Love on the brain: how it works

Written By: Paolo Montoya

With Valentines fast approaching, everyone is scrambling to find the right gifts, the right date spots, or even find someone before the popular holiday. Love is a beautiful part of life, bringing with it happiness and feelings one never thought they could have before. But apart from these obvious effects, what does love do to our brain? How does it affect our grades? The way we act? Our general point of view of life? The truth is, it affects almost every part of life. That is the true power of love on the brain.

The body’s first response to falling in love is the release of hormones. Serotonin furthers the release of dopamine and norepinephrine in the brain, the neurotransmitters responsible for happiness and pleasure. Furthermore, love, or even an attractive face can trigger the brain’s opioid system. The brain then associates these opioid releases with the person that caused them, and the cycle of love begins. In the long term, love also incites blood flow throughout the whole body, as well as increasing heartrate. Ultimately, after long term love has been established, oxytocin and vasopressin are released upon every encounter with this person, allowing for a feeling of security and well-being ,as well as joy.

Maria Prieto relates how being in love affects life as a student.

“Falling in love has helped me academically in some way, mainly because he helps me with math, but even then I still feel overall happier in school because I know he’s here with me.” Prieto said.

Love can go far beyond just academics, for it can change the very way we look at our everyday lives. It gives us an incentive, a new reason to wake up every morning and face the world with a smile on our faces. 

“It really has changed my life. I just have this desire to experience everything with him. I went to Universal, and I cherish it so much more because he was there, and it’s an experience I never could’ve had on my own.” 

Love also gives us a spring in our step, a feeling of joy that nothing else can give us.  It allows us to find happiness even in the smallest of things, making every day more meaningful. 

“He’s like my other half. I know I can pour myself out to him, tell him all my secrets, and o know he’ll still love me. It’s gives me this confidence, this happiness that I can’t find anywhere else.”

Love is something beautiful, something magical that enriches our lives with a beauty that illuminates every part of it. Even what once seemed to be dark and desolate can be made beautiful with love. It is a force that transforms life into a journey of happiness, one that is worth every step of the way. So this Valentine’s Day, think not of roses, but think of smiles, of warmth, of love, and celebrate love for what it truly is.



New planets discovered

Written By: Emilio Pagan

Everyone looks up at the starry night sky with a sense of wonder. However, members of an MIT-led NASA mission put this idea in action after they launched a TESS (Transmitting Exoplanet Survey Satellite)  probe in April of last year.

The TESS is examining the sky, currently looking for other planets.

TESS’s new cutting edge technology does not just scan a narrow region of outer space, it instead surveys the whole sky, section by section. It is examining an area 400 times larger than that of the Kepler Spacecraft who was launched back in 2009.

Because of this new method, hundreds of planets outside our solar system have been discovered, eight of which have been properly analyzed and documented by NASA.

TESS has even witnesses six supernova explosions way before telescopes on earth recorded them.

“This can be the chance humanity gets to examine an alien planet with similar conditions of that of earth. It’s called the Goldilocks Zone where everything is ‘just right’ so life can be supported on the planet,”  Junior Fernando Figueroa said.

The TESS satellite is yet another groundbreaking advancement further expanding our views in outer space. Every new discovery that TESS has found is an additional planet that fits as a candidate for the examination of extraterrestrial life.


Events in Science: Mysterious Radio Signals

Written By: Emilio Pagan

A mysterious radio signal has been spotted from outer space by a Canadian telescope. Astronomers are still unsure from where the signal came from. Fast Radio Burst or FRB were first discovered in 2007, but their origins are still unknown.

As it turns out FRB’s are actually much more common that someone might believe. In fact there are so relevant that there is an initiative called Breakthrough Listen that focuses on catching and finding the sources of FRB’s. It uses artificial intelligence to decipher patterns in the cosmic signals.

However this radio signal was different from the others because it was unusually repeating and it came from the same source. It is perceived that it has come from about 1.5 Billion light years away but actually location is far from certain.


