Bring Up Snow – What is that fluff coming down the sky


I have very mixed feelings about snow. On one hand, I like watching snow fall down from the sky, but more precisely, I thoroughly enjoy examining their intricate designs. Also, snow forms such a beautiful white and shiny coat on the ground. Moreover, It is also a phenomenal medium to express our creativity. On the other hand, I hate being in the middle of snowfalls as snowflakes always seem to end up in my eyes. Plus, I particularly dislike how snow perpetually shows up with cold temperatures. I must say that I sincerely detest cold, as I am hugely sensitive to it. My typical ideal temperature is around 25°C. Despite the collection of statements I have made, I have to make a sizeable nuance. If you ignore the cold temperature, which is technically a different matter entirely, then my appreciation for snow would outweigh any aversion that I might hold against it.

Furthermore, snow has often been the centrepiece of my childhood memories, so we can say that snow holds an invaluable place in my heart. Snow has eventually forged its way to gain my love and is now at the heart of my most cherished and happy memories. When I think of it, I usually think about Christmas, a white Christmas. So it is not surprising that one of my earliest memories happened around Christmas. This memory takes place in early December. Despite having our natural Christmas tree entirely decorated (which always seemed to bring me joy), I remembered feeling somewhat uncheerful. I was feeling spiritless simply because there was no snow outside. Typically in Québec (Canada), around this period, there is always snow on the ground. Its absence seemed to take away my anticipation of holidays. Without snow, it seemed like any other day. I know that even as a kid, I was acting overly tragic. However, such things are not uncommon for children. Anyhow, two days before Christmas, a snowfall began and the soil, frozen by that time, was unable to melt it. We got a white Christmas after all, which had been the case for as long as I can recall. Even to this day, I have yet to experience a non-white Christmas. This means that as soon as snow makes its first permanent appearance, it always makes me look forward to Christmas. Every time the first snow settles on the ground, I can immediately feel the excitement and joy most often ignited by the spirit of Christmas.

A second memory involves snowmen creation. For about four years, my little sister and I had a yearly tradition which was, as you may have guessed already, building a snowman. But who cares about a stereotypical snowman formed of three snowballs, one carrot, buttons and a top hat? Certainly not us. Our snowman took the shape of a bear which granted it the apparent name of “snowbear”. We had so much fun accessorizing it. Every year, we tried using many different objects to customize the snowbear; from berets to hats, and from rocks to marbles. We had lots of fun, and the fact that only my little sister and I shared this tradition made these moments quite special to me. That tradition, unfortunately, stopped once I moved out of our family nest. Nonetheless, every time I see snow, it sparks a deep desire in me to build a snowbear or at least a snowman.

Hui Huang|

My third and last memory, which I’ll share with you, concerns snowball fights and attempts at building igloos or even slides. As a kid, my mother often insisted that my sisters and I go play outside for many hours. To keep us entertained, we often took it upon ourselves to start projects or elaborated activities. Snow fights required planning since we had to build snowball reserves (I must admit, this was a made-up rule). Making igloos required strength, so creating a digging schedule, by splitting the work between all girls, was essential. As for the slides, we had to use ingenuity. Often enough, when we started using them, they wouldn’t be working properly. So we had to troubleshoot and then solve the problems. The snow was really like a toy used to express our creativity and to stimulate cooperation between every single one of us. These moments are irrevocably unforgettable childhood memories. 

Karolina Grabowska|
Egor Kamelev|

I first learned about snow in elementary school, and that moment was truly extraordinary. I always loved learning and, even more so, learning through experimentation. You can’t see me now, but if you could, you would see the huge smile that just appeared on my face. That day started like any other day, but suddenly in the afternoon, things began to change. I remember the teacher telling us that snow was a type of precipitation and that every snowflake was different and unique. It was at this moment that she introduced the experiment. We would be allowed to go outside to observe snowflakes in real-time. First, we had to pick a black construction sheet of paper and then we left our desks to move outdoors. That afternoon there was a light snowfall for which I remember the teacher being so delighted to see since the experiment involved examining the snowflakes depositing on our sheet. The fact that the sheet was dark allowed us to isolate and analyze each snowflake better. I remember looking at the uniqueness of the snowflakes and believing that it was pure magic.

