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The psychology behind 'The Dress'

(03/01/15 6:56pm)

Unless you haven’t been on the Internet in the past few days, I’m sure you’ve seen “the dress that made the Internet explode.” There is a dress that looks distinctly different to different people. Some say it’s blue and black, some say it’s white and gold. Although which color the dress truly is does not affect us in any way, the principals behind this argument apply directly to our lives.

Short Hair and Feminism

(02/18/15 7:48pm)

A couple of weeks ago, my fellow opinions columnist, Andrew Kocis, wrote an article about how similar our generation, the Millennials, is to the post-WWI “Lost Generation.” It was about this same point in history where the controversial “bob” haircut grew in increased popularity and I can’t help but compare it to the pixie-cut trend that’s going around today.

Drones used for good

(02/18/15 7:46pm)

Just last night I saw a brief news story about the Federal Aviation Administration starting to consider new flight rules to adopt in consideration of flying drones that are starting to take to the skies in our country. What made this so memorable to me was the fact that I had just finished reading all about drone technology and how it is expanding from current military uses to being used commercially for farming and ranching. It has been projected that the most useful commercial application for drones is in precision agriculture, where drones can use infrared cameras to create visuals for farmers that they can’t get from their naked eyes alone. Currently there is a prototype fixed-wing unit that weighs five pounds, has a one-hour flight time and can cover a potential maximum of 600 acres and will cost approximately $4,000. Additional benefits to farmers include being able to assess the water content of soil or identify any pest problems with agricultural drones. What this means is that, with drone technology, they will be able to decrease the effort they put into farming but maintain the output they get. Besides military uses, drones have been used in Japan for such purposes as inspecting nuclear power plant damage, tracking wildlife and monitoring whaling ships. There is a GALE drone that was developed recently for flying into hurricanes to send data to forecasters. More exciting than these uses, MIT students are collaborating with Boeing engineers in building an iPhone app to control a drone up to 3,000 miles away, and engineers at University of Southampton built a drone with a 3D printer that assembles in minutes by hand.The sky is the limit here. Pizzas delivered for Domino’s Pizza, small package deliveries for Amazon or Federal Express, delivering medicines and vaccines or enhancing mobile communication networks in rural or remote areas, mapping unpaved roads, understanding traffic jams and evaluating road conditions. Investigations are under way on all these uses, and parents in Vermont are currently using drones to escort their kids to school. Picture it: Your doorbell rings and when you answer it, there’s a hovering drone that tells you it has a delivery for you. Or you order a pizza and it’s a drone at the door delivering it. Your evening 6:00 news includes live shots from a drone’s camera where there is a traffic jam on the freeway, and World Health Organization doctors send medicine into e-bola ravaged areas without endangering any medical workers.If these ideas sound exciting to you, you can check out the new educational programs that have developed around this technology at such places as University of Nevada and University of North Dakota. Up to 100,000 jobs in upcoming years is what they are expecting in the manufacturing sector alone, although other possibilities include more military, agriculture and farming, business, and educational opportunities. How cool is that?

Are we too hard on Brian Williams?

(02/15/15 8:44pm)

Brian Williams, a news anchor for NBC, has recently been suspended as a lead anchor for six months. He had misspoken on Jan. 30 about being in a helicopter that had been hit by a rocket while he was covering the Iraqi war back in the year 2003. While it is directly disrespectful to embellish this particular type of story -- and a suspension was warranted for it -- given what psychology tells us about storytelling, I don’t believe any further disciplinary action is required.

The US electoral system is flawed

(02/15/15 8:45pm)

The way we elect our president is through the Electoral College system. While we do have a popular vote, it is the Electoral College that officially selects who our next president will be. Electors typically cast their vote for the candidate who wins the popular vote in their respective state. The candidate who receives an absolute majority of electoral votes, currently 270, wins the presidency.

Appreciate the commonplace

(02/15/15 8:46pm)

In the summer of 2013, my brother and I traveled to Europe; he went to Italy, I went to Spain. The view in Madrid, Spain was either that the Catalans were not serious in their push for independence or that they were only interested in economic and political gain. While I’m sure Catalonia too has politicians who simply blow with the prevailing wind, politics and economics are not the end-all and be-all of human interactions. The commonplace always seems to be taken for granted.

Get vaccinated

(02/08/15 5:54pm)

We are a little over a month into 2015 and already there are more cases of measles than we have on average in a given year. The CDC has reported that there have been 102 cases of measles in the U.S. between Jan. 1 and Jan. 30. Back in 2002, measles were declared to have been eliminated from the Americas.

New campus drinking fountains are great investment

(02/04/15 7:05pm)

Have you seen the drinking fountain in the Student Center that has an automatic water-bottle filler on the wall behind it? That thing is awesome! I am one of those people who are always stopping to use the drinking fountains in buildings. It seems like I never remember to bring my own water or I drink what I brought and need a refill. I take medication that makes my mouth dry and I am constantly in need of a little more moisture to keep my tongue from sticking to the roof of my mouth and the frogs out of my throat.

There's no wrong way to vote

(02/01/15 5:14pm)

The idea that voters are generally uninformed is a pervasive and popular opinion. This leads many people, both political junkies and less politically knowledgeable people, to come to the conclusion that voters are incapable of making good decisions in elections. However, I don’t believe this is the case. Voters are not uninformed and are able to vote correctly a majority of the time.