Science

Science reports on technology, scientific research and discoveries, and explainers.

Brain Dump: the science behind voting

by Arhana Aatresh (’23) | November 18, 2022 The arrival of November is an exciting time: leaves falling and changing colors, a rare peek at rain, and perhaps most importantly, Election Day. A portion of the Saint Francis student body can now legally vote, a cherished civic responsibility, and all sixteen and seventeen-year-olds can pre-register…

Are annual boosters the future of COVID-19 vaccines?

by Myra Malhotra (’26) | November 18, 2022 In response to the devastating COVID-19 outbreak in 2020, scientists created a vaccine within 11 months of pandemic. To complete this task in record time, the government and private sector formed a partnership with the goal of significantly lowering hospitalization and mortality rates. As variants of COVID-19…

The rise of malaria in Ethiopia

by Navaneeth Dontuboyina (’24) | November 18, 2022 Malaria is an illness caused by parasites and most commonly passed by female Anopheles mosquitoes. The most common mosquito species in Africa within the Anopheles family is A. gambiae, which spreads the P. falciparum variant of the parasite across sub-Saharan nations, where there is the highest concentration…

Hackers target overlooked group of small businesses

by Rohan Sinha (’23) | November 18, 2022 The Colonial Pipeline cyberattack in May 2021 was a wake-up call to many government and corporate officials. DarkSide, a criminal hacking group, had conducted a ransomware attack on a pipeline transporting gasoline, shutting down a major source of fuel along the East Coast. To many experts, the…

Brain Dump: the importance of consensus in conversation

by Arhana Aatresh (’23) | October 7, 2022 Welcome to Brain Dump! I’m excited for a year of exploring the mysteries and wonders of our brain and how they manifest in our thoughts and actions.  As high schoolers, we’re familiar with disagreement, which happens in diverse situations, running the gamut from social settings to academic…

Researchers mimic human brain with neuromorphic computers

by Caleb Obico (’25) | October 7, 2022 The human brain is one of the most complex and intriguing aspects of nature. Humans’ ability to process new information, recognize patterns, and learn from our mistakes is unrivaled by other animals and machines. However, researchers are trying to challenge that.  In the last half century, computing…

The fallout from the Pentagon’s clandestine social media operations

by Rohan Sinha (’23) | October 7, 2022 In September 2022, news outlets reported the White House’s concern about social media operations launched by the Pentagon promoting pro-American content abroad. After the White House voiced its worries about this conduct to the U.S. Department of Defense, the Pentagon began auditing its own clandestine social media…

Scientists invent “digital mask” to shield personal information

by Thanisha Kapur (’25) | October 7, 2022 In the wake of the pandemic, people have become accustomed to wearing masks to protect themselves from the virus or to conceal their emotional state. Recently, researchers have developed a medical technology called the “digital mask” to anonymize the facial data of patients by censoring identifiable features…

Eradicated poliovirus returns in New York

by Navaneeth Dontuboyina (’24) | October 7, 2022 The poliovirus was once a prominent risk to children in highly populated, urban areas with poor sanitation. It was usually associated with flu-like symptoms such as high fevers, sore throats, and tight muscles, but for some people, it caused life-threatening paralysis.  Fortunately, in 1953, physician John Salk…

The melting of the “Doomsday Glacier”

by Valerie Wong (’24) | October 7, 2022 Thwaites Glacier, one of the world’s biggest glaciers, is on the verge of collapse. Some call it the “doomsday glacier” because of the catastrophic effects of its potential melting. If left unchecked, its collapse could result in a global sea level rise of up to eleven feet. …

Scientists identify gene to prevent incurable Parkinson’s disease

by Sudeepthi Ravipati (’24) | April 8, 2022 Parkinson’s disease is a devastating illness with no known cause. While people experience this neuro-degenerative disorder in a variety of ways, it generally impacts an individual’s movement by attacking nerve cells in the brain and causing dopamine levels to fall. For years, scientists have searched tirelessly for…

Researchers create microscopic synthetic life form “xenobot”

by Caleb Obico (’25) | April 8, 2022 When people think of the word robot, they typically imagine a metal contraption reminiscent of a sci-fi movie. They may picture intelligent droids or simply a wind-up toy that resembles Wall-E. What people usually do not imagine is a living, breathing machine made out of frog cells,…

Scientists uncover the damaging carbon footprint of astronomy research

by Rohan Sinha (’23) | April 8, 2022 In a study recently published in Nature Astronomy, scientists have revealed astronomical research’s contribution to climate change—also called its carbon footprint. According to their findings, the carbon footprint of research in the field of astronomy stands out from that of research in other fields. Lead author of…

