Air pollution sparks health and environmental concerns within the Inland Empire

By DESTINY RAMOS MARIN

The scientific definition of air pollution is the presence of substances in the atmosphere that are harmful to the health of humans and other living beings or cause damage to the climate or to materials, and it mostly happens because of humans. Air pollution should not be ignored any longer, as it is 2021 and getting worse by the day with not many people caring enough to do something about it, especially in the Inland Empire.

The Inland Empire has some of the worst ozone and soot pollution in the country. Counties like San Bernardino and Riverside have asthma rates twice as high as any other county or region in the United States. Air pollution cannot be reversed, but if done in time, it can be prevented and held in balance. 

A view of the Inland Empire shows the highly visible smog effect caused by ground-level ozone, sulphur dioxide, nitrogen dioxide and carbon monoxide mixed during the early hours of morning. (DESTINY RAMOS MARIN/ Ethic Photo)

Air pollution is the most harmful form of pollution to humans, as breathing in polluted air can attract a number of health problems and diseases. This form of pollution can lead to diseases such as heart disease, strokes, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), pneumonia, lung cancer and other respiratory infections. Researchgate, a scientific research website, estimates that there are at least seven million people a year that die from illnesses linked to air pollution. If air pollution is not controlled by 2030, it might be necessary to use oxygen kits in order to breathe regularly. 

According to a study conducted by the American Lung Association, the region’s air pollution contributes to nearly 1,000 premature deaths per year in the Inland Empire. Sierra Club, an environmental group, states that the boom in warehouses and distribution centers built in the last decade that brings thousands of diesel-fueled truck deliveries daily and a host of chronic health problems for local residents is a suspected reason, though it has not been confirmed. 

Leah Cuevas, a resident of San Bernardino county, says, “I have lung problems and the main cause of them is [air] pollution.” Air pollution in the Inland Empire is linked to multiple health problems, but there are ways to combat it.

A few things others can do to prevent air pollution would be to conserve energy by turning off lights when they are not in use and looking for the energy star label when buying home or office equipment. Try to carpool or use public transportation and bike or walk whenever possible. Additionally, drivers should be careful not to spill fuel and always tighten the gas cap securely and consider purchasing portable gasoline containers labeled ‘spill-proof’. Always make sure the tires are properly inflated and use environmentally safe paints and cleaning products whenever possible.

Air pollution is one of, if not, the worst and most impactful form of pollution for both human health and the environment. If it is not reversed in time, it will become the biggest cause of global warming and, ultimately, the reason humanity will no longer be able to breath fresh air. Changing one’s daily routine would be a minor inconvenience to help hold air pollution in balance and prevent any further damage. 

Understanding the complexities of Neurodiversity

By KENDRA BURDICK

Neurodiversity refers to an alteration in the human brain regarding amiability, education, attention, mood and other mental functions. It presents a perspective that brain dissimilarity is special and shows downfalls and salvations.

The term “neurodiverse” originated as a more compendious way to describe autism. Presently, these terms are not acknowledged in the medical community but are used in the autistic community.

Seeing autism as a disorder is a way to apprehend the elaborate differences, abilities and strengths individuals with autism have. According to Dana Lee Baker, a mother to a child with neurodiversity, autism can be pictured as a human variant with extreme disadvantages. Nonetheless, as with everything, there are also advantages.

“My mind is like a tree, it has thousands of branches all different, yet they connect together,” says Benjamin Andrew. (KENDRA BURDICK/ Ethic Photo)

Author Laura James explains in her book Odd Girl Out that “people with Asperger’s or autism expend a huge amount of mental energy each day.” Some examples of this are socializing, anxiety, change, sensory sensitivity, daily living skills and so on.

In James’ book, she gives a perspective of being neurodiverse; she presents the great things along with the off-setting things. Instead of looking at autism as a disorder, people can look at autism as a characteristic, such as having brown hair or a dominant left hand.

Being neurodiverse manifests having a brain that’s geared heterogeneously, meaning towards a diverse environment. Andrew James, an employment specialist for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, says that “parts of the neurodiverse community who aid neurodiverse individuals believe that autism doesn’t need a cure or something to divert it.”

“The neurodiversity view is that brain differences are normal and kids who have them are as mainstream as those who don’t have them,” the Understood Team says in their neurodiversity article, titled Neurodiversity: What you need to know.

The idea of neurodiversity has advantages, such as allowing children with learning and thinking differences becoming more caring and collaborative. Mia Altenbach, a freshman at Redlands East Valley High School, describes neurodiversity as a “positive life changing prognosis.” 

One of the biggest treatment centers for autism in Redlands, California is Brain Balance. Brain Balance is the “leading drug-free training program designed to help kids improve focus, behavior, social skills, anxiety and academic performance,” as stated by their website. Other treatment centers include the Center of Autism & Related Disorders and the Truesdail Speech Center.

Neurodiversity has changed and affected so many lives, for the better and for a stronger understanding of themselves, as James explained throughout her entire novel. Holding this condition gives a unique perspective and a better understanding in neurodiversity.

Amazon Rainforest’s deforestation affects wildlife and the environment

By MIYAH SANBORN

The Amazon rainforest, located in South America, is the largest rainforest in the world. It holds more than ten million species of living organisms in it’s forest, including animals, plants and insects. Not only is it known as the “lungs of the planet” because it produces up to twenty percent of the planet’s oxygen, but it also stores around four hundred billion tons of carbon within the forest. 

According to Oxford Environmental Change Institution’s Dr. Erika Berenguer, “the Amazon stores so much carbon that it’s helping us fight climate change. It’s keeping all the carbon on the ground and not in the atmosphere.” 

Regardless of the environmental benefits the Amazon rainforest has, we have lost around 17 percent of its forest in the last 50 years and the rates continue to grow. Many scientists believe that the Amazon rainforest will be completely gone in the next hundred years. 

There are many factors that contribute to the Amazon’s loss in forest such as agriculture, illegal logging operations and plenty more. The Amazon rainforest has many vital materials that are in high demand for humans like palm and soy oil which can be used to make materials such as lipstick and animal feed. 

There have also been numerous fires spreading across the Amazon due to the climate changing and logging operations. Once the fires spread, they ruin the structure of the forest, threaten biodiversity in the Amazon and make it more available to invading species. 

Although there are plenty of reasons deforestation is occurring, logging operations are one of the most lethal to the Amazon. Logging is done to build new roads, clear land for new settlements and developments as well as to collect wood for new building operations. 

Brazil’s latest president, Jair Bolsonaro, is encouraging development in the Amazon. According to David Shunkman, BBC’s science editor, “Jair Bolsonaro was elected on a promise of development. Keen to promote mining as well as agriculture, he described the Amazon as ‘a periodic table’ of valuable minerals, and he resents what he sees as outside interference.” With all of this said, the Amazon rainforest has and will continue to be destroyed until deforestation stops. Cutting down the Amazon’s trees emits all of the carbon dioxide stored which further leads to climate change since it is a major greenhouse gas. 

Trees are also a very important part of the water cycle, and when they are being cut down, it can disrupt the circulation of water, which changes the climate once again. Without enough trees to hold down the fertile soil, erosion occurs, which damages plants and makes them inedible for animals to eat. 

The change in environment has a terrible effect on wildlife in the Amazon. There are plenty of species who are in grave danger because their habitats are being taken away from them, and along with that, many food sources are not available to the animals any longer, which can often lead to starvation. 

Even though many people believe that cutting down the Amazon rainforest is beneficial, it is incredibly dangerous and can alter the world we live in drastically. 

Some students Redlands East Valley High School have heard about the issue of deforestation and have formed opinions on the subject.

Freshmen at REV, Ava Larson shares her opinion on the Amazon Rainforest deforestation, “It’s so sad how the Amazon is being cut down and all the animals are losing their homes.”

Pictured is Ava Larson, a freshman at REV this year. (Photo credit to Ava Larson/Ethic Photos)

Opinion: Endless hours of required school screen time does damage

By MAKAYLA NAIME and ALLISON STOCKHAM

Many studies have shown that too much screen time negatively affects minors’ brains. Due to distance learning and COVID-19 shut-downs, many kids have been spending a lot more time in front of a screen than they used to. In addition, much of this time is not by students’ choice, but as a requirement to be successful academically.

Before quarantine, the expectations for most classes was that cell phones were to be put away. Fast forward a few months and students are required to spend their entire school day in front of a screen. For Redlands Unified School District high school students, this is from 8:30 a.m. to 2:12 p.m., with scattered passing periods and a 30-minute lunch, five days a week.

Students with seventh period or who need extra support continue until 3 p.m. and those trying to stay involved with extra curricular club zoom meetings, often stay on longer. This does not yet include the many hours of studying and homework assigned that require using a screen.

Due to social distancing, screen time is the safest way to connect with friends and family through social media or online games, and so the screen time continues.

Poll: How many hours do you spend on the screen for school each day?

In a poll taken in October of 2020 of over 60 high school students of the Redlands Unified School District, more than half said they spend more than 9 hours a day on the screen for school purposes. One third of students said they spent seven to eight hours on the screen for school. The infographic representing the data was created using Piktochart. (Makayla Naime and Allison Stockham/ Ethic Media)

According to NewYork-Presbyterian, “Children who spent more than two hours a day on screen-time activities scored lower on language and thinking tests.” With online learning, it is almost impossible to spend less than two hours on screens, as classes usually take at least six hours, and homework and studying several more hours.

NewYork-Presbyterian also says that, “Some children with more than seven hours a day of screen time experienced thinning of the brain’s cortex.” The cortex is the part of the brain that is related to critical thinking and reasoning.

This dramatic increase in screen time is very clearly taking a negative toll on the mental health and possibly the brain development of students.

By staying socially distanced, washing our hands and wearing masks when going out, everyone can do their part in helping the spikes cease, flattening the curve, and so that hopefully students can return to school and work in person for everyone’s benefit.

Light pollution creates concern for negative impacts

By KENDRA BURDICK

Since mankind discovered ways to produce light, almost every person uses it. True, light heightens our sight and lets us grow crops in bad conditions, but it also keeps us from understanding the worlds outside of our earthly barrier. 

Dr. Tyler Nordgren, a physics professor at the University of Redlands, stated, “I love to look up at a sky full of stars, and the instant your eyes lift above the horizon all of the stars come into existence.” Many people are stunted when they realize the effect of the light pollution, but have also asked themselves ‘What would we do without light?’ 

Many people are starting to describe the city’s light pollution as depressing. A group of astronomers, that were studying how light pollution affects birds, even said that light pollution was like having fog always in the air, only allowing us to see 50 ft. of the infinite universe. Because of light pollution we are unable to understand how much more there is out there. 

Yucaipa, California is just one of the many cities that are making light pollution. This is especially true as it is almost Christmas and many lights for the holiday are out. (Kendra Burdick/ Ethic Photo)

Nordgren continues: “Imagine looking at a world of stars and I just took the stars away and put only a dim light in the darkness, looking like an LA sky. Wouldn’t you say that you lost something, lost enjoyment.” 

Many people agree with his statement. Because of the light pollution, astrophysicists can not study space as easily. We can not see the stars as well as we could without light. Many people can’t see the milky way due to the lights around which is sad, due to the fact that seeing it for the first time is considered a life changing experience.

A group of astrophysicists from the “Dark Sky Association,” loved to look at the history of the stars but was transferred to a city to see the difference and they could barely see any stars. 

Though light pollution has some negative effects, go back to the question, ‘What would we do without light?’ Light pollution is a necessary evil, especially in cities. Living without light would be difficult for our generation to deal with, because we depend on light for things such as cooking, sight, warmth, and even growing crops. 

When the weather is bad or the soil is rocky, crops will not grow there. This is a problem since many people’s jobs and livelihoods depend on providing food. Many people have reverted to growing plants indoors. A former botanist, now teacher of the Central Board of Secondary Education said that it is even more efficient to grow crops this way. 

There are many different lights and procedures to this process so anyone can partake in this marble way to grow crops. Moving on cooking with light, using this method of cooking is more directed to the future. There are many ways to cook and bake food, but by light is to the highest standard.

 Without it we couldn’t see through the night, the mountain climbers or hikers that had gotten lost at night have said that the light coming from the cities so they could find help. Along with that, the lights that guide the streets helps the people who have to work late, including for police’s night shifts.

In conclusion, when it comes to seeing what we are missing in the outside world or to cook, farm, fly easier, it is more important to experience the wonders that are outside of the light. Because of this light pollution we are unable to understand how much more there is out there. Light pollution is taking away the opportunities to explore outside of our minds.

Reviewing important periodic trends in chemistry

By ISAAC MEJIA and ARIANA GHALAMBOR

Artistic version of the periodic table of elements. (credits Southern University at Shreveport)

As the first semester of the academic 2020 to 2021 school year comes to a close, teachers have fallen into a rhythm and are making their way through the academic material for the year. Although many teachers have had to make significant alterations to their plans as far as distance learning lesson plans and assessments go, ultimately they are still responsible for providing their students with a complete education of their subject.

Specifically in the science department, chemistry teachers are responsible for teaching their students about important topics such as the periodic table of elements in the periodic trends that coincide with it, concepts that can be foundational to science courses they take in the future. 

This is the first thing that many students learn about in AP Chemistry at Redlands East Valley High school. While learning the many periodic trends displayed on the periodic table that help scientists and chemists analyze elemental properties can be challenging, science students recognize the importance.

Allison Bermudez, a junior at Redlands East Valley High School and AP Chemistry student said that understanding periodic trends helps you “understand the force of the subatomic particles and their relation to being on the periodic table.”

