Category: Science

Satellite Mega-Constellations, Hampered Science, and a Cluttered Orbit

Valene McInerney, journalist

Long ago, people would look to the night sky and observe only natural celestial bodies. Artificial lights did not blot and blur their sights, and human-made satellites did not crowd their horizons. Both of these phenomena factor into modern astronomy, but it has only been in the past 19 months that satellites have become a threat to astronomical observation. With the recent surge in satellite launches and the construction of satellite mega-constellations, hobbyists and professional astronomers alike are witnessing what can be a dangerous disruption and distortion of their cosmic viewing. 

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Influential Women in STEM

Jillian Haskin, Science Department Co-Editor

Historically considered as male-dominated, the STEM field has received more popularity recently due to the recognition of more women who have pioneered the way for a diverse community of women nationwide and promoted encouragement through scientific engagement. More women have been highlighted for their intricate work and persistence in the revolutionizing of science, crushing the stigma that surrounds the history of the STEM field. This has led to the emergence of the term ‘women in STEM.’ From unveiling the structure of DNA to finding a cure for seemingly unpreventable illnesses despite minimum recognition, women have shared many complex discoveries that prove the scientific community is one anyone can enter.

Breaking gender stereotypes and transforming the birth of innovation nationwide, the accomplishments of these women are one of the main reasons we can coexist today with the help of technology.

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Meet the Uterus: A Conversation About Childbirth and Female Reproduction

Nastia G., Arts Department Co-Editor

The female body is a taboo topic. In ancient times, women’s bodies symbolized the purest of entities. The female anatomy was supposed to be mysterious, sophisticated, and beautiful. Men and women knew little of reproductive anatomy, and most early diagrams of these systems were abstract. Until the 1960s, most men and women were not educated in schools about the construct of their own bodies, and many never received proper sexual education at all. In the present day, more than half of the United States, including the District of Columbia, do not require sexual education to be taught in public schools. Despite the lack of proper anatomical education, there are dozens of slang words for different female body parts, most of them used as insults against men as a means of degrading them.

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Effects of Probiotics, Prebiotics, and Synbiotics

Diane K., journalist

 It is estimated that people have trillions of microbes externally and internally. Though it might not seem so, these microbes are a very essential part of everyone’s health. Good microorganisms such as probiotics, prebiotics, and synbiotics can confer many health benefits, making it a popular topic among many. Research has shown that foods containing probiotics, prebiotics, and synbiotics are beneficial to health in several ways.

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Cabin Fever: What it is, and How You Can Avoid It

Beatrice L., Journalist

As millions of Americans stay at home because of the Covid-19 pandemic, you might have noticed that you’ve developed feelings of isolation, whether the longing for interaction, feeling bored or unmotivated, or even feeling yourself losing touch with reality. What you might not realize is that these feelings have a name. What you’re experiencing is an age-old phenomenon known as cabin fever.  

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The Arecibo Telescope and The Legacy That Remains

Valene M., journalist

Guarded by three concrete towers, admired by the 900-ton observatory that hung so precariously over it, and equipped with shining aluminum panels to stretch its 1,000ft diameter, the Arecibo Telescope was a colossal structure, both in physical size and historical significance. For 57 years, this giant, which was the world’s largest radio telescope until recently, proved itself an invaluable center for radio astronomy as it mapped planets, guided spacecrafts, tracked asteroids, and searched for signs of extraterrestrial intelligence. This last August, its end began when one of 18 cables suspending its hovering observatory slipped and crashed into the panels at the edge of the dish. The damage then was not irreparable, but on November 6th, another cable snapped in half and gouged the center of the dish. With two cables out of commission, the platform above it was in danger of falling at any moment, making repair too dangerous to attempt. The National Science Foundation closed the dish permanently and prepared for its controlled demolition. Then on December 1st, the platform and the 900 tons of instruments that it held came crashing down, sealing the telescope’s fate.

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Enigmatic Monolith in Utah Desert Conjures Theories

Paige P., journalist

Shortly after its mysterious appearance, a twelve-foot-metal structure found in a remote area of the desert in Utah has already disappeared, just as quickly as it came. Members of the Utah Department of Public Safety were flying over the desert on November 18th in search of bighorn sheep. In addition to sheep, they came across a triangular, hollow monolith sticking out of the red rock. By the night of November 27th, the structure, composed of three sheets of stainless-steel, had already been removed by an individual or group of people just over a week after it was originally spotted. At the moment, there is no solid evidence pointing to who created the monolith, how it got there, how long it has been there, or how it disappeared.

