Sunday, May 11, 2014

Brion - Reaction Papers: A Beautiful Mind, The Life of Mammals & Bird Watching (3)

Brion, Horatio Miguel III, P.              2011-35073              BS Mathematics                             STS X2

Not Just A Beautiful Mind, But A Beautiful Soul

I had heard John Nash’s name once, but I thought he was just a janitor who had came into fame because of the Nash Equilibrium. But I was wrong. After watching the movie “A Beautiful Mind”, my view of famous mathematicians had changed as I finished watching the movie. John Nash is the recipient of the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences in 1994. Although he was a bright and a respectable person, there was thing that hindered him to enjoy his life. He was married to Alicia and they had a child. They live in a good home, but their lives were so different. I admired John’s prowess in differential equations and in linear algebra, but at some point, John is not that good though.

            People see mathematicians before as nerds, weird and anti-social. Unfortunately, John is like that. I was quite sad when in the latter part of the story, the friends that John saw were just hallucinations. It’s like a big failure for him to have real friends who would understand him as a person with so much love and dedication to mathematics. Because of this weirdness John has, he was bullied by his classmates in graduate school. I felt like ashamed for grad students should be more matured than they were in the undergrad, and yet the people around John kept on bullying him. I found the situation absurd for the students even mocked John, who was at the doctoral level. In our present days, we should be able to understand those people who experience what John had, and we must help them to overcome it, instead of making fun of them.

            Also, being a loner is so hard. John was good at being a loner, and he preferred to be in solitude than to be with noisy classmates. I remember myself being like that, just sitting in one corner thinking of good things and stuff. But I turned sad when he started thinking of an imaginary roommate and an imaginary client for a secret mission. Because of so much loneliness, he resorted in making himself a world only for him and his friends. Because of this, I am thinking twice about taking Mathematics as a course.

But in the end, the love of Alicia helped him a lot in coping with his disease. At first, he was given insulin shots in order for him to stabilize. But instead, it made him worse than ever. However, Alicia was so patient and so caring, that even though she almost gave John up, she did not give up. Her love and support was enough to help John conquer his condition. John overcame his condition by ignoring the images that he see. It was difficult, but John had the determination to do it because he still wants to be with his wife. In spite of those drawbacks upon him, he had produced a good paper enough for him to have a doctoral degree. I had learned that even though we face trials of many kinds, we could still see the light, even though the tides are so high to cascade. Indeed, John is not only a beautiful mind, but also a beautiful soul on this planet. A gem found at the bottom the ocean, one might say. 


Monkeys: The Great Socialites

Many agrees that our earliest ancestors were the monkeys themselves, although this has not yet been verified. But one thing is sure about the apes, that they are very similar to us humans. We are sure also that we are somehow related to them, in terms of skeleton structure, and most of all, on how they interact with their co-primates. In David Attenborough’s documentary, many species of primates were presented, and the video showed how these animals behave in the wild, and how they live differently from us, the ‘super’ primates, as they say.

            The prevailing atmosphere is that the monkeys have similar traits and attitudes with us, when it comes in facing something complicated. Capuchins monkeys, for an instance, use their brains to look for food everywhere. They don’t stop until they get what they want, as shown that they pound a clam so tightly closed that even David can’t open with his bare hands! They continuously pounded the clam, and they got the innards of the bivalve. This technique and knowledge is passed through the next generations, for the youngsters are closely watching their elders do the job. They also use their resources for their own convenience, like using piper leaves as insect repellent. For some monkeys, they use their body parts in order to navigate around the vicinity, as shown by spider monkeys using their tail and pygmies using their stealthy claws for catching insects and grasping thin branches of trees.     
Also, another aspect they have similar to us is having a social structure. Family, being the smallest unit in our society, plays a very significant role for one’s development. Monkeys are not exempted in this matter. For example, baboons have s social structure in their group. The masculine gender is indeed dominant in their group, and other males would try to attest the leader’s potentials by fighting. Then role of the mother is not very far from ours, and they really care for their young. They also have a tradition wherein they groom each other for their own comfort. They also gather in groups, just like humans need companion while living. They are social animals, in which they also want belongingness and a family to live with.

