ESL 91

FALL, 1999

This page contains examples of the focus discipline term projects that students produced.

These projects are the result of individual research in the library and on the Internet and of group discussion on the topics.

Diet and Nutrition




Physical Anthropology





Computer Science


Malgorzata Wendolowicz
ESL 91
Fall, 1999


PROJECT QUESTION: Research common eating disorders. Find information on Anorexia Nervosa and on Bulimia. What seems to cause these eating disorders? Who is most likely to develop these eating disorders? Compare and contrast the symptoms, consequences, and prognosis for people suffering from each of these eating disorders. How do doctors treat people suffering from eating disorders? Are these treatments usually successful?


Every person eats. We do so because it is a biological need and because we enjoy it. Some people eat more, some eat less, some put on weight easily, and others do not. And some people go to such extremes that they harm themselves by eating too much or too little. As a result they may get sick and become victims of an eating disorder.

The most commonly known eating disorders are anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa. The exact causes of these two illnesses are unclear, but there seem to be biological, psychological and social factors involved in both of them. Very often sufferers, their families and friends do not realize the consequences that eating disorders may bring along and the seriousness of them. Therefore, treatment as well as understanding of eating disorders is a must.


Very broadly speaking, people suffering from eating disorders have difficulty with the simple act of eating when hungry and stopping when full. The "eating" in eating disorders refers to eating habits and attitudes about weight and body shape. The "disorder" means that the eating-related behavior results in loss of self-control, obsession, anxiety, and guilt.

All eating disorders are characterized by an unhealthy obsession with food, which becomes the most important relationship, but it is never a happy or easy one. This preoccupation with food eventually excludes everything else. A person's thoughts constantly center on food. Eating disorders come in as many shapes and varieties as the people who have them. There are two commonly known disorders: anorexia and bulimia.


Most experts agree that anorexia is a severe health problem. One out of every 250 women is likely to become a victim of anorexia. This illness is a disorder in which preoccupation with dieting and thinness leads to excessive weight loss. People who suffer from anorexia have an intense fear of becoming fat. Anorexia usually starts in the mid-teens. Occasionally it may start earlier, in childhood, or later, in the 30s or 40s.

Nearly always, anorexia begins with everyday dieting. About a third of anorexia sufferers have been overweight before starting to diet. Unlike normal dieting, which stops when the desired weight is reached, in anorexia the dieting and loss of weight continue until the sufferer is way below the normal limit. Because it is not easy to maintain the low weight, anorexics exercise very often; they consume very small amounts of food, or even take slimming pills.

Although technically the word anorexia means "loss of appetite", sufferers with anorexia actually have a normal appetite, but control their eating even when they suffer from hunger pains. This reminds me of an attractive teenager, Deborah. She was only 15 when she developed anorexia trying to please everyone. Just like other teenage girls, she was interested in boys and when her father told her that she would never get a date unless she lost some weight, she started to diet. Of course, just like all anorexics, once she got to the point when she was thin, she did not believe that she was thin enough and she kept going until she had to be hospitalized. She, like most anorexia victims, did not think that she was good enough to get attention from people.


The second commonly known eating disorder is bulimia. It generally starts with some stress, such as the breakup of a relationship. The cycle of binge/purge helps bulimics block out feelings that they think are unacceptable. It also prevents them from expressing those feelings in healthy ways. About 90 to 95 percent of bulimics are females. People with bulimia eat large amounts of food and then they get rid of it. Vomiting is the most common form of purging but some bulimics use laxatives and enemas. Others exercise to control their weight or they use diet pills to control appetite between binges. People who suffer from bulimia usually are aware of their eating habits. They know that they are out of control because they feel very guilty and depressed after they overeat.

Bulimics usually do not understand their own behavior, and they think that no one else will either. That is the main reason why they do not tell anyone about their problems. Therefore families, friends and even the doctors can have a hard time finding out that their close one suffers from bulimia.

Some individuals who suffer from bulimia also struggle with other addictions. They often abuse drugs and alcohol. Many of them suffer from depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder, anxiety and other illnesses.


There are many different ideas about the causes of anorexia and bulimia, and it is important to stress that not all of them apply to every sufferer. Both disorders are caused by social, psychological, and biological factors.



    Because many people with anorexia or bulimia suffer from depression some scientists believe that there might be a link between these two disorders. Chemical or hormonal imbalances in the body, perhaps associated with adolescence, may "help" to cause eating disorders. Eating disorders seem to run in families, with female relatives being affected most often. These findings suggest that genetic factors, depression and alcohol in blood may predispose some people to eating disorders.


    It is speculated that eating disorders may function as an attempt to being in control of life when a person has been controlled in the past. Sufferers usually want to be intelligent, perfect, and have high personal standards. They often want to please others but they have low self-esteem and problems with socializing. They are usually depressed. They think of themselves as useless and not worthy, while in fact they are very good people.


Anorexia and bulimia bring along physical, emotional and psychological consequences. The physical effects can be very serious, but are generally reversible if the illnesses are "caught" in the early stages.



Emotional and psychological effects include difficulties with activities that involve food, fear of not being able to "fit in", mood swings, and changes in personality.


Eating disorders are most successfully treated when diagnosed early. Unfortunately, even when physicians diagnose and family members confront the ill person about his or her behavior, individuals with eating disorders may deny that they have a problem. For this reason people with anorexia may not receive medical or psychological attention until they have already become dangerously thin. People with bulimia are often normal weight and are able to hide their illness from others for years.

Consequently, getting and keeping people with these disorders in treatment can be very difficult. In any case, it is very important to treat the illness as soon as possible. The sooner the victim gets the treatment, the better results he/she will get. In some cases long-term treatment may be needed.

If an eating disorder is suspected, the first step is a complete physical examination. Once an eating disorder is diagnosed, the doctor has to decide whether the patient is in danger and requires hospitalization or if he/she can be treated as an outpatient.

To help those with disorders deal with their illness and emotional issues, some form of psychotherapy is usually needed. Some patients are recommended to attend group meetings, in which people share their experiences with others who have similar problems.


