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Anonymous Donor Puts Faith, and Money Into Physics Professor

Throughout the pandemic, schools have been closed and opened as COVID-19 outbreaks have ravaged the country. The shake ups have hit both students and professors hard, making schooling difficult for both sides. At the college level, many students have had graduations postponed, delayed, or canceled altogether. Since faculty and students are unable to visit campuses, this makes a bit of sense.

Other duties have been neglected, as well. One of those duties has been faculty mail. Professors can’t have their mail forwarded to their homes, since not all of it is appropriate for a personal setting. 

As he was sifting through months and months worth of mail, the head of the Physics department, Vinod Menon, came across a peculiar package. It was a cardboard box, and it had been postmarked 9 months earlier. It weighed a significant amount, and had sparked Menon’s interest. He opened it, only to find a surprise that he never would have expected.

Inside the box, Menon found stacks of cash. Wrapped stacks of 50 and 100 dollar bills were in the package. It was a sight he’d never seen before. Menon told CNN, ““I’ve never seen this kind of money in real life in cash form. I’ve never seen it except in movies, and so, yeah, I was shell shocked and I just did not know how to react.”

When counted, the amount of money would total to $180,000. Accompanying the money was an anonymous letter, and a return address to an alias. The letter read, “Assuming that you are a bit curious as to why I am doing this, the reason is straightforward…”

The letter would go on to explain that the sender was a graduate of City College in New York. They called the learning establishment an excellent educational opportunity. At City College, according to the letter, the anonymous donor attended physics courses, choosing to study the field in-depth. They would eventually graduate with a master’s degree, go on to obtain a doctorate, and pursue what they would call a “long, productive, immensely rewarding scientific career.”

With the explanation as to why the donation was being made, the sender also provided clear instructions on how the money was to be used. The letter stated that the money should go to any “deserving junior and senior physics majors in the Department who are also doubling mathematics majors — and in need of financial support to continue their studies.”

When it comes to education costs, tuition has only risen in the most recent decades. Over the last 50 years, tuition has risen from what would be considered affordable to somewhat crippling. Many students are forced to take out loans that will take them their entire lives to pay off, especially in prestigious areas of study like science and mathematics.

The return address on the package raised even more questions, with no answers for tracking down the donor. The alias came back as Kyle Paisley, a name that never showed up on any of the graduation logs for City College. The address provided was linked to a home in Pensacola, Florida. The homeowners were caught off guard as well, having no knowledge of the donation. 

After the money was first reported, it became a subject of investigation. For over two months the origin of the money was investigated, as well as whether or not the money was linked to any misdeeds in the recent past. All investigative efforts came back clean, with no origin being found, and no ill-intent attached to it.

The college then voted on whether or not to keep the money. Unsurprisingly, the vote unanimously pointed to using the money for what it was intended for – scholarships. The box it came in is to be bronzed and put on display, as well.

For the next ten years, two fully-funded scholarships will be given to the students who need it most. Menon couldn’t be more thrilled with the idea, since his past is similar to the students that will be rewarded the scholarships. He is happy to say that students who need it the most will receive it.


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Good Vibes

6th Grader Saves Schoolmate from Choking and Saves a Woman from a Fire in One Day

On an average day, most of us are lucky if we get out of our PJs and make it to work on time. What if I told you that one 6th grader’s day entailed saving a schoolmate from choking and rescuing a woman from a burning building? It sounds crazy but it’s true. Here’s Dayvon Johnson’s story. 

It happened on December 9, 2021. 11-year-old Muskogee, OK student Dayvon Johnson was sitting in his classroom in 6th and 7th Grade Academy at Ben Franklin on what would be anything but an average school day. 

Suddenly, one of his schoolmates stumbled into the room in an obvious state of distress. He had been trying to get a water bottle cap off with his teeth and the cap got lodged in his throat, cutting off his air supply. 

Dayvon didn’t hesitate. He sprang into action performing the Heimlich on his schoolmate. Thankfully, the cap popped right out. 

