Michael Fujiyama, '23
Writing this on a Dell laptop from the company’s flagship XPS line, I can say that I am a fan of Windows. I chose to use this laptop when looking for a new laptop in eighth grade for its marketed portability, build quality, and battery life to use daily for both schoolwork and gaming. While it has served me well for over three years of use, there are some aspects about its hardware that irritates me. Firstly, while proprietary ports individually shaped for power delivery, USB, video output, Ethernet, and more were condensed into three versatile USB-C ports, dongles are now always required to access these otherwise standard features. In addition, the designers had to sacrifice the performance and the cooling capabilities of the laptop’s internals to fit within its slim profile, which resulted in a product that is severely underpowered for its price.
Now, who’s to blame? Because I must live up to my role as a Windows fan, I will now place the accusation upon Apple. Being the largest company in the world, Apple’s products and philosophy influence what appeals to the consumer and model the products companies should create to compete with their products. Sometimes, Apple’s design choices do not reflect what the consumer wants. Take the Apple Magic Mouse 2, for instance. Released in 2015, it is a somewhat welcome upgrade to the previous model with the addition of a rechargeable battery. But wait! Why is the charging port on the bottom? With this, consumers are unable to use their eighty-dollar mice while charging it at the same time. This design choice must be a fluke, but while the product has received several updates since then, the port has not been moved. This suggests that Apple intentionally infringed upon the consumer’s convenience by forcing them to use their products as Apple intended, which is without any wires for a visually appealing setup.
Some other examples are present on Apple’s MacBooks. Also in 2015, Apple released their new MacBooks with a new generation of “butterfly keyboards,” which used slimmer key switches that differentiated the laptops from the previous ones with its elegant design. However, consumers complained about the new keyboards for unintentional double-presses or, in cases like Henry Brown’s MacBook, unresponsiveness. These problems occurred when dust or debris enters between the keys. Apple has since addressed the issue in 2019 with a public apology, warranty program, and introduction of their “new” scissor switch keyboards, which are just a slimmer, updated version of their keyboards that were made before 2015.
Finally, another design issue that came out of those 2015 MacBooks was addressed earlier by me with my Dell XPS from 2019. That is, the introduction of USB-C ports. Because Apple has such an influence over the market, and the introduction of USB-C is very welcome towards the movement of standardized ports, the consumers were not ready for such sudden change. While the ports provided the same versatility with the unification of video-out, USB interface, and even the ability to charge non-Apple products with the new USB-C charger, dongles became a necessity to use wired peripherals on these devices. Thankfully, with the upcoming 2021 New MacBook Pro fourteen- and sixteen-inch models, Apple has reintroduced the HDMI port and SD card slot. It is interesting to point out that Apple declares that the new MacBook is now “more plugged in than ever,” but they are taking a step back from the slimmer laptop designs from the past couple years.
Spencer Parizek, '23
I am non-binary, and I attend an “all-boys school.” The dress code, never mind our institution, acts under the presumption that all students are cisgender, which is blatantly transphobic and anti-inclusionist. Every bullet point or paragraph in the dress code (Student Handbook, page 11) specifies its application to “boys.” As no students are exempt from these passages, the Handbook implies that every single student, without exception, is a boy. This ideology leaves no room for the possibility of students being trans-gender; it implies that the gender, despite its fluidity, of all students, must align with the sex they were assigned at birth.
My own experiences as an STA student have only confirmed these values. When I approached the school about GSA’s ideas, I was told that the “mission” of St. Albans is to specifically prepare boys for the world ahead. I proposed changes to school-wide policies, but members of the administration offered to help me as an individual, rather than the wider school community. In a group meeting between me and two adults, the person I was primarily talking to phrased it as concern for my own mental health, as the meeting also included Dr. Friend, but I recognized an undertone of resistance from said unnamed adult. He concluded with his comment about the school’s “mission” with the possibility of exceptions on a student-by-student basis. At first glance, this may seem helpful, but it requires students to be open about their gender and sexuality. As there are two students in the LGBTQIA+ affinity group at STA, these personalized exceptions leave the vast majority of closeted or questioning students to be exposed to the trauma of “brotherhood.” This means being misgendered daily by students and faculty, whether it be terms like “gentlemen,” “boys,” or “brother.” The result for trans students, like me, is a sense of personal disgust, discrimination, and exclusion.