Three major periodic trends that students study are: ionization energy, electron affinity and atomic radius. 

Ionization energy is the energy required to remove an electron from an atom or ion. Five key factors can help understand this complex concept:

  1. Ionization energy decreases going down a column because electrons are farther away from the nucleus, meaning they have less Coulombic attraction. 
  2. The inner core electrons shield the outermost electrons from the attractive forces of the protons in the nucleus.
  3. The electron is not bounded as tightly and requires less energy to be removed.  
  4. Ionization energy increases going across a period because the atomic radius decreases and the number of protons increases.  
  5. This increases the Coulombic attraction between particles, which means more energy is required to remove the electron.

Breaking down key processes into parts can help students not only understand the term at hand, but strengthen a solid chemistry foundation as the class intensifies. 

Shannon Cockerill, junior AP Chemistry student and ASB president at Redlands East Valley says, “Understanding periodic trends is like the starting point of chemistry. . .You can’t get through anything else without it.” 

Electron affinity, is another concept that can be difficult to understand at first, but helps with future material. Electron affinity refers to the energy change associated with the addition of an electron to an atom. A few key concepts that students must understand:

  1. If the addition of an electron is exothermic (the atom releases energy when an electron is added), then the electron affinity value is negative.  
  2. If the addition of an electron is endothermic (the atom absorbs energy when the electron is added), then the electron affinity value is less negative (more positive).
  3. An element that has a greater electron affinity will have a larger negative value.  
  4. Electron affinity decreases going down a group because electrons are being added to higher energy levels farther from the nucleus.  It increases going across a period because electrons are being added and filling the valence shell of the atom.
  5. Nonmetals have a greater electron affinity than metals.

A student-generated image of the periodic trends. The direction of the arrow indicates that the specific periodic trend is increasing in that direction. (Isaac Mejia and Arianna Ghalambor/Ethic Media)

Marin Mohr, a freshman in her first year of honors chemistry, said,  “It’s kind of complicated, but I can see how it can apply to many different aspects of chemistry. I’m trying my best to make sure I really learned and understand it.” 

The atomic radius of a chemical element is the measured size of the atoms, usually the mean or typical distance from the center of the nucleus to the boundary of the surrounding shells of electrons. The size of atoms is important when trying to explain the behavior of atoms or compounds.  One of the ways to express the size of atoms is with the atomic radius.  This data helps scientists understand why some molecules fit together and why other molecules have parts that get too crowded under certain conditions. 

  1. The size of an atom is defined by the edge of its orbital. However, it is impossible to know both the position and momentum of an electron so orbital boundaries do not have a definite location.  
  2. In order to standardize the measurement of atomic radii, the distance between the nuclei of two identical atoms bonded together is measured. The atomic radius is defined as one-half the distance between the nuclei of identical atoms that are bonded together. Atomic radii have been measured for elements, with the units of measurement being picometers, equal to 10−12 meters. For example, the internuclear distance between the two hydrogen atoms in an H2 molecule is measured to be 74 pm. Therefore, the atomic radius of a hydrogen atom is 74/2 = 37 pm. 
  3. The atomic radius decreases from top to bottom across a period. The atomic radius of atoms typically increases from top to bottom within a group. 
  4. There are two types of atomic radii: ionic and covalent. In a neutral atom, the atomic and ionic radius are the same, but many elements exist as anions or cations. If the atom loses its outermost electron (positively charged or cation), the ionic radius is smaller than the atomic radius because the atom loses an electron energy shell. 
  5. Covalent radius is half of the internuclear separation between the nuclei of two single-bonded atoms of the same species (homonuclear). While van der Waals radius is used to define half of the distance between the closest approach of two non-bonded atoms of a given element. 

These periodic trends are very valuable. They provide answers to many different questions regarding concepts such as photoelectron spectroscopy, lattice energy values and chemical bond length, etc.  They are essential for understanding chemistry and provide a strong foundation for further study.

Special abilities in small animals prove that size doesn’t matter

By KENDRA BURDICK

When people think of animals they normally lean towards basic animals and their abilities. When thinking of what the fastest animal is, people’s first thoughts often go to that of the cheetah. However, the comparison of an animal’s size is left out. 

Echo is a crested gecko, she has no eyelids, however has a large scale called a brille over her eyes, which protects each of her eyes. (Kendra Burdick/Ethic Photos)

The fastest animal on the planet is the Paratarsotomus macropalpis, a type of mite found in Southern California. Compared to the initial body size of the macropalpis, they travel three hundred twenty two times its body length, per second. 

The animals that are the best at hunting are wolves and bears. Wolves travel in packs to hunt their prey such as deer. Bears are very protective and have some of the strongest teeth and claws for a use of protection, cracking nuts, and killing.

Dragonflies are brutally effective killers. According to Nature World News, they manage to capture their prey midair more than ninety five percent of the time. They eat mosquitoes and other small insects that are usually found around lakes, ponds, streams and wetlands. Their wingspan and the rate of their flying speed helps them be one of the best hunters.

Elephants, lions, and tigers are strong animals that tend to fight over territory, mating, food, and water. They either have sharp tusks, claws, or even large body weight that give the idea of being some of the strongest animals such as hippopotamuses. 

Scientists, who studied at University of Namur in Belgium, used the latest imaging techniques to study the shell of the beetle and discovered that rhinoceros beetles are extremely strong. They wanted to understand the little living specious. Rhinoceros beetles are able to carry eight hundred fifty times their own weight. This information boggled the scientists minds and gave them a more impactful view of them.

“The mechanical tricks of other animals don’t apply. Rhinoceros beetles keep their bellies high and go slow when carrying a work load,” stated Rodger Kram, Ph.D. Associate Professor. Integrative Physiology Dept. University of Colorado.

Owls are known to have some of the best hearing and eyesight. They can move their head, giving them a 360 degree view. They have night vision, meaning they can see clearly in the dark, and hearing receptors in their brains, which gives them an advantage of great hearing and asymmetrical ear openings. This helps them know where their prey is hiding. They also are able to fly, which makes them the main predator for the smaller organisms on this planet. They prey on mice and even small snakes, which they can see in the dusk of night till the morning dusk.

Although owls have incredible senses, cats have a notable hearing ability above other animals. Their ears can swivel which gives them an exquisite ability to hear. This is why they are considered the greatest predator at the food chain and animal kingdom.

When viewing the different organisms and species, the addition of size into the picture is not often added. When taking size into consideration, abilities and adaptations of animals can be incredibly impressive; proving that size really doesn’t matter.

Once in a Blue Moon shines on Halloween night

By KENDRA BURDICK

The mysteries of the Halloween Full Blue Moon goes back millions of years, from cave paintings of cavemen to myths connecting the calendar. There have been theories, negative and positive, about the Blue Moon that occurs on All Hallows Eve. 

According to NASA, the Harvest Moon is a name referring to the first full moon of autumn. It got its name because farmers’ crops used their bright light to grow during the night. The Harvest Moon falls on the date of October first, when the Hunter’s Moon arises. The Hunter’s Moon is the Blue Moon that rises on the night of October 31st. Its name comes from an old tradition, when tribes gathered meat for the long winter ahead. 

The phrase ‘Once in a Blue Moon’ started in 1821 in an anti-clerical pamphlet published in 1528 by William Roy and Jeremy Barlowe. The phrase originally meant that the subject or thought was never going to take a physical form into reality. Nowadays, the phrase has come to mean that something is unlikely to occur.

Many people had thought that the Blue Moon on Halloween night was a symbol of rarity. This Hunter’s Moon only happens every 19 years, according to the Farmer’s Almanac. The last time there was a Blue Moon on Halloween was during the year 1944, seventy-six years ago.

Many of the myths mentioned before involved women. One famous myth is that the Blue Moon gives women more knowledge and wisdom. Some modern magical traditions associate the Blue Moon with the growth of knowledge and wisdom within the phases of a woman’s life. This leads many traditions to believe that the Blue Moon is considered a female.

Artistic interpretation of the witnessing of a Blue Moon. It is one of the most rare sights and will evidently it will rise this Saturday, notably on Halloween. (Painting by Skyla Lopez)

Another myth that has been passed down is that women go into labor more on a Blue Moon than any other night. “There are lots of belief systems and cultures around the world linking the cycle of the moon and women’s fertility,” Amy MacDonald, director of Duke Midwifery Services, said, “More women do go into labor with a change in barometric pressure.” While the moon sets, lower air pressure and colder air molecules that can’t hold as much moisture shed rain.

The Blue Moon appears bright, bold and blue, and it is all due to the atmosphere. The moon appears blue when the atmosphere is filled with dust or smoke particles, and can only be recognized completely during a full moon. This is one of the main reasons why people believe that 2020’s Blue Moon is going to be the brightest, because of all the fires occurring, and the constant smoke emitted in the air.

When there are two full moons in a month, the light of the second is brighter than a normal, everyday moon. This is the reason why it is a different color, blue or red, then the everyday moon. Sometimes this can even make the moon appear bigger and complete.

There are many different mysteries and myths all over the world surrounding the Blue Moon. The Blue Moon is considered a special, magical and impactful mark in history. Even through the crazy year of 2020, the Blue Moon gives us a good spin on the pandemic.

Improving the well-being of pets during quarantine

By: Makayla Naime and Allison Stockham

COVID-19 has been a big threat for a while now, and pets are one way people are feeling less lonely despite the long period of isolation, which begs the question: are pets being affected by quarantine? 

While abnormal behaviors might arise, there seems to be a very low risk of pets spreading or catching COVID-19, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Regardless, pets should be treated with the same care and respect as the rest of the family to lower the chances of them getting COVID-19. For instance, don’t take them around other people or pets too often. If someone starts to experience symptoms, it is best to keep the four-legged friends away from them. Nonetheless, time should still be spent with them, like taking a walk or giving them a toy that requires thinking, to help lower any stress and anxiety they might have. 

Andrew James’ cat named Mitz Taco, enjoys going outside and enjoying the fresh air. (Andrew James/Ethic News)

Grace Wilson, a senior at Citrus Valley High School, answered if she had noticed any behavioral changes in her pets and what they were. She said, “Yes! Both of my parents have been working from home so they all get a lot of attention.” Her pets, especially her six month teacup pig Jimmy Dean, have been whining and going wild around the house. They are starting to forget basic rules and misbehaving around people they wouldn’t have before quarantine. “Jimmy behaves like a toddler, and if he doesn’t get enough attention, he cries. My pets are attention hungry, that’s all they care about, especially if it’s from my mom, she is the favorite.” 

Dogs are a man’s best friend, and although staying home is suggested, it doesn’t stop dogs from being affected by quarantine too. According to Dr. Emily Levine, a board-certified veterinary behaviourist, co-owner of Instinct Englewood and owner of the Animal Behaviour Clinic of NJ, “the differences in the behaviour of pets is expected — as animals react to change just like humans do.” Many pet owners have noticed positive and negative changes in their dogs throughout quarantine, such as being less aggressive or barking more frequently.

Like humans, some dogs like lots of attention while others prefer to have their space. Since owners are able to give their pets more affection than normal, dogs who act out-of-bounds and crave attention have stopped their aggression. If “that aggression was coming from a place of ‘I want to spend more time with mum and dad and other dogs don’t come near them,’ now that their humans are home much more, that time with the parents isn’t as rare and coveted,” says Levine.

Samantha Fujiwara, a freshman at Citrus Valley, said, “ I’ve noticed that sometimes my cat doesn’t like that we are home all the time. My dogs love having us home all the time and get mad when we leave. Both my cat and dogs love going on walks, and we have been taking them outside more now, but whenever we even get close to the door or their leash, they get overly excited.” Her pets are loving all the interaction and time they get to spend at home and on walks with their family. However, whenever anyone leaves, her pets don’t let it pass by since it isn’t as normal anymore. They have adapted to seeing everyone home all the time and no one “seemed as excited when we got home from when we left because we are already home all the time.” 

On the other hand, dogs that like space might build up anxiety and anger from any extra noise and attentiveness towards them. With all of this change, dogs can feel overwhelmed or frustrated. “We want to make sure the dog has a place in the home that they can choose to go to, and it’s their own spot where nobody can bother them,” as stated by Levine. Making sure that attention is being cut down will help dogs to feel more comfortable and relaxed at home even though most owners are at home all the time. 

Another positive way quarantine has affected dogs is by allowing owners and pets to get even closer than ever before. “With owners working at home, the relationship and dynamic can certainly change. Perhaps there were more walks, more cuddles, and more overall attention,” says Zenithson Ng, a professor of animal cynical sciences at the University of Tennessee. This extra time spent gives people the opportunity to strengthen the bond between their pets and themselves.

A negative obstacle that dog owners are facing is trying to make sure that dogs are using their brains and getting enough exercise, as dogs are becoming more antsy and bored without practice. With varying levels of how comfortable people feel about going outside, walks might not be as common as they used to be. A way to solve this issue is teaching them new tricks and using stimulating toys. According to Levine, “their owners should try to give them exercise,” and “really tire them out by making them think and learn and use their brain.” Learning new skills allows dogs to get mental and physical work done without having to leave the house. 

Cooper who is a Boston Terrier taking a snooze while on his daily neighborhood watch shift. (Noah Amaro/Ethic News)

The environment within homes can change everyone’s attitudes and feelings, including those of dogs. “Companion animals can also absorb stress and negative energy from their owners. People who are overwhelmed with the overall trauma from the pandemic, from job loss to worries over getting sick, can pass on that energy to their pets,” says Dr. Christopher Yach, a veterinarian at West Flamingo Animal Hospital. Dogs have a difficult time handling stress, and can get upset with the smallest issues. Handling more stress makes it tougher for their bodies to keep up with regular functions, and cause them to be more susceptible to illness. Trying to keep stress levels lower at home or having owners separate from their furry friends when feeling extremely stressed, anxious or overwhelmed will be beneficial to the household entirely.  

