Extra Blog Post: Human Genetic Engineering

One topic we discussed in class that I thought was one of the most interesting was the topic of human genetic engineering. There are several advantages and disadvantages to this science, along with the debate of whether or not it is ethical to partake in human genetic engineering. For the most part I feel that I am against the whole idea of it, even though it is very fascinating and such an accomplishment in science.

I do not agree with parents choosing whether or not their child will have blonde or brunette hair, or whether they will be short or tall. I do not think that is fair to the child and I think parents should be thrilled with however their child was supposed to turn out without the genetic engineering. I think as humans we all want the best for ourselves and our families, at least most people do, and I do not agree that this is the way to get the best for them. There is also that possibility that something could go wrong with the whole process of the genetic engineering, and then the result is a child who has an extra chromosome or some other problem that they previously would not have had if the parents had just left the genes the way they were meant to be.

The only time I feel that I would be for human genetic engineering is if it could prevent a birth defect or terminal illness in the child. Birth defects can often be life threatening to the child and hard on the families, so I feel that if you have the chance to terminate that gene, you should. I am not saying there is anything wrong with children who have certain birth defects, but I have seen firsthand how hard it can be on a family and it will break your heart. This is the only time I feel that it makes sense to want to change your child’s genes because it would be enhancing their lives.

I also think that gene therapy is a great idea, again because it enhances the patient’s life.  Scientists have been studying gene therapy for a long time now, and hope that someday it can really cure terrible diseases. The whole idea of gene therapy is to replace a gene or chromosome in a person’s DNA to make them healthier and to get rid of the unhealthy gene present in their bodies. There are certain chronic illnesses that gene therapy is supposed to be able to cure and scientists also hope that it will be able to cure certain types of cancers. I think it is very fascinating to see how far science has come in today’s age, but with some of it, like changing the genes in your child to give them a certain hair or eye color, I do not see what the point is other than an advance in technology. Other than some of the ethical issues that go along with human genetic engineering, I think it is a great discovery, and hopefully it can do a lot of good, such as changing the lives of those who are unhealthy.

Final Paper: Renewable Energy Saving the Earth

Technology has come a long way in the past century, and scientists all over the world are discovering and inventing new technologies and more convenient ways to go about our everyday lives as humans. Although most of us see this as one of the most fascinating parts of life and are always very intrigued to see what will come next, there are some negative aspects of new technologies, such as what they do, or what they will do, to the environment. Most people do not consider how their new technology will affect the environment when they purchase the new product; instead they are more concerned with how the new product will improve their lives. Technologies such as cars, electricity, home appliances, and other technologies that people use regularly contributed to nearly eighty-two percent of carbon dioxide emissions into the atmosphere in 2013 (EPA 2015). Today, that number is probably much higher because as the number of electronics increases, usually the amount of energy needed to power technologies also rises. One of the best solutions that scientists have come up with to help solve the pollution problem is through the use of renewable energy, such as the sun and wind.

Renewable energy has been around long before electricity powered by fossil fuels came about. People of ancient civilizations used wind mills and eventually energy from the sun to power their civilizations. It was not until the eighteen hundreds around the Industrial Revolution time period that people started to use fossil fuels to power their electricity. At the time, people used natural resources such as coal and natural gas to power their machines and means of transportation because it was so abundant and they had not yet realized the harm it was doing to the environment. Today, as most people know, there are several problems with using fossil fuels. One problem is that they are very limited because humans used up so much of them back in the Industrial Revolution days when there was an abundance of them, and because almost everything runs off of electricity powered by fossil fuels in this day in age. The other main downside of using fossil fuels is the emissions of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere that is causing the atmosphere to thicken.

