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Warren Buffett has reached many highs and peaks of success in his life that most of us could only dream of. He is one of the best investing minds we have, and has amassed an incredible fortune from studying the investment market. What better man to take advice from. We have collected Buffett’s life-lessons that he has used to gain success. These tips will help you to become a better entrepreneur or leader in any line of work and to be the best that you can be. If you want to be successful in work, or simply want to have an entrepreneurial mindset, keep reading! Public Speaking Buffett has often stressed the value he has placed on public speaking and how instrumental it is to his business. Of all the many skills he has learned over his illustrious career, improving his confidence with public speaking is one of the things that he believes was vital to his accomplishments. Buffett was originally petrified of speaking to crowds of people, to the point where he would feel physically ill. However, the mogul knew how often he would have to do it, so he took part in a Dale Carnegie public speaking course that cost $100. His mantra is recognise what scares you, and do it anyway. In an interview for ‘Getting There: A Book of Mentors’ Buffett said “That $100 course gave me the most important degree I have. It’s certainly had the biggest impact in terms of my subsequent success”. Invest in Yourself The most important investment is in the thing you know best, that will get you the greatest returns – yourself. You are stuck with yourself for the long term, so you need to take time to take care of your body and mind. The value of stocks rise and dip with unprecedented shock, whereas your body is a valuable investment for the future. Find out what it is that you want to do and study and continue to learn in this area. Follow Your Passion: Buffett realises that much of his success with stocks is due to his genuine love of the stock market. To follow a vibrant, lively and sometimes dangerous thing excites him. To study it and plan ahead before investing is an adrenaline rush of sorts. When giving advice to others in any career path, Buffett highlights the importance of liking your job. Finding your passion and giving it everything you’ve got is crucial to live a life where you’re satisfied in the workplace. On passion, Buffet told students at the University of Georgia in a speech, ‘‘the real thing to do is to get going for some institution or individual that you admire. I mean it’s crazy to take in-between jobs just because they look good on your résumé​, or because you get a little higher starting pay’’. When hiring staff Buffett always looks at the enthusiasm each candidate has for the job. If you genuinely enjoy a job, you will do everything to a high standard. Choose a Mentor Many people benefit from having a mentor or role model, someone to look up to and aim for their level of success. Buffett is one of those people. He states that having a person you admire as a mentor will reignite your passion and encourage you to replicate their work process, to make yours more profitable. Soak up all you can from these figures. Buffett famously said “Hang out with people better than you. Pick people whose behaviour is somewhat better than yours and you’ll drift in that direction”. Surrounding yourself in good company is half the battle. Buffett realises that he is that person in many people’s lives. Perhaps he may also be yours. Don’t Use Credit Cards Buffett detests the popularity of credit cards as he believes they are an easy way to fall into debt. Cash is king to him, and it could be to you if you follow this life advice. Paying with cash aids you as you can visually see how much money you have, and therefore curbs your spending – especially those impulse purchases. If you do not have enough cash on you, then unlike a credit card, you cannot make the purchase. Learn to have willpower over your spending and become frugal. Before trying to earn money Buffett first warns people not to fall into debt. Buffett also tells people to always carry cash on themselves, as he does, to always be prepared in the case of an emergency. He likes to have this cash ready to go for when he needs it to strike on the stock market, because the right moment may never come back again.   Always Be Kind This is a simple tip which is sometimes the hardest to follow: always be kind. In today’s busy society where people are rushing chaotically to get what they want, particularly in the finance world, kindness is overlooked. Buffett encourages people to be kind, as everyone you meet can aid you in some way, so you don’t want to turn them off you. Shares, like people, are a fickle thing and can turn on you with the drop of a hat, so you want to have a good reputation in order to get help. Don’t Buy Popular Stocks This one may surprise fans of Buffett, but is practical advice. From his life experience studying the investment systems the Nebraskan native has learned to stay away from stocks that are extremely popular, which often turn out to be overvalued. He likes to examine businesses and spot a bargain in the shape of low priced shares that few others are looking at. The seemingly uninteresting stocks are often the most lucrative, as they regularly give back large and consistent dividends. Buffett examines at stocks intrinsic value when deciding to invest. To do this he investigates their fundamentals over a lengthy period, such as five years, and projects their return on equity, operating margins and debt levels. He then contrasts it with competitors.
A business synonymous with computers, Microsoft was created by the renowned Bill Gates in 1975. The man behind the household name is one of the wealthiest people in the world according to Forbes, second only to Amazon founder Jeff Bezos who just recently surpassed Gates. Gates proved that all you need to make your dreams a reality is passion, hard work and, perhaps, a shabby garage. Microsoft was born from humble beginnings in Gates’ garage in his home in Albuquerque, New Mexico with good friend Paul Allen. There was little physical space, unsophisticated instruments, technology and few resources, but they made it work. Little did Gates know what they would accomplish together. So how did he do it? Let’s start at the beginning. Born in 1955, Gates was raised by parents who encouraged competition. Growing up Gates was known to be curious, intelligent and, of course, obsessed with all things technology. He surrounded himself with books so much that his parents banned them from the dinner table. He learned how to hack when he was merely 13 and in school spent hours on the computer teaching himself how to code. This is where he met and bonded with Allen over their interest in IT. Allen became instrumental in the conception and development of their lucrative software. In school Gates got banned from using the computer as he was caught hacking, and he even admitted to using the school scheduling software to put him in classes with more girls. You have to admire his efforts! First he created a traffic-based startup which failed, but served as practice for his future endeavours. He attended Harvard University but soon dropped out to work on a startup idea he had, which we know today to be Microsoft. Later in life he returned to Harvard and finally obtained his degree. During his time in college he wrote a computer language for the Altair computer company, which he then sold and used the money from it to start Microsoft. His inside knowledge and experience of testing software and the commercialisation of IT was vital to his success in the early days. Gates and Allen received help in the form of a collaboration with IBM (International Business Machines Corporation). Gates even resold a language to them that he originally bought from someone else and retained the copyright. Of course, every company has to start somewhere, and Microsoft was no different. With little investment capital and sheer determination Gates worked endless 16 hour days for over 5 years to make the software a success. He claims that he personally checked each line of code that was inputted. His hard work paid off when Steve Jobs asked him to design software for Apple. When Gates made his Microsoft announcement, he had not yet finished the product. Allen left the company when he sadly fell ill, leaving Gates solely at the helm of the lucrative ship. Gates quickly became the youngest ever billionaire. It is not often with company founders stay at the forefront of the business throughout the years, but Gates has stayed during every stage. Later he started his third startup, Corbis, a company that specialises in digital imaging. For almost two decades he was the richest man on the planet and has been on the Forbes list of richest people since 1986. The Seattle man has been the epitome of the software industry for the last 30 years and his reign shows no signs of stopping. Microsoft was an extremely frugal company. Gates put all of their profits back into the business, and created an endless cycle of internal upgrades and steady releases of new products. It is well known that it was not until the 1990s that the Microsoft team stopped flying coach. The only lavish purchases Gates made was out of necessity. Gates bought a private jet in 1997 when security issues were created as a result of his fame. The company was also one of the first not to give its profits to shareholders but to put it back into the company, in the belief that it would provide higher investments. They paid their first dividend in 2003. Microsoft has well-known shortcomings and flaws, but it is still the most widely used software. Why is this? Its market leadership is a spectacle to be seen. Gates introduced the world to the first personal computer. He has a monopoly in this area of the market and created an empire. The company was his life, giving him success and financial security, and also love. He met his wife Melinda there, who was working as an executive. In 2000 he made the decision to step down as CEO, giving the position to a good friend. Gates always kept his friends by his side and brought them up with him, and even found love at Microsoft. His staff viewed him as approachable, and loved that he wanted to hear their ideas. Was this the key ingredient to his success? In 2014 he left the position of chairman, and today owns less than 1% of its shares. Nowadays he is a philanthropist who has started the Bill and Melinda Foundation, one of the biggest non-profits organisations in the world. Gates is committed to donating his hard earned money to those in need, and fights to end world poverty. He also donates to schools, especially the history departments. He stated that he wants to donate half of his wealth over his lifetime. His main piece of advice for those wanting to find success in IT is to read programs created by others, and learn from their work as he did.  