In general, your pets spending more time with you isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but too much time around them, especially when stressed, can hurt them. “Your pet knows when you’re stressed, when you’re sick, when you’re happy, when you’re healthy, better than your spouse does,” said Dr. Christopher Yach of West Flamingo Animal Hospital. “So when that particular person is experiencing low-level or high-level stress, it does affect the pets.”

Quarantine is affecting everyone out there, including the furry or not so furry members of the family, and just like their owners, they can get stressed out or sick of being at home all the time. When stressed, try taking a walk or spending quality time with pets. It will likely make them happy and help lower their owner’s stress levels too.

Shadow, a playful newborn lamb, is enjoying her time outside with Maggie Snavely, a Junior at Citrus Valley. (Maggie Snavely/Ethic News)

Infographic: Data points to decline of bees worldwide

By ALYSSA MARTIN

Dreamworks’ 2007 computer-animated film, The Bee Movie, created a sweet media and commercial buzz about the bees. But 2020 has generated renewed attention about bees for reasons that sting: the drastic decline in bee pollination and population. Here’s a look at some of the data from organizations like Friends of the Earth and Bees4Life that are determined not to let it be.

Infographic by ALYSSA MARTIN

STEM Opinion: Climate concerns in Southern California worsen

By AVALON SALVADORE

The Jensen Alvarado Historic Ranch and Museum is in the process of becoming a food garden for the community, one that operates organically and environmentally safe. (Ethic photo/Avalon Salvadore.) 

The climate in San Bernardino County is known as a steppe climate but as air pollution levels rise, farming concerns grow and annual wildfires continue to burn, there’s an outcry for climate awareness. In the community, hundreds of youths and adults in San Bernardino participated in the Global Climate March on September 20, an event which Environmental Club at Citrus Valley High School helped promote and participate in. Environmental Club also made posters and helped inform other students about the event and the cause. Our climate is changing and we need to change with it. If we want our community to continue to thrive, we must take action. 

As California comes out of the drought that has plagued the state for years, we need to continue conserving water. Many families in Redlands have converted to drought-tolerant lawns, low-spray sprinklers and even drip-irrigation style watering systems. According to studies conducted by the International Food Information Council Foundation, drip irrigation can dramatically increase crop yields, which can contribute to the healthy growth of modern day drought-tolerant yard. The drip systems release about half the amount of water that standard sprinklers do as the water does not evaporate when sprayed into the air during watering. 

In 2019, the cities of Loma Linda and Malibu were awarded $50,000 in effort to finance climate adaptations, as reported by the San Bernardino Sun. The $50,000 will go to support local efforts to fight wildfires, drought, rising sea levels and flooding. The city of Malibu has announced that it is using the grant money to create a “community resilience and adaptation plan.” The money will provide a jumpstart to craft an actionable plan to change the Malibu community for the better. The grant donated to the city of Loma Linda will also help San Bernardino County become eligible for a federal hazard mitigation grant. The money is received through the SoCalGas Climate Adaptation and Resiliency Planning Grant program and is “provided by shareholders” which “will not impact any gas bills or tax paying dollars,” according to the Los Angeles Times. With Loma Linda and Malibu actively helping the fight against climate change, more and more cities will and should follow in their footsteps.  

The wildfires of 2019 destroyed an estimated 259,823 acres according to a survey by Cal Fire. A total of 7,860 fires started in 2019 and resulted in a total of 22 nonfatal injuries and five fatalities. Wildfires are a natural part of California’s landscape as without simple surface fires the ground cannot be cleared of debris, preventing any new growth from taking root. The problem now with California’s fires is that once they overtake hundreds of acres at a time, it devastates many communities in one fatal swoop. “Warm spring and dry summer temperatures, reduced snowpack and earlier spring snowmelt create longer and more intense dry seasons,” reports the Center of Disaster of Philanthropy; under these conditions, the fires will continue and worsen as global temperatures rise. Moreover, large brush fires are no longer only affecting California but fire catastrophes are occurring worldwide. Projections from the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change show that we will likely to see more extreme daily temperatures with an 8-14 degree increase in Fahrenheit by the year 2100. Every year our world and our lives get warmer without any relief at the end of the tunnel. Our window to make a difference in the world of climate change is narrowing with each passing day.

A teen fighting for a better future

By LILIAN MOHR

Greta Thunberg is rapidly becoming a household name as her mission to fight climate change as an environmental activist makes her a modern example of the powerful younger generations. In August of 2018, Thunberg started her campaign by striking from school. This simple act has inspired magnitudes of teenagers today to do the same. Inspired by her famous Friday school strikes for climate change, there has been the creation of organizations like Fridays For Future which organize international climate strikes to draw attention to these issues. 

She proved that even a teenager can play an active role in these political issues of climate change when, according to CNN, she set an example for the adults by sailing across the Atlantic on an emissions-free yacht to speak at the U.N. Climate Action Summit where she gave a speech to a room full of people where most of them were old enough to be her parents. 

The locations that Greta Thunberg has traveled to protest climate change and met with other leaders and activists to discuss future plans. ( Ethic Infographic/ Mauricio Pliego)

The young climate activist even stood up to arguably one of the most powerful politicians on the planet, President Donald Trump at the World Economic Forum on Jan. 21, 2020. Thunberg followed his speech about the changes the nation plans to make in the future to fight climate climate change, criticizing the lack of immediate and drastic action that is not being taken. She stated that the president’s administration’s plan to work with the One Trillion Tree Project is “nowhere near enough of what is needed and can not replace real mitigation and rewilding nature.” Where others, adults included, may back down to such powerful people, Thunberg proves that there is strength in the younger generations and power in her fearlessness. 

Moore Middle School students pose with their climate change posters which were then placed around the school in the hopes of spreading awareness to the other students and staff. (Photo Credit to Kelly Welsh)

Through the use of social media and the news, Thunberg’s mission has become something that is accessible to a large population of the world’s youth, allowing her impact to inspire this new generation to take action in order to make real change for their own futures. 

Thunberg is also gaining international attention from celebrities like Leonardo DiCaprio, through posts on Instagram demonstrating his support for the activists and politicians like Congress Woman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, when the pair met in person to discuss the future. She was also named Times’ Person of the Year, skyrocketing her fame even more so. 

Moore Middle School students work on a climate change poster in a classroom. (Photo credit Kelly Welsh)

Being promoted by people, that even teenagers who may not be closely following politicians know and love, allows Thunberg to reach even more people. Her impact can even be seen in the high school students that attend Redlands East Valley High School. 

Junior at REV, Christina Vargas, stated that “she made me realize, because she is so close in age to us, that even the youth of America can do something about these issues that can hopefully make an even larger impact on the world.” She added, “It’s not just up to the politicians anymore.”

Madeline Lee, also a junior at REV stated that “she is literally an example for our generation that anyone can make real change even if it is through what others may call ‘small actions’.”

Influential activists across the world, such as Thunberg are making real change from young ages and as these younger generations begin to not only participate in strikes and protests but become voters in future elections, change will continue to grow. Thunberg serves as an example that age does not define your strength and anyone can create change if they take action. 

Featured photo: Moore Middle School students hold up climate change awareness. (Photo credit to Kelly Welsh)

News Brief: Scientists create the first ‘Living Machine’

By AZRIEL OLMEDO

With the help of stem cells from the African clawed frog, scientists have grown and evolved their own organism using algorithms: the Xenobot. 

The term “xeno” refers to something of a different origin, highlighting the fact that the Xenobot is an artificially made creature, or a “living, programmable organism,” as described by Joshua Bongard, a professor of computer science at the University of Vermont and a leading researchers. Bongard also reports that the Xenobot has the ability to walk, swim, self-heal wounds and survive for weeks if given enough nutrition.

According to their website, Computer-Designed Organisms, the Xenobot can potentially be useful in many ways such “searching for radioactive contamination, gathering plastic pollution and traveling through the human body to wipe out plague.”

When asked how exactly the researchers managed to make an organism through computer models, the team revealed that first “an evolutionary algorithm generates randomly-assembled designs, then deletes the worse ones and replace them with better ones,” and only the best of the designs are “built out of real biological tissue.”
It can also be used to defeat a number of medical issues, such as birth defects, tumors and even the natural occurrence of the human body—aging. This seems like a very large step towards the future, and it is definitely a welcome one. Not only does the future of science and humanity look bright, but contemporary developments are encouraging the urge to discover and experiment with the unknown. Hopefully one day we may understand it and turn it into something more.

The Xenobot has an appearance of a tiny blob, about 0.7 millimeters wide. Designed by computer models, the Xenobot is created to help solve matters inside the body, as well as around the world.

Citrus Valley provides options in engineering pathways

By EMERSON SUTOW


According Citrus Valley High School’s engineering teacher, Paul Bartlett, “engineering is problem solving” in its simplest form. It is a discipline focused on math but committed to finding modern solutions for modern problems. 

At Citrus Valley, there are two pathways for engineering: the Design Pathway and the Engineering Technology Pathway. The Design Pathway includes Tech Drawing class and Architecture and Design class, which are both one semester courses, and Pre-Engineering class, a one year program. On the other hand, Engineering Technology starts with Tech Drawing, moves to the semester-long Robotics class, and then advances to the Advanced Computer-Aided Design class. 

Brian Bartlett (left), a Pre-Engineering and Design and Technical Drawing teacher at Citrus Valley, helps Samuel Felix, a CAD student, on his project, Dec. 12, 2019 at Citrus Valley. The engineering pathway “provides another route for students to either go to college or career,” says Bartlett. “We’ve had engineering design and CAD drawing classes and now we have advanced CAD and robotics and architecture” says Bartlett. (Ethan Dewri / Ethic Photo)

The Design Pathway covers structural, civil, mechanical, aerospace, environmental and computer engineering while the Engineering Technology Pathway focuses on manufacturing, 3D printing, and machinery like laser cutters and engraver tools.

Both courses participate in competitions such as the SkillsUSA Competition, which is career-based and consists of regional, state and national levels. The competition features “sectors,” or categories, such as Urban Search and Rescue, Architectural Design, Mobile Robotics, Additive Manufacturing and Principles of Engineering Technology. 

In the engineering classes, students use computer programs such as SolidWorks to generate and design projects before even building them. SolidWorks is highly advanced compared to similar available programs, making Citrus Valley’s students very lucky to have such resources. As most high schools and some colleges do not have SolidWorks, Citrus Valley’s engineering students can get ahead in their field by gaining crucial experience with cutting-edge tools and programs. 

Parker Fike, a senior and engineering program veteran, found the classes are fun but challenging as “it’s a lot harder than you anticipate.” Nonetheless, Fike still enjoyed the program and looks forward to a career in electrical engineering. 

Engineering student Nathan Almanger said that “there are a lot of problems you won’t expect” in reference to the pathways’ many challenges, such as missing pieces in a project or starting from scratch to create a working final product. Almanger also wans to pursue a career in engineering, but more focused on mechanical work. 

Although the engineering program is extensively rooted in difficult math concepts, it still allows all students work with their hands, express their creativity and possibly discover a new passion or career path. It gives participating students the opportunity to experiment with dynamic subjects that they may consider later in life when applying to college or choosing profession.

New iPhone 11 causes controversy over new updates

By ANDERS CARLSON, JOHNATHAN CHOE, and MAURICIO PILEGO

The new iPhone model was released on Sept. 20 2019, and it comes in three forms: the iPhone 11, the iPhone 11 Pro, and the iPhone 11 Pro Max. The biggest noticeable change in the newest smartphone is the camera. There is an enhanced Dual-Lense camera on the iPhone 11 and even a triple-lense camera for the Pro and the Pro Max. There are several advantages and disadvantages associated with the new set of iPhones. 

The iPhone 11, which currently is widely compared to the Iphone XR, is priced at  $699. The iPhone has some of the simplest forms of any of the other phones. The iPhone 11 has a Dual Lense Camera with ultra wide and wide lenses and a night mode for the camera. The 6.1” liquid retina display gives the phone a very realistic feel and the screen is also equipped with very durable glass. The phone also comes with a Dolby Atmos Sound system integrated into the phone. Another positive to the new phone is that it has a wide variety of color options.

Next is the iPhone 11 Pro, which is the first of the set to have a triple lense camera. The phone is next in cost to starting at $999 and only increases depending on your storage size choice. The camera similarly has night mode but also has a 2426 x 1125 resolution. The display is about 5.8” and has a Super Retina XDR OLED display which is an improvement to the iPhone X’s display. The phone comes in all of the original colors, including Gold, Space, and Gray. In additional new color is also included and is known as Silver Midnight Green.

Finally, the iPhone 11 Pro Max is the largest in the set with a 6.5” display. The phone also has a Super Retina XDR and OLED display with a ratio of two million to one. The phone also comes in the same colors as the iphone 11 pro but has a matte finish, giving it a sleek texture. The iPhone was anticipated especially for its new battery life, which can last the longest of any phone in existence thus far, at  34 hours per single charge. The iphone 11 Pro Max is also the most expensive of the set, starting at $1249.

The iPhone 11 models have certain pros that may be considering when deciding which phone to buy next. The set has a tougher waterproof design along with a matte back which places them among some of the strongest phones made in recent years. The XDR screens are the brightest OLED around, which gives it  excellent contrast and color accuracy. The models all have the same A13 Processor which makes them the fastest smartphone chips on the planet. All three have excellent battery life and are equipped with fast charging. They have quality stereo speakers, video quality and stabilization across the board. The camera has excellent photo quality and video capture effects which were greatly anticipated.

