Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Misconceptions About the Scientific Method

Many believe the scientific method to be the only way that an experiment can be correctly run and also the only way to end up with accurate data. This belief can be true in some cases and shouldn't be pushed aside as completely false, but that statement is not always true and there are many examples to prove otherwise. In order to make new scientific discoveries and further our understanding of the world we live in, we need creative minds finding out just how to test what we know.
Most people are first introduced to the scientific method in elementary school and automatically are taught that it needs to be a very specific and unbendable process in order for it to work correctly. For small kids doing simple experiments this may be true but once they grow the ability to self design labs comes into play. I can’t even remember how many labs I have self designed now that I’m a senior in high school and many ended up being nothing like another students. The differences go to show that there are many ways to run a lab and also end up with correct results.
Some people look at science and think that it is bland and boring, something that is run the same way every time and under strict supervision when in fact that isn't completely true. For instance, in biology there is not just one way to find cures to diseases or viruses. One famous example of when the scientific method was not used was when penicillin was discovered by Alexander Fleming on uncleanly food in a science lab. No one intentionally left it there with the hope that it would help to save lives, but it still ended up producing the helpful bacteria. This was not a planned experiment that used the scientific method, but it led to some massive breakthroughs in medicine later on that would use the scientific method.
Scientists also have to be very creative when trying to discover new information or collect data more efficiently. If science was continually some the same way over and over then tithing new would be learned. Scientists however work off of the data that those before them have collected and turn those older ideas into ones that have more practicality in our modern world. Francis Crick and James Watson were able to come to their huge discovery of DNA’s double helix without the work of fellow scientists like Linus Pauling. The belief that science needs to be run in one specific way just narrows the possibilities down and hurts the scientific community. If people weren't allowed to test new things that may seem pointless at the time but then turn out to be very useful, progress wouldn't be possible.
Overall, the scientific method can be bent and shaped into a more practical idea for scientists when the need arises. If it had to be strictly followed word for word then science would become bogged down by all the time wasted doing everything by the book. This isn't bad in every case but sometimes you just need to try your luck in order to get something to work and even if it goes wrong you can build off of it. Just because your hypothesis may be wrong or the setup doesn't work, that's knowledge that can be passed down to others or knowledge you yourself can use later.
To say that science is too structured and cannot utilize people's’ creative sides is a highly believed misconception that really needs to be erased. Without people thinking of new and innovative ways of doing things, there would be little to no advancements in the biology world or other types of science as well. Science also isn’t just a yes or no answer, most of the time it will lead you to an answer that requires new research and a new hypothesis to be formulated. People need to realise that it's necessary to think outside the box in order to make science a working process and after reading this I hope that you can see this clearly.







References
Oops! The 5 Greatest Scientific Blunders. (n.d.). Retrieved December 21, 2016, from http://www.livescience.com/32051-greatest-scientific-mistakes.html
Steps of the Scientific Method. (n.d.). Retrieved December 21, 2016, from http://www.sciencebuddies.org/science-fair-projects/project_scientific_method.shtml
The real story behind penicillin. (n.d.). Retrieved December 21, 2016, from http://www.pbs.org/newshour/rundown/the-real-story-behind-the-worlds-first-antibiotic/

Misconceptions About the Scientific Method

Many believe the scientific method to be the only way that an experiment can be correctly run and also the only way to end up with accurate data. This belief can be true in some cases and shouldn't be pushed aside as completely false, but that statement is not always true and there are many examples to prove otherwise. In order to make new scientific discoveries and further our understanding of the world we live in, we need creative minds finding out just how to test what we know.
Most people are first introduced to the scientific method in elementary school and automatically are taught that it needs to be a very specific and unbendable process in order for it to work correctly. For small kids doing simple experiments this may be true but once they grow the ability to self design labs comes into play. I can’t even remember how many labs I have self designed now that I’m a senior in high school and many ended up being nothing like another students. The differences go to show that there are many ways to run a lab and also end up with correct results.
Some people look at science and think that it is bland and boring, something that is run the same way every time and under strict supervision when in fact that isn't completely true. For instance, in biology there is not just one way to find cures to diseases or viruses. One famous example of when the scientific method was not used was when penicillin was discovered by Alexander Fleming on uncleanly food in a science lab. No one intentionally left it there with the hope that it would help to save lives, but it still ended up producing the helpful bacteria. This was not a planned experiment that used the scientific method, but it led to some massive breakthroughs in medicine later on that would use the scientific method.
Scientists also have to be very creative when trying to discover new information or collect data more efficiently. If science was continually some the same way over and over then tithing new would be learned. Scientists however work off of the data that those before them have collected and turn those older ideas into ones that have more practicality in our modern world. Francis Crick and James Watson were able to come to their huge discovery of DNA’s double helix without the work of fellow scientists like Linus Pauling. The belief that science needs to be run in one specific way just narrows the possibilities down and hurts the scientific community. If people weren't allowed to test new things that may seem pointless at the time but then turn out to be very useful, progress wouldn't be possible.
Overall, the scientific method can be bent and shaped into a more practical idea for scientists when the need arises. If it had to be strictly followed word for word then science would become bogged down by all the time wasted doing everything by the book. This isn't bad in every case but sometimes you just need to try your luck in order to get something to work and even if it goes wrong you can build off of it. Just because your hypothesis may be wrong or the setup doesn't work, that's knowledge that can be passed down to others or knowledge you yourself can use later.
To say that science is too structured and cannot utilize people's’ creative sides is a highly believed misconception that really needs to be erased. Without people thinking of new and innovative ways of doing things, there would be little to no advancements in the biology world or other types of science as well. Science also isn’t just a yes or no answer, most of the time it will lead you to an answer that requires new research and a new hypothesis to be formulated. People need to realise that it's necessary to think outside the box in order to make science a working process and after reading this I hope that you can see this clearly.














