Core Friday #6 (The Elephant Man)

Core Friday this week was a play called “The Elephant Man,” which is a play about a man,Joseph Merrick, with extreme deformities. In this play, Merrick was treated like an animal rather than a person. The manager of a freak show used him as part of his show to get money.  People say that his appearance is “indecent.” Because this disorder distorted Merrick’s appearance, he was mistreated by society. This play shows how much society values appearance  and how people are treated differently just because of the way that they look.

This play reminded me of a movie that i had seen in high school, called Mask. Mask was a movie about a boy named Roy who suffered lionitis, “an extremely rare autosomal recessive bone disorder that causes calcium to build up in the skull, disfiguring the facial features and reducing life expectancy.” In both the movie and the play, both characters were mistreated by society based on their distorted appearances due to rare disorders.

I think that is is unfair how society treat people differently based on looks. In this society, appearance means everything. People are quick to judge someone based on their appearance without evening getting to know the person first. Do you think it is fair that people are judged solely based on their appearance?

Overall, i thought that this play was interesting. The actors in this play portrayed their character really well. What did you think about this play?


Reflection Week 16

Core Lecture this week was called “California Water Wars” by Martha Conklin. Although water is very important to Earth, Conklin thinks that water is undervalued. Water is needed for energy, food, and environment flow. A slide on this lecture showed that a resident in Merced uses about 3 times as much water as a resident in LA. Why might this be? Is it a result of the environment in Merced?

Snow peaks are now higher than they use to be and melts sooner. When the snow melts, that’s when the river peaks occur. Sierra Nevada accounts for almost 70% of the snow contributions of annual precipitation. Because of dry winters, many birds are now dying. Climate change plays a huge role in water flow, which affects our planet.

An arcticle called “Tainted water flows from taps of rural Valley homes” by Mark Grossi which dicusses how tap water is “tainted from rotting vegetation, fertilizers, manure, septic tanks and decrepit plumbing.” The water from the tap often contains a chemical “linked to a potentially lethal infant illness as well as cancer,” called nitrates. Many people in California do not drink tap water because of all the contaminants it contains, instead, people spend about 10% of their income buying clean water. This is a huge problem because families with very low incomes may not have enough money to keep buying water and may be forced to turn to drinking tap water.

According to this article, “nitrates in the ground water have long been a concern in places where agriculture has been practiced for many decades…” If this has been a  on going problem for decades, why hasn’t the government done anything about this yet? What actions may be taken in order to clean up this water?

Since the Earth only has a limited supply of water, do you think that there will be a war over water in the future?

Core Friday #5 (UCM and Sustainability)

Today’s Core Friday was a lecture on UCM and Sustainability by John Elliot, the Director of UCM Energy and Sustainability. This lecture mainly focused on achieving a clean environment and UC Merced’s Triple Zero Commitment.  According to Elliot, “emissions is the stuff you can’t see in the atmosphere but add up to giga ton of carbon dioxide.” Add up of carbon dioxide is largely irreversible over the timescale of human societies. By 2030, the goal is to cut emissions completely to remain warming threshold. Here at UC Merced, there are sustainability goals. UC Merced’s Triple Zero Commitement aims for “zero net energy, zero landfill waste, zero net greenhouse gas emissions” by 2020. Elliot focused a lot on how UC Merced will be able to fulfill these goals.

After John Elliot had finished his lecture, another speaker demonstrated which items may be placed into recycle, landfill, and compost bins. Paper, cardboard, plastic, metal, and glass all may be recycled. Items such as medical waste and Styrofoam belong to landfills. In additional, all food, paper napkins, eggshells, and coffee grounds may be composted. I found it interesting that many people did not know the difference between landfill and compost.

Overall, i felt like the information from this lecture is very useful and can be used in our everyday lives, such as knowing which objects may be recycled, landfill, or composted.

Do you think that it is likely to achieve UC Merced’s “Triple Zero Commitment” goals in 10 years? Do you think that these goals may be achieved by the world in 10 years as well?

Core Friday #4 (Copenhagen)

Core Friday this week was a play called “Copenhagen.” This play consisted of three cast members, Werner Heisenberg, Margrethe Bohr, and Niels Bohr. In this play, these three characters’ spirits are meeting after their death to discuss why Heisenberg had come to Copenhagen. During most of this play, they were debating and rejecting theories of why he had come.

This play was a bit hard to follow since the characters would switch from being alive and dead. In addition, i feel like the audience should have had more background information about the play before it had began. I believe that if i had a better understanding of Heisenberg’s and Bohr’s past, i would have been able to follow this play more. What did you think about the play? Were you able to follow along?

Reflection Week 15

This week’s core lecture was called “Geoengineering, Climate Change, and Ethics” by Dan Hirleman, the Dean of Engineering. In this lecture, Hirleman discussed how geoengineering could play a role in managing climate change.

According to Hirleman, “climate change is any change in environment.” Human activities generate a lot of carbon dioxide into the environment; in fact, it is equivalent to 1% of what is coming in from the sun. Some methods for managing solar reflection includes surface reflectivity, human settlement reflectivity, grassland and crop reflectivity, and desert surface reflectivity.  Hirelem is working currently working on a  project called Project Silver Lining which is aiming at making clouds thicker in order to reflect more light. The goal is to “counteract the temperature increase from Global Warming by increasing the diffuse reflectivity of maritime clouds.” In order to do this, they would need to “increase the albedo of stratocumulus clouds over major oceans to reduce input energy from the sun.”

