CHEMISTRY REVIEW: Atomic Model Timeline

Philosophical Atom Model

The first model of an atom dates back to the times of the ancient Greeks, when Leucippus, a Greek philosopher, first used the word “atom” (The History of the Atom, 2016). Leucippus’s model just stated that an atom is something that is indivisible and that atoms can form different kinds of elements and compounds (2016) . This idea stemmed from theoretical and philosophical thinking, with no scientific basis; therefore, this concept was not embraced until the 19th century when scientists began examining this model more closely (Atomic Structure Timeline).

Dalton Model

John Dalton was an English physicist and chemist in the 18th century that built upon of the theory made by the Greek philosophers (2016). In 1803, Dalton created the Dalton Model of the atom, also known as the Solid Sphere Model (2016). This model claimed that atoms were indivisible and identical between all elements (2016). The Solid Sphere Model also stated that atoms can combine to make more complex structures (Models of the Atom). Although now we know how flawed Dalton’s model is, it was the first truly scientific model of the atom at the time.resized_image2_82baeb3eea64ade049b4f13d3777667c

john-dalton-9265201-1-402

Plum Pudding Model

The next influential model of the atom came 101 years after John Dalton’s model, in 1904 (Models of the Atom). This new model was the Plum Pudding Model, created by J.J. Thomson (Models of the Atom). He expanded on Dalton’s model by recognizing the charges in the atom, stating that atoms are mostly positive charges with smaller negative charges throughout them called electrons (2016). In his model, the atom is a spherical structure which itself is completely positive but has electrons embedded in it, thus resulting in a model that looks like plum pudding (Models of the Atom).

plum-pudding-modelJ.J_Thomson

 

Rutherford Model

The following model of the atom comes from New Zealand born-British physicist, Ernest Rutherford (2016). Rutherford performed the gold foil experiment, in which he shot alpha particles (which have a positive charge) at a gold foil and recorded the result (Atomic Structure Timeline). In his data, he found that most of the particles actually passed completely through the atom, with a few being deflected at great angles and some not passing through the atom at all (2016). These results did not make sense with respect to the Plum Pudding Model; therefore, Rutherford created his own model of the atom in 1911 (2016). This model showed the atom as mostly consisting of empty space, with a positively charged nucleus in the center and much smaller electrons around the nucleus (Models of the Atom). This was a breakthrough in the atom model, but it did not explain the movement of electrons in the atom.

Ernest_Rutherford_LOC1200px-Rutherford_atomic_planetary_model.svg

 

Bohr Model

Years later Danish physicist Niels Bohr modified the Rutherford Model in order to explain the movement of electrons within the atom (Atomic Structure Timeline). This model was called the Bohr Model, which is also known as the planetary model (2016). In this model, the electrons moved in orbits of fixed sizes and energies around the nucleus (Models of the Atom). This explained the emissions of spectra in some elements; however, this model did not quite make sense in respect to heavier atoms because electrons could not collapse into the nucleus in this model, despite doing so in actual atoms (2016).

Niels_Bohr_Date_Unverified_LOC_0.jpgbohr.gif

Schrödinger Model

The currently accepted model of the atom was created by Erwin Schrodinger many years later, known as the Schrodinger Model (or the Wave Mechanical Model), it states that electrons do not move in orbits around the nucleus; rather, they move in random waves in a “cloud” (Atomic Structure Timeline). This means that while it is impossible to ever know the exact location of the electron, we do know the probability of the electron being in that cloud (2016). To this day, the Wave Mechanical model of the atom is widely accepted as the closest model to an actual atom, with great evidence to support it.

bbva-openmind-schrodinger-3.jjpg_.jpg8734447_orig

 

References:

  • “The History of the Atom – Theories and Models.” Compound Interest, Compound Interest, 16 Oct. 2016, www.compoundchem.com/2016/10/13/atomicmodels/.
  • Atomic Structure Timeline, atomictimeline.net/
  • “Models Of The Atom.” Properties Of Light: Revision | Geometrical Optics | Siyavula, www.siyavula.com/read/science/grade-10/the-atom/04-the-atom-02.

Microsoft DigiGirlz Trip

From May 18th to May 19th, Microsoft held another DigiGirlz event, offering an opportunity for girls to learn more about careers for women in the field of technology, interact with other inspiring women, and gain hands-on experience with different tools and new high-tech products.

The trip was divided into two different days:

On the first day of the trip, excited Tech students gathered at the Microsoft office and took part in different workshops. They were shown some of the new and impressive technology that Microsoft has developed.

digigirlz.jpg

A scene from the DigiGirlz trip.

The girls also took part in a coding workshop, which encouraged them to empower themselves with the language of computers. Fun activities allowed students to explore with code and gave them a base to develop the rest of their coding superpowers on.

The last workshop was a personal learning experience, where girls were divided into smaller groups to work with professional women in a male-dominated field. They learned how to pitch themselves later in their professional career, and practiced with each other several times as well. The experience was eye-opening and helpful for the soon-to-be college students and working women.

