Category Archives: Technology

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.

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THE WAY IN WHICH CHEMISTRY PLAYS A MAJOR ROLE IN MOVIES

After reading the title “The Way in which Chemistry Plays a Major Role in Movies”, you all may be contemplating the multifarious relationships evident among characters in movies or perhaps the complex interactions between two people, which can occasionally be referred to as chemistry. However, the term “chemistry” in this particular scenario embodies absolutely no affiliations with any attributes that may be intimating a relationship. Rather, it inhabits its orthodox definition as a branch of science and the study of the composition, structure, and properties of matter as well as the changes matter undergoes. Although it may not appear patent at first, chemistry has numerous, profound roles in the making of all movies. To begin with, simply think about how a movie is made. By a director, right? WRONG! I mean yes, but think deeper! What does a director use to make a movie? A camera. How exactly does a camera capture the moments of life, and later display the moments onto the big screens? The correct answer is that a camera utilizes a vital component that is known as the film. The film, a major constituent of a camera, is a pliable and attenuated strip of plastic with light-sensitive emulsion for exposure in a camera, fundamentally used to produce motion pictures. The primary chemicals (substances that have a definite composition) and compounds, which are made from the atoms of at least two chemically-bonded elements, become involved when actually developing the film. The first layer of a film is a protective coating which protects the emulsion layer that has the gelatin and the silver halide crystals in it. (Higher speeds of film have multiple layers of emulsion.) The next layer is the film base, which is a polymer that is chemically stable and flexible. The last layer is the anti-halation backing, which precludes reflections off the back of the film

Moreover, the origins of photographic processes date back to the 1800s and yet were still astonishingly dependent on chemistry. The beginnings of photographic processes were devised by William Talbot during the 1830s. Talbot’s procedure consisted of continuously rinsing paper in baths of saltwater and silver nitrate (AgNO3) solution, hence depositing silver chloride (AgCl) in the fibers of the paper. Afterwards, this wet piece of paper was exposed in a camera till a dark, silvery image appeared in the light-struck regions, and the remaining silver chloride (AgCl) was removed by washing it with a concentrated salt solution. By waxing or oiling the negative sheet, Talbot made the paper translucent, and then by making an exposure of diffuse light through the negative onto another sensitized sheet, he produced a positive image. Therefore, an interminable number of copies of a photograph could have been generated from any one negative. In other words, behind the multiplex concept of filmmaking and photography lies a simple (or not so simple) answer: science, and specifically, chemicals and compounds, which are all ultimately a part of chemistry. In the following centuries, as photographic processes advanced, mechanisms of processing undeniably altered to later on, produce color and digital photography.

All in all, behind a movie is a director, behind a director is a camera, behind a camera is a film, and behind a film is the work of chemistry. As technology continues to expeditiously evolve, along will come the emergence of further advanced photography, and along, in the years to follow, will come the institution of an augmented role played by chemistry throughout the film industry via the concept of photography.

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.

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:

 

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.

Can’t Forget to Remember

Memories: probably the most cherished by people, but also the most forgotten. That trip to Disneyworld when you were five years old, that delicious ice cream sundae you ate at the mall one day, that big, fat Christmas present that you ripped open the day before Christmas, the giggles and wonders of all your youth – those moments are all stored somewhere in your head, but when it comes time to retrieving them, we often can’t. Time and, although many don’t like to admit it, old age often renders humans helpless when it comes to holding on to beloved memories. It’s just impossible to keep track of all of them. Or, is it?

It seems that technology will once again step in to save us, in the same way that it’s stepped in to save us from hand-washing every single plate in our sinks and scouring the encyclopedia for the answer to a question like, “What are the most popular attractions in Chicago?” (Siri can handle that for us now.) Not surprisingly, Google is taking the lead to develop a type of “memory-saver.” A person has to wear a headset, similar to Google Glass, that will record his/her surroundings during a particular moment at particular time. The camera embedded in the headset would be easily controllable and able to save these videos to the Google server.

Yes, that’s right – so if you find yourself reminiscing about that time you and your friends stood on top of the Eiffel Tower, looking down at the twinkling lights of Paris, you can get right up, go to your computer, and Google that memory. And, tada! There it is, unable to be forgotten, permanently recorded for your pleasure.