The 6th grader later explained that he learned how to do the maneuver on YouTube, and he encouraged others to use it in case of emergencies. “Just in case you’re in the situation I was in, you know what to do,” he told the press. 

Later that day, Dayvon was walking home from school when he saw a woman fleeing from a burning house to get into her truck. The fire had started at the back of the home but was on its way to engulfing the whole property. The woman was disabled and using a walker. 

“It was a disabled lady, and she was walking out of her house,” Johnson explained. “I thought, ‘Oh, she’s not moving fast enough’. I thought of being a good citizen, I would cross and help her get into her truck and leave.” 

Jones’ heroic feats have not gone unrecognized. He was named an honorary member of the Sheriff’s office and the Police force. He was also recognized by the Muskogee Board of Education. 

A ceremony took place where he was awarded with a certificate denoting him as a member of both forces. The Muskogee Public School Board took a series of photos of Jones posing with his awards and certificates and posted them on their Facebook page. 

Johnson was also honored by the mayor of Muskogee, Marlon J. Coleman. The mayor declared December 10th as Dayvon Johnson Day. Dayvon was awarded the keys to the city shortly after the announcement was made. 

Muskogee has a population of about 38,000 people, and it’s located about 50 miles outside of Tulsa. 

6th and 7th Grade Academy at Ben Franklin principal Latricia Dawkins was interviewed about Jones’ heroic feats by Tulsa’s News at 6. She stated that he is well-liked by his classmates, and she called him a “kind soul” and a “dual hero”. She also noted, “He always indicated that he wants to be an EMT, so he got to put that desire into action and immediately saved that young man.”

The boy’s mother, LaToya Johnson, also spoke to the press. She said that she was not surprised by her son’s actions. In addition to wanting to be an EMT, Johnson also has a brother Wendell who works as an emergency medical technician. 

His mother also revealed that Dayvon was too proud to accept the accolades that were bestowed upon him. “He didn’t want the recognition. But I told him he did something extraordinary,” she said. She closed by saying, “I’m just a proud mom.”

Although Dayvon was reluctant to accept the kind words and awards he received, he admitted that being recognized,” felt good”.

Dayvon Johnson serves as an inspiration to us all. It may be best summed up by Mayor Coleman who said, “He sends a clear message to the people of Muskogee that this represents the type of people we really are.  He was very heroic. He was very selfless. He did it almost as part of his natural personality. It wasn’t taught. It’s just who he is as a person. For us, it makes us proud that we have those type of young people in our community.”


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Stunning Dinosaur Embryo Discovered Inside Fossilized Dinosaur Egg

For years, scientists have been curious about the link between modern birds and dinosaurs. The two have similar bone structures, and some examples of dinosaurs with primordial feathers have been found in recent years. Another exciting discovery has come to light, further connecting birds to their dinosaur ancestors.

In Ganzhou, an area in southern China, ‘Baby Yingliang’ was discovered in Late Cretaceous rocks. These rocks are thought to be anywhere from 72 to 66 million years old, which is relatively recent in the grander scheme of things.

‘Baby Yingliang’ is an oviraptorosaur. Oviraptorosaurs are toothless theropod dinosaurs. Most examples of theropods are bipedal, similar to birds, and they tend to be on the smaller side. The indication that ‘Baby Yingliang’ is toothless is also exciting, as it creates another connection – a beak. Oviraptorosaurs are some of the feathered dinosaurs that have been discovered in the past. They have variable beak shapes and sizes, indicating that they can have a varied diet, allowing them to be herbivorous, omnivorous, or carnivorous, much like modern birds.

This is not where the amazing discoveries end, though. This is the most complete example of a dinosaur embryo that’s ever been found. It’s allowing scientists to get a glimpse of something they’ve never seen before – the positioning of the embryo inside of the egg.

This fossil has given paleontologists a peek at one of the most concrete connections between dinosaurs and birds yet. Inside the egg, ‘Baby Yingliang’ has a head that lies below the body, with feet on either side. The back of the dinosaur is also curved against the blunt end of the egg. This is something unique among the other specimens of dinosaur embryos that have been found up to this point.

