Just the facts

Mike Dwyer – Anchor Staff

“Just the facts” is a column written by our longtime news writer Mike Dwyer. The facts listed below are meant to inspire readers’ interests in bizarre scientific facts and possibly inspire a google search. One of the facts below is false– if you can find the singular false fact, email editorinchief@anchorweb.org and you will win a free ¼ page advertisement.

Ingurgitate is to guzzle as sternutate is to sneeze.

Borborygmus is an ancient Greek onomatopoeia for the tummy wumbles.

A common psychological phenomenon known as pareidolia is the likely culprit behind cloud animals, the man in the moon and Jesus on toast. Both mice and men fall victim to the sunk cost fallacy and grimace when they are in pain.

Chimpanzees living in Côte d’Ivoire’s Taï National Park have distinct cultural differences in nut-cracking. French dolphins sleep talk in whale.

Blue tits have learned to steal milk, while wigeons, ducks and skuas are known to engage in piracy. Pigeons are prone to problem gambling but the cause of avian divorce, particularly high among urban communities, is still poorly understood.

The flat earth society has endorsed the science behind man-made climate change.

The popularity of the Japanese video game Space Invaders is thought to be a reflection of American fear and xenophobia while the game Tetris, a creation of Soviet science, has been used to correct lazy eye in older adolescents.

An assistant professor in Canada created kulturBot, a robot that is designed to tweet art criticism and hitchBot, a robot that successfully hitchhiked from Canada’s Maritime Provinces to British Columbia.

HitchBot’s second transnational journey, this time from Boston to San Francisco, was cut short after the robot was found decapitated and disemboweled in a roadside ditch outside of Philadelphia.

The development of Siri was funded by the Department of Defense.

A group of computer scientists in Singapore successfully downloaded the consciousness of a monkey to an artificial neural network but can’t get the digitized primate to stop screaming.

Microsoft’s Tay, an artificial intelligence designed to speak like a teenage girl, was instead radicalized online and had to be shut down shortly after launch.

The United States Air force is looking into how to handle Elon Musk’s pot use.

The earliest warning of the impending technological singularity was made in 1863 by Samuel Butler, an English author and satirist.

The article appeared in a New Zealand newspaper and provided an ominous warning that machines were undergoing an evolution similar to that of humans and that “in the course of ages we shall find ourselves the inferior race.”

Through his writing, Butler advocated for the cessation of mechanical progress and the destruction of any machine invention less than 300 years old which, ironically, would have included the steam powered printing press and newspaper itself.

Checking the facts with Dwight Myers:

Unfortunately, no one was able to correctly identify the false facts from our previous issues. It’s time to reveal the falsehoods of the last fortnight. The aforementioned study from the University of Nevada, mentioned in our September 10th issue, did not link chronic fatigue syndrome to the XMRV virus. The immunologist who led the study was sacked from her job after being accused of image manipulation. Also, the mice used in the study did not suffer from bladder shyness. To the best of my knowledge, that was a complete fabrication, as was the claim of avian-Marxism from our September 17th issue.

Keep checking the facts in this week’s issue, and as always, there will be prize for the student who correctly identifies the false fact.

A little proof that 2=1

Victor Martelle & Samantha Scetta – Technology Director & Editor-In-Chief

We let A=B: If A is 1, B is 1.

A and B are assumed to be real numbers

AA=AB Multiply an A on both sides

A2=AB And this is the result

A2-B2=AB-B2 Subtract B2 from both sides

(A+B)(A-B)=AB-B2 Note: (A2-B2)=(A+B)(A-B)

(A+B)(A-B)=B(A-B) And now we factorize out a B on right hand side

A+B=B Divided both sides by A-B

Now,

Since we said A=B

B+B=B

And if B is equal to 1?

1+1=1

Therefore,

2=1

This proof that we have done demonstrates that 2 is equal to 1

How is this possible? From line 6 to 7, we divided both sides by A-B. However, we assumed A is equal to B. If this was the case then A-B=0. Dividing by 0 is never to be done in mathematics.

Just the facts

Mike Dwyer – Anchor Staff

A Killer whale named Wikie has learned how to say “hello” and “bye-bye”, but still has no sense of smell. All marbled crayfish are clones, an anomaly which is thought to be the result of a reproductive accident that occurred in a German aquarium sometime around 1995.

