The Placebo Effect: How Far Can It Go?

Originally published here.

What is a placebo? It’s a control substance that isn’t supposed to affect the person treated in any way [1]. When researchers try to determine if a new drug is effective, they give some subjects the actual drug and the others a ‘fake’ treatment — the placebo treatment. Continue reading


The Case for Our Universe as a Computer Simulation

3 Fictional Pieces in the next few weeks

One question. Is our universe just a computer simulation? By that I mean, are we a version of the Sims that could easily be created or destroyed at will? Now, that does seem like a dreadful question to ask but it’s quite interesting to consider. If our universe is indeed a simulation, how would we be able to test it? How would we determine that our universe is the reality? One way would be to look for ‘glitches’ in our reality that wouldn’t be possible in any physical context. But why are people like Elon Musk entertaining the idea, even going as far as to support it?

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Misunderstanding Schrodinger’s Cat

Quick things about Schrödinger's cat

We’re all familiar with the Schrödinger cat experiment. Yes, that’s the one that talks about the cat in the box with poison. There’s a chance the poison will be released killing the cat. Continue reading

Space Weather and Our Planet

Note: Fictional piece is arriving next week. 
It will be a continuation of the first part here.

Space Weather is quite interesting. There are four main components that we’ll talk about below.

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The Fly Room: A Technical Yet Artful Representation of Working in the Scientific Field

For more about The Fly Room click here.
This is a quick review of the film.

Spoilers for The Fly Room below. Tread carefully.
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Ice Cream + Salt = ???

Ever wonder what goes into the making of the tasty dessert treat? 
Read below to find out how ice cream is made!
Estimated Read Time: 3 minutes 
Bonus Haiku at the end!

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An Ion Story

This was an old assignment for a Chemistry class I took in high school (Sophomore year).
We were instructed to write up a story which included a list of common ions into it somehow. 
This is sort of a palette cleanser before next week's post! 
Estimated Read Time: 4 minutes

“An Ion Story”

It started as an average day. The birds were chirping, and the sun was shining. I remember it rather distinctly. I had a multitude of tasks to tend to. I had to order some more pyrite for my crystal radio. I also needed to go to the store and purchase more salt as the supply was dangerously low. The plans for my research project were etched on the blackboard with chalk. A few weeks prior, I had gone to the edges of a dormant volcano and collected some brimstone and volcanic rock. It was an interesting ordeal. I took the bleach from the cabinet and drove out the mold and mildew from my house. Before I left for the lab, I used my new saltpeter fertilizer on the garden. Everything seemed to be working exceptionally. The advent of Spring had brought forth a pleasant odor, similar to that of marsh gas. A few months back a dentist had told me that the laughing gas would make every part of my body feel relaxed, and maybe nauseous and lightheaded.

Boy, was he right. The gas had such a great effect on the sensory systems that I had to conduct further examination on it. On my way to work, I grabbed a coffee and put 10 packets of sugar in it. Not that I was going to drink it of course. The lady at the counter looked at me funny as I poured the white powder into the drink. The wind was brisk when I stepped out again. I passed the remains of a museum that once contained asbestos. Before it was demolished, there was an addition that was home to a bunch of these limestone sculptures. I had been there a couple of times myself. To be honest, those sculptures of people with stone cold eyes freaked me out. However, it was the angel statues that got to me. They had a bitter eeriness about them. Some were frozen in the midst of a lunge towards the viewer. The front entrance of the lab was a pain. It took too much effort and security measures to get from floor to floor. It was a necessary precaution nonetheless. I got to the room after what seemed like hours. Since I was one of the newer scientists, I had one of those crumby rooms with a gypsum ceiling that was poorly designed. Continue reading

Smokey Bear’s Conundrum: Should We Let Forest Fires Burn?

Author's Note: The story can be found near at the end of this article.
Even if you don't read both pieces, definitely check one out!
Smokey Bear's Conundrum is a 5 minute read (1,240 words)
The two-parter fiction is a 10 minute read (2,634 words)

Fire is dichotomous in nature. It can not only be employed by nature to devasting effect by incinerating anything in its path, but it can also be utilized to provide warmth and safety among other things.

The prevalent belief in popular opinion regarding wildfires is to extinguish them as soon as possible. It seems painfully obvious to many; fire must be suppressed. In terms of putting out fires, we’ve done quite a good job statistically speaking. In the U.S., 98 percent of these fires are suppressed early. This is before those fires reach 300 acres. What’s the problem then? The measly-sounding two percent that isn’t successfully contained accounts for around 97 percent of firefighting costs and area burned. Continue reading

“Clatratus” or The Clathrate Gun Hypothesis: Methane “Burping” is Cause for Concern

Estimated reading time: 30 second story, then a 5 minute article

“You don’t have to do this.” I pleaded him. We stood on the marked bullseye, him on the red ring, me on the white. “Please, we’ve had each other’s backs for years.” He smirked and reached for the gun holstered to his belt. It was unusual, to say the least. I presumed it was deadlier than an automated weapon. He pointed it at me. I froze. Twenty feet away from the barrel of his gun. Continue reading

Solar Storm

Estimated reading time: 4-5 minutes
-mini story followed by an article

“Didn’t you hear me the first time, sir?”
“Sorry, let me rephrase. WHAT?” Continue reading