When I came to United States 9 years ago I noticed that a lot of Americans were overweight. To me it was a surprise, because in Poland not too many people are heavy. Why? I just assume, that in Poland people very rarely eat processed food, which contains artificial "to keep it fresh" ingredients which are hard to digest. They also do a lot of outdoor activities. Not many individuals own cars. They usually ride bicycles.

Also watching movies made in US while I was in Poland made me think that America is a perfect country. Freedom, beautiful actors and actresses impressed me and made me believe so. I remember writing letters to my friends back home and telling them about fat ladies. I was laughing and making fun of overweight woman. I did not know any better. I was thin, all my friends and family members were thin and I could not understand why people would eat so much and get so chubby.

My thoughts changed slightly as soon as I met Veronica. She was overweight and because of that she could not get out of her bed. She suffered from a back injury and even though she ate very little she was gaining weight. She made me realize that being overweight is not always your choice.

I had never heard about eating disorders until I had to do research and write essays about them. All the information I found about anorexia and bulimia made me realize that so many people are affected and it is a very serious illness. Young people are at the highest risk, but just few make the effort to help them. We usually just name the disorder and move on with our lives.

By surfing the Internet, and reading books about eating disorders I also realized that one of my friends suffers from bulimia. If it wasn't for the ESL class I would have never thought of that. Iwona always tries to lose weight; she talks about it constantly, but I always see her eating. All women do that, but she eats and eats and then she feels useless, depressed and guilty about it. That's what makes her different from other women. I know for a fact that she's been abusing laxatives. I recently spoke to Iwona and told her about my research, the consequences that follow up and the help she can get. Of course, she denied at first that she has any eating problems. But on the very next day she called me and told me all about herself. We cried and laughed but it didn't solve the problem, she still struggles with bulimia. I wish I could use some magic and fix her problem at once, but there is no such thing as magic especially when it comes to eating disorders. I can just promise myself, and more importantly her, to stand by her, to support her and advise her. I realized that just by talking to her and letting her know that I care makes her happy. I am really pleased with what I have learned and the fact that I can help someone and be the "expert" makes me feel so good.


When we think about eating disorders; anorexia and bulimia we have a skeleton or a chubby person in front of our eyes. We do not think about the struggle the victims go through, or the consequences they face. We usually look at those "poor" people and think badly about them as if they were stupid or contagious.

It is very hard in today's society, especially on a daily basis, to constantly remind ourselves about eating disorders, but we have to realize that media, the families, schools, and we all are responsible for encouraging behaviors leading to eating disorders. Perhaps we can stop or change the messages that influence us so much.


Abraham, Suzanne and Derek Llevelyn-Jones. Eating Disorders - The Facts. New York: Oxford University Press, 1988.

Harvard Eating Disorders Center. "Information About Eating Disorders". Online. Oct. 9, 1999.

Hodkinson, Liz. Eating Disorders: Your Questions Answered. UK: Ward Lock, 1995.

Kasper, Loretta F. Interdisciplinary English. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1998. 176-182.

Karyn. "Eating Disorders and The Media". Online. Oct. 10. 1999.

Levenkron, Steven. Treating and Overcoming Anorexia Nervosa. New York: Berne Convention, 1982.

Microsoft Encarta '97. CD-ROM. The Microsoft Corporation, 1996.

The Family Doctor. CD-ROM. Creative Media, 1997

The Something Fishy Website on Eating Disorders. Online. Oct. 11. 1999.

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Sandra Brutus
ESL 91
Fall, 1999


PROJECT QUESTION: Research common eating disorders. Find information on Anorexia Nervosa and on Bulimia. What seems to cause these eating disorders? Who is most likely to develop these eating disorders? Compare and contrast the symptoms, consequences, and prognosis for people suffering from each of these eating disorders. How do doctors treat people suffering from eating disorders? Are these treatments usually successful?


Good nutrition is very important for the human body. To stay healthy, our body needs the right balance of main components of nutrition and vitamins. Many diseases come from poor nutrition caused by the way we diet.

The purpose of dieting is to cut down on fat and cholesterol and to add more healthy elements. People have not been dieting the right way and also for the wrong reasons. Many people that need to lose weight for health reasons do not recognize it, while others who do not need to lose weight are doing it for cosmetic reasons.

Society judges us based on our physical appearance that causes us to look for body perfection. Many people are desperately dieting which can leads a big number of them to develop an eating disorder.

Eating disorders

An eating disorder is a disruption in normal eating habit characterized by an excess perfection of a body image. More than five million Americans suffered from an eating disorder. The majority of people affected by it are women, teenagers and adolescents.

More than 1000 girls die of eating disorders each year. Eating disorders are a combination of biological, psychological and social factors problems.

A person with an eating disorder is obsessed with food, counts calories or fat grams on each food that will be eating. They like cooking and baking for others, and they have discomfort to eat in public.

Eating disorders usually start with diet. When dieting gets out of control, and the dieter does not know when to stop dieting, that will start an eating disorder. Eating disorder is a dieting disorder because it is the cause of dieting that lead to that abnormal eating habit.

Eating disorders are a complication of a weight and food obsession, and difficulty dealing with oneself and others. This disorder can cause signs of stress, low blood pressure, pulse and temperature.

Teenagers and society pressure of eating disorders

Many teenagers have a difficult time coping with the pressure of changes in their life and their bodies. During puberty, teens are stressful and emotional, some of them gain or lose weight. When they try to diet, people congratulated them, which made them believe to stay thin so they can be beautiful.

By buying teen or fashion magazines, or by watching young teenage television shows, they are convinced that thinness is beauty. Many of them will desperately try to look like their idols. Teens are trying to have the cultural body shape so they can be popular, accepted by friends and society.

When teenagers are subjected to sexual advances, it becomes scary and causes them to be ashamed of their body development. They may a fear of becoming a man or a woman, which may lead them to try to go back to their childhood appearance by dieting.

Dancers are facing the pressure to stay thin so they can reach body perfection. Heidi Guenther, a 22-year-old ballerina died of heart attack due to the result of her eating disorder. As with dancers, gymnasts and figure skaters are told from their instructor to stay skinny and watch their weight. They may experience bone injuries due to loss of calcium.

Advertisements in magazines and newspapers send us the message to lose weight so we can look better. People judge us through their conversation and tease us about our weight and height.

In our society, an overweight person is portrayed as lazy, incompetent, and ugly while they glorify a skinny person as sexy, powerful and successful.

Super models are continuously dieting to stay skinny and get skinnier. They are usually 15 to 20 percent lighter than what is suppose to be normal for their weight and height, and they weight up to 25 percent less than a normal woman.

Anorexia Nervosa

Anorexia nervosa is one of the eating disorders. Anorexics starve themselves or purge themselves regularly. Anorexia has severe emotional and physical effects. 10 to 15 anorexia patients die of their illness. People with this disorder hide it from others.

The major consequence of anorexia is malnutrition. When the body does not receive enough nourishment to function, malnutrition occurs. Malnutrition affects the brain functions. Behavioral changes when starving the body or loss of control when food is available, mood changes, depression, loss of concentration and social isolation. Constipation may occur due to low calorie intake, which is not enough to bulk a normal bowel movement.

Anorexics patients have low self-esteem, think that they fat even they are bone thin, that is the reason they dieted obsessively.

Bulimia Nervosa

Bulimics eat a huge amount of food, then feel guilty about eating too much, and purge themselves. They get rid of unwanted food by vomiting, laxatives, diet pills and compulsive exercise. This disease affects 1 to 3 percent of middle and high school girls.

Self-abusive purging causes hair loss, fatigue, insomnia, muscle weakness, edemas, dizziness, sore throat, stomach pain or camping.

Bulimics eat to feed their emotional hunger. They do not recognize physical and emotional hunger. They eat to feed the emptiness or loneliness they have in their minds or hearts. Food became a way to deal with pressure, depression, and a way to cope with life, with low self-esteem and anger. Food is the only thing they are in control of, and food helped them to avoid the real issues that have been bothering them. Bulimics stopped eating only when they feel uncomfortable with themselves or in physical pain. People with bulimia isolated themselves from other people so they can control their habit easily.

In her book Interdisciplinary English, Kasper talked about Lisa, who was eighteen when she developed bulimia. She overate then made herself vomit. She could not control her own behavior so she did not ask for help. She had low self-esteem and suicidal thoughts, she was hospitalized and family friends and counseling helped her a lot to cure this disease.


Both diseases, anorexia and bulimia should look for cure as early as possible. The longer they wait, the more difficult it will be to overcome the disorder and also to treat all the affects of the body.

Because it is an emotional and physiological problems, a persons with an eating disorder should treat by a team includes a psychotherapist, a nutritionist, a psychiatrist, and a group therapy counselor.

Family and friends support and encouragement may help them to succeed in this treatment also. Our school needs to educate students about the importance of nutrition and prevent them from eating disorder. Youngsters need to learn that they should not judge people by their physical appearance, it is what inside that count. Peer can help an eating disorder person by helping that person developed self confidence, so that person do not have to be shy or depressed.

As we all know food is something that we cannot live without, but what I have learned from this project is we should know how to control our eating. We should use food for the right reasons, to fulfil our physical hunger, and to keep us alive. Food should not use for fight any emotional pain. People need to deal with their emotions, communicate their feelings and anger so they do not need to turn it on themselves.

Good health depends on a balanced diet and a proper amount of exercise. To have a physical and psychological well being, we need the proper nutrition and socialized with others. We should diet for health reasons, to keep up a normal weight. We have to love and accept ourselves no matter our size or our shape.


Abraham Suzanne. Eating disorders: The facts. Oxford, England: Oxford University Press, 1997.

Eating disorders. A.N.A.B.Online 1996.

Kasper, Loretta F. Interdisciplinary English New York, 1998. 128-132, 176-183.

Online. July 1996.

Thompson Colleen. Online.

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Ruri Kawabata
ESL 91
Fall, 1999


PROJECT QUESTION: Research common eating disorders. Find information on Anorexia Nervosa and on Bulimia. What seems to cause these eating disorders? Who is most likely develop these eating disorders? Compare and contrast the symptoms, consequences, and prognosis for people suffering from each of these eating disorders? How do doctors treat people suffering from eating disorders? Are these treatments usually successful?


Have you ever tried dieting? If you are female, the answer would be yes, or even if you are male, the answer could be yes, too. There is nobody who doesn't care about the appearance a bit. Now, I am on the diet, too because I wan to have an attractive looking body that is slim. Like me, a lot of people start to diet. Some of them succeed and others don't.

Unfortunately, some people who have low self-esteem are likely to have trouble with dieting and develop eating disorders. There are two main eating disorders. The first one is anorexia nervosa in which people starve themselves. The second one is bulimia nervosa in which people can't control their eating habit and eat large amount of food, and then they throw it up. In recent studies, the scholars found the causes, the symptoms, the physical and psychological effects and the treatments.

Anorexia Nervosa

What Is Anorexia and Who Is Likely to Develop it?

Person with anorexia is abnormally underweight because of the insufficient intake of daily nutrients and extreme exercise for dieting. Despite of the thinness, the person doesn't realize her or his problem and keep believing that she is still fat. They are intensely sensitive about gaining weight. Most people with anorexia are female, especially teenage girls or perfectionists who are good students. Only 10 percent of anorexics are men, and it is more common for homosexual men, wrestlers or runners. Typically, both female and male athletes seem to develop eating disorders brought by regulating body weight to succeed in competition.

The Physical and Psychological Effects of Anorexia

The insufficient daily intake of nutrients leads a lot of physical problem. Because of the lack of nutrients, people with anorexia tend to have anemia, infrequent menstruation, metabolic rate slows, bone density, impaired immune response, heart failure and so on. Also, they feel depressed, irritable, lack judgement or have a distorted body image. In fact, they keep thinking that they are still fat even when they become skinny. Some of them have strange behaviors such as compulsive rituals because of the stress.

The Treatment of Anorexia

The final goal is to gain weight, and the treatment should be combined with medical therapy, nutritional therapy, psychological therapy, and family therapy by hospitalization. In medical therapy, it is concerned to recover their physical health, so doctors use medicine to help heart regulation or bone growth. In nutritional therapy, patients' daily meals are under control by nutritionists to restore their weight normal. Psychological therapy include counseling with psycho therapists, group discussion with people who have same problem, and family therapy that family members participate in therapy to resolve family problem. Since the cause of anorexia include social pressure, the supports of family and friends are necessary for recovery.

Bulimia Nervosa

What is Bulimia and Who is likely to develop it?

The person with bulimia continues the cycle of binge eating and vomiting with extreme exercise to burn calories. For them, the intense exercise is a means of punishment or permission for eating food. Unlike anorexia, many of them actually know their problem, but most of them hide it. Because they want to escape from social pressures such as parents' expectations or self-image of ideal appearance, they eat large amount of food or sweets. As in anorexics, most bulimics are females, but they are likely to associate with social activities and have a lot more friends. Let's take a example of such cases. Geri who is bulimic started dieting at age of nine. Her parents are very strict and serious Christians, and they always expected her perfect works because she is the eldest child in their kids. Therefore, she always tried to perform perfectly, and she even hid her love of lock music. Therefore, binge eating became her emission for stress, and she controlled her shape by purging it. And also, the strange eating habit made herself feel embarrassed, and she always felt lonely because she thought nobody really understood her. As a consequence, she became drug addiction to divert the psychological pain.

The Physical and Psychological Effects of Bulimia

People with often hurt their throat and teeth because of the stomach acid by vomiting. Some also have problems with gums, potassium levels, menstruation, blood circulation, orthopedic etc. As psychological problems, their loss of control of eating habit embarrasses them, and they blame themselves, so they hide their guilty secrets. Also, they feel depressed, anxious, isolated and angry; and frequently, these feelings make them suicidal. Besides, they tend to spend much time thinking about their body weight, calories of nutrients, and their intense fear of being fat makes them throw the nutrients up.

The Treatment of Bulimia

Bulimic patients also need individual physical therapy, psychological therapy, and group and family therapy, and these help them to develop a sense of individuality or self-control. Bulimic treatment concentrates more on behavioral improvement rather than physical treatment.

My Response

As I worked on this project, some points became obvious. The first one is that eating disorders are not only brought on by personal identity but are also affected by community and companions. Another thing that I noticed is that dieting is almost impossible trial to succeed. The person who really wants to achieve reducing their weight healthfully has to have a strong will, invulnerable view, and support from their companions. Those three are important elements for its achievement for me, too. In my case, I lost 20 pounds during last four months. While I was on a diet, my friends always praised me for a bit of change in my appearance, and my mother always said to me to get enough nutrients for daily needs and to do exercise. Moreover, I always told myself not to rush and to take my time. The most important thing is to love myself as I am now. Even if I was very fat, I never hated myself. My goal is to reduce another 20 pounds. I am not sure by when I will accomplish it, but I don't rush and believe that being fat is not being a failure in life. That's my way, and these are necessary to succeed in dieting.


Eating disorders are now frequent problems in our society in which body image is brought on by media and a lot of information about dieting is presented. Those who are easily affected by the information, especially young women, are likely to become victims of eating disorders because of their low self-esteem and sensitivity about being fat. Since anorexia nervosa occurs in those who starve themselves and do intense exercise, the extreme weight loss leads some physical problems like heart failure or organ density. On the other hand, because bulimia involves binge eating and purging, they hurt their throat and teeth by acid. As psychological problems, people with both anorexia and bulimia often feel depressed, anxious, or irritable, and sometimes that makes them commit suicide. Therefore, they are often taken care of in hospital for psychotherapy. In addition to there, they really need support of friends and family members, and those their companions have to be very careful to say anything to them. You also might have friends who have eating disorders and you don't know about it, so be careful when you talk to your friends about beauty and dieting.


"Eating Disorders: Anorexia and Bulimia Nervosa." Online. 5 Oct.1999

Something Fishy Website on Eating Disorders. Online. 12 Oct.1999

Whitney, N. Eleanor and Sharon R. Rolfes. Understanding Nutrition. St. Paul, MN: 1996. 335-343

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Mubarak A. Abdella
ESL 91
Fall, 1999


PROJECT TOPIC:There are two primary theories about how the human race evolved. These theories are (1) The Mitochondrial DNA theory and (2) The Multiregional theory. Research and explain each of these theories. Which of the two theories do you believe is a more probable explanation of the evolution of the human race? Why?


Human evolution is a very interesting topic of research, and there are many theories that have tried to give an exact idea about how the life of modern humans started and where the humans came from. One of these theories is called the "Mitochondrial DNA" theory and another theory is called the "Multiregional theory."

These theories gave some answers to the question that says "where did we come from?" These theories have different suggestions about the origin of the modern human. This essay will explain what the Mitochondrial DNA and the multiregional theories are and how they attempt to explain human evolution.

The Mitochondrial DNA Theory

Mitochondrial DNA is a small part of the human genome contained outside the nucleus of the cell in the energy generating mitochondria. This particular feature passes through generations between females only. The Mitochondrial DNA shows a great deal of individual diversity. This fact supported the idea that these individual genetic diversities can help to trace the evolutionary history of human females. Researchers believe that the genes in the nuctieds sequence lead to diversity, and the genetic characteristics gather in a particular order in the isolated population making these populations able to split over the world.

One of the most important findings came from analyzing DNA from Asians, Europeans, and Africans. The scientists found that the diversity among African populations is greater than among other populations. According to Lynn Jorde, the U.S associate chairman of human genetics, "that’s consistent with Africa containing the source population from which modern humans arose 100,000 years ago." The Mitochondrial DNA theory holds that modern humans emerged from earlier humanoids in Africa 100,000 to 20,000 years ago, and migrated to Asia and other parts of the world. All the research and findings supported the evolutionary theory of mitochondrial DNA which suggested that all human life evolved from one woman who was born and lived in Africa about 200,000 years ago.

The Multiregional Theory

On the other hand, the Multiregional Theory says that there was a small group that began in Africa and this group was not modern humans, but it was Homo Erectus. The Multiregional Theory says that this Homo Erectus group split all over the world before they evolved into modern humans. The map shows how and when this happened.

These Homo Erectus lived in different environments, and they began to evolve through natural selection, and genetic evolution. With time they began to look a little different in different places, because of the effect of these different environments. The Multiregional Theory says that genetic evolution is a result of natural selection, which caused a developing of their characteristics and the diversity that began to appear among them.

The Multiregional Theory also says that there were no modern humans in Europe until 50,000 years ago and that the people who lived in Europe were Neanderthals. We can guess that they developed into modern Europeans. In the Far East before 50,000 years ago these ancestors evolved into modern Far Easterners, modern Chinese, modern Indians, and whatever. There is no specific evidence to prove this theory, but some basic evidence appeared in the Far East, Europe and Africa. This evidence showed that there are similarities between very old civilizations.

My Response

Working on this project taught me a lot of useful ways of finding the information that I need to know. For example, I learned new techniques of searching on the Internet. I also learned new information about the human evolution theories, and how people have a lot of diversities. In addition to that, when I studied about the human evolution theory, I learned vocabulary that helped me to improve my writing skills, which is so important to me in my future. This topic also allowed me to have a clear idea about physical anthropology, which I was unfamiliar with, and which I was hoping to learn more about.

The theories of human evolution are a lot, and they have a lot of diversities. The Mitochondrial DNA and the Multiregional Theories gave a very close look to the human evolution, but I believe that the Multiregional Theory is more correct than the Mitochondrial DNA Theory. There is some evidence that supports the Multiregional Theory, such as the fact that people have different characteristics throughout the world. That means that people probably did not evolve from one modern human who was a woman, as the Mitochondral DNA Theory says. If the Mitochondrial DNA Theory were correct, the difference in people's genetic characteristics would be very little because all the people would have inherited very similar genetic characteristics from this woman.


Finally, we can say that these two theories represent different ideas about human evolution. The Mitochondrial DNA Theory of evolution determined that modern human evolved in Africa; in contrast, the Multiregional Theory determined that modern humans did not evolve in Africa, but they evolved from Homo Erectus after Homo Erectus split over the world.

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Mariya Rakhlevskaya
ESL 91
Fall, 1999

PROJECT TOPIC: Describe the serious memory disorder known as Alzheimer's disease, which causes severe memory loss resulting from degeneration in the cells of the brain. Discuss the causes and effects of and the treatments for Alzheimer's.


Alzheimer’s disease is an incurable degenerative disease of the brain first described in 1906 by the German neuropathologist Alois Alzheimer. The core symptom of Alzheimer’s disease is the progressive loss of memory and intellectual abilities. The other symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease are personality changes, which range from apathy to restless agitation. Psychiatric symptoms, such as depression, delusions and hallucinations may occur during the illness too.

Alzheimer’s disease is prevalent among elderly people; it affects about 10% Americans over age 65 and 30% to 50% of those beyond age 85. Some people are born at risk for the illness because of the genes they inherit.

There is no cure for Alzheimer’s disease, but the researchers know of the possible causes, effects on the brain, effects on the family how they related to the illness, and how they can help to treat this disease on early its stages and to slow its progression.


Alzheimer’s disease is characterized by specific changes in the brain. The biochemistry of the brain of people, who suffered from Alzheimer’s disease, is different from normal brain. Alzheimer’s disease involves the shrinkage of the brain together with loss of nerve cells in several areas of the brain, which are responsible for intellectual activity.

The research determined some biochemical abnormalities in the brain of Alzheimer’s disease. They found that the brains of people with Alzheimer’s disease contain fragments of amyloid, a normal nerve cell protein. How this protein becomes fragmented and why the fragments are responsible for killing brain sells is still unknown.

The research found also specific fibrous structures in diseased neurons, which may interfere with normal cell function. The fibrous structure is fibrous that become twisted together, and they are called neurofibrillar tangles. The other abnormalities are associated with reduction in the brain neurotransmitters, the chemical messages, used for communication between nerve cells. A major neurotransmitter affected in Alzheimer’s disease is acetylcholine. Today acetylcholine is one of the best-understood neurotransmitters, which plays an important role in people behavior and emotion.

Neurobiologists, using powerful electron microscopes, can magnify thinly sliced specimens of tissue enough to see that store and release acetylcholine molecules. When acetylcholine is released to the muscles cells, then muscles contract. If the transmission of acetylcholine is blocked, muscles cannot contract. The brains of people with Alzheimer’s disease have large portion of destroyed nerve cells in the brain, which cannot produce enough acetylcholine.

There are other neurotransmitters: norepinephrine, serotonin, substance P, and somatostatin. Perhaps, they may be affected in Alzheimer’s disease also, but the neurotransmitter acetylcholine is mostly studied.


The causes of Alzheimer’s disease are unknown. However, the researches believed that several factors, such as genetic predisposition and advanced age, play an important role.

Scientists identified three chromosomes: 19, 14 and 21, which are responsible for Alzheimer’s disease. Chromosome 19, which controls the common form of disease, appears after 65, and the other two forms, 14 and 21, are linked to genetic material and may occur at earlier age. These three chromosomes are more important for development of Alzheimer’s disease. However, the scientists are considering that they may do so in combination with other factors. The other factors may be an infectious agent similar to a virus, or perhaps, concentration of aluminum in the cells of brain.

Some scientists believe that a gene, which produces a substance called apolipoprotein E4, can increase the chance to get this illness, but they also believe that it is not the cause of Alzheimer’s disease.

The scientists are looking into the possible role of amyloid in Alzheimer’s disease. They suggested the protein itself may cause nerve cells degeneration, but others believe that it is breakdown of the cells that causes the protein to collect. However, the scientists received a synthetic amyloid in the laboratory and they proved that amyloid fragments could kill nerve cells. The scientists considered if the protein does contribute to the development of Alzheimer’s disease, then they have a chance to discover a method to treat or even to prevent Alzheimer’s disease.

Some researches also indicate the correlation between the acetylcholine levels in the brain and production of amyloid. They have found evidence that levels of the protein can raise if the concentration of the neurotransmitter decline.

The other researchers suppose that environmental toxins, especially metals, may also contribute to Alzheimer's disease. The studies of the brain tissue of patients with Alzheimer’s disease showed, that its brain contains traces of aluminum and other metals. Possible, they are factors to the onset of the disease or a result of the disease.


The early symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease for many people include language problems, loss of recent memory, declining the activity of daily living, personality changes. In the beginning stages of Alzheimer’s disease the person cannot find the right word, some words may be not understood, the language skills deteriorate. The person may forget how to find the way home, forget that he or she has breakfast, however, they remember the events from the distant past well. We also can see some deviance in their behavior. Some of them become more quit and withdrawn, the others may become more restless. Some times they start to get angry even if there is no reason. Their behavior becomes not appropriate to the environment.

In progressive stage the symptoms become more obvious. Both long- and short-term memories are lost. The person cannot participate in logical conversation, has difficulty understanding directions or instructions. The people become disoriented with regard to what day it is, where they are and who they are. They can no longer recognize family members or friends, or take care of themselves. They need help to eat and to wash. The person becomes totally dependent on others. At this time persons required complete 24 hours care and often become bedridden and inactive. It is very difficult time for family and for patients because they are at increased risk for any infection, especially pneumonia, which may be cause of death.


Unfortunately, while the causes of Alzheimer’s disease remain unknown, we do not have a specific treatment for this disease. Nevertheless, the psychotherapists used a variety of drugs, which can be helpful for individuals suffering from Alzheimer’s disease. Most current experimental drugs are used to correct the defect in acetylcholine neurotransmission. The researches indicate that the medication known as tacrine can bring some mental improvement for Alzheimer’s disease patients. This drug increases the ability to remember and reason. The mechanisms of influence of the drug are to inhibit the enzyme acetyl cholinesterase, which breaks down acetylcholine.

New drugs, which target to the acetylcholine receptors in the brain, are donepezil hydrochloride (Aricept) and rivvastigmine (Exelon) used in Britain. They enable acetylcholine, which carries the chemical messages in the brain to remain longer within nerve cells. Aricept and Exelon are certainly effective in the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease. However, they are not cures and will not halt or slow down the progress of the disease. Often psychotherapists use specific medications to treat the depression and other psychological problems that may accompany Alzheimer’s disease and increase the symptoms of dementia.

Although there is still no effective drug to correct other biochemical abnormalities detected in brains of patients with Alzheimer’s disease, we are hoping that the drugs therapy is the way to useful treatment.


There are different ways to study Alzheimer’s disease. Neurochemists are analyzing the neurotransmitters changes linked to Alzheimer’s disease. Neuropathologists are working to understand why only some nerve cells are affected by the disease. Psychologists, psychiatrists and neurologists are studying individual patients to better understand the nature of the intellectual impairments associated with Alzheimer’s disease.

Some researchers used the method of modeling in their scientific investigation. They created different models, studied them and then they transferred the result of their investigation to real people. For example, the researches at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine have genetically engineered a mouse, which could be the key for them to understand how to halt Alzheimer’s disease before the dementia start. In this case they used the mouse with an inherited Alzheimer’s gene mutation, which predicts an early onset of the disease, to understand how the gene affected disease at early stage.

The Case Western mouse was the first model, which performed the functions of an entire human gene, isolated from other genes. Due to the models, the research can observe the mechanisms of Alzheimer’s disease in the beginning, see the early changes that are occurring and can halt the disease early in its progression. Although, the goal of using models is a cure for Alzheimer’s disease, professor Lamb from Case Western University believes that in the near term he has a hope at least to delay the onset of Alzheimer’s disease and in the future to prevent the anguish of Alzheimer’s disease.


To write this project I read many interesting and different articles about Alzheimer’s disease: how this illness is defined, what are its symptoms in the early and late stage. There are other interesting questions, which are related to this illness. One question involves children born to older Dads at risk for Alzheimer’s disease or if it is possible to avoid Alzheimer’s disease; however, I have not discussed this question in this project.

Alzheimer’s disease is a terrible illness, which has no treatment because still the causes of the disease are unknown. One way for treating this illness today is only drug therapy. I read about new drugs such as Aricept and Exelon, which are helpful at early stage of illness, but they ate not cutes and do not slow this illness.

Especially interesting for me was the new information about a genetically engineered mouse, the kind of models, which researchers used to find the key to how to halt Alzheimer’s illness before the dementia starts.


Alzheimer’s disease is a terrible illness, which is prevalent among elderly people. Unfortunately, we haven’t yet a specific treatment for this disease because the causes of Alzheimer’s disease are still unknown. Nevertheless, to date the doctors use a variety of therapies, which can be helpful for the individual suffering from this illness. The science of psychopharmacology has found new drugs that are effective in the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease. However, these drugs are not cures and do not slow down the progress of the disease.

The scientific investigation continues. Some researchers used different models in their investigation to better understand how to treat Alzheimer’s disease and hopefully will find a cure on better treatment in the future.


Academic American Encyclopedia, Deluxe Library Edition, 1, 1994, p 320.

Encyclopedia Americana, 100th Anniversary Library Edition, 1 1995, pp. 649-650.

Kasper, Loretta F. Interdisciplinary English. New York: Mc Graw-Hill, 1998. p 94-100.

Myers, David G. Exploring Psychology, Fourth Edition. New York: Worth Publishers. Inc., 1999. p.42.

Philipkoski, Keinsten "Mouse Gets Alzheimer’s Disease." Wired News Online: [1 November 1999].

US Healthcare "Ask NOAH about: Aging Alzheimer’s Disease" NOAH Online [18 October 1999].

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Efronit Levi
ESL 91
Fall, 1999

Topic: Research the landmark experiment conducted by Stanley Milgram on "The Dilemma of Obedience." What did Milgram find? What was the significance of these findings?

We all obey authority from the first day that we are born; first it's our parents then

Teachers, Police and etc... We listen and obey because it's easy to obey authority. But sometimes it is dangerous to follow orders that would harm other people. Can we see this? Can we stand by something like this? History shows us that most of the time people will take the easy way and follow orders either because they are scared or they think that somebody should decide for them as they started their life dependent on other human beings.

Stanley Milgram was a psychologist who decided to study how far normal people will obey an order even if they know that they are harming other people. He believed that people would obey authority like history shows us. Milgram was interested in the reason for people's actions. Milgram's strong study and its conclusions are shocking. To be able to understand his theory and conclusion we have to take a look at his life, experience, and the factors that led him to this study.

Milgram's background

Stanley Milgram was interested in issues that affect the average person on the street. We can see his interest by the works that he published as his scientific article "The Experience of City Living" Milgram worked also in research on compression of a person's mental map in Paris compared to prison's mental map in N.Y.City. " In 1959-1960 when he returned from Paris he worked with Asch who was working on the study of similarity in form or the way people respond to the same rules . Asch completed the study that involved choosing lines judged to be the same size. This was the turning point in Milgram's career because Milgram changed his research to focus on Obedience to Authority. World War II and the Nuremberg trial raised a lot of questions and led him to start his experiment. He examined war criminals whose main defense was based on "Obedience." For example Eichman a war criminal that sent a lot of Jews to die in the camp, supported his action by obedience and following orders. Milgram's experiment Obedience to Authority took place at Yale University in 1960. Milgram concluded that the factor from his study could explain history. Today his experiment is considered unethical because of human rights. By 1974 Milgram published Obedience to Authority and by 1975 he was nominated for the National Book Award.

Setting of the Experiment-

The experiment was done with ordinary people. The people were told that they were participating in a study " on the effect of punishment on learning" but they really were tested for how far they would obey. He had two groups one was an actress that acted as if they were receiving a punishment for wrong answer; the other was the teacher that didn't know that the students were acting like they received the punishment. The teachers were asked to shock and increase the voltage every time the student's answer was wrong. Most teachers obeyed even if their morals told them differently. The teachers asked who would be responsible for any harm to the student. When the teachers found out that they would not be responsible ,they just punished the students. The teachers were not aware that the students were actresses and believed that they were hurting the student.

The Findings

Most of teachers continued to shock the student even if they knew that they were hurting them. From all, 65% of the teachers that participated in the experiment punished and increased the shock up to 450 volts. This is a shocking finding . However, if you feel that it's hard to believe that normal people will obey orders that tell them to harm other people, look back at the history that shows us that this finding is true.

Examples from History-

We have many real examples from life that people have ignored human rights. This examples range from slavery in the U.S. to World War II, etc.... During the Holocaust in World War II millions of people died just because they belonged to a different race and religion. At My Lai in 1974 the American solders in Vietnam killed 350 people including children. We also have the Jonestown massacre in 1978 and many more examples of people that followed cults or religion leader even to the extent of harming their own flesh and blood.

How do you massacre millions? This question is still unanswered. We find out that with our complex mind it's not so hard to get to the point of harming others. The question is still open because it's hard to believe that human beings would follow such orders to hurt others. (To make it more believable see pictures in the appendix at the end of my paper.)

I also encourage people to research and ask survivors if they don't believe. Two different institutes repeated Milgram's experiments and made this unbelievable finding more acceptable by supporting those findings.

My Response-

I hope that after you read this essay you will agree with me that obeying authority blankly is dangerous. We should teach our children to think from a young age about any order that they are asked to follow. We should see that obedience to authority does not always work for the best of everyone. People should take personal responsibility for their own actions. We saw this point in the experiment of Stanley Mlgram. This was the only point that the teachers were interested in. They wonted to know if they would be held responsible for any damage to the students. We should learn from the experiment and use the findings in our life. This finding should change a lot of things in our law in the court system. Sometimes it takes only one bad person and a lot of people to obey like Adolph Hitler in World War II that led the war. We as a society should open our eyes to prevent things like this from start. People most of the times don't pay attention to sick messages and just ignore them until it's too late. Hitler started to send his sick messages years before he became the dictator. Therefore I feel that the court should punish and judge people for their own actions and their individual judgement. The problem may not disappear but for sure it will decrease. Milgram just opened a door and raised more questions that should be tested in our societies. My question is still pounding in my head, How do you massacre millions? How ignorant are people? Are we a selfish society? Selfish individuals? . Do you think that you as a person today would participate in an order from someone like Hitler? According to Milgram's result you probably will. It is your future and ours as a society and this is the reason that I would like you to think about this issue.


Miller, Heather "Stanley Milgram" online- [10/5/99]

Obedience to authority online- [10/12/99]

Study question for Stanley milgram's "The Perils of Obedience" online- [10/24/99]

Psychology: obedience online-[10/12/99]

Stanley Milgram"s Experiment online--[10/5/99]

WLU Film & Video Collection . obedience online- [10/5/99]

Shocking Experiments: Secularism and Human Rights [10/24/99]



In this web site you can find pictures about the experiment and examples of history event. Please look in.

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Radek Turowski
Fall, 1999

Topic: Research recent developments in the field of Artificial Intelligence, particularly concerning the COG project at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). What is the purpose of the COG project? How does the COG project fit into the field of human-computer interaction?


The imagination of artificial mechanism demonstrating a form of intelligent behavior isn’t a new phenomenon that took place only in today’s technology. Although the term of "Artificial Intelligence" was used for the first time not so long ago, the problem of creating machines that can behave like people, solve problems, and even provide companionship has intrigued scientists for hundreds of years. The main goal for scientists working on Artificial Intelligence is to make a machine with humanlike intelligence and humanlike body. This requires a knowledge in many different fields like computer science, physiology and philosophy.

Today the goal, although slowly, is becoming reality. Although Artificial Intelligence is a young science, and there is no generally accepted theories concerning intelligent machines, there are already examples of this research. The most important and the most known is a robot named COG. Another one is Kismet which is a part of COG project designed for social interaction. However, Artificial Intelligence is not strictly related only with robots. The example of that research can be only a computer program which is also called an Expert System.

Definition of AI

Artificial Intelligence is the ability of a machine to imitate human behavior. Making a computer or a robot controlled by a computer that is able to think, to reason and learn from the past. It means, it’s able to perform all task in the same way, or even better than people do. In other words, Artificial Intelligence consists modeling of a human being.

The beginning of Artificial Intelligence:

Although the birth of Artificial Intelligence is established as 1956 the evidence of people’s imagination about machines that could replace us in our duties took place even during the ancient era. However, the invention of the first computer in 1941 was the first step in the technology that let the imagination to be closer to reality. In 1955 two scientists, Newell and Simon developed a program that made a big impact in Artificial Intelligence. Their program was called "The Logic Theorist". It represented problems as a tree model. It means, that the program consisted a lot of data that was arranged in a specific order. Then, if the problem was given, the program solved it by selecting the branch that was closer to the correct answer.

The term "Artificial Intelligence" was used first time in 1956, when a group of scientists interested in this field met for an initial summer workshop. The ideas made at the conference brought to the scientists new challenges: creating systems that could solve problems, and making systems able to learn by themselves.

Early work on Artificial Intelligence was based on simulation of human brain, but making a copy of cells (neural networks) proved to be far from the success because of the extreme complexity of the problem. However, advances in computer technology let the problem be still on scientists minds.

The new theory came into being during 1960’s when two scientists, Newell, Simon, and J. C. Shaw introduced new computer program, based on symbolic processing. Their program operated on system that manipulated symbols instead of building systems based on numbers. The theory seemed to be so powerful that replaced old ideas and is used in all work in AI until today.

Methods used in AI

Building intelligent machines caused to appear many theories according to Artificial Intelligence. Although some researchers believe that the best way to achieve their goal is to build replica of the human brain cells, others attempt only to mimic the brain’s behavior using programs called expert systems.

-Simulating the Human Brain

In order to modeling people, scientists have to know a lot of details about human, like understanding the role of vision, language, how people behave and react according to the situation. Those aspects require knowledge both in computer science, physiology and philosophy. By physiology researchers deal with biological function of human body or brain. Philosophy, however, is used to understand how the human brain function in certain situations. They try to understand every detail about the brain complexity and how it works. By this knowledge the researchers try to build an electronic replica of the human brain considered as the most complicated matter on earth. The human brain consists of billions of cells, and the goal for AI researchers is to build electronic circuits that can play the same role as neurons do.

-Expert Systems

An expert (knowledge based) system is a program that behave like a human expert in a specific field. Those programs are designed to help people in making decision or solving problems in a particular complex domains, such as medicine, physics, or chess.

The first idea about expert systems appeared in 1970’s and was able to achieve its result thanks to the huge amounts of database of a specific knowledge, and by using specials methods to draw conclusions. Today, expert systems differ from simple computer programs in three ways:

-they solve problems by using their incomplete programmed knowledge

-they display results to the user which apply to the given problems

-they have build in mechanisms that in the future can add new useful information

Examples of AI on Cog

At the MIT Artificial Intelligence Lab in Massachusetts two researchers, Rodney Brooks and Andrea Stein are working on a robot named Cog. Those scientists are going to prove the existence of sight, hearing and touch in a machine. Even though at the end Cog is supposed to behave like an infant, the future goal for those scientists is to build a robot that can look like a human and act like a human. The most fascinating thing in this project is that Cog, although not finished yet, has already some features similar to human.

Cog’s Vision System

Cog is a humanoid robot that consists of two arms and a head connected together to the trunk, microphones as ears, gyroscope that gives a sense of balance, and cameras that play role as eyes. All together is supposed to give results similar to human behavior. But especially Cog’s vision system is worth of longer describing.

Cog’s visual system is design to imitate some features of human visual system. It consists of two eyes and each of them has two cameras to allow a wide field of view and high resolution vision. Two of them have a very wide angle and peripheral view and two with higher resolution but narrow view. Each of its eyes can rotate with its independent vertical and horizontal axis and also have a human-like speed and range of motion. The eyes are able to move very quickly to look at moving objects in the field of view and focus on the target.

By using psychology the scientists built a system that let Cog to recognize even human faces. But Cog, besides seeing and recognizing faces, it’s able to do something else that in real world infants do - imitating the human head movements. The system is sensitive only to faces, and doesn’t work on other moving objects.

Thanks to all those systems Cog already seem to behave pretty much like a human. Cog, however isn’t the only robot involved in this whole Cog’s project. Several other robotic platforms are being used by the researchers in order to discover more specialized aspects of human intelligence. Another robot, which is a part of Cog’s project designed for social interaction is Kismet.


Kismet, also as Cog is designed to behave like an infant, but it’s purpose differs from the purpose of Cog. The systems used in building Kismet let the robot show its motivational state. An infant’s emotions play an important role in interactions with human such as caretaker. The emotions show when the child feels sadness, boredom or happiness. The infant is forced to learn communication skills in result to satisfy its drives.

The different states of emotion are defined by the movement of different parts of a face; like location of ears, eyebrows, mouth or eyes. The program operating Kismet is designed to give similar expressions by moving those parts on the Kismet’s face. So, by moving those parts Kismet is able to show its emotional states. By reading Kismet’s facial expressions the caretaker can respond what robot needs and stimulate the robot appropriately.


Those examples are just the first step in Artificial Intelligence. The scientists know their future goal very well, but the current computer technology doesn’t allow the goal to become reality yet. Although Artificial Intelligence is not known and widespread all over the world yet, it surely will be in a short time. But together with the development of technology our doubts are growing too. It’s hard to imagine our lives with machines around us, robots that behave like us or maybe even look alike. Ray Kurtzweil, for example, discuss the problem in his book "The Age of the Spiritual Machine: When Computers Exceed Human Intelligence" by saying that "within 50 years, machines not only will be smarter than humans, but also will claim to be conscious beings in their own right". From this statement we can see that the scientists’ goal will become reality in near future, but at the same time it can cause some disadvantages in our society.


Kasper, Loretta F. Interdisciplinary English New York: McGraw-Hill, 1998.

Elizabeth Thomson "The Cog Shop". Online. Oct.1999.

"Artificial Intelligence". Online. Nov.1999.

"Grolier" Grolier Multimedia Encyclopedia 1997 (CD-ROM)

"A Man, a Plan and a Robot That Makes Eye Contact". The New York Times. Online. Nov.1999

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Page last updated on January 31, 2000

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