“Iron Man” Military Suit

Special Operations Command is partnering up with universities, laboratories, and the tech industry to design an “Iron Man” inspired uniform to be worn by soldier in the field. Built with layers of smart material and sensors, the TALOS (Tactical Assault Light Operator Suit) will help to better protect and guard our soldiers during certain combat situations. Adm. Bill McRaven, top officer of the Special Ops, first unveiled TALOS at a conference in May. He said the armor was inspired by one of his men who was killed by the Taliban going through a door in an attempt to rescue a hostage. Norman Wagner, a professor of chemical engineering at the University of Delaware, is using nanotechnology to make a bullet proof material. The idea is that when a bullet hits the suit, the liquid ceramic fabric will immediately transition into a much harder shell. The design also includes an attachable frame to create an extra layer of mass and force in the form of an additional exoskeleton. In addition to making the wearer stronger, the exoskeleton comes with attachable, hydraulic arms and legs that will amplify any motion, including boosts in speed and overall mobility. This “Iron Man” design is also smart. It will include a wearable 360-degree night vision computer, similar to the Google Glass that allows the user to see an image of the entire battlefield. Embedded sensors will monitor the user’s body temperature, heart rate, and hydration levels. The researchers behind the project believe a working TALOS prototype will be available in the next three years. If successful, this innovation could change the war effort as we know it.





Lance Ulanoff, former victim of schoolyard bullying, reflects his experiences with physical torment and the modern way to mistreat your peers: cyber bullying. Bullying is as old as humankind, and anyone can be subject to it. Ulanoff describes himself as being a magnet, and the bully as metal. In 1973, he was everything bullies desired when picking their victims: thin, small, weak, and smart. The other children would gather in a crowd around the attack, not to side with the bully, but out of fear for being chosen next. Before 1989, it was almost impossible to find any books with the word “bullying” in the title. It wasn’t until the end of the last century, after the birth of the Internet, that the number of bullying related books exploded. Growing up, Ulanoff’s father advised him to simply stand up to the leader and toughen up. However, as the twentieth century ended, society’s perspective on bullying changed to a more effective perspective. The idea that bullying is not a fact of life, but a problem that can and should be stopped became more accepted by parents. This cultural shift marked the beginning of the effort to eliminate bullying among children. However, by the time this outlook became popularized, a new problem had arisen. The Internet and social media serve as an outlet for bully’s anger and abuse and anonymity, something we never had before. Battlegrounds for cyber bullying include Facebook, Tumblr, Keek, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, and many others. Instead of using physical violence, modern day cyber bullies attack with cruel words. In conclusion, bullies, whether they’re born that way or simply are a follower, will never truly go away.   



Inspiring Young Scientists

In 1940, President Franklin D. Roosevelt said, “We cannot always build the future for our youth, but we can build our youth for the future,” a quote that still holds true today. Three shining examples of youth shaping our future would be three middle schoolers who competed this week at the 15th annual Discovery Education 3M Young Scientist Challenge in Minnesota for the chance to win $25,000. Each year the event is centered on a common theme. This year’s theme asked students to find a solution to everyday problems related to how we live, work, or play. After reviewing hundreds of submissions, only ten students in grades five through eight were chosen as qualifiers. The ten qualifiers were given the opportunity to spend the summer in a mentorship program where they developed their ideas into prototypes. Scientists provided by 3M and Discovery Education guided and advised the group. The group became even smaller when three of the ten students were chosen as finalists. Peyton Robertson, age eleven, created a sandbag to better protect flood zones against damage caused by salt water. Brooke Martin, age thirteen, invented the iCPooch, a device that enables one to video chat with pets. Finally, Edward Kim, age thirteen, built an eco-friendly fuel cell that generates electricity from grass waste collected after mowing the lawn. Fourteen-year-old Deepika Kurup won the grand prize at last year’s competition for the invention of a low-cost water purification system device. The winner of America’s Top Young Scientist will be announced on Tuesday. 



Essay #3

Rachel Jaffe

FYS100 Going Viral: Social Media

Dr. Mary Pettice

Oct. 4 2013

Everything is a Remix

            Albert Einstein once said, “Creativity is knowing how to hide your sources”. This supports the idea that everything is a remix. Remixing is the common process of combining or editing existing materials in order to produce something new. According to filmmaker Kirby Ferguson, remixing is a folk art that utilizes three techniques: copy, transform, and combine. Stephanie Meyer’s Twilight series exemplifies this concept well. With similar aspects of historical vampire movies and novels, Meyer’s wrote the Twilight series, which led to the creation of The Twilight Saga and hundereds of parodies. Based on history and modern examples, it is safe to say that everything is indeed a remix.