Brain size really matters, right? Their brain size greatly affects on how they use tools and how they see things. Tool utilization is the most advanced manifestation of their minds, and thus making us close relatives to them. This is shown by chimps pounding the nuts continuously, and they lose patience sometimes at that activity. Also, one thing that is very convenient for monkeys is that they see in full color, which helps them to distinguish the leaves that are poisonous or edible. This also assists them in navigation, in which an orang-utan creates a map of the forests of their own in their minds. Some monkeys, like the chimpanzees, even dream. This greatly aids them also in hunting even at night (as owl monkeys do), and they were even able to free their hands to give them a new purpose, thus making them nearly and almost bipedal, just like us!

It seems so amazing that we are not the only ones who have the minds that could do anything. Although we are the smartest animal in the world, we seem have limitations just like other animals do. But one thing prevails in the end. We are now being subjected in an evolution and revolution. Everything around us seems to be different, and thus, they seem to evolve and cope with the things around. Not only that, but also, everyone seems changing in terms of lifestyle, diet and even in their sexual lives! Now we know that monkeys are not just animals in the zoos, but there are great socialtes.


Birds: The Dancers of the Sky

            Every day as we pass by any place whether going to school or to work, we see birds. We also eat a kind of bird (chicken), and we admire the alignments of a flock of some kind of bird during sunrise, before it gets scorching hot. But, seriously, birds are so important to the world, though they don’t seem to play a significant role in our advancing life. If you would ask a random person about birds’ importance to human life, they would just know chicken and egg.

            In the University of the Philippines-Diliman, there are about 50-80 species of birds, primarily migratory in type. I was shocked that there are rare types of birds just inside our campus. Furthermore, Dr. Benjamin Vallejo showed to us some beautiful and cute little birds they found at Math Building. I was shocked, for I have been three years in MB, and yet I haven’t seen such rare and beautiful birds.  Dr.Vallejo talked about a lot of species of birds inside the campus. I realized that UPD was like a little forest for those birds, for the campus became a second home for them because of a lot of trees. When we conducted a little bird-watching activity around the National Science Complex. It was about noon at that time, and it was so scorching hot outside. We were asked to look for some birds, and see if we could find birds of the same species he showed in class. We were so doubtful if seeing them, for almost every day we pass by a lot of trees, we can see nothing but dried leaves and fruit pods falling.

So, as we go along the premises of the CS Complex, we see, well nothing but trees. The first birds we saw were running chickens. Then, we saw three mayas darting across the floor. As we approach the Math Parking Lot, we saw shrikes, which we found really up high the trees. After a long search, we say three kingfishers perched also at the treetop. After that, we returned to CS Audi. Almost all of us found the same type of bird. The reason or that was it was noon time, and the birds wanted to have some shade, just like us humans. It’s so cute to find that birds also acted like us, wherein they wanted to be secured and to be shaded from the sun’s intense heat. He told us also that the best time to see the rarest birds in the campus is at early morning, before the sun rises. We were very frustrated that we did not see the birds that Dr. Vallejo had shown in his presentation. It’s like UPD is a very big avian zoo, and yet, we can’t see those beautiful flying creatures gliding in the air.

These very elegant gliders maintain the balance of nature by seed dispersion, wherein they somehow scatter the seeds of the fruits they eat onto the ground. Then the seeds again germinate into saplings, then eventually, into tall trees which bear fruit, and the cycle goes on, as if the seeds have the will to live for nature. Also, as weird as it seems, birds are also predators of insects, and as well as prey for larger birds. It is a little sad for me hearing news of forest clearings for building edifices, illegal cutting and the like. As an animal lover, I really feel so sad and angry for the ignorance that humans show to nature. So as a student of the college Science, I would support everything related to animal saving.

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