If  this project were successful, it will make a great difference in Earth’s climate. By doing this, less carbon dioxide will be able to enter the Earth since it is reflecting the radiation from the sun. In my opinion this whole idea of messing with the clouds seems bizarre. I don’t think that this approach to reflecting solar radiation is necessary, it seems like it could lead to lots of other complications on Earth. What do you think of Project Silver Lining? Do you believe that this completing this project is possible? How long do you think it will take for this project to be complete?

Core Friday #3 (Waking Life)

The movie “Waking Life” was shown during Core Friday this week. “Waking Life” is an animated film that encompasses a man’s dreams.

One topic that was in this movie was reincarnation. A girl in the movie talked about how she feels like she is not living her live, she is just watching it. She also talked about how fast time is in a dream; a long dream may only be a minute long in reality.

Overall, i thought this movie was very interesting. It didn’t look like your average animated film, the graphics in this movie looked realistic. This movie really made the viewer think about life and dreams. One question that had arisen was, what if everything in life is just a dream? What if the people in your life are just a fragment of your imagination? 

Reflection Week 14

I use to think that mathematics was only useful in the field of business or architecture, but after attending the lecture”How Computational Mathematics Will Save the World,” given by Juan Meza, the Dean of Natural Sciences, it had come to my realization that math plays an important part in the field of science.

Even though I enjoy math, I often ask myself “How will this help me in life? When will I ever need to know how to do this?” I guess these questions were answered in this Core lecture. This lecture had brought to attention the mathematics behind technological advancements. Without the use of math, we wouldn’t have the technological advancements we have today, such as cellphones and laptops. Our cellphones today have computing speed, storage space, etc. Without the use of math, it would not even be possible for us to create these resources our devices have. There are so many uses of mathematics in our world today. As humans, we are constantly using math, whether we are telling time, making purchases, or counting calories.

Meza discussed how the use of mathematics may help save the world by increasing combustion efficiency to ultimately reduce green house gases. Do you believe that the use of mathematics can save the world? Do you believe that it is possible for us to have all the technological advancements we have today without the use of mathematics?

Reflection Week 13

This week’s lecture was called “The Book Reopened on Infectious Diseases” by David Ojcius. The main focus of this lecture is different types infectious diseases, including vaccines and pathogens.

I found this lecture interesting because I am very interested in learning about diseases. An interesting fact that Ojcius brought up was that in the old days, before vaccines, half of all children would die before they became  teenager due to infectious diseases. Today, antibiotics are used to prevent premature deaths due to infectious diseases. The use of a vaccine created from a plant eradicated smallpox in 1979. After the eradication of small pox, other eradication campaigns started against other diseases. But, people started becoming very optimistic. The leading causes of death in humans are infectious diseases, such as malaria and tuberculosis.

Ojcius mentioned that infectious diseases increases the risk of chronic diseases, such as autoimmune disease, heart disease, and cancer. It is frightening knowing that getting in infectious disease will increase your risk of getting cancer.

One fact that was brought up was a bit scary. Ojcius informed us that antibiotic resistance started becoming a problem within the last 20 years. Antibiotics have been abused within the past several decades; they were prescribed when they were not even needed. When antibiotics are used when they are not needed, the body selects bacteria that are already resistant. Antibiotic resistance occurs when strains of bacteria in the human body becomes resistance to the antibiotics as a result of improper use and abuse of antibiotics. Do you believe that all humans will eventually be resistant to antibiotics due to abuse?

Reflection Week 12

This week’s lecture was called “Did Stanford Create Silicon Valley? Research Universities and Economic Development” by Alex Whalley. This lecture’s central focus was economics. One thing that Whalley talked about was how you need to know how to use your resources; for example, if you want to use money to fund education, you won’t be able to use it to fund health care. Another thing he talked about was how it will take time for the full impact of UC Merced, there would not be a huge impact in just two years, it takes time.

From a social prospective, the people who value a resource more will pay more for that resource compared to someone who values it less. When there are negative externalities, the government can step in to regular businesses. An example of negative externalities is air pollution from factory. An example of positive externalities would be a university, it positively impacts the community.

A question that came up was “Does college lead to higher wages?” College does lead to higher wages because people who go to college are usually more hardworking and motivated. What is your opinion on more funding for higher education?

Overall, this lecture was very information. This lecture was not interesting to me because I had already learned all this information in high school. Whalley basically crammed a bunch of economic facts in an hour. I felt like I was just in an Economics lecture rather than a core lecture.

Reflection Week 10

The lecture this week was called “The Science of Minds: Cognition and Language,” given by Michael Spivey. Instead of experiencing his lecture live, we experienced it through a video since he was unable to attend that day. Spivey focused on how the brain works. One point that he brought up was that if a word is constantly being repeated, the word will eventually lose its meaning.

The central idea of this lecture is that there is a continuous flow when we hear a word and how we react to it. An example that Spivey spend a long time explaining was how the brain processes the word “candle.” When a child hears “candle” they may thing of other words that sound the same first, such as “candy,” before they can process the word “candle.” The mind will think of the word “candy” before making the correction and thinking “candle.”

I do think that learning about how humans think is interesting, but, honestly, I did not find interest in this lecture. I felt like Spivey dwelled on the same topic for too long and often lost focus. For instance, I believe he talked about the “candle” and “candy” example for about 20 minutes. One question that did come across my mind during this lecture was, do you think it is possible for something to think of absolutely nothing?