The Fall of Theranos: The “Fake it Until you Make it” Dynamic

On a rainy winter day in 2013, the young me was reading a magazine article about a marvelous, world changing, innovative company called Theranos. With the young, inexperienced and easily impressioned mind I had (and still do to a lesser degree), I began to furiously scan the page; it featured a story that was particularly interesting to me.

 

The article shone a bright light on the brighter promises of a seemingly incredible company; a company that would revolutionize blood testing, creating a healthier and cheaper alternative. It praised the founder and CEO, Elizabeth Holmes, as a new female version of Steve Jobs. The young me was fascinated, I felt empowered that a female Stanford drop-out could possible achieve so much in so short a time. Elizabeth Holmes thought of an idea, and she did it. I felt enraptured by this story of great success. Inspired you may say! Elizabeth Holmes became one of the youngest self-made female billionaires; at her height earning 4.5 Billion! She built a business and medical empire that so many older people would envy.

 

Now Fast Forwards 5 years to the older and harder to impress version of me. Recently looking at the news, I discovered something; Theranos was a fake! I had been living a semi lie! The very company and founder i thought should set an example for all young innovators, turned out to be a total hoax! Elizabeth Holmes was charged with “major fraud”.

Let me explain before I get too far ahead of myself.

 

Theranos, founded by Stanford Dropout Elizabeth Holmes, promised to provide an accurate blood test for $2.99, using a few drops of blood, for a variety of different diseases. However, as an investigator soon found out, Theranos had none of that technology. All that the tests that were conducted were through traditional blood testing ways; the very thing that Theranos sought to replace. Theranos had promised a painless, cheap and fast way to exam people; an alternative much suited for people afraid of the blood-testing process. Yet they accomplished nothing. But they said they did.

 

As expected, there were outcries. During the climax of Theranos’ success in 2013/14, and after; with the promise of delivery and a fat paycheck; Elizabeth Holmes and her fellow con men had cheated various investors out of 700 Million dollars! Now articles were no longer praising her for her geniosity and ambition; but mocking her on her dishonesty and utter failure.

 

The symbolic black turtleneck that she always wore; in the beginning a symbol meaning a new age with another Steve jobs, now became another reason for people to point out the false illusion she created. Her self ambition and motivation; what makes her devote all her hours to experimenting and running 10k a day, now became a laughing stock.

 

On one hand; she deserves all of the criticism. 700 Million spent listening to a false mouth! Homes saw the empire she built crumble as she fought legal case after legal case; destroyed by a web of lies she herself created. She told investors that she developed a world-changing technology, that her tests generated billions annually in revenue, that she was about to modernize the health diagnostics forever. In reality, she led people on, she had none of those qualifications.

 

Her own net worth went from 4.5 billion to 0. She signed a deal saying that she would refrain from partaking in any public services for the next decade, and she would pay millions in debt. You could say she deserved every bit of it. I agree to some degree. However, we must not neglect the fact that this is very common.

 

Commonly in the Silicon Valley and elsewhere, the motto “Fake it until you Make it” seems to be popular and frequently put into play. Many of these people are young entrepreneurs; eager to mark their place in the world, to do or develop something that would forever be imprinted in History’s pages. Many of these people develop so called “technologies”. These they market out to be something great and remarkable, in reality not. Many people, are so determined to walk the road of success; that they purposefully choose to forget that they haven’t yet tied their shoelaces (forgive my terrible metaphor).

 

In their minds, they think they can just swing it. Similar to the thoughts of a student; “I don’t actually have to know the contents of this test, as long as I pass it, it will never come up ever again!. They think that if they aren’t ready in the present; somehow in the future everything will work out. “Hey, the Investors won’t be mad, as long as I give them the money they want, everything will be solved!”

 

Many young innovators depend (and believe) in the hope that once they get their feet off the ground, everything will be forgiven. Alas, they invest their dreams in something hypothetical. In Holmes’ case, her beginning was smooth. She probably figured that somewhere over the course of these years she would develop the needed technology, create an even more successful company, satisfy the innovators, and everything would become the past. That was too much of a gamble.

 

So altogether, many of the news we hear today cannot be entirely true. I for one, thought that Elizabeth Holmes would become the new Steve Jobs. Many people trusted in the deliverance of Theranos. Yet we were all left disappointed. We cannot entirely formulate our own opinions without learning the true story. We cannot hope for something without learning more. Hope is always beneficial to the human mind; but utter disappointment isn’t.

