Posts Tagged ‘ science ’

Xenobiology: Life as We Don’t Know It

By Kaleb Lyonnais

What does life require? The most common answer is carbon, water, and solar energy. Carbon is the basis of biochemistry: organic molecules are composed of functional groups bonded to carbon skeletons. Water is the solvent those molecules are dissolved in. Solar energy allows organisms to break apart and rearrange those molecules.

These work for Earth-based life, but circumstances may exclude these on other planets. To explore other options, it must be understood why carbon, water, and solar energy are important on Earth. This study is called xenobiology, and it helps the search for alien life by expanding the set of things being looked for. Continue reading


Pink Diplomas: Gender Bias in Upper-Division Math and Science

By Amanda Bertsch

This essay was written for Tri-City Prep’s Math Honors class, which asks students each spring to write a paper on a topic in mathematics.

“What are you even doing here? You belong in the kitchen, barefoot and pregnant.”

These are the words that greeted Eileen Bertsch when she went to ask her calculus TA a question. Shocked, she didn’t respond, walking away without the answer to her query (Bertsch). The year was 1980.

Almost a century after the first women graduated from engineering programs, she was facing some of the same blunt rejection that these pioneering women engineers struggled through. As a freshman in college, she was hearing the same sexist rhetoric that had persisted for decades, still as sharply obvious as ever. Her calculus TA, while a particularly blatant example of why women are underrepresented in engineering, was only one of a series of challenges she and her sister Patricia Haslach would face as they earned engineering degrees. Continue reading

New Species of Hammerhead Shark Discovered

By Michael Staudt

Most new species discovered now are insects or microorganisms, often in the rich rainforest interiors. It came as a surprise, then, when a new species of hammerhead shark was discovered off the coast of Belize. On February 15th 2017, Belize Fishery departments stated that a previously unknown shark was found.

Demian Chapman, a graduate from Florida International University, had been conducting studies on the ecosystem off the coast of Belize. Fittingly enough, the scientist specializes in the identification of sharks. Dr. Chapman had been observing the migration patterns of hammerhead sharks when he discovered the specimen. Continue reading

A Hairy Question

By Amanda Bertsch


One of the most obvious differences between humans and other mammals is body hair. Most monkeys, including our closest genetic relatives, are covered in a thick coat of hair. In comparison, even the most well-bearded man seems nearly bald. So why the hair discrepancy? And why do we still have hair in certain regions, like the scalp and armpits? Continue reading

No laughing matter: why “triggered!” jokes are not and will never be funny

By Amanda Bertsch

Opinion articles reflect only the views of the author and not necessarily the views of the editorial board, the Denobis staff, or Tri-City College Prep. 


The word “triggered” has a number of useful functions. In its most simple definition, it is an expression of causation: the dog’s hair triggered an allergic reaction. Recently, it has also taken on a medical meaning. Leading mental health website Psych Central defines a trigger as something that elicits a strong memory or flashback of a past trauma. Someone who is triggered forcibly relieves a traumatic experience in their mind; such experiences are commonly sexual assault, memories from war, or other violent events. Content warnings, sometimes referred to as “trigger warnings,” are often used to warn people of possibly triggering content.

This brings the story to today, when the word “triggered” has become the newest internet darling and crept into the casual conversations of many high school students as well. Some people exclaim “triggered!” at every slight offense, from water spilling to someone correcting a grammar error. Jokes about triggering also extend to trigger warnings, with some jokingly putting warnings for “words,” “humanity,” or “opinions,” among others, on their online content.

Proponents of using this word jokingly often argue that words are “just words,” that they are simply joking around, or that restriction of the use of a word is a violation of their 1st Amendment rights. All three of these claims have a fundamental error that lies in an understanding of words. Continue reading