Saturday, May 15, 2021

Science & Technology

UK Is First To Approve COVID 19 Vaccine: Pfizer-BioNTech

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by Aahana Khemani

COVID-19 is definitely going to make history, considering all the “edits” it has made to our world and each inhabitants lifestyle. After spending more than a year with this tiresome virus, needless to say, a lot of people are getting agitated by the effects and constant talk of COVID-19. Countries as a whole, are willing to overlook the precautions needed to completely make a vaccine, in order for this pandemic to be over and for their people to be safe. The United Kingdom is the first country to approve the COVID-19 vaccine: Pfizer-BioNTech!

Pfizer, one of the world’s premier biopharmaceutical companies, and BioNTech, a biotechnology company came together to create a vaccine to fight against the COVID 19 pandemic. On December 2nd, 2020 the UK became the first country to approve this vaccine. Forbes says they have set the vaccine’s initial price at around 19.50 USD a dose, making it available to some, and out of reach for others. This can be converted to around £14.54 per dose in the UK. 

Considering that the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine came out much prior to the average vaccine manufacture period (which on average takes 1-3 years), there definitely are many uncertainties that are coming up. One of the biggest being, is it effective? Clinical studies show that it is 95% effective, therefore we can only hope that it works to the best interest of each and every one of us. However, 95% is not the same as being 100% sure. 

In conclusion, the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine seems quite promising, however, we don’t know for sure how promising it will be in the upcoming days. It did start it’s distribution in the UK, but hopefully (seeing it’s hopeful effectiveness results) it spreads around the globe fast! 

Destination Set – Lessons from New Zealand!

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by Tara Hebbar

While most countries including India continue to fight the battle against Covid-19, New Zealand has successfully terminated itself from the clutches of the deadly virus. Although the size and health care systems do provide the country with an added advantage, there are still lessons our country can take from New Zealand. 

The lockdown in New Zealand was quick to be set and the rules were strict, the Prime Minister– Jacinda Ardern who says–, that the regulations were the strictest, and for them she would “make no apologies”. The borders were also strictly enforced and closed to almost all non-citizens. Professor Martin Berka, an economist at  Massey University states,

“doing this early on with only over a few thousand cases [worldwide] at the time allowed them to stop the influx and stop the community transmission.”

While India’s main goal was to minimize the negative effects of the Virus, New Zealand always aimed to eliminate it completely. This clear goal was another factor that contributed to their speedy extermination of the Covid-19. 

Another prime factor that allowed and contributed to the eradication of the virus was compliance of not only the officials but additionally the citizens as well! The officials did a very thorough and commendable job when it came to implementing the lockdown and safety measures, and the citizens did the same when it came to following them. It was most definitely a collective effort that couldn’t have been possible without the different people across the spectrum, from nurses to those who take the tests . Meanwhile, not only is India a country with an immensely large population, but additionally most people and officials refuse to understand the severity of the situation. Even during the peak of the lockdown, people would still roam outdoors, without an urgent agenda and the officials would either ignore it or they would be punished with physical beatings or some were made to even do frog jumps.

Although it is unfair to expect the same reaction to the virus from both countries, due to the health infrastructure and economy is it fair to expect the same level of precaution taken by the citizens. The population of New Zealand, made eradicating the virus just a little easier, not to discredit what they have done. They also have better healthcare schemes and infrastructure than we do. However, just as mentioned priorly, there are still a plethora of lessons one can take from their recovery.  One very important aspect is to respect those who are experts in their fields and heed the advice and warning they give. Many people in India consider the virus a  ploy by the nations leaders without realising the enormity and urgency of the situation. Doctors and experts needed to be taken seriously for the spike of cases to become a curve. Additionally, following the necessary social distancing norms is essential. Now, in our country the social distancing circles have become another decoration with no one following the desired rules, hence causing the fast spread of the disease. To decrease the chances of spreading the disease here and everywhere, social distancing is key. Everything is starting to resume again and if the virus needs to be removed it is essential to be socially distanced whenever it is possible.

