TBIs: effects, stats, and treatments

By: Mila Hart and Liv Miller

TBI stands for traumatic brain injury. The American Association of Neurological Surgeons defines a traumatic brain injury as “A disruption in the normal function of the brain that can be caused by a blow, bump or jolt to the head, the head suddenly and violently hitting an object or when an object pierces the skull and enters brain tissue”. 

The four main types of TBIs include: concussions, contusions, penetrating injuries, and anoxic brain injuries.

  • Concussions are mild traumatic brain injuries and are caused by a blow to the head.
  • Contusions are slightly more severe then concussions. Contusions are a bruise to the brain that causes bleeding and swelling inside of the brain.
  • A penetrating brain injury is when an object penetrates the skull and hurts the brain.
  • Anoxic brain injuries are the most severe TBIs. They are caused by a complete lack of oxygen to the brain. Anoxic brain injuries are often fatal.

To learn more about the four main types of TBIs visit Dolmanlaw.com.

The symptoms that follow a traumatic brain injury can be mild, moderate, or severe, depending on the extent of the injury. There are a wide variety of effects and symptoms that people who have suffered a TBI may experience. Some symptoms include vomiting, headache, dizziness and balance concerns, breathing problems, confusion, ect., and that is just the beginning.

Although some of these symptoms can be short term and get less severe over time, there is a good chance that someone can experience many long term effects after suffering a traumatic brain injury. These include loss of memory (amnesia), focal neurological deficits such as muscle weakness, loss of vision, change in speech, ect., and an overall weakened mental state.

If someone were to experience a more serious traumatic brain injury, or multiple ones over a short period of time, they might be more likely to go into a vegetative state or even die. The long term effect can get even worse if you experience multiple TBIs. Psychology Today says that if you have suffered three or more concussions you are more likely to have long-term cognitive impairment and emotional struggles. Multiple concussions can cause depression, anger, and memory loss. To learn more about the symptoms for a TBI visit the CDCs website.

It is estimated that around 1.6 to 3.8 million sports related traumatic brain injuries occur every year, and recreational activities contribute to about 21 percent of all TBIs among American children and adolescents. The reason why sports often contribute to traumatic brain injuries is because more aggressive sports, like football, soccer, rugby, lacrosse, etc. involve a lot of person to person contact often resulting in blows to the head.

There also may be a high underestimate of traumatic brain injuries reported due to many people failing to seek medical help after sustaining their injury. Many people, especially adolescents, are likely to assume they have just a mild concussion and fail to go to the doctor. This is not good because it can result in their condition getting worse, and put them at a higher risk of sustaining serious long term injuries.

There are several ways to treat a TBI. Some include rest, medication, and surgery. The treatment will vary depending on how severe the injury is. The medication often used to treat a TBI is called Diuretic. Diuretic helps remove all extra water from the body and treats high blood pressure.

The type of surgery needed to treat a severe TBI is called a decompressive craniectomy. This surgery removes part of the skull so that an injured brain can swell without being squeezed.

Although these are very effective treatments, there is still a likely possibility a patient can end up paralyzed or dead. So, it is very important to seek help right away if you were to sustain a TBI. No matter how serious it seems at the moment it is better to be safe than sorry.

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Effects of nicotine on the brain

By: Grace Blumer-Lamotte

Nicotine is an addictive substance that can alter your mind and actions. It can also cause permanent brain damage. According to Drug Watch, “Nicotine can disrupt the part of the brain that controls attention, learning, moods and impulse control. People under the age of 25 are also more susceptible to becoming addicted to nicotine before the brain fully develops.” 

With nicotine, there are both short and long term effects. 

The short term effects are a reduced sense of taste and smell, bad breath, a decrease in energy, withdrawals, and fatigue. 

The long term effects and risks are the addiction aspect of it; it can lead to mood disorders, respiratory issues, lower life expectancy, and it permanently lowers your impulse control.