Over the past few months, I have been victim to this type of language and other seemingly aggressive acts towards my interpretation of the dress code. Teachers have applied double standards, calling me out when others are breaking the dress code often to a greater degree. Students have stared at my clothing, snickering under their breath. My peers have rolled their eyes when I discuss matters like these. Many have come to my defense, and for their assistance I commend them. But I often spend thirty minutes to an hour planning my outfit every night because I have to balance school-dress and my gender identity. Often, I am forced to wear a blue blazer—the very symbol of “brotherhood” and “masculinity” I try desperately to avoid. While this may seem insignificant to cisgender readers, I compromised my identity. Daily, I think about being misgendered, and the tropes of “brother,” and “St. Albans Man.” The dress code, a short policy in the Handbook, is emotionally draining and distracts from learning.
While it would be better for my own mental health if I leave STA, that would be selfish. Future students will endure the same trauma I have. One of which I personally met during the STA open-house. A mom and her male, feminine-presenting child (who wore sparkly, pink shoes), approached the “Diversity and Inclusion” table, and asked Ms. Elliot, Ms. Denizé, and I about STA’s progress with gender. I told them inclusion was our priority, but in truth, throughout STA’s history, its “loving, accepting, brotherly,” and transphobic culture must have left hundreds of students with trauma and gender-dysphoria. My goal, along with GSA, is not to take away freedom of speech. Instead, we aspire to make space by broadening the school’s language, so all students at STA feel welcome and valued. GSA wants to broaden the dress code, eliminate the necessity of the tie, and open up for substitutions for the blazer. Blazers and ties, being typically male pieces, are incorporated into feminine fashion and “all-girls” schools, so why hasn’t the reverse, like skirts, been true for that of masculine fashion and “all-boys” schools? Our goal is inclusion, not the restriction of language. The dress code makes room for athletics but not gender. St. Albans compromises the sense of “professionalism” it prides itself on to allow varsity seniors to wear letter jackets. It even allows for sneakers instead of dress shoes. Clearly, said professionalism isn’t invincible to exception. Why are comfort and school pride anomalies but gender isn’t? Is “tradition” worth the jeopardization of the mental health, identity, and authentic familial bonds of St. Albans and its student body?
A Note From The Editors-in-Chief (Updated Nov. 8, 2021, 3:56 P.M. EST):
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Apple Inc. Is Our Only Hope
Henry Brown, '23
During his short life, Steve Jobs founded not one, not two, but three legendary companies. Pixar continues to be light years ahead of all other studios with their computer animation software, producing such classics as Wall-E, Ratatouille, and Coco. NeXT, Jobs’s brainchild after his resignation from Apple, paved the way for today’s MacOS. And Apple, the world’s second most valuable company and inventor of the iPhone, has every teenager glued to their screen for hours each day. Yet, Apple remains the gem of Silicon Valley.
You see, in our increasingly digital world, Apple has doubled-down on its approach to broaden the Apple Store’s functionality. The company’s "Creative Studios" program, announced in June 2021, aims to provide “career-building mentorship” to young people from underrepresented communities. Through face-to-face classes in stores, these students can learn to use Apple products to create music, films, and photography. None of the “Big Five” (Amazon, Apple, Google, Meta, and Microsoft) has a greater opportunity to effect positive change than Apple, and the company has certainly taken action.
As a child, though I was not involved in any of these programs, the chrome walls and glowing apple at the end of Bethesda Row always beckoned me to tug my parents inside. I routinely played Angry Birds on the iPhone 6. As such, Apple has cultivated a strikingly approachable environment, whether in its stores, through introducing budget iPhones, or reviving the oh-so popular ports on the MacBook.
