Header Image - YesScience!

Yearly Archives

10 Articles

The Future of Home Cancer Detection

by Raul Buman

If every home were equipped with the latest in cancer detection technology, it’s obvious that cancer fatality rates would reduce significantly across the board. Let any oncologist tell you: early detection is critical in defeating cancer. So often it’s the lack of this immediate attention that makes the fight against this bitter foe a long, arduous, and sometimes terminal journey. If only more people could be made aware earlier of what’s happening inside their bodies, countless lives could be saved.

While you probably can’t count on the healthcare science industry to start a cancer screening subsidy for home use anytime soon, you could be seeing a breakthrough in personal cancer detection capability.

Well, via your smartphone itself might still be a few years off, but the road there is mapped courtesy of researchers at Harvard Medical School in Boston. They’ve been experimenting with a way to perform what is essentially bedside cancer screening through a shrunken down version of a large scale MRI scanner installed into a smartphone. Sampling only a relatively few number of cells as opposed to larger radiation dosages inherent with traditional screening technology, the palm-fitting device has the potential to provide revolutionary cancer screening access to people within a few years.

Kinks remain, but the science is sound. This is not just the case with cancer prevention, either. Swiss researchers have recently found a way to monitor the hearts of patients by plugging non-invasive electrodes into the headphone jack of a smartphone. The data collected is computed into a user-friendly interface providing individuals with up-to-the-minute information on their heart health. In the event of an anomaly, the person’s doctor is alerted. Potentially, in the event of any kind of healthcare emergency detected through the science of a smartphone or smartphone-like device, first responders could be immediately notified as well.

But the future of home cancer detection most certainly resides in the science of the small pocket-sized devices we’re already using everyday. Eventually these devices will include ways for people to monitor their bodies 24 hours a day 7 days a week. Not only will cancer fatality rates lower due to a shorter gap between cancer appearing and detection, but an array of other easy-to-avoid yet all to common medical maladies will also be knocked out due to this impressive improvement in self-preservation. Forget the MRI; soon you might be getting treated with an HTC.

5 Major New Surgical Innovations that are Changing the Medical World

by Raul Buman

Break-through technological advances in surgical techniques have continued since the earliest times, and in the 21st Century the rate of expansion of medical knowledge has not slowed but only surged higher than ever. Tools and procedures that make safer and more efficient the surgical task and reduce any painful after-effects have increased in recent years. Below we will look at five such new surgical innovations to get a taste of the progress that prevails in the medical world.

Non-invasive Endoscopy

The use of minimally invasive endoscopic methods that allow more informative and precise pre-surgery visuals of the pituitary and other areas of the brain and skull. This sort of information combines with his highly specific and in-depth training to enhance his ability to perform brain surgery with fewer complications, reduced pain levels, and with a faster recovery process. No resort to the older open-brain craniotomy is needed. Thousands of patients (5,000 plus) have benefited from this new pre-surgery data-collection device and the less invasive methods it makes possible.

Multi-angle Rear-viewing Endoscopic Tool (MARVEL)

Has pressed the frontiers of endoscopy even further by teaming up with NASA to develop an even more advanced MARVEL tool. MARVEL allows 3D display, greater flexibility of angle of view, and can be used as an inset screen on top of the endoscopic picture produced by the tool noted in the last paragraph. MARVEL is considered a “super instrument” and is paving the way to a future with smaller, thinner, higher definition, and non-invasive surgical equipment which will avoid disturbance or damage to nearby tissues during the endoscopic evaluation process.

The Whipple Procedure

Pancreatic cancer is among the worst cancers that exist and often spreads from the pancreas to other parts of the body. When caught in time, still isolated in the pancreas, it is often decided that the infected organ must be removed. Until very recent times, surgical operations on the pancreas saw a high rate of mortality and injury, but the new Whipple Procedure of Johns Hopkins Medicine has reduced the rate down to two percent. Laparoscopic technique is sometimes used in this procedure to reduce the size of incisions, the amount of blood lost, and the risk of post-surgery, patient infection.

Three Millimeter Laparoscopic Device

Even better for some purposes than the laparascope mentioned above is the new, tiny 3 mm variety used at St. James’s University Hospital. Surgery involving gall bladder removal, for example, has been rendered safer and less scarring by use of this miniature device instead of the usual-sized laparascope. Pain, hernia, and tissue damage were all reduced by this less-invasive method.

