Herbalism

This weekend I was in Chinatown. I was just enjoying the bustling markets, walking down the streets and passing by the various shops. What caught my eye the most were the Chinese pharmacies. The ancient Chinese techniques of acupuncture and medicine have been pondered on by many modern day medical experts. Of these Chinese medical treatments, one aspect would be herbalism. herbsHerbalism is otherwise known as botanical medicine and is one of the most ancient form of medical treatment. It has been used by various ancient civilizations including the ancient Egyptians, Chinese and Indians. In present-day herbalists say that herbal medicine can help a variety of diseases including asthma, arthritis and some even say cancer. But to what extent do we have evidence to support this proposition. Of course as you would, like with any other regular drug, you need the right amount of the herb or drugs in order to be treated properly. These herbs can be misused as seen with cannabis (marijuana), but Tylenol and aspirin can be misused just as much. A recent study shows that Echinacea, a Native American form of treating depression, has the ability to boost the immune system just as much as the anti-depressants found at a drug-store. It is also necessary to keep in mind that herbs are the basis of modern-day drugs. For example aspirin comes from willow bark and the painkiller form of morphine comes from opium poppy. Scientists have greatly modified these herbs that have been used directly used for over thousand years and even today and made these herbs into the necessities we cannot live without today.herbs 2 Extra chemicals and substances have been added to make these herbal treatments more efficient. Although scientists were able to add all these substances they are not entirely sure about what exactly it is that makes these herbs medicinal in the first place. Whether modern-day herbalism is more or less reliable and effective than the usual drugs we get in our drug-store one thing must be remembered. Everything we own even if we call it man-made comes from something in the earth. And for medicine a good portion of it has its foundation in the ever-old ancient methods of herbalism.

zSPACE

This year our AP Biology Class took a lot of field trips, but I think that our zSPACE field trip was the most fun. I really liked this field trip for a lot of reasons. For one, it was just our AP Biology class that went so it was a small group of people and I knew all of them. But even more amazing was what we did. What we basically did was we went to this big room filled with screens with all kinds of animals. zspace 4The animals included starfish, lobster, a normal fish and other creatures. We wore 3-D glasses and with these glasses we were able to dissect the creatures giving us an augmented reality experience of dissecting organisms. This made learning so much more fun than just memorizing the parts from a paper diagram or dealing with the smell and parts of the real thing. This experience also showed me how much is possible with technology. We can use technology for many things including entertainment and education. I am jealous of kids of the future who get more fun learning experiences than us (of course they would not know what we went through and would probably be complaining just like us, like we do, not knowing what previous generations go through). Anyway, my favorite part of zSPACE was the explode feature, where you get to put the creature together and then press the explode button and have all its parts flying everywhere. zspace 2I loved pulling the parts apart and putting them in places where they would not usually be. The jellyfish was beautiful on the screen but not as fun to play with because it did not have as many parts. The lobster was a lot of fun to play as it was really big on the screen and fun to pull apart and put together and explode. Something else that was really cool was the projector screen onto which the zSPACE screen would show and when I held the stylus a certain way the creature would show on the screen as if it had popped out of the screen into reality. All in all, it was an amazing experience and gave me a different perspective on biology and how biology can be taught.