There are also effects of second-hand smoking. It can affect the health and well-being of anyone that’s exposed to it. According to Quebec Advice and Prevention, “These people are at high risk of developing health issues such as: heart problems, respiratory or lung problems, such as asthma or excessive coughing, and lung cancer.” Second hand smoke is one of the most dangerous environments to be around. To learn more about “The Effects of Smoking and Second-Hand Smoke” visit the website below.

I asked a freshman, a junior, and a senior these questions about nicotine and vaping. Have you ever vaped, and why did or didn’t you do it? What do you know about the effects of nicotine on the brain? If given the opportunity, would you wanna learn more about the effects of nicotine?

The freshman responded to the first question saying, “I have not vaped because I know it’s bad for me and I am not stupid.”

The second question they responded saying, “Doesn’t it have withdrawal-like symptoms? It also disrupts your attention span I have heard. Maybe you really want something and that could affect your brain the same way when you want nicotine.”

The third question they responded with, “Yes.”

The junior responded to the first question saying, “I have vaped before and I did it because I thought it would help my mental illness. But it ended up with me being addicted.”

The second question they responded saying, “I’ve first hand experience with withdrawal symptoms and let me tell you… it is not fun.”

The third question they responded with, “Yes, I would be open to learning more about how it was affecting my brain.”

The senior responded to the first question saying, “Yes, I have due to curiosity and peer pressure.”

The second question they responded saying, “Little to none.”

The third question they responded saying, “Oh for sure.”

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How do humpback whales communicate with each other?

By: Sarah VonBerge

Humpback whales are very independent creatures and normally only stay with their mothers for about a year, whereas a lot of other species of whales stay in groups, called pods.

At most, humpbacks normally travel in groups of 3, even though they don’t normally stay that way. They may help a couple other whales hunt or get somewhere, but they only stay with the other whales for a few days at most.

Most known for their shrieks, humpback whales also communicate via grunts and groans and are often called ‘inveterate composers’ because they make noises that can sound like music made by humans.

According to Victoriawhalewatching.com, humpback whales have multiple different kinds of communication techniques and each technique can mean something different. As stated before, they are sometimes called ‘inveterate composers’ because of their songs, which can last up to 30 minutes and travel 100 miles. The songs are believed to be mostly for mating purposes. These songs are mostly sung by the male humpbacks to attract females but also used to let other males whales know that that is their territory.

Although they sing, shriek, groan and more, they are most known for their physical communication. This communication involves spyhopping, lobtailing and breaching. Spyhopping is when a whale sticks most of its head out of the water and either leaves its eye right below the water or right above it for an extended amount of time. Although it is not completely known why they do this, it is suspected that they do it to watch their surroundings.

Another physical communication that they use is lobtailing. This is when a whale lifts its flippers or tail out of the water and slaps it on the water surface making a loud noise. This is known to show aggression but also warn other whales nearby that there is a danger.

Lastly, there’s breaching. Breaching is when a humpback whale lunges itself out of the water, exposing at least 40% of its body. Again, this is believed to be a warning to other whales but it is also suspected that they do this to show dominance.

Even though most physical whale communication is used to show aggression, it can also be used in nurturing ways. Humpback whales sometimes put their fins against each other to show affection and compassion.

Although humans’ understanding of whale communication is limited, it’s interesting to look into how they react to themselves, to their surroundings, and to each other. Whale communication is one of the most complicated and sophisticated forms of communication known.

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Hollywood science: Fact or fiction

By: Grace Helmke

Hollywood has allowed us to visit incredible places and experience thrilling adventures filled with death-defying jumps, and heart-wrenching love stories. It has allowed science to come alive in a way that’s never before been seen. It has led us through stories of time travel, cloning, and so much more.

However, sometimes these films have a little more fiction than fact. Today, we are going to explore the science behind some famous TV shows and movies, and determine whether or not they are fact or fiction. 

