The quantum physicist says Superman may be powerful, but he wouldn’t stand a chance against Ant-Man.
You may think that a movie about a superhero who can shrink down to the size of an ant doesn’t have much basis in reality, but according to Spyridon Michalakis, a quantum physicist at the California Institute of Technology, there is some fact behind the fictional world of “Ant-Man.”
Michalakis would know. He served as science adviser for both the original 2015 “Ant-Man” film and the new sequel, “Ant-Man and The Wasp.” In this role, Michalakis helped the filmmakers and actor Paul Rudd (who plays Ant-Man) tease out the real-life science behind the superhero’s powers and the films’ so-called Quantum Realm, a place that isn’t governed by normal laws of physics.
But how much of the “Ant-Man” universe is steeped in science? Could a human shrink down to the size of an insect — and survive? NBC News MACH recently sat down with Michalakis to learn about some of the real-life physics behind the films.
MACH:Ant-Man doesn’t necessarily get as much respect as other bigger-name superheroes, but since this is your area of expertise, can you make an argument for why Ant-Man could go toe-to-toe with some of the bigger guns in the Marvel universe?
Michalakis: There was an article a couple of years ago, around the time when the first “Ant-Man” movie came out, and I was quoted as saying that Superman, my favorite superhero growing up, wouldn’t stand a chance against Ant-Man. People were like: “No. What are you talking about? This wouldn’t happen.” What I meant is that Superman is someone who [has] supreme powers within the realm of physics, with the laws that we understand.
Ant-Man, by going to the Quantum Realm and understanding how to work with the source code of reality at that level, he could rewrite the laws of physics. He could move within space and time in ways that no other superhero can do. It’s not just a matter of power. He would change even what the notion of mass is, and lift things much more easily. It is a crazy place to be in the Quantum Realm.
Let’s go back to basics. What exactly is quantum physics?
Quantum physics is usually thought of as the physics of the universe at the microscopic level. This is kind of a misunderstanding. Quantum physics seems to be the foundation of all of physics, almost like a theory of knowledge — a way for us, as humanity, [to ask] questions that go beyond what we were able to ask before. Removing that filter allows us to see reality at its true form, and makes for some very weird things that end up happening, like particles being in two places at the same time [and] quantum entanglement, which is the ability of these particles to communicate with each other, somehow, over vast distances. When you study quantum physics, you try to understand how particles, but also larger objects in this world, behave when you have the ability to view them from many different points of view.
Are there aspects of the Quantum Realm in the “Ant-Man” movies that are actually rooted in real-life quantum physics?
When I was brought in for the first movie to discuss some aspects of quantum physics that might be relevant to the plot, one of the things that really resonated with the writers and Paul [Rudd] was this idea that, as you go deeper and deeper into the Quantum Realm, the things that we take for granted — the idea that there are laws of physics, that there is a dimension of time and we’re moving through it in one direction — all of these things potentially dissolve. Reality itself is melting away and new possibilities appear. I find this interesting, that I have an opportunity as a consultant for the movie, to introduce the public to some really cutting-edge and kind of sci-fi-sounding ideas that are part of physics right now.
Are there specific contributions that you made to the film’s plot?
I ended up working on the script this time. One of the major driving points for the plot is a connection that Scott Lang [played by Rudd] has with the original Wasp, played by Michelle Pfeiffer, because there were some rumors that toward the end of the first movie, there was a reflection of the Wasp on Ant-Man’s helmet when he was within the Quantum Realm. The idea is that they have been linked, somehow, through quantum entanglement, so he has these visions of Michelle Pfeiffer’s character, which will allow the team to be able to go and retrieve her from the Quantum Realm.
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With a career spanning almost three decades, Common’s journey in the spotlight has been anything but.
Along the way, he’s gained an ever-expanding list of titles and credits that run the gamut: rapper, artist, father, actor, activist, model, author, designer, philanthropist, Microsoft ambassador, and Academy Award winner, to name a few.
But if you’re thinking that’s enough to satisfy this modern-day Renaissance Man, you’re wrong. “I revel in the fact that in being all of these things, I don’t have to choose,” said the multi-hyphenate talent. “I want to do and be more…what I’ve accomplished so far is great, but there is always more to achieve.”
Voice of the Future
Common might’ve had his start in the music industry, but he’s no stranger to the world of STEM. In fact, he’s had a long-standing relationship with tech behemoth Microsoft dating all the way back to 2008, when the two partnered to launch Softwear (a play on “software”), a retro clothing line of T-shirts featuring MS-DOS (an operating system) font. Six years later, that partnership was re-birthed as the tech giant searched for a spokesperson to helm its first Super Bowl commercial. Common sent in a tape explaining why he wanted to lend his voice, and the rest—they say—is history. Since the inaugural commercial in 2014, the artist has lent his voice to a multitude of commercials, shorts, and presentations touting the importance of advancing technology and the infinite possibilities created by Microsoft’s artificial intelligence (AI) capabilities.
“Technology is possibility, adaptability, and capability,” he muses in one spot. “It’s not about changing what came before—it’s about creating what comes next. Right now, we have more power at our fingertips than entire generations that came before us…the question is, what will we do with it?”
Actor to Activist
Common’s firm footing in the entertainment industry might sound like a full-time endeavor, but he has consciously created the time and space to enrich and advocate for the causes he believes in. “The truth is, you don’t have to be an actor, or an athlete, or an influencer to make a difference,” he said in a recent interview with the Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s Ernie Suggs. “All you have to do is have a desire the make the world a better place. Every human being can do it, and I have a desire to do my part.”