Taking AP Biology

Taking AP Biology as a sophomore was a very interesting experience. It was nice that the class size was small which really worked well because I think being a small class really let us bond well together and work well. At first I was a little scared of the thought that I would be one of the youngest in the class, but the other girls in my class were really nice, approachable and fun to work with. We learned a lot of things this year starting from the chapter about the organization about life, water to evolution to the human body to life skills. I remember the diffusion lab we did in the very beginning of the year where the whole class got together and designed and carried out an experiment. That was one of our first bonding experiences and that taught me that lots of things are possible. I did not think we were capable of finishing that experiment on our own, when our teacher gave us the instructions, but we did. I also loved the frequent field trips in the class.sea star pic They were a good break from the monotonous classroom setting. My favorite was zSPACE because it was so much fun digitally pulling apart critters and putting them back together. Also something I learned a lot about this year were organ systems. Although the pigs smelled really bad, there is no better way of learning than through a live, hands-on experience. Through the pig dissection process I got to see organs such as the heart and intestines which are only things I have imagined or seen on screens before. Painting the veins and arteries was a good way to represent veins and arteries.pig dissection Overall I learned to do a lot of things including developing skills that are not an abstract part of the school curriculum like researching. In one of our first projects which was about photosynthesis, me and my partner, Carly, chose a question to base our project on. The question was: What diseases affect photosynthesis in plants? At first, when we typed into Google we were not able to find much solid information. This really scared me as I thought Google always had the answer to everything. But I learned to refine my searches so that I was able to get bits and pieces of the information we needed which allowed us to piece everything together later. Later in the year I did another project about plants, this time it was about carnivorous plants. In this project I learned to use a variety of presentation tools with my partner, Grace.venus fly trap I had a lot of fun learning about carnivorous plants and how they are not exactly carnivorous. All in all, this class was an amazing experience and definitely something I would recommend taking.

The Evolution of the Biology Bubble

This was the first time I have created a blog so this was definitely a new, eye-opening experience for me. This blogbiolgoy website was also a big part of being of my AP Biology class. The website was a great way of reflecting and putting together what I learned for others to see. My first blog post was the SAVE THE BAY reflection which was really basic. I just answered the questions our teacher asked us for it and added some pictures. Over time I learned how to embed polls, links and insert images making my posts more engaging. As I look through everything I have posted I can see how my ability of conveying my message to others has improved through learning various methods of using technology. The very first thing I did for my website was the Prezi which was an introduction to me. Although I encountered problems with embedding the Prezi I learned how to insert a link changing the title of the link and embedding a view of the Prezi. Looking back at the Prezi I see how my interests have developed and changed over a course of one year. This makes me glad I made this website because its “living proof” of me and how I have changed and grown throughout this year. The blog posts were an amazing way for me to reflect on all the projects and activities that were done over the course of the year. It allows me to document not only what happened, but also my thoughts and viewpoints on things. I think blogging is a great part of a course and can be incorporated into any course. It is a great way of documenting and recording everything that has happened. It is a great digital reference to see all the things that have been covered throughout the year in this course. The website was also a good place for me to put everything I did throughout the year like projects and labs. I am really pleased with my website, how everything looks and everything I wrote about. tech

Phil the Pig

WARNING: pictures contain a dead pig and its heart- maybe too gruesome
Dissecting a fetal pig was an interesting experience. This was the first time I was involved in the dissection of a pig and we were excited so we named the pig Phil. I was the person who wrote down answers for the lab report so I did not do any of the cutting up and pulling stuff out. Nonetheless, I was still really grossed out.
The smell bothered me and just looking at the pig, which I thought would be such a cute live piglet, made me feel squeamish. I was not expecting this because I thought that I was strong and stuff like this would not bother me, but it did so I kept my distance. That did not stop me from learning though. Throughout the entire dissection process it was necessary to remember that the pig was a fetal pig so its parts were not as developed as an adult. Also the pig had paint with pink for the arteries and blue for the veins. This makes sense, at least to me, because I think of it like the good blood (which contains oxygen in it) is pink and the bad blood (which does not contain oxygen) is blue.pig heart

