by Ryan Park
For Science Academy’s 2022-2023 Science Fair, I interviewed two 8th graders to learn more about their projects: Dani Tsao, 1st place winner, and Aspen Chung, 2nd place winner.
* Dani Tsao’s Science Fair project built on her experiment from last year in creating a new type of solar panel.
What inspired you to choose your Science Fair topic?
My experiment this year is a continuation of last year’s project. I first thought of my idea when I was driving around my neighborhood and realized that there are mainly two types of solar panels: a) those that create electricity, and b) those that heat up water. When I saw this, I thought “Why can’t there be a solar panel to do both?”
What experiment did you do? What were your hypothesis and results?
With the above question in mind, I combined an electricity-generating and a water-heating solar system. Although the solar panel efficiency increased, I have thought of another idea for further improvement.
This year, I decided to make a control system that rotates the solar panel so that it always faces the sun. My results showed that this new solar panel design, combined with improved thermal insulation, increased the electricity-generating efficiency as well as heated up the water more. Compared to the original solar panel idea, this new design increased the energy capture efficiency by 25 – 30%.
Is there anything you’d like to say about receiving 1st place in your grade level?
I am very appreciative of this project because it allowed me to use the information I learned in Mr. Bradfield’s class about Arduinos and soldering. The award gives me a lot of satisfaction, but I think there are still more problems to be solved.
Dani at the L.A. County Science Fair
* Aspen Chung’s Science Fair project was about the growing danger of climate change and her method of using cleaner alternatives to carbon fossil fuels.
What inspired you to choose your Science Fair topic?
Our world is powered by fuel, ranging from transportation to heating to factories that produce many of the goods used in our daily lives. However, many of the non-green fuels that are commonly used contribute to climate change through carbon dioxide emissions, a greenhouse gas that is damaging our ozone layer. And in a world that is aiming to become greener, I believe it’s important to explore cleaner alternatives for fuel, such as hydrogen gas, which only emits water vapor as a byproduct.
What experiment did you do? What were your hypothesis and results?
My project focuses on finding the most effective way to produce hydrogen gas, which acts as a clean fuel source, through electrolysis. I varied the amounts of magnesium sulfate between 20 grams, 45 grams, and 75 grams to test how it affected the rate of electrolysis and the change in pH. I hypothesized that if the water has more magnesium sulfate, then the rate of electrolysis will be faster and the pH will change quickly. My hypothesis was proven correct through my experiment, where 75 grams of magnesium sulfate produced the fastest-changing pH, demonstrating a more efficient rate of electrolysis.
Aspen’s Science Fair BoardRead More
by Liz Zarikyan
This year’s Science Fair, which took place February 6-8th, was a showcase of projects from 7th and 8th grade students that uncovered mysteries, revealed solutions to some of our world problems, and even provided resources to use in case of emergency. I interviewed some of the 7th grade winners to find out more about their projects.
Jordan R. – Honorable Mention – 7th grade
What was the title of your project?
The Effects of Proteinase K on the Biodegradation of Plastic
Why did you choose to do this project?
I was interested in finding a way to safely degrade plastic because I’ve seen plastic pollution and have wondered how that problem could be solved. Only around 9 percent of plastic is recycled so I started my research to see if there was any way to eliminate it. I thought this method was a good option for dealing with the problem, and Proteinase K got my attention due to its ability to degrade the polymers in plastic. The surrounding soil is used through the existing microbes that consume the lactic acids which are created when the polymer is broken down by the enzyme.
Did you have any complications when working on your project?
It was hard to find proteinase K, which is an enzyme used in molecular biology. It was hard to find because it’s not an item that’s bought on a day-to-day basis, making it less available. I didn’t consider purchasing other enzymes because I researched other “digestive” enzymes such as lipase and I found that they would not be effective on plastic. I originally tried to obtain the enzyme from BLIRT, which is the primary European manufacturer of recombinant enzymes, but after applying for an offer and not getting a response, I searched for other suppliers and was then able to purchase it on eBay.
What was your process?
I tested the effects of the enzyme on the plastic by embedding the different amounts (0 mg, 10 mg, 40 mg) into 50 g of soil and then using that to cover plastic disks that came from disposable food containers. After 2 weeks of putting these out in the sun, I used Image J, which is a Java-based image processing program that provides the function of calculating the surface area within an image.
What were your results?
Proteinase K helps biodegrade plastic by a decent amount. 40 mg of Proteinase K was able to lower the surface area of plastic by over 8% in just 2 weeks.
If you could do this experiment again, what would you change?
I would run more trials because I want to test out increasing the amount of enzyme and/or composting time period.
What was the best part of your experiment?
The best part of the experiment was seeing how the plastic had degraded. I was interested to see how the experiment would turn out and was happy that it worked.
Paria V. & Kayla A. – tied for 1st place – 7th grade
What was the title of your project?
“Water on the Go: Creating an Emergency Water Filter”
Why did you choose to do this project?
We set out to create a water filter that could be used while hiking with available water, so we wanted to find out how much cleaner you can make dirty water through a mechanical process. Also, there is a shortage of clean water around the world due to natural disasters and human-orientated events, and this process could possibly allow for places around the world to have drinkable water.
What were your results?
We measured our results using a TDS meter. The TDS meter measures parts per million (PPM) of dissolved sediments in a substance. In our first trial, we had a starting PPM of 311 and a resulting PPM of 273. In our second trial, the starting PPM was 357, and it resulted as a PPM of 303. In our third trial, we started with a very high PPM of 493, which is close to the highest contaminant level and highly dangerous to consume. The resulting PPM was 343, which was a very significant change. It brought water with an almost max contaminant level down to the same PPM as tap water.
What was the best part of your experiment?
The best part was testing each layer before putting it in the filter to see how it would filter dirty water on its own. The layers we used were two pieces of foam on each end, then a starting layer of charcoal, then sand, then small rocks, and lastly, a final layer of charcoal. These layers were separated by a small layer of straining fabric so they wouldn’t mix. We decided to add another layer of charcoal, because we found that it was the best filtering factor. Something interesting we found was that when you pour water onto activated charcoal, at first it will sizzle and bubble. Afterwards, the water started to run clear, showing that the charcoal did a lot of the work. The activated charcoal strips out the toxins and odors in the water. The sand and rocks removed the larger sediments before reaching the last layer of charcoal.
What was the process after you figured out your layers?
We drilled a hole into the cap of a bottle and cut the bottom off. We then sealed a coupling into the drilled hole with waterproof silicon to ensure it wouldn’t leak. Next, we attached tubing from the coupling to the main filter and in the middle placed a valve. The valve starts and stops the water flow. This part of the mechanism does not affect the results of the filter, but it does make the filter easier to use.