This desire has manifested into fervent action focused on increasing and championing diversity and mentoring youth in the inner-cities of his home state, among other things.
In January, he delivered the closing keynote at the CEO Action for Diversity & Inclusion conference, a gathering of more than 250 Chief Human Resource Officers (CHRO) and Chief Diversity & Inclusion Officers (CDO) from an array of Fortune 500 companies on a mission to provide tangible, ready-to-implement strategies to encourage and increase diversity and inclusion both internally and within their local communities.
“My interest in promoting diversity was rooted in my looking in these communities and seeing certain people not having access to the same opportunities,” said the ardent advocator. “The undeniable fact is that we need to see more women and POC [people of color] in positions of power—same for different beliefs and those in the LGBTQ+ community.” “We have to figure out ways to increase the diversity, and that starts with a conversation. For me, I love being in a position where I can be a part of the paradigm shift and contribute to that conversation.”
Speaking to C-suite leaders about diversity isn’t the only way Common is lending his voice to the diversity conversation. In 2018, after African-American business partners Rashon Nelson and Donte Robinson were racially profiled in a Starbucks—causing national outrage—the chain subsequently closed 8,000 stores for a day to conduct anti-bias training. The voice they heard in those videos, stressing the importance of anti-discrimination and inclusivity? Take a guess. The art of the give-back has further manifested into the creation of the Common Ground Foundation, an organization dedicated to reach and impact inner-city youth in Chicago through mentorship and college-preparation programs. For more than a decade, the foundation has intimately focused on nutrition, healthy living, financial living, character development, and creative expression—even holding youth leadership conferences and summer camps. With more than $230,000 in scholarships awarded, a 100 percent graduation rate among participants, a 99 percent college attendance rate, and more than 2,500 collective hours of community service provided to the community, the organization has earned the distinction of an impactful labor of love.
“I started the Common Ground Foundation because I wanted to help,” said the philanthropist. “I think making a difference in the lives of others is life’s greatest purpose, and I always believed that of we started with the youth, we’d be planting the seeds for our future to blossom.”
A Tale of Common Sense
Common, born Lonnie Rashid Lynn to an educator mother and youth counselor father, was raised in the Calumet Heights neighborhood of Chicago, where his foray into the world of music developed and thrived. Talented and precocious, he was writing lyrics by age 12, and at 15, formed a rap trio—C.D.R.—with two high school friends. Far from just an after-school hobby, the group served as an industry incubator, not only building his proficiency in writing, producing and performing, but also aiding in his personal branding as an artist.
“C.D.R. represented so much in my life, and it was the birthplace of a lot of artistic firsts,” remembered Common. “That acronym was a revolving door of different meanings—it mainly stood for Corey, Deon, Rashid [our names], but on other days, it was Compact Disc Recorder, or Recording Def Rhymes. We were learning how to record, making demos, writing songs, performing—just trying to figure ourselves out and do our thing.” Influenced by hip-hop’s titans of the time, including LL Cool J, Run DMC, A Tribe Called Quest, NWA, and Rakim, C.D.R. went on to gain a footing in the industry, having their songs played on the University of Chicago’s local radio station and opening concerts for Big Daddy Kane, Eazy-E, and Too Short.
Upon graduation, Common enrolled at Florida A&M University under a scholarship, where he majored in business administration. His artistic streak remained uninterrupted, however, and in 1991, after being featured in The Source magazine’s Unsigned Hype column, he left A&M to sign with Relativity Records. It was under this label that he released his first album, “Can I Borrow a Dollar?”, using the moniker Common Sense. The album was an underground success, and laid the groundwork (as well as a growing fanbase) for his subsequent albums and collaborations. To date, Common has won more than 20 awards from various distinguished award bodies for his lyrics, albums and performances, including a 2015 Academy Award for his and singer John Legend’s original song “Glory” (from the Selma soundtrack), three Grammys, four BET Awards, a Golden Globe, and an Emmy. He has also garnered over 40 nominations in the music industry.
More than Music
Had Common been content to produce records, pull awards, and perform his hits for dedicated fans around the world, that might’ve been the end of the story. But, true to his character, he always had his sights set for more—much more. He began making his mark in the film and television industry in the early 2000s, often making cameos as himself and later evolving into more complex roles in well-known films, such as American Gangster (starring Denzel Washington), Wanted, Just Wright, Suicide Squad, Selma (as activist James Bevel), and installments of the John Wick franchise, to name a few. His constantly growing acting portfolio, which currently includes more than 40 films, supports a long-term goal to eventually become one of the great actors of our time.
“I’m still working to get to where I want to be, and I’m always working to get to the next level,” he said. “The majority of roles I want, they’re looking at other actors for. But I’m always going to fight to prove myself.” As he works tirelessly to widen his range and nab multifaceted roles, Common is also focused on another goal: helping amplify the creative voices of others through his nearly five-year-old production company, Freedom Road Productions. To date, he has executive produced Showtime’s popular drama The Chi (created by screenwriter Lena Waithe, the first African-American woman to win an Emmy for Outstanding Writing for a Comedy Series), and last year, signed a deal to develop and produce new television series with Lionsgate TV.
