Reflection Week 9

The lecture this week was called “Social Movements,” by Professor Simon Weffer. According to Weffer, sociology is the youngest of the social sciences.  Sociology emerged from enlightenment and uses the scientific method. Sociologist typically challenge the implied assumptions in everyday life and question the obvious.

Weffer talked about social movements and how they had evolved. Weffer defined a social movement as “collective, contentious political activity based upon a shared set of claims, using social networks to maintain sustained challenges against powerful opponents.” Some social movements in the past are the Civil Rights Movement, Ku Klux Klan, Women’s Suffrage, and Occupy Wall Street.

I do believe that social movements can make a different in the world. Being able to change the community, fight for rights, and let your voice be heard are things that can be accomplished through social movements. Although I have not been part of a social movement in my lifetime, I think that it would be an interesting experience.

If you were to travel back in time and be part of a social movement, which one would you like to participate in?

Reflection Week 8

This week’s lecture was called “Maya Culture and The Popul Vuh” by Professor Holley Moyes. The focus of this lecture is the history of the Maya. Something that I did not realize before attending this lecture is that Mayans are still alive today, they are not extinct.

The Ancient Mayans lived in tropical regions of Central America, mainly near rain forests. Tropical regions were essential to the Mayan living  conditions, since it was good to plant corn in these regions. The Mayans would enrich their soil by using ashes that were obtained by cutting down trees, letting them dry, and burning them.

Today, there are over seven million Mayans, most live in Guatemala. They have kept the same type of housing style as their ancestors. In the Mayan culture, women generally weave and cook while the men farm corn, beans, and squash. Also, many Mayans today have lost faith in their government, and as a result, the knowledge, such as astronomy and their writing system, is lost.

Overall, I thought it was interesting learning about the Mayan culture. The Professor seemed to be enthusiastic while presenting, which made this lecture more enjoyable.  The ancient Mayan calendar predicts that the world will end Dec. 21, 2012, do you believe this is true?



Core Friday #2 (Mayan Ball Game)

The week’s Core Friday was about the Mayan Ball Game, a sport played by hitting a solid rubber ball with your hip. A modern version of the ball game, Ulama, is played in Northern Sinaloa.

The ball required to play this game is made by tree materials, it requires a certain technique to create it. To create the ball, latex of a rubber tree is used and was made into rubber by mixing it with the juice of morning glory. This rubber would then be wound around a solid rubber core to build the ball. The ball weights approximately 9 lbs.

A type of ulama hip ulama. The player wear loincloths with leather hip pads for protection against the rubber ball.  The aim of this game is to keep the ball in play. A team scores a point when the opposing team hits the ball out of turn, misses the ball, knocks it out of bounds, touches the ball with a body part other than the hip, accidentally touches a team-mate, or lets the ball stop moving before it reaches the center line. The longest ball game had lasted 8 days.

I thought that this Core Friday was very interesting. I am always interesting in learning about how people lived in the past, so i really enjoyed this Core Friday.

Kony 2012

Kony 2012 is a campaign by Invisible Children whose goal is to make Joseph Kony famous in order to raise support for his arrest. I remember first hearing about Kony and these child soldiers a few years back in high school when Jason and Jacob had visited my school. They came to try to raise awareness about what is happening to the children in Uganda by showing a movie. But since then, I haven’t really heard anything about these child soldiers again until the release of Jason’s new film Kony 2012. This situation in Uganda has been going on for 26 years now, why is the world suddenly hearing about this now?

I believe that what they’re doing is important; the world should be aware of what is going on in Uganda. But, I’m not sure that theyre going about this with the right approach. After watching the film, they make it seem like getting Kony arrested and showing the government we care is really simple. Their tactic is for everyone to cover the streets with posters midnight on April 20. Personally, I’m not sure that this will make that big of a difference in terms of what the government plans to do. The video also talked about donating a few dollars a month to Invisible Children in order to help, but after doing some research I have learned that only a small portion actually goes to helping the cause.

Making this issue known to the world is very important, but I feel like Invisible Children doesn’t have Uganda in their best interest since only a small portion of donations are going towards helping them. I do believe that something should be done, but I’m not sure that covering the street with posters will be enough.

Reflection Week 7

This week’s core lecture was called “Art and Art Restoration” by Carrie Menke, a professor at UC Merced. Menke discussed how art has changed over time and the role that science plays in art restoration.

The color schemes of a piece of art can evoke feelings and emotions. We tend to link certain colors with certain emotions, for example, yellow is often thought of as a happy color whereas red is often thought of as an angry color. One topic that was brought up was how people do not like how abstract modern art is, it looks as if it were painted by a child in kindergarten. When modern art was first introduced, people have wondered if it was even considered art. The truth is, the techniques used in modern art are quiet complex. It takes skill to achieve the right look.

Art restoration is important because it ensures that a piece of art maintains its authenticity. Pigments of pieces of art tend to wear out throughout the years, in order to restore it, there must use the exact pigment of paint. Science is used to revive these pigments through mass spectroscopy. Before attending this lecture, i was unaware that science even played a role in art; i thought that the two subjects were completely unrelated.

Looking at pieces of art from different time periods, you can see dramatic changes; art is always changing. Many people today do not think of modern art as real art. What are your thoughts on modern art? Is it art?

Reflection Week 6

This week’s lecture was called “Evolution Biology: All Things Great from Small?” by Dr. Michael N. Dawson. The central idea of this lecture was evolution, which was mainly explained through his research in jellyfish.  In codfish, the bigger fish reproduce and have a higher change of reproducing bigger fish, resulting in an increase in the size of all codfish in the population; this is an example of natural selection provided by Dawson. One fact that he mentioned was that different species can carry the same genes; it is scary how closely related different species are to one another.