The meeting ended with a Q&A session in which students asked all of their personal questions and curiosities to a panel of professionals who were eager to respond and encourage them. Students came out of many of the sessions inspired and motivated.

On the second day, DigiGirlz met at the Microsoft Store and were able to experience the VIP tour of the building and newest technologies and innovations as well as meet staff. Some of the experiences included playing in a new gaming room filled with equipment worth thousands of dollars, watching a 3D film in a small theater, learning about LinkedIn and how to create a professional social network, and trying out the Halolens – a new holographic computer which utilizes augmented reality.

Why Some Cancers are Hard to Treat

In mass media, we are frequently informed about treatments to diseases like leukemia, lymphoma, and Crohn’s. But rarely do we hear: “We found a cure to cancer!” So, one may wonder: what makes curing cancer such a seemingly impossible task, and what distinguishes it from other diseases?

There is one fundamental reason why cancers are difficult to eradicate: these cells adapt and evolve in response to treatment (Fodale, Pierobon, Liotta & Petricoin, 2011). Thus, even if a treatment is initially effective, its impact starts to dwindle, since the biological components that it blocks eventually “re-wire” themselves to circumvent the treatment (2011).

Chemotherapy – a method of using drugs to attack malignant (harmful) cells – is performed on 67% of all cancer patients (“Chemotherapy,” 2014). Yet, these

Figure 1. According to the diagram, tumor blood vessels have a squiggly or nonlinear path, unlike normal blood vessels, which is evidence of their highly abnormal tumor vasculature. In addition, the lack of the orange patches at the edge of the vessel represents the lack of supporting cells, caused by its hyperpermeable structure (Wilson & Brown, 2004).

drugs can be resisted by cancer cells (“House call: What is metastasis?,” 2016). For example, studies conducted by a group of scientists at the MD Anderson Cancer Center, which participates in therapeutic clinical research exploring novel treatments for cancer, show that cancer cells can travel to different parts of the human body, known as metastasis (2016). This makes it especially difficult to track down cancer cells and prevent them from spreading (2016). However, scientists have found that cancer cells use a protein called PGC-1a, which helps form new mitochondria, used to harness energy (Tan etal., 2016). Using this energy, they metastasize to different parts of the body and find a new home to live in, making it hard for scientists to track them down (2016).

Tumor cell expansion is further proliferated by its uncontrolled growth (Eales, Hollinshead & Tennant, 2016). Scientists have found that the deformed tumor blood vessels cause regions of hypoxia or oxygen-deprived conditions (2016). Hypoxia – a condition in which the body is deprived of adequate oxygen supply – arises in tumors through the rapid proliferation of cancer cells, which causes the tumor to exhaust the nutrient and oxygen supply from the normal blood vessels (2016). However, the tumor-proliferating effects of hypoxia cannot be generalized because they can either have detrimental or beneficial effects depending on severity, duration, and context (2016).   

Yet there are even more ways that cancer cells can adapt: they manipulate an enzyme called PKM2 (Prescott, 2011). By keeping PKM2 levels low, the cancer cells channel incoming glucose to metabolic pathways that generate antioxidants, thereby surviving oxidative stress, the imbalance between the production of free radicals and the ability of the body to counteract their harmful effects (2011). Thus, it is hard for scientists to investigate PKM2 manipulation by cancer cells (2011).

Despite the adaptive nature of cancer, oncologists are continually learning more about cancer cells (Evan, 2014). For example, professor Gerard Evan, head of the Department of Biochemistry at the University of Cambridge, is studying the genes that drive the development and growth of cancer, called oncogenes (2014). To combat the disease, Evan uses genetically engineered mice, which enable him to toggle on and off tumor suppressor genes (2014). This allowed scientists to identify the most effective therapeutic targets and employ a range of molecular biology technologies to address roles played by key oncogene signaling pathways in the genesis and progression of cancers (2014). These technological advancements help develop effective treatments to combat the adaptive nature of cancer in the future.

References

 

How Did Life End Up on Earth?

By Ashley Indictor

Is Earth the only planet in the universe that contains life? Scientists and philosophers for millennia have debated how life developed on Earth, coming up with several hypotheses and theories. One possible explanation is the theory of panspermia, in which a comet or other celestial body brought life to Earth (Hardy, 2014).

Figure 2. Microscopic view of a tardigrade (Pickett, 2015)

As far as we know, no other moon or planet in our solar system (i.e., the Sun, its planets, their moons, and all asteroids, comets, and rocks) has life on it. Although moons like Titan and Enceladus could harbor life (simple organic life forms), and Mars is theorized to have once supported life, Earth is the only planet in the Solar System we can call “living” (NASA, 2017). About 4 billion years ago, Earth underwent a period of heavy bombardment where it was barraged with asteroids and comets (Kaufman, 2017). The earliest evidence of life on Earth dates back 3.83 billion years, coinciding with the period of such violent event (2017). One explanation for this eerie overlap is that one or more of these millions of comets and asteroids carried life from somewhere else and brought it to Earth when it crashed on the surface (2017).

