? New Study Shows How Scratching May Relieve It. (2009, April 29). Retrieved November 18, 2009, from ScienceDaily:

Tea Time!
When you hear the word tea, you may think of an English person sipping daintily from their cup and saucer or your grandparents’ morning ritual with their favorite beverage. Many elderly folk have grown up on tea and are also living quite long. This leads us to the question of whether there is a connection between being an avid tea drinker and living a long life.
The Benefits of Tea
A lot of the tea benefits can be contributed to antioxidants: when the body uses oxygen byproducts are produced that can be harmful to the body. Antioxidants repair damages done by these byproducts called free radicals.
+ Bye Bye Bad Breath (both green and black tea contain the compounds catechins and theaflavins that can slow down the production of hydrogen sulfide which smells like rotten eggs)
+ Also improves overall dental health (again, the antioxidant catechins can reduce the amount of inflammation in the body which helps to fight periodontal bacteria that cause damage to the gums and bones that support the teeth)
To read more:(
+ Can help prevent cancer (polyphenol in green tea is an antioxidant. Research is still limited in this area.)
+ Extra endurance while exercising (it helps the fat metabolism. It is better able to convert fat into energy)
+ Helps prevent heart disease – (Because of the antioxidants in it, green tea helps the endothelial cells that line the circulatory system. These cells help new blood vessels to develop from old cells.)
To find out more: (
May slow down the effects of arthritis by helping reduce inflammation
+ Lower risk of getting type 2 diabetes (
+ Helps your brain. It improves memory.
+ Help you lose weight (It boosts the metabolism)
+ Helps Dry Skin (certain chemicals in the tea can reactivate skin cells that are dying)
+ Immune system boost (chemicals called alkylamines are also in bacteria, cancer, parasites and other things that cause disease so it gives the body immunity against them. Also, it boosts the immune system in general against viruses)

The benefits of this drink are quite astounding. So why not abandon the energy drinks and coffee and sip some tea for a change??

Drink Green Tea For Healthy Teeth And Gums. (2009, March 13). Retrieved December 14, 2009, from Science Daily:
Drinking Tea May Offer Health Benefits, But Evidence Still Limited. (2008, April 6). Retrieved December 14, 2009, from Science Daily:
Endothelial Cells. (n.d.). Retrieved December 17, 2009, from

Graham, S. (n.d.). Tea Aids Oral Health. Retrieved December 14, 2009, from Scientific American:
Green Tea Benefits: Complete Information For Your Health. (n.d.). Retrieved December 17, 2009, from Green-Tea-Health-News:
Health Benefits of Tea. (n.d.). Retrieved December 14, 2009, from Science Daily:

Pickrell, J. (2003, April 29). Tea Boosts Immunity and Helps Skin, Study Finds. Retrieved December 17, 2009, from National Geographic News:
Tsang, G. (2005, December). Antioxidants 101. Retrieved December 17, 2009, from

What if the Woodchuck could?

Marmota monax
AKA: Groundhog, Woodchuck
Color of fur: varies from yellow to a dark red brown color. However, it is mostly a brown color in the middle of this spectrum. In some cases, it can be melanistic (completely black) or have albino fur (completely white with pink eyes) but this is rare.
Weight: 2-4 kg
Noises: groundhogs sometimes squeal when hurt or fighting, whistle when startled, bark, or grind their teeth together
Eating: they are primarily herbivores. They eat wild plants, bark and small branches and sometimes they will even eat insects and small birds.

Related Medical Research

One reason scientists are so keen on studying groundhogs is because they are one of Canada’s biggest hibernators. New research is suggesting that studying groundhogs could potentially help treat type 2 diabetes in the future. Body temperature and heart rate drops during hibernation and the animal lives off of stored fat. Before groundhogs hibernate they double their body mass and go into a state called hyperinsulinemia which should naturally lead to diabetes. But unlike in humans, groundhogs don’t develop diabetes because they lose their weight when they hibernate. Scientists are still unclear as to what happens during hibernation. When they hibernate groundhogs aren’t hungry. For some reason their body doesn’t respond to starvation in a way that they need to eat food for nourishment. Researchers have taken tissue samples from groundhogs who are sleeping. They’re looking at what genes are activated during hibernation and also when they are eating to help give them a clue as to why they have no need for food during hibernation. They’re also looking at the chemical processes taking place in the fat and the muscles of the groundhogs.
A chemical called ceramide is made when fat is stored up in the body. A man by the name of Scott Summers from the National Institute of Diabetic Digestive and Kidney Diseases thinks that this chemical is what causes insulin resistance. By studying groundhogs, he will be able to test his hypothesis and further research could help treat type two diabetes based on these studies. What if the woodchuck could lead to new discoveries?

