Science Fiction Series: “Neural Alchemist,” by Tedd Roberts

“Neural Alchemist” follows a professor who was revived from a stem cell creation. Tedd Roberts, the author, shows us he is an expert on this. He understands that stem cells could potentially replace damaged cells in parts of the body that don’t replace easily. The story shows an understanding of the sources of stem cells used in current research: bone marrow, amniotic fluid, umbilical cord blood, transformed endothelial cells and only very rarely, fetal tissue. “Now we know that certain areas of the brain, such as the dentate gyrus of hippocampus, have the ability to make new brain cells. Most brain areas do not. What if we could replace the neurons damaged by stroke, injury or disease? Like the old time alchemists trying to turn lead into gold, the Neural Alchemist turns stems cells into any brain cells we need.” What is not so accurate about the story is the idea of reviving dead humans. Stem cells are pretty amazing, but we have no research to support the ability for bringing deceased humans back to life.

Tedd Roberts is a neuroscience researcher, educator, and writer. He advises up and coming science fiction authors, TV writers, and game developers. His acknowledged consults include novel brain diseases and the medical nanites to cure them, exotic toxins, and brain effects of a zombie virus. 

Great Neck and Manhasset Students Win Rep. Souzzi’s Art Contest

On May 9th, three students who go attend schools on the north shore of Long Island were winners of the Congressional Art Competition. The awards were presented by national representative, Tom Suozzi.

Kyra McLaughlin standing with Souzzi as she receives her certificate.

Kyra McLaughlin, a student at Manhasset High School, won the first prize. The painting was oil on wood and called it “Ticky-tac?” McLaughlin described her painting as “a crying boy sitting next to his Grandpa who, in his thick Italian accent, is offering him a ‘ticky-tac’ to cheer him up.” The painting also has special meaning to her, “My grandpa always carried tic-tacs around with him, and often used them to brighten our spirits.”

McLaughlin’s painting will be on display in the Capitol Building for one year.

Emphasizing the importance of the competition, Suozzi commented that, “Artists play an important role in society, and it turns out we have some pretty talented young artists right here in our district.” He continued, “All of the parents and teachers should take pride in themselves for supporting the artists in their lives.”

This special event took place in Dix Hills, at the Art League of Long Island. The teachers of the students who won, the parents, and school administrators came to the ceremony. There were thirty-nine contenders from sixteen different schools.

Honorable mentions were given to Isabelle Lin and and Sarah Tang. Isabelle Lin is a student at Manhasset High School. Sarah Tang goes to Great Neck North High School.

Isabelle Lin with her painting, “Who Am I / Who Am I?”

Isabelle Lin created a piece called “Who Am I / Who Am I?”. This piece involved acrylic paints. Lin also gave a description of her work. She stated, “a painted relief of my face and lively eyes placed over an American flag and a Taiwanese flag, the colors of the flag drip down onto my face, representing personal identities.” This painting will be on display at Suozzi’s office in Queens for the next year. 

Sarah Tang’s painting was called “Sunset in G-String,” which also used acrylic paint. Tang said that her work was about “a sunset sweeping over the music room at school – pink, blue, and warm yellow hues modify the natural colors of each surface.” Tang says that the music room in her school was the inspiration for this painting.

Sarah Tang standing with her painting, “Sunset in G-String.”

Tang said, “I chose the music room because I thought there was something really beautiful about how messy and energized it was,” Tang said. “I was really inspired by my school’s after school orchestra program, which sometimes runs late, and I’ve noticed the sun always sets really nicely in the music room, and that was the inspiration for my color scheme.”

She also wanted to thank both her art teacher, Joseph Giacalone, and her music teacher, Joseph Rutowski, who she credited for helping her in both subjects throughout her journey in high school.

Tang’s work will we displayed in Suozzi’s district office, which is in Huntington.  

