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volume 2 | issue 1


-The Science of Stress -Shuttle -Planiverse




Planiverse A two-dimensional universe. Michael Chen, Raymond Wu Stress The biology, and how to cope. Alice Wu Shuttle The end of space travel? Anthony Tokman Fascinating Fruit Bats Fruit-preying bats in danger of extinction. Alyeska Juarez Krill Oil A questionable source of Omega-3. Amanda Zhang, Daniel Metz Popsicles The essence of quiescently frozen confections. Amanda Ke The DEHP Controversy The plastics we consume. Claudia See NOVEMBER 2011

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Dj Vu Its various spiritual and scientific perspectives examined. Carly Rasmussen

Less Sleep can be More Unusual sleep cycles you never knew existed. Brandon Zeng Alzheimers Disease What was that again? Mrudula Bhuvanagiri Beyond Purple The nature of ultraviolet radiation. Anita Kulkarni Stronger, Better, Faster Maximize your workout. Daniel Metz Math Prize for Girls International Competition A personal experience. Bianca Ray Avalani, Catherine Wu

Quest for the Missing Link A promising hominid discovery. Nachi Baru Digital Waste Dangers of discarded electronics. Yenny Zhang


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To our readers,
Welcome to our fall issue of Catalyst! This is Catalysts second year on the Canyon Crest Academy campus. Our overwhelming success with the premiere issue (published June 2011) has inspired us to continue developing this exciting tradition in the 2011- 2012 school year with three issues. The one before you is only the first of many to come, and we hope that you will delight with us in the reading and sharing of our publications.

OUR MISSION: To cultivate a continual passion for the sciences among both students and the community at large through scientific publications CONTACT: To give feedback, sponsor, or advertise, please contact us at or at 858.350.0253 x 4196

In this issue, we cover a broad range of topics everything from tropical fruit bats and stress to the two-dimensional Planiverse and space shuttle. The final two articles - Quest for the Missing Link and Digital Waste - are exemplary blog posts chosen from our recent blog competition. It is my hope that through all of these articles, you will be inspired to learn more about science and realize how it is ubiquitous in both our daily lives and the world at large. Now, I would like to recognize the valuable contributions that all of our staff, parents, teachers, and sponsors have made in the creation of this issue. The enormous amount of talent, time, and effort all of them have committed speak quite clearly for themselves in this issue, and as for all the knowledge that we have gained and the memories we have created as the Catalyst team through this issue, well, those experiences truly are priceless. Special thanks go to Mr. Gaughen our club advisor who has supervised our team from the very beginning. We would not be here were it not for his continual guidance! With these final words, I welcome you again into another year of Catalyst Science Magazine, and we hope that you will, like us, grow an insatiable hunger for the scientific world. Enthusiastically, Claudia See Editor-In-Chief


As we expand our publications, we look forward to reaching out to more students and community members. I invite you to take an active hand in supporting us by sharing this magazine with others, sponsoring our organization financially, or (if you are a high school student) joining the Catalyst team! We would like to extend our sincerest gratitude toward the CCA Associated Student Body, CCA Yearbook, Summa Education, and UPS Store #0028 for sponsoring this issue.


Alyeska Juarez

hey are absolutely terrifying and many people find them usually and sensually unpleasant. Indeed, they are probably one of the worlds most despised creatures. But if fruit bats did not exist, much of the vegetation that we depend upon would not survive. Like bees, fruit bats help plant populations grow by dispersing pollen and seeds. Also called flying foxes because of their furs reddish color and their facial features, these bats can grow to anywhere from two to sixteen inches in length, weigh up to one kilogram and attain a wingspan of nearly five feet. Most fruit bats live in colonies in tall trees, scattered around the world in warm, tropical places where fruits grow in abundance, such as the Malaysian archipelago and some Pacific islands. One of the most compelling questions about bats all bats is why they hang upside down. There are several evolutionary advantages. For one, their feet are not strong enough to create the force needed to propel themselves off the ground. Because of this, bats hang upside down to allow for take-off. Additionally, because of their light body mass and predisposition to auto-lock their feet once hanging, bats can fly extremely efficiently. All they need to do is unlock their feet to utilize the potential energy and start gliding. Moreover, hanging upside down is also a protective mechanism for bats, since it allows them to use space in places that predator species may not inhabit. Unlike other bats, the fruit bat does not echolocate. It feeds solely on the juices of fruit and nectar and therefore does not need to locate moving objects such as insects. Perhaps because of the absence of echolocation as well as their immense size, fruit bats are not the most graceful of bats: when landing after a night of feeding, fruit bats may crash into tree trunks. However, they do possess sharp teeth which can puncture the tough outer layer of some fruits. An acute sense of smell and large eyes make up for their lack of ability to echolocate. As the fruit bat travels from location to location, it may distribute seeds and pollen over a wide expanse. This contributes to the continual floral growth in regions native to the fruit bat. Thus, the fruit bat and vegetation are symbiotic. As humans encroach on forests, fruit bat habitats slowly diminish. One of the largest and most beautiful species of fruit bats, the Giant Goldencrowned Flying Fox of the Philippines is endangered. Some island natives, such as those of Samoa, Guam, and Australia have eaten fruit bats for generations; however, some of the diseases that fruit bats possess may serve as a threat to humans. In addition, eating the bats can disrupt agricultural fruit plots. Fruit bats have also been known to live in the attics of houses; in situations like this, exterminators may be called to dispose of the bats, contributing to their dwindling population. However, humans are not the only predators of fruit bats; fruit bats may also be eaten by snakes when resting high up in the trees. Some areas of the world, such as Queensland, Australia, have set up environmental programs to promote the sustainability of the fruit bats ecological niche. In this effort, researchers have sought to better understand the distribution of the fruit bats and their environmental impact. The Philippines has also created a conservation effort for the Giant Golden-crowned Flying Fox, but still encounters deforestation and illicit poaching. Hopefully, through similar endeavors around the world, fruit bats will flourish again.




Amanda Zhang and Daniel Metz

test for oil alteration and presented her findings at a state level. Having received ten krill oil samples from various companies, being sure to maintain a temperature of -2C, Zhang found the light peak of the oil by running the samples through a UV spectrophotometer. Subsequently, she heated the samples to 37C and repeated the process to find a peak again. Having found different peaks, she confirmed that the structural integrity of Antarctic krill oil becomes compromised during human ingestion. With her findings, Zhang went forth, questioning the effect of varying rates of temperature change on denaturation and the safety of ingesting denatured krill oil. Additional specific tests with more complex procedures and equipment would be necessary to generate answers. However, her research does question the efficacy of Antarctic krill oil supplementation.


