Your Science Update

In Dr. Zaradic’s eighth grade science classes, students have been writing weekly blog posts on topics that interest them. The Phoenix Inquirer, in collaboration with Dr. Z., selects a handful of these to feature on our website. We will continue this regular feature as more exceptional blog entries are written so that student learning can benefit, and be enjoyed by, the entire community.  

“Need A Limb? Here’s A New One” by Evan Paszamant

Imagine if you could replace old limbs and other body parts in your body with new ones? While the thought of that might seem fake, scientists have found a way to do it. In a hospital in north London, scientists are growing limbs and not from the ground! They are growing them using stem cells and a cake-like material. So far they have been able to create tear ducts, blood vessels and windpipes. Currently, they are beginning to create customized ears and noses. When you add a stem cell made limb to your body, first they have to place it onto your arm or leg so it can adapt to your skin and DNA type. This is to prevent any issues in interactions when placed on permanently. Though not legally registered into the hospital systems yet, lab-made organs and limbs have a bright future. Dr. Seifalain, a leading scientist in lab-made organ researching, has a theory: “This is something that we could mass produce like in a factory one day. The question that came to my mind while reading about this was, are these organs and limbs functioning? I eventually sought out the answer and it is a simple ‘no.’ In the near future do you think that doctors will be using these to treat heart diseases and other diseases that weaken organs and limbs? The possibilities really are endless.”  What do you think? Full article

“Scientists are growing noses and other body parts” by Anna Schoepp

In London scientists are making body parts in a lab. They are made from mostly stem cells. “It’s like making a cake,” says Alexander Seifalian. They are trying to make noses and ears right now, and later, organs like kidneys, lungs or livers. They have already made tear ducts, blood vessels and windpipes. They get stem cells by taking the patients fat and let it grow in the lab. These fake body parts are gonna be used for patients who need transplants. Full article

“Taste Buds and the Senses” by Amelia McDonnell

I read an article about food and taste and how our taste is affected by our other five senses. Our taste buds help us decide if we want the food we put in our mouths to go further. We also have taste receptors and sensors all through our bodies. When our sweet sensors detect sugar, they trigger a cascade of hormones that ends with a squirt of extra insulin into our bloodstream. Another example of taste receptors is our nose. It is lined with cells that sense bitter chemicals and if there is poison in the air, they reflectively stop you from putting it into your lungs. If the poison does get to the throat, bitter detectors in the trachea trigger cilia (a short microscopic, hairlike vibrating structure) to help clear the way. I also read that our flavor preferences take shape over a lifetime, beginning while we are in the womb. Pregnant women who drink carrot juice are more likely to have have kids who like carrots. Children have to try an unfamiliar food about nine times on average before they begin to like the taste. The eventual enjoyment rests on how well caretakers sell it. This holds true for adults as well; the environment sends many cues about how food should taste. Potato chips tastes crisper if you hear a crunch over headphones. White wine with a drop of red food coloring tastes like red wine, even to experienced wine tasters. Tests have shown that people eat less off a red plate and a block of cheese with sharp edges taste sharper than one with round corners. When people eat off a smaller plate the food looks super full so they eat less than off a bigger plate. Deliciousness comes from our mother, the room we are eating in, the plates we are eating on, and the friends were eating with. It’s mental as much as chemical. I hope you learned a lot from this article and if you want to read it, it’s in the Scientific American magazine.

National Geographic” by Annie Roberts

This week I read about two different things in the National Geographic magazine. The first thing was about how scientists have recently discovered that armadillos carry the disease for leprosy. Leprosy is a disease where you can get discoloration of your skin tone, nerve damage, and deformities and it is generally common in the tropical regions of Asia and Africa. Over the past two years, many farmers and hunters (who have had contact with armadillos) have contracted this disease which is highly uncommon where we live, the United States.

The other article I read was about the extreme weather conditions throughout 2010, 2011, and 2012. There had been very unusual weather patterns and no one knew what had been going on. In the summer of 2011 in Arizona, there was a major dust storm the went up a mile high. I know about global warming and how the earth’s temperature is changing every year, but could it be possible that the weather is also getting more extreme as the temperature changes? There was also a flood in Tennessee in 2010 that was non-stop rain for almost two days straight which resulted in the Cumberland river (the main river through that town), and was 52 ft. high which was 12 ft. above flood level. Apparently this kind of storm happens only once a millenium and that these kinds of unexpected and extreme weather conditions have become much more common.

“New Solar Plane Aims for Round-the-World Flight” by Gabby Wilkinson

Today I read an article about solar planes. A new solar-powered plane was unveiled today in Switzerland. The goal of this plane is to travel around the globe. The name of this amazing invention is Solar Impulse 2, and it will begin its week-long trip in March 2015. These planes are powered only by solar panels and batteries. The planes are very light and will be able to fly day and night without fuel. The most crazy thing was that the wingspan extends to 72 meters. 17,000 solar panels cover the wings. However, landings will be made every few days to alter pilots and to participate in events with schools. The reason why this interested me so much was because the solar impulse initiative was to raise awareness about the idea of clean energy solutions. I believe that it’s important to think of new ways to prevent pollution harming our world. If you want to help save the world, then start by using the Earth’s natural resources and making right choices.

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