It is not too far-fetched to believe that these lifeforms survived space’s harsh climate. After all, some organisms on Earth can survive temperatures as low as -18°C and as high as 113°C, even after being preserved in liquid nitrogen at -196°C (Joshi, 2008). Tardigrades (see Figure 2), for instance, can live in these extreme temperatures, and can even survive many days at low Earth orbit while being exposed to a space vacuum and harmful radiation (Bradford, 2017). Tardigrades are living proof that life can be carried across space and survive until it reaches a celestial body. This further indicates the possibility of life coming from somewhere else.

Figure 3. Bacterial spore (National Academy of Sciences, 2018)

An additional consideration is that bacteria could have entered Earth through bacterial spores [see Figure 3], as they can survive without nutrients (Joshi, 2008). Bacterial spores have protective bodies that allow bacteria to carry DNA while withstanding conditions that would normally kill them (Cornell, n.d.). Furthermore, bacteria are famous for their ability to survive in extreme conditions and even campuses about one-third of Earth’s biomass (total mass of organisms on Earth) (Joshi, 2008). The German Aerospace Centre found that it is possible bacterial spores can travel within comets or meteorites (2008).

Overall, we still do not know the true origin of life. While the theory of panspermia is possible, more research must be conducted to reach an answer. Perhaps it will take another thousand years before we figure it out.

 

References:

  • Bradford, A. (2017). Facts about tardigrades. Retrieved November 26, 2017, from https://www.livescience.com/57985-tardigrade-facts.html
  • Cornell. Bacterial endospores. (n.d.). Cornell University. Retrieved February 17, 2018, from https://micro.cornell.edu/research/epulopiscium/bacterial-endospores
  • Hardy, D. A., [digital image]. (2014). The Late Heavy Bombardment ends: Impact events. Retrieved April 30, 2018, from http://www.bbc.co.uk/science/earth/earth_timeline/late_heavy_bombardment
  • Joshi, S. (2008). Northwestern University. Retrieved November 26, 2017, from https://helix.northwestern.edu/article/origin-life-panspermia-theory
  • NASA astrobiology. (n.d.). NASA. Retrieved November 26, 2017, from https://astrobiology.nasa.gov/news/in-search-of-panspermia/
  • Pickett, R. [digital image] (2015). National Geographic. What the world’s toughest animal is
  • really made of. Retrieved May 14, 2018, from https://news.nationalgeographic com/2015/11/151128-animals-tardigrades-water-bears-science-dna/
  • Smith, C. [digital image] (2017). National Geographic. These ‘indestructible’ animals would survive a planet-wide apocalypse. Retrieved April 30, 2018, from https://news.nationalgeographic.com/2017/07/tardigrades-water-bears-extinction-earth-science
  • National Academy of Sciences. [digital image] (2017). National Academy of Sciences Retrieved on April 30, 2018, from http://m.pnas.org/content/106/46/19334/F1.expansion.html
  • Solar System exploration: In depth. (2017). Nasa.gov. Retrieved from https://solarsystem.nasa.gov/moons/saturn-moons/in-depth/

Dogs And Us

By Samantha Sabah via Tech Science Times

Dogs are often called man’s best friend, and there’s a good reason why. Dogs and humans share a long history together, especially since dogs are one of the first animals humans have ever domesticated (Fogle, 1995). Dogs have adapted to their “new” companionship with humans, for better or worse.

Thousands of years ago, dogs didn’t exist; the most similar animal to a dog back then was the wolf, which is now the dog’s closest relative (1995). The similarities between dogs and wolves are evident, noted in their abilities to form relationships, natural instincts to form a social hierarchy, and similar anatomical structures (1995). These features give us a hint as to why the wolves came to be domesticated by humans. Wolves hunt when they need to, but at their core, they are scavengers, and were tempted by the scraps found at prehistoric human campsites (1995). These campsites lured them to areas with less competition, fewer predators, and a more stable supply of food (1995). As wolves were increasingly drawn into the human sphere, those that were smaller and more sociable thrived, and overtime only these wolves lived around people, with each generation after them shrinking in size and being naturally friendlier (1995). These changes are considered part of natural selection, since we did not directly manipulate the genetics of these now domesticated “dogs”; they naturally evolved into the best traits based on their new environment (1995). However, after this, we took advantage of this natural process and started to selectively breed these dogs, who, over time, became more diverse from wolves and even others of their kind (1995).