Did you have any complications when working on your project?
It was hard to drill a hole in the bottle cap, and it was hard to get the cloth pieces in the tube. We also had an unexpected trial when testing our filter when the PPM actually increased, meaning the water got dirtier. This was a result of us not compressing the layer enough, so the sediments got stuck in between the layers.
If you could do this experiment again, what would you change?
To improve our project we could add either a solar panel pump or a hand pump. This is because our filter was a bit slow because of the many thick layers. This would pump in the water, making it faster and more convenient. A hand pump would be added in case a large amount of clean water is needed in a short amount of time. We could also add a stand because it took two hands to hold the filter. If a stand is added, then the filter would be completely automatic and convenient. These add-ons are not necessary for the filter to work in case of an emergency, but they would be very helpful.
Final filtration process
by Julia Shin
Congratulations to all of the Science Fair winners and good luck to all of the winners for County!
1st Place – Tanishga Thankaraj Vijay & Harshini Manikandan
Project Title: Determining Factors that Affect a Fan’s Performance
This fusion of an experiment and an engineering project was focused on determining which type of blade shape will generate the most voltage. Tanishga and Harshini created five common fan blades from cardboard and attached a bottle cap and a rod of a DC motor to the blades to complete the fan. Then, all of the five fans were positioned facing a house fan (maintaining equal distance and speed for each fan) as a multimeter measured the electricity generated. They discovered, the purple fan, as shown above, was the best design. As Tanishga and Harshini have an interest in the field of wind energy, they wanted to understand better how fans work, like the ones used in everyday life. From this project, they learned how the most important factors affecting a fan’s performance are the number of fan blades, the surface area, and the angle. Furthermore, they learned about the various fans and each of their unique purposes. Thus, they learned about the balance between having the least number of blades, however, not letting that comprise the loudness of the sound created by the fan or the fan’s effectiveness.
2nd Place – Jasper Mejia
Project Title: Solar Mini Fridge V2
This engineering project was inspired by Jasper’s mom, who’s a Type 1 diabetic. Being a diabetic, she requires insulin to survive. Thus, for emergency purposes, when electricity may be unavailable, this solar-powered mini-fridge stores and cools insulin for insulin to be useable (for the fridge to be successful, it much reach a temperature between 34.0˚F – 40.0˚F). Also, since the fridge is solar-powered, it eliminates using multiple batteries just once. As Jasper shared, he believes this project could help people around the globe who have pre-existing conditions. From this project, he learned about various techniques of heat transfer and how to use different insulators to counter each of those methods. For example, he used wood, foam, and aluminum since they are all materials used to stop the heat. Additionally, he learned about how to have a polished final project, many prototypes have to be created and constantly revised.
3rd Place – William Kim
Project Title: Detecting Ink Levels With Image Processing
The purpose of this engineering project was to create an efficient and easy-to-use indicator that notifies the user how much ink is left inside a pen. Before using the pen, the ink level is determined and shown to the user so the ink container does not have to be removed (yet, this prototype mostly requires taking out the ink container to use it). William chose this project because he believed being able to view how much ink is left in a pen is very practical for daily life and it would help numerous people. From this project, he shared he learned that image processing can be very useful and that other future technological developments can solve other various common problems.
Honorable Mention – Iden Stein & Jamieson Wong
Project Title: The Odds of Cheating in Blackjack
The purpose of this experiment was to stimulate methods to count blackjack cards and discover how much money people collected from their bets. As Iden shared, he believed, “creating a blackjack simulation that card counts tens of millions of hands in minutes is absolutely awesome.” From this project, Iden and Jamieson learned that in simulations, there aren’t big differences in different card counting methods yet in real life, there are big differences.Read More
by Ryder Beeler
Touchdown! On February 18, 2021, the Perseverance Rover landed on Mars as millions of people watched the event all around the world. As I watched the landing, I was reminded of the time when I was seven years old. A friend of my parents, Ms. Jules Lee, worked for Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) as a navigational engineer and she invited us to JPL for a visit and private tour. We saw the premises and even visited Mission Control, as well as what is known as the Clean Room. Engineers dressed in full body protective suits, caps, shoe coverings, gloves, and face masks that prevent even the smallest piece of dust or hair ruining sensitive instruments were working on a $2 billion spacecraft named Perseverance, which was set to launch some time in the next decade. And here we are: Perseverance got launched, successfully landed, and is already exploring Mars!
The Perseverance expedition has been widely covered in the news, but there are some aspects about Perseverance and Ingenuity that the public may not know about. I was honored to reconnect with our family’s friend, Jules Lee, who is one of the navigational engineers at JPL in Pasadena. I interviewed her and am very happy to be able to share some information with regards to the mission.
The main purpose of the mission is to see if there have been living organisms on the planet in the past or if they still exist in the present. Perseverance was stationed at Jezero Crater since it used to be a lake filled with water, which is required for life. It will take samples of the rocks in the ground, which will be stored in the rover until brought back to Earth. Once back, the samples will be tested for any water or remains of previously living organisms. Ingenuity will then be flying around the area surrounding the rover doing weather reports. Ingenuity is in its operations demo phase and is the first helicopter on Mars. Here is some further information from NASA on Ingenuity: https://www.nasa.gov/feature/jpl/6-things-to-know-about-nasas-ingenuity-mars-helicopter
As you now know, Perseverance and Ingenuity are the two main components of a rover program that were sent to Mars. However, did you know how Perseverance is linked to the next major mission or that the whole mission itself is much older than you think? Mrs. Lee stated that the Perseverance will play a major role in NASA’s next mission. The mission, which is not yet named, will be responsible for bringing the samples that Perseverance is currently collecting back to Earth. These samples will be used to determine if there was, or better yet now is, life on Mars. Perseverance didn’t just start in 2015 when it began to be built. The simple idea for the Perseverance was developed around the late 1990’s – early 2000’s. Approximately 15 years later, it had gained full attention from NASA and the build commenced. A little after that, the route for Perseverance was plotted, the spot of landing was chosen, and after the physical completion, multiple checks took place to ensure that the rover was in perfect condition.