Jurassic Park’ 

Image taken from: http

‘Jurassic Park’ centers around the idea that one one could create dinosaurs from blood in a mosquito, encased in amber, and preserved for millions of years.

This is simply false.

Steve Brusatte, a paleontologist, said that the likelihood of cloning a dinosaur is close to impossible. In order to make this happen, you would need the whole genome. However, no one has ever found dinosaur DNA. So, it’s incredibly unlikely that a T-Rex could get loose and wreak havoc in the future. 

‘Star Trek’ 

A major part of the show was the crew’s ability to travel at the speed of light. They called this warp speed. Warp speed essentially distorted the fabric of spacetime, allowing the crew to travel superluminally, or faster than the speed of light.

Einstein’s theory of general relativity suggests that this is not a totally unheard of thought. In fact, it’s entirely possible. In 1994, a scientist named Miguel Alcubierre discovered what today is known as the Alcubierre Drive. His theory was that it’s possible to bend space time in a way that contracts in front of you, and expands behind you, moving you in a forward motion.

‘Back to the Future’

This classic 80s film features the creation of the DeLorean, a time travel machine.

Is time travel truly possible?

NASA tells us it is, but not in the way one thinks. In NASA’s words, “Although humans can’t hop into a time machine and go back in time, we do know that clocks on airplanes and satellites travel at a different speed than those of earth.”

So, although it’s not possible to go see the dinosaurs, or visit famous historical figures, it is possible to travel in space for three years and come back to find that five years have passed on earth. This is called time dilation, and is an incredibly prevalent topic of study in physics and astronomical sciences. 

‘Contact’

This film features a lot of fictional science and inaccuracies. It was praised for its realistic depiction of the search for extraterrestrial life.

The film used radio signals and the translation of alien language using mathematical equations. This is incredibly accurate and is rooted in science. Math is a universal language. So, it’s entirely possible that their forms of communication could be based upon science and math.

There are also some concepts that have stirred debate; such as the idea that the main character traveled through a wormhole to speak to the aliens. It’s difficult to say whether or not a person traveling through a wormhole would survive or not.

For a significant period of time, it was believed that upon entering the wormhole you would either be stretched out into a spaghetti noodle, or be expanded into molecules. Both would mean certain death. But a Harvard physicist recently discovered that not only do wormholes exist and can connect one part of the universe to another, but it’s possible to travel through it. The only catch is that you would have to do so very slowly. It would actually take less time to go to the location directly than it would through a wormhole.  

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Ocean colonization 

By: Grace Helmke 

We live in a society based upon development. We develop our minds through education, our beings through spirituality and religion, and our cities through unusual thinking. It is no surprise that unorthodox ideas should emerge, especially when we are faced with issues of increasing population.

Ocean colonization has been proposed as a possible solution to modern issues such as overpopulation and climate change. It is believed to be a sustainable development which could aid in our world’s healing process. But upon looking closer, is this really the case? 

Ocean colonization is the theory of extending society to the water. Settlements would be created either as floating platforms, or as underwear habitats. There is the potential for practically anything in these habitats; buildings could be created atop a floating platform, cattle could be raised, a city could be built on the sea floor with a lid to create atmosphere, buildings could be built with their own systems of oxygen, bubbles suspended in the ocean could be created. Almost anything is possible.

The most popular design plan, and at this point in time most feasible, is the floating structure. The Seasteading Institute is a non-profit think tank promoting the creation of floating ocean cities. They have already finished their crowdfunding campaign and have created the company Blue Frontiers, who actually construct the floating islands.

These platforms are made of reinforced concrete that will last longer than a century. The design was meant to be flexible, so that they can be rearranged to fit the needs of its citizens. On top of these platforms, bungalow villas will be created, accommodating around 2000 residents. But, because of the design’s flexibility, platforms can be added to accommodate for the growing population.