On the Horizon
Common’s career in the spotlight has diverged into many paths during its three-decade journey, and it shows no signs of slowing down. Add to that his impactful work in mentorship, advocacy, and diversity, and a bevy of new projects within all of these fields, and it’s safe to say that he may never stop. Next up is his second book, Let Love Have the Last Word, a personal anthology exploring the core tenets of love to help others give and receive love to live better lives and build stronger communities. Following on the heels of his New York Times best-selling memoir, One Day It’ll All Make Sense, the book is sure to be a page-turner.
On the film front, the actor will feature or star in three upcoming films: The Informer, The Kitchen, and John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum. Several TV series in collaboration with Lionsgate are also in the works. Simply put, Common wants to expand his experience, provide opportunities for others, and inspire.
“I want to live my passions, help others do the same, and make the world a better place, as much as I can,” he said. “This—all of this—inspires me to work harder and do more.”
If it feels like DJ Khaled is everywhere in the transit world, that’s because he is. Popping up on Lyft scooters, ride-share driving undercover, and owning a ridiculous car collection, the hip-hop star is all about getting around. Now he’s helping you get where you’re going as a new navigation voice option in the Waze app.
Sure, his voice giving directions is part of a six-week promo with streaming music service Deezer for his new album. But that doesn’t mean you can’t embrace the advice-filled phrases the performer is known for. Waze, Google’s driving direction app, is used worldwide with 115 million users and has featured other celebrity voices for navigation such as Arnold Schwarzenegger, Kevin Hart, T-Pain, and Shaq. Bringing in known voices to give you driving directions is a feature that’s been incorporated into the app for years. A popular request was actor Morgan Freeman a few years ago.
One of the songs on his newest album Father of Asahd features singer John Legend, who is the latest voice option on Google’s digital assistant platform, Google Assistant. Legend’s AI voice launched last month.
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Before his death, the rapper was involved in projects focused on revitalizing his South LA neighborhood and supporting STEM among black and brown youths.
When Los Angeles–based rapper Nipsey Hussle was shot and killed on March 31 at the age of 33, his death plunged people in his LA community, as well as others all over the world, into resounding grief.
It wasn’t only that he was young and beloved or that he was a father of two who was in a relationship with actress Lauren London. Hussle (whose given name was Ermias Asghedom) was lauded through his life not just for his music but also for his service to the black community.
In the days after his death, there has been much talk about much he did for the black community in South LA, but most people didn’t realize how far-reaching his activism and entrepreneurship were:
He was an advocate for STEM among black and brown kids
Hussle was an investor in Vector90, a technology space founded by Gross. The center is home to a community program called Too Big to Fail, which serves as a link between young people in the inner city and Silicon Valley. The aim: to train underrepresented and disenfranchised black and brown youths in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) fields. Hussle and Gross reportedly had plans to expand the program across the country.
He was in the beginning stages of addressing gun violence with the LAPD
On March 31, LA Police Commissioner Steve Soboroff revealed that Hussle had a scheduled meeting with the LAPD the day after his death to discuss gun violence in the city. Hussle, a former gang member, spoke openly about his experiences with gang culture and his desire to focus on “giving solutions and inspiration” to young black men like him.
He was revitalizing the community with new real estate developments
In a bid to bring black-owned businesses and jobs to his South LA neighborhood, Hussle reportedly spent several million dollars on a strip mall property on Crenshaw Boulevard and Slauson Avenue with several stores, including his “smart store” Marathon Clothing.
He had bigger plans in the world of real estate: In February he told Forbes that his goal was to work with black community leaders in other U.S. cities to create similar business and real estate hubs designed to benefit rather than push out the black community.The plan was part of an initiative called Our Opportunity, co-founded by Hussle and led by his business partner Dave Gross.
As we approach the 17th anniversary of the September 11, 2001 attacks, Alcatraz East Crime Museum will be hosting a special guest speaker who will share his story of working at Ground Zero in New York.
Arthur Bohanan, a forensic expert, will be speaking at the museum on Saturday September 8, 2018. His presentation is included in the museum admission, with talks scheduled for 12 p.m., 1:30 p.m., and 3 p.m.
“We are honored to have Art Bohanan speak at the museum and share his first-hand experiences of the 9/11 attacks,” says Rachael Penman, director of artifacts and exhibits. “Around the anniversary we always try mark the moment in some way, and we look forward to visitors joining us to hear Art’s powerful story.”
Bohanan is a local forensic expert who arrived at Ground Zero the day after the attack. He spent weeks onsite, using his expertise to do the difficult work of identifying human remains. Working 12-hour shifts in a makeshift mortuary, he was subjected to breathing in a toxic combination of vaporized plastics, jet fuel, asbestos, and numerous other toxins. To this day, he continues to suffer health issues from breathing in the toxins. Since that tragic day, there have been over 1,000 rescue and recovery workers who have died as a direct result of medical issues they developed from working at the site.
In addition to hearing Bohanan speak, visitors can visit the museum’s 9/11 exhibit. The display includes pieces from Bohanan, including his ID badge, hard hat, and respirator mask. There are also additional new items that the museum has added from the cleanup site, including a computer keyboard, melted and twisted from the heat and impact of the towers’ collapse.
“I worked in New York City at Ground Zero and the Medical Examiner’s lab for eight weeks on DNA recovery. The personal sacrifice of the dedicated first responders in the aftermath is often overlooked, and I am honored to speak about my time there,” says Bohanan. “The medical issues from the site have been difficult, but I have been blessed and would do it again.”