When we think of our favourite celebrities or social leaders we admire their success and what they have achieved. Yet, we don’t see the journeys they have been on to get to where they are now. These stories give us faith that no matter what obstacles you face you can always overcome the adversity with determination and passion. The following household names have amassed huge fortunes and gained international success, but you may not know about their less than glamorous beginnings. If they can make it, so can you! Li Ka-Shing Hong Kong tycoon Li Ka-Shing was the wealthiest man in Asia for a generation of young people. He now boasts an estimated net worth of $32.8 billion, but there was a time before he had this fortune. Originally from China, Ka-Shing moved with his family to Hong Kong in the 1940s as a young boy, when tragedy struck the family and his father died. Ka-Shing had to leave school to support the household and provide an income. He found a job at a plastics trading company, where he worked exhausting 16 hour days for little pay. Despite his unfortunate start to working life he was later able to start his own company, Cheung Kong Industries. The company began manufacturing plastics, and Ka-Shing used the expertise he had gained in this field to his advantage. Over time the company slowly expanded into real estate. His business empire now spans many areas such as banking, real estate, retail outlets and hotels, to mention a select few. The magnate owns a portion of all major businesses in Hong Kong and has over 260,000 staff working for him in 55 countries. So what we have learned from this is….don’t stay in school kids? Oprah Winfrey Next is the beloved Oprah Winfrey. We all know Winfrey to be a confident and powerful woman, but these are traits she developed over time. Her tough life raised her to be strong. Like a true underdog, she exceeded all the expectations that anyone had for her. Born in rural Mississippi, Winfrey grew up in a single parent household with a mother who had given birth as a teen. She was brutally raped as a child at ages 9 and later 13. Like her mum, Winfrey too had a teenage pregnancy and delivered a son at age 14, who sadly passed away in infancy. Winfrey finally got a much deserved break when she became a co-anchor for a local radio show at just 19. Her natural prowess for the airwaves prompted her promotion to daytime talk shows in 1983, where she became a firm favourite of many viewers. This show later became ‘The Oprah Winfrey Show’ and became the highest rated of its kind. The show was picked up and went national and by 32 Winfrey was a millionaire. Perhaps it is the struggles she went through that makes her so empathetic and endearing to those whom she reaches out to on her show. Despite her staggering wealth and celebrity name she retains the down-to-earth aura that viewers fell in love with. Philanthropist Winfrey is speculated to be worth a cool $2.6 billion and has been named one of the richest self-made women in the America by Forbes. J.K. Rowling JK. Rowling grew up in a house with little income, but poverty wasn’t the only thing she fought to defeat. Rowling struggled with severe depression throughout her life and combatted this by turning to the only thing that made her forget her troubles, writing. Her form of release turned out to be a saving grace from all her problems. The ‘Harry Potter’ novels became mainstream fiction and turned the world into wizarding fans. Surprisingly, many publishers rejected her novel, until one finally agreed to work with Rowling. When her marriage broke down and her husband kicked her out of her home she struggled to care for their daughter alone. She claimed social welfare while writing her novel, which ended up turning her life around. As a young girl growing up with an overactive imagination Rowling used her daily life and the people in in it as inspiration for the famous wizarding world, which has gained her a fortune estimated to be $1 billion. The book series has become one of the biggest grossing movie franchises worldwide and has become an escape for children and adults alike. Do Won Chang Upon moving to the U.S. to make a better life for themselves Do Won Chang and his wife Jin Sook had to work to make ends meet. Originating from Korea, Chang worked three jobs at once for a period of three years to pay the bills. He discovered that America was far from the land of opportunity that he had expected. However, this was all about to change. In 1984 the couple got the breakthrough they were searching for and opened their very first retail store. This was the start of big things for the couple, as they went on to become founders of the internationally renowned clothing brand Forever 21. Their family brand grew rapidly and expanded across the country before opening branches overseas. It now boasts over 480 stores worldwide and is estimated to take in around $3 billion a year in sales. Chang’s days working as a janitor, coffee shop assistant and at a gas station are long behind him. With his daughters taking over the reins of the company, the future of the Chang family is in good hands.
Warren Buffett has reached many highs and peaks of success in his life that most of us could only dream of. He is one of the best investing minds we have, and has amassed an incredible fortune from studying the investment market. What better man to take advice from. We have collected Buffett’s life-lessons that he has used to gain success. These tips will help you to become a better entrepreneur or leader in any line of work and to be the best that you can be. If you want to be successful in work, or simply want to have an entrepreneurial mindset, keep reading! Public Speaking Buffett has often stressed the value he has placed on public speaking and how instrumental it is to his business. Of all the many skills he has learned over his illustrious career, improving his confidence with public speaking is one of the things that he believes was vital to his accomplishments. Buffett was originally petrified of speaking to crowds of people, to the point where he would feel physically ill. However, the mogul knew how often he would have to do it, so he took part in a Dale Carnegie public speaking course that cost $100. His mantra is recognise what scares you, and do it anyway. In an interview for ‘Getting There: A Book of Mentors’ Buffett said “That $100 course gave me the most important degree I have. It’s certainly had the biggest impact in terms of my subsequent success”. Invest in Yourself The most important investment is in the thing you know best, that will get you the greatest returns – yourself. You are stuck with yourself for the long term, so you need to take time to take care of your body and mind. The value of stocks rise and dip with unprecedented shock, whereas your body is a valuable investment for the future. Find out what it is that you want to do and study and continue to learn in this area. Follow Your Passion: Buffett realises that much of his success with stocks is due to his genuine love of the stock market. To follow a vibrant, lively and sometimes dangerous thing excites him. To study it and plan ahead before investing is an adrenaline rush of sorts. When giving advice to others in any career path, Buffett highlights the importance of liking your job. Finding your passion and giving it everything you’ve got is crucial to live a life where you’re satisfied in the workplace. On passion, Buffet told students at the University of Georgia in a speech, ‘‘the real thing to do is to get going for some institution or individual that you admire. I mean it’s crazy to take in-between jobs just because they look good on your résumé​, or because you get a little higher starting pay’’. When hiring staff Buffett always looks at the enthusiasm each candidate has for the job. If you genuinely enjoy a job, you will do everything to a high standard. Choose a Mentor Many people benefit from having a mentor or role model, someone to look up to and aim for their level of success. Buffett is one of those people. He states that having a person you admire as a mentor will reignite your passion and encourage you to replicate their work process, to make yours more profitable. Soak up all you can from these figures. Buffett famously said “Hang out with people better than you. Pick people whose behaviour is somewhat better than yours and you’ll drift in that direction”. Surrounding yourself in good company is half the battle. Buffett realises that he is that person in many people’s lives. Perhaps he may also be yours. Don’t Use Credit Cards Buffett detests the popularity of credit cards as he believes they are an easy way to fall into debt. Cash is king to him, and it could be to you if you follow this life advice. Paying with cash aids you as you can visually see how much money you have, and therefore curbs your spending – especially those impulse purchases. If you do not have enough cash on you, then unlike a credit card, you cannot make the purchase. Learn to have willpower over your spending and become frugal. Before trying to earn money Buffett first warns people not to fall into debt. Buffett also tells people to always carry cash on themselves, as he does, to always be prepared in the case of an emergency. He likes to have this cash ready to go for when he needs it to strike on the stock market, because the right moment may never come back again.   Always Be Kind This is a simple tip which is sometimes the hardest to follow: always be kind. In today’s busy society where people are rushing chaotically to get what they want, particularly in the finance world, kindness is overlooked. Buffett encourages people to be kind, as everyone you meet can aid you in some way, so you don’t want to turn them off you. Shares, like people, are a fickle thing and can turn on you with the drop of a hat, so you want to have a good reputation in order to get help. Don’t Buy Popular Stocks This one may surprise fans of Buffett, but is practical advice. From his life experience studying the investment systems the Nebraskan native has learned to stay away from stocks that are extremely popular, which often turn out to be overvalued. He likes to examine businesses and spot a bargain in the shape of low priced shares that few others are looking at. The seemingly uninteresting stocks are often the most lucrative, as they regularly give back large and consistent dividends. Buffett examines at stocks intrinsic value when deciding to invest. To do this he investigates their fundamentals over a lengthy period, such as five years, and projects their return on equity, operating margins and debt levels. He then contrasts it with competitors.
