Video Games: Health Boon or Bust?

Row Of Video Games

I, like most other people my age, like to play video games. I can easily lose myself for hours on end in virtual worlds. I’m not alone either; games such as Minecraft are played by millions of people of all ages all around the world. In fact, from 2016 to 2020, it is estimated that gamers collectively spent a total of more than 68 million years playing Minecraft — and that’s just a single video game out of tens of thousands played each year. While that might sound like an unimaginable amount of time to spend playing a video game, it’s not at all surprising to me. Minecraft is especially fun to me because of all the creativity that I can use to build amazing structures and environments. I even get to interact with friends online, so I can spend time in these incredible places building palaces and surreal structures with my close friends. Sometimes I even get to make new friends this way. Despite the benefits I’ve found playing video games, many people still think that video games are bad for you for numerous reasons. So, the question is: what does the research reveal? Are video games good or bad for us? 

 

Depression, Anxiety and other Psychological Issues

One of the major worries that people have concerning video games is that they can cause depression and anxiety. Numerous studies actually show this to be true. For example, an opinion piece from the Georgia State Signal points out that, 

A comprehensive study from the Journal of Health Psychology shows that gaming disorders are linked to greater levels of loneliness, anxiety, depression, sleeping problems, social problems and many other psychological-social problems.

On the other hand, Webmd cites other sources which show that video games actually distract and help people deal with depression, anxiety, or PTSD.

Video games can act as distractions from pain and psychological trauma. Video games can also help 

Woman And Virtual Reality

people who are dealing with mental disorders like anxiety, depression, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

There is research supporting both arguments, so it really comes down to the individual gamer and their particular circumstances. 

 

Video Games and Violence

The argument for individual circumstances and personality is also the central factor behind the connection between video games and violence.  I’m sure there are even many readers of this article who think that video games cause violence. Video games such as Grand Theft Auto are often accused of being too violent, affecting the player’s brain in ways that lead to violent behavior in real life. Studies have shown that this is not the case. Apa.org, points out that

Recent research has shown that as video games have become more popular, children in the United States and Europe are having fewer behavior problems, are less violent and score better on standardized tests. Violent video games have not created the generation of problem youth so often feared.

With this in mind, many will wonder: what about all of the people who got in trouble and blamed video game violence as the source of their behavior? Well, it’s more about the personality of the player rather than the game. Harvard Health says that,

Two psychologists, Dr. Patrick Markey of Villanova University and Dr. Charlotte Markey of Rutgers University, have presented evidence that some children may become more aggressive as a result of watching and playing violent video games, but that most are not affected. After reviewing the research, they concluded that the combination of three personality traits might be most likely to make an individual act and think aggressively after playing a violent video game. The three traits they identified were high neuroticism (prone to anger and depression, highly emotional, and easily upset), disagreeableness (cold, indifferent to other people), and low levels of conscientiousness (prone to acting without thinking, failing to deliver on promises, breaking rules).

Just like with loneliness and depression, games themselves are never the sole cause of problems. For example, I have personally played many violent video games, and I’m certainly not a violent person. While it might be true that violent video games can make an already violent person more violent, it does not appear to be the case that video games specifically cause violence. 

 

Playing Video GamesBottom Line: Video Games are Good for You

If video games aren’t bad for you, then are they good for you? Well, in fact, yes! Video games can benefit players in a multitude of ways, including and not limited to improvement in:

  • memory
  • spatial visualization
  • mood
  • social skills
  • perception
  • physical fitness
  • decision making
  • youthfulness
  • problem solving skills
  • curiosity

As a specific example, studies have shown that fast paced games can help you make quick decisions

Fast-paced video games like Need For Speed or Call of Duty require you to stay on your toes and make decisions quickly. These energizing action games can also improve your ability to make game-time decisions in real life.

In terms of benefit to motor function, Psychologicalscience.org says that:

Playing action-based video games may boost players’ ability to coordinate incoming visual information with their motor control, a skill critical to many real-world behaviors including driving, new research shows. The findings are published in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science.

For improvements to general psychology, Webmd explains that:

When you fail in a game or in other situations, it can be frustrating. Video games help people learn how to cope with failure and keep trying. This is an important tool for children to learn and use as they get older.

For stress relief, Verywellmind.com says that:

Really, any game that you truly enjoy can be a stress reliever. Virtually any game that you find to be truly fun can be beneficial by providing an escape from daily stress, a break from patterns of rumination, or a way to build positive feelings.

For improvements to intelligence, Webmd says that:

Video games often make you think. When you play video games, almost every part of your brain is working to help you achieve higher-level thinking. Depending on the complexity of the game, you may have to think, strategize, and analyze quickly. Playing video games works with deeper parts of your brain that improve development and critical thinking skills.

And finally for sociability, Levelskip.com says that:

Most gamers (over 70%) play video games with one or more of their friends. Gamers who play video games with friends may play either cooperatively (where two or more players work together to achieve the goal of the game)

 

The Best Video Games for You to Play

If all games are good, what are the best games? Well, I might be biased, of course, but the famous Minecraft is an amazing game to play. It can teach you how to be creative with your buildings. There are all sorts of blocks and different colors to build with. From idtech.com, they explain:

Minecraft is educational because it enhances creativity, problem-solving, self-direction, collaboration, and other life skills.

Other first person shooter games, such as Call of Duty, are also good games to play. Even though they can show blood, it makes children quickly move around so that they can get fast reflexes, as there are always enemy combatants working against you. Polygon.com says that

A growing body of research indicates that playing first-person action games, particularly shooters, improves brain function such as cognitive abilities and learning skills — changes that have real-life applications, reports Scientific American Mind.

If those games don’t interest you, there are thousands of others to choose from. CheckPoint offers numerous video gaming titles for you to try, and even splits them up by what aspect of health they are best for. Some of my personal favorites include:

  • Bound
  • Florence
  • Destiny 2
  • Hollow Knight
  • Persona 5
  • The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild

Video Games and Disabled Players

Something else to consider is how video games provide an amazing outlet for disabled players to be themselves and live a life liberated from the difficulties they face in the real world. People with disabilities are usually treated very badly and are sometimes even seen as outcasts. In video games, they don’t have to be outcasts anymore! Since no one can see them, they can be themselves without worrying about being judged, allowing them to have as much fun as other players while they are playing! Disabled players actually make up a large part of the gaming community. According to Polygon.com

…20 percent of gamers have some form of disability — not including the eight percent of men who are colorblind or the 14 percent of adults who have a low reading age, and also not including the many temporary impairments, such as broken arms, sleeping babies or bumpy public transport, that most people face at one point or another… 

It is vital that disabled players are afforded numerous outlets of accessibility in games so that they continue playing the games they love and improving their health while they’re at it!

