20/20 Vision Forever

While the more futuristic research of repairing and upgrading eyesight is already in development, visual prosthetics company Second Sight has created the Argus II, a visual prosthetic that sits on top of the retina. Using an antenna that sends signals back and forth between a special pair of glasses, the Argus II can bypass damaged parts of the eye and send visual signals straight to the brain — meaning it doesn’t just bring vision from poor to fair, it could restore sight completely.



Space Tourism

Imagine being able to pay to go up in space and aboard the International Space Station. The ISS is currently discussing plans about being able to have people pay to get the training and go up into space to explore for a five night stay, they are hoping to allow this around the year 2016, but they’re not 100% sure if it will happen. Some numbers have been thrown around whether or not they should make the payment 20 – 30 million to blast off into space, and a 3 million dollar training to prepare for space. Another possible space tourism would be to pay $200,000 for a sub-orbital space flight from the Virgin Galactic. By 2016, the ISS are hoping to have at least five space stations to have considered this idea. What they should know is that space tourism packages could range from $10,000 to 1 million dollars for a five night stay on an orbiting hotel suite.



Have you heard of Lifi? It is 100 times better than Wifi!

Lifi is an new internet connection made by a man named Harald Haas at the University of Edinburgh. It has rumors that it works 100 times better Wifi. If you didn’t know, the fastest Wifi connection you can have is up to 1000 Mbps, so if you times that by 100 you will have 100,000 Mbps. The science group has tested it out in Tallin and Estonia. Some reviews from the people were that as soon as they click on something it instantly came up. The special thing that separates Lifi from Wifi is that it uses LED lights to give off the connection. That is also what makes it so secure because when you install it, the LED lights can only stay in that room. That way you can prevent hackers from hacking your network. It is not out yet because they still have a few kinks to work out, such as how are they going to install it in the house are they going to charge for each room in the house, or for the whole house. The other problem is how much is they are going to charge for the connection. Down below is an picture that shows you how the LED lights are going to work.


It shows you the how the light will be from the ceiling.

Kepler-452b, a new home to live on


Recent discoveries have been made about a new Earth that can possibly withstand human life. This “cousin” planet is called Kepler-452b. It is said to be 60% larger in diameter than Earth’s, have a water source of some sort, and orbiting a yellow sun.

It may seem like this planet is perfect, but the bad thing is that it is 1,400 light years away from Earth. This makes transporting the whole Earth’s population extremely difficult if we did go to this planet. Astronomers still have to dig deeper into this “new Earth” because it is still not completely a 100%, if this planet is possible to live on.




Supermoon Lunar Eclipse!

Last Sunday some of you may have noticed that the moon didn’t look like its usual self. That was because a super moon lunar eclipse had occurred!

After being amazed by the last one, you are probably wondering when the next one will occur. Study shows that the next one is predicted to occur in the year 2033. You’re probably thinking that it’s such a long time away, but that’s just how the moon works. The last one before the one in 2015 actually occurred in 1982. If you do the math you realize that it happened 33 years ago and that the next one will occur in only 18 years. Why is that? It’s all caused when the earth is orbiting the Sun and at the right time the moon gets covered by the Sun.



3D Printer Advancements

Progress: the forward onward movement toward a destination.

3D printer!

  3D printer!

3D printers are the new way to make inanimate objects, but what if they could be used for more? Scientists, technologists, and scholars are all trying to find ways to use 3D printers to create medical advancements such as veins and conduits! Guess what? It doesn’t stop there.  These people are hoping to print organs such as hearts! How is this possible you might ask? Harvard Scholars have invented what is known as “bio-ink”. Bio-ink contains living cells and tiny blood vessels. Using this ink, the printer creates the tissues layer by layer to eventually produce organs. Because of the new Bio-ink advancement this dream is not too far off. Amazing right? These organs could be used for transplants instead of using an anonymous donor. Sure, there are some kinks to work out but progress isn’t that far off.

An ear that was printed using a 3D printer

An ear that was printed using a 3D printer

Personally, I think these discoveries are astounding! This could change the medical future in such a huge way! Think of all the lives that can be saved because people wouldn’t have to wait for donors and the organ could possibly be customized to fit the patient’s needs. That makes transplants safer with a smaller possibility of rejection. 6,570 people die per year waiting for an organ. This number could be dramatically reduced. 

Progress is underway and we are moving toward this next medical destination.

