Aquarius Reflection

After listening to the presentation, I found that Aquarius is an underwater ocean laboratory in the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary and it is an internal effort to measure sea surface salinity while learning more about the water cycle and its climate. Aquarius is the size of a school bus and weighs 82 tons! The submarine can hold up to six people at a time and the people can spend up to 10 days in it.  NASA is also associated with the organization and conduct their research in the underwater submarine as well. After listening to this presentation, I was in awe that scientists are able to go underwater and research underwater dynamics. I did not think it was possible for scientists to do such research underwater for a long duration of time. I am usually a claustrophobic person and may get panic attacks if being under the water for a long period of time. A question I would have for the people who work at Aquarius is how they would handle such situations and calm down the researchers. Also, if an emergency situation were to occur, how would the scientists deal with it? Are there any precautions that they would take to prevent these emergency situations from occurring? Overall, I was very interested about the presentation and it was unlike any scientific news I had ever heard. It is amazing to think about all the technological advances that are coming up in the scientific community and how they are changing the world. If Aquarius opens to the public, I believe it will be very popular and increase interest in underwater research. I can’t wait to keep with the news regarding Aquarius and am very thankful I was able to attend the presentation. 

“Cracking the Code of Life” Reflection

After watching the “Cracking the Code of Life” Video, I became more aware of the Human Genome Project’s role in gene mapping and the genetic code. The Human Genome Project is a project in which scientists and researchers have come together to sequence the three billion DNA base pairs that make up the human genome. The goals of the Human Genome Project are to find all of the human genes and sequence the genes of other organisms that are important to medical research. The project is aiming to learn more about human genes and DNA base pairs that can benefit them in knowing more about other organisms. Before the Human Genome Project, scientists used the old process of gene mapping and they would take the original ladders for DNA sequence and then read them by putting a letter next to the band being called and then writing those down on a piece of paper. There would be hundreds of millions of As, Cs, Ts, and Gs, and only one percent of them are active and important. It would take a horrendous amount of time for scientists to go through and find the ones of important. However, computers have revolutionized gene mapping because instead of decoding a few hundred letters by hand in a day, computers can do thousands every second. This has made the process a lot faster and easier. The research done in the Human Genome Project will give us more information about the “code.” Knowing the “code” will tell us the blueprint of a human being. This information will be used to decode every letter of the genome. Sometimes, out of the three billion base pairs in our DNA, only one can make the difference. The “code” will ultimately allow scientists to examine the different parts of the genome to get the all around picture of the coding in humans.  While watching the movie, I also learned more about many diseases, such as Tay Sach’s and cystic fibrosis. Tay Sach’s is a progressive disease where one spot of the DNA ladder goes wrong. Because genes create proteins, the error causes a problem in the protein that is supposed to dissolve the fat in the brain. Therefore, the protein doesn’t work, fat builds up and swells the brain, and eventually brain cells are crushed. Children with this disease die by the age of five to seven. It is a genetic condition that slowly destroys a baby’s brain. Cystic fibrosis is a genetic disorder that attacks several organs of the body, especially the lungs and many of the patients die at an early age. The case of Toni Robbins is being closely studied because there were only three letters than made up an irregular protein. If this mishap could be fixed, salt would be able to leave the cells and he could get better. Studying the proteome is so important because it helps scientists understand the protein’s shape, function, and behavior and how it relates to diseases. The Human Genome Project could eventually benefit people because it allows people to find out early if they are at risk for any kinds of diseases. A more aggressive approach is being taken so that parents could be informed before they start to have children the dangers that could be facing them. There have also been studies in Iceland showing the medical records of patients. If some patients were found with the disease, there was no cure and this could have a negative emotional affect on the patients. I feel that it is appropriate to study an entire population’s DNA and medical history because if possible diseases are found, scientists can research to find possible cures. Businesses could also use this information to help analyze their results and make medical breakthroughs in the field of research. With the results, businesses could save lives in the field of medicine. Some other fun facts I learned are that humans are very similar to bananas- fifty percent of the genes found in bananas are in us. All of the machinery that goes into replicating your DNA, controlling your cell cycle and the cell surface, and making nutrients is all the same as a banana. The two genes that carry mutations that increase the risk for breast cancer are BRCA1 and BRCA2. There is a 10% chance that a person with this mutation will develop breast cancer. Overall, watching this movie made me more educated regarding the Human Genome Project and its motives. I have also realized that if tests were available for diseases like breast cancer, I would want to be tested even if a cure was not et available. With this knowledge, I would be able to take precautions in my everyday life and know more about my own health. 

Malala Blog Post

The “Do Now” reflection on Malala proposes whether there is a gender gap in education caused by societal problems. In many countries of the world and even the United States, there is an inequality in educational opportunities for boys and girls. Current research shows that if women were given more educational opportunities, the number of pregnancies and child marriages would be reduced, providing a more positive impact on their lives. Last year, a 14 year old Pakistani student, Malala Yousafzai, was shot by the Taliban after standing up for girls’ education and ever since then, there has been tension regarding the inequality in girls’ and boys’ education. I believe that in many countries, including the United States, there is discrimination stemming from which kinds of people deserve education. In medieval times, women were always portrayed as doing chores in the house and that particular image has continued to progress. Men are seen as being very successful in the workplace and their education is very highly valued. As a result, mainstream media portrays women as not being good enough to be successful in positions of high influence and power. Because of these notions, I believe that women have been discriminated against when it comes to receiving higher educations, especially in countries such as Afghanistan and Iran. My parents were both born in Iran and we spend summers going back. Many girls we know there don’t pursue education to all levels because they aren’t given the opportunity to while boys are expected to go to school under all circumstances. As a result, I respect the stance Malala took in standing up for girls’ education in her country. Image

Turkey Blog Post- The Effect of Tryptophan

Over Thanksgiving vacation, all of my extended family and I gathered at my aunt’s house to celebrate the holidays. My sister and I are the only girls in the midst of all of our boy cousins so we decided to use this fact to do an experiment. My sister and I did not eat turkey while my cousins did to test whether tryptophan, an amino acid present in turkey, makes you drowsy. A myth has always circulated that Tryptophan is the reason that people feel tired and sleepy upon eating a lot of turkey in traditional Thanksgiving meals. However, after an hour and a half of finishing the Thanksgiving dinner, I asked my boy cousins how tired they felt on a scale of 1 to 10. After careful thought, my four cousins gave me numbers of 5, 6, 6, and 7. Before asking my cousins, my sister and I number our tiredness as 5 and 6. After seeing the results, I concluded that tryptophan does not in fact cause drowsiness and is a myth that has been circulating the United States. Tryptophan does have a role in making people drowsy but the difference was not so drastic as to cause a big difference. I concluded that the amino acid may have different roles in different genders and that is why it did not have a major effect on the boys. Next Thanksgiving, my sister and I will switch roles with our boy cousins to see whether Tryptophan has a better effect on girls to make them more tired after eating turkey for Thanksgiving.