The increasing amount of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere has caused the layer outside of the earth to become thinner, producing greenhouse gases which are causing an increase in global warming. Global warming is a topic that has been broadcasted all over the world for decades now. Environmentalists have realized that the earth is becoming hotter each year, which has caused several problems all over the world. One major problem is the melting of glaciers, which has made the sea level rise, and continue to rise over the past several years. The reason the earth temperatures are getting warmer is because more and more carbon dioxide is getting trapped in the earth’s atmosphere. Heat is supposed to be able to escape into outer space through the atmosphere, which has kept earth much cooler in the past centuries. This problem worsens every year as people do not care to change their ways or because investing in other sources of energy is too expensive. In order to decrease the amount of carbon dioxide being emitted into the atmosphere, people need to use less energy fueled by fossil fuels. One type of energy that is a solution to this problem is solar energy.

Solar energy had its first major breakthrough back in the later 1800s and has come a long way since then. People are now able to install solar panels on the roofs of their houses and this is supposed to give them about seventy-five percent of the electricity they desire, and it is also supposed to be much better for the earth and its atmosphere (Vaughters 2014). Solar energy is not only better for the environment, but it is also more efficient in terms of cost. In recent years the price of oil, coal, and other natural resources has sky rocketed because of scarcity. With this increase in prices of natural resources, energy companies had to increase their prices as well, which then caused the price of electricity used in homes and buildings to increase. By installing solar panels, people are able to use the amount of electricity they desire without having to pay a fortune every month in their electricity bills. However, the initial installation of solar panels can be very expensive. Typically the cost of installing solar panels to a residential home is around $20,000, but in some states the government will actually pay for half the cost of installing the solar panels, which makes installing them much more affordable. Research has also proven that within three to five years of installing the solar panels, they will pay for themselves because the electricity bills will be cut down to less than half of what they were before the installation of solar panels. Solar energy is not only powering electricity in homes, scientists are also working on solar powered automobiles.

In the past year, Ford has come up with a concept model of the solar powered car. Ford is currently trying to create an everyday car for families to depend on, that also does not emit harmful gases into the air. According to the article “Ford Develops Solar Powered Car for Everyday Use,” this car should be able to constantly gather energy from the sun through a special concentrator that acts as a magnifying glass and from the solar panels on the roof of the car (LeBeau 2014). It is the automakers’ hope that this car will be able to run primarily on solar energy instead of the usual gasoline, or fossil fuels. The solar powered car is still a work in progress, but in the future the automakers hope the car will run without any gasoline or without having to plug into an electrical outlet. At this point the car should be able to run primarily on energy from the sun, but they are also unsure of how many miles the car is able to travel without needing to charge up again. Automobiles are one of the primary sources of pollution, and if automakers are able to create a car that does not need to run on gasoline, the global warming effect should be able to slow down.

Another renewable source of energy that has been around for centuries is wind energy. Wind energy was used in early civilizations, but took a turn in the 1800s to become one of the most widely used renewable energy sources around the world. In the 1800s wind turbines, which are the windmill looking machines attached to a tower that are used to gather the energy from the wind, were used mainly by farmers to pump water to irrigate their crops and to power electricity in homes. Today wind turbines are typically used by electricity companies to provide power to their customers and for pumping water (Renewable Energy World 2015). The turbines that are placed closely together are the ones that are usually used to power electricity in homes because they are more efficient when placed closer to each other than they are when they’re spaced out. Sometimes people will have just one wind turbine, and when this is the case, they are usually only used to pump water. Like solar energy, people use wind energy in order to cut down the costs of electricity; however, the cost of installing a wind turbine is much more than installing solar panels. The average cost for a ten kilowatt wind turbine, which is the size most people need to power their homes, can cost anywhere from $50,000 to $80,000. There are other incentives to installing these wind turbines, such as lower electricity bills and there are also tax incentives depending on where the person lives. Although the cost of installing solar and wind energy is expensive, it is often worth it for the lower electrical bills and for the safety of the environment.

