Friday, December 30, 2016

The Physics of the Perfect Paper Airplane


The Physics of the Perfect Paper Airplane

1st Marin Science Seminar of 2017 on 
Wednesday January 11th, 2017
Terra Linda High School, Room 207
320 Nova Albion, San Rafael 94903

Paper airplanes have become part of an important movement in the 21st century. It's called "making". Some people want to couch the movement as a rejection of television, video games, and mobile devices. That's upside down. Look at Makers. They don't reject anything. They consume all of that and then start using it for their own purposes. They are up to their elbows in the technology and loving it. Paper airplanes have the scientific method built in. They beg you to experiment. The hope of the world is in the hands of scientists. We need all of them we can get. We have no spare brains on the planet. Join us to learn about and experiment with the physics of the perfect paper airplane.

John Collins is the Guinness World Record holder for paper airplane distance. His love of paper airplanes has taken him around the globe. He has been invited to fly planes on four continents, and for some of the biggest companies in the world. His corporate clients have included Google Zeitgeist, Intuit, and Genentech, while his educational clients include Stanford and Rice universities, Carnegie Mellon, the Exploratorium, Maker Faire, and well as institutions around the world. John has appeared on all the major U.S. news television stations, as well as on Conan, science programs, and in numerous print media.


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Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Spring '17 Internship Applications Due 12/31: Science Journalism, Photography & Videography

Marin Teens! (HS and college age) Want a cool spring internship? Check out Marin Science Seminar internships. You can apply online. http://www.marinscienceseminar.com/interns.html

Marin Science Seminar Internships
Spring 2017 Internship dates: Jan. 10 - Apr. 13
Deadline to receive online app: December 31, 2016 
Apply Online

Explore science and technology, meet scientists and medical professionals, gain experience for your resume and college applications, develop a portfolio! 

 
Meet the Marin Science Seminar from Marin Science Seminar on Vimeo.


MSS interns attend and assist with a  6 science seminars per semester, during which they meet the speakers and assist with various logistical duties. Sessions take place on Wednesday evenings at Terra Linda High School, Room 207, during the school year. Interns arrive evening of a session at 7 pm and are free to leave once breakdown is completed (between 8:30 and 9 pm).
Interns also assist in researching and creating materials about event topics, creating and distributing outreach materials, social networking and online development of Marin Science Seminar’s mission to attract more students to the fields of science, technology and math. Other than attending MSS sessions, duties will depend on student interests and background. Training is provided for some intern tasks. 

Below is a comparison of the internships currently being offered. 

Writing or Photojournalism (Photography & Writing) Videography or Film & Photojournalism
Attend and assist at MSS sessions, 6 Wednesday evenings per semester, 7 - 9pm Attend and assist at MSS sessions, 6 Wednesday evenings per semester, 7 - 9pm
At Terra Linda High School, San Rafael, Room 207 At Terra Linda High School, San Rafael, Room 207
Submit 2 writing samples (plus photo samples for Photojournalism) Submit 2 video samples (plus photo samples for Film & Photojournalism)
Familiarity with basic blogging interfaces (e.g. Tumblr, Blogger, Wordpress) Able to edit video using video editing software
Facebook and/or Instagram familiarity Facebook and/or Instagram familiarity
Training in blogging software provided Recording equipment and SC cards & reader provided


Questions?  Contact us.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

"What Really Killed the Dinosaurs?" with Courtney Sprain of UC Berkeley's Dept. of Earth & Planetary Science

What Really Killed the Dinosaurs? 

with Courtney Sprain of UC Berkeley's Dept. of Earth & Planetary Science
Wednesday, November16, 2016
7:30 - 8:30 pm
Terra Linda High School, Room 207
320 Nova Albion, San Rafael, CA 93903
Last Marin Science Seminar of 2016

Ammonites, pterosaurs, plesiosaurs, and most famously, dinosaurs, are just a small percentage of the 75% of species that went extinct at the Cretaceous-Paleogene boundary. What caused this mass extinction? Was it a giant meteor impact? Massive outpourings of lava and gas? Or something else all together? Join Ph.D. student, Courtney Sprain, as she walks you through the very Berkeley-centric history of the of the mass extinction at the Cretaceous-Paleogene boundary and how current UC-Berkeley scientists are employing new techniques to further understand what really killed the dinosaurs. 


