Elon Musk’s SpaceX launched its first civilian flight on the Inspiration 4. A big question that remains is what does this mean for the future of tourist travel in space and what are the implications of it for Earth.
The Inspiration 4 mission cost just under $200 million dollars with 5 more SpaceX tourist flights already planned for the upcoming months and years. Other companies such as Virgin Galactic and Blue Origin are also working on plans to take civilians to space.
John Harris from The Guardian leaves us with the question, is space now a playground for the rich?
The Korean company, LG, announced recently that they are officially quitting the smartphone business after 12 years. This decision came after years of struggling in the competition against popular brands such as Apple and Samsung. The company has also suffered billions of dollars in losses from its smartphones globally.
Even though they were claimed to be the third-largest smartphone maker in 2013, LG suffered tremendous losses with their products that were too gimmicky and not functional enough to compete with bigger brands. Despite this, they tried to make smartphones with new innovations and features such as a curved smartphone screen and a rollable tablet phone that was supposed to be released this year.
Planned Obsolescence is the theory that companies intentionally design products that they know will become obsolete after a short period of time. The theory states that this strategy is used to cause consumers to continue to buy new products and devices as older ones slow down or eventually stop working at all. Because Apple has recently released a new software update, iOS14, many people have already begun to speculate how this update will impact older devices.
In this science/technology podcast, Emily and Jillian discuss the ways that Apple has addressed these claims and made efforts to debunk this theory, as well as personal experiences that they have had with Apple products and their own opinions on the theory.
Apple released their latest software update recently and users are already enjoying the new features. iOS 14 was rumored for several months before it’s actual release date which was re-scheduled multiple times due to COVID-19 related issues. This update is said to give users to ability to customize their device more than ever before. However, correction updates have already started being released to fix issues many are experiencing.
We also discussed new technology Apple users can be expecting to be released later this year including the rumored iPhone 12, a new watch, and iPads. Apple has also been working on Bluetooth connection devices and at home devices similar to the Amazon echo. It’s unclear the effect COVID-19 will have on the release of these new products. Check out this weeks podcast to hear more.
As a result of the global pandemic, scientists and doctors are working diligently to try and find a cure for COVID-19. There are clinical trials taking place to allow doctors to study participants between the ages 18 and 55 and they are paid in order to incentivize people to help.
Major League Baseball is doing their part by participating in the largest nationwide COVID-19 study on antibodies. Out of the 30 MLB teams, 27 of them are involved in this study. The 10,000 participants range from players to stadium ushers who have all agreed to take blood tests in order to help doctors understand the infection rate and spread patterns of this novel coronavirus.
Scientists are also looking at HIV medications as a possible cure for the virus. An antiviral HIV medication known as Kaletra has emerged on the black market. According to doctors in China, this drug has showed promising signs to be a possible treatment for coronavirus.
The COVID-19 pandemic has required all hands on deck. A large group of technologists and executives have called on top technology companies in an open letter to help in the fight against COVID-19. A part of the letter singled out top companies such as Apple and Google to use their extensive knowledge to create a contact tracing app for the United States, similar to ones that have been used in other countries.
The idea may have stemmed from a Home Quarantine app created in Poland. The app sends a random alert to your mobile phone and you have 20 minutes to respond with a selfie in your designated quarantine location or the police will pay you a visit and fines will be given. With this, it brings many ethical issues in terms of privacy and security on the internet and it begs the question; How much should we compromise our privacy for the fight against COVID-19?
In this podcast, we discuss the issues of privacy vs. security and some other crazy ways the government could know who is COVID-19 positive without their consent.
Over the 3,000 years ago, there was an Egyptian Priest by the name of Nesyamun, who used to chant and sing the religious liturgy. Since his death in 1069 B.C., he has been silent in his mummified coffin until now.
British Scientists have figured out a way to resurrect the priest’s voice. The scientist did a CT scan of the mummy’s vocal tract, which they would send that to a 3-D printer. It printed out the vocal tract, and it got hooked up to a voice box. The voice box played a sound that sounded in between the words “bad” and “bed.”
The next step in the process is to change the format into a computer model that will match the scan of the vocal tract and turn to a digital simulation of a moving jaw and tongue. It is a groundbreaking experiment that could now bring a voice to this piece of history.
Amazon has taken over the delivery industry with special features like 2-day shipping, food deliveries, and, now, drones. Prime Air was launched in December of 2016 with delivery time of approximately 13 minutes. Amazon understands that with this innovative idea comes defects and complaints, so Amazon is constantly testing new technology and fixing bugs in the drones. One of the major defects in the drones used for Prime Air is the GSP. Some drones have crashed into houses or landed in abandoned fields.