To call me a Craig Federighi fan would not do justice. Federighi—my idol, my mentor, my obsession—is Apple’s VP of Software Engineering and the world’s best stage performer. Since his miserable Face ID fail at the introduction of the iPhone X, I always anticipate Craig’s next elaborate demonstration at Apple’s annual developers conference (check out Craig teleporting here). Despite Apple’s seemingly fixed hardware design, despite Spotify overshadowing Apple Music, and despite its pathetic word processing application Pages, the company’s infamous ecosystem is Apple’s redeeming quality. By Federighi’s design, iOS and MacOS are rooted in simplicity and convenience, allowing cross-platform usage of services. You can text from your Mac, copy and paste works between devices, and, above all, you can AirDrop. Plus, Apple reliably updates its design to keep it modern and uncomplicated; each new update introduces new wallpapers, redesigned app icons, and greater interconnectivity.
Apple has pushed into the services market as well. The success of Apple TV+ in particular has shocked the streaming industry, especially because Apple, unlike Netflix, Hulu, or Disney Plus, had no content in its library. However, the iPhone producer’s shows and movies have been of stellar quality and enjoyable thus far—far more than most Netflix originals. Top picks include For All Mankind, Defending Jacob, and Ted Lasso. I often wonder if Apple mandates use of its phenomenal video production application, iMovie (or Final Cut Pro).
The company is also a trailblazer on environmental and health-related issues. Apple first announced that it would rely on only renewable energy back in 2012. Now, Apple promises that all aspects of the supply chain, from manufacturing to in-store purchases, will be carbon-neutral by 2030. Lisa Jackson, former director of the EPA and Tim Cook’s go-to advisor on climate policy, says that over 110 suppliers have “come along on the journey to clean energy and carbon neutrality.” The Big Five are all leaders in climate policy, but Apple continues to demonstrate that cooperation is necessary (and possible) to tackle humanity’s greatest challenge. Additionally, the Apple Watch, with blood oxygen sensors, fall detection, and its ability to take electrocardiograms, helps thousands of Americans discover medical problems well before they become an issue. Each update sends the Apple Watch even further ahead of its competition, which is something the iPhone, sadly, cannot boast.
Is Apple truly the best? If it isn’t, it’s pretty close. I didn’t even mention features of iMessage, the ease of connecting AirPods, privacy, or that Apple is destroying the College Board day-by-day (link). Technology has engulfed our lives. We can either resist it, a herculean task, or we can embrace it. Apple is our path to a better world, both physical and technological. So let’s follow it.
Our Biosphere of Technology
Benjamin Acosta, '23
I would be remiss to write in D.C. in 2021 on the inspirational wonders of earth’s fauna without recalling the cicada. While they did seem rather sedentary and pathetic at times, cicadas are not genetically lacking. Nanopillars coat the wings’ surface, rows and rows of spikes so small that gram-negative bacteria get caught on them and stretch until they pop.
The wing surfaces are also highly hydrophobic. Water condensing onto the wings accumulates until the droplets are large enough that they just repel off of the wing and jumpity jump into the air. Dirt and other particles can be carried along, making a cicada’s wing a self-cleaning, antibiotic shield.
Scientists have replicated this molecular ingenuity in various surfaces, such as bacteria-resistant artificial corneas, as cicada genes pave the way for cleaner hospital materials.
His life drains quickly, and the solution is feet away… Just hang on a couple days, they say, we have to process the blood, it’s all the type AB we have. He fades out.
Hospitals normally freeze blood in organic solvents that prevent ice crystallization at 1:1 ratio. It takes a while to extract the solvent from the blood to ready for use, which just does not meet the needs of dying patients. Additionally, this method can only store the blood for about a month!
Antarctic fish, how do you do it?
Good question, we have the answer in our blood.
Oh, that’s cool.
Voila, that’s how scientists figured out how to prevent frozen blood from crystallizing while having the blood ready to go upon thawing. Pretty cool, eh?
