The World’s First Hoverboard

For many years now, people have been introduced to different versions and prototypes of a concept of a real hoverboard. A hoverboard has mostly remained an object limited to movies and fantasies but now the aerospace company, Arca, has already started taking orders for what it claims to be the world’s first real hoverboard.

This hoverboard is known as the ArcaBoard and has the ability to hover up to a foot over any surface including concrete and water. The device is powered by 36 electric ducted fans and has a maximum thrust of 200 kgf. The ArcaBoard can be controlled and manipulated through the use of your phone as well and is about 57 inches long, 30 inches wide, and 6 inches thick. To maneuver the board, the rider just has to lean forward to move forward and lean backward to slow down or back up. However, the top speed is limited to just 12.5 mph which doesn’t exactly make it the best option for commuting. The ArcaBoard is currently priced at $19,900.

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The CEO of Arca Space Corporation first got the idea for a hoverboard when he went to the Organ Mountains with his kids a few months ago. As he was taking pictures his son suggested the creation of a hoverboard to make travel over the rocky terrain easier. And just two months later, they tested the first ArcaBoard after putting the idea to work right away. The ArcaBoard is probably one of the most powerful vehicles created in recent times.

At first, the announcement that a new hoverboard had been created seemed doubtful especially after the 2014 hoax that Tony Hawk had released. But Arca started off as a corporation that worked on rockets for the Romanian government. They have also released drones and relocated to the U.S. recently. Considering their past work and experience it seems that this ArcaBoard is for real.

True Underdog

I’m certain a multitude of you are familiar with the story of David and Goliath. Here’s an excerpt from a source which I will explain later:

“At the heart of ancient Palestine is the region known as the Shephelah, a series of ridges and valleys connecting the Judaean Mountains to the east with the wide, flat expanse of the Mediterranean plain. It is an area of breathtaking beauty, home to vineyards and wheat fields and forests of sycamore and terebinth. It is also of great strategic importance.

Over the centuries, numerous battles have been fought for control of the region because the valleys rising from the Mediterranenean plain offer those on the coast a clear path to the cities of Hebron, Bethlehem, and Jerusalem in the Judadean highlands. The most important valley is Aijalon, in the north. But the most storied is the Elah. The Elah was where Saladin faced off against the Knights of the Crusades in the twelfth century. It played a central role in the Maccabean wars with Syria more than a thousand years before that, and, most famously, during the days of the Old Testament, it was where the fledgling Kingdom of Israel squared off against the armies of the Philistines.

The Philistines were from Crete. They were a seafaring people who had moved to Palestine and settled along the coast. The Israelites were clustered in the mountains, under the leadership of King Saul. In the second half of the eleventh century BCE, the Philistines began moving east, winding their way upstream along the floor of the Elah Valley. Their goal was to capture the mountain ridge near Bethlehem and split Saul’s kingdom in two. The Philistines were battle-tested and dangerous, and the sworn enemies of the Israelites. Alarmed, Saul gathered his men and hastened down from the mountains to confront them.

The Philistines set up camp along the southern ridge of the Elah. The Israelites pitched their tents on the other side, along the northern ridge, which left the two armies looking across the ravine at each other. Neither dared to move. To attack meant descending down the hill and then making a suicidal climb up the enemy’s ridge on the other side. Finally, the Philistines had enough. They sent their greatest warrior down into the valley to resolve the deadlock one on one.

He was a giant, six foot nine at least, wearing a bronze helmet and full body armor. He carried a javelin, a spear, and a sword. An attendant preceded him, carrying a large shield. The giant faced the Israelites and shouted out: ‘Choose you a man and let him come down to me! If he prevail in battle against me and strike me down, we shall be slaves to you. But if I prevail and strike him down, you will be slaves to us and serve us.

In the Israelite camp, no one moved. Who could win against such a terrifying opponent? Then, a shepherd boy who had come down from Bethlehem to bring food to his brothers stepped forward and volunteered. Saul objected: ‘You cannot go against this Philistine to do battle with him, for you are a lad and he is a man of war from his youth.’ But the shepherd was adamant. He had faced more ferocious opponents than this, he argued. ‘When the lion or the bear would come and carry off a sheep from the herd,’ he told Saul, ‘I would go after him and strike him down and rescue it from his clutches.’ Saul had no other options. He relented, and the shepherd boy ran down the hill toward the giant standing in the valley. ‘Come to me, that I may give your flesh to the birds of the heavens and the beasts of the field,’ the giant cried out when he saw his opponent approach. Thus began one of history’s most famous battles. The giant’s name was Goliath. The shepherd boy’s name was David.”