In addition to some of the better known details, there are also some that do not receive as much coverage in the news: for instance, the fact that the United States wasn’t the only country involved in Perseverance. The mission was not just funded by and constructed solely here. Other space programs have contributed financial and material resources to the program where NASA / JPL would trade items and materials with space programs abroad, like Centro de Astrobiologia Instituto Nacional de Tecnica Aeroespacial in Spain and Forsvarets Forskningsinstitutt in Norway. Secondly, communication between Earth and the rover sometimes faces serious challenges. Signals can be intercepted by a piece of space debris or a space rock. And this is particularly stressful for all the engineers at Mission Control during what is called “the seven minutes of terror,” which refers to the entry, descent and landing (EDL) phase of the rover. This is such an anxious time because events take place much quicker than the radio signals can reach Earth from Mars for communication. Rovers communicate with Earth directly, but with Perseverance, communication did not get turned on for a month or so, until all of its diagnostics and checkouts were done. The Mars orbiters, Odyssey, MRO and MAVEN, helped out relaying telemetry engineering data in near real time during Perseverance’s EDL on February 18th. For further information on NASA’s Mars Program, check out their website: https://mars.nasa.gov/#mars_exploration_program/1
When I think back to the day that I visited JPL Mission Control and witnessed the engineers’ work on NASA’s next project, I had no idea that this would be the Perseverance as we know it now. Perseverance is currently exploring a planet 190.09 million miles from Earth. We can expect the next mission to launch within a decade. How exciting it will be to witness another interplanetary touchdown!Read More
By Ava-Ray P.
The Science Academy hosted guest speaker Kenny D. from Tree People to talk about composting at home for our February 19th STEM Talk. There was great interest in the subject amongst the student body because of the ways composting can not only help create rich soil, but can be used to recycle food scraps and yard waste, thereby reducing landfill usage and the creation of greenhouse gases. Below is a summary on the topics covered during the STEM Talk as well as where you can get materials to start composting yourself.
First of all, what is composting? Composting is a mixture of various decaying organic substances, such as dead leaves or food waste, used for enriching soil. We can use composting to recycle food waste, which lessens its impact in landfills, and use it to fertilize plants to help them grow. With the right supplies and methods, you can create compost at home.
Creating compost is fairly simple. To start, you will need both “browns” and “greens”. Browns are materials like dried leaves, twigs, paper bags, torn newspaper, etc. They are the non- perishables. Greens are perishables like fruit and vegetable scraps, garden waste, etc. With a 50/50 combination of these materials, you can start composting!
You should also have the tools to start composting. The LADWP offers composting bins for you to start composting, (link) and you can get other supplies at most nurseries (link to local nursery). When you start to compost, you should layer the materials on top of each other. Starting with a first layer of twigs, and alternating layers of brown and green layers.
Composting can be surprisingly beneficial. It diverts waste away from landfills, and it adds microbes and nutrients to soil. Organic matter in landfills breaks into methane, a greenhouse gas. Sadly, 40% of the food we buy is wasted, with most of that going into landfills. If we use composting more and more, we can start to move our economy to a circular system, where we can make products, use them, and recycle/compost them to be used again.
STEM Clubs at the Science Academy STEM Magnet
by Milan R. and Muaz R.
At Science Academy, we have a wide range of clubs, all focusing on a variety of subjects, skills, and potential occupations. In this article, we take a look at three of our STEM-focused clubs: StellarXplorers, the Applied STEAM Club, and Math Counts. Stellar Xplorers and Math Counts are sponsored by our wonderful assistant principal, Mr. Rosenthal, while the Applied STEAM Club is sponsored by Mr. Bradfield and led by fellow students Zygmunt R, Nikita A, and Oliver P. All of these clubs feature the use of many different skills in science, technology, engineering, math, and more.
Stellar Xplorers is a high school space-based competition, founded by the National Air Force Association (AFA), that encourages students to use their skills in mathematics, science, and engineering in order to solve real-life problems. Students must grapple through many different computer-generated scenarios, while keeping in mind all the variables that could affect their aircraft, such as launch speed and orbital velocity. Working and familiarizing themselves with these concepts allows pupils to gain a greater advantage when applying these skills to real-life jobs in major organizations and companies such as NASA, JPL, and SpaceX.
In order to get a more personal overview of what it’s like participating in the club, we interviewed Zachary M. (8th) on his experiences.
“I first started Stellar Xplorers in the sixth grade. It’s been a great experience so far — Stellar Xplorers has taught me about the different elements of satellite design, weighing the cost-effectiveness of different crucial satellite subsystems, the six classical orbital parameters, and evaluating the data transfer from satellites to satellites and stations, and much more. I would recommend anyone who likes space and is willing to join a team to become a Stellar Xplorer. A lot of Stellar Xplorers is not only about participating in the competitions but also having a good time with your friends. It’s one of the most fun things I’ve done this year and it always gives me something to look forward to. Also, scholarships are given to the top three teams, so that gives an incentive as well. Although you probably couldn’t use the material you learn directly after you participate in a competition when you get older, these competitions can give you some of the necessary knowledge and experience required to be able to work at companies like JPL, NASA, or SpaceX. In my opinion, there is absolutely no prior experience necessary to join this club. I came in knowing nothing about any of the topics I listed prior, but after participating in the competitions and learning about satellites and rockets through this club, I would now consider myself knowledgeable on all of them.”
StellarXplorers explores a wide variety of different topics in STEM fields and allows students to exercise skills that they can apply to real-world careers. If you would like to develop these skills for a present and future occupation, or simply have an interest in what lies beyond the great skies, consider joining Stellar Xplorers! You can do so by emailing Mr. Rosenthal about your interest in the club.
Are you deeply interesting and curious about the mysteries of mathematics and the beauty it encompasses? Or are you simply looking for a way to stretch your brain and increase your critical thinking skills? Math Counts features a solution to both of these problems! Hosted by Mr. Rosenthal, the club grants a way for students to converse and solve math problems with one another as well as increase their logical and critical thinking skills at the same time. Math Counts tackles problems in many different fields of mathematics, including algebra, geometry, probability, and statistics.
In order to get a more personal overview of what it’s truly like in the club, we interviewed two club members:
Saket P. (8th): “I first started Math Counts in 6th grade when it was a small group of 6, and we just did math problems and math competitions. We entered competitions like the AMC 8, 10, 12, the Math Olympiad, and the Math Counts and Purple Comet. I would recommend anyone who likes competitive math to come to join, or if you like fun math problems. Most of the stuff you learn can help you gain an advantage in the competition and can help us beat rival schools. I don’t believe there is a need for prior knowledge, you just need to be interested in math. But if you want a list of subjects to prepare for the competition, there are algebra, geometry, number theory, and probability. Math Counts is an amazing club for anyone interested in math. I am excited to see how this club ends up in the years to come.”
Ryan L. (7th): “I first started Math Club just when it was announced by Mr. Rosenthal. The club is a great way to practice skills that you have already learned as well as develop new ones. It’s a great opportunity to have fun with math, and I was able to incorporate the math questions I have answered there with various problems on the AMC and Math Counts. I believe that some prior knowledge is needed, at least algebra. The club is there to learn and practice math. The people who already know the math are able to practice the problems, and more importantly explain how to do the problem to the other students, allowing the other students to learn and allowing all the students to gain more experience in articulating the process and solution.”
