Monday, January 24, 2022

Science & Technology

Plastic Eating Bacteria

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by Arjun Mehrotra

Plastic is one of the most ubiquitous materials ever. From our phones to our water bottles, plastic is all around us. It has a long life span, making it useful for storage. But what was once its biggest strength, is now its most fatal flaw. 

Plastic releases toxic chemicals into the air and takes thousands of years to decompose. Decomposition is the process by which substances are broken down naturally, meaning that they eventually turn into soil and are good for the environment. When materials such as plastic cant decompose, it means that they will stay there, in our landfills and our oceans taking up space and releasing harmful chemicals. This leads to an unhealthy ecosystem that can be downright dangerous. According to, more than 10 million tons of plastic are dumped into our oceans annually. More than a million marine animals are killed each year, due to this substance and the poisons it releases into their homes. Scientists estimate that by 2050, there will be more plastic in the ocean than fish. 

However, while things don’t look good for the Earth, there are still a few more solutions that may help us combat this evil polymer. Introducing Ideonella Sakaiensis, more commonly called the plastic-eating bacteria. The enzyme was first discovered in Japan,| in 2016, and has since then undergone many experiments to test the ropes and limits of its usage. . The bacteria is famously known due to its ability to eat polyethylene or PET, a very common plastic. Scientists have in recent years combined the plastic-eating bacteria with one that can eat cotton, thus producing a sort of “super enzyme” that could eat anything in a landfill. This is important because due to the lack of space in landfills most of them eventually get dumped into the ocean, so preventing this is essential.

A french company called Carbios has begun producing this enzyme and making demonstration plants to break down plastics. Carbios has partnered with companies such as Nestle and PepsiCo and could provide them with the necessary materials to recycle materials into their products.

While larger-scale industrial solutions using this bacteria are a few years away, its discovery could definitely help save our planet from plastic.

Cloning an Animal Which Survived 24,000 Years

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by Diya Barmecha

Our world lives in balance. For every few prey there are few predators. When the predators die out the prey increases and this is how the addition or subtraction of species affects everybody in the ecosystem. The bringing back of a species can help rejuvenate the environment as well as help scientists prevent endangered species from going extinct. De-extinction is also loosely known as the resurrection of animals that resemble or are extinct species. De-extinction research also leads to many developments in the treatment of endangered animals. 

As mentioned above, the extinction of any animal affects every other animal in the vicinity. One of the easiest and most widely proposed ways to de-extinct is to clone the animal found. This is done by creating a new multicellular organism which is in most ways genetically identical to the host organism. This is an asexual form of reporudtion where fertilisation or any inter-gamete conatnct does not occor. The first ever cloning of an extinct animal was done in 2003. The Pyrenean Ibex was cloned at the center of Food technology and Research of Aragon. They used the frozen cells of the skin samples they had found from the Ibexand some domesticated goat egg cells. 

Likewise, on June 10th, 2021 a similar case occurred. Russian scientists in the Arctic Siberian Permafrost found microscopic animals that had been in slumber for a long time. They justified this by saying that in an animal’s natural habitat, some organisms can be “preserved for hundreds to tens of thousands of years.” The radiocardboning of the animal showed that this animal was 24,000 years old. 

The animal in particular found was a multicellular animal called Bdelloid rotifers. They typically live in watery environments and have the ability to survive low temperatures due to their cell shielding mechanisms to protect their organs. They are more commonly known as the wheel animals due to their wheel-like ring of tiny hairs surrounding their mouths. Although they are known to survive and thrive in generally low temperature regions, earlier they had only been able to survive up to 10 years in a frozen state. However, with this revival of animals the scientists of Russia are able to understand this multicellular animal better as well as help develop their characteristics to benefit society. By isolating the organ, characteristic and mechanism and closing it, scientists are able to develop it into medicines, procedures and even learn from it. 

The Rotifers suspend most of their metabolism and accumulate some proteins to help them recover from cryptobiosis or the state of being immobile for very long until conditions improve. They also have mechanisms to repair damned DNA to protect the cells against the harmful moleculare. DNA is the most important element of our body which codes for our proteins and makes each human unique in their own way. 

With the help of DNA we are able to understand what makes each organism special and the scientists need to just create an exact copy of the host organism DNA to create an organism just like it. This process of cloning could be the answer to most animal related problems in the modern world. According to Stas Malavin,  a researcher at the Soil Cryology Laboratory at the Puschkino Scientific Center for Biological Research in Russia, this discovery is proof that such multicellular organisms can live for tens of thousands of years in a slumber. 