Man Suffers a Fatal Blow to Head by Giraffe

Last week, filmmaker Carlos Carvalho was killed on set in South America from a head trauma caused by a giraffe. Carvalho, 47, was filming at Glen Afric Country Lodge last Wednesday when he was struck and suffered a fatal blow to the head. The incident occurred when Carlos was attempting to film extra footage of Gerald the giraffe after filming with the other animals had come to an end. This was when Carlos was struck by the giraffe when it swung his head causing Carlos to be knocked off his feet. He then was flown to a nearby hospital but later succumbed to his injuries. Carvalho’s crew shares their condolences with his family and the lodge claims that Carlos may have gotten a little bit too close. Carlos left behind a family and 2 daughters.

Bird Corner: The House Wren

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A House Wren singing in my backyard.

Now that it’s spring, many birds are migrating through Great Neck on their way to the forests of the northeastern US and eastern Canada. But many of them will stay here on Long Island to nest.

Among these is the House Wren, a tiny bird only 4.3-5.1 inches long. But what this little bird lacks in size, it makes up for with its attitude. House Wrens will often aggressively drive out birds much larger than themselves that are competing for nesting areas. They are cavity nesters, which means that they nest in holes like birdhouses, holes in trees, and even in things like old shoes that are left outside! They’ve nested in birdhouses in my yard for as long as I can remember.

These tiny birds eat small invertebrates like spiders, caterpillars, beetles, and flies, and they live throughout almost all of North and South America, from Argentina to Alaska. Although you may have never seen a House Wren, I can almost guarantee you’ll recognize their beautiful song. They may be tiny, but they’re very loud! Here’s a link to a video of their song, see if you can recognize it:http://https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zYvXKGwtXug

Class Spotlight: Lab / Garden

At Village School, we have a lot of different and interesting electives. One in particular is Megan’s sixth period class, “Lab and Garden.” Lab and Garden serves as the required lab period for students in Common Core Biology and also offers science elective credit for students not in the CC Bio. Though this class has gained reputation for being one of the loudest classes in the school (!), the class has does some excellent work. Gardening is caring for plants is an interest of mine– plants can’t run away and you don’t need to take them to the vet annually. It’s a win-win situation – the plant stays happy and healthy, while it’s caregiver only has to water it once or twice a day!

This is one of the mushrooms that the Lab / Garden class grew.

A student enrolled in the class, Lucas, gave me some insight as to what the class is all about, “We go outside for half the period and tend to the crops and then the class comes back in to work [on corresponding labs]” says Lucas. Another student, Brian, says that the class is currently growing cucumbers, watermelon, broccoli, and corn. It’s great to give students a very good opportunity to be able to grow fruits and vegetables in the school’s backyard so they can learn about different types of foods and maybe become inspired to grow some of their own.

One type of labs the class does are dissection labs. This is Margaret dissecting an organism.

I went in to see the class in action this past week. Students were learning about bear adaptations, and how environments can affect how organism live. For example, Megan taught about peppered verses non-peppered moths. Another example she discussed was green versus brown grasshoppers and how a green grasshopper is better for a spring environment.

Megan seamlessly wove traditional Bio topics with information that is relvant to gardening. She continued to explain that there many types of adaptations, such as camouflage and mimicry. For example, a tiger benefits from camouflage as the tiger can capture prey much easier. Megan also showed videos to reinforce concepts. One video showed an adaptation that zebras have, which is herding. The zebras run together in a herd so that it is much harder for a predator to catch them. I also learned something new as well– countershading.

This is an example of an organism that countershades.

Countershading is when an organism has protective coloration in parts where there are shadows or light. The areas exposed to light are lighter than the areas exposed to shadow.

The following day, I visited again as the class heading out to garden. On this particular day, they were cleaning the pergola.After a long winter, there was a lot of work to do! Fio and Bella were cleaning the dirt out from the corners and Natanel did some tasks requiring heavy lifting such as moving the the peat moss.  Bella and Natanel worked together to move a heavy board and clear out more areas for gardening tools and supplies. 

After speaking to members of the Lab/Garden class, I wanted to find out if the different foods harvested from this class is used by our Cooking class. This semester, the Cooking class has been experimenting with recipes using all vegetarian ingredients, and according to students, they have thus far used herbs and mushrooms from the Gardening class, and as spring continues, they plan to use more.

It’s great to see two classes working together to create awesome things!

