Research Summaries

Chemicals in Cosmetics                                                                         Emma Geary

 

There are many harmful chemicals in our cosmetics that aren’t banned by the FDA, but they are banned in several other countries outside of the United States. The studies conducted have not directly linked any one chemical to causing cancer, but they are associated with cancer. Many of the studies conclude that because people are being exposed to such low doses there is no need to worry about the effects these chemicals might have. However, what they fail to tell us is how these chemicals might affect us in combination and in the long term. The United States needs to test more chemicals in ways that properly demonstrate how adverse they can be. They also need to label everything that is in their products, even if they are found in trace amounts. This allows the consumer to properly judge whether or not the product is something they wish to spend their money on.

 

F-35 Joint Strike Fighter Cost Overruns                                             Hector Valle

F-35–one of the most expensive weapons in history! The United States military newest arsenal has been added to its inventory, one of the most expensive aircraft the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter manufactured by Lockheed Martin. Designed to replace the current yet out dated technology from 60’s and 70’s the F-16, F/A-18, AV-8 and A-10 squadrons will soon be outfitted with and interchangeable parts aircraft. That was originally the intentions of Lockheed Martin and the Pentagon, in order to lower long-term costs but it turns out not to be the case. The F-35 originally price tagged at 35 million has ballooned to a range of $148 million and $337 million per jet and with a total service life cost of $1123.8 billion.

 

 

Collapse of Twin Towers                                                                    Drew van de Vanter

September 11th was not the only time the world trade center was the victim of a terrorist attack. In 1993, terrorists parked a rental van in a parking garage beneath the Twin Towers and detonated a massive homemade bomb. Six people died and 1,000 people were injured in the aftermath. At the time this was on of the worst terrorist attacks to occur in the United States. Later, the Twin Towers collapse from September 11th overtook that as the worst attack.

Many theorists believe that the 9/11 attacks were government planned.  Some believe that there were bombs planted in the towers and this is what took them down. Some people claimed to have heard blasts and images show small explosions in front of the main collapse. Also, the way the buildings fell straight down instead of toppling over has been a controversy. Skeptics believe that explosives controlled the way the buildings fell. Some believe that phone calls made from the planes were made up and people could not have gotten service from that high of an altitude. Some questionable business with stocks brought others to believe that investors were trying to profit from the attacks.

Further investigations started to prove these theories wrong. The planes damaged major supporting elements after the impact. Also, burning jet fuel deformed the steel in the buildings. Temperatures from the fires were not uniform throughout the Twin Towers and the structures eventually became unevenly supported. During the collapse the buildings fell straight down because they weren’t completely solid and didn’t support any lateral loads. Then the buildings started to imploded on themselves gaining speeds of up to 125 miles per hour. Molten aluminum from the planes melting bodies has been thought to have weakened the structures and has been the explanation for the explosions.

Now-a-days structural engineers are designing skyscrapers with the idea that this type of event could happen. These tall buildings are now being built safer and stronger. Even older skyscrapers are being retrofitted to meet higher structural standards.  Engineers have advanced design by improving fire protection, adding blast-resistant walls, creating energy-absorbing materials, and developing stronger structural connections.

This evidence has proven the conspiracy theories to be false. Thousands of lives were prematurely lost on this tragic day and it has brought so much pain and suffering to the people in the United States. America has learned so much from this horrific day and has grown stronger as a nation.

 

[Just as a point of interest, and with all due respect for Drew’s research work, during WWII a B-29 bomber loaded with fuel accidentally crashed into the Empire State Building in NYC, taking out 5 floors and causing a big fire. But that building did not collapse. Were architects and engineers were better at putting up buildings in 1930 than in 1970? The plot thickens!] –-Dr H

 

 

Research Summary – Health Effects of Cell Phone Radiation                      Katherine Moody

 

Cell phones are something most of us use on a daily basis. For how much we use and trust in them, there isn’t much being done to regulate them and ensure their safety. The Federal Communications Commission does not regulate or approve cell phones before they are put on the market. Instead, they rely on a group of organizations to determine their regulation standards and make recalls if the standards are not met. They have set a maximum emission standard calculated based on the amount of radiation being absorbed by our tissues. However, they are admittedly uncertain of exactly how much radiation exposure is dangerous. Our cell phones are constantly emitting radiation (EMR), and a multitude of studies have been performed correlating physiological effects to their radiation exposure.

One study found an increase in the brains glucose metabolism after exposure to EMR. Our brains use glucose as fuel for our cognitive functions. Researchers have not yet determined if this increase in glucose metabolism is generating negative effects. When we think about it, however, if we are depleting our glucose supply, we may in fact be impairing the brain functions that require high amounts of glucose. These higher functions include critical thinking, language, and consciousness.

