“Why does U.S. News rank colleges and universities?” U.S. News asks on its website. “It’s a controversial question with a simple answer: We do it to help you make one of the most important decisions of your life,” with a recommendation that you “Don’t rely solely on rankings to choose a college.” By U.S. News’s logic, their ranking, however problematic in methodology, sifts an overwhelming amount of information down into a usable list from which students can begin their college search. Oh—and that annual list brings in a lot of money. Within 3 days of the rankings being released in 2007, the rankings received 10 million page views, compared to around 500,000 in a regular month . Why we care so much about these numbers, I can’t say, but they unfortunately do matter. Studies have shown that a college’s current rank influences the number of applicants it receives in the coming admissions cycle, and thus the caliber of its class .
On September 9, 2003, OutKast released “Hey Ya!” the first single off their highly anticipated double album Speakerboxx/The Love Below, which would later become one of the most beloved songs of the millennium. Since its release, “Hey Ya!” has stayed a ubiquitous force in pop-culture, still playing on the radio, soundtracking weddings and bar mitzvahs where it makes children and grandparents alike “shake it like a Polaroid picture.” Though the sugary pop of “Hey Ya!” was hardly representative of the progressive Atlanta hip-hop of OutKast as a group, the song was the duo’s most lasting impact on popular culture and is even considered one of the best pop songs ever. Due to “Hey Ya!’s” clear-cut success, OutKast’s ambitious double album Speakerboxx/The Love Belowremains the highest-selling hip-hop release of all-time, going Platinum over 11 times and edging out influential releases like Eminem’s The Marshall Mathers LPand The Notorious B.I.G.’s Life After Death.
In fact, last month, ESPN’s Grantland hosted a 64-song bracket tournament to crown “The Best Song Of The Millennium.” In the final round, OutKast’s “Hey Ya!” beat out Adele’s 2010 rousing kiss-off “Rolling In The Deep” by over 20,000 votes. For a final battle, picking between those two songs seemed fitting: both were massively successful and stayed atop international singles charts for weeks and both packaged relatively melancholy themes into sugary, cathartic, and danceable pop songs. With Adele’s 21 being the most globally successful album in the past two years with “Rolling In The Deep” selling a gargantuan 13 million digital copies, OutKast winning with a 10 year old song makes the feat that much more impressive.
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Founded in 2011, The Airspace is an independent online publication staffed with relentless editors, thoughtful contributors, and vagabond managers from colleges and universities across the United States. The Airspace represents scholarship for the sake of culture and intends to uphold that promise in all content we produce.
Our mission is to bring our readers the most comprehensive narratives around emerging trends and ideas in culture. The articles on The Airspace incorporate rich media like video, audio, photography, to bring the stories to life.
The Airspace is vetted, highly edited, and entirely transparent. Culture is the medium through which we see ourselves and the people and things we interact with. But, culture itself is ever-morphing, reiterating and evolving. We approach everything we write, record, and produce as an ongoing conversation between our readers and our writers. Every content page is outfitted with advanced real-time commenting systems to encourage all our visitors to join the dialogue.
One night, Tim (Simon Pegg), Daisy (Jessica Stevenson) and Brian (Mark Heap) spend the evening watching the Star Wars Trilogy. As the credits roll on Return of the Jedi (1983), Tim, moved to tears by the films, explains to Brian that the events of the entire trilogy can be attributed to the actions of one minor character: the gunner on the Star Destroyer in the first film. Inspired by this new information, Brian then expounds on Chaos Theory, “the notion that reality as we know it—past, present, future—is in fact a mathematically predictable preordained system,” connecting it to the idea of fate in the Star Wars films. Tim, Daisy, and Brian pause to reflect on the heady concept before Tim, wide-eyed and excited, realizes that he has some “fuckin Jaffa Cakes1 in [his] coat pocket!” They exclaim in joy and then debate who has to get up from the couch to go retrieve them.
It’s a scene that feels so eerily familiar to my life even though it’s from the late-90s UK show Spaced, created by Pegg and Stevenson and directed by Edgar Wright. Spaced features wannabe comic book artist Tim Beasley and wannabe writer Daisy Steiner, two London twentysomethings who pose as a professional couple to meet the requirements to rent a cheap apartment in Tufnell Park. In the building lives their alcoholic landlady Marsha (Julia Deakin) and Brian, the quirky conceptual artist who lives on the floor below Tim and Daisy. Tim and Daisy’s best friends, Mike (Nick Frost), a self-described weapons/Army expert, and Twist, a ditsy fashionista, are frequent visitors as well.
