The Genetics of Bliss

The phrase “nature vs. nurture” calls to mind the idea that the traits that make us who we are, such as our strength, weight, and personality, result from a complex combination of genetic factors and life experiences.  This combination is so, well, complicated that scientists still haven’t entirely figured out where genetics ends and environmental contributions take over in the way our traits develop. After all, our genetics and life experiences are constantly influencing one another throughout our lifetime.  
Continue reading “The Genetics of Bliss”

Finding Balance and Harmony in a Diverse Ecosystem

Front and center in the news today is the fact that climate change and various human activities are posing a hazard to the health of major ecosystems across our planet, threatening the survival of life on our planet as we know it.  But what makes a healthy ecosystem, and what does it mean for life when ecosystems undergo major changes, such as deforestation in rainforests caused by industry or a sudden decline of coral reefs due to the rise in ocean temperatures?  How far does the damage reach?  To understand these catastrophic events, we must take a step back and first consider ecosystems in more theoretical, less extreme terms. Continue reading “Finding Balance and Harmony in a Diverse Ecosystem”

What Draws Us to Science?

What draws us to science?  Oftentimes science gives us a glimpse of the vast workings of the natural world, showing us the enormity of the system in which we live and, if we peek inside, all the spinning cogs and gears that work together and allow that system to exist at all.  Those insights make our hearts skip a beat and our hair stand on end with excitement and awe. It feels profound, and we are humbled by the thought that, even if just for a moment, we have grasped an idea that is so much bigger than ourselves. The humility grows more once we realize that our lives here on Earth are minuscule compared to the vast complexity of the universe.   Continue reading “What Draws Us to Science?”

Your Gut Microbiome and You: How Bacteria in Your Intestines Keep You Healthy and Happy

“Microbiome” – it’s a popular buzzword these days, but this word means different things to different people.  What is the microbiome, really? How does it affect your body? Does it help you or does it hurt you?

When we think of microbes, most of us immediately think of getting sick, right?  Get out your Lysol, your bleach, your antibacterial soap! Scrub until everything is spotlessly clean or risk a deadly infection…right!?!

Well, not exactly. Continue reading “Your Gut Microbiome and You: How Bacteria in Your Intestines Keep You Healthy and Happy”