Thoughts on science…Changes in DeSantis’ Environmental Policies

Written By: Kaylee Rodriguez

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has had a proactive first month in office. One of the things on the top of his list has been the environment.  In Executive Order 19-12 DeSantis called for $2.5 billion dollars to fuel the Everglades restoration and protection of its waterways. One of the ways that he plans to protect these waterways is through the construction of the Everglades Agricultural Area Storage reservoir, an area which aims to reduce Lake Okeechobee’s harmful runoff from discharging into estuaries. He also outlined the establishment of a Blue-Green Algae Task force with a mission to reduce the impacts of red tides and algal blooms.  Although it will take far more than proposals and words to make these policies come to fruition, this is a significant first step.

“Our water and natural resources are the foundation of our economy and our way of life in Florida,” Governor Ron DeSantis said in a news release on January 10. “The protection of water resources is one of the most pressing issues facing our state. That’s why today I’m taking immediate action to combat the threats which have devastated our local economies and threatened the health of our communities.”

By recognizing these environmental concerns and putting a name on them, DeSantis has already done far more than previous state administrations. The environmental issues plaguing our state should transcend party politics. They are not red or blue problems, they are problems that affect ALL Florida citizens. By acknowledging that Florida’s waterways are cornerstone to our economy and livelihood, DeSantis has found a way to meet both parties in the middle.

Florida’s largest industry is tourism, which amounts to about $40 billion a year in revenue. Because our tourism is so heavily reliant on our waterways, it’s a no brainer that to protect this industry we must protect the environment that fuels it. And yet, what seems like an obvious answer has taken over twenty years to unfold. Yes, many politicians have made promises before. But now, we have an order and dates to back these promises up.

If DeSantis receives the additional funding he is requesting from the Federal Government, the goal is to break ground on the reservoir before the end of 2019. Some of the other things encompassed in the Executive Order are charging the Department of Environmental Protection to “adamantly oppose all offshore oil and gas activities off every coast in Florida and hydraulic fracturing in Florida.”, appointing a Chief Science officer to coordinate and prioritize scientific data, and engaging local government and industries to engage in conservation campaigns. The order also explicitly uses to words “impacts from sea-level rise.” Once again, there is an acknowledgement of the issues at hand. Sea-level rise is real, there is no time to debate this fact and I believe this order recognizes that.

The plans are certainly ambitious, and many are calling them “too good to be true.” However, what Executive Order 19-12 has done is establish a basis for accountability. DeSantis is pledging to protect our waterways and it is our job as citizens, students, and members of the ecosystem to hold him to his word.


Thoughts on science… An Eco-Friendly Christmas

Written By: Piper Penney

As the holiday season approaches, Americans are heading out to buy gifts for their family members. But according to Use Less Stuff, an organization that encourages waste reduction, Americans throw out an extra 25 million tons of holiday-related garbage between Thanksgiving and the New Year. The increase in waste means that more garbage is going to landfills, which is not good for the Earth as it increases greenhouse gas emissions. To try and avoid the many mounds of wrapping paper, food waste, and just general garbage that arise from the holidays, here are some tips to help make your holiday a more eco-friendly one.

Gift Wrapping Tips

  • Reuse paper products to create a more sustainable form of wrapping paper. Pages from magazines, newspapers, and even paper maps can be used to wrap gifts. You can also use reusable containers such as tins, baskets, boxes, and jars.
  • If you prefer to use traditional wrapping paper, try to buy paper made out of recycled materials.
  • At the end of the holiday season, you can recycle traditional paper products such as the magazine pages mentioned above as well as paper-based wrapping paper to avoid sending all of your waste to a landfill.
  • Additionally, avoid wrapping paper that uses glitter or is not paper-based (metallic or foil wrapping paper) as you cannot recycle these.
  • Plastic bows and ribbons cannot be recycled. For an eco-friendly alternative, simply buy a ribbon made out of cloth or pieces of fabric that can be reused for multiple gifts over the years without the need of tape or plastic.
  • Skip the holiday card aisle and send electronic holiday cards. It reduces paper waste. If you still want to send physical cards, check to make sure that they are printed on recycled paper.
  • For a gift wrap free present, give the gift of an event, whether that be tickets to a concert, a camping trip, a night out, or whatever else you may choose.