To read more go to:
COLLINS, F. (n.d.). Groundhogs May Teach People More About Diabetes and Obesity Than About the Weather. Retrieved December 28, 2009, from Colorado State University: Department of Public Relations News and Information:
Mammal Fact Sheets: WoodChuck. (n.d.). Retrieved December 28, 2009, from Hinterland Who's Who:


external image crescent%20moon%20-%20sleep.png
The amount of hours people get of sleep each night is decreasing as the years go by. Unfortunately, too little sleep can lead to health problems. Children who sleep less than ten hours per night are twice as likely to become obese than if they slept well. If people don’t get enough sleep they are far more susceptible to illnesses and diseases.
But too much sleep can also be a bad thing. Both people who sleep too much and too little could end up with problems such as high blood pressure or high cholesterol. The best amount of hours of sleep per night is said to be 7 or 8 hours, but it varies from person to person. 17% of people who slept in that rate had those problems, while a quarter of those who had over that amount of sleep experienced those symptoms, and a third of those who had less than the suggested amounts of sleep. I find it surprising how sleeping too much is actually worse for your health than sleeping too little. And people who sleep too long or too little are at a higher risk for diabetes.
One interesting fact I learned from this article is that a gene in the body called PERIOD3 affects your sleep routine. This gene comes in two forms. Depending on which form you have helps determine whether you function best in the morning or at night.
And for all you people staying up late so you can finish your homework because you were too busy to earlier, it almost defeats the purpose. Lack of sleep can damage the brain. A chemical called serotonin in the brain is believed to be involved with sleep, depression, and other brain activities. After a week of too little sleep the lab rats were less sensitive to serotonin and were more likely to become depressed. And even though these rats got to sleep in on the weekend, they still didn’t respond as well to serotonin as they used to when they slept well. Another study was conducted where lab rats lost 35 hours of sleep over 5 days and yet still didn’t make it up when they were given three days to sleep all they wanted after. Sleep is a key component in health and wellbeing and lack of it can lead to serious side effects.

To find out more:

Learn about insomnia and other sleep disorders
Why we sleep

external image feat_sleep_dep_effects_zoom.jpg

Saey, T. H. (2009, October 24). Dying to Sleep. Retrieved December 28, 2009, from ScienceNews:


Don’t let it get to your head.

external image giraffe-and-baby.jpg
The giraffe’s trademark is its incredibly long neck. But questions can arise about some of the problems these giraffes might encounter because of their stretching necks. When they bend down to get a drink of water, why wouldn’t they pass out cold? The blood would all rush to their head. How exactly do giraffes regulate blood pressure?

From BBC News

“Most mammals have a relatively low blood pressure because their blood needs only move a short distance between head and heart.
For the giraffe the distance is significant.
That creates two problems: a giraffe's heart must cope with the hydrostatic pressure exerted on it by the amount of blood in such a tall neck.
For blood to reach the head, the heart must then beat strongly enough to overcome this significant downward pressure caused by gravity.
To read the full article

The giraffe has incredibly high blood pressure that is double the rate of other animals. At first people thought that the giraffe must have had a large heart too, but recently it was discovered that they actually have a small heart but that is very strong. The heart has a thick wall and is therefore able to pump blood harder. And on top of that, they can make their blood vessels shrink or grow to control their blood pressure.

When the giraffe bends down to get a drink of water, it moves its front legs out to the side and this lowers the location of the heart. This lowers the pressure in the brain, because too much pressure could be very dangerous and could cause the brains to explode. On top of this there are valves in the jugular veins that close when the head goes down so that blood doesn’t go down into the brain. And finally, I find this quite incredible really, small blood vessels in a spongy tissue in the back of the brain are somehow able lessen the blood pressure when the blood passes through it.