Another study found an increase in cerebral blood flow to the prefrontal cortex in relation to EMR exposure. The prefrontal cortex is responsible for our higher executive functions, and an increase in blood flow may effect critical thinking, planning, and even memory processing and storage. Although researchers are still unsure of the extent of negative impact these findings have, the altered physiologic process is evident.

One of the strongest correlations that was found is that EMR exposure does decrease sperm motility. Semen samples were exposed and tested in a lab, and the results showed a decrease in mobile sperm and an increase in immobile sperm. Sperm need to move to fertilize an egg, so a decrease in motility could ultimately lead to inability to conceive a child.

The study on the effects of cell phone EMR and breast cancer was small and somewhat inconclusive. However, the cases presented were curious. Four healthy women under 40 with no history or predisposition to breast cancer had developed tumors in the exact spot (some in the same shape) where they carried their phones in their bras. These women had been practicing this behavior for 10+ years, and although no conclusion was reached in regards to cause and effect, it makes you wonder.

The final studies informally researched the relationship between brain tumors and cell phone use. Interviews of people who had brain cancer were conducted, and a correlation was found between location of the tumors and the individuals’ side of the head they dominantly use their cell phones. These experiments were based on interviews, and ultimately inconclusive.

Skepticism still remains on the topic due to, insufficient evidence, inaccurate data collection, and the rapid progression of cell phone technology. If you are concerned for your safety, there are steps to take. Use speakerphone and create distance between yourself and your phone, don’t store your phone on your person, turn your phone off or put in in a non-transmitting mode when possible, avoid use while in areas surrounded by metal, and read the phone manual to determine safe usage practices.

 

 

Damage to Pentagon on 9/11                                                                                                          Annie Cullen

My research topic was the Pentagon attack on 9/11. While conducting my research I discovered the best way to decipher what happened on September 11th, 2001 was to look at the evidence released. The publicly known tale of what happened to the Pentagon is that a Boeing 757 aircraft, believe to be American Airline Flight 77, hit the western side of the building; however, there is one conspiracy theory proposing 9/11 was an inside job.

The evidence stating American Airline Flight 77 includes evidence such as time stamps of the planes movements leading up to the crash. Article “Flight 77” shows a time map of Flight 77 including at “8:46” the flight “veered severely off course” and the pilot’s last radio connection being recorded at “8:50.” Only six minutes later the plane’s “transponder was shut off,” yet there was no radio communication suggesting distress. According to “The Pentagon Attack,” a little before “9:39 AM” when the plane made contact with the Pentagon, Flight 77 reportedly made a “270-degree turn,” maneuvering from the north to the west and “descending 7000 feet,” before colliding into the west face of the Pentagon building. When the Boeing 757 made contact with the Pentagon it hit the “first and second floors” and “penetrated the five concentric rings” on the west end, which made up a portion of the Pentagon’s frame (Natta). There are also many records of eyewitness accounts one being a witness seeing the plane crash then seeing a “huge explosion and fireball,” “torrents of smoke,” and “small fragments of aircraft raining down” after the strike (“The Pentagon Attack”).

Peoples’ skeptics of the Flight 77 story are mostly challenged by the idea of 9/11 being an inside job. There were many money scandals previous to and regarding the attack. One of the piece of evidence for an inside job regarding money was only “$15 million” was given to the investigation on the September 11th attacks, yet in comparison “over $60 million” was provided in the investigation of the Clinton and Monica affair. Other notions that led people to think it was an inside job regarded the North American Aerospace Defense Command, also known as NORAD. According to the article, “The 11 Most Compelling 9/11 Conspiracy Theories,” NORAD’s responsibility is to “send out fighter jets” and “debilitate or shoot down” the aircraft, if hijacked; however, NORAD was aware of the plane heading for the Pentagon and took no action. Hoffman’s article, “The Pentagon Attack: What the Physical Evidence Shows” also points out the evidence thatone of the most secure buildings in the world,” was hit and supposedly there is not one clear image of the event. People are not wrong to second-guess the original story, when there is evidence that makes the story flawed.

After all of the research, I still stand with the original story of the hijacked Flight 77 being the cause of the 9/11 attack on the Pentagon. However, it is up to the public/audience to look at the facts provided and make an educated and logical guess of what happened that day.