Even with all these positives there are negatives to the phones which raises the argument, is the phone worth buying? The Improvements to the phone are not too much greater to the iPhones released last year, meaning they are almost similar. The models do not have a fingerprint scanner, while other companies such as Samsung have both touch identification and face identification implemented on their phones. The new set of phones also are very expensive which ruins almost any idea of owning the phone. 

A few interviews were held with people who had the new iPhone. For example, Geruardo Bravo Sintu wanted the phone for the “quality of the camera”, which is one of the most compelling components of the phone. He doesn’t see any changes to the phone other than it having a new design involving “more cameras on the back.” He originally had an “old samsung phone and loved the jump to the iPhone 11” because now he communicates with his friends and has “access to any app perks available”. To Sintu his favorite feature about the phone is the water resistance which “allows use in any water related area”.

Another interview was held with Mauricio Pliego and he “loves the camera quality and choices of color with the phone.” He also believes, just like Sintu, that the phone “does not have too many new features” as compared it to the iPhone X. Pliego also thinks the price for the phone was “definitely worth it” at a cost of $699.

Overall, there are evidently multiple advantages and disadvantages to the new set of iPhones. With their exceptional camera quality and sleek appearance, they are surely sought after. But with their high price tags and lack of fingerprint identification, some consumers may hesitate to make the switch to Apple’s new lineup of iPhone models.

Featured Photo: Featured above is the the new Iphone 11 in the color white compared to the Iphone XR in the color yellow. (Amelie Palacios/ Ethic News)

Citrus Valley Tedx Club holds its first event

By EMERSON SUTOW

Tedx Club Vice President Daniel Melero stands alongside invited speakers Caleb Rothe, Samir Chattergee and Michael Estrada as Tedx Club Co-Presidents William Zhao and Abhirim Balakrishnan stand to their left following the event. (Wei Zhao/ WZ Photo)

On August 16, a Tedx event—a showcase for speakers presenting well-formed ideas in under 18 minutes—was held at Citrus Valley High School and featured three speakers.

Dr. Michael Estrada, the program director for the University of La Verne, discussed the importance of drive and shared a personal success story on the matter.

Samir Chatterjee, a professor and Fletcher Jones Chair of Technology Management and Design at Claremont Graduate University, spoke about the significance of design and artificial intelligence and its projected impact on the future.

Caleb Rothe, an instructional technology coach for the Redlands Unified School District, touched on the shift of the future and new ways of teaching that will ease the change of the new society.  

Estrada shared the story of his upbringing, describing how he was raised by his mother, grandmother and aunt who all worked at hospitals and it gave him a positive view on health care professionals. But what really made him want to pursue medicine were the doctors who helped him when he needed surgery at a young age. The compassionate bedside manner of the doctors and nurses left such an impact on him that he wanted to become a doctor no matter what people told him. His success as a physician can be credited to his self-driven and hardworking personality.

Featured speaker Michael Estrada, the program director at the University of La Verne, poses after his discussion of the importance of tenacity and compassion. (Wei Zhao/ WZ Photo)

Chatterjee brought up the point that design and artificial intelligence are the path of the future. He gave examples of large companies and industries centered around design, such as Uber, which took over the taxi industry without owning a single car. Or Netflix, which put businesses like BlockBusters out of business since its online presence gives viewers access to hundreds of movies. Chatterjee posisted that A.I. is a step toward the future since scientists want to find ways for machines to be free-thinking and self-functioning, but this development will be at the cost of eliminating many labor intensive jobs.

Finally, Rothe discussed how the future is experiencing an “exponential change,” meaning that the future is changing faster than many people can understand. To combat this, some schools in the Redlands Unified School District have integrated more technology into teaching. This has sparked more interest in technology, which Rothe argued is the view of the future. Giving children the opportunity to pursue an interest in technology could not only benefit young students, but also drive the present towards the future. 

Together, the speakers covered many bases such as the future and the changing expectations for younger generations. The event was mostly science and technology based, but the speakers touched on business and future of the job market with the ongoing development of technology.

STEM Opinion: Climate change influences the search for a new home

By AZRIEL OLMEDO

For eons, mankind believed that Earth was one of a kind, marking it as the only planet capable of sustaining life. Evidence obtained over the years from the world’s greatest technological advancements in space exploration has dismissed the idea that Earth is unique. Planets are discovered almost every day, each possessing distinguishable feats and flaws and some closely resembling Earth in size, temperature and even environment. The fascinating sector of space that contains countless possibilities for habitable worlds is nicknamed “The Goldilocks Zone.”

Every solar system has a circumstellar habitable zone, which is defined as the region around a star where planets could sustain life. Most planets that are capable of life need three essentials to be considered a grade-A planet: adequate bodies of water, weather and environment. 

However, it is uncommon to find all three qualities in one despite the planet being marked as habitable. Many planets possess major flaws that detract from the “habitable” portion of the title. For example, in 2018, NASA discovered water vapor in the atmosphere of an enormous Saturn-sized planet with 1,430 degrees Fahrenheit days. The chances of finding a suitable home beyond Earth are low as most planets in nearby solar systems are either too hot or too cold, and only some are potentially just right.

Carl Sagan, founder and first president of the international project-based foundation The Planetary Society, summarized the future of mankind in one sentence: “All civilizations become either spacefaring or extinct.” This statement expresses humanity’s clear dedication to space exploration, and thus evokes a strong sense of determination to find a new home. However, this goal generates concerns about the world and its future—how long can the Earth last with a new problem on the horizon? 

Climate change was first brought to the world’s attention in the late 1800s by Svante Arrhenius, a Swedish scientist, who concluded that the planet’s temperatures would rise due to the effects of greenhouse gases. The Greenhouse Effect describes the phenomena where burning fossil fuels release pollutants such as carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide and ozone into the atmosphere which trap energy from the Sun; this is considered the main cause of global warming. Everything released from burning fossil fuels becomes a greenhouse gas.

Earth’s future has been a serious point of discussion since the discovery of climate change and various environmental organizations have formed to help preserve our home. In terms of fundraising, more than “1,000 non-profit organizations are raising money for the environment” in order to “preserve land, protect endangered species and encourage environmentalism,” according to the fundraising platform Mightycause. Worldwide, environmental activists raise as much as $11 billion yearly according to Charity Navigator’s Giving Statistics. 

Beyond our troubles at home, NASA, which has the biggest budget for space exploration by far, spends “more than $20 billion, with its budget increasing yearly by 1.05 percent,” according to The Planetary Society. This significant gap in funds demonstrates mankind’s belief that finding another suitable home is far more important than saving the Earth. It is reasonable to expect that the Earth will soon become inhabitable in the future, considering the amount of plastic and waste pollutants in the ocean and the excessive combustion of fossil fuels.

A paper published in the journal Science Advances in April 2019 called the “Global Deal for Nature” posited that to save the planet there needs to be a minimum income of $100 billion to carry out conservation efforts. Global Deal for Nature reports that it will “increase habitat protection and restoration” and overall help “save the diversity and abundance of life on Earth.”

Many scientists have gone so far as to construct a timeline of future events that will result in the Earth’s demise, with some ranging from millions to billions of years. Stephen Hawking, however, was of the opinion that “humanity will have to populate a new planet within 100 years if it is to survive.” Realistically speaking, there is no possible way for humanity to colonize a habitable planet in time. 

Is space exploration the new top priority besides saving Earth? Will Earthlings ever colonize new worlds? These are questions that will hopefully be answered in the near future, as humanity seems to be working diligently towards both causes.

Opinion: Parents should vaccinate their children

By AVALON SALVADORE

There comes a time in every parent’s life when they have to decide if vaccinating their child is something they want to do before allowing them to go forth into the world. But with the widespread news of anti-vaccine myths, more and more parents believe there is no use for mass vaccination.

Generation Z is the first generation that has lived in a world without a disease outbreak that has greatly affected them personally. Polio was a disease that ravaged America, leaving people crippled, entrapped in iron lungs or even dead. It was not until 1948 when Dr. Hilary Koprowski, virologist who introduced the world’s first live-virus polio vaccine, tested his oral polio vaccine on himself. According to the New York Times, “Dr. Koprowski was the most coveted weapon in the war on polio,” and without this vaccine, polio would have killed millions more than had already fallen victim. Many more diseases, such as chicken pox, measles and tuberculosis, are almost eradicated because of the vaccination process.

There has been a resurgence of the measles virus because parents have decided not to vaccinate their children based on their religious beliefs or their belief that there is no reason to vaccinate their children as these contagious diseases have been wiped out by the vaccination process. According to the website Catholic Culture, the Catholic church encourages parents not to vaccinate their children, comparing it to “police in New York [being] ordered to bar Jewish children from public places,” but, when a community of unvaccinated people is exposed to one form of the virus, an outbreak of the virus could occur quickly. Vaccines protect the majority of the population from widespread diseases; although measles cases are few and far between in this decade, if one person with the measles steps into a room, the contagious virus stays in the room for at least two hours after the infected person leaves, leaving unvaccinated individuals open to attack.

Although some skeptics believe that ingredients in vaccines cause autism, vaccine ingredients are safe to use in the amount given to the recipient. People believe one ingredient is to blame for autism, specifically thimerosal, which has been under scrutiny for decades for being linked to autism. But, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, there have been “nine CDC-funded and conducted studies that have found no link between thermisoral-containing vaccines and autism.” Thimerosal is no longer used in vaccines in America because it uses single dose vaccines; however, thimerosal is still used in developing countries.

The gene editing ethics debate continues

By EMERSON SUTOW

Gene editing is a very controversial topic due to the ethical implications. Is it right to genetically modify a human embryo? Because we do not know the long term effects of gene editing, most scientists are concerned with the possible results, while others want to use the editing to prevent genetic disorders and diseases.

In November of last year, a pair of genetically modified girls, named Lulu and Nana, were born, according to “China’s CRISPR twins might have had their brains inadvertently enhanced” in MIT Review.

The word spread, worrying and angering many scientists. The person who leads the project, He Jiankui, is a scientist at the Southern University of Science and Technology in Shenzhen. Many people questioned his research prior to the alteration and found he did not contact anyone who deeply researched the gene removed, CCR5.  

A photo of the scientist He Jiankui who genetically altered the twins.
(via https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:He_Jiankui.jpg)

The CCR5 gene is needed for HIV to enter the blood, so by removing it Jiankui hoped the twins would be immune to HIV and AIDS. There have also been other results after removing the gene in previous experiments on mice. The removal seemed to improve the mice’s memory and could possibly affect the girls’ brains.  

Many of the onlooking scientists think Jiankui modified the twins to enhance their intelligence, but He disputes all claims on the matter. He said he knew the brain effects possible with the alteration, but said it needed “independent verification.”

Others disagree, saying that the editing should be used to make changes to disease-causing genes. One example of this, explained by Sharon Begley, is a girl who had bones that “wouldn’t stay straight.” As she grew, her bones grew; they also rapidly deteriorated and were mainly made of cartilage.

The woman who suffers from this condition, Neena Nizar, has now passed on the condition to her two sons, Arshaan and Jahan Adams. Nizar is disappointed to see that the gene editing is prohibited, so now her sons will face the same pain and difficulty she had growing up.

A photo of Neena Nizar when she spoke at a ted talk about her condition.
(via https://www.flickr.com/photos/tedxmanipaluniversitydubai/8651581724)

Nizar wishes that she was even given the option of gene editing for her sons, but the altering could cause more problems and even change the human gene pool for future generations. Even though CRISPR has been shown to fix some genetic mutations, there is no guarantee it can fully solve their condition, which does not even have a proper diagnosis.

A majority of scientists agree that there is too much risk associated with altering human embryos, but there are some that are obsessed with “designer babies.” After the birth of the twin girls, CRISPR has been reevaluated, and a global moratorium has been called for when using the technology on reproduction.

Sources:

https://www.technologyreview.com/s/612997/the-crispr-twins-had-their-brains-altered/

Cas3 presents new opportunities for scientific discoveries

By EMERSON SUTOW

According to Stacy Richardson, a seasoned journalist with 15 years of experience who writes for the Great Lakes Ledger, Crispr- Cas9 is a tool that lets scientists make precise cuts in human DNA. Cas9 is often referred to as “molecular scissors” that can travel along a strip of DNA and make an “array of deletions.”

The scissors can shred 300 to 100,000 base log portions of DNA in human stem cells. (via https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:CRISPR-Cas9-biologist.jpg)

John Loeffler, a graduate from City University of New York-Brooklyn College who writes for Interesting Engineering, addressed how Cas9 does not compare to the newest CRISPR addition of Cas3. Cas3 is also called the “molecular shredder” because it can shred underlying material along an entire length of DNA.

Both Cas9 and Cas3 are borrowed from bacteria, but Cas3 uses a more common CRISPR called type I, while Cas9 uses type II CRISPR. Type I has never been used in any eukaryotic cells before, but it has totally revolutionized the way DNA will now be altered.

With the new discovery of Cas3, it is up to scientists to use the technology to alter and experiment with long stretches of DNA. Krishna Ramanujan, a writer for the Cornell Chronicle at Cornell University, says Cas3 can efficiently erase long stretches of DNA from a targeted site in the human genome, which was not previously possible with older Cas9 systems.

Cas3 can also be used to screen non-coding genetic elements and erase long sequences of DNA. Once the DNA is erased, scientists can investigate what functions are missing in the organism and use this information to recode the DNA and solve genetic diseases and disorders in the future.