Bohanan grew up in Sevier County, joining the FBI out of high school. He spent 26 years with the Knoxville Police Department as a senior forensic examiner. Specializing in fingerprints, he also invented a device using vaporized superglue blown onto skin to make prints available. He received a patent for the invention, which is used around the world.
From September 7, 2018 – October 14, 2018 Alcatraz East Crime Museum will be hosting its annual fall local appreciation days. Locals from the counties of Blount, Cocke, Jefferson, Knox, and Sevier, as well as those from the state welcome centers, receive $5 admission when they show their local identification or paystub.
The museum is always adding to their collection and has a star-studded panel of experts who make up the Advisory Board, including those in law enforcement, collectors, a medical examiner, crime scene investigators, and others. The board includes Jim Willett, a retired prison warden, Anthony Rivera, a combat veteran and Navy SEAL chief, and Judge Belvin Perry, Jr., who is best known for the Casey Anthony trial. For more information and to purchase tickets, visit: alcatrazeast.com.
About Alcatraz East
Alcatraz East is the most arresting crime museum in the United States. Guests of all ages can encounter a unique journey into the history of American crime, crime solving, and our justice system. Through interactive exhibits and original artifacts, Alcatraz East is an entertaining and educational experience for all ages – so much fun it’s a crime! This family attraction is located at the entrance of The Island, located at 2757 Parkway, Pigeon Forge, TN. General admission tickets are $14.95 for children, $24.95 for adults. Group ticket sales are available. The museum is open daily from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m., with the last ticket sold 60 minutes before closing. For more information and to purchase tickets, visit: alcatrazeast.com.
Octavia E. Butler, a groundbreaking African-American science fiction writer who would have turned 71 on Friday, was honored with a Google Doodle that celebrates her contributions to the literary world.
Butler was one of the first writers in science fiction — traditionally dominated by white male authors — to include diverse protagonists in her stories, and was widely admired for evocatively exploring hierarchies and human flaws in her work.
Butler died in 2006, but her family released a statement to coincide with Friday’s Google Doodle that paid tribute to her legacy.
“Her spirit of generosity and compassion compelled her to support the disenfranchised,” her family said in a statement. “She sought to speak truth to power, challenge prevailing notions and stereotypes, and empower people striving for better lives. Although we miss her, we celebrate the rich life she led and its magnitude in meaning.”
Throughout her life, Butler won various awards and became the first science-fiction author to get the MacArthur Fellowship. Here’s what you need to know about her prestigious career:
Nebula and Hugo awards
Butler won two Nebula awards and two Hugo awards in her career, two of the most prestigious prizes in science fiction. Two of those awards were for the same short story, Bloodchild, in which human refugees are imprisoned on an alien planet by insect-like creatures that protect them while using them as hosts to breed their young. Butler insisted the story was not an allegory for slavery while critics applauded it for reversing gender roles and examining the complex structures of oppression.
In 1995, Butler became the first science-fiction author to be awarded the prestigious MacArthur Fellowship. The award came with a prize of $295,000. The foundation said Butler’s “imaginative stories are transcendent fables, which have as much to do with the future as with the present and the past.”
Television adaptation of Butler’s book
Last year, it was announced that Ava DuVernay, who recently directed A Wrinkle In Time, would be adapting Butler’s book, Dawn, into a television series. It is not clear what network will pick up the show just yet.
Last June, the trailer teaser for Marvel’s Black Panther—not even the full trailer—racked up 89 million views in 24 hours. Twitter called it one of the most tweeted-about films of 2017, though it wouldn’t open until February 2018, with hashtags #BlackPantherSoLit and #WelcomeToWakanda. The Boys & Girls Club of Harlem held a fund-raiser to arrange a private screening, others planned viewing parties. It was a sign of things to come.
This year, Black Panther is shattering box office records as the third highest grossing film in the country, bringing in almost $700 million in its first 10 weeks in theaters. Essentially a stand-alone movie in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, it broke the opening weekend record for a non-sequel/prequel, earning $202 million its first week out. That number also gave Black Panther the new record for a solo superhero week one debut, topping the $174 million opening weekend of Iron Man 3.
Marvel Comics’s character Black Panther was originally conceived in 1966 by creators Stan Lee and Jack Kirby as a way to give black readers a character to identify with. The movie Black Panther tells the story of young T’Challa, who, after the death of his father, the king of Wakanda, returns home to the isolated high-tech African nation to succeed to the throne and take his rightful place as king. But when a powerful enemy reappears, T’Challa’s strength and authority as king—and Black Panther—is tested when he’s drawn into a dire conflict that puts the fate of Wakanda and the entire world at risk. T’Challa must release the full power of Black Panther to defeat his foes and secure the safety of his people and their way of life.
“It’s the first time in a very long time that we’re seeing a film with centered black people, where we have a lot of agency,” says Jamie Broadnax, the founder of Black Girl Nerds, a pop-culture site focused on sci-fi and comic-book fandoms, in an interview with the New York Times. These characters, she notes, “are rulers of a kingdom, inventors and creators of advanced technology. We’re not dealing with black pain, and black suffering, and black poverty.”
Letitia Wright, who plays Shuri in the movie, hopes that it inspires young girls to pursue STEM, especially considering that women of color currently make up less than 10 percent of the working scientists and engineers in the United States.
The impact of the movie is not limited to inspiration. To celebrate the success of the film, Disney donated $1 million to the Boys and Girls Clubs of America for the STEM education programs. Through these programs, children have access to technology like 3D printers, robotics, and high definition film equipment, similar to the tech used to create the movie.
