All posts by KhushPatel

El Chapo’s Infamous Prison Break

News of Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman’s escape has exploded across North America. The notorious drug lord is credited as one of the most dangerous men of our time. Leader of Sinaloa Cartel, Guzman is considered the “most powerful drug trafficker in the world” by the United States Department of Treasury in 2014. He has also been listed as one of the most powerful men in the world and one of the richest men in Mexico with a net worth of $1 billion in 2011. El Chapo’s influence is so wide spread that in 2013, the Chicago Crime Commission named him “Public Enemy Number One”, even though there was no evidence of El Chapo in Chicago. The last person to have created such an extensive criminal record and criminal notoriety was Al Capone from the 1930s. Hunted by law enforcement agencies across the world, such as the Mexican PGR, US DEA, Interpol, and various other agencies, El Chapo was arrested in 2014 for the second time. His first arrest was in 1993 and he was placed in a maximum-security prison. Even during his time in prison, Guzman’s drug empire continued to operate successfully. While in jail, his associates brought him suitcases full of cash to bribe prison workers and to allow El Chapo to maintain an opulent lifestyle. However, on January 19, 2001, with the aide of bribed guards, El Chapo made his escape. A  guard opened his electronically operated cell door and Guzman hid in a laundry cart, which a maintenance worker rolled out of the prison. Once outside, Guzman was transported in the trunk of a car to a gas station, from where Guzman made his escape on foot. This escape plan seems to have come right out of an action movie and it is even more surprising that El Chapo was able to execute it successfully. This just goes to show the extent of one man’s power and influence. El Chapo was on the run for several years but was caught again recently in 2014, but he didn’t stay there very long.

El-Chapo-Arrest-Could-Incite-Violence-e1393177487876

Last week on July 11th, 2015, El Chapo escaped once again from a maximum-security prison. His escape and more importantly, how he escaped shocked the world. Guzman escaped through a tunnel dug in his cell’s shower. What’s more surprising is that the hole was placed such that the camera could not see him climbing down into the tunnel. The next part of his escape route, the tunnel, was even more incredible. The tunnel lead from the prison facility to a house construction nearly a mile away. The entire tunnel was dug through with proper equipment, a ventilation system, and installed lighting. In addition, oxygen tanks were found in the tunnel along with a motorcycle to take El Chapo across the tunnel quickly. The extensiveness of the tunnel and the coordination needed to make it possible have led many to call this tunnel a “feat of engineering”. If anything, this demonstrates the vast resources at Guzman’s disposal. Now several federal entities have begun the manhunt for El Chapo. Here’s the coverage of El Chapo’s escape route, covered by CNN. Sources:

“Joaquín Guzmán.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, n.d. Web. 17 July 2015. <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joaqu%C3%ADn_Guzm%C3%A1n&gt;.
“Seven Are Charged in ‘El Chapo’ Escape – CNN.com.” CNN. Cable News Network, n.d. Web. 17 July 2015. <http://www.cnn.com/2015/07/17/americas/mexico-el-chapo-escape/&gt;.

Google Project Wing

Google is known for its innovation and state of the art ventures. This ranges from Google’s Self-Driving car to Project Ara.  Lately companies, such as Amazon and Domino’s Pizza, have been venturing into drone technology to expand and improve their customer service. Now, Google will do the same.

http://i.ytimg.com/vi/on4DRTUvst0/maxresdefault.jpg

Thursday Google X announced that it is developing a system of drones to deliver goods. So far, Google’s Project Wing prototype has seen success. The prototype is about 5 ft wide, 2.5 ft high. single-winged, and has four propellers that move into different positions. It can carry supplies, such as “candy bars, dog treats, cattle vaccines, water, and radios”, as it has to two farmers in Queensland, Australia earlier. 

http://online.wsj.com/articles/google-reveals-delivery-drone-project-1409274480

This insurgence of companies testing drone technology may be a bit early because commercial drone use is nearly banned in the US. The FAA was considering regulations to change that, but the regulator is moving carefully because the technology is still potential dangerous and conflicts with interest of privacy. 

Google has been working on drones since 2011. It aims to have these drones flying programmed routes with the push of a button. Making these routes won’t be an easy task either. Google will have to plan tracks that respect people’s privacy, avoid any natural object, and be short enough to make speedy deliveries. 

Here’s a video of Project Wing in action

The company hopes that this project will create new growth opportunities by moving products around more efficiently. More about Project Wing. It is lead by Nick Roy, an associate professor of aeronautics and astronautics at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). 