According to Abigail Sawyer, a digital editor at BioTechniques, some challenges were faced, like how to make the human stem cell show changes after altering. Sawyer also stated the team working on Cas3 believes it is less likely to produce off-target effects than Cas9 due to a longer guide RNA sequence.

CRISPR technology has completely changed the altering of DNA, and its new use of Cas3 has the potential to open up many more opportunities for new discovery in the alteration of human cells.   

The first photograph of a black hole captivates the scientific world

By EMERSON SUTOW

Recently there has been a major breakthrough in science; the first ever picture of a black hole was captured April 10. This is a very big deal for astronomers and the way black holes are visualized because before this there were only imaginative art pieces or computer-generated images. The image was captured using an EHT, an event horizon telescope, which used eight observatories and the help of 200 people to put it together.


The image that was released depicted an orange, oval-shaped ring with a dark circle in the center of its galaxy, Messier 87. Messier 87, better known as M87, is about 55 million light years from Earth and is a part of the Virgo constellation.

According to Dennis Overbye, a science writer specializing in physics and cosmology, the black hole appears to be several billion times larger than our sun and is unleashing a large mass of energy 5,000 light years into space
(via https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Black_hole_-_Messier_87_crop_max_res.jpg)

One of the most fascinating things about this discovery is that some of Einstein’s theories were able to be proved.

Rafi Letzter,  a multimedia journalist for livescience.com who is passionate about policy, science and culture, addressed how the EHT team believes that in the near future they will be able to capture higher quality images and even live movie of the black hole and see how it moves and engulfs mass.

M87 is not the only black hole on the EHT team’s radar. They are currently observing Sagittarius A*, the supermassive black hole in the center of our galaxy. This black hole is 1000 times less massive than M87 but is still just as complex. Because of the size difference, the black hole moves 1000 times faster, making it that much harder to capture an image of it.

In order to get an image of Sagittarius A*, scientists would need to develop a new algorithm to collect all the needed data to create an image. They would then need another new algorithm to compare the data chunks to see how the black hole changed and moved.

According to Marina Koren, a staff writer at The Atlantic, the first person to see this image after the copious amount of work that was put into the project was Katie Bouman, a postdoctoral at MIT and a member of the EHT team. Bouman spread rapidly across the internet after the news of the black hole picture was released.


Bouman stands as a role model for young girls who are aspiring to go into a typically male-dominated career. Despite being a role model, she received much hate for her discovery, including people saying she was a fraud and did not actually discover the image.  

In conclusion, with this discovery, the way we learn about and research black holes will be very different in the future, and it is the first step towards more extensive and detailed exploration on the topic.


Sources:

https://www.livescience.com/65246-first-black-hole-movie.html

https://www.theatlantic.com/science/archive/2019/04/katie-bouman-black-hole/587137/

News Brief: Sony announces new future console

By RICHARD BUNNER

Photo from https://www.flickr.com/photos/dalvenjah/9021818089

Sony released the specifications of their next generation console, the PlayStation 5 on April 16.

With enough reported power to run 4K games at 60 frames per second while also being fully backwards compatible with PS4 games, the PS5 is approaching PC levels of performance. This is also assisted by running full solid state drives, allowing for faster load and play times.

Although Microsoft has been silent on their next generation of consoles, code-named Xbox Scarlett and Anaconda, there is speculation about both Xbox consoles’ capabilities. Industry analysts are reporting that Microsoft will have the upper hand over Sony by releasing two consoles, a unit like the Xbox One X and a cheaper unit focusing on services such as Xbox’s Game Pass.

There are no full, exact specifications about any console; however, many believe that this next generation will be truly groundbreaking.

Opinion: Drink water

(ELLA FITZPATRICK/ Ethic photo)

By ALISON BRADSHAW and ELLA FITZPATRICK

Most people would rather reach for a soda or fruit juice than a glass of water; nevertheless, water is something that we need in our lives.

According to healthyfutures.nea.org and elementalbottles.com, drinking water and fluids have many beneficial values, such as preventing headaches, improving weight loss, promoting better skin health, improving digestion and also boosting exercise performance.

The human body is made up of 60% water. On average, a woman should consume 11 cups of fluids a day, while men should consume about 16 cups of fluid per day. Many people suffer from dehydration and do not even realize it. Dehydration can cause dizziness, fatigue, headaches and even lead to heatstroke, so be careful. It is very easy to lose track of how much water you consume daily, but by just drinking out of a 24 ounce water bottle 4-5 times a day a person can obtain a regular intake.

Many studies have shown that water can help a person lose weight. If the stomach senses that it is full, it will send signals to the brain to let it know to stop eating. Drinking water before a meal reduces the amount of room in the stomach, causing someone to become full more quickly. Another reason the body needs water is to perform lipolysis, which is the burning of fat. In 2016, Frontiers in Nutrition found that an increase in water intake can lead to greater lipolysis in the body, resulting in the reduction of body fat.

It has also been known that drinking an adequate amount of water each day can boost skin health. Your skin is an organ, and, like all organs in the body, it needs water to function properly.  Water reaches the more vital organs before it reaches the skin, so it is always important to apply water to the face to prevent dry, tight, flaky skin. According to Madison Plastic Surgery and UW Health,  increasing water intake will optimize circulation and remove toxins from the skin, maintaining a radiant glow.

Water is a vital nutrient and has many necessary roles, including flushing out waste products and toxins, regulating body temperature, keeping the body hydrated, and maintaining numerous other bodily functions. According to E Jequier and F Constant, water is the only essential liquid nutrient needed to keep the body alive and healthy.

Redlands East Valley’s Science Olympiad Team places in several events


Top left to right: Redlands East Valley Olympiad Team advisor Emil Radoi, senior David Mikhail, senior Brad Williams, junior Sai Hosuru, senior Austin Tran, senior Matt Mikhailov, junior Trevor Matthews, senior Steven Nuno
Bottom left to right: Senior Melany Chong, junior Amanda Duong, junior Isabelle Huang, senior Bindhu Hosuru, freshman Colin Hawkins, senior Aaron Hill, senior Felicity Ko, senior Nga Nguyen

By AMANDA DUONG

Redlands East Valley High School competed at the regional Science Olympiad competition at Ramona High School on March 2.

Science Olympiad is a competition where teams can compete in 23 different events that may consist of tests, construction and labs among other events. Events are based around different aspects of science, including anatomy, forensics, geology and thermodynamics.

There are two divisions: Division B, which consists of mainly middle schools, and Division C, which consists of high schools. Students competed for most of the day as most competed in multiple events. REV competed in several events and placed in a majority of them. The different events required several hours of preparation ahead of the competition, whether it be through studying or building models.

“I crammed the required information and did a lot of practice tests,” said Isabelle Huang, who placed in Write It Do It. “I asked someone who had competed in my event last year to help me build models to practice.”

REV physics teacher Emil Radoi, the teacher in charge of REV’s Engineering Club and Science Olympiad Team, aids members on the team by giving them advice and helping them with research.

Seniors Aaron Hill and David Mikhail placed 4th in Astronomy, seniors Nga Nguyen and Felicia Ko placed 4th in Chemistry Lab and seniors Brad Williams and Matt Mikhailov placed 4th in Circuit Lab.

Seniors Bindhu Hosuru and Felicia Ko placed 5th in Experimental Design. Huang and junior Amanda Duong placed 5th in Write It Do It.

Juniors Sai Hosuru and Trevor Matthews placed 1st in Designer Genes.


Migrating monarch butterflies fly to California

By EMILY BLOMQUIST

As it is warming up in California many have began to notice that there are butterflies flying everywhere. At school students stand around the quad admiring the beautiful insects, and videotaping them as they flutter around. The reason for the sudden flood of butterflies  is because the season for butterfly migration has begun.

A monarch butterfly is perched on a plant in the California Science Center rain forest exhibit. The monarchs migrate in groups that can have around 1,000 butterflies in order to facilitate warmth during travel to other geographic regions. (BRANDON SAGLAM/ Ethic Photo)

Monarch butterflies go through four stages in their life. According to the website, Monarch Butterfly, they begin their life in March and April by hatching from an egg as larvae. After two weeks have gone by, the larvae have fully grown into caterpillars and begin the process of metamorphosis. The caterpillars attach themselves onto a tree branch and wrap into a silk form called a chrysalis. After ten days, the caterpillar emerges from its wrap as a Monarch butterfly. Once caterpillars turn into butterflies, they migrate to Mexico in the winter to seek food and warm shelter. This first generation of butterflies then lays eggs and dies, bringing in the second generation of butterflies in May and June to continue the same life cycle.

The website Butterflysite discusses why Monarch butterflies migrate every season. They do so to find new sources of food and a warmer climate. The Monarch butterflies are the only butterflies that do two-way migration. Butterflies from Eastern North America fly to the mountains of Sierra Madre in Mexico, while butterflies from Western North America land in California. The Monarch butterflies then spend the winter in the Oyamel forest. They migrate to this spot due to the high humidity that keeps their wings from drying out. They use the magnetic pull of the earth and the position of the sun to direct themselves to where they want to migrate.

The Monarchs migrate to California because, as cold-blooded creatures, they cannot handle the extreme coldness. They also migrate because of their food; when the flowers and other plant species die in the winter, they need to go to a new place to maintain their influx of food.

An additional reason as to why the butterflies migrate is to create new colonies. When migrating, the butterflies find the same type of trees, which are eucalyptus, to settle into once in California. As it is beginning to heat up, the butterflies begin to populate in California and Mexico to gather food and stay alive.

Lastly, these butterflies have the advantage against their predators when traveling because of their wings. Their camouflage wings allow them to blend into the ground and trees to stay safe from their predators.

These beautiful insects are everywhere. Each new season of migration brings about a new generation of Monarch butterflies.



Opinion: Sugar presents unknown health risks

By ETHAN SIBBETT

A spoonful of granules of sugar. (BRANDON SAGLAM/ Ethic Photo)

Let’s say your mom asks you to go pick up some milk from the store. You drive to the store, walk in and go to the milk aisle. You scan the types of milk, searching for low-fat and generic options because they are healthier and cheaper. But that is a lie! The fat that they removed to produce low-fat options has been replaced with sugar, which is more dangerous than fat.

Humans have evolved to like sugars because they are very high-energy, and us humans needed that energy to accumulate fat, be active enough to hunt and survive until the next meal. In modern society, however, we don’t exercise, and we have more than enough food at regular intervals. This means that sugar has lost the importance it once held in our lives nutritionally; we have replaced the energy it provided with energy from fossil fuels. Despite this, the average person in the U.S. now consumes more sugar every day than many of our ancestors did.

Estimates for the safe daily value of sugar range from 25 to 50 grams a day. This is staggeringly low in comparison to the amount most Americans take in daily. For example, the orange juice, apple juice and milk provided by the school each have between 26 and 29 grams of sugar. Consider how small those drinks are! In just a half-cup drink, a person’s entire daily value of sugar is fulfilled.

The problem is not limited to government-sponsored cafeteria slop either; other food companies take advantage of the fact that the FDA does not require a percentage daily value (you better believe that’s what food companies are doing with their representatives) to fill our food with undercover sugar. The actual gram number of sugar is usually reported correctly, but that means nothing to most consumers, who don’t know that the 20 grams of sugar in cereals is dangerously high. They also hide sugar in ingredients lists under names like high-fructose corn syrup, dextrin, and barley malt.

Before we can understand where these names came from, we must understand the chemistry of sugar. There are three basic kinds of sugar: glucose, fructose, and galactose (all very similar benzene variations). They appear in different concentrations and configurations depending on the flavor. Starches, for example, are simply hundreds of iterations of glucose (so, avoid them if you have diabetes). This explains our first nickname for sugar: high-fructose corn syrup. This is simply sugar extracted from corn that has a lot of added fructose. Chemically, it could be the same as a mixture of sugars from any other source. Our other nicknames, dextrin, and barley malt are certain chain structures that were named back in the alchemic days when we did not know that they were nearly the same thing.

Now, there are those that will argue that fat and salt are more dangerous than sugar. That is, in fact, where the movement towards low-fat products like the milk mentioned previously came from. But did you know that when they remove the fat to sell you “healthier food,” they often add sugar to make sure it still tastes good? Do your research before consuming low-fat goods.

The problem persists through sugar alternatives too. Although most alternative sweeteners are much sweeter than sugar, they have different flavors, and they don’t perform chemically the same way sugar does; they break down when cooked and don’t provide the texture sugar brings. In addition, most artificial sweeteners are mostly sugar. Because they have less than 5 calories’ worth of sugar, they can be marketed as 0 calories. Those darn loopholes.

Sugar is not what you think it is, and hopefully, this inspires you to learn about the marketing and hidden nature of the rest of the food you eat.

Source:

Molecules By Theodore Gray

https://www.foodpolitics.com/2013/02/lets-ask-marion-whats-the-recommended-daily-allowance-of-sugar/

New California law restricts sound measure

By RICHARD BUNNER

California State Legislature passed bill AB 1824, on Jan. 1, which included laws regarding veterans’ affairs, compensation for victims of serious crimes, noise restrictions and penalties relating to modified exhausts on automobiles. SEMA, an organization based around modified cars, reported that before this bill was passed “motorists received what is known as a ‘fix-it’ ticket, which allowed for 30 days to correct the violation.” Now, motorists will receive an immediate fine of up to $140 instead of $1000, which was believed by many in the automotive community to be the ruin of modern enthusiasts.

With California being one of the largest centers of car culture in the United States, this bill has a very large impact on the community. Instead of being able to fix the exhaust, they will immediately be fined. This causes more trouble than it seems as enthusiasts spend money on parts and maintenance for their car in conjunction with everyday necessities, which can possibly double the cost of total expenses.