A business synonymous with computers, Microsoft was created by the renowned Bill Gates in 1975. The man behind the household name is one of the wealthiest people in the world according to Forbes, second only to Amazon founder Jeff Bezos who just recently surpassed Gates. Gates proved that all you need to make your dreams a reality is passion, hard work and, perhaps, a shabby garage. Microsoft was born from humble beginnings in Gates’ garage in his home in Albuquerque, New Mexico with good friend Paul Allen. There was little physical space, unsophisticated instruments, technology and few resources, but they made it work. Little did Gates know what they would accomplish together. So how did he do it? Let’s start at the beginning. Born in 1955, Gates was raised by parents who encouraged competition. Growing up Gates was known to be curious, intelligent and, of course, obsessed with all things technology. He surrounded himself with books so much that his parents banned them from the dinner table. He learned how to hack when he was merely 13 and in school spent hours on the computer teaching himself how to code. This is where he met and bonded with Allen over their interest in IT. Allen became instrumental in the conception and development of their lucrative software. In school Gates got banned from using the computer as he was caught hacking, and he even admitted to using the school scheduling software to put him in classes with more girls. You have to admire his efforts! First he created a traffic-based startup which failed, but served as practice for his future endeavours. He attended Harvard University but soon dropped out to work on a startup idea he had, which we know today to be Microsoft. Later in life he returned to Harvard and finally obtained his degree. During his time in college he wrote a computer language for the Altair computer company, which he then sold and used the money from it to start Microsoft. His inside knowledge and experience of testing software and the commercialisation of IT was vital to his success in the early days. Gates and Allen received help in the form of a collaboration with IBM (International Business Machines Corporation). Gates even resold a language to them that he originally bought from someone else and retained the copyright. Of course, every company has to start somewhere, and Microsoft was no different. With little investment capital and sheer determination Gates worked endless 16 hour days for over 5 years to make the software a success. He claims that he personally checked each line of code that was inputted. His hard work paid off when Steve Jobs asked him to design software for Apple. When Gates made his Microsoft announcement, he had not yet finished the product. Allen left the company when he sadly fell ill, leaving Gates solely at the helm of the lucrative ship. Gates quickly became the youngest ever billionaire. It is not often with company founders stay at the forefront of the business throughout the years, but Gates has stayed during every stage. Later he started his third startup, Corbis, a company that specialises in digital imaging. For almost two decades he was the richest man on the planet and has been on the Forbes list of richest people since 1986. The Seattle man has been the epitome of the software industry for the last 30 years and his reign shows no signs of stopping. Microsoft was an extremely frugal company. Gates put all of their profits back into the business, and created an endless cycle of internal upgrades and steady releases of new products. It is well known that it was not until the 1990s that the Microsoft team stopped flying coach. The only lavish purchases Gates made was out of necessity. Gates bought a private jet in 1997 when security issues were created as a result of his fame. The company was also one of the first not to give its profits to shareholders but to put it back into the company, in the belief that it would provide higher investments. They paid their first dividend in 2003. Microsoft has well-known shortcomings and flaws, but it is still the most widely used software. Why is this? Its market leadership is a spectacle to be seen. Gates introduced the world to the first personal computer. He has a monopoly in this area of the market and created an empire. The company was his life, giving him success and financial security, and also love. He met his wife Melinda there, who was working as an executive. In 2000 he made the decision to step down as CEO, giving the position to a good friend. Gates always kept his friends by his side and brought them up with him, and even found love at Microsoft. His staff viewed him as approachable, and loved that he wanted to hear their ideas. Was this the key ingredient to his success? In 2014 he left the position of chairman, and today owns less than 1% of its shares. Nowadays he is a philanthropist who has started the Bill and Melinda Foundation, one of the biggest non-profits organisations in the world. Gates is committed to donating his hard earned money to those in need, and fights to end world poverty. He also donates to schools, especially the history departments. He stated that he wants to donate half of his wealth over his lifetime. His main piece of advice for those wanting to find success in IT is to read programs created by others, and learn from their work as he did.  
When we think of our favourite celebrities or social leaders we admire their success and what they have achieved. Yet, we don’t see the journeys they have been on to get to where they are now. These stories give us faith that no matter what obstacles you face you can always overcome the adversity with determination and passion. The following household names have amassed huge fortunes and gained international success, but you may not know about their less than glamorous beginnings. If they can make it, so can you! Li Ka-Shing Hong Kong tycoon Li Ka-Shing was the wealthiest man in Asia for a generation of young people. He now boasts an estimated net worth of $32.8 billion, but there was a time before he had this fortune. Originally from China, Ka-Shing moved with his family to Hong Kong in the 1940s as a young boy, when tragedy struck the family and his father died. Ka-Shing had to leave school to support the household and provide an income. He found a job at a plastics trading company, where he worked exhausting 16 hour days for little pay. Despite his unfortunate start to working life he was later able to start his own company, Cheung Kong Industries. The company began manufacturing plastics, and Ka-Shing used the expertise he had gained in this field to his advantage. Over time the company slowly expanded into real estate. His business empire now spans many areas such as banking, real estate, retail outlets and hotels, to mention a select few. The magnate owns a portion of all major businesses in Hong Kong and has over 260,000 staff working for him in 55 countries. So what we have learned from this is….don’t stay in school kids? Oprah Winfrey Next is the beloved Oprah Winfrey. We all know Winfrey to be a confident and powerful woman, but these are traits she developed over time. Her tough life raised her to be strong. Like a true underdog, she exceeded all the expectations that anyone had for her. Born in rural Mississippi, Winfrey grew up in a single parent household with a mother who had given birth as a teen. She was brutally raped as a child at ages 9 and later 13. Like her mum, Winfrey too had a teenage pregnancy and delivered a son at age 14, who sadly passed away in infancy. Winfrey finally got a much deserved break when she became a co-anchor for a local radio show at just 19. Her natural prowess for the airwaves prompted her promotion to daytime talk shows in 1983, where she became a firm favourite of many viewers. This show later became ‘The Oprah Winfrey Show’ and became the highest rated of its kind. The show was picked up and went national and by 32 Winfrey was a millionaire. Perhaps it is the struggles she went through that makes her so empathetic and endearing to those whom she reaches out to on her show. Despite her staggering wealth and celebrity name she retains the down-to-earth aura that viewers fell in love with. Philanthropist Winfrey is speculated to be worth a cool $2.6 billion and has been named one of the richest self-made women in the America by Forbes. Guy Laliberté Guy Laliberté is the brains behind the spectacle that is, Cirque du Soleil. The Canadian thespian began learning his trade performing in the streets for tourists, until he had an idea to create a travelling show full of talented acts who could do amazing things. This was entertainment that the world had not seen before. He co-founded Cirque du Soleil in 1984 and moulded it into a worldwide phenomenon. When it was began he only planned for the show to run for a year, but it was such a roaring success that the government convinced him to take the show outside of Canada. It now is a household name and travels around the world. Laliberté made the show one of the most profitable events in the theatre, while simultaneously making his dreams a reality. This fun loving guy is estimated to have a net worth of over $1 billion. J.K. Rowling JK. Rowling grew up in a