Future Astronaut

Posted by on November 4, 2016 at 12:01 pm

Hi Mr. Singer,

I wanted to say thank you for speaking yesterday at my first Generation WOW. After hearing you speak, I still want to be an astronaut, but definitely some type of engineer as well. I hope to some day attend maybe NYU or Duke to name two. Since I’m only in seventh grade, I’ve got some time, but I’m still continuing to do my community service, and working hard at my new school Bolles. I hope we can keep in touch since my mom is s single parent, and doesn’t make much money right now. I will definitely need scholarships. I plan to put my best foot forward, moves grades up, and read your book. FYI, I love the player vs. potential concept. I think I’m a little of both right now. Well thank you again and have a great year.

Best always,
Taylor Richardson, aka astronaut StarBright

Newly Updated Key Worldwide Brochure

Posted by on January 10, 2014 at 2:15 pm

The Key Worldwide has recently updated its capabilities and programs brochure that provides students and parents with an in-depth overview of the Key’s Complete College Program.

This service helps the student select the appropriate college with specific recommendations based on the individual’s academic and personal goals. The program works individually with students and their families to develop and implement a “game plan” complete with objectives and goals, and an understanding of how the results, if achieved, impact their ability to gain admission to the college of their choice.

You can download your free copy of the brochure by clicking here.

New Key Program Brochure Available

Posted by on August 31, 2013 at 2:49 pm

The Key Worldwide has made available a brand new brochure that provides students and parents with an in-depth overview of the Key’s Complete College Program.

This service helps the student select the appropriate college with specific recommendations based on the individual’s academic and personal goals. The program works individually with students and their families to develop and implement a “game plan” complete with objectives and goals, and an understanding of how the results, if achieved, impact their ability to gain admission to the college of their choice.

You can download your free copy of the brochure by clicking here.

Biometric Facial Indentification: Now, also, Under Your Skin

Posted by on July 16, 2013 at 4:06 pm

A biometric identification system is, in its most basic sense, a more “personal” security system. The reason why I say personal is due to the fact that biometric security recognizes physiological characteristics of the user; these systems commonly, but not exclusively, use fingerprints, palm prints, DNA, hand geometry,  iris and retina recognition, and facial recognition. However, all of these systems can be thwarted, in theory. A thief could get a mask of perfect proportion to the user or get fingerprints as well–you can even use a wet photocopy of a fingerprint to get through a fingerprint-scanning lock. Recently, at Jadavpur University in Kolkata, India, a group of scientists have developed a new–and supposedly impossible to foil–facial recognition biometric security system.

The group–Ayan Seal, Suranjan Ganguly, Debotosh Bhattacharjee, Mita Nasipuri, and Dipak Kr. Basu–wanted to solve the problems of the flawed biometric systems, as stated above. What could be as unique as your fingerprint, but nearly impossible to copy? According to the scientists: blood vessels. Each and every one of us has a unique pattern of intertwined veins, arteries, and capillaries under our skin. The face, in particular, is an area of the body with very thin skin and a very high density of blood vessels–the perfect choice for an ultra-high security biometric lock in the group’s opinion.

An image of the user is taken by a thermal imaging camera using an infrared scan, which will detect the blood vessels. This image is then taken from the camera and sent to a computer using a specially-designed algorithm to process every single vein, artery, and capillary in the user’s face. Using this alone, the system is said to be over 97% accurate–an incredibly high percentage considering current percent accuracy ratings of facial recognition software can fall anywhere from 47% to 90% accurate depending on the image the user supplied to the computer. This team of scientists believes that this system alone will be impossible to foil because the replicators would have to create a blood vessel “mask” identical to that of the user.

Many also think that this new blood vessel-scanning system could be used alongside other forms of biometric security such as facial imaging, fingerprint scanning, and hand geometry to form a nearly 100% accurate biometric security system.



Innovation Toronto


Inderscience Publishers

The New York Times

Ayan Seal, Suranjan Ganguly, Debotosh Bhattacharjee, Mita Nasipuri, Dipak Kr. Basu. Automated thermal face recognition based on minutiae extractionInternational Journal of Computational Intelligence Studies, 2013

Image from Flickr

Microchip Memories

Posted by on May 30, 2013 at 9:22 pm

What if your memories could be downloaded, backed up, and implanted into your brain? According to CNN, scientists from MIT, University of South Carolina, and Wake Forest and other prestigious schools, are saying that major memory rejuvenation has been achieved on test mice and other specimen. Soon this technology will make its way into curing human memory and brain degeneration.

This is not as far fetched as it seems. For the past 15 years, doctors have been able to provide brain implants to treat neurological diseases like epilepsy and Parkinson’s. According to Rob Hampson, an associate professor of pharmacology and physiology, patients’ biggest critique and fears of these procedures are placing large, electrically charged pieces of hardware in their brain. Only about 80,000 people have had procedures for these bulky implants for deep brain stimulation in the 15 years they have been available. However, scientists now believe they can replicate the brain’s process of creating long-term memories and can condense the implants to a microchip.