References
Oops! The 5 Greatest Scientific Blunders. (n.d.). Retrieved December 21, 2016, from http://www.livescience.com/32051-greatest-scientific-mistakes.html
Steps of the Scientific Method. (n.d.). Retrieved December 21, 2016, from http://www.sciencebuddies.org/science-fair-projects/project_scientific_method.shtml
The real story behind penicillin. (n.d.). Retrieved December 21, 2016, from http://www.pbs.org/newshour/rundown/the-real-story-behind-the-worlds-first-antibiotic/

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

New bionic photosynthesis "leaves" plants in the dust

     Photosynthesis is one of the most simple and widely used sources of energy in nature and scientists have finally found a way to improve upon the design. The improved design isn't just a good thing for plants though. Using an alloy of cobalt and phosphorus as a catalyst, a leaf now could create isopropanol and isobutanol alcohol at rates ten times that of a normal, unaltered leaf. These types of alcohol could then be used as a fuel for everyday machines. It was not the first time that biologists took up the task, however.  
     Just last year the scientists from Harvard created a similar catalyst, nickel-molybdenum-zinc. That catalyst would have worked just fine if it hadn't killed the very cells that it was helping to run more efficiently. That small success helped to convince the team to continue their search for a better catalyst and brought them to where they are today.
     The setup that was tested by the scientists was powered by a set of solar panels that fed electricity to the system. The fact that it was powered by the sun, something you would expect from a photosynthesis invention, means that it can be used almost anywhere across the world. The versatility of this design could possibly provide a fuel source for remote tribes and civilizations that have little access to gasoline and other more common power sources.
     Bio fuels seem to be something that we have been hearing about for a long time. I for one have been seeing quite a bit about algae based fuels online and how great they would be for the environment because their only byproduct was water. This type of fuel appears to be the closest we have come to a totally environmentally friendly source of power, so if it can be made into something that creates alcohol on a large scale then the world of cars, motorcycles and planes may actually be helped out by a little booze for once. (Sorry airline pilots.)

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Chinese scientists to pioneer first human CRISPR trial

     A cure for cancer. Something that everyone would love to see but most have little hope for. With recent breakthroughs in DNA modification it may be a more attainable goal than ever before. In China, gene editing is at a forefront in my labs and they lead the pack when it comes to gene "snipping". This amazing new development allows scientists to extract immune cells, T cells according to Lu You, and edit the very genetic code within them using enzymes, just like our biology class did when using the enzymes on E.coli. Then once their internal code is changed, they are added back into the patients blood stream where they will, if everything goes according to plan, multiply and help to make other cells immune.
     This type of treatment would be a type of last resort for patients who show no signs of improvement when chemo therapy and other methods are used. The fact that this type of treatment is still in the early stages however, means that it will not be very easily available to patients. The study has been approved by the U.S. National Institute of Health, the first step in gaining FDA approval. United States research teams are even set to begin clinical trials by the end of the year. People all across the country and world have high hopes for the revolutionary type of treatment but it isn't a 100% cure for cancer.
      The gene editing, scientifically known as CRISPR, is known to sometimes cut genes at the wrong point which can have very devastating results. At such a small scale it's hard to be completely accurate even with all the research done before hand. Japanese scientist Tetsuya Ishii was quick to criticize the way the Chinese team went about extracting the T cells. She believes that the cells should be taken out of the tumor itself because they are already set up for attacking cancer. Even so, the new type of cancer treatment is gaining momentum everywhere and will hopefully be very successful.
     The fact that a cure for cancer in humans could be within our grasp is shocking. My entire life I've been wondering how long it would take for scientists to pinpoint it. I always believed that one would be discovered and now that it may have been done it makes me feel like one of the biggest medical advancements in human history is going to happen within my lifetime.
    

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Reptile scales share evolutionary origin with hair, feathers

       Hair, feathers and scales all beginning their development the same way. Doesn't sound all that realistic does it? Well that's exactly what people all around the world thought, maybe even some of the scientists who made the discovery, up until this breakthrough. Using very powerful microscopes and cell staining, just like we did in biology, the research team at the University of Geneva discovered that just like mammals and birds, reptile embryos also develop thicker areas of skin where scales are going to grow. It would be easy to expect that all animals undergo that process, but what was keeping scientists from the discovery was how quickly the wider areas of skin appeared and then disappeared. Michel Milinkovitch, the lead researcher at the lab in Geneva,  puts it simply when he says, "Then boom, you see them, and you’re like, 'Whoa, they are exactly the same.'"
        Bumpy skin on unborn animals might not seem like the most exciting discovery ever made, but what it shows is that the three different types of animals all received their genes for skin coatings from a similar ancestor. The ancestor itself may be very difficult to pin point however, due to the fact that mammals, birds and reptiles all came into existence millions of years ago and fossils are few and far between. More research is needed to say exactly what structure the three types of coverings come from, but if the facts are unearthed then it may help to piece together a long chain of evolutionary steps from the very beginning of life on dry land.
        This article was very interesting and made me really sit down and think about the fact that all living things share some evolutionary traits. The fact that three completely different skin coverings could all start off in about the same way is fascinating. It really makes me wonder what other body parts have similarities across the board in the animal kingdom. There are the obvious comparisons to be made between humans and apes, but I'd like to know what my eyes have in common with a fish's or something along those lines. This has even made me want to look around the Internet for other articles that show the same evolutionary background between living things. I hope that I'm able to find something even more interesting than just hair, feathers and scales.