Like many talented artists and writers, Stephanie Meyer’s inspiration for the renowned Twilight series was based off of a vivid dream. In her dream, a beautiful, sparkling vampire was talking to an average girl in a meadow. They were discussing the difficulties of falling in love, all the while the vampire, who was particularly attracted to the scent of the young girl’s blood, had to fight his strong urges to kill her immediately. This dream eventually led to the development of Chapter 13 (“Confessions”). When deciding what to name this handsome vampire, Meyers looked to Charlotte Bronte’s Mr. Rochester and Jane Austen’s Mr. Ferrars for inspiration and chose the name Edward. For the rest of the characters, Meyers did a lot of searching in old census records, noting some of the popular names in various time periods. The complete saga includes four fictional vampire-themed fantasy romance novels in chronological order: Twilight, New Moon, Eclipse, and Breaking Dawn. In 2010, the spin-off novella The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner was published. An encyclopedic reference book, The Twilight Saga: The Offical Illustrated Guide, was even published following the series and features nearly one hundred full color illustrations. The books are most admired by young adult readers and have won multiple rewards. In 2008, Breaking Dawn won the British Book Award for “Children’s Book of the Year” and the series as a whole won the 2009 Kids’ Choice Award for Favorite Book. With over 116 million copies sold worldwide, the story has been translated into at least 38 different languages around the globe.

            Although Meyer’s Twilight series became an instant classic, she was not the first person to create media about vampires. Vampire films have been around since the era of silent films. Bram Stoker’s Dracula is the most popular cinematic adaptations of vampire fiction and has over 170 versions of the films. Other influences include Carmilla by Sheridan Le Fanu and the legend of Elizabeth Bathory, the “Blood Countess”. Believe it or not, by 2005, the character of Dracula has been the subject of more films than any other fictional character. In 1931 Universal created the stage play Dracula based on Stoker’s novel. Bela Lugosi’s, the legendary actor who played Count Dracula, Hungarian accent and sweeping gestures captivated audiences and these characteristics recombined over time and formed the vampire persona we know today. Five years later, Universal released the direct sequel Dracula’s Daughter, and after that a second sequel titled Son of Dracula. Other popular remixes of Stoker’s creative product Dracula include Nosferatu, El Vampiro, the Hammer Films series, The Last Man on Earth, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and eventually the Twilight Saga.

            The Twilight Saga, a series of five romance fantasy films produced by Summit Entertainment, is based on the four novels by the American author Stephanie Meyer. Grossing over $3.3 billion, the first installment of Twilight was released on November 21, 2008 and the last November 18, 2012. The film stars teen icons Kristen Stewart as Bella, Robert Pattinson as Edward, and Taylor Lautner as Jacob. In the story, Bella is torn between the cute, protective werewolf and the hunky, dangerous vampire. Many Twilight fans, particularly pre-teen girls, pick sides, declaring themselves “Team Edward” or “Team Jacob”. With their good looks and charm, tastemakers like Pattinson and Lautner shape and accelerate the process of making a successful creative product. Essentially, the audience defines popularity of a creative product. However, with such a massive fan base comes a good amount of criticism.

            Through the use of participatory culture, fans and critics alike are able to connect with media more than ever before. Not only can we enjoy media, but because of the web, we can now provide feedback and recombine whatever we chose. Another way to think of this newfound concept is that we live in a world with Web 2.0 In David Gurney’s article “Recombinant Comedy, Transmedial Mobility, and Viral Video”, Gurney discusses the concept of participatory culture and why we find certain things entertaining and comical. One example in which recombinant comedy is used is the parody Twilight With Cheeseburgers featured on the comedic website Funny or Die. The video is a spoof of the Twilight trailer, but Bella is replaced with a cheeseburger. On the surface level, it does not seem so hard for Edward not to kill Bella in order to preserve their love. However, replace her with a mouth-watering cheeseburger and you will see what it feels like to be in a hungry vampire’s shoes. The makers of this video use intertextuality to create congruity, something consumers of media eat up. The idea of an attractive vampire trying to protect a cheeseburger from himself and the outside world is so ridiculous that it is hilarious. Also, the video mocks the serious, dramatic tone of the trailer, making the scenario all the more absurd. In addition to Twilight With Cheeseburgers, the film titled Vampires Suck came to theaters in 2010 making fun of the characters and fans of The Twilight Saga. Because of modern participatory culture, parodies and remixes of creative products exist.

