What’s Hollywood’s Carbon Footprint?

Recently environmentalists and celebrities have taken action to raise awareness on how individuals can minimize their carbon footprint. Celebrities have been using their popularity to promote this issue, for example Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie are two of the celebrities who have publicly pledged to decrease their carbon footprint. While their promise is admirable, their actions are not- often celebrities have a larger carbon footprint compared to the average Joe. This can be due to the fact that they constantly fly private jets, and own numerous cars. Famous or not, an individual must make a conscious effort to reduce their carbon footprint- they must know learn how to be green.

Carbonfootprint.com calculated the impact of U2′s world tour. Ironically, U2 is outspoken about their commitment to the environment, even though U2′s carbon emissions will equal that of 90,000 people flying from Dublin to London, and are equivalent of the waste created by 6,500 average British or Irish people in an entire year (equal to leaving a standard 100 watt light bulb on for 159,000 years). To offset this year’s carbon emissions, U2 would need to plant 20,118 trees!

A carbon footprint is the total amount of greenhouse gases created by human actions over a period of 12 months. Greenhouse gases can be produced through transport, land clearance, the production and consumption of food, fuels, manufactured goods, materials, and services.

The objective of this lesson is to educate students on making smart living choices that will impact society and the environment.

Obesity in America: A Plan to Get Fit Part 2

In this lesson, students continue to learn about obesity by exploring healthier food alternatives that taste just as good as “junk food.” In addition, students create a food plan based on the 60/30 model (60% carbohydrates/30% fats and proteins) that they will implement in their lives to lose weight and be healthier.

Viscosity, Hydrogen Bonding, and Surface Tension in Puddle

In this lesson, students learn about viscosity, hydrogen bonding, and surface tension by examining a scenario based on the video game Puddle. In this game, players control a puddle of liquid and navigate an obstacle course by tilting the stage. A video of the game is used as an introduction to a diagram-aided discussion of viscosity (a physical principle that is important to Puddle gameplay) and its relationship to hydrogen bonding. The lesson closes with a fascinating water-droplet video that shows hydrogen bonding in action.

Relativity Rock

In this lesson, a techno/electronica music video is used to teach students about the theory of relativity, the concept of fusion, and how E=MC squared gives an explanation for how stars emit light.

Twitter Your Nerve Signals

This lesson uses Twitter to help students understand how the central nervous system passes a signal along different types of neurons to elicit a response from the brain.

Pro-Palestinian protesters take part in a demonstration against the violence in the Gaza strip, in Lyon

The Science Of Protest: How Our Brains Are Wired To Fight For Our Rights

(Credit: Reuters/Robert Pratta/AP/Charlie Riedel)

The recent tragic events surrounding the deaths of Michael Brown, Eric Garner and the NYPD officers have struck a chord in a us all. However, today’s millennial generation of young people have taken to the streets more so than any other generation in recent history to express their feelings. Motivations, people’s beliefs, identity and emotions are key in generating a person’s willingness to protest. With or without social media, people who are deeply angry about an unjust situation, or who feel strongly connected with a particular issue, will always take to the streets.

Protest is defined as a form of collective action and as participation in a social movement. What is it that drives young people to protest? Why are young people prepared to sacrifice a comfortable and carefree lifestyle, or sometimes even their very lives for a common cause? The research team at NuSkool has found some scientific reasons why we fight for our rights that may have more to do with brain science than we realize. Science can’t always explain what’s in our hearts, but it can help us understand what motivates one of the greatest youth movements in history.
We are the risk takers and the rule breakers
Science has proven that teens and college students are really ‘bout that life. Scientists have used brain scanning methods to study the changes that occur in the teen brain. Recent discoveries have shown that teenagers have well-developed emotions and feelings and are more willing to do dangerous things an adult would avoid, this is due to the brain’s prefrontal cortex.

The prefrontal cortex is responsible for weighing risk and consequences in the teen brain. When experiencing an emotionally-charged situation like a tragedy in the community like Ferguson, the brain is handicapped in its ability to gauge risk and consider the consequences. In most situations, teens can evaluate risks just like adults. But in emotionally heightened real-life scenarios, this rational part of the brain gets overridden by the reward center. Racism, oppression and injustices in the community are definitely triggers for this kind of reaction. Our brains have a reward center, involving the nucleus accumbens, which lights up with dopamine whenever we find something exciting, interesting or meaningful. In a study comparing the brains of teens to adults, scientists found that teens need extreme situations in order to get excited.
We are natural born followers
News flash: peer pressure is actually a thing. Oxytocin receptors in a young brain makes teens highly responsive to the opinions of their peers. Studies find that the brain’s receptors for oxytocin has a strong influence on social bonding and affects our emotional and behavioral responses to social encouragement or peer pressure. When our peers become angry or emotional over a situation, this activates our own brain’s prefrontal areas in response to emotional and social stimuli. During this time, we also have heightened awareness toward the opinions of our friends, so much so that we imagine that our behavior is the focus of everyone else’s concern and attention.

