Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Misconception about the Scientific Method

There are a lot of misconceptions about the scientific method that scientists have to go through in order to conduct an experiment. Contrary to popular belief there is a lot of creativity and thought that goes into the construction of each experiment.  There is a general outline that most scientists follow in order to make sure all experiments have the necessary parts and will effectively showcase the information in a translatable way.  However, every experiment is special in what it is trying to discover, test, or prove so every experiment must be designed differently because it is testing something different.  Because of this every experiment must be carefully and creatively crafted in order to be effectively executed.
The scientific method is an outline for a scientist's to follow to help them construct an effective experiment. All experiments will start by asking a question, and that is the first step to the scientific method; ask a question.  This is important because unanswered questions are the locomotive of science, it is what pushes us to discover and experiment. Once a question has been asked it is important to do background research on the question being ask. This is because in order to craft a hypothesis for the experiment there must be some knowledge to base the hypothesis on. Through a hypothesis a scientist can explain what they expect to find when conducting the experiment, the nice part is that not matter the outcome of the experiment it does not matter whether the hypothesis was correct or not. This is why two scientists working on the same experiment together can hypothesize two different outcomes. It is often more interesting when the hypothesis is wrong because that is what leads scientists to ask more questions like; Why did I get this result? This is the beginning steps to constructing an experiment which is crucial even though the actual experiment has not even started. It takes critical thinking to come up with a question to answer especially one that has not already been done, and quite difficult to form a hypothesis for the question when in reality the scientist most likely is not sure what is going to happen.
The next portion of the scientific method is where the real fun and creativity comes into play. Designing an experiment that will actually achieve what you are trying to test for can be quite tricky, especially if you are not positive of the outcome. Every experiment is different and there are multiple ways to run an experiment and achieve the same result. This is why scientist are allowed to get creative and think outside the box. Harvard recently conducted an experiment about the E. Coli virus on a huge scale. They constructed a mega petri dish and observed the bacteria E. Coli’s ability to become drug resistant and reproduce on a massive scale. They made a time-lapse of the bacteria’s growth and it was quite incredible to see. This is just one example of a scientific experiment that had already been conducted by someone but Harvard scientists took it a step further and conducted an experiment of their own that was so incredible to see. Another big topic in the science community is CRISPR. CRISPR has been the basis of multiple experiments around the World because of its ability to make specific changes to DNA. There have been experiments conducted where human organs can be grown in an animal and can grow to the point of being able to be transplanted into humans. The first human trials with CRISPR started in late October of 2016. The first ever genetically modified cells were injected into a patient with aggressive Lung Cancer. Many experiments were conducted on CRISPR to test its ability to modify DNA and make sure it truly was effective before clinical trials could begin. These are just two examples of truly incredible experiments that are driving the science community forward and require a great deal of creativity and critical thinking.
Following the conclusion of the experiment conducted, the most important part of the scientific method comes into play. The scientist must analyze the data that was collected and draw conclusions. This is critical to a scientific experiment because the whole point of running an experiment is to come to a conclusion and share it with other so it can either answer their questions or even prompt them to draw up more questions based on the results. If oncologist Lu You from Sichuan University in Chengdu had not shared his findings on CRISPR, then he may not be conducting clinical trials right now. It was with the help of other scientists and the scientific community that he was able to move forward with his findings so quickly.
Although many people believe the scientific method makes science a boring robot like job, this is not the case at all. The scientific method is just an outline that helps scientists present their findings in a neat, easily shared manner. Scientists are constantly pushing boundaries and finding revolutionary results that constantly change our lives.Never following the same procedure but thinking outside the box to better understand and interpret data. If CRISPR clinical trials achieve what is expected of them this could be a very different world in a few years. But that is the beauty of science, you never quite know what you are going to get.
Work Cited:
Baker, Monya. "1,500 Scientists Lift the Lid on Reproducibility." Nature.com. Macmillan Publishers, 25 May 2016. Web. 19 Dec. 2016.
"CRISPR: A Game-changing Genetic Engineering Technique - Science in the News."Science in the News. N.p., 31 July 2014. Web. 19 Dec. 2016.
Cyranoski, David. "CRISPR Gene-editing Tested in a Person for the First Time."Nature.com. Macmillan Publishers, n.d. Web. 19 Dec. 2016.
@harvard. "A Cinematic Approach to Drug Resistance." Harvard Gazette. N.p., 8 Sept. 2016. Web. 19 Dec. 2016.
"How Science Goes Wrong." The Economist. The Economist Newspaper, 19 Oct. 2013. Web. 19 Dec. 2016.