Math Counts provides an environment for students to engage in different mathematical challenges and problems with one another in order to expand upon their logical and critical thinking skills. If these activities sound enjoyable to you, consider emailing Mr. Rosenthal about your interest in the club!
Are you interested in MakerSpace, electronics and/or engineering? If so, you should know the Applied STEAM Club has been devoted to a combination of these topics since they formed in January 2021.
The Applied STEAM Club aspires to be a “community of STEM enthusiasts to showcase cool projects and ideas.” Together, members of the club collaborate on projects and work on them to perfection. Other than collaborating, students “communicate with each other in the STEAM club whether it be through Zoom or Discord”. Their Zoom meetings are every Thursday from 4:30 PM to 5:30 PM.
One of their major goals is to “acquire more members in order to make bigger projects and have better collaborations”. The club representatives are also hopeful the club can meet in person when school returns to normal, and therefore make collaborating easier.
The Applied STEAM Club is sponsored by Mr. Bradfield with Zyg R, Oliver P, and Nikita A as their representatives. To enter the club, students can use the access code from the S.A. Student Body Outreach to join their Schoology group, and they can attend their meetings.Read More
by Ryan Lee
As we approach the one-year anniversary of the shutdown of in-person classes at LAUSD due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it seems a meaningful time to reflect on this once-in-a-century event, especially with the newly-increasing availability of effective vaccines. Although the toll that COVID has taken across the country and around the world has been terrible, the speed with which doctors and scientists have been able to develop tests, therapeutics, treatments, and now vaccines has been truly awe-inspiring. As it turns out, viruses have been around since long before 2020, and even the mighty Romans and the undefeatable Mongols have fallen victim to them. In order to better understand this invisible enemy, we need to learn about the structure of viruses themselves and how they infiltrate our body. Since 1892, virologists have dedicated their lives to studying viruses, trying to discover how these mysterious balls of proteins, which lack life itself but can affect so many, can upend our lives so systematically.
The Structure and Description of Viruses
Before we ponder about how viruses infect our bodies, we have to know that there are many different types. Generally, there are four types of viral structures. Many modify themselves to add proteins to their outer shell to facilitate the integration of their genetic material.
Helical Viruses, such as the Tobacco Mosaic Virus, are usually a protein capsid surrounding a single helical RNA molecule. They are the simplest viruses and look like rigid rods. The second type is a polyhedral Virus, typically known to be isohedral. They usually contain DNA in the center of their capsule and are covered in protein spikes. Some examples of these are Adenoviruses.
Spherical Viruses look like small toy balls. They contain RNA-protein complexes and are usually studded with Glycoprotein spikes that enable them to interact with the cell’s recognition and cell-communication mechanisms. They are the most mutatable viruses, as their RNA is susceptible to mutations that may benefit them. Examples of these viruses include Influenza (the flu), HIV, and Covid-19. Finally, Complex viruses are viruses that have multiple parts, consisting of tails, fibers, and a head. They grab ahold of the host with a tail fiber and inject their Genetic Material into the host. This type of virus is usually composed of bacteriophages, viruses that only affect bacteria.
Orthocoronavirinae, of which SARS CoV-2 is a member of, is a subfamily of fairly complex spherical Viruses.The SARS-CoV 2 contains 29 different proteins, including its glycoprotein spikes, which it shares 80% of its amino acids with its predecessor, the SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) virus. SARS CoV-2 and it’s family, the coronaviruses, known as Coronaviradae, are characterized by being RNA viruses and its famous Glycoprotein Spikes. The virus, SARS CoV-2, does not have a binomial taxonomic name so far. The Family is named after the latin word, “Corona”, which translates to “The crown”. The Virus uses its spikes to latch onto the angiotensin-converting Enzyme 2 (ACE2). The other 28 proteins are not very important, as only three of them make up the actual structure of the virus. One group of the other 25 proteins are expressed as two huge polyproteins and then cleaves into 16 smaller proteins, and these proteins help regulate how the proteins of its offspring are made and how it sneaks through its host’s immune system. The Third type of protein is called accessory proteins. They don’t need these proteins to replicate, however they need them to counteract the immune system. Covid-19 is more infectious than its predecessor parent, the SARS virus. SARS CoV-2 is usually called, “The coronavirus”, or “The novel Coronavirus”, however, the latter describes the virus better. SARS CoV-2 is a coronavirus, a family of viruses, includes many mammalian RNA viruses such as Mink coronavirus and Bat coronavirus CDPHE15.
Illustration of SARS-COV2
Glycoprotein (RBD = Receptor
The Brief History of Viruses
Humans have always been aware that something has been ruining their precious tobacco crops and caused death. However, they simply did not know why or what sickened them, they assumed it was a bacteria or some other infectious agent.
It wasn’t until 1883 when Adolf Mayer, a German Scientist, discovered the characteristic traits of a virus. Adolf Mayer discovered that he could transmit the ailment by rubbing the sap extracted from the diseased leaves of the tobacco plant onto healthy plants. After unsuccessful searches for an infectious microbe, he determined that it was caused by tiny bacteria. Years later, Dmitri Ivanowsky, a Russian biologist, passed the sap through a filter that was known to remove the smallest bacteria. After an unsuccessful attempt, he determined that there was a smaller bacteria or the toxin made by the bacteria made it through.
Dutch botanist Martinus Beijerinck carried out experiments to show that the filtered agent in the sap can still replicate. He also discovered that the agent would not grow without a host. He is known as the father of Virology because he had voiced the concept of a virus. The Virus became known as the Tobacco Mosaic Virus.
How Viruses Replicate
A virus, which most people know and agree with, enters the cell and spreads its genetic material, overriding the host cell’s machinery and making more cells. This is known as the lytic cycle. Contrariwise, there is another reproductive cycle, and it is called the lysogenic cycle, which is not well known.
The lytic cycle is the reason why we get sick. The virus enters the cell and releases its genetic material. The genetic material then replicates itself for later use and transcribes the genome into mRNA, which is sent to the endomembrane system to create proteins. Somewhere in the cell, the Machinery starts to assemble the proteins and the replicated DNA into new viruses. This process will kill the cell, and replication of DNA may bring about mutations to the virus, making viruses such as the flu resistant to old vaccines.
The lysogenic cycle of the cell is typically characterized by the cell not dying or doing anything. The virus attaches itself to the cell, injects its genome, and simply does not kill the cell. Instead, the genome integrates itself into the cell’s chromosomes and waits for certain factors to burst or not. The cell may divide and produce a population of cells infected with the virus. The genetic material may exit the bacterial chromosome, which can become the point where the lytic or the lysogenic cycle initiates.
