The History of the American Eugenics Movement

Conservationists. Nobel Peace Prize winners. College professors. All these roles have a distinctive honorable, humanistic atmosphere around them. When you consider this group, you probably don’t think of “racial purists.” But the truth is, many who held these titles were also supporters of the American Eugenics movement, a social and political movement that focused on advancing the human race through selective reproduction.

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Smile! You’re on Camera: How Repairing a Smile Can Save a Life

You smile 30 times a day, and normally, you don’t even think about doing it. It happens involuntarily when you hear a funny joke. While it is easy for many to smile, I saw firsthand that for children around the world who suffer from cleft lip and palate deformities, including one-year-old Matias, smiling is almost impossible, and other vital functions like eating and breathing can be just as hard.

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Queen of The Dark: Vera Rubin’s Voyage Through the Cosmos

Vera Rubin sent ripples throughout the scientific community, as her work proposed a novel recipe for our universe. While we once believed our universe to be full of matter, Rubin led us to see a universe dominated by dark matter and dark energy. Today, we understand the universe to be made up of nearly 95% dark energy and dark matter, leaving only 5% of baryonic matter (protons, neutrons, tables, chairs, humans, dogs, etc.). Despite its dominating presence, dark matter properties remain mysterious! For example, dark matter does not emit light or energy. Though difficult to detect, Vera Rubin guided the field of cosmology to determine this mysterious source of matter must dominate in our universe. This is the story of Dr. Rubin’s journey from astronomer to queen of the cosmos. 

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Mindfulness Meditation: The Path to a Better Headspace

Now more than ever, we’re bombarded with messaging like “7 Tips to Calm Your Mind During a Pandemic,” but that messaging– to calm down, to be present, has been around for a while. Being present is marketed as the solution for a troubled mind, to decrease distressing, negative thoughts that pop into our minds and increase happiness. But being present can be so elusive!  What does science say about being present, and how to silence negative  thoughts and refocus your mindset?

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If You’re on Medication, Beware of the Grapefruit Effect

What do the drugs Percocet, Lipitor, and Wellbutrin have in common? It’s not what they do for you – one’s a pain med, another treats heart disease, and the third helps with depression. They’re not made by the same drug company, nor are they regulated the same way by the government. These drugs couldn’t be more different in the way they work, why they work, and how they’ve impacted our healthcare system. So what is it that they all have in common?

They, like many other drugs, can turn on you and cause you harm if you take them with grapefruit juice.

This is called the grapefruit effect.

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Organ Transplantation: How to Find Your Organs’ Doppelgangers

You just stopped by the DMV to renew your license, and you see that you can sign up to be an organ donor. You are hesitant. You have questions. You have concerns. For instance, you may have heard from a neighbor that the process is unfair, and celebrities get priority when it comes to receiving organ transplants. Is this true? You may wonder many things about how the organ donor and transplant process works. In this article, we’ll explore the science behind it. Let’s see if this insight will convince you to sign up to be an organ donor! 

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Cancer Immunotherapy: Living Drugs and Immune Catalysts

Most people find being inside a hospital a bit uncomfortable, as a patient or otherwise. But I find hospitals familiar and comforting, which isn’t surprising considering how most of my early childhood was spent in one. When I was three years old, I was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia, or ALL. My bone marrow had started to produce immature mutant versions of healthy white blood cells, crowding out my working immune system. Leaving me open to infections and so weak I couldn’t walk. Back then the standard treatment for pediatric ALL was high dose chemotherapy. These drugs killed off the cancerous cells by preventing them from dividing, but they also had the same effect on healthy cells, weakening and stressing my body even further. It took months of intensive chemo and years of recovery, but my ALL eventually went into remission. I don’t have many memories of the time, but my family and those with loved ones who have dealt with cancer know how much of a battle chemotherapy is.

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Your Diet and Cancer: pHacts and pHiction

This is a companion article to the feature Not so Basic After All: The Role of pH in Cancer Therapy.

Based on your reading of the article above, you may be wondering if an acidic diet can cause cancer, or if you can prevent cancer with a basic diet. While the results of the baking soda study might make it seem that way, science points to a more nuanced reality. 

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Periodic Pandemonium: Exploring Chemistry’s Rule-Breakers

When I tell people that I study chemistry, the response is usually some version of “You must be bright” or “I hated that class” or, put more simply, “Why?”  I’ve grown used to defending my love for chemistry, and I’ve often pointed to its straightforward nature as the source of my affection. I liked that the elements on the periodic table are arranged according to trends in their chemical properties, and that we can infer things about an element’s behavior by its position.   An element’s electronegativity (the tendency to attract electrons), for example, increases as you move from left to right and from bottom to top across the table. The size of the atom, meanwhile, increases from right to left and from top to bottom. In class, I labeled different chunks of the periodic table to signify alkali metals, transition metals, lanthanides, actinides, halogens and other categories of elements with neatly-defined criteria for membership.  As a straight-A student and a type-A personality, I appreciated how chemistry was so orderly, how there was always a right answer.   

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Who Cares About Climate Change Anyway?

You might be worried about the future of our planet. It may seem like there is no good news about climate change and that nothing is being done to stop it. Of course, you can contribute as an individual to lowering your carbon emissions; this can include all of the things we keep hearing about – recycle more, stop using plastic, eat less meat, drive less – but even if we all change the way we live to lower our individual carbon emissions, the dent we make in the world’s overall emissions will unfortunately be minuscule compared to reduction we need to make a true difference. So, what can we do beyond this? And how are other people dealing with this? 

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How to Properly Wear a Face Mask and Gloves

Last week, the CDC told us that we should wear face masks to prevent the spread of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. But we’ve noticed that some people are wearing them improperly, where they’re not actually protecting themselves and the people around them. We wanted to provide some guidance on how to wear face masks (and gloves) in the right way to keep you safe:

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