Spaced is concerned with many things—arrested adolescence, living a creative life, freeing yourself from a seemingly idyllic past in favor of an uncertain future, and forming a makeshift family—but the common thread that runs through the entire series and connects all the characters together is pop culture—not just as a centerpiece, but as a lens to understand the world. Tim and Daisy see their lives as a confluence of film imagery, video game conventions, and televisual archetypes: both as an escape from daily drudgery and as a perpetual coping mechanism. Spaced was uniquely adept at using pop culture as a visual and referential language to quickly explain characters, environment, and emotional situations. In the series’ first episode, Tim and Daisy claim that when they playedScooby-Doo as children, they were Freddy and Daphne respectively, only for the camera to pull back to reveal that Tim is dressed like Shaggy and Daisy is dressed like Velma. It’s a simple way of expressing that both Tim and Daisy are two geeky characters that believe they’re much cooler and more heroic than in reality, and that Spaced will primarily shine a spotlight on normal-looking “sidekick” types instead of their glitzy, charismatic counterparts.
As Pixar’s Senior Scientist, Dr. Tony DeRose is the genius that makes telling Pixar stories possible. While most animation might be considered an artistic discipline, computer-based animation relies on strong principles of mathematics. At a lecture DeRose gave at New York’s Museum of Math, he describes his job as “translating principles of arithmetic, geometry, and algebra into software that renders objects or powers physics engines.” Most everybody has seen a Pixar film or short and fallen for their near-flawless stories, but their advantage in computer animation that started in 1997 made Pixar stand out among their contemporaries.
Nearly every major element in a Pixar film have their own set of physics: hair, cloth, fluids, smoke, clouds, fire, etc. These components behave in specific and unique ways and to represent them realistically, Pixar scientists have to create physics engines for each element. But that’s just the beginning. Simulating water is easy,” said DeRose during his lecture. “What’s hard is, how do you make water more directable?” Every element in an animated film requires its own physics and rules that allow it to come to life and tell a story.
The TV pundits and talking heads always talk about “war against Christmas” (likehere, or here) that is implicitly part of a larger war against Christianity. In my own experience, growing up in a family of Southern Baptists, I’ve heard pastors frequently lament the “narrow path” that Christians walk and its unpopularity at large. A new report, however, suggests that these lines of rhetoric have little substance.
“The Global Religious Landscape,” a study released by the Pew Research Center, discusses every major religious group, including humans unaffiliated with any religion, in depth. What’s most striking is the sheer immensity and reach of Christianity.
Firstly, Christianity has the most adherents in the world. This fact in and of itself likely comes as no surprise, but the gap between Christianity and Islam may: Eight percent of the world population represents around 560 million people.
In 1961 the US government decided that the best way to to stop the rapid advance of communism was to shoot a bunch of really tiny antennas into space to make a metal ring of radio signal around the world. Because if the Soviets tried to cut off our long distance communications we could give them a huge red white and blue middle finger and just redirect all our signals to our giant metal ring in space. Via Wired:
“A potential solution was born in 1958 at MIT’s Lincoln Labs, a research station on Hanscom Air Force Base northwest of Boston. Project Needles, as it was originally known, was Walter E. Morrow’s idea. He suggested that if Earth possessed a permanent radio reflector in the form of an orbiting ring of copper threads, America’s long-range communications would be immune from solar disturbances and out of reach of nefarious Soviet plots.”
The first and most important issue to address here is “Project Needles.” It’s the Cold War, there’s pretty much the most espionage ever going on, and they named the project about a bunch of tiny needles “Project Needles.” If they had a project to build giant fucking missiles one can only assume they would have named it Project Giant Fucking Missiles in the interest of subtlety. Fortunately someone must have realized that the original guy who came up with the names was terrible at being a secret agent and they renamed it Project West Ford, which sounds more intimidating and is much less literal despite simply being lifted from the nearby town of Westford, Massachusetts.