mega-3 is known to be an essential fatty acid for normal growth and development. With the rising popularity of more concentrated forms like E-EPA and E-DHA, manufacturers have rushed to put out various products from different sources, each claiming benefit over one another. Omega-3 fatty acids are found in eggs, some meats, fish oils, krill oils, and seal oils. Fish oil sources are the most popular. Recently krill oil supplements have taken the spotlight, claiming equal effectiveness at lower dosages. Antarctic krill oil is harvested from waters whose temperatures average -2C. During ingestion, the oil temperature rises to 37C, the human internal body temperature. Such a dramatic temperature change then risks denaturing the oil, causing unwanted oxidation or protein structure destruction. CCA graduate Amanda Zhang posited and confirmed this last year, creating an experiment to

n a hot summer day, everyone, young and old, can enjoy the delicious sweet treat called a popsicle. While enjoying this yummy treat, have you ever noticed the words: quiescently frozen confection on the wrapper? What does quiescently frozen confection mean and why couldnt manufacturers simply put popsicle on the wrapper? In actuality, quiescently frozen confection is simply the fancy legal term for a popsicle. It is used in various state and legal codes to regulate the production and distribution of food. Law makers would be too uncomfortable and embarrassed to use a word like popsicle in the midst of thick, legal jargon - filled texts. Also, the word popsicle is a registered trademark held by Unilever; so we really should all be saying quiescently frozen confection in order to avoid legal prosecution. Quiescent basically means inactive or at rest. Frozen indicates that it has been preserved by freezing, and a confection is just a fancy word for a sweet food. So quiescently frozen confection means a sweet food that is made inactive by freezing. Popsicles are made by blending flavored water and food dyes, emptying the mixture into a mold, and then freezing the mixture. However, just because the package says frozen does not guarantee it is frozen completely. At the microscopic level, a popsicle is really just a complex matrix of ice crystals with suspended droplets of flavoring and sugar in it. The main difference between a factory-made popsicle and a homemade imitation is the ice crystals sizes. Homemade popsicles freeze more slowly due to the high polarity of water, causes tiny crystals of ice to attach themselves onto other ice crystals. Since the ice bunches together, the flavor droplets are pushed onto the outer surface of the popsicle. This leaves a flavor heavy outer layer and a diluted inner core. Conversely, commercial popsicles are created through flash freezing. This forces the water to freeze in place hence the term quiescently frozen, leaving the flavor and sugar molecules evenly dispersed throughout for a scrumptious popsicle!

Amanda Ke



Claudia See

n March of 2011, 167 food ingredient suppliers were forced to recall food products due to traces of toxic contamination found in their food products. The Food and Drug Administration found the plasticizer Di(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate (DEHP) in the items of 47 local manufacturers. Shortly after, the department verified that DEHP was also present in an emulsifier commonly used to make fruit jelly, yogurt mix powder, juices, and other drinks. Extensive media coverage of the event then caused a food scare in Taiwan, which manufactures many of these products. In addition, some of the contaminated food items were shipped overseas, further enlarging the DEHP scandal. But what exactly is the allegedly horrific contaminant plasticizer Di(20ethylhexyl) phthalate? And is it truly as dangerous as the worldwide food scare made it out to be? DEHP is a plasticizer (or a softener) of polyvinyl chloride (PVC) plastic, a controversial material with many potential health risks. It is an organic compound used chiefly to enhance the flexibility and strength of PVC. DEHP is also responsible for 15% of all plasticizer usage in Western Europe. PVC products include medical devices such as IV and blood bags, respiratory tubing, and heart bypass machine tubing. By weight, DEHP makes up 30% of all PVC-based medical devices and 1-40% of plastics. Its widespread use, combined with the recent food scare, has raised concerns about the risk of using these materials. According to the DEHP Information Center, DEHP is quickly absorbed and distributed throughout the body and safely excreted. It is not harmful to humans because it is not stored in their bodies. According to the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), DEHP is not classifiable as to carcinogenicity to humans meaning that it poses no cancer risk.

what exactly is the allegedly horrific contaminant plasticizer? Is it truly as dangerous as the world-wide food scare made it out to be?
On the opposite side of the spectrum, both the U.S Department of Health and Human Services and the National Toxicology Program concluded that DEHP may be reasonably anticipated as a carcinogen. This compound has induced cancer in rats and is known to affect reproduction, cause birth defects, and damage the internal organs such as the liver in the laboratory animals. But because virtually no studies have been conducted to identify the effect of DEHP on humans, it is difficult to pinpoint its side effects. However, while data concerning DEHP effects on humans are scarce, it is logical to heed the implications of the animal DEHP studies and avoid this potentially harmful compound until more research is conducted. So next time you and your friends go out for food together, think twice before chugging down that bubble tea or gobbling down that fruit jelly and contemplate what you are really consuming.



Dj Vu.
his term has been around for centuries as documented by the Greeks and other early civilizations. Despite its long history, the cause is still unknown. The term dj vu was coined by a French psychic researcher, Emile Boirac, in his book LAvenir des Sciences Psychiques. Its first description could be considered to be in the writings of a priest around 350 A.D. However, it was not legitimately recognized until the early 1800s. Historians are divided as to whether this marks an evolutionary change in dj vu, or simply indicates that it was not recognized before because it was considered to be precognition or magic. Explanations have varied through time and across the globe, with hypotheses ranging from the spiritual to the secular. Within the spiritual category of causes, one can find everything from memories of past lives to matching the aura of someone or something; even ghosts have been credited. It is impossible to disregard many theories due to the elusive nature of the experience. For those who wish for a more logical approach, other theories exist. Most relate to a mistake in memory formation, like the brain thinking something has come from long term memory storage when it has been brought from short term storage. An error in timing, such that information passes straight to storage instead of being perceived by the conscious, is another theory. Evidence to support yet another theory lies in the facts that sufferers of temporal lobe epilepsy have higher incidence rates of dj vu and that most people suffer from very mild epileptic fits regularly. Some scientists believe that the shock causes improper memories to be triggered. Whether the cause is spiritual or scientific, dj vu has been researched in an effort to help diagnose serious issues including schizophrenia, anxiety, and dissociative identity disorder. However, no link has yet been found between any psychiatric conditions and dj vu. Ultimately, dj vu is nothing more than an unsettling feeling that does not truly affect day-to-day life. It merely poses an interesting riddle.

Carly Ramussen


An Epic of Many Dimensions

Science of a Two-Dimensional World

IMAGINE for a moment a comprehensive two-dimensional universe. Two-dimensional in the sense that it lacks a third axis; it is restricted to two directions of space. Comprehensive in the sense that every single aspect of this universe adheres to the laws of two dimensions. Now, what would consist of such a universe?

f course, to us it is common knowledge that humans live in the third dimension. We have three axes of freedom, which provides us with nearly infinite space to move in, allows us to expand volumetrically, and gives us 360 degrees of direction in all directions. In this two-dimensional universe, however, we are limited to only two directions. Instead of having an infinite space, we have an infinite plane, and instead of being to expand on the volumetric scale, we can only expand on an area scale. Also, we have 360 degrees of direction in only one direction. Such new laws contradict the very basis of our three dimensional existence. That is, how would two-dimensional chemistry operate? How would two-dimensional physics operate? No doubt there would be similarities between two dimensional chemistry and physics and three dimensional chemistry and physics, but in the end, there will be significant differences between the two worlds that distinguish how they operate.

Electromagnetism, on the other hand, does follow the classical theories. Electromagnetic radiation can exist and act in an inverse-distance relation. An interesting assumption is that that most objects in the Planiverse have non-neutral charge and are therefore affected by electromagnetic force. We can replace Newtons law of gravitation with a Planiverse law of electromagnetic force. In this way, we can draw parallels between threedimensional gravity and two-dimensional electromagnetic force. We can also assume that the Planiverse has planets that revolve around stars. A.K. Dewdney, author of the novel Planiverse, assumed that gravity worked in the same way as it does in three dimensions and predicted that planets must orbit in a perfect circle due to the three body problem which deals with finding the trajectories of three moving masses that have some force interaction between them.