Another secured delivery system that Amazon has created is Amazon Hubs. These P.O. boxes are established outside business such as convenience stores and create a safe space for consumers’ packages. Theft on and off campus has been unacceptable, especially with Amazon packages being left on doorsteps or outside dorm rooms. These Amazon Hubs keep consumers secure of their package safety.
Evidence of climate change is causing many people to question how much longer life will be sustainable on Earth. According to NASA research, “human activity is the leading cause of climate change rather than Earth’s natural processes.”
Celebrities and politicians are using their platforms to inform audiences about extreme weather events occurring around the world. Encouraging all to adopt a greener lifestyle and decrease the emission of greenhouse gases that pollute our atmosphere. Dr. Lisa Kennedy of the Virginia Tech Department of Geography explains that allowing these gases to occupy our atmosphere is the strongest supporting evidence that humans are responsible for impacting Earth’s climate.
Virginia Tech students organized a campus protest to bring climate change awareness to a local level within the Blacksburg community. Student protester Reiss Gidner says the goal was to get more attention for the need of congressional legislation.
“Not only was it students at Virginia Tech but it was also Blacksburg Highschool students coming together to demand change,” said Reiss Gidner. “We came together with actual demands that resulted in meetings with the board of directors and President Sands to look at what we can change to use renewable energy.”
With all the conversations surrounding climate change, there have been individuals neglecting that the issue is even real.
“People want to criticize anything that isn’t perfect. This scientist says this is going to happen and temperature will rise this much and then this scientist said something else,” Kennedy explains. “They just want to dismiss it all because scientists don’t absolutely agree because every model doesn’t agree, but it’s important to note what the models do agree on…that it’s warming.”
Kennedy thinks individuals overlook the significance of their own efforts to protect the environment since they are only a small part within it. “I really believe that every person counts, and I think sometimes it’s easy to back out of doing anything because we think what good is it? I’m just one person,” said Kennedy.
Gidner believes it’s time to apply pressure on huge corporations that pump pollution into our air and oceans. She says, “until we have economic policies that can influence the environment and get corporations to actively participate in cleaning up the environment, then not using a plastic straw isn’t going to change anything.”
Organizations like 4Ocean created campaigns to raise money to rid our oceans of waste. According to their website, “6,824,167 pounds of trash removed from the oceans by paid 4Ocean employees since 2017 through the sale of our products.”
Global Warming is threatening little time remaining for change. Gidner admits, “I think we have time if we start yesterday. We need to be aware of our carbon footprint early and consistently aware of how all our actions affect the environment.”
Dr. Kennedy and Gidner remain hopeful that through education we can teach our youth to live greener lifestyles and encourage everyone else to do the same. Kennedy says, “We only have one shot, this next generation can help save us.”
Image linked to full version of infographic on Piktochart.com
The otter sighting in Virginia Tech’s Duck Pond has generated a large social media reaction from students and faculty. After Virginia Tech released pictures of the animal on the university’s Twitter and official Instagram page, everyone is wondering how and why the otter got in the pond.
According to the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, in 1978 otters were listed as state endangered because “the clearing of stream banks, pollution, and overharvest virtually extirpated them from the western portion of the state.” However, in 1990 the animal was removed from the list due to improvement of stream habitats and efforts to supplement the natural migration of otters back to western Virginia.
Otters rarely appear in the Duck Pond and are more common in the New River. According to The Virginia Living Museum, “River otters inhabit a variety of habitats along rivers, lakes, streams, marshes, and coastal shorelines. This makes the campus landmark a natural habitat for the animal.
Wildlife Conservation student Taina McLeod says, “the Duck Pond is attached to a larger river system and there’s a good chance he just wandered in knowing there’s fish and other food.”
Appalachian Wildlife Management owner, Rudi Woykowski, says the otter most likely won’t stay long because of the lack of mates and because it will deplete its food resources.
While many are excited for the arrival of a new animal in the Duck Pond, Woykowski suggests that it might cause conflict between humans and wildlife. He says, “negative impacts with the otter are going to be a human fisherman getting injured or the otter getting hit by a car because of the proximity to the road.”
Moreover, the otter will impact the Duck Pond’s ecosystem because the animal will be at the top of the food chain.
McLeod says people walking around the Duck Pond probably won’t scare the otter away but bringing dogs to the pond might.
Woykowski warns not to feed or interact with otter because even though they are intelligent and playful creatures, they can quickly turn aggressive.