Courtney Sprain is a graduate student in the Department of Earth and Planetary Science at UC Berkeley. In addition to her work at the Berkeley Geochronology Center with Paul Renne on late Cretaceous Earth history, Courtney Sprain works on the records of late Mesoproterozoic paleogeography and paleointensity from the North American Midcontinent Rift in the UC Berkeley Paleomagnetism Lab.

Join us and Learn! 

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

An Interview with Dr. Tobias Marton - MSS Speaker 11/9/16

By Shoshana Harlem, Terra Linda High School

Did you know that each year about 20 million people in the United States get diagnosed with depression? Worldwide, more than 350 million people suffer from depression. Depression is a mental illness where a person's sadness lasts more than two weeks. Depression can lead to all sorts of problems including suicide. Dr. Tobias Marton, Assistant Professor at UCSF, studies and helps people who suffer from depression.

In advance of his talk at TLHS, he provided the following information:


1. What made you become interested in being a Psychiatrist and studying depression?

 I became interested in medicine and biology during my junior year of high school while taking AP biology and harboring a mild obsession with the hit TV show ER. Prior to then, I really hadn’t thought too much about becoming a scientist or doctor and was actually much more interested in history and music. The summer between my junior and senior year I was able to get an internship working at a local biotech company that studied genes relevant to neurobiology, and from then on I became very interested in the complexity of the brain. I worked in a couple of different neurobiology research labs during my undergraduate years at Berkeley while taking my premed courses and knew I wanted to practice medicine in either neurology or psychiatry because they both involved different aspects of brain function. It became clear to me during medical school that I was a natural fit for psychiatry because I really enjoyed talking to people and trying to understand their stories and how they came to be who they are today, in addition to having a good temperament in sitting with patients that can pose behavioral challenges.

My interest in studying and treating depression really developed during my psychiatry residency. Depression is very common across all age groups, genders and socioeconomic groups and it’s also a leading cause of suicide in the United States. Many mental health professionals regard the current situation with depression and suicide in the U.S. as a public health crisis, and yet it’s not an illness that we as a society are comfortable discussing and addressing in the open, like we do with other diseases such as cancer and heart disease. We’ve made considerable advances in the last decade in our understanding of the brain and how it changes during depressive illness. These insights are starting to generate new treatments that I am excited to help bring to our patients and their families.

2. What is it about your work that led, you to be given the National Institute of Mental Health Outstanding Resident Award in 2012? 

The National Institutes of Mental Health (NIMH) are very committed to supporting psychiatrists with scientific training in developing a career as a physician-scientist in order to help bring new treatments to patients struggling with mental illness. Based on the quality of my PhD work, I was identified by the NIMH during my residency as someone whom they wanted to support and encourage to continue in psychiatric research.

3. What are the hardest parts of your job?

At a very basic level, the practice of medicine is to sit with, and help alleviate, human suffering on a daily basis. For most physicians, this is the very reason we chose a career in medicine and feel it is a great privilege to be present with a patient and family during times of suffering. That being said, this can be an emotionally and physically exhausting line of work. To have a sustainable career in medicine and avoid burnout, it’s really important to have a balanced, positive and rejuvenating life outside of the hospital. Finding that balance on a daily basis is crucial to one’s personal job satisfaction and happiness and is also a constant challenge to maintain.

4. What kind of research are you currently working on?

Currently I am working on publishing some research I conducted during my research fellowship which used optogenetic technology to study the neural circuitry of the prefrontal cortex in mice during a cognitively challenging task. I am also getting started now on a project at San Francisco VA with Dr. Wallace (former Marin Science Seminar speaker) which will investigate the effects of ketamine administration on blood flow to prefrontal cortex in patients with treatment-resistant depression.