Chemistry in the Planiverse

Atoms are still allowed to have the four quantum numbers: the principal quantum number n, the azimuthal quantum number , the magnetic quantum number m, and the spin quantum number ms. However, the magnetic spin number, which determines subshell orientation, changes due to the absence of the z-axis. As a result, the p orbital has only two subshells corresponding to the x-axis and y-axis. Similarly, d orbitals are restricted to two subshells. As a result, Planiverse chemical elements are different from our chemical elements. Instead of reaching a noble gas octet, atoms try to reach a stable sextet. This means that most elements have sp or sp2 hybrid orbitals. Some molecules, such as atmospheric oxygen, O2, and table salt, NaCl, still exist, while other molecules such as carbon dioxide cannot exist. However, many of the elements would have different properties than those we usually associate with them. Take carbon for example: In three dimensions, carbon forms tetrahedral lattices in diamond, but carbon in 2 dimensions forms hexagonal sheets like graphite. However, twodimensional graphite is not electrically conductive due to the absence of another p orbital. It is hard like diamond and not slippery like graphite. 9

The Fundamentals of the Planiverse

We begin by assuming that the Planiverse is a three-dimensional spacetime continuum whose matter is composed of fundamental particles that make up atoms and molecules. There are four fundamental forces, analogues of gravitational, electromagnetic, weak, and strong forces. Basic concepts such as causality, the laws of thermodynamics, and Newtonian mechanics still apply. In three dimensions, many forces and types of energy follow the inverse square law, which states that a specified quantity or intensity is inversely proportional to the square of the distance. This is usually due to the fact that this force or energy is dissipated over an area. In the Planiverse, forces are dissipated over a distance or what we can assume as a twodimensional analogue of area. As a result, the Planiverse has what we call an inverse law, which relates strength to distance traveled. Additionally, general relativity proves that gravity cannot act at a distance, and thus has no effect between two separated masses in the Planiverse.

Chemical bonding also has a few differences. We still can differentiate between ionic bonds and covalent bonds with a sextet rule. Metallic and covalent network bonds likely do not vary much from their threedimensional counterparts. Intermolecular forces such as dipole-dipole, ion-dipole, dipole-induced dipole, and London dispersion forces still exist. Hydrogen bonding would likely still exist and would occur between a hydrogen atom and a bonded oxygen or fluorine atom. Note that water, H2O, still exists and retains many of its properties. Planiverse water has only one pair of non-bonding valence electrons, so it still is able to form hydrogen bonds. That means that many of waters familiar properties: adhesion, cohesion, surface tension, high boiling point, low electrical conductivity, high specific heat, and liquid at room temperature remain. Similarly, hydrocarbon compounds in the Planiverse resemble their three-dimensional equivalents: methone (CH3), ethone (C2H4), propone (C3H5), butone (C4H6), and so on. When we consider triple bonds, something mind-boggling appears. Planiverse carbon can form a diatomic molecule much like three-dimensional nitrogen. This indicates that in addition to solid carbon, we can have gaseous carbon.

Perhaps the two most important processes that occur in worldly optics are reflection and refraction. Reflection is the change in direction of any wave due to contact with a separate medium, with the next direction away from the surface. Refraction is the change in direction of any wave due to contact with a separate medium, with the next direction toward the surface. Refraction allows for waves to pass through the medium, but at a different direction and velocity. Just as in the third dimension, reflective surfaces can exist within the Planiverse. This holds true mainly because reflectivity is not dimension dependent. That is, it is possible to take a three dimensional mirror and compress it into a two dimensional object. In the shape sense, the square would simply become a line. But reflectivity holds constant. In conjunction with our claim that light undergoes no significant property change in the Planiverse dimension, we can conclude that reflection can still occur normally. Lights direction will still be changed away from the reflective surface. Refraction functions like reflection. The change in direction of light as it passes through a surface is dependent on a non dimensional property called the index of refraction. The index of refraction, as it turns out, is dependent solely on the material composition of the surface, and is not affected by variable factors. Thus, we can also deduce that refraction can exist within Planiverse.

Classical Mechanics in the Planiverse

In our three dimensional existence, classical mechanics deals with laws that describe the motion of objects and bodies. We witness and undergo accelerations from external (and internal) forces, as described by Newtons second law. From this basic principle of force and acceleration, we can derive many branches of classical mechanics: momentum, torque, and energy. First, lets examine the relevance of Newtons second law, F = ma. We see a mass factor (m) and an acceleration factor (a). The mass factor, of course, is invariable to change in dimension. Regardless of dimension, an object always has consistent mass. Acceleration, while differing in the degrees of freedom per dimensional shift, stays the same as well. That is, acceleration is always represented by a change in velocity over time. Thus, we see that, despite a small distinction in acceleration, Newtons second law still holds in the Planiverse dimension. From this, we can see that the gates of classical mechanics within the Planiverse dimension open up. Many concepts that stem from this fundamental principle can be shown to exist just as readily within the Planiverse as in the real third dimension. Take for example, the force of tension. This is the force exerted on an object by a string. We can immediately see that since a string exerts force on a unilateral plane (in one line of direction), the ideas of the second and third dimensions apply to it the same way. Tension, then, works in the same way throughout the Planiverse as it does in the third-dimension: unilaterally.

Introduction to Life on the Planiverse

We can also assume that life in the Planiverse is composed of cells similar to our own. These cells can also be clustered into groups with specific functions, thereby allowing complex eukaryotic organisms to exist. Dewdney points out that Planiverse animals would probably have much lower metabolic ratesbecause relatively little heat is lost through the perimeter of their body. An interesting observation is that Planiverse animals cannot have an alimentary canal or any sort of open tube from mouth to anus. Any such tube would split a two-dimensional creature into two separate components. To solve the problem of gastrovascular cavities (digestive chambers with only one opening), Dewdney suggests a clever solution. The Planiverse animals have a zipper system, where cells may zip or unzip. One opening can be unzipped while the other opening is zipped so that the animal is never separated into two pieces at any time. Another creative solution is to have two individuals live symbiotically with a shared digestive canal between them. While the manner in which these animals evolved to be is hard to imagine, it is an interesting case to ponder.

Here we have outlined the framework of a two-dimensional universe. We drew much of our knowledge of the workings of this universe from our experience with the three-dimensional world. We believe that life is possible in such a universe, although it would be considerably more difficult than life in a three-dimensional world. What we have outlined here is only a small portion of the mathematical and scientific laws governing such a universe. Dewdneys The Planiverse offers a narrative explaining many of his theories on such a universe. To him, we owe a huge debt. Lastly, we encourage you to explore the Planiverse. Feel free to share your ideas and postulates about the workings of the Planiverse. There is still much to be discovered.

Processes of Optics in the Planiverse

Lets start with a central question. How does light exist in the Planiverse? The answer is surprisingly simple. Light exists in the Planiverse just as it does in the third dimension, with a combination of particle and wave properties. In other words, both the particle and wave aspects of light can function in the Planiverse as they do in the real world. This makes sense because in a particle form, light can be flattened from three to two dimensions. It would not impede proper function and would still allow for diffraction. Also, in wave form, the structure of each wave, i.e. wavelength and frequency, would not be changed. And with this the speed of light would also stay unchanged. Now let us examine some lightrelated processes within the Planiverse. 10 CATALYST NOVEMBER 2011



n the summer, who doesnt have the chance to catch up on some sleep? Most people are naturally trained in the monophasic sleep cycle, snoozing one eight hour period every night. Other people sleep polyphasically, taking several naps throughout the day. Polyphasic sleep cycles have a long history: Thomas Jefferson and Leonardo da Vinci were allegedly polyphasic sleepers. Polyphasic sleep cycles include the Uberman cycle, the Everyman cycle, the Dymaxion cycle, and many others. Three Polyphasic Sleep Cycles: The Uberman cycle entails six 20 to 30 minute naps every four hours for a total of three to four hours of sleep. The Everyman cycle is very similar to the Uberman cycle, but replaces three short naps with one longer 90 to 180 minute nap, for a total of three to four hours of sleep a day, divided into four periods. Lastly, the Dymaxion cycle, invented by Becky Fuller, consists of four 30 minute naps every six hours for a total of two hours of sleep. Benefits/Risks: Users of these cycles have more awake time and report feeling more alert. Supposedly, conditioning oneself to following polyphasic sleep cycles causes the individual to immediately enter REM sleep (the most important stage of sleep). However, sleep deprivation makes it difficult to adjust to these cycles. Additionally, mistiming naps can be devastating. Studies are still being done on the long term effects of polyphasic sleep cycles, but no harmful effects have been discovered thus far.