Scientists, such as Ted Berger, a biomedical engineering professor at the University of Southern California, have targeted the hippocampus, which is key for converting short to long-term memories. Using high level math modeling based off of the hippocampus, the scientific team has been able to create a template for how memories are converted for majority of the brain. Berger claims that soon scientists will be able to record a memory being made in an undamaged part of the brain and then use the data to predict what a “downstream” damaged area should do. The chip would replaced the damaged section provide more normal brain function.

The ultimate goal of this technology is learning more and reversing degenerative memory diseases such as Alzheimer’s or Dementia and alleviate the fears many people have by making the procedure minimally invasive. However, these types of procedures have not been as effective on advanced stages of Dementia or Alzheimer’s where multiple areas of the brain are affected simultaneously.

However, the United Kingdom’s Alzheimer’s Society and others are still optimistic about the advancements. The U.S. military is excited to incorporate this type of technology with the many brain injuries soldiers face in combat. This type of technology could be available for volunteers within the next two years and can be used in hospitals as soon as five years from now. And who knows, soon people may even be able to store every event in their lives in something that could fit in the palm of their hand.


Troubling Tornadoes

Posted by on May 22, 2013 at 1:09 am

I often associate tornadoes with the Wizard of Oz because Dorothy was transported to the magical land of Oz by a tornado. However, for many Americans, tornadoes represent the exact opposite of a magical land, they represent loss and destruction. On May 20, 2013, a massive tornado struck an area outside of Oklahoma City. As a Plaza Tours Elementary School was hit and destroyed, our hearts went out to the victims and families whose lives were torn apart. Now we must keep them in our thoughts and work together as a nation to aid them.

The calamitous storm reached 190-mile per hour winds and measured nearly two miles across. The National Weather Service classified the destructive tornado as an EF5, which is the most powerful category of tornadoes possible. About fifty-one people were killed, of which nine were children, and at least 167 adults and seventy children were injured. In addition, numerous schools, buildings, and homes were leveled to their foundations. However, the three high schools in the school district will still have graduation ceremonies on Saturday at the Cox Convention Center in Oklahoma City.

A tornado is a violently rotating column of air that extends from the base of a cumulonimbus cloud down to the ground below. If the rotating column of air does not reach the earth’s surface, it is called a funnel cloud. If it extends down to contact a body of water, it is called a waterspout. Tornadoes only form under cumulonimbus clouds, the same clouds that generate thunderstorms.

The epicenter for severe thunderstorms and tornadoes is the Texas-Oklahoma panhandle. Oklahoma and Kansas have more tornadoes per square mile than any other region of the U.S.. However, tornadoes are relatively frequent across “tornado alley,” the area between the Rocky Mountains and the Appalachians.

The central states of America are such fertile tornado breeding ground because that is where cold, dry arctic air flowing down from Canada meets warm, moist air flowing northward from the Gulf of Mexico. The clash of cold, dry air and warm, moist air produces violent weather and the most powerful storms. Tornado alley is also relatively flat, and mountains and high structures inhibit tornado formation. Tornadoes occur most frequently in the U.S. from April through early June.

Tornadoes normally rotate cyclonically, which means that when viewed from above, they rotate counterclockwise in the northern hemisphere and clockwise in the southern hemisphere. While large-scale storms always rotate cyclonically due to the Coriolis effect, thunderstorms and tornadoes are so small that the direct influence of the Coriolis effect is unimportant. However, only about 1 percent of tornadoes rotate in an anticyclonic direction in the northern hemisphere.

Works Cited:


Immortal Jellyfish

Posted by on April 9, 2013 at 1:18 am

Immortality. But that’s not possible in real life, right? I mean, only in Tuck Everlasting for god’s sake! Well then, you’d be surprised to learn that Turritopsis nutricula comes pretty close. It is a hydrozoan whose medusa, or jellyfish, after becoming sexually mature, can revert to its original polyp stage. But how does such a process occur? When a Turritopsis is threatened, say due to injury or starvation, its umbrella reverts and the tentacles and mesoglea are broken down. It attaches itself to a surface in warm ocean waters and polyps start rising to form the new colony. The jellyfish converts its cells to their original form, allowing the cells to grow again, in a process called cell transdifferentiation. The cells can transform, so muscle cells can become nerve cells and nerve cells can become egg or sperm.

So far, the process has not been observed in nature yet because it happens so fast. But theoretically, this process could go on forever, making the jellyfish biologically immortal. However, Turritopsis are likely to die due to predation or disease in the plankton stage, without reverting to the polyp form. But hey, why dwell on that part? I think it’s pretty cool that Leonard wasn’t lying on Big Bang Theory when he mentioned “immortal jellyfish!”