Taking a college course can be something like a zombie apocalypse. Hoards of mindless, hungry students converge to hear a lecture. And if it’s boring, they’ll moan. On the other hand, a courseabouta zombie apocalypse would be anything but boring. Thanks to a team-up between AMC, education company Instructure, and University of California at Irvine, a new massive open online course (MOOC) aims to do just that: take a look at a zombie uprising within an academic context
Relying on AMC’s zombie series The Walking Dead as source material, the free MOOC will start on October 14 and focus specifically on the new, fourth season of the show. But the show itself is not the only focus—instead, the free course will use the series as a springboard into exploring the principles of physics, math, sociology, and biology. Called “Society, Science, Survival: Lessons from AMC’sThe Walking Dead,” the course description promises an inter-disciplinary academic journey deep into the universe of the TV series, covering such topics as social constructions in the show, the role of public health, nutrition, and—most importantly—the physics of headshotting a zombie.
A few years ago, Blake Graham and some classmates were busy taking their high school literary magazine from smallish and slumbering to sizable and sensational.
These days, former Barrington High School Nuance Literary-Arts Magazine editors Graham, Jon Catlin and Eric Harsh — as well as Barrington natives Melissa McSweeney, Mike Cygan, Kris Ward and Tony Russo — have their literary sights set firmly on the digital realm.
Graham, of the BHS Class of 2011, is founder and editor-in-chief of The Airspace, which can be found at www.TheAirspace.net. He attends Notre Dame University, where he is a Program of Liberal Studies major.
Russo, Harsh, Ward, Catlin, McSweeney and Cygan also are 2011 high school grads presently attending various colleges. And each holds a key Airspace editorial or public relations position.
Wonky meets witty is one way to describe the site, which offers intriguing reads in more than a dozen categories, including literature, music, science, technology, film & television, and commentary.
Self-described as “an independent online publication staffed with relentless editors, thoughtful contributors, and vagabond managers from colleges and universities across the United States,” The Airspace offers something for just about any curious and contemplative human.
The English language is ever-changing and the powers-that-be are taking note. Each year, new words are added to authoritative dictionaries around the world in an attempt to keep their collections as modern and comprehensive as possible.
The Oxford Dictionaries Online (ODO) is the newest group to include a a bundle of slang-ish words. In 2012, it was news when Merriam-Webster added words like “sexting” to their book. Both these dictionaries are categorically Descriptivist—they consider it their responsibility to observe how language is evolving and let their collections act as a reflection of the times.
With the ODO’s update, words like bitcoin, squee, derp, emoji, twerk, FOMO, guac, selfie, srsly, and vom have been officially ordained.
At first sight, Sand Flea, the incredible jumping robot created by the Massachusetts-based engineering company Boston Dynamics, looks like a simple remote control car driving around in a parking lot. Its hidden capabilities, however, are sure to amaze you.
Commissioned by U.S. Army’s Rapid Equipping Force, Sand Flea was designed to serve as a military reconnaissance robot. Sand Flea’s built-in surveillance camera can document its surroundings with minimal visual obstruction, as it can easily bound over objects up to 30 feet tall. Additionally, its oversized wheels allow it to travel on virtually any terrain it encounters–including the air.
In the last few years, Louis C.K. has slowly advanced his claim as a modern philosopher masked as a comedian. He is one of the foremost artists of our generation, and his transformation from a “comic’s comic” to elder statesman—joining the ranks of George Carlin, Richard Pryor, and Bill Hicks—has been incredibly exciting to watch as a longtime fan of C.K. and comedy. His material succeeds in being both honest to his experience and profound on a cosmic level, and C.K. as an individual has defined a new independent spirit, working on the edges of what is mainstream to create innovative art.
This year alone, over 330,000 mobile applications were added to Apple’s App Store. With hundreds of thousands of applications available, it’s difficult to tell what’s worth downloading, what’s worth paying for, and what’s just crap. Many different people have put together guides that outline the best applications of the week or the month but the reality is that truly great applications don’t come along too often and most of the apps you download (and maybe even pay for) will never be used. To get down to the essential apps, I took my experience downloading and testing different apps so you don’t have to. The following list contains the applications that you will use the most often or will be the most useful when you use them. The great thing is that most of these applications are free. Combine that with some holiday sales going on right now, and you can supercharge your iPhone for less than $10.