Less Sleep

Brandon Zeng

Can Be




Relic of Evolution

Truth Behind The High School Experience

Stress is normal. Expected. Yet universally disliked. Why did humans evolve to have this trait? The biology behind stress and what it does to your body.
By Alice Wu

tress. This word can sum up the entire high school experience for many. But most do not truly understand stress or see biological need for this sentiment.

It is true that stress causes all kinds of problems, from hair loss to acne to gray hairs and baldness, but in the past, it was quite a useful mechanism. When danger appeared, stress peaked and humans with the ability to trigger their nervous systems to produce hormones and prepare the body for action had a greater chance for survival. The stress response has therefore existed as a primal survival instinct the fight or flight response. Even today, stress can be useful. The hormones released during stress rouse the nervous system so that all functions are at their peak and the person feels renewed energy and strength. In this way, stress can motivate people to accomplish meaningful goals despite physical weariness. As a function in and of itself, stress was meant to help the body maintain homeostasis, or internal equilibrium, when disturbed by exposure to stimuli. Allostasis is the means through which the body reacts to stimuli to retain this balance. Obviously this is a very important process of which stress is a natural part.

vides extra fuel for the body, intended to sustain the body while fighting against or running away from a danger. Adrenaline, on the other hand, boosts reflexes and strength. These hormones also increase heart and respiratory rates, raise blood pressure, and cause muscles to tense, hands to sweat, hands and feet to cool, and pupils to dilate for maximum vision. When a dangerous situation arose, these effects helped humans muster the energy to fend off the dangers, surviving to pass on these traits.

More Harmful than Helpful

The stress response can be triggered by psychological imbalances as well. These may arise from worry about a project due the next day, social pressures, or a time crunch. To maintain homeostasis, the allostatic response kicks in, and hormones start flooding the bloodstream. The problem is, there is no danger to run from. In the past, the extra energy from cortisol was used up in the physical effort to either escape or to fight. The stress hormones were used up in the exercise. But when the stress is psychological, as much of it is today, there is a big problem: the extra fuel from the hormones is not being used up, and instead it keeps circulating in the bloodstream. Cortisol causes increased oil production in the body, which can lead to acne. The hormones also keep the body in the stressed stage, during which it channels all energy into the muscle groups and away from nonessential body parts. Hair, as an unnecessary organ, receives little to no fuel during this time. If the allostatic state continues, ones hair will die and fall out, causing a condition called alopecia, which essentially is balding. Another reason one loses hair from stress is nervous hair-twirling, which pulls out hairs. When the hair grows again, it sometimes comes out gray instead of its original color. Other nervous habits, like biting or picking at ones nails can have equally unfortunate effects, like damaging growth plates. Ironically, these effects usually lead to more anxiety and stress. Eventually, some people reach a state of chronic psychological stress, in which the body continuously produces cortisol while using up little or none of it. The excess hormone causes a myriad of diseases such as heart disease, hypertension, diabetes, memory loss, ulcers, neurological condition, and other serious conditions. Excess cortisol also decomposes 13

Stress as a Chemical Process

When a human encounters and emergency situation or a sudden event, the stimulus triggers the autonomous nervous system to react. In an attempt to maintain homeostasis, the body is prepared for drastic survival action. The hypothalamus, a region of the brain responsible for regulating involuntary actions such as sleep cycles, is stimulated by the sympathetic nervous system to release a hormone called the Corticotropin-Releasing Factor (CRF). This chemical activates the hypothalamus neighboring pituitary gland, which produce another hormone, the Adrenal Corticotrophic Hormone (ACTH). This hormone travels through the blood stream to alert the adrenal glands on top of each kidney. In response, the adrenal cortex releases the stress hormone cortisol. At the same time, the hypothalamus signals the medulla to releases epinephrine (adrenaline) and norepinephrine (noradrenaline). The end result of this process is a hyper-alert body. During this entire process, less important processes are temporarily shut down so that the body can devote all of its energy to dealing with the crisis. So during the stress response, digestion, and in females, ovulation, will stop. People can feel the effects of the stress hormones. Cortisol pro-

STRESS AND SCHOOL (Above) Stress is harmful, but by using the proper methods, people can learn not to crack under pressure. (Previous page) At times, the high school workload seems more designed for students with access to a time turner.

bones, leading to osteoporosis. Stress also speeds the aging process. The tips of chromosomes, called telomeres, control cell division by allowing dead cells to be replaced, keeping the whole body functioning. As humans age and cells divide, the telomeres shorten, and eventually, the body cannot replenish its cells, leading to cell death. Stress destroys telomeres because the stress response causes stem cells to divide, shortening telomeres at a faster pace. But if stress causes the same chemical response in all people, why is it that some handle it better than others? In other words, why do some people not stress out as easily?

The smaller the hippocampus, the more stress a person is likely to feel. At the same time, stress also causes the hippocampus to shrink irreversibly, therefore producing a vicious cycle. Cornell conducted an experiment involving black-capped chickadees. Half of the birds were released and half were caged. Several weeks later, the caged birds hippocampi were 23% smaller than those of the released birds. The researchers speculated that the stress of captivity caused the hippocampi to shrink.

How To Reduce Stress

The good news is that a person can take action to reduce stress levels. Exercise is a great way to relieve stress, because making ones body deal with the physical stress of exercise teaches it to deal with psychological stress better. Exercise also makes the body produce endorphins, which help people relax. Most advice is clich: accept imperfection, lower expectations, cut schedules, etc. More sensible advice involves eating healthily. For high school students, sleep deprivation and schedule pressures are usually the primary causes of stress. However, do not despair! As long as students learn to manage their stress and use it to their advantage, this is an obstacle that can be easily overcome.

The Stress Response

Everyone responds slightly differently to stimuli based on genetics and past experiences. Some medical conditions cause people to experience allostatic overload (excessive stress) more easily. These conditions keep the stress response from turning off when it should, and sometimes prevent the response from activating when it should. In other cases, a persons habits can trigger stress as well. Some behavioral causes include sleep deprivation, excessive food intake, and lack of exercise. Physical traits can also cause stress. This does not only pertain to a persons worry about a pimple on his or her nose. Researchers have recently discovered that the size of a persons hippocampus affects stress as well.