house with little income, but poverty wasn’t the only thing she fought to defeat. Rowling struggled with severe depression throughout her life and combatted this by turning to the only thing that made her forget her troubles, writing. Her form of release turned out to be a saving grace from all her problems. The ‘Harry Potter’ novels became mainstream fiction and turned the world into wizarding fans. Surprisingly, many publishers rejected her novel, until one finally agreed to work with Rowling. When her marriage broke down and her husband kicked her out of her home she struggled to care for their daughter alone. She claimed social welfare while writing her novel, which ended up turning her life around. As a young girl growing up with an overactive imagination Rowling used her daily life and the people in in it as inspiration for the famous wizarding world, which has gained her a fortune estimated to be $1 billion. The book series has become one of the biggest grossing movie franchises worldwide and has become an escape for children and adults alike. Do Won Chang Upon moving to the U.S. to make a better life for themselves Do Won Chang and his wife Jin Sook had to work to make ends meet. Originating from Korea, Chang worked three jobs at once for a period of three years to pay the bills. He discovered that America was far from the land of opportunity that he had expected. However, this was all about to change. In 1984 the couple got the breakthrough they were searching for and opened their very first retail store. This was the start of big things for the couple, as they went on to become founders of the internationally renowned clothing brand Forever 21. Their family brand grew rapidly and expanded across the country before opening branches overseas. It now boasts over 480 stores worldwide and is estimated to take in around $3 billion a year in sales. Chang’s days working as a janitor, coffee shop assistant and at a gas station are long behind him. With his daughters taking over the reins of the company, the future of the Chang family is in good hands.
We all love a blockbuster. We have all queued up for the cinema to see the latest big budget fantasy epic, or the newest addition to a super popular franchise. But what about those movies that fly under the radar for seemingly no reason? Many of them have big stars, or were directed by acclaimed directors, some have a cast of unknowns and are directed by new comers, but the one thing that every film on this list has in common is that they are all good. But not just good, really good, and they each deserve much more attention than they currently get. So have a look at our list of totally underrated movies, they will really knock your socks off, and provide you with a wonderful viewing experience. All Over Me This is a 90’s coming of age lesbian drama that boasts an impressive sound track, and embodies 90’s teen angst perfectly. It was released in 1997 and written and directed by sisters, Alex and Sylvia Sichel. The movie follows Claude (Alison Folland), a disenfranchised young girl about to graduate from high school. She is besotted by her beautiful friend Ellen (Tara Subkoff). Ellen has a troubled new boyfriend, and has less time for their previous intimacy. Claude has a part-time job at a pizza joint in her multiracial neighborhood in New York City, and makes lots of new friends there. Due to meeting a wide range of people from across the spectrum of society, Claude slowly comes to the realisation that her feelings for Ellen are lesbian in nature. Realising that Ellen does not share her affections, Claude, along with her new gay friend Luke, go to a lesbian bar. Here, she meets Lucy (Leisha Hailey), an older woman who opens her mind and her heart and completely rocks Claude’s world. The movie perfectly encapsulates the raw, emotion fueled landscape, that each young girl must traverse on the way to her burgeoning womanhood. It is far more than just a typical coming of age movie though, and is laced with a grit and realism that transcends typical ‘teen movie’ fare. Sublimely portrayed by a cast of immensely talented actors, this movie is one of the most personally affecting films anyone who has ever been a teenage girl will ever see. Ken Park As with all of Larry Clark’s movies, Ken Park is seriously good, seriously intense and seriously bleak for the most part. It was released in 2002 and was written by Harmony Korine, who based it on Larry Clark’s personal journals and stories. For starters, this movie is raw, disturbing and honestly not one for the younger members of the audience. Strictly over 18’s and with good reason. There are many depictions of graphic sex, graphic violence and even touches on the unsavoury area of incest. The sex that is featured in the movie is real and not simulated, so this is definitely one for the adults. Now, once you get past the gratuitous sex and the shocking violence, what you are left with is a bleak and unrelenting look at modern day youth culture. It follows the lives of a group of Californian teens, skaters, stoners, rockers and misfits. The title character, Ken Park, is a ginger, freckled kid, who performs an act of violence, right after the opening credits. We don’t really hear about him again until the end, when we find out what drove him to it. The rest of the movie is concerned with the kids who knew Ken: Shawn (James Bullard), who’s sleeping with his girlfriend’s mother; Peaches (Tiffany Limos), who lives with her devoutly Christian dad, a widower worshiping at the altar of his dead wife; Claude (Stephen Jasso), whose macho dad despises him; and Tate (James Ransone), a weirdo who lives with his grandparents and loudly berates them.  At it’s core, Ken Park is about people lost in a haze of contempt and despair, trying to wrest some love or relief out of their own desperate situations. Gummo Another movie written and, this time directed, by Harmony Korine, Gummo was his directorial debut and was released in 1997. It follows the lives of teen friends Tummler (Nick Sutton) and Solomon (Jacob Reynolds) as they navigate the ruins of a tiny, tornado-ravaged town in Ohio, that is populated by the deformed, disturbed and perverted. Gummo is an impressionistic portrait of a half-imaginary Midwestern suburb, and confirms Harmony Korine as a creative force to be reckoned with. The movie is often times a hugely unpleasant experience, though, but then, isn’t that just art doing it’s job? When the two teenage protagonists aren’t killing stray cats, they’re sniffing glue, paying for sex or messing with life support machines. Aside from its adolescent preoccupation with depravity, the movie is saved from freak show voyeurism by its unerring starkness in the portrayal of its characters. The movie intertwines scripted dialogue with improvisation, often within the same scene. Gummo is  breathtakingly original, and absolutely true to its time. Lilya 4-Ever Lilya 4-Ever is a 2002 Lukas Moodysson movie, and has been lauded as the bleakest, most depressing movie ever made. It depicts the harrowing tale of a young teenage girl,  abandoned by her family and left to her own devices. She slips into a downward spiral of sex and degradation.  Lilya (Oksana Akinshina) is a 16-year-old girl, coming of age in the poverty stricken streets of the former Soviet Union. Lilya’s mother (Lyubov Agapova) has told Lilya that she is to move with her to the United States with the mother’s new boyfriend. Lilya becomes obsessed with this idea, however at the last minute, she is told that she will in fact be staying behind with her aunt Anna (Liliya Shinkaryova), and she’ll be joining her mother later on.  Lilya’s aunt soon takes control of the apartment and places her in a much smaller apartment a few blocks away. Lilya is now left to her own devices, and spends most of her time with her best friend, and a 14 year old boy,  Volodya (Artiom Bogucharski), who is suicidal because of being thrown out of his home, and has a serious problem with alcohol and drugs. When Lilya’s friend meets a man in a nightclub who pays her for sex, the two friends embark on a downward spiral that culminates in a dark and tragic end. It is a stark and unyielding movie that will draw you in, and leave you devastated. A movie that will haunt you for days afterwards in a truly brilliant piece of cinema. The Heart Is Deceitful Above All Things This movie was based on the book of the same name by JT Leroy, the controversial pen-name of Sarah Albert. It follows the life of a young boy called Jeremiah, (played by Jimmy Bennett, Cole Sprouse, and Dylan Sprouse), being brought up by a loving foster family. One day all of his safety and stability are ripped away from him, when his tear away, alcoholic, drug addled teenage mother, Sarah (Asia Argento), shows up, and whisks him away. The child is forced into a life of crime and debauchery, and subjected to a litany of abuse, at the hands of the string of men his mother invariably brings home. One such man is played by a hugely creepy Marilyn Manson, and another played by Jeremy Renner. Salvation comes in the form of the boy’s ultra-religious grandparents, but soon Jeremiah’s mother returns. Maternal love binds the pair together on the road, until Sarah’s desperate and depraved