Sunday, May 18, 2014

Mendoza, Carlos Francisco A.


On Inception

     The class watched the movie Inception over three meetings. Inception is a science fiction film which follows the story of Cobb, a thief who infiltrates the subconscious of his targets using dreams to steal important information. Inception is very hard to follow if one is watching it the first time; it presents new ideas and processes as the film goes on and a viewer may quickly lose sense of what is happening if one does not pay attention. It is one of the most talked about films in recent years most notably because of its vague ending which divides the viewers’ judgments and a quick search in Google reveals varied opinions. It does not help that the film does not make a distinct and true account of which scenes are in happening in reality; a scene may be assumed by the viewer to happening in reality; however, the film never gives a clear and definitive confirmation.

     One of the ideas the movie revolves around is the concept of reality. What is reality? Who defines reality? Is reality defined on a personal level or is it a shared universal understanding? When Cobb was teaching Ariadne her first lessons in shared dreaming, he warns never to replicate real people, places and events lest she forgets the boundary between what is real and not. Here, we see reality as something understood and shared by conscious, living people. In contrary, in the part where Cobb recruits Yusuf the chemist, Yusuf shows him old people connected to the machine and apparently addicted to the use of the dream machine. Those people are convinced that their dreams are the reality; they come to Yusuf’s machines to be woken up. His assistant tells Cobb, “They come to be woken up. The dream is their reality. Who are we to say otherwise?” Furthermore, Mal was convinced that she and Cobb were living in reality when in truth, they were only dreaming. Here, we see individuals defining their own reality, their own true world. A world that is perfect, where they can create and retain what they want and remove those that are unwanted. But an ideal world will always be what it is, an ideal. Perfect things are not real. One must not be consumed with ideals and perfections because these are impossible to achieve. They may be used as guides but one must understand that he/she is not in control of the world; he/she is merely an individual bound by the rules and imperfect nature of the real world, not the other way around. It is the imperfections and unanticipated occurrences that make the real world infinitely more exciting.

On Cyberpress – Science and Technology Online

     The Science and Technology editor of GMA News Online, Mr. TJ Dimacali, was invited as a speaker and he talked about a wide variety of subjects related to science. Even though he had an educational background in creative writing, he found himself writing about science and technology related news because science had answered many questions he asked as a kid. He believes that science is a very human thing; it is very much connected to human life and culture. He thinks people are scared of science because it is very technical and is taught compartmentalized in the lower years of education (i.e. presented very systematically and without relation to the effects of culture and history). Discoveries in science is not linear, it adapts to current social trends. He then eventually segued to science in pop culture and movies. He said the sci-fi genre lets us imagine trying to live in different worlds, ones that challenge us to explore different conditions of living. He then talked about the movie Godzilla; that Godzilla was created to represent all the fears of the people during the 1950’s, a time where the Japanese were still reeling from the effects of the atomic bomb. He then discusses science in the Modern and Post-Modern Era. There was a period of positivism in science during the Modern Era (late 1800’s to early 1900’s) when people taught it will be only a matter of time before they will know anything. It was possible to know everything. However, today, we have branched out to several specializations due to the overwhelming number of discoveries in different fields.

     One of the conclusions he reached was that science and technology is neutral; it is inherently both good and bad. For example, variations of the assembly lines were used in Nazi deathcamps and the building of Ford’s Model T cars. Also, Wernher von Braun’s rocket technology was used to create the deadly V-2 rockets while the Americans used the same technology to land on the moon.

     It is in this talk that we concretely discussed the direct effects of science and technology on society and culture, and vice versa. We have always seen science as a very non-accepting field with a language that is only understood by those who have devoted their life to its study. But this is not the case, science is deeply ingrained in our lives and the theories of today will be the life of tomorrow. Yet it is imperative that the society and its leaders not lose their sight of morality and humanity. History has seen science and technology being used to persecute and to liberate, to advance nations and to destroy them, and to corrupt power and to bring peace. The society must constantly be vigilant to protect itself and ensure proper use of science.

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