The Entirely unlikely, yet possible theory: White Holes

For as long as humans have been discovering their surroundings, there has been an opposite to everything in the universe. There was light inverse to darkness, yin to yang, matter to antimatter. Then, it seems that we should not be surprised by the entirely theoretical yet possible concept of “White” holes as opposites to Black Holes. It does not make the concept any less mind blowing though.

Albert-Einstein-10In the subject of General Relativity, first discovered by Albert Einstein and then improved by such scientists as Stephen Hawking, white holes are effectively hypothetical regions in space-time that are impenetrable from the outside despite emitting matter and light from inside. By this definition, they are the inverse of black holes, which can absorb matter  and light into an object of infinite density at their center, but never let anything escape.

These white holes also attract matter through gravity, like black holes or any other object of mass in the universe, but the attracted matter never reaches the event horizon, or “point of no return.” Although these white holes only exist mathematically, there was a cosmic anomaly witnessed by scientists on June 14, 2006. The giant explosion of light in deep space seemed otherwise completely unexplainable. A light burst of that caliber, lasting for about 102 seconds, would normally be paired with a supernova. At the time however, there was no supernova or collision of any sort to attribute to the burst.

grb2The reason why white holes were dismissed as non existent was that although mathematically possible, they violate the laws of Physics: The second law of thermodynamics. This law states that the entropy of the universe can only stay the same or increase but never decrease. Entropy itself is defined as a tendency toward disorder. If black holes were the epitome of disorder, sucking in everything in sight, a release of matter would be adding order, thus decreasing entropy.Therefore, in the case that a white hole did form, it would be highly unstable because it would be fighting the universe’s laws of physics, and would shortly collapse in on itself, perhaps turning into a black hole. These would maybe last a few seconds, not a minute and a half as witnessed in 2006.

what-are-white-holesAlthough countless scientists have put forward explanations and theories, we cannot be certain how this burst was emitted. Until we have a chance to see another anomaly like this, we can’t necessarily prove the existence of these amazing white holes. It begs to question though, if in Einstein’s world of general relativity, time can flow forward and backward, allowing the existence of white holes and their ability to flow opposite to black holes, it would mean our one solid constant is in fact not. Time itself, we think, is the only unalterable variable in our lives regardless and unrelated to all other changes, but even time is only relative to our location in space. Nothing is constant, so perhaps our laws of physics, such as the second Law of Thermodynamics, may be subject to alteration. There may be a location in our universe where entropy is decreasing. We simply don’t know yet do we?

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The Apple Watch: A Facade?

Apple has announced the making of their own watch for a long time and is finally scheduled to launch in the spring. In the past year, smart watches and fitness trackers have gained popularity; however, is this all just a hype?

A majority of the smart watches out in the market right now have a limited number of features and can’t necessarily perform those functions very well. The extension to one’s smartphone allows people to see incoming calls and text messages. These watches can also count the number of steps you’ve taken and  track your heart rate. Other fitness trackers have all these features and even have longer battery life. Smart watches on the other hand will probably require overnight charging. Apple has already admitted that their watch will have a few battery issues and will need frequent charging. Then why is the Apple watch expected to become one of the most successful devices?

Apple has a huge amount of customer loyalty and one of the main reasons why is due to how they are known to make their products desirable and beautiful. The look of their products is what allows Apple to sell so much. The Apple watch will be no different and it will allow Apple to sell multiple units regardless of any distinctive features on the watch.

In the future, smart watches are most likely to become thinner, lighter, and more efficient. They are also likely to involve many functions that smartphones have today in addition to home automation and will be used for identity. Overall, it remains to be seen if the Apple watch uncovers any special apps or features. These additions could justify the strong sales expected when the watch is released.

School is for Learning

What do you actually learn in school? Facts, equations, literary devices, or nothing at all? For many, even though they don’t realize it, the answer is nothing. More often than not, school becomes a redundancy, something that only repeats and recycles what we already know. School is supposed to prepare us for life, but with every passing year it is becoming more of a test taking center filled with unenthusiastic individuals. This is especially true in the US, where most teachers don’t do their jobs and students are just test takers. Finland is one of the leading countries in education, and more countries should try to adopt its methods.