 

Also, the second moral is, if you want to become invested in something, if you want other people to follow suit; make sure your dreams are reliable. Theranos, the clever play on words between “Therapy” and “Diagnosis”; the company that was supposed to change blood testing forever, never got to. However, I truly believe that in the future, things will improve, new technology will be invented; and the shadow left by Theranos will become the light casted by another company.

The Death of the Great Stephen Hawking

The month of March has been a tragic month indeed. Tears were shed all over the world when the incredibly inspiring and famous; one and only, Stephen Hawking Died. I for one, have been greatly affected by his passing.

 

Stephen Hawking was my personal hero. During the course of last year, I was introduced to his theories; Hawking Radiation, Black Hole Paradox, and a few of his books. I used to spend hours pouring over his books, trying to decipher a meaning over the information seemingly encoded on the page. His remarkable ideas inspired my last year science fair project; and invoked in me a newfound interest in science.  

 

I began to look up the author of the words I was reading. What utterly intelligent, humble, human being, could possibly explain such a seemingly complex scientific concept to someone as scientifically inexperienced as me! Apart from his fame, and the fact that I wasn’t living under a rock (completely), I felt compelled to know more about him. And so that is how I discovered an amazing story.

 

Stephen Hawking, at the young age of 21, was diagnosed with ALS. Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (motor neuron disease) famous for the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge that everybody seems to be doing. Sadly however, ALS is incurable and most of its victims usually die in the span of a few years. Stephen Hawking was different. Afflicted with what might be considered a rare mutation of ALS, he died 50 years later then his expected death date; and during the span of those decades, he managed to inspire people everywhere in a plethora of different ways.

 

When we think of the vague term “scientist”; usually, in addition to the ancients: Einstein, Newton, Copernicus, Curie, Edison, Tesla; we might also think of Hawking. Why? Because he was one of the most famous and publicized modern scientists. In addition to being the subject of numerous articles, books, documentaries and a movie; he was also the bringer of shocking discoveries to the scientific, and public community.

 

As I mentioned above; Hawking revealed a Black Hole Information Paradox. As some may know, when a Black Hole uses up all it’s stored energy; it will disappear, along with anything hypothetically in it. Therefore, the information and things stored inside it will disappear. That however violates one of the most basic rules of quantum mechanics. He caused uproar in the scientific community; but revelations everywhere else. He semi defied even the rules of science itself. He discovered things that would seem unimaginable elsewhere.

 

Stephen Hawking’s ideas have generally been accepted as truth. His discoveries have always been a topic for great discussion an eye-openings. Like the instance when he completely shattered the very definition of the word “Black” in “Black Hole” through the discover of Hawking Radiation; which Black Holes hypothetically emit. Through various ways (for instance; Stephen Hawking being one of the only people admired by Sheldon Cooper in The Big Bang Theory) he has gained something of a celebrity status; which he deserves. When Stephen Hawking shared his opinion that there were in fact aliens in this Universe of ours; searches on extraterrestrials soared. That just goes to show how much an impact his ideas and opinions have on the general public.

 

Stephen Hawking also inspired a younger generation of minds (like mine) to learn more about the wonder of our Universe and all within it. Through the publications of numerous books, written by him, he patiently explains mesmerizing ideas to people who want to learn.

 

His life has been filled with an incredible amount of obstacles. But he never gave up. Confined to a complex wheelchair; and unable to move, bend, or talk without the help of advanced technology, he still managed to share all his concepts with everyone in the world. Whereas many people in his condition would have suffered from depression and given up on trying to change the world; he never did. Instead, his brain helped create some of the biggest milestones in the 20th and 21st centuries!

 

Altogether, Stephen Hawking was a great man. He contributed a whole bunch to the development of science, ALS Fundraising, Human knowledge, and to the world in general. Many children, critically ill, can look up onto this great “scientist” as a hero (like I did) and look upon his example to try and beat the circumstances to achieve their dreams.

 

Stephen Hawking, the man who should’ve died more than five decades ago, soared through the heavens instead. He even died on March 14th, International Pi Day; what a incredibly symbolic way to end such a memorable life!

 

Stephen Hawking has done so much for the world in general. Where would our Black Hole Knowledge be without him? He is someone who will definitely shine in the pages of History and the textbooks of Physics. He is definitely someone who deserves all the recognition and respect he received and much more. In conclusion, Rest in Peace Stephen Hawking; you will forever be remembered, your legacy is imprinted in the Universe.

*Acclaimed astrophysicist Stephen Hawking was arguably the world’s most famous scientist, owing his scientific acclaim to theoretical work released in the early 1970s that explained how black holes end and how the universe began.