We need to implement these lessons we can take from the country of New Zealand who have set a landmark and ray of hope for us all. This virus will not get the better of us if we learn to take it seriously. Rules need to be implemented and most importantly followed. It is in everyone of our hands to cease the spread of the Covid-19. This might have been the most common saying of the year 2020, but hear it again and heed it’s advice. Wash your hands, stay socially distanced and safe. As the coronavirus continues to wreak havoc, we must do what we can to make it just a little harder for the virus to continue spreading the same way. Let us look at New Zealand as our destination and all hop on the train to get there!

The Astrology Addiction

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by Ayraah Lodha

As someone who partially believes in astrology, writing this article helped me strengthen my views on it, and I hope reading this does the same for you. In the past few years, astrology has gone viral! There are Pinterest boards filled by it, hundreds of apps made just for the people who believe in it, and hundreds of thousands of TikTok’s made just about them! Furthermore, in many newspapers, like the Mumbai Mirror, a whole section is designated just to astrology. In this article, I will explain to you the in’s and outs of astrology, mainly about sun signs, some interesting things about it, and what has made everyone so captivated by it. Astrology involves sun signs, superstitions, palm reading, horoscopes and so much more. 

To start off, the sun signs in astrology include Aries: March 21 – April 19, Taurus: April 20 – May 20, Gemini: May 21 – June 20, Cancer: June 21 – July 22, Leo: July 23 – August 22, Virgo: August 23 – September 22, Libra: September 23 – October 22, Scorpio: October 23 – November 21, Sagittarius: November 22 – December 21, Capricorn: December 22 – January 19, Aquarius: January 20 – February 18 and Pisces: February 19 – March 20. To narrow it down, there are 4 types of signs. Earth signs, air signs, fire signs and water signs. Each of these signs have their own set of extremely detailed traits that astrology believers love to study about. Articles like this showcase some of these traits. 

Some things that astrology lovers are absolutely captivated by is the fact that some of the listed traits of their own signs match their own personalities. Some believe that astrology helps them find themselves out on a deeper and often spiritual level. The signs of the zodiac, as mentioned earlier often have their own significant traits, that make the people reading them quite interested in it. There are multiple videos online of people comparing themselves to their zodiac’s traits, their favourite colors, and how their zodiac supposedly looks, and some results were actually quite accurate… and creepy! Take a look at videos like this if you are interested in that! 

Overall, astrology is something that is super interesting and once you get into it it is too hard to stop being obsessed with. Use sites like these to help find out your signs for different things, (there are A LOT of signs, mercury signs, venus signs and many more that determine different things about you). Do let me know if this article helped strengthen or clear your views on this topic. Hope you enjoyed it!

AmazonOne – Pay with your palm

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by Diya Barmecha

For the past few years Amazon has been trying to build a way of palm recognition and they have finally been able to. The world is filled with human body recognition. Most of our body is so unique to us that we can use it as a passcode. From our fingerprints, to our face and our eyes. These all have been used as passcodes. With hacking becoming even more normal, no one trusts passwords put in by keypad. With a good enough time, any hacker can pass through numerous barriers put in place. To prevent that, many companies like amazon, apple and samsung have used recognition softwares as a passcode. 

Last month, Amazon released a new biometric device that will help shoppers pay using only their palm. Amazon One is a palm scanner which allows people to pay at Amazon Go stores with their palms. For convenience they have made it simple to register. You insert your card and hover your palm on the device which then matches your palm signature with the one stored and finalises the payment. For the first time you will require your card but after that your palm can go with you to the store and pay for you. During the Covid-19 pandemic, it is not an ideal time to put a device that requires a potential touchpoint which is why Amazon One requires you to only hover your hand over the device. 

Amazon has been working on palm recognition because they claim it is “more private than some other means of biometric authentication”. This is because you can’t determine someone’s identity just by looking at the image of their palm”. Amazon also assures the public that the data is secured, however recognisable or recognizable the palm image is. 