5. What advice would you give to people who are suffering from depression?


The biggest challenge mental health professionals face in treating depression and preventing suicide is that many people suffering from depression and suicidal thoughts never seek help. The important thing to know is that there are many effective treatments available that can really help people feel better and like their best selves again, so there is no need to continue suffering in silence. Seek help! Recovery is very possible but only if you make the first step to reach out for help – this first step could include talking to family members, counselors, teachers or your primary physician who can then start the referral process to a mental health professional. You can always call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 which is staffed 24 hours/day. The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI – www.nami.org) is also a great organization with many resources available on line and in person.

Join us for his free Marin Science Seminar talk on Wednesday, November 9th, 2016, 7:30 - 8:30 pm at Terra Linda High School, Room 207, 320 Nova Albion, San Rafael, California

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Invention in Medicine this Wed. 10/26/16


Marin Science Seminar for Teens & Community Presents

Invention in Medicine

How Medical Devices get Invented and Go to Market

with Art Wallace MD PhD of UCSF & VAMC SF

Wednesday, October 26, 2016
7:30 - 8:30 pm
Terra Linda High School, Room 207
320 Nova Albion, San Rafael, CA 94903 



Art Wallace started out in experimental surgery and radiology studying imaging of the heart using CT
scanners. He has worked on a number of devices that originally were built for experimental studies that evolved into clinically useful devices including a cardiac output monitor, the off pump CABG, off pump aneurysm surgery, electronic sedation, and a selective coronary vasodialtor. Dr. Wallace will explain his experiences with the inventive process using examples from both device design and drug development. There will be a brief discussion of the importance of intellectual property, patents, venture capital, FDA approval, and business development in completing the invention process. There will be a demonstration of his recent developmental project on a non-contact, remote patient monitor designed to prevent cardiac arrests.

Dr. Wallace is a Professor of Anesthesiology and Perioperative Care at UCSF Medical Center, and Chief of Anesthesia Service at the San Francisco VA Medical Center. Dr. Wallace holds a B.S. in Engineering from Yale University and received his M.D. and Ph.D. from Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. His Ph.D. is in Biomedical Engineering. Dr. Wallace completed his anesthesiology residency and a fellowship in Cardiac Anesthesiology at UCSF.


Follow Marin Science Seminar on: Facebook - Instagram - Twitter - Vimeo

Join us and Learn! 

Monday, October 17, 2016

The Code of Life & the Justice System

presents

The Code of Life & the Justice System
 How DNA is used in Criminal & Humanitarian Investigations
 with Brian Harmon PhD of California Department of Justice 

Wednesday, Oct. 19, 2016
7:30 - 8:30 pm
Terra Linda High School
320 Nova Albion, San Rafael, California 94903
ROOM 207 


 Find out the truth as we take a trip into a forensic lab, and find out how analysis of crime scene DNA evidence works. We'll discuss how a DNA profile is generated, what information it provides, and how it is used to assist criminal and humanitarian investigations. We'll also discuss careers in Forensic Science and how interested students can prepare themselves for a career in Forensic Science. 

Brian Harmon has more than a decade of experience in forensic DNA analysis in his work for private labs, human rights projects and the government. He also provides training to forensic scientists from around the world. 


Follow Marin Science Seminar on: Facebook - Instagram - Twitter - Vimeo

Thursday, September 29, 2016

An Interview with Dr. Maggie Louie

By Zack Griggy, San Marin HS

           Cancer is a widespread problem. The American Cancer Society estimates that this year over 1.6 million Americans will be diagnosed with cancer and another half a million are expected to die from it. Dr. Maggie Louie is an experienced researcher in the fields of cancer. Currently, she runs an active cancer research center that studies breast cancer.

To find out more about Dr. Louie's work and her research, we conducted an interview:

1. How did you first become interested in studying cancer?

I did a medical internship the summer of my junior year in high school and I got to shadow two surgeons.  One of the surgeries that I observed was a 40-year cancer patient undergo double mastectomy.  At the age of 16, just thinking about how breast cancer can take away an organ that partly defines someone's women-hood had a significant effect on me.  At that moment, I became quite interested in cancer.