"Steps of the Scientific Method." Science Buddies. N.p., n.d. Web. 19 Dec. 2016.

Monday, August 29, 2016


Can your body type really play that great of a role in whether I am a good athlete or not? I'd never really thought that my body type could have played a big role in my ability to be a good ski racer. I had always heard that strong thighs, bigger feet and solid build are helpful in being a good ski racer, but I would never have thought that much into it. Genetic differences can make people have more red blood cells and they don't even know it. Have 50 percent greater of a lung capacity and never training a day in their life. Mad I wish I was one of those people. It is  also a little sad to think that people who work really hard everyday to become a professional athlete can face such a huge disadvantage because of their height , weight, wig span, whether their legs are short and their torso is long or vice versa.
I had noticed in the Olympics this year there was a young woman who was part of the US sailing team and she had only been sailing since college and suddenly five years later she is sailing for the US team. I wonder if there are specific traits that make someone a better sailor, and if so if she has any of these traits. Another woman who was competing in the triathlon had only been biking since college. She was on her college cross country and track team but that never biked a day in her life and was not an avid swimmer and yet she started to bike and swim and six years later for her (I believe it was six but i am not positive) she was on a 8 straight winning streak of triathlons and on her way to the Rio Olympics.
It makes sense that certain traits would be helpful in specific events or sports but I just surprises me that it shows up so much. Or those people who have such a high lung capacity and didn't  even know it. How can that be? I also wonder if now that they have this information if it will make them want to try and train. Depending on my age I think if I got that information it would surely make me want to see if I could then become a super athlete. I also wonder if their parents have this cool ability. Whether it is a dominant or recessive gene in their families? Or maybe they are just the product of the start of a new evolutionary development. HAHA that would be cool.


The thought that genes can be edited blows my mind. All I can think about while reading this article is how a single slip up in genetic code can cause huge issues for the organism. The fact that genes will be edited and possibly stop lung cancer is incredible. But would this process only work on lung cancer? I am surprised that they aren't trying it on multiple types of cancers because maybe some cancers would be easier to treat with this gene editing. What blows my mind even more is that there is a way to edit our genes, that our genetic code could be altered. What does that mean for the future of humans? What else are we going to try and change? I hate to say it but while I was reading this article I kept thinking of Captain America. How he was this tiny little dude in the movie and then they ran all these tests and experiments on him and then he was suddenly this crazy huge and buff warrior.
What else surprises me a little bit is that we are going into human trials. Normally I feel like it takes a really long time from scientist to be allowed to test things on humans, like it is frowned upon to test on animals let alone humans. But at the same time these people have no other hope because chemotherapy is not working for them so this could be their last hope. Personally I am hoping it works because this could be a huge breakthrough for medical research everywhere.

Friday, July 8, 2016

Gene Loss

I have just read an article about gene loss and how gene loss could play an equal if not more of a role in evolution than new genes do in organisms. When talking about genes my mind always thinks back to bio when we did work with dominant and recessive genes, and we made charts to see which genes would be present in the next generation. In particular this article made me think of the time that we put flavored test strips on our tongues in class because only certain people had the gene that allowed them to taste the fowl taste. I was not one of the kids in the class that could taste it, which leads me to believe that somewhere along the line I either lost the ability to through gene loss or simply never acquired that gene.
Something that I found to be particularly interesting in this article is that the researchers hint toward the small difference between humans and primates being linked actually to humans having less genes. In my mind I always assumed more genes the more advanced the organism is, however I guess this is not always the truth. Humans could be smarter than primates because we lost the gene that gave us a bigger jaw and in turn our brains were able to grow in size. That is some information that I have to wrap my brain around.
This article actually made me start to wonder a lot about primates. It was stated that chimpanzees share 98% of their genome with humans. That being said it is crazy to think that a few genes here and there is what separates us. What is it that stops them from loosing or gaining the last few genes to be just like humans? I wonder chimpanzees look at us and know we are very similar, sort of like wolves and dogs do. Is it possible to know exactly what genes the chimpanzees are missing? And if so, is it possible to try and alter their genes so that are just like a human? Could you make a test tube chimpanzee?
Overall I think it is pretty cool that we are finding that it is not always the addition of genes that make us evolve but it is also the loosing of gene that drives evolution.