The most significant differences between modern day dogs and wolves may not be apparent. Most of the time, people obtained the traits they wanted by breeding dogs who displayed them. Some traits were emphasized, phased out, or kept based on the roles people wanted their canine companions to perform. For example, the act of barking isn’t usually seen in grown wolves. This trait was extended into adulthood for dogs to warn their humans of possible dangers. Their “pack mentality,” enhanced senses, and ability to hunt in a team made them great guards and hunting companions for us. This development has occurred around the world, even in isolated areas like the Americas (1995). It can be said that dogs were seen as companions during more ancient and less modern times as well; throughout the centuries these loyal animals have provided us comfort, especially since they themselves seem to enjoy spending time with us. However, this particular behavioral trait wasn’t as important to people as it is now.

Back then, dogs weren’t typically bred for looks. They were designed for efficiency and health to get the most work out of them. It wasn’t until the 1800s with the

A diagram of the bulldog’s squished face structure (“Bruiser”, n.d.)

introduction of dog shows did people start to care about what breed of dog they acquired and what they should look like. According to The Encyclopedia of Dogs, the Kennel Club that was created in England in 1873 (1995) started to regulate the types of dogs allowed in these highly popular dog shows. This started a new precedent by specifically identifying canines by breed. After the club set up guidelines for how certain traits should look on certain dogs in order to win contests, the most severe of modern genetic defects in dogs began to take form. As a result, inbreeding for these traits then weakened breeds as a whole. If humans didn’t continue to interfere with nature, these traits would have been phased out, unable to compete with healthier specimens. Now, there is a number of dog breeds that suffer from a lack of genetic variety in more beneficial traits. The best example for this phenomenon is seen with the English bulldog (see figure 2). Bulldogs were traditionally bred to attack bulls, but the “breed-club standards emphasized the size of the head.”(1995). This led to problems during birth because their heads were unable to fit through their mother’s birth canal. Unfortunately, this isn’t the only possible problem. Its elongated palate, or roof of the mouth, causes breathing and heart problems; its crowded teeth can lead to oral diseases, and the excessive skin folds are vulnerable to infections (1995). That isn’t to say we should just let the bulldog, or any other breed, die because of possible ailments, just that breeders have to be careful while breeding since it could lead to huge health problems in the offspring. Another possible solution might include crossing these dogs with different breeds who don’t share similar diseases, thus reducing the chance of a detrimental gene getting passed on.

Looking around at all the dogs that have filled a niche in our society, every single one of them has had their lives shaped by humans. Dogs rely on us, and we love them, but is breeding them for “special” features that ultimately can make them very sick properly conveying our love? Does breeding have to contain the risk of genetic defects? Humans have been breeding healthy canines for millennia, and our growing understanding of DNA can only aide what we know is beneficial. We can help our furry brethren long into the future.

References

  • Andrews, B. J. (n.d). [digital image]. How dogs changed human evolution. Evolution of Meat Eaters. Retrieved December 4, 2017, from http://www.thedogplace.org/Genetics/Dogs-Changed Evolution_Andrews-08.asp
  • Wysong, M. & Wysong, E. (n.d). [digital image]. Why the overdone, heavy wrinkled bulldog is killing the breed. BruiserBullDogs.com. Retrieved December 4, 2017, from http://bruiserbulldogs.com/why-the-overdone-heavy-wrinkled-bulldog-is-killing-the-breed/
  • Fogle, B. (1995). The encyclopedia of the dog. London: Dorling Kindersley Limited.

Staten Island Tech Takes On Science Olympiad States

Congratulations to the Staten Island Technical HS Science Olympiad Team on their outstanding top 10 finish at the NY State competition this past weekend and on a great end to a successful season!

Science Olympiad Seniors with SI Tech Banner 

The team that once boasted its infamous slogan “grossly unprepared but succeeding nonetheless” shattered all expectations at the annual state competition at Le Moyne College in Syracuse. Armed with a strategically chosen team and months of hard work and practice, the team set out for the competition on March 9th, hoping for a well-deserved victory at the state level.

The Staten Island Tech Team had performed well at its invitational and regional competitions, taking home a remarkable 2nd place out of 66 in the New York Metro Area. The team had won more than 30 collective medals, including an overwhelming thirteen top 3 medals. Now, competing against some of the top Science Olympiad teams, including SciOly Nationals competitors and victors, Staten Island Technical High School hoped to create a name for itself among the New York State legends of Science Olympiad.

Months of building and testing for engineering events, creating study sheets for testing events, and practicing for labs and procedures culminated in the two-day competition at Syracuse. In the end, the team’s efforts paid off- Staten Island Technical HS achieved 10th place overall out of the 55 top teams in New York State!

Students Steven Zeldin & Merrick Eng with 1st Place in Optics and $3500 Scholarships

8 medals were awarded in total, with scholarships awarded to 1st and 2nd place winners. The team placed 1st in Optics (Steven Zeldin and Merrick Eng), 2nd in Towers (Sarah Kovalev, Pamela Stark, and Aiden Lublinsky) and 2nd in Game On (Terence Tan and Bryan Boyd), winning more than $17000 worth of scholarships to Le Moyne College.

