Sunday, May 11, 2014

Reaction Papers

Fatemeh Halabisaz


The Life of Mammals: A Reflection

Both “Social Climbers” and “Food for Thought” were a joy to watch because I have always been amazed with primates.

Social climbers talked about the different species of primates and how they were unique from one another. It showed how some primates boasted of their colorful fur while some boasted of their ability to howl. It showed how some primates were big enough to bend trees, small enough to reach the top branches of a tree, colorful enough to attract their mates, intelligent enough to figure out how to crack open tough nuts, adapted enough to be able to feed at night and many more. Here, it also showed their unique ways of getting food. Some preferred to look for it, some would rather eat food that could be found at the top of trees in order for them to avoid close encounters with the predators stationed on the ground, and still, some preferred feeding at night so that they wouldn’t have to compete for food from other primates.

Food for thought, on the other hand, talked about how similar we are to primates, and how destructive our never-ending quest is for farmland.

For both, I think the main message was that these primates are such amazing creatures and are vital parts of the environment that we live in, which means that we have to protect them and their habitats. Unfortunately, so many of these primates are being killed by humans and so many are dying because they’re losing their natural habitats. As of 2012, it was estimated that there were only 800 mountain gorillas left in the WHOLE world. This is devastating because these creatures have been around for a long time but because humans keep on expanding their farmland because of their increasing needs for food, these gorillas are equally LOSING parts of their habitat everyday, which lessens their food and space.

Even though the future of primates seem bleak, there is still hope that we can save them if we can just work together. We should stop cutting down trees in forest and clearing them away just for our food. These forests are home to so many creatures and so, clearing them away would be like stealing their homes away. And, unfortunately, animals without habitats die quickly due to their failure to satisfy their needs. Also, I think that we should control the world population already. The earth can only support a number of people and if we EXCEED that number, then what would happen to us next? Also, decreasing the populations of countries and decreasing their population rates would also slow down or even stop forest clearing practices because less people would mean less food required. And, if less food is required, then less farmland is required.

All in all, Social Climbers and Food for Thought really got me thinking about our primate brothers and how it is vital that we save them NOW. 

Scary Beautiful: A Beautiful Mind Reflection

I LOVED A BEAUTIFUL MIND. It dealt with a condition that not many people are familiar with and it gave us a sneak peek into the life of one of the greatest mathematicians in modern times. At the start, it seemed boring and at first glance one would think that it is a movie that only intellectuals would be able to appreciate. However, once the story began to unfold (without giving too much away) we got to appreciate the film’s beauty and we also realized that the mind is scary but beautiful or scary beautiful.

The movie, for me, has several messages that it wants to get across to the audience. The first message tells us that love can change and transform us to become our best self. In the film, we see John Nash’s relationship with his wife, Alicia. It showed that even though her husband was sick, even though he almost killed their child, she still learned to love him for who he was. In the end, this love paid off because he was able to fight the disease without using the destructive medical technology that they used way back to treat schizophrenia and other mental illnesses. The film’s second message tells us that when we focus on our goals, we can succeed in life despite the challenges that we have to face everyday. This was shown throughout the movie as John, first, had to undergo the terrifying medical procedures for schizophrenia and, second, when he was taking his first steps to “recovering” (although he never got rid of his disease; he only learned to control it). Another message that the film shows is that the mentally ill need the support and love of their loved ones and that they could be treated without the use of drugs (this is discouraged, though). Towards the end of the film, we see John coping with Schizophrenia without the use of medication. How did he do this? He did it by concentrating, by using logic and reason, and by believing in himself. And so, this shows that it is POSSIBLE to beat an illness by having a positive attitude.

In relation with science and technology, the movie shows that although these two have been helpful to humans, there are times when we require the help from other people and from ourselves. All in all, A Beautiful Mind was a very interesting story because it shows you what it’s like to be a victim of Schizophrenia and how someone can overcome such heavy challenges by just believing in himself and in what he can do. 