Targeted Muscle Re-innervation (TMR)

This new procedure is often used with arm amputation patients. It takes nerves from the amputated arm and re-assigns them for use with a prosthetic device. The mere thinking about movement of the prosthetic arm can control and move it, just like with an original human arm. Our increased knowledge of how nerves work after long research and experimentation has finally led to the practicality of such a device.


These five examples of modern medical innovations that have led to concrete benefits for thousands of patients are but the tip of the medical iceberg. It would be difficult to list in full the flood of surgical innovations with which we have been blessed, and new innovations emerge every year.

How HIV Treatment Has Dramatically Changed For the Better In One Decade

by Raul Buman

HIV treatment has improved so much in the past decade that what once was considered a death sentence now has become a chronic, manageable disease similar to high blood pressure or diabetes. Improvements such as antiretroviral therapy and single pills that have replaced the elaborate “drug cocktails” of years past are making HIV easier and safer to manage.

Antiretroviral therapy (ART) combines drugs that fight the HIV virus in varying ways. It isn’t a cure for HIV, but ART does stop the virus from replicating itself and spreading throughout the body. It reduces the “viral load” to the point where HIV remains but there isn’t enough of it to show up on tests.

Once-a-day pills have replaced the complicated “drug cocktails” that had to be taken at specific times over specific days. Now Stribild, Atripla or Complera combine all the medications required to combat HIV (elvitegravir, cobicistat, tenofovir and emtricitabine).

Six classes of antiretroviral drugs are available for combating HIV totaling more than 30 drugs. HIV treatments are much safer and more tolerable than they used to be. Side effects such diarrhea and upset stomach usually are minor and temporary in most people. Long-term effects can include loss bone density and high cholesterol.

ART drugs work to fight infection, reduce the patient’s viral load and improve the patient’s quality of life, although they are not a cure for HIV.

However, the drug Truvada (combined with safe sex practices) is approved for preventing HIV infection in people at high risk for HIV.

In addition to the drugs that fight HIV itself, other drugs are available to treat the side effects of HIV or HIV treatment and to treat opportunistic infections that prey upon the weakened immune systems of those who are HIV-positive.
HIV specialists have established guidelines for using HIV drugs, with the goals of controlling the virus’ growth, improving the overall immune system’s status and function, suppressing symptoms and producing as few side effects as possible.

Although researchers continue working toward a vaccine, some have proposed using the elaborate drug cocktail to try preventing HIV in high-risk individuals who aren’t infected yet.

The life expectancy of people with HIV has increased dramatically because of the improved testing and treatment. Many doctors believe that with prompt diagnosis and treatment, HIV patients can live normal lives if they follow their treatment regime.

In July 2012, the Food and Drug Administration announced it had approved an over-the-counter, at-home HIV test, the OraQuick In-Home HIV Test. The person swabs their lower and upper gums to collect a saliva sample, then puts it in a developer vial. The test result is available in 20 to 40 minutes. A positive test result means additional testing is necessary at a doctor’s office to confirm the result. A negative result also does not necessarily mean the person is not infected, particularly if the suspected contact has been in the past three months.

HIV peaked during the 1980s in the United States. Now an estimated 1.2 million Americans are infected with HIV although 20 percent of those people don’t know it. New cases of HIV in United States reached a peak of 130,000 annually and since have declined to an estimated 50,000.

What is The Science Behind Therapy?

by Raul Buman

Psychotheraphy is a golden key that unlocks the vast potential of one’s life. Opening the door to the mind can release thoughts we’d just as soon not address. But identifying the thought patterns that limit us leads to balance, wisdom, and happiness. There are many different approaches to understanding the mind’s mechanisms. This article will explain these strategies, the science behind psychotherapy, and how to find an effective therapist.


1. Psychoanalytic Therapy

Description – This is also known as “talk therapy.” The therapist will identify patterns or influential events that have led to your current hardships. A psychoanalyst will look for childhood experiences that have played a part in one’s struggles. Additionally, unconscious feelings and driving forces are analyzed for their contributory effects on behavior.