As technology and innovations have increased throughout time, the environment and nature have been severely affected. The readings from Concrete Jungle that were analyzed in class discuss how humans now view “nature” and how nature has been culturally and socially constructed. Nature is no longer just the naturally living plants and animals, nature is now the environment around what humans have built and conquered over the centuries. Over time humans have destroyed much of the beautiful nature and environment that used to be pure and healthy. In today’s age humans have invented different technologies that have not been ideal for the environment in many ways. One of the biggest problems is the pollution problem that the world now has and how it is affecting living organisms, whether they are plants or animals. The big problem with this is that humans are selfish individuals, and as long as humans are not affected in an extremely negative way, they will keep their same habits until they are actually forced to stop or until they are negatively affected. Plants and animals have taken the brunt of the pollution problems and other environmental issues, but people continue their lives as usual. In the book Concrete Jungle the authors mention that people worship the little natural wildlife left in the world, but take it for granted when they realize that they can make a profit off of it, which is another reason why humans are selfish and care less about the environment than they should.

It is safe to say that humans in this day in age are more concerned with themselves than they are about the environment. Most people complain that they simply do not have the time to recycle or take care of the earth in other ways. However, through scientists’ new inventions, people are better able to care for the environment by installing solar panels or wind turbines into their homes. By installing these devices, people do not have to worry about not having enough time to help the environment; instead they can just continue their lives as normal, but positively impact the environment by polluting the air less. Technology has come a long way, especially in recent years, and hopefully in the next few years to come the solar powered automobile and other new technologies will be around and safer alternatives for the environment.

LeBeau, Phil. “Ford Develops Solar Powered Car for Everyday Use.” CNBC. 2 Jan 2014. Web. 26 Apr 2015.

“Overview of Greenhouse Gases.” EPA. 14 Apr 2015. Web. 26 Apr 2015.

“Wind Energy.” Renewable Energy World. 2015. Web. 26 Apr 2015.

Vaughters, Al. “Are solar panels on your roof worth the expense?” WIVB. 24 September 2014. Web. 26 Apr 2015.

Our Class Archive

Reading through everyone’s blogs over this past semester I have realized that our archive is unique in that everyone has something different that they are interested in and that they continually write about. At first this blog was very confusing to navigate, probably because I had never used one in the past, but eventually I think we all started to figure out how to navigate through the blog and even find our personal interests. In fact, that is something I liked most about writing these blogs, that we were all able to write about and research topics that interested us. Being able to write about and discuss something you are actually interested in makes the homework much more bearable than going through countless articles on a topic we have zero interest in. Although I loved the opportunity to write about what I wanted to write about, I often struggled trying to narrow it down to one topic. Many of the other students in this class had something they were very passionate about such as music or medicine that they would always base their blogs off of, but I was always so curious to learn about several different topics that I had trouble choosing what I wanted to learn about most.

I feel like it was also easier for students to choose a topic when their major was one that involved using several different technologies, or when something new was always being discovered in their area of study. I am majoring in Human Resources and I love my major so far, but it was difficult for me to base any of my writings off of my major since there really is not anything new happening in this field of study. For this reason I had to go and look at my other interests for inspiration, but this also helped me realize what my interests are.

I also really enjoyed reading through everyone else’s blogs and reading about their interests as well. In a typical writing class only the professor is the one who gets to read through everyone’s writings and get to know them that way, but the fact that we were able to read our peers’ writings as well was kind of cool. It allowed us all to get to know each other on a more personal level and also provided more opportunities for us to make friends with similar interests.

It is very apparent that we all tend to rely on technology a great deal every day for many reasons. Some people use technology as a way to relax, like with music, or as a way to research and learn, like most of us have to do for almost every class we take or just for fun. For my final paper I am writing about solar energy, and solar energy would never be possible without technology. Many of the great things we have in life would not be possible without technology. I think it is obvious that all of us need technology to get through every day, and with all of this technology and science we are finding ways to be able to use this technology and harm the world less.

Primary Sources for Solar Energy

There are several ways to gather information for any research paper, but some sources are much better than others. Since my topic of research is solar energy and how we can benefit from it, I want to look at articles and journal publications written by scientists. Usually when I research a topic I like to go to the university’s library page and use their research databases. My personal favorite research database is Academic Search Complete because it searches for the key words you type in the search box and sorts through them all to find the right type of articles you are searching for. I tend to have a lot of luck when using this database; however, it can be very time consuming because the database will literally bring up any article that has the key words you searched for. Although this can be very time consuming, I feel that it is worth it because you almost always can come out with a few articles for your paper, and you also know that they are from reliable sources. Most of the sources from this research database are articles published in very well-known journals.