Blood Testing: Now, Quite Literally, Under Your Skin

Posted by on March 20, 2013 at 11:13 pm

Scientists at the Swiss Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) have created a prototype of a new blood test, one that doesn’t remove blood from the body. The implant contains five customizable sensors, making the applications of it range from monitoring thechronically ill to chemotherapy personalization. The device measures only a few cubic millimeters in size. It runs on 1/10 of a watt of power, which is supplied through the skin through a battery patch. The patch removes the need to operate every time the battery needs charging. The implant emits (safe) radio waves sending information to the patch for storage; the patch then sends the device to a cellphone via Bluetooth. This information is then sent to the patients doctor from the phone.

The implant’s diverse sensors have an extremely large range of possible tests. While this could be used to monitor blood sugar levels in a diabetic, the device can measure substances such as carboplatin – a drug used in chemotherapy to fight certain cancers. This ability would allow oncologists, who normally check how a patient is responding to a certain chemotherapy regimen every few weeks with a blood test, to be able to allows be checking up on their patients’ responses. This creates a far more personalized form of chemotherapy.

The research results from the EPFL on their implant will be presented today (March 20th) at Europe’s largest electronics conference and later published.


Sources: EPFL and Gizmag

Physical Therapy Without Physical Interaction

Posted by on February 26, 2013 at 6:02 am

Scientists and engineers are working together to change the entire practice of physical therapy. Scientists are now trying to perfect the art of telemedicine, or medical treatment that is conducted by a doctor without a physical interaction between doctor and patient, according to an article by

Whether it is regaining mobility or returning to athletic prowess, successful physical therapy can be based heavily on whether or not patients do their in-home exercises as prescribed by their physical therapist. Prior to new innovations in virtual physical therapy, doctors and patients would speak to one another about the progress the patient has made with their exercises using video chat or similar mediums.

Doctors can ask patients if they did their assigned exercises, but that is the limit to their facilitation. The patient could be doing the exercises incorrectly if they are taking the initiative to complete them at all. The issue is analogous to a parent monitoring their children’s homework; the parent could only assure accurate completion if they physically checked that the child had completed their assignment. There is no accountability or feedback in a process without advancements in telemedicine.

Professors from the University of Texas Dallas Erik Jonsson School of Engineering and Computer Science developed a system to address this limitation. Using a series of 3D cameras, body sensors, and haptic devices, the program creates avatars for both doctors and patients, and places them in a virtual space where they can interact.

The 3D cameras allow motion to be captured and transmitted from the home to the doctor’s office in real time, thus allowing the physician to comment on how the patient performs the exercise, ensuring it is done correctly. The body sensors provide a more lifelike image and tracking of the patient’s movements. However, the most important innovation of this new system is the implementation of haptic devices, which is breaking new ground on how patient-doctor relationships will evolve.

Haptic devices are able to send resistance, vibration, or motion from person to person. Patients feel the force of a physician massaging their muscle or therapists provide resistance exercises, which is an important tool in the physical therapists arsenal.

After speaking with Cameron Alcala, a student who recently had physical therapy for a torn labrum, I had a greater understanding of the implications of how this technology could affect the field from a patient perspective. Alcala claimed that he was a little “skeptical [of virtual therapy] because [he] enjoyed the relationship that was formed with [his] therapist.” After speaking more about the topic, Alcala added, “the virtual therapy could definitely supplement scheduled appointments”. Alcala attributed this to the fact that he has poor posture and wished that a professional could analyze his in-home exercises and place him in the right positions.

Patients now can be held accountable for doing their exercises and doing them properly. According to Dr. Balakrishnan “Prabha” Prabhakaran from UT Dallas, this technology is a massive forward and can be applied to many teacher-student interactions such as dance lessons or any type of education where a teacher and student share the same space. Realistic feedback technology could be the future for education. Now doctors can check their patients’ “homework type” exercises on a day-to-day basis without an arranged appointment in the office.

Renaming Pluto’s Moons

Posted by on February 13, 2013 at 4:09 pm

In 2011, the Hubble Space Telescope spotted a tiny object next to the dwarf planet Pluto. It turned out to be a moon! It was named P4, and about a year later, P5 was discovered as well. Both moons have an estimated diameter of 15 to 20 miles.

Moons are typically associated with the mythological god that their planets are named after. Mars is a perfect example. Mars is the God of War, and Ares is his Roman counterpart. The moons of Mars are named after the sons of Mars, Phobos and Deimos. Pluto is the God of the Underworld, and his Greek name is Hades. Pluto’s other three moons, Charon, Nix, and Hydra, are affiliated with the Underworld just like Pluto.

The Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI) Institute wants to rename the moons. The moons have to be assigned names derived from Greek or Roman mythology. Vote on the new names at the PlutoRocks website by Monday, February 25. You can vote on existing possibilities or write in your own suggestions. The final names will be announced after they are formally approved by the International Astronomical Union.