As far as goods go, it’ll be interesting what Google will deliver. Will it be just products from the Play Store, or will it be more? Who knows, all we can do is dream and hope. 

Sources:

http://online.wsj.com/articles/google-reveals-delivery-drone-project-1409274480

How We Will Make Purchases in the Future

Every morning millions of people are commuting to work. Coffee shops are piled with rush hour traffic. Convenience stores are bombarded with hasty customers. Metros are filled to capacity with workers rushing to get to the office. This day and age – the digital era – is bustling with new innovation and speed. Time is of the essence and it passes quickly. In our lighting speed society, people work so efficiently and quickly that many business transactions are completed while commuting. However, in this picture of fast-paced innovation, we still lag behind buy using our bills and coins and searching our wallets/purses for a credit card that is accepted at our frequently pit stops. How is it that we have visions set for the future in almost every aspect, but we are still using a method of payment that goes back ages?

http://i.huffpost.com/gen/1745157/thumbs/o-BUSY-PEOPLE-facebook.jpg

Well, soon that may not be a concern. Major cities across the globe have started to use alternate, quicker methods of payment. For example, people in San Francisco are paying with their smartphones; Londoners tap these special wristbands; Nairobi citizens simply pay via SMS; people in Lund, Sweden pay with a slight swipe of the palm. This does not go to say that the old-fashion wallet is not being pulled out in these cities- because they are (even more likely)- but these alternative forms are something that we simply can’t ignore.

These new methods all share two common aspects – they are digital and they are quick/convenient. Let’s explore into some of these methods, shall we?

First we have the “wave and go” method. This method is currently experiencing the largets traction in retail purchases. You simply wave some item over a reader and you are able to make low-price payments. The technology behind this method is NFC, or near field communication. This technology has been around for some time and is already installed in several smartphones (excluding the iPhone). NFC has many uses, but paying is one of them. People increasing are using contact-less cards equipped with NFC or their smartphones to make purchases.

http://www.qrcodepress.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/11/nfc-technology.jpg

One major backing of smartphone purchases is Google. Google has developed Google Wallet that allows users to make safe purchases using credit card accounts/bank accounts with just a smartphone. Even more, Android devices are often equipped with NFC so consumers can literally wave their Android phone and pay via Google Wallet. Of course Google Wallet is not the only option, but is certainly a major one.

https://community.sprint.com/baw/servlet/JiveServlet/showImage/38-3187-21506/Google+Wallet+2.jpg

Another Method is the electronic credit card. These cards, made from companies such as Coin, are ideas that set out to declutter your wallet. These cards basically store all of your credit and debit cards on one piece of plastic. You can switch between cards with a signal press of a button.

http://static4.businessinsider.com/image/528e4e9b69beddf05f629bb4-1200/at-first-glance-the-coin-doesnt-look-all-that-special-it-costs-100-and-looks-like-a-sleek-simplified-credit-card.jpg

Now at first this may seem a bit unrealistic because of security reasons (what if you lose that one card), but there are features put in place. If you were to lose this card, you won’t have to worry. The card can only work if it is within a close proximity to your mobile phone. It is connected to your phone via a Bluetooth energy chip. In a nutshell, these cards are both more secure than paper cash and loose credit cards, while also making it easier to carry your money.

Now these are just two of possible method of payment. Other methods include using your fingerprint as a debit cards and using a smartwatch for payment (wave and go). However it will take time before these methods are wide spread. Still, it is exciting and scary to see how the future progresses. We will have access to technology that make payment and our lives in general easier, yet also makes us more vulnerable to attack from hackers. Well, it’s as they say, there can’t be light without some darkness.

 

 

Sources:

http://techcrunch.com/2014/01/02/coin-video-demo/

http://www.cnn.com/2014/08/21/tech/how-well-pay-for-things-in-the-future/

First Woman to Win Math’s Most Prestigious Medal

As humans, we have always seemed to aspire for greatness. Competition seems to be apart of our nature. People compete with each other to create innovative products, inspire new ideas, and change the world. We have made it our custom to reward those individuals that contribute more to our very diverse human culture. These rewards include many awards, such as the Nobel Prize, the Person of the Year (Time Magazine), the Templeton Prize, etc. One such award is the Fields Medal. 

http://www.buzzreactor.com/sites/default/files/imagecache/picture/images/articles/fields_medal_back.jpg

The Field Medal is considered the Nobel Prize of Math. It is a great honor for its receipiants. In the prize’s 78 years, 2014 is the first in which a woman won. The honorary woman who received the Fields Medal this year is Maryam Mirzakhani.