Medals were also awarded for Fermi Questions (6th place, Bryan Boyd and Shane Tsui), Experimental Design (6th place, Pamela Stark, Terence Tan, and Merrick Eng), Ecology (8th place, Maria Russo and Merrick Eng), Mission Possible (7th place, Terence Tan and Pamela Stark), and Mousetrap Vehicle (7th place, Terence Tan and Bryan Boyd).

Aside from the stunning victory, the team exhibited sportsmanship, strong teamwork, and great respect for those who ran and organized the event. The team is especially grateful for their dedicated coaches, (Mr. Ferrigno, Ms. Fertoli, Ms. Giunta, Mr. Henriques, and Ms. Toner), who provided the guidance and support the team needed throughout the season.

As sad as we are to see the slogan go, the Staten Island Tech Team can no longer call itself “grossly unprepared.” This year’s victories have unlocked the opportunity for more growth and achievement at both regional and state levels. And while the end of the season is always bittersweet, the team is confident that next year will bring even more success!

Expand your Scientific Research Skills at Tech!

If you’re the type of student who is interested in learning and writing about the breakthroughs in the world of science and technology, the Science Engineering Research Program (SERP) is right for you! This STEM-centered program aims to make the students of Staten Island Tech better researchers and writers with high-level essay skills.

Students from the program in 2017.

All underclassmen are encouraged to consider taking part in this program because while there isn’t an entrance exam for this rigorous program, dedication is required. Upperclassman can still join if they show that they are interested in research by taking initiative and starting their own research projects.

Throughout the years, SERP will assign you a set of research papers, or “tasks”, to complete with time constraints, which will be strictly graded on how accurately and coherently you present your research finds. Thus, this program will be fit into your schedule as an actual class and counted towards your GPA. However, if you find yourself under too much pressure or cannot cope with the heavy workload, you are allowed to opt out and continue on with your original schedule.

So, why would you join this program in the first place? Are all those long hours of studying and tedious research worth it?

The answer is, yes!

There are many skills that are heavily enforced by SERP that will aid you in the transition into college. Most professors lecture for a majority of class time, but will not fail to assign research papers to complete. The professors do this in order to make you think more critically about the information you’re given and not just fall for invalid claims. Thus, SERP is a great way to build this mindset and to prepare for the workload you’ll face in college. In addition, the fact that you participated in SERP for all four years in your high school career showcases your motivation and willingness to take on challenging courses. You get to do research papers on any topic of your choice, anywhere between biology, medicine, astronomy, engineering, and more.

Despite the hard work and tedious research required for this program, SERP can also be a very enjoyable experience because of the connections you have access to. If you’re having trouble with any of your research, upperclassmen can guide you through the process and help you out. For example, if you join SERP in your freshmen year, the juniors and seniors who have had previous experience with SERP will teach you specifics on how to write a research paper and how to sift through credible sources. The SERP community is just one factor that is desirable about the program. In addition to being a very enjoyable learning experience where are you are able hone necessary professional skills exponentially, SERP is a place to be surrounded by motivated, like-minded, and STEM-oriented leaders of the future.

Should You Buy Refurbished or Used Electronics?

With smartphones, tablets, and laptops all getting more and more expensive (with phones in particular now reaching and even exceeding $1000), you may want to buy last-generation products or even budget alternatives. However, depending on how much time you are willing to put in researching, buying refurbished or even used devices may yield superior performance for a better price than what you may have gotten if you were to buy a new model.

Smartphones

Pictured: Samsung Galaxy S7, which can be found on eBay for about $209 refurbished or $289 new for the T-Mobile variant, Image Source

Before looking at buying a new smartphone to replace your old one, I would recommend reading my Trends in Smartphone Technology article. Make sure that there are no features that you really want before buying an older device, since it may be a few more years until you upgrade and get those features. If nothing jumps out at you, then read the following tips I have before buying a refurbished, used, or older-generation device.

The general rule of thumb when buying a refurbished electronic device would be to make sure you are buying from a reputable seller. The main platforms for used smartphones include Swappa, eBay, and Craigslist. Out of those three, the best one is Swappa because of their tight quality control regulations. For eBay and Craigslist, it is important to always look up the seller to make sure that they have a good reputation for their product quality. Also, make sure there are no pictures of the phone’s IMEI, because if someone has that information, they can call carriers to block your device from the network.

When looking at refurbished, used, or last-generation products, I would recommend not to look at extremely old devices. Since mobile technology is one of the fastest growing technologies in terms of performance, buying a three or even two year old phone may not last as much as you think they will. When looking at Android phones, try to go for a Snapdragon 800-series processor (such as the Snapdragon 801, 808, 820, or 835 and not the 810 because of its overheating issues) and at least 3 GB of RAM. When looking at iPhones, start with the iPhone 6 or 6s and above models.