Dogs: Truly Man’s Best Friend

“A dog is the only being on earth that loves you more than it loves itself.” “Be the person your dog thinks you are.” Owning a dog is one of the best ways to improve your life. Don’t believe me? Believe science!IMG_0524

According to the ASPCA, approximately 37-47% of American households own a dog.

Households with dogs are happier! Dog owners are actually less likely to suffer from mental illnesses like depression than non-pet owners. Dogs have been used as therapy to treat mental illness. Pet therapy has actually proven to be more effective than medication. Interacting and receiving affection from a dog increases the levels of Oxytocin in the brain. Oxytocin, a.k.a the “pleasure” chemical in the brain is also found when a person is in love or rewarded with something. The best feeling after a long day at school or work is coming home to your dog who is happiest to see you.


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Since owning a dog decreases one’s amount of stress, it also decreases chances of heart failure, which is stress-induced. Next time you’re at home watching Netflix or surfing the internet, pet your dog. You’ll actually be lowering your heart rate, cholesterol, and blood pressure.

Having a sudden case of the sniffles? Maybe it’s time to get a dog. Having a dog in the house, strengthens your immune system, because they’re full of “germs”! This makes you less prone to getting sick.

We know all dog breeds are bloodhounds at heart with their keen sense of smell, but who knew their senses can do the work of MRIs? Dogs can smell cancer in the human body. There have been many cases where dogs have sniffed or lick their owner in a certain place, and it turned out to be cancerous. Their ability to do this is so accurate that specific dogs are trained to detect it in a little as a couple of hours.

Our dogs are lifesavers… Literally!


Ebola… What is it? and What makes people so scared of it? Yes, it is true that when you tell someone that they could possibly die from a virus, people become scared and begin to panic. It is proven that more people die from influenza (flu) than Ebola. Ebola first appeared in 1976 in one in Sudan, and the other in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

The latter occurred in a village near the Ebola River, from which the disease takes its name. Due to weak health systems, Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia have been hit hard by the virus. Ebola is introduced into the human population through close contact with the blood, secretions, organs or other bodily fluids of infected animals such as chimpanzees, gorillas, fruit bats, monkeys, forest antelope and porcupines found ill or dead or in the rainforest. In Africa a product commonly sold is “Bushmeat.”

The term bushmeat refers to meat from non-domesticated mammals, reptiles, amphibians, and birds hunted for food in tropical forests. Although the people of Africa have been warned about the virus being spread through bushmeat they refuse to stop eating it and continue to sell it.

Since March of 2014 the whole commotion of Ebola has died down.



CERN, Where The Secrets of the Universe are Revealed

Today, Tuesday October 27, I was fortunate to take a tour of CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research in Geneva, Switzerland and the world’s largest particle accelerator laboratory! 

Scientists from all over the world use CERN to study the building blocks of matter and uncover the secrets of the universe by colliding particles in a particle accelerator at 99.9999% the speed of light! Yes, those four 9’s after the decimal are precise. CERN is the home of the Large Hadron Collider (LHC), where particles are sent down an approximately 15-mile-long underground tunnel that is kept under conditions found in deep space: in a vacuum at nearly -370°K. For comparison, the entire city of Chicago is roughly 10 miles wide. 


Our tour included a lecture about the history of CERN, a visit to one of the four main experiments collecting data, and a descent 100 meters underground (about a football field) where the experiments and the particle accelerator ring are located. The experiment we visited was called LHCb and it was looking for a particle called the “beauty quark”. The underground facility was about the size of a small office building! It had some of the worlds most powerful magnets and a huge array of detectors that are activated when particles slam into them. I couldn’t believe the number of individual parts, wires, circuits, magnets and components.

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I was extremely excited about this visit for two reasons. First, because I work for Mozilla, the worlds most committed and successful defender of a free and open web. In fact, that very same web was invented in 1989 by Tim Berners-Lee, an English scientist at CERN! That’s right, all of the code and concepts for the World Wide Web (W3) was created at CERN and the world’s very first website is still hosted at it’s original location there. The second reason I am so excited is because I earned my PhD in Astrophysics and the study of Cosmology: the size, age, composition, history and future of our entire universe. Even though the experiments, detectors and facilities at CERN are focused on tiny particles, here on Earth, the work they are doing is actually very important to our understanding of the entire universe. Let me explain.

Humans have always created stories about our universe to explain where it came from and our part of it. However, modern scientific theories and cutting edge technology have enabled us to explore and interpret our discoveries like never before. Our modern cosmological theory emerged over the last 100 years. It is a scientifically supported story of our universe that relies on two of our greatest physical theories combined. It is a story of the very large and the very small.

