Declining Birth Rates: From Japan to the United States

The birth rate in Japan continues to decline year-on-year, while the overall population continues to rise due to immigration. According to the CIA World Factbook of 2017, Japan is ranked 2nd for highest median age (47.3). As of October 2016 (  Japan’s birth rate fell below 1 million for the first time since 1899, while there were 1.3 million people that died the same year. If the declining birth rate continues to drop, Eric Johnston from JapanTimes states that, “896 cities, towns and villages throughout japan are facing extinction by 2040.”


Now, the problem seems to spread across the sea, as millennials in the U.S. refuse to have kids as well.

What is the problem with the population decline? Why do the local residents in either countries refuse to have kids?

A Graph from Osaka university (Slide 4) shows a result of a survey as to why Japanese citizens consider not to marry or to have children. The chart is separated by genders. Translated, it looks like this:

Either genders have the belief that being single means that they will have more freedom for hobbies and meeting with friends etc.

Another factor Osaka university points out is the progression of women in the workforce. The prominent answer on the female side is due to the fact that more females are now in the workforce with higher wages. This complements the other top answers, as they believe that it’s more convenient to focus on their work when they don’t have to worry about taking care of anyone else.

Below are some explanations from the survey as to why fewer Japanese people are considering marriage, or having kids.

Taking the subject matter from Japan to the United States, online articles from Rooster and Healthyway gives us some insight as to why some people in the U.S. might not consider having kids. Both articles had similar reasons, such as:

1.       The fear of raising kids in a bleak future.

2.       Financial problems.

3.       Fear of ruining their children with terrible parenting.

4.       More people wanting to pursue their goals in life. (College/Work)

5.       Fear of commitment of marriage/having kids.

Mary Sauer from Healthyway also mentioned the current position women are in, similar to the survey data seen from Osaka University. (Ex: Women are under less pressure and have more options, etc.)

According to Asia matters for America it is possible that millennials across the pacific have similar negative connotation towards having children too early. California has the highest Japanese population in the United States. To see if there are any correlation with the given data, we take a look at California’s birth rate and overall population, courtesy of the California Department of Finance:

While there might not be a direct correlation between Japanese people directly affecting U.S millennials, it’s important to consider that there is a possibility that the decline in birthrate might affect the environment you live in as well.

Big Bitcoin Bucks

Bitcoin’s innovative payment network is gaining traction as the price of one unit surpassed the $10,000 benchmark on Nov. 29, 2017.

Bitcoin, which was introduced in late 2008, is a peer-to-peer electronic cash system that allows its users to transfer money without involving banks. The company initially began, at a share of 6 cents per bitcoin. Their initial growth was slow and steady, however, with the demand increasing so is the company’s stock.

Bitcoin is currently seeing their stock rise faster than ever. The cost of the bitcoin reached $5,000 on Sept. 2, 2017 and since then has doubled it’s worth within two months.

According to Bitcoin News, the company is seeing about 12,000 transactions an hour with an average of 99,000 BTC being sent per hour. The average transaction value is at 0.103 BTC which translates to approximately $1,100.68 at the moment.

Alongside the stock prices increasing, the popularity is vastly increasing as well. The cryptocurrency is currently garnering major attention on social media with approximately 80,000 tweets sent per day that pertain to bitcoin.

Bitcoin allows for people to create, send, and use money in multiple ways.  The cryptocurrency is received, stored, and sent using a software known as the Bitcoin Wallet. This wallet can be accessed via a computer or any cellular device. Bitcoins also are allowing users to make purchases from online retailers who accept the cryptocurrency as a form of payment.

Bitcoin Games, also gives the consumer an alternate way to flip their bitcoin money into more money. They offer a plethora of casino-style games such as Video Poker, Blackjack, Roulette, Craps, Keno, and Slots.

Jervontae Shotwell, a 20-year old male from Memphis, TN, has recently invested in bitcoin earlier this month.

“The idea of a decentralized encrypted digital currency is what attracted me to it.” Shotwell said, “I trade on the foreign exchange markets, so I figured why not trade bitcoin too.”

Shotwell believes that everyone should invest in bitcoin, or some form of digital currency at this moment in time. Shotwell said, “Digital currency is the way of the future and the charts back up that claim. Even if you only have five or 10 dollars to invest, do it.”

Kadeem Phillips, CEO of Power Entertainment LLC and Power Enrichment Group LLC, has also invested into the cash system and agrees with Shotwell’s previous claim.

Due to his early involvement with Bitcoin, Phillips is well ahead of the game. “The more people that believe in bitcoin the richer I get.” Phillips said, “I’m putting everyone on that wave.”

