Flesh-Eating bacteria in Australia

Mycobacterium ulcerans smear

In Australia, there has been a surge in cases of a flesh-eating bacteria named Mycobacterium ulcerans that form ulcers (also known as Buruli ulcers) in one’s skin. This bacteria is in the same family as Mycobacterium tuberculosis (Tuberculosis) and Mycobacterium leprae (Leprosy). If left untreated, the deformity can lead to the need for an amputation. This bacteria originates in the tropical locations of West and Central Africa, which makes scientists wonder why it is popping up all the way in Australia. In Australia, this bacteria is thought to have been around since 1948. In 2016, there were 182 recorded cases of Mycobacterium ulcerans in Victoria, Australia’s most densely populated state and its second-most populous state overall.

It can affect almost anyone, including animals and children, unlike the strain in Africa that usually mostly affects middle-aged people. It’s also unknown in how this bacteria spreads from person to person, which makes contagion efforts much more difficult. One theory is that it spreads via mosquito bites. It also affects people more during warmer months, when more skin is susceptible to the bacteria.

Mycobacterium tend to typically live in water (even if it’s water treated with chlorine) and food sources. Some, including Tuberculosis, Leprosy, and Mycobacterium ulcerans are known as obligate parasites, meaning that they require a host in order to finish its life cycle and reproduce.

Village School’s Annual “iHop and Bowling Trip”… But a Bit Different

Danielle and I become blurs while we celebrate a particular frame!

Every year, Village School goes on the “iHop and Bowling” trip. This year was different though, as we decided to go to a proper Long Island diner instead of iHop before heading to bowling. It was a bit unfortunate, since at the day of the trip I was actually craving a nutella crepe, which they served only at iHop.

At the diner, my table ordered different things to eat; even though it was just after 10 AM, we all went for lunch items rather than breakfast. I ordered buffalo wings and mac and cheese, Taylor ordered mozzarella sticks and a tuna melt, Arielyn ordered an empanada, and… Emma ordered the same thing as Arielyn (they’re best friends though, so this was expected). I personally thought the mac and cheese was terrible, but at least it’s very hard to mess up buffalo wings, so not all my faith was lost. Taylor said her tuna melt was gross and too cheesy, and Arielyn complained about too many onions in her empanada. Emma didn’t say anything about her food. Overall, we were kind of disappointed about the diner experience, but we still had high hopes for bowling.

Arielyn, Emma, and Taylor arguing over… something…

When we arrived at the bowling alley, I was at Lane 10 with Phoebe and Danielle, and Emma, Arielyn, and Taylor were in Lane 9. Emma kept winning multiple times in Lane 9, and Danielle won twice on my lane. I struggled with the bowling ball because I kept picking up the really heavy ones (I struggled with anything over a few pounds). At least I managed to get a strike at some point, though!

The trip wasn’t my favorite, but it was still fun to spend the day with friends without the stress of actual school classes.

Science Fiction Series: Hidden Variables by Jed Brody

The story centers on a woman who is a trained physicist who is waiting to see her twin sister, Chloe, for the first time in years. She is waiting to show her how she has found the “hidden local variables” of the quantum entanglement of Electrons and Positrons. When she shows this to Chloe, she takes the local variables (seemingly superpowers of acquiring knowledge) and Chloe gives herself up to her and they become one person.

The example of quantum entanglements is based on experiments with light, which is made of photons. Light can be shined on something called a polarizer. Each photon reaching the polarizer will either pass through or be absorbed. The story accurately portrays Pions decaying into Electrons and Positrons. It also accurately portrays ‘spin’, which is basically where a particle goes in the magnetic field it belongs to. The story obviously exaggerates science with the local variables as supernatural abilities of acquiring knowledge and two humans morphing together; these things have no scientific basis.

Jed Brody the author, is the director of undergraduate studies of the physics department at Emory University.

Mark Zuckerberg Gives Testimony

Mark Zuckerburg gives his testimony. 