Mental Mettle and Musings: the power of art

by Arhana Aatresh (’23) | April 8, 2022 The COVID-19 pandemic has sparked dialogue about the importance of art during difficult times. Isolation, lockdown, and quarantine periods have inspired people to turn to a range of artists for comfort, including musicians, visual artists, and other content creators. I certainly found solace in art by reading…

Resurrecting the Tasmanian tiger

by Caleb Obico (’25) | March 21, 2022 The Tasmanian tiger was a species of carnivorous Australian marsupial that lived on the island of Tasmania after being driven to extinction on the mainland. When settlers arrived, their misguided beliefs that the tigers would kill livestock, combined with competition from dingoes, drove the species’ numbers steadily…

Novel nanorobots cleanse waterways

by Will Li (’23) | March 21, 2022 Decades of environmental degradation have contaminated the world’s valuable water resources. From the water crisis in Flint, Michigan, to the accumulation of microplastics in oceans across the world, water pollution is one of humanity’s most pressing concerns. Millions have attempted to combat the issue through political action,…

Big Tech intervenes in Russian-Ukrainian conflict

by Rohan Sinha (’23) | March 21, 2022 On February 24, on the orders of President Putin, Russia invaded Ukraine. Since the invasion, Russia has found itself increasingly isolated: the international community has imposed sanctions on the country, with the United States and European Union even sanctioning Putin himself. With Russia already receiving nearly universal…

Scientists research reasons for brain fog caused by COVID-19

by Sudeepthi Ravipati (’24) | March 21, 2022 When COVID-19 took the world by storm, the virus significantly changed the world of medicine. While treatable for many, its impacts are extremely dangerous for others. According to a Fair Health report, an estimated 25 percent of COVID-19 patients develop long-term symptoms. Some of the most commonly…

Mental Mettle and Musings: to conform or to conform?

by Arhana Aatresh (’23) | March 21, 2022 Teenagers get a bad reputation for their obsession with social status and group belonging, as well as their impulsive and temperamental tendencies; just look at every teen drama and movie! However, they should not be faulted for their brains that are literally wired differently from those of…

Mental Mettle and Musings: finding comfort in the familiar

by Arhana Aatresh (’23) | February 14, 2022 Students often find themselves mocked by the adults in their lives for enjoying the things that bring them comfort, such as music they listen to when preparing for exams, books they reread every winter break, or movies they play in the background of stressful tasks. If the…

Indonesia’s capital falls below sea level

by Rohan Sinha (’23) | February 14, 2022 The capital of Indonesia, Jakarta, is swiftly being submerged by surrounding waters. While the megacity has been sinking at an average rate of half an inch per year, some areas are descending by more than eight inches in the same amount of time. Nearly half of the…

Slovak Transport Authority certifies flying car

by Landon Kim (’25) | February 14, 2022 When BMW produced their first car in 1929, no one expected the company to grow into the mega-corporation it is today. People certainly did not predict that an engine produced by BMW would eventually power a flying car. However, the Klein Vision AirCar, built with a 1.6…

The Great Green Wall strives to restore Africa’s Sahel-Saharan region

by Alexander Xia (’24) | February 14, 2022 Started by the African Union in 2007, the Great Green Wall project is an initiative to grow an 8000 kilometer forest through the Sahel-Sahara region as an effort to fight land degradation and climate change. The initiative boldly promises to restore 100 million hectares of forest, sequester…

Underwater volcanic eruption devastates Tonga

by Ayush Raj (’23) | February 14, 2022 On January 15, an underwater volcano erupted in Tonga, a small Pacific island nation. The force was equivalent to that of a nuclear bomb, and the explosion launched a towering mushroom cloud into the atmosphere that spread 20 kilometers wide and, by one estimate, 39 kilometers high.…

“A dystopian metaverse”: what does “Meta” rebranding mean for Facebook?

by Rohan Sinha (’23) | November 19, 2021 The futuristic concept of a “metaverse” is not new; it comes from Neal Stephenson’s 30-year-old novel Snow Crash, where a digital universe allows for a perilous escape from a dystopian world. On October 28th, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg potentially made fiction reality when he announced that his…

Mental Mettle and Musings: the continual clash of sleep vs. stress

by Arhana Aatresh (’23) | November 19, 2021 Most students on campus would argue that sleep is overrated, and their concerning lack of sleep certainly proves that they are willing to sacrifice it. The COVID-19 pandemic has caused a battle between students and their sleep schedules; with increased screen time and a lack of structured…