Knowing that Amazon has a rough history with biometric products, their Amazon One is being trailed at two Seattle-area stores.  They are aiming for Amazon One to become an alternate way of payment which is efficient and saves time. Their palm identification is based on capturing the vein patterns of the palm, as explained by Dr. Basel Halak who is in the Electronics and Computer Science School at the University of Southampton. However, given its history, having sold facial recognition software to law enforcements in the United States. It has proven to be a subject to a data privacy lawsuit. Having the police using the recognition software has raised some civil rights complaints as well. Furthermore even after this, Amazon hasn’t been very careful. They have continued to store Alexa voice data even when the users deleted audio files. Which is why the Big Brother Watch’s director, Silkie Carlo criticised their product and said that amazon continues to fill the maret with invasive, dystopian technologies that solve non-existent problems. 

However, this project aims to revolutionize the way payments are made. This fast, convent, and contactless way are said to be highly time-efficient and safe. Based on prior problems and judgments, this product may not be able to be as successful as Amazon had hoped. However, it is definitely a new way of looking at payments.

The Mysteries of Black Holes

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by Arjun Mehrotra

A black hole is a point in place that has an infinite density that not even light can escape it. It is formed when a star essentially implodes on itself and creates a singularity. Black holes are also closely tied to the big bang as the universe was also created from a singularity. We cannot see black holes as there is no light near them. That is why we do not know much about them. Many people are scared of black holes because they think they will eat up the universe but scientists cannot confirm this.

On the 6th of October, 2020 three scientists were awarded a Nobel prize for their work on black holes, the all-consuming beasts that no one seems to be able to decode. You can learn a bit more about them here. Half of the Nobel prize was awarded to British cosmologist. Roger Penrose for his work on the mathematics behind black holes. The other half was awarded to Reinhard Genzel and Andrea Ghez. Both of them have been working on astrophysics and understanding black holes and the big bang.

Roger Penrose worked with Stephen Hawking during the 1960s on black holes and the big bang. Roger used Einstein’s theory of relativity to prove that the formation of black holes was possible. Einstein himself did not believe that black holes exist but Penrose and Hawking found that if a black hole singularity was to exist it would have to have an event horizon, a point that, if crossed there would be turning back from. 

During the 1990s Genzel and Ghez, using the Keck telescope detected a supermassive black hole about 4 million times our sun’s size, in a region of the milky way galaxy, called Sagittarius A Star. Andrea Ghez and her team found that singularities could exist and that black holes were very strong. Andrea Ghez is also the 4th woman to win a Noble prize for physics.

Black holes are definitely complex scientific topics but it is important that we learn about them more. Although not much is known about black holes we are definitely learning more as we develop our technology and maybe someday, we may uncover the mysteries of black holes once and for all.

Further References

CBC source

NASA Source


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The Future of Video Games

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By Arjun Mehrotra

The video game industry is one of the largest industries in the world, more than doubling the revenue of the movie and music industries combined. According to, more than 2.5 billion people around the world play video games on various different platforms. 

The first official video game was showcased at the NYC world fair by Dr. Edward Condon. The game was based on the Mathematical game of ‘Nim’. The first game console for at-home use was developed by Ralph Baer and his team. Called the ‘Brown Box’, the console could be connected to the TV and had games like pong. 

The ‘Console wars’ were a fight during the late 70s till the  80s. After the success of the Brown Box and games like Space Invaders, companies decided to go into the gaming business. Sega, Atari, and Nintendo were the main competitors. Atari was a gaming giant but after the game E.T based on the movie of the same name, players started to feel like games were more about quantity rather than quality, and many players gave up their consoles. The game that saved the video game industry was about a middle-aged, Italian plumber named Mario and was a huge success! Nintendo started making games like The Legend of Zelda, and Mario games that did very well. After that, the game business was open to a lot of creators who made many different types of games. You can see a Netflix documentary about this called High Score.