Invidia exhaust (Photo via USA website)

This bill will mean that pricey modifications, such as the full titanium Invidia Exhaust system pictured above, which retails for around $1,900, will be a waste of precious money, time and labor for many enthusiasts and shops alike. Even slight modifications, such as the addition of cold air intake to a new exhaust system, which are core components of a well-modified car, will be completely impossible to use.

In order to be cited for breaking this law, you must have an exhaust note that is louder than 95 decibels at idle, which is quieter than average person clapping, and about 105 decibels at 2,500 revolutions per minute. Some cars are sold at that limit or louder directly from the dealership. Modifying your car in order to be as loud as the restrictions is not expensive nor difficult; however, it is advised that the actions taken to perform these modifications do not occur. While this may be a burden to many California automotive enthusiasts, many people will continue to modify their cars. As more modified cars are cited, the state revenue from citations will, theoretically, increase in a timely manner. Make sure to take precautions when modifying your car in order to protect yourself from the risk of an unnecessary fine.


Opinion: The life cycle of plastic is complex

By ETHAN SIBBET

Plastic: it surrounds us and is deeply involved in nearly everything we do, yet the layman knows next to nothing about it. As the superstition goes, you are never further than three feet from a spider. Well, you are never further than three feet from plastic. There is no escape.

There are, of course, your clothes, which are partially plastic due to the tags, and if they don’t have tags they likely have plastic residue or protection mixed with the cloth. In addition, your shoes are either plastic or rubber, which is a type of plastic. According to “Molecules” by Theodore Gray, if by chance your clothes are not made from plastic, you still have your phone, whose case and certain electronic parts, such as the battery, are plastic.  

So, where does this ubiquitous plastic come from?

I asked people at Citrus Valley where they thought plastic came from. Their answers were fascinating; many had no idea or guessed wildly. It was surprising how many people answered the ocean (which is actually correct from several perspectives). Another insightful but not-exactly-correct answer was consumerism. Fortunately, I did manage to provoke some of those who had no idea where plastic comes from to think about the question. Hopefully, they will be more careful with their plastic use in the future.

Plastic is refined oil. Fossil fuels of all types are composed of carbon polymers, which have very different properties based on their length (length referring to the number of carbon monomers in a chain). Shorter chains vaporize at lower temperatures and are less viscous.

At a molecular level, the hydrogen atoms on each chain “catch” each other, keeping the substance more stable; as the length of the polymers increases this effect becomes more and more pronounced. Above 20 or 30 carbon monomers, the substance becomes so viscous it is basically solid.

The process of refining the oil consists of separating the different chain lengths by their heat of vaporization, which is the temperature at which they vaporize. The plastic used in plastic bottles or your phone case is between several hundred and several thousand carbon units long.

In other words, a dinosaur died and slowly decayed until it mixed with the decayed remnants of ferns. Then it went underground and plate tectonics made its gasoline. Afterward, people dug up the gasoline and made it plastic.

Plastic is then used by you for an infinitesimally small moment of its life. You put trash in it, package food in it or even put it in a car, printer or phone. Then in a flash, it is trash again.

Where does plastic go afterward?

Once you throw your plastic in the trash, it is picked up and taken to a landfill or China, where it is either burned, forgotten, buried or sorted by some poor Chinese chemical worker. According to “High Tech Trash,” there is only a small portion that stays in the US and is recycled there. However, China just banned a portion of the plastic the US and Europe send to it. How this plastic will be processed is yet to be seen.

The burned plastics turn into toxic gases, the remnants of which float out and eventually cool, falling to earth and waiting to decompose.

If the plastic is forgotten or buried, it remains for hundreds of years until microbes eventually manage to decompose it. In the meantime above ground, stadiums are built, grasses grow and children play.

Once it is recycled and sorted, the toxins the Chinese workers use to sort the plastic cause horrible cancers and diseases. According to “High Tech Trash” by Elizabeth Grossman, the part that is recycled in the US, though, is recycled in industrial plants without danger to human life.

Eventually, the recycled plastic leaves the system, either as trash or when humans go extinct. At that point, all the plastic continues decomposing and eventually disappears after anywhere between a hundred and thousands of years.

Razer Blade Stealth boasts impressive hardware

By RICHARD BUNNER

Gaming PC manufacturer Razer, who also makes gaming peripherals, has released a new version of their small-form laptop, the Razer Blade Stealth. With a 13.3”display that can be upgraded to 4k resolution and up to 13 hours of battery life, this laptop is ultraportable when paired with Razer’s own Stealth Backpack.  It definitely packs a punch.

The all new Razer Blade Stealth photo courtesy of Razer

The laptop also contains an available 1080p or 4K touchscreen with 4.9mm bezel and full Razer Chroma rgb backlit keyboard programmable with the Razer Synapse 3 lighting control software to suit anyone’s visual wants. The HD camera doubles as Windows Hello and Windows product that uses your face to sign you in. For audiophiles, the laptop has a port that doubles as a microphone and headphone jack with Dolby Atmos support, a smart amp and 4 speakers to blast whatever you want. Plus, the three pound chassis is slim at only 15mm tall and sturdy, being crafted from Temper 6 CNC aluminum, finished in Anodized black. The laptop is powered by an 8th gen Intel i7-8565U processor that can be boosted up to 4.6GHZ. This laptop will not slow down when multitasking due to 16GB of available ram. The GPU is an Nvidia mx150, which is the equivalent of a GT1030 on a desktop. 256GB comes on the base level computer in an SSD form, with a maximum of 512GB on the top level also as an SSD. Also included in the laptop is a USB-C Thunderbolt 3 port, which is compatible with the Razer Core X, the external Graphics Card enclosure.

Prices for this miniature beast start at $1400 for the 1080p intel UHD graphics model, and go up to $1900 for the 4K model. This may encourage you to be extra careful with the laptop, but you can live worry free when you buy Razer’s version of AppleCare, subsequently known as RazerCare.

New Razer Stealth and Razer Core X photo courtesy of Razer

In a test by Online Tech Reviewer Austin Evans, the Stealth can run games independently like Fortnite on medium settings between 45-60 frames per second and Call of Duty Black Ops 4 on low settings between 45-50 frames per second. This may not be pro gaming performance, but it is plenty for a device of its size.

Fortnite on the Razer Blade Stealth via Austin Evans Youtube

With its 2019 revisions, the Razer Blade Stealth is a great option for those looking for a powerful, ultraportable, attractive ultrabook and who do not mind paying on the higher end of the spectrum.

What good snacks mean to science: an interview with Emil Radoi, Redlands East Valley Physics teacher

By ALEENA SIRITANAPIVAT

Redlands East Valley physics teacher writing formulas and graphing upon his whiteboard in preparation for class. (ALEENA SIRITANAPIVAT/ Ethic Photo)

“After a long day, it’s good to have a snack,” Emil Radoi told me as he opened his drawer. I watched while he pulled out two little packs of Hello Panda cookies. “A good snack,” he emphasized, his lips curling up slightly. I accepted them, opened it and popped one in my mouth, watching as he did the same.

After a brief moment of chewing, I heard him ask, “So what would you like to know?” The whole school knows of Radoi, his intelligence and his love for physics, but did he always know he wanted to be involved with STEM or physics? Was he like the wavering senior, still unsure of what to mark for their major?

“Ah…” he began, the sound of remembrance telling me that I was in for a story. He beckoned me to sit, and I obliged as he started to recount his backstory. “I always liked numbers, ever since I could count, really,” he told me. Mathematics was his passion. Although middle school, or gymnasium as they called it in Romania where he grew up, introduced him to various subjects, such as geometry and chemistry, when it came to choosing a subject-specific high school, the choice was clear. “Physical science in sixth grade…, ecology in seventh, anatomy in eighth…,” he listed with his hands folded under his chin. All of those subjects were available to him, but, for him, the choice was always going to be one of the four math-physics high schools in the county.

However, believe it or not, Radoi didn’t automatically start with physics. Yes, the high school had pushed him to a career path quickly, but that only led him to computer science programming as a freshman in college. At first, he began at the University of Illinois at Chicago but had to move to Southern California in the fall of 1989 as a transfer to California State University, San Bernardino. It was there that he met Dr. Javier Torner, then department chair of natural sciences. “He asked me, ‘Do you see yourself [computing numbers for something]? Do you see yourself in an office?’ I told him, ‘No, I don’t,’” he recalled. His professor served as the guiding force in changing his major, and, as a sophomore, he began applied mathematics in physics.

Now rumor has it that Radoi used to be a scientist for NASA, so I took it upon myself to confirm or deny this little speculation. He chuckled: an instant rejection of the theory. Before teaching, he actually worked for UPS (the third letter is an S just like NASA, so he guessed it’s still close) during the night shift in the flight operations department. He monitored loads, like fuel and freight, computing and balancing. “After all,” he stated, “we didn’t want any accidents like FedEx. We actually had a photo of the accident….” I figured that Radoi does not want FedEx handling his packages after that explanation.

In the end, why did Radoi decide to teach? He began to recount how his wife tutored at San Bernardino Valley College, and how he himself worked with them for three years. He tracked back to 1990 when he was in college and worked part-time at Redlands High School with the ESL department for about 20 hours a week. “I enjoyed tutoring since high school — just for fun,” he paused and thought for a moment. “Actually, I’ve been tutoring since the third or fourth grade. I would tutor my cousins in mathematics.” It turns out, Radoi has been a teacher since the very beginning, and it was the same professor that pushed him to change to applied mathematics that inspired him to teach as well.

What if Radoi wasn’t a physics teacher? What would he be? “Hm… Well, I like talking to people on a regular basis about anything, really, so if I had to be anything besides a teacher, I would work with people, helping and communicating,” he eventually told me, hesitant at first. He mentioned a coffee shop, most likely a promotion for the Meek House, which is owned by one of his daughters and can be found in Redlands’ Mountain Grove. I know from friends that he greets them warmly while they are visiting and even offers one-on-one help in physics if the person asks. However, I could tell from his answer that being a physics teacher is what he genuinely loves.

“Teach from the heart, and have a passion for the subject they want [to teach],” he said when I asked him for advice for future science teachers. “Physics is not something you teach, but something you let others discover.” It’s why “in [our AP Physics] class, we derive formulas,” he added. Apply this to your own subject aspiring teachers. Other advice included: like people, be prepared for challenges and anything students may throw at you and be okay with saying “I don’t know,” but bring students to the next level that they should be at or to the same level as you. “Oh, and make it ‘phun,’ with a P-H, of course,” he joked.

For those interested in pursuing engineering or STEM, Radoi encourages them to join Engineering Club. They meet every Tuesday during lunch in E-101. As the advisor, he oversees the many projects built by students and has done so for many years. Every year, they participate in the Science Olympiad and the boat building competition. With that, all of the mysteries about Radoi were resolved, and it dawned upon me that our interview had come to an end.

I thanked him for his time, and he smiled at me. We exchanged the usual departing pleasantries, and I walked out of his classroom, feeling refreshed. Clutching my heavy textbooks that felt lighter than normal, to my surprise, I realized I still had the cookies he had given me before the interview. I took one cookie out, admiring the faded panda figures depicted on the shell before popping one in my mouth, and savored the sweet chocolatey taste of a good snack after a long day.

Trends show teens abandon Facebook, flock to instagram instead

By RICHARD BUNNER

Chances are you have Instagram downloaded on some device. Most people do as well, along with other social media such as Twitter and Facebook. However, most teenagers are completely ditching Facebook in favor of Instagram.

(BRANDON SAGLAM/ EThic Photo)

Although the Facebook Corporation owns Instagram, only about a third of teens report using Facebook at least once a month according to a study by Piper Jaffray, an investment bank and asset management firm. While Facebook is still one of the largest social media platforms in the world, the main target for the corporation would be to capture the attention of teenagers in order to have confirmed users in the future, and according to Jaffray’s study, that goal is failing.

Teens seem to be more drawn to the layout of Instagram and the “cool factor” of having a more modern, youth-oriented social media account.  Instagram also has a much more pleasing logo for phones’ home screens with a nice range of colors instead of the big “F” that Facebook uses.

The primary apps used by teens and young adults are shown in a table created by Piper Jaffray.  Many teens are using Instagram more frequently than they use Facebook.

This shows that more teens and young adults prefer using Instagram over Facebook. Instagram targets the young adult market, while Facebook is regularly used by the older generation . Facebook, aside from twitter, is also the home of lots of politics, which could largely be due to the age demographic of users.

This chart by Pew Research shows that the younger end of those surveyed mainly gravitate towards platforms such as Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat, while those towards the older end generally prefer Facebook.

The greatest reason for teenagers’ preference for Instagram is the amount of features and modern design that Instagram has over Facebook.  “Instagram is more accessible and appealing to youth,” said Citrus Valley senior Joseph Quesada. “It appeals more to the information and stuff I’d want to see.”

Instagram’s features allow users to reach out to a much wider audience with features such as IGTV and highlights, so it is no surprise that Instagram is turning out to being the king, or queen, of social media.

“It’s popularity allows for a large platform where your content is exposed to a large audience.” Citrus Valley High School senior Brandon Saglam says about Instagram. “Instagram is a continuously updating program in which it’s able to stay relevant continuously in that it will always be relevant to the public. With the new updates, Instagram has a lot of features such as instagram stories, IGTV and story highlights. Highlights allow you to post content in different ways and experiment in different creative disciplines.”  

Citrus Valley junior Ricardo Ramos said, “Facebook is more old but instagram is more modern.”