2. What studies have you conducted in the past? How have they led you to where you are today?

My lab has conducted many studies.  One of the studies that we did was to study how exposure to chronic low-levels of cadmium impacts on progression of the disease.  Our results show that even at low levels, cadmium promotes more aggressive cancer characteristics and alters the gene expression patterns of the cancer cells.

3. How is tamoxifen used to treat breast cancer? How does a tumor develop resistance to it?

Tamoxifen is an estrogen receptor antagonist and blocks estrogen from activating the receptor and promoting breast cancer growth.

 4. How do metals such as cadmium activate estrogen receptors? How might these metals influence the development of a tumor?

Cadmium is a metalloestrogen and is known to bind and activate the estrogen receptor.  It has also been shown to promote breast cancer growth While we know that heavy metals like cadmium promote cancer growth, scientists are still working to understand how it works.

5. What are the best parts of your job? What are the worst?

The best parts of my job are working with students and using research to inspire them to be interested in science.  The less attractive side of my job is that research is very repetitive and redundant, and sometimes you don't see an impact for many years.

6. And finally, do you have any advice for students who aspire to study cancer?

 Students should definitely consider studying cancer as this disease will touch everyone in some way, directly or indirectly, and they will be making a difference.  

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Marin Science Seminar Internships Still Available


Marin Science Seminar still has two high school student internship spaces available. Interns must be able to attend science seminars on select Wednesday evenings at Terra Linda High School in San Rafael. Interns arrive at 7 pm to set up, assist with the seminar, and can leave when the seminar is cleaned up by 8:45 pm. Specialties are also available for students interested in writing, photography, videography, and social media.

Start your application online today at this link!

See the calendar here: http://www.marinscienceseminar.com/calendar.html

More information about MSS internships can be found on the website at this link:
http://www.marinscienceseminar.com/interns.html

 Join us and learn!




Myths of Astronomy Wed. 9/21 at Marin Science Seminar at Terra Linda HS

This Wednesday, September 21st  Marin Science Seminar will present "Myths of Astronomy" with Thomas Targett of Sonoma State University's Astronomy and Physics Department. We have extra credit forms at all sessions. There will be astro-swag and door prizes for student attendees. Join us and learn!

September 21: "Myths of Astronomy" with Thomas Targett PhD of Sonoma State University
Check it out on Facebook

Much of what we think we know about space often comes from film and television, but Hollywood's job is more often to entertain than to educate. In this presentation, Prof. Thomas Targett of Sonoma State university will sort fact from fiction, taking a tour through the worlds of Star Trek, Star Wars, and much more.

Thomas Targett obtained his undergraduate and masters degrees from Cardiff University, in Wales U.K., with a
research focus on 21-cm emission from neutral hydrogen. He obtained his PhD from the University of Edinburgh, Scotland, in the fields of sub-millimeter galaxy evolution and the coupled growth of galaxies and black holes. In 2007 Dr. Targett began a research postdoc at Caltech, followed by similar appointments at the University of Birmingham (UK), the University of British Colombia, and the University of Edinburgh. He is currently an Associate Professor of Astronomy and Physics at Sonoma State University.

 Find out more here:
http://www.marinscienceseminar.com/speakers/ttargett.html 


Saturday, April 16, 2016

Space Travel: How Does Outer Space Affect Your Body?