 

In Conclusion

Video games are able to help with real life functions of the human body and mind. Best of all, they invite all types of players, even those who are normally unable to participate in activities that are normally considered beneficial, like sports. Whether or not video games are good for you, we can all agree that they are fun, at the very least. So, pick up your favorite game, and go have some fun! In the meantime, I’ll be playing Minecraft. 

See you online!

What is in the Covid Vaccines?

Army Col. Sean Dooley, a doctor at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, receives a COVID-19 vaccination, Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, Bethesda, Md., Dec. 14, 2020. (DoD photo by Lisa Ferdinando)

 

For many people around the world, this has been an exceptionally frightening year. From the first indications of a new virus emerging in China, to the slow trickle of reports as it arrived in countries around the world, and finally the lockdowns, sicknesses, and deaths that became daily news as the COVID-19 pandemic raged around the globe. Many of us have lost ones we loved, our jobs, or our sanity as the days go by and our lives continue to be disrupted by this new virus. 

As the end of the year approached, two vaccines appeared that promised to help end the suffering and finally get this disease under control. But to many, this seemed like it had to be rushed. Adding to that uncertainty, the average person doesn’t have the education to understand what is in these vaccines that they were suddenly being asked to trust. Conspiracy theories abounded and distrust swelled, threatening to upend the vaccination program.

Both vaccines have been proven safe and highly effective in large trials, and have already been given to tens of millions of people! Even so, as a healthcare provider, I know the importance of what is referred to as “informed consent.” It means that it is your responsibility to educate your patient to a level where their agreeing to a treatment is based on generally knowing what is being done to them, including the risks they face by allowing that treatment to go forward. I believe that the ingredients within the two emergency approved vaccines should be readily available, and there should be a basic explanation of what those ingredients are. 

The Coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) that causes COVID-19 has been scary enough; the ingredients within the vaccines don’t have to be as well. What follows is a very simplified breakdown of the ingredients within the first two vaccines to receive Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) from the FDA: the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine and the Moderna vaccine:

 

Simple ingredient list of both vaccines:

  • mRNA – The active ingredient
  • Lipids, a different word for fats
  • Salts
  • Sugar

 

Messenger RNA (mRNA) is a single-stranded RNA molecule that is complementary to one of the DNA strands of a gene. The mRNA is an RNA version of the gene that leaves the cell nucleus and moves to the cytoplasm where proteins are made. During protein synthesis, an organelle called a ribosome moves along the mRNA, reads its base sequence, and uses the genetic code to translate each three-base triplet, or codon, into its corresponding amino acid.
https://www.genome.gov/

Further Breakdown

  1. Messenger-RNA

The messenger ribo-nucleic acid (mRNA) is the true active ingredient of the vaccine.  Our body makes, uses, and then breaks down natural mRNA constantly in order to function. Think of it as a copied set of instructions that takes information from our DNA and brings it to the parts of our body where we make stuff (amino acids and eventually proteins) necessary for our survival. 

In the vaccine, scientists made a synthetic copy of these instructions that allow our body to temporarily produce a single part of the virus known as the spike protein, which is harmless on its own. Our bodies then develop an immunity against the coronavirus by identifying and building defenses against the virus from this single part. We then break down this synthetic message and stop producing the spike protein, but our defense against the disease remains. 

To better understand it, think of it like this: when we get the vaccine, we are giving our bodies a fax which allows us to print a mugshot of the virus, which then allows our immune system to know the enemy we are up against in precise detail. 

 

  1. Lipids (Fats) 

These are just pieces of fat that allow our cells to absorb the messenger-RNA so that they can start making the spike proteins for our body to develop immunity. Using the analogy from the previous item in our list, you can think of these fat particles as the fax number that allows the vaccine to send the mugshot to your fax machine. 

 

  1. Salts

These salts allow the vaccine to have the same level of acidity as our bodies, which keeps it from causing harm inside of us when it is injected. The reason why things like battery acid or bleach will harm us is because it doesn’t match our bodies acidity levels, which is why you should never inject either of them! 

 

  1. Sucrose (Sugar)

This is just like the plain old sugar we know and love, except it isn’t put in the vaccine to make it taste sweet. The vaccine has sugar in it to keep all the ingredients from clumping together when it is frozen. 

 

Full Ingredient Lists

**While these may seem to contain names that you don’t understand and that might frighten you, those are all just the scientific names for the fats and salts in the vaccines! For example, Dihydrogen Monoxide sounds very scary, until you realize it’s just the chemical name for water**

 

  • Pfizer-BioNTech: mRNA, lipids ((4-hydroxybutyl)azanediyl)bis(hexane-6,1-diyl)bis(2-hexyldecanoate), 2 [(polyethylene glycol)-2000]-N,N-ditetradecylacetamide, 1,2-Distearoyl-sn-glycero-3- phosphocholine, and cholesterol), potassium chloride, monobasic potassium phosphate, sodium chloride, dibasic sodium phosphate dihydrate, and sucrose.
  • Moderna: mRNA, lipids (SM-102, polyethylene glycol [PEG] 2000 dimyristoyl glyceral [DMG], cholesterol and 1,2-distearoyl-sn-glycero-3-phosphocholine [DSPC]), tromethamine, tromethamine hydrochloride, acetic acid, sodium acetate, and sucrose.