Female bearded dragons grow a temporary penis during early development, puppies hit peak cuteness at eight weeks of age, some cats have thumbs and fearful dairy calves tend to be more pessimistic than their sociable peers.

Turkey vultures nest in the trunks of hollow trees while yellow-billed oxpeckers have been spotted roosting in the armpits of giraffes. A researcher in Japan conditioned pigeons to judge children’s artwork to be either “good” or “bad”. Hermit crabs actively seek lasting relationships with sea anemones, Ugandan warthogs will lie down in the presence of nit-picking mongooses, while white-tip sharks pose for cleaner wrasses, ending the engagement if the wrasse bites too hard.

A biology program produced mice with chronic bad breath. It is illegal to harvest the stomach bile of Vietnamese bile bears. Researchers in Ontario, Canada conclude that your dog will not save you.

Sometimes, Shoaling fish betray their friends. Male antelopes have been observed gas-lighting their female mates to get more sex. Up to 90 percent of koalas have chlamydia and it is infectious to humans. Some caterpillars have developed a taste for flesh. Chimpanzees, elephants, and dolphins have displayed what appears to be a form of proto-religious ritual, whereas starling murmurations are thought to have advanced to the early stages of avian-Marxism.

In Meerkat mobs, the alpha female will enslave others, forcing them to serve as wet nurses for her offspring. In defense, horned lizards may aim and squirt blood from their eyes. The cigarette snail kills its victims with a venomous harpoon. Cows will face either magnetic north or south while grazing, and are responsible for more human death per year than sharks. Recently voted “World’s Ugliest Animal”, the blobfish has very little bone or muscle in its body, and no swim bladder. A physicists in Paris has determined that cats can behave like a liquid, or a solid, depending on the circumstances.

The neotrogla, a cave-dwelling genus of barklice in Brazil, will copulate for up to 70 hours with its reverse sexual organs. Scientists in South Korea have genetically engineered a glow-in-the-dark puppy. A blind, bisexual goose named Thomas, who became the center of a highly publicized love triangle in New Zealand, has passed away at the age of 38. Thomas is survived by his eight cygnets, who were stolen several years prior by a rival named George.

 

Damages cause by your flicking habits

Samantha Malley & Samantha Scetta – Art Director & Editor-in-Chief

What do we think of when we think of littering? Coffee cups, candy wrappers and plastic bags… these are items that are constantly littering sidewalks and polluting oceans. A much more common yet absolutely insidiously littered item is actually the cigarette butts that are notoriously flicked out of car windows and onto the streets. Shockingly, the butts of cigarettes are the number one item littered not just in the United States… but throughout the whole entire world.

About four and a half trillion cigarette butts are littered every year making up more than a third of all litter. Once tossed to the ground, a cigarette butt can leach harmful chemicals such as arsenic and lead –simply creating an unnecessary and detrimental hazard to our natural world.

“Thousands upon thousands of ciggy butts in a fishes mouth”, Graphic by Wiley Sadowski

There are two visible parts that make up a cigarette: the tobacco and the plastic filter. Although the smokeable tobacco part is biodegradable by definition, the plastic filter is made up of cellulose acetate. This compound technically breaks down but never disappears…ever. Combine that with not only the thousands of chemicals found in a cigarette butt with all the other different types of litter found daily in the environment and you have a recipe for a toxic environment.

Reported just this year by the Ocean Conservancy’s International Coastal Cleanup project, the top ten most littered items were all made up of plastic. These items included cigarettes, of course, food wrappers, plastic bottles and caps, plastic bags, and straws.

Sounds like the perfect recipe for a poisonous meal. All animals, from pets to wildlife can’t know the difference between food and garbage until it is already being eaten. This is especially true for marine life that are basically forced to ingest plastic waste. Would you want to eat a fish that has ingested cigarette butts?

Cigarettes cause a plethora of disease from lung cancer to liver cancer, and from erectile dysfunction to stroke. Smoking cigarettes is a debilitating habit that will eventually cause the smoker health problems that they would most likely not have had otherwise. Smoking cigarettes is a personal choice, however, when smoking around children or littering cigarette butts it becomes less personal and more harmful to other beings– this is when smoking becomes an environmental issue. There are other means of disposing cigarettes such as putting them into ashtrays and then emptying the ashtray into a garbage routinely.