This discovery is very important as cloning extinct animals can lead to advancements within many scientific technologies and processes. The more knowledge we possess and the most sources we have, the wider range of help the scientist can provide. With many tries of cloning, the process itself can also improve. This discovery can help to study previously extinct animals and research cures to some diseases relating to the weider species. This knowledge can help us find ways for many species to be prevented from extinction. This would change the way we think about the ecosystem as well as the entire concept of balance.

This 24,000 year old animal has just shown us that if viable DNA is found on the skin, or cell of any animal,it can be copied and brought back to life. This would mean that an animal can be stored for thousands of years in their natural frozen habitat only to be revived and cloned years later. The idea of cloning dinosaurs or other extinct animals has always seemed like the works of a movie. However, with each discovery the idea of an animal truly going extinct is not going to be an option. Science has better plans for our animals…

Psychology In Sports

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by Aahana Khemani

Psychology is the scientific study of the mind and behavior, according to the American Psychological Association.” Writes Dr. Saul McLeod. “Psychology is a multifaceted discipline and includes many sub-fields of study such areas as human development, sports, health, clinical, social behavior and cognitive processes.” Dr. McLeod continues. The major goals of psychology include describing behaviour, explaining behaviour, creating predictions relating to how we think and act, and last but not least, change and influence behaviour in order to create constructive and lasting changes. As one can conclude from these goals and this procedure, psychology is a very scientific field which also has a connection with logic and presence of mind. Psychology is the art of mind and behaviour, and applies to multiple fields. One of these fields is sports. Psychology plays an immense role in sports. As we know, sports is about determination, passion, effort, and such of the sort. Therefore, psychology relates to not only the physical aspect that goes into sports, but even the mindset and behaviour that is an enormous element of sports. 

“Sport Psychology addresses the interactions between psychology and sport performance, including the psychological aspects of optimal athletic performance, the psychological care and well-being of athletes, coaches, and sport organizations, and the connection between physical and psychological functioning.” Writes Psychology Today. Sports psychology covers a range of topics, some including attentional focus, visualisation and goal setting, motivation and team-building, coping with anxiety, and rehabilitation. For athletic achievers, having a well-rounded and positive mindset around sport psychology can take them a long way. 

How do we know if sports psychology is successful? Apart from case study’s conclusions proving psychological preparation has an impact on athletes performances, successful and renowned athletes such as Michael Jordan cite psychological preparation needing to be successful as being 80% of the game. Additionally, studies have figured that psychology in sport performance contributes around 45 and 48%, but when psychological variables are adjoined, the percentage rises to approximately 79% and 85%. Olympic Beach Volleyball Player Kerri Walsh Jennings says in regards to mental control, “There is something so simple about owning your thoughts and being aware of the fact that my mind is racing, let me bring it back to center—that is a big deal. It’s helped me a lot on my focus and endurance.” Through studies and statistical evidence, through experience and experiential evidence, we can see what a large role psychology has in sports, and how successful it has been previously, in the present, and how it should continue to do so. 

Examining the life of an athlete, and the competition pressure, the supporters pressure, the pressure to do well, is extreme. The stress of nailing their sport correctly, and playing well, is indefinite. However, psychology has contributed in ways unimaginable. Psychology, if explained accurately, could take a footballer to a tennis player, a wrestler to a gymnast. It could and can prevent disasters. Therefore, having psychology to help an athlete understand determination, patience, and such of the sort, is extremely important. So, in conclusion, we know that psychology has a great impact on sports, and athletes. However, it can be extremely handy for everyone, whether you are a student or a teacher, a doctor or an engineer!

Goldilocks Planets

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by Arav Barmecha

(This part of the Ascent Summer Program)

Have you heard of Goldilocks’ tale ? 

 At the beginning of the story, Goldilocks enters a house and sees three bowls of porridge. She tastes the first one and jumps back saying it is too hot. She tastes the second one but it is cold as ice. Finally, she tastes the last one and it is just right. Perfect for the Goldilocks. It is the story of 3 choices, whether it is furniture or food.

Now, imagine that the first bowl represents the sun, the second, t Neptune and the last bowl represents our Earth. The universe is an extremely big place, so you would assume it would be easy for humans to find a new planet to expand to — but,here’s a catch! Humans can only survive on a planet with optimal conditions. Humans require food, water, oxygen, and shelter. Humans also need the planet to have a temperature that keeps surface water in a liquid state

. If the planet is too cold then the water will freeze making it solid, if the planet is too hot then the water will evaporate and turn into a gaseous state, a Goldilocks planet has a temperature that is just right. 