Maryam Mirzakhani
http://readwrite.com/2014/08/18/fields-medal-woman-maryam-mirzakhani

Mirzakhani is a mathematics professor at Stanford University. When asked about how she feels about the award, she responded “I will be happy if it encourages young female scientists and mathematicians. I am sure there will be many more women winning this kind of award in coming years.” This brings up the popular topic of women in math and science. Schools often don’t encourage women into science or math careers. Many engineering fields are predominately male, yet this is fundamentally a fallacy. Diversity in any work field is necessary to promote creative ideas and execute them quickly. This is a noticeable flaw in math and science careers today, in which many new ideas take a very lengthy time to publish.

Back to Mirzakhani. Mirzakhani grew up in Tehran, Iran. Believe it or not but Mirzakhani wasn’t also interested in mathematics. As a kid, she was an avid reader and dreamed of becoming a writer. That all changed when she went to high school. There she discovered her love for solving math problems and proofs, describing them as “solving a puzzle or connecting the dots in a detective case”. 

Mirzakhani continued her new found interest at the Sharif University of Technology in Iran, where she studied mathematics as an undergraduate. Later she began her doctorate at Harvard University under the mentorship of Curtis McMullen, anotehr Fields Medal recipient. 

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/1/15/Curtis_T._McMullen.jpg

Today, Mirzakhani’s math specialty lies purely in mathematics. This involves abstract math concepts and has implications for physics theories. Her work that earned her the Fields Medal focuses on understanding the symmetry of curved surfaces (i.e. spheres).

 As of now, Mirzakhani is 37 years old and lives in the Bay Area with her husband and her 3 year old daughter. 

Sources:

http://readwrite.com/2014/08/18/fields-medal-woman-maryam-mirzakhani

Ice Bucket Challenge Raises over $15 Million!

If you are following social media recently, you may have heard of the Ice Bucket Challenge for ALS (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis) or commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. The challenge goes as the following: either dump a bucket of ice water over yourself or donate a sum of money to the ALS Association (usually $100 or whatever you can afford). Then, you nominate three other friends and they must do the same within 24/48/72 hours. This challenge according to Google Trends hit off towards the end of July. Today, participants of the challenge are world wide and include ordinary people like us and big celebrities too (i.e. Lady Gaga, Chris Pratt, Oprah, Mark Zuckerburg, Bill Gates, Jimmy Fallon, Oprah Winfrey, etc.) 

140818110744-ice-bucket-gates-620xa
http://money.cnn.com/2014/08/18/technology/social/als-ice-bucket-challenge/

Over the month (roughly) that this has been going on, a total of $15.9 million was raised, which is up from $1.8 million during the same time period last year. So as far as results go, the challenge is a success. Funding for a cure for ALS has dramatically increased and more people are aware of ALS –  but are they really?

Many people may know that a disease ALS exists and that its also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, but does everyone know what ALS does to an individual? ALS is a “progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and the spinal cord.” (ALSA.org). Over time, victims lose controls of their muscles and eventually face death.  

What is so deadly about ALS is not only its impact on an individual, but also that fact that their is little victims can do. Currently there is no cure or treatment that halts or reverses ALS. To further add, the cause of ALS is not completely understood. 

However, there may be hope. According to the ALS Association, “there is one FDA approved drug, riluzole, that modestly slows that progress of ALS”. Could this be the answer we have been looking for? Or at least a start for a string of medications that will lead to a cure. 

http://cbs1019litefm.files.wordpress.com/2014/08/celebrity-ice-bucket-challenge.png?w=620&h=346&crop=1

Now, there are many critics of the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. Some say that the challenge is just an internet hype that isn’t educating the public about ALS. Even worse, the challenge may just make people associate ALS with an amusing challenge to do with friends and make videos of, rather than associating ALS with a condition that needs pressing attention. 

Others, however, counter this by staying regardless of it the public understands ALS completely or not, there is funding. These people say that the general public won’t be able to contribute towards a treatment for ALS other than providing funding. The world’s leading scientists would then use the funding to come up with a solution. In other words, it does’t matter is ordinary citizens understand the disease completely, as long as they donate. 

http://www.alsa.org/about-als/2013-aam/assets/images/logo-als-campaign-2013.jpg

Regardless of what side you are on (if you are actively involved in the debate), the fact that the internet was able to raise so much money in such little time is amazing. Perhaps this challenge gives us hope that the world can work together on any task in harmony to achieve a common goal. Who knows? Maybe this is just over speculation, or maybe its not? What you choose to believe is your opinion. Overall though, we are all together in hopes of eliminating amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.

