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 and particularly immediate development of the novel coronavirus approximately greater than 400,000 individuals remain dead, 7 million infected and millions of additional lives plunged into fear. 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 within 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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Making Masks At Home
By Frederick Ernst
Due to the coronavirus, it can be difficult to find masks in stores or on-line. CDC recommends the wearing of a mask when outside the home and when it’s difficult to remain 6 ft away from others in order to contain the microdroplets that can potentially carry the coronavirus. It’s important that we not buy and hoard the N95 masks that medical workers need right now. However, the City of Los Angeles has issued a requirement that all residents should wear a mask when outside the home, particularly when inside stores or other facilities. Luckily, you can create your own mask at home. Here are some various ways to do so.
One way to create a face mask is to make it out of a t-shirt. For this mask you will need a shirt made of tightly knit cotton material and 2 rubber bands or hair ties. In order to make this mask, first, cut off the bottom seven to eight inches off the t-shirt so you have a strip of material, lay it flat and turn it 90 degrees so what used to be the hem of the shirt which is usually double stitched, is facing left or right. Then, fold the top of the strip to the middle, and fold the bottom of the strip to the middle and repeat one more time. Loop one rubber band over each side (left and right) so it looks like a candy wrapper. Then fold the excess material on the right and left to the middle. Put a band over each ear, making sure the material fits snuggly on your face. Watch the tutorial here:
Another way to make a mask is to use a bandanna and a coffee filter. For this way of making a mask, you will need a bandanna, coffee filter, and 2 rubber bands. To make this mask, fold the bandanna in half. Fold the filter horizontally in half. Take the wider section of the filter and place it in the middle of the bandanna, and then fold the top and bottom of the bandanna. Repeat folding the top and bottom one more time. Loop a rubber band or a hair tie on the bandanna at the left and right side and then fold the parts of the bandanna over the rubber band that stick off over the band. Then, put one band over each ear. Watch the tutorial to see how:
One more way to create a face mask is to sew one. For this face mask, you will need 2 ten by six inch rectangles made from tightly woven cotton fabric, 2 six inch pieces of elastic or rubber bands, cloth strips, string, hair ties. You also will require a sewing machine, a needle, and thread. To assemble this mask, first, stack the two pieces of cotton fabric on top of each other, and then fold the longer 10 inch sides a quarter inch down and sew them together. Then, fold the shorter 6-inch side a half inch down and sew at the edge leaving a small space to loop the elastic in. Thread the elastic in the opening you made. Then tie the ends together. Tuck the knots into the opening. Then, gather the short sides together and sew the elastic into place, as shown below.
by Ms. Kincaid and David Tang
I’m sure there are many of us who read about what’s happening in the news and see how hard healthcare and frontline workers are working to keep us safe, and we wonder, “What can I do to help?” Well, 8th grader Zyg Ramsay went ahead and decided to do something about it. He saw the challenges that healthcare workers were having getting all the Personal Protective Equipment, or PPE, they needed. With a highly contagious virus like SARS-CoV-2, doctors, nurses and others must have not only masks and full gowns, but also face shields to prevent the microdroplets that could carry the virus from coming in contact with their faces. Zyg saw that Budmen Industries was looking for volunteers to help flatten the curve and protect healthcare workers by using their home 3D printers to print these face shields.
As he explains, “I was fiddling around on the internet and found the Budmen website that contains 3D printing files. You register to become a producer. They didn’t tell me what to do so I just printed one to see how it worked. I thought, “Once they email me to start printing stuff I will.” I got an email from Budmen saying there was an L.A. location, with somebody putting it together in the L.A. area, so I signed up for that. I didn’t have to design the file; you don’t code the printer’s movements, there’s a program that takes a 3D image and converts it into text which the printer follows.”
MS KINCAID: What material do you use to print the face shields?
ZYG: I use PLA [polylactic acid] for the face shields, which is a plastic made from corn, so it is biodegradable. My printer melts it at 200⁰ C and prints each of the 30 layers layer by layer, printing a complete face shield in 2 hours. There are two things I print for it. One is the actual shield in front of the face, and the other is the strap lock that keeps the elastic in place.