Food Waste Tips

  • According to the Worldwatch Institute, 33% more food is thrown away during the holidays. To try and avoid throwing out more than you need to, plan out your meals before you make them. Ensure that you are buying enough food for each person, but that you have not bought too much or have bought items that not too many people will eat, as those foods will more than likely end up in the trash at the end of your feast.
  • Use up whatever leftovers you can. Depending on what you have left over, you may even be able to use what you have left in a new recipe.
  • If you cannot eat it, you can put some of your leftover food into a compost container. As far as food products go, the United States EPA recommends that you only compost fruits and vegetables, as meats, dairy, and eggs (although eggshells are okay to go in the bin) will cause an odor and will attract unwanted pests.

Christmas Tree Tips

  • If you buy a real tree, check to see if a local waste processing center offers Christmas tree recycling. Select locations in Miami-Dade and Broward county let residents drop their trees off so that they can be made into mulch.

Have a happy and green holiday!


Till Spring do us part: “Cuffing season”

Written By: Layla Profeta

The temperatures drop and the days get shorter. People begin to walk arm-in- arm through the Hanukkah shopping  isles, go to the beach on a cool night and draw romantic hearts in the sand, and watch holiday movies while blankly looking each other in the eyes and laughing. The game of romantic musical chairs begins and “cuffing season” is here.

It is that time of year again, the period between autumn and winter when it is sort of awkward  if you are the odd friend out and not in a relationship. Although it may seem like cuffing season has always been a meme or thought of as something people have just been taught to believe, what most people are not fully aware of is that “cuffing season” is scientifically proven. Scientists have long documented seasonal fluctuations in partner-seeking behavior.

        According to a New York Times 2015 study, researchers looked at changes in Google search trends related to sex and relationships over a five-year period. They found distinct and predictable seasonal fluctuations. First, there was a reliable increase in searches related to online dating in the winter months. Facebook data also supports the finding that people are more likely to change to a coupled relationship status in the winter.

Moreover, it has been scientifically proven that the drop of temperature means an increase in monogamy among the younger population where they rush into relationships to keep themselves warm in these frosty months. This science dates back to prehistoric eras when primates used to seek comfort and warmth during the drastic winters. During the months of November through March humans have evolved to seek relationships during these months.

Hormonally, the changes in light and temperature spike our melatonin, prompting our homebody alter ego to rear its snuggly head. Psychologically, we are more likely to find others attractive in the winter because, while the masses are sequestered in their houses instead of visibly running around outside, the supply of romantic options appears lower.

Evolutionarily, partnering up optimizes our chances of survival during a season with less access to resources. Add social pressures to couple up to the mix, like New Year’s and Valentine’s Day, and the masses proffer their wrists, begging to be cuffed.


Events in science

Written By: Paolo Montoya

Antarctica, the ice giant at the south pole of the earth may hold much more than scientist once thought. Beneath the million square miles of ice, Antarctica may be hiding the remnants of several old continents from millions of years ago. This discovery came from the European Space Agency’s GOCE Satellite, a satellite put out into orbit to measure and analyze Earths gravity, finding its weak and strong points. By comparing changes in gravitational force, scientists are able to identify the composition beneath the surface of the ice. Scientists discovered cratons, the central regions of tectonic plates, as well as orogens, which are the result of tectonic plate interaction, “folding” the plates. These orogens are the predecessors to mountains. By analyzing these, they can be compared to the rest of the continents across the world.



DIY Christmas crystals

Written By: Mora Bustos

A fun way to bring science into the holiday spirits is to make winter ornaments from crystals. Borax crystals form into snowflakes when dissolved in hot water. As the water cools, the molecules move closer together, forming six sided crystals that build on one another. By dipping pipe-cleaners into Borax solution, you can create the appearance of icicles to get into the winter mood.


  1. Bring 3 cups of water to boil on medium-high heat.
  2. Stir in 9 tablespoons of Borax until it dissolves (may take a few minutes).
  3. Pour solution into one large jar or several smaller jars. Keep in mind the ornaments will be shorter than the jar.
  4. Cut down pipe cleaners to desired length of icicles. The ends should be at least ½ inch away from the bottom of the jar. They can be shaped for different results.
  5. Cut string and tie the ends into loops to hang the ornaments, attaching one end to each pipe cleaner.
  6. Thread the other ends onto a pencil and dip the pipe cleaners into the jar, laying the pencil over the edge so they hang. The pipe cleaners shouldn’t touch the each other or the walls of the jar.
  7. Leave overnight until icicles form, then hang the ornaments where desired!


