image by Johnson Martin, courtesy of Pixabay

Spaghettification: it’s a funny word , but it’s also a very fitting one.

The word spaghettification describes the process of intense gravitational forces pulling an object apart, stretching it into long, thin strips — much like strands of spaghetti!

The process occurs whenever an object gets too close to a black hole, a special region in space that emits extremely strong gravity. In fact, the gravitational pull of a designated black hole is so powerful that nothing, not even light, can escape from it.

Furthermore, since light can’t leave a black hole, black holes themselves are invisible. Contrary to popular…


Using chatbots to resurrect the dead

A cartoon figure of a white robot next to a blue panel with the words “Artificial Intelligence: The Key to Immortality? Catherine Rasgaitis”.
A cartoon figure of a white robot next to a blue panel with the words “Artificial Intelligence: The Key to Immortality? Catherine Rasgaitis”.

Artificial intelligence refers to the ability of a computer or a computer-controlled robot to “think” or make choices that we normally only associate with intelligent beings.

One way artificial intelligence is already being heavily used is through household smart devices or personal assistants, like Amazon’s Alexa or Apple’s Siri. Both Alexa and Siri rely use artificial intelligence in order to predict and understand their user’s requests.

Another example of Alexa’s AI at work lies in its ability to sort through background noise versus a vocal command. Alexa has to look for patterns in the characteristics of the noise to determine…


Nature’s equivalent of “copy and paste”

photo by Chan, courtesy of Unsplash

Most twins fall into two main categories: identical or fraternal.

Identical twins are monozygotic, meaning that they originate from the same, single fertilized egg. In these cases, the egg eventually splits into two separate parts. But, since both twins still come from the same egg and sperm, they will have completely identical chromosomes.

On the other hand, fraternal twins are dizygotic, so their formation involves two distinct eggs that are released at the same time. Each egg will also be fertilized by a different sperm, so only about half of their chromosomes will be the same. …


Bringing the unseen wonders of the universe to your doorstep

photo by Matthew Ansley, courtesy of Unsplash

Our naked, human eyes were not enough for to explore all the wonders that our universe has to offer. Fortunately, the invention of the telescope fixed this problem, magnifying objects and places literally worlds away.

The development of the original telescope took place between 1608 and 1609, based on the idea that a pair of lenses could be used to magnify an object. As telescopes evolved, they were classified into two distinct categories: refracting and reflecting telescopes. The difference was that the reflecting telescope used mirrors to focus light instead of lenses. However, both telescopes relied on gathering rays of…


Looking beyond improving eyesight

photo by Arteum, courtesy of Unsplash

Contact lenses can be used for far more than just improving eyesight. In fact, there are a variety of “smart lenses” available on the market right now and many more advanced lenses to come.

Telescopic

The telescopic contact lens lets you magnify your surroundings in the blink of an eye — literally. The design by the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology works by zooming in when you blink with your right eye and zooming out when you blink with your left eye. These particular models have the capacity to enhance objects with up to 3x magnification.


What do your dreams actually mean?

photo by Bruce Christianson, courtesy of Unsplash

You spend one third of your life unconscious, with strange hallucinations filling your mind’s eye. Out of context, that statement might seem peculiar, but this is essentially what dreaming boils down to.

Objectives of dreaming

Scientists have many theories for why we dream. Different types of dreams might also serve different purposes, like expressing repressed desires or training your flight or fight responses.

If you’ve ever heard someone tell you to “sleep on it” in a reference to making a difficult decision, you could also consider dreams as a way to subconsciously solve problems you are facing in your real, conscious life.

Other…


An overview of Carnegie Mellon University’s programming language

photo courtesy of Unsplash

Introduction to Alice

Alice is a visually based programming language designed to introduce younger students to the basics of object-oriented programming, also known as OOP. OOP is a type of programming based on objects and data instead of functions and logic.

Alice emerged as an educational programming language with great promise because of its appeal to younger audiences. However today, Alice has become increasingly less popular due to a lack of potential project genres and competing block-based languages.

History

The development of Alice was led by Computer Science Professor, Randy Pausch. Initially, Pausch began creating Alice at the University of Virginia. He hoped to…


Rip, freeze, or crunch?

Ever heard of the Big Bang? It’s the most widely accepted theory that explains the origins of the universe. Essentially, the Big Bang theory asserts that the universe formed in a massive explosion about 13.8 billion years ago. Prior to that, it is believed that all matter was condensed into a singularity, or an extremely compact and infinitely dense ball of matter. When that singularity suddenly began to inflate, it spread out into the exponentially expanding universe that we see today.

Theories for how the universe will end are closely related to this same expanding nature. Will the universe ever…


How well do they stack up against desktop IDEs?

When should you use a browser IDE over a desktop IDE? It really depends on what type of project you’re building and how you plan to build it.

Flexibility and customization

The main advantage of a browser IDE is its flexibility, allowing users to code from virtually any device with an Internet connection. For developers working on collaborative projects, this adaptability can make browser IDEs appear very attractive.

Furthermore, browser IDEs are standardized across all these different devices. This means that every person on a development team will see the same code and output. …


Exploring Sam Van Aken’s hybrid trees

background image from smithsonianmag.com

An unconventional type of tree

A single tree that grows forty different fruit — sounds impossible right? Wrong. In fact, there are over 20 trees across the United States just like that, thanks to the meticulous work of contemporary artist, Sam Van Aken.

Van Aken’s Trees of 40 Fruit specialize in producing what are known as “stone fruits,” ranging from items such as apricots, peaches, plums, cherries, and even almonds. Moreover, the diversity of Van Aken’s hybrid trees are so spectacular that they have evolved into somewhat of a conservation effort. …

Catherine Rasgaitis

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