Army Spc. Angel Laureano holds a vial of the COVID-19 vaccine, Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, Bethesda, Md., Dec. 14, 2020. (DoD photo by Lisa Ferdinando)

 

For more information, check out these links!

https://www.fda.gov/emergency-preparedness-and-response/coronavirus-disease-2019-covid-19/pfizer-biontech-covid-19-vaccine

https://www.fda.gov/emergency-preparedness-and-response/coronavirus-disease-2019-covid-19/moderna-covid-19-vaccine

https://www.fda.gov/media/144638/download

https://www.fda.gov/media/144414/download#:~:text=The%20Pfizer-BioNTech%20COVID-19%20Vaccine%20includes%20the%20following%20ingredients,),%20potassium%20chloride,%20monobasic%20potassium

https://www.pfizer.com/news/hot-topics/the_facts_about_pfizer_and_biontech_s_covid_19_vaccine

https://www.modernatx.com/covid19vaccine-eua/providers/about-vaccine

https://www.technologyreview.com/2020/12/09/1013538/what-are-the-ingredients-of-pfizers-covid-19-vaccine/

Dyson Spheres and the New Age of Energy

In one week everybody’s life will change. It is the year 3031, and I am the one to finish building the Dyson sphere. I had to finish the algorithm to finally bring the Dyson sphere online. It was unbelievable how Kanye West, our world president, was able to make every government agree to make a Dyson sphere. We had to get everybody’s help to have the materials, money, scientists and sacrifices to build the Dyson sphere. Social media is booming in excitement and anticipation for this event. Global warming is getting out of hand so we know we have to do something about it. In the meantime, Russia, China and the United Countries have come up with the idea to explore other planets. With the energy we acquire from the Dyson sphere, this will be no problem. Also, we will have the energy from the Dyson sphere to develop technology to stop climate change. All the hard work that the world did to make a Dyson sphere will only be complete if I solve the calculation to finally bring it online. Why, do you ask? Well, my name is Cloud Strife, and my mind is capable of processing complex calculations all at once, just like my brothers and sisters, all named Cloud Strife as well. Millions of scientists and professors are trying to help me, but none of them are capable of this level of mathematics. But something incredible has happened: I have found another Dyson sphere using my buster telescope. The bad thing is that there are some sort of beings out there that might be smarter than us. However, at least I found the proper algorithm for the construction of our Dyson sphere using their Dyson sphere. I have the answer now, and in six days, the launch will be all over the news and will be streaming on the Banana Bpad. I can already hear them counting down, preparing to power on the Dyson sphere around our sun, propelling humanity far into the future. I can already hear it, 3…2…1…

 

What Do You Need to Make a Dyson Sphere?

This topic has been discussed at great length by the well known Youtube channel, Kurzgesagt, in a video entitled, “How to Build a Dyson Sphere.” In the video, the author mentions the importance of the design. The Dyson sphere should probably not be a solid shell because a large rigid body like that would be vulnerable to shattering on impact. What would be better is a Dyson swarm which has orbiting panels that collect the sun’s energy for use by all the world’s people. This Dyson swarm would be better at avoiding the impacts of space debris. If each satellite is a square kilometer it would take about thirty quadrillion of them to surround the sun. Even if we do build them, we would need one hundred quintillion tons of material. Then we would need the parts to put that material together around the sun. We also need a permanent infrastructure set up in space to start building. On top of that, to get the energy for the Dyson sphere, we need to go to a planet closer to the sun so we could easily harness and transport the energy. A good option would be mercury. The permanent infrastructure would need four major pieces of technology: solar collectors, miners, refiners and launch equipment. Finally, would need to get the energy from Mercury to the solar panels on the Dyson sphere. Another option is to use the entire planet of Jupiter as a hollow shell after breaking up the gas giant. While this process might sound extreme, it is possible, and is estimated to take about 800 years to create a Dyson swarm this way, according to Freeman Dyson, the creator of the idea. Dyson states that, 

To trap the energy, earthlings could knock apart the planet Jupiter and rearrange it as a hollow ball about 10 feet thick with a diameter twice the size of earth’s orbit. This would take all the energy given off by the sun in 800 years. Such a sphere would be “comfortably habitable.

How will we handle the transition of a Dyson sphere when the sun enters a new state? Well, when the sun dies it would turn into a white dwarf.  According to physicists Ibrahim Semiz and Salim O˘gur at Bo˘gazi¸ci University in Istanbul, Turkey, you can build a Dyson sphere around the white dwarf without even needing the use of artificial gravity technology. But, even though we can build a Dyson sphere around a white dwarf, we won’t get as much energy. We know this because the sun will lose half its mass when it becomes a white dwarf, meaning less energy.

 

Do We Currently Have the Technology to Make a Dyson Sphere and if We Did, How Long Would it Take?

No, the amount of energy and materials we need is way too much for us at the current moment. Even with the technology, there is no estimated time because the growth of our energy and technology in the future is hard to tell. Giving a proper estimate of when we will be able to make a Dyson sphere is nearly impossible. In fact, we don’t even know that future civilizations will even want to make a Dyson sphere; or maybe they will even come up with something better. Also, if we do ever wish to get together enough energy and materials, we would need to collaborate on a global scale, requiring governments to work together. A lot of governments will probably not like the idea of joining together. Another point is that it will be hard to convince the world to build a Dyson sphere at such a high cost of materials and energy since failure would result in a complete loss with no real ability to mitigate the losses. 

 

How Much Energy Would a Dyson Sphere Produce?

By using a Dyson sphere, we would have access to a colossal 400 septillion watts of solar energy. That’s a trillion times more power than what the entire Earth produces today. With this amount of power we could do incredible things, like deconstructing planets by removing parts of the planet to find more energy. We could also power super computers, allowing us to boost our interstellar exploration and space travel. We would also most likely be able to make stellar engines. A stellar engine is a way to move our solar system. We might even be able to travel at light speed because of how much energy we get from the Dyson sphere. This will help us with space travel and space expansion. Another thing we can expand is virtual reality by making it feel more real, meaning you can experience full immersion in virtual reality and meet people or have adventures.  So, now we know that you can make many significant things and change the world from the energy you get from the Dyson sphere. 

 

What Are the Disadvantages of Making a Dyson Sphere?

One disadvantage would probably be asteroids. When you are building the Dyson sphere, one of the satellites might get damaged by an asteroid, which could jeopardize the whole Dyson sphere. This also relates to the problem that you have to waste a lot of energy to make a Dyson sphere and if it fails then it might create problems on Earth due to a shortage of energy. Another disadvantage might be the fact that if you’re blocking the sun or absorbing its energy, it might make the climate colder. Furthermore, the Dyson sphere might absorb too much energy and the whole thing could fail. The last disadvantage would be that humanity would have to come together to decide what to do with all the energy. So, just deciding what to do with the energy could start wars that could kill millions of people. So, now we know that building a Dyson sphere can be beneficial but it can be disastrous too for humanity.