Along with using the library’s research database I am going to search a little more on other search engines to see what I find. One research question I have is how expensive is it to install the solar panels onto the roofs of people’s houses. I know it is expensive to do; however, I want to try to get an exact or nearly exact amount that it costs so I can get a better idea and know a little more when it comes time to mention that in my paper. The primary source I will use for this is going to be a company that sells solar panels and installs them along with everything else needed to go with them. I know I can get this information from an article online, but I would like to get more concrete information about it, and I think that the best way of going about that is to look on a website where you can actually purchase the solar panels and other materials. The website that I find this information on will most likely have more information or a brief overview to explain how they work and the benefits of installing them.

I also want to look into an article or other research that shows statistics of solar energy. I would really like to know exactly how many people have installed these solar panels and their opinions on them, such as whether or not they actually save the person money in the long run. I am also curious to find out people’s opinions of them and whether or not the electricity is as good as normal electricity that runs on fossil fuels, and what happens if the sun is not shining for several days at a time. I wonder if they lose electricity and have to cut back or if there is a backup system that will give you energy as well. By using all of these primary sources, I think I will find the answers to all of my research questions about solar energy.

Personal Research Reflection

Throughout the years I have become very interested in learning about the environment and what I can contribute to help save it. I get very nervous when I hear about global warming and all of its negative effects, so I try to do what I can to contribute to saving the environment. However, it is also kind of hopeless because there are so many people in the world and so many that are not concerned or are too busy to worry about the environment, and I feel that the only way to save the environment is if everyone puts forth a little bit of effort. One of the biggest contributors to pollution is the use of fossil fuels. People rely on energy and electricity for their everyday lives, and I am the first person to admit that I could never live without it. As humans we have become so dependent on electricity that we do not know how to even go a couple of hours without it.

One very effective way to reduce the amount of fossil fuels we use and still get the same amount of electricity we want is to use solar energy. By installing solar panels people are able to get as much energy as they want, almost completely powered by the natural sunlight. This approach is much better for the environment, and will even save people money on their electric bills. Solar panels are very expensive to install; however, over the years they will eventually pay their worth and the consumer can save thousands of dollars worth of electricity in the years to come.

I personally have never used anything that is solar powered, but I would definitely be interested in looking into it and trying it out. With the research I have done and everything that I have learned, I feel that it is definitely necessary to consider all possible solutions of saving the environment. There are plenty of ideas that people have come up with to help save the environment, but I feel like many of them are not as practical as using the sun, something that no one has to pay for, and people do not have to think about from day to day. I think a major problem with people trying to contribute to saving the environment is the time commitment. People are not willing to drive the extra time to drop off their recycling or take the time to separate their recycling from their trash. However, with solar energy all people would really have to worry about is installing the proper equipment and setting it all up, then they would be able to go about their everyday lives. As a contributor to all of the pollution in the air and the degrading of the earth, I feel guilty about using as much electricity as I do and being as wasteful as I am. I definitely try to help the environment by recycling as much as I can, and for now that is all that I am able to contribute. Eventually I hope to test out solar energy, and hopefully convert completely to using this energy that does not contribute to the pollution on earth.

Research Methods for Solar Energy

Writing a research paper on a specific topic requires a great amount of research and reading to get enough information to write a paper on the topic. The goal of a research paper is to teach the reader about your topic or to bring about certain ideas to create discussion. The most important aspect of researching is making sure the sources used to write the paper are accurate and come from a reliable source. Unfortunately, this is often hard to do, especially with new topics or very controversial topics. I have been struggling to decide between writing my research paper on solar energy and the new Fitbit that tracks your health and activity throughout the day and night. I have gone over the pros and cons of each topic and realized that I want to research solar energy a little more than the Fitbit. One of the main reasons I decided this is because the research for the Fitbit would be extensive and I am afraid there is not enough information on it because it is so new, and I also do not want to be working with websites that would be consistently trying to sell me the Fitbit. I feel that researching solar energy will much less stressful and more rewarding for me because I often wonder how much solar energy could impact the environment in a positive way.