This was how it all began. A battle between two seemingly polar opposites in terms of strength, power, might, and skill. You have Goliath, an absolute giant who was trained to fight from birth, and then you have David, a young shepherd boy (which was one of the lowest occupations back then) who claims that he killed lions and wolves. Who do you think would win?

Here’s how it all played out. Goliath was offended when he saw David walk down the hill, looking at his staff and saying, “Am I a dog, that you should come to me with sticks?” While the giant was mocking him, David took a stone and put it into the leather poach of a a sling, and fires the rock at Goliath’s forehead. Boom. The stone hit him square in the head, making him fall unconscious. David then “runs toward him, seizes the giant’s sword, and cuts off his head.” The Philistines were so afraid that “their warrior was dead, and they fled.”

How is this all possible? How could a shepherd boy who couldn’t have weighed more than 150 pounds take on a brute of a man with spears and swords and armor that probably weighed more than David himself? This type of story is what popular culture likes to call “an underdog story” – a battle that was won by someone who shouldn’t have won at all. This is how I interpreted this story, but as Malcolm Gladwell states in his new book David and Goliath, we all got the story wrong.

Since this is Gladwell’s book, I feel he deserves the honor of explaining how we all messed up the legendary story of David and Goliath. Here is a video of Gladwell speaking at a TED talk, where he tells the story perfectly.

Star Wars: A Box Office Force

In 2012, Walt Disney spent $4 billion to buy Lucasfilm. For most analysts and critics this seemed to be a relatively unwise decision
considering that there hasn’t been a Star Wars movie in nearly a decade now. People were surprised to see that there was interest
being shown in making a new Star Wars movie.
The new movie “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” is expected to make nearly $2 billion in profit. The popularity of the franchise along
with the highly anticipated reboot makes $2 billion in projected profits seem pretty reasonable. “Star Wars”  sales will also be boosted by additions to theme parks and the sale of merchandise associated with the franchise.
Through Star Wars, Disney has a new channel of profit through new and unique characters. The business of Star Wars expands far beyond just the movie itself. It is unclear how Disney divides its revenue but it’s safe to say that this new movie will be a profitable venture for the company. Additionally, four more Star Wars films to build off this success have already been talked about.
In September, Disney had a Force Friday in which they released nearly 500 items and it is expected that Star Wars will be one of the biggest sales generators for Disney. A new Star Wars video game called “Star Wars Battlefront” released by Electronic Arts has already become popular especially since the holiday season is close by. It is expected that by the end of 2015, nearly 13 million units of the game will have been sold. Disneyland is also planning to open “Star Wars” themed lands which will definitely drive up the number of visitors. They have already started planning for these “Star Wars” areas.
However, “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” has an important task along with making a large amount of revenue. It needs to restore the excitement that old fans had for the franchise. The three prequel movies from 1999 to 2005 disappointed many fans and there were many who expected a better ending. This movie could be perfect for that task but it needs to meet the expectations of the audiences. All Star Wars fans will be seeing many newcomers in the cast which may provide a new perspective for the movie.

A UNiversal Deal

 

December 12th 2015 ; a historic landmark was reached in France that is an amalgamation of thousands of delegates and 195 countries efforts to solve the pressing issue of climate change.This unprecedented accord will commit to every country to lower greenhouse gas emissions to avert climate change in every possible way.Hence, this deal was no ordinary one, it was rather “a historic breakthrough on an issue that has foiled decades of international efforts to address climate change.”

Even President Obama praises this deal as a crucial segment of his presidency as he televised from the White House “This agreement sends a powerful signal that the world is fully committed to a low-carbon future.” This powerful statement showed that the UN and the world as a whole has the innate virtuosity to take on a challenge that might lead to some devastating effects. However, this deal alone won’t solve climate change even though it is the world’s last hope before it will succumb to global warming.

The scientists present in France, have analyzed this decision and said “this will cut greenhouse gas emissions by almost one half to reach a certain global temperature.”If this temperature is passed even by a margin it will result in an increase in sea levels,severe droughts and floods,food and water shortages across the globe,and even more devastating storms.

Despite the negative effects of climate change in accordance to the deal, there is an incentive to the world financially.There will be a necessary halt  in investing for coal,oil, and gas for energy sources, but a growth in the use of solar, wind,and nuclear power.This can become a reality depending on how seriously every country will follow through to it, looking back at Copenhagen where a similar consensus was reached and collapsed due to lack of cooperation within certain nations.The primary difference that makes this Paris accord more suitable to this day in age , is the transformation within “domestic policies,and bilateral relations between China, and the U.S, the world’s two largest polluters of greenhouse gas.”