With the popularity of Bitcoin rising, Phillips is capitalizing by helping his associates get acclimated to the process.

“Bitcoin was 32 dollars when I first started” Phillips said, “and I used bitcoin to sell unlocked phones and other tech in high school. Got to college and used it for other things. It has now become the way I’ll feed my family for life.”

Phillips himself began to use the cryptocurrency in late 2009. He also claims that at that time, it was the preferred way of payment in the tech community.

“The Crypto Market cap for Bitcoin is at $168 billion,” Phillips said, “so whether you believe it or not, this is real money.”

Player Input Episode 1: Metagaming


This podcast covers 3 topics about the metagame, which were discussed with 4 interviewees:

  1. The definition of metagaming, and it’s application
  1. How the community shapes/evolves the metagame
  1. The possibility of predicting the future meta.

Half of the interviewees have a negative connotation when it came to metagaming; one of the interviewees mentions that, “…it was a set of rules for people who took video games way too seriously.” While some etiquette within metagaming is nice, interviewees states that being restricted with additional set of rules limits the enjoyment they get playing games.

Using fighting games as an example, all of the interviewees mentions that they would like to see unpredictability in the matches.

Most of the time, the game needs to have a competitive community for people to come up with a meta. When that happens, players usually tend to complain about certain aspects of the game, in which game developers could decide to create a patch to fix errors and bugs in a game. Patches may include buffing (strengthening) some aspect/character in a game, or to nerf (weaken) a character to end up with a more balanced experience for all players. The interviewees talk about how important the player/viewer’s voice is in molding the meta. Additionally, they mention about the main difference between the typical player vs. A sponsored player who plays for a living. The sponsored player’s opinions are widely accepted, and they must use that power responsibly.

In the last topic the interviewees gave different examples when talking about how they would predict the metagame:

The first interviewee mentions that not all games have the same amount of predictability in the meta; games such as the pokemon franchise might have to factor in uncertainty and numerical equations, while sports games go hand in hand with the real variant, making it easier to predict.

The second interviewee mentions about how one game (smash bros) focuses on theory crafting. While it may be a good idea to look at the “what ifs” in a fighting game, the interviewee hopes that practicality would prevail.

The third interviewee talks about how upcoming trailers and patch notes to predict the metagame. The interviewee mentions about how patch notes are the more concrete way to predict the meta, as the trailers designed to entice players to purchase said game.

The last interviewee talks about the people who predicts the metagame, and how they might negatively impact the meta in general. A public figure predicting the meta might alter the outcome.


Intro- Fire Emblem Awakening: Conquest – Jazz Cover ||Insaneintherainmusic

By insaneintherainmusic – Carlos Eiene

Outro- [Fire emblem: Genealogy of the Holy War] Disturbance in Agustria [Rearrange]

By Crescen♪o


Dr. Moersh explains the evolution of drone technology, discusses usage on Earth-like landscapes

Unmanned Aerial Vehicles, or UAV’s, may soon be common use to study various Earth-like landscapes.

Dr. J.E. Moersh spoke on Friday about how drone technology is evolving into a more sophisticated craft, and will soon be advanced enough to start testing in non terrestrial atmospheres.

“These little guys hold a camera better than we can, and fly around a grid and map out an area in about three times less the time we would take,” Moersh said.

At the start of the lecture, Moersh passed around his own personal drone, showing the audience were the camera dock was, and explained that even as the drone itself shook and adjusted to wind during flight, the camera itself never wavered and provided a perfectly still image.

He then proceeded to show the audience various drone models in action through video, showing landscapes of various countries and continents.

In regards to how hard it is to have permission to fly them, Moersh said, “It was actually almost impossible to fly them in any parks in the U.S., but abroad, they were mostly all for it. We got the footage and testing we needed, and in return, they got a 3D map of their own territory.  It was a win-win.”

When it came to Mars, he explained that it would be relatively easy to start testing drone flight on mars through simulation and through testing in our own atmosphere.

“Mars has the 1/3rd of the atmospheric density we have here on Earth.  Flown high enough in our own atmosphere, it wouldn’t be hard to replicate those conditions,” said Moersh.

After the lecture, Amanda Womac, an attendee, said, “This could be how research is conducted in the future, with drones in the field and scientists in the lab.”

For more Science Forum lecture information, visit this website.

Edited by Kaitlin Flippo

Featured Image by Ryan McGill

Lecturer discusses “taxi” services, emphasizes importance of studying ancient encosystems

Dr. Colin Sumrall of the department of Earth and Planetary Sciences held a lecture on Friday about the Paleozoic Seas, discussing how the creatures that lived in them used to use one another as “taxis” or living surfaces.