Alzheimers Disease
Mrudula Bhuvanagiri

lzheimers is a form of dementia which interferes with a persons behavior, memory, and thinking. Alzheimers, which currently affects 5.3 million people in the United States, is a chronic disease which may start as early as twenty years before symptoms manifest. It affects the brain so profoundly that patients with advanced Alzheimers find performing even basic functions such as walking and brushing teeth strenuous. The human brain is comprised of three main parts: the cerebrum, the cerebellum, and the brain stem. The cerebrum is the upper half of the brain, the cerebellum is right under the end of the cerebrum, and the brain stem connects to the cerebellum and the spinal cord. Each time your heart beats, twenty to twenty five percent of the blood the heart pumps goes to your brain through arteries. There are numerous capillaries that deliver oxygen right blood to billions of neurons. The basic units of a neuron are the body, containing the nucleus, and the axons, extending from the nucleus. Dendrites surround the body; they bring impulses to the neurons, whereas axons send away impulses from one neuron to the next. Memories are stored in the brain through the transmission of electrical signals which are transmitted by neurons. When an electrical charge reaches a synapse (where neurons connect), the neuron triggers a burst of neurotransmitters, chemical mes-

sengers, to pass on the signal. This is the process that takes place in a healthy individual. However, in a brain affected by Alzheimers, neurons lose their ability to transmit signals well. Alzheimers is characterized by beta-amyloid protein pieces which form plaques between nerve cells, blocking cell-to-cell synaptic signaling. These plaques are said to block signal transmissions and blood; without blood, essential nutrients are denied to the brain. Affected neurons shrivel and are unable to sustain themselves. Eventually, the brain shrinks due to nutrients losing the ability to command bodily functions. Alzheimers usually affects people after the age of sixty five. It is now the sixth leading cause of death in the United States and continues to affect more and more people. While the incidence rates of other major illnesses like heart disease have been reduced, that of Alzheimers has grown about sixty six percent. Although there is no cure, preventative measures may be taken. Keeping the brain active and eating certain foods have been shown to reduce risks. With further research and new technologies, the scientific community hopes to develop a cure for Alzheimers in the near future. 15

Beyond Purple
Anita Kulkarni

ummer is a time for students to take a break from school and enjoy the lazy warmth of the season. So naturally, it is the then that we spend long periods of time in the sun, exposing ourselves to an invisible type of electromagnetic radiation: ultraviolet light. Ultraviolet light (abbreviated UV) has a wavelength of 100-400 nanometers (in comparison, visible light has a wavelength of 400-780 nm). Astronomers break down the UV light spectrum into three ranges: near ultraviolet (NUV), far ultraviolet (FUV), and extreme ultraviolet (EUV). Within the UV spectrum, near ultraviolet is closest to the visible spectrum (because it has the longest wavelength), extreme ultraviolet is closest to X-rays (because it has the shortest wavelength), and far ultraviolet is in the middle. However, the more commonly used classifications are UV-A (320-400 nm), UV-B (280-320 nm), and UV-C (100-280 nm). Scientists often use the UV-A, UV-B, and UV-C subdivisions to explain the different properties and phenomena that arise from distinct parts of the ultraviolet spectrum. The discovery of UV light was remarkable, since it is invisible to our eyes. It was only detected using a clever experiment in the 17th century. In 1800, William Herschel discovered infrared (meaning beyond red) light, proving that electromagnetic radiation is not only confined to visible light. Because of this discovery, a young Polish scientist named Johann Ritter started to wonder whether electromagnetic radiation also existed beyond violet. He had heard that silver chloride darkened in response to sunlight, and exposure to blue light caused more darkening than exposure to red light. In 1801, using a glass prism and a quantity of silver chloride, he proved that the reaction rate (darkening of the compound) really did increase as the lights wavelength approached the violet end of the spectrum. He then placed the silver chloride slightly beyond the violet end of the visible spectrum and found that the reaction rate increased still more. Thus, he proved the existence of light beyond violet, which is what we now know as UV light. 16 CATALYST NOVEMBER 2011

As most of us know, UV radiation can cause problems such as sunburns and skin cancer. This happens because the waves have enough energy to break bonds between atoms and push electrons away from the nucleus. In this way, it can destroy cells and break key bonds in DNA, causing mutations that can lead to skin cancer. In most cases, however, only UV-A and UV-B rays cause this kind of damage because UV-C rays are filtered out by the ozone in the atmosphere. Unfortunately, environmental problems such as ozone holes can cause higher UV levels, increasing these risks. Even altitude and cloud position can affect UV levels. Higher altitudes result in more UV exposure since there are fewer molecules in the atmosphere to absorb UV rays, so there is approximately a 4% increase in UV levels for every 1,000 foot altitude increase. Clouds that do not cover the sun can increase UV levels by reflecting it toward the ground, but clouds that do cover the sun can reduce UV radiation by diverting rays back into space. Though there are risks to UV radiation, there are also many advantages. For example, it can be used to disinfect surfaces, study atom behavior, and activate essential vitamin D production inside the human body. Additionally, some animals have evolutionary adaptations that allow them to see UV light, which can help them track their prey or identify potential food sources. UV also can explain the wonders of astronomy. Some insects, reptiles, and birds can see ultraviolet light. In 1882, this ability was first observed in ants. As more research was done, this ability was found in many other types of animals as well. For instance, insects such as bees are attracted to bug zappers, which emit UV light. And because some flowers have ultraviolet patterns, bees are able to find these food sources and distinguish between them. In addition, certain types of birds have UV patters on their feathers, which help attract mates. The ability to see UV light also gives kestrels and other raptors an evolutionary edge. Kestrels eat rodents and can see trails of rodent urine because they absorb UV light. By seeing these trails, they can locate their prey

from high altitudes and therefore have a better chance of getting food to eat. So why are humans unable to see UV? Scientists hypothesize that increasing the range of wavelengths on which the lens can focus would also decrease vision sharpness. Therefore, evolution would have naturally selected for those who had sharper vision despite only having the ability to see visible light over those with fuzzier vision that were able to see more wavelengths. But either way, ultraviolet light does have advantages in nature that may not be obvious to humans. A way in which UV radiation can be helpful to humans is as a tool in astronomical research. Astronomers can depict galaxies through both visible and UV light. Bright areas in the UV image reveal massive new

stars even larger than the sun, while bright areas in visible light images reveal light emitted by older stars. Comparing these images can give the astronomers clues about how galaxies form and evolve. All in all, ultraviolet radiation (electromagnetic radiation with wavelengths just shorter than visible light) has both advantages and disadvantages. On one hand, it can destroy essential biological molecules and cause skin cancer and other problems. But on the other hand, it can help animals find food and unlock the mysteries of the universe. So although UV radiation is invisible to us, we should take precautions against its dangers, but at the same time we should appreciate the advancements it has made in science and in our everyday lives.

Activates essential DNA in the body

Poses as an evolutionary advantage.

There is a 4% increase in UV rays for every 1000 feet

UV Rays

Leads to skin cancers through mutations

Helps certain animals find food Have enough energy to break bonds between atoms

Used to disinfect surfaces

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Better Faster

By Daniel Metz

verybody lies. Well, almost everybody. Magazines, popular websites, word-of-mouth, and old adages are notorious for spreading folklore. Usually, theres some truth to it, but there is better. No pain, no gain sure, but there is no need to work hard for minimal gains. If the goal is becoming larger or stronger, do it right. Muscles grow stronger in two wayseither the cross-sectional areas of muscle fibers increase or the nervous system learns to create more coordinated, more involved contractions. Muscles grow larger in two wayseither the cross-sectional areas increase or the supporting cells grow larger and retain more nutrients on-site. There is some overlap between the two; one cannot grow stronger without growing larger nor grow larger without growing stronger. That said however, training for each can vary. The goals are simple: maintain perfect form, increase weight frequently, keep workouts under an hour, place a day of rest between each workout, and keep workouts consistent. Perfect form ensures safety and maximum benefit. Frequent weight increases ensure growth by progressive loading and a positive attitude. Keeping under an hour maximizes the efficiency of a workout without causing the body to produce excessive cortisol, a reaction to excess stress, which would hinder gains. Additionally, keeping under an hour avoids such fatigue that would make one likely to quit. The day of rest ensures ample time for recovery without wasting time that could be spent training. Consistent workouts allow for logging and direct comparison to chart progress and keep motivated. The best gains for non-professionals can be attained with six compound exercises: squats, bench presses, bent-over rows, overhead presses, deadlifts, and chin-ups. These exercises target multiple muscles, both large, primary muscles and secondary, stabilizing and supporting muscles. By 18 CATALYST NOVEMBER 2011