Sources:

http://time.com/3136507/als-ice-bucket-challenge-started/

http://money.cnn.com/2014/08/18/technology/social/als-ice-bucket-challenge/

http://www.alsa.org/about-als/what-is-als.html

Timex Now Making Smartwatches

As of now, there are only a few people who actually own a smart watch. One reason is that smart watches are still in the beginning stages, and they require smartphones. Though it may not seem so, smart watches aren’t used by the majority of the people. Smart phones are still considered a luxury item. Still, companies that make smart watches, such as Pebble, Sony, Samsung, etc. are doing just fine. However, an unexpected competitor has arrived – Timex.

timex ironman one gps

Timex is a company known for its inexpensiveness, simplicity, and dependability. The 160 year old company announced on last Wednesday of its plans to launch a smart watch that connects to a cellular network. This is fundamentally different from the current trend that most smart watches require smart phones to work. In other words, Timex hopes to make a smart watch (probably cheaper than the existing smart watches) that will be more accessible to the general public.

The new watch, called the Timex Ironman One GPS+, has a more simplified and reasonable set of functions. It can’t make calls, send text, or post photos on Instagram, but it can do the everyday tasks that you can do with ease. These functions include a GPS tracker (for fitness), play MP3s (via Bluetooth), access email, forward messages, and access fitness apps such as Strava, RunKeeper, and MapMyFitness. And of course, the watch will be waterproof- up to 50 meters.

Photo: Timex

As of now, the watch only has contracts with AT&T service. The AT&T network allows that watch to function as a tracking device, uploading your location in real time so people can be aware of your location, in case of emergencies or if they just want to meet up.

Other companies are already working on connecting wearable technology to cellular networks. The industry of wearable tech is fairly new, so competition is high. For the companies, they have to compete to provide the best features for the best value. For the consumer, well, we just wait and see what product offers the best deal. The Ironman One GPS+ will go on sale this fall for $399. It’ll have 8 hours of battery life.

 

 

 

Sources:

http://www.usatoday.com/story/tech/columnist/baig/2014/08/05/timex-enters-smartwatch-category-no-phone-needed/13597331/

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/08/05/timex-smartwatch_n_5652427.html?utm_hp_ref=technology

YouTube Tech Reviewer Soars New Heights

Ah, the internet. Our wonderful open source of information on basically everything. Our lives are centered around it. We all use it, however, there are some individuals that contribute to its content more than others. One of these people is Marques Brownlee.

download
Marques Brownlee/Google+

Young Brownlee is only 20 years old but has accomplished so much. Brownlee makes YouTube videos of new technology and explains it for the average consumer. This kind of feat is quite common on the internet, so what makes Marques different?

Marques Brownlee’s YouTube channel “MKBHD”has grown to more than 1.5 million subscribers and about 130 million views on his over 640 videos. However, Brownlee stands where he is because of his tiresome journey of over 5 years. When he started making YouTube videos, he didn’t tell anyone – not his family, not his friends. Eventually it became obvious that he was making videos because of the time put into filming and editing. By the time he made his 100th video, he had only 78 subscribers. It was then that he decided to change up how he made his videos.

Marques Brownlee/ http://cdn.rickey.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/01/4K-Video-What-Is-It-Video.jpg

At first, Brownlee would start the recording, talk for a few minutes, and then upload it to YouTube. Now, his videos are more elaborate. He jots notes down prior to filming and make different kinds of videos (reviews, explainers, and impressions).

His video business now is growing and he is making enough money to cover production costs, but he still faces challenges. Brownlee is a senior at Stevens Institute of Technology in Hoboken, New Jersey, majoring in business and technology. Balancing school work and his videos is tough, but he seems enthusiastic and plans on continuing making videos. Despite the traction of his online career, Brownlee still wants to pursue his degree. As he puts it, “I went so far with school, so I might as well just finish.”

 

 

 

Experimental Drug: The Ebola Answer We’ve Been Looking For?

 

If you been watching the news lately, you would know about the ebola outbreak in Africa. Ebola is a devastating disease. What’s so deadly about it is the rapid rate at which it progresses. Victims could experience mild flu symptoms in the beginning of the week and by the end, experience excruciating pain from the abdomen, extensive internal bleeding and external bleeding from any openings (eyes, ears, sweat glands, etc.), fever, vomiting, diarrhea, etc. As you can see, ebola isn’t your average winter cold.