Einstein’s theory of gravity – general relativity – tells us about the largest qualities our universe: its size, shape, and composition. This theory describes how large quantities of matter and non-matter, like stars, galaxies and the light flowing throughout space, can influence the shape of the universe. In return, the shape of the universe, or it’s curvature, can influence the way that matter and light moves around in it. Using general relativity we have predicted and measured warps in space-time that bend light around planets, slow down the time experienced by space travelers, and detected rips in the very fabric of space-time known as black holes.

The other theory is quantum theory. It describes the behavior and interaction of the very smallest particles that reside in our universe; the building blocks of matter. The particles that obey quantum theory are atoms, their protons, neutrons and electrons, and an entire zoo of other particles: quarks, neutrinos, bosons, and photons. It’s an exotic and mind-bending theory that questions the very meaning of reality. In quantum theory, the position and energy of a particle is always uncertain until it interacts with something else. Particles are a bit like ghosts until you slam them together.

The Evolution of the Expanding Universe

The Evolution of the Expanding Universe

All Matter is Composed of Atoms and Other Light Particles.

All Matter is Composed of Atoms and Other Light Particles.

So what can these two theories have in common? Well in our universe today, these theories don’t get used together very much. But the universe of the past was a very different place. 

One of the most striking discoveries that we have made in the last 100 years is that the universe is expanding! There is a lot of astronomical evidence for this bizarre fact, collected from the light of exploding stars in distant galaxies. The evidence of an expanding universe is explained by general relativity and it predicts some remarkable things. The most important prediction is that if the universe has always been expanding, then if we run the clock back and reverse time, the universe shrinks.

Let me take a little break here and add an important point. An expanding universe doesn’t mean that the universe is actually getting any bigger. Based on what we have been able to learn, the universe is actually probably infinite in size, and infinity plus one, is still just infinity. So when we say that the universe is expanding, we mean that the distance between two points in space gets bigger. When it is shrinking, we mean that the distance between two points gets smaller. If it took you an hour to get to grandma’s house today and then the universe expanded by two, it would take you two hours to get to grandma’s house. But the universe would still be infinite.

So, here’s the thing about a shrinking universe. In a shrinking universe, the space between any two particles gets smaller. In a universe full of particles, which is shrinking, all of the particles get closer together. The universe becomes denser. Steel, water and air have different densities. Steel is the densest, water less dense, and air the least dense. This is why steel sinks in water; air bubbles rise and expand out of water; and steel ships filled with air can float on the ocean. So a shrinking universe gets denser.

However, a shrinking universe doesn’t turn into a dense metal, or anything solid like that. This is because the particles spread out in the universe actually have a lot of energy. So when you start bringing them closer together, they ram, slam and collide into each other more often. Particles exchanging energy is actually the basis of temperature. So as we run the clock back, and the universe shrinks, it gets hotter and denser. How hot and dense does it get? Hotter and denser than the center of stars. This is the Big Bang Theory, and it isn’t actually about an explosion at all. It is about the hot, dense, early universe, which has expanded into the universe we live in today.

So, because the Big Bang Theory is all about colliding particles in the early universe and experiments at CERN like the LHC create epic collisions between particles, scientists at CERN actually work to recreate the conditions of the early universe! CERN allows scientists to explore the very limits of the quantum theory of our universe better than any other facility on Earth. In fact, it’s probably about the best that we can do on Earth to make those measurements.

My First Month of High School

Hello, I am Natalie Nieves and I am a freshman at Holy Trinity High School. I transitioned from St. Stanislaus Kostka School to HT. Yep, I went to the schools that the STEM Scholars Program revolves around.

Although HT is a smaller school of about 300 students, it was still a bit of a challenge to adjust to it. After a week or so, I knew HT was my home. I immediately appealed to all my classes and teachers. I made friends easily. I also became a part of many extracurricular activities. I am in almost all honors classes and I’m a part of the Chicago Ideas Week.

I recently got my first report card, and I have almost all A’s. Holy Trinity is a very tightly knit school, so I get immediate help with all my classes. My teachers are all very dedicated, they come early, stay late, and there are even tutors to help me with my homework. So far, my favorite class is Geometry Honors, and Technology class.

My four years with the STEM Scholars program helped me to go further. Because of the STEM Scholars program, I was able to do well on my entrance exam and get into the B-STEM Program in high school. The STEM Scholars Program offers so many financial aid opportunities that I am fortunate enough to have. I wouldn’t be able to attend such a great school like Holy Trinity without the STEM Scholar Program’s support.