Each year, there seems to be a new standardized test that is mandatory for students to take. In fact, New Jersey has just recently introduced the PARCC exam, and the education system has made it illegal to opt out of taking it. Now, students don’t attend to school for the sake of learning something new to help them in life; no, they wake up in the morning to learn how to take a test. Is that what life is about? Taking tests? Not even close. For this very reason, Finland has eliminated standardized testing altogether. Pasi Sahlberg, a former math and physics teacher who is now in Finland’s Ministry of Education and Culture, says that they “prepare children to learn how to learn, not how to take a test”. There is only one test given at the end of high school, and kids seem to be learning much better this way.

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For kids to actually learn valuable knowledge in school, teachers must be passionate about their jobs and put forth full effort. In the US, many teachers just hand out worksheets they found online and tell themselves that their job is done. They don’t bother to help struggling students unless the students come to them first. There is much that needs reform in this situation. Teachers should be ready to take on the challenge of helping a student who needs additional guidance. Finland’s education system recognizes this, and the teachers are actually enthusiastic about teaching their classes. They are dedicated to helping kids learn and will try to accomplish their goal at all costs. If one method of teaching fails, multiple teachers work together to try something else. If educators all over the world were this committed to their jobs, each generation would be far brighter than the last.

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For an education to be effective, students must be attentive and genuinely interested in learning. High school students in the US are falling asleep in class more than half the time because of a lack of sleep. The cause of this lack of sleep? The stress of having to balance homework with family and extra-curriculars. Fatigue hinders the learning process and is a major setback for American students. As usual, Finland has a solution for this problem. Kids, especially young ones, are allowed downtime in between classes to clear their minds and refocus. Play is considered an important part of life at this age, as it should be. Schools in the US put an end to recess after elementary school, a change which students couldn’t be unhappier about. A “de-stresser” is needed for students to learn to the best of their ability.

Schools across America have introduced a new concept of “student-centered learning”. At first, this seems like the teachers will be focusing on the students more. However, the term actually means that students will be expected to teach themselves and are to use teachers for guidance only. Why are teachers even getting paid if students are just self-learning everything? They might as well just study on their own and not go to school. Changes need to be made immediately in the American school system to avoid generations of people trained only in test-taking. School should be, and this may come as a surprise to some, for learning.

The Pacifist Japanese Negotiate with ISIL

In the last week, the Japanese government had been faced with a time-sensitive decision on negotiating with the captors of two Japanese citizens; Mr. Kenji Goto and Mr. Harman Yukawa are the two men being held by the ISIL organization in the Middle East. As shown in the video released to the Japanese, ISIL had demanded a $200 million ransom for their release and set a 72-hour time restraint which Japan had failed to comply with.

On Friday, another video was released by ISIL which displayed Mr. Goto, a popular freelance journalist, asking the Japanese to save him by releasing a captured Iraqi militant, Sajida al-Rishawi. Mr. Goto had announced that the organization had executed Mr. Yukawa and that the demand had been changed.

This quick escalation of tensions between the two parties has changed the reality of what the world is facing in the fight against ISIL. The US and the Japanese are jointly condemning the executions of the Japanese business man who had gone to Syria to set up a private military contracting company. Mr. Shinzo Abe, the Japanese PM, states that the killing is “outrageous and unacceptable,” claiming that the Japanese government will not “bow down” to terrorism. Though the Japanese are in talks with the Jordanian King Abdullah who is keeping al-Rishawi captive, they do not seem willing to support these acts of terrorism, especially as the Japanese government has been known to have a pacifist government.

As the world wages war against ISIL, the organization has continued to expand rapidly in sleeper cells around the world and recruit foreign members for the cause. This situation only shows that ISIL is just working to target more countries, even pacifist ones like Japan, and is forcing nations across the world to come together and fight against the organization.

Bibliography

Started from the Bottom

Success: it’s something we all want, but only the most determined can achieve. Those who are driven and ready to take on challenges are more likely to land their dream job than those who happily sit back and let others do their work. It’s ambition, the persistence to keep going until the goal is reached, that marks successful people from everyone else.

But, the question always arises: don’t the wealthy have an advantage, which puts people from low income families behind in the race?

The answer, well, is yes – the rich do have a significant upper hand. They have the money to buy the newest technology and pay for top-rated schools. They have large, quiet homes in which they can study diligently, surrounded by MacBooks, iPhones, and private tutors that come to their house. Ultimately, they have access to the best resources that in turn help them climb the ladder to success.

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But, where’s the guarantee that the rich will use such resources effectively? Just because they’re available to them at all times and in many forms doesn’t mean that students from wealthy backgrounds will be motivated to use them for educational advancement. Think about it this way: if you’re an iPhone user, how many times do you use one of the most expensive phones in the world to actually call people? In the same way, every affluent American teenager doesn’t come with the guarantee that they’ll be just as successful as their parents.

Of course, students on the lower end of the family income spectrum will face difficulties because they, on the other hand, don’t always have top quality resources at their disposable. But, if they’re unwavering in their efforts, can they achieve success as well? The answer may not be definite, since that would reflect idealism. In fact, I would rather address the question by asking another question: Why not? Why can’t the less fortunate students be likely candidates for success?

It’s true that our circumstances affect us tremendously by leaving us with certain advantages or disadvantages. But, if our environment can mold our chances, our nature has an equal share in shaping our paths. Someone who is lazy, preoccupied with trivial matters, and unmotivated as a whole will not succeed, no matter what. Our nature determines our mindset, which in turn decides how far down the road we can go. If we’re resolute and hard-working, we can surely reach our destination.

Far from being a theory, an impoverished person’s rise to the top has been witnessed by the world continuously. Fashion icon Ralph Lauren was a Brooks Brothers clerk before launching the clothing line that would take the world by storm. Chinese immigrant Do Won Chang worked as a janitor and then a gas station attendant when he moved to America, and now he is the founder of one of the most popular clothing stores, Forever 21. Even Oprah Winfrey was born into a poor family in Mississippi before she became the first African American TV correspondent. The world famous Oprah Winfrey Show is a testimony to her success.

Photo Credit: George Burns

These are all names we have heard on the news or seen on the front cover of multiple newspapers, but to the majority, it’s astonishing to see that these names were once associated to nothing but hardship. But, if we think about it, we harbor feelings of surprise when a poor person rises to the ranks of the successful because we hold the presupposition that the destitute have a rare chance at prosperity – when, in fact, they don’t. With dedication and perseverance, anybody has a shot at success.

So, instead of judging a person’s ability by the amount of money they have in their bank account, let’s consider their character first. Let’s not take people by face value and embrace the fact that any truly determined person can make it big, no matter where they start off from. After all, it’s mind over money.

Remembering Doctor King

Today, Monday, January 19, 2015, we commemorate Martin Luther King Jr, for his everlasting service for the African American Civil Rights Movement.

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MLK memorial, Washington D.C.

Today, the media remembers him most for his speech made in Washington D.C., “I Have A Dream,” in the early part of his career. We remember him as the dreamer, the man who led the boycotts, and the man who got shot. But we tend to forget everything he did near the end of his life. We tend to forget the Martin Luther King who was a antiwar activist, the disciple of Gandhi, and pastor, the challenger of the apartheid and the economic order.

Today, we realize how much of a difference his actions made to promote equality and end discrimination. We realize that his non-violent movements successfully accomplished what he set out to do, without hurting anyone in the process. But we tend to overlook the calculated intelligence behind his actions. We tend to underestimate the importance of his well-thought out demonstrations and speeches in favor of his altruism and forgiveness. We tend to forget his likeness to his role model, another freedom fighter who practiced the same methods just 15 years before MLK’s famed speech

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Despite the recent events that have taken place over the last year, we still have no right to say that racism is at large, for it is a select few that choose to act against the values that fighters like Dr. King taught us. For every claimed hate crime reported at large in the media, there may be another story in which the roles are switched, that never gets told. We, as the majority, have the ability to keep his legacy alive.  “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice.” We thank you Dr. King, for what you taught us, and for how you helped us.