Benefits – The ability to confide in a professional who is insightful, supportive, and nonjudgmental relieves tension, stress, and a sense of burden. The resultant security this renders is strengthening, enabling you to better handle problems and difficulties.

2. Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

Cognitive Therapy enables you to change thought patterns responsible for inaccurate perceptions. For example, a woman goes to a therapist for help with low self-esteem. The therapist enables the client to identify her automatic thought associated with poor self-regard, which is “I am useless.” The therapist helps the woman to confront this negative thought pattern and replace it with a positive one, such as “I am productive.” Then the two would follow the same strategy with other negative self-talk responsible for her poor self-image.

Behavioral Therapy renders the ability to change behavior that has become ingrained through repetition. An example is a man who is shy at parties and finds it difficult to approach people. The behavioral therapist would teach the person conversational skills to use in social situations.

Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy combines the two approaches to resolve a specific problem. It involves 4 major steps:

Setting Goals
Practicing Strategies
Assessment – You complete an initial questionnaire, describing a particular problem and its associated symptoms. Throughout the course of therapy, completing additional questionnaires enables the therapist to measure progress and identify thoughts and behaviors that need more work.

Education – The therapist provides you with written material about the problem that’s being addressed by therapy. Better understanding leads to better outcomes, as in the phrase “Knowledge equals Power.”

Setting Goals – The therapist helps you make a list of goals that you wish to achieve through therapy. Then the two of you work together to devise strategies to accomplish these goals.

Practicing Strategies – You rehearse the tactics with the therapist. For example, you may role-play difficult scenarios using your new tools. Or you will practice replacing negative self-talk with positive affirmations.

Follow-Through – You use the strategies in real-life situations, and record the outcomes in a journal.

Benefits – Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy is often effective in treating anxiety, depression, rage, substance abuse, and eating disorders.

If Behavioral Therapy is of interest to you then I’d recommend checking out SelfHelpWorks for additional information.

3. Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT)

Description – This is a subset of Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy which helps those suffering from self-destructive behavior and bipolar disorder. Therapy consists of 3 modes: Individual, Group, and Telephone. Individual Therapy is conducted for 1 to 1 1/2 hours on a weekly basis. Skills Group Therapy is a 2-hour weekly session, where the group splits up into classes that teach: distress tolerance, mindfulness, interpersonal effectiveness, and emotion regulation. Telephone Counseling is available if self-destructive intent arises.

Benefits – Dialectical Behavioral Therapy is effective in decreasing the risk of suicidal and self-harming behavior. Skills are taught to avert emotionally-based decisions. It decreases symptoms of depression, stress, trauma, and anxiety. Assistance is provided in setting goals that lead to a happier life.

4. Family Therapy

Description – Family therapy emphasizes the role of the family in helping a person manage problems. Your family will join you in therapy sessions. The therapist helps to identify conflicts among family members that may be contributing to your difficulties. The therapist teaches effective family communication, and better ways to handle conflict and change within the family. Improvement in family relationships leads to personal triumphs.

The therapist may give assignments to family members to achieve the goals of therapy. Let’s say you have a strained relationship with your mom, and the two of you are avoiding each other as a result. A therapist may give you the assignment of saying hello to your mother when you arrive home.

Benefits of Family Therapy – Improved family relationships lowers the stress levels of all involved. It is particularly effective in the case of eating disorders and problems with alcohol use. Family therapy can avert problems before they arise, as when major changes are anticipated. For example, if divorce is imminent, family therapy can help children prepare for upcoming changes. Family therapy differs from other types of therapy in that it is short-term, averaging 9 sessions.

5. Marriage Counseling

Description – Marriage counseling, also known as “couples therapy,” helps partners make informed decisions regarding their relationship. You may seek marriage counseling to help you and your partner communicate better, resolve differences, and handle crises. The success of therapy is dependent upon each partner’s incentive and commitment to the process. The therapist helps a couple to formulate goals and creates a plan to achieve them.

Benefits – Partners obtain listening skills, become better communicators, and find new ways of supporting each other. Research shows that approximately 48% of couples report either improvement or full recovery of their relationships at a five-year follow-up.2/


Studies involving the use of brain scans have shown metabolic changes in certain areas of the brain following psychotherapy. Scans have identified increased brain activity in the insula, located deep within the center of the brain. The insula assesses the state of the body, and then generates emotions that lead to actions. Data from the insula is communicated to other brain structures responsible for decision making. Following therapy, MRI has detected heightened insular activity, leading to an increased ability to control thoughts and make beneficial decisions.