For simplicity’s sake, the water cycle can be described in the following stages: evaporation, condensation and precipitation. Evaporation happens when water changes from a liquid state to a gas state. The water in the gas state moves towards the sky to eventually form clouds by condensation. The air at cloud-level, being colder, transforms water molecules back to a liquid state. But since they are sufficiently light, they remain in the sky, creating the clouds we can see. Once the water droplets become heavy enough, they proceed to fall towards the ground to form what we know as precipitation. So you might be apt at this point to tell that snow is just one form of precipitation, and you would be absolutely right. It might not be magic, but it’s still pretty darn incredible if you ask me. Only a small change in temperature is sufficient to determine which form of precipitation it will be, either rain or snow. So as I said previously, high up in the clouds, evaporation and condensation will produce many fine droplets. The droplets will remain in their liquid form if the temperature is sufficiently high. As the fine droplets join together, they become increasingly heavier and lead to the formation of rain. If the temperature starts to drop, then the droplets will solidify around a speck of dust and crystallize. This process is responsible for creating their unique shape. Their crystal shape is, in truth, the reason why they are so shiny when you observe them at night and why snow appears white in daylight. Snow is white as a product of the reflection of all visible light.

As for the stickiness of snow, it depends solely on the surrounding humidity level in the air. The more moist the air is, the stickier the snow will be since it will have a chance to collect water in its liquid form during its fall. The presence of liquid water amongst the snow creates additional weight since liquid water has more molecules (for the same volume) than its solid form. This statement determines why the clumpy snow, which forms in humid conditions, is so heavy. This type of snow creates what we call fluffy snow, which is particularly perfect for building snowmen. This is strictly possible if it does not melt right away, which is quite likely. Indeed, snowfalls have no chance to accumulate until the ground gets completely frozen, which happens to coincide with the approach of December. If the soil is even partially thawed, there is enough heat to make it melt right away. So that’s why we don’t see much snow accumulation before the week preceding Christmas. However, once the ground has frozen, snow is there to stay at least for a while. Fun fact, the snow is a surprisingly good insulator for the soil, which is why it takes so long for the ground to unfreeze in Spring and thus for the snow to go away.

Alex Kozlov|
Gustav Lundborg|

But the accumulation of snow depends on the amount of precipitation. Unfortunately, when precipitations are insufficient, ski resorts that make most of their money during Winter can be irreparably hurt, financially speaking. This possible inconvenience is the reason for them to often rely on the use of artificial snow cannons. These machines are essentially spraying water into the cold air, which instantly changes it into snow. The resulting snow is dryer since it didn’t have much time to collect water molecules present in the air. This snow has consequently less adherence than natural snow, which many skiers and snowboarders truly dislike. However, let’s just say that it’s still better than nothing at all—What would you say?

I thank you infinitely for reading this post and if you would like to know more about the mysteries that surround us, please join my subscription list to keep up with my newest content. If you have any questions, please add them to the comment section and I’ll make sure to answer as soon as humanly possible.


Bring Up Fibromyalgia – When pain becomes an everyday occurence

Andrea Piacquadio|

 I woke up this morning feeling normal. My brain was working properly, my body didn’t ache, and I did not feel one bit tired. But why am I fricking telling you this? Isn’t it normal? As in everyone should be feeling like this, right? I would be very happy to tell you that it’s truly routine, but I unfortunately don’t have this pleasure. What usually happens goes a bit more like the following: I wake up tired, most likely caused by my insomnia, my brain is foggy, and I start feeling some painful impulses in my body. All of this is triggered by a chronic muscular pain syndrome (CMPS) which could one day become fibromyalgia. The explanation behind the uncertainty resides in how I fulfill the diagnosis, or more accurately how I do not.


Two years ago, I decided to schedule an appointment with my family physician to discuss some issues that concerned me. The main one was the almost sudden emergence of pain in parts of my body. It was always very localized, never widespread like a headache or a cramp. It felt like a burst of sharp electrical firing in places such as the side of my foot, my hip, the palm of my hand, the inside of my elbow, etc. I would describe the feeling to never spread more than one centimetre wide. The absence of reasonable explanation for the pain was making me worry.

After examination, my family physician concluded that it didn’t meet all the criteria necessary for a fibromyalgia diagnosis. Although she explained that the situation could develop further and worsen. If that is the case, there would be a strong chance that my condition would fulfill the last required criteria for fibromyalgia. She encouraged me to include physical stretching in my daily routine and to do some research (knowing that I am a trained physiologist) on CMPS and fibromyalgia. From her suggestion, I did some research. It was not only to familiarize myself with those disorders, but also to find more ways to help reduce the pain caused by CMPS. As for stretching, I am not proud to say that I didn’t follow her recommendation very strictly. I do stretch, but I am sadly not doing it every day. Most often it’s because I forget, or I don’t feel like it. However, the main reason is that it annoys me. I find it so boring that I feel it’s such an effortful job. I know, I know! I need it, but let’s just say that at this point I became really good at finding excuses for myself in order to avoid it.|

Turns out that the idea of stretching is not that far-fetched. All the research papers examined were praising its benefit in treating fibromyalgia cases. So, I am probably really doing myself some important disfavour by not enforcing the practice. The reasoning behind its efficiency is however unclear. We actually have no clue what might cause the symptoms seen in fibromyalgia. There are only theories. Some people support that it’s triggered by an overexcitation of the glutamatergic neuronal pathways, others support that it’s caused by communication issues between the hypothalamus and the pituitary gland. Even if we don’t know what is at the root of the disorder, researchers are all agreeing on one thing. Fibromyalgia is a centralized disorder, which means that the central nervous system is at fault. By central nervous system I mean everything ranging from the spinal cord to the brain. This central nervous system is being oversensitive, and we yet do not understand why.