Frankly, whales are not fish. Nonetheless, it was Frank Fish who realized and calculated that, counterintuitively, the bumps known as tubercles on the front edge of humpback whale flippers actually give the mammals more control and efficiency in their swimming endeavors. Normally, angling fins too steeply reduces the amount of water flowing over the fin, causing stall, which would lose the whale a lot of lift. But these tubercles distribute pressure to allow a gradual stall, giving whales a far greater capacity for angling downwards.
His mind prompted, Fish began to think about what else could use this interesting modification. What about… wind turbines! It turns out, adding tubercles can easily double the productivity of wind turbines, especially at lower wind speeds.
And, of course, Hyperspace
The technology of our dreams. Even before 1977, when George Lucas revealed to the world the existence of ancient hyperspace technology in a distant galaxy, Kepler and Einstein and countless others mused on the speed of light and travelling at such speeds. Wouldn’t it be just splendid if we could travel across the Milky Way in a matter of hours? (Yes, that would require velocities significantly higher than lightspeed, or the ability to enter another dimension of space.) Maybe we would find Ewoks =D
Little known fact: Hyperspace travel was not a humanoid invention.
While our planet’s whales have cool adaptations to enable greater agility in the water, elsewhere exist whales that have (objectively) cooler adaptations to enable greater agility in—you guessed it—hyperspace. Let me introduce you to my favorite animal: the purrgil.
(just Google it, also, see main photo)
Indeed! It was these four-tentacled purple and yellow giants that inspired people to follow them into the blue-tunnel dimension and settle or interact with the countless planets of their galaxy.
There’s a word for when someone uses someone else for their own benefit without looking after that someone else’s well-being: slavery. Kingdom Animalia has so much diversity to offer, and humans have always taken its members for themselves, enslaving them for our own technological advancement, from work animals like oxen, horses, and mules to the canaries in the coal mines, to the countless mice whose lives have been gruesomely deprived as injections and pills degraded their bodies to the point of death.
And what have we given them? The least these animals could ask for is the health of their homelands, for their families’ sakes, but through industries fueled by their sacrifices we heat the atmospheres and overturn the ecosystems that have long balanced hundreds of thousands of species. We burn their world, and ours, as we innovate from their inspiration.
I hope that it is evident that furthermore, melting the ice caps and deforestation equates to purging our richest library of beautiful creatures and engineering blueprints. Not just those discussed above, but thousands of others, and not just animals, but countless plants, and fungi, and protists, and bacteria! Who would want to throw away such creative genius? And look at that! Doubly efficient wind turbines! Looking to animals can be both an emotional and practical inspiration for reverting the damages we have caused. And as seen, other animals have more to offer medically than their bodies for testing.
That is to say, if we care for our cohabitants of Earth, we care for ourselves (not that that should be our sole motive for caring). Before we choke on our own emissions, let us say, as Ezra Bridger did to the purrgil before they saved his life, “Help me… We want to help you. Let us help you.” If we work with them and help each other we can live. Let our technological advancements and our daily lives be based on the needs of the natural world that is falling apart around us rather than what is profitably destructive.
But, if worst comes to worst, let’s just hope that the purrgil drop by, and we’ll find a fresh planet to slowly destroy.
For your further exploration:
Rishi Kannan, '23
Mercedes-Benz recently debuted its new EQS electric vehicle, touting a fifty-six-inch screen running from end to end on the dashboard. You heard me right. The TV in your living room is probably smaller than the enormity of a screen in this car. Cadillac also has something similar in their flagship SUV, the Escalade; in front of the driver stands a thirty-eight-inch overlapping center display. Even Jeep, the most stereotypically utilitarian car brand, announced its newest family SUV, the Grand Wagoneer, to have eight individual screens, adding up to a total of seventy-two inches of screen. The “screen overkill” doesn’t stop there, as many car manufacturers are following suit, jam-packing the limited space of a car with screen after screen.
Car technology has boomed over the past decade, with a plethora of safety features— including automatic emergency braking, lane-departure warning, and pedestrian detection systems—saving countless lives every day. But a darker side comes with this rapid innovation.
