The year 2015 has been an interesting year in terms of consumer electronics. This year we saw a new Apple Watch, hover boards, and multiple different 3D interface devices, including a few that can be built at home. I know that tech gadgets aren’t for everybody, but with the great advances of this year I am excited for what next year will bring. The great yet somewhat annoying thing about new gadgets is how quickly the prices fall. A large television that was priced at $2000 can have a comparable alternative by the next year for a quarter of the price. Technology is getting bigger, better, faster, and cheaper, and it seems as though 2016 will be the most affordable year in terms of the sheer quantity of interesting gadgets. I have learned over the years that new technology is always around the corner, and while I have been known to be an early adopter of many new products, I often find myself enjoying the novelty of older gadgets. In 2016, I expect technology to make a massive shift into the scifi realm, and I think we will see some products that were once thought of as impossible. I don’t expect to see hologram phones just yet, but based on the technological advances of the past five years, something huge is right around the corner.
To invent, you need a good imagination and a pile of junk.
-Thomas A. Edison
Thomas Edison was a brilliant inventor back in the late 1800s and the early 1900s. Some of Edison’s greatest inventions include the incandescent light bulb, the movie camera, and the telegraph. In this quote Thomas Edison discuses the simplicity of his invention, he has an idea in mind and he puts the products at his disposal to use. I’m sure he is not using actual junk, but every component to any invention by itself can generally be considered junk. Thomas Edison is an example of true ingenuity, he thought of things that never existed and in spite of his failures, continued to work until his ideas were a reality. Edison is an inspiration, he had many failed inventions in his life, but he never let them define his legacy. When we look back on the life and works of Thomas Edison we never think about the times he failed, we only talk about his many accomplishments. I hope to be able to look back at my own life one day and gladly reminisce on my successes, while completely disregarding my failures. We all have failures, but I like to say, “don’t let your failures derail you, they are meant to be building blocks to success not stumbling blocks.”
Tonight we will have the joy of seeing the last “super moon” eclipse until 2033. The celestial event known by many as a blood moon occurs when the moon and earth align, casting the shadow of the earth to cover the moonlight. This event is quite significant because the moon is closer than it usually is to earth, which means it will also seem slightly larger. I am a big fan of astronomy, so I will be finding a nice place outside to sit and watch the event, but some people feel this 4th “blood moon” in two years holds a level of significance that adheres to the end of the world. To be honest, I don’t know when the world will end, nor is it my mission to know exactly when it will, but I do know that a really cool event will be occurring tonight. This lunar eclipse may not be a once in a lifetime level event like other celestial occurrences, but it is something that will be interesting to see. If you live on the east coast of the US, you will have a great view of this entire event, so go outside around 9:30 and catch a free show.
I have always found dreams to be extremely interesting. To many people, dreams are just outlandish stories that our minds make up while we sleep, but dreams are much more than the nonsensical ramblings of a dormant mind. I have always wondered if dreams are happening in slow motion, or if dreams give us the ability to somehow tell the future. I figure we maintain some sort of conscious connection to the outside world while we sleep, because there are some dreams that include events that occur concurrently with external stimuli that have a direct effect on the dream. If you have ever had a dream in which you found yourself falling or sky diving, often times you end up waking up during an actual fall from bed, only to find yourself confused and possibly a little frightened. I know everybody has not had one of these falling dreams, but for those who have, it can be quite strange and interesting. It calls to question whether you started to dream as you were falling this short distance, or if the fall was because of the dream, either way, the dream was interacting with what was happening in the conscious world. I would love to believe that dreams can give us super sensory abilities, but unfortunately I simply don’t find that possible. My best explanation and guess for what is happening during dreams is that our minds are acting very quickly, and due to the quick change from being sleeping to being awake, we have a momentary delay between the dream world and reality. Perhaps we aren’t falling in real life, but just reliving the memory of a fall as we wake from a falling dream. I would love to be able to run tests on my ideas of the dreams connection to the actions of the body, but unfortunately I don’t have the funds or equipment for such a venture. I will just have to keep my wild ideas about dreams in my sleep where they belong, until somebody decides to fund my research.
Communication has come a very long way over the past few centuries. What was once considered unimaginable is now the norm, and connections that many dreamed of are now being harnessed in the hands of infants. When Alexander Graham Bell and the other early telecommunication inventors thought up the telephone, they just wanted an effective way of relaying a spoken message, and now their work is part of a massive infrastructure that they would have never fathomed. There was once a time when the most effective way of communicating aside from interpersonal, was via carrier pigeon, and now we are able to easily link with people across the world with video messages. I once worked in the telecommunications industry so I am well aware of how quickly we can go from one huge advancement to another, and communication seems to be getting wider and more advanced than ever at an incredibly fast rate. The best way for me to illustrate the great advancements we have seen in the past few years is through my own experience. My parents have been out of the country for a little while, and thanks to the great advancements in telecommunications worldwide, I have been able to speak with them clearly, and at will. Recent advancements in cellular and digital communications have made talking to somebody who is 5200 miles and an ocean away seem as simple as calling a next door neighbor. We have definitely gone a long way since the first telephone, and there seems to be no stopping the rate of growth communication technology is seeing. At this point in time it would be ridiculous for me to speculate on what the future holds for communication, but with the speed of technological advancements, I would not be surprised to see my wildest dreams outdone by an unbelievable reality in the near future.