The benefits of receiving psychotherapy have been scientifically proven. If you are struggling unsuccessfully with managing problems, thoughts, and behaviors, try the golden key of psychotherapy, and open the door of your mind to a happier life!

Vertical Gardening Can Feed a City Vertical_Garden

by Raul Buman

If your vision of a farm is acres of bucolic fields spread across miles of land, turn your eyes skyward to find the farmland of the future. Vertical farming in skyscraper-high greenhouses is becoming the future of agriculture.

The idea of vertical gardening dates back to the early 1900s but the modern vision is as recent as 1999 when a course at Columbia looked into whether all of Manhattan could be fed by rooftop gardens. When they calculated that only a tiny fraction would be fed that way, they looked into vertical indoor gardening instead.

Some compare the idea of vertical gardens to a sealed spacecraft, and in many ways they’re envisioned at the same high-tech level. Much of the technology is already used in hydroponics and aeroponics. The gardens need many sensors, maybe even one for every plant, to monitor water and nutrient levels. There might be air monitors to check for pathogens. Other technology could determine the exact right moment to pick the plant based on a flavor profile.

Vertical gardens offer several benefits. Because they are climate-controlled, they are not at the mercy of the weather and can produce crops year-round. They are also protected from crop-destroying insects– vertical farmers don’t have nightmares of swarms of locusts. This also means that fewer insecticides or pesticides are needed; vertical gardening naturally lends itself to organic gardening.

There are other environmental benefits. Vertical gardens would be located near the consumer, reducing if not eliminating the cost of transporting produce to the chef, though the farms’ significant energy costs might offset this. (The major energy cost is supplemental lighting, as vertically grown plants receive less sunlight than traditionally grown plants). Vertical farms reuse their water, rather than sending runoff into streams. With farming done on a small urban footprint, less farmland is needed– rather than cutting down forests to create farmland, farmland could be allowed to revert to its natural state. Or recovered land could become home to the world’s growing population.

Vertical gardening is still being developed as a concept, but real-world examples of its practicality exist on more than one continent.


In Japan, Nuvege grows lettuce in a windowless structure, relying on LED lighting in colors tuned to chlorophyll.

A more ambitious product is underway on Singapore, where 5 million people squeeze onto a densely populated island that imports almost all its food. In 2012, a farm just outside the central business district began producing 1 ton of vegetables every other day. The company, SkyGreens, didn’t build skyscrapers; its vertical farms are only three stories tall. The energy powering each agricultural frame is roughly that of a 60-watt light bulb, and the yield is 5-10 times higher than traditional farming techniques in Singapore. However, while the produce proved popular with consumers for its freshness, it costs 10% more than imported greens. The actual cost may be even higher, as the farm receives government support.

North America

Green Spirit Farms in Michigan sells vertically-grown greens and fruits to groceries and restaurants, with a small market selling directly to consumers. They’ve been so successful that they’re expanding to an additional location in Pennsylvania.

At Chicago O’Hare’s Airport, a vertical garden between two of the terminals gives airport restaurants aeroponically-grown greens with almost no transportation needed. Travelers can visit the garden, which has posters explaining the benefits of the project.

Maybe those travelers will take inspiration with them to their destination and start a sustainable vertical gardening project in another location.

Using Compression Socks to Alleviate Symptoms of Diabetes

by Raul Buman

One of the major health risks associated with diabetes is an increased risk of injury and infection in the feet. Excessive swelling caused by the pooling of blood in the feet, also called edema, is common among those suffering from diabetes. Venous or arterial ulcerations on the lower legs are also common among those suffering from diabetes. These open sores can become the site of dangerous infections if left untreated. Compression socks are often prescribed to help alleviate some of these symptoms by improving blood circulation in the legs and helping to prevent the sores and infections. They also help to prevent formation of deep vein blood clots in the legs which can come loose and become lodged in the lungs, causing pulmonary problems and potentially death. Most compression socks prescribed for diabetic patients have a moderate compression of 15 mmHg but stronger ones are available.

What Are Compression Socks?