Nobel Prize for directed evolution

Written By: Mora Bustos

Believe it or not, scientists have been able to speed up evolution in a lab, creating batches products with their chosen traits.

This October, the Nobel Prize for Chemistry was awarded to Frances Arnold, George Smith, and Gregory Winter for their work with directed evolution. Directed evolution is the process of using the principles of evolution to selectively breed traits in biological molecules at an accelerated pace in a lab.

While Arnold worked with enzymes used to manufacture biofuels and pharmaceuticals, Smith and Winter evolved new proteins and antibodies which can help cure a variety of illnesses.

The main significance of this research is what it means for evolution itself and its continued study of it in a lab setting. Its effects can be far-reaching.

“I’d like to see evolution taught more in schools and the benefits of scientific evolution used more, especially with its potential in health,” biology teacher Ms. Wright said.

Advances in the study of evolution could help cure a variety of autoimmune and genetic diseases. However, there is a high degree of uncertainty in this area of research, which can translate into ethical gray areas.

“In any kind of biochemical research there are ethical issues,” chemistry teacher Mr. Pendola said. “There is the religious aspect, where the concern for the effects of humans ‘playing God’ arise, and the societal view when tests could reach a human stage and treatment could be administered to patients.”

We are in the early stages of directed evolution, but who knows what the future will hold for the field.

Thoughts on science…Smartphone Security

Written By: Pia Nair

Smartphones have a bad reputation for causing many unhealthy behaviors and mental conditions, such as depression, loneliness, and they have even been said to be addictive. Often, parents and older generations will take any excuse to blame smartphones. Bad grade on a test? It is because of that smartphone. Have a headache? It is because of that smartphone. However, a new study done by John Hunter, a psychologist at the University of California, Irvine, shows that they can serve another purpose: a “digital security blanket.”

“[My smartphone] offers an escape. It becomes an excuse to disconnect from the real world without seeming so blatantly bored or uncomfortable with who’s around you,” senior Gabrielle Yamar said.

The experiment aimed to discern the psychological and physiological effects of smartphone presence. Hunter gathered 148 participants from the college and divided them into three groups: the first with the phone present and usage promoted, the second with the phone present but usage not allowed, and the third with no phone present. The subjects all believed they were there to participate in a study testing correlation between smartphone characteristics and personality. They were also placed in a room with two people they believed to also be partaking in the study, but were actually researchers.

As Hunter wanted to measure how people react in a stressful social setting, he had the two researchers converse and exclude the participant when they tried to interject. This provided the template for the awkward social setting. Researchers periodically came in and took subjects’ saliva samples for thirty minutes after the encounter. They measured for two chemicals: cortisol, the hormone related to stress, and sAA, or salivary alpha amylase, whose levels increase dramatically with stress.

The results showed that in all cases, sAA appeared, but its levels varied. In the group with no phone, sAA levels steadily increased over the thirty minutes. In the group where phones were present and their usage promoted, sAA levels rose and then stayed steady. However, in the group with their phone but usage discouraged, the subjects’ sAA level’s steadily decreased.

This suggests that the mere presence, but not the use, of smartphones has the capacity to relax a person in an uncomfortable social setting. According to Science News for Students, Hunter has indicated two potential reasons for this drop in sAA.

“[Smartphones] distract us from negative things so we feel better,” Hunter said. They also act as a sort of friend, providing us with access to loved ones with the tap of a button. This study seems to contradict the traditional stereotype that phone use is unhealthy. Studies have shown that smartphones can be addictive and can have extremely negative effects on a person. It has been proven that overuse can enhance loneliness, isolation, depression, and anxiety.

However, in the eyes of many teenagers, phones are a necessary component of everyday life. Their various functions are can be integral, especially access to information via the Internet. This ‘instant access’ feature is often what makes the smartphone so addictive and useful. With the tap of a finger, anything and everything is available. It is suspected that this is also why the very presence of the smartphone is comforting. The knowledge that friends and family are accessible with simply the tap of a finger can reduce stress especially when one feels isolated by those surrounding them. So, the next time your parents tell you to put down your phone, tell them that it is good for you.