Around 9% of all accidents come as a result of distracted driving. As the act of driving a car becomes simpler and simpler, the possibilities of dangerously multitasking increases dramatically. Only a few decades ago, the majority of cars on the road were stick-shift, meaning one hand would always hold the shifter, the other hand would grip the steering wheel, and both feet would navigate three pedals on the ground. There wasn’t really a chance to be distracted. Now, there are two pedals in the footwell, and in some electric cars, you only need to use one because of regenerative braking. The steering wheel becomes irrelevant when the car steers for you while your hands float at the eight and four marks. The car’s radar senses when it needs to stop before an imminent collision, and before your foot even thinks to press the brake. All the while, the car makes sure that you feel cozy enough with the correct color of ambient lighting and your favorite music pumping through the four thousand dollar speaker system—a dangerous combination that relaxes you, and in turn, lowers your attention.
Let’s go back to those screens I talked about before. Marshall Doney, president and CEO of AAA, says that even though “drivers want technology that is safe and easy to use, … many of the features added to infotainment systems today have resulted in overly complex and sometimes frustrating user experiences for drivers.” That frustration and subsequent cognitive demand “increases the potential for distracted driving.” Do you really think a fifty-six-inch screen will help with creating a simpler environment in your car’s interior? To access climate controls, why press a simple button when you can go through deep menus of options that might put you at risk? Why not unsuccessfully change the radio stations on a screen that doesn’t work half the time?
As opposed to tactile buttons and knobs, screens restrict the driver’s sense of touch and encourage the driver to take their attention off of the road. “We have made what were relatively simple tasks really complex,” cognitive and neural scientist David Strayer says after conducting a study at the University of Utah.
I don’t mean to sound like a Luddite, but the problem of technology in cars sparks many questions on humanity’s approach to easing work. What happens when technology stops working? If drivers are used to letting the car figure out its own problems, they have shifted the psychological responsibility to the vehicle, but they will still experience the physical and legal troubles in the event of an accident. Furthermore, the driver will not be confident in his or her driving abilities without the help of the car’s systems. Will drivers know how to navigate highways safely? Will they know how to switch lanes? Will they know how to check over their shoulder for merging traffic? Will they know how to press the brake pedal in time in icy weather? As a reader base of mostly teenagers who are soon to obtain/have only recently obtained a drivers’ license, these are serious questions worth considering when going out onto the road.
But the bad news about new technology in cars doesn’t stop with safety. Car features are also just another way for auto-manufacturers to win over their competition. Going back to the screens, car makers are under the philosophy that the bigger the screen, the better the sales. But along with screens come other gimmicks the manufacturers produce. For example, new minivans are offering a “Passenger Talk” feature, where the driver can send a voice message through the car’s speakers to reach the passengers three feet away. Doesn’t sound like a good use of money, does it? BMW came out with a gesture control feature, where you can twirl your hand in the air to increase the radio volume. Even wireless charging—why pay extra for one company’s car over another just so you don’t have to plug in your phone with a wire? The gimmicks might be fine if they didn’t have any negative consequences, but along with the semiconductor shortage, they jack up a car’s price. The average price of a car today is at an all time high of 45,000 dollars, 50% more than the average price of around 30,000 dollars in 2010.
My advice is this. Trust your abilities, without leaning on the car’s features as a crutch. There’s so much to enjoy about driving even without the screens. If you master it, I’m sure you can live with watching TV at home instead of on the dash.
Keep the Dress Code
Sascha Hume, '23
In starting this article, I’ll admit that I’m not as knowledgeable on the St. Albans dress code as I really should be in writing this article. I have read through the dress code several times, and pasted it at the end of this article, but I know little of its history or evolution at our school, or how it resembles and/or differs from dress codes at other similar schools in the area. The goal of this article on my part is just to bring up a few benefits of our dress code, because people tend to focus on the downsides of it rather than the positives.