Compression socks are made of elastic and are generally knee-high. The compression causes increased pressure on the leg which causes surface arteries and veins to compress. This compression causes an increase in arterial pressure by reducing the diameter of the arteries and increases the venous blood flow back to the heart and allowing less blood to pool in the feet. Most compression socks are tightest around the foot and ankle and then become looser towards the knee to maximize the circulation in the lower leg. These graduated compression socks are the most common type prescribed to diabetic patients. The correct sizing of compression socks is crucial for patients as socks that are too big are not effective in increasing blood flow and socks that are too small can cut off circulation to the feet and lower legs. Diabetic patients are instructed to put compression socks on first thing in the morning and to leave them on until they return to bed at night for maximum effectiveness.

Anti-Microbial Fibers

Socks made for and marketed to diabetes patients often have some sort of anti-microbial fibers and moisture wicking fibers woven in to help prevent infection. The anti-microbial fibers help keep bacteria away from open sores and the wicking properties of the sock help keep open sores dry and reduce the rate of bacterial growth. Compression socks are also made seamless to reduce any sort of rubbing or irritation caused by socks and seams moving around on the foot. The inherent tightness of the sock on the foot helps prevent blisters that could form with regular socks. The soles of these socks are created with extra padding to further reduce the potential for foot irritation or injury.

Compression socks can be used to treat a variety of ailments in addition of side-effects of diabetes. They are often worn by pregnant women who also suffer from edema frequently and by people who are bedridden after surgery to prevent the formation of blood clots in the legs due to inactivity. Those embarking on trans-oceanic airline flights where they will be sitting vertically without moving for many hours will also wear compression socks to reduce the risk of clot formation in the lower legs by increasing the blood flow through their calves and feet. Recently, athletes have also been using compression clothing to help muscle recovery after a hard workout by increasing circulation in the legs and arms.

Asteroid Mining Company Turns To Kickstarter For Funding

by Raul Buman

When it comes to business, the sky is no longer the limit.

Funded partially by Google Inc. and partially by crowdsourcing, a private company is ramping up an effort to begin mining the solar system’s many asteroids, an idea that not long ago was limited to the pages of science fiction but has blossomed in the current space-exploration environment of “smaller, faster, cheaper.”

Out of this world …
Bellevue, Washington’s Planetary Resources even has a plan to involve early investors by offering space on the side of its proposed space telescope to display pictures of donors who pledge $25. A remote camera would snap a photo of the telescope with the personalized picture with Earth in the background. The money raised with the photos would be used to further fund the telescope, which is projected to be deployed in 2015 and search for mine-able asteroids.

… or out of their minds?
For the amateur astronomer, a $200 pledge gives you the privilege of pointing the telescope at a heavenly object. Which is amazing, but it’s a long way from flying out to asteroids to start digging up water and precious metals and returning the goods to Earth, isn’t it?

That’s true, say scientists, but it is financially possible — whether it is economically viable is another matter. Cal Tech’s Keck Institute for Space Studies (KISS) estimates that for “just” $2.6 billion, spacecraft could be landed on the giant rocks and commence mining.

The idea is not a new one — Russian rocket scientist Konstantin Tsiokolvsky first floated it in 1903 — and lifting off from an asteroid, even with a cargo bay full of ore and water, would be orders of magnitude less expensive than it would be taking off from the much more massive rock known as planet Earth.

Putting the “fun” in “funding”
Perhaps more immediately exciting is the “crowdfunding” that Planetary Resources is tapping in order (literally) to get their project off the ground. The company is using Kickstarter to solicit small donations from the innumerable people interested in space exploration, or just in the idea that a business future might be in the stars.

Planetary Resources is putting together a massive outreach program to excite and inspire everyone from kids who were too young to see a space shuttle launch to older folks who remember not only men walking on the moon, but also Alan Shepherd first opening space for the United States.

Engineers wanted
The outreach effort is also aimed at recruiting engineers with the right stuff to help shape the company’s technical platform for space mining. It could work — movies like Apollo 13 and HBO’s From Earth to the Moonportray engineers and scientists as true American heroes — and what young (or even old) engineer wouldn’t want to create new glory days for space exploration?