In my head oxygen means good. I always thought it would be impossible to dissect something and figure out what each of the parts are, but it was actually quite clear- maybe even more than paper diagrams. Fetal pigs have similar structures to humans and human fetuses so they were good to study. It was nice when we couldn’t see something well in our pig like the spleen or something we had the pigs of other groups to get a clearer picture of what the organ looks like. Also our pig was the only girl pig, so it was the only one with a female reproductive system in our class. In order to see how the male reproductive system looked we needed to borrow pigs from class mates. Also something I noticed was that our pig was pinker and smelled less bad than the other pigs. At first I thought it was because it was a girl but after talking with my teacher I think it might be because of how old the body is.
phil the pig Anyway it was interesting to see how pigs differed from each other. I already had a good idea of the organs and have dissected frogs before, but what was special about dissecting a pig fetus was how similar it is to human fetuses. At one point the topic was brought up about fetuses pooping. Which was interesting because I was wondering where would the poop go since it’s inside the mom, but they don’t poop (if they do, it’s not good). This made sense to me because they don’t really have much to eat. Anyway I also thought it was interesting how the fetus does not use its lungs because the mother does the breathing for the fetus. These were all things I learned and found interesting about the pig dissection experience. This experience really helped learn about the insides of bodies and clear up some doubts I’ve always had.

Click on the following to find out:

Influence on Human Behavior

Behavior is the way people respond to stimuli. Each and every individual reacts to things in different ways. A person’s behavior is a part of their personality and makes someone who they are. Over time society has seemed to come up with general traits that seem more desirable over others. Scientists have found a way to genetically modify so that there will be alterations in people’s behavior. Although things that are annoying and hard to deal with (like toddler tantrums and hyper-aggressiveness) can be eliminated, what are the down-sides? The down-sides seem to overtake the advantages. A person’s behavior is very complex and although certain generalizations have been made there are always outliers. Over time the process of natural selection has filtered out a lot of traits that are not necessary anymore. This is something that happens naturally, anyway. Also are scientists sure that what they will do brings about the changes they say it will? A person’s behavior is a part of their personality, changing up behavior is like changing someone’s personality.north america
Today in North America people are guaranteed survival on a much larger scale than a thousand years ago. Things our ancestors did like living in much harder conditions, going out hunting, and being able to protect themselves from predators all required instincts, the last traces of which exist in us today. Now-a-days people do not require a keen sense of smell in order to smell out food or predators. We do not need to toil in the fields for hours either to get a decent crop yield, a lot of it is done by machines. Most of us get our food, readily plucked and gathered, from restaurants and grocery stores, not much need for a keen sense of smell in that. Throughout the years our genetic material has been altered resulting in a decreased ability of smelling. But that is completely fine because it is not necessary to our survival anyway. Much like this, instincts that we still do need are still here. For example whenever an object comes too close to your eyes, or a sudden movement occurs, you close your eyes. We have instincts that we need to keep us alive. A toddler tantrum is hard to deal with and annoying, but it is necessary to think hard about eliminating certain factors (such as decreasing hormones) so that these toddler tantrums do not occur. But this is a part of the toddler’s personality and who the toddler is at the moment, is it right to want to change that? The toddler needs to be taught to be a good toddler and not start tantrums and is very capable of being taught that. As a parent, certain occurrences should be expected, it’s part of the parenting experience. With the right amount of teaching and guidance the toddler tantrums will be a thing of the past. As seen throughout history the instincts we do not need for our survival are steadily being filtered out in a natural way.toddler
Although there are certain things that scientists can control and change in order to eliminate behavior traits, there is no guarantee these traits will be eliminated. In a study conducted, testosterone was administered to a group of women and another group of women were not administered anything. The women who were not administered anything were told they were given testosterone. Contrary to expectation, the women who were not administered testosterone demonstrated more domineering “testosterone qualities,” while the women who were administered testosterone were less aggressive and more fair and generous. In another study conducted on men with XYY karyotypes show how men with this karyotype are more aggressive because their bodies produce more testosterone. Scientists have come to a conclusion that these men are not more aggressive because of higher levels of testosterone but because of the excessive acne and height that results from the karyotype, and the loneliness and isolation these boys face in society as a result. Although the latter example was a demonstration of a karyotype and not genetic both were examples of how the environment can influence people at times even more than what was genetically given.
The genetic composition of people is part of what makes us who we are but more than what our DNA says our environment has a huge impact on us. Our environment, the people we around, the food we eat and everything we are exposed to is what determines what traits will stay and which will be nurtured whether they are good or bad. Environment should decide what factors stay and what do not. Altering genetic information is too much of a risk and morally questionable. This is a human being’s personality that is being tinkered with and also there is no guarantee that the expected results are what are going to manifest. Also even if the “bad behaviors” are eliminated there is no guarantee that society can’t influence the person so that these bad behaviors reappear. This is why human behavior should not be genetically altered. meme