lifestyle finally consumes her, and threatens to do the same to the boy. There is no happy ending here, no feel good factor to ultimately take away with you at the movie’s end. It is a cheerless and despondent look at the harsh realities of the hell some children have to live, when their parents are slaves to one vice or another. The Cement Garden In this chilling adaptation of an Ian McEwan novel of the same name, director Andrew Birkin brings us on a depressing, creepy journey through the devastating ramifications of familial abandonment. The film takes place in a dreary grey house, located on the fringes of an English town. The father (Hanns Zischer) is a degenerate pervert, while the mother (Sinead Cusack), is the epitome of the angelic matriarch. After his garden is paved over with cement, the father has a heart attack and dies. Soon after, the mother wastes away and also dies. This leaves the four children to fend for themselves. The eldest sister and brother, Julie (Charlotte Gainsbourg), and Jack (Andrew Robertson), take over the responsibility of caring for the two younger children, Sue (Alice Coultard), and Tom (Ned Birkin). Without the supervision and guidance of a parental role model, each of the children gives themselves over to their secret desires and longings. Jack hides in corners, and becomes a chronic masturbater, while Julie uses her blossoming sexuality to lure Jack into an incestuous relationship. Even the younger children begin to behave in unusual ways. Sue barely speaks, and obsessively journals everything that happens to her, and Tom feels that deep inside himself, he is a girl trapped in a boy’s body. The children hide the mother’s remains in the basement, and live off her bank account. No one suspects a thing, until local sleaze ball Derek (Jochen Horst), shows up and tries to court Julie, which threatens to blow all of their secrets wide open. A darkly disturbing look at what unbridled eroticism, and unchecked sexual boundaries, can do to developing youth. It is also, at its heart, a tale of a family at odds with the world around them, and struggling to stay together as a unit. I Shot Andy Warhol Source: vintagemovieposters.com On June 3, 1968, radical feminist Valerie Solanas shot pop culture artist Andy Warhol in his Manhattan studio.This movie tells that story, but not through Andy Warhol’s version of events. Instead, the movie focuses on the extraordinarily skewed perspective of the deeply troubled Solanas. Valerie Solanas (Lili Taylor) is an aspiring young writer, in love with her craft. She moves to New York City and supports herself by entering into a life of prostitution. In her search for acceptance amoungst the New York elite,  Valerie encounters controversial artist Andy Warhol (Jared Harris), and various other colourful eccentrics of the New York art scene. Valerie becomes obsessed with the idea that Warhol should produce her play, ‘Up Your Ass’.  But when she realises she is, in fact, the butt of everyone’s joke, Valerie becomes enraged, and starts a violent feminist movement, and pens the ‘S.C.U.M Manifesto’, (S.C.U.M stands for the Society for Cutting Up Men).  Eventually, her rage reaches fever pitch. and Valerie shoots Andy Warhol. In this powerful portrayal of a snapshot of pop culture history, filmmaker/screenwriter Mary Harron attempts to shed some light on the troubled Solanas’ motivations. On record, it has been recorded that Solanas acted in retaliation, after Warhol banned her from his inner sanctum, however the real reasons for her bottomless rage soon become apparent. Solanas was sexually abused as a young girl, and turned to prostitution in  high school. She also struggled with her  sexuality as it became clear to her that she was a lesbian. By the time college rolled around, Solanas was an established man-hater. It was her dream that her Society for Cutting Up Men would become a major movement, but in the end, Solanas was the only member. An intense look at an equally intense woman, I Shot Andy Warhol is a cadenced gaze at a turbulent and chaotic crime. The Doom Generation We literally could have included all of Gregg Araki’s movies on this list, and it would have been full of just as many amazing and unknown, or underrated movies. The Doom Generation is one of our particular faves of his, though. It was originally billed as: “a heterosexual movie by Gregg Araki,” but The Doom Generation is much more than that. It is his eponymous teen movie, brought to us seeped in the stylistic bad taste that only Gregg Araki can pull off.  Amy Blue (Rose McGowan) and her boyfriend Jordan White (James Duval) are disenfranchised teens. Amy is a mean-girl, speed freak, while Jordan is a soft spoken, scene kid. Both of them claim to be virgins, however Jordan is still terrified of contracting AIDS. On a road trip, the pair happens upon the alluring Xavier Red (Johnathon Schaech). Xavier is a charming, enigmatic drifter with a penchant for murder. The three form an unlikely alliance and bond, as they embark on an endless road trip across middle America. Xavier’s worldly influence on the young couple raises issues of loyalty and sexual identity. It builds to a violent and devastating climax, and is filled with cutting, scintillating wit, and scathing cynicism. The movie is also speckled with a host of eccentric cameo appearances, including comic Margaret Cho, actress Parker Posey, musician Perry Farrell, ‘Hollywood Madame’ Heidi Fleiss, and onetime Brady Bunch star Christopher Knight. This is the middle installment in Araki’s ‘teen apocalypse trilogy’, which also includes 1993’s Totally F***ed Up and 1997’s Nowhere, and offers a bleak and nihilistic look at the disaffected youth of America. Threesome Andrew Fleming’s 1994 movie, Threesome, is a little less involved than most of the films on this list but no less enjoyable. The movie follows the story of three unlikely college roommates at a sizable public college. Eddy (Josh Charles), Stuart (Stephen Baldwin), and attractive co-ed Alex (Lara Flynn Boyle), are thrown together by happenstance. It is a modernist spin on the traditional love triangle story. Girl falls for guy, guy falls for other guy, wrong guy falls for girl. The complex situation leads to sexual experimentation and strained relationships. It is a well-constructed, hilarious, touching, and thought provoking ‘bizarre love triangle’. Each of the characters are instantly likeable and relatable, and the story is intelligently woven, and laced with idiosyncrasies, sewn together with a raw, emotional undercurrent. Eddy’s struggle with his own latent homosexuality is both edifyinga and heartwarming, but Lara Flynn Boyle steals the show as the blossoming ingenue. It’s a sweet story of love, friendship, and the struggle to find yourself in those formative college years. The Woodsman We are right back in with the heavy hitters with this one. This is a movie that should be on everyone’s ‘to watch’ list. It is an unbelievably good movie, and is honestly, one of Kevin Bacon’s absolute best performances. It follows the story of Walter (Kevin Bacon), who, after 12 years in prison for pedophilia, returns home. Very few people are aware of his conviction, and he is determined for it to stay that way. He finds an apartment where he’s regularly visited by his parole officer (Mos Def), and gets a job at a lumber mill. He meets, and starts a relationship with a coworker (Kyra Sedgwick) and forms the kind of human bond that he has been yearning for in order to normalise his existence. This relationship becomes too much for him to manage, though, and his new world begins to dissolve.  Slowly but surely, rumours begin to spread about Walter, and as his past crimes become common knowledge, he embarks on a reckless, high-risk friendship with a young girl. Also during this time, he notices a man loitering near a schoolyard, and recognises the grooming practices he himself once employed. He realises this man is a child molester, prowling for his next victim. Rather than approach the police about this, Walter decides to take matters into his own hands, and goes full vigilante on this insidious stranger. His life begins to steadily unravel, and we are led to an inevitable climax, that is brimming with poignancy and sadness. This is a lean and unapologetic tale about a particular faction of society, all too often rendered in simplistic, monochromatic, ‘right versus wrong’ colors. As you watch this movie, you will find yourself being dragged into an intense whirlwind of conflicting emotions. In equal parts disturbing, creepy, and moving, Bacon’s performance manages to pull sympathy from its reluctant viewers.  A bold and poignantly told tale, nestling into its characters to draw out raw and candidly revealing performances. The Woodsman is an amazing piece of cinema, both difficult and compelling to watch.   You could make a list of 100 underrated cinematic gems and not even scratch the surface of the library of glorious movies out there. These are just a few examples, but the next time you sit down to watch a movie, instead of going with the tried and true big blockbusters, why not take a moment and search for something  a little different? You might find something much more rewarding for your viewing pleasure.  