Is Poop a Gift or a Curse?

In our world, a new creature has come into town. It is a devious enemy with a smell vicious enough to make us run away. Its brownish skin taunts you to come closer until you come close enough, and it haunts you forever. It is filling up our space and taking over, preparing to kill us one by one. The worst part is, we are producing it. POOP! Yes, poop, aka as feces, is this diabolical specimen that will be (and currently is) a big problem for the human race. Now, I’m not saying that human waste will smell worse over time and cause us to pass out every time we go to the bathroom. Do you ever wonder where all our human waste goes? Now you’re getting at what I’m saying.

Human waste isn’t the first thing you think of when someone says “crisis,” but this should be near the top of that list. Many humans don’t have access to necessary sanitation–precisely 1,800,000,000 people. Yes, you read that number correctly; nearly a quarter of humans do not have access to basic sanitation, for example, toilets. The result of this is that approximately 200 million tons of waste goes untreated. When sewage is untreated, it can lead to countless health issues. If the feces finds an entrance to the water supply, it will release E. Coli, leading to many diseases. Not only does human waste impact humans, but ecosystems may be destroyed. There was a disease spreading through the coral which decreased the population of coral greatly in the Florida/Caribbean area. This disease was White Pox. This disease spread to the corals as a result of human waste being discarded into the oceans. There are bacteria in the human feces, which we can live with but coral cannot. Many sea creatures lost their homes due to human feces. So, how do we control the amount of feces and how should we discard it?

Controlling feces is something out of the ordinary, meaning it needs an out of the ordinary solution. To control feces, there’s a two-step process. The first step is humans changing their diets to vegetarian or vegan. According to the Mayo Clinic, a leading medical center in the U.S., “Dietary fiber increases the weight and size of your stool and softens it. A bulky stool is easier to pass…” This explicitly states if you eat more fiber, your stool will be easier to pass. This means your body will be producing more waste as it’s heavier and larger. Right about now you are probably thinking to yourself, “I just spent the last 5 minutes reading why we’re producing too much waste, now he’s saying we should make more?” Yes, that’s precisely what I’m saying. The more waste we produce, the more efficient the second step will be.

Fecal energy; this is the second part of controlling human waste. Fecal energy is the process of converting biomasses such as human waste into sources of energy. How this works is the toilet has a grinding system that makes the waste odorless and dries it. Once it dries, microbes will biodegrade the waste. This process generates biofuel gasses such as Ethanol. You may think this sounds crazy, turning poop into power, but I can assure you it’s not. There have been multiple instances where biofuel has been beneficial. A small city in Colorado is fueling over 40 vehicles by using biofuel gasses provided by the local waste management company. On the second occasion in Europe, a Netherland’s Dairy company has started a new project. Since their building already has over 175 cows, they decided it would be more efficient to collect their waste and convert it into biogas for the company. Since the cows are constantly eating, and eating fiber, their stool is very efficient. This is where converting to vegetarian and vegan diets come in. If we are able to produce efficient stool by eating more fibers, the result could be very similar to the success in Colorado. If small towns and big businesses can jump into the future, why can’t the big cities (which have more people and more waste) do the same thing? 

As you can see, the idea of transforming poop into power is not a fantasy; it’s happening. There have already been multiple instances of people adapting to the process. Biofuel can help countries around the globe, as we don’t need to spend millions on drilling and importing, but we can use that money to develop a cheaper biofuel facility. Innovation is using what you have to make something great. In this case, you are using your waste to produce energy. The poop crisis on Earth may be harsh, but I see it as an opportunity. What do you see?

Automation: Cause for Concern or Celebration?

You are walking on a sidewalk in Chicago minding your own business. Suddenly, a little robot comes up to you, trying to make a sale for some product. You choose to ignore it, just like you do every other robotic salesman. When you pass the robot, another robot cuts you off to make the same sale as the first robot! You try passing this one too, but more robots appear, eventually trapping you in a circle, all of them making the same sale simultaneously. The robots have cornered you; they’ve forced your hand to buy their product. And this is only the first block of your walk.

Okay, it probably won’t be that extreme, but robots are taking over our world one by one, whether you like it or not. The world as we know it will completely change within 10 or 20 years due to the ceaseless increase of automation. 

Automation is rapidly changing the job market; millions of jobs which were once done by humans can now be done by machines. You probably already know about the factory jobs, which even basic machines can now do. But, I bet you haven’t heard of the more interesting ones like lawyers, medics or even chefs. A very major AI in making these jobs possible for automation to handle is IBM’s Watson. Watson is an AI program which is capable of analyzing hundreds of thousands of different algorithms and possibilities in a matter of seconds and then choosing the best one. Technology like this can completely change the way doctors diagnose patients. Some doctors have already taken advantage of this opportunity and used Watson or other AI programs in diagnosing conditions, one of them being cancer. Currently, Watson cannot analyze images like X-rays and retina scans, but IBM already has an active research product to expand the capabilities of its AI. Medicine is not the only industry Watson has taken over; “Chef Watson” can now generate new recipes entirely from scratch using its AI mind. It uses its incredible knowledge of mixing flavors and food chemicals to create pairings favorable to the human tongue. Add Miso Robotics Flippy, a robot capable of making food faster than some chefs, along with table delivery drones, and there won’t even be a need for humans. Imagine a whole place fully operated by robots. The thing is, it’s already here. A hotel in Japan called Henn Na Hotel is completely run by automation. From the concierge to the receptionist, every individual staff member is a robot at the human customer’s disposal. All types of other jobs including drivers, telemarketers, and financial analysts can all be taken by robots and may be taken sooner than expected. 

The problem with all this automation isn’t the automation itself, it’s what we should do with all us humans. What happens to us if robots are doing everything? The first thing most people think of is unemployment. If a machine is doing your job faster and more efficiently than you, then what is the point of you, a human, doing that job. According to a new study from Oxford Economics,

within the next 11 years there could be 14 million robots put to work in China alone.