 

EV1 Electric Car                                                                                                                                 Erick Gomez

My research on the General Motors EV1 model car was focused on discovering caused the program that created the first all-electric car to come to an end and whether or not it was actually the failure so many people seem to think it was. In doing so, I hoped to reduce some of the mystery that surrounded the car and some of the conspiracies for why it was taken off the market.

Through my research I discovered that the program had been plagued by a decade of bad executive decisions that included the expansion and reorganization of General Motors. These decisions also cost a lot the company a lot of money which affected its ability to move forward with the EV1 program. The program also had a lot of trouble when it came to transitioning from the prototype to a car that be put into mass production because of shortcomings in the original design and inability to sufficiently cut costs.

I found that most of the conspiracy theories that exist about why the EV1 was dropped are an over simplification of what was actually going on. The car gave GM a lot of good publicity when it was around. More importantly however it improved on technology that was being used for all of GM’s cars. The fact that GM left the car on the road for so long attests to this. The car wasn’t making the company any major profit. It did however serve them as experimentation on which they could get driver feedback and improve all their models. Despite what many critics and conspiracy theories say about the car, it was not a failure.

 

Prison-Industrial Complex                                                                         Kennedy Hammond

Federal records show that the U.S. government’s has generated $750 million dollars in yearly revenue through a program they created called Federal Prison Industries (also known as UNICOR). For the past 75 years, prisoners have been granted the opportunity to remain employed through numerous jobs appointed to them by outside corporations such as Verizon, Whole Foods, Starbucks, and even Victoria Secret. While in the program, inmates are given vocational training; by equipping inmates with a skill set in a vocation, UNICOR aims to reduce recidivism and give former inmates the means to support themselves in post-institutional life.

The prison industrial complex has grown into a pot of gold for the US government by establishing contracts with companies all around the US and putting the inmates on the production line. Monumental incorporations such as JCPenny’s, Macy’s, Whole Foods, and even airline companies have signed contracts with prisons in their local areas so they too can benefit off of the cheap labor. McDonald’s, the largest fast food franchise in the world has even signed a contract with UNICOR signing over their inmates to manufacture their uniforms, plastic cutlery, and containers. Starbucks, one of the most popular coffee brewery franchises, signed a seasonal contract with UNICOR so the local inmates could package away their seasonal coffee. Even American Airline hopped on the UNICOR bandwagon and now have wired in jail telephones to their own so inmates can take reservations for their taxicab service, Avis.

Labor that’s so cheap it’s almost free? What is there to complain about? That right there solves a handful of America’s economic issues, right? Not quite. The companies who have taken on these contracts and gotten away with paying these inmates pennies on the dollar have been exposed to the working men and women of America. In 1993, the massive phone company, AT&T, laid off thousands of telephone operators and all union members in order to increase their profits.  In fact, AT&T has consistently used inmates to work in their call centers since 1993, barely paying them $2 a day. That’s roughly $186,880 a year for every 35 AT&T employed inmates, which doesn’t even begin to make a dent to the corporations 4 billion dollar annual revenue.

McDonald’s, a multibillion dollar incorporation, pays their employed inmates $1.12 for everyday they work sewing together uniforms and so forth while Whole Foods is paying 75 cents a day to raise Tilapia that is subsequently sold for $11.99 a pound (U.S. uncut) at the all organic grocery store making the thin line between free labor and slavery, almost invisible.

Not only are companies able to utilize cheap labor within prisons, they are also able to generate money through the call centers that reside inside of the prisons for inmate use. One telecom company that operates as a monopoly in many prisons is Global Telecommunications Link (GTL). The company annually accumulates $500 million dollars in revenue profit due to their executive contracts with a long list of prisons. When prisoners make collect calls through GTL, the person accepting the call pays inflated rates that can possible total up to $1.13 per minute!

 

Corporate Abuse of Refugees                                                            David Tanksley

My research essay was an analysis of the European refugee crisis and the emergence of private refugee organizations as a result of the crisis. I specifically researched the negative effects the privatization of refugee care has had on refugees, similar to the privatization of prisons in the U.S.
     My research essay covered the European private organization ORS Services, which is a European based company who has entered the business of refugee care. I discovered that this corporation since taking over care of refugees through government contracts has directly diminished refugee care. According to what I have discovered the company was found to violate government contracts by profiting off of the refugee crisis. The company was able to profit by purposely overcrowding camps, cutting costs in camps but skipping out on promised programs, and overcharging the government. The company was also found to have substandard living conditions which directly violated contracts. ORs services was also able to hide its profits by shifting them throughout its business. In conclusion of ORS services, the refugee company was blatantly violating contracts and human rights.
     I also discussed in my paper how the privatization of refugee care has contributed to abuse, overcrowding, and profit incentive. I found that there was a wide range of abusing and in some cases privatized refugee groups were found to have directly lead to the deaths of refugees. I found that overcrowding is unesecarry but is done in almost every privatized refugee camp. and finally I also discussed the profit incentive that privatization of refugee care has created. I found that most refugee companys were housing refugees in substandard conditions, cutting corners, and overcharging governments to achieve profit.
     In conclusion the privatization of refugee care is a horrible decision as it is proven to lead to substandard living conditions and diminishing care of human beings. private refugee orginizations are commonly found to abuse contracts, breach business agreements, and abuse the people they are contracted to look after. The care of refugees should be left up to non-profits who have no incentive to profit off of human hardship.