            In a nutshell, essentially everything is a remix. Kirby Ferguson’s 4-part series “Everything’s a Remix” supports the idea that specific elements recombine from earlier sources to creative products. We live in a world with Web 2.0 and the ability to copy, transform, and combine to evolutionize the creative process. David Gurney’s article “Recombinant Comedy, Transmedial Mobility, and Viral Video” illustrates this concept of comedic remixes and why we find them so entertaining. Stephanie Meyer’s Twilight series was an instant hit and eventually led to the production of The Twilight Saga. Inspired by the movies and fan base came along hundreds of parodies including Twilight With Cheeseburgers and Vampires Suck. Since the birth of the Internet and Web 2.0, we have utilized the creation process more than ever in it’s short life. It is hard to imagine what is in store for the years to come.






Works Cited

“The 8 Best ‘Twilight’ Parodies Ever Created by Mankind.” NextMovie The 8 Best Twilight Parodies Ever Created by Mankind Comments. N.p., n.d. Web. 04 Oct. 2013.

“The Oatmeal.” How Twilight Works –. N.p., n.d. Web. 04 Oct. 2013.

“Twilight.” Stephenie Meyer RSS. N.p., n.d. Web. 04 Oct. 2013.

“Vampire Film.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 14 Sept. 2013. Web. 04 Oct. 2013.

Essay #2

Rachel Jaffe

FYS 100 Going Viral: Social Media

Dr. Mary Pettice

Sept. 24, 2013



Affectionate Communication Between Gender Roles


We may not be conscious of it, but we maintain the same gender roles today as we did hundreds of years ago. Ever since the invention of the Internet and social media networks such as Facebook, these gender roles have remained. Daniel H. Mansson and Scott A. Myers’ study, “An Initial Examination of College Students’ Expressions of Affection Through Facebook” supports the idea that gender plays a part in what a person in a relationship reveals about their emotional attachment on Facebook. This concept of strict gender roles in society holds true on social networking websites, however, certain pages and supportive communities can be exceptions.

Because college students are the primary users of Facebook, the participants for this experiment was composed of 214 undergraduate students, 119 men and 95 women, enrolled in two introductory communication courses at a large mid-Atlantic university. The participant’s ages ranged form 18-31 years. The study was composed of three steps. In the first step, students were provided a definition of affectionate communication and then identified the ways in which they communicated affection to their close friends on Facebook. In step two, students were given a list of behaviors indentified in step one and

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were instructed to circle the behaviors that they considered to be valid expressions of affection. Finally, for the third step students were given two more lists. The first list initiated students to identify the extent to which they used each behavior. The second list initiated students to identify how appropriate the use of each affectionate behavior was on Facebook. The team came up with two hypotheses: that women utilize more expressions of affection to their close friends through Facebook than men do and that women perceive these expressions as more appropriate than men. With the data collected through these experiments, researchers were able to support these hypotheses.

The results of this study may be no surprise to most. That is because these gender roles are deeply engrained in us, whether we are aware of them or not. Social culture and the environment are the carving tools that shape us into who we are and how we interact with one another. If one were to go against these gender expectations they may face the risk of being alienated or unaccepted by certain friends or groups. It is a social pressure that is prominent both in the real world and online. For example, it is commonplace for a female Facebook user to say “I love you” or “I like your boots, where did you get them from?” to another friend. However, if a male were to use these expressions of affection it would be considered strange and he may be ostracized from the online community. In the society we live in, men and women are held to certain standards and must uphold these standards in order to succeed. These gender expectations are no new news, they have existed for hundreds of years and were probably stronger than those now. In the tragedy of Othello, Othello says something along the lines, “It is like he is trading his helmet in for a skillet”. In other words, he is willing to sacrifice his honor and duty for love, a

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though that would be seem preposterous at the time. This concept is also demonstrated in the poem “The Wanderer” in which a man is alone at sea and struggles with accepting and conveying his sadness. The speaker says, “Weary mind never withstands fate, /nor does dreary thought bring help” (15-16). In other words, a warrior must never speak what is in his heart. It is better for a man to keep his emotions inside of him because such emotions do no one any good. The speaker believes that communicating your emotions ought to serve a purpose, or should not be said at all. In most cases, men and their decisions are simpler than women. Many women find gossip as a source of entertainment and may find that express their feelings can be therapeutic. These small expressions of affection add up to maintain these gender roles. This idea that men use affectionate expressions less and the extent of these expressions less than women are prominent throughout history and modern technology.