The psychology behind email anxiety

by Navya Barua (’24) | November 19, 2021 The world of communication changed forever when Ray Tomlison, a computer engineer working in Cambridge, Massachusetts, discovered a way for people to interact with each other through a system of sending messages between computers called “e-mail.” Email quickly became popular in the ’90s with the creation of…

Patent-free antiviral therapy advances the fight against COVID-19

by Navaneeth Dontuboyina (’24)|November 19, 2021 Despite the overall success of the COVID-19 vaccine, a major setback to combatting the pandemic is vaccine development and production by private entities lacking transparency. The consequences of this exclusivity include exorbitant vaccine prices and difficulties in reproducing vaccines in other countries. The simple yet novel solution is to…

United Nations global climate conference: COP26 takes on CO2

by Elsa Ying (’23) | November 19, 2021 After almost two weeks, the 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference came to a close on Friday, November 12. Commonly known as “COP26,” or the 26th Conference of the Parties, this summit started on October 31 and was hosted in Glasgow by the United Kingdom in partnership…

Mental Mettle and Musings: teen tension and back-to-school anxiety

by Arhana Aatresh (’23) | October 11, 2021 The return to on-campus instruction for the first time since March 2020 has brought endless challenges, especially surrounding the transition from isolation to constant academic and social engagement. While a sense of normalcy is comforting to many students, others suffer from anxiety in response to the never-ending…

Defying death rates: insulin biohackers and their novel solutions

by Hoshita Undella (’24) | October 11, 2021 Around 422 million, or roughly 9.3% of our global population, currently live with diabetes, one of the leading causes of death today. The World Health Organization (WHO) recorded over 1.6 million diabetes-related deaths this past year; what is the cause of this tragically high number? One word:…

The global semiconductor chip shortage

by Ayush Raj (’23) | October 11, 2021 From smartphones in our pockets to routers powering the internet to jet planes flying above us, chips, or semiconductors, are tiny little powerhouses, often unseen by their end users, that are used in almost all electronic devices to keep our digital world humming. They are the building…

SpaceX’s first civilian launch

by Alexander Xia (’24) | October 11, 2021 On September 15, SpaceX sent out a mission called Inspiration 4 on its Crew Dragon capsule. The capsule spent 72 hours in orbit before landing off the coast of Florida. The first time a human orbited the Earth was 1961, more than 60 years ago. Since then,…

Invincible Ida: hazardous hurricanes in a world of climate change

by Sudeepthi Ravipati (’24) | October 11, 2021 Hurricane Ida’s wrath has struck from Louisiana to New York; since August 26, the storm has brought torrential rain and 150 mile-per-hour wind speeds. In American history, only four other hurricanes have had stronger wind speeds. Ida’s damage to cities is more expansive, however, than past hurricanes.…

The rise of the mysterious new crypto craze: NFTs

by Ayush Raj (’23) | May 10, 2021 In 2006, Jack Dorsey, founder and CEO of Twitter, made his first tweet. In March of 2021, he put up the same tweet for sale, and the CEO of a Malaysian Blockchain company purchased it for almost three million dollars. In case you are wondering how such…

Pandemic Panacea: restoring hope following COVID vaccinations

by Arhana Aatresh (’23) | May 10, 2021 After over a year, the future is finally looking up in California, which currently has the lowest percentage of cases and positive test rates in the entire nation, and where daily deaths have fallen 90% since the state’s peak in January 2021. The sunshine state is truly…

Quantum internet systems may allow for more secure communication

by Boladale Erogbogbo (’23) | May 10, 2021 Quantum internet systems may be a solution to the modern problem of failing cybersecurity. As technology continues to improve and everyday tasks become increasingly virtual, private information is frequently stored on the internet, where hackers and scammers alike roam free. Although we rely on these internet systems…

New radioactive dangers in Japan

by Jonathan Lee (’22) | May 10, 2021 A decade ago, a 9.0 magnitude earthquake struck the coasts of Japan. Combined with the tsunami that followed, a global nuclear disaster occurred: Fukushima. The destruction of the backup power generators resulted in a nuclear meltdown, subjecting the surrounding area to high levels of radiation. Fukushima and…

Tea on Tech: Dogecoin and cryptocurrency

by Nikita Senthil (’23) | May 10, 2021 When Elon Musk tweeted, “The Dogefather SNL May 8” on April 27th, he set the whole world aflame. Not only did the tweet garner over 430,000 likes — almost three times as many as his average tweet — but Dogecoin itself saw double-digit gains, setting new all-time…

Smart-pipes: the low-carbon solution to the infrastructure industry

by Sudeepthi Ravipati (‘24) | May 10, 2021 A new partnership focused on developing “low-carbon pipes” could forever change infrastructure and the construction industry. With a €269,000 grant from Innovate UK, the University of Birmingham and manufacturing company Aquaspira are collaborating on a nine-month research program with great potential. According to engineers from the University…

