Science Fiction Series: “The Tree of Life,” by Jennifer Rohn

The Tree of Life is a science fiction story by Jennifer Rohn about a virologist sent back in time to study evolution. She  goes back with a stranger named Paul. She does not like Paul at first, but they get closer as the story progresses. He sporadically visits her while she is trying to develop a seed that could be beneficial to the planet and could survive. They have conversations about science that helps her gain respect for him. Her project fails in the end, but they become friends and he comforts her in her disappointment.

The science of cloning in this story is very accurate as Jennifer Robins PhD project was about cloning. Jennifer Robin has a clear understanding of evolution. She clearly outlines how evolution works in the afterword. The story very accurately displays what the earth was like at its inception.

Jennifer Rohn is a cell biologist at the University of London. She earned a PhD in Biology at Oberlin College. In 2011, Rohn won the inaugural Researcher Fortnight “Achiever of the Year” award. No doubt, Rohn is very qualified to write this story.

Helicopter Crash in NYC

Photo by John J. Magers, of the helicopter crashing into the NYC East River.

On Monday the 12th of March 2018, a helicopter crashed in New York City’s East River. Passengers onboard were Brian McDaniel, Trevor Cadigan, Carla Vallejos Blanco, Daniel Thompson, and Tristian Hill. 

All five passengers aboard the helicopter were killed, and the pilot survived. Reasons for the crash are still unknown, but this is Liberty Helicopters third crash in 11 years.                                                         

According to JJ Magers, one of the witnesses and recorders of the crash, the helicopter was flying unusually low even before the crash. The pilot claims it was due to an engine failure, but evidence is still being collected to find the reason behind the crash.


Passengers within the helicopter were unable to cut themselves free from the safety harnesses and therefore drowned due to being stuck underwater in the helicopter, unlike the pilot who had cut himself free.

Amazon’s, “Alexa,” is Freaking People Out

It’s 2018 new, modern technology is advancing rapidly, and companies are constantly introducing new gadgets to help us perform everyday tasks.  Some new technology that has come out over the past couple of years are a Virtual Reality set which allows the user to feel as if he has entered the game world when wearing the set; Siri, Apples personal assistant; and more recently, Amazon’s “Alexa.” Alexa was released in 2014, but has gained popularity over the last year. Alexa is almost like a personal assistant in the form of a little round box, which is meant to help the user complete tasks handsfree.  For example, perhaps the user is in the kitchen, cooking and needs to phone someone.  She could just say, “Hey Alexa, call Mom.”

It’s pretty sweet, isn’t it? However, recently, many people don’t so. Of course, all technology malfunctions at times– it happens! But have you heard of technology laughing at you and

Amazon’s Alexa

searching up nearby funeral homes by itself? Creepy! Recently, there have been reports of people who own Alexa claiming that the little round box turns on by itself and just laughs. A video of the laugh has gone viral on many social media sites including Twitter and Facebook. The search of random funeral homes were just coincidental, as only one person experienced this malfunction. However, the video finally grabbed Amazon’s attention. Amazon claimed they knew about the issue and they’re going to fix it. Amazon believes that the malfunction is caused from the vague user command, “Alexa laugh.” Amazon believes that Alexa frequently mistakes voices giving that command, so they’re working on a new statement to activate her laugh; for example, “Alexa, can you laugh?”

Amazon is working towards fixing this malfunction, however some people are still spooked about it and believe that their Alexa is haunted.

Strange Time Period, But Great Characters

When 12-year-old Will goes missing, his mother, Joyce, launches a very unusual investigation to find her son. As Joyce and the local authorities go deeper into this investigation, they start revealing concerning mysterious, including supernatural forces, classified government experiments, and an atypical girl.

It stars Winona Ryder playing Joyce, David Harbour playing Chief Hopper, Finn Wolfhard playing Mike, and Millie Bobby Brown playing Eleven. The Duffy Brothers created this show. The genre is Fantasy / Science Fiction. It is a Netflix Original, rated TV-14, and has two seasons. 