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Covid Vaccine

Ben K., journalist

A new vaccine for the virus sweeping the country, COVID-19, is in place and may be distributed through pharmacies and grocery stores alike. For many months now, COVID has been affecting everyone in some way, no matter who you are or what country you live in. According to the Associated Press, Moderna, an American biotechnology company, has released news that the tests have yielded very good news, despite the current state of the virus now, and how the future would look very grim without the vaccine. The vaccine has appeared to be 94.5% effective, which is a huge step in dealing with the virus and will be very effective if distributed soon. Many companies are in a race for the vaccine, but only a few have been very successful. While Americans brace heavily for the next possible wave of COVID coming to us all, there is a light at the end of a tunnel for us all.

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Important Updates on the Coronavirus Vaccine

Claire Douglas, journalist

COVID-19 was officially recognized as a pandemic by the World Health Organization (WHO) on Mar. 11, 2020, and America is currently still battling for control as cases continue to rise. The month of November, however, has taken a turn for the better with newly released advancements regarding a Pfizer coronavirus vaccine. In collaboration with Operation Warp Speed (OWS), a Pfizer vaccine is expected to begin distribution by mid-December, assuming that their vaccine gains FDA approval, and OWS is expecting widespread vaccination in America to be completed by spring of 2021. 

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Identity, Consciousness, and the Mind-Body Debate

Maya Tuckman, GW Chronicle Journalist

The mind and body debate encompasses a multitude of different theories that contribute to scientists’ understanding of human consciousness. It leads biologists and philosophers to question the extent to which our genetic predisposition influences our conscious and subconscious decisions through its critical reexamination of the mental and physical properties behind our actions.  

How does the metaphysical idea of the “mind” depend on the biological processes of the brain? How does this connection influence human behavior? How do physical changes in the brain alter a person’s mental state? How does consciousness alienate humankind from other species? These are all questions that branch out from the mind-body debate and lead to a much broader discussion of psychological identity, genetics and behaviorism, and nature versus nurture. The mind and body debate plays a fundamental role in examining these areas because it provides a structure to explore these questions further.

Scientists’ understanding of the mind and body debate of human consciousness is linked to identity, not in the ways we explicitly choose to identify, but because it describes the biological and mental characteristics we involuntarily possess as intelligent beings that comprise our personalities and behaviors. It relates to both the idea of who we are as individuals and what we are as the human race since the relationship between the mind and body dictate every thought, memory, or emotion we experience. This concept makes each argument compelling, and the debate, itself, demonstrates the complexity of human self-awareness.

Behaviorists, biologists, and humanists all have different insights as to how human consciousness operates. These perspectives conflict with each other over whether the mind or body are the same or separate entities. Neurobiologists may argue from a more materialistic outlook. They would say the mind doesn’t exist at all, and mental processes are characterized by the brain’s physical structure. This would mean that everything we feel, think, or experience is a direct result of brain activity. The other extreme is phenomenalism, which asserts that physical objects are manifestations of the mind’s perceptions and only mental objects exist. This suggests that the body is an illusion of the mind and an extension of our complex conscious thought.

Materialism and phenomenalism fall under the category of monism because they describe a scenario in which only the mind OR body exists. On the other hand, according to substance dualism, the mind and body both exist, separate and distinct from one another. Substance dualists believe in a division between the mental and physical elements; therefore, they reject the biological notion that the brain and mind are one physical system.

Behaviorists believe stimulus and response should dictate psychology in another branch of thought, while humanists believe people’s subjective perceptions are equally as significant when it comes to interpreting someone’s actions. Like how “a schizophrenic might not define their actions as ill, rather they would believe they had insight into some occurrence that no one else had.”

Though these numerous points of view offer interesting theories behind psychological processes, their conflicting natures reveal how little we know about them. There are countless studies to evidence each argument, but this only attests to the debate’s paradoxicality. Despite this, the mind and body debate supports further research and provides an interesting bridge between psychology and philosophy.