Over the past couple of weeks, there has been an extreme outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease in the Bronx. So far this is the most devastating Legionnaires outbreak in New York’s history as 92 people have been hospitalized, and sadly, 10 individuals have died. The disease is caused by a bacteria that is usually found in the water of cooling systems, and it has already been found in several south Bronx cooling towers. Legionnaires is a very alarming disease, especially in the South Bronx, since it tends to attack the very old or those who are already sick. This disease is basically a more aggressive form of pneumonia, so those with asthma have to be especially cautious in areas of the outbreak. So far, due to this outbreak we have seen public health officials working franticly to try and contain the disease, but unfortunately, this disease can not be stopped by quarantine. The only way to stop the outbreak is to kill the bacteria at its source as it is not contagious from person to person. Health officials have started implementing free cooling tower checks and cleanings in the Bronx, and while I feel these measures are both warranted and reasonable, I feel more needs to be done to prevent another outbreak of this measure. Legionnaires is devastating, but with proper prevention I am certain that we could completely rid ourselves of this terrible disease. I hope to see health officials implement mandatory cooling tower cleanings every spring in order to reduce the risk of further cases of this disease, the best way to stop an outbreak is prevention. I’m sure that if proper preventative measures are put in place, we could stop the spread of this awful bacteria for years to come.
I have always been an animal lover, and I have generally been intrigued by the plight of endangered and threatened species. It bothers me to think that there are entire populations of animals being destroyed before the general public gets a chance to see them in person. I understand that there are many conservationist groups doing all they can to keep these animals alive, but as long as these creatures are being hunted and ousted from their natural habitats, there is little chance they will exist 10 years down the line. The biggest problem conservationists have with protecting rare species is the fact that these animals are usually heavily desired on the black market. It is unfortunate that hunters and poachers fail to realize that they are doing irreparable damage to the planet, and completely depleting their own source of income. What it comes down to is greed, the people who want these animals hanging on their mantels are depriving the world of a species in the name of owning a trophy. In my opinion, the best way to save endangered species is to make a truly enclosed artificial habitat for them. I understand that the captivity of a zoo is not ideal, but nature preserves are not as secure as the could be, so the only way to actually keep these animals safe is to simulate the wild. It may take years to figure out the best way to keep endangered animals safe, hopefully with new methods being formed daily, these animals will be able to last until a more permanent fix is in place.
One of my favorite things about getting out of the city is being able to look up at the evening sky, and see the free show of stars and constellations. I find stargazing to be incredibly peaceful, and oddly thought provoking. It is interesting to think about how these stars I am seeing are light years away, and the fact that some of them may already be dead and gone is amazing. Centuries ago early astronomers looked up to the stars and mapped out constellations based on the figures they saw in the stars. There are 88 constellations officially recognized by the IAU, but I am sure anyone can look up at the sky and find a formation that looks like something interesting. I like to treat stargazing like cloud watching, I like to try and see if I can make my own constellations out of the lights I’ve been given. Looking up at the stars is definitely an enjoyable way to relax after a long day, hopefully tonight the sky is clear enough to enjoy the show.
I am starting a series in which I will discuss some of my favorite people in history and why they made the list. I will not be ranking these people since they could all go into different categories, and it would be too difficult to accurately place them on a “favorite” scale. I currently have about four people in mind, but the list may be as large as ten individuals and even possibly a couple of groups. The first person on my list is Sir Isaac Newton, also known as the guy with the apple falling in his head. Isaac Newton revolutionized the way we look at motion and the way we look at the universe at large. Newton’s laws of motion are one of the first things we learn in physics, and a solid explanation for why our toy cars rolled down hills when we were children. It is amazing how Newton had the boldness and intelligence to make such an assertion about gravity in the era in which he lived, and the fact that his laws are still being held up and studied today it is a testament to his persistence in proving his hypothesis. Newton is one of my favorite people mainly due to his work in mathematics and science. I would consider myself as something of a “nerd,” and I was always interested in the works of Newton. While Sir Isaac is best known for the laws of motion, he actually had quite a few other interesting ideas in science, some of which didn’t pan out as well as gravity did though. Isaac Newton was truly a trailblazer in his time, and his interesting life and his informative studies have landed him on my list of favorite people in history.
Tumbleweeds are more interesting than they are generally portrayed. If you have ever watched an old western, a cartoon, or even read a picture book as a child, you might have noticed that tumble weeds often show up in boring or dull situations. The plants are usually shown to amplify the lack of action or excitement in any given situation. I have never really wondered much about tumbleweeds since they were always just part of the scenery, but these rolling balls of crabgrass are actually in a sense the fruit of a plant. Tumbleweeds are a part of a plant that breaks off at the stem, and rolls about with some help from the wind. These rolling weeds spread about seeds or spores in order to propagate its species over a large area. Tumbleweeds are interesting because of the fact that, unlike many other plants, they are a group that is quite active in its reproduction process. Tumbleweeds aren’t the only plants that use wind to aid their reproduction, but the way spread over vast regions with their rolling methods, is an ingenious way to stretch the usefulness of a gust. Tumbleweeds are probably not the most interesting types of plants, but they are certainly not as boring as they are regularly shown to be. As a child, I always thought a tumbleweed was just a big useless ball of dirt and grass rolling in the desert, I now know that, while they may not be much, they are still useful, and very important to the life of a plant.