Vaccines are a way for us to build immunity to a virus that humans have never encountered before. Before elaborating on the mechanics of immunity, it’s important to understand the basic mechanisms of vaccines. A vaccine is essentially a weakened version of the virus, an enzyme that inhibits the binding of the glycoproteins or receptors of the virus, or just the glycoproteins of the virus. In the immune system, there are three types of immune cells, the B cells, the T cells, and the macrophage. The B cells float around the body, binding to any foreign substance. After it binds to the virus, the B cell releases all of its receptors on its body, leaving the virus floating with the receptor binding to it. The B cell then starts to rapidly undergo mitosis to give rise to a group of cells that create the antigen receptor. The macrophage then comes and eats the virus. The T-cell, on the other hand, roams the circulatory system and keeps an eye out for infected cells. They are covered in receptors that bind to parts of the virus. An infected cell will usually present a piece of the antigen on an MHC molecule, causing the T-cell to bind to it and trigger an immune response. The immune system remembers this virus by using memory B-cells, a cluster of long-lived cells that remain to wait until the next viral infection by the same virus.
Every year, a person has to take a vaccine for the flu, a highly contagious and fast-mutating RNA virus. A new vaccine is made every year for the strains of the virus that are most prevalent. We can create a vaccine for SARS-CoV 2, yet its characteristic of being a notorious RNA virus creates the need for us to monitor its mutations and create a future-proof vaccine. But how is a vaccine made?
Since there are many types of viruses, there are many different types of vaccines. The flu virus, which is a spherical Virus, requires the use of dead viruses to force the body to create antibodies for the specific strain for that year. This is called an inactivated vaccine. Some vaccines, such as chickenpox or mumps virus, use a weakened or normal version of the virus to cause the body to fight the infection. This type of vaccine is called a live-attenuated vaccine. Subunit, recombinant, polysaccharide, and conjugate vaccines are pieces of the virus that trigger strong immune responses that can protect the person from future infections from the virus.
The Coronavirus Vaccine, in simplest terms, is a piece of mRNA that codes for the Glycoproteins on the virus which allows the virus to get into the cell. The mRNA is harmless and a subunit Vaccine. The mRNA gets into a nearby cell and the cell makes the protein. The cell then displays the protein on the MHC molecule, allowing the T-cells to see it and create an immune response. The antibodies are made and the Memory B-cells are ready to release the Antibodies when the cell is invaded again. The RNA Vaccine is particularly effective on the Coronavirus since it poses the least risk to the body and is easy to make.
Although it has been a diabolic time, particularly for those who have lost loved ones to the disease, we are fortunate that our knowledge of viruses and the human body has allowed modern medical science to create vaccines and eradicate diseases much more rapidly than the past. Even just a year ago, we thought the earliest an effective vaccine would be available was 18-24 months, but here we are with not just one, but three vaccines which have been very effective in preventing COVID infections and serious illness. While we will need to continue to be vigilant against the coronavirus and its variants for some time to come, something that looks more like normal life seems to be possible again soon.
Timeline of Events of Coronavirus
Additional information available here: https://www.who.int/news/item/29-06-2020-covidtimeline
Nature News, Nature Publishing Group, https://www.nature.com/scitable/topicpage/the-origins-of-viruses-14398218/.
“COVID-19 Vaccine Tracker.” Regulatory Affairs Professionals Society (RAPS), https://www.raps.org/news-and-articles/news-articles/2020/3/covid-19-vaccine-tracker.
“Different COVID-19 Vaccines.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/different-vaccines.html.
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Jarus, Owen. “20 Of the Worst Epidemics and Pandemics in History.” LiveScience, Purch, 20 Mar. 2020, https://www.livescience.com/worst-epidemics-and-pandemics-in-history.html.
“Outbreak: 10 of the Worst Pandemics in History By Staff.” Outbreak: 10 of the Worst Pandemics in History, https://www.mphonline.org/worst-pandemics-in-history/.
Santora, Tara. “2020-2021 Flu Shot Ingredients: What Is in the Flu Shot, and Why?” Fatherly, 14 Jan. 2021, https://www.fatherly.com/health-science/flu-shot-ingredients-flu-vaccine/.
“Understanding MRNA COVID-19 Vaccines.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/different-vaccines/mrna.html.
“Vaccine Types.” Vaccines, https://www.vaccines.gov/basics/types.
“Variola Virus (Smallpox).” Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, https://www.centerforhealthsecurity.org/our-work/publications/smallpox-fact-sheet.
“View of Andrew Brown’s ‘Earnest Endeavor’: The Federal Gazette’s Role in Philadelphia’s Yellow Fever Epidemic of 1793: Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography.” View of Andrew Brown’s “Earnest Endeavor”: The Federal Gazette’s Role in Philadelphia’s Yellow Fever Epidemic of 1793 | Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography, https://journals.psu.edu/pmhb/article/view/45107/44828.Read More
by Allen Choi and Payton Suh
Although the Coronavirus has brought shutdown to many parts of the world, many things, both good and bad, have happened to our Earth due to a decrease in human activity. Ever since we have been in lockdown, the Earth has been changing slowly in many ways. From CO2 emissions to the ozone layer, quarantine may be bringing a positive effect on the environment.
The Los Angeles Air Quality
The Coronavirus has brought many surprises, such as the sudden decrease in pollution in Los Angeles. From mid-March to early April 2020, one of the most polluted municipalities in the world had a sudden streak in good air quality. Studies show that Los Angeles air quality hasn’t been so good since 1980, over 40 years ago. The average bad air quality in Los Angeles was cut down by 20%. Researchers also found a drop of 40% in PM 2.5, which is a group of microscopic pollutants that can cause serious issues with respiratory and cardiovascular functions. PM 2.5 gets into the air through many sources; in Los Angeles, this mainly happens because of vehicle traffic. Since quarantine has encouraged people to stay at home, traffic has been reduced, which is why PM 2.5 levels have decreased.
The decreased pollution in Los Angeles gave the city some beautiful views. But unfortunately, all good things come to an end. Soon after the decrease in air pollution, Los Angeles’s good air quality streak has slowly gone back to normal. Some people claimed that Coronavirus had got rid of smog. Is this true? Not really. Even though being in quarantine contributed to decreasing pollution, being stuck inside our houses was not fully responsible for the clean and fresh air. Air quality experts say that stormy spring weather was another main contributor to why the Los Angeles sky was so clear. Another study shows that the good air streak came to an end because of a recent heatwave, which created unhealthy smog levels again. We do have to remember that the Los Angeles basin traps both water vapor via our regional marine layer, particulate matter, and emissions, creating smog. Health officials suspect worse air quality as we head into the hotter summer months. So, did quarantine cause the air in Los Angeles to become more clear? Not exactly, but being in lockdown surely did make a good impact on our air quality. Perhaps we can maintain some of the improvements if we continue to reduce our driving and industrial emissions.