This is a picture of the main Stranger Things characters. On the far left is Lucas and next to him is Will. In the middle stands Eleven. Next to her is Mike, and next to Mike is Dustin.

The show is set in the 1980s, which has no purpose to the storyline, in my opinion. There is no reason not to have the show set in the twenty-first century. Also, I think that they promote that the show takes place in a small town (Hawkins, Indiana) way too much. I know that the purpose of mentioning that this all takes place in a small town to follow the idea most horror movies try to use. However, early on we do establish that the show takes place in a small town, and I think that the concept is pushed a bit too much.

Although I do have some complaints about this show, I really like one character in this series above all. There is a very interesting girl in the series. Her name is Eleven and

This is Eleven, the unusual girl with special powers. She gets a nosebleed whenever she uses her powers.

she is becomes a strong, powerful character after years of abuse and being experimented on in a lab. Eleven is my favorite character in this series, as she is simply just an amazing character capable of many things. She is capable of choosing who lives or dies as her powers can allow her to harm a person. I think that this makes her even more of an amazing girl. Throughout the series, she consistently uses her power to defend the other main characters.

I want to find out what the Duffy Brothers aimed for when creating the character of Eleven. I’m curious if her character was a metaphor for how people can choose how moral they want to be. Throughout the series, Eleven could have easily turned against the other protagonists and started hurting them, but never did. I think it was interesting that she never did.

I always thought that Eleven would turn on the other characters, stop helping Jane find her son, and hurt Mike, but it never happened. I always thought that out of all the other characters, Eleven would hurt Mike first because the way Mike always showed affection for Eleven was suspicious to me. Mike and his friends first find Eleven out in a rainstorm one day and Mike let’s Eleven sleep in his basement. I don’t know if I would feel safe in some stranger’s basement in the dark, especially when his mother didn’t know that there was a person sleeping down there. However, I do understand that Eleven was homeless, stuck in a rainstorm, and desperately needed help, so I don’t criticize her for letting Mike help her.

I also found it weird that in Season 1, Will and Eleven were never in the same dimension. While Will was stuck in a place called “The Upside Down”, Eleven was in the normal world. However, when Eleven went back to The Upside Down with the Demogorgon, Will came back shortly after. I wonder if the Duffy Brothers did that on

This is the initial monster that is after Will and every other resident in Hawkins, Indiana.

purpose to make us think that Eleven was actually a demogorgon. It definitely left me in suspense and until Eleven and Will were in the same house at the same time, I really was convinced that Eleven was actually a demogorgon. Although that theory was never confirmed, I thought I was correct until Season 2 Episode 9. I do note, however, that is the final episode of Stranger Things, so to me, it seems that this could’ve been done on purpose.

This is the rebellious, bold, tomboy named Max.

Also, I did not like Max’s character at all. Max is more of a secondary character and is introduced in Season 2 Episode 1. This is after Eleven goes back to The Upside Down. Max was a cool girl – she was a tomboy who rode a skateboard, and was also outspoken, rebellious, and bold. However, I don’t think she had any actual contributions to the plot. She didn’t help get the monster out from inside Will, didn’t help close a portal to The Upside Down, and was just a girl the group became friends with after Eleven disappeared. I feel that Max might have been used to replace Eleven’s character, both were strong girls coming from broken families who were becoming very bold women. Even though Max and Eleven are drastically different from each other as Eleven does have special powers and Max does not, it almost seems like Max was a replacement.

Moving on from Eleven, I found it interesting that the writers related it to a Dungeons- and-Dragons-like game. That factor definitely made me keep watching as I am a fan of the game Dungeons and Dragons. I think this was excellent foreshadowing on the writers’ parts. In the first episode, Will places the demogorgon on the board himself as he says, “No, that noise came from something else…The demogorgon!” It was almost as if a notion that the demogorgon was coming to capture someone. His other friends were arguing as to whether he should “fireball” the demogorgon or cast the spell of protection, almost as if Will might have to choose between fight or flight sometime later on.

This is the logo for Stranger Things.