However, when going for a walk or driving a car it is much easier to just throw the cigarette filter onto the ground rather than waiting to find a proper place to dispose of it. Unless people stop smoking cigarettes altogether, the butts are going to end up in our oceans, our front yards and the mouths of animals worldwide.

 

Flower power: phytoremediation and the sunflower

Lucille DiNaro – Business Manager

Photo courtesy of Thomas Crudale

It is about this time of year when Summer slowly melts into Autumn that New Englanders witness an explosion of plant life. The fast approaching harvest brings forth rolling fields of corn, tumbling pumpkin patches, and in recent years, sunflowers. This newfound popularity of the sunflower field did not arise like the kitschy tulip farms you see on Instagram. Recent studies have pegged Helianthus annuus–commonly known as the sunflower–as an effective phytoremediation agent, and it has caught farmer’s attention.

Native to the Americas, the sunflower is a drought tolerant, late blooming plant that has generally been avoided by farmers due to its fast-spreading and invasive nature. However, threats to soil fertility posed by increased heavy metal contamination and saline soils has caused many to reconsider this particular plant.

The sunflower is a known hyperaccumulator which makes it a great candidate for phytoremediation of soil. Simply put, the biological activities and processes of the sunflower allow the plant to absorb high concentrations of heavy materials in their tissue and simultaneously neutralize the surrounding soil. Research conducted by environmental scientists in the past ten years has attributed the sunflower the ability to absorb nickel, copper, arsenic, lead and cadmium from contaminated soils.

 

The 10,000 suns exhibit, intersection of Dollar and S. Main St Providence,
Photo courtesy of Thomas Crudale

The success of the sunflower as a phytoremediator is most likely attributed to its genetic makeup. Farmers and environmental scientists are drawn to the sunflower particularly due to its ability to thrive in moist soils, as soils near water systems are highly prone to contamination. Likewise, the invasive, self-maintaining nature of the sunflower significantly decreases the amount of labor involved in soil remediation.

The practice of phytoremediation via sunflower has been put into action right in our own backyard, at the intersection of Wickenden and South Main streets in Providence. Adam E. Anderson, registered landscape architect and professor at the Rhode Island School of Design, has incorporated the sunflower and its restorative properties in what he describes as a summer long botanical performance. 10,000 suns pictured above and below, was first installed in 2016 in an effort to both combat the toxicity of the soil on former I-195 land and provide a unique outdoor space for Providence citizens. Now in its third year, the garden has established a devoted community of volunteers who work tirelessly to plant and maintain the hundreds of rows of golden suns.

For decades, extraction and soil washing have existed as the primordial method of soil remediation, despite out of pocket cost and environmental risks. Phytoextraction of metals, on the other hand, is inexpensive, natural and miraculously effective. The sunflower survives and thrives throughout the phytoremediation process, positioning itself as a successful venture for farmers and environmental scientists to consider in the years to come.

 

Sickle cell disease

Samantha Scetta – Editor-in-Chief

Blood: the substance that courses seamlessly through all of our vessels, the intricately complicated matter that we depend on every second of our lives and what we sometimes forget exists until we scrape our knees or visit a donation center.  

Sickle Cells, Photo courtesy of MicroscopyU

Like all parts of our human bodies, there are a plethora of pathologies that can affect blood, specifically red blood cells. Sickle cell disease (SCD) is one of these pathologies, a hereditary blood disorder affecting approximately 100,000 Americans and millions of people around the world.

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), Sickle cell disease is an inherited disease that is prominent amongst individuals whose ancestors came from sub-Saharan Africa, Mediterranean countries, Spanish-speaking regions in the Western Hemisphere, India and Saudi Arabia. In the United States, all newborns are required to be screened for sickle cell disease directly after birth, as this is a hereditary disease passed on from parent to child. People born with SCD have inherited a sickle hemoglobin gene from each parent, and can pass the trait onto their children. SCD is a disease that directly affects the shape of red blood cells.

Healthy and normal red blood cells are normally shaped like discs, but red blood cells of those with SCD are shaped like a sickle, or a crescent moon. The misshapen red blood cell discs cause a multitude of health problems for those that are born with SCD.

Hemoglobin is the protein contained within red blood cells that carries oxygen throughout your body in a smooth and natural way when your red blood cells are typical. In those affected by SCD, the hemoglobin protein clumps together and causes red blood cells to be misshapen as a sickle.