This week at Alpha…

The diversity of our culture in Canada is one that only our country has, which is what made the grade 8s of  Alpha’s world religion field trip so interesting and full of new discoveries. Anywhere else, it may have not been possible.  We headed out to three places of worship, a Hindu Temple, a Sikh Gurdwara, and a Jewish Synagogue.

 

There we were told about the various religions and their beliefs, and their lifestyles. We had began our day boarding buses separated by last name. Then we went on to south burnaby, to visit a Hindu Temple. Did you know that the swastika is a symbol for peace and wellbeing, in various religions including hinduism. In Hinduism they believe in 3 main gods; Brahma, the creator; Vishnu, the protector; and Shiva, the destroyer. They believed in reincarnation, and the idea of karma, being that what you do in your current life determines what happens in your next life.

 

The next stop was the Sikh Gurdwara, where we stopped for lunch. We were served with punjabi food, which was very kind of them to serve to us. In sikhism, they believe in one god, whose power resides in everyone. The most interesting thing about this religion, would probably be how they treated their holy books. They treat it as a living person, putting it on a bed for the night and covering it when no one was reading it. They along with hinduism believed in karma and reincarnation, and how there was a cycle of life forms, with humans at the top with the ability to meditate.

 

The last and final place we visited was a Jewish Synagogue,  it was probably the most casual of the three places, with chairs to sit on. The Jewish have a Torah, which holds their 623 commandments that they need to follow. What I found the most unique about Judaism is how much eating restrictions they have. As well as how the beginning of the day for them is at night.

 

In conclusion, this trip has been a very insightful learning experience. As well with providing a chance to explore various cultures and being able to see in first person their temples and how they worship their gods.

 

From Beta

This week at Alpha:

This week at alpha, we visited a Hindu temple, a Sikh temple, and a Jewish synagogue, to learn about and listen to them explain their places of worship, for our school wide, Grade 8 Religions field trip. We truly learned a lot from this experience, and were privileged to eat some amazing food, provided by the Sikh temple, along the way.

With course selection done and finished, a lot of us have had to have intense conversations with our parents regarding the fate of our futures, whether or not to take a language, or whether to drop a course entirely because of the amount of boredom sitting in the class. Although for some of us, that not the whole of the problem. Some of us have had to have awkward conversations with their counselors about forgetting to do their course selection, only realizing the day of when they sat down in the morning, giggled at by their minischool peers.

Additionally, as parents may have noticed disappointingly, all students are away from school on spring break. That means that while the school halls may for once be quiet, the halls of one’s home receive opposite treatment.

From Beta

Cow Eye Dissections

This week most of the Grade 8’s did a Cow eye dissection. We were told that we were going to do this after the worm dissection but i never imagined that it would be so disgusting and smelly. When we got our Cow eye out of the fridge we had to warm it up with our hands. It was covered in cold fat and muscle that we had to cut out for our paper. After clearing off all the fat and muscle It was time to cut open the eye in half. We made a small incision with a razor and then cut the rest with our scissors. As I was Snipping at it some black liquid called Aqueous humour. It smelled like the worm but x10 worse. Afterward the lens came out. It was really cool and would magnify things if you were to put say text under it. The lens was surrounded by a gel thingy that is called the vitreous humor. The next thing I put on my paper is called the Cornea which is the front of the eyeball. After that we Cut of the Optic nerve which is connected to the Retina/Cones. The Retina/Cones is located at the back of the eyeball and reflects light so cows can see certain colors.  

Sudan: the last male Northern White Rhino

 

Hello! It’s a member of the minischool here reporting on the current events this month. As some of you may have heard, Sudan the last male Northern White Rhino was in deteriorating health in early March. He was 45 years old, a very advanced age for a rhino, and due to age related issues and infections, his health started worsening. On March 19th, 2018, Sudan was euthanized by his caretakers as his health suddenly declined. In 2015, another Northern White Rhino was also euthanized at the San Diego Zoo. That leaves only 2 Northern White Rhinos in the world, Najin and Fatu, both female. Sudan and the females were unable to create offspring as they were too old. Now, it’s up to scientists to try and bring back this critically-endangered species. They are hoping to fertilize an egg from one of the female rhino with the sperm of a dead rhino and implant it in a female Southern White Rhino as a surrogate.

 

The reason why there were so few of these rhinos left is because of poachers. They kill the rhino to get the horn which is so precious in the black market, paying more than what gold or diamonds would. This is a sad example of how us as humans are affecting the planet. Why do we value these animals below us? Why do we think it’s ok to kill them so we can earn some money? It’s not right. Us as humans have such a greed for money, and look what it has done. We’ve driven an entire species close to extinction.