The dress code adds a sense of studiousness and professionalism to our classrooms and labs. Of course, dressing everyone in suits and ties has the obvious effect of making everyone feel like they’re an adult working a real job, but there’s more to the dress code’s creation of a professional environment than just that. The fact that every single student takes the effort to dress up formally each day, whether they like it or not, makes the dress code a kind of investment into the school community. When I walk into one of my classes and see all of my classmates wearing dress shirts, blazers, and ties, I feel obligated to respect their taking time out of their morning to dress in such a manner in order to attend school; I thus feel a responsibility to engage seriously with my classes or else feel like I am doing a disservice to those who have made an effort to come in and learn. Walking into a classroom on a free dress day is a different story altogether: I know that everyone or almost everyone in the room woke up a little later than normal and just threw on whatever casual clothes came first in their closet. The lackadaisical and unserious nature of free dress means that I, at least subconsciously, don’t feel the same drive to approach my classes in earnest than I would on a normal day. Obviously I don’t blame anyone for dressing the way they do on free dress days. Nor do I want to abolish free dress days, as they are a great way to relax and unwind after a stressful series of weeks. However, there is a reason why our classes tend to be less organized and productive on free dress days. In theory, classes can be taught just fine with everyone in casual clothes, but we all know that they never are. No one takes them seriously.
None (or almost none) of us dress formally in our free time; some of us certainly detest having to spend extra time every morning putting on archaic and uncomfortable clothes. The point is, we all do it anyway. We all choose to sacrifice a bit of our time, individual comfort, and perhaps even style, out of respect for the rules and traditions of our school, and because each of us knows that the rest of our St. Albans community will be with us in our observance of the ritual. Generations of St. Albans students have grumbled about the dress code, but so have generations of St. Albans students upheld it. I’d suggest we not break the chain here, but maintain a tradition which keeps us grounded, brings us closer together, and connects us with those who walked the halls of STA before us. Let’s keep the dress code.
The Adaptivity of Technology
Katherine Millien, '24
“It’s that phone giving you a headache.”
“You are always tired because of your phone.”
“The TV will make you go blind.”
I am sure some of you can relate to those phrases or similar ones being told to you by members of an older generation. To the older generation, technology was not an everyday tool and the way they interacted with it was more limited. Whether it be through sitting down for a weekly streamed program, a radio, or for a lucky few logging in to a public chunky computer to check their email, technology was not very prevalent. It certainly was not a social necessity.
The way we use technology, and even rely on it, has drastically changed since then. Technology is seen everywhere, from our homes, to school, to work. It is how our world connects people to one another, whether socially, professionally, or educationally. Technology for me and many other kids growing up in the 21st century is an everyday tool. Grabbing my phone, computer, and air pods every day is an instinctive part of my routine. Technology has been crafted to make life easier in a multitude of ways. In addition, technology is one of the most adaptable and accessible resources we have.
During COVID-19 in particular, technology has shown how helpful it can truly be, by creating special places to increase connectivity. Zoom and Google Meets readjusted my idea of school. Online grocery shopping aided my family and many others, and even Instagram lives and the interactivity of infamous platforms like TikTok helped connect me with friends. The pandemic was, for everyone, a very different experience then it would have been without technology. I stayed as connected as possible to my family and friends all by the touch of a couple buttons and in retrospect, those moments online were crucial to keeping me sane during isolation.
As technology has become increasingly at the forefront of our lives and the world, the outlook, especially from its 21st century users who do not know their lives without it, is more optimistic. Concerns shared by older generations about the instability of technology and the fear that their kids will be lost in the superficiality of it all are made in bad faith; technology in this age is a beneficial lesson in itself. Younger generations, including myself, have a more positive outlook on technology and I believe this is because of how often we interact with it and the ways it makes our lives easier and every part of the world more available. As technology is the platform the world functions on, kids’ use of it is important to incorporate all their resources in order to collaborate, communicate with one another, and create a better and more accessible future.
So, while I cannot disprove the correlation between my phone and my headaches, technology has without a doubt adapted itself to fit the needs of the times, making life nothing but easier.
