Value of Science: The Really Big One

In 2011, Japan experienced its biggest earthquake yet. With a 9.0 magnitude, the earthquake set world records. In consequence, natural disasters like a tsunami and a power plant release occurred, and in consequence, thousands of death, destruction of buildings, and millions of homeless citizens resulted. No one believed that an earthquake with a huge magnitude would transpire and make a huge impact Japan except for seismologist Yasutaka Ikeda.

Everyone disregarded Ikeda’s discovery. Earthquakes occur on a normal basis in Japan. There is a disregard because they are a normal occurrence. Thus, the Japanese ignored Yasutaka Ikeda presentation and did not prepare for an earthquake with such a big impact to come. After his presentation in 2005, an earthquake struck Japan in 2011. His scientific predictions proved to be right. This goes to show that science is the greatest predictor for the future. Whether the news be bad or good, we must face this because science is most likely right. Whether it not appear to be serious, science must also be taken into consideration. So much effort is put into research and into ensuring data and proof event support the conclusion.

One detail may be taken into consideration and have a huge impact on dozens of lives. If people were to ignore Chris Goldfinger’s conclusion on his research, what would happen? In correlation to the research on Japan, Chris Goldfinger researched on the Cascadia subduction zone. The area consist of volcanic mountains and tectonic plates sliding underneath another plate. The attention on this detail may predict an major natural disaster affecting United States and Canada within 50 years. Whether people choose to be warned or ignore it is their choice. However, science will most likely be right.

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Project Nim

In this Columbia University psychology experiment, scientists wanted to test their theory that a Chimpanzee could be conditioned to communicate like humans as if the Chimpanzee was raised like a human child. Nim, a Chimpanzee, was subjected this experiment. He was taken from his mother’s arm only a few weeks old at the time, and placed in Stephanie’s family. Nim’s story is in a documentary called Project Nim.

While the beginning of the documentary depicted Nim continually learning and conforming to human life, the downside of keeping animals in captivity slowly prevails like the Chimpanzee nature in Nim. The documentary is able to effectively argue this through interviews and photographs throughout the whole film.

The interviews are able to add the detail to Nim’s life whether they were the ups or downs. The beginning of the documentary showed a more positive side to Nim’s life. Stephanie is one of the first people to be introduced to the audience and in addition, to Nim’s life. She was introduced first because her role was Nim’s human mother- caring for him and giving him her time and energy. Her efforts are that of a typical of a normal mom caring for their own child. Her account of Nim’s personality shows how much of a child he is in comparison to Stephanie’s other children like Jenny. He required as much attention and much more since his took the attention of Stephanie on himself instead of her husband Wer. When the interviewees like Laura and Joyce began to claim the violent nature of Nim, there was a turning point in the documentary.

In addition to the interviews, photos were also added. It provided a visual for audiences watching the film. While the interviewee made points about Nim, photos provided a visