Facing challenges

What is the biggest challenge you will face in the next six months?

I’m currently reading a book called ‘The Book of Moods: How I Turned My Worst Emotions Into My Best Life‘ which sounds self-explanatory, but my reasons for reading it have nothing to do with moods! Still, so far, it has been eye-opening. We, as humans, have a tendency to dwell on the future. We focus on things that are out of our control. And everything we experience tends to drive how we feel and behave.

this was me 5 minutes ago

My challenges are the same ones I have been facing in the previous six months – a better job, a writing schedule I stick to, and finally finishing my novel. I have lists of future plans written down. All the achievements and goals I’m striving towards. Sometimes those lists help and others… they’re detrimental.

To answer the question, I think the biggest challenge I face is believing in myself. Fear is a natural emotion, but wanting to progress is nothing to be afraid of. Wanting success is nothing to be afraid of. Yet, sometimes it’s hard to go after what you want because you’re afraid of the unknown.

I think it’s better to try than to do nothing – and I’m going to use that mindset to go forward.

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The Big Question – 04 – Is vaping risk-free?

Photo by Sabrina Rohwer on Pexels.com

Is vaping risk-free?

Vaping is the act of smoking e-cigarettes, also known as vape pens. These are handheld devices allowing the user to inhale nicotine in a vapour rather than smoke. For years, vaping has been pushed as a safer alternative to smoking. However, given the smoking industry’s colourful past, it is easy to see why some people may have some doubts. There have also been some high-profile incidents such as the Juul controversy and instances in which vaping may have caused death.

One of the main issues with vaping is the number of young people who are growing addicted to it. From teenage rebellion to fruit flavours, what started off as a healthier alternative to smoking may now become yet another addiction crisis society has to battle. While vaping is healthier than smoking, this is the only case for those who already smoked. The general advice is that vaping should not be taken up by non-smokers.

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The Big Question – 01 – Foil in the Microwave

In this new series, I will be examining the day-to-day questions in which the answer lies in science. You know, those questions that you get when something happens and you find yourself wondering why?

Today’s question is based on a little incident that happened to me recently. And, if I’m being honest, it’s not the first time.

The Big Question is…

Why does metal spark in the microwave?

white microwave with door open
it’s getting hot in here

I am sure most of us have been there. You forget yourself and the next thing you know, your microwave is giving you a mini fireworks display. I have decided to look into why this happens to ensure that it’s on my mind the next time I feel like warming up cold hotdogs wrapped up in foil.

As per How Stuff Works, it turns out its to do with how the microwave heats up the food. A microwave emits actual radio waves at a frequency of 2.4Ghz – and these waves are absorbed by water, fats and sugars and release heat, allowing the food to be warmed up. The waves are not absorbed by plastic, glass or ceramics – hence why you can heat food in these dishes. If you have ever heated something out of a packet, you’ll be familiar with instructions that say to use ‘non-metallic’ containers/bowls/plates.

This is because the radio waves emitted by the microwave are not absorbed by metal.

When they come into contact with small pieces of metal, like the edge of a piece of foil, an electrical current runs through and this is what ignites sparks. If the affected foil is attached to any form of paper, this can be what leads to fires.

Why does this happen?

Well, metals like aluminium foil tend to be flat and thin. When the food inside is heated, the water molecules evaporate into steam – releasing bursts of energy. With the food covered, there is nowhere for this energy to go and the foil itself becomes very hot. This can be very dangerous if the microwave is left unsupervised.

So, the lesson here is to always take precautions and ensure that foil is not used inside the microwave!

Writing = therapy (or 5 reasons why writing is good for you)

I have always enjoyed writing—whether it’s stories, poems, scripts, silly notes to myself, or pages and pages of unnecessary commentary on my favourite television shows. There is something about putting pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard) that soothes me. One of my goals is to journal more, but in an increasingly digital world, I can never find the time. Writing online in the form of digital diaries and blogs is a great way to keep up with journaling, but I much prefer looking at the clean-lined paper and messing it up with my chicken scrawl.

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What’s the latest with COVID-19?

According to an editorial in Nature (dated 10 Jan 2022), it is time for us to come to terms with the fact that COVID-19 is here to stay.

Rather than laying plans to return to the ‘normal’ life we knew before the pandemic, 2022 is the year the world must come to terms with the fact that SARS-CoV-2 is here to stay.
Rather than laying plans to return to the ‘normal’ life we knew before the pandemic, 2022 is the year the world must come to terms with the fact that SARS-CoV-2 is here to stay.

Given the amount of pandemic fatigue there is at the moment, many people have already come to terms with it. However, as Nature states, this doesn’t mean that we should stop taking precautions to reduce transmission. With Omicron emerging as a serious threat to moving on from the virus, experts are stressing the need to continue wearing masks and social distancing.

“Omicron is a real threat. Omicron is much more transmissible, and it’s capable of infecting people who have been vaccinated or previously infected. If you’re going to get together with relatives and loved ones, test before you come together. And wear masks in public. And try to social distance in other circumstances.”

It’s also worth noting that the virus will continue to mutate and we will see more variants, but thanks to the ongoing research, scientists will be better equipped to handle them.

“I slightly suspect that there will be future variants, but I think with all that we’ve learned now, we actually should be able to deal with them with much greater certainty.” Professor Peter Openshaw Professor of Experimental Medicine

So, it might be presumptuous to say that this (vaccines, wearing masks, jumping three feet into the air if someone coughs nearby) is our new normal, but it’s our normal right now.


  1. COVID is here to stay: countries must decide how to adapt | https://doi.org/10.1038/d41586-022-00057-y
  2. Omicron – latest research and expert views as PCR test rules change

How are we using social media?

Roxanne Cohen Silver, PhD:

Research does make it clear that social media is a larger source of misinformation and rumour than we typically get from traditional media. There isn’t anybody who is monitoring and vetting the information for its truthfulness or its veracity. So we need to step back. How are we using social media? Is it for connection, or is it for information gathering?

Purplexed Science: During the early stages of the pandemic, I admittedly relied heavily on Twitter updates. Not necessarily other people’s tweets, but the curated headlines and conversations Twitter itself would group together. The public’s willingness to be informed is directly linked to how the media has chosen to inform.

I found myself deleting several news notifications I’d set up because it was nothing but COVID-19, and I think that can do two things.

Dilute the information, or expose people to more misinformation. Human beings tend to rationalise what they cannot understand and this pandemic has been no different.

People are using social media for connection, but that also comes with information gathering. People feel a need to share what they’ve learnt with others. Often without stopping to fact check, after all, it’s easier to click a button than it is to input a search term into Google and spend half an hour reading up on a topic you may not necessarily understand.

One solution may be integrating a fact checking service within all social media platforms, or a service that allows people to quickly input information and returns them with a concise and clear explanation. Implementing such a service would be costly and time-consuming, so the buck stops with social media and news outlets. They should be held accountable for what is posted and do their due diligence before misinformation is allowed to spread.

the effect of COVID-19 on mental health

PS BANNER AUG 2020.png

Photo by engin akyurt on Unsplash

I wish it would just go away. 

That is a common sentiment everyone’s heard at least once this year thanks to the coronavirus, COVID-19, the global pandemic that’s taken the world by storm since early February. COVID-19 has left a huge and unprecedented impact on modern society.

An article in Brain, Behavior and Immunity states COVID-19 ‘threatens our basic need for connection’ which could have severe impacts on mental health. This is shown by a study carried out in Spain during the lockdown on 3480 people. Of the people who took part, 18% were depressive, 21.6% suffered from anxiety and 15.8% were suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Additionally, many people have lost loved ones or been devastated in other ways.

This is an unsettling and unpredictable time. Life as we know it has changed and shows no signs of going back to normal soon. Continue reading

On This Day – 12th July

on this day ps

On 12th July 1957, the US government became the first government to publicly link smoking to lung cancer. The Surgeon General, Dr. Leroy Burney, who was an epidemiologist (someone who looks at patterns and causes of various health and disease conditions), issued a report which stated:

It is clear that there is an increasing and consistent body of evidence that excessive cigarette smoking is one of the causative factors in lung cancer.’

This was an important statement because of how widespread smoking was at that time, and how much power lobbyists in the tobacco industry held. Unsurprisingly, The Tobacco Industry Research Committee rejected the study and complained about the methodology used. Continue reading

Can you really boost your immune system?


immune system

Can you really boost your immune system?

Boosting the immune system is something that is popular no matter where you are.

In times when people are working longer hours than usual, it’s easy to look for quick ways to stop us from getting sick. A simple Google search will turn up a host of articles and guides on how we can boost our immune systems using supplements, diet improvements and exercise. Continue reading

Writing your way through your new normal


Journaling or keeping a diary (and more recently, blogging) has always been a useful tool in our daily lives. Journaling helps maintain control of our moods, thoughts and feelings by allowing us to focus on our concerns, problems and fears while providing us with a creative outlet. 

It has been shown to improve mental health, with the University of Rochester Medical Center stating that journaling can help people with:

  • Anxiety 
  • Depression
  • Stress

Currently, the Coronavirus 2019 Pandemic is causing a lot of change around the world and with constant updates every ten minutes, it’s normal for people to feel a bit anxious and stressed out. With a large number of people in the world stuck at home, it’s easy to feel bored and shut off from the rest of the world. This is where journaling comes in. By keeping a regular journal, you will be able to process your thoughts and emotions with regards to the virus, as well as focus on other areas of your life such as gratitude and self-discovery. Continue reading