The result of the “sticky” hemoglobin in red blood cells is blood not being able to get to organs in the body that need blood (all of them), leading to debilitating pain and anemia along with various ailments such as an increased risk of bacterial infections and stroke.

SCD occurs at the time of conception, so people with SCD are not contagious and will not lose their sickle cell genes over the course of their lifetime. The disease can be maintained and controlled, but the only known cure is a bone marrow transplant. Bone marrow transplant is not a common and widely used procedure, and does not come without risk of toxicity.  

Dr. Charles Abrams, spokesman for the American Society of Hematology says that “In theory, if you could give this to everyone, you could cure everyone of the disease. And if there were no toxicity, we probably would.” According to Dr. Abrams, there are new treatments “in the pipeline,” however bone marrow transplant is the only current cure for SCD.

 

As denoted by congress, September is labeled as National Sickle Cell Awareness month to encourage doctors, scientists and students to focus research on treatment for sickle cell disease

To learn more about what you can do for research please visit the National Heart, Lung and Blood institute’s website.

 

RIC welcomes organic chemist Dr. Kiesewetter

Samantha Scetta – Editor-in-Chief

Dr. Elizabeth Kiesewetter just began teaching organic chemistry at Rhode Island College this fall, but she is by no means a stranger to the subject.

Dr. Kiesewetter grew up in the midst of chemistry, as her mother is also an organic chemist . In a household where chemistry experiments are commonplace, chemistry becomes much less daunting of a subject. Even chemistry that focuses on mostly organic compounds.When Dr. Kiesewetter began taking organic chemistry classes as an undergraduate student at Georgetown University, she realized that organic chemistry is a class one really needs to think about how to study for–it is not a class for crammers. This is true for most sciences, especially when one is performing research.
Dr. Kiesewetter began her research as an undergraduate student, and is still in the process of getting her lab at RIC started. Her research focuses mainly on polymers (plastics) that have a variety of uses and applications.
Plastics are wonderful materials and have infinite uses, however they are polluting our oceans and most are not biodegradable. The end result of this is that plastic ends up everywhere– In our oceans, streets, backyards and sometimes in the food we consume.

Polylactide; a molecule used in biodegradable plastics

Some of Dr.Kiesewetter’s research focuses on biodegradable polymers, and how to design polymers to be the most cost efficient and valuable to consumers. “The polymers we make can be hydrolyzed- they react with water. When they react with water, they are able to degrade in oceans”. Dr. Kiesewetter highlighted an example of a common polymer, a polymer that is used in biodegradable coffee cup lids and commonly derived from corn. This polymer is known as polylactide, but is tends to be brittle so would not be able to be used for something like a milk jug.

In Dr. Kiesewetter’s lab, they work with polymers such as polylactide one but to try to change the chemistry of the existing polymer to synthesize a new and improved material.

Polymer research is an active and innovative field, and a field with plentiful job opportunities for young  chemists. Research on plastics is so important that The American Chemical Society has deemed that all undergraduate chemistry students must take classes that include information on polymer technology to graduate. This is definitely something to consider before you drop your chemistry major.

Organic chemists do have hobbies that, believe it or not, do not directly involve functional groups or resonance structures. Dr. Kiesewetter is an avid gardener and sourdough bread baker, she also enjoys yoga and going to the gym. She is certainly looking forward to getting her lab at RIC launched and hopes to be able to work with students. Dr. Kiesewetter ikes the fact that her organic chemistry classes are capped at 24 students because, in her words, “organic chem from a podium can be a hard sell to students”. Her advice to students taking organic chemistry would “Making connections to lecture and lab can add a richness to the class and give a deeper understanding. Be patient with yourself too. Organic chem is like a puzzle, and you will solve it if you’re patient”.

 

 

Just the facts

Mike Dwyer – Anchor Staff

“Just the facts” is a column written by our longtime news writer Mike Dwyer. The facts listed below are meant to inspire readers’ interests in bizarre scientific facts and possibly inspire a google search. One of the facts below is false– if you can find the singular false fact, email editorinchief@anchorweb.org and you will win a free ¼ page advertisement.

 

A team of psychologists from Plymouth University and Queensland University of Technology have found that playing just three minutes of Tetris decreased cravings for drugs, sex and alcohol by 13.9 percent.