What makes a Goldilocks planet different from all the other planets is that these rare planets are not too hot and not too cold for liquid water to exist on the surface. “The only life we know about is our carbon-based life, and water plays a crucial part in our own existence, and so it’s only natural that we direct our attention to planets in locations capable of having liquid water,” Professor John Webb of the University of New South Wales said.  Finding a planet like ours is no easy job but there are people from all over the Earth who are devoting their time and money to find other planets out there. Humans have detected 1780 Goldilocks planets in the entire universe, and 16 in our star’s habitable zone. Once we obtain the technology to travel to and colonize the planets we will make our ascent towards a multitude of planets capable of living.

Waiting On Reform

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by Tara Hebbar and Aahana Khemani

The organ transplantation procedure is indeed a much-needed procedure. However, the system behind needs to be improved. On average, 17 people die every day while awaiting an organ. Is this the advanced medical facility and system that we have? 

As of February, 2021, over 107,000 are on the organ transplant waiting list in the United States of America. Every 9 minutes, an individual joins the waiting list, and out of the 90% that support it, only 60% actually sign up to be donors, post-death, or otherwise. It takes more than a minute to fully register the magnitude of these aforementioned statistics. The lack of donors is a certain place to point fingers at, however, how much of this blame can be pinned on the system itself? Its efficiency and honesty can and has in the past been questioned by several. An estimate of around, 50% of all organ transplanted organs are rejected. Yes, we understand that organs much fit into a certain category and criteria in order to be inserted into someone, however, if it doesn’t match one, is there a chance it will match another? We believe that although the people involved in this, may be trying their best to help all the critical patients, that there might be a little bit of neglect. To think that so many lives can be saved, by some minor changes, only makes one realise the impact and importance of reform in this system in order to save so many families the distress that they have to face. With many patients in dire need of organs, and unable to acquire them legally, several desperate families are forced to look elsewhere. This elsewhere is none other than the devastatingly large and popular – organ black market.

The organ black market has proven to be improper. It is not only unethical, but has proven to be disrespectful. A man sold his wife’s kidney to a businessman, without her knowing! One of her kidney’s was found missing and the other infected. On top of it, he didn’t even tell her after the organ was removed from her body. After finding out, he was arrested. The organ black market has demonstrated how a supposedly helpful procedure has turned into the complete opposite. There are no doubt flaws in the organ transplant system, however, this is to the next level. Furthermore, this is only one side to it. There is another distinctive perspective that not everybody is able to see and empathize with, clearly. People with desperate needs for an organ along with the large shortage of organs, are forced to do unethical things. Medical stress is a factor at times that plays a role in influencing people to purchase from the black market. 

Saviour Siblings is a new concept that seems to be gaining public popularity. It is when parents give birth to a child, only to utilise one or more of their organs for their sibling. This not only causes a mental drain on them but can also cause disabilities and physical strain and health problems in their adulthood. There are several problems with this, unethical and scientifically when organs are taken (taking stem cells and bone marrow don’t have health effects and are positive since the sibling knows it saved its sibling without facing any challenges themselves). Ethically, children are children, and one child shouldn’t be denied their life only to save the other. This child will not only face issues if they require the organ, but many even die following the procedure as it is an essential organ that is taken away from them. How can this be thought of as any different from murder? In the case that this child does survive, and remains healthy enough to live a normal and long life, the mental strain is also one to consider. They will grow up, and live their life knowing that their only “purpose” of being born was to be “used” in some sense. This is directly caused by the lack of organs in the legal market. This, however, it’s a hopeless cause. It is one in dire requirement of reform, which is very possible. It requires a large number of people to decide to donate, especially after death. Although there are religious concerns, all religions support kindness and are built on the basis of helping others. After death, one does not require their organs, and therefore, isn’t it better to die a hero, and save someone else’ life? One person, upon their death, can save 8 lives, should all their organs be in the condition to be transplanted. With this simple change, so much can be done and can possibly put an end, or even begin the decline of savior siblings and the illegal black market, which puts so many in strife, and provides monetary gain to the wrong people.