Redeat Getachew, '23
Technology has played a pivotal role in shaping how we carry out our daily lives and our communication with friends and family. This has never been more evident than in the past year and a half, where we had to depend on technology to maintain some form of normalcy we lost due to the pandemic. As every single one of us experienced, when the pandemic spread throughout the world, we no longer had the day-to-day contact many of us took for granted in the past. It was with this crisis that truly made me more appreciative of my access to technology.
As I priorly mentioned, the main reason I used technology was for communication. Even before the pandemic, technology played a major role in helping to maintain my connections to my friends and family members. For example, my relatives are spread out across the world and we are seldom able to meet up and have a chat. Pre-pandemic, we’ve been calling them as often as possible to stay connected. This reliance on technology has increased in the past year and a half, whether it was through FaceTime, zoom, or texting. I relied on those applications to maintain and foster the relationships I had formed before the pandemic. It was also another way to check up on our elderly family members and the immunocompromised who had to take more precautions.
Technology does more than promote connection, though, as evidenced by the use of Zoom to continue students’ educations. Whether families brought their own computers, or the school provided them, students used those computers to efficiently continue their schoolwork in the absence of an in-person education. Applications like Zoom and Microsoft Teams were used to connect teachers and students.
Technology is definitely important and useful in our lives, but it is vital to consider its downsides. For instance, not everyone can have access to technologies. I feel very privileged that I have access to such technology, but there are so many out there who do not. There were likely many families struggling through the pandemic due to not being able to continue their childrens’ education via online learning. Technology can only make a difference if everyone is able to have the same access to it.
In addition, it is important to consider the negative effect excessive use of technology can have on one’s mental health. While my access to technology definitely helped me stay connected to family members and friends, I know that those same apps used to interact with friends and families have had a negative influence. There has been a rise in far-right extremism that has translated outside of the screen, and we also see that social media, especially Facebook and Instagram, plays a major role in hurting young girls’ self-esteem.
Overall, however, technology is very significant in my life and the pandemic would have been more mentally taxing without the ability to communicate with my friends and family. It is with that same gratitude that I emphasize the importance of a broader access to technology so that everyone can enjoy the benefits of this indispensable tool.
Gender Diversity in Technology
Danielle White, '23
Technology is growing at a fast rate in US industries, and it plays a crucial role in the economy, both inside and outside of the US. Personally, it feels impossible to imagine myself in any position in technology. I feel underqualified to be a woman in technology--especially as an African American--unless I perfect every assignment, ace every test, and go above and beyond my male peers to feel “worthy”. I often ask myself whether I can prove that I’m smart enough to deserve a role or position in Information Technology (IT). Unfortunately, I am not alone with this mindset. I'll frequently hear my peers feeling defeated if they don’t pick up on something as fast as boys do, or if they aren't moving as fast as their male counterparts. Young women are often too dispirited to even try technology branches because the idea feels so far-fetched.
The underrepresentation of women in tech generally stems from a lack of female mentors. It’s easier to follow in the footsteps of someone you admire than trailblazing on your own, but the lack of women in STEM almost ruins the possibility of young women being able to obtain high positions in technology. Role models are crucial to generating interest in tech careers--with more women in high-tech roles, far more little girls will be inspired to try something in a male-dominated career. If there were female mentors in IT paving the way for young women to follow in their footsteps, we would not feel disheartened about having interest in technology. Being one of the only girls in tech clubs, classes, camps, or programs is unbelievably discouraging and isolating, especially when I realize that the higher up I go in technology, the fewer women there are. Even as a teenager, it's hard for me to feel like I belong in a tech field because of the immense underrepresentation in our society. I can only imagine how younger girls must feel, especially at co-ed schools.