As a result of the jobs robots are taking over, more than 1.5 million jobs have been lost to robots in the United States, more than 11 million in China, and almost 2 million across EU member states. Due to this unemployment issue, people lose jobs, and income inequality is then increased in those countries. A former 2020 democratic candidate, Andrew Yang, became famous for addressing this issue by proposing a UBI. A UBI is a universal basic income, which gives every citizen a minimum amount of income. Andrew Yang explained how automation would take many jobs away from Americans, which would leave them with no source of income. According to Andrew Yang, the UBI would allow a lower class American to support themselves with money funded by taxes and wall street speculation. 

However, there is a very compelling argument that robots will do much more good to humans than harm. After all, robots were made to make human lives easier, not harder. With all the efficiency of these robots, they can actually open up more jobs instead of only killing them. Ethical sourcing officer, Artificial intelligence business development manager, and A.I. assisted health care technician are all examples of future jobs robots will open up. Most of these future jobs are based around working with the robot like the assisted health care technician, which works with the robot to diagnose patients. The saying “A dog is a man’s best friend” could be changed to “A robot is a man’s best friend,” or maybe even, “a man is a robot’s best friend.” Another possibility for humans is the idea of not working, of growing beyond the paradigm of basic labor as a species. An architect called Buckminister Fuller had the idea of man focusing their mind purely on their creative means. He had said,

We should do away with the absolutely specious notion that everybody has to earn a living. It is a fact today that one in ten thousand of us can make a technological breakthrough capable of supporting all the rest. The youth of today are absolutely right in recognizing this nonsense of earning a living. We keep inventing jobs because of this false idea that everybody has to be employed at some kind of drudgery… The true business of people should be to go back to school and think about whatever it was they were thinking about before somebody came along and told them they had to earn a living.

Fuller’s idea is even more relevant to our society nowadays because of the increasing rise of automation. If humans are losing their jobs, they can still work, not for the goal of earning money, but for the creative or personal goals they set for themselves. 

Robots and AI are beautiful works of cutting edge technology. Mankind is always looking for new ways to improve their life or to make it easier on themselves. The first robot, made in 1954, basically sparked a new life form. As automation and AI continues to grow, so will its capabilities, to the point where it may be able to think and learn by itself, going beyond its natural programming. The new life of robots is coming, for better or for worse. Will you be ready for them? 

Algae: Fueling Our Future

Currently, human societies’ increased reliance on fossil fuels is creating a need in the future for an alternative yet equally functional energy source. The solution is a green, fuzzy, and live organism: algae. Multiple organizations have already taken initiatives and identified algae as a viable energy producer. Algae could very well be the future of energy.

Nowadays, the United States is falling drastically behind the expected reductions in fossil fuel consumption. Fossil fuels are natural fuels of decomposition which take millions of years to replenish. According to a leader in the green energy section in Britain, Ecotricity, at the present usage rate, nearly 11 billion tonnes a year, fossil fuels are expected to run out in about 53 years, with oil running out in less than 35. Fossil fuels are the common route in energy usage, blowing all renewable energy out of the water. Fossil fuels supply a whopping 80.2% of energy, compared to the mere number 11.5% for alternative energy, provided by the PEW Research Center. If this continues at the same rate as the population spike, this date may arrive sooner than expected. An alternative, yet equally efficient solution must be looked at before the time to switch has run out.

BioProcess Algae technology is used to treat waste products, carbon dioxide, recycled heat and water to mass-produce algae. Algae from this facility are used for animal feeds, pharmaceutical and beauty products. USDA photo by Lance Cheung.

Algae is a simple yet complex alternative to non-renewable and other forms of renewable energy production. To understand how we may use algae for energy, we first have to understand algae itself. Algae is a living organism, specifically a eukaryotic organism. Eukaryotic organisms, as opposed to prokaryotes or archaea, have a nucleus and numerous organelles, among other differences.  Eukaryotes can be split into 4 major kingdoms: animals, plants, fungi, and protists. The special part about algae is the growth rate. The average growth for algae is exponential. According to Fahri Koray Sakarya, a Turkish expert in environmental sciences, 0.4 day^-1 is the daily growth rate. This means algae growth will slowly become larger until the point where it grows in large batches at a time. In the words of the Office of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy,

…algae, small aquatic organisms that convert sunlight into energy and store it in the form of oil.

This means, once we have harvested the large batches, we will be able to access tons of oil at a time, making up for the depletion of natural fossil fuels. For a while now I’ve been talking about how algae could play a big role in the future, but what about in the present. Where is algae right now

The green machine will be able to save billions if it becomes the everyday norm and takes over for fossil fuels. If most of the human population were able to swap to algae, fossil fuels could be focused on industrial uses, while residents would be able to access a cleaner and more efficient energy source. Many companies have already hopped on to the algae-fuel train, one being NASA. Seambiotic has partnered with NASA to efficiently grow and harvest the oils of algae. Some farms are already planning to grow nearly 200 gallons of fuel from 1 acre of algae per year. Once technologies and funds have been invested in this idea, the price per barrel will drop significantly, as the industry will be expanding. Algae biofuel farms are becoming the norm for many, and the number will continue to grow. If the U.S. is able to make a push for algae fuel, further globalization will occur, taking algae energy to a whole new stage.

Commercial scale photo bioreactors/harvesters

As one can see, algae is an exceptionally productive source of energy. This solution benefits the environment, as the carbon emissions may drop by a monumental 50 to 70 percent, as well as the economy in the future,as algae will replace fossil fuels. Algae is a perfect fit for the criteria of humans, innovative and efficient, the basis of mankind itself. Algae growth will eventually be enough to supply a global demand, but it is crucial we make the first step into the future right now.

If you are interested in learning more about the process of algae-to-energy, click on this video link: Algae to Fuel by the U.S. Department of Energy

Six Inch Screen With Potential to Save Billions

 

Nowadays, technological screens affect more lives than ever before, both physically and mentally. Some of these effects are lifelong, and cause many struggles. The two main reasons for these struggles are the type of screen, as well as the amount of time spent staring at the screen. At the present time, screens are a large part of kids’ daily routine. The effect a six-inch screen can leave on a person is astonishing.