Of course, having founders of Google, actual astronauts, and explorer/filmmaker James Cameron as investors and advisers is exciting and promising in itself, something that Planetary Resources hopes will help convince fans into actual supporters of the project, dipping into their own pockets for $25, $200, or however much they feel they want to contribute to the future of (business)man in space.

The Science is in The Ingredients: Promoting a Healthy Lifestyle

by Raul Buman

The medicinal properties of green tea have recently become renown in the west, however in Japan and China, green tea has been a regular staple for thousands of years, and has been enjoyed for both its pleasant taste as well as medicinal properties.

Green tea has historically been used internally and externally. Ingestion of the leaves, by infused tea and as powdered seasoning for confections has benefited the Asian culture in reduced heart disease, protection from developing various cancers, boosting the metabolic rate to prevent and treat obesity; and as an aid for digestion and regulating body temperature.

This tea has been used externally for the healing of wounds, cessation of bleeding, and in facials to maintain a youthful appearance of skin, remove blackheads, and as an effective remedy for problems with acne. Green tea skin treatments are also used to lighten the skin and blend and balance variance of skin tones on the face and body. One of the most common uses of green tea today is helping increase metabolic rate. Studies have shown that it can have a significant effect in those trying lose weight. There are a number of supplements that can be purchased over the counter like Healthy Trim Green Tea Extract that provide the same benefits without having to drink the actual tea.

The tea itself is made from the leaves, and sometimes other parts, of the Camellia sinensis plant. These leaves also produce most of the black teas that the west has enjoyed for years, but the leaves of green tea are processed differently.

Indeed, it is the growing and processing practices of Camellia sinensis that produce varying results even within the family of green tea varieties, but in the inherent chemical properties of the Camellia sinensis plant are present in greater or lesser degrees in all varieties of green tea. Scientific studies have isolated certain chemical properties of the Camellia sinensis plant that support the legendary benefits of green tea usage. It is is documented to contain polyphenols, phytochemicals, antioxidants, enzymes, carbohydrates, amino acids, sterols, lipids, and dietary minerals.

Scientific studies in Japan have demonstrated that the polyphenols in green tea have indicated the ability to both prevent and treat Parkinson’s disease, as polyphenols can protect dopaminergic neurons from malfunctioning. Japanese studies have also documented that ingestion of green tea brings a decreased risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, as well as an effective component in treating the diseases.American scientists remain skeptical of the medicinal benefits and have implied that pharmaceutical concentrations of certain catechins contained in green tea compounds could actually be damaging to DNA. They implied the same for intense pharmaceutical concentrations of catechins in Vitamin E and Vitamin C. Scientific data also suggests a danger of ingesting large volumes of concentrated green tea extracts, which can lead to liver toxicity and oxidative stress.Obviously, these findings do not reflect on the amount of catechins ingested by drinking infusions of green tea.

As previously mentioned, Camellia sinensis plants are grown and processed in a variety of ways, and each mode of production produces a different type and grade of green or black tea. Gyokuro is a fine and expensive type grade of green tea. It is grown in shade, and produces a pale green color when soaked. Gyokuro green tea has increased Theanine amino acids, increased caffeine, and reduced catechins. Since catechins produce a bitter taste in teas, one of the benefits of Gyokuro tea is a naturally sweet taste and a distinguishing aroma.

In conclusion, the evidence of positive effects of ingesting green tea far outweighs any evidence of negative or non-effect. This ancient remedy has definitely withstood the test of time.

New Telescopes Are About To Revolutionize Space Exploration

by Raul Buman

The concept of space exploration, exemplified by Star Trek and other portrayals of space travel as well as the possibility of other life forms, began four hundred years ago. The moons of Jupiter, first observed by Galileo, instilled in humanity an inquisitiveness of what lay beyond Earth: “Four hundred years ago, the Italian scientist looked into space and changed our view of the universe.” Those small snapshots of Earth’s solar system, as well as the incredible discoveries that continued into the last century, were an immediate yet isolated reflection of space exploration.

Nevertheless, this final frontier is a tip off the proverbial iceberg in terms of how minute planet Earth, her solar system and the Milky Way galaxy are compared to the vastness of what lies in distant and previously unobservable portions of the universe. Prior to the launch of the Hubble telescope in 1990, the exploration of space was limited. Space travel, such as moon landings and robotic exploration of planets, and telescopic research had been confined to interstellar and within a single galaxy.

