Death by Overwork: How Stress is Killing You

The American lifestyle is becoming increasingly busy and exhausting. The Japanese have a word for it: “karoshi”, meaning death by overwork. Americans tend to have less vacation days than people of other nations. Americans work nine full weeks (350 hours) longer than Western Europeans and have less paid vacation days. The French have a 35-hour work-week with leading worldwide hourly …

Biomimicry: Learning from Nature

Ever since the dawn of time, humans have turned to nature to find food and shelter. As our civilization progressed, nature’s role grew to be more complex and intricate; it became a source of inspiration and useful ideas. Through observation, people have gathered invaluable information about how ecosystems function around the world. A more in-depth study of nature reveals robust …

Eating Organic: The Choice is Yours

Shopping at organic food stores is, at best, a confusing experience.  You push your cart through grocery aisles with a smug sense of satisfaction, sure that you are doing something good for your body and for the environment.  What does it matter if the fruits and vegetables are a little smaller and browner, or if the cereals and canned goods …

Epigenetics: In Defense of Lamarck

Jean-Baptiste Lamarck has long been debunked. Or so the story goes. Lamarck formulated the theory that the environment shapes genes, and that these changes are passed on to your children; on other hand, Darwin argued that genes are not changed by the environment and formulated natural selection. Lamarckian evolution theories on environmentally acquired characteristics are often referenced and contrasted with …

Superconductivity: A Developing Yet Highly Practical Field

Sometimes, the most important scientific discoveries are serendipitous. This was almost certainly the case with Kamerlingh Onnes’s 1911 discovery of the phenomenon known as superconductivity [1]. As he investigated the resistance of certain metals at extremely low, sub-10K temperatures, he stumbled upon a startling fact: resistivity of electrical conductors drops to zero below a certain temperature, known as the critical …

Synthetic Biology: Benefits, Risks, and Regulations

Our species has grown increasingly adept at harnessing the natural world for our benefit; however, for the past few decades, genetic engineers have only been able to manipulate genes. While engineers build computers and buildings entirely from scratch, bioengineers tinker with already-existing biological systems by isolating, replicating, and inserting fragments of DNA. [1] Recently, researchers in the rapidly growing field …