iOS app Android app More

Featuring fresh takes and real-time analysis from HuffPost's signature lineup of contributors
826 Valencia

GET UPDATES FROM 826 Valencia
 

826 Valencia's Student-Journalists Report on the Science of Freezing Light, Treating Cancer

Posted: 07/18/2013 2:27 pm

The Valencia Bay-farer is 826 Valencia's only in-house newspaper written for students by students (ages 8 to 14). Our intrepid reporters learn lessons about the various aspects of journalism, from crafting ledes to interviewing to citing sources and at the end of each five-week workshop, we release a new issue full of articles about the kinds of things you'd love to read if you were a kid. We hope you enjoy these articles. To learn more about 826 Valencia, visit our website.

Hau's Impossible Experiment
By Darius Dragnea, Age 10

Have you ever thought of freezing light? Normally, light travels 186,282 miles per second, and it seems impossible to catch. In 1999 Professor Lene Vestergaard Hau, a professor of physics at Harvard University, found out how to slow it down.

In her first attempt, Hau slowed light down to thirty-eight miles per hour! Hau slowed the light by heating solid matter, sending the light beam through, then finally freezing the matter to slow the light. Later, in 2010, she figured out how to freeze it. She did this by using the same system of cooling light in matter. Not only did Hau freeze light, but she also "copied" light! She did this by sending a light beam through super-cooled sodium (called a Bose-Einstein Condensation, or BEC). The BEC then "prints" (or "copies") the light-beam in its matter.

It took Hau more than a decade to find a use for this; she's thinking of using it for sending messages. Evan Walsh, a member of the Hau Lab, gave us a tip on what they will work on next. "The next experiment we are working on is storing a single particle of light (called a photon) instead of an entire laser beam. This is working towards the goal of being able to use this experiment for computers." They could use light to send messages.

Does this make teleportation possible?

I like this experiment because it is very strange that Hau froze light -- the fastest thing in the universe! I think this experiment can inspire other scientists to think beyond what's possible. I also think that the Hau Lab should keep up the work on creating a computer to send messages at light speed.

Cancer In A Nutshell (Not Literally)
By Lola Morrell, Age 10

It's deadly, hard to treat, and has been here for centuries: cancer. Cancer is when a cell in your body starts to divide out of control, making tons of unneeded cells. This may seem like nothing, but it has killed many people and still does. The problem is that cancer-infected cells are immune to, and can be affected by, almost all the same things as regular cells that help you live. If something affects cancer cells, it will probably also affect cells that help you live.

A few examples of cancer types are leukemia (white blood cell cancer), pancreatic cancer, lung cancer, and bone cancer. Each one is a little different, and can affect different parts of the body. Still, they're each uncomfortable and unhealthy. Richard Kast is a doctor who has worked for multiple years researching cancer. When asked if he was happy with the progress that has been made, he said, "More could be done. I'm not happy with it." One of the reasons he added was that in order to test treatments on humans, you need to get approved by insurance. That's one thing, but in order to go through testing, you need to pay several thousand dollars. Testing on humans can help with research, but it's a long process (and it's expensive).

There are many ways to try to get rid of cancer. There are therapies, like chemotherapy, during which doctors put a certain chemical in your body that's a little more harmful to cancer cells than the cells that help you. Radiation therapy is when doctors use high-energy radiation to kill or shrink cancer cells. A recent study at UCSF shows that a brain cancer surgery (which was much less toxic than chemotherapy) helped more than a usual treatment, according to UCSF.edu. And of course, there's transplantation, which is taking out an infected organ and putting in a new, uninfected one.

There are also ways you can try to prevent cancer. It's good to stretch, walk, and wear sunscreen. Also, there are things that can increase the risk of getting cancer. "We have learned many, many things about what increases the risk for cancer," Kast says. Smoking puts you at risk to lung cancer, and alcohol can increase the risk of liver cancer. Blackened food (like burnt toast) also have a little risk. These don't have a really big impact, but it's not nothing at all.

So, we've come a long way with research. Whether you think it could've been better or not is up to you. According to Kast, more government money should be given to cancer research rather than to the military. What do you think about the state of cancer?

 

Follow 826 Valencia on Twitter: www.twitter.com/826_Valencia

FOLLOW SAN FRANCISCO