Mark Zuckerberg gave testimony during congressional hearings regarding user data and privacy rights because there is a significant concern about Facebook’s role in the shaping of our democracy. 

Facebook’s ongoing Cambridge Analytica data-privacy scandal, and how Facebook has failed to guard against other abuses is the reason Zuckerburg was asked to appear. 

To make a point about the importance of privacy, one senator asked whether Zuckerburg, “would be comfortable sharing aloud the name of the hotel where he stayed on Monday night, or whether he would be comfortable sharing the names of the people he has messaged this week.”  Uncomfortable, Zuckerberg replied, “No. I would probably not choose to do that publicly here.”  

Mark Zuckerburg answering questions. 

 

 

 

Cutest Stationmaster Of All Time

Tama the cat, wearing her stationmaster outfit.

In Japan in 2004, an electric railway station named Kishi Station was on the brink of dying out. But when a stray calico cat showed up by the station, it soon became adopted as a ‘mascot’ for the railway station because of how often she showed up there. Thanks to her status as a ‘stationmaster’, the railway station avoided being shut down because citizens and fans of the new mascot demanded to keep it open. Tama’s presence caused an increase of 17% in passenger attendance, and added 1.1 billion yen ($10,260,285) to the local economy.

Even though she is just a ordinary cat, Tama has had a lot of merchandise created in her name and image. Many fans buy plushies of her, and she was featured on Animal Planet in an episode of, “Must Love Cats.”  As her popularity grew, so did citizens’ respect and admiration for her.

Upon her death in 2015, she was elevated to a ‘Shinto Goddess’, and thousands of people attended her funeral. Not to worry though, next in line for the stationmaster status is Tama’s apprentice cat, Nitama.

Can’t Sleep? Information About Treating Insomnia

The definition of insomnia, as provided by the dictionary.

What is Insomnia?

The dictionary defines insomnia as the inability to sleep and habitual sleeplessness. It’s common for individuals to have difficulty falling asleep at night; an estimated 3 million people have this condition. For most people, insomnia is a result of anxiety, little to no exercise, depression, bad sleep habits, a more serious illness, or specific medications. Google suggests that insomnia is usually self-diagnosable because the symptoms are easy to spot. A first symptom is feeling excessively tired in the morning. Another symptom is having a very difficult time falling asleep. A person may also experience problems focusing on tasks during the day, doing tasks very slowly, feeling irritable, and headaches.

Different Types of Insomnia

  1. There are a few different types of insomnia. For example, one type is acute insomnia. Acute insomnia is a brief and short difficulty when trying to fall asleep. It is usually caused by a stressful life change, such as a challenging new job, traveling, or getting bad news from a loved one or friend. Typically, acute insomnia is solved without treatment involved.
  2. There is also a more major type of insomnia – chronic insomnia. Chronic insomnia is only when a person’s insomnia persists for at least 3 nights a week during a 3 month period.
  3. A third type of insomnia is comorbid insomnia. This is defined as insomnia that is occurring with another problem or condition. Conditions like anxiety and depression can cause sleep issues. Certain medical issues might make it more uncomfortable to sleep, like back pain or arthritis.  
  4. Another type is onset insomnia, which is defined as when a person has difficulty falling asleep at the beginning of the night.
  5. Maintenance insomnia is having issues staying asleep.

The effects that sleep deprivation have on your body.

Treating Insomnia

WebMD offers up options to stop insomnia from affecting people. It could be helpful to make a few lifestyle or behavioral changes. Things like relaxation methods can help people fall asleep faster. Some options can be meditation, using guided imagery, doing breathing exercises, or doing Progressive Muscle Relaxation.