However, if you are looking at buying an Apple product in particular, make sure to check out their official refurbished store here. Although they may be a little more expensive compared to third-party sellers, the products that they do sell are almost new and may even be better than buying a new product.

Tablets

Pictured: iPad 2017, which may offer a better deal compared to refurbished or used iPads if you are looking for pure performance, Image Source

Since tablets are a dying breed, make sure that you are confident that you want a tablet. Depending on what kind of tablet you want, buying refurbished or used products may not be the best option. For example, if all you are looking for is performance in an iPad, buying a new iPad (2017) may be your best option. Since it has the 3rd most powerful processor in an iPad (behind the iPad Pro), it is a great option for people who don’t mind an inferior screen, a thicker device, and inferior speakers. However, if you want a tablet based on design first and performance second, it may not be a bad idea to buy a refurbished device.

Similar to buying a smartphone, Apple’s official refurbished store offers extremely high quality iPads for only a small price increase over other refurbished iPads.

Laptops/Desktops

Pictured: HP Elitebook Folio 9470M, which can be found for $250 with an older-generation Core i5, 4GB of RAM, and a 256GB SSD, Image Source

Laptops and desktops are a shaky subject when it comes to used products. However, if you are willing to put in a lot of time in researching, you can get a very good system for the money, as shown in the online series Scrapyard Wars by YouTuber Linus Tech Tips or by YouTuber Tech YES City. In both cases, people go around and try to get the best deals on computer parts, and in the case of the latter, build computers for a fraction of the price of typical desktops.

When looking at laptops and desktops, it is important to look for devices with a decent amount of RAM, an SSD, and a Core i processor. Regarding RAM, I recommend at least 8GB because it allows for multitasking for programs. Regarding SSDs, although they are much more expensive and has less capacity compared to buying a traditional hard drive, the performance benefit over them is outstanding. Finally, regarding processors, although you can get one from AMD, only get one of their recent ones (Ryzen for desktop) because their older processors use outdated technology. I recommend getting an Intel processor, preferably a Core i5 or i7, with the very oldest generation being their third or fourth generation of processors (denoted by the first number after Core i3, i5, or i7). Your best case scenario would be to get a fifth generation or newer processor since those would potentially last longer than a third or fourth generation.

Regarding desktops, you also have to ask yourself the question of whether or not you want to buy parts to build your own computer or an entire computer from someone else who built it or a prebuilt computer from a major company such as Dell, HP, Lenovo, and ASUS. 

And again, similar to both buying smartphones and tablets, buying a refurbished device from Apple for their products can give you the best quality refurbished devices.

The Takeaway

The major thing when considering whether or not you should buy a refurbished device is to make sure there is nothing new that really entices you to want a new product. If you want something and have the funds for it, buying that new product would be best. But, if any one of those things are not true, buying refurbished and used devices can be a great option. When buying one of these such devices, though, always make sure that you are dealing with a very reputable seller to avoid problems. If you are looking for an Apple device, check the official Apple refurbished store to see if there are any deals, because they have the highest quality Apple refurbished devices. Even if you are not looking for an Apple device, doing research to see what the retail price is for a device and how much of a discount you are receiving is important to make sure that the model will yield.

Once you receive your refurbished or used device, make sure to reset it if it hasn’t already been to make sure that the previous seller did not put any tracking or malicious software on the device. It is better to waste some time waiting for your device to reset than having all of your data stolen. Remember that although your device may be refurbished, a manufactured refurbish may actually end up performing better than if you bought it new because all issues have hopefully been fixed. If you are buying a smartphone, websites like Swappa are best since it is closely regulated to make sure there are no problems with a device or at least mentioned if there are.

SITHS Science Olympiad Team Sets New Record!

On Feb. 8th, 2018, Staten Island Technical HS’s Science Olympiad Team headed to New York City Regionals competition hosted at Grover Cleveland HS in Queens, NY.

The team spent 2 months after Invitationals at Islip High School preparing for this very moment. Bringing three teams that encompassed students from every grade, they gave everyone an opportunity to participate in the highly competitive events.

In short, Science Olympiad is a competition with “26 different [events] in different aspects of science where some students study and compete for top score and other events [like] engineering where students have to build in advance [in order to test] at competition”, described by team advisor Ms. Giunta.

The students boarded the bus at 5:30 AM on Saturday, with essentials such as study materials, lunches, and – most importantly – their team shirt and spirit. With an hour-long ride ahead, some students watched the sunrise while others focused on last-minute reviews. The buzz of excitement permeated the air as students passed through the security clearance.

Students prepare for the helicopter event – Picture Credits: Jordan Daugherty

Once in the assigned room, students began immediately reviewing or assembling engineered projects, set to compete within a few hours. The competition lasted until 4 PM, with students occasionally coming back after their assigned events to have pizza and converse with each other. Some conversations included more information about Science Olympiad, college admissions, school work, and others as seniors shared valuable insight and knowledge to the younger students.