According to an article written by the Mayo Clinic in 2018, some of the physical effects of a screen are,

Sore, tired, burning or itching eyes, watery or dry eyes, blurred or double vision, sore neck, shoulders or back, increased sensitivity to light…

Most of the negative and positive effects of a screen are related to eyes, but those related to other body parts are harmful as well. Screens not only harm one’s physical state, but their mental state as well. According to a study performed by Gaya Dowling, PhD, on 11,000 nine and ten-year olds,

MRI scans found significant differences in the brains of some children who reported using smartphones, tablets, and video games more than seven hours a day. Children who reported more than two hours a day of screen time got lower scores on thinking and language tests.

This statement shows that children who use electronics from a young age are holding themselves back from optimal performance. The effects of a screen are harmful in countless ways.

Although the use of screens is growing by the second, there is a way to reduce the number of children harmed. The solution is developing an OLED screen. When I say OLED, I do not mean the basic one now being used in iPhones. When I say OLED, I mean using the basics of it and pairing it with psychological software, requiring the children a certain amount of time on educational resources after the software notices at child has been using the screen for a while. Some of the psychological sources required may be reading, solving puzzles, brainstorming, etc. The screen will also scan the user’s eyes to look for redness, twitching, watery or dry eyes, etc. If one of these effects are shown, the screen will display a warning to step away from a screen for a while. Right now, billions of people use a screen and are harmed. With this new OLED screen, the unaware billions could be saved.

Furthermore, upgraded OLED screens could greatly reduce the amount of people affected by a screen. Nowadays, most people in this highly populated world have a phone– nearly 4.68 billion according to the Statista Research Department. Most of these people probably use their phones for more than two hours, meaning they are prone to one of the effects of a screen. If even a hundredth of these users switch to the upgraded OLED screen, that’s nearly 50 million people saved. Who knows how many of those are children.

As one can see, the world needs an effective solution. The screen could monitor the time, protect the eyes, and warn the user. That covers three main categories of harm concerning screens. OLED screens are also proven to be kinder to eyes. This solution will help all ages, both mentally and physically. The upgraded OLED screens are, without a doubt, the way to go.

Brain Waves and the Future of Stress

https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Human_stress.jpg

Johnny wakes up at 8:30 A.M.– ten minutes until his bus arrives. Oh shoot! He forgot to set his alarm last night. He quickly jumps out of his bed and instead of landing with his feet, his face becomes his landing. Great, now he needs a band-aid. He rushes into the bathroom and realizes he’s out of toothpaste. Great, now his breath will stink the rest of the day. He needs to use the toilet and then realizes he’s out of toilet paper. He then hears the bus arriving and leaving without him. Grrrrrrrr!!! 

This is stress, or at least, one of the most common forms. 

Stress is a condition proven to be very dangerous when not treated. It affects millions of people all over the world, ranging from teenagers to seniors. Stress causes many problems for these individuals, both in the physical and psychological aspects of their body. Yoga, meditation, exercise, etc. are all ways to relieve stress, but they have not been proven to work for all individuals. Also, some people don’t have enough time for these activities. However, there might be a more effective approach to this problem.

There are three different types of stress: acute, episodic, and chronic.

 

Acute Stress

Johnny is sitting in his chair, praying that the teacher does not call on him for presentations. He knows he didn’t practice enough and is frantically scrolling through his notes, jotting down as many points as he can in his mind.

“Hmmm, let us see who shall go next, “ calls out the teacher. “Johnny, why don’t you go up there.”

https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Anxiety.gifOh no! His worst nightmare is coming true. He slowly gets up out of his seat and walks to the podium as if it were a slow-motion movie. His heart is beating and he is thinking of all the possible scenarios of what he should say once he starts his presentation. He stands there, just wishing he could’ve had another day to prepare, despite knowing this is the same thing he would be thinking the next day. 

This well known experience is referred to as acute stress.

The one type of stress we all experience in our bodies at one time or another is acute stress. Acute stress is the short term stress which is experienced before, during or after a stressful or pressure inducing moment. For example, let’s say you are waiting in line to ride a very dangerous roller coaster. Your heart is beating much faster and you are scared and nervous. This is acute stress you are experiencing. However, after the roller coaster ride has ended, your body returns to relative homeostasis. Acute stress can be thrilling and exciting sometimes, unlike the other types of stress we will be going over. 

The effects of acute stress aren’t usually life threatening, as acute stress is only short-term stress. However, some instances of acute stress can be worse depending on the person and the experience. It is not uncommon during extremely heightened periods of acute stress (very rare for most people) to experience emotional distress, muscular problems such as back and jaw pain, and/or stomach, gut, and bowel problems like heartburn, diarrhea, and constipation. You can also get problems like rapid heartbeat, sweaty palms, dizziness, migraine headaches, and cold hands or feet. Keep in mind that thee extreme side effects are exactly that: the extremes. Acute stress isn’t very dangerous as it is very treatable and the more threatening effects are relatively rare. 

 

Episodic Stress

Johnny has now learned over the years that he is pretty good at giving presentations. But he is still worried every time he has to give a presentation. He is now also worried every time before a basketball game or every time he is taking a test at school. The worry and associated stress is sometimes so bad that he has this experience even when choosing what clothes to wear. Johnny doesn’t want to be like this, but he can’t help it. He always worries every day about every little thing. 

This is episodic stress. 

Episodic stress happens when a person is experiencing lots of acute stress every day. They overwhelm themselves with endless tasks and are always busy as a result of these tasks. Everything this type of person does tends to be executed in a nervous or busy manner. These people are always in a rush, which takes a toll on their minds and bodies. The other common example related to episodic stress is people who worry every day. These “worry warts,” as they’re often called, are people like Johnny who seem to worry about every task they do.

The effects of episodic stress are a little more serious than the side effects of acute stress. Some of the physical issues are persistent tension headaches, migraines, hypertension, chest pain and heart disease. The reason why episodic stress is more dangerous than acute stress is that it can take many months to treat episodic stress, unlike acute stress which can usually be resolved after only a few moments. Behavioral and emotional concerns also rise from episodic stress, such as blaming problems on other people. Those who have episodic stress also don’t like to take blame for their own problems, which can annoy others interacting with them.