In conclusion, we believe that the organ transplant system is trying to be good, however, it is hard to ignore its flows. The shortage and the wrongs, need to be addressed by medical authorities as well as the government. Whether this means changing the laws on organ transplantation to benefit citizens, or having an elaborate system to provide organs to as many people as possible. The organ transplant system should be modified, to benefit more people than it already is. 

Geneocide or Genocide?

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by Tara Hebbar

Sentenced to 40 years in prison was Kathleen Folbigg, for smothering her 4 children before any of them reached the age of 2. She was deemed the “worst female serial killer” by the Australian Tabloids and convicted by the Australian Judicial System in 2003 . All through the past 18 years, she has pleaded innocence, claiming all children passed away from Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, a death of an infant in their sleep, who was seemingly healthy. Now, in 2021, over 90 scientists have come to her defence, and “proved” her claims and petitioned for her release, claiming it a “miscarrige of justice.” This group of scientists include 2 Nobel laureates. This is a story of medicine, versus a system that very rarely overturns convictions and a competition of diary entries and genetic mutations. What really is the story of Kathleen Folbigg and the mysterious deaths of her children?

Now 53 years of age, Kathleen Folbigg has maintained a plea for innocence, 30 years since the death of her firstborn. However, Kathleen Folbigg’s story begins at the age of her being 18 months old. At this age, in 1968, Kathleen’s mother was stabbed on a public footpath by her father who was in a drunken rage over her mothers walking out over a financial dispute. In her diary 28 years later, she entered, “Obviously, I am my father’s daughter.” At this time, she was married and settled. Caleb, her first child died at 19 days of age, and was classified death due to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. Her second born, Patrick, born blind, died at 8 months of age, in accordance to his death certificate due to a fit of epilepsy and choking. Her third, Sarah, met the same fate at 10 months of age, also due to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. Her last child, Laura,  passed away at 18 months of age, the cause being “undetermined” at the time of her death. These subsequent deaths, of similar causes were sure to raise questions.

At first glance, this all seemed to be a coincidental tragedy, however, subsequent to reading a diary entry by Kathleen, that said, “Sarah had left with a bit of help,”  Kathleen Folbigg was turned into the police by her husband. In her defence, Mrs. Folbigg claimed that the “help” referred to her hope that God had taken Sarah away from the world. At her court case, the same doctor who let Laura’s cause of death as undetermined, was an expert witness, when he said that flying pigs were more likely than 4 young babies dying in the same family in a span of 10 years. This however, was not backed with any proof or evidence at the time. When she was accused and covicted of the murder of her 4 children, she collapsed into tears. 

Several years later, science is coming to her rescue, with more than 90 scientists claiming that what  Kathleen Folbigg was saying many years ago, was indeed true. Even when convicted, there was no evidence of smothering, and this was mentioned in the petition of the scientists. They additionally claimed that none of the children were in the pink of health prior to their death. Laura, the 4th child, had respiratory difficulties and was found to have an inflamed heart in the autopsy following her death. Kathleen Folbigg’s lawyers consulted several scientists and asked them to investigate a mutation that might have resulted in the events that took place. Two scientists, by the names of Carola Vinuesa and Dr. Todor Arsov, agreed to sequence Kathleen Folbigg’s genome, with her consent. What they both found was that Kathleen Folbigg had a rare genetic mutation in the CALM2 gene. Any defect in any 3 of the CALM genes can lead to Sudden Deaths in infant and cardiac arrests. The mutation is observed in only 75 people, worldwide. This includes some parents, who don’t exhibit any symptoms, their children, however, died in most cases, most commonly of heart attacks. This is enhanced with the presence of a drug called pseudoephedrine, a drug for colds and coughs, one which Laura was taking. 

Using blood samples, taken following their death, it was found that both Laura and Sarah shared their mothers mutation. A formal inquiry was scheduled, but the new found evidence was not being taken in seriousness. Professor Vinuesa then reached out to Prof. Peter Schwartz, who knew of an American family who shared  Kathleen Folbigg’s problem. Even with this evidence, the judge reached a conclusion considering her diary entry more valid than the scientific evidence. This further encouraged the science network to bring “justice” for Kathleen Folbigg. More intricate studies into both Mr. and Mrs. Folbiggs genomes, revealed that they both had different rare mutations, which in mice had been linked to early lethal epileptic seizures. Culminating all the evidence, over 90 eminent scientists have agreed on Kathleen Folbigg’s innocence. Professor Vinuesa said, “We would feel exhilarated for Kathleen if she is pardoned, It would send a very strong message that science needs to be taken seriously by the legal system.”