From answersingenesis

“Scientists also believe that probably the cerebrospinal fluid which bathes the brain and spinal column produces a counter-pressure which prevents rupture or leakage from the brain capillaries. The effect is similar to that of a G-suit worn by fighter pilots and astronauts. The G-suit exerts pressure on the body and legs of the wearer under high acceleration and prevents blackout. Leakage from the capillaries in the giraffe’s legs, due to high blood pressure, is also probably prevented by a similar pressure of the tissue fluid outside the cells. In addition, the walls of the giraffe’s arteries are thicker than those in any other mammal.”
To read the full article
More Info can be found at,9171,893146-1,00.html

external image giraffe1.jpg

Bourton, B. J. (2009, November 20). 'Supercharged' heart pumps blood up a giraffe's neck . Retrieved December 29, 2009, from BBC Earth News:
Do drinking giraffes have headaches? (n.d.). Retrieved December 29, 2009, from Answersingenesis:


external image dandelion2.preview.jpg

One day a while back my siblings and I decided to collect dandelions because we heard you could make soup from them. Once we picked several of them, we realized we didn’t know what part of the plant is edible or how you’re supposed to make soup out of it. Now I decided to do some research about it and also about dandelions in general.
The part of the dandelion that is most commonly eaten is the leaves. However, the flowers can be used too and prepared with sugar in a way to make a type of syrup. Plus the roots can be used as a vegetable and if they are old they can be used instead of coffee.
And dandelions can actually be very good for you! They’ve got vitamin A, B complex, C, and D in them. In the past Native Americans boiled dandelions in water and used it to treat problems such as appendicitis. In Europe is was used to treat fever, diabetes, eye problems, and even more problems. Dandelions can cause you to have an increase in appetite and is used for that purpose nowadays. It is also used to help out with digestion, the liver, and gallbladder.
From University of Maryland Medical Center

“Dandelion leaves produce a diuretic effect while the roots act as an antiviral agent, appetite stimulant, digestive aid, and may help promote gastrointestinal health. Dandelion flower has antioxidant properties. Dandelion may also help improve the immune system.
Health care providers clinically use dandelion root to promote liver detoxification and dandelion leaves to support kidney function.”
To read the whole article

From Edible
100g of the raw leaves can contain:
  • 2.7g. protein
  • 9.2g. carbohydrate
  • 187mg Calcium, 66mg phosphorus
  • 3.1mg iron
  • 76mg sodium
  • 397mg potassium
  • 36mg magnesium
  • 14000iu vitamin A
  • 0.19mg vitamin B1
  • 0.26mg vitamin B2
  • 35mg vitamin C.
To read the Full Article
Who knew something with such potential could be the very thing you hate to have in your backyard?

external image 466px-Dandelion_sun.jpg

For a list of more edible plants


Dandelion. (n.d.). Retrieved December 29, 2009, from Edible Plants:
Dandelion. (n.d.). Retrieved December 29, 2009, from University of Maryland Medical Center:
Wild Edibles. (n.d.). Retrieved December 29, 2009, from Eastern Woods and Waters:

The Science Behind Hair

Stages of hair growth
Starting at the 3rd month after conception
1.) Messages are being sent in the epithelial tissue. As a result of these signals being sent, cells undergo mitosis and form a bud-like shape. Connective tissues join together underneath this bud and will later become the dermal papilla and the connective tissue sheath.
2.) These buds go through the connective tissue and make a column with two buds on it.
3.) This column goes to the dermal papilla and surrounds it almost completely. In this way the hair follicle is formed.
4.) At the bottom of the epithelial layer the cells go through mitosis and differentiation. Some of these cells begin to form the hair shaft and others form sheaths in the follicle.
5.) Once the bottom fills up, the cells have only one way to go—up. So the cells accumulate and eventually pierce through the skin and are seen as hair.
And we still grow hair the same way as we did before we were born!
Diagram of Hair

Other sites you might want to check out:
Grey Hair is a Myth
Properties of Hair
Hair Colors

Well Before Birth. (n.d.). Retrieved December 30, 2009, from Loreal Hair Science: [[^PORTRAIT-OF-AN-UNKNOWN-ELEMENT^WELL-BEFORE-BIRTH&cur=WELL-BEFORE-BIRTH]]