Science Fiction Series: “Upside the Head,” by Marissa Lingen

Traumatic brain injury can affect emotions and memory.

Marissa Lingen is a published science fiction writer and is well known in the community of scientist science fiction writers. This story is about a professional hockey team called the Michigan Squids who begin funding research for concussions and the prime investigator treats the patients very well and like actual people, not players.

Linden shows that she has a good understanding of the neuroscience of concussions in this story. The story accurately portrays the way concussions effect the amygdala. It shows how amygdala damage can negatively affect memory, decision making, and the processing of emotions. It also understands how concussions lead to anger issues for the reasons previously mentioned. The medicine in the story is not something that science backs but this still is a very scientific story.

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.

Rings of Saturn: The Best Deathcore Band

The members of Rings of Saturn

Rings of Saturn is a Deathcore band that formed in 2009 and didn’t gain too much popularity until the 2010 album, “Ultu Ulla.”  I enjoy Rings of Saturn, but in most Deathcore or Heavy Metal, I don’t like it when electronic music is added. I like straight forward drums, guitar, and vocals. But this band has managed to combine the two and make it sound great. Honestly, it’s one of my favorite bands and I highly recommend giving them a listen. 

Ultu Ullu album cover

The Truth About ‘Truth Or Dare’

Truth or Dare came out on April 13, 2018, and is about a very vicious game of truth or dare. The director is Jeff Waldow, who has directed many movies in this genre. The company that produced the film is Blumhouse Productions, who also produced Get Out (2017) and Insidious: The Last Key (2018). The producers are Couper Samuelson and Jason Blum. The screenplay was written by Michael Reisz, Jillian Jacobs, and Jeff Waldow. It had a budget of $3.5 million.

This is the ‘Truth Or Dare’ movie poster.

Perhaps movie fans would’ve thought that a film with a budget of $3.5 million, and produced by people who have expertise in making horror movies, could produce another good movie. However, they struck out with this one. This was not a horror movie, it was just labeled as a “horror movie”. It was not in any way original, like Happy Death Day (also produced by Blumhouse, 2017).  The film follows a group of friends going to Mexico for spring break. While they are there, they play a game of truth or dare. Unfortunately, this releases a demon who turns this game into a deadly one.

That is incredibly unrealistic. Horror movies must play on psychological fears in order to scare people. They have to be based off realistic or logical reasoning. The game of truth or dare in Mexico is realistic and could happen. Sure, they characters could play a game of truth or dare in Mexico. Strangely, they played it in an abandoned church, where the demon was trapped. The first part is not as realistic. Why would they be playing truth or dare in an abandoned church? How did they get in, why did they want to, and isn’t that breaking and entering?

The story goes on, and the man, Carter, who brought the main characters into the church explains the rules to a main character, Olivia. Once a player are asked “truth or dare”, she’s in the game. If the player choses dare and then refuses to do the dare, she dies. If the two people before her choose truth, you she must choose a dare. If the player doesn’t choose either truth or dare, the consequence is still the same- death. These death scenes involved no gore, no jump scares, and barely any blood.

In scene one of the movie, it shows a girl who is dared to burn another person in a store. It would’ve been much more scary if they focused in on the body burning, but instead they dropped the subject really quickly. The writers could’ve played some ominous music, or let the viewers watch the body burn. They really could’ve used this scene to their advantage. I don’t think that the writers handled suspense as well as they could have. Another example of the misuse of suspense is when the characters did not complete dares, they died on the spot. I think that the writers could’ve made the characters die slowly instead of killing them on the spot.

I also did not like when the characters were asked ‘truth or dare?’  They were asked when they were either all alone or when they were in a vulnerable position. It was interesting at first, but eventually I found a pattern. The movie only showed them alone and vulnerable when they were being asked, but not at any other time. If the movie showed the characters vulnerable at other points besides when they were being asked, I think it would have made a pattern less visible.

I think that the idea of truth or dare as the basis for a horror movie is interesting, but too broad. I think that the directors could’ve played with this idea a lot more than they did and would’ve made it the film more entertaining.

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.

Bald Eales Return to Long Island

A bald eagle (not on Long Island)

For a long time, bald eagles were a rare sight on Long Island. But recently, more and more of these majestic birds have been showing up here, mirroring an increased eagle populations all over the country.

Bald Eagles used to be common all over the country, but by the 1950s there were only 412 nesting pairs left in the lower 48 states. This was due to the pesticide DDT, which caused eagle’s eggs to become extremely brittle and make them break easily, making it almost impossible for eagles to reproduce. DDT was banned in 1972, which has led to a massive recovery of the bald eagle population. Now there are well over 10,000 nesting pairs of bald eagles in America’s lower 48!

In 1972, there was only one nesting pair of bald eagles left in NY state. In 1975, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation introduced nearly 200 bald eagles from Alaska and other states to New York, but all of these either nested upstate or left New York entirely.It was only in the last decade or so that bald eagles began to nest on Long Island again.

During last year’s breeding season, there were several bald eagle nests on Long Island, including on Gardiner’s Island, in Shirley, Centerport, and Hempstead Lake State Park. There was even one in Great Neck!

Next time you’re outside and find yourself near a river or lake, keep an eye out for an eagle, because you might just see one!

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.

Honoring Third Generation Gaming

Nintendo Entertainment System

8-bit is a measure of computer information during the 1980s generally used to refer to hardware and software in an era where computers were only able to store and process a maximum of 8 bits per data block. This limitation was mainly due to the existing processor technology at the time, which with which software had to conform. This resulted in blocky graphics and slow compute times.

At present, when 8-bit is mentioned, it is generally associated with slow computers, low-resolution graphics, and simplistic sound.  I’m pretty sure most people who grew up in the 80s and 90s have heard of 8-bit video game which include classics like Mega Man, Super Mario Bros 3, Popeye, Pacman, Sonic, Ms. Pacman, Pokemon. The 8-bit gaming universe is my personal favorite because it is filled with fun puzzles and real challenges.

Mario from Super Mario Bros

People are way too spoiled with the games they have today and they forget about the old days of 8-bit gaming. But if it wasn’t for 8-bit, we wouldn’t have these realistic games today.  Everyone remembers the old 8-bit Mario tune- who hasn’t heard it? A lot of these games have been played on an old gaming system called the Nintendo Entertainment System and when you hear the name, “Sega,” – that’s old!  The Nintendo Entertainment System is pretty much one of the basic gaming system for 8-bit games back then.

Link from the Legend of Zelda

Today, it’s called a ‘third generation console.’ Even if it did just have a joystick, it was still entertaining with all the puzzles and activities in the games. I say we should still remember the old video games that kept us entertained as children and might still keep us entertained as adults.

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.