By Rachael Metzger, MSS Intern

          Have you ever wanted to become an astronaut? Travel to space? Have you dreamed about finding extraterrestrial life or communing with aliens? If your answer is yes, I can assure you that you’re not alone. Countless children dream of becoming astronauts, and many movies and TV shows have revolved around exploring space. The exploration of the unknown is a wonderful idea on paper, but it is a lot more complicated than jumping into a spaceship and traveling to Mars, even if we have the technology to do so. Space travel can take a huge toll on a human’s body if certain precautions are not taken; any error could result in death.
        The human body was not made to travel in space, nor has it had time to adapt to such an environment. When launched into space, some effects of that changed environment on the body take longer than others to be felt. Immediately one might experience nausea and/ or vomiting. This is caused by the sensitivity of the inner ear which affects balance and orientation. Thankfully, in a couple of days the inner ear will have adapted to the new environment and the nausea will dissipate (BBC “future”).
        In about two days, bodily fluids will rise to the upper body and face, causing a bloated appearance, and tissues will swell in the head, making a person feel like they are hanging upside down. This makes the body think that it is over-hydrated and it forces the liquid out through urine, causing astronauts to have 20% less fluids in their body while in space.  
Bodily Fluids in Space 
        Spaceflight can also quickly affect eyesight, creating anomalies such as optic nerve swelling, retinal changes in the shape of the eye, and other negative effects to the eye 
        In a week’s time muscle and bone loss can start to occur, and this sometimes includes heart muscle because not as much effort is needed to pump blood in anti-gravity. The lack of gravity can have such an extreme effect on bones that they can become very brittle; this is called “disuse osteoporosis” (The Dallas Morning News “Preparing Bodies for Liftoff”). Even astronauts' skin will get thinner, making them more prone to cuts and infections which take longer to heal in space. Sleep deprivation is another problem among astronauts. Because of the change in the light-dark cycle, it can be a challenge for the body to adapt to the new sleeping schedule (NASA).  
The Effects of Space Travel on the Body

       After a while aboard a spacecraft, astronauts may find their immune system becoming less effective, making them more susceptible to diseases. Cosmic radiation is another huge issue facing astronauts. Astronauts seeing flashes of light in their brains is proof of the cosmic radiation. Astronauts' brains could suffer brain damage from cosmic rays over long periods in deep space, affecting their mental performance (BBC "future").
        All these dangers could be fatal and might make space travel seem impossible, but there are many precautions being taken to allow us to explore our universe in a safer way. Nausea and vomiting can not always be avoided, but anti-nausea pills and a strong stomach help towards inner ear balance in space. To battle losing 20% of bodily fluids, astronauts must stay well hydrated while their bodies adjust to the new climate. The rising of bodily fluids to the upper body may be uncomfortable but has not  been linked to long lasting negative effects on astronauts, and it subsides after a couple of days. Bone and muscle loss is one of the largest problems facing astronauts. On the International Space Station, astronauts stay fit with a machine for weight lifting, a treadmill adapted for microgravity, and a Cyclergometer, which is a modified cycler for microgravity (NASA). Astronauts have a very strict sleeping schedule to try and achieve the maximum hours of sleep possible. Astronauts have to be very careful of keeping waste and bacteria contained that could contaminate their lowered immune systems. For long expeditions such as to Mars, radiation  protection is being experimented with in the forms of water, waste, plastic, and many other substances.
         Being an astronaut involves more than just knowing about your area of study, it requires knowledge of how the human body operates. If your dream is to become an astronaut, consider the risks, know about your body, but don’t be scared off. Medical and technological advances continue to make space flight safer and easier on the human body, presenting an opportunity to explore space to a further extent.


Sources:
1. http://www.nasa.gov/missions/science/f_workout.html
2. http://www.space.com/29309-space-radiation-danger-mars-missions.html
3. http://nsbri.org/the-body-in-space/
4. http://interactives.dallasnews.com/2015/spacebody/
5. http://www.bbc.com/future/story/20140506-space-trips-bad-for-your-health
6. http://www.nasa.gov/content/study-compiles-data-on-problem-of-sleep-deprivation-in-astronauts/

Thursday, March 17, 2016

An Interview With Diara Spain, Ph.D

By Rachael Metzger, MSS Intern

Ocean acidification is an issue becoming apparent in the effects on both sea creatures and humans. Diara Spain, the Associate Professor of Biology at Dominican University, came to Marin Science Seminar to talk to us about her studies in marine invertebrates and the damage ocean acidification is causing them. 

To learn more about Diara Spain and what inspired her studies we conducted an interview:


1. How did you get interested in biology? Is there a time, event, 
or person in your life that inspired you to pursue the study?
I've always been interested in biology, really science in general. I grew up in rural North Carolina and as a kid it was expected that you'd spend most of your free time outside playing with your friends and pets.  One thing that sparked my interest in marine organisms were the summer vacations at the undeveloped beaches in North Carolina. 