At 6 PM, the entire team headed to the auditorium for the awards ceremony with a brief view of the Science Quiz Bowl Round 2 competition occurring between the top 6 teams for that event. Similar to a game show with buzzers, the quick-paced event caught the eye of many students.

Tian Lin, a junior new to Science Olympiad, said that she found that the team was, “an opportunity to meet new people and especially [those] who are passionate about science.” Along with the social experience, she explains that, “to compete and [learn] about engineering and new things [is something people] will not [be able to] experience anywhere else except [from] Science Olympiad!”

Students’ anticipation during the awards ceremony – Photo credits: Jordan Daugherty

At last, after the Science Quiz Bowl, it was time for the announcements of the rankings. This year, Staten Island Technical High School went against 62 teams in the New York Metropolitan area but took home a stunning victory!

Altogether, the 3 teams took home an overwhelming 27 medals and ranked #2 regionally, qualifying them once again for States! This ranking is a significant increase from the previous record within the top 10 range, and the first time in Staten Island Technical HS Science Olympiad history!

Catching up with competitors post-ceremony, senior Thomas Patras offered important advice that he has gained through Science Olympiad: “Preparation is the one main skill that [our] school has over other schools. If a student is really passionate about [their events] and really study for [them] then they will do well regardless of everything else.”

Congratulations to all team members of Science Olympiad! Special thanks to the Science Olympiad team advisors: Mr. Ferrigno, Ms. Giunta, Ms. Toner, Ms. Fertoli, Mr. Henriques, Mr. Colangelo, and Dr. Davis for leading the team to success!

Trends in Smartphone Technology

For the past few years, innovations in smartphone technology have been ramping up. If you look at phones from about 7 years ago and compare them to phones from 3 years ago, there are clear differences. However, there aren’t nearly as many differences when comparing today’s phones with those of 3 years ago. Trends such as radical phone designs to improvements on camera quality all add up to what is considered a smartphone right now.

Pictured: HTC One M8’s Duo Camera, Source

Dual Cameras

The first trend from the past few years that has been incorporated into more and more smartphones is the addition of dual cameras. Dual cameras date all the way back to February 2012, with the LG Optimus 3D, but the dual cameras on that phone were mainly used to create “3D” images that can be played on the “3D” display that it had [1]. Suffice to say, 3D cameras and screens didn’t really appeal to many people, and they have been repurposed to much more useful things. The rise of the modern implementation of dual cameras came to be with the HTC One M8, announced in March 2014. This phone utilized its secondary camera for refocusing capabilities after taking a picture and for artificial bokeh effects, where the primary subject is in focus and the background is blurred [2]. After a couple of years of no dual cameras, with even HTC reverting back to a singular camera with the HTC One M9, it was eventually popularized again with the introduction with the iPhone 7 Plus, announced in September 2016 [3]. In the case of the iPhone, the second sensor is called a telephoto lens and allows for an increased zoom without loss in quality.

The iPhone 7 Plus implementation is not the only type of dual camera. Other types, such as one camera being a color sensor and the other being monochrome, allow for more detailed pictures, as in the case of the Huawei P9 [4]. Others allow one sensor to be a regular sensor, and the other is a wide-angle sensor, as in the case of the LG G5 [5].

Pictured: Samsung Galaxy Note7’s Iris Scanner, Source

Iris / Face Scanning

Most people know about this technology from the infamous Samsung Galaxy Note 7 and the iPhone X – both of which were recently announced – but did you know that the first phone that had this technology was actually announced in May 2015? That’s right – the first phone that had iris scanning was the Fujitsu ARROWS NX F-04G [6]. However, since Fujitsu isn’t well known worldwide for their smartphones, it is safe to say that that phone did not gain much traction in the mobile world. This is where the Samsung Galaxy Note7, announced in August 2016, filled in those gaps. By having a global presence in the smartphone, they exposed the world to iris scanning. Iris scanners work by beaming a ray of near-infrared light and getting an iris pattern, which is then converted to code [7]. The phone then compares that code to a record in the phone. That technology was later implemented in phones like the Samsung Galaxy S8, but later in September 2017, the iPhone X brought about face scanning, which is different from iris scanning. Rather than scanning your eye for a pattern, face scanning (called “Face ID” by Apple) shoots invisible dots at your face to create a depth map of your face [8].

Pictured: OnePlus 2’s USB Type C Port, Source

USB Type C

If you have ever owned an Android phone within the past few years, you’re likely familiar with the charging connector that they use – narrow on one side, wider on the other, and a pain to plug in at night. Enter USB Type C (shortened USB-C), the new USB standard that is aimed at improving charging speeds while making the connector reversible. The first phone that utilized this is the OnePlus 2, announced in July 2015 [9]. Ever since the first introduction of USB-C, more and more phones and laptops use this plug for USB (take the Late-2016 Apple MacBook Pros as an example) and the USB standard behind it is getting faster and faster with new technologies incorporated with every new release.