Dreams: A Cinema of the Subconscious

The documentary entitled “Dreams: A Cinema of the Subconscious”, was a bonus feature that the team who made “Inception” included in their production. Before, during, and after watching it, I only had one thought on my mind: MIND=BLOWN. I found it awesome because a lot of the dreams that were mentioned were the same as my dreams! For example, one of the guest speakers mentioned that he always had dreams of when he was back in school and that he kept on going to school while being dressed inappropriately. I remember having that same dream as well, which means that we can root it to the same or at least similar causes. Another dream that was mentioned was the feeling of falling. This kind of dream happens to me all the time. I don’t know why or how it happens but it feels so real that I even wake up from them! This goes to show that the mind really is a beautiful thing.

Another interesting thing that was mentioned was “Lucid Dreaming” or a dream wherein one is aware that he or she is dreaming. This happened to me a couple of times already. For example, a few weeks ago, I dreamt that I was having a chat with our helper who quit a couple of months ago. I was dreaming, but what was weird was that I KNEW that it wasn’t real since, somehow, I was aware that the fact that I was talking to our helper was impossible since she already quit. Another example was when I dreamt that I was walking down a dark road. It felt real, but then I knew that it wasn’t real, somehow. These sorts of occurrences don’t happen to me a lot, but when they do, I get amazed because they’re so rare.

Is the study of dreams a science or not? For me, I think studying dreams is a science but it is a branch that hasn’t been developed yet (just like stem cell therapy). First of all, sleeping and dreaming take up such a huge amount of our time. Second, in the documentary, a lot of equipment used in studying dreams were shown. Third, dreams have patterns, which scientists and psychologists use to pinpoint particular parts of a persons dream (lucid dreaming vs. regular dreaming).  To be specific, there have been tons of studies that validate the existence of lucid dreaming: via EEG, fMRI, REM (Turner, N.D.). 

Birds of UP Diliman


© Jose Miguel Pineda, STS X2, Group 9.

Benjamin Vallejo Jr. Ph.D., gave us a lecture today on “Birding Basics” and how they go about measuring bird populations and bird diversity using the Random Walk technique. In using this technique, one has to walk in a random path within a designated “plot” and take note of the species of birds that one finds, as well as their frequency. Dr. Benjamin told us that he did this for a whole year!

From what I learned and understood, studying birds requires tremendous amounts of patience and perseverance because it can take years for a scientist to finish his/her study. This is because All in all, I found the lecture interesting because I had no idea how difficult it is to study birds, let alone to measure their population in an area. Also, I found it interesting because I learned new things from an expert scientist.

Afterwards, we tried the Random Walk technique for ourselves. It was scorching hot outside, but we had a lot of fun while searching for birds in the science complex. At first, we came across about 3 chickens of different colors and sizes. Then, once we looked away from the ground and up on the Acacia trees, we saw several Maya birds or Eurasian Tree Sparrows. Some of them were resting, some were eating, while some were flying around. We also saw 2 Long-tailed Shrikes a few minutes after, resting on the trees along NIP (as shown on the pictures above).  After, we saw what appeared to a Pied Currawong; a big black bird with white feathers on the ends of its wings.
After our bird watching activity, it really made me realize how amazing and beautiful these creatures are. They are difficult to find, but once you do, you really get to appreciate their gracefulness and complexity. Unfortunately, some species of birds are on the decline because of their changing environment (which includes us too). To help conserve birds, one can keep his or her cats indoors, dispose of trash properly (especially metal cans that can harm birds), and one can feed them with bread, nuts or stale fruits. One can also make other people more aware of birds by informing them about these amazing creatures and showing other people how beautiful and important they are to our environment. For me, personally, I’ve been interested in trying out bird photography as well. I think that this is my chance to achieve my dream and, at the same time, help people realize how amazing birds are! Sure, the lenses would cost a lot, but our birds are worth it. 

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