In order to find the best information I will probably be researching articles on solar energy from academic databases, especially those found on the library’s website. Ohio State’s library offers several databases that any Ohio State student can access with their login information. When I have had research papers due in the past I have always used these databases, especially the Academic Search Complete database, which seems to have the most information. I think that I find the best articles, most of which actually pertain to the topic I am researching when I use this database. The great part about these databases is that you can advance your search to tell the database that you want a specific topic and not something else that could also answer your broad research question. The only time I have struggled with these databases have been when I have tried to research topics that are too broad or are not very popular. When this happens I usually resort to Google and look for articles written by scholars or specialists that are also posted on a trusted website.

As I really start to research the benefits and downsides of solar energy, I am hoping that most of my sources can be found on the databases from the library. Solar energy is such a well-studied topic that I am optimistic about being able to find plenty of information to write a research paper. I am also hoping to find articles in favor of solar energy and against it so I can write about both sides and decide what I am more in favor of. I am hoping to get learn a great deal of information by writing this research paper and I am also hoping my research strategies will work in my favor.

Solar Energy or Fitbit?

At this point I am still unsure about which topic I am interested in writing my final paper on. However, there are two topics that I am considering, which are solar energy and the Fitbit. These topics are both completely different from each other, but I would be interested in learning more about each. After class on Wednesday I got to thinking about the environment and how we could help improve the conditions of it. I have always thought the invention of solar panels was a great idea and I have never understood why it is not used more often. For this reason, I am interested in learning the pros, and especially the cons, of installing solar panels and relying completely on solar energy. Although solar energy is very interesting to me, I also feel like I would like to learn more about the Fitbit because I am interested in maintaining a healthy lifestyle, and I think the Fitbit could possibly play a large role in that.

The environment today is very polluted due to multiple different sources, such as automobiles, and power plants fueled by coal. Humans have become extremely reliant on fossil fuels to the point where we cannot live without them. I think one solution to this problem is to introduce solar energy to more buildings and appliances that require fossil fuels to run. Solar panels can be pricey to install; however, over time, they prove their worth because the value of your home increases, and they cost about as much as or less than your electric bill would over the years. Solar panels are capable of running up to seventy-five percent of a building’s energy, therefore, lowering the costs of the owner’s electric bill, and making the solar panels worth the cost after just a few years (Vaughters 2014).  Recently scientists have even begun to invent automobiles that run purely on energy from the sun and can even go up to 500 miles on a single charge. However, as of right now “solar cars” are not a  practical vehicle and scientists still have some issues to resolve to make the “solar car” a practical, everyday car. Solar energy is not widely used in most homes and buildings, but once scientists figure out a way to make it more practical and less expensive, more people will be anxious to use it.

On a different note, the Fitbit is becoming more and more popular every day for people to track their exercise and health for the day. There are several different versions of the Fitbit so people can buy one that fits their exact needs. The Fitbits are designed to track the amount of steps you take in a day, how many flights of stairs you climb, the amount of calories you burn, and the intensity at which you did all of these activities. There is also one other feature that I think is especially interesting, which is the one that tracks how you sleep through the night. I have never been real curious to see how well I sleep throughout the night until I found out that the Fitbit can track that as well. The Fitbit connects to an app that you can download onto your phone and track your progress for the day and throughout the night. I think the Fitbit is a great tool for people who want to or need to track their activity for the day, and I would be very interested in learning more about it. When it comes time to make my final decision about which topic to choose, I think it will be a difficult decision, but with a little more research I think I will make the right choice!

Vaughters, Al. “Are solar panels on your roof worth the expense?” WIVB. 24 September 2014. Web. 26 March 2015.