Sunday, November 22, 2009

modern vs. ancient times

As these examples of how global warming is affecting our world, continue to build I wonder what the point of the book is. I can honestly get the main points of the chapters just by skimming. Although the curse of Akkad was interesting I did not find it pertinent...

Thinking about civilization and how CO2 was at one point higher than it was today is interesting...and gives us an idea as to how life may really change if we do reach those levels from ancient times, when dinosaurs did roam. Maybe one day Plattsburgh will be buried under years of earth, for aliens to find 400,000 years from now.

I don't think floating houses are a genuinely innovative idea in the long-run. I mean how many people can get by in this manner. I think that Kolbert tries to provide interesting examples, but sometimes they are out of sequence. This book is also, not very pro-active. At least at this point. I mean she gives us an abundance of situations but tells nothing of how to cure these problems, when it will be too late to turn it all around and what is the single best solution, or some of the options both technologically and politically that could change her observations.

As a new-comer to the lingo and geographically spellbinding world of global warming it is hard to comprehend how everything is connected when Kolbert does nothing to weave a similar strand or go back on previous discussion to show how two events relate.

I think, as well as most students, that the book has an interesting writing style that is not appropriate to science writing. Especially a topic that is so timely, to talk about it in a manner so casual as that of a cafe conversation is not effective, for me (someone trying to grasp the large idea with a look at alternatives, ideals, and a pursuance of action).

Saturday, November 14, 2009

The Butterfly and the Toad

Chapter 4:
-I thought, once again, that Kolbert's writing makes a very interesting divide between people who are living in rural areas, and the more native land dwellers that rely more on nature. In this chapter, she makes the point that most of us live in urban areas where it is hard to observe biological changes. At the same time, her descriptions of the rest of the world makes us realize that while grander observations await us, we can still see change within our own backyard. Here she gives the example from Ithaca, NY.
-It is important to think about the fact that Kolbert could not have sat in an office in the middle of a city to get the information she writes about. She had to trek and search through the wilderness and the history of the environment through archives and academics to get this information. For example, she talks about the Lepidoptera Distribution Maps Scheme. I was blown away by this. It is interesting that people muster up enough enthusiasm on such a technically detailed research area.
She goes out of her way to tell us what the butterfly is called in other languages.
-Global Warming can be observed on the small scale too. It's not just about Glaciers and mass climate change but its about invasive species and how different animals are affected by these changes...beyond that of "phenotypic plasticity" the point of driving evolution.
-I thought this chapter gave very vivid examples of how other life, beside our own, is disrupted by global warming...for the average person reading...this book opens your mind to a lot of different ways of looking at global warming.
-Her language is really effective. Amongst the scientific terminology her descriptions are creative and work to enhance the readers experience.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Science gone Awry

-It is always a question to me as to what the purpose of science is supposed to be. It seems that observations should lead to predictions which should lead to preventative measures. It seems that science should be able to save and protects us from our shortcomings. In the case of global warming I am puzzled as to how we could not have foreseen the effects centuries ago. Not that it would have stopped industrialization but maybe it could have yielded suburban sprawl or pollution and waste. Science is kicking us in the ass these days...threatening us to clean up after ourselves. This is why I appreciated chapter two for discussing earlier scientists who made observation, invention and phenomenal identifications. Even then, people were spreading the word on glacial movement and the greenhouse effect.
-I like that the author identifies recordings like the Keeling Curve and places like Swiss Camp, giving background and information about why these are strong connections and of noteworthy importance.
-One thing to discuss in class could be the fact that this sort of journalism allows, amidst the scientific descriptions, the space for profiles of important people that are dedicating their lives to the field of global warming...inspiring change and hopefully helping people to realize that it takes more than just a few ambitious individuals.
-Also I think it is important to include sort of "outsiders of a civilization"like the Inuit hunter, a fisherman, herders and people living in Greenland, people who don't have alcohol out of strict necessity, people who are close with the earth and are observing its changes in their daily lives.
-Another discussion could be about how you can make journalism creative by using interesting metaphors. For example Kolbert calls the antenna "bristling with equipment, like a high-tech Christmas tree.
-Also, when is the best time to report on certain issues? Kolbert is arriving in the middle of the Global Warming debate, arriving when climate has gone through immeasurable ways we probably have not yet noted. Perhaps this is what gives her writing so much substance.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Field Notes