The three main ways of playing video games are through mobile apps, PCs, and consoles. There are also many different types of games suited for different people, such as casual puzzle games, or hardcore FPS games. The phone-based game industry is expected to take up to 59% of the gaming industry by 2021. There are 3 current main console companies, consisting of, Nintendo, Playstation, and Xbox.

Some popular games at the moment include Fortnite and Minecraft. Upcoming games include Trollhunters: Defenders of Arcadia, Immortals: Fenyx Rising, and Hyrule Warriors: Age of calamity, all of which our generation are excited for! ! In celebration of the Mario franchise’s 35th anniversary, Nintendo is releasing many Mario games onto the switch like Super Mario Galaxy and Super Mario 3D world.

Game developers want to push the limits of what they can make with this new generation, a great example of this being Lumen by Unreal Engine 5 that can instantly make smooth lighting dynamics and billions of polygon graphics. You can watch the reveal trailer here. The PS5 and Xbox Project scarlet will also feature the newest graphics and more modern controllers. 

The gaming industry is one of the biggest out there and has many ups and downs. There have been many different games for different audiences and ages. It has taken many different paths but I’m sure wherever it will go, us gamers will go with it!

SpaceX: Project Starlink

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By Arjun Mehrotra

SpaceX is an American aerospace company. The company is one of the largest organizations working to bring more humans into space.  It was founded by Elon Musk in the year 2002. Its current mission is known as Starlink, and aims to get more satellites into space to provide global internet access. With this project, they hope to provide internet to places all over the world where the internet would previously be inaccessible.

The satellite is smaller than previous ones and has been compressed to allow more satellites to be stored. The satellite will be launched using the reusable Falcon 9 rocket which can transport payloads into the Earth’s orbit. The newest launch, the Starlink-11 will be launched with the Falcon 9 carrying 60 satellites, on Sep 3 from the Kennedy NASA launch center.

On August 30th, 2020, SpaceX launched SAOCOM 1B, An Earth-observing satellite from Argentina. They used the reusable Falcon 9 rocket for the launch. SpaceX originally planned to launch both rockets on the same day but due the weather had to launch the Starlink-11 a few days after. You can watch the launch here.

SpaceX is also developing a spacecraft called the starship, made for sending humans and heavy cargo to Mars. It will use the Super Heavy rocket booster for launching and is currently only in a prototype format. On September 17th, 2018, SpaceX announced that the company’s first private passenger will be Yusaku Maezawa, a famous entrepreneur and art collector who will fly around the moon in 2023. Elon Musk’s final goal with starship is to colonize mars.

“You want to wake up in the morning and think the future is going to be great – and that’s what being a spacefaring civilization is all about. It’s about believing in the future and thinking that the future will be better than the past. And I can’t think of anything more exciting than going out there and being among the stars.”

Elon Musk

Of course, there are some arguments about whether space travel is worth it. A popular argument is that space launches are very expensive and should be spent on other things like schools. It also said that they are bad for the environment and require a lot of materials to build.

I think that space travel is going to be our future and I, personally, am very excited for it! There may be many conflicts about whether we should go to space but I think that we should welcome the future with open arms!

What’s going on up there?

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The Brain and Technology

by Siya Aggarwal

The first thing that we do when we wake up in the morning would be to open the never-ending list of notifications on their phone. Before we get out of bed we’re already checking if that special someone has texted us back, if our Facebook post got enough comments, if  Charli D’amelio has posted her latest Tik Tok, or if our streaks on Snapchat are still intact. We may not realize it but they are almost always tethered to some form of technology, whether it’s the latest iPhone in our pocket, computer in our bag, or smartwatch around our wrist. 

We sleep, eat, log onto social media and repeat, and how can we not? Technology is a must-have in the twenty-first century, a vital tool necessary to navigate life. If it’s not mindlessly scrolling through Instagram or Pinterest, we are studying for our upcoming test using the variety of platforms technology has to offer, definitely nothing wrong with that. Apart from superficial trends and meaningless shenanigans that the youth of this generation participates in, there are numerous advantages for all age groups,with the introduction of technology in modern society. The most prominent of which is the immense range of information available at our fingertips. Alas, that which glitters is not always gold. 

