New States & Voting Dreams

Our weekly digest

Every week, we’ll be sending you an email with our favorite news stories, events, and overall advice for getting through school in one piece. Enjoy!

When beer = energy solution?

Thanks to graduate students at the University of Colorado-Boulder, we can all say we drink beer because we care about renewable energy. The students have recently have announced plans to file a patent for a beer to battery technology under the business name Emergy. Because, you know, energy with an M.

Some background for us drinkers who never ask where our pale ale comes from: the process of making one barrel of beer traditionally uses about 7 barrels of water, which after the brewing is left full of fungus and other things you wouldn’t want in your casual tap water. Very resource heavy, and also considered a bit water wasteful.

The students have found a way to take that fungus filled water and manipulate a specific fungus, Neurospora Crassa, controlling its chemical and physical processes from its inception. This is biomedical engineering at it’s finest, as the fungus is being customized and controlled to create a natural lithium-ion electrode, while also purifying the water. This engineered electrode can then be used for energy storage cells and battery technology components.

Basically, we have a classic case of beers for batteries on our hands. By taking the organisms left in the water and manipulating them with the patented -manufacturing process, we may very well have renewable, fuel cell technology in the future. The more you drink the more new energy we have. Am I the only one waiting for them to open their own brewery?

This American Life – Washington, DC

“What state is your college in?” Is going to be an even tougher question for anyone who goes to one of the 19 universities in Washington D.C. to answer come 2017. If you don’t know, Washington D.C has a weird geographic identity. The city is considered a federal district with an in-between classification, which means no one can fully say where the city is actually located-is it in Virginia, or Maryland?

This strange status has led to weird exceptions for Washington D.C. One example: they have their own Miss America contestant, despite being in Maryland/Virginia. Aside from having a big advantage in the beauty pageant world, Washington D.C. also gets electoral college votes, meaning this city gets a much bigger say in who will become president than every other city. They get a states level say. This unique status has led residents to feel they are outliers from the state(s) they inhabit, and they want out.

The city is and pushing to be recognized as an independent state, formally known as the “State of Washington, D.C.” All jokes aside, this is pretty major, as Washington D.C. would become the 51st state in the union. Sorry Hawaii, joining the United States in 1959 is old news, there is a new kid on the block. This also brings up a lot of questions – do we have to add another star now to the American flag? What about all my 4th of July paraphernalia!

D.C voters will have to approve the proposal, which if passed will go before the president and congress in January 2017. It looks like our future president will have a major decision to make: will 50 become 51?

Lucid dreaming

For anyone who was into the movie Inception, we have what might be the next best thing. Lucid dreaming is defined as the ability to become conscious during dreams and affect their content.

Now it’s not as easy as it sounds; being able to control actions in dreams is essentially an art form, and one that takes training. The first step with lucid dreaming is to actually realize you are dreaming, a tough task especially for people who don’t think they dream that often. Experts suggest for people who want to start lucid dreaming to write down any details from their sleep the moment they wake. Even if you don’t remember anything, it’s a good habit to start. And you’ll begin to become more aware of your sleeping state.

Though there is no exact benefit proven from Lucid dreaming yet, some studies show that lucid dreamers are more aware and have sharper cognitive senses and memory when they are awake; perhaps because of the focus and mental training needed to know you are sleeping. For anyone who is laughing this off as fake, don’t be so sure- Stanford University has an entire program designed to studying lucid dreamers. In fact, The Stanford Sleep Lab recorded the first female orgasm while they had the test subject lucid dream while sleeping. The test subject was asked to have sex in a dream. Goals.

Does my vote matter?

Election Day is almost here. Whatever your preference of candidate, we encourage you to vote; there is nothing more American than voting and it is your right and duty as a citizen. Except does your vote really count?

The U.S voting system is a complex beast, and at the end of the day the fact that the majority of the population voted for one candidate does not always mean that candidate will win.

Why is this? Electoral votes from the Electoral College. The Electoral College was established by the U.S constitution and awards every state a certain number of 538 votes. The amount designated depends on population of the state, and that number 538 is the sum of the nations representatives and senators. The winner of these 538 votes is the candidate that becomes president.

Come voting day, you and your fellow statesmen will vote for a candidate, but it is really your electoral candidate who will decide which way your state votes.

The electors are nominated by state legislatures, and are usually people who are politically active, and can even be people with political ties to candidates. These electors are often listed on the ballot under the candidate’s names, and while it is expected they will represent their people and cast their votes for the candidate their public gave the most votes to, this is not always the case. Sometimes the popular vote doesn’t always reflect the electoral vote. And as points go that’s when things can get House of Cards level dramatic.

And you thought your allowance was bad?

As you sit tonight, maybe eating a ramen noodle dinner straight from your microwave to save your precious pennies, remember Leona Helmsley of New York who left a $12 million dollar inheritance to Trouble, her Maltese Terrier. What’s even worse, Leona left out her grand kids from the will. That will haunt you.

While this seems absurd to any rational person, it has been a common event over history that people have left large fortunes to their pets over their people. Trouble isn’t even the dog with the biggest windfall; he’s just the most recent! Gunther, the German Shepherd that belonged to Germany’s Countess Karlotta Libenstein inherited $80 million dollars in 1991- that is just offensive.

So what gives? Are these wealthy people just so bitter that they want to have the last laugh and leave it all to their pets? According to “When Pets Come Between Our Partners” author Joel Gavriele- Gold, “Humans tend to be very disappointing—notice our divorce rate. Dogs are not hurtful and humans are. People are inconsistent and dogs are fairly consistent.” As our populations of millionaires increase, I imagine we can expect more pet millionaires in our futures. Be sure to give your grandma’s puppy a nice pat next time you see it; it may one day control your family purse strings.

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