When you compare ‘Baby Yingliang’ to modern bird embryos, the similarities are stunning. This embryonic behavior is known as ‘tucking.’ In birds, it is a behavior that’s controlled by the central nervous system. Without it, birds wouldn’t be able to hatch successfully. Seeing a dinosaur embryo so close to hatching in the same position shows scientists that birds are very likely the direct descendents of dinosaurs.

Thanks to studies of the egg and embryo, researchers have concluded that pre-hatching behavior may have originated among non-avian theropods. This is something that’s never been concluded before, and it only goes to show that there are discoveries still to be made.

Perhaps the most impressive part of the discovery is the condition of the fossil itself. When looking at images of ‘Baby Yingliang’, it’s clear that the articulation of the fossil hasn’t changed much due to the actual fossilization process. This indicates that the egg, and the embryo, were fossilized together. Other fossil specimens that have been found in the past are articulated in ways that are almost entirely unnatural. 

According to Fion Waisum Ma, a PhD researcher at the University of Birmingham, dinosaur embryos are the rarest fossils in the paleontology world. She states that most of them are found incomplete, with a majority of the bones dislocated.

“We are very excited about the discovery of ‘Baby Yingliang’—it is preserved in a great condition and helps us answer a lot of questions about dinosaur growth and reproduction with it,” said Fion Waisum Ma. She goes on to note that the similarities between ‘Baby Yingliang’ and a chicken embryo are very similar, making the discovery even more exciting.

Thanks to the discovery of ‘Baby Yingliang’, our understanding of these prehistoric creatures is able to deepen further. At first, it was believed that the pre-hatching behavior of ‘tucking’ originated in some of the first modern birds. By looking at this newly discovered embryo, the previously discovered sauropod embryos, and modern bird embryos, it’s clear to see that tucking likely started with theropods.

While the connection may seem obvious, science is a discipline of repeated results. In order to fully confirm this finding, and solidify the link like never before, other embryonic examples would need to be discovered. Until then, we can look at ‘Baby Yingliang’ with wonder and admiration. It truly is one of the most remarkable fossils to have ever been discovered.

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3D Printed Tiny Homes Are a Realistic Option, with a Raw Earth Example Being Highly Sustainable

In recent years, housing concerns and sustainability issues have both been on the forefront of environmental news. The housing crisis for the underserved homeless communities in the nation is reaching an all-time high. At the same time, we have hundreds of tons of garbage and plastics in the ocean, leading to ‘trash islands.’

What are we going to do? What can we do?

Both of these are excellent questions, and both are being answered by an architecture firm in Italy. Mario Cucinella Architects, a firm based in Bologna, Italy, is challenging the world’s views of both housing and sustainability. It’s doing so by 3D printing homes made from local raw earth, resulting in a clay home.

In Zimbabwe, the firm is helping to re-assess what a city should be. They aren’t doing so by impacting a city specifically, however. Instead, they’re building their own using a proprietary technique called TECLA. TECLA is short for technology and clay; an appropriate descriptor of the houses being made.

Mario Cucinella Architects worked with a 3D printing company by the name of WASP to create a home that was printed using nothing but raw earth materials. The technology that the two companies developed together consisted of a large-scale 3D printer that utilized two printing arms. Working together, the arms printed two 350-layer clay domes. The clay material used rice chaff as insulation, making the project all the more sustainable. 

The homes themselves took inspiration from a number of different sources, both natural and industrious in nature. The overall dome shape, as well as the material usage, was modeled from the way that potter wasps build their own homes. The walls are like a beehive, with open cavities that promote strength and insulation. 

The actual building technique, however, has its roots in the traditional building methods of the Moroccan Kasbah. When the two sources of inspiration come together, you get the TECLA buildings as a result.