The Arctic Ozone Layer
Recently, there have been reports from NASA about changes in the ozone layer over the Arctic. The ozone layer sits in the stratosphere and is very important to the planet. Ozone consists of three oxygen atoms, and ozone molecules are highly reactive. Although just three oxygen atoms, these atoms block ultraviolet radiation. The ozone level should be well-maintained because ultraviolet radiation can cause skin cancer, eye cataracts, genetic, and immune problems. Oftentimes, Dobson units are used to measure ozone levels. Unfortunately in the Arctic, the ozone layer in the stratosphere has been damaged quite a lot. In recent years, it’s become worse due to global warming. However, the ozone levels in March were at around 205 Dobson. This is low compared to last year’s ozone levels at this time. Seasonally, an Arctic “hole” appears in our protective ozone layer. Chemicals called chlorofluorocarbons have been destroying the ozone layer in the Arctic for the past century, eventually causing the famous hole that formed in Antarctica in the 1980s. In 1987, over 175 countries agreed to stop using these chemicals.
Astonishingly, in the last days of April, scientists announced that the Arctic “hole” had healed, according to Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service. Experts say that this “healing” is most probably due to reduced industrial activity as well as reduced travel via cars and planes, although there is still not enough information to make an accurate claim.
Over the past decade, annual CO2 emissions have increased by 1% (excluding 2019). CO2 is important for the carbon cycle, especially to green plants. Green plants use CO2 to create glucose, which plants need for survival. But CO2 is also a greenhouse gas, this means that it contributes to global warming. When cars use fossil fuels to run them, CO2 or carbon dioxide, is released into the atmosphere. Even the slightest increase in CO2 causes the Earth to get warmer.
Since being told to stay in our homes, fewer cars roam the streets. Because of this, there has been a decline in CO2 emissions, which is beneficial to the environment in the sense that it helps fight against global warming. Recently, daily global CO2 emissions have fallen by an average of 17%, compared to the Spring of 2019.
Wild Animals Take Over
In some major cities, as people stay in their homes, animals have begun to explore areas that they were once too afraid to venture into. In some cities, wild animals have been seen on the streets. In Nara, Japan, about 100 deer were spotted walking in the city. Mountain goats were found walking on the streets in Llandudno, Wales because of the lack of people. There are also many other animals that are walking into the road such as boars, coyotes, alligators, hippos, and, in Chile, even pumas. Sadly, some animals who live in or near cities have grown dependent on humans as sources of food handouts. Fox News reported that hungry monkeys have been sighted fighting for food in the cities of Thailand and India. Hopefully, as lockdown restrictions begin to be eased, animals and humans can find away to peacefully co-exist in high population areas again.
We hope this article gives you good information on some of the recent changes in the environment. – Payton Suh and Allen Choi
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by Suren Grigorian
Following the recent outbreak of the novel coronavirus resulting in an increasing number of infected people, we are entering a new era filled with fearful projections of the future. A large majority of that fear appears to originate from fear of the unknown, specifically from the fact that among the individuals representing the statistical majority of the public, a small quantity possess actual knowledge of the scientific mechanisms responsible for the dissemination of the virus or what may remain attempted to halt the aforementioned spread. The fact that the mechanisms of the virus, to the general public, remain an opaque novelty is particularly dangerous, as ignorance fosters misinformation and misconceptions; thus, this article shall attempt to elucidate the fundamental principles behind the outbreak in a manner which, the author hopes, shall relieve a small quantity of the anxiety associated with this event, an event which has effected great change upon the lives of us and our relatives.
For an individual to understand the fundamentals of the outbreak, it first remains necessary to understand the virus itself. The virus, currently designated as the Severe Acute Respiratory Disease Coronavirus 2 or SARS-CoV-2 via scientists, primarily remains classified as a member of the family Coronaviridae; generally named for their appearance, similar to a crown beneath an electron microscope. Coronaviruses remain associated with numerous mild illnesses affecting the upper respiratory tract, including the common cold, a small fraction of which remains attributed to them. However, 3 viruses within this family, with the inclusion of SARS-CoV-2, remain attributed to severe respiratory diseases. The origins of the current virus remain slightly obscure, though the development of the virus allows for the delineation of its development. According to current scientific research, the genetic composition of the virus resembles the genetic composition of coronaviruses prevalent among bat species; however, additional evidence links the proteins upon the surface of the virus (discussed in additional detail further onwards) to pangolins, with the former remaining a particularly plausible explanation. Though the origins of the virus do not remain certain, a recent scientific statement within The Lancet regarding the danger of virus conspiracy theories cites papers analysing its genetic composition. One such paper concludes that the coronavirus possesses an approximate 88% similarity to 2 bat coronaviruses, providing general evidence that the virus remains of natural origin.
With a generalised scientific outline of the taxonomy and epidemiological history of the virus established, one can proceed to the biological components of the virus within its generality. To establish the fundamental biology of the virus, one must begin with its typology. The novel coronavirus remains classified as a positive-sense single-stranded RNA virus; the virus itself possesses an approximate width of 90 nanometres, while 4 varying proteins remain contained within the virus, in addition to the previously referenced genetic material. The virion primarily remains distinguished as a mammalian virus due to its external phospholipid membrane; such a membrane, primarily constructed from the external plasma membrane of the cells which the virus infects, assists within entry. The genetic material of the virus primarily contains approximately 29,900 nucleotides, a miniscule quantity in comparison to the gene sizes known to us today, but massive for the large majority of RNA viruses. The internal components of the genetic material of the virus determine the process of infection. 20,000 RNA bases, 20 kilobases within the virus, remain devoted to replicase genes, responsible for the construction of polyproteins, which remain divided into non-structural proteins. An additional 10 kilobases remain devoted to essential and accessory proteins, including the spike, envelope, nucleocapsid and membrane proteins. However, the large majority of scientific discussion concerns the membrane of the virus; here, the key to entry within a cell remains located.
ACE2, scientifically known as Angiotensin I Converting Enzyme 2, remains established as a protein receptor upon the surface of human cells responsible for regulation of cardiovascular and renal metabolism. However, it serves as a binding protein receptor to the spike proteins of SARS-CoV-2, forming a primary and crucial component of the entry of the virus into a healthy cell. An additional factor responsible for assisting the entry of the virus into the archetypal cell remains the serine protease TMPRSS2, responsible for assisting within S protein priming. The function of this remains the splicing of the aforementioned spike protein, producing a fusion peptide and allowing finalisation of entry. The surface of the virus additionally possesses such receptors as hemagglutinin esterase; however, this does not remain particularly applicable to the mechanisms via which the virus remains responsible for infecting human cells.
