Category Archives: Science, Tech, & Health

How Close Are We to Getting a Self-Driving or Hover Car?

“The best way to predict the future is to create it.” – Abraham Lincoln, 16th President of the United States.

In 1989,  Back to the Future Part II came out to critical acclaim with some very strong predictions. In the movie, Marty McFly and Doc travel to 2015 where there are self-tying shoes, VR video games, and hover boards. Also, the Cubs win the World Series after a 107 year drought.

Well, some of those things did happen. Nike did release self-tying shoes just like those in the movie, VR video games are more popular than ever and the Cubs did win the World Series. Just one year later than the movie’s prediction.

But how about a hover board, or those hover cars? And how’s the self-driving car that Google is creating coming along?

The Waymo self-driving car; photo from businessinsider.com
The Waymo self-driving car; photo from businessinsider.com

The latest on Google’s self-driving car has them submitting their first-ever safety report about its technology to federal regulators. Waymo, the company’s real name, released the report publicly to anyone who wants to understand their commitment to safety.

Waymo, in December 2016, took over the project from Google themselves. However, Waymo is owned by Alphabet Inc, the same company that owns…. Google.

The hover car is not being developed by an advanced company but rather by Volkswagen, the German company that introduced us to the Beetle.  In 2011, they introduced the “People’s Car Project” which allowed internet users to submit items for a VW model of the future.

The concept Ford hover car in the 1950's; photo from thegentlemanracer.com
The concept Ford hover car in the 1950’s; photo from thegentlemanracer.com

Long before the competition, Ford in the 1950’s came very close to releasing a car that floated. Due to financial constraints, the project is over.

After 119,000 submissions it came down to the three models, the music car, smart car, and the winner, the hover car. Currently, the project hasn’t gone far. In 2012, VW released a video showing the concept in China.

Concept VW hover car; photo from wordlesstech.com
Concept VW hover car; photo from wordlesstech.com

We will most likely see the self-driving car well before the hover car or board due to the cost. It’s cheaper to create a vehicle with a robot mind than trying to make one float. But your guess is good as mine.

Asteroid passing “darn close” to Earth

This past Thursday was a normal day for most; you probably didn’t even notice the mobile RV passing us in space. I mean, an asteroid that came close enough to hit us.

The asteroid 2012 TC4 flew by the Earth,  about 26,000 miles away from our only home. Very close when considering the Moon is about 239,000 miles away from Earth. Rolf Densing, head of the European Space Operations Centre in Germany, called the asteroid “a close miss.”

An artist's conception of 2012 TC4 passing by Earth; photo by nowreadthisnews.com
An artist’s conception of 2012 TC4 passing by Earth; photo by nowreadthisnews.com

The asteroid had no chance of hitting the Earth but Antarctica got the closest sighting of the asteroid at 1:42 am. ET this past Thursday, October 12th.

After the discovery of the asteroid in 2012, the asteroid was too distant and faint to be detected.  The rock is roughly 45 to 100 feet, traveling at 16,000 MPH.

NASA used the asteroid’s close travel to Earth to test their planetary defense system. The drill was to see if the system were to work if an actual asteroid were heading straight to the Earth. In previous tests, NASA would use pretend asteroids. Vishnu Reddy, a NASA consultant asked, “How prepared are we for the next cosmic threat?”

He would answer his question: “So we wanted to test how ready we are for a potential impact by a hazardous asteroid.”

NASA’s Planetary Defense Coordination Office led the drill and they are in charge of coordinating efforts to protect Earth from hazardous asteroids. They are also responsible for finding, tracking, and characterizing potentially hazardous objects coming near Earth.

In order to deflect an asteroid, the asteroid would need to be detected years in advance. The most promising techniques that NASA are investigating are the “kinetic impactor” which uses an object to hit the asteroid to get it off course and the “gravity tractor” which would gravitationally tug on an asteroid by placing a large mass over it.

The good news for you and me is that there is no known asteroid that poses a significant risk of impact in the next 100 years.

Need to stuff your face; Facebook introduces food orders on app

For years now, Facebook has been the place to update your status to let your friends know that you are hungry even through they don’t care but now you can order food straight from the app.

Photo from becuo.com
Photo from becuo.com

The social media mammoth is expanding the ability to order food for takeout or delivery straight from the app.