Since the buildings use only local raw earth materials, they’re highly sustainable. Building materials are used onsite, eliminating the need to transport materials. For this reason, they are the most sustainable buildings made to date, in a modern sense. Of course, other, antiquated buildings are similarly sustainable, but they aren’t able to be built as efficiently. 

Additionally, not all of the traditional materials for structures like cabins can be considered as sustainable as clay. Lumber takes time to regrow once trees are cut down, and the result is a bare patch in an otherwise wooded area. As long as deforestation isn’t happening on a large scale, cabins are quite sustainable, as well. However, we’ve far exceeded the usability of forests.

TECLA buildings create no waste should the building have to be destroyed. There are no outside materials being used in the buildings themselves, so the huts are able to be torn down entirely without an impact. Should other materials be brought in, like electrical or plumbing, they are the only waste being produced. However, in most cases, the materials are able to be reused or recycled.

The two huts serve different purposes in the grand scheme of things. One is designed for day use, with a large, open skylight and open windows. These allow for a large amount of natural light to enter, eliminating the need for overhead lighting. The second hut is used for night use. There is no skylight, and the window is smaller. This allows the second hut to maintain its insulation overnight, keeping the area warmer.

Moving forward, Mario Cucinella Architects is hoping to craft these 3D printed homes as self-sustaining eco-communities for like-minded individuals. Ideally, they’d be set on the outskirts of major cities and urban areas, offering people an alternative way to live. They’d also be used in developing countries for permanent homes as things continue to develop over time. 

There is both an environmental crisis and housing crisis looming on the horizon, so it’s good to see such innovation being taken to help reduce waste and house other humans. Hopefully, more of these small eco-communities will start populating all over the world.


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Doing a Good Deed Every Day Since the Start of the Pandemic – One Teen’s Mission

The start of the pandemic was, to say the least, a low point in recent history. In 2020, many found themselves stuck inside, with their moods beginning to dwindle rapidly. COVID-19 had taken the globe by storm, and it drove many to lower lows than they’d ever experienced.

Hopelessness began to set in. The last two years have experienced record highs in terms of mental health disorders. Darkness weighed on the world, and it seemed like nothing could be done.

One inspiring teen proved to the world that even in these low times, making others happy was still possible. Sebbie Hall, an 18-year-old in the UK, made it his goal to do at least one good deed a day to help lift the spirits of those around him.

At first, Sebbie’s goal was smaller than what it would eventually become. He wanted to give his iPad to a friend who had limited access to communication. During a time in which we couldn’t visit others in person, this selfless act could mean the world to a person. When he consulted his mother, Ashley Hall, about the idea, she suggested he do something a little more ambitious. Rather than giving his iPad to his friend, Ashley suggested that Sebbie help his friend purchase the device that they needed. This small idea would snowball into one of the most beautiful acts of kindness the world would know.

Sebbie’s charity mission turned into a 10-day challenge. Each day, Sebbie would carry out an act of kindness, sponsored by a donor. The goal was to raise money for charities, with the 10th day being dedicated to Sebbie buying his friend the device they needed to stay in touch with loved ones.

At the end of the challenge, Sebbie decided that 10 days of kindness wasn’t enough. He loved making people smile, and he loved spreading happiness in a time of uncertainty. Sebbie’s random acts of kindness continued.

“He bought this friend a device at the end of the 10 days, but since he enjoyed watching other people smile, he then wanted to continue,” his mother, Ashley, said.

Sebbie, without argument, is a special individual. The teen struggles with physical and learning disabilities, and his main goal was to help others like him. The charities he donated to at the beginning of his campaign helped him raise money to help other disabled children from feeling lonely during these hard times. His kindness has helped him, too. Sebbie’s communication skills and confidence have grown since taking on his inspiring project.

Acts of kindness can be just about anything, as long as it makes someone smile. Sebbie has done it all. At first, the acts were small. They consisted of handing out Easter eggs and lotto tickets, little things to spark joy in stranger’s lives. Since the beginning, though, his acts have grown in scale.