However, an essential component of the general effect of the virus upon the human body remains the entry of a singular virus within a singular human cell. This occurs via a detailed biological process responsible for general infection. Firstly, the spike protein receptors upon the surface of the virus attach to the ACE2 receptors upon the surface of the human cell (As previously referenced, the serine protease TMPRSS2 splices the spike protein, producing a fusion peptide and allowing entry). Following this, a series of processes occur which allow for the replication of the simplified genetic material of the cell via the utilisation of replicase enzymes which exist within the cell itself; a set of pp1a and pp1b polyproteins remain produced, primarily responsible for the formation of a replicase-transcriptase complex, which manufactures replicated RNA segments. As viral proteins remain manufactured and assemble concomitantly to the proteins comprising the viral body, exocytosis occurs, releasing additional viruses into the interstitial fluid of the body and producing the incipient entrance instances of a viral infection within the body. The spike proteins which mediate these processes within viruses (including the virus responsible for the SARS outbreak within the early 2000s) and those within the coronavirus remain generally similar.
Though individual mechanisms of infection remain a component of the damage produced via the virus, its general effects upon the body and its methodology of attack remain an additional component. Analysis of this requires a general understanding of the immune system. A singular component of the mechanism utilised via the coronavirus to conduct a total bodily infection remains the offensive upon the human lungs. Following infection, virions enter the alveoli of the lungs, the primary centre for respiration and the general absorption of oxygen from atmospheric substances. With the virus inflicting severe damage upon the cells of the alveoli, leukocytes within the blood attempt to halt the damage, with the immune system producing an excessive reaction known as a cytokine storm. Within the worst instances, the walls of the alveoli collapse, producing acute respiratory distress syndrome. Acute respiratory distress syndrome remains defined as a respiratory disorder within which fluid from capillaries within the alveoli begins to leak, producing decreased quantities of oxygen within the blood stream and a condition known as hypoxemia. Following this, severe organ damage occurs, with potential sepsis resulting from immune system activity and producing a possibility of death. The final stage within the dissemination of the virus remains its spread to additional individuals. This primarily occurs via a system of release which necessitates the utilisation of masks; according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the virus primarily remains released via infectious droplets of saliva or mucus, producing infections within additional individuals.
However, to produce a general understanding of the methodologies necessary for the development of an epidemic and an eventual pandemic, one must understand the mathematics of epidemiological dissemination; in particular, the development of the coronavirus remains reliant upon exponential growth. In particular, the general model utilised via epidemiologists remains the SIR model, additionally known as the susceptible, infected and recovered model, with the addition of exposed individuals. Utilisation of this model requires the application of Rₒ, the quantity of individuals which may remain infected as a fraction of the quantity who contact an infected individual. Following the progression of an epidemic, epidemiologists adjust this in association with variations within the progression of the pandemic, though the Rₒ of the virus remains 3. The mathematics of the development of the pandemic ultimately remain dependent upon this; the development of the epidemic, however, progresses beyond simple transmission models.
One could primarily characterise the development of the pandemic within an SIR model via a formula within which the change within the quantity of cases per day, perhaps represented as ΔC, remains equivalent to the quantity of individuals exposed each day, multiplied via the quantity of existing cases, multiplied via the probability of contracting the virus provided an instance of contact. When one utilises such a model, it remains effortless to note that at a particular point within the outbreak, all individuals within the population will remain infected and the virus will remain incapable of disseminating further. The question remains if the outbreak remains capable of infecting all individuals within the population, a definitively avoidable outcome; if this occurs, one could expect to observe exponential growth within an outbreak, decaying following a period of time. However, epidemics tend to follow, with the occurrence of restrictions, logistic growth, a mathematical methodology of growth whereby a function continues within a stage of exponential
growth for a period of time, following which, at the inflection point, the derivative of the function begins to decrease, within a bell curve pattern. Following this, the development of the epidemic remains drastically reduced, culminating within a flatline, where the quantity of additional cases remains particularly small. In fact, if one plots the derivative of the resulting function, known as the sigmoid function, the derivative intersects the Y-axis at precisely 50% of the value at which the sigmoid intersects; this indicates that the inflection point for the sigmoid function and thus, the point at which the dissemination of the disease begins to halt, occurs at the point within which the derivative attains its largest value.
Though this aspect of the outbreak possesses relevance, a particularly primary aspect remains the history of the outbreak; within weeks of its development, the entirety of the developed world screeched to a halt, industrially, commercially and governmentally. How did this occur? Beginning with the outbreak itself, one could analyse the development of the outbreak from its inception; on November 17, 2019, according to Chinese officials and the South China Morning Post, an individual, 55 years of age, became the first recorded case worldwide of the virus. During the previous year, approximately 266 individuals placed within medical surveillance remained registered; however, the extent of the outbreak became clear to Chinese Communist Party officials upon December 31, when government officials within the province of Hubei announced that several dozen individuals remained within treatment for a novel infectious virus, as of yet unknown to the scientific community. Upon January 11, the Chinese government reported the first death from the novel disease, a man of 61 years who purchased materials from the wet market where the virus remains suspected to have begun; the death occurred upon January 9, when the man, admitted to a medical facility for treatment, failed to recover and died of heart failure. Following this, the first confirmed cases were reported within external nations, as within the following days, Thailand, South Korea and Japan reported cases; upon January 21, the first case within the United States was reported, with a man of 30 years developing symptoms following his return from Wuhan.
Upon January 23, Chinese government officials ordered the immediate placement of the city of Wuhan and the province of Hubei within lockdown, prior to the Chinese Lunar New Year. At this point, approximately 570 individuals remained infected, with approximately 17 dead. The remainder of the nation experienced increased lockdown measures, with Lunar New Year celebrations cancelled. Upon February 2, 3 days following the WHO declaration regarding the coronavirus as an emergency of international concern, China reported approximately 14,380 cases. As the nation of China remained placed within severe lockdown, precautions began within additional nations; several governments imposed testing upon all entering flights and their passengers. Several days prior, human-to-human transmission remained conclusively located, massively increasing the urgency of global preparations. Upon February 9, approximately 37,198 cases remained recorded, with noted Chinese whistleblower Dr. Li Wenliang dying of the disease upon February 7.
