All posts by gunjanjhaveri

MIT Hyperloop Competition

This past weekend, a team of MIT students won the first round of the SpaceX Hyperloop Design competition which was held at Texas A&M University. The hyperloop design consisted of a high scale transportation design, a concept originally developed by Elon Musk a few years back. Through this design competition, these MIT grad students came one step closer to fulfilling Elon Musk’s vision.

The vehicle that these students created will travel inside the hyperloop which will connect various cities to one another. This pod that the team developed will hover above the ground and will travel at a very high speed to transport people across various cities included in the route. In order to make the pod hover, the MIT students used magnets above a conducting plate.

The team will now build a miniature prototype to test in California this summer. In the past, MIT has been a part of several technological breakthroughs and now it’s appropriate that they contribute to progress in transportation as well. The team has strengths in areas such as mechanical and electrical engineering which helped them win the first round of the competition. The team is being supported by all of MIT and everyone awaits to see what happens in California this summer.

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.

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.

Pray for Paris

On November 13, 2015 a series of attacks unfolded in Paris that left the whole city and the rest of the world in devastation. It is reported that 3 separate teams carried out these attacks leaving nearly a 129 people dead.

The first attack took place around 9:20 PM outside the Stade de France where a soccer match between Germany and France was under way. Play was halted after the players and spectators heard a loud explosion outside the stadium. Two bodies were found, one who was believed to be that of the suicide bomber and the other, that of a nearby civilian.

The second attack took place just minutes later at a restaurant in Paris, Le Petit Cambodge. The restaurant was attacked by shooters driving by in a black van. This incident was followed by another explosion outside the stadium near a second entrance.

The attack on Le Petit Cambodge was just the beginning of a series of shootings at other restaurants in Paris including La Belle Equipe and La Bonne Biere. Into the later hours of the night, the Bataclan, a concert hall, was besieged by terrorists. This resulted in a major hostage situation and multiple deaths inside the Bataclan.

A few minutes past midnight, French forces fought back to take control of the Bataclan and freed the 100 hostages inside. Three of the terrorists are believed to have been killed by their own explosive devices.

The description of what the hostages witnessed while being held captive inside the concert venue is enough for one to realize that this night will never escape the minds of Parisians who became involved in this disaster. Across the world countries turned red, white, and blue to share the grief and solidify their support for all of France. President Obama rightfully so described the incident as an “attack on all humanity.” In these dark times, it is important for each of us to stand in solidarity with the French people and pray for their wellbeing.

Elon Musk: A New Supervillain?

On Wednesday, Elon Musk appeared on “The Late Show” to talk about Tesla, Space X, and other innovative ideas that he’s had over the years. But on the show, he brought up a new idea about humans being able to inhabit Mars. Musk supports the idea of traveling to Mars and has his own ideas about how the planet can be made habitable for humans.

First off, Mars needs to be warmed up to the right conditions. Well, Elon Musk’s solution is to drop thermonuclear weapons. Colbert decided that based on Musk’s thinking he has to be called a “supervillain” and rightfully so.

Musk added that there were probably several ways to warm up Mars but the quickest way would probably be to drop a bomb. Other scientists who have studied Mars agree that it can be modified to make it closer to conditions on Earth but it would take time and a lot of effort to overcome the numerous obstacles. Furthermore, scientists are skeptical as to whether Musk’s new idea sets the right example. Planet and space exploration should be done in a way that keeps everything under ideal conditions and doesn’t disturb the balance of nature.

Other slower options of warming Mars seem to be amounting to extreme costs over time, which would have to be implemented. Elon Musk wants to help out and give new ideas and this last one is definitely interesting. However, being able to bomb Mars into a proper condition for humans seems out of reach at the moment.

The Chipotle Effect

Recently Chipotle has proven to be extremely successful in terms of its quarterly earnings and customer satisfaction. This restaurant is now found across the nation and Chipotle has become easily accessible and a favorite for the majority of people who choose to eat there. One of the advantages of eating at Chipotle also includes the fact that it is considered by many to be one of the most healthiest restaurants out there. A man by the name of Andrew Hawryluk felt so strongly about this that he decided to carry out his own experiment.
 