First of all I like the fact that Kolbert mentions that the book evolved from writing three articles for the New Yorker Magazine. It is good, in journalism, to think about where stories can take you. Often times journalists find themselves upon ground breaking research gaining insight into the most pertinent of current events...and eventually you get good enough to be the authority on it! It's funny where inspirations are born. To me this is where real journalism is born. An individual, experiencing and documenting a worldly concern with the most reliable and hands on approach. This woman is literally investsigating for herself, becoming part of the problem and going distances to live the truth of the information.

"In the same way that global warming has gradually ceased to be merely a theory, so, too, its impacts are no longer just hypothetical," this quote really lays to rest the point the author is making. We have come a long way in research and it is not the time to pretend that global warming is just a conspiracy. The writing is clearly authoritative, and I like the anecdotal flow where the author throws in bits of what she has learned through experiencing another culture. So at the same time that the writing is scientific, it seems like travel writing!

The last quote really set in the element of fear. People truly do need to consider other perspectives when it comes to issues like this. There is no real inititative to change, but maybe, just maybe fear could drive people to save themselves.

I guess it just seems that by the time scientists finish researching and figuring just how and what effects global warming it will be too late.

Sunday, October 25, 2009


Fear of Women/Fear of Men- Gynophobia/Androphobia
Fear of Islam- Islamaphobia
Fear of homosexuality- you guessed it homophobia.

Some phobias seem like a mechanism to exploit a minority or an excuse to get yourself off the hook. Ya know... some weird guy asks you out on a date just tell him you have Androphobia, or if your a terrorist plead mentally ill and tell the judge you were only holding those Muslims hostage because you have Islamaphobia.

The truth is, true phobias are considered an anxiety disorder and are psychological. The sufferer is a victim to the fear. The reason they can be treated is becasue the fear is a strong but irrational fear of something of something that poses little or no danger. Fear is a normal response to danger, but with a phobia it is excessive.

If you become anxious and extremely self-conscious in everyday social situations, you could have a social phobia. Other common phobias involve tunnels, highway driving, water, flying, animals and blood.

People with phobias try to avoid what they are afraid of. Otherwise a person can experience anything from panic and fear to trembling or a strong desire to get away. Medicines, therapy or both are treatments that help most people with phobias.

Cognitive Behavior Therapy is a method that says, by confronting rather than fleeing the object of fear, the person becomes accustomed to it and can lose the terror and dread he or she once felt. Medications can control the anxiety and panic.

The amygdala, an area of the brain located behind the pituitary gland is responsible for the secretion of hormones that control fear or agression. When a response is initiated the amygdala releases hormones so your body goes into an alert stage generally referred to as the flight-or-fight response.

Phobias arise from a combination of external events and internal predispositions.Many specific phobias can be traced back to a triggering event like a traumatic experience at an early age. Social phobias and agoraphobia have more complex causes that are not entirely known. It is believed that heredity, genetics, and brain chemistry combined with life-experiences play a major role in the development of anxiety disorders, phobias and panic attacks.

Try these out...Answers proceed descriptions

1) fear or dislike of strangers or the unknown, sometimes used to describ
e nationalistic political beliefs and movements. It is also used in fictional work to describe the fear or dislike of space aliens
Fear of ventriloquist's dummies, animatronic creatures, wax statues - anything that falsly represents a sentient being.
Fear of having committed an unpardonable sin or of criticism.
4)Fear of seeing, thinking about or having an erect penis.
5)Fear or hatred of poetry.
6)Fear of the figure 8

7)Fear of phobias or the fear of fear
fear that originated from the Biblical verse Revelation
13:18 which indicates that the number 666 is the Number of the Beast, linked to Satan or the Anti-Christ.


8)Hexakosioihexekontahexaphobia ( WOW)

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Q. How does a plane takeoff and fly?


Check left and right fuselage, remove gust lock, secure antennae, check left and right wing tires/breaks, landing light on, breaks set, traffic check, full open throttle, ROLL AND LIFTOFF!

"You look like a nervous wreck," these were the first words my piloting teacher spoke to me. There I am face to face with a handsome pilot who will guide me through my first lesson and all I can do is quiver at the possibilities I am faced with. I sit down and we go through a question and answer period, then its out to the Vintage 1967 Cessna Skylane, red and white, 2-man cockpit and guess who's in the driver's seat? ME!?!?!?!

I guess if flying were as easy for pilots as it is for birds then more people would do it; permitted their eyesight is in tip-top condition. Besides the drive that lures dreamers to the craft of flying the mechanical concepts behind it are just as important to know. Birds are flying their own bodies and rely on flying as a means of survival. For them it isn't second nature, its just plain nature. To become the intuitive mind behind the machine, a pilot can learn how to develop the skills to fly faster, stronger and further than any cookoo-bird in the skies.
Strap on your bomber cap people, your in for a lesson in the physics of flight.

In 1665 Sir Isaac Newton proposed his three famous laws of motion. These four forces explain the reason why these laws were created.

Lift is upward and perpendicular to the wind
Drag is down and backward, parallel to the wind
Weight is downward and works with mass and gravity
Thrust is forward and produced by the engine

So, add these four together, start the engine and imagine the rest. You see, all you really need to fly is air. It is essential to flight. Air pressure is created by moving molecules which gives air its weight which also gives it the power to push and pull. So, it is not that these forces are created by an object. Instead it is the effect of an object in motion within a state of gravity.

Airplane wings are an extremely important part in understanding how a body of these dimensions gets the proper aerodynamic form to propel it off the ground. The wings are curved at the top which helps air move faster on top and slower underneath. The slow air pushes up from the bottom while the fast air pushes down as it flows over the curve, toward the ground. This literally FORCES the wing off the ground. With the correct weight ratios a plane has the ability to fly using these dynamics.

Over the years we have developed precise and technical blueprints and models for air flight. But there is obviously something to say for vintage dreams. The Wright brothers are my idols, my fascination in piloting is an easy one. It's one I don't have to build because curious and intelligent people before me have prepared the world with great inventions. Although a pilot does not need to directly be aware of key forces during a flight it is still a up to the masterminds to understand these concepts. If there weren't smart physicist on the job, we wouldn't have the ability to fly in the first place!

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Q. What is the Scientific Revolution??

A. After advances that were pushed from the middle ages the scientific revolution was a break from Christian dogma. That's a big weight. The 17th century laid the road for modern science and because ]superstition and fear was lifted, there was a renaissance of reason and knowledge by many scholars. People like Newton, Galileo and Bacon became interested in the world around them beginning to formulate theories about it. The field of abstracted human knowledge was subdivided into separate fields of thought and science was one of them. Large changes in the way people experienced, perceived and viewed the world began to shift.

The revolution didn't just pick up and begin at a certain date, it is said that people like da Vinci and Copernicus prepared people for a new direction by guiding the field with major scientific works and inventions. The fact that these people, da Vinci for example, lived under extreme law and were faced with things like treason or conspiracy make it even more remarkable to view their works. There was no single "Great Idea", instead the scientific revolution is said to be marked by the following:

-The replacement of the Earth by the Sun as the center of the solar system
-The replacement of the Aristotelian theory that matter was continuous and made up of the elements Earth, Water, Air, Fire, and Aether by rival ideas that matter was atomistic or corpuscular or that its chemical composition was even more complex
-The replacement of the Aristotelian idea that heavy bodies, by their nature, moved straight down toward their natural places; that light bodies, by their nature, moved straight up toward their natural place; and that ethereal bodies, by their nature, moved in unchanging circular motions with the idea that all bodies are heavy and move according to the same physical laws
-The replacement of the Aristotelian concept
that all motions require the continued action of a cause by the inertial concept that motion is a state that, once started, continues indefinitely without further cause
-The replacement of Galen's treatment of the venous and arterial systems as two separate systems with William Harvey's concept that blood circulated from the arteries to the veins "impelled in a circle, and is in a state of ceaseless motion"
See Wikipedia.

This period of time offers a lot of insight and research possibilities into the scientific world, it is also encouraging when giant leaps are taken in the history of mankind and should be observed carefully.