I know! You get it! Both fibromyalgia and CMPS are causing pain (read Bring Up Pain, for more information). Here’s a twist, though, it’s doing way more than messing up with your body, it’s also messing up with your head. The constant sleep disturbances and memory dysfunctions are probably my biggest troubles. As I mentioned at the very beginning, I do experience insomnia which has become more and more regular in the last few years. Usually, as soon as I would feel insomnia settling in, I would grab some melatonin which would consistently improve my sleeping capabilities. However, starting two months ago, I began experiencing insomnia every night and this lasted for a bit more than three consecutive weeks. From that moment on, melatonin would not seem to be working anymore. In the best course of action, I could fall asleep by midnight (I usually go to sleep around 9:30 p.m.-10 p.m.) and at worst, by 4 a.m. That means I got on average a good 6–7 hours of sleep every night, which doesn’t sound that bad. That’s if we’re not considering that a good night’s sleep, in my case, usually lasts 9–10 hours. This means that, by the third week, I was in a clear sleep deficit state.

Daria Shevtsova|
Gleb Vasylynka|

Being sleep deprived does nothing good on the brain. It also seemed to worsen the memory dysfunction and the fatigue aspects of CMPS. Useless to say that trying to finish up my Master of Science in Physiology was challenging. For example, it took me two attempts to pass the mandatory course exams. The memory deficits were affecting me worse probably because I had learnt to strongly rely on it through many years spent in school. This has led me to develop severe performance anxiety that was best displayed in public speaking scenes. This was gut-wrenching since I loved public speaking, and still do actually despite the trouble. I would have taken twice, or even thrice, as much pain if it had meant retrieving my memory function and avoiding performance anxiety altogether. Now, I can’t even talk without stumbling on my words. It makes it seem as if I have no mastery of what I am introducing, and this genuinely pains me.

Oh well! I didn’t mean to be a drag. As far as I know, there is so much more you can learn about chronic pain syndromes and fibromyalgia. It is gaining awareness, but still, many ignore its impacts. This was my story and is by no means a complete overview of the chronic pain disorders. This was, however, a fair representation about my own experience with the disorder. I realize that my case is very mild, but some of you might not be as fortunate and thus my compassion goes to you. It is not easy for anyone to have to deal with such an awful situation, but luckily, we can find solace in knowing that we are not going through this alone. 


Let’s also be conscious that there are quite a handful of promising treatments right now. There is much to be happy about. Additionally, if you really take care of yourself, you can seriously have some control over how worse it can get. That be yoga, meditation, stretching, antidepressants, marijuana (yes, that is correct!), acupuncture, diet change or others, it’s all yours to explore. I personally prefer yoga, meditation and diet change, or more specifically intermittent fasting (See Bring Up Intermittent Fasting). Despite not having had the pleasure to try acupuncture yet, I would definitely like to give it a shot someday.

I thank you infinitely for reading this post and if you would like to know more about the mysteries that surround us, please join my subscription list to keep up with my newest content. If you have any questions, please add them to the comment section and I’ll make sure to answer as soon as humanly possible.

Bring Up The Beginning – How it all started

I remember the night just before my first day of school, I was totally terrified. I had a nightmare that I was lost in the school and no one was willing to help me find my way back. They would instead ask me what was wrong with me. I was panicked. When I finally woke up, I unsurprisingly didn’t want to go to school. However, I have never mentioned it to my mother, since I knew what she would tell me. She would tell me to snap out of it and that I would have to go to school like any of my siblings. Let’s say that I never felt like there were any place for drama, or at least emotions, at home. So, I kept that detail for me.

Turns out maybe this dream may have been a warning for what was to come, but scientifically speaking it couldn’t. Reasonably speaking, it was probably only the expression of my worries. I always had trouble with changes and that was essentially an enormous one. There are probably multiple factors to account for my difficulties adapting to school. However, I think that the strongest factor was my emotional over-expressiveness. Difficulty controlling the expression of my feelings possibly made me a very easy target for intimidation. And so, by the middle of elementary school, I started getting bullied by a guy and that lasted through most of my high school years as well. This could probably have been enough for most people to become bitter about school and rebel against the institution, or, at the very least, produce a strong desire to quit attending school. Fortunately for me, this was far from the feeling I had toward school. 

