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H1N1 Vaccine: Examining Benefits Vs. Risk For Individuals

The CDC has released 3.4 million doses of the H1N1,or swine flu,vaccine, which will be distributed...

HIV Halted By Plants

HIV/AIDS has been one of the most devastating diseases of the twenty first century. Since the discovery...

Genetic Fitness - Biological Bias, Not Societal, Explains Promiscuous Men And Chaste Women

In general, science is like an episode of "LOST"; one question gets answered but that answer raises...

HIV Vaccine From Gene Therapy?

HIV/AIDS has left its mark on mankind.   Millions of people have been lost to a disease that seems...

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Erin RichardsRSS Feed of this column.

I am a current graduate student at USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism. I write for Neon Tommy, a digital news website, as a science writer. My undergraduate degree is from the... Read More »

Whoever said that the pen is mightier than the sword definitely knew what they were talking about. To humans, words are more than a means of communication, they can shape our beliefs, behaviors, feelings and ultimately our actions. Although swords can coerce us, and threaten, nothing is more powerful than a tool which can shape our opinions.

When it comes to language and communication, the rule is that it’s not what you say, but what people hear.  Words are one of the most powerful tools that we as humans possess; they can ignite revolutions or defuse tension. The problem is that words are underestimated as being central to thought and behavior processing as well as decision making.
Today you wake up and realize that Christmas is fast approaching, a little more than a week away, and you haven't done ANY shopping for gifts. Now that you realize that Christmas looming in your very near future, you are tempted to get the usual bath spa set for mom and golf tie for dad, but here are some helpful suggestions for some gifts that are convenient, eco-friendly and just plain cool. Just follow these simple steps to complete your successful shopping venture and avoid the stress of last minute shopping at the stores.

Step 1: Don't Panic
Step 2: Take deep breaths
Step 3: Get on the internet
Vitamin C has been hailed as a magical vitamin for decades. Feeling sick, sleepy, or a little under the weather? Quick! Jam your mouth full of vitamin C, drink some orange juice and eat some strawberries (which have more vitamin c per weight than even oranges). But why cling to these feelings? Researchers have been unable to prove that vitamin C actually boots immune system power. It seems that every time I see a research study done on vitamin C's mysterious powers, the results are just as vague as the questions which initially prompted the study.
As we watch TV, listen to the radio or flip through the pages of a magazine, most of us ignore the relentless onslaught of advertising. But are we in fact being persuaded and influenced by the glossy pages of that magazine or that 30 second commercial? The prevalence of advertising on consumer preference has long been debated by communication and psychology professors alike, none of whom can agree to the meanings of their research, which have all yielded vague and inconclusive results. A new area of study has suggested that human response to advertising is based on our cognitive efficiency instead of marketing manipulation.
Since the 80’s, as the awareness of HIV has increased exponentially, scientists have struggled for a vaccine to quell the rising number of AIDS-related deaths occurring each year. According to an AIDS epidemic update released in December of 2006  by the Joint United Nations Program on HIV/AIDS (UNIADS) and the World Health Organization (WHO), there were 39.5 million people worldwide living with HIV. That includes the 4.3 million newly infected individuals that year alone, and not including the 2.9 million deaths from AIDS in 2006.

As our knowledge of biology has increased exponentially, so has our potential to find new treatments and technologies to battle ailments previously incurable. However, many of these expansions of knowledge have faced stalling challenges and hurdles, halting practical applications. Gene therapy has been one of these dreams, touted as having endless potential, yet viable medical treatments were always yet to be developed. This is all about to change, as new laboratory research has seen unprecedented developments in gene therapy.