Sumrall emphasized the importance of studying ancient ecosystems in order to better understand our own modern ones.  He further explained that this task can often be difficult, as most of the organisms he discussed were extinct.

“If I were to give you an example,” Sumrall said, “If you don’t have a fossil record and I were to ask you ‘how big can a land vertebrate get’, you’d say an African Elephant… but with a fossil record, we know of vertebrates that are 10 times as big.”

The nature of a fossil itself is quite grim, according to Sumrall.  Should a fossil be particularly in good shape, it is very likely that the specimen fossilized was buried alive in that position.  On the other hand, it allows scientists a glimpse into the timing of events occurring.

Most of the lecture was focused on discussing edrioasteroids, one of the more commonly found encrusters in Sumrall’s study. They require a hard substrate for attachment, and rapidly disarticulate after they die.  They are effectively immobilized after they find something to attach to.

Credit: Thomas Ferrell

“When they glue themselves down, it’s like they’re using superglue, in fact, this is were super glue came from,” Sumrall explained.

Edrioasteroids were also studied to not overgrow members of the same species, but did overgrown members of other species. Because of the fact that they cannot move, they effectively spread through means of growth, often covering another unfortunate species.

The final part of the lecture discussed evidence to find epibionts, or organisms that live attached to others. Sumrall spent time across the world finding fossilized epidbionts and discussing their relevance.  After studying them for 30 years, he explains that he is one of the only people who studies the subject.

William Futrell, a UT student thought the subject of the lecture was interesting. “While this lecture really isn’t specifically for anything I’m doing, it allows me to know more about the living ecosystems around me and how ancient creatures lived in various places,” he said.

More information about these lectures and future meetings can be found here.


Featured Image and photos by Thomas Ferrell

Edited by Kaitlin Flippo

UT Science Forum tackles nuclear energy

Dr. Stephen Skutnik, Assistant Professor at UT’s department of Nuclear Engineering says that the future of nuclear energy depends on if it’s viewed as trash or a treasure.

Skutnik addressed multiple forms of proposed storage methods such as geologic disposal, hydrogeologic disposal, ice sheet disposal and more outlandish solutions such as extraterrestrial and volcanic disposal.

Although scientists have the ability to store used fuel for decades, it is not seen a viable permanent solution.

According to Skutnik, geologic disposal is the only feasible option at this time. It involves storing the radioactive elements deep underground long enough to “run out the clock” on the materials so they are no longer radioactive.

However, “running the clock out” on elements such as Plutonium and Neptunium can take thousands of years. Before locking the elements away in their radioactive tombs, Skutnik supports the idea of isolating the Uranium, a less radioactive element, and reusing it for nuclear fuel.

Skutnik went on to point out that the United States’ method for handling used nuclear waste has not been widely supported. The Nuclear Waste Policy act of 1987 created a permanent, underground repository for radioactive nuclear waste in Nevada’s Yucca Mountain, located 100 miles north of Las Vegas.

In 2009, the Obama Administration defunded the Yucca Mountain repository efforts and began the Blue Ribbon Commission. The commission recognized the national need for a consent-base repository program to garner wide public support. The target date for completion is 2048.

The Unite States government hopes to model the program after Sweden and Finland’s programs, the most programs successful thus far.

Robin Hill, a former engineer at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, expressed optimism.

“I come to every seminar on the schedule,” Hill said. “I love it.”

“I made my living in this business with reactors, accelerators, fusion machines, waste management and cost benefit work for nuclear reactors,” Hill continued. “This stuff is important; I think the Baker Center should talk about this as well.

The political implications of nuclear energy reprocessing are heavy financial burdens and the possibility Plutonium and Uranium being used as a weapon. Currently, South Korea is seeking relief from a US treaty that prohibits the ability to enrich uranium or seek nuclear reprocessing.

In addition, Japan has been on a quest to recycle nuclear energy that has cost $25 million and generated no success.

“Understanding natural and biological processes is extremely important. The science forum gives students an opportunity to engage in additional educational opportunities that they wouldn’t otherwise see,” said Amanda Womac, president of UT Science Forum and Director of Communications for the Office of the Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences.

For more information about research and developments in science, visit the UT Science Forum in Thompson Boling Café from 12 p.m. to 1 p.m. every Friday.

Next week, Terry Hazen, Governor’s Chair for Environmental Biotechnology will be presenting methane issues. Temporary parking passes are available for the event.

Featured image by Ryan McGill

Edited by Ben Webb