Machines thinner than hair, studied at Hampton U.

By Daneisha LaTorre

In October, the 2016 Nobel Prize for Chemistry was awarded to three men – Jean-Pierre Sauvage, Sir J. Frasser Stoddert and Bernard L. Feringa – for their design of a synthesis molecule machine. The synthesis molecule was one billionth of the size of a conventional machine.

In fact, if someone were to cut a strand a hair down to its smallest unit, it would still not be a nanometer.

Nanoscience, which is the study of structures and materials on the nanometer scale, was not exclusively recognized by the Nobel Prize winners. At Hampton University, members of the School of Science are also doing Nanoscience projects.

Michelle Claville, Ph.D., an organic chemist who serves as the assistant dean of the School of Science, established the Nanoscience concentration on campus in 2012. The Nanoscience Project of Hampton University is operating with $3.4 million in grants from the National Science Foundation. NSF also sponsored 25 Hampton University students with $3,000 to $5,000 each in scholarships to do research, study and teach others Nanoscience.

The scholars of the NanoHU grant are required to earn a minor in Nanoscience, which was developed specifically for the program. Scholars are also required to do year-round research, which is partially funded by the NanoHU grant and partially funded by the students.

Students of the program also have a summer requirement. NanoHU partners with other universities, including North Carolina-Charlotte, Indiana and Nebraska University School of Medicine, where they are able to do additional research.

"We do not just choose students with 4.0; we want students with different GPA's," said Claville. "We want all different types of students to be able to see how much each student grows after our summer research course."

In addition to students, NanoHU recently announced a request for professors to receive 25 percent additional funding in order to have time to do research.

In 2013, NanoHU adopted a summer enrichment course for high school students. Eight high school students from the city of Hampton were chosen to participate in a six-week program to learn about Nanoscience and also do their own research.

Last year, NanoHU widened its focus to elementary school students. Claville said the program conducted a Mad Scientist Night at Barron Fundamental Elementary School. During this event, the Hampton students demonstrated how to make lava lamps.

The writer is a student in the Scripps Howard School of Journalism and Communications.

1 out of 4 every teens are cyberbullied online, study says

By Briana Oates

Cheerleading and photographic memories is all that are left. A mother mourns the death of her 13-year-old daughter who committed suicide on July 6.

Rebecca Abbott, mother of Zoe Johnson, wants every parent to learn the lesson from her. According to reporter Josh Sidorowicz from Fox 17 News, "Abbott said she believes that cyber bullying led to her daughter's death."

Prior to Zoe's death, a Facebook post read "tag a b***h you don't like," with her name and many others tagged. It was only a matter of time until Zoe gave up a fight and took her own life. After her death, harsh comments were still posted on Facebook. The comments and powerful words got to Zoe and psychologically; her brain and whole body lost the fight.

It only takes two seconds to hit the buttons known as "send," "enter" and "post." These three buttons are crucial in being able to post a statement about a person that could ultimately tarnish their reputation and/or emotionally damage that person. Cyber bullying is using electronic devices to communicate to a person in a negative way. Social media is a popular use for students to use in order to harass or embarrass a person.

This is a problem among many schools across the country. Studies have been done and, "one in every four teens has been bullied at some point online," said Sidorowicz. According the American Association of Suicidology, rates for suicide among 10- to 14-year-old teens has grown 50 percent in the past three decades." Cyber bullying is a common thing among that generation today.

Youth have always been bullied. But, it was only a matter of time until this issue becomes the topic of discussion for not just parents and teachers. Yet, cyber security analysts have brought this topic to life as well. Jean Muhammad, Ph.D., department chair of Computer Science at Hampton University, is an advocate for the discussion and awareness of cyber bullying. "A lot of school systems are just now starting to catch on to the fact that psychological bullying is just as serious as cyber bullying," she said.

Because it seems everything is done over the Internet, anybody can hide behind a computer and post comments and images online. A National Institute of Health journal article titled "Cyber Bullying, School Bullying, and Psychological Distress: A Regional Census of High School Students" gives data on victims of cyber bullying and school bullying and its correlation with psychological distress. It offers a unique perspective on how cyber bullying has its own personal characteristics amongst the many dangers that come along with cyber security. "Electronic communications allow cyber bullying perpetrators to maintain anonymity and give them the capacity to post messages to a wide audience," said co-authors Shari Schneider and Lydia O'Donnell.

When dealing with the Internet, it is a free-for-all for the ability to post comments and information out there. Also, the amount of guilt and responsibility is perceived by participants as decreased because acts are anonymous.