Stranger Things is a show I really like a lot. Though are there some unnecessary parts and some episodes may leave you with some questions, Stranger Things is, in my opinion, is a compelling and interesting show to watch. I do highly recommend the show to all.


Academy Awards 2018

Guillermo del Toro, winner of the awards for best director and best picture for “The Shape of Water,” poses in the press room at the Oscars on Sunday, March 4, 2018, at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles. (Photo by Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP)

This year’s Oscar winners were  interesting, but not surprising, as many of this year’s winners had already won in their categories at shows leading up to the Academy Awards. This year’s Oscars were held in Dolby Theater on Hollywood Boulevard in Los Angeles. All Academy Awards have been hosted there since 2002. The winner for Best Picture was “The Shape of Water,” a film about a mute woman who falls in love with a government laboratory specimen. The Director of the film, Guillermo del Toro, won the Director award.

See complete list of Academy Award winners below:

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Logic’s Brings New Perspectives to Rap and Music Industry

Rapper and singer Robert Bryson, also known as “Bobby,” or his stage name, “Logic,”

Logic’s 2017 VMAs performance speech.

recently rose to popularity after the hit song, “1-800-273-8255.” This song, released early in 2017, gained a lot of attention after the meaning behind the song was revealed and

when the music video was dropped later that year. The song was named after the national suicide prevention hotline, and revealed Logic’s own experiences in life before he discovered music.

Logic performing at VMAs with suicide survivors.

Logic was raised in Montgomery County, MD. His parents both suffered with a form of addiction; his mother was an alcoholic and his father was addicted to cocaine. Logic suffered with anxiety, depression, and addiction. Despite these things, he began creating music, but even after gaining some financial stability after the release of his second album, he still worried about not being relevant or being able to ‘make it’ in the industry.  In his mind, he thought that he had to work constantly and never stop in order to ensure success. This pressure led to anxiety attacks and a stay in the hospital. He says now that he was having all these bad thoughts but nothing like,”Im going to kill myself.” But he did have an existential crisis and wondered why he was alive and felt he lost his purpose. But instead of dropping into a downward spiral, he put the negative energy and dark thoughts into his music. Through it all, he maintained a small but loyal fanbase called, “The Rattpack.”

Today, Logic continues to pour his feelings into his songs, allowing others who listen to not feel like they’re alone. After the release of “1800”  and his performance at the VMAS, the actual suicide hotline reported almost 50% more calls. Logic lives by the mantra, “Peace, love, positivity, and equality for all.” He performed at the VMAS in 2017 and the Grammy’s in January 2018, giving incredible speeches while standing with suicide survivors wearing shirts that read, “You’re not alone.” Because of his message of positivity and support, Logic has a fanbase stronger than ever now as he releases new music, goes on tours, and quickly becomes one of the most influential artists of his generation.

Teacher Walk-Out In West Virginia Over Pay Raise and Insurance Benefits

As of today, teachers in West Virginia are continuing their strike, making it nine days since school has been opened.  In response, West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice has proposed a bill that would give a 5% pay raise to state teachers, school staff and police.

Signs such as “Will Teach For Insurance” were seen during the protest in West Virginia.

After talking to a sixth grader named Gideon Titus-Glover about the issue, Justice says he changed his opinion on this issue. Reporters were told that Justice spoke to both the House and the Senate. The governor is “‘very, very hopeful’” that a bill would be passed soon to replace the small raise that will formulate over time.

The governor said that the issue of insurance will take both a task force and time. This upset the teachers that there was no immediate fix, and visibly the ones at the state Capitol. After being told to go back to school on Thursday and with the potential of another upcoming strike, the teachers were chanting phrases like “Fix it now!” and “Back to the table!” 

Teachers in West Virginia taking to the streets during the ongoing protest.

As of the writing of this article, there is no agreement In order to defend his role, Justice stated “I’m trying. What else can I do?” He also says, “I’m not king. I’m doing what all I can possibly do, ” in regards to his attempt to resolve the strike.