Iran Nuclear Deal

President Donald J. Trump fulfilled a campaign promise by exiting the US from the Iran Nuclear Deal. 

On May 7th it was announced to the public that he US was pulling out of the Iran Nuclear Deal. Why? Because Donald Trump is displeased with Iran’s actions; he believes Iran is not following the rules set up as part of the deal.

But in doing so, he’s going against the other countries who are a part of the deal: United Kingdom, Russia, France, China and Germany. They disagree that Iran is doing anything out of line, and therefore wanted the US to stay a part of the deal.

Suns Out Guns Out: Intro to Weightlifting

The master, Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Weightlifting or Bodybuilding is a term most people have heard of.  Weightlifters obviously lift weights to achieve a goal such as toned muscle or strength. Some people go light in workouts and others like to go heavy, depending on their goals.

Weightlifters like to balance their workouts.  For example, a weightlifter will work on his arms one day, his legs the next day, his back the day after that, and so on.  Weightlifters need rest days so the fibers in their muscles can regenerate and grow back healthier and bigger. Weightlifters also need a balanced diet. For example, if a weightlifter is doing intense workouts every day of the week, on different muscle groups, then he needs to consume a lot of calories and nutrients since his body is using all of them just to heal and gain muscle mass.

The average man consumes 2500 calories per day and the average woman needs to consume 2000 calories per day, unless he or she is trying to lose weight. Eating is the biggest part of the equation when it comes to weightlifting and bodybuilding. Also, when picking up or lifting heavy weights, a weightlifter needs proper form or she’s putting herself at risk for an injury. Weightlifters can suffer broken bones, torn muscles, strains, and cramps due to either overworking the muscle or having bad form. Some weightlifters often take substances such as steroids, growth hormones, and synthol, all which are illegal, unless taken with a prescription from a doctor.  These substances will cause an individual to grow a lot of muscle mass, but also may affect other body functions and organs in dangerous ways. These substances can cause heart failure, acne, difficulty sleeping, easy bruising, high blood pressure, increased appetite, increased growth in hair, and much more.

Many weightlifters rely on protein and vitamin supplements to aid their training. 

Weightlifters should only be taking the nutrients that suit their bodies. If a weightlifter isn’t getting enough protein in his or her body, then she can resort to protein powder or protein shakes. Protein powder is a supplement which you put in milk since it mainly comes in vanilla and chocolate flavors and you stir it well then you drink up. Some powders can be up to 60 grams of protein which technically a full meal, but other most powders are only 20 grams of protein per serving. Protein powder is mostly for helping regenerate muscle fibers and it can also be used for daily consumption in case you need extra protein intake. Protein shakes are drinks with protein already are basically ‘ready to go meals.’

Protein powder mainly contains protein but protein shakes can also contain vitamins and minerals. People always ask how they get that protein into the powder but it’s a simple answer: they use plant- based extract or water-soluble milk. Bodybuilders and weightlifters also take pre-workout supplements which help give them a boost in their workouts. Don’t forget that when trying to build muscle mass, it’s not about instant results– it takes a little while to show results– usually about maybe a year or so of consistent effort, and a clean, protein-packed diet will help speed up the results.  Usually bodybuilders and weightlifters might have bulging veins all throughout their arms and legs and maybe their chests too that’s due to a low percentage of body fat.

Low percentage of body fat and bulging veins

Some people are able to get their body fat down to as low as one percent, which means every muscle they have and their exact shapes and layout can be seen through their skin. Although one percent of body fat is hard to accomplish it is also very hard to maintain and can also be unhealthy, so it’s not necessarily a goal to work toward, except for competitions.

Mother’s Day Gift Guide

Mother’s Day is coming up and it’s a tradition to get your mother gifts on this day. However, it can be a hard and tricky decision about what to get her. The goal is to get her a gift she’ll love that also shows how thankful you are for her. We all know being a mother isn’t the easiest job in the world, no matter how old the kids get! Sunday, May 13, is the day to remind her that she is appreciated for what she does. Also, it’s not necessary to break the bank. The following gifts are affordable with a little saving and/or with all the siblings pitching in.

This is the “One Line A Day: A Five-Year Memory Book,” which is available on sites like Amazon.com.