In our society, there is too much talk about what other women should do to lessen the gender gap in technology, when the focus should be on what we, as young women, will do. Pushing for gender equality in technology has become basically word of mouth; it’s almost a fairy tale that people constantly put out of reach. True gender equality is about action: taking higher positions as women, being confident in our skills, encouraging other women to take roles instead of viewing them as competition. Of course, gender inequality is not the only issue in the technological world, but it’s one that we can solve here at NCS. If you were asked to name someone who has made an impact in computer science or technology, you’d probably think of Steve Jobs, Jeff Bezos, or another man; that’s what hurts us, and it’s what discourages so many young women who look forward to being in IT. Someone must pave the way for young women in technology, and our generation has the ability and resources to do it. If we start now, we can create more role models for children to admire and give rise to the next generation of women in technology.
Green Tech to Rescue The Planet
Zaara Ahmed, '25
By the time this article is published, we will have a pretty good idea whether COP 26 (the 26th UN Climate Change Conference, taking place from October 31-November 12) is just “blah blah blah,” as climate activist Greta Thunberg called it, or if our leaders have any intention of allowing our generation and those that follow to live in a planet habitable by human beings. What we have heard so far does not give us a lot of hope. India’s nationalist leader, Narendra Modi, has already asserted that India, the third-largest emitter of greenhouse gases after China and the United States, will not reach its net zero target (only producing the amount of greenhouse gasses that can be absorbed by plants) before 2070. That is 20 years too late, meaning that we are on our own.
Let’s take a step back. Six years ago, 196 countries agreed to the Paris Agreement, an international treaty on climate change which aimed to limit global warming to well below 2, and preferably to 1.5, degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels (the average of the period 1850–1900). This legally binding treaty entered into action on November 4, 2016. Countries agreed to outline the actions they would take to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions to reach the goals of the Paris Agreement by 2020.
If we have any chance of limiting the global temperature to the level outlined in the Paris Agreement, we will have to reach net zero by 2050. That means that the amount of greenhouse gas we produce cannot be more than the amount of greenhouse gas that is removed from the atmosphere. In other words, we must stop burning fossil fuels (coal, oil and gas) and focus our energy on inventing, refining and perfecting technologies to produce clean energy and remove the amount of greenhouse gases already in the atmosphere.
One way to do this is by developing clean energy substitutes for fossil fuel. Alternatives include using solar photovoltaic (commonly known as solar power), hydro power, biofuel, wind, and nuclear power. Hydropower is generated by harnessing the energy of flowing water and is the largest source of renewable energy in the world, according to the International Energy Agency. In Norway, 99% of electricity comes from hydropower. Solar photovoltaic cells that convert sunlight into electricity have the second largest share among renewables. China leads the world in solar power capacity, while roughly one-eighth of Bangladesh’s population uses solar home systems. Wind turbines generating electricity constitute another important share of the global renewable energy mix. 32 countries in the world, including the US, have nuclear reactors that deliver electricity. All these renewables have pros and cons. If we are to shift out of fossil fuel and into these alternatives, we will have to ensure that these technologies are refined and able to meet the increasing needs of a growing population at a price that is acceptable to all. It’s a tall order, but it’s not impossible.
Another way to reduce carbon emission is to develop technology that removes carbon from the atmosphere and stores it underground or reuses it, decarbonizing fossil fuels. This is formally known as carbon capture, utilization, storage, and sequestration (CCUS). It basically does what trees and plants do, albeit using technology rather than natural means. Currently, this technology is still under-developed, expensive, and unreliable, so much research and development is needed to make it a viable option. Elon Musk, the owner of TESLA and currently one of the two richest people in the world, recently pledged to donate $100 million to developing the best carbon capture technology.
Now that we know that it is up to us to save our planet, we need to prepare ourselves as best we can to bring about a major revamp of the global energy system. Our future relies on our capacity to invent more efficient sustainable alternatives to oil, coal, and gas, as well as coming up with cost-effective ways to remove carbon from the atmosphere. Just as importantly, we must develop future generations of leaders who care about equity, inclusivity, and sustainability--people who are unafraid to challenge the status quo, and who welcome transformational change. No more “blah, blah, blah.” I just hope it’s not too late.
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