Saturday, May 10, 2014

Reaction Papers: A Beautiful Mind and The Life of Mammals

Patio, Regine P.

A Beautiful Mind

A Beautiful Mind is a film about the life of John Nash, a brilliant mathematician and a Nobel Laureate in Economics who suffered from schizophrenia. The film showed how he struggled with his condition and how he still managed to create something beautiful out of it.

John Nash is a socially awkward person and is greatly devoted to making his study as it was seen that he spent most of his time working with equations in order to come up with an original idea to be published. He met his Princeton University roommate Charles at the first part of the film. After a few years, John thought that he is assigned to a secret work to decipher codes from newspapers and magazines where he met William Parcher. He became obsessed with his work until there came a time that he thought he was being followed as he delivered his work to a secret mailbox. John Nash also met Marcy, Charles’ niece, and treated the kid as if she was family to him. Only as the film goes on did we know that these people and events are just fragments of John’s imagination.

John met his wife, Alicia, who’s his one of his students in the university. They fell in love and got married. During John’s talk in Harvard, a doctor came for him and it was found that he has schizophrenia, thus his hallucinations. He was given insulin shock treatment and was eventually released, but was given medication. He stopped taking these medications and his hallucinations began appearing again. He almost killed his child unintentionally and Alicia became scared for her and her child. She was so closed to giving up but she didn’t, instead, she stayed for her husband in hopes that everything will be alright. It showed that when you love someone, you don’t give up on them even if it means giving yourself a hard time.

John eventually became a professor in Princeton and learned how to cope with his illness by ignoring his hallucinations. He did not let schizophrenia get in his way. Schizophrenia is kind of a scary thing when you cannot distinguish imagination and reality, but John Nash was able to overcome this by being aware of his condition and doing something about it. He became a respected professor and eventually won a Nobel Prize for his work on equilibrium and the game theory.

The Beautiful Mind is an inspiring film. It showed that having a disorder is never an excuse to do something beautiful, and it should not hinder us from doing things wherein we can succeed. Also, we all have beautiful minds and we are capable of doing many things, and we need not to wait until we get an illness before we step up and do things, and in doing so, we need to remind ourselves not to drown in work too much that we lose track of the things that matter most.

The Life of Mammals: The Social Climbers and Food For Thought

The Life of Mammals is a documentary series with 10 episodes by David Attenborough. Each episode focuses on the evolution and lifestyle of different mammal groups, whereas the class was able to watch two out of the ten episodes, The Social Climbers and Food for Thought. The Social Climbers is about monkeys, and the Food for Thought is more on how the monkeys are related to humans and their culture.

The Social Climbers segment focused on different kinds of monkeys whereas David went to different places around the world in order to observe the habits of these animals and how they were able to adapt to their environment. He said that monkeys are social animals and that social order also exists in their groups, and their social positions can be based on the color of their faces (the redder the face, the higher the position), their hygiene, or just by the way they act, the alpha males for instance. He showed how smart monkeys are through the way they gather food, catch their prey, and protect themselves from danger and predators. Some of the ways these animals eat are by getting clams and developing cracking techniques in order to get the meat, eating leaves, fruits and flowers, the pygmy marmoset (the smallest monkey in the world) eat insects, and some monkeys, the baboons to be specific, became too ambitious and ate rabbits and flamingoes as well. The monkeys also have alliances in order to help each other survive -- there are lookouts for predators and there are the ones that make sounds to warn others. Some species such also build alliances with other monkeys because they share a common enemy and they share food as well.

On the other hand, The Food for Thought segment showed the similarities of the monkeys and humans. He showed that monkeys also have big brains, hence their skills and talents. They are able to the things that humans do, from using their left and right hands to cracking nuts to washing clothes to carpentry. They are able to acquire skills and ideas by watching others do it, and these ideas become copied and passed on to other monkeys forming a tradition/culture in the group. They are social and political creatures, and they even have their own ways of maintaining social relationships. As time passes by, they learn more and more and became more similar to humans in the way they think and act.
Monkeys are not that different to humans. In fact, according to David, humans are like apes with two hind legs and seemed to have outgrown their environment. As arts, technology, and science flourished, humans developed more abilities and knowledge that enabled them to put up buildings, number and writing systems which led to the formation of civilizations, and these civilizations developed to towns to cities and so forth.

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