The 90’s gave us some of the best movies and TV shows of all time. It also gave us some of the greatest teen shows ever made. Shows that were funny and addressed the issues of the 90’s teen in a way not seen in previous decades. They also often tackled hard hitting issues such as suicide, drugs and teen pregnancy in a pragmatic, realistic way, that simply hadn’t been done before. Here, we take a look at some of the greatest teen TV shows of the 90’s. My So Called Life My So Called Life only lasted for one season but it had a huge impact. It gave us Jared Leto and Clare Danes, and dealt with some serious issues such as drug abuse, depression and struggles with coming to terms with your sexual orientation. It followed Angela, (Clare Danes), as she traversed the muddy waters of a 90’s American high school, and dealt with the dichotomy between yearning to be accepted, and wanting to be your own person and make your mark on the world. Ready Or Not Ready Or Not was a Canadian show that followed the lives of two young girls, entering into the treacherous world of puberty. Set in the suburbs of Toronto, it focused on Amanda Zimm (Laura Bertram) and Elizabeth “Busy” Ramone (Lani Billard), as they dealt with life’s struggles as well as showcasing  each girls different backgrounds.  Amanda was an only child raised by liberal former hippie parents while Busy was from a more conservative and traditional Italian Canadian Catholic household with three older brothers. Dawson’s Creek Dawson’s Creek Followed the lives of four best friends in the small coastal, Massachusetts town of Capeside. Best friends since childhood, they are about to enter that confusing time in life where nothing is the way it was and nothing is as it seems. This was everyone’s favourite obsession in the 90’s, especially the will they, won’t they romance storyline of the title character Dawson and his female best friend Joey. California Dreams California Dreams centered on the lives of the California Dreams, a teen music group trying to make the big time.  The show was part comedy, part drama, and often focused on serious social issues such as drug abuse, racism and dealing with parents after divorce. Buffy The Vampire Slayer Into every generation, a slayer is born. Every teen loved Buffy in the 90’s. It followed the story of Buffy Summers, (Sarah Michelle Gellar), as she becomes a vampire slayer, or rather the vampire slayer, since there can only be one. Buffy and her friends, her ‘scooby gang’, go week to week fighting bad guys and killing demons. But it was more than just pulpy horror TV fare. It dealt with difficult issues at the same time, and invested heavily in its characters, so we all really cared about what happened to each member of the Buffy cast. Popular This teen high school comedy drama centered around two high school girls on the opposite ends of the school hierarchy, who are forced to make nice when Brooke’s father meets Sam’s mother on a cruise and become engaged. The girls now live together and their individual peer groups are forced to co-mingle in and out of school with interesting repercussions. This was an awesome show, despite being short lived, because it had the message that not everyone is what they seem, and tackled the elitism that exists within the high school system of hierarchy. Most of its young cast also went on to become fairly big stars, including: Leslie Bibb, Carly Pope, Leslie Grossman, Tammy Lynn Michaels, Sarah Rue and Christpopher Gorham. Roswell The town of Roswell, New Mexico, is the site of a supposed crash landing by an alien space craft in 1947. This show follows the lives of the people of that town in 1999, when bizarre things start happening. We soon learn that three of the local teenage high school kids are in fact alien/human hybrids, on Earth with one mission: to follow the destiny given to them by the members of their dying race, a race that they are someday destined to save. The three teens, Max Evans (Jason Behr), Isabel Evans (Katherine Heigl), and Michael Guerin (Brendan Fehr), are endowed with extraordinary, superhuman powers. So far, they have kept their gifts and their mission a secret, until one faithful day when Max’s friend, Liz (Shiri Appleby), is shot at her workplace, and Max heals her with his alien powers. From there on, the show centres around their relationship, and trying to stay hidden from the American Government and other outside forces. Sweet Valley High This was based on the books of the same name by Fancine Pascal. The series revolveas around the lives of Elizabeth and Jessica Wakefield, beautiful blonde twins who live in the fictitious Sweet Valley, California, and their gang of friends. Elizabeth is warm, friendly and sincere, while her twin sister Jessica is flirty, mischievous, and irresponsible. This was another one that often dealt with some more hard hitting issues, especially as the girls got older. It also had one of the most iconic theme tunes that we are sure lot’s of 90’s kids still remember the lyrics to. Party Of Five Party Of Five was a show that had very adult themes but was presented in very teenage accessible ways. It was intelligent and engaging and had some truly brilliant storylines over the course of its 6 seasons run. The show follows the Salinger family, in the aftermath of their parents death in a car crash. The five Salinger siblings are now forced to live on their own, and the oldest son, Charlie, is appointed as their legal guardian. Their new situation means putting aside personal goals to help make ends meet and keep the family together. The show starred Scott Wolf, Neve Campbell, Lacey Chabert, Matthew Fox and Jennifer Love–Hewitt. 7th Heaven 7th Heaven focused on the life of Eric Camden, a reverend, his wife Annie, and their five children, Matt, Mary, Lucy, Simon and Ruthie. Over the course of the show, five becomes seven when Annie becomes pregnant with twins, David and Sam.  The show follows the challenges of raising a family during permissive times.  Legendary producer Aaron Spelling served as an executive producer on the show. It ran for 11 seasons and saw all of the children grow up and become adults with some of them starting their own family. It dealt with hard hitting issues and often touched on some very touchy subject matters, like rape and domestic abuse. The show also gave Jessica Biel her big break as she played the oldest sister, Mary Camden. Some of the shows on this list probably wouldn’t get made today, at least not in the same way. The type of quality programming that existed for teens in the 90’s simply doesn’t exist anymore, which really just goes to prove that they don’t make ’em like they used to!  