 

 

Chronic Stress

Johnny is now a lot lot older. He has completed college and is now in the real world with a job, a house, and a family. His worrying has gotten a little better, but it is still there lurking in his shadow. Even though his episodic stress has gotten better, he is piled high everyday with his work, bills, kids etc. This has given him problems like eating disorders, lack of social activity, and even depression. This is the worst experience of stress Johnny has ever had, and it has become a part of his daily life.

This is chronic stress. 

Chronic stress is the worst out of all these types. This is the long-term stress which wreaks havoc on your body day in and day out. Chronic stress is usually originally caused by a major traumatic event in life. However, it can also be caused from a job overload, an unhealthy marriage or the threat of entering poverty. The worst part about chronic stress is that it stays in the person’s body and becomes a part of them to the extent that people don’t even recognize they are experiencing stress.

Chronic stress, as you probably guessed, also has the most dangerous effects out of all types of stress. The reason why it’s so bad is because it can kill you! Issues like suicide, violence, heart attack, stroke, and sometimes even cancer, rise from chronic stress. What’s even worse is that chronic stress is also the hardest to treat, as this form of stress becomes a virtually integral and familiar part of the person over time. Chronic stress wears the body down so much that hundreds of thousands of people choose suicide as a final resort to ending their stress.

So, what are we supposed to do about all the stress in the world? We cannot just let more people resort to suicide because of stress. Is stress simply unavoidable on the whole? According to recent research, the manipulation of our brain waves may hold the key to freeing ourselves of stress. 

 

 

Manipulating Brain Waves

Brain waves aren’t something normally heard in the same sentence as a solution to  stress, especially with a non-scientist. However, the relation between brain waves and stress is so great that it presents a viable method of relieving stress in both the short and long-term. There are four overarching types of brain waves: alpha, beta, delta, and theta. While each of these natural frequencies of the brain play a part in relieving or intensifying stress, we are going to talk about more specific types of waves: sound frequencies. Each organ in the body can be correlated to a specific frequency by which it functions. Using all of these frequencies, or tones, we can make a reference pitch for the whole body: A=432hz. All of this refers to a concept called quantum reflex analysis(QRA) which relieves stressors in the body by playing specific sounds needed to relieve a particular type of stress. There are QRA sessions available to help individuals deal with stress, but they are expensive and infrequently utilized. However, technology is improving everyday, broadening the availability of these sessions. 

https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Quintephone_brainwave_regen_poster_colour.jpgThese waves can be transmitted into the body in multiple different ways. One way is by using a simple speaker to emit a constant sound frequency at 432hz, the reference pitch for the body’s functioning frequency taken as a composite of each organ’s frequency. Another way is by using a concept called bone conduction, which involves sound waves being transmitted through the skeletal tissue of different parts of the body, directly to the brain. This can take the form of a patch being applied on the arm, which will give the same experience as hearing a sound without actually hearing the sounds with your ears. These solutions allow the person to experience a QRA session without ever leaving the comfort of their home.

QRA can help society in numerous ways. One of the biggest ways is the work force. Stress is a major issue in the workplace, and studies show that stress affecting the work of employees is extremely commonplace. Businesses and the economy, in turn, are hurt from the poor work. Stress is a major factor for why employees exhibit poor working habits. And from this poor work, the employee can get fired, resulting in even more stress. It all equates to an endless cycle of stress, however, by using sound frequencies, the cycle can get cut off. Teenagers in schools can also benefit from this solution, as they are also under extreme amounts of stress. College admissions, exams, and “fitting in” all put stress on these students, causing them to show a lack of effort in their school work. Crimes can also be lowered from the reduction of stress in society. Most of the people who commit crimes are in poverty, which means they are under stress to get more money, so they turn to criminal activities. The society can be benefited in numerous ways with the reduction of stress all from sounds easily transmitted to the body.

Stress, as shown, is a widely known psychological and physical problem for all types of individuals. The most dangerous part of stress is that it can be a downward spiraling cycle in your daily life if it is not treated properly. Using brain waves to relieve stress can be very efficient as there are multiple ways to implement them, one of the most effective, easiest and cheapest being sounds heard by the ear of the individual.  

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While scrolling through the Internet, looking to find ways to relieve stress, Johnny finds this wonderful article you are reading on QRA sessions. He decides to give one a try to help relieve his stress. Johnny goes into the session and comes out as a different man. A better man. A more relieved man. He keeps going to the sessions and it has become very helpful to him in his work, family and physical life. Soon, Johnny will be able to experience a QRA session without ever leaving his home.

Quantum Entanglement and Teleportation

Teleportation! You’ve seen it in the movies and the books. It seems supernatural, almost a myth, maybe. But, this teleportation idea doesn’t seem that unbelievable anymore. A concept called quantum entanglement is directly related to teleportation.  Quantum entanglement, simply put, is like a connection between two particles far away from each other. Though it is not teleportation, we can use this idea for teleportation in the future, solving many of our world’s problems.

Quantum entanglement first requires a connection between two particles. This means when one particle is being conversed about/used, the second particle must be directly influenced in precisely the same way, as they are entangled with one another. This gives these particles the connection we are talking about. Let us say that we turn one particle 180 degrees clockwise. Another particle, which is quantum entangled with the first particle will also turn 180 degrees clockwise. Pretty freaky, right? Even when two entangled particles are separated by long distances, they are still entangled, letting them “communicate” across fairly long distances, maybe even infinite. To clarify, we do not know yet how far quantum entanglement can occur. It can be across a stretch of light years, galaxies even, as we haven’t found any limit to this idea.

Quantum entanglement can easily solve many of the worlds problems. Most importantly, quantum entanglement can help us discover teleportation. With teleportation, we can solve problems of insufficient medical supplies, slow emergency vehicles, insufficient clean water, and even poverty, to name a few. For insufficient clean water, we can send these countries water from countries which have sufficient water, such as the U.S. and England. The U.S. can even ship medical supplies to third-world countries. This quantum entanglement can also help our expansion in space. We can send fresh food to astronauts, which can slow the deterioration cycle of being in space. Lots of problems can be solved using teleportation coming from quantum entanglement, but there is still a ways to go before this happens.