Image taken from: https://www.businessinsider.com/
seasteading-institute-floating-cities-by-2020-2016-3

One of the best regions to implement ocean colonies is the Atlantic Ocean, near the equator. Tsunamis and earthquakes are incredibly rare here, therefore destruction due to natural disasters would be incredibly rare. The water is also very temperate compared to other oceans. This would be appealing because it could create a tourist industry for those seeking a vacation destination or a place of work. 

Another argument which promotes ocean colonization is the pursuit of science. Creating structures in the middle of the ocean would allow scientists to further explore the mystery that is our ocean. It would also force us to come up with long term solutions to water pressure and corrosion.

While this sounds like a great idea, it is only that in theory.

The development of structures in aquatic environments actually disrupts marine ecosystems and destroys the natural environment. The construction process of many of these design plans would involve the demolition of part of the ocean floor. This would destroy vital ecosystems such as coral reefs and kelp forests, which are vital in slowing down the rise in carbon dioxide. These ecosystems are legitimately maintaining a liveable planet. Their destruction would accelerate the rate at which our earth becomes uninhabitable. 

In addition to the demolition of natural habitats, immense amounts of pollution will be created. The construction process is not in an enclosed area. This is the open ocean; debris, chemicals, and gases are bound to enter the water. What this does is kill off animal and plant life, cause eutrophication, and make the area uninhabitable to native wildlife. 

Colonizing the ocean could bring about a lot of good: new industries, new living spaces, advancements in science, and so much more. But something far more important is the evil it can do as well. If these structures were to be implemented, our oceans would continue on a downwards spiral. Life would die off, and our home would be put in danger. 

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Global warming

By: Charlie Fragassi

Image taken from: bioguia.com

Global warming is a huge problem that the world has yet to get under control. A lot of people may not know what global warming is at all. Global warming is basically when there’s a temperature increase in the earth’s atmosphere. This is caused by the amount of pollutants in the air today. Experts say that around the time of 1980, is when there began a huge increase in global temperatures, and it really hasn’t gotten much better at all.

Global warming affects a lot more than just humans; it also affects animals as well. For example, the polar bear is a common example brought up in global warming/climate change because the ice is melting at a faster rate and that’s part of the polar bears habitat. They use ice floes to catch seals and other marine animals. Unfortunately, there are fewer than 25,000 polar bears left in the wild, and at this rate, with the way everything’s going, they won’t be here much longer.

There are some ways to help with global warming, and one of the ways is recycling. This, along with just bringing your own shopping bags with you while you go shopping, reduces the waste of plastic that is brought out into the world.

Driving electric cars also tremendously helps the spread of global warming because there is no gas coming from the car, so it doesn’t produce pollution out in the air.

Another main reason global warming is such a pressing issue is because not everyone thinks that it is even real. Many people believe that it is fake and is made up even though there has been full scientific evidence backing it up. People still refuse to believe in it, and that causes things to get done at a slower rate.

Global warming could get under control a lot quicker if everyone was just on the same exact page.

For more information, please visit:

  • “Global Warming, Greenhouse Effect, Climate Change and Their Relationships” sgkplanet.com/en/global-warming-greenhouse-effect-climate-change-and-their-relationships/
  • “Global Warming 101” http://www.nrdc.org/stories/global-warming-101

A new dinosaur species has been discovered in Argentina

By: Alexandra Rimbu

A new dinosaur species has been discovered in Argentina. Paleontologists have dubbed it Llukalkan aliocranianus, or “The one who causes fear”. This name is derived from the fact the creature appears to be even more terrifying than its cousin, the T. Rex, bearing enormous claws, a skull covered in bumps, horns, and deep-seated crests, and razor-sharp teeth.

The species’s appearance alone was enough to invoke fear into its prey and make it a successful predator, but what truly made Llukalkan aliocranianus a unique apex predator was its incredible hearing. 

The Llukalkan aliocranianus had cavities in the ear area that other abelisaurids, a class of carnivorous bipeds including the T. Rex, did not have. Llukalkan aliocranianus’s extraordinary sense of hearing was actually provided by one of these cavities – a unique air-filled sinus pocket near its middle ear. 

