ATTN: Genius Missing

America may be the land of opportunity, but that opportunity sure isn’t evenly distributed.

A  “critical mass” of our country’s most intelligent students are concentrated in just a few of the denser and richer regions: New England, coastal California and southern Florida. Top-tier colleges are loaded with the bright minds of these high-achieving, high-income students, but surely genius comes in many forms.

A recent study published by the National Bureau of Economic Research found that the vast majority of high-achieving, low-income students are not only more geographically dispersed, but also do not apply to any selective colleges universities.

The study used family incomes, data from College Board and ACT and students’ average high school course grades to define their study population of low-income, high-achievers; these students come from the poorest 25% of families but have the brainpower to shoot ‘em to the top 10% of American students academically.

So why aren’t more of these geniuses out nose-deep in beer and books at America’s top schools like their high-income counterparts? Being accepted isn’t the problem. Financially discouraged and ignored by college recruitment teams, these students often don’t even apply.

Many of them would be well-qualified for financial aid and supplemental scholarships from these deep-pocket universities.

Researchers Caroline Hoxby and Christopher Avery liken the colleges’ efforts to “searching under the lamp-post” — while many colleges do look for low-income students, their search is centered around their campus rather than around the students they’re searching for.

Of course, this doesn’t mean that all talented, poorer students don’t reach for the Ivies. Those who do apply, though, tend to be highly concentrated in high schools with grade- or test-score-based admission. These selective high schools have a greater wealth of resources and mentors who are better networked.
Without better college advisors to provide students with encouragement and guidance, these genius minds could be forever obscured. These are the minds essential to greater social mobility and a more diverse workforce, not to mention a less homogeneous, over-privileged student body.

You know that whole “shoot for the moon, miss and you’ll land on some stars or other-cool-celestial-body” saying? Yeah, that’s what these off-the-radar geniuses need to do. Never know until you try.

By Lily Wan

Pigs Still Can’t Fly, But…

It’s not a bird, it’s not a plane, and it’s about four times cooler than Superman.
It’s a squid. And further inflating its bad-assity status, it’s neon.

The Todarodes pacificus’ airborne abilities were merely rumors until Japanese Scientist Jun Yamamoto and his research team witnessed a group of these eight-inch squids soaring around off the Tokyo coast in 2011 (OK, “soaring” is a slight exaggeration, but cool visual, right?),

The squid itself is not a newly discovered species, but the confirmation that these species are indeed flying — not jumping (how utterly pedestrian) — is a fresh catch.

The squid can only remain airborne for about three seconds, but they sure make the most of it. In these three seconds, a Neon Flying Squid can propel itself 98 feet through the air. At that rate, these squid are hitting speeds faster than what Usain Bolt averaged at the London Olympics.

Yamamoto and his team tracked and studied this shoal of squid to determine the exact mechanism responsible for their flight. And, stranger yet, these molluscs are flying backwards.

The squid launches itself from the water by blasting a high pressure water jet from its stems. Once airborne, it spreads out its fins to expose an aerodynamic membrane essential for the stable arc necessary for flight. The squid is also able to direct its fins to steer itself through the air. It is this posture and control that distinguish flight from leap, epic from “meh.”

While the squids resort to flight to escape their aquatic predators, those fleeting moments of safety don’t guarantee them full protection. After all, it only takes for a hungry bird a few seconds to snatch up a quick lunch.

“We should no longer consider squid as things that live only in the water,” said Yamamoto in an interview with Agence French-Presse. “It is highly possible that they are also a source of food for seabirds.”

So, yeah, just sayin’ — squids can fly now. My day/life (and probably yours, too) just got real weird, real fast.

By Lily Wan