The majority of people who will be using social media in the future are essentially abandoning Facebook, which was once the largest mainstream social media platform in the world.  

zSpace trailer transports Citrus Valley students through a unique virtual experience

By JOSEPH QUESADA, GABRIEL STANFIELD and BRANDON SAGLAM

The zSpace trailer stopped by Citrus Valley High School on Thursday, Nov. 8, 2018, allowing science, computer, and ROP classes the opportunity to experiment with the new virtual and augmented reality equipment.

The zSpace trailer is a unique learning experience which has recently been traveling school to school to provide tutorials on the technology. zSpace provides students with the ability to learn through virtual reality giving 3-dimensional diagrams which students can explore.

Several classes at Citrus Valley High School, with students ranging from grades 9 -12, were invited to witness and interact with the technology first hand: Brian Hoyt and Patricia Pitts 11th and 12th grade science classes, Allen Thoe’s computer science class, Robert Harshberger and Kevin Fisher’s Career and Technical Education classes, and Alexander Gaede’s 9th and 10th grade science class.

Pitt’s science class was the first group of the day scheduled to visit the zSpace trailer. “I thought it was interesting, and I can see many uses for it in biology classes,” Pitts said.

Pitts explained how zSpace could enhance the dissection experience, but noted it served a different purpose. “It cannot replace actual hands on dissections, but it would be useful as a practice before an actual lab setting, because if they mess up it can be reset,” Pitt said. “That is something you cannot do on an actual specimen. Also they could dissect more than one type of organism.”

Students were given the opportunity to experiment with the zSpace all-in-one computers, which provide an augmented and virtual reality. “I thought it was really cool because it actually gave you a real look into the anatomy of the heart and made you feel like you were there,” said senior Melody Andrade, who is in Mr. Harshbergers CTE-ROP class.

Andrade added that zSpace could possibly improve students learning because “it gives you in a way a one-on-one type of learning with the subject and being able to literally pick apart and see the real part of the body, such as the muscular and skeletal systems.”

Here is a look at one of the zSpace trailers:

IMG_9556
The zSpace trailer provides a traveling classroom which offers an educational experience to students through virtual reality. Using zView and a camera, whole class demonstrations can be set up with a projector or interactive whiteboard. (GABRIEL STANFIELD/ Ethic Photo)

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Alexander Gaede’s biology class receives instruction on how to operate the virtual reality systems. Multiple students can collaborate with the content while wearing tracked or non-tracked glasses. (GABRIEL STANFIELD/ Ethic Photo)

IMG_9567
Student explore the features of the zSpace technology during 5th period on Thursday, Nov. 8, 2018. The zSpace All-in-One is a windows-based computer where students can interact with content while wearing tracked glasses and using a special stylus.  (GABRIEL STANFIELD/ Ethic Photo)

 

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Instructor showing student how to manage the features of the computer; specifically how to play chess through the virtual experience. zSpace laptops offer personalized experiences and opportunities to interact with the content individually. (GABRIEL STANFIELD/ Ethic Photo)

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Students navigate the interactive experience with a stylus tool. The stylus tool is one of the tools used for interaction with the content. (JOSEPH QUESADA/ Ethic Photo)

 

 

The purpose of the zSpace trailer is to provide students with a unique educational environment through cutting-edge technology.  (GABRIEL STANFIELD/ Ethic Photo)

The applications are not limited to traditional science or technology classes. The zSpace flyers being distributed at the mobile classroom expanded on the potential applications in automotive, welding, health fields, and more. “Medical imaging scans,” “ECG electrode placement,” and “Human Anatomy Atlas” were just a few of the health related software mentioned in the flyers. The flyer also highlighted “VR Automotive Expert by GTA” as “the first of its kind, 3D interactive study guide for automotive training.”

This was not the first stop in the Redlands Unified School District for the zSpace trailer. The zSpace Mobile classroom tour also visited Lugonia Elementary School in March of 2018.

More information about zspace can be found at http://www.zspace.com

 

The scientific processes behind anxiety disorders

By MELANIE URIBE

There are six major anxiety disorders: Generalized Anxiety Disorder, Phobia, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, and Panic Disorder. Each disorder is separated into smaller subsections and affect every individual in different magnitudes. The most common factor each of these disorders share is panic attacks.

Panic attacks are not limited to panic disorders; therefore, experiencing a panic attack does not always mean a panic disorder is present. Approximately 11% of the population of the United States will endure a panic attack in a given year. Panic disorders, however, are reported by only 1.7% of the population. A panic attack can indicate underlying psychological issues or recent adversity. It is also important to note that panic attacks differ from anxiety attacks. An anxiety attack stems from the anticipation of future events or potential outcomes and comes progressively and gradually, whereas a panic attack is unforeseen and sudden.

Panic attacks are defined as a moment of utter fear and perceived a threat, whether or not there actually is one. The derivation is usually a trigger or a built up amount of stress or worry. However, they can also be random. Panic attacks can happen to anyone, but they are most commonly reported by those with additional behavioral issues, such as depression or obsessive-compulsive disorder. Although there is treatment, there is no exact cure.

During a panic attack, the sympathetic nervous system activates the adrenal gland, which releases the hormone epinephrine. Doing this increases blood pressure, suppresses the immune system, and prepares the mind for a danger that may not even exist beyond the victim’s brain. Everyone reacts to panic attacks differently, but the victim most commonly will endure hyperventilation, shaking, nausea, dissociation, and or sweating. If hyperventilation occurs, the carbon dioxide levels in the victim’s lungs drop, resulting in an alteration of the blood’s pH. Blood sugar is then redirected from the brain to major muscles of the body, causing the prefrontal cortex to drain activity. To recover, the parasympathetic nervous system activates acetylcholine to stabilize the body back to homeostasis. The duration of this process is around ten minutes but varies depending on the victim’s familiarity with panic attacks. Regardless, it could last seconds or hours.

Globally, one in thirteen people suffer from an anxiety disorder to the extent that it impacts their daily life. Because of this, it is essential to be kind whenever there is a chance to be.

All information was acquired from The Nation Institute of Mental Health, the Depression and Anxiety Association of America, and Psychology Today. Further information and research can be found there.

The evolution and development of the iPhone

By ELLA FITZPATRICK

iphone x
Infographic summarizing key pros and cons of the new iphone xs series created using piktochart. (Ella Fitzpatrick/ Ethic infographic)

 

On June 29, 2007 Steve Jobs unveiled the first touch screen iPhone, which shocked the world with not only its new impressive development in technology and resulting high price, but also by removing certain aspects of flip phones that customers were so used to. For example, people did not appreciate that the phone was not 3G. There was no physical keyboard, and the screen did not have a stylus. Customers and critics believed that Apple was entering a bottomless pit, and many believed that this iPhone would not be as successful as the iPod. However, after a decade of improvements and various versions, the Apple iPhones are now some of the most successful phones in the world.

There are a total of 18 models of iPhones that have been made, all with features that are either the same as other iPhones or some that differ. On Sept. 12, 2018, at its annual fall product event held at the Steve Jobs theater in the Apple park campus, Apple released three new iPhones: the iPhone XS, iPhone XS Max, iPhone XR and an Apple watch. These new models are quite similar to the last iPhone X product Apple released on Nov. 3, 2017. With the newly released iPhones being so similar to the iPhone X, Apple has pulled all iPhone X phones out of stores. What made these products so similar was the face recognition software. This major development in technology had feedback, but there was always room for improvements in the model. Customers found it hard to open the phone by sliding up, and it took them many tries before they could get into it. Customers were also upset when they found out that they could not get into their phones when the phones were face up on a flat surface, forcing them to wait for the padlock to finally appear moments later. Additionally, many also found it frustrating to use the new user interface since there were several required gestures and steps to navigate it. Another downside to the iPhone X was the awful notch at the top of the screen where the camera is located. Past iPhones had a straight line at the top of the screen but for current and future generations of iPhones, they will keep this alteration. Although Apple’s goal was to give customers more screen space, when watching full screen videos or putting a picture on screen, the notch cuts out a big portion. Sadly this notch houses a camera system which makes face ID possible.

Apple and other companies including Otterbox have made many protective screen covers and cases to protect iPhones, and in the past all iPhones were made and sold with a glass screen and metal backing. However, with the iPhone X (2017 model), iPhone XS, iPhone XS Max, and the iPhone XR, Apple changed the iPhones exterior and surrounded it with glass. Even though this glass gives the phone a slik, flawless look, it is easy to drop and break this $1000 device.

Since the first iPhone, there has always been a home button located at the bottom of the iPhone. It was easy to reach, and little movement of the finger was necessary to navigate the phone.  With the iPhone X (2017 Model) and the new line of X iPhones, customers have to slide up the bottom and it is difficult for some to adapt to new modifications. Even though the Apple iPhones offer a touch screen home button, that home button is still on the screen taking up even more screen space.

Apple did not address these problems for the new iPhones XS, iPhone XS Max, and the iPhone XR models. Yes, the notch will still be at the top of the iPhones that holds the technology for the face recognition software, and there still will not be a home button, but they have made big improvements with these new iPhones. They have increased screen size from 5.8 inches to 6.4 inches, which is a big improvement for giant tech and Apple. Apple has also developed more colors other than black for the iPhone XR including white, red, blue, coral, and yellow. iPhone XR is significantly cheaper starting at a selling price of $749. It will have 1.5 more battery life per day compared to the iPhone 8 Plus or the iPhone XS.  Apple has added an extra 256 GB for both iPhones XS and XS Max. The camera will still be the same camera that was on the iPhone X (2017), but customers will get more camera with this model than with the older model. The camera’s algorithm and HDR will be able to identify highlights and find shadow details, which will detect people’s bodies and faces. Apple has also added a portrait mode called the bokeh effect that allows customers to have complete control over the blur and depth of the photo.

With the new iPhones XS, XR, and XS Max, we will see just how much Apple has changed and evolved over the 12 years of making iPhones. We will see if Apples claims are true about the developments of these new iPhones.

New findings confirm the presence of water on the moon

By ETHAN SIBBET

NASA released a peer-edited research paper entitled “Direct evidence of surface exposed water ice in the lunar polar regions” on Aug. 20, 2018 confirming that ice had been found on the moon.

Finding water on the moon is revolutionary. Water is, of course, a necessary requirement for life. The moon would be an essential stopping point for space travel, and the ideal way to get the materials for spaceships would be to mine them on the moon. This requires a significant base on the moon, which would only be possible if water was there already. In addition to supporting life, water is also the ingredient in our most efficient fuel, LOX.

For years, there has been discussion and hope about water being on the moon. Hundreds of studies have been done to determine where water has been or where it is likely to be, and they have found points that are likely to be water but could be just reflective rocks or something similar. The satellite Chandrayaan-1 was launched with infrared spectroscopy systems that would allow it to detect certain frequencies of light emitted by H2O; previous estimates were not accurate enough to determine the difference between that, HO, and H2. In many larger impact craters on the moon’s poles, the slope is high enough that it shadows the craters and creates ‘cold traps,’ where the temperature is cold enough to freeze water-i.e., less than 110 degrees K (Water freezes at 273 K on the earth; however, the lack of atmosphere on the moon reduces the freezing point significantly).

The satellite found that many of these locations have water. This crucial finding allows moon colonies to not bring all the water they will use with them. Not directly having to recycle or provide all the water will make moon colonies cheaper and easier to implement.

Capture
http://www.pnas.org

New gear for Apple fans

By RICHARD BUNNER

Breaking the electronics news for September 2018 were the releases of the newest iPhones. Gone are the days of the home button for apple because each newly released phone has an all screen design with the signature notch.

Screenshot 2018-09-19 at 12.54.24 PM
iPhone XR-Photo from Apple promotion ads.(Photo Courtesy of Apple inc.)

The most notable release is the iPhone XR due to its affordable $750 starting price. The XR took some design cues from the iPhone 8 for the rear fascia, sporting a 12MP single camera, unlike the original X. This entry-level, all-screen phone has a top of the line A12 Bionic chip, which has been dubbed the most powerful processor in a smartphone. Unlike the iPhone XS(which will be mentioned later) the XR has the all new Liquid Retina LCD screen measuring 6.1 inches diagonally with a display size of 1792 x 828 pixels and a pixel density of 326 ppi. The XR is available for direct purchase on October 26th.

Screenshot 2018-09-19 at 12.55.13 PM
iPhone XS (top) and XS Max (bottom)- (Photo Courtesy of Apple inc.)

Another release is the iPhone XS. The XS, starting at $999, is an updated version of the original X model. The larger model, known as the XS Max, includes 6.5 inch display, starting at $1099. Both the XS and XS Max utilize the all new “Super Retina” OLED display, allowing for more vibrant colors and deeper blacks. The camera setup is a vertical dual lens layout with 12mp per lens with 1080p filming capabilities at 60fps, respectively.

Screenshot 2018-09-19 at 12.55.29 PM
Apple Watch Series 4- (Photo Courtesy of Apple)

For those who need a new smartwatch for their XS or XR, Apple has got you covered with the 4th generation of the Apple Watch. With a similar design to the Series 3 smartwatch, the Series 4 has evolved in terms of an updated user interface and improved heart rate monitor. The Series 4 watch is water resistant with fall detection and SOS features in case of an emergency. An updated Activity tracker has features such as a competition mode for you and your friends, monthly goal reminders, and a personalized coaching experience.

Video: Student volunteers and residents beautify beaches on Coastal Clean-Up Day

Cynthia Mallett, Environmental Program Supervisor for the City of San Clemente, shares information on the annual California Coastal Clean-Up day and tips on keeping oceans clean. The Redlands East Valley High School Nature and Ecology Club participated in Coastal Clean-up Day at San Clemente Pier in San Clemente, California on Saturday Sept. 15, 2018. (Samantha Barajas/ Ethic video)

Are cheetahs on the brink of extinction?