In regard to this relation Xie Zhenhua , a Chinese climate change negotiator says this deal needing some additional improvement is still “fair comprehensive,balanced, highly ambitious,enduring,and effective.” President Obama also had a say on this by enacting the nation’s first climate change policy which will include, stringent regulations for EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) to stymie greenhouse gas pollution emanating from coal-fired power plants.

This does not only concern China ,and the U.S, but rather every countries national plans.These plans will greatly vary in terms of their requirements since there is no standard amount of cutting off greenhouse gases for each one.Hence, these countries will have to reconvene after 5 years to update their policies and plans using a universal account system, resulting in a hybrid legal structure as the crux of the accord.
The Paris accord is the framework for a world with limited greenhouse gas pollution that will depend on the global peer pressure, actions of future governments, and future leaders in upcoming elections. In response to this and the Paris attacks there are doubled efforts to show the nations goodwill towards France. EU commissioner Miguel Arias Cañete couldn’t have culminated the spirit of the conference any better and motivating than by saying “ today we celebrate, tomorrow we have to act that, this is what the world expects of us.”

The iPhone “Smart” Battery Case

We’ve all been there. You’re texting your BFF when suddenly, the welcoming green battery level indicator transforms into a terrifying red color with the message “YOUR BATTERY LEVEL IS LOW”. Normally, you would find the nearest power outlet to charge your iPhone. However, sometimes this isn’t an option. What do you do?

This past week, Apple announced the newest addition to its list of iPhone accessories: the iPhone Smart Battery Case. It’s exactly as it sounds: a case that protects and charges your iPhone. Sounds perfect right?

Not exactly.

To start off, the case itself looks a bit…unusual. Looking at the case upfront, you’re greeted with a super sleek silicon finish that feels amazing in the hand. But flip the case over and you instantly notice an unsettling hump that detracts from the sleekness the iPhone is known for. Obviously, the case’s battery has to go somewhere, but the point still stands that Smart Battery Case isn’t the prettiest case in the world.

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Aesthetics aside, a larger problem is apparent- the $99 price tag. Apple isn’t the first company to produce battery cases. Companies like Mophie have produced battery cases long before the advent of Apple’s version of the same idea. In comparison to other battery cases, Apple’s Smart Battery Case is lacking in some departments. The size of the battery is smaller than its competitors, resulting in a weaker charge. In addition, unlike Mophie’s battery case, you can’t control when you want to charge your iPhone. As soon as you insert your iPhone in this case, it will begin charging. All of this combined with the fact that there are cheaper battery cases with more features begs the question: Should you buy this case?

If you want everything Apple and a case made by the same people who made your phone, then this case is for you. For those who want a cost-efficient and feature-rich battery case, I’d suggest looking elsewhere.

For more information about the iPhone Smart Battery Case, watch MKBHD’s video:

 

The Sound of Silence

“The Sound of Silence” is a song written by Paul Simon and recorded by the American folk-rock music duo Simon and Garfunkel. Paul Simon himself stated that this song was about people’s lack of ability to communicate freely, and that people are oppressed into silence. The song speaks of the need to come to grips with reality and that when meaningful communication fails, the only thing that remains is silence.

The general essence of the song goes as follows: A man meditates on a vision that has been troubling him. The vision was about people idolizing celebrity, wealth, and possessions and worshipping the materialism/consumerism and fake culture that everyone lived in but did nothing about; a shallow, culturally bankrupt society that crushes a more beautiful, simple world.

People are afraid to speak up, and so remain silent. Besides, no one is listening anyways, so “the cancer grows”, as everyone lives in ignorance, complacency, conformity, and submission, completely powerless against the fakeness and absurdity of what they are doing.  One stanza that is very profound includes the lines: “

People talking without speaking,

People hearing without listening,

People writing songs that voices never share

And no one dared

Disturb the sound of silence.”

 

The word ”dared” implies that the people knew of the absurdity of what they were doing yet still refused to speak up, and instead resorted to remaining silent. Later in the song, even when the narrator tries to reprimand and lecture the people of their ways, his words fell like “silent raindrops”, and the people continued to blindly worship their “neon god”. The narrator himself eventually settles into helplessness and grief, as he watches the people fall to their doom.

The entire song is laced with negative words, like “darkness”, “cold”, “damp”, “stabbed”, “naked”, “disturb”, “fools”, “cancer”, “silent raindrops”, “wells”, ”warning”, so that just listening to the song makes one experience the sense of loneliness and gloominess, the kind that someone feels when he/she gives up hope on the people around, when the end, the conclusion, is drawing near. For me, this song perfectly compiles all of my feelings about the absurdity that this world can have sometimes.

“In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.”  —-Martin Luther King.

This is the sound of silence. The oppression that is accepted, not fought.