The History of the Internet: From ARPANET to 5G

In 1957, after the Soviets’ launched Sputnik 1, the US Congress responded by creating the Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA; now DARPA), whose mission it was to build satellites and develop other advanced technologies that would show up the Russians. NASA took over the space projects a year later, and ARPA used their resources on a new project: creating the first computer network.

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Drug Discovery: Behind the Molecules in Our Medicine Cabinet

We’ve all come in contact with pharmaceutical drugs in some form or another.  Maybe you take a prescription drug every day to manage a certain health condition.  Perhaps you keep a bottle of Tylenol in your desk for when you feel a headache coming on at work.  Or maybe you’ve seen advertisements on TV for commercial drugs, featuring people relaxing in bathtubs in an open field or a drug’s name sung to the tune of the Jackson 5’s “ABC.”  But have you ever wondered how scientists discovered the exact molecule in the little orange bottle, in your desk drawer or on your TV screen, that does just what it’s supposed to?  To understand the process of drug discovery, let’s follow one drug’s journey from the lab to the pharmacy shelf.   

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Should I Eat MSG?

Sometimes I hate grocery shopping. Every time I wander down one of the aisles, I am visually assaulted with a barrage of various claims: Low Sodium! Heart Healthy! No fat! After a point, foods are laying claim to any appealing phrase they can use to convince you that their food should be purchased, and the most confusing and misleading of all is the claim ‘MSG Free!’ because so few of us actually know what MSG is. If the companies proclaim they don’t have it, it must be bad, right? Right?

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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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Coronavirus, Corona Beer, and Corona Bread

Everyone is hearing about the coronavirus, and, of course, Corona beer is not having any of it. Maybe they’ll try renaming it, but that’s not going to happen any time soon. I’m going to assume that you probably know that a coronavirus isn’t called that because of the beer. It’s called that because of the Latin term for ‘crown,’ which the virus looks like.

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Fun Facts About Pi(e)

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!

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Mini-Brains and Soufflés? More Alike Than You Think

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. 

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The Impossible Burger: Is it Really That Impossible?

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.

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Can Plants Learn? Here’s Some Evidence

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?

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You Can Save a Life: Military Tourniquets Come Home

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.

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Machine Learning & How It Affects Our Daily Lives

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.

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A Day in the Life of a Garbage Scientist

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.

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Brand-Name Drugs vs. Generics: What’s the Difference?

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.

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Say Goodbye to Trans Fats

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”

Kombucha: the Science Behind the Craze

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.  

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The Truth about Cannabidiol (As Far as We Know)

“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)”