All parents want their children to be safe while utilizing technology, some have tried to achieve this safety by completely disconnecting their children whereas others have tried methods of monitoring their online presence and activity. Parents eventually realize that none of this works and the adolescent populations’ dependency and addiction to technology is much more deep-rooted than seen on a surface level. However, in the 21st century, this may not be only applicable to teenagers. Platforms such as Linkedin, Facebook, and even Instagram have become more and more appealing for adults. Now that technology is being utilized by both teenagers and adults, it’s important for both parties to be aware of the risks that come with doing so. You may know of some infamous hazardous use of technology such as catfishing, cyberbullying and risky apps, but what you may not be informed of is the effects that technology has upon our brains. Since technology still is most used by younger generations, whose minds are easier to mold, technology’s effect on the brain has some devastating impacts, but this impact is still relevant with older generations. By comprehending all aspects of technology’s impacts and gaining a profound recognition of the true downfalls, a holistic understanding of all aspects of technology can be gained. 

Neuroplasticity. It is a phenomenon wherein the brain changes its behavioral traits due to new experiences. Like when a loved one dies or when they move to a different country, it changes you. New experiences in the context are referring to the vast range of knowledge available to them via technology. Therefore, their usage of technology has altered not only thinking but even makes them feel differently. To understand how to reach out to them it is important to know what these changes are and how technology plays a role in it.  The following are some examples of Neuroplasticity, how technology affects the brain:

FOMO: You used to spend Friday evenings at home, curled up with the latest Rocky movie, possibly having minuscule amounts of guilt for not painting the city red, partying it up with your friends. With the introduction of Facebook, Snapchat, and Instagram into our livelihoods, that microscopic response has intensified. Mostly, for the young generation but also has increasingly become applicable to adults. The constant notifications of  friends blasting music, partying and snapping their mouth-watering meals on their stories have created that twinge in your stomach making you think and feel like you should be there with your friends, getting tagged in all the pictures and stories- that is the phenomena of FOMO. For the people who are especially codependent and social media addicts, this mild exclusion causes them to question self-worth, get anxiety etc. 

Phantom vibration syndrome: is a modern-day occurrence is a perception that one’s phone is ringing or vibrating when, in actuality, it is not. According to Robert Rosenberger, PhD in the impact of technology on behavior, “some of us are concerned about missing a call or text that we’ve become extra aware of the sensations that mean one is incoming.” Researchers found that 90% of people that they conducted the experiment with, have experienced this. PVS is a bodily habit that rewires the brain so that basic physical urges for example scratching “may now be misinterpreted by our brains as a vibrating phone.” 

This means that even though we haven’t gotten a message, we will still keep checking their phone thinking that we have. This constant unlocking of our devices can lead to us being more absent during family gatherings and social functions than they should be, again this looks like it is only appearing with teens but it’s progressively expanding to other age groups. Nevertheless, this has no proven causation for harm apart from creating a hyperactive nervous system therefore is just an inconvenience but it can be tied back to short attention spans. 

It is clear that there are risks that accompany our utilization of technology, and there is no denying it, peoples overuse and codependency magnify those risks. However, something that no one ever seems to be willing to discuss, are the rewards that come with technology. Apart from easy access to limitless knowledge and convenient communication platforms, technology offers significantly more than what meets the eye. 

Developed visual skills: Studies have found direct correlations between first-person shooting video games and an increase in visual skills as well as decision making. The fast-paced action that takes place in these games provokes people to make well thought out quick reactions based on visual prompts which translates into our real-life activities and enhances our ability to “parse details of our physical environment.” 