 

Using Guided Imagery

Using guided imagery is a popular method that can be used to calm down and relax. Guided imagery can help the individual feel like he or she is is a peaceful setting when really, she’s just imagining it. This can help because of the connection between the body and the mind. The person will involve all of her senses when doing guided imagery. There are certain steps the person will have to take to do guided imagery. The person must close her eyes and find a place to lie down. Then, it’s recommended that the person start taking deep breaths to calm down. Next, the person should picture herself in a setting that’s both peaceful and calm. The individual might then want to add some detail after that and think about what she would feel in this setting. For example, if the person is imaging herself on a beach, she might think about how the breeze feels on her skin and how the sand feels underneath their toes. It is said that it helps to add a path to the scene. If the individual is imagining a meadow or valley, she could think about a path that will lead to the other side of the meadow. When the person is immersed into this scene, she should then should take a few more deep breaths. Lastly, the person should think of a simple word that will help her return to this place in the future. Lastly, she should slowly bring themselves back to the present.

Using Progressive Muscle Relaxation

Using Progressive Muscle Relaxation is another method used to help relax people. When a person is stressed or anxious, the body could respond with muscle tension. Using Progressive Muscle Relaxation is one way to relieve a person of this muscle tension. To do this, the person would tense a few muscles while breathing in and then relax them as they breathe out. She should work on relaxing their muscles in a specific order. This works because, when the body is relaxed, it’s harder for a person to feel stressed or anxious. It may be useful to learn the different muscle groups before doing exercises like this.

Other Treatments 

Lifestyle changes can also be made to help treat insomnia. Lifestyle changes are defined as easy things a person can change in her life that may improve how she sleeps. For example, some aspects to change could be being more active and watching what is being consumed. It is also helpful to set a regular bedtime to follow seven days a week. This will help the body get into the habit of falling asleep by a certain time. Also, try to avoid napping during the day.

For short-term problems falling asleep, a doctor may prescribe a person sleeping pills. Lifestyle changes will help for long-term sleeping issues. It is not typical for a doctor to treat chronic insomnia with sleeping pills. This is because becoming dependent on any form of pills, medication, or drugs is potentially harmful to the body. There are many different sleeping pills a doctor could possibly prescribe to a patient. However, people should only take sleeping pills with a doctor’s prescription.

There are also many home treatments to try. It might help to limit or avoid nicotine, caffeine, and alcohol late in the day and during the night. Trying not to watch TV or use her phone as a she tries to fall asleep can also help improve sleeping quality. Create a bedtime routine to follow each night before bed. This will get the body in the habit of settling down at a certain time. The room should be dark, quiet, and cool as the person tries to sleep. If the individual takes any medications, it might be a smart move to to ask a doctor if any of the medications are affecting the quality of her sleep. 

If the person still cannot sleep, she could try getting out of bed and doing a relaxing task before trying to sleep again. This will help her brain not make a connection between bed and not being able to fall asleep.

My Trip to the Southwest

 

My view of the Grand Canyon from the helicopter.

Sign on a bus in Zion Canyon indicating why tourists shouldn’t feed the squirrels.

Over the break, I traveled to the states of Arizona and Utah with my family to visit scenic places. In Arizona, we went to Sedona, a small town surrounded by red cliffs and hills, and also to the Grand Canyon.  Near Sedona, we went to a place called the Palatki Heritage Site, a place with Native American ruins that are hundreds of years old. We also went to Jerome, a town famous for its interesting history and hundred-mile views, from which we left for the Grand Canyon.

At the Grand Canyon, we went on a few hikes as well as a helicopter ride. The helicopter flew across the canyon, giving us spectacular views for miles around, including both the canyon’s north and south rims. I also saw wildlife at the Grand Canyon, including 3 elk that stood only 30 feet away from me, bats, several species of bird that aren’t found in the eastern US, and rodents such as rock squirrels and cliff chipmunks.

View from side of the road in Zion Canyon.