While the aesthetics of Anime and Manga lends itself well to a younger audience, many TV shows and movies that are animated in that style are far from kid friendly. Many are violent, gorey, and deal with very adult themes. Many would also just fly above the head of the average youngster. Visually stunning, most anime is a joy to watch with intricately woven storylines and stunning imagery throughout. Here, we take a look at some of the best anime movies and TV shows with dark, adult themes that you should not miss. But be aware that these are not for younger viewers. TEKKONKINKREET TEKKONKINKREET is an intricate story of the bonds of brotherhood. The movie addresses the problems of living in a large city in today’s society, and deals with issues such as the loss of a true love, and the kindness that dwells within the human heart.  The story focuses on two street kids, two brothers called Black and White, as they try to prevent the evils of the Yakuza, and big city mobsters, from infiltrating the sanctity of their beloved city. The movie is based on a three-volume ‘seinen manga’ series by Taiyō Matsumoto. Elfen Lied Elfen Lied is a beautifully woven tale of acceptance, and the cruelty and fragility of the human spirit. Lucy is a new breed of human, referred to as a ‘Diclonius’. She is  born with a short pair of horns, and invisible telekinetic hands. She has become the victim of inhumane scientific experimentation by the government. However, Lucy gains freedom from her captors in a bloody and violent escape. During her escape, Lucy receives a blow to the head which leaves her with a split personality. One personality is that of Nyu, a harmless child possessing a limited speech capacity. Nyu stumbles upon a pair of young students who take her in and try to help her. Over the course of the series we learn that Lucy is not the only Diclonius, and a bloody and violent battle ensues between her, the other Diclonius’, and the laboratory that wants to recapture her. Paprika Paprika is the first on this list from the amazing mind of Satoshi Kon.The movie depicts the story of a machine that allows therapists to enter their patients’ dreams. When the machine is stolen, chaos ensues, and it is up to female therapist, Paprika, to solve the mystery and find the missing machine. Despite similarities drawn between this and Christopher Nolan’s 2010 movie Inception, Paprika actually pre-dates Nolan’s movie by four years. It is also, arguably, a far better movie. Serial Experiments Lain Serial Experiments Lain is a cyber-punk anime series from the late 90’s. It follows the story of young school girl Lain, who is obsessed with a virtual social network called ‘The Wired’. When her classmate commits suicide, Lain and other members of the peer group begin to receive e-mails from their dead friend. At first they assume it is merely a cruel prank, but Lain gets more and more curious, and slowly begins to fall deeper into the mysterious web the The Wired is weaving for her. During her investigations and research,  Lain discovers truths that potentially undermine the very fabric of existence. Cat Soup What a peculiar, surreal joy this movie is. Cat Soup is the perfect example of Anime as an art form. The story essentially follows that of a little boy and girl cat as they go on an odyssey to reclaim their souls from the land of the dead. The movie, however, is full of surreal, sexually suggestive imagery and vulgar suggestion. Paranoia Agent The second entry from Satoshi Kon to this list, Paranoia Agent, was Kon’s one and only attempt at episodic TV. This is a masterclass in suspense, paranoia, and mounting tension, that any live action director could seriously take notes from. It tells the story of ‘Little Slugger’, an urban legend about a mysterious, rollerblading kid, who can put you out of your misery if your life’s falling apart.  After a vicious attack on a young female as she makes her way home from work, two detectives are called in to investigate. They discover that Little Slugger may be more than just a rumour, and soon, more and more people fall victim to his attacks. But more than just thuggish attacks, as the detectives dig deeper, the reality they thought they knew begins to crumble around them.  Full of violence, with just a smattering of sex, Paranoia Agent takes you in the kind of paranoid, surrealist trips that only Satoshi Kon could deliver. Wicked City This absolute gem of a movie flies under the radar for some strange reason. It is a neo-noir detective drama set in a futuristic city. It tells the story of two worlds that have existed in harmony for centuries, Earth and the Black World. The Black World is a realm of supernatural beings that most humans are unaware of. A military group called the Radicals are intent to breaching the peace and returning men to their former heritage : as slaves. Two special agents, Taki, a human, and Makie, a supernatural, are called in to prevent the Radicals from seizing control. The two form the Black Guard who must protect a 200 year-old man named Giuseppi Mayart, the only man who can keep the peace from being broken by the Radicals. This smart, stylish and eerie Anime is one of the early Manga greats. Dead Man Wonderland When the sole survivor of a high school massacre, Ganta,  is framed for the crime, he is incarcerated in Deadman Wonderland, a strange and sinister private prison. This prison has a perverted and insidious take on incarceration, and what inmates must endure. During the massacre, the real killer embeded a red crystal inside Ganta. This crystal imbues him with powers, and he soon learns that all of the prisoners at Deadman Wonderland must entertain the public, by performing in dangerous games, in exchange for privileges. All of it is televised, and performed in front of a live audience. Ganta soon forms alliances within the prison and soon develops a rag-tag band of misfit friends. Together they must fight for survival, and find out what is really going on in the prison. Perfect Blue Another Satoshi Kon movie, Perfect Blue offers an intriguing look at the dangers of modern celebrity culture, and its inevitable objectification of its beloved starlets. This was Satoshi Kon’s debut movie, released in 1997, and introduced the world to a decadent, depraved genius.  The movie tells the story of Mima Kirigoe, a recently retired  pop idol and a member of the adored pop group: CHAM.  Mima has come to despise the vapid excess of her pop idol fame, and becomes determined to make it as a real, quality actress.  During the process of redefining herself, Mima’s fans begin to despise her, and a sinister stalker emerges from the shadows and seems to bare witness to every moment of Mima’s life. Chaotic fantasy becomes mingled with reality, and we are drawn to a paranoid, blistering climax. Truly a masterpiece of cinema whether you are a fan of animated movies or not.
Mankind has always pushed itself forward into realms of discovery. Our curious nature is what first separated us from beasts. Over the last two decades, there have been a number of scientific discoveries that have propelled our scientific understanding and technological advancement further than ever before. Let’s take a look at some of the greatest scientific discoveries that have happened over the last 20 years.   The Detection Of Gravitational Waves Gravitational waves were predicted over 100 years ago by Albert Einstein, when he predicted that mass had the ability to curve space-time.  It wasn’t until 2016 that scientists at LIGO, (the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory), managed to detect and record them. Gravitational waves are ripples in the fabric of space-time, that travel at the speed of light.  All major cosmic events and collisions send out gravitational waves. For example, around 3 billion years ago, a black hole 32 times the mass of our sun, collided with a black hole approximately 19 times the mass of our sun. This resulted in a cataclysmic event that created a brand new monster black hole. All time and space were warped because of this event. This is something that we can now measure and quantify thanks to LIGO. The scientists at LIGO managed to detect the ripple in space time that this caused on January 4th 2017. This was the third time that scientists at LIGO detected the collision of two black holes. This is hugely important, as not only does it prove that the 100 year old theory of Einstein’s was right, but, it allows us to detect large-scale cosmic events in a manner we never have been able to before. This lends itself to the further understanding of the nature of the universe, and the very fabric of existence. This breakthrough has enabled us to not only theorize about it, but actually visualise gravity. The Higgs Boson, Or, The God Particle The Higgs Boson is an elementary particle that had been theorized since the 60’s, but was only detected in 2012, when scientists at CERN, in Switzerland, discovered it using a Large Hadron Collider. This was a hugely important discovery, as it essentially filled in the gaps of the modern ‘Standard Model’ in physics.  This model, prior to the discovery of the Higgs Boson, had no explanation as to why some particles are massless, (ie. the photon), while others have varying degrees of mass. In theory, without the existence of the Higgs Boson, all particles should be without mass. The Higgs mechanism creates a field that interacts with particles, and basically, gives them mass. The Higgs Boson is the particle that is associated with that field, in the same way that protons are the particles associated with the electromagnetic field. Scientists had always assumed the existence of the Higgs field, but had found no experimental evidence for it, until 2012. In order to detect the Higgs Boson, they required a super-powerful particle smasher such as the Large Hadron Collider, to produce energies high enough to knock a Higgs Boson into existence, under controlled conditions.  