Technology’s impact on the brain has been lauded by some cognizance specialists while some trust it has had negative impacts. So the fundamental question is do the benefits outway the dangers? In the 21st century, it is hard to avoid massive technology exposures but do we need to do that to live healthy lifestyles? Or are we appropriately living in the hub of modern technological advancements? We may not know answers to all these questions, but what we do know is that there is no denying that technology influences all our brains, from our deduction to our thinking and feeling. The knowledge of these effects of technology on our brains may help teenagers and adults alike make sound decisions regarding their use of technology, some may want to change their habits and others may persist and continue to indulge in all that technology has to offer. 


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Zoom Lawsuit

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Zoom Sued for Allegedly Illegally Sharing Personal Data

by Arthur F. Beaugeard

Forbes magazine, as well as Ad Adage, have reported that Zoom, a previously beloved household name, is being sued by one of its users for illegally sharing their data to third parties on March 31st.

So far in 2020, Zoom has gained an additional 2 million users, a figure higher than the number of users the popular video-conferencing platform gained during all of 2019. With many schools and businesses being moved online during these turbulent times, the software has exploded in popularity. 

Unfortunately, Zoom has rightly come under fire for sharing users’ data with outsiders such as Facebook which has caused their disreputable actions to be investigated by the U.S. Attorney-general. Zoom’s murky privacy policy mentioned nothing of this sort and Sacramento Zoom user Robert Cullen intends to sue the company on behalf of all the Zoom users whose rights have been violated. He claims that the corporation’s actions have also violated California’s Consumer Privacy Act.

Another issue which has arisen is Zoom’s claim in their privacy policy that the calls are end-to-end encrypted, as in the data cannot be accessed by anyone, even Zoom itself. Zoom is actually able to access all the data in Zoom calls anytime they please, and they were only able to make the false claim because they made up their own definition of what end-to-end encryption means in the privacy policy. 

Is Zoom another company who is unfairly profiting off of people’s desperation, like groups that hoard and price gouge masks and hand sanitizer? Is there really any other pragmatic option for millions of people to turn to? And will the lawsuit make any difference?

Works Cited:

O’Flaherty, Kate. “Are Zoom Chats Private? Here’s Why You Should Think Before Opening The App.” Forbes, Forbes Magazine, 31 Mar. 2020,
“Zoom Sued for Allegedly Illegally Disclosing Personal Data.” Ad Age, 31 Mar. 2020,

An Antarctic Rain forest – No way!

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Antarctican Rainforest May Have Existed

by Arthur F. Beaugeard

Antarctica: None is more desolate, more brutally cold, and more lonely and devoid of life. However, new evidence has emerged that has the scientific community abuzz with zestful speculation about the swampy scenes hidden in the 5th-largest continent’s prehistoric past—namely, there is talk of a long-gone rainforest.

New sedimentary evidence collected from the ice in West Antarctica has revealed that a plethora of diverse pollens, spores, and root systems existed during the Turonian-Santonian age, which was approximately 92 to 83 million years ago and took place during the Cretaceous. The ice core recovered by the scientists pristinely preserved these specimens in freezing temperatures for untold generations.

The high temperatures needed to sustain such life could only be produced during such periods as the Turonian-Santonian due to the extreme density of carbon dioxide needed. After a thorough analysis of the topography, it was concluded that there was likely a temperate lowland rainforest that existed in the area which could have had levels of biodiversity similar to the Amazon, Congo, or Borneo rainforests. Glaciers would be scarce in this time and place, even during the 4-month-long winter that the rainforest went through each year.

With a similar amount of yearly rainfall as Wales in an era of dinosaurs and a sea-level that was 553 feet higher, Cretaceous Antarctica reminds us that nothing is permanent. Our world is constantly shifting and with the advent of Climate Change, it seems as though we may be shifting towards a similar trajectory that Antarctica took years ago.

Works Cited:

Klages, Johann P., et al. “Temperate Rainforests near the South Pole during Peak Cretaceous Warmth.” Nature News, Nature Publishing Group, 1 Apr. 2020,
Strickland, Ashley. “Evidence of Ancient Rainforests Found in Antarctica.” CNN, Cable News Network, 1 Apr. 2020,

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