After leaving the Grand Canyon, we traveled to Utah to see Bryce Canyon National Park and Zion National Park. At Bryce Canyon, we saw hundreds of natural stone pillars known as hoodoos, as well as a natural arch. At one point, we were at an altitude of over 9,100 feet! From Bryce, we went to Zion National Park. Driving through the park to get to our hotel was incredible, there were huge cliff faces all around us, At one point, my dad had to stop the car because there were Bighorn Sheep standing in the middle of the road. The next day we hiked along the river to see amazing views of the canyon. During the hike, there were rock squirrels that were so brave that they would come within a foot of us! Sadly, we had to leave for our hotel near the airport in Las Vegas later that day.

I would highly recommend all of these places to anyone considering a vacation. They were all incredibly beautiful and unforgettable.

Science Fiction Series: ‘Supernova Rhythm,’ by Andrew Fraknoi

‘Supernova Rhythm’ is a story by Andrew Fraknoi that is about an astronomy student, Even, who is in graduate school and discovers a sort of rhythm to supernovas in the NGC 6946 galaxy. This is a difficult task for her because she needs the help of Professor Yates, who is not too fond of her. She shows him observations she has made and the known facts of the universe, but he clearly doesn’t want to believe her.  Eventually, she convinces him, and he tells her to go on with her research.

Andrew Fraknoi clearly has a good understanding of supernovas and star death. Supernovas and star death are explained clearly in the story so the reader can understand it. He is the professor of astronomy at Foothill Community College in California. He was named the 2007 California Professor of the Year awarded by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. The International Astronomical Union named Asteroid 4859, ‘Asteroid Fraknoi,’ to commemorate Fraknoi’s contributions to science education and to the public understanding of astronomy. This story is great for science enthusiasts everywhere.

Stephon Clark, Never Forgotten

On March 19th, 2018 a young black man, Stephon Clark, was shot to death by local law enforcement in his own backyard in Sacramento, CA. Two police officers shot Clark 20 times, without providing lifesaving efforts. The two officers claim that Clark was pointing a gun towards them, but a weapon was not found anywhere near the scene. All that was found was Clark’s phone. Body cameras on the officers were muted. The two officers, one black, were placed on paid administrative leave. Stephon Clark was only 22, and he left behind two children.

People all around the country have shown their feelings and spoken out.  The Sacramento Kings and Boston Celtics wore warm up jerseys that read, “Accountability. We are one,” with the back the jerseys reading “#StephonClark.”

The officers are awaiting a decision as to their fate, and Clark’s family is pushing for criminal charges. Many people are furious and want change, and it’s time for it. This shouldn’t have happened, Clark was a young black man, leaving behind two children at the age of 22.

An independent autopsy was done on Clark, and it was found that he was hit 8 times; 6 in his back, one on his side, and one on his leg. The case was ruled a homicide according to autopsy reports. The autopsy contradicted what police originally stated. Police stated Clark was advancing towards them, but that would’ve been virtually impossible since he was hit in the back 6 times. According to the autopsy report, if Clark had survived, he would have been severely disabled with a shattered vertebrae, a collapsed lung, and an arm broken into “tiny bits.”

Protesters and supporters have taken the streets almost everyday since Clark’s death. They don’t want his name to be forgotten, they want him to be remembered.

Staff Spotlight: Halina

Halina is the office administrator at Great Neck Village School. She makes sure that everything is organized and ready to go. She has been working here for four years to support of the teachers and students. Other than her being a staff member at Great Neck Village School, she is a great vocalist and a musician outside of school. She has a masters degree in music education. She did her undergraduate degree at NYU and studied abroad Florence, Italy.

Halina

She then attended Hunter College for her masters degree. Outside of school, she is a piano teacher and enjoys spending time with her twin brother; they go out to restaurants and also cook together.

Halina does a lot for us students here at Village.  When we don’t feel well she is there to give us band-aids and alcohol pads and ice packs if we need it. She really takes care of students and talks to us if they we having trouble with something in our personal lives or in school- she’ll even give advice when it comes to math homework.

If she is ever having a bad day, she has other teachers to talk to and to cheer her up, but I hope she knows she has us too!