The film is giving minorities a platform to not only be included in STEM but to be STEM leaders. It is building upon a movement that so many others are contributing to and highlighting their work. According to a study done by the National Science Foundation (NSF), a sense of belonging is key to retention for minorities in STEM. Underrepresented groups need to feel that they belong in their STEM courses and workplace to stay in it and Black Panther is getting to the core of that by representing a woman of color as the leader of STEM in a technologically driven nation. Below are ten movements and movers that, like Black Panther, are impacting underrepresented groups in STEM every day.
Individuals and STEM
Kimberly Bryant, a successful engineer, started a movement in 2011 that has now impacted thousands of young girls. When Bryant started her career as a computer engineer, she was one of few women let alone persons of color in her courses. But, years later, when her own daughter pursued STEM at a summer camp, she was amazed to find the classroom unchanged in representation. Inspired by this revelation, she began teaching her daughter and daughter’s friends to code, which led her to launch Black Girls Code. The nonprofit now has chapters across the nation and outside of the U.S. and continues to impact the lives of young black girls by giving them access to computer science education.
Dr. Mae Jemison, the first African-American woman in space, has paved the way for young women of color to pursue their dream of being an astronaut. But she is not only leading by example. Jemison co-founded, along with her siblings, The Dorothy Jemison Foundation for Excellence, in honor of their late mother. The foundation assists in bettering education for STEM and has several programs that promote scientific literacy for students and teamwork and problem-solving.
Jamie Bracey, the Director of STEM Education, Outreach, and Research for Temple University, is working hard to help foster STEM education not only across the United States but also in her home state of Pennsylvania. She was inspired to start a movement after seeing so many students from local communities struggle because of the lack of education and support. In partnership with programs like the Pennsylvania Mathematics Engineering Science Achievement, she works to foster interest in STEM fields and education in middle and high school students. Recently, Bracey decided she needed to do more. Earlier this year, she helped launch the Center for Inclusive Competitiveness at Temple University. This center will serve as a collaborative STEM outreach program supporting underserved communities.
Dr. Anna Powers is empowering young women in their pursuit of STEM through her Powers Education program. While teaching at a university, Powers saw many women discouraged in STEM because their confidence was diminished—they didn’t believe they could succeed. Because of this, Powers Education revolves around building the confidence of women in science by teaching science through intuition over memorization. Powers also emphasizes that failure is part of the path to success, helping women not be discouraged but empowered by taking risks and trying again.
Corlis Murray is a leading engineer for Abbott, but when she pursued her career the majority of her community did not understand the field she was entering. Now, she is role model for other young women of color hoping to break into a field that is still typically male. Murray believes that one of the best ways for the lack of diversity in STEM to change is for companies to invest in these underrepresented communities to provide access to education and opportunities. With Abbott, Murray launched their high school STEM internship program, because she feels it is her job to care and help where she has the option to. She has created a movement from her success and love of STEM.
Education and STEM
Cal Poly Pomona’s Femineer movement is connecting schools and high school girls to STEM. The program, founded at the university, so far has been able to provide 41 K–12 schools with access to STEM curriculums and female engineer mentors to inspire more women to pursue STEM. This is a movement that makes other movements, because participating schools like Ramona High School in Ramona, California, have not let the Femineer program end with their high school participants. Femineers at Ramona High have taken what they have learned and gone to the kindergarten classes to inspire young woman to pursue STEM.
Companies and STEM
Over the next five years, Verizon will be donating $400 million to 200 middle school STEM programs. Their goal is to give five million students access to free STEM education, technology, and teacher training. Schools will be selected through public nominations on social media using the hashtag #humanability. CEO Lowell McAdam said in a statement, “Our mission, which we call Humanability, is to give people the ability to do more in this world—that’s why it’s paramount we invest to give kids the technology education and resources they need to succeed.” By the year 2020, millions of students across the nation will experience the effects of Verizon’s humanibility.
Ford Motor Companies also believes the way to change is to invest in underrepresented communities. They have invested over $63 million in STEM programs for kids. Their STEAM Experience is one of these programs impacting education. Last year STEAM Experience allowed young women in the Detroit area to show off their quick thinking and innovative scientific skills by creating problem-solving inventions out of recycled materials. They are showing these young women that there is more to the field than meets the eye.
When discussing the impact, Alison Bazil, Ford’s business manager for vehicle components and system engineering, said, “It isn’t just about being good at math and science. If you like to be creative and inventive, solve problems and make things better, that’s really what engineering is all about.” The STEAM Experience Program is not only giving access to education but also opening the girls up to an opportunity they may have never before considered.
Organizations and STEM
The Society for the Advancement of Chicanos/Hispanics and Native Americans in Science (SACNAS) is building the community of Hispanics and Native Americans in STEM through its programs such as Chapter Leadership Institute (CLI) and annual conference. CLI connects local university students and gives them leadership skills that have allowed many to go back into their community and continue the movement. One CLI alum is helping first-generation students pursue a graduate education. The chapters also connect with each other to increase the impact on both schools positively.
Society of Women Engineers (SWE) not only hosts an annual conference to connect women engineers but also hosts an annual event called Invent It. Build It. This event supports girls from 6th to 12th grades, parents, and educators to engage with STEM and connect with resources and opportunities. The event moves locations to allow girls across the nation to access the event and continue to grow in STEM. One of the best aspects of the event is that it not only educates and engages these girls, but they also get to see what real-life opportunities are available for someone in an engineering career.