This lecture was very interesting and informative. Dawson provided examples of evolution and natural selection that are different from examples that I had ever learned about in previous experiences. I thought that this lecture contained an interesting, new approach at explaining such topics. In addition, this lecture was very factual which is different from other lectures.

I am a strong believer in evolution, especially with so much evidence supporting this theory. With so much evidence, how do people choose to ignore the fact that evolution may be more than just a theory? How do you think the world would react if evidence which disprove evolution is found?

Reflection Week 5

This week’s lecture was called “The Literature of Natural History and the Idea of Evolution” by Tom Hothem. This lecture was dramatically different from last week’s because this lecture was just based on science rather than both science and religion. This lecture was mainly on classification and how humans distinguish different groups. There are two groups of classification: how we classify species and genus, and how we classify ourselves (gender, race, etc.). Humans tend to classify ourselves and everything around us but sometimes, things are misclassified. For example, when Christopher Columbus first discovered America he misclassified the Native Americans as Indians. After that, many people started calling the Native Americans Indians because of this misclassification.

In Core discussion this week, we did an interesting activity that involved classifying ourselves. We classified ourselves in various ways, such as skin tone, birthday, ethnicity, and height. This activity opened my eyes to all the different ways humans classify each other. Other classifications may be occupation, social status, and wealth. There are countless ways to classify each other. Even though we are all human beings, we still feel the need to classify ourselves. But, what is the point of this? Why do humans have the need to classify things? Do you think it is necessary for humans to classify themselves? In my opinion, classification among humans just causes segregation and racism since it draws attention to the differences every human being has. Do you think classification among humans can be dangerous?

Reflection Week 4

In core this week, we discussed religion and science. Many people believe that if you are religious, you are not a person of science, and vice versa. There will always be a “war” against religion and science. People of religion believe in faith where as people of science believe in evidence. In lecture this week, Brother Guy Consolmagno discussed the relationship between religion and science. Brother Guy both a person of religion and a person of science. Brother Guy used scientific reasoning to talk about religious views without any bias. This week’s reading, “Not the God You Pray To: The Varieties of Scientists’ Religious Experience”, Adam Frank also discusses religion and science. Frank believes that it is possible to believe in both science and religion. Personally, I don’t see how it is possible to believe in both since ideas from both religion and science contradict one another. In religion, such as Christianity, it is believe that the world was created by God. On the other hand, in science, it is believe that the world was created by the Big Bang. The only way that I see how the ideas of religion and science can be combined when explaining the creation of the world is saying that God used the big bang to create the world. Since I was not surrounded by religion as a child, I am a person of science. I rely on evidence rather than faith. What about you?

Reflection Week 3


This week in core, we discussed the demotion of Pluto. Since there are new requirements for a planet, people have voted that Pluto should be considered a dwarf rather than a planet. Growing up, I remember that the teachers would teach us “My Very Excellent Mother Just Sent Us Nine Pizzas” to remember the names of the planets. Pluto has been embedded in our culture; it’s strange to think about how Pluto is no longer considered a planet. But really, who cares if Pluto is considered a planet or not? Less than 5% of the world’s astronomers have voted on whether or not Pluto should still be classified as a planet. If such a large percentage of astronomers don’t care about whether or not Pluto is planet, why should we? Personally, I don’t think it matters if we call Pluto a planet or a dwarf. Changing the classification of Pluto does not change the features that Pluto possesses. Although I have been taught that Pluto is a planet growing up, calling it a dwarf now is not that big of a deal. The new classification of Pluto kind of demonstrates that things can always change. Ever since Pluto had been discovered, it had been called a planet. But now, we learned that it is not a planet, it is just a dwarf. This concept relates to how people believe that theories are true, but as demonstrated by the situation with Pluto, it could be found to be invalid in the future. When new information is found, a theory may be modified or disproved. How sure are we that the things we know are actually true and will not be disproved?

Core Friday: Harmony of the Spheres (1/27)

The Core Friday I attended was called Harmony of the Spheres which was about how music relates to the universe. The speaker, Henrik Jul Hansen, talked about music and how it relates to the universe.

Hansen started off by introducing the oldest wind instrument, didgeridoo. This instrument was developed in Australia from trees whose insides had been eaten away by termites. The didgeridoo consists of the base, which was made from the hallow tree, and a mouthpiece created from beeswax. This instrument was used in ceremonies and in the healing process. The didgeridoo was used to give people deep tissue massages by the vibrations it creates when used and was used to put people in a meditated state. It is also said that the sound of the didgeridoo sounds like stars. I think that it is amazing that the didgeridoo was invented about 1,500 years ago and it is still used today. Do you think that people will still continue to use the didgeridoo in the future?

Music relates to the sounds that the Earth makes. For example, with the use of harmonic overtones series, you can recreate the sound of the Big Bang and stars. Hansen played audio clips of what it sounds like out of space. He also asked the audience to make various sounds to portray the sound the the Big Bang made when it had happened. Before going to Core Friday, I never thought about the different sounds that the Earth creates and how music is related to the universe. How sure are we that these are the sounds the the universe makes? Is there a possibility that we could be wrong?

There are many uses of music today. Music may be used for identity, fellowship, education, healing, and worship. Music may help people identify which generate their in since the type of music that are created are changing all the time. For example, you can distinguish which songs were popular in the 90’s and which were popular in 200. Music may also be used to bring people closer together. In addition, music may be used to help people remember information by using various combinations of melodies, rhymes, and tones.

It is intriguing thinking about how important music is to us and how it is incorporated in our lives everyday whether we notice it or not. Music was used a long time ago and it is still used today. Do you think that music will be around until the end of the human race?  Or, do you think that music will eventually die out and we will turn to another means?