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  • Using Facebook and Instagram: effects on well-being and mental health

    Can using Facebook, Instagram, and other social media platforms be a genuine hazard to our well-being and mental health? Are the purported benefits of digital social media outweighed by the risks? What does the research say? **created November 2021** Featured articles: *Brailovskaia, J., Margraf, J., Schillack, H., & Köllner, V. (2019). Comparing mental health of Facebook users and Facebook…

  • Microplastics: impacts on the environment and human health

    Hundreds of millions of tons of plastics are produced each year. Millions of those tons enter our air, soil, and water as waste. As waste, some of this material–still many millions of tons–breaks down into smaller particles, or microplastics (< 5 mm in size); microplastics come from many sources including the manufacture of industrial products…

  • The health benefits and risks of cannabis

    People have promoted the health benefits of cannabis/marijuana for decades. That has been a factor in the loosening of marijuana use restrictions in the United States in recent years. And yet, restrictions at the Federal and some State levels remain intact. What does research actually say about the benefits and risks of medical cannabis? Is there…

  • Ransomware: malware and cybercrime

    What exactly is ransomware? And what happens in a ransomware attack? What does research say about ransomware and the pervasive and increasing threat and damage caused by cybercrime? Featured articles (these articles have been added to the Science Primary Literature database): **updated July 2021** *Bae, S. I., Gyu, B. L., & Im, E. G. (2020).…

  • Microbiome/microbiota: influences on disease and behavior

    The human microbiome–the microorganisms (bacteria, viruses, and fungi) that live within or around the human body. Damage or changes or abberations of this “microbial organ” may affect human health and lead to disease. Increasingly, the microbiome is seen as a key part in the initiation, regulation, and termination of all immune responses in the human…

  • Freshwater, drought, and climate change

    Lack of freshwater for human consumption and agricultural use is a growing and very serious problem globally–including in rich countries like the United States.  As an example, rivers in many countries are experiencing significantly reduced flows due to warmer temperatures, longer and more frequent droughts, less snow and less winter precipitation, and the need to…

  • Can viruses do good things?

    Can viruses be beneficial? Did they aid the development of life on this planet? Can they be used in treating cancer? Can they protect plants against drought and cold temperatures? Can they protect against infection? Are they, in fact, essential for life on Earth? See the background and the research … **updated 2021** Background: *Nuwer,…

  • Symmetry breaking and Biology

    “During the latter half of the twentieth century, spontaneous symmetry breaking became important in biology. All organisms start off as highly symmetric entities, such as a single spherically symmetric cell. As the organism grows, this highly symmetric state becomes unstable, owing either to internal stresses and strains, or to influences from the environment. Enter spontaneous…

  • The effects of stress brought on by pandemic diseases

    Pandemic diseases–such as COVID-19–can be extremely stressful. The uncertainty of transmission, the intense desire to protect family and friends (and yourself), the unknown of the impact of catching the disease itself, the inexorable spread, the panic and outright misinformation that can be spread by social media, the drumbeat of the news, empty store shelves ……

  • The psychological origins of prejudice, discrimination, and racism

    Are people “hard-wired” to discriminate based on skin color, ethnicity, religion, place of origin, gender, sexual identity, accents, etc.? Is it hereditary? Do we have no choice? Or, is it learned? As children, are we taught to discriminate by our parents, our greater family, in school, in church, by our friends? If we learn to…

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Copyright 1999-2024 Kevin R. Engel · IA 50309 · United States engelk@grinnell.edu