As a science outreach organization, we wish we could add more to the conversation about how to stay safe from #COVID19, but the truth is, experts have already said what needs to be said. Here’s what you you need to know to protect yourself and others from the coronavirus:Continue reading “Tips for Protecting Yourself and Others from the Coronavirus”
We are sad to say we had to cancel our annual Pi K Fun run because of the coronavirus. Everyone’s health and safety is a priority for us, and we don’t want to put anyone at risk of sacrificing either. We really feel bad that you’re missing this yearly tradition, so to make it up to you a best as we can, we collected some fun facts about pi(e) in all its forms. We hope you enjoy!Continue reading “Fun Facts About Pi(e)”
Mini-brains—that’s right. It sounds like something from Frankenstein, doesn’t it?
I gazed in awe as my mentor showed me these ‘mini-brains,’ aka cerebral organoids. Much like soufflés, mini-brains must grow without falling apart and require a lot of care and patience. They ‘rise’ to the challenge of helping physicians and scientists better understand the brain and develop treatments for diseases that affect us and our loved ones.Continue reading “Mini-Brains and Soufflés? More Alike Than You Think”
Let me preface this by saying that I’m not vegan, vegetarian, or even pescatarian. I’m not any of the -arians. But I am a foodie. So when I heard about the Impossible Burger, a plant-based “beef” burger, I had to try it. Unlike other plant-based burgers, where you can see the beans and corn that are squished together to make the patty, the Impossible Burger truly resembles a beef burger.Continue reading “The Impossible Burger: Is it Really That Impossible?”
When I was in fifth grade, I took care of a light pink flower that sat by the windowsill in my classroom. Every time I noticed my plant leaning towards the window, I turned it around so I could watch how, after a couple days, it had tilted towards the window again. I later learned in class that plants grow towards light, but I wondered, was there more to it? Did the flower learn to do this?
In June 2017, a group of congressmen were practicing for the annual Congressional Baseball Game when gunshots erupted. Quickly after the shooting began, House Majority Whip Steve Scalise was shot. Fellow Congressman Brad Wenstrup immediately worked to stop the bleeding from Scalise’s wound by using a tourniquet, a method of cutting off the blood supply to an injury.Continue reading “You Can Save a Life: Military Tourniquets Come Home”
If you have school age kids in your life, you’ve probably noticed a lot has changed since you were their age. Smart screens and computer science courses are making chalkboards and writing in cursive obsolete. Another thing that’s missing: the classic PB & J. In fact, some schools have banned peanuts entirely due to allergies.Continue reading “Will the Peanut Allergy Ever be a Thing of the Past?”
Machine learning impacts our everyday lives, whether we realize it or not. It determines what we see while scrolling through Facebook, what we see when we visit a company’s website, and how we interact with brands on the internet. You see ads based on your personal research, the key words used in your searches, and your individual preferences.
What most people may not realize though is that machine learning impacts parts of your life you may not have even considered, such as your finances, your healthcare, and even the ways in which we communicate with one another.Continue reading “Machine Learning & How It Affects Our Daily Lives”
As I stood, gazing intently down near my feet, I felt the water flow past my knees. Even with my waders on, I could feel its cool relief in the summer sun. As I looked into the water, I caught a glimpse of a dark, circular shape under the muddy stream bed. I reached down to grab it, and as I pulled, I realized that it was not going to budge. What I thought was a lone bike tire was actually still attached to an entire bike, buried under the muck. I called my teammate, undergraduate researcher Sam Fredrickson, over and we traced the pattern of the metal crossbars and found a place to grip. With our combined effort, we pulled the frame free from under the layers of mud that had accumulated over it.Continue reading “A Day in the Life of a Garbage Scientist”
You’re in the midst of a headache, temples throbbing, and you rush to the drug store for medication only to have your headache intensify because you can’t decide whether you should get Tylenol or its generic form. Does that sound familiar? Ever dreaded having to pick up an expensive prescription and then been shocked to receive a generic version of it at a lower or no co-pay? (What a nice surprise!) Or, are you wondering why sometimes there is no generic alternative of your medicine available? Read on and hopefully, by the end of this article, you have all these questions answered.Continue reading “Brand-Name Drugs vs. Generics: What’s the Difference?”