Here’s how it worked: protons are present in the nuclei of atoms, the most basic units of matter. Protons are composed of even smaller particles, three quarks held together by gluons. In the Large Hadron Collider, protons were accelerated at 99.9999991% of the speed of light. Quarks and gluons inside the protons collided and exploded with enough energy to create the Higgs particle. The Higgs particle has 100 to 200 times the mass of a proton and will last less than a millionth of a billionth of a second before decaying into a spray of other particles. Evidence for the Higgs particle was found in the telltale spirals and streaks left in the Large Hadron Colliders detectors by the particles it created as it disintegrated. This discovery was hugely important to the scientific community, as it solved a long standing problem in the basic understanding of the quantum mechanics of atoms, and helps us better understand the nature of particle physics. The Discovery Of Water On Mars In 2015, NASA released images showing long, dark streaks on the surface of the red planet that appear and disappear throughout the seasons. This was taken to mean that liquid water exists on Mars today. It had long been hypothesized that water had existed on the planets surface in the past, however, there had never been any evidence to suggest that any remained to this day. What we see in the pictures as dark, narrow, 100 meter-long streaks are known as, ‘recurring slope lineae’, and they appear to be flowing downhill. Scientists have suggested that these may have been formed by contemporary flowing water. Recently, planetary scientists detected hydrated salts on these slopes at Hale crater, which would go towards corroborating this hypothesis.  The blueish color observed upslope of the dark streaks are thought to indicate the presence of the mineral pyroxene. Obviously, this is of great significance, as the presence of water could potentially mean the sustainability of life. Observations suggest that this water appears seasonally on the slopes of the martian surface. However, scientists have been unable to figure out where the source of the water could be, or if the chemistry of it would be right for supporting life, or at least, life as we understand it. T-Rex Tissue In 2005, T-Rex bones were discovered in a sandstone formation in Montana. Preserved within the thigh bone was actual soft tissue. It was the source of much controversy at the time, however, recent analysis of the tissue has gone a way to explaining how soft tissue could have been preserved for almost 70 million years. Initially, it was thought that the proteins that make up soft tissue should degrade in less than 1 million years in the best of conditions. It was assumed that the tissue had to be something else, perhaps the product of a later bacterial invasion, critics argued. But then, in 2007, scientists analyzed the chemistry of the T-Rex proteins. They found the proteins really did come from dinosaur soft tissue. The tissue that they found was collagen, and it shared similarities with bird collagen, which makes sense, as modern birds evolved from ‘theropod’ dinosaurs such as the T-Rex. The researchers then decided to analyse other fossils for the presence of similar soft tissue, and found that it was in fact present in about half of their samples. Some of which dated all the way back to the Jurassic Period, which lasted from 145.5 million to 199.6 million years ago.The reasoning put forward for the preservation of this soft tissue was the high levels of iron present in all of the samples. Iron forms iron nanoparticles after death, and generates free radicals. These free radicals cause proteins and cell membranes to tie in knot and basically act like formaldehyde. Formaldehyde, as many know, preserves soft tissues. This was an outstanding discovery, not just in the understandings of how bio-organics behave after a certain amount of time has passed, but also in the understanding of how Dinosaurs lived and how their bodies worked. The Existence Of Dark Matter Dark matter is an elusive and fascinating form of matter that goes toward explaining a lot of strange astronomical scenarios. It is basically the strange scaffolding that dictates how matter acts. It is thought to account for approximately 85% of all matter in the universe, and about a quarter of its total energy density. The majority of dark matter is thought to be non-baryonic in nature, possibly being composed of some as-yet undiscovered subatomic particles. Scientists began to wonder why certain things didn’t behave the way they should when adhering to the laws of physics as we understand them. For example, if you take a galaxy that contains about 1,000 planets, and you add up the mass of all of those planets, these planets should all move in a very particular way. However, this is not the case, and the way in which the planets move individually, and the galaxy moves as a whole system are different, and it doesn’t add up. The planets are moving in a manner that suggests that there is more matter contained   within the galaxy that we cannot see and cannot observe. This matter, scientists hypothesized, must be both abundant and non light reflective, hence our inability to observe it. It was called Dark Matter, and has been the basis of much scientific research for many years.  To date, all attempts to successfully or definitively record the existence of dark matter have failed, however this does not disprove it’s existence. If anything it further proves the nature of it, that it does not behave in the same way as any matter that we are familiar with. It passes through normal matter on a constant basis without ever colliding with it and it doesn’t collide or interact with itself either. It is all a part of that extremely complicated branch of science known as theoretical physics, which has been the starting point of some of the greatest scientific discoveries of mankind to date. Face Transplants  A face transplant is a medical procedure to replace all or part of a person’s face using donor tissue from a cadaver. The world’s first partial face transplant happened in 2005, in France. The first full facial transplant was completed in Spain in 2010. To date, a total of 40 facial transplants have been carried our globally.  The process of a Facial transplantation is a complex and burgeoning surgical field. Up until 2005, we simply did not have the technology available to us to carry out such a procedure, despite having the scientific medical know how, the practicality and equipment simply did not exist.  It is categorized as a subset within vascularized composite allotransplantation (VCA), which is defined as the transplantation of multiple tissue types often including bones, cartilage, tendons, ligaments, muscles, nerves, blood vessels, and skin. To date, facial transplantation has been reserved for patients that have suffered devastating facial deformity, which is unable to be adequately reconstructed using traditional techniques.  There have been no elective transplants carried out. The emergence of face transplantation in the last 10 years is largely attributable to advances in reconstructive microsurgery, pharmacological advances in solid organ transplantation, and pioneering surgeons dedicated to improving their patients’ quality of life, autonomy, and ability to socially integrate back into society.  Water As Fuel German cleantech company Sunfire GmbH has unveiled a machine that converts water and carbon dioxide into synthetic petroleum-based fuels. They do this by utilising  Power-to-Liquid Technology. They convert water and carbon dioxide into liquid hydrocarbons which then take the form of synthetic diesel, petrol, and kerosene. This technology was based on Fischer-Tropsch process, and solid oxide electrolyser cells (SOECs) which convert electricity to steam. While still in its early research stages, this has massive implication for the future of the planet. Scientists all around the globe are desperately trying to come up with sustainable alternatives to fossil fuels. The ability to successfully turn water into a fuel would mean a viable source of power that we would never run out of. After all, 71% of the Earth’s surface is covered with water. TRAPPIST-1 In February 2016, NASA announced the discovery of a previously unknown solar system with the potential to harbour life. The name of this system is TRAPPIST-1, and it is located approximately 39 light-years away from our solar system.  It was named after its main star, which is 12 times less massive than our sun, and witch has at least seven planets orbiting around it. Three of those planets lie within what is known has the ‘habitable zone’, and it is on these planets that the potential for life exists. The star TRAPPIST-1 is about the size of Jupiter, and its closest planet, TRAPPIST-1b, completes one solar orbit (what we would refer to as a year) in just 1.51 Earth days. What is particularly curious about this is that out of all the stars known to us, Trappist-1 is considered to be a small star. This means that finding not one or two, but seven planets orbiting around it, was highly unusual. Trappist-1 is only 8% the size of our Sun, so, it is not understood at this time, how a small star like that managed to form so many planets. The Trappist-1 system is a groundbreaking discovery. Never before have scientists found as many earth-like planets orbiting around a single star, in what could be referred to as a mini version of our own solar system. In terms of intergalactic travel, 39 light-years is relatively close, and the existence of three Earth-sized planets within the habitable zone is the best chance we’ve ever had for discovering life beyond Earth. It seems that each of the seven planets discovered so far have liquid-water, so potentially, all seven could contain the building blocks for life. With new advancements in exploratory science, it is conceivably possible, and even likely,  for us to be able to detect life and confirm its existence, from right here on Earth! Now that would be cool!