According to a study, which examined brain scans of teens using fMRI data, the presence of friends activated certain regions of the brain that were not activated when they were alone that increased their willingness to take part in antisocial behavior. Being in the presence of friends also doubled risk-taking among young people in their 20’s, increased it by fifty percent among teens, but had no effect on adults, a pattern that was identical among both males and females. So the moral of the story is…choose your friends wisely.
We are a living, breathing social network
One of the strongest emotions in a teen’s life that pulls someone into joining a gang, a sports team or joining a social cause is the need to be a part of something bigger than oneself…joining a movement.

Chris McGrath—Getty Images

Research suggests that people who experience both personal and group oppression are the most strongly motivated to take to the streets. Being part of something bigger than yourself is very important to today’s generation. Any events that harm that group by definition harm the individual, and they find themselves experiencing emotions on behalf of the group. The more people feel that group’s interests or values are threatened, the angrier they are and the more they are prepared to take part in protests to express their anger. Collective anger moves people to challenge the authorities and subdue other emotions such as shame, despair and obedience. Participating in protests strengthens the collective power of that group, and feelings of unity and support empowers people to stand together against the authorities. However, taking action doesn’t always mean people expect that group-related problems can be solved by their united efforts. Protesters find a way to overcome their defeated hopes to eventually protest again and raise consciousness to create solidarity. Is it science?… eh, maybe not. Is it real?…you bet. Does it change the world?… absolutely.

Before you decide to join a protest and put yourself at risk to fight for a cause, ask yourself the following questions:

Who or what caused the event?
How does the event influence my goals?
Do I have control and power over the consequences of the event?
Who can I call for help if I’m in danger or if I get arrested?

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The Science of The Charlie Charlie Challenge

Naturally, these hard-to-balance objects have a tendency to roll around because the center of gravity is so difficult to access.


Invoking Charlie:

“Charlie Charlie, can you play?”   Take two pencils, balance one on top of the other, making an X or cross, over the top of a paper with four quadrants labeled “yes” and “no.”  Try to summon the supernatural entity, Charlie, and then ask him questions.  The pencil on top will eventually move and touch down into one of the quadrants!  Did it just move on its own?  Did you just summon a demon named Charlie?  The Charlie Charlie Challenge, not too dissimilar in nature to the infamous “Ouija” Board game, intends to get you and your friends in touch with the spirit world.  In this case, a demon named Charlie, apparently, and the goal is to see if he will play, and then answer “yes” and “no” questions.

So what about this game is so popular, and so convincing to so many that something supernatural is at play?   It is based on shaky science and methodology at best.  Good luck even getting one pencil to balance on top of the other.  I tried and failed many times!  Once you do actually accomplish playing the game the way it’s intended, here are some of the real scientific factors at play.

1. Gravity:

So what causes the pencil to move and even spin on its own? Only one of the most powerful forces on Earth: gravity. The “center of gravity” is a point where an object’s mass is concentrated.  In order to balance one object on top of another, the topmost object’s center of gravity must be positioned precisely over the supporting object. In the case of the Charlie Charlie Challenge, players balance two pencils on top of one another. Naturally, these hard-to-balance objects have a tendency to roll around because the center of gravity is so difficult to access.  If the edges were flatter or smoother, it might be easier, but then the long thin objects wouldn’t move around quite as much.


2. Magical Thinking:

“Magical thinking,” is the attribution of causal relationships between actions and events which cannot be justified by reason and observation.  In clinical psychology, magical thinking can cause a patient to experience fear of performing certain acts or having certain thoughts because of an assumed correlation between doing so and threatening calamities. Magical thinking may lead people to believe that their thoughts by themselves can bring about effects in the world or that thinking something corresponds with doing it.  It is a type of causal reasoning or causal fallacy that looks for meaningful relationships of coincidences between acts and events.


3. Power of Suggestion:

A 2012 study published in the journal Current Directions in Psychological Science found that people often employ a “response expectancy” in certain situations. In other words, by anticipating that something will occur, a person’s thoughts and behaviors will help bring that anticipated outcome about. In the case of this spirit-summoning game, it could be that players expect a certain result and their actions during the game – like breathing directly and subtly on the object – help bring it about.


4. Ideomotor Effect:

Aside from the Charlie Charlie Challenges’ seemingly mystical effect on pencils, other forms of “divination” include the Ouija board, turning tables, pendulums and dowsing rods.  Many of the supernatural qualities of these activities has been scientifically explained through something known as the “ideomotor effect,”  The ideomotor effect was first described in the 19th century by the English doctor and physiologist William Carpenter. It suggests that it’s the involuntary muscular movements of the people using the objects that causes them to move, not spiritual or demonic intervention.


5. The Excitement of the Unknown:

When we get really scared, our heart beats a little faster, we breathe a bit more intensely, perspire more and get butterflies in the pit of our stomachs. It is not uncommon for people to want to push themselves just to see just how much fear they can tolerate. There is a great sense of satisfaction when we can prove to ourselves we actually can handle more anxiety than we ever imagined we could.  There’s also a hormonal component when it comes to fear and enjoyment. The hormonal reaction we get when we are exposed to a threat or crisis can motivate this love of being scared. The moment we feel threatened, we feel increasingly more strong and powerful physically, and more intuitive emotionally. This charge to our physical and mental state is called an “adrenaline rush,” and as humans we are drawn to this type of feeling.  Participating in activities like the Charlie Charlie Challenge is a sure fire way to guarantee some chills, if you’re into that sort of thing.