Say that mom likes to write and likes to keep track of her days. There is a book called One Line A Day: A Five-Year Memory Book that costs eleven dollars. Mom can write down all of the memories she makes in this fun book. Someday, she and her family can look back at all the memories- the good, the bad, and the ugly- that made up the last five years, 

To stick with the writing theme, family members could translate loving sentiments into a poem or a letter for mom and then decorate it with things like stickers or glitter glue.  This is a sentimental gift with a lot of heart and low cost. 

For thirteen dollars on Etsy.com, there are stackable, stamped name rings. The rings come in a variety of metals, including brass, bronze, copper, and sterling silver. The options allow for tons of different ring combinations! This is a fashionable way to show off the names of the children she loves so much. 

These are some of the stackable name rings available on Etsy.com.

Since being a mom is a tough job, maybe consider getting her a “Lush” gift set. One set comes with two bath bombs and a cheerful citrus bubble bar.The bath bombs are supposed to make mom’s skin smooth and are avocado and lemongrass scented.  This specific gift set comes wrapped in happy-face wrapping paper.

Lush gift set

 

 

If the forecast suggests that the weather on Mother’s Day is supposed to be nice, a nice option could be to plan a picnic. Buy items from the grocery store, such as deli foods and fruits, and pack a picnic basket. Enjoy it with the family in the park or a field and spend some quality time with Mom! The cost varies depending on how much the food costs. If weather does not permit, making her brunch or breakfast in bed might be a nice and relaxing treat.

This is the African violet flower.

Then there is the old stand-by– a beautiful plant! A recommendation is the African Violet, which is a very pretty purple flower. It’s said that a purple violet symbolizes thoughts that are loving. This plant has a long life span. Another good choice is the Petite Purple Speckled Orchid, which represents royalty, admiration, respect, and dignity. Of course, there are other very pretty flowers and plants to choose from. There are many places to get plants such as Amazon’s online plant store or your local flower shop.

If all else fails, spend a nice day with Mom. Make her feel special and lucky to have such wonderful children who appreciate her. You can take her shopping and out for a nice lunch, and bonus points if the kids pay for it –or at least most of it!

In a Situation That’s Stressing You Out?

Have you ever been in a stressful and anxiety- inducing situation? If the answer is ‘yes,’ you know what it’s like to have the sweats, the feeling that your heart almost beating out of your chest, and more. Some individuals cope by taking a prescribed medication such as valium, or use breathing techniques, but most times, people don’t know how to take control of their emotions and calm themselves down.

However, if you’re reading this, you’re in luck! In recent years, scientists at the University of Michigan have conducted research and made a remarkable discovery. What was found was that if a person talked to themselves in third person, their heart rates significantly lowered.

Recently a Youtube show, “Good Mythical Morning,” decided to test this theory out. The video showed one of the hosts, Link, as his head was put in a box with anxiety- inducing materials, while Rhett, the other host, tracked Link’s heart rate. One anxiety-provoking ‘material’  was a Boa Constrictor snake.  Link’s heart rate jumped higher than 140, but when Link started talking to himself, it dropped dramatically to the 90s. The two were shocked with the results, as were the viewers.

Other situations included dirty tissues being put in the box with him. Again, the third person talking worked and dropped his heart rate dramatically. This trick might not work for everyone, but it sure worked for Link. Try it out, see if it works, and if it does, you now have a coping skill to use the next time you find yourself in a stressful situation.

Science Fiction Series: “Upside the Head,” by Marissa Lingen

Traumatic brain injury can affect emotions and memory.

Marissa Lingen is a published science fiction writer and is well known in the community of scientist science fiction writers. This story is about a professional hockey team called the Michigan Squids who begin funding research for concussions and the prime investigator treats the patients very well and like actual people, not players.

Linden shows that she has a good understanding of the neuroscience of concussions in this story. The story accurately portrays the way concussions effect the amygdala. It shows how amygdala damage can negatively affect memory, decision making, and the processing of emotions. It also understands how concussions lead to anger issues for the reasons previously mentioned. The medicine in the story is not something that science backs but this still is a very scientific story.