Sebbie has helped water people’s plants, taken out their trash for them, and given small gifts as tokens of kindness. More recently, though, he has taken on larger challenges. He has completed nine different two-mile runs, giving roses to strangers as he runs. Joggers have run alongside him in a show of solidarity too!

During the month of November, he collected unused pumpkins, and took them to food banks so they could be used to feed those in need. Throughout December he donated toys to eight different childrens’ homes, and handed out ‘reindeer food’ to families in the street.

By doing all of these sponsored acts, Sebbie has been able to raise over $50,000, and help 300 families get devices for their disabled children. He’s also sponsored a disabled rugby team. Sebbie’s dreams of helping others won’t be ending anytime soon, though.

“I feel lucky to be going out and meeting so many children,” Sebbie has said. He has been selected for the World Compassion Award, which is a major recognition for all of the work he has done.

His work is far from over, though. Currently, he is setting up the Sebbie Hall Kindness Foundation. Through donations, Sebbie will be able to continue to spread joy through random acts of kindness for years to come. Sebbie is an inspiration to us all, and we should all strive to be more like him.


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Arnold Schwarzenegger Donates 25 Tiny Homes to Homeless Veterans

In the United States, the homeless housing crisis is one of the most important problems that we face today. In major cities all over the country, there are small ‘tent cities’ of homeless individuals. These communities are put together by the homeless, often in underserved parts of the city that they’re erected in. They’re looking for a sense of community, and unable to find one in normal circumstances.

Unfortunately, many major cities are cracking down on such communities of people by throwing away their tents and valuables, citing city zoning laws to justify their actions. 

Of the homeless population, roughly 11% are United States veterans suffering from a number of different disorders. The most common among them is post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD. PTSD is a life-altering issue that will follow a veteran for the rest of their life. Veteran homelessness has improved over the last decade, but it still isn’t where it should be. Thankfully, some communities and their leaders are doing something about it. 

In Los Angeles, action is being taken against homelessness, particularly within veteran communities. The organization running the operation is the nonprofit Village for Vets, who creates small communities of tiny homes for homeless vets in need of some help. One of their main supporters? Former California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger (R). This Christmas season, Schwarzenegger donated $250,000 to build 25 additional tiny homes for homeless veterans in his state.

Schwarzenegger tweeted on Thursday, December 23rd:

“Today, I celebrated Christmas early. The 25 homes I donated for homeless veterans were installed here in LA. It was fantastic to spend some time with our heroes and welcome them into their new homes.”

The tiny homes are just that – tiny. They provide everything that a struggling veteran needs to work past the most challenging time in their life, a time in which they are homeless. A look inside reveals a number of shelves, with a bed on one side of the door. Each home is equipped with an air conditioner, as well as outlets that can be used for electronics.

When it comes to helping veterans, Arnold Schwarzenegger shares a passion that many Americans have. He has openly talked about how much the United States has done for him, and how he’s happy to give back in any way that he can. That is what prompted him to run for the California Governor position in 2003. He would end up winning that year, and would hold office until 2011.

The tiny houses that he helped make possible are located at the Office of Veterans Affairs in Los Angeles, at the Care Treatment Rehabilitative Services site on the campus. This site is integral in providing for veterans who are suffering from a number of ailments, and getting them back to a regular way of life.

One of the biggest issues that the VA, as well as organizations like Village for Vets and AMVETS are concerned with is pride. When you’ve served your country and come back to be without the care you so desperately need, you fall into a place that not many can help you out of. It is this sense of pride that these organizations hope to bring back to our homeless veterans. By giving them a place to live with reasonable accommodations, they are aiding them on their road to recovery.

It is our hope that important figures like Arnold Schwarzenegger will set a trend for helping the homeless veterans in the country, but also the homeless population as a whole.

Homelessness is the United States affects over half a million people on any given night. 

Helping people deal with the larger issues that plague them helps get them out of their predicament. Organizations like Village for Vets, and important figures like Arnold Schwarzenegger can take pride in the fact that they’re on the right path. Hopefully, through the tiny house program we’ll be able to see more success in these disenfranchised communities.

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