        Hawryluk is a 23 year old from Los Angeles and decided that he would eat Chipotle for 40 days straight. So he started to add photos of each meal he had to his website to prove to everyone that he was eating at the restaurant daily. Eventually at the 40 day mark, Hawryluk found himself to be disappointed since his experiment didn’t prove to be as exciting as he had anticipated earlier. He wanted to find out how long he could keep his experiment going so he continued to eat Chipotle everyday. As of now he has eaten at Chipotle for 154 days straight.
          Everytime he goes to Chipotle he orders white rice, guacamole, chicken, and lettuce topped with the Tabasco hot sauce offered at each restaurant. Till now he has spent a total of $1,567 on Chipotle. Hawryluk has saved all those 154 receipts to prove all of this. The most important part of this was that he even posted a picture of his physique before and after starting this experiment and it was evident that Chipotle did not adversely affect his body in any way and has not caused him to gain weight.
            Hawryluk insists that Chipotle is the best restaurant out there since it dominates all the essential qualities that a restaurant needs in order to survive and sustain itself. He now loves Chipotle so much that he refuses to go on a vacation anywhere that doesn’t have Chipotle nearby. Hawryluk has started planning his vacations based on the availability of Chipotle in the area. For example, he really wants to go to Berlin but he can’t because they don’t have a Chipotle.
             Hawryluk finds Chipotle to be the most delicious meal out there and he challenges others to find another place that meets the essential qualities of a restaurant as well as Chipotle does. His experiment does make quite a good argument that Chipotle is definitely one of the best restaurants out there.
What happens when you eat Chipotle for 153 days straight

The Euro Tumbles as the Dollar Regains Power

Last Wednesday, the Euro dropped to a 12 year low of $1.05 and is expected to continue dropping. This means that the dollar is on the rise and is expected to surpass the Euro for the first time since the financial recession. A strong dollar is good for any tourists but at the same time this is bad news for the United States’ exporters. It also resulted in the decline of stocks because several multinational corporations rely on foreign investment to expand sales.

The reason the dollar is on the rise is that the economy is much stronger. The European markets have been gradually falling so this decline was imminent. Since the economy is doing well the banks will raise interest rates. Since the U.S. economy is doing well European investors will invest in U.S. Treasury bonds. On the other hand, the European central bank will lower interest rates to encourage investment in the economy to revive the failing standards.

A bond bought in the U.S. with the same maturity as a European bond will have a higher return in interest rates. Since the monetary policy of the U.S. and Europe is going in opposite directions the gaps in the value of both currencies will continue to widen indefinitely. By the end of 2017, it is expected that the Euro will fall to 85 cents.

This event has been termed as a kind of currency war. If the U.S. doesn’t act and lets the dollar go up too much in value it can be detrimental to domestic exporters. This situation is a perfect example of how a strong dollar can also be a weakness. In order to bring this into control the U.S. must continue to alter their interest rates and consider how European investment will impact the economy.

Apple vs. Samsung in South Korea

Samsung has maintained strong consumer loyalty and a large amount of the market share in South Korea for several years because the country has always been its home market.  Samsung accounts for a large part of the country’s GDP and the government of South Korea even grants the company several tax deductions and subsidies to help it out. It has been believed that South Koreans have a strong sense of patriotism instilled in them and feel that it is necessary to support those industries that started off in their home market. All of the support the government provides is essential for Samsung to ward off the influence that Apple could have on South Korean consumers.

Recently, the iPhone’s widespread appeal became evident in South Korea when the market shares for both companies were released a few months ago. In a year, Samsung had faced a considerable drop in its market share and Apple had experienced a large gain in market shares. Several incidents and reasons could be linked to this change based on several studies and surveys, South Koreans seem to be more interested in buying more luxury items now and are becoming increasing likely to buy more premium and expensive brands. Additionally, Apple’s devices and technology are viewed as luxury items worldwide and could result in more South Koreans buying Apple products. Furthermore, Apple’s hardware and design is highly advanced and aesthetically appealing. Using such expensive marketing strategies and expensive items to create their devices is alright for Apple since they sell their phones at a relatively high price. However, because Samsung tries to keep up with Apple they spend a large amount on hardware but sell their phones at a much lower price resulting in a lower profit margin.

A recent study showed that the new iPhone 6 beat Samsung’s S5 in nearly every attribute. In terms of design, operating system, speed, and size, Apple came out on top and garnered an above average response. The S5 received comparatively less attention and was given a below average response. This seems odd considering that Samsung tries to keep up with Apple by creating phones that can compete with the sleekness and effectiveness of the iPhone.

Overall, all these consumer trends and data point toward a huge blow for Samsung. South Korea provides Samsung with a huge boost in terms of approval and profits. If Samsung were to lose all of this to Apple, it would be hard to see how Samsung could bring themselves back to a level to compete effectively in the future. They would be placed in the low end of the market for quite some time.

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.

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?