“Girls often do not associate engineering as a career path that allows them to help people, and they also lack confidence in STEM skills as compared to their male counterparts. Events like Invent it. Build it. are essential to show girls what an engineer looks like and instill the confidence that they, too, can be an engineer.”
For diversity to continue to grow in STEM, movers and movements such as these are crucial. Women and minorities need representation on and off the screen, as well as access to STEM education for these movements to continue to make strides. The stories above are just a few examples of the incredible things happening in the world of STEM, made possible because these STEM leaders took it upon themselves to make a difference and join the movement.
Ready for one more statistic on director Ryan Coogler’s wildly successful movie? Black Panther’s crushing $202 million first weekend was the biggest opening ever for any movie directed or produced by a person of color. It easily beat out James Wan’s Furious 7, the 2015 action film with a diverse cast that earned $147 million its first weekend. May this victory be a sign of more box office magic to come from filmmakers from all backgrounds.
Today’s Google Doodle celebrates the 105th birthday of astronomer Guillermo Haro, who discovered a new class of nebula and helped promote astronomical research in Mexico.
Haro, born on March 21, 1913, discovered a type of nebula now known as Herbig-Haro objects. These bright clouds form when jets of ionized gas from young stars collised with nearby clouds of gas and dust. Herbig-Haro objects are short-lived by astronomical standards; they last just a few thousand years, and they change dramatically over just a few years. Haro was one of the first to realize that these objects were the result of the cosmically violent process of star formation; astronomer George Herbig, working independently, came to the same conclusion at around the same time, so the two astronomers share the honor of the name.
And Haro also discovered a type of star, now called flare stars, which flares bightly across the whole electromagnetic spectrum for a few minutes at a time, on apparently random intervals. Today, astronomers believe that most flare stars are dim red dwarf stars, although there are some more massive exceptions, and their flares are high-intensity versions of solar flares, caused by changes in the stars’ magnetic fields. Our two nearest neighbors, Proxima Centauri and Barnard’s Star, are flare stars.
In addition to new classes of astronomical objects, Haro also discovered several planetary nebulae, a number of young variable stars called T Tauri stars, a supernova and ten novae, and a comet. He also spent much of his career composing a catalog of blue stars toward the north galactic pole and a list of blue galaxies.
When he wasn’t looking skyward, Haro advocated for astronomical research in Mexico, and in 1959 he became the first person from Mexico to be elected to the Royal Astronomical Society. He died on April 26, 1988.
Continue onto Forbes to read the complete article.
Code.org has partnered with Alaska Airlines to offer free educational videos on how computers and the Internet work, Code.org CEO Hadi Partovi wrote in a blog post.. The video series, which stars Microsoft founder Bill Gates and other industry leaders, will be available beginning in April on Alaska Airlines flights.
“Whether you use a PC, a smartphone, a wearable device, a connected home appliance, or a self-driving car, the same principles explain how all these computing devices function,” says Bill Gates. “In the 21st century, these computer science ideas are part of digital literacy that every student and adult can benefit from.”
The series entails short lessons on binary and data, circuits and logic, CPU, memory, input and output, and hardware and software. The series is designed to be easy for everyone to understand, Partovi wrote.
In addition to making them available on airlines, Code.org will integrate the videos into its middle and high school curriculum. They will also be available on Khan Academy, a startup that offers computer science education, and tools for parents and teachers.
“With hubs up and down the “Tech Coast”, we’re both witnessing and leveraging the innovations that we see occurring every day in our own backyard,” says David Scotland, Manager of Inflight Entertainment & Connectivity at Alaska Airlines. “Code.org’s new series is an entertaining and approachable way for us all to gain a basic awareness of how computers work. We’re pleased to offer over 40 million guests the opportunity to view Code.org’s new video series inflight through our partnership.”
Continue onto Tech Crunch to read the complete article.
Indi’s technology helps everyone become an influencer.
Each day there are billions of people who use the Internet, and most are being influenced by others in one way or another. Many even seek that influence, especially when it comes to making purchases. In fact, according to the Pew Research Center, 82% of U.S. adults say they have checked out online reviews and ratings before making a product purchase.
Of those, 40% say they almost always check out online reviews before making a purchase. Online video reviews are the next big hit in marketing, and the good news is that now anyone can be the influencer, thanks to Indi.com.<
“People crave video reviews from others because it helps them make an informed decision about making a purchase,” explains Neel Grover, the founder and chief executive officer of Indi (www.INDI.com). “If you think about it, we all have ‘influence’ with our family or friends, so we have made it possible for anyone to become a paid influencer by sharing their reviews with their circle of friends, and they can earn money as they do it.”
Online reviews appeal to a wide demographic, according to the Pew report, but those under 50 are especially more likely to incorporate online reviews into their shopping. Furthermore, they report that 55% of adults in the country have watched online video reviews to help them make a purchasing decision. Whether they want reviews on the latest fashion trends and items, or they are looking for the best beauty products on the market, among many other products, video reviews give people the info and visuals they need.
With Indi, the playing field of who is offering online video reviews is leveled. Rather than people relying only on famous people to give reviews, anyone can create online video reviews using Indi. Their technology provides the ability to become an influencer, by sharing their video product reviews in a brand friendly environment. The site allows anyone to create shoppable video that can be shared natively into your social media channels, leading to retailers’ websites for direct purchases which then provide a commission to the content creator. This is an area especially popular with those who promote fashion, beauty, entertainment, electronics, travel, gaming, and fitness.