In most cases, demographics can play a big role in the understanding of why cyber bullying occurs. Age, gender and even sexual orientation are many factors of why cyber bullying can occur. Even though there is an unclear number statistically as to whether girls are bullied more than boys, "some studies suggest that cyber bullying victimization increases during the middle school years," said Schneider and O'Donnell.

Surprisingly, most cyber bullying action takes place outside of the school environment because of the Internet security being monitored. However, this does not mean that schools are involved and/or liable in certain situations when cyber bullying occurs.

There is a definite parallel between cyber bullying and the effects it has on students. "Psychological harm, including depression and suicidality has also raised concerns about how cyber bullying is related to various forms of psychological distress," said Schneider and O'Donnell. There are also reports that online victimization may be linked with more serious distress, including major depression, self-harm, and suicide."

"Zoe had dealt with bullying for years and suffered minor depression, according to [mother Rebecca] Abbott," said Sidorowicz. Because of the bullying that had occurred prior to her death, depression was Zoe's way of psychological comfort, when it actually damaged her.

All of these effects are dangerous to students being bullied and harmful to students, which can link to their performance in school and social skills in the future. MetroWest Adolescent Health survey did an in-depth study on students for 12 months that suffered with psychological distress and symptoms that relate with depression and anxiety, the results proved to be known that an increasing amount of students were more than likely to suffer with psychological distress, making it prevalent that it is a serious problem.

Students cannot just suffer from mental issues, but also physical issues which can translate into psychological disorders. In the journal on adolescent health, two doctors examined the relationship between bullying, health concerns and how it transpires into the classroom. "Participants indicated how often in the past four weeks they had experienced 10 symptoms including anxiety, problems sleeping, irritability, headache, tension and fatigue," said co-authors Robin Kowalski and Susan Limber.

With the results announced, the possible negative effects of cyber bullying were most pronounced for the cyber bullying/victim participants, especially the males. These individuals generally reported having more negative physical, psychological, and academic effects from electronic bullying." With cyber bullying being an important topic throughout cyber security, lawmakers are trying to stop the increasing number of cyber bullying cases that are not getting the justice needed.

The safety of students in school environments has become a serious focus with legislative powers, along with cyber security analysts. For example, Michigan, the state where Zoe was from, is one of many states with laws that punish criminals that engage in cyber bullying dealings. "Laws governing the Internet are now beginning to catch up," said Muhammad. "They are not that great but are getting better." With laws being in the works to help combat cyber bullying, states are working with schools to create programs that help discuss the awareness of cyber bullying any its negative effects.

With this issue being a problem around the ages of middle school and high school, should this be a topic among students that are younger? "It starts with education. They have to really talk about it in elementary schools," says Muhammad. The Internet is a powerhouse that has negative effects. Cyber bullying is one of those that can threaten a person's well-being for life.

"Whatever you put on the Internet," says Muhammad, "It is there for eternity."

The writer is a student in the Scripps Howard School of Journalism and Communications.

25-percent increase in black STEM Ph.D.s, yet room to grow

By Ashley Hendricks

The importance of STEM [Science Technology, Engineering and Math] is often overlooked, especially in the black community. According to the data from the National Science Foundation, the number of black men who earn science and engineering doctorates grew by more than 25 percent in 10 years. Although there is an increase, there is plenty of room for growth in this field.

The compelling truth about STEM growth is that our future crucially depends on it, said experts at Hampton University's 38th Annual Black Family Conference, hosted by the School of Science and titled "Full STEAM Ahead: Healthy Minds and Bodies Securing our Future." STEM disciplines plus Fine and Performing Arts were conference focal points March 16-18.

STEM is used every day. For example, science includes the sun, plants, water, weather, and most importantly food. These are just a few things that fall under the contribution of science.

Then there's technology. The love that society has for technology is undeniable. Technology is not limited to smartphones and tablets. It includes television, radio, microscopes, and steering wheels.

Don't forget about the roads everyone drives on, mind-blowing skyscrapers, and bridges that make traveling a lot easier. Thanks to engineering specialists, humans have that luxury.

And lastly, the importance of mathematics. One doesn't have to be a math whiz to appreciate how mathematics has advanced the world. Math is everywhere – in grocery stores, the local bank, investments, and family and college budgets.

Our lives depend on STEM and it is time to continue to advocate and educate black men, women and children, hence the reason why Hampton University is providing a platform for its students and the public to learn more about STEM and art.