Using high speed videography, a group of biologists found that all mammals above three kilograms empty their bladders in approximately 21 seconds and published their findings in the journal “Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America” with the hope of clarifying some misconceptions in mainstream urology.

Immunologists at the University of Nevada found that two-thirds of people with chronic fatigue syndrome are infected with XMRV, an aggressive retrovirus linked to prostate cancer in bladder shy mice

A study supported by the Institute of Ecology and Biodiversity was able to recreate the bipedal, digitigrade locomotion and parasagittal hind-limb movement of dinosaurs by attaching weighted plungers to the butts of chickens during the growth phase of ontogeny.

Entomologist Michael Smith subjected himself to bee stings on 25 separate body parts to determine which area hurt the most, finding the skull, middle toe tip, and upper arm were the least painful locations, while the nostril, upper lip and penis shaft were the most painful.

A sexually frustrated dolphin named Zafar terrorized beachgoers in the town of Landevennec in western France by rubbing up against boats, lifting one woman in the air with his nose and preventing another swimmer from returning to shore, forcing the mayor to issue a bylaw banning swimming and diving whenever Zafar is in the area.

Researchers at the University of Calgary in Canada and the University of Los Angeles have concluded that the mysterious purple band of atmospheric light known as “Steve” does not have the telltale traces of charged particles that auroras do. The cause of “Steve” remains unknown.

Brain scans have shown that people who self-identify as conservative have larger and more active right amygdalas. A team of psychologists found that social conservatives are quicker to physically look away when shown images of blood, feces, or vomit than their liberal peers, but stared for longer at images of people reacting in disgust to such content.

Scientists have discovered signs of cheese-making on clay vessels collected from two Neolithic villages in Croatia dating back seven thousand years.

While Princeton Geologist Gerta Keller has suffered decades of intense ridicule for arguing that the fifth extinction that killed the dinosaurs was caused by volcanic global warming, it is widely accepted that the eruption of Mount Tambora in Indonesia resulted in dramatic climatic shifts and may have contributed to Napoleon’s epic defeat at Waterloo in 1815.

 

Healthcare Scorecard: RI Gubernatorial Race

Lucille DiNaro – Business Manager

The information included in this article is provided only as general information and does not constitute endorsement, recommendation or favoring of any political candidate by The Anchor or by Rhode Island College’s faculty, administration or student body.

With three days ahead before the Rhode Island primary election, the time to research candidates is running thin. This infographic aims to objectively illustrate where Rhode Island Gubernatorial candidates stand on key issues regarding public health. Don’t arrive to the ballot unprepared: your community is counting on your diligence and your vote.  

Ballot Box, photo courtesy of The Harvard Crimson

Gina Raimondo – Democrat 

https://ginaraimondo.com/

  • Proponent of the Affordable Care Act
  • Diligent in fight towards resolving the opioid crisis in Rhode Island
  • Confirmed support of the Reproductive Health Care Act
  • Supports cuts to Medicaid

Spencer Dickinson – Democrat

http://www.spencerdickinson.com/

  • In favor of single payer system and universal health coverage
  • Stance on the Reproductive Health Care Act contingent on support of bill by female constituents, given that men “need to listen to women” with regards to reproductive health
  • Opponent of rising prescription drug costs

Matt Brown – Democrat

https://www.mattbrownforgovernor.com/

  • Seeks to reduce prescription drug costs
  • Seeks to transition to single payer system, “Medicare for All” in lieu of Affordable Care Act
  • Confirmed support of the Reproductive Health Care Act
  • Supports extended family leave

Allan Fung – Republican

https://www.allanfung.com/

  • Proponent of protections for citizens with pre-existing conditions under the Affordable Care Act
  • Opposed to late-term abortion
  • No confirmed stance regarding Reproductive Health Care Act

Giovanni Feroce – Republican

http://feroceforgovernor.nationbuilder.com/

  • Opposed to Reproductive Health Care Act
  • Support of Affordable Care Act limited to protections for citizens with pre-existing conditions
  • Prefers issue by issue legislation to all inclusive health policy

Patricia Morgan – Republican

https://www.patriciaforri.com/

  • Prefers family planning and oral contraceptives to abortion
  • Champions RI HB5671, HB5672, HB 5673, which if passed will grant reciprocity to out of state physicians and loosen regulations surrounding licensure requirements
  • Seeks to reduce the cost of health care