2. Why did you specifically decide to focus on functional morphology, locomotion in echinoderms, and the mechanical properties of crustacean exoskeletons? How do studying these subjects help expand your view on the ocean and how humans are affecting it? 
The essence of functional morphology is "function from form", this gives us insight into how biological structures can actually work mechanically or physiologically. I find this compelling, especially when you consider marine invertebrates which have a wide array of morphological features. At first glance locomotion in sea cucumbers and properties of crustacean exoskeletons may seem to have little in common, but both topics are based on skeletal support systems which is my major interest. I've learned quite a bit about different marine habitats as well as how populations size and  species diversity has changed from my studies.

3. What is the most interesting study you have done to date?
I'd have to say my work on locomotion in echinoderms, specifically sea cucumbers. These are very unusual organisms and the average person may not know much about them, but when I describe them it never fails to amaze. My students enjoy watching the time-lapse videos, I actually gave a talk at the seminar several years ago titled "Life in the Slow Lane". My studies on crustaceans are just beginning but I fully expect some interesting stories in the future.

4. How do you hope the ocean will look in 20 years and what are some steps we can take to get there?
The oceans are important for the functioning of our global ecosystem as well as the global economy. I'd like to see a habitat that is healthier for animals (including humans)  to live, play and work. 

An example of a smaller step is decreasing the widespread use of disposable plastics while increasing the usage of recyclable/reusable materials. A much larger step is the approval of ocean friendly policies that support conservation and sustainability while restricting damage and pollutants. 

5. What is your advice to teens and young adults who want to help preserve our oceans and the creatures that live in it? 
The best advice is to become involved, this can be done at multiple levels from local and regional up to globally in a way you feel most comfortable. Every fall there is a International Coastal Cleanup Day, San Rafael's Volunteer Program coordinates people with specific sites locally. Volunteers and donations are also welcome at marine conservation organizations, some focus on a specific animal like sea turtles or dolphins while others focus on a issue such as ocean pollution or habitat restoration. 


Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Ocean Acidification: How the Ocean is Acidifying and Affecting the Organisms That Call it Home

By Zack Griggy, San Marin HS

             Pollution is a global problem. One way to find proof of this is to look to the seas. We all know that the oceans have suffered greatly from pollution, evidence of which can be seen almost anywhere, from areas suffering from oil spills to the huge cluster of garbage floating in the North Pacific Ocean. We also know that many aquatic species are dying and going extinct because of ocean pollution. However, oils spills and trash aren't the only causes. Another cause is ocean acidification, which is caused by air pollution.
             Ocean acidification begins with carbon dioxide. Carbon dioxide is an essential part of photosynthesis in plants. However, it is also a greenhouse gas, and carbon dioxide emissions have become a global problem. Carbon Dioxide is one of the main contributors to both global climate change and ocean acidification. Carbon dioxide is emitted in huge quantities around the world. Part of these emissions are absorbed by the oceans. This leads to chemical reactions within the oceans to form Carbonic Acid from carbonate and hydrogen ions, which are formed using CO2 absorbed by the oceans. Carbonic Acid is the main cause of ocean acidification. For the past 300 million years, the oceans have had a pH of 8.2, but recently since the industrial revolution, that pH has dropped to 8.1. Estimates say that the ocean acidity may drop by another 0.5 pH
            The effects of ocean acidification can be very harmful to marine ecosystems. Many marine organisms such as arthropods, coral, and plankton will be impacted by ocean acidification. These organisms use the process of calcification to create shells, exoskeletons, etc. Calcification relied on using two ions, carbonate and calcium ions. However, Carbonic Acid also uses carbonate ions, which makes it more difficult for the aforementioned organisms to make their exoskeletons or shells. In addition, when more carbon is absorbed by the oceans, hydrogen ions become more abundant, which makes it increasingly more difficult for the organisms to make their exoskeletons.