MS KINCAID: About much does it cost to make each one?
ZYG: I calculated it at one point, I think it’s around 12¢ of material for each one. I’ve printed 59 shields, so almost 3 kg of plastic.
I asked Zyg how he got into 3D printing. “About 2 years ago, I read about 3D printing in MAKE: magazine. My first printer cost around $200, but it was only able to print up to 4 cubic inches. I got a larger one for Christmas that can print up to 11 cubic inches.”
Our interview continued:
MS KINCAID: What else are you working on?
ZYG: Right now I’m working on making two drones. One is a tricopter with three propellers and servo motors to turn the propellers. From what I have read, it’s is much more stable and easier to control, but for some reason it’s less common than the quadcopter, the normal drone with a
MS KINCAID: Why do you think that the tricopter is better than the quadcopter?
ZYG: The tricopter doesn’t turn by slowing down one propeller and speeding another like the quadcopter, it turns the servo. It also doesn’t lean when it moves to the side, it stays in place, which helps people with cameras on their drones.
I’m also working on a minor soldering project. My mom bought a PCB for me, which is a superthin circuit board, and I solder super tiny electronic pieces onto the PCB with solder, which is just super easy-to-melt metal that conducts electricity.
MS KINCAID: Are you just experimenting to see if you can solder that small or are you actually trying to modify the board?
ZYG: I’m just trying to solder that small. Usually I solder bigger things but it has the soldering pads to attach components to it. The last project I’m working on is my MakerSpace project, which is the prosthetic hand controlled by muscle signals.
MS KINCAID: Can you tell us about that?
ZYG: Basically it works with 5 servos connected to string that attaches to each of the 3D printed fingers. When the servo turns one way, the finger closes, and when the servo turns the other way, the finger opens. I control it using muscle signals with a control board connected to a microcontroller like an Arduino. The part connected to the muscle uses EMG [electromyography] to measure difference in electricity between different points on the arm. It uses this EMG to figure out if the person is trying to flex or relax. This works because muscles use actin and myosin fibers, triggered by electrical impulses and powered by ATP.
MS KINCAID: What is your goal?
ZYG: I want to make a very cheap prosthetic hand where you can move each finger independent of each other. Right now your options are: a cheap one that closes all fingers at a time, which is bad for writing or holding circular objects, or an independent-digit expensive hand for around $10,000. Mine would be $150-200 but with independent digits. I would want to program patterns into it for set hand positions because it’s hard to program in each muscle.
MS KINCAID: If this is meant for someone without those muscles? Where would the signals come from?
ZYG: Right now, I control it via my forearm. This is designed for somebody who has no wrist, but still retains most of the forearm, so you can still use the muscles of the forearm. Closing and opening the hand uses muscles in the forearm, not the hand or wrist. Just using the forearm is a bit harder, but you can learn to do it. Studies have shown that with training, you can learn to use your brain to control a whole prosthetic arm.
MS KINCAID: That is cool! Would the stickers with wire be attached to your temples, then?
ZYG: You wouldn’t use the stickers, you would use the headset that goes over your head and measures alpha brain waves. You can’t really control an arm with that outside of the lab because you would have to get something implanted in your brain to control the arm, and you can’t do that outside of the laboratory.
MS KINCAID: So I guess that’s where we are today, and we’ll keep moving forward with the technology. Thanks Zyg, I feel like I learned a lot today!
ZYG: Thanks, you too! Bye!
As Mr. Bradfield, Zyg’s MakerSpace teacher commented, “It was inspiring to see Zyg applying the design and engineering principles he learned in class to a real-world problem.” It is inspiring to see our students take what they learn and help make the world a little bit better!
If you are interested in registering to 3D print face shields, learn more by clicking below:
WELCOME TO THIS YEAR’S
BREAKTHROUGH JUNIOR CHALLENGE
You get it. You’ve grasped an important scientific theory, concept or principle.
Now can you share your insight?
An inventive video can get across complex material that would take pages of text to communicate.