-A special thanks to Aishwarya Nair for her help in writing this tribute article. 

Falling Gas Prices Bring Mixed Predictions

For the first time in years since 2009, gas prices have been nearing a substantial low, and many drivers are now paying less than $3 per gallon. Since late July 2014, Americans have eagerly been watching gas prices plummet steadily. Gas stations are the only prominent business that display the everyday fluctuation of the economy on their billboards— it’s only natural to associate the rise and fall of these prices with how the economy will perform. Many treat their gas stations as stock tickers, and assume that the falling gas prices translates into better economic conditions ahead. However, not everyone is jumping for joy at this price drop. Economists are divided on their beliefs as to what the recent drop in gas prices say about the upcoming economy; many believe a recession is to come, while others believe that lower gas prices will bring an economic boom.

Looking on the positive aspect first, lower gas prices mean a lot for consumers who have been paying sky high prices for gases these past years. Besides the fact that everyone will be able to keep more cash in their pockets, economists are eagerly expecting the consumers to spend and invest more in other aspects of the industry, like retail and groceries. Consumers will have more personal disposable income, and spending will increase. An increase in consumer spending will hold down inflation and greatly support the local economies and the stock market.

Economists also take the drop in gas prices as a sign of an upcoming recession. The drop in gas prices will negatively affect all of those working in the oil industry. All of the people who contribute in bringing the gas to the consumers’ cars will suffer— job wages may be cut and jobs may be potentially laid off in order to balance out with the lowered gas price. This may not seem like much, as it is only affecting one sector of the economy rather than the entire, but a fall in the oil industry will affect the nation’s GDP (Gross Domestic Product). This is because the energy sector is ascribed to be doing the “heavy lifting” of capital investment in a time where the other sectors are not contributing as much.

Looking in the long run, the drop in oil prices will make energy prices high once demand returns. People will begin to lose incentives to be innovative and to create new, alternative energy sources— this will affect everyone since energy sources by then will be less plentiful, bringing higher costs and demands. In the long run, it seems as if the money saved will be taken back again. Right now, there is no true and definitive meaning as to what the decreased gas prices will bring us in terms of the economy; we can only sit tight and cross our fingers in hopes for the best.

Swiss Bank Switcheroo

The Swiss Central Bank (SNB) shook up the European markets last Thursday when it announced that it would remove restrictions on on the Swiss Franc in relation to the Euro. For any of those that are unaware, the Euro is the uniform currency that is accepted and traded throughout most of Europe, similar to the Dollar in the United States. Some countries still use their own currency, but the Euro is mostly used in regards to trading commodities. Yet, the SNB decided to allow the Swiss Franc to rise in value, reducing the power of the Euro. This caused a miniature financial scare as many other European central banks saw their stocks fell, while companies who traded in the Euro earning losses as the Euro grew weaker. It would be accurate to say that the global financial market was certainly surprised by the actions of the SNB.

On the other hand, this action by the SNB does have the possibility to result in financial and political ramifications for Switzerland as well. Many central banks throughout Europe are now reluctant to trust the Swiss. The current mistrust between the European countries has the potential to cause a significant impact on Switzerland’s own economy, which is driven by ability to draw capital. In simple terms, if the Swiss banks are unable to convince its neighboring countries and the world that they can still be trusted in matters of banking, Switzerland could suffer a recession. Consequently, many monetary experts are lambasting Switzerland for allowing such a decision to be enacted as it wouldn’t serve to substantially benefit Switzerland or anybody else.