Sources:
1. https://www3.epa.gov/climatechange/science/indicators/oceans/acidity.html
2. http://www.iiasa.ac.at/web/home/about/news/150203-Ocean-Acid.html
3. http://www.co2science.org/subject/c/summaries/calcification.php
4. http://www.pmel.noaa.gov/co2/story/Ocean+Acidification
5. http://hilo.hawaii.edu/academics/hohonu/documents/Vol09x06OceanAcidification.pdf

Insidious Air: Defogging Air Pollution and its Pernicious Effects

By Zack Griggy, San Marin HS

           We all know that smoking is harmful to us, but what if the very air we breathe also contains toxic chemicals? The truth is the air we breathe contains numerous chemicals that have harmful effects on both humans and the environment. As a result, the issue of pollution has been a very important and significant problem. It has driven us to invest in green fuels, manufacture in more eco-friendly ways, and cut down on greenhouse gas emissions. However, the problem of air pollution still remains somewhat untouched. Although emissions have been significantly reduced from vehicles and manufacturing plants, the problem as a whole remains.  Air pollution is known to cause numerous issues for the environment and humans, but particulate matter and ozone pose more immediate threats to human health.
           Particulate matter consists of extremely small particles that are a result from burning and can have huge impacts on lung health. Particulate matter, if small enough, can breach through the body's defenses (the nose, mucus in alveoli, etc.) and even enter the bloodstream. Clearly, this can cause catastrophic problems for human health, such as decreased lung function, irregular heart beat, heart attacks, or even premature death for people with lung or heart disease. In places like the Bay Area, where there is an abundance of hills, which can trap pollutants in small areas and with larger concentrations, pollution can easily accumulate. To make matters worse, particulate matter also has harmful effects to the environment, which include haze, acidification of water basins, depletion of nutrients in soil, etc. Clearly, particulate matter doesn't just affect humans. Through depleting the nutrients in soil, particulate matter is capable of killing many sensitive plants and crops. In addition, freshwater acidification known to alter flora and fauna in affected ecosystems via increased acidity and toxicity.
             Ozone is an essential, but toxic, gas. In the stratosphere, ozone forms a protective layer that blocks UV radiation, and allows us to live on land. But the ozone layer and the stratosphere are both a considerable distance away from the Earth's surface. When ozone is at or near Earth's surface, it poses a threat to organisms that use that air. Ozone can affect entire ecosystems, beginning with plants. Ozone exposure may cause plants to have decreased photosynthesis, slowed growth, and increased risk of harm from disease, insects, storms, etc. But remember, in an ecosystem, damages at the bottom of the food chain can easily work its way up the food chain. Thus, damages from the plants can affect the entire ecosystem, causing a lack of biodiversity, reduced habitat quality, etc. However, in the case of humans, ozone can be much more pernicious. Humans exposed to smaller amounts of ozone or over a shorter period of time may have decreased lung function, airway inflammation, coughing, painful breathing, increased number of asthma attacks, increased risk of death from respiratory disease, shortness of breath, etc.
            These pollutants, and their effects, might seem unpreventable, but really it is the opposite. Both particulate matter and ozone are either emissions, or formed from other emissions. So, we return to the question: how do we prevent the effects of these pollutants? The answer: cut down on emissions. For example, particulate matter is often released during burning, especially burning wood or coal, so if we curtail our burning of wood and coal, we can reduce the effects and quantity of particulate matter. The choice of whether or not to poison our own air rests with everyone. Be sure to make the right choice

Sources:
1. Sitting by a Cozy Fire - Wood Burning, Air Quality, and Your Health (from notes taken during seminar)
2. What's Getting into Your Lungs? The Effects of Smoke, Ozone, Allergens, and More (from notes taken during seminar)
3. http://www3.epa.gov/pm/health.html
4. http://www.air-quality.org.uk/13.php
5. https://www3.epa.gov/apti/ozonehealth/population.html
6. https://www3.epa.gov/pm/
7. https://www.epa.gov/ozone-pollution/ecosystem-effects-ozone-pollution

