Sarah Mellors's blog

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Science: Dogma or Dynamism?

As a supplement to this biology course, I also read a biology textbook, Biology: Discovering Life, by Joseph Levine and Kenneth Miller.  This is an older book I found in the science library, published about 15 years ago.  At first glance, I found the detailed charts and figures and complex terminology to be intimidating and deterring.  I assumed it was just another traditional science textbook where everything is delineated for the reader to memorize with no room for questioning and no pressure to think “outside the box”.  While the majority of the book is conventional, upon closer examination, one important point the book espouses really resonated with the foundations of this class.  Reading this book exposed me to a much different style of teaching.  In my critique of the book, I will focus on a subject I found very enlightening – a fundamental part of this unique science course – our understanding of biology as a dynamic process.

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Little Tweak = Big Sweet

The recent dieting craze – particularly the carb-cutting trend - has created a huge increase in the demand for artificial sweeteners.  According to a 2004 study “as many as 180 million Americans routinely eat and drink sugar-free products such as desserts and artificially sweetened sodas” (1).  As one of countless subscribers to the carb-cutting, low-calorie philosophy, I decided to explore exactly what constitutes artificial sweeteners.  In my explorations, I came across some surprising findings about the chemical composition of various artificial sweeteners and how the body processes them. I focused my research on three sweeteners in particular: Sucralose, which is in the most popular artificial sweetener, Aspartame, which is in the artificial sweeteners, Sweet ‘N Low and Equal, and a new incredibly sweet sweetener called Neotame.  Initially, I expected all these different artificial sweeteners to be chemically dissimilar from less sweet substances; however, further research proved otherwise.

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Sleep: What Is It? Why Do We Need It? and How Much Is Enough?

All human beings – old, young, sick, healthy – need sleep.  Thus, everyone should have an interest in this natural phenomenon.  However, most people never question what sleep is and why they must get it.  At the ripe age of 18 years, I thought it was high time I understand why I am always craving sleep and why I feel noticeably better when I get a certain amount of it.  This paper will explore what goes on in our bodies when we’re in this ambiguous state called “sleep”, why it is necessary to function, and how much we should be getting.

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Why Do Some People Develop Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder?

As the child of a man whose acute Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder is the dominant force in his life, and consequently, having grown up in a very unnatural, controlled environment, when deciding on a top for this paper, I dared to delve into the enigmatic world of mental illness. I thought writing on this disorder would be both interesting and would help unlock the secret behind my father’s abnormal behavior. It would also help me understand why, up until now, I have exhibited only mild symptoms of this condition, and if the disorder is in fact hereditary, what this means for me in the future. In order to answer these questions, an in depth examination of the disease is needed.

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