Indi’s platform helps bridge the gap between consumers who want to give their authentic and honest reviews, brands that want to engage with their customers, and the public who wants to watch online video reviews. Individual users can create their own channel, upload their content, share with their friends, family, and on social media outlets, and monetize it with commissionable shopping links to sell merchandise. Some of the categories in the Indi platform include beauty, fashion, shoes, jewelry, travel, electronics, and home and kitchen, among others.
For retailers that want to drive additional brand awareness and sales, they can turn their employee and customers into authentic micro influencers by being on Indi. Companies can create their Brand Ambassador programs on Indi whereby their employees and customers create video reviews that are associated with a direct shoppable link back to their website. Once approved, the videos and links can be natively posted by the customers and employees throughout social media to drive sales.
“Monetizing video reviews are no longer just for the famous YouTubers. It’s for everyone,” added Grover. “With our platform, consumers have the ability to get a wider range of product reviews, and everyone has the ability to become an influencer where they can post product reviews and earn money in the process. It’s a win-win-win for everyone involved.”
Indi has over 100 million shoppable products in its catalog, featuring major name brands such as Canon, Nike, Adidas, Target, Best Buy, Amazon, Zales, Walmart, The North Face, STS Blue and many more. Users on the site are able to create authentic content and share it into their social streams. Companies such as the Denver Broncos, “America’s Got Talent,” Domino’s and Starbucks have partnered with Indi and are using their platform to greatly increase their social media engagement and influence, all without using paid promotion. Indi has made it possible for companies to turn employees and customers into brand ambassadors, allowing them to post video reviews of products and earn a commission when somebody clicks through their unique link and makes a purchase at the retailer’s website.
The Indi co-founders and much of the team have been together for years at Buy.com and Rakuten.com since they were one of the only ecommerce companies to have multiple consecutive years of profitability competing with Amazon. For more information on Indi and the options available to individual influencers, companies, and consumers, visit the site at: http://indi.com.
Indi is a video engagement platform that is revolutionizing the online buying world. The platform gives people the ability to earn money from posting video product reviews, which help consumers make buying decisions and give brands the ability to turn their most loyal customers and employees into a trackable commissioned virtual sales force. The site is used by major brands and by people around the world. Based in Irvine, Calif., Indi brings together influencers, shoppers, and thousands of brands, all through the use of helpful videos and creative marketing “challenges” to drive word of mouth advertising and move people to buy. Start your Indi channel today at http://indi.com or get social @indichallenge on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.
On a recent episode of the Emmy-award winning Shark Tank, a 17-year-old entrepreneur—a born salesman—pitched a product that would help prevent Plantar Fasciitis, a debilitating foot condition.
This prompted toothy smiles all around from the sharks, until the teenager stated that he planned on skipping college and pursuing his business full-time.
Those smiles turned to winces.
“I’ll be devastated if you skip college,” said shark Mark Cuban, a billionaire who owns the Dallas Mavericks. Cuban gently lectured the youth on the importance of learning science, technology, engineering, finance, statistics, and marketing.
“Knowledge gives you the greatest competitive advantage,” he said, adding that he ran businesses out of dorm rooms while in college.
Everyone knows that Shark Tank is about entrepreneurship. And everyone knows there are lucrative opportunities in Science, Technology, Engineering, the Arts and Math (STEAM). The economy is leaning—and none too lightly—in that direction.
Just take a gander at a few of the tech-startups that have made it big by partnering with sharks:
Groovebook: People love snapping pictures on their phones, but until Groovebook, there really wasn’t an easy way to get them printed and placed into an album. With Groovebook, users can select photos right from their camera roll, and upload them to the app. The selected photos will be printed and delivered right to your door in the photo album of your choice. Founders Julie and Brian Whiteman got the idea when Julie lost all her family photos on her smartphone. After its deal with Shark Tank, Groovebook sold to Shutterfly for $14.5 million;
PhoneSoap: Thanks to PhoneSoap, your phone can be properly cleaned. Makers Dan Barnes and Wes LaPorte landed the deal on Shark Tank. That move earned PhoneSoap a spot on QVC, where it made the bulk of its initial earnings. By the beginning of 2016, Phonesoap had sold more than 100,000 units after landing a retail deal with Bed, Bath, & Beyond;
Breathometer: Charles Yim’s Breathometer brought six sharks together. It was a feeding frenzy. The Breathometer was a mobile device app and attachment initially developed to analyze blood-alcohol-content level. The idea was that the Breathometer could help party-goers make better judgments and avoid drinking and driving. The cast of the show agreed to go in on a deal with Yim. Since then, Yim has raised $1 million and has a new product called Mint that monitors oral health.
Shark Tank, which has become a cultural touchstone in America and around the world, premiered in August 2009 and aired 14 episodes through January 2010. In August of that same year, it was renewed for a second season. Season 2 secured a Friday night time slot.
By 2013, CNBC licensed exclusive off-network cable rights for the series from ABC.
Shark Tank is now in its ninth season, and stronger than ever. Sharks have invested more than $100 million in contestants’ businesses, turning dozens of entrepreneurs into millionaires.
The show has won four Emmys, in 2013, 2014, 2016 and 2017.
The show’s success comes, in part, from its premise. Entrepreneurs present their products to the sharks, who are tough, sophisticated investors. Also accounting for the success is the educational value the show provides: viewers learn about profit margins, scale-ability, branding and more.