Daria Shevtsova|
Tima Miroshnichenko|

Let’s say that school was both a nightmare and my safe haven. Well, you may understand why this was a nightmare, but it isn’t all that clear why this was my very safe haven. You might think that home should have been my safe haven, but it wasn’t. At home, I never felt like I was doing enough. Everything I was doing was judged to be done badly. Additionally, things I was craving for like admiration or, at the very least, respect was nowhere to be found. On the contrary, at school, there existed both admiration and respect. I could make my teachers proud by using my knowledge to answer questions and when I answered correctly, they showed me praises. But moreover, there was no name calling or insults thrown. But sadly, I can’t say that all teachers were like that. I had one teacher in elementary school that picked on me. To this day, I regret not standing up to him, but what could I have done? I was only a kid.

Then again, most teachers were all very supportive, so by rules of generalization, I loved my teachers. Yet, what I like the most about school was its seemingly infinite source of information. Information that could potentially be knowledge. Knowledge was ultimately my escape. My escape from boredom, from loneliness, from intimidation and from injustice. As a kid, I perceived that knowledge could help solve all problems. With it, I could extrapolate answers to behaviours or to just any basic fundamental questions. My curiosity knew no boundaries and with curiosity arose multiple questions. School then became necessary and provided me with endless possibilities to see the world through another lens.

One question that I’ve had and that is now left mostly answered was the reasons behind my childhood harassment. I always wondered why children could be so hurtful and then I realized that one major difference between children and adults is their openness to differences. Pre-teenager and, to a lesser extent, teenagers have a strong desire to fit within a group (sense of belonging). They do it in such a way that their appearances, their thoughts, and their experiences must be kept as similar as to the rest of the gang. However, by the time they leave high school, they recognize that a quest for normality is vain and they have to develop a better awareness of themselves (identity). For example, the eight-year-old me talking science to classmates was probably interpreted as me pointing out what they ignored. This fact was enough to confirm that I didn’t fit in. Alternatively, adults realize that one human in its lifetime can’t learn everything the world has to offer. Most won’t feel offended or confronted by an individual possessing information that they don’t have.

Then, from my quest to gain knowledge came a natural appreciation toward science and eventually an admiration and a love for it. I was first introduced to science with a special book: a science encyclopedia for children. This book was lying in the bookshelves in my bedroom and since I had to stay in bed after waking up in the morning, I decided to open it. This book was perfectly designed and got me to be amazed by everything nature had to offer. Two articles really grabbed my attention. The first talked about the size of the largest mammal on Earth, the blue whale, which can measure up to three buses long. The second introduced the difference between the terms: storm, lightning, and thunder. 

I absolutely rejoice in acquiring knowledge, but acquiring it was only part of the joy it brought me. The most satisfaction I got was when I decided to share the knowledge. I genuinely thought that people would like to know everything as much as I did. Turns out this couldn’t be far enough away from the truth. It took me a few years to realize this. With this cluelessness came insults from my family and my friends telling me that I was a weirdo, that I talked too much, and that I was a big know-it-all. All that hurt led me to change my approach to science communication. With time I learnt that science can be communicated more easily to people that are truly interested and that interest is most often expressed through asking questions. If you pay attention to the questions, you can be there to answer them and thus communicating knowledge. My second realization is that too much science content on the internet right now is overly specific and needs previously acquired material to understand it. 

Karolina Grabowska|

I believe that this leads people to believe science is only accessible for educated people, but the truth is that everyone is doing science. Moreover, everyone is doing science every day. Your body is constantly doing chemistry by measuring blood sugar content and releasing corresponding levels of insulin. It is also doing physics every time you walk or run. It is also doing physiology whenever you experience pain or mathematics whenever you purchase something in a store. Science is not for an elite population; it’s for everyone. 

This is the reason Bring Up Science got created. My goal is to bring light to the science behind different elements of our life. From the first leaves in the trees in spring to the way we perceive pain. Science is a beautiful thing that everyone deserves to enjoy and that might just start with Bring Up Science. So, no matter where you are right now, what you’re doing or even if you know the fundamental principles of physics. What’s important is that you open yourself up to the amazing potential and accessibility of Science. It will make you appreciate life in a different perspective and maybe allow you to see all of yourself as a beautiful orchestra of science.

I thank you infinitely for reading this post and if you would like to know more about the mysteries that surround us, please join my subscription list to keep up with my newest content. If you have any questions, please add them to the comment section and I’ll make sure to answer as soon as humanly possible.