"At this year's conference, we want to engage in meaningful conversations and activities that will empower your family," said Dr. Michelle Claville, School of Science assistant dean and conference chairperson. "Our speakers and panelists will help dispel myths that are culpable for underrepresentation in STEM fields, show the connection between the arts and the sciences through music, and be safe in cyberspace."

Dr. Luther Williams opened the conference as the keynote speaker. He is currently an emeritus professor at Tuskegee University. He is recognized for his dedication and leadership roles in creating opportunities for minorities in the sciences. In 1984, he served as the president of Atlanta University and later served as the chair of the White House Biotechnology Science Coordinating Committee.

The writer is a student in the Scripps Howard School of Journalism and Communications

No water on Mars, but something close to it

By Kenya Baker

In a September press release, NASA confirmed evidence of flowing water on the planet Mars. Using the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter it provided proof that liquid water flows on Mars.

Researchers discovered signatures of hydrated minerals on slopes where streaks are seen. These streaks appear to ebb and flow over time, darkening and appearing to flow down steeps during the warm seasons and then fading during cooler seasons. The flows going downhill are known as reoccurring slope lineae and have been described as possibly related to liquid water. The discovery of these hydrated salts is believed to lower the freezing point of liquid brine, similarly to salts found on the roads of Earth that melts snow at a faster rate.

Despite NASA's findings Nicholas Heavens, Ph.D., research assistant professor of Planetary Science at Hampton University was not as thrilled about the hydrated salts being discovered on Mars. According to Heavens, "First, the major scientific result that it is based on is simply that recurring slope lineae looks like they contain hydrated salts. At our present state of knowledge, that could be coincidental. Moreover, flowing water on Mars probably would have atmospheric effects that so far have not been studied. In other words, the result that justifies the 'confirmation' is one of many results that would make up a coherent argument that there are liquid water flows on Mars.

"However, I do not want to detract from the hard work of the authors of the study in question. The result they present is a valuable contribution and well demonstrated. Science however, is very incremental. The study is only one step to confirming liquid water flows on Mars. Second, despite some work by NASA to argue against this idea, there have been rumblings that flowing brines on Mars would be potential habitats for life. They are some salt-tolerant microbes on Earth, but these conditions in these flows on Mars likely would be too extreme to sustain even the Earth's hardiest organisms."

Finding evidence of flowing water on Mars is no small feat. Aside from the possibility of one day going to Mars, there are a few reasons behind why one would want to go to the red planet. Kunio Sayanagi, Ph.D., assistant professor in the Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences department believes there are three reasons why one would want to travel all the way to Mars.

1. Sending people to exotic places and coming back with stories is human nature. It is also human nature to explore.
2. Get people excited about technology. We need beyond bleeding-edge technology. It's about keeping people alive in environments and we can learn more about human physiology.
3. Eventually, we're going to need another planet.

Graduate student John Balock added a fourth reason for why people should want to travel to Mars: "People are better at doing science better than robots. A robot doesn't know how to feel luck or act on intuition so you'd have to send a person to detect certain stuff."

The goal is to have people going to Mars by 2033. Before NASA or any other association with the power to send people to Mars there are steps that need to take place as well as enough of the proper resources. Most importantly, Mars should be able to sustain life before people begin staying on the planet, and there are many factors that go into that.

Balock says that's there are steps we must take before anyone can live on Mars. Some of those steps include an Earth-dependent mission to test out equipment, and then an independent mission supplying resources followed by bringing an asteroid to orbit the moon to run more tests. People will be sent to land and live on Mars' moon Phoebus for six months. The film "The Martian," released just days before NASA's announcement, explores the idea of an independent mission of living on Mars. It tells the story of an astronaut getting stuck and being forced to survive on his own with little resources, but he still manages to make it back to Earth. The story may be fiction, but even Hollywood is on board with sending people to Mars.

Astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson had his own opinions on the film and its depiction of Mars. During an interview with "CBS This Morning" in October Tyson said "The Martian atmosphere is less than 1 percent the thickness of our atmosphere and so when the wind picks up, it doesn't pick up heavy things--it can't and so it picks up only very light dusts."

Tyson understands that some details of the film had to be exaggerated in order to tell the story in an entertaining fashion. In regards to the evidence of water flow on Mars he said, "Even as an astrophysicist, I consider the search of life in the universe to be the greatest and highest goals in all branches of science."

Although Mars is the current focus and seemingly the most realistic, there are other planets that could possibly be another home for humans. Some of these planets may never get explored due to how far away they are or how difficult it maybe to get to them. But as science continues to advance, there is hope that one day we may be able to get to these distant planets.

The writer is a student in the Scripps Howard School of Journalism and Communications.