Tea on Tech: the rise of virtual reality and augmented reality

by Nikita Senthil (’23) | March 29, 2021 If you’re part of the majority of the teen population who plays video games, you are likely familiar with the games Half-Life: Alyx, Falcon Age, or Space Pirate Trainer. What do these popular games have in common? They’re all experienced in virtual reality! Virtual reality, or VR,…

Reducing the carbon footprint using carbon itself

by Sudeepthi Ravipati (’24) | March 29, 2021 Fossil fuels have been the source of industrial prosperity for several decades. The process of burning these fuels, however, has led to an abundance of greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide. Multiple countries across the globe rely on these fuels, and the United…

The history of the study of neurogenesis

by Jonathan Lee (’22) | March 29, 2021 Manifesting every action, experience, feeling, memory, and thought, the brain is the most complex organ in the human body. This compact and wrinkly gelatinous ball contains eighty-six billion neurons. Through structures called synapses, a single neuron can make up to tens of thousands of connections, interchanging connectivity…

Pandemic Panacea: lessons learned

by Arhana Aatresh (’23) | March 29, 2021 On March 11, 2020, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the COVID-19 crisis a pandemic. By this time, the SARS-CoV-2 virus had already destroyed thousands of lives and was rapidly spreading in the United States, bringing life as we knew it to a halt. The major transition…

The failure of modern AI: biased data and underrepresentation in tech

by Boladale Erogbogbo (’23) | March 29, 2021 Artificial intelligence (AI) technology has the potential to simplify our increasingly complex world. AI can function as a valuable tool in processing information that humans alone are unable to process by utilizing engineered algorithms and vast quantities of real-world data. However, as AI continues to improve in…

Electrical brain activity linked to internal thought processes

by Kylie Chen (’24) | March 29, 2021 While working on different tasks, people often tend to zone out or let their minds wander to other subjects. When will I be done with this assignment? What’s for dinner? Did I forget to lock the door? Do I have anything else to do later today? For…

AI-zheimer’s prediction using AI

by Kylie Chen (’24) | March 1, 2021 Currently, almost six million Americans suffer from Alzheimer’s disease, a number projected to rise to 13.8 million by 2050. Despite the increasingly high numbers of those who live with and die of Alzheimer’s, this disease has no cure and continues to hurt patients and family members, both…

Tea on Tech: the Internet of Things

by Nikita Senthil (’23) | March 1, 2021 With its widespread impact across industries and on regular consumers, the Internet of Things (IoT), in the past few years, has become one of the most discussed topics in the technology industry. Although mass media began using the term IoT in the last decade, its history stems…

Pandemic Panacea: Vaccine development and distribution

by Arhana Aatresh (’23) | March 1, 2021 Since the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines were approved for emergency use authorization last December, people have been lining up to receive the vaccine, even visiting pharmacies at the end of the day, vying for leftover doses. Unfortunately, there is a general mistrust of the coronavirus vaccine. The…

The future for pet food: lab-grown meat

by Jonathan Lee (’22) | March 1, 2021 Over quarantine, as many families tried to fill the emptiness of their homes, a sudden surge of pet adoptions struck America. The rush to adopt pets has led to the development of a new consumer base: pet owners who are considering an environmentally sustainable diet for their…

Artificial intelligence accelerated by light

by Rohit Khorana (’24) | March 1, 2021 Sixty years ago, most people would have found the concept of self-driving cars to be something from a sci-fi story. Today, however, it is no longer a fantasy, with self-driving cars made possible through artificial intelligence (AI). AI is increasingly incorporated into the technology we use today,…

What’s up with WhatsApp?

by Ayush Raj (’23) | March 1, 2021 It’s an app used by more than one billion people across the globe to stay in touch. Its users send 65 billion messages and spend more than 2 billion minutes in video and voice calls every day. In February of 2014, Facebook purchased it for a whopping…

Tea on Tech: 5G connectivity

by Nikita Senthil (’23) | November 16, 2020 Despite its initial introduction in October 2018 by Verizon, the buzz over 5G has only recently picked up steam, with internet service providers and countries alike competing to provide reliable and advanced technology for both individuals and corporations. Before we can consider the future of 5G and…

Pandemic Panacea: vaccine and therapy innovation

by Arhana Aatresh (’23) | November 16, 2020 The global death toll due to the COVID-19 pandemic peaked at 1,319,267 cases on November 15 and is skyrocketing as the U.S. continues to smash records with an alarming increase in cases. Despite political pressure, U.S. health experts have consistently maintained that fully reopening businesses or schools…