In contrast, many online supportive communities offer users of both genders to congregate and offer equal amounts of affection from interesting men and women. What you put onto your Facebook or blog defines you. In other words, your choice of pictures, words, and other media is a direct segue to your personality and interests. Just like people, no two blogs or Facebook accounts are the same. The ability to share pictures, articles, music, and more has opened unlimited doors to anyone around the world. The web allows you to connect with current friends, friends you may have lost touch with, and even make new friends. My close friend suffers from anorexia, an eating disorder were a person’s self image is distorted. Although she was discharged from the hospital and has been maintaining a healthy weight, it is a constant battle between her mind and

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body she must deal with every day. In recovery, she met other girls who were going through the same struggles she was. After the program she was able to reconnect with these girls through a support group on Facebook. Girls (and even guys) from around the globe contribute inspirational quotes, photos, experiences, and words of encouragement through this group. Even the smallest gesture can make someone’s day brighter. She is also able to talk one on one via Facebook if someone just needs to vent. She has even visited many of her new friends in the hospital and continues to maintain these friendships. This is just a small example of the benefits of communicating through Facebook. Even when you feel alone in the world, you are not.

Although this study affirms gender expectations, it fails to investigate the nature of certain groups and fan pages. Daniel H. Mansson and Scott A. Myers’ study suggests that women utilize expressions of affection more, and to a farther extent, than men. It is because society’s gender expectations that these roles exist and have existed for hundreds of years. Every small expression of affection or shared interest shapes our online experience and defines us as individuals.










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Works Cited:

Shmoop Editorial Team. “The Wanderer: Lines 6-18 Summary” Shmoop.com. Shmoop University, Inc., 11 Nov. 2008. Web. 23 Sep. 2013.

Digital Activists are Changing the World

The web is used not only for sharing funny cat videos and Miley Cyrus’ latest hit, but it can be used for social change. Digital activists from across the globe are able to unite under the online platform to strike social changes. Diagnosed with polio sine she was two,  Neema Nanadamu now runs a women’s rights organization in the Congo called Maman Shujaa, which translates to “hero women” in Swahili. On Sunday she took the stage at the Social Good Summit where she discussed and stressed the importance of technology and it’s potential to bring about social change. Namadamu believes that by sharing stories and experiences online, solutions to these problems can be formed. She works with a women’s empowerment network called World Pulse that connects nearly sixty thousand women in more than two hundred countries. Jensine Larsen, World Pulse’s CEO, discussed why female grassroots leaders like Namadamu and these online organizations that bring about change are so important. In a recent World Pulse campaign, Larsen protested against the brutal practice of breast ironing in Cameroon. Also know as breast flattening, this practice involves the pounding and massaging of a young girl’s breasts, using hard or heating objects, to stop development. Through World Pulse, twelve thousand online activists vowed to end this violence against women on an online petition. Through this platform of digital empowerment, women are informing and protesting against other issues such as domestic assault and rape in some of the most violent and silenced regions in the world. Organization efforts like Maman Shujaa led to the Obama administration assigning a special UN envoy to the Congo in July. All of this was not possible thirty years ago, but because of technology, people from all over the globe are able to unite and make the world a better place. 


Kindness Reciprocated

Every once in a while we will come across an ad that tugs at our heartstrings. This particular ad tells a heartwarming story of kindness being rewarded after thirty years in three minutes. It became an instant hit on Youtube in less than a week, acquiring over three million views. The ad begins showing a poor young boy attempting to steal medicine for his mother at the market. The storeowner catches him and yells at him with his head hung low. To his recue, a restaurant owner offers to pay for the medicine and tells his daughter to fetch the poor boy some soup. The boy accepts the goods and runs away. The next scene shows the restaurant owner thirty years later, still offering homeless people free soup. The man, now much older, collapses to the ground and end up in a hospital bed. His daughter is left with the family business, which she now must sell, and a long bill of medical expenses she cannot pay. One day she opens a medical bill and is astounded to see her cost is zero baht (the Thai currency). The letter says, “All expenses paid thirty years ago, with a pack of painkillers and a bag of veggie soup.” It turns out that the doctor treating her father was the young boy attempting to steal from the market. The ad end with the note, “Giving is the best communication.” I’m not going to lie, I shed a few tears watching this even the second time around. It just goes to show, even what may seem like a trivial act of kindness, may mean the world to someone else. What goes around comes around, and if you spread kindness throughout the world, kindness will surely be reciprocated your way.