The species also possessed a powerful sense of smell. This powerful combination of super hearing and olfactory senses was a tremendous advantage in the food chain and served to further establish the species as a top predator.

Paleontologists have dubbed this discovery as significant to the research of all dinosaur species as a whole. “These dinosaurs were still trying out new evolutionary pathways and rapidly diversifying right before they died out completely”, said Ariel Mendez, a paleontologist from the Patagonian Institute of Geology and Paleontology. 

Paleontologists have also labeled this discovery as particularly significant for abelisaurids themselves. National University of San Luis, Argentina, paleontologist Gianechini said, “This is a particularly important discovery because it suggests that the diversity and abundance of abelisaurids were remarkable, not only across Patagonia, but also in more local areas during the dinosaurs’ twilight period”. 

Ginanechini remarked that he believes this find will signal many more important abelisaurid discoveries to come. He believes that the fact of the Llukalkan aliocranianus’s hearing ability alone means that researchers have more to learn than previously thought, and this discovery has unlocked new pathways to unlocking the secrets of these prehistoric creatures.

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Endangered species: tigers

By: McKenna Nutter

The tiger is a very popular and well known animal. The large cat is known for its unique pattern. Despite having grown up knowing a bit about these animals, I was surprised to find out that these animals are endangered. Since learning of the tigers endangerment, it has crossed my mind that there are many species that are facing the brink of extinction while many people are unaware. The overall tiger population of approximately 3,900 has earned tigers a place on the ‘Red List of Threatened Species’. 

3 out of the general 8 species of tigers have now gone entirely extinct. About a century ago, there were estimated to be about 50,000 to 80,000 tigers inhabiting the wild. Female tigers will only give birth to two to four tigers every two years.

The growing human population has caused growing communities. Because of this, tigers have lost so much of their habitat to society.

Tigers are a natural predator, but they also fall prey to hunters. Tigers, for a very long time, were large targets for trophy hunting because they were big, dangerous and beautiful. Tigers were also largely hunted because in some cultures, they believed that tiger bones had healing properties, and could cure disease. Some tiger bones were even used in traditional medicines.

Livestock farmers also have a very big place in their endangerment. As we pushed back on their habitats they have lost a lot of their natural prey. We have built farms, and on those farms are animals such as sheep, cows, chickens, etc. Many farmers have shot tigers in order to protect their livestock, and while this is required to take care of their business, it has had a major impact on the species.

While we may never get the tiger population back to what it was before, there are still ways we can help them hold on. WCS, or the World Conservation Society, is an organization that conducts research on tigers, then uses that research to inform and teach communities local to tiger habitats about tigers. They also reach out to wildlife rangers and wildlife conservations to teach them about tigers as well. Donations to any non harmful research societies and wildlife conservation organizations can do wonders for not only tigers, but other endangered species. 

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How “green” are electric vehicles really?

By: Alexandra Rimbu

Around the world, governments and automakers have pushed electric vehicles as a key solution to curbing oil use and fighting climate change, but are these vehicles really as “green” as advertised?

The answer is yes, but also no. While electric vehicles are, in fact, very “green”, they do still have environmental effects.

An argument that is often put forward when discussing how environmentally-friendly electric vehicles are is how polluting and damaging the process behind the manufacturing of their batteries can be to the Earth. The batteries behind electric vehicles are actually composed of a range of rare-earth metals, and the extraction of these metals contributes significantly to carbon emissions. In this sense, electric vehicles are not exactly “green”.

Additionally, the production of electric vehicles consumes a lot of energy. In fact, the emissions from the production of an electric vehicle is higher than those during the production of a conventional vehicle. This is due to the manufacture of lithium-ion batteries needed for electric vehicles. More than a third of the lifetime CO2 emissions from an electric vehicle come from the energy used to make the car itself. This is not very “green” either.