Already this deadly virus has claimed hundreds upon hundreds of lives. Recently an American missionary worker fell sick to the virus on the 9th day in Liberia. Dr. Kent Brantly was afflicted with the virus along with Nancy Writebol.

Brantly was expected to die on thursday, but something changed. The two Americans were transported to Emory University Hospital in Atlanta after being evacuated to the US last week, a move that upset several people on social media sites. As all hope was lost, the two victims were administered an experimental drug.

If you’re not aware, there is no vaccine for ebola, nor a definite cure. The best organizations such as the W.H.O. can do is contain the virus, which is becoming increasingly difficult as the African locals hide victims and deny that the afflicted are even sick. Some have even gone as far to attack treatment centers claiming that they are spread the virus.

Within the hour of receiving the medication, Brantly’s and Writebol’s conditions improved significantly.  Brantly now is on his feet – literally- where before he was calling his wife, telling her what he thought was his last goodbye.

Still, it’s premature to say that this medicine is the answer to ebola that we have been looking for. The drug is still considered highly experiment. Clinical trials with monkeys and rats had some success, but also some failure. Hopefully for these two Americans, and those suffering in pain and fear in Africa, a cure derives from this medication.

 

Body Language That Gives You Control

When you’re in an interview, a conversation, or any type of communication,  both verbal and body language are used. Though it may not seem so, both are equally as important. The verbal languages is perceived by the cerebral cortex, which is the most highly developed part of the brain. Perhaps this explains why some people stress verbal skills more so than physical stature. Body language, however, is perceived by the limbic system. The limbic system is the part of the brain that processes emotions, mood, pain, and pleasure – the “more primitive set of structures” according to Nancy Szokan of the Washington Post. Szokan quotes Maeve McDermott of National Geographic who believes that “this information bypasses your conscious processing center, giving you an innate understanding of whether a person is weaker or more powerful than you with them without saying a work.”

McDermott demonstrates few simply body moves that convey dominance and power, accompanied by videos from NatGeo’s Brain Games.

The most surprising finding was that your thumbs are power points. McDermott says that “the thumb is your dominant finger, strongest in motor function.” Now think back to all those figures you look up too, political, business, or otherwise. They all have a specific way that they sit and focus on a conversation. Just look at the cast of Shark Tank.

What Mr. Wonderful is doing in the photo above is making a sort of tepee with his fingers, gently touching his fingertips, and having his hands pointed up. This stance is quite popular among world leaders and surely does imply dominance and power. 

Leaders around the world, business entrepreneurs, and even actors recognize and use these gestures to enforce their authority and inspire awe. The question is, will you?

 

 

Source: http://www.washingtonpost.com/national/health-science/body-language-that-conveys-power/2014/07/28/9a94ffd2-126f-11e4-8936-26932bcfd6ed_story.html

Nanotechnology Invisibility Cloak?

image

Many children and even some young adults have at least once dreamed of an invisibility cloak , inspired by the renowned Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling. Young Mr. Potter and his friends went on valiant quests for adventure and the fight against evil using the cloak. The invisibility cloak has incites excitement and thrill in many fans.

Well soon, we may have access to our personal invisibility cloaks. There’s only one thing. We won’t have the magic aspect of it, but instead nanotechnology.

The “invisibility cloak” scientists are developing won’t be exactly like that of the wizarding world. Two years ago researchers at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) in Germany created pentamodes, or mechanical metamaterials. Recently, scientists found an interesting property of metamaterials: the ability to conceal or “cloak” foreign bodies hidden within it. This discovery is fascinating because it opens up possibilities unthinkable before, such as camping gear (sleeping bags on which you won’t feel any rocks or branches underneath) and shoes that feel like you are walking on air (unlike current products that claim to do the same but only partially do the job).

The material is polymer-based, built at a millimeter scale, and has a structure that shapes itself around an object and disperses pressure in a manner that human touch can’t detect its presence. To put it in another perspective of the princess from The Princess and the Pea slept on just one thin sheet of nanotechnology with a pea underneath, she would feel nothing.

In addition to its amazing properties, the metamaterial is quite asceticly pleasing and incredibly light. This unique structure is made using Nano scribe’s 3D laser lithography.

As of now, this project is purely for research, but its likely that sooner or later some company will commercialize this technology.

Source: http://edition.cnn.com/2014/07/21/tech/innovation/now-you-feel-it-nanomaterial-touch/index.html?eref=edition