French Healthcare System                                                                                                                                                                              Ariana Porras

My topic was on the French Healthcare system. France was ranked number 1 by the World Health Organization. The country healthcare system is great. They provide universal coverage for all citizens that are a mix of public-private care system. Every citizen has the same access to the same care; it does not matter if you have public healthcare insurance. France has tailored their healthcare system to benefit their citizens. So they have choice and more choice, they are not regulated to certain places because of their insurance. All while doing this they have kept costs low. They have great cost containment because employers, employees, and hospitals are on a common fee schedule. This helps pay doctors and health services are paid similar rates for most patients they treat. The CNAMTS (Caisse Nationale d’Assurance Maladie des Travilleurs Salaries) is a special organization that specifically keeps track of cost rises in healthcare services. They keep the prices low and affordable to the people who need them. Services are ready to patients almost immediately because this committee has the authority to make these changes. France also has certain laws in place that protect its citizens from falling into debt while receiving healthcare services. These include having a chronic illness or cancer, hospitals stays longer than thirty days, and patient income is below a minimum ceiling; patients do not have to worry about paying because the public health care insurance picks up the bill. The French have the best interest for their citizens.

 

Insect eating Around the World                                                                                                   Marie Solis

My research paper had a very simple goal. I studied people eating insects worldwide – also known as entomophagy. I learned and wrote about how people prepare certain insects, how they are raised, who raises what where. I attempted to focus the beginning of my paper on the simple questions about entomophagy: the who’s, what’s, where’s, when’s, and why’s of it all. Then, once I had read up on, wrote about, and understand all of these questions, I asked more. I mainly focused on how different cultures view entomophagy. I wanted to understand how the concept of eating insects has grown worldwide, how its connotation has developed, who supports and practices it, and who still has yet to jump on board. In this paper, I examined India, Australia, Thailand, and Mexico. With a breakdown of different parts of the world, I then changed pace and began to discuss what my personal opinion was as well as what value I think entomophagy could bring to the United States. After spending so much time studying and learning about entomophagy, I will admit, my view on insects as a food source has drastically changed, and I do personally believe they have the potential to bring value to our culture.

 

Saddam Hussein and Iran/Iraq War                                                              Garrison Walters

I know my essay was a little off topic, however I did learn a lot about U.S. involvement in Iraq. The United States had a plan to invade Iraq for their oil long before the 9/11 attacks. The CIA also had knowledge of Saddam Hussein’s use of chemical weapons in 1984, however chose to not invade Iraq until the early 2000’s. There was no thought of consequences from invading and we are stuck with the trillion dollar price tag and hundreds of thousands of casualties. We simply did not think the war would last that long, but it seems like there was no real thought going until our quick reaction to go to war besides oil interests.

 

Peak Oil                                                                                                                 Jillian Trujillo

There is a time when crude oil will hit its peak of production and a slow decline will

follow—this is peak oil. The year of peak for oil was in 1970 and was predicted by American

geologist, M. King Hubbert, whose findings were quickly ignored by political leaders. This is

understandable though because many people before Hubbert had predicted a halt and decline in oil

when in fact oil production increased. Yes, it is a slow decline, but eventually the fossil fuels we

use will run out. Crude oil is one of the most profitable good used all over the world and an

interruption in that could cause a collapse in economy. The use of fossil fuels does not help global

warming as well. Oil contains hydrocarbon and methane is a gas that comes from hydrocarbon.

Methane, the greenhouse has that traps radiation and heat, continues to build in the atmosphere.

There are alternatives to oil energy such as solar panels and electric cars. I’ve learned that it’s

extremely important to recognize that it’s a problem that needs to be addressed and thought about

on a daily basis. Convenience shouldn’t come first when it comes to eliminating fossil fuel usage.

Although we might not see the complete loss of oil in our lifetime, we can help lessen the reliance

on oil and help stop the damage of environment.