But make no mistake: the sharks are the stars; they draw eyeballs to the screen.
Viewers have gotten a glimpse into the minds of Richard Branson, Troy Carter, Ashton Kutcher, Chris Sacca, Phil Crowley, and Kevin Harrington.
The mainstays have been the straight-shooting Cuban, take-no-prisoners investor Kevin O’Leary (“Mr. Wonderful”), QVC phenom Lori Greiner, real estate mogul Barbara Corcoran, global tech-innovator Robert Herjavec and fashion visionary Daymond John.
This season, baseball great and business superstar Alex Rodriguez and Skinnygirl Cocktails founder Bethenny Frankel (who you might also recognize from The Real Housewives of New York) have joined the show.
The diversity of the sharks is a big part of Shark Tank’s appeal.
There have been women, African-Americans, immigrants and, now, a Hispanic (Rodriguez).
That means viewers get all manner of perspectives.
In turn, the show attracts a diverse group of entrepreneurs. Any businessman or woman worth his or her salt will tell you that a key to success is drawing from the biggest talent pool available. Contestants’ ideas matter; their knowledge matters; their work ethic matters. Their gender, race, religion, age … not so much.
A Shark Tank panel recently discussed secrets to the show’s success, and keys to success in business, touching on tech-startups and the importance of inclusion when it comes to talent. Here are some nuggets from the sharks:
Frankel, on how she branded Skinnygirl: “I used that platform (TV) to communicate with women about business, be relatable, to tell people about my life. Through stories on the show I created my brand in real time, from the logo, to the concept, and so I think the audience enjoyed watching it happen. A lot of the time with Shark Tank people were successful already, they were making money, I was completely broke when I was on housewives and so people watch it unfold… For me, with the creation of the skinny girl margarita, to me it was a simple, basic idea. It was the first ready-to-drink low calorie cocktail. I didn’t know anything, and it was a male run business. I pitched it to everyone and no one wanted to do it. People didn’t even come to the meetings. And I didn’t know what licensing meant, I didn’t know what equity meant, I just had this idea. You just are hustling. It’s about the execution, it’s the hustle.”
Rodriguez, on his transformation from athlete to investor: “I was always thinking about life after baseball, I was looking at athletes, average career is five and a half years… At 18-19, I started thinking that I didn’t want to be one of those guys who ran into financial trouble so I started ARod Corp out of fear… and now I manage over 15,000 apartment units in 15 states and we have over 500 people working for us. I’ve been doing this for a while and it is a great thrill and privilege to be allowed on the Shark Tank platform and do what I’ve been doing. Help young entrepreneurs, collaborating, and helping them meet their dreams and mentor them. And of course being the first Hispanic shark is something to be really proud of.”
Rodriguez also talked about the importance of failing. That’s right. Failing.
“I always tell young entrepreneurs to not to be afraid to try, failure is part of it. When people think about my career, they think about the championships, the RBIs, the home runs, but what they don’t realize is that I’m fifth all-time in striking out, so that means I have a Ph.D in failing. But I also have a masters in getting back up and that’s what America is all about, getting back up, not getting defined by your mistakes, and pushing forward.”
Daymond John, AKA “The Brandfather,” on the beauty of owning your own business: “I find it gratifying when we found out that it was one of the top shows in Kids and Family. There is nothing wrong with kids wanting to be a rapper or player, but when they realize and understand what their parents go through, they want to start their own businesses, they are creating their own business, and we are creating entrepreneurs. ”
The ever-optimistic Herjavec, on the importance of diversity: “Look at the diversity on this stage, that’s what I love. There is no color, race, or sex for success … We are all different, look at all the different answers. We all respect each other. You see people come out in the pressure, and I can’t help but empathize with these people.”
The shrewd, motherly Corcoran, on her love of the show: “What’s satisfying for me and for us sharks is when we look back at own careers and we were enormously at risk, we didn’t know when we were going to get paid, we didn’t even have a payroll. And so what we get to do as sharks is that we live through that experience again and again.”
Greiner, known as the “warm-blooded shark,” on the value of digital media: “You can also do things digitally, that’s huge. Today, you can do digital tests. You can do a Facebook ad, or an Instagram story. You can find a world of information, and if that works out, then you can do an infomercial.”
Griener knows what she’s talking about. She’s negotiated deals for Simply Fitboard, Scrub Daddy and Sleep Stylers, netting hundreds of millions in sales
O’Leary, whose sale of The Learning Company to Mattel in the 1990s made him a multi-millionaire, on honesty: “Shark Tank is a place where not everyone can win; you need to tell them the truth.”
Cuban, nothing if not astute, recognized the coming tech-boom as early as 1982. Perhaps that’s why his eyes sparkle when an exciting tech innovation is introduced on the show.
After graduating from the Kelley School of Business in Indiana, he started his own company, MicroSolutions, a system integrator and software reseller. The company was an early proponent of technologies such as Carbon Copy, Lotus Notes, and CompuServe. In 1990, Cuban sold MicroSolutions to CompuServe—then a subsidiary of H&R Block—for $6 million.
About a decade later, Cuban become a billionaire during the dot-com explosion, selling Broadcast.com, a pioneer in webcasting, for more than $5 billion.
What’s going to be the NBT (Next Big Thing) to hit Shark Tank? Given that a generation of students are getting schooled in STEAM, the possibilities are limitless.
Isn’t that a big reason why we tune in?
“Technological change always accelerates,” Cuban said. “It never stagnates over time.”