However, Facebook will not be dealing with restaurants and they actually will be sending you over to another delivery website/app like Delivery.com,  DoorDash, and ChowNow. They will also have links to restaurants near you like Papa Johns.

In order to stay relevant in this golden age of social media, Facebook is launching these features to be as useful as possible.  Facebook currently has over 2 billion users and owns social media websites Instagram, Messenger, and WhatsApp.

To assess the new feature, go to the “Order Food” section in the Explore menu. Select this to start your order, if the restaurant offers takeout or delivery with multiple services, you can choose which one that you like to use. You can even ask your friends and order food for them.

Facebook has been testing multiple services this past year and that included AI that was shut down due to the AI “learning” its own language.

Tesla introduces their version of the “fastest” car ever

Thursday, November 16 will be known as the day Elon Musk changed the game for car businesses forever.

Being described as the “fastest production car ever made,” the new Tesla Roadster will be challenging Chevrolet’s Corvette ZR-1 and Dodge’s newest Challenger nicknamed the “Demon” for fastest car but however the Roadster will not be released until 2020.

When released, the Roadster will be able to go from 0 to 60 in 1.9 seconds or to 100 in 4.2 seconds. The car will also be able to travel .25 miles in only 8.9 seconds. More or less, if you get the chance to buy this car, you’ll be living the life of a NASCAR driver without the constant left turns. This car through will cost as much as a car in NASCAR as it will set your bank account back to the stone age to the tune of $250,000.

With the being that impressive from a technological and price perspective and also considering the fact that this car will be fast than a Bugatti Charon which costs around $3 million. The average person will not be able to handle this car and its power.

Musk knows this car is the real deal and he means it saying this, “The point of doing this is to give a hardcore smackdown to gasoline vehicles.” He mentoned the price by describing like this “It’ll feel like a steam engine with a side of quiche.”

He kept the top speed of the Roadster unknown but it will be above 250 mph with gas mileage on the car being twice as more as the current models.

“You’ll be able to travel from Los Angeles to San Francisco and back without refueling,” Musk said. Most critics disagree with the statement as the car will have to have fuel mileage of over 700 miles, Musk give the actual fuel mileage of the Roadster at 620 miles.

Along with those impressive statistics, the Roadster will have all-wheel drive and will be able to fit four people, even if two of those people will have to be very small.

Musk has set down the challenge to all automakers… Who’s going to answer it.

Do concussions last longer for girls?

A study published October 2nd in the Journal of the American Osteopathic Association revealed that girls playing in sports can have concussions that last longer than boys.

Concussion symptoms can linger twice as long for teenaged girls in comparison to boys. Dr. John Neidecker, a sports concussion specialist in Raleigh, NC who was the lead researcher in this study had his fears confirmed in this study.

“These findings confirm what many in sports medicine have believed for some time”, said Neidecker.

Previous research done showed girls may have underlying issues caused by concussion that are more prevalent. This includes migraines,  depression, anxiety, and stress.

Neidecker and his colleagues pointed out that this is why girls need more recovery time and why it takes longer for recovery for a girl.

It’s often at the age of a teenager for a concussion to be misdiagnosed and labeled off as just a headache. Concussions usually set in after the fact, leading to a long road to recovery.

In 2008, a report came out with 29,167 high school soccer girls with a concussion compared to 20,929 boys soccer players.

photo from ussportscamps.com
photo from ussportscamps.com

Neidecker and his research team focused on 102 girls and 110 boys aged between 11 and 18, with first time concussions.  Symptoms would last for a median 28 days for females and 11 days for boys.

Symptoms would clear up in three weeks in 75% of boys and 42% of girls.

Neidecker knows teenagers can be resisted on talking about their issues but as long as he talks, he can get it out of them.

Neidecker encourages doctors to always check their patient history to make sure there is no complications in recovery.

The Blue Brain Project and EVIE: The Development of AI

If you watch YouTube, you may know of a YouTuber by the stage name of KSI. He made a video on Evie and his discussion with the artificial intelligence or AI on the computer.

He asked Evie about 9-11 and Evie’s response was very distasteful. If you want to watch the video, you can look it up, but Evie is not a true AI. Evie’s responses are developed by the questions and answers of the people that ask them. The developers never intended for Evie to be “racist” as KSI claimed. He was actually using the system the wrong way. It’s up to us to produce clean content on Evie so people won’t have experiences like this.