Or your displeasure. Although I believe that this technology, if brought into being, would be one of the most innovative and exciting ventures to explore, others may be inclined to disagree. How can something as personal as memories be turned into a technologic endeavor? Does everything have to lend itself to the high-tech world of today? Indeed, those are valid questions, but also questions that resonate throughout the history of technological advancements, albeit in different forms. After all, when cell phones were first sold in 1973, there were a group of people who thought they were highly intrusive. Some people may not instantly open up to the idea of a device that captures and stores memories, but it’s both an eminent possibility and an inevitable consequence of progress.

So far, Google merely has the patent to create this device. But, I have no doubt that such an ingenious invention will definitely be created and sold to the masses. When this will happen is the only question that remains.

“Congratulations, You’ve Won!”

In today’s day and age, having an email account has become ubiquitous among students and adults. It’s a tool that has revolutionized the way we socialize, making hand-written letters an obsolete form of communication. However, the vast and rapidly expanding reign of the internet has become the source of malicious activity- with email being a vulnerable target. I’m sure many of those who are reading this have an email account, and for those that do, you’ve probably come across spam. I’m not talking about the canned meat, but instead, emails that have suspicious subjects. Whether the questionable email revolves around unclaimed tax returns or a Nigerian prince, it’s safe to say that spam/junk mail is only beneficial to the sender, and unfortunately, has become a major part of email culture.

Why send spam? 
It’s all money. Email provides a platform for individuals to advertise their product at extremely low costs. Spammers often compile giant lists of emails and send their message, hoping that someone out of the millions who received the message will actually respond and hand over personal account information. It’s easy to avoid junk mail for the average Internet user. However, “Grandpa Joe” who recently bought a computer for the first time is the perfect candidate to fall victim to email spam. To learn more about spam, click here.
Example of Email Spam
However, not all is dire. Symantec recently published that currently, there are less spam emails than actual, valid emails. More specifically, it’s estimated that spam accounts for 49.7% of all emails. While that statistic is a rough estimate, and 49.7% isn’t exactly the best figure in the world, it does show that spam messages are becoming less of a problem. Email services such as Gmail and Outlook make an effort to filter out junk mail and hope to win the fight against spammers.
All in all, just remember that if something looks too good to be true, it probably is. Be informed and make sure that spam messages are never liberated from their prison- the “Junk Mail” folder on your email account. Hopefully, we can further decrease the prevalence of spam to below 49.7%.
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What’s crazier than Insane? Ludicrous

Yes. Elon Musk does it again. He takes the one thing that people thought was already crazy, and one upped them.

Elon Musk, CEO and Chairman of Tesla Motors, has had a long-standing record of maybe hyping up the public expectations, and delivering a little later on their expectations, but his ability to pull feats like the surprise D models for the Model S, and adding self-driving driver assistance capabilities to the car keeps the public believing his word.

The Model S’s performance package model, P85+, was already blisteringly quick for a sedan, reaching 60 mph in a blistering 3.9 seconds. The unveiling of the newer P85D model that would replace the P85 now had two motors, all wheel drive, a total of 691 horsepower, and of course, decreased the 60 mph time to 3.1 seconds when put in “Insane Mode”. Now, this is all you know. You have heard it thousands of times and watched the Youtube videos of grandmothers being scared out of their minds and people watching as their phones get stuck to the seat as the car creates false gravity.

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What we are flipping out about is the new option of Ludicrous mode. Upping the speed to 2.8 seconds now means that the Model S is faster than a Lamborghini, and actually has the same 0-50 time as a 2011 Lamborghini Gallardo LP570-4 Superleggra! AND, this car can haul 7 people! Having already been crowned as the quickest sedan in the world, this is completely something.

For those of us less concerned with the performance, Musk also added that they are adding a 70 and 90 kwh battery option. The 70 would be offered at 70k base price before discounts, and the 90 would offer 300+ miles of range. However, I think most of us fanboys and fangirls will be waiting for the Model III so we can convince ourselves we can afford it.

Suggestions? Feedback? Requests? Just tell us in the comments!

The Wonders of Interstellar

Director Christopher Nolan released his movie, Interstellar, about a year ago, and almost everyone expected a story line that was similar to Gravity except with a few tweaks here and there. It’ll be another space thing – that’s probably what the general audience thought, and rightfully so, since Interstellar revolves around the search for another planet that can sustain life in a time when drought and famine are ravaging Earth. Yet, with its roots in actual scientific research, the movie presents ideas and technology that could be most certainly beneficial for the future of mankind.

