From the Editor’s Mac – Ananya Grover

Hey there, you!

I’m so excited (and relieved) that the ‘Fall’ issue is finally here! It’s been an incredibly busy period for me, and for all of my fellow 12th graders, as multiple sets of all-important, life-changing, destiny-deciding examinations loom in front of us like humongous billows of smog, threatening to engulf the whole of our beings. The sole thought that helps me deal with the stress of the present is this: ‘It’s only going to get worse.’

I’m not even exaggerating.

Okay, maybe a little.

For this reason and several others, I’m going to keep my editorial short, simple, and sweet. Here’s compiled a list of the top five things on ‘falling’ I recommend you watch or read to this Autumn, while you’re forced to partake in family get-togethers and festivities you don’t particularly care about:

 

1. The rapid downfall of WeWork, Silicon Valley’s Unstoppable Unicorn, and the idiosyncratic, self-absorbed man behind it.

Some excerpts from the piece:

“Mr. Neumann was zipping across the Atlantic Ocean in a Gulfstream G650 private jet with friends last summer, smoking marijuana.”

“He (Adam Neumann) told at least one person directly that his ambitions included becoming Israel’s Prime Minister. More recently, he said that if he ran for anything, it would be President of the world…”

“…One day, he proposed, the company could ‘solve the problem of children without parents’, and from there go onto other causes such as eradicating world hunger.”

Read the full article, published in The Wall Street Journal, here.

 

2. People falling off horses. More specifically, Turkmenistan’s dictator Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov falling off a horse.

I’m won’t reveal a lot about this one, but I highly recommend you watch the whole episode. It’s always great fun to witness the fall of authoritarian world leaders, even if we have to settle for a non-political one for the present. Spoiler: there’ll be cake in the end.

 

3. “Why can’t we send up our trash to space and let it fall and disintegrate in the atmosphere?”

Are you also thinking of imaginative solutions like this one in the wake of Greta Thunberg’s rousing UN speech and the ongoing Swachh Bharat movement? MIT Tech Review’s weekly email newsletter, The Airlock, has an answer for you:

By far the most practical answer to this is cost. Spaceflight is rapidly becoming cheaper as companies develop more low-cost launch vehicles, but even if you elect to go with the most cost-effective services, it still costs about $2,500 per pound to launch something into orbit. The average American produces about 4.6 pounds of trash every day. The average American does not have $11,500 dollars to spend every day sending their own trash into space. And you can’t tack trash onto rockets already going into space without raising the costs of those rockets. It’s physically possible, but economically impossible.

Even if cost weren’t an issue, we don’t actually have the resources to launch enough rockets to meaningfully offset our trash production. America alone produces 230 million tons of trash every day. The Saturn V, the most powerful rocket in history, can only take 310,000 pounds (pounds!) into low-Earth orbit. We don’t have the means to build multiple Saturn V rockets, fuel them, and launch them rapidly enough to take care of our trash needs. And space launches often go awry.

But even if resources weren’t an issue, sending garbage into Earth’s orbit is a nonstarter. Most of it would burn up in the atmosphere on its way down, but this would still create a lot of particulate matter that would inevitably pollute the atmosphere (just imagine 230 million tons of garbage burning up in the air and you’ll get the picture). 

Before that trash fell back to Earth, it could threaten to destroy any objects in orbit (at 17,500 mph, even a coin could rip a satellite into shreds or cause grave damage to the International Space Station). Placing trash up in a graveyard orbit away from the ISS and active satellites would just make it more hazardous for any mission attempting to leave Earth and head into deep space (230 million tons of trash orbiting the Earth would cover a lot of volume at any given moment). 

So unfortunately, space launches won’t be the key to cleaning up the Great Pacific Garbage Patch.

Well, it certainly seems like we’ll have to find realistic, sustainable, and implementable solutions to tackle pollution, environmental degradation, and climate change.

 

4. The teaser of Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker had a ginormous clue you may not have paid enough attention to–– Death Star debris on an unknown planet.

While we can’t know any specifics until the movie comes out in December, we can still try to figure out how this could have happened.

How could the wreckage of a blown-up Death Star get onto this planet? Is it possible to “fall” from outer space? And if so, would there be anything left for space tourists to see?” Rhett Allain, Associate Professor of Physics at Southeastern Louisiana University, attempts to answer these questions using 11th-grade Physics formulae.

Intrigued? You can also check out Rhett Allain’s article on The Physics of Chewbacca Falling Out of a Moving Train, or if you’re more of a Stranger Things fan, then this one on The Physics of Falling Magnets in Stranger Things Season 3. 

 

5. Fall out of your negative thought-traps by recognizing cognitive distortions in your thinking!

Sounds like a herculean task, but ‘therapy chatbot’ Woebot makes it simple and, dare I say it, friendly.

Woebot, described as a ‘Self-Care Expert’ on the App Store, could be technically defined as an ‘AI Cognitive Behavioral Therapist’. It employs methods from CBT to help users identify and reframe distorted thinking like ‘should-statements’ and ‘future prediction’, delivers tiny lessons through stories, and helps people implement changes in their lives through short exercises. What’s more, Woebot has been built by psychologists who previously worked at Stanford University and is based on solid research.

If talking to a robot sounds easier and more affordable to you than confiding in a real human therapist, or even if the idea fascinates you despite your qualms, give Woebot a try. 

 

And that’s it. Phew. Feel free to comment below or reach out to me about your perspectives on these articles, your trial experience with Woebot, or simply to share how much you laughed at John Oliver’s brilliant prank.

I hope you enjoy the beautiful poems, artwork, and stories featured in this issue! As always, I request you to take the time to leave an encouraging comment for the author or artist–– compliments are the fuel that drives the work of us creative-types.

Take care,

Ananya

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