 

Sources:

https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/world/2018/03/01/endangered-rhino-who-found-fame-tinder-deteriorating/384214002/

 

http://abcnews.go.com/US/northern-white-rhinos-death-san-diego-zoo-leaves/story?id=35372013

 

BC Skills Canada

At the start of March, both the grade 8 and 9 mini – school went to KPU for the BC Skills Canada competition. We were given the options to participate in either the spaghetti bridge competition or the wind turbine competition. Now, unlike other schools we only spent 1 day preparing for this competition meaning that did not have an advantage, however, we still tried out best. The day we spent preparing, we were given only 5 hot glue sticks and a package of noodles. In addition to this we only  had about 1 hour to create our structures, which was not enough time. Meanwhile, other schools had done their science fair project on spaghetti bridges and had already built and tested them many times.

 

Anyway, before I get too carried away, let me define the spaghetti bridge competition rules. (I was not in the wind turbine group so I can’t really talk much about it) Our bridges had to be done in 2 hours. The goal is to build the lightest bridge that could hold 1kg of weight underneath it for 60 seconds. We were given Catelli spaghetti, hot glue guns, and glue sticks, and a loading platform that must be somehow incorporated into the design. The minimum side length requirements are 500mm for length, 100mm for height, and 50mm for width.

 

Now, out of the grade 8 mini – schoolers, some groups decided to go light as that would get them nearer to the top 3 if they managed to hold the weight. Meanwhile some groups decided to go heavy in order to hold the kilogram in the first place. Unfortunately, only one group out of the minischool 8 class succeeded in holding the weight. All the other ones had collapsed. To add to that, the group that had succeeded had came in dead, last. However, after we finished building we were finally able to look forward to one thing. The food. We were all hungry, children waiting to be fed, and we were… kind of.

 

Here’s the thing, the spaghetti bridge mini – school kids had signed up for the last lunch slot. Meaning that all of the food was pretty much taken. Some of us managed to get 2 whole slices of pizza while others had to live off of 1. My sources tell me that the groups before us had pop, and they were even making “pizza sandwiches” by stacking pizza and then eating it. Yet still, some were complaining about “still being hungry” afterwards. Luckily, Mr. Murray saved the day and managed to talk some of them out of eating all the food, that way we at least were able to eat enough to last the day. Overall, it was a pretty fun day and I do hope we are able to do this again next year. Now that we know what designs are enough to place in the top 3 I’m sure we can definitely do better if we got the chance to try again. Thanks for reading! 🙂

Indigenous Rights in Canada

As we all know we are all newcomers to Canadian soil. Indigenous people have lived here for far longer than any of us have, yet they still lack some of the rights that other Canadians citizens have. Crime and suicide rates in Indigenous communities are higher than others, and while we may think we are doing good after abolishing things like Residential Schools, yet still racism continues in modern day Canada.

Recent events have brought light and conversation to these issues once again. On August 9, 2016 Colten Boushie, a 22 year old Cree man was killed by Gerald Stanley, a white farmer. According to the defendant, Colten and his friends were attempting to rob Stanley’s Farm. Gerald fired three shots, and shot and killed Colten. They claim that the gun went off by accident, due to a common issue with guns called hang fire, where there is a distinct time between when the trigger is pulled and the bullet comes out. This was apparently persuasive enough for an all white jury to declare Gerald Stanley not guilty not just of second-degree murder but also the minimal charge of manslaughter on February 9, 2018.

This caused outrage in the Aboriginal community all across Canada. Protesters filled the streets, petitions were signed, and the government was put under a lot of pressure to speak out about it. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau met with the family of Colten Boushie, as did the federal minister. They vowed to reinspect Canadian courts, and to root out what is, in its essence, systemic racism in the Canadian justice system.

People thought this meant a step forward, and that these types of horrendous verdicts would come to a stop only to find that on February 22, 2018 a once again mainly white jury found Raymond Cormier not guilty of second degree murder of fifteen year old Tina Fontaine. In August 2014, her body was pulled from the Red River, covered in a duvet, and weighed down by rocks. Her story was just as sad, with a terminally ill father who was murdered in cold blood and an alcoholic mother, Tina frequently ran away from Manitoba Child Services. Once again, outrage came from all over the country, many people criticizing the jury for not learning anything from the Colten Boushie case. Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak Grand Chief Sheila North stated that the entire system has failed Tina, and that we need to do better for our young people.

What does this tell us? This tells us that change does not happen overnight. In does not happen in weeks either. During the Harper government many cries about Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Children seemed to be ignored. However the Trudeau government has promised to take action and has showed steps to helping to combat deaths like Tina’s, and all we can do now is understand that this will take time, but this does not mean we should sit idle and allow for this injustice to continue.