Though we may not be too far in the art of teleportation, scientists across the world have made many recent developments in quantum entanglement. According to a recent study,

In 2016 physicists Ryo Okamoto and Shigeki Takeuchi of Kyoto University verified Aharonov and Vaidman’s predictions experimentally using a light-carrying circuit in which the shutter photon is created using a quantum router, a device that lets one photon control the route taken by another.

Another instance is where a group of Chinese scientists packed 18 qubits—the most basic units of quantum computing—into just six weirdly connected photons using quantum entanglement.

The most thrilling situation, however, is where another group of Chinese scientists broke a record by sending a packet of information from Tibet to a satellite in orbit, up to 870 miles (1,400 kilometers) above the Earth’s surface, using quantum entanglement. These discoveries show much promise, but there are still some unanswered questions surrounding them.

The problem with these experiments is we don’t know if it is the same photon on the other side. If you teleport an object, there is doubt whether it is the same object after being teleported–is it actually the original or just a convincing copy? So, instead of teleporting, we could just be copying molecules from one place to another. Today, scientists are still working on what really goes on during teleportation and quantum entanglement.

As you can see, teleportation doesn’t seem an impossible idea anymore. We are already advancing into the use of quantum entanglement, and finding the key to quantum entanglement allows us to go even farther with the idea of teleportation. This idea can help everyone, as supplies all around the world can be sent so much faster than modern transportation, along with many other benefits to our society. But, there is still a lot of mystery to solve for scientists as what exactly happens to the particles during quantum entanglement. So, there may be awhile before we get into the idea of teleporting humans from LA to Tokyo, but are closer than ever, and quantum entanglement is the way to reaching that goal.

Quantum Cryptography: The Locks and Keys of the Future

Companies around the world are always searching for new and better ways to protect their data. For this reason, encrypting code is very crucial for business to be successful. They must encrypt their data and source code in such a way so that no unauthorized person is able to access their data. Today, it is easier than ever for hackers to acquire valuable data since most of the companies around the world store their data in the cloud. While the cloud makes it cheaper and easier for companies to store their data, it also makes it easier for that information to end up in the wrong hands. To avoid this vulnerability, companies use a “key” which can decode the encryption protecting their code. Although encryption is safe, when put up against truly experienced or keen hackers, this key can be stolen or eventually deduced. One very innovative way to protect code and get around the current vulnerabilities involved with regular encryption is by using quantum cryptography. 

Quantum cryptography, also known as quantum encryption, is a new way to send keys for encryption at a quantum level. The more specific type of quantum cryptography we are talking about is quantum key distribution. Quantum key distribution works by having the quantum key encode and send the information needed to decode a message via light particles. Sending a message through light particles makes it virtually impossible for hackers to attain the encrypted data or the decryption key.

Sending information using light particles isn’t an easy task, but allow me to explain how it works. Let us say, for example, a key is being sent between two people using quantum cryptography. This key can be transferred using a stream of photons in one direction. Each of these photon particles can be represented as a number for data, either a 0 or a 1. While on their journey, these photons are vibrating in a certain matter which can be in any 360 degree direction, but to simplify quantum cryptography, we use four states: UP/DOWN, LEFT/RIGHT, UPLEFT/RIGHTDOWN and UPRIGHT/LEFTDOWN. The angle at which the particle vibrates is known as the polarization of the light particle. We then use a polarizer to send messages with these photons. A polarizer is basically a filter that permits certain photons to pass through it with the same vibration as before and lets others pass through in a changed state of the vibration. With this polarizer, a person can assign each photon a particular direction using numbers for the data. The photons containing the information then get sent out to the other person receiving the message. The receiver then uses a special type of decryption machine to figure out each direction of each photon. This will allow the person to then access the data and information without anyone else obtaining it since the photons are sent directly from person to person at the speed of light.

If quantum cryptography becomes a commercial product for business, it can transform the concept of security to a whole new level. Before explaining how quantum cryptography can work for other businesses, we have to understand how businesses currently protect their information. Historically, most companies used to set up warehouses where all their data would be stored in servers, which is a term called “in-house.” However, now, most start up businesses use the cloud to store their information as it is much cheaper and easier to manage. The bigger companies use a hybrid system as they store some information in the cloud and store some information in-house. This is more beneficial as it isn’t too costly, and the secure information gets protected in the warehouse. The problem with the cloud is that it is easier for that information to be stolen. With quantum cryptography, that is no longer a problem.

Quantum cryptography can be used to protect valuable information in the cloud at a vastly new level of security and dependability. The same message using light particles can be used to send information through the cloud or to protect a company’s source code. The message will be broken down into photons of light and delivered between two parties, so no one else is able to view it. This message can take the form of information for customers, employees, or whoever else the company wants to send it to. Information kept in the cloud is managed by third party companies like AWS, Microsoft Azure and Google Cloud Platform, to name a few. This quantum cryptography solution can be used by these companies to make their clouds safer for other businesses to use.

This quantum cryptography solution to modern encryption vulnerability isn’t just a myth; there have already been tests and experiments on the idea of quantum cryptography. The first quantum transaction took place in 2004, when researchers in Vienna used entangled photons to transfer a 3,000-Euro deposit into their bank account. Quantum cryptography has already been experimented with, but it hasn’t been used to send data through the cloud yet.  According to quantum cryptographer Artur Ekert, a professor at the University of Oxford and director of the Centre for Quantum Technologies at the National University of Singapore,

There is still a way to go before it becomes a standard commercial proposition, but we are getting there faster than I expected.

It is very possible for this technology to become a commercial product to be used by all companies, but there’s still a significant amount of research and work to do before this becomes a widespread reality. 

Quantum cryptography could serve as a wonder for all businesses using the cloud. It protects their data in such a way which makes it almost impossible for someone to steal information they are not authorized to access.. Those who don’t own a business may not care about protecting businesses’ data, but most people work as employees for companies, which means that their job security also depends on the expansion of this technology.  Quantum cryptography/encryption benefits the businesses most, but it also benefits the employees working for these companies by ensuring that their jobs are not lost due to negligence with valuable information. 

It may only be a short time before companies start storing information on light particles, but for the time being, the cloud is our best option. I’m excited for a new day and age when even our clouds can be locked and protected!