However, electric vehicles produce no tailpipe emissions, producing no carbon dioxide emissions when driving. When evaluated on that factor alone, electric vehicles are a lot more eco-friendly than conventional gasoline-powered vehicles on the market today. Over a year,  an average of 1.5 million grams of CO2 can be saved just by one electric vehicle on the roads.

Electric vehicles are also much more energy-efficient than conventional gasoline-powered vehicles. Approximately 17 to 21 percent of the energy is converted into power for the car when the gasoline in conventional vehicles combusts. 59 to 62 percent of the energy is converted into electric energy to power electric vehicles. 

So, the answer to our question is quite ambiguous, but perhaps, as technology advances and electric vehicles become even more environmentally friendly, we will have a definitive answer.

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Agriculture and the ocean

By: Grace Helmke

The ocean does not take credit where credit is due. It sustains all life on earth. Without it, humanity would cease to exist. Oxygen would slowly dissipate, temperatures would drop to astronomically low levels, jobs would be lost, and coastal economies would be suffering.

Even so, there is complete disregard for the ocean and its inhabitants. Agriculture, amongst many other things, is one of the greatest plagues our oceans have ever seen; contributing to the complete eradication of life in many areas of our ocean. 

What are dead zones? 

Human activity has created areas in the ocean known as “dead zones,” which are regions where less oxygen is dissolved due to lack of marine habitation. Dead zones occur in areas that are unusually high in nutrients such as nitrogen and phosphorus. This dramatic increase causes large scale red tides, which are harmful algal blooms that are toxic to all forms of life. It can become deadly to fish and birds, and can cause severe illness in humans. The red tides will die off after using up all the oxygen in the area, sinking to the bottom to decompose, leaving a barren environment in its wake. 

Causes of dead zones 

While dead zones can be created naturally, man has significantly impacted their frequency and extremity. Overfishing, global warming, and urbanization can all cause dead zones, but one of the most significant causes of dead zones is the industry of agriculture.

Animal manure and commercial fertilizer runoff makes its way into waterways, and empties out into the ocean. Both manure and fertilizer contain phosphorus and nitrogen, the two chemical nutrients which, when built up, can cause algal blooms. The environmental protection agency suggests that around 335 million tons of animal waste is produced by livestock every year.

If a farm doesnt have the correct system to deal with waste, it ends up in the waterways. In 2011, The Economic Research Service, of the USDA, stated that 22 million tons of fertilizers were used in crops in the United States. According to Edf.org, about 50 percent of fertilizer is actually taken up by the crops themselves. The rest ends up in waterways. 

Dead zones around the world 

The biggest dead zone in the world is in the Arabian Sea, right between the nations of Oman and Iran. It covers almost 63,7000 square miles of the Gulf of Oman (equivalent to the size of Florida). The cause is a combination of overfishing and a buildup of phosphorus and nitrogen from the agricultural industry. 

The famed waterway, the Mississippi, is a significant carrier of nitrogen and phosphorus. Midwest farming operations have produced so much chemical population that they have created the second largest dead zone in the world. The Mississippi carries the chemicals through the nation, and empties them out into the Gulf of Mexico. Its area varies in size, but can cover up to 7,000 square miles. 

Effects 

The effects of dead zones can be incredibly detrimental to a region’s economy. Many coastal cities rely on their seafood industry, and biodiversity, to bring in tourists. In addition, many locals work in commercial fishing. If the fish disappear from the ocean, they have no job. 

What can be done to prevent dead zones? 

  1. Buying organic: Organic farms are prohibited from using fertilizer or pesticides on crops. Supporting organic methods of farming is a great way of contributing to a cleaner ocean. 
  2. Buffers: Planting trees, shrubs, and grasses would help reduce the amount of nutrients making their way into the ocean. The plants absorb nutrients, keeping it away from bodies of water.
  3. Animal waste systems: Implementing animal waste systems in farms would help to reduce the amount of phosphorus and nitrogen being released into oceans. 

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