Photo from gaggio.blogspirit.com
Photo from gaggio.blogspirit.com

Evie is no Blue Brain Project, a project started in 2005 by Swiss scientists. The aim of the project is to simulate the human mind by using AI. Currently, the Blue Brain is at a level of a rat brain. There are plans for the Blue Brain to hit human brain levels in 2023. However, there is the risk of the AI learning its own language. Earlier this year, Facebook had to “tweak” their models after the chatbots were making a deal in their own language. This language was unknown and still is to some of the smartest people in the world. Facebook was trying to train their “dialog agents” to negotiate. Well, it looks like they found something that will be groundbreaking in the AI world.

However, where the Facebook AI is concerned, the system was never smart, and in reality, it was pretty dumb. The AI learning its own language doesn’t mean anything; it still can’t match the level of a human plus the language was like this: “iii.” Nothing important to the scientific community. The Blue Brain Project reaching the brain level of a human will be a very important accomplishment to those Swiss Scientists. By then, the advancement of the project will be over and studying gene expression will begin. Maybe someone else will use the legacy of the project to develop an AI that is smarter than humans.

The “Impossible” is Now Possible: Video Games in Real Life

Many people have had thoughts before like: “Man, if that weapon on Fallout or Metal Gear Solid was real, imagine the damage it would do.” Well, someone in the U.S. Government had the same thoughts as well.

Various weapons in the video game world like railguns and lasers have been in development for years and are used in some places, while the weapons like plasma are not in use yet. Here are some video game weapons that may  or may not be actually real.

Railgun Specs; photo from science.howstuffworks.com
Railgun Specs; photo from science.howstuffworks.com

Railguns: Actually, railguns have been in development for decades now, with the first patent in the U.S. issued in July 1922 as no. 1,421,435 to a French inventor by the name of Louis Octave Fauchon-Villeplee. However, his development didn’t go too far due to the lack of technology during his time. Nazi Germany in 1944 was looking into the first theoretically possible railgun. The guns were to be mounted with six batteries and would be able to launch twelve rounds per minute. Their plans were thwarted by the Allies in World War II. These plans were found after the war and believed to be “impossible” after studies found that each gun would need enough power to light up half of Chicago. It took until 1962 before an operational railgun was possible, but it was only a scientific study. Then in comes the world of video games, where games like Halo, Metal Gear Solid and Fallout introduced the railgun as a weapon of mass destruction. In recent years, railguns have been created. The U.S. Navy tested a railgun that fired a projectile at the speed of “Mach 7″ in the 2000’s. After the success of that railgun, the U.S. Navy is going to have a railgun in use for intercepting missiles in 2018. Now, that’s something video games couldn’t make up.

LaWS on the USS Ponce; photo from www.stripes.com
LaWS on the USS Ponce; photo from www.stripes.com

Lasers: Some of us have been to places where they have laser tag with the fake guns, but the U.S. Navy (man, why do these guys get all of the new weapons?) has an operational laser weapon in use since 2014 that blinds the enemy. The LaWS, as it is called, will not be in use for long however as the ship it is on, the USS Ponce, will be decommissioned in 2018. The lasers in video games like Mega Man are meant to cut people in half. No words, if the U.S. military is planning to make a weapon like that.

Plasma: In Fallout, a plasma gun means your demise if you’re ever shot with one in online gaming mode. Researchers at the University of Missouri actually were able to create a very weak but impressive plasma gun in 2013. This has opened the possibilities of energy and weapons dealing with plasma, something thought to be impossible.

Death Star from Star Wars: photo from starwars.com
Death Star from Star Wars: photo from starwars.com

Honorable Mention – Death Star: Yeah, this one is impossible, but in 2012, a petition started on the WeThePeople site asking the U.S. Government to build a Death Star from Star Wars. Once the petition reached 25,000 signatures, an official response from the White House was necessary. It turns out it would take 830,000 years to make enough steel and as for the cost: let’s just say, you would need to find a planet made out of diamonds.

 

Featured Image Photo from NextBigFuture.com

Air Pollution Linked to More than Global Warming

Air pollution is not good for you or me. Our current elected officials may say otherwise, but global warming is real and we can thank air pollution for that. And now we can thank it for the diseases it can cause.

The Donora Smog in 1948 ;Photo from www.post-gazette.com
The Donora Smog in 1948; Photo from www.post-gazette.com

In 1948, a little town in Pennsylvania awoke to an unusually sooty sky. This area was notable for its daily haze coming from the nearby zinc and steel plants. This was the price to be paid for feeding your loved ones. The next day, the smog was so bad that the local high school quarterbacks couldn’t pass the ball to the receivers.  For five days, Donora, Pa. was filled with so much smog that 20 people were killed, one-third of the town was sick, and another 50 died in the coming months. After the tragedy, the federal government began clamping down on pollutants, leading to the Clean Air Act in 1970, 22 years after the events in Donora.

Air pollution can lead to heart disease. The American Heart Association in 2010 updated their stance on air pollution, finding it consistent with morbidity and mortality. It also leads to weight gain. Frank Gilliland, an environmental epidemiologist at the University of Southern California became intrigued when studies suggested that pollutants interrupt the actions of hormones, leading to weight gain. At first, Gilliland said of the claims: “I was very skeptical.” He would go on to study 3,000 children across California and found an association to the claims, although they couldn’t rule out other explanations. Gilliland explained, “Maybe the kids aren’t getting exercise because there’s a lot of traffic out.”

The newest study linked ozone concentrations in the air to diabetes.  Children who live in neighborhoods with the highest concentrations of nitrogen dioxide have experienced great decline in insulin sensitivity. People with diabetes have trouble producing insulin.  Radford has an army ammunition plant that releases those same chemicals in open burns that can cause diabetes. The plant has been controversial for years now because of the open burns. Recently, however, the plant had a drone test the air quality in the open burn sites to “exchange public fears for facts.”

Radford Army Ammunition Plant in Radford, VA; photo from www.wsls.com
Radford Army Ammunition Plant in Radford, VA; photo from www.wsls.com

Whatever the case may be, the evidence is there. Air pollution can cause more than global warming; it could affect your life.

 

To Touch the Sun: NASA’s Unique Mission

NASA has had its fair share of “impossible” missions before, sending a man to the Moon, a probe to Mars, and heck, the two Voyagers are out of our solar system. However, this mission may be the impossible one.

The Parker Solar Probe before its launch; photo from socialunderground.com
The Parker Solar Probe at the APL in Maryland; photo from socialunderground.com

The Parker Solar Probe is set to launch next year as the first probe to make a visit to our nearest star and source of life as we know.  “The probe will face very brutal heat and radiation conditions as it will provide us with a close observation of our sun and ultimately a star,” NASA said in a statement. The probe recently was on display at John Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory (APL) in Maryland but before long, the spacecraft will be making its trip back to Florida where it will be launched towards its final destination: the sun.

An artist's rendering of the Parker Solar Probe near the sun; photo from www.iradehaber.com
An artist’s rendering of the Parker Solar Probe near the sun; photo from www.iradehaber.com

The $1.6 billion mission will also aim to improve space weather forecasts that can impact life on Earth and astronauts in space. Nicola Fox, a project scientist for APL stated, “Parker Solar Probe is going to answer questions about solar physics that we have puzzled over for more than six decades.”

This mission was first considered back in 1958, before the Apollo missions and Mars Rovers, making it one of NASA’s oldest projects on the books. The main reason why it took so long before the mission was because of the sun’s intense heat.  The probe will be 3.9 million miles away from the sun’s surface but will be well within the orbit of Mercury. Even though, the probe won’t “touch the sun,” it will face temperatures on the upwards of 2,500 degrees F.  The probe will launch between the dates of July 31, 2018 and Aug. 19, 2018. The spacecraft will orbit around the sun a total of 24 times in a seven-year period with speeds of 500,000 miles. With speeds like that, you could travel up to California and back in one minute.

 

 

Ways to Stay Safe this Halloween

Stay safe this Halloween – Photo from Wonderopolis

Halloween is one of the most popular holidays of the year, even if it’s not an official holiday in the United States. Here are some ways to stay safe this Halloween.

Limit the Drinks or Just Don’t Drink: Halloween isn’t all about kids going Trick-or-Treating; adults and teens will use this as an excuse to go out and have a drink, but that’s not a good idea. Halloween is on a weekday, and you will most likely have work or school the next morning. Being hungover won’t look good. So if you do drink, be responsible. Otherwise, don’t drink.

Watch out for Kids: There will be kids out looking for candy, so whenever you are driving that evening, you should be on the lookout for any kids on the streets. You don’t want to hurt anyone – most parents will be with their kids but for those who are old enough to go out trick-or-treating, watch out for them.

For parents: Tracking Apps are available on both Apple and Android phones for parents to keep track of their children. Both companies have apps available on the phone already but apps like Life360 and Find My Family are great for use. Phones now-a-days have flashlights built-in but if your child’s phone does not have this, then you probably should invest in a flashlight.

Candy: There are some kids who have allergies to peanuts and if you are one of the people handing out the candy, make sure you have some candy that fits everyone’s dietary needs.

It takes a village to keep everyone happy and safe on Halloween, but if everyone can do their parts, we will have another great Halloween this year. Save some candy for me.

Hewlett Packard to Cut 5,000 Jobs

Hewlett Packard/HP has decided to slash 10% of it’s workforce despite third quarter results that surprised Wall Street. HPE will release 5,000 people by the end of the year according to a Bloomberg report.

The cost-saving move made by CEO Meg Whitman, was to shed under-performing divisions and focus on services devoted to artificial intelligence.

CEO of Hewlett Packard (HP), Meg Whitman – Photo from The Drum

Only four years after taking the CEO job, Whitman has split HPE into two divisions: printers and PC’s (HP) and servers and storage(HPE), each worth $50 billion. HPE has had to play catch up with Amazon and Google in the cloud storage competition. Recently, Whitman’s commitment to HPE was in question when her name came up in the discussions for Uber’s  CEO job.

Whitman has stated that Uber was not a fit for her and had nothing to do with her situation at HPE.

HPE stock has gone up 3% this year and another 0.6% this week after the announcement, but that is lagging compared to the Nasdaq 100’s 21% gain this year.  Whitman has been with HPE for six years and will be with them as long as she wants to be.  She stated, “We have a very special opportunity here and we have plenty of work to do.”

 

 

No, the World Didn’t End on Saturday

Yes, the world is going to end one day; we just don’t know when. That hasn’t stopped people from professing their belief that the world is going to end on a certain date.

We have been obsessed with “The End” of our bedtime stories of humanity. The latest nut-job is David Meade, a self-described specialist when it comes to the end of the world.  He predicted the Rapture, as foretold in the Book of Revelations, will begin on Saturday. (Wait a minute, it’s Sunday and we are still alive. What a shocker.)

David Meade – Photo from The Sun

There was no evidence supporting Meade’s claims of a Planet Nibiru or “Planet X” on a crash course towards Earth. That didn’t stop Meade from making claims. There are several ways in which the world can end. As long as someone can press the magical “red” button, nuclear war is the most likely way the world will end.

Of course, you might have a giant asteroid hit your house and car but the odds of that happening are 1-in-100 million in any given year. Those poor dinosaurs had a very bad year.

Then you might have climate change or global warming ruining your day, but it is doubtful this would lead to the end of the world. How about the over population of the world? Famed astrophysicist Stephen Hawking has stated that we only have until 2100 before we would have to find a new home that is suitable for humans. In 2100, the population is estimated at over 11 billion, but most people alive today would be dead.

Then you have black holes that are never full after eating many stars and planets, but the odds of that happening are so small that we don’t have numbers for it. Another event that could happen is a supernova – the closest one to us is Betelgeuse, a part of the Orion constellation.

A more likely event is a global pandemic like the flu and smallpox killing off the majority of the planet and a biological weapon launched by terrorists and maybe another country. Maybe a super- volcano or robots take us out.

Finally, we have survived everything but one thing: Father Time. The sun runs out of fuel and expands to engulfing Mercury, Venus and possibly the  Earth. The planet will be so hot, no life will be possible. So enjoy life on Earth right now; we only got a billion more years to go.

T-Mobile and Sprint Merger Coming Soon?

Once again, there are talks of a merger with the nation’s number 3 and 4 wireless providers. What does this mean for customers and the future of providers?

Logo from Consumerist

T-Mobile and Sprint have considered combining forces before. In 2014, they came close to a merger but due to the Obama Administration’s policies at the time, the merger would had been declined. Now with a new administration under President Trump, the companies have a renewed interest in a merger.

If the companies were to merge, here’s what might likely happen to customers of Sprint and T-Mobile.

Customers of T-Mobile right now get free Netflix and  MLB.TV mobile viewing, which would mean Sprint customers would get those same perks. T-Mobile customers in return would get access to Tidal, a company that Sprint acquired a 33% stake in January. All customers would see an increase in pricing.

However, according to the former FCC chairman Tom Wheeler and former assistant to attorney general for the Antitrust Division of the Department of Justice, Bill Baer, prices will rise for customers due to the lack of competition, which was why Softbank failed to acquire T-Mobile.

The two companies would most likely be able to get a deal approved by the Trump Administration as they are “more willing listeners.” Donna Hitscherich, a senior lecturer at Columbia Business School stated, “Obviously, they are not going to do the deal and hope to lose subscribers, unless maybe there is a swath of subscribers that are not as profitable as others.”

Shares in both companies were up more than 4% since the news of a merger came out on Tuesday.

 

What is CTE and Why is it a Problem

Most people by now have heard of a neurodegenerative/brain disorder called CTE: chronic traumatic encephalopathy. This disorder is very common with those who have competed in contact sports like football.

Aaron Hernandez, former tight end for the New England Patriots and convicted murderer who committed suicide back in April, was found to have had stage 3 CTE after his brain was studied by Boston University. At the young age of 27, Hernandez is one of the youngest people to have the disorder since CTE’s discovery.

This news doesn’t take away from the fact that Hernandez murdered one person and may had killed two more. Hernandez however, is now one of the 112 former football players to have their brains studied post-mortem. Out of the 112, 111 had some type of CTE. That means that most likely, 99% of former, current, and future NFL players will have some type of CTE.

Don’t forget that football isn’t the only sport to have a issue with CTE.  Soccer, Hockey, MMA and Professional Wrestling like WWE have had former athletes posthumously diagnosed with CTE. Even MLB had a player diagnosed with CTE after his suicide in 2012.

Currently, there are multiple lawsuits dealing with concussion settlements. However, those who had played in high school and college but didn’t make it to the professionals don’t have a lawsuit. It can affect a high school student after a few years of participation in the sport. In 2010, 17-year-old Nathan Stiles died after playing in a football game in which he took several blows to the head. He would be diagnosed with CTE, the youngest reported case to date.

The doctor who discovered CTE, Dr. Bennet Omalu, once said that he wished he had never met Mike Webster, legendary NFL center and first person to be diagnosed with the disorder. Many players after hearing about the effects of CTE have retired, and those include Jake Locker and Patrick Willis. Some even regret playing the sport and even the great Bo Jackson discourages his children from playing the sport that made him famous.

Talk about CTE will never stop, but football and wrestling aren’t just going to stop tomorrow. It is encouraged to know about the effects of CTE before playing a contact sport and know most likely, you will have some type of it. That is the price of chasing riches and fame.

Equifax Breach: It Could Have Been Stopped Months Ago

Just this week, I got an email from my bank notifying me about the Equifax data breach. It told me that my account info was safe but to always keep an eye on the account. I was one of the fortunate ones, but millions weren’t so lucky. On Friday, it was announced that Chief Information Officer for Equifax, Susan Mauldin and Chief Security Officer, David Webb had “retired,” effective immediately. More or less, they got fired.

Photo from MGN Online through WTVA News

Thus, the story should end now but it’s only beginning.  The Equifax Security team had a fix for the flaw in the system months ago but never bother to put it to use. Hackers took advantage of the window and stole millions of people’s personal info, including bank info.

Equifax is facing at least 23 class-action lawsuits and counting along with a federal probe from two different government agencies. The stock in the company has gone down a third since the breach was announced.

Mark Rohrwasser will be replacing Mauldin as the interim chief information officer. Prior to the promotion, he had led the international IT operations. Russ Ayres will replace Webb as chief security officer.

Advice to those who were affected and could be affected: change any passwords you might have, and check your account daily. Don’t worry, your bank is checking for fraud from any weird sources, and lastly, don’t hit the panic button yet. You do have a case against Equifax if you lost any money and you should get in contact with an attorney.

Steps to a safe account:

1. Strong and Unique Passwords (don’t use the same password twice)

2. Two-factor authentication

3. Good antimalware on ALL devices

4. Update any outdated software

5. Backup your info on “the cloud” or on a USB

These are the steps to stop hackers from getting into your info. Events like Equifax will become commonplace.

Flu Vaccine Linked to Early Miscarriages

Experts are stunned and puzzled over a study that may link the flu vaccine to early miscarriages.

Getting your regular flu vaccine – Photo from Healthline

The study paid for by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention did not find a conclusive result in the study but did link 17 women who had miscarriages with a vaccine. It’s too early to say that the vaccine is the culprit but it’s a troubling signal that they will follow up on.

In the meanwhile, pregnant women are urged to get their annual flu shot because they and their unborn babies are at a higher risk of getting the flu. That statement has been studied and proven with the study of tens of thousands of women.

“We don’t want people to panic over this headline,” states Dr. Laura Riley, an obstetrician at Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School. She ended with, “Get your flu shot. It’s safe.”

This is a very tricky situation the medical community has gotten into as anti-vaccine communities may be reinvigorated. Their support is still very small as they believe the government, researchers, and even journalists are colluding to cover up the “dangers” of vaccines. The proof of one small study can elevate one of these groups. Senior Advisor for Vaccines at the CDC, Dr. Amanda Cohn, says the open release of the information shows there is no cover-up and proves that public health agencies are watching out for the safety of vaccines and humans.

The news of this may make you think about changing your mind on getting a flu shot this year. No blame here; there is a good reason why. However, it is advised that you get your shot. Besides, would you want to be laid up in bed all day, spending hundreds of dollars on medicine to help you or get a vaccine and call it a day?

 

Ash Tree Species near Extinction

Scientists say that years of attacks from beetles are pushing five of the most prominent species of ash tree to the brink of extinction.

The International Union for Conservation of Nature says that tens of millions of trees in the U.S. and Canada have succumbed to the beetles.

The trees classified as “critically endangered” are the green, black, white, pumpkin, and blue ash. The Carolina Ash is also listed as “endangered.”

The beetle in question is an emerald ash borer which was introduced to North America accidentally in the late 1990’s from northeastern Asia. Government officials have tried to slow its spread with insecticides and biological control. These beetles can live for one to two years and before they reach maturity, they most likely have killed one ash tree.

A closeup of the Emerald Ash Borer Beetle – Photo from MPR News

Without any efforts, the ash tree would die out quickly and the cost to replace them would be in the billions. The beetle will eventually make its way to central Europe by 2031. The recent news of this has raised the questions of “specicide” or volunteer extinction of the ash borer in North America.

Whatever the answer is to the question, it’s going to be very costly and needs to be solved fast. If it is not solved, we are not going to have any ash trees left.

 

Things to Remember when looking for A New Smartphone

We are in the very beginning stages of the holiday season and that means one thing: shopping.

Apple, with their announcement of the new iPhone 8 and X on September 12th, marked the unofficial start of the season.  Along with the news came price cuts to the iPhone 6 and 7. You might be on the lookout for a new phone, and here’s what to remember when buying a phone or getting a contract for a phone.

The Apple Company Logo
The Apple Company Logo

Memory Size:  Phones can get very costly, fast.  For example, getting the iPhone 8 with 256GB will cost you $850 and don’t even get started on the 8 Plus and X costs.  So getting the 64GB iPhone would be the smart move here and it would also save you hundreds of dollars. Besides, do you even use over 36GB? That’s more than enough for me.

This year’s model or last year’s: Now, if you want to save a buck or two, going to an iPhone 7 or 7Plus would be the best option.  The price for a 7 with 32GB has gone from $649 to $549. A whole Ben Franklin saved just by getting a older model, and by the way, it’s the same thing as the iPhone 8 which comes out next week.

Camera Quality: This one is really obvious. I mean really…do I have to write it?  Ok, I will. These are the most outrageous prices that most will ever see for a phone, a damn phone. However, the iPhone X has all the gadgets, bells, and whistles ever needed for any photographer. A 3D camera with a sapphire cover with a six element lens. This thing has so many gadgets that this article would be small compared to all of the iPhone X’s specs.  However, pre-orders don’t start until October 27th and the phone itself won’t be available until November 3rd. Don’t even get started on pricing; prices start at $999 before taxes and storage choices.  So, whichever phone you choose, remember, nothing is cheap.