Sunday, March 6, 2016

Ocean Acidification and Exoskeletons

Marin Science Seminar for Teens and Community Presents

"Ocean Acidification and Exoskeletons"

with Diara Spain PhD of Dominican University

Wednesday, March 9, 2016 
7:30 - 8:30 pm
Terra Linda High School, San Rafael

Come learn about ocean acidification and exoskeletons with Professor Diara Spain of Dominican University. Dr. Spain is Associate Professor of Biology at Dominican University, San Rafael. She earned her B.S. in Biology Education from North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University and her Ph.D. in Biology from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Currently, her research focuses on the functional morphology and locomotion of invertebrates.

 A teaser trailer for the presentation that will take place on March 9th, 2016 at Terra Linda High School, room 207. by MSS intern, Camden Pettijohn (Terra Linda High School)

Join us and Learn!

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Don’t Take Your Breath Away: Lung Diseases and What Causes Them

By Rachael Metzger, MSS Intern

The lungs are one the most important organs in the human body, so keeping them healthy should be a priority. Unfortunately, lung disease a leading cause of death in the United States, kills roughly four million people every year. Serious lung diseases might seem unpreventable, but in actuality, most are indeed preventable.
The most common cause of lung disease is smoking, with many deaths also resulting from secondhand smoke. When inhaled, tobacco smoke travels from the mouth through the upper airway and into the alveoli. As the smoke moves deeper into the body it is absorbed and particles are left behind in the airways. These particles contain carcinogens (cancer causing agents) and toxins, which put people at risk for disease when present in any part of the respiratory system.

Lung diseases resulting from smoking, such as lung cancer, are the leading causes of preventable deaths in the United States. This means that the extremely high numbers of lung disease deaths could be cut down immensely if simple actions are taken to prevent them. A study published by the New England Journal of Medicine showed that smoking took off approximately ten years of an average person’s life. But the study didn't consist entirely of  negative outcomes, it also found that if a person stops smoking before the age of 35 they can gain most of that decade back onto their life. But why risk it? Don’t put a vital organ at such a high risk!
 
More than just tobacco smoke gets trapped in the lungs. Other irritants are ingested in our daily lives. One example is particulate matter which is particles made from a wide variety of chemicals and dirt that come in many shapes and sizes. The particles can be so small that they get deep into the respiratory system and cause lung diseases and other health problems (EPA).  
 
Another irritant to the lungs is the increase in pollen and molds, both of which negatively impact the lung disease asthma. When people with asthma inhale pollen and molds, they can have an allergic reaction which results in the airways becoming narrower, thus making breathing difficult (European Respiratory Review).

Similar to pollen and mold, when inhaled ground level ozone can make breathing challenging and worsen lung diseases. Ground level ozone is created by a chemical reaction between volatile organic compounds and oxides of nitrogen in sunlight. Emissions of these substances mostly come from industrial facilities (EPA).
 
It is easier to stop smoking than it is to alter the climate. Cutting out cigarettes can add years onto a person’s life and prevent the pain and expense that comes from diseases such as lung cancer.
 
Environmental factors that contribute to lung diseases can seem more uncontrollable than they actually are. With some simple steps a person can lessen the effects of lung diseases. These include cutting back outdoor activity during high pollen seasons (particularly important for people with asthma), staying away from urban areas as much as possible, and wearing dust masks if needed. It is never too early to take care of your lungs, take the needed precautions to keep them healthy.

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Sunday, January 31, 2016

Fresh Air February!

Join us this February for two great talks on the importance of fresh air. Here is a teaser vid by Marin Science Seminar intern and Terra Linda High School sophomore, Camden Pettijohn. Join us and learn!


Fresh Air February from Marin Science Seminar on Vimeo.

F R E S H   A I R   F E B R U A R Y


10: "Sitting by a Cozy Fire – Wood burning, Air Quality & Your Health" with Eric Stevenson of the Bay Area Air Quality Management District

24: "What's Getting into Your Lungs?: The Effects of Smoke, Ozone, Allergens & More" with Mehrdad Arjomandi of UCSF and the VAMC SF