Today, you can find hydrogenated butter with canola oil right next to trans fat-free margarine. Partially-hydrogenated soybean oil a few aisles down from Omega-3 fatty acids. Your friends tell you that you can eat fat as long as you avoid sugar, while doctors tell you to avoid some fats because they’ll clog your arteries and cause heart disease. Yes, the world of fats is as complex as it is diverse. Continue reading “Say Goodbye to Trans Fats”
It seems like every year there’s a new miracle food. First it was kale, then it was açai bowls, and now kombucha (pronounced come-BOOCH-uh) is the new health craze. You may have heard friends or colleagues touting its benefits: “It prevents cancer!” “It fights off colds!” “It’s the fountain of youth!” Maybe you’ve recently hopped on the kombucha train, or have been drinking it for years, or, if you’re honest, maybe you have absolutely no idea what it is. (It’s a fermented tea drink, in case you were wondering).
Well, you’re in the right place! Let’s learn more about the science behind kombucha. We’ll explore how it is made and how it interacts with our bodies. And spoiler alert: while it’s probably not the fountain of youth, evidence suggests it could be really, really good for us.
“CBD.” Perhaps you’ve seen these letters shining bright, in green neon, on a store window in a seedy part of the city, fronting a shop with glass vials and trinkets lining the shelves and creepy men behind the counter. Or, maybe you took a stroll downtown on a sunny day and walked into CVS or Walgreens, only to see these same letters on small boxes lining the shelves next to the vitamins. You might be wondering what’s going on – how could the same compound be proudly sold in shady hemp shops and mainstream convenience stores at the same time? What is this confounded chemical? Continue reading “The Truth about Cannabidiol (As Far as We Know)”
While there is an exception to every rule, most bartenders recognize that there are really two types of cocktails: sours and bitters. These flavors temper the taste of alcohol, as most people don’t enjoy straight 40% alcohol booze. The first thing bartenders can do to give their drinks flavor – the first step in creating the perfect cocktail – is to add a source of sugar, often in the form of simple syrup (just sugar and water) or vermouth. However, a drink with just booze and sugar would taste cloyingly sweet to most people, so bartenders often add something else to counteract the sweetness, and this is where the two families of drinks now diverge into bitters or sours. Continue reading “Three Ingredients for a Perfect Cocktail”
In the midst of the cocktail revolution, there’s no shortage of online recipes for aspiring home mixologists to shake or stir at the end of the day. However, outside of (often long) lists of (often obscure) ingredients to throw together, there’s little out there to provide an understanding of why we’re combining these ingredients and what makes a good drink. With that in mind, let’s dive into the ideas about why some drinks work, and explore how you can optimize and improve the taste of your beverages. Continue reading “Using Science to Step Up Your Cocktails”
According to the Center for Disease Control, in 2014, over 29 million people had diabetes in the United States – a disease that is more common among the poor, the less educated, and racial and ethnic minorities. While some people inherit genetic susceptibility to Type 2 diabetes, the onset of this disease can be exacerbated by factors that are all common to underserved neighborhoods, such as poor diet, lack of exercise, and limited access to quality healthcare. This is a complex problem that requires a multifaceted solution. Continue reading “Diabetes in Low-Income Communities: Its Causes and Its Solutions”
Autumn is officially here, and if you’re anything like me, you’re a little sad that the smell of charcoal and mosquito spray is going away with the summer. I’m also always a little sad knowing that I won’t have the treat of my husband’s latest barbecued meal on my Dixie plate when dinner time rolls around in the winter months. Whether it is the hundreds of pounds of pulled pork he makes for our family’s annual pig roast in Michigan or a simple charred salmon with fresh corn on the back porch, the fish skin delicately charred and greasy as you flake it onto your fork, I will surely miss it. Continue reading “The Science of Grilling vs. Barbecue”
In the last several years, I, like many others, have become increasingly aware of and concerned with the issue of food waste. In 2014 (the most recent published data), the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimated that, of the 136 million tons of municipal solid waste (MSW) sent to landfills that year, food was the largest component, accounting for over 21 percent of the total landfilled MSW. Continue reading “Go Home Food, You’re Wasted: What You May Not Know About Food Waste in the U.S.”
According to a common piece of folklore, you swallowed eight spiders in your sleep last year. Urban legend or not, the very thought of spiders crawling into your mouth while you slumber likely triggers many unpleasant sensations, from mild discomfort to outright repulsion. After all, insects and spiders are gross critters that belong outside in the dirt, not inside our home. And certainly, not inside our mouths while we sleep.
…but who says they can’t also be food? Continue reading “Eating Bugs: A Diet That’s Hard to Swallow”
Ah, summer in Chicago. A time of long days, longer lines at the Shedd Aquarium, and endless amount of fruit flies everywhere in your kitchen. Continue reading “Getting Clean with Some Household Science”