The first idea is the concept of wormholes in space. Although this phenomenon is not observable per say, it is a developing theory in the scientific world that can serve as a crucial foundation for space travel. Essentially, a wormhole is the bending of space that connects a black hole, which only sucks objects in, with a white hole, which only spits objects out. Thus, if an object were to travel through a wormhole, it would emerge in a location that would constitute of millions of miles in linear distance. If wormholes really do exist, then humans can travel to different solar systems in a short amount of time and maybe even encounter other forms of life. If we can do what Cooper did, we can open up a wide range of possibilities for the coming decades.

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Another very interesting idea is the fifth dimension. Right now, we live in a three dimensional world, and therefore, we’re only capable of seeing the three dimensions: a line, a plane, and space. We recognize objects with length, width, and depth, but we can’t see past that. Yet, when Cooper lands in the fifth dimensional space, he is able to see one more dimension: time. He sees the infinite string of events that result from one moment and is able to go back and forth through the different frames of time. By stepping out of the third dimension, Cooper becomes a fourth dimensional being and can thus be considered to be in the fifth dimension. The idea of being able to see the progression of time and influence it as well, otherwise known as time travel, is a concept that humans have been exploring for years through books and movies that depict time machines. And now, with the same idea portrayed in space, Interstellar highlights the possibility of beings existing in the fifth dimension – and maybe, one day, we can join them.

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So, you see, Interstellar is more than just a “space thing” – it delves into superior technology and well-constructed theories about outer space, like the construction of Gargantua and its enormous waves. Not only does it explore the theoretical, but also the emotional by displaying the side effects that this kind of exploration has on family and friends. The slowing of time for Cooper and his crew may have stalled the formation of their wrinkles, but it also took away years and years of time that they could’ve spent with their children as they grew up.

So, what would it be: humanity or family? Interstellar poses this thought-provoking question and many more, bringing up issues that all of us will most likely have to answer in the future.

Big Data, Big Advantage

How can a company maximize revenue? How can it go above and beyond what it already earns? How can it make sure that its product/service sells vastly and quickly among the masses? When asked these questions, we may be inclined to suggest the traditional routes: lowering prices, decreasing production costs, widening the target demographic, etc, etc. Sure, sure, a company can do all of that, but the time period needed to implement such changes isn’t a short one. Say, a business that sells organic products suddenly decides to lower the price of its fruits from $2.00 per pound to $1.50 per pound. Of course, new customers will be drawn to the fifty cent drop, and daily customers will buy even more fruit, largely due to the income effect.

But, a change in price is practically useless if the product/service doesn’t generate sufficient demand. The decreased price for organic fruit is certainly tempting, but not to those who don’t even want organic fruit to begin with. In other words, a company will have the highest chance of maximizing its revenue when the factor of demand is on its side. But, how can a business truly know if its product/service is in demand? How can it infiltrate the minds of countless consumers and discover what they really want?

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For many businesses nowadays, big data is turning out to be a very popular answer. Big data, essentially, is a term for a massive amount of data, both structured and unstructured, that is difficult to process using baseline software techniques. This includes the online footprints of the thousands of people that use social media, engage in web transactions, and have some record of general online activity. If successfully captured and organized, such data can give companies some strong clues about the preferences of the public. For example, let’s say Person A is on the hunt for a new car. During his search, he posts on Twitter: “Looking for a ride with class and a lot of safety features! #safetycomesfirst.” Big data analysis actually picks up on these little details, and the Audi dealer a few streets down can make sure to offer a model with multiple safety features if Person A happens to come by. How’s that for acquiring more revenue?

Not only that, but big data analysis also provides insight on how a company can go about changing its product/service for the better. Again, with unstructured social media posts in which consumers express their true sentiments about the things they purchase, companies can see what aspects of their output make people unhappy and alter these aspects for the better. Going off the previous example, let’s imagine Person A again, this time driving the new Audi he bought from the local dealer. Person A is happy with his overall purchase, but is dissatisfied with one key element: the heating system. Hence, he writes a blog post saying, “This Audi is nice… but wish I didn’t have to freeze for the first ten minutes while it heats up.” With big data, the Audi dealer can now see that Person A is discontent with the heating system, and then go on to investigate if others across the nation are reporting the same problem online. If so, the Audi company as a whole can take steps to improve this apparent defect by addressing individual concerns, upgrading current production, and/or releasing new and improved models.

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So, indeed, big data analysis has the power to completely change the course of a company. Businesses who have not yet invested in this technology should do so immediately. With big data at their side, they can stop the guessing games and actually know what consumers want – the biggest advantage of all.