The Hubble telescope orbits outside of Earth’s distorting atmosphere captured its first image of the southern constellation Carina and the Carina Nebula located 8,000 light-years away. Similar to a time machine, the Hubble observes not only the present but provides a glimpse into the past and reveals distant stellar phenomena that were previously invisible.

The universe is billions of years old and although humans cannot travel at the speed of light, at least not yet, the light travelling from the Earths sun takes approximately 8 minutes to reach the planet. Therefore, the light from distant objects that the telescope sees is not only how it appears today but also how it appeared when the light first left it. Observations of the Andromeda galaxy, which is 2.5 million light-years away, are actually what occurred 2.5 million years ago.

This year, NASA astronomers discovered a companion star to a rare type of supernova named SN 1993J located in the Messier 81 galaxy, which is about 11 million light-years away near the Great Bear constellation. Also this year, Yale University astronomers using a homemade telescope discovered seven galaxies previously overlooked. Lastly, a team of international astronomers using radio telescopes in North American and Europe recently published their findings of the location of gamma rays emitted during a stellar explosion, or nova.

Galileo’s iconic rudimentary telescope seeded humanity’s curiosity and sometimes self-centered perception of planet Earth, its position within the solar system, the Milky Way galaxy yet initiated the future of space exploration. The modern conception of space exploration adheres to a constantly changing industry, supported by government initiatives but relenting to private funding and commercialized intentions. Similar to the globalization and ease of data transfer, new telescopes are about to revolutionize space exploration as well as humanity’s perception of a universe that is simultaneously shrinking and expanding on the heels of new observations.

In the words of President John F. Kennedy:
“We choose to go to the moon. We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win.”

K-12 New Science Standards

by Raul Buman

The National Science Education Standards, or NSES, were established in 1996 by the National Research Council, as a targeted set of objectives for teachers, administrators, and students to achieve throughout their educational and professional development. The NSES outline what each student should know, understand, and be able to perform at each grade level in the fields of life science, physical science, and Earth and astronomical science. The NSES also include teaching and assessment criteria as well as overall district support and programs to improve scientific literacy. The standards were revised in 2013, and new guidelines, known as the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS), were developed by a consortium of 26 state leaders and science and teaching representatives. The NGSS prioritize critical thinking and problem solving over rote memorization, promoting big ideas and tackling issues such as environmentalism and energy conservation to better prepare students for future scientific challenges.

1. Elementary Standards

The standards for grades K-5 place an emphasis on understanding earthly materials, like soil, rocks, and water, as well as objects in the day and night sky. Students will study the properties of these objects and materials and how they relate to one another, affecting changes in the environment and biological organisms. Students will focus on collecting and analyzing patterns and data in order to develop explanations such as simple cause and effect. Questioning, communication, and deep discussion of ideas will be encouraged.

2. Middle School

The NGSS call for far more science in middle school (generally grades 5-8.) Students will build upon earlier teachings and further explore life cycles, Earth’s history, and closely related systems such as matter and energy, populations and ecosystems, and Earth’s place within its solar system. Unlike previous curriculums, there will be a particular emphasis on climate change and the importance of science and technology to environmental concerns. Students will learn about the history of science and the advancements and possibilities of technological design.

3. High School

Students in grades 9-12 will delve deeper into the studies of matter, energy, and chemistry, exploring elements, Earth’s energy sources and processes, and plate tectonics. High school students will have a greater comprehension of more abstract ideas and phenomena, including the origin of the universe, atomic and molecular structure, and biological evolution. They will study the impacts of human population and behavior on the environment, but they will also learn more about the nature of science itself, from historical perspectives to current advances and future challenges.

The Next Generation Science Standards are taught in conjunction with the Common Core Standards, ensuring that as students study science, they are also using their reading, writing, and mathematical skills. With a greater focus on scientific inquiry and problem solving techniques, educators believe students will be better prepared for college and future career paths. A great many changes and advances have taken place in the last few decades; the NGSS were developed to standardize science education across the nation, thereby increasing basic scientific comprehension and hopefully leading more graduates to pursue technological and scientific fields and careers. Refocusing how science is taught and understood in the nation’s schools better prepares students to become knowledgeable consumers and informed citizens in a rapidly changing world.