With deepfakes, seeing is not believing

by Ayush Raj (’23) | November 16, 2020 In March 2019, the CEO of a UK-based energy company received a call from his German parent company’s leader with an order to transfer €220,000 to a Hungarian supplier. A follow-up email matched the phone call instructions, so the CEO promptly transferred the money. However, once the…

Of machines and morality: the ethical dilemma of AI

by Navaneeth Dontuboyina (’24) | November 16, 2020 We have always thought of machines as objects that exist solely to benefit us—and perhaps rightfully so. We build them, so we can use them in any way we please. If they are inefficient or obsolete, we discard them. Yet, as we move into the age of…

Female scientists win Nobel Prize for groundbreaking work on CRISPR

by Rohit Khorana (’24)| November 16, 2020 In October 2020, Jennifer Doudna, professor of biochemistry at UC Berkeley, and Emanuelle Charpentier, Managing Director of the Max Planck Unit for the Science of Pathogens, became the newest Nobel laureates in chemistry. This is the first time in history that two women jointly received this internationally prestigious…

How do pandemics end?

by Kylie Chen (’24) | November 16, 2020 Throughout history, pandemic outbreaks have wreaked havoc and destruction throughout the world. Now, yet again, a virus has swept through countries, infecting millions worldwide. Currently, COVID-19 in the U.S. has been reaching record highs, infecting over 125,000 and killing over 1000 daily in the U.S. as of…

Pandemic Panacea: mental health declines during lockdown

by Arhana Aatresh | October 5, 2020 Welcome to Pandemic Panacea! In this column, I will cover everything regarding living through the COVID-19 pandemic, from mental and physical effects to new scientific discoveries, and also offer remedies and solutions. This issue, I will discuss the mental impact of the past six months in quarantine. Ever…

Tea on Tech: political censorship in media

by Nikita Senthil | October 5, 2020 Of the five “Tech Giants” (Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Microsoft, and Google), Facebook has arguably faced the most congressional pressure in the past decade. In recent years, Facebook has received widespread scrutiny and media coverage due to numerous data leaks of users’ private information, concerns about photo recognition software…

The universal language of color emotion association

by Carolyn Zhao | October 5, 2020 How would someone describe the experience of walking into a museum room cast with the vivid blue glow of an aquarium? For most, feelings like “calm” or “serene” come to mind. How about the experience of walking by a mural painted with vibrant strokes of red? People associate…

Dark matter gravitational lenses bend light surprisingly well

by Rohit Khorana | October 5, 2020 As scientists studied galaxies over the last century, they noticed that the stars within them were staying put without floating into space. Those stars all stayed in their galaxies due to gravity, which is affected by two factors: mass and distance. When the scientists added up all of…

I’ve vac-seen enough of you, cancer

by Kylie Chen | October 5, 2020 Imagine being part of a civil war you didn’t even know you were fighting. The war is corrupting your side, and by the time anyone notices this damage, it could be too late. Your opponents may have already infiltrated you without you realizing, waiting for the right time…

Out of this world: finding life on Venus

by Safaa Hussain | October 5, 2020 For centuries, humans have been fascinated by the subject of extraterrestrial life, conjuring images of frightening green aliens and studying footage of mysterious UFOs. However, with a mix of avid believers, skeptics, and those who simply don’t know what to accept, the possibility of other life existing in…

Elon Musk’s Neuralink may eradicate brain-related illnesses

by Ayush Raj | October 5, 2020 Imagine a day where blindness, memory loss, depression, seizures, and brain damage are a thing of the past. Hard to believe? Billionaire Elon Musk’s company Neuralink hopes to achieve this and more using an implantable chip inside the human brain. On August 28, 2020, Musk and his team…

The coronavirus, explained

by Arhana Aatresh | May 19, 2020 The world has been sent into varying states of chaos ever since a deadly respiratory illness known as COVID-19, or the coronavirus, started to spread through six continents in the past few months. As of May 8, there have been almost four million total cases and 273,852 deaths…

Online data privacy and Choose Privacy Week

by Nikita Senthil | May 19, 2020 How many times have you submitted your credit card information online last month? Have you posted on social media? Each time you release this personal information into the so-called cyberspace, you no longer have much—if any—control over what happens to it. Now, before you rush to clear your…

A guide to coronavirus precautionary terms

by Amelia Chandless | April 6, 2020 As the coronavirus situation escalates, the media and government officials are using many new phrases regarding restrictions. The Lancer staff is here to explain the differences between these terms, such as social distancing, shelter-in-place, quarantine, and self-isolation. Social distancing Social distancing is the first step of preventing the…