References:
“Embed This Image.” Search. N.p., n.d. Web. 19 Mar. 2014.
Nature.com. Nature Publishing Group, n.d. Web. 19 Mar. 2014.
“Testosterone Boost Doesn’t Fuel Risky Behaviour in Women.” Nature.com. Nature Publishing Group, 06 Apr. 2009. Web. 19 Mar. 2014.
“Science Clarified.” Are XYY Males More Prone to Aggressive Behavior than XY Males. N.p., n.d. Web. 19 Mar. 2014.

The Outrageous Case of Owls

Since the dawn of the industrial revolution and long before, man has had a tendency to tinker with nature and the well-established cycles that have brought creation thus far. So the question is- where do we stop? In our own selfish conquests for material gain and power we have pushed numerous species to the edge of the cliff. Some we have already pushed off the cliff and others attempting to hit the brakes and move back. But to what extent do we reverse, if at all necessary? This is a topic of controversy mankind is forced to ponder.
industry

Today there exists is an adorable species of owls known as the spotted owls which. Unfortunately, these owls are at the brink of extinction. Human development has caused this to happen and now we are trying to atone for our sins by trying to get this species back and up and running. A species that looks very much like the rare spotted owls of the far-western Americas is attempting to take over. These owls are barred owls, they are larger, and more aggressive than the spotted ones. Unfortunately, these owls have been over-taking the spotted owls, increasing competition and making life much harder for the spotted owls. But never fear, the omniscient and all-powerful human beings have come to their rescue, killing barred owls and “helping” the spotted owls and saving the world by doing so. Some might call this a clever solution, and a way of repenting for causing what killed off a good number of the spotted owls, I call it stupidity. owls

When a toddler spills water on tiles, the obvious choice would be to wipe the water off of the tiles. That is something we can do. Now say their is a piece of paper on the tiles which is quite important and the toddler spills water on that. Do we wipe the piece of paper with the rough towel you used for the tiles, along with the threat of ripping through the paper while wiping it. In this case the better solution would be to do nothing and just wait for the piece of paper to dry, don’t you think? This is similar to what people need to do in the barred owls scenario, which is unfortunate cause the latter is what is being done now.
toddlers

When Neanderthals roamed the Earth so did our ancestors. Had some “superior” species intervened killing us off, so the Neanderthals could survive what would have happened? Here is what I think would have happened. The Neanderthals were just not fit for the environment. It was time for them to go. If they had stayed, their years of suffering would have only elongated. Now what about biodiversity you ask? Well now we are the ones here and it is less diverse without the Neanderthals. Well sorry to tell you this but people now have changed into being quite different from one another. Not enough you say, well I kind of agree but some things, sorry to tell you this, we just cannot change and need to be left to chance.

Also what human nature is prone to do is over-doing; what if our ignorance causes the barred owl species to run low and die out, the diversity brought by those owls will be lost. What will we do then? And also killing to make more, just think about that for a moment, doesn’t that seem a little pointless- flawed logic. Yes, we can do our best to get back the perfection once existent on earth, but in some cases it is best to let go and let nature take its course. We have done the damage. Intervening when nature is trying to self-correct will cause only more damage, and regret on your part. That is why I believe we should not get involved in the barred and spotted owls scenario, allowing nature to take its course. All in all, I do not believe in killing one species to save another. If this makes you feel sad and useless then go home and drink some wine… if you are under-age then Coke or Pepsi.

beverage

Sorry you can’t change everything. If you really want to do something it is best to do things that start at the root cause. This prevents destruction of species at the earliest stages which is the most effective. Take shorter showers, use re-usable water bottles and lunches and unplug outlets when possible. Although this seems insignificant, a change is a change.