Friday, May 9, 2014

Reaction Papers: The Life of Mammals, Bird Watching, and A Beautiful Mind

Padiernos, Princess Colleen Ericca C.

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

David Attenborough, an English broadcaster and naturalist, is best known for writing and presenting the ten episodes of The Life of Mammals series, a comprehensive survey of life on Earth. The ninth episode of the series entitled The Social Climbers and the tenth episode called Food for Thought were shown to the class.

The Social Climbers focused on monkeys all over the world. David went to Venezuela where red howler monkeys are, Costa Rican swamps where he found a lot of capuchin monkeys, and West Africa where guenon monkeys live. He studied how monkeys look for food. An example of these is when the monkeys have clams for lunch. Some had a hard time opening the clams and nuts, but some, have had their own technique of knocking it onto the branches of trees. David said that it takes practice to do this since the older monkeys were more able than the young ones. Other monkeys like the red howler monkeys eat leaves on top of the trees. Because of their amazing eye sight, they were able to distinguish the edible leaves from the poisonous leaves. Other monkeys eat fruits and flowers. But the smallest monkey, the pygmy marmoset, eats insects and tree gum. David also showed how monkeys act when in danger. He even demonstrated how they would act if they see a fake leopard. Mostly on the last part of the documentary, he discussed the dominance of the alpha male monkey on their group.

The second documentary, Food for Thought, is mainly about the evolution of the skills of humans with those of our distant relatives, the great apes. He showed that orangutans and chimps are like humans, smart beings. They watch their surroundings and learn from it. Orangutans were able to do human work like washing clothes and carpentry because they saw it done by humans. Chimpanzees were able to adapt to the wild and survive during the continental movement. They display a great capacity for gaining knowledge and passing it on. As time goes by, they learn from experiences which lead to the evolvement of their brain. They became more human because of their greater knowledge. The early man learned how to pursue his prey with no weapons, to domesticate animals, to live in villages which then became towns.

Monkeys are very smart creatures. They live a life not that different from humans. Our way of life, our thinking is the same as theirs. The difference is our brain is more evolved which enabled us humans to do things that improved our lifestyle. We made our environment do the work for us. But David Attenborough warns the people that what happened to the Mayans may happen if the future if we continue to ignore the importance of our environment. People should think about curing our environment. It is time to think about the betterment of our Mother Earth. Now is the time to save and serve the world we live in for the future generations to see.

Bird Watching

Last May 6, 2014, our class had a guest speaker, the Chairman of STS Department, that discussed to us facts about bird watching, and the kinds of birds that can be usually found in the University of the Philippines Diliman campus. He told us that he is a member of a group that does research about the birds in the campus. According to him, there are a hundred species of birds in UP. Bird watching may sound so simple, but in fact, it is not. To do research about the birds, they needed to track and count the number of birds in their sample. He even showed to us some parts of their study like the statistics they did on the population of the birds in Diliman. I find it interesting because studying birds is difficult since they are not allowed to capture the birds to study. Also, he said that the best time to watch birds is during the sunrise and before the sunset. It takes full responsibility and discipline to do studies like these. But their hard work paid off since they were able to produce good things from it. Also, bird watching can be a good source of money, if you would really invest in the art, the art of photography. Many photographers capture beautiful pictures of these birds and they can sell it to magazines, commercials, etc. The speaker told us that they cannot sell the pictures they capture because it is a public property since it is shot in the campus.

By 10 am, the speaker finished his discussion and allowed the class to do bird watching outside the auditorium. He told us to randomly walk around and count the birds each group sees. The specie that can be seen almost everywhere is the Maya. Those small birds are the most common here in the Philippines. I believe that in the thirty minutes spent on bird watching, we were able to spot about twenty Mayas around. We also found some shrikes as we walked around. Some birds are hard to identify because we have few knowledge on their description. Others are flying, while others were on top of the trees, which made it harder to see what specie they are. As we go farther the auditorium, we got to see the nests of the birds. There are several nests in one tree. There is one bird that really amazed me. We saw it on the tree besides the CS building and it is color yellow. I believe that it is an Oriole, and it is truly beautiful.

The whole activity is very enjoyable because it is the first activity that we get to go out the usual cool and comfortable auditorium. It is one of the memorable experiences I had in the STS class because we were able to appreciate our environment. There are a lot of beautiful creatures around us and our job is to take care of our surroundings because this is where we, not only humans, but also other beings live. UP Diliman is a good example of a clean environment because I learned that the number of birds around determines the healthiness of the atmosphere. We all need to work further for the improvement of the Earth, the place where we don’t survive on, but the place where we live on.

A Beautiful Mind

The film A Beautiful Mind is the story of a man, a great mathematician, and a victim of schizophrenia. The movie is about the life of John Nash, starred by Russell Crowe, as he encounters failures and triumphs in his works and at the same time, struggling in life because of his disorder. Nash’s big break was his discoveries in equilibrium and game theory that have great impact in our lives. John Nash became a teacher, and who would have thought that this weird and nerdy guy would meet his love of his life in his class. Alicia, played by Jennifer Connelly, was a student of Nash and she made the first move to get closer to Nash. He fell in love with her, but still, his life revolves around math. They got married but then the symptoms of his disease became apparent. He started his hallucinations when he was still in college. He created his own best friend, Charles, which he always talked to. He also had hallucinations of a little girl, Charles’ niece named Marcy, whom she loved as his family. And he believed that he is being pursued by a federal agent, and imagines himself in being chased someone. Nash was brought to a psychiatrist, and he underwent a process called insulin shock therapy. The way of curing the disorder before is brutal, though it did work but needed to take medications regularly. But Nash did not want to drink his medicine which made him paranoid and sick again. His wife almost gave up but she didn’t. Alicia cared and loved his husband more, and never left his side. He even became a professor in Princeton to get his mind into other things. In the end, he ignored all his hallucinations that never left him, and became a Noble Prize winner because of his work.

John Nash’s great mind had made him mad to the point that he got sick and hallucinated things he missed and wanted in his life. He wanted a family and friends, but his wife was the one that provided him these. Because of her unconditional love, she never lost hope and loved him until the end. He struggled at first, but he then were able to control his ‘mind’ over his disease. They had proved that love and patience of those that loved him cured his schizophrenia. He ignored it and lived with it. His madness is what made him successful in the academic world.

This movie is a good one because it is a love story with a twist. They showed how love can change the life of someone with illness. It is interesting to watch because we were able to get a view of how some great minds lived their lives. John Nash is an example of a man with a beautiful mind that is always finds a way to solve problems with math. Many scientists and mathematicians think mad ideas which made them discover great things.
We all have beautiful minds. The way that we are capable of thinking and being curious of what’s around us is a huge part of living. People have a lot and different ideas that might be a discovery or something that could make a huge impact to everyone. We have to a wide imagination to excel in this competitive work, but we have to take care of our body and never lose sight of what’s really important, and that is love and support from the ones you love.

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