To take part in the Breakthrough Junior Challenge (the “Challenge”), create a short video (3:00 minutes max) to explain a big idea in one of these fields:
- Life Sciences
Explain a big scientific idea in Physics, Life Sciences or Mathematics with a short video.
You will have until June 25, 2020 at 11:59 PM PDT to submit your video (3:00 minutes max).
You can take part in this year’s Challenge as long as you’re:
- 13 or older by 12:01 AM PDT on April 1, 2020
- Not older than 18 (not yet 19) as of 11:59 PM PDT on October 1, 2020
Your film can take any form you like: animation, talking head, documentary, dramatic reconstruction, whatever. It’s worth keeping in mind that video is a dynamic visual medium – using diagrams, simulations, physical demonstrations etc. is a lot more effective than standing in front of a blackboard talking.
The videos will be judged according to the following criteria:
For more info, application process, and previous year’s finalists: https://breakthroughjuniorchallenge.org/
From left to right: Elliot Lopez, Ellen Kozlov, Gillian Nail, Jaden Penhaskashi, Scott Oberholtzer
Congratulations to our new 2019-2020 ASB officers!
Jaden Penhaskashi – President
Elliot Lopez – Vice President
Scott Oberholtzer – Secretary
Ellen Kozlov – Treasurer
Historian – Gillian Nail
6th Grade: Kieron Lyons and Harrison Reisner
7th Grade: Suren Grigorian and Daniel Svediani
8th Grade: Joseph Kim and Lily Louis
9th Grade: Lucas Wein and Alexander Ashrafi
10th Grade: Melissa Mouchamel and Vincent Lee
Statement from Jaden Penhaskashi:
As the new Science Academy President, many students reasonably expect a lot from me, due to the high bar our previous President, Lorelei Santa Maria, set. Although I would like to make many improvements to our already wonderful school, as the saying goes, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!” My first order of business will be to continue all the amazing events put into place by our previous ASB, with some additions made in order to increase both school spirit and student involvement.
I will also prioritize finding a way to get more student feedback and increase the communication between ASB members and the general student body. Last year, there was an active tutoring program where older students helped many students who needed academic support. This year, however, that program has begun to slowly fade due to conflicting schedules of high school students. I plan on working with the school administration towards a solution. Finally, as a Science Academy high schooler, I know that many people in 9th and 10th grade feel that the school is treating both high school and middle school students as being the same. I would like to discuss with the ASB different ways to give high schoolers more privileges than they have at the moment.
I look forward to working with both ASB members and my fellow students towards improving our school, one step at a time! If you currently have any concerns or ideas on how to improve our school, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I would love to hear your feedback!
Last Thursday, our campus was overrun with angels, devils, aliens, pirates, dinosaurs, cheerleaders, witches, and goblins!
Hope everyone had a frighteningly good time! The winners of our Costume Contest will be featured in the Yearbook – be sure to order yours soon. Thank you for everyone who participated!
Click on the photos below to view the full-sized gallery:
By: John Lee and Payton Suh
In the North Hollywood community near the school, there are many fun places to explore, like the North Hollywood Park. The address of the North Hollywood Park and Recreation Center is 11430 Chandler Boulevard, North Hollywood, CA 91601, which is 1.8 miles from the Science Academy. There are many features in this park that makes it a fun place to visit with your family and friends.
One of the features in the North Hollywood Recreation Center is it has an outdoor fitness section. This area has equipment pieces for push-ups and sit-ups, as well as bikes, ellipticals, twisters, etc. Because of all the equipment they have, you have a lower chance of getting bored. In addition, there is a large track where you can jog and run.
This park is usually not crowded, so you can have plenty of open room to play or exercise. You also can have picnics there and enjoy the sounds of the birds chirping, while eating a sandwich. Right next to the picnic area, you can see dogs roaming around. That’s because right next to it, there’s a dog park. This park has improved a lot since the past. There are also many areas to play soccer and many other sports that involve running, with lots of trees that provide shade even when it’s hot outside.
There is also a library next to the North Hollywood Recreation Center called the North Hollywood Amelia Earhart Regional Library. The address of this library is 5211 Tujunga Ave, North Hollywood, CA 91601. It is a one-story red brick building. Its sloped roof is made up of red tiles and 2 chimneys on the end. The roof is supported by a row of concrete columns and capitals leaning on a concrete wall. When you enter, there is a small lobby with decorative iron gates with Mexican-styled windows framed with antique green glass. In addition, they even have a fireplace.
The history of this library dates back to the early 1900s when books were borrowed and returned in a corner of the Lankershim post office. When the city’s name “Lankershim” changed to “North Hollywood” in 1927, the name of this Lankershim Branch changed into Sidney Lanier Branch. In 1956, architect John Landon renovated it, so that it almost tripled the library’s size. The branch changed its name to the North Hollywood Amelia M. Earhart Regional Branch in 1980. Amelia Mary Earhart was an American aviation pioneer and author, the first female aviator to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean. Even though she lived in Los Angeles less than 2 years before her death, this park honors her with her own statue and the library’s name. The statue is in front of the North Hollywood Amelia Earhart Regional Library, and down the street from another Earhart memorial at Valhalla Cemetery. The statue’s base is circled by 10 propellers halfway into the ground to honor her plane ́s actual resting place in the West Pacific.
The North Hollywood Amelia Earhart Regional Branch Library was designated an historic monument by Los Angeles in 1986. This historic building closed for repairs after the 1994 Northridge earthquake, and the library temporarily moved to MCA/Universal. The renovated building re-opened on April 17th, 1995. Within several years, because of the growth of the population in the area, the library had become crowded again. Architects and engineers expanded and restored the building, expanding the library facility to 15,150 square feet.
In conclusion, this park is very unique and interesting and has a great impact on the community of North Hollywood. Perhaps you can visit sometime after school or with your family and friends on the weekend.
This is a picture of the North Hollywood Recreation Center Building. It hosts the indoor basketball court, where people can play basketball in or join the Basketball Clinic (Youth)/League (5 – 15).Read More
By Allen Choi, Jayden Nguyen and Alma Streett
Halloween is a holiday that is celebrated on October 31. The earliest recorded Halloween-like holiday was when the Celtics were celebrating an ancient festival they called Samhain in about A.D. 20. It was believed that on Samhain, the dead returned to the Earth as spirits. The Celts believed that these spirits caused trouble to them. To prevent misfortune, the Celts would dress up in costumes to ward off ghosts. They would burn crops as offerings. This holiday was soon followed by All Saints Day.
In the 8th century, Pope Gregory III wanted to honor the saints. The event was called All Saints Day and took place on November 1st. All Saints Day incorporated some of Samhain’s traditions. The day before this holiday was called All Hallows Eve, and later Halloween. Over the many years, Halloween became a holiday of activities like trick-or-treating, wearing costumes, festive gatherings, and eating sweet treats. All Saints’ Day was soon renamed Allhallowmas (hallowed means holy) and the night before it All Hallow’s Eve and, eventually, Halloween.
When the Romans claimed Celtic territory in 49 A.D, they also incorporated All Saints Day into their year as Feralia, a holiday to honor Pomona, goddess of the harvest. It was celebrated in late October, around the time Halloween is today. In 1000 A.D, November 2 was declared All Souls’ Day. All Souls’ Day was celebrated in similar ways to Samhain. All Souls’ Day was a day were poor citizens asked for food, and they were given soul cakes to pray for the families’ dead relatives. Churches approved of this practice and knew it as “going a-souling.”
This tradition was taken up by children who would be given food and money. This was the first trick-or-treat tradition. When Halloween came to America, it was the most popular in Maryland and the other southern colonies. The first American Halloween celebrations were public events to celebrate the harvest. Neighborhoods shared stories, told fortunes, danced, and sang. In the 19th century, new Irish immigrants came to America. These immigrants helped popularize the holiday. Americans began to dress up in costumes and go from house to house asking for food or money. This eventually became trick-or-treating. This tradition was known as trick-or-treating because it was believed that if you didn’t give children their treats, they would play a trick on you. This sparked the Halloween tradition of pranks.
So whether you’re having a Halloween party at home or trick-or-treating, each Halloween tradition was based off the spirits whose presence the Celts felt so keenly.Read More