This case brings on the important moral question of priority in evidence. Even with scientific evidence, should courts be allowed to say otherwise? Additionally, it gives importance to science in the legal system and the strong evidence it could procure, to either punish the wrong or save the innocent. Being a staunch believer in the power of science, I do believe that it deserves a larger seat in the legal system, however, not blind acceptance. The Kathleen Folbigg case is just the stepping stone for science to make its way into the law game. A diary entry is far more ambiguous than scientific proof that has been validated by several eminent scientists. This only brings to the question of whether it should be easier to reverse convictions if facts allow it.  However, the question of Kathleen Folbigg still remains unanswered, was it genes or really genocide?

Using Our Own Cells To Save Us

The Ascent claims no ownership over this image

By Diya Barmecha

Spinal cord injuries have a possibility of causing damage to the spinal cord. This results in a loss of various normal functions such as mobility and sensations in that area. The main causes for these fatal diseases are trauma like a car accident or a gunshot. Other diseases like Polio or Friedreich’s ataxia can also be a cause. In India, the average incidence of spinal cord injuries are 15,000 with a prevalence of 0.15 million

The World Health Organisation believes that the incidence of SCI increases in developing countries due to the imminent health burden present. However, there is hope for these patients as early research suggests that with infusion of stem cells, these patients will be able to regain the sensations and movements that they had lost. Stem cells can morph into any other cell type. 

Research and studies predict that there will be improvements in the first few weeks of the stem cell therapy. According to a small study, these improvements can last for a total of six months. One small drawback and potential variable to investigate is that the 13 people in the study had injured and not severed their spinal cords. Their main limitations were their loss of motor function and coordination of their bladder and bowel movements. Out of these 13 subjects, 12 had shown improvement in their sensory and motor functions within six months of their infusion. These improvements were quantified by the changes on the American Spinal Injury Association impairment scale which measures the injury severity.

Dr. Griffin Baum, a spine surgeon at Lenox Hill Hospital located in New York City who was not a part of this research expresses his excitement by saying, “This is exciting because there are really limited treatment options for patients with spinal cord injury.” 

The researchers in Yale university along with the help of scientists of Japan took the mesenchymal stem cells from participants’ own bone marrow. They multiplied them in a lab and then infused them back after 40 days. These Mesenchymal stem cells are adult stem cells found in the bone marrow’s skin and fat tissue. This type of therapy is called Stemirac. This is approved in Japan since 2018 and still is under controversy due to the lack of the research and data done on it. It is yet debatable how these stem cells minimize or reverse the damages. 

The first and foremost implication is that this method is safe and has had no serious side effects in any of the participants so far. However, the improvements and why they take place are yet to be quantified. These improvements include better mobility in the spinal cord, better sensory functions. This spontaneous recovery until now only occurs in spinal cord injuries according to researchers. Given its less reliable nature Baum has also said that, “I think the results should be taken with a grain of salt, and enthusiasm should be tempered. More research is required to see whether, on a larger scale, these results could be replicated and statistically significant,”

However, according to a professor of radiology and bioengineering at the University of Pittsburgh Institute for Regenerative Medicine, Mike Modo, “The amazing thing here is that after just a single infusion of stem cells, we are seeing benefits out of six months,” he also continues to mention that an added benefit is that the therapy is done through intravenous infusion which is minimally invasive and comparatively very safe. He adds, “IV delivery is minimal in terms of impact on patients, and that is the big contribution of this paper.” 

Although it sounds superficial now, I believe that in a few years the technology and the will to create something to help the patients suffering from spinal cord injuries will be present. These experiments have only shown improvements in the patients for 6 months for now. However, with more research this duration can increase and maybe we can truly get a cure for this discomfort with the stem cells of a human. There are many researches and studies happening about stem cells and how it is going to change the way we look at technology and medicine. Therefore, in conclusion, despite the pros and the cons, I believe that stem cells could really once and for all put an end to the spinal cord injuries, with more, deeper research.

The Power of Technology and Human Compassion.

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by Tara Hebbar and Diya Barmecha

In the early hours of Tuesday morning, 5th January, four fishermen were supposedly sunk after their boat withstood a lot of damage. They were ultimately saved by a 19-year-old and his drone. The main reason for this damage was the high tide in the sea at the time. There were rescue attempts conducted by 80 other fishermen but they were all in vain. These fishermen between the ages of 50-60 went out to sea at 4 am. There was worry all across the Nattika beach in Thrissur. This was an unlikely incident.  

19 year old Devang Subil heard about the situation since he was on the beach as well and approached the rescue team and fishermen about using his drone to locate the missing fishermen. He was instantaneously dismissed by them due to it being considered a “serious situation,” and the drone considered “a children’s toy.” Little did they know, this “children’s toy” would help save 4 lives. When the MLA, Geetha Gopi became aware of his idea, however, she considered it a great one and found a way to get Devang on a rescue boat along with his drone. 

The first fisherman was clinging onto a fishing pot when the drone caught sight of him, the other two were just 300 meters away. He was able to locate them using the drones camera that displayed the feed on his phone. The fourth one, however, was rescued last and was on the verge of drowning with exhaustion once they had reached him. He lost consciousness minutes after his rescue. The fishermen were afloat on the sea by hanging onto plastic buckets and tanks. The four fishermen are at a hospital in Thrissur receiving their needed treatments. After this successful search mission, the Kerala Fishing Boat Operator’s Association said that it was the first time a drone was used to save fishermen and they would like to deploy some drones in case of other emergencies like this one. Subil added to this by saying, “It is a cheap medium of rescue. Usually we press helicopters and speed boats into service for such search operations. But this is very cost effective.”

The MLA, Geetha Gopi stated, “We salute the youngster whose timely intervention saved four lives. He showed us how new innovations can help save lives. I have already approached the government with a suggestion to honour him.” 

This instance is just one of several that indicates the growing presence of technology in our lives. Even though it is often criticized, this is an example of how it can be used to save lives. While technology does have its pros and cons, when technology is used right, it can get humanity access to experiences, and sights which couldn’t be dreamed of before. It can be utilized to give so many better lifestyles and provide many with opportunities far beyond their reach, at one point. We should search for situations like this, which make us realize not only the power of technology but also the power of human kindness.

A Man Of The Future

by Diya Barmecha

Elon Musk, is one of the most influential and forward thinking people in the world. He has innovated and thought of revolutionary ideas that are going to change the world forever. For this he has received many awards. In 2019 he was awarded the Forbes list of most innovative leaders. In fact, this year (2020), his rocket company launched four astronauts into space. Additionally his company Tesla.Inc is going to the S&P 500 on December 21st. This is a significant moment for the company. However, this isn’t the most exciting news for Elon Musk this year. He has become the world’s third richest man, surpassing  Mark Zuckerberg who is the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Facebook. 

This year, according to Bloomberg which is a private financial software, data, and media company, Elon Musk has had the biggest gain on the ranking of the world’s 500 richest people. With an increase of $82.2 billion just this year! Tesla had made 15% in after hours trading while the shares of it ended up 8.2% which pushed his fortunes at $7.6 billion to over $109.7 billion. Tesla has been one of Elon Musk’s biggest successes. Tesla, is an electric car and a clean energy company. Their products range from electric cars, battery energy storage from home to grid scale. They also have solar panels and solar roof tiles for options to purchase. The Tesla electric cars use electric motors that have two moving parts and one single speed transmission that have no gears. The system is virtually maintenance-free. This is a car of the future.

Musk, who now owns 20% of Tesla’s shares. His founded rocket company, SpaceX has also had a huge gain of around $90 billion in his fortune. All of which have been this year. SpaceX which was founded in 2002 plans to reduce space transportation cost to enable mankind to colonize Mars. Its full form being Space Exploration Technologies Corp. On November 24, SpaceX launched its 16th Starlink Mission from the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. The Starlink Mission is a satellite internet constellation that is being constructed by SpaceX that provides satellite internet access. This constellation will potentially consist of thousands of mass produced smaller satellites in the lower orbit of Earth that work alongside ground transceivers.
Elon Musk’s wealth could soar even further if he builds Tesla into a $650 billion company by 2028. Knowing Musk’s dedication to his work. We can hope that he is able to achieve this. With this new influx of money we hope he can create much more detailed and intriguing companies. As of now, the only people richer than him are Jeff Bezos who is  the founder of Amazon, he has $184 billion fortune and Bill Gates, Microsoft principal founder with $129 billion. Even with all the money Musk has, he has been a true human as he signed the Giving pledge which is a philanthropic initiative created by Gates and investor Warren Buffet. This encourages the world’s richest people to commit to giving away half their wealth to charity. The entire world can’t wait for what new Elon Musk has in store for us.

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! 

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