By BRANDON SAGLAM

Recently, on December 11, 2017, researchers affiliated with National Geographic’s Big Cat Initiative released a study in the journal PeerJ that provided data on cheetah populations which is beginning to worry scientists. The paper provided two estimates of the probable population of cheetahs within regions of Africa. Through the the analysis of over two million pieces of scientific data and 20,000 crowdsourced observations from tourists between 2010 and 2016, researchers counted that there are 3,577 free-ranging adults inhabiting 305,000 square miles of Namibia, Botswana, South Africa and Zimbabwe. With that data, they then approximated that a similar buffer area of natural land could ideally be inhabited by another 3,250 cheetahs.This meaning that there are hopefully at least 6,800 African cheetahs.

cheetah
Photo by BRANDON SAGLAM

The reason that this population size is so alarming is it is not only less than half of the estimate published in November 2016, but the population found is a severe decline from what had existed in Southern Africa in 1975. Back then, the population of cheetahs just in South Africa was counted to be around 15,000. This only makes the CCO’s census back in 2016 that predicted cheetah populations to decline by 53 percent to be much more perilous.

Currently, cheetahs are considered only vulnerable despite scientists calling for the species to be considered endangered by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature. If this were to happen, it would ensure that greater lengths would be taken to provide greater protection for cheetahs. Co-lead author of the study Florian Weise elaborated that if the cheetah is considered endangered, “it affords them a lot more protection on an international level, recognizing that the general population trend is downwards, it just generates a whole lot more attention for a species that has been listed vulnerable for a long, long time.” Cheetahs have been greatly impacted by human interaction as it has seen the alteration of more than 90 percent of the cheetah’s natural habitat. The species are being restricted to private sectors of land within only six countries, and only 18.4 percent of the South African cheetah’s range is internationally recognized as protected land, which is South Africa’s Kruger National Park. The issue that makes the loss of their territory so detrimental is that much of it is allocated for livestock and game production. Cheetahs die at a very high rate due to poachers, car collisions, starvation from heavy game hunting and from farmers who shoot cheetah in belief that it was a threat to their livestock. Founder and executive director of the Cheetah Conservation Fund Laurie Marker expressed that they “are all very concerned about these small populations outside of protected areas.”

cheetah chart

The outstanding issue is that there is an existing precedent for global cheetah extinction. The Asiatic cheetah is the world’s most endangered big cat: fewer than 40 exist in the wild. The hopeful factor is that due to critical situation, the feline has received a large amount of attention in hopes to engender support for the growth of a larger population. This provides a great example that if cheetahs are treated more critically their severe decline and eventual extinction can be avoided.

The data found by researchers Varsha Vijay and Florian Weise is necessary for action to be made. However, the worry is that even if the cheetah receives the endangered label it could take around 10 years for any political legislation to protect cheetahs to be developed and implemented. This is extremely terrifying given it is unknown how severely the cheetah population could decline in this time.

There is hope, though. With the recent study, more attention will be brought to cheetahs in the upcoming future. With that, the hope is regulations can be made, cheetahs can be relisted and more can be educated on the plight of cheetahs, making rehabilitation of the cheetah population not just possible but something for scientists to strive for.

 

 

23andme compromises information of customers

The 23andme privacy policy reads: 

“We may share anonymized and aggregate information with third-parties; anonymized and aggregate information is any information that has been stripped of your name and contact information and aggregated with information of others or anonymized so that you cannot reasonably be identified as an individual.”

By MATTHEW KRISTOFFERSEN

Spit in a cup, ship it off to a laboratory and learn all about one’s ancestral history and genetic makeup six to eight weeks later, all for $99. Sounds simple, right?

Not so fast: despite over 12 years of existence and a quarter of a billion dollars in investment from venture capitalists, 23andme and similar genetic testing services neglect to inform customers about what their genetic material is actually used for.

For those who may not know, Deoxyribonucleic acid–DNA for short–is what makes life happen. Its 3.2 billion base pairs are copied, translated and replicated hundreds of thousands of times per second in order to generate proteins for basic life function. It also holds hereditary information, and 23andme focuses on small sections of one’s DNA strand to find sequences that are common to particular cultures and locations. For example, a specific variant in a gene on the far end of chromosome 2 could mean that someone is Finnish, and someone of Ashkenazi Jewish descent probably has a certain base pair difference in the SMPD1 gene. Instead of discarding the DNA sequence with the saliva, the company stores it on small electronic chips and sells large batches of customers’ sequences to government agencies, research programs and biotech companies for thousands of dollars.

In a sense, by spitting in that cup, the customer becomes not the consumer, but the product. According to sciencemag.org,  genetic information sold by 23andme could be used by other businesses to create new pharmaceuticals, study the sources of particular diseases or find genetic markers for cancer in cultural groups, but it could also have more sinister uses. Life insurance companies can use certain predispositions for diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s to decide whether to insure someone or not. Police agencies can use DNA samples to track a suspect’s relatives. Hackers who find that a well-known politician has an 80 percent chance of developing Age-Related Macular Degeneration could easily sell the information to a competing candidate or nation. Imagine what a racist, homicidal government could do with the knowledge of the heredity of its citizens down to the tenth of a percent. 23andme may say that one’s sample “is stripped of personally identifying information” and is “assigned a randomized research identification number,” but even this is shoddy protection: a 2013 study was able to find the surname, age and state of a man just by matching sections of his Y chromosome with public genetic databases. Legislation is slow to pass and hard to implement, so this quasi-lawless frontier is ripe for rogues to abuse and for companies to make money off of.

This is nothing new, however. The same lawlessness that once haunted the Internet is now the center of attention for genetic privacy issues, only now the players are smarter and their loopholes and workarounds more sophisticated. The use of customer data as a moneymaker is far from a novel invention as well. Google uses search history and web analytics to create specific target audiences for ad placement. Facebook can monitor what its over 2 billion users look at–and even for how long–in order to gauge the success of political campaigns’ newest slogans or influence purchase decisions. The list goes on. Selling this data is a lucrative business, and companies know it.

And as the amount of human beings capable of accessing the world wide web increases, so too does the amount of raw, unfiltered data available for enterprising businesses to exploit and sell. This is why 23andme is such a success, and why its public relations representatives are paid so well. If potential customers were shown advertisements about how the company profits off of selling genetic information to third-party companies rather than those about a happy man in a kilt learning that his happy family is not German but Scottish, then 41-year-old CEO Anne Wojcicki would have to find another job.

Maybe this is wrong. Maybe security is such a priority to Wojcicki that she keeps her virtual gold mine of information under a stagnant pool of goodwill. Maybe she just really does not like making millions of dollars for her company. If not her, then her investors do; if not her investors, then other firms that are not quite so dollar-phobic may be tempted to tap into such a large profit opportunity. After all, Wojcicki is the ex-wife of Google cofounder Sergey Brin and the sister of the CEO of Youtube, and her hereditary information shows a predisposition to selling personal information to third-party companies.

Cars in space: SpaceX launches Elon Musk’s Tesla Roadster to Mars

By WILLIAM MALVEAUX

Picture the world’s most powerful rocket blasting off for the first time on a journey to near the majesty of the mysterious red planet. 500 million dollars of cutting-edge technology fires into the air in an eruption of sound, but there is quite the unusual passenger.

On Tuesday, Feb. 6, 2018, the company SpaceX unleashed the massive and powerful Falcon Heavy rocket, the second most powerful in history, carrying 27 engines, two side boosters and Chief Executive Officer Elon Musk’s red Tesla Roadster. No need to fear–the car was manned by a mannequin in a spacesuit, and some decent tunes playing: David Bowie, to be exact. Though the physical status of the car has not yet been deduced, it can be assumed that its in fair condition. SpaceX also shared that the vehicle could be in an orbit around the sun that could last one billion years. That is a long time to be on Rainbow Road.

The Falcon Heavy is essentially three smaller Falcon 9 rockets bound together, creating the 27 engine wielding a mammoth of 64 tons. The rocket is planned to be an equipment vessel for future deep space voyages which is crucial if the company is to bring to fruition their goal of a self-sustaining human civilization on Mars.

Space Infographic by Ben Wear
Infographic by BEN WEAR

Even though all this is exciting, the company plans on sending the first humans to the planet in 2024, which is quite a ways off. For now, it is best to sit back and watch the company do what it does best: push humanity towards its destined ascension to the stars.   

OpenWorm digitizes worm brain

By WILLIE MALVEAUX

OpenWorm is a project dedicated to making the world’s first virtual organism. Recently, the collective has successfully digitized a worm brain and transferred the brain into a small Lego robot capable of moving in a real environment.

To elaborate, the Caenorhabditis elegans is a roundworm of only 100 cells. Capable of feeding, finding mates and avoiding predators, the worm is a paragon specimen for the experiment. In other words, the brain is primarily a system of electrical signals, and if those signals were to be mapped, theoretically an organism may be immortalized digitally.

The team behind OpenWorm was recently able to map all 302 of the worm’s neurons and map their connections. This resulted in an effective digital simulation of the worm’s brain on software. This allowed the team to create a Lego robot capable of traversing in a real life, controlled environment without any remote or artificial intelligence program.

Recently, the collective’s Twitter account shared an image of one Caenorhabditis elegans on a computer and an another, a mere simulation of the species. This image shows plenty of progress and the company tweeted out, “Alright alright – most of you guessed, left worm was the real one. Give us another couple of months `(or years) and let’s see if we can fool you.” This means that most worm experts cannot yet be fooled, but progress is being made.

digitized worm brain
Photo posted by Openworm twitter on Feb. 1, 2018. The left is a real worm and the right is simulated.

Now there is still plenty of research needed for this project, for example the robot is not capable of eating or finding a mate, but it is a start. Though the collective is nowhere near being able to map the 100 billion neurons of the human brain, perhaps the research may lead to better robotics and artificial intelligence in the future.

The pros and cons for nuclear power

By WILLIE MALVEAUX

In 1946, the United States government created the Atomic Energy Commission, or the AEC for short. This jump started the beginning of nuclear power for peaceful implementations, and as a result of this, in Dec. 1951, the first electricity from nuclear power was created. After this, the United States government endeavoured to hone this new and efficient power source, and in 1957, the first commercial nuclear power plant was established in Shippingport, Pennsylvania.

Since its introduction in 1957, nuclear power has proved a viable and safe source of energy and should continue implementation as shown by its ability to produce power with low-waste products with the exception of its core, the magnitude of which a paucity of reactive matter can generate power, and its standing of being clearly more reliable than other alternatives. In this less wasteful system, the longevity of the planet may be prolonged and the total health of the population more protected from pollutants.

Nuclear power is a way to produce energy with far fewer hazardous emissions than alternatives such as coal power, and therefore is less toxic to the environment. For example, to produce the same amount of electricity, a nuclear plant only emits three percent of the carbon dioxide, one of the chief factors of global warming,  that a coal plant would synthesize. This shows that the usage of nuclear energy may reduce one of the biggest problems generated by human utilization of the earth’s resources. This also illuminates the clear advantage created by using this power source as it proves healthier for the earth. Another example of a difference in pollutant amounts is shown when comparing the gross materials used by the two sources. According to study by the Union of Concerned Scientists, a typical coal plant produces approximately 318,000 tons of waste per year, which consists primarily of ash and sludge, whereas the typical nuclear plant produces only 20 tons of nuclear waste for about the same power. This shows that it is objectively far less wasteful than coal.

new-piktochart_26442387

 

This does come with a grain of salt, being that nuclear waste is unnatural and takes time to return to safer levels, but due to landfills proving a major human health hazard, the difference in nearly 300 tons of waste is quite significant. Nuclear power is simply far less wasteful than the popular coal power source. Consider 300 tons a year less waste piling up in landfills that could be used as industrial or even suburban areas, which are in high demand due to the growing population.  

However, nuclear reactors not only emit less waste products, but also requires less materials and are cost-effective to run. For example, the cost of maintaining a nuclear plant in 2017, averaged less than $125 per megawatt-hour. This price is a bit more than conventional coal at $100, but has a miniscule fuel cost, in only being beaten by wind, solar and hydroelectric power. This shows that the revenue from the plants are going more towards trained workers in a safe facility and not in a dark and dangerous mine on long, unhealthy treks to deliver large quantities of material. It is clearly better to support workers in environments where their collective health is not at risk, therefore the cost of the production is justified.

Finally, nuclear power is a very reliable energy source. The average nuclear plant may run 18 to 24 months nonstop before needing a brief refueling session. This means that the plant can produce consistent and large quantities of electric energy, with little downtime, meaning that the workers have a consistent source of income to support their families. Furthermore, it is the most reliable source in the aspect of it having a 92 percent ratio of actual energy produced versus maximum possible. This is 18 percent higher than the runner-up, geothermal energy, at 74 percent. This shows that nuclear plants have it right, blasting out the most bang for the buck, and not wasting as much used materials. Nuclear power is a dependable source of power for these reasons.

Essentially, nuclear power is clearly the superior energy source. The pros include its very little emissions and other waste products, and it is also highly cost and time-efficient to run a nuclear plant. The cons include that the technology is newer than coal, and therefore could be perfected, and it is already well known that any escaping nuclear radiation may put the health of workers and surrounding populations of humans and wildlife in danger, not to mention the notable time it takes for nuclear waste to decay to a safe level. Though there is risk in this technology, the benefits of the implementation of this power source are undeniable.