Pictured: iPhone 7 (left) vs. iPhone 6s (right), Source

Removal of the Headphone Jack

The removal of the headphone jack has to be, in my opinion, the saddest recent trend that has come up. The headphone jack has been an essential part of many people’s lives including mine – I use it every single day when traveling to and from school. While the iPhone 7 is infamous for removing the port, it wasn’t the first one to do so. As a result of the rumors that surfaced from the iPhone 7’s elimination of the headphone jack, other companies tried to beat Apple with their own trendsetters. This did end up happening, and the first device that came without a headphone jack was the LeEco Le 2, announced in April 2016 [10]. However, with the removal of the headphone jack, alternatives were needed. Improvements on Bluetooth and wireless headphones were made and adapters were made to replace the jack [11].

Pictured: Xiaomi Mi Mix, Source

“Bezel-less” Screens

The most modern trend by far is the introduction of the “bezel-less” screen. Before talking about this however, you need to know about 2 terms: “bezel” and “screen-to-body ratio.” The former refers to the space between the screen and the edge of the phone. The fewer bezels there are on a phone, the higher the “screen-to-body ratio” is. Even though the rise of “bezel-less” screens (or, at least phones with relatively fewer bezels) was very recent, they have been around for a few years, with phones such as the LG G2, announced in August 2013. Although that phone did not have a “bezel-less” screen per se, it did have a very high screen-to-body ratio (~76% in fact) and spurred later phones that did come out with “bezel-less” screens [12].

One phone that existed before the modern movement towards these screen types is the Sharp Aquos Crystal, announced in August 2014. It boasted an impressive 78.5% screen-to-body ratio and was the first phone to truly encompass the definition of a “bezel-less” screen, having little to no bezel on three of the four sides of the phones [13]. If you look at images of the phone, there is almost no left, right, and top bezel, and everything you would typically see on the top of the phone was moved to the bottom. After two years of no development of this technology, there was a sudden resurgence in this trend with the Xiaomi Mi Mix. Announced in October 2016, it boasted an impressive 83.6% screen-to-body ratio [14]. Shortly after this phone came many devices with “bezel-less” screens, specifically the Samsung Galaxy S8 and LG G6.

Pictured: Essential Phone, Source

The Culmination of (Most of) These Trends: Essential Phone, Samsung Galaxy Note8, and iPhone X

All of these trends are nice to look at, but what phones are out there that encompass most, if not all of these trends? There are three phones out there, particularly the Essential PH-1 (Essential Phone), Samsung Galaxy Note8, and iPhone X. However, each have one trend missing. The Essential Phone, announced in May 2017, has every single trend from dual cameras (using the color/monochrome sensor implementation), USB Type C with the removal of the headphone jack, and a “bezel-less” screen [15]. In fact, the Essential Phone may have the highest screen-to-body ratio that is out there today, boasting an extremely high 84.9% and beating out Apple’s “Infinity Screen” on the iPhone X, which has an 82.9% screen-to-body ratio. The Essential Phone is only missing iris/face scanning. The Samsung Galaxy Not e8, announced in August 2017, has every trend sans the lack of a headphone jack, and the iPhone X has every trend (and is the first phone to incorporate face scanning – see section on Iris / Face Scanning) besides the implementation of USB Type C.  This is to be expected, given Apple’s creation of its own charging port: the lightning connector [8] [16].

 

Sources:

  1. http://www.techradar.com/reviews/phones/mobile-phones/lg-optimus-3d-930902/review/6
  2. http://www.trustedreviews.com/reviews/htc-one-m8-duo-camera-page-6
  3. https://www.theverge.com/2016/9/7/12828714/apple-iphone-7-isght-duo-camera-plus-announced
  4. https://www.theverge.com/2016/4/6/11377202/huawei-p9-dual-camera-system-how-it-works
  5. https://www.dpreview.com/reviews/lg-g5-camera-review
  6. http://www.fujitsu.com/global/about/resources/news/press-releases/2015/0525-01.html
  7. https://www.phonearena.com/news/Here-is-how-the-Galaxy-Note-7-iris-scanner-works_id82854
  8. https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT208108
  9. https://forums.oneplus.net/threads/oneplus-2-the-first-flagship-with-usb-type-c.317762/
  10. http://www.androidauthority.com/first-phones-without-headphone-port-run-android-687910/
  11. https://www.theverge.com/2016/9/7/12823596/apple-iphone-7-no-headphone-jack-lightning-earbuds
  12. http://www.gsmarena.com/lg_g2-5543.php
  13. http://www.gsmarena.com/sharp_aquos_crystal-6590.php
  14. http://www.gsmarena.com/xiaomi_mi_mix-8400.php
  15. http://www.androidauthority.com/essential-phone-review-794364/
  16. http://www.androidauthority.com/samsung-galaxy-note-8-review-795053/

 

Featured Image: https://www.androidpit.com/retrospective-smartphones-to-remember-first-half-of-2017