Senator Mitch Carmichael says in response to the governor’s opinion, “We cannot continue to spend money we do not have or write checks we cannot cash.”

**UPDATE: After the writing of this article, West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice signed a bill that gives a 5% pay raise to state teachers, school staff and police.**

Science Fiction Series: Down & Out by Ken Wharton

These are chromatophores.

Each week, Ryan Harvey will be posting about science fiction stories and highlighting the science behind the storylines. This week’s feature is Down & Out, by Ken Wharton. 

Down & Out is a Science Fiction Story by Ken Wharton. It tells the story of a woman named Ogby doing scientific research on the ocean, competing with someone named Roov. Ogby in several ways. First, she discovers that “outside” is real. Second, she correctly determines the structure of her world (she literally turns their understanding upside down). And finally, she communicates this back to her people before she dies. Her struggle to get a message back to her team adds a lot of tension to the final scene.

Her character is very well developed, by the end of the story, we know that she would consider this knowledge well worth dying for. Even though she dies, it’s a story of her victory, not her defeat.

The science in the story is wonderful, and when you realize their world is upside down, though there have already been countless hints in that direction. This especially reveals itself in the scene where Ogby works inside the bubble tells us that she’s used to pretending the world is upside down, so when she’s confronted by the reality of it, she’s ready. The story also touches up upon chromatophores, which are a pigment in the skin of squids, cuttlefish, and Octopuses that allows them to camouflage. The skin can do this on its own. When researchers at Stanford snipped a nerve that connects the brain to the chromatophores, they were still blinking.

Ken Wharton is a writer professor of Physics at UCLA, so he absolutely has the credentials and experience needed to write a story like this. He also does research on physics and experiments on his own time. Down & Out is a great scientifically accurate story that should be read by anyone.

Fortnite Battle Royale: An Intro and Review


A typical battle scene from Fortnite Battle Royale.

Fortnite Battle Royale is made by Epic Games and is a online multiplayer game with 100 players fighting to the death. The map on Fortnite is 3 x 3km. In the game, players go to different spots of the map armed only with a pickaxe that breaks through walls. The pickaxe helps collect resources such as wood, brick, and metal. Players run around the map collecting weapons from pistols to rocket launchers, as well as resources to help win the game. There is also an eye of a storm that slowly shrinks in and kills players stuck  in it for to long. The goal is the be the last player standing– this can be achieved by killing off the other players.  This doesn’t have to happen through violence– a player can hoard resources, leaving other players without, which leads to their demise.

The logo and title screen.

My opinion, Fortnite is an ‘okay’ game– it’s not the most fun and action- packed game I had hoped for. Each match is around an hour long. Depending on where a player lands, he or she could just spend 30 minutes on  collecting resources and weapons or running from the storm until getting into a fight. A player may or may not win the fight, and afterwards his or her health may be low, so when she runs into another fight, she’s done for. But if the player is lucky, she may win the next one, she better have a med kit!

So, overall, while I find Fortnite pretty boring, I can’t deny that it’s addictive.

Village School Students Honored By Board of Education

Each year, the Great Neck Board of Education acknowledges several Village students for their contributions to our school. At the February 12, 2018 Board of Ed. meeting this year’s winners were honored. Students who recognized were Brianna Kohler for Most Improved, Ben Reiss for Quintessential Student, Emma Strassberg for Community Service, Danielle Gruber for Academic Achiever, and Britney Trachtenberg for Rookie of the Year.  

When asked about why this evening is special, Steve Goldberg said, “First of all, it is validating to have the Board of Education recognize Village School, because sometimes we fly under the radar, and we forget how appreciated we are. Secondly, as an ungraded school, there are few opportunities to recognize special, individual student achievement.”  

Also, Steve said that such an award looks great on a college application, and since we at Village don’t have a lot of extracurricular options, the awards becomes valuable when creating a college resume. 

Lastly, Steve commented that, “the annual awards are also when we get the opportunity to show the Board what Village School is about, which allows for a greater appreciation of our school.”

Congrats to the students who won this year!