In effect, by allowing the Swiss Franc to increase in value against the Euro, the Swiss have brought financial uncertainty upon many of Europe’s most powerful economies. This has undoubtedly led to a financial impasse between the economic powerhouses of Europe and Switzerland. While Switzerland defends its decision as a maneuver to protect itself from economic anomalies, the majority of Europe and the world are criticizing them for allowing the Swiss Franc to cause chaos throughout Europe. We can only wait for a solution to be found to this problem and hope that it won’t affect the world economy in a major way.

Standing Up For What is Right – Right In Your Living Room

Protests do not have to be marches or speeches made in public. Three-year-old Zuri Chin makes her protests via YouTube.

Her mother Staceyann Chin actively participates in “rallies and marches” (1) that speak out about everything from “women’s rights to police brutality” (1). She takes her child whenever she can to these protests, hoping to teach her to use her voice to speak out against what she believes is wrong. One day, they were about to go to Union Square for a march, but Chin was unable to find a babysitter to take care of her child on a rainy day. Zuri told her mother that she wanted to protest with her, no matter what it took do it.

Staceyann and Zuri Chin at a protest. Zuri, 3, has been attending activist rallies with her mom since she was born.

Surprised by her daughter’s enthusiasm, Chin started making YouTube videos about protests, right from their living room. “We decided that if we couldn’t march in the streets, we were going to have our own protest in our home. We wanted to become a part of the protest and, since our bodies couldn’t be there in the moment, we wanted to at least be present in the conversation,” says Chin.

Their latest video, “Living Room Protest III”, featured Zuri’s voice. By going to various marches and rallies, she knows how to protest on her own. She speaks out by telling the internet that she does not like it when people call her “cute” or “beautiful (1). “I just want to be called Zuri,” she states.

Zuri Chin makes a poster for one of her living room protests.

Chin, before becoming a mother, thought that she knew everything about everything. After having Zuri, she realized that she actually did not. Her daughter asks her challenging questions everyday about topics that Chin had never pondered much about, such as “inequality [and] violence” (2). She believes that no matter what she or her daughter are standing up for, it is important to be a “part of the conversation” (2). She is proud that her daughter has her own voice and can speak about what she believes in, right from their living room.

Their latest video had over 53,000 views. Chin states that their videos had a great response, but their protests will not be uploaded on a schedule. “It’s all about her desire to do them. I’m really on Zuri’s timeline,” Chin says.

Bibliography:

Pelletiere, Nicole. “Watch This 3-Year-Old Tell Strangers to Respect Her Space.” ABC News. ABC News Network, n.d. Web. 18 Jan. 2015.

Peters, Terri. “This Might Be the Most Adorable Protest Ever.” TODAY. TODAY News, 16 Jan. 2015. Web. 18 Jan. 2015.

The Academy Awards Miss Important Nominations

The Academy Awards are approaching us fast in the month of February. Recently a list of nominations was released with the names of several talented individuals, some who have been frequently nominated while others who are getting their first chance at glory. Regardless, there is a great amount of talent included in the nominations but there are several surprises as well.

The first disappointment was surrounding the fact that a majority of the acting nominees were exclusively male and white. There is a serious lack of diversity in the nominations this year. That also leads us to the movie Selma, which only received 2 nominations. Selma centers around Dr. King during the Selma to Montgomery marches in 1965. The portrayal of these marches has been considered by critics and audiences alike to be phenomenal and definitely one of the best movies of the year.

Selma was only nominated for Best Picture and Best Original Song. What makes this snub stand out the most is that nearly every movie nominated for Best Picture in the past has been nominated for other bigger categories such as acting and directing. David Oyewolo, who played the role Dr. King, along with DuVernay, the director of the movie, have done outstanding jobs at bringing this historically significant event to the movies. Dr. King was brought to life quite adeptly and skillfully.

Yet, people are more worried about the fact that The Lego Movie was not nominated. Take nothing away from the Lego Movie, but Selma really should have garnered much more recognition and the viewers’ responses provide enough evidence for that. Nonetheless, I’m sure that most people will be anticipating the night of the awards. Again, it’s great that so many talented individuals are being awarded but have the voters been completely fair?