On February 14, France became the first nation within Europe to report a death resulting from the novel virus, with Italy reporting 3 deaths upon February 23 and local government officials halting the Venice Carnival, an event which, were it to continue upon its charted schedule, could produce hundreds or perhaps thousands of additional infections. From February 24 to March 1, a wave of incipient cases occurred, with nations such as the Netherlands, Greece, Georgia, Denmark and numerous contemporaries reporting initial cases. With cases exiting the quarantined and docked Diamond Princess cruise ship, upon February 27, the United States government began to consider the implementation of the Defense Production Act, which would grant President Trump the ability to control national production facilities within emergency situations. The first death within the United States occurred upon February 29, with President Trump disrupting travel from Europe upon March 11 and declaring a national emergency upon March 13. Gathering within groups of 50 or greater was promptly chastised via the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and upon March 15, the New York school system, the largest within the United States, closed. Though the European Union, facing increasing infections, restricted non-essential travel into the bloc, 2 days following the announcement, upon March 19, China reported 0 local infections, with 14 resulting from external travel and approximately 80,967 infections total; the first nation to experience an immediate halt to the continuation of the virus, China reported positive results primarily due to their brutal quarantine measures.
Upon March 30, an influx of state isolation directives remained issued within the United States, with approximately 265 million Americans placed within isolation. Earlier, upon March 13, the Los Angeles Unified School District, the second largest within the United States, announced a 2-week closure, extended first to May 1 and, following the initial announcement, to the terminal end of the school year. As the outbreak continued, numerous additional events began to contribute to its dissemination, with cases surging within Russia, deaths increasing within Iran and Italy and the United States assuming the mantle of the nation with the largest recorded quantity of coronavirus cases upon the planet. `Russia now possesses approximately 300,000 cases, an issue compounded via the manipulation of statistics due to bureaucratic machinations. And thus, our story returns to today.
With this immense quantity of suffering and death, as well as economic difficulties for millions of Americans and global citizens, one would naturally wonder: does there remain a cure? Scientists, researchers and pharmaceutical specialists across the world are labouring to locate a cure; so far, 7 promising treatments remain within clinical trials, according to The Economist. A promising option, one which I am sure our readers have observed within televised media, remains remdesivir, a treatment originally developed via Gilead Sciences, a prominent American pharmaceutical corporation. As a nucleoside analogue, a treatment which mirrors the chemical structure of genetic material, the efficacy of remdesivir primarily remains attributed to its ability to prevent genetic replication. In addition to 2 trials within Asia developed via Gilead Sciences, the chemical remains authorised for emergency clinical utilisation within the United States, with supplies allocated to hospitals within multiple states. However, though promising, it does not halt the effects of the virus totally, with several researchers insisting it possesses a minor effect and a previously cited Chinese study within this article additionally supplementing this view.
If not remdesivir, then what? Trials of the clinical cocktail Lopinavir-Ritonavir, commercially known as Kaletra, remain within progress or completed. However, as within the case of a study published within the New England Journal of Medicine, they do not necessarily deliver promising results, with an additional study published within The Lancet indicating that triple antiviral therapy performed superiorly to Kaletra. Perhaps favipiravir, known as Avigan, then; this appears to remain the case, as the Russian government, in association with domestic pharmaceutical groups, indicated that a trial of the treatment remains near completion, displaying greater than 80% efficacy. Tocilizumab, known as Actemra commercially, remains an additional option; approved for utilisation within China and sparingly utilised within Italy, it prevents inflammatory responses such as the referenced cytokine storm within its standard application as an arthritis drug.
As for vaccines, numerous varying methodologies exist for the development of vaccines to combat the virus. These include live vaccines, viral vector vaccines, nucleic acid vaccines, protein-based vaccines and additional types. Within a live vaccine, a weakened or destroyed version of the virus, with spike proteins intact, remains introduced within the body, allowing for immediate recognition via the immune system and the development of immunity. The American biotechnology corporation Codagenix, within collaboration with the Serum Institute of India, currently remains within the process of developing a deactivated live vaccine. Viral vector vaccines, additionally known as recombinant vector vaccines, utilise the process of genetic modification to introduce relevant spike protein genome sections within the genomes of varying viruses, such as adenoviruses, an approach pursued via Johnson & Johnson and CanSino, the latter of which possesses a Phase II vaccine. Nucleic acid vaccines, a novel and untested development within the field, primarily remain reliant upon recent advances within genetic engineering, whereby the coronavirus spike peptide gene, in addition to a quantity of DNA, remains subjected to electroporation, developing membrane pores to increase acceptance and allowing for the production of spike proteins, triggering an immune response. This remains within Phase I trials under the guidance of Beijing Advaccine Biotechnology Inovio Pharmaceuticals as a DNA vaccine and an RNA vaccine under Moderna and CureVac, the latter of which aims to “print” such components. Protein-based vaccines primarily insert large quantities of independent antigens, triggering an individual immune response; this remains pursued via Clover Pharmaceuticals, Novovax, the notable Sanofi Pasteur and the United States military, among others. With such entities as Oxford University, the US government and Chinese state apparatus developing vaccines, there remains a slight quantity of hope. However, solutions remain within the distant intervals of several months onward.
In conclusion, the author hopes that this analysis of the individual components of the worldwide coronavirus outbreak shall provide a sufficient quantity of comfort to those who are subjected to the jarring reality we face today. Hopefully, this virus shall be eradicated, but for now, our thoughts and hopes remain both with the relatives of those lost to the outbreak and to the researchers attempting to develop a cure.
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by Suren Grigorian and Daniel Svediani
The name of Rube Goldberg has become synonymous with the word “mechanism,” with his machines connoting images of complex chain reactions which accomplish a minor and relatively routine task at their end. However, the development of these machines began upon the drawing board, as the original Rube Goldberg developed a reputation for these devices through his artistic precocity.
Rube Goldberg, known originally as Reuben Lucius Goldberg, was born on July 4, 1883, to a San Francisco police and fire commissioner and a member of a Reform Jewish congregation. During his childhood, he displayed remarkable talent in the tracing of illustrations. As he grew up, his inclination toward the arts became apparent, but he was encouraged on a path of engineering by his father, graduating from the University of California, Berkeley in 1904. However, his presence in the engineering community did not last long, as he decided to pursue his original inclination for the arts. He joined the San Francisco Chronicle and the San Francisco Bulletin, gaining cartoon syndication with several newspapers.
By 1915, he became known as America’s most popular cartoonist. His most popular comic strip was The Inventions of Professor Lucifer Gorganzola, which brought him fame and is the one that we all associate with Rube Goldberg. The strip exhibited comically intricate inventions created by a Professor Butts, and these devices would later become known as Rube Goldberg machines. Later, he created a series of seven short animated films depicting the humorous aspects of everyday life.
Check out the awesome student-made Rube Goldberg machine shorts from Mr. Bradfield’s MakerSpace classes in the attached compilation above!
Original Rube Goldberg cartoons: