by Andrew Jones '16
Ben Franklin was a citizen scientist. A prodigious renaissance man, Franklin independently crafted a myriad of inventions and scientific experiments. While this maverick scientist was an integral portion history of scientific discovery, a new type of “citizen scientist” is emerging in the current information era. Non-experts can now contribute to large-scale research projects by gathering and analyzing small bits of data, all from the comfort of their own home. While citizen science is a currently an efficient mode of completing certain types of large-scale research projects, its benefits are temporary. Eventually, computational algorithms will improve in speed and flexibility and thereby overcome any inadequacies compared to humans.
by Nari Lee '17
In the midst of finals, we are all
Charles Czeisler of Harvard Med’s Division of Sleep Medicine warns that our usage of electric lights at night is disrupting our natural sleep patterns and contributing to higher risks of serious health problems. The artificial light coming from above that cubicle in the Sci Li or from your laptop in front is actually as good as or even better than the caffeine you may have had this morning when it comes to keeping you awake. 
by Jennifer Maccani, PhD
If you’re a fan of classical music, you’ve likely spent a rhapsodic hour daydreaming to the lilting melodies of Beethoven’s sixth symphony, the “Pastoral,” so-named because the music is said to evoke images in the mind’s eye of rolling fields, fluttering streams, and tinkling birdsong. Yet, for roughly 0.05-1% of the population (1), Beethoven’s masterpieces can evoke far different—and far more vivid—imagery. For these people, music and/or other sensory stimuli trigger immediate perceptions that feel as real as the music itself, often in the form of color and shape (2, 3). These people were born with what some might consider a real-life superpower, a condition called synesthesia.
The most common type is grapheme-color synesthesia, in which letters or numbers elicit colors in the mind’s eye. For synesthetes, these colors are an essential part of the letters or numbers themselves, almost a part of their essence or identity (4). However, over 60 types of synesthesia have been identified in the population; in fact, there may be 150 or more distinct types (5). Music can evoke spatial sensations, shapes or colors (6-8); words can taste sour or sweet (9); voices can look like grey smoke or dry, cracked soil (9, 10); or the sound of a car horn can smell like strawberries (11). Even the personalities of one’s family and friends can have their own distinct colors (12). Individuals may have only one type, or several, and some of them—such as voice-color and personality-color synesthesia—are rarer than others.
by Kevin Tang '17
For the past few years, mobile networks have been increasingly pushing their “innovative” and “lightning-fast” 4G networks, each laying its own claim to having the fastest speeds or greatest coverage. But what exactly is this 4G that everyone is so hyped up about? Ask the average person on the street, and chances are that they won’t know many details at all. Apart from the logical fact that 4G stands for “fourth generation” and is supposedly markedly faster than 3G speeds, most of the general public would not normally dig much deeper than that. In all fairness, the 4G concept is complicated. Although networks such as LTE are edging closer and closer to becoming veritable broadband 4G networks, much of the marketing one may see on television or internet marketing ads are just that: marketing, and does not necessarily refer to a true 4G network.
by Katie Han '17
Space is fascinating. Every child is bound to fall in love with the idea of flying on a sleek rocket to journey away from Earth. And at at least one reflective point as a teenager, that child will probably ponder the insignificance of human beings in this vast, endless universe filled with myriads of galaxies and will realize that we are essentially “specks.” Inspired by this sense of wonder, some will carry this passion into their careers, traveling out to space themselves, or building rockets and robots that do so.
One of the leading space agencies in the world, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) currently has over 150 missions that range from monitoring Earth via satellites, sending humans to space, studying other planets in the solar system, and exploring the universe. The technology for launching rockets is developing dramatically over the years, yet sharing of such information between countries has always been sensitive. Affluent, developed countries often join the competitive “space race” to show off their scientific advancement, while the unspoken race for power has aroused a deep fear of application of this knowledge for military purposes.
by Katie Han '17
Last September, Apple Inc. released its long-awaited next generation smartphone, the iPhone 5S. While I was reading the live updates of the product-launching event alone in my bed, I squealed. Fingerprint-recognizing Touch ID? Champagne gold color? At first, it seemed like Apple had successfully brought us a brand new, high-tech device with a bit of luxury thrown in. However, there was one thing that bothered me: the familiar “S” at the end of its name.
That single letter implied that the “new” phone has the exact same design as its predecessor, the iPhone 5, with slight improvements in its functions. Granted, the phone has the most recent and advanced hardware and an impressive camera, but those features were not enough to keep me dazzled for long. When my closest friend Kat’s iPhone 5S finally arrived a whole month after reservation, I was the first one to rush to her room and play with the new gadget. Yet, after a few tries with the fingerprint recognition, I had lost interest, realizing that the rest was essentially the same as my iPhone 5.
The invention of iPhone has revolutionized our everyday lifestyle in the past decade. The way we interact with each other has dramatically changed, as it is perfectly normal to see people staring into their phones on the street, in cafes, and even while they are talking with others in real life. Social networking services such as Facebook and Twitter allow instant access to any information in the world. Of course, the question of whether it has been for the better or for the worse remains debatable. Moreover, our attachment to our phones extends beyond Internet connection. I admit – I often replace the question “Do you know the time?” with “Do you have your phone?”
Perhaps because the first iPhone was such a revelation, users have over time grown to expect more and more from the new iPhones, especially with the advancements of rival smartphones. In particular, the Samsung Galaxy series based on Android is expanding in the market at an incredible rate, as Samsung’s global smartphone market share in the third quarter of 2013 topped 32%. Meanwhile, its latest model, Galaxy S4, broke the record for the best-selling smartphone in Samsung’s history. With their bio-sensitive technology such as eye tracking, Samsung smartphones pose a significant threat to the number one brand in the world.
Apple is definitely aware of these challenges – its recent products reflect that they have learned from their competition. The completely transformed iOS 7 has been accused of resembling Android. Examples of the similarities include the Control Center with shortcuts to Wi-Fi and Bluetooth and the Multitasking page with previews of the applications.
Despite the seemingly slow progress due to high expectations, the iPhone 5S is by far the fastest selling smartphone, as nine million units were sold over the first weekend, compared to five million units of the iPhone 5 in its first weekend last year. Walt Mossberg of All Things Digital praised the phone by calling it “the best smartphone on the market." As an Apple user, I wholeheartedly agree with this label; the quickly responding and well-connected device is invaluable in daily life. Without iMessage, my friends and I would not be able to find each other after class, and without Music, we would not have the spontaneous background music. Every weekend, Facetime provides me with a very tangible connection with my parents who live halfway around the world. Most importantly, three weeks ago, if I had not used the Bank of America App, I would not have found out so quickly that my credit card was stolen and being used, and situations may have turned out far worse.
The climate for Apple seems to be clear for now; however, with the turbulence in the general smartphone business, the future is unpredictable.