completing a full body workout each time, a greater amount of human growth hormone and testosterone are produced and released, further increasing the efficiency of a workout. Sets, reps, and time under tension each may vary depending upon whether the goal is strength or size. By lowering the number of reps, one can lift more. Therefore, fewer reps are ideal for strength training. Powerlifters tend to use two to six reps whereas bodybuilders often rely on six to twelve reps. If total volume lifted is equal to weight multiplied by reps multiplied by sets, in order to lift a similar volume, a powerlifter must utilize a greater number of sets in order to compare to a bodybuilder. Additionally, while powerlifters utilize more explosive force, bodybuilders work through their reps more slowly, sometimes focusing on longer times-under-tension. Greater times-under-tensions decrease the amount of weight able to be lifted or the number of repetitions possible, but eliminate the effects of momentum and increase stress placed upon the muscle. So for a non-professional looking to up his or her size and strength, a hybrid workout is best. A on Sunday, B on Tuesday, A on Thursday and so on. Chin-ups are added if one is concerned about arm strength and size. They are done with three sets of twelve reps with bodyweight each B day. If the weight is too light, one may move to three sets of five reps, adding 2.5 lbs for each successful workout. Rep timing should be as slow as necessary to be controlled. Rest times between completed sets are 60 seconds. Rest times between uncompleted sets are 300 seconds. See Figure 1 for a sample workout. Given the data, an individual would increase his or her weight to squat next time (in this case on B day) by five pounds. The weight to bench next time (always on A day for bench) would increase by five pounds

as well. Bent-over rows would remain steady until five reps are achieved on each of the five sets. The exception to the weight added rule is for deadlifts, in which case ten pounds would be added after successful completion. The additional weight here is to balance deadlift gains with squat gains. If five sets of five reps for a certain weight is not achievable for three workouts in a row, one would de-load 10%, doing for instance 90 pounds next workout instead of 100 pounds. One then would begin progressive loading again. Refer to Figure 2 for a sample workout. For faster bulk while sacrificing some strength training, one might focus on a regime of three sets of eight reps or focus instead on long timesunder-tension, perhaps doing one set that lasts for 80-120 seconds with a five-second up, five-second down cadence. One might wonder why sit-ups, or any other abdominal exercise, are left out. The reason is that each of the aforementioned exercises works the core as a stabilizer. For abs to show, it is less about size and more about maintaining a low body-fat percentage. Abs tend to show when one is between 8% and 12% bodyfat. A good diet achieves better results than cardio. Thats not to say cardio does not have its benefitsit does but a proper diet is necessary for fat

loss and/or weight gain. Ideal is a high protein, moderate fat diet, while restricting carbohydrate consumption. Oh, and ladies: the same workout routine works for you too. There is no need to worry about becoming bulky. Without the levels of testosterone that men have10 to 40 times as muchwomen will not bulk nearly as much. Of course, there is always more to be said and even more to be discovered. Specifics will vary with ones goal, whether the variance is with the number of reps, sets, time under tension, or with ones diet. Like with starting any other significant lifestyle change, one should consult a professional before starting. Figure 1 A Squat Benchpress Bent-Over Roll 5x5 5x5 5x5 B Squat Overhead Press Deadlift 5x5 5x5 1x5

Figure 2 Exercise Squat Benchpress Bent-Over Row Weight 100 100 100 Reps for Set 1 5 5 5 Reps for Set 1 5 5 5 Reps for Set 1 5 5 5 Reps for Set 1 5 5 4 Reps for Set 1 5 5 4

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The End of an Era

Three Decades of Manned Flight

The last space shuttles return marks the end of a period of exploration, and the beginning of a new age of research. The history behind this time, along with the science that launched it.
By Anthony Tokman

Look Back at

arly on the morning of July 21, 2011, Space Shuttle Atlantis landed for the last time at Kennedy Space Center. The crew of fourthe smallest in 28 yearshad just returned from a routine delivery to the International Space Station (ISS), completing the 135th, and final, mission of NASAs Space Shuttle program. The Space Transportation System concluded over thirty years of spaceflight in a reusable craft that could launch like a rocket and land like an airplane. The recent retirement of the three operational space shuttlesEndeavour, Discovery, and Atlantiswas met with both applause and remorse in the community of scientists and sci-fi junkies. For some, the Space Shuttle demonstrated the possibility of routine spaceflight, and ending the program would allow NASA to work on even greater things. For others, the cost of the program far outweighed its benefits, and abandonment was long overdue. Nevertheless, as a leader in 21st century space exploration, NASA is ready to chart a new course and steer on.

While Enterprise was nearly identical to later orbiters, it was missing a few critical featuresmost notably, an engine. Enterprise never flew into space. Instead, over the course of several tests in 1977, it was ferried to an altitude of a few kilometers by a modified Boeing 747, released, and piloted to a landing. Enterprise was the full-scale prototype NASA used to convince itself that a craft built to orbit in space could also land like an airplane. Now, all that remained was sending the Space Shuttle into space.

Up and Away
Columbia was NASAs first fully-operational shuttle. It was launched on April 12, 1981. During the first Space Shuttle mission, Columbia and its crew of two orbited the Earth 36 times before landing at Edwards Air Force Base in California on April 14th . In the wake of Columbias initial success, three more orbiters were built and tested in the next four yearsChallenger, Discovery, and Atlantis. Endeavour was completed in the early nineties as a replacement for Challenger, which tragically perished during a launch in 1986. Columbia disintegrated during reentry in 2003; a replacement was never built. Over the course of the shuttles thirty-year flight history, the missions played out in roughly the following way: The orbiter was delivered to the launch pad at Kennedy Space Center, complete with two SRBs (solid rocket boosters) and an ET (external tank). The crew typically consisted of six or seven well-trained pilots, scientists, and engineers. Additionally, space shuttles usually carried a significant payload of satellites, onboard labs, and space station parts. Given the clear, the three orbiter main engines would ignite, followed by the two booster engines at the instant of takeoff. Two minutes into the flight, the SRBs broke off from the orbiter and external tank and parachuted into the Atlantic Ocean, where they were recovered by a ship for reuse. Orbiter engines pushed the shuttle into orbit. Seven minutes later, the main engines shut down, and the ET separated from the orbiter and burned up in the atmosphereit was the only expendable part of the shuttle system. The Orbital Maneuvering System (OMS guided the shuttle into orbit. The reaction control system (RCS) adjusted the orientation of the shuttle in space. In orbit, the shuttle could perform a variety of tasks. In the 1980s and 21

The Spirit of Enterprise

In the midst of the Apollo program, NASA decided to cut back on distant manned voyages, preferring to send astronauts to low earth orbit (LEO) to research microgravity and observe distant stars and galaxies. But spaceflights were expensive because no part of the rocket could be recovered and reused. With the end of the Apollo program, the rockets generous 35 million Newtons of thrust were no longer necessary, and NASA could find a more practical form of space transportation. Thats when the Space Shuttle was born. President Nixon launched the Space Shuttle program in January 1972. The program was ambitious NASA hoped to launch fifty missions per year. In the end, it averaged less than five. NASAs attempts to drive down per-mission costs werent particularly successful eitherthe cost per launch averaged about $1.5 billion. Nevertheless, excitement surrounded the construction of the first orbiter, which was to be named Constitution and unveiled on Constitution Day, September 17, 1976. But a massive write-in campaign by fans of the television series Star Trek convinced the government to rename the shuttle Enterprise, in honor of Captain Kirks iconic spaceship. So it was Enterprise that rolled out of its California plant on Constitution Day, 1976, much to the anticipation of American scientists, engineers, and Trekkies.

SHUTTLE AND SOCIETY (Above) The shuttle Endeavour (STS-118), Challengers replacement that resumed more regular launching after the Challenger disaster (Previous page) The shuttle Atlantis (STS-135), the last shuttle launched by NASA 1990s, astronauts used the onboard Spacelab for microgravity experiments. It is important to note that an in low orbit still experiences gravitational pull, nearly equal to that on Earths surface. That gravity keeps the orbiter in its circular path, for a space shuttle is continuously falling toward Earth, but also moving horizontally, so Earths surface curves away before the shuttle can hit it. Astronauts on board, however, perceive zero gravity because they are essentially falling with the space shuttle. The earlier missions also deployed several satellitesmost notably, the Hubble Space Telescope, carried into orbit by Discovery in 1990. Hubble remains our most exciting window into deep space. But during the late nineties, the Space Shuttles focus shifted on servicing space stations. Nearly all of the missions it flew in the 2000s were ISS assembly flights. After remaining in orbit for one to two weeks, the Space Shuttle used its OMS to deorbit and reenter the atmosphere. During its descent through the atmosphere, the Shuttle was still flying at around 30,000 km/h. As it reached the lower thermosphere the air became denser, and collisions with air molecules became more frequent, heating up the exterior of the shuttle to over 1,500C. The Space Shuttle relied on a coating of special heat-resistant ceramic tiles that prevented the shuttle body from melting. The failure of this coating was responsible for the Columbia disaster. In the lower atmosphere, the orbiter reduced its speed significantly as it prepared for landing. By the time the shuttle touched down on the runway, it had slowed to a speed of 350 km/h, not much faster than that of a landing jet airliner. Nevertheless, a drag chute released during the landing roll aided in bringing the orbiter to a stop. The crew would then shut down the spacecraft and be greeted by the elated NASA ground crew. 22 CATALYST NOVEMBER 2011

Physics and Politics

Challenger mission lifted off from Cape Canaveral on the cold morning of January 28, 1986. Its objectives included deploying a satellite into orbit and viewing Halleys Comet using a special onboard observatory. This was the first shuttle mission to feature a civilian schoolteacher, Christa McAuliffe, among its crew as part of NASAs Teacher in Space Project. As a result, the launch was extensively covered by the media and viewed live by many students across the United States. But 73 seconds into the flight, at an altitude of 14.6 km, Challenger suddenly exploded. All seven crewmembers perished, and the orbiter fragments plunged into the Atlantic Ocean. Reports of the disaster spread like wildfire, and the nation was stunned. In light of NASAs rapid progress over the previous decades, such a tragedy was unthinkable. While the country mourned, NASA went about determining the cause of the accident. President Reagan appointed the Rogers Commission to investigate the disaster. Among the famous names that made up the Commission were astronaut Neil Armstrong, retired general and test pilot Chuck Yeager, and Nobel-winning physicist and Caltech professor Richard Feynman. The Commission attributed the catastrophe to the failure of the right solid rocket booster. It had caused hot gases to spew out and melt a part of the external tank, which disintegrated the orbiter. In response to the disaster, NASA suspended shuttle flights for 32 months. In the meantime, in accordance with the suggestions of the Rogers Commission, NASA redesigned the SRBs and restructured its management to place greater emphasis on science and safety.

NASA launched its first post-Challenger mission on September 29, 1988. The mission completed its objectives and restored a degree of pride to NASA and American manned spaceflight. Thereafter, NASA resumed a more regular shuttle launch schedule using Challengers replacement, Endeavour. In the nineties, NASA was launching eight missions per yearstill a far cry from its original goal of fifty. But the Space Shuttle was saved, at least temporarily. Then, on February 1, 2003, manned spaceflight faced another test of dedication. Space Shuttle Columbia, returning from research mission, disintegrated 60 km over Texas during reentry. The crew of seven was lost, and debris was scattered across three U.S. states. Seventeen years after the Challenger disaster, the nation was again in shock. The Columbia Accident Investigation Board (CAIB) determined that the accident was caused by a large piece of foam that broke off from the external tank during launch and damaged the heat shielding on the shuttles left wing. During reentry, the intense heat melted the shuttles frame. More importantly, the CAIB echoed the Rogers Commissions concern that NASAs management didnt pay enough attention to astronaut safety. Once again, the administration scrambled to address that worrybut critics insisted that any changes were short-lived. Despite a 29-month hiatus following the disaster, the Space Shuttle program continuedat the time, no other vehicle could deliver assembly parts to the nascent ISS. On July 26, 2005, service resumed with Discovery mission. The external tanks insulating foam remained a concern, as NASA couldnt prevent pieces from falling off during launch. For the next six years, NASA launched no more than five missions per year. Nevertheless, it was integral in assembling the ISS. The last Space Shuttle flight, the Atlantis mission, was also the last time American astronauts would be brought to the ISS in an American spacecraft. It is perhaps somewhat unfortunate that two tragedies overshadow the entire Space Shuttle program. Manned space exploration is inherently risky. The men and women that travel space are aware of these risks. NASAs safety record, while far from perfect, is relatively satisfactory, given the administrations achievements. Only three missionsApollo 1 (in which a cabin fire killed the crew on the launch pad), Challenger, and Columbiahave led to loss of life. For some observers, any casualty is one too many. For others, those who lost their lives in the name of manned spaceflight did so honorablyand we must continue space exploration for the sake of their sacrifices.

On the other side, there are those that point out the important role the Space Shuttle has played in space exploration during the last thirty years. The United States remains one of only three present-day countries to send astronauts into spaceand thanks to the capacity of the Space Shuttle, it has launched overwhelmingly more than any other nation. And while the ISS is serviced and supplied by unmanned orbiters from many countries, it was the American Space Shuttle program that assembled most of it.

The Space Shuttle program cost 14 lives more than any other program in the history of space exploration.
But what exactly is next for American spaceflight? Right now, with our hands tied in a debt crisis, dipping economy, and several wars, most people arent looking for an answer. But thats no reason our countrys role in space exploration should decline. In spite of the retirement of the Space Shuttle fleet, the United States remains at the forefront of new discoveries. Most of the exciting news regarding space exploration during the last few decades has come from unmanned probes deep in the Solar System. Take, for example, the Mars rover Opportunity and its deceased companion Spirit: the amount of data they have accumulated about the Red Planet is incrediblefar more than any single manned mission could gather and at a much lower cost. As far as American human spaceflight goes, the future remains unknown. In 2004, President Bush announced the United States Vision for Space Exploration, which called for more unmanned missions to the Moon and Mars and a human return to the Moon by 2020. The cornerstone of the plan was the Constellation program, which would again take astronauts beyond low Earth orbit. President Obama terminated the program in 2010, and NASA replaced it with another that will return astronauts to LEO, this time using an expendable launch system. In the meantime, American astronauts will fly to space and the ISS in Russian Soyuz rockets. Another possibility is that the private industry will soon play an even greater role in space exploration. Since the Challenger disaster and the end of the Cold War, spaceflight has become increasingly privatized. Commercial rocket launches outnumbered government launches at Cape Canaveral as of 1997. And in 2004, SpaceShipOne became the first privately-owned spacecraft to carry a human into space. More private spaceflights, including some to LEO, may very well follow the Space Shuttles retirement. And this could be quite beneficial for space explorationa little competition might help reinvigorate NASA. Regardless of the future of humans in space, one thing is certainon July 21, an era came to an end. The four remaining shuttles will be on display at museums across the country as an indication of spaceflights past. The goals of the Space Shuttle program may have been far too ambitious, but that does not detract from the role that it played over the course of three decades. Like the Mercury and Apollo spacecraft before it, the Space Shuttle was novel in its time. Of course it was not perfectperfection would suggest the end of a process, which does not exist in science. Science is an endless cycle of creating, testing, rebuilding, and retestingand even the most grandiose of spacecraft is not exempt from it. 23

Charting a New Course

Even though it long outlasted its predecessors Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo, the Space Shuttle program was always slated to come to a close. If anything, the Shuttle overstayed its welcomethe 2010 deadline (later extended to 2011) set by President George W. Bush was behind what many had expected. Criticism of the Space Shuttle has stemmed from the fact that it failed to achieve its cost and utility goals. The entire program cost about $196 billionan average of $1.5 billion per mission. NASA maintains that the actual per-mission cost was much lower$450 million. Theres no record to show how many of the costs were one-time and how many were recurring, so its hard to say how expensive each mission actually was. Ironically, expendable systems consistently proved cheaper to build and launch. Another issue was safety. The Space Shuttle program cost 14 livesmore than any other program in the history of space exploration. NASAs most conservative estimates placed the likelihood of losing an orbiter at 1 in 100shockingly high when lives are at stake. Largely due to cost and safety issues, NASA never succeeded in making Space Shuttle flights as routine as it had hoped.

Missing Link

lthough it has become a contentious political issue over the past several years, the theory of evolution is all but becoming increasingly accepted among life scientists as the most complete and evidence-backed explanation behind the formation of life on Earth. Still, despite the theorys widespread acceptance in the scientific world, biologists and paleontologists alike have been working for decades to find missing links in evolutionary history, namely, the transitional fossils that show the evolution of Homo sapiens from primitive, ape-like hominids to sophisticated humans. However, stunning new ground was broken on that front recently, when scientists in South Africa found a nearly complete skeleton that may very well provide a drastic new twist in the quest to better understand the origins of humans. The bones discovered by researchers from the University of Witwatersrand are those of a hominid, and the structure is largely ape-like; it is the differences between the body of this new find and those of earlier hominids that are the real source of excitement for scientists. While the overall body shape and the major limbs of this new hominid, currently billed Australopithecus sediba, closely resemble those of humans great ape cousins, small but vital anatomical differences suggest that this creature is more closely related to people. While the legs contain anklebones characteristic of tree climbers like chimpanzees, the structure of the foot itself is flatter, suggesting that Australopithecus sediba had the ability to walk upright. This hybrid foot combines the characteristics

Na ch i


of apes and humans and is the first such discovery made with regard to hominids. These so-called snapshots that showcase the biological shift in hominids are further reflected in the nearly pristine hand bones uncovered by the researchers. The fingers of the Australopithecus sediba were all curved, suggesting the ability to scale trees, and long, leading scientists to consider the possibility that it also possessed the necessary sophistication to work with basic tools. Whether or not the newly found hominid had the required brainpower to think as a human does is another question that may be answered by closer examination of the fossils. The skull of the Australopithecus sediba is relatively large and flat, indicating that the brain was starting to grow larger, a fact borne out by the exceptionally wide pelvis, symptomatic of the need for this animal to give birth to offspring with heads larger than those of apes. In the end, more examination of these findings will have to be done by scientists over the world, as researchers attempt to determine whether this really could be our closest ancestor. Still, the early signs are promising enough. This Australopithecus sediba could go a long way in helping us solve one of sciences grandest mysteries; namely, exactly how we came to be here.

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Digital Waste
Yenny Zhang

oday it isnt uncommon to see most people equipped with some sort of sleek new gadget. In fact, 83% of American adults own a mobile phone. Corporations constantly spit out new products to keep techies hungry for more. As the technology torrent continues, new inventions make their way into the hands of the general population so quickly that stashes of old electronics begin to be disposed as frequently as food packaging. However, not many know the paths that their abandoned gadgets take. Those that are mixed with black bin garbage end up in landfills and break down just as the waste around them does, but many old electronics, also known as e-waste, contain toxic chemicals such as lead, mercury and cadium that can pervade into the atmosphere or the Earth. These toxins, especially mercury, are infamous for infiltrating the food chain. Another culprit is old televisions and computer monitors; old displays contain lead in cathode ray tubes (CRTs) which can contribute up to several pounds per TV or monitor. A more popular solution is to recycle e-waste. Although dropping an old electronic in a designated bin feels like saving the world to some, the paths these recycled electronics take are also unknown to most. The e-waste export trade is a problem in countries such as India and China where workers handle e-waste in scrapyards that

pose many potential dangers to those who handle the waste directly. Those workers, however, continue doing their work because to them, the benefits outweigh the dangers as precious metals like gold, copper, iron, silicon, and nickel can be extracted during the recycling process. As of this moment, environmental groups have initiated plans to completely eradicate the e-waste export trade and to set up safer ways of recycling to properly disassemble gadgets for reuse. Because the e-waste problem is universal, several opportunities to recycle e-waste safely and effectively are available locally. Because of the current technological boom, e-waste recycling is even more important than it was before. New products constantly supplant older ones which have no further use other than to be recycled. By recycling, e-waste is broken down into its raw materials, which can then be reused to create new and better products. The process is more economical; production requires less packaging and manufacturing so technology becomes more affordable and available to a wider segment of society. E-waste recycling extends the efforts of environmental conservation to keep up with the swift progression of society into the current technological era.

Workers in India prepare discarded computer parts for the recycling process.


Math Prize for Girls International Competition

Bianca Ray Avalani and Catherine Wu

group of students hunch over their desks, scribbling furiously, pencils in hand. At first glance, this seems like a normal testing situation, but upon closer inspection, three things stand out: first, the students are in a large auditorium at MIT. Second, the problems they are working on are nothing like those typical of high school math, and third, they are all girls. This is Math Prize for Girls, an international competition that draws over 200 girls from all over the country. At this years competition, which occurred this past September, eight girls from San Diego participated. Four were from Canyon Crest Academy. There are 20 problems of varying difficulty to solve in 150 minutes. For Catherine Wu (second from non-mathletes, this means about 7.5 right) and other girls at the Math minutes per problem. For mathletes, it Prize for Girls Competition means half an hour for the first seven or eight problems, and 2 hours to solve three or four more problems, then double-check. Unlike the average math test, these contests extend from geometry to algebra to probability and more. Generally, these problems are not meant to be brute-forced, but instead have an ingenious solution that makes the problem trivial. One such problem reads:

bit of manipulation, this actually factors very nicely, giving us the answer with minimal fuss. (Since we dont want to keep you up all night, the answer is 10163, which is the original number divided by 5*37*53.) One hundred fifty minutes later, most of the girls pour out to collect their provided lunches and congregate in the eating area to compare solutions, talk, and laugh together. At the awards ceremony, the MIT/Wellesley Toons sing, their amazing voices rendering the auditorium silent. After the ceremony, the majority of the girls are indistinguishable from stereotypical teenagers of their kind except for two things each carries a Math Prize for Girls bag, and that each wants to return next year. For us, as girls who have gone back again and again since it started, Math Prize for Girls is more than just another competition, albeit one across the country. Its a chance to hone our math skills, to pit ourselves against the top girls in the country and see how we compare. But even more than that, its a chance to encounter, associate with, and befriend those few girls who share the same passion as we do: math.

The number 104,060,465 is divisible by a five-digit prime number. What is that prime number?
Your first instinct will probably be its divisible by 5! (Not to be confused with five factorial). Unfortunately, this is the exact opposite of what youre supposed to do. Try it. What does it leave you? Another very big number that is nearly impossible to factor. Instead, the simple solution is to rewrite the number as 104,060,401+64, or (10101)^4+4(2)^4. With a


Try this math problem! If a, b, and c are the roots of x3 + x2 - 2x + 2 = 0 Find a4 + b4 + c4 -2a2b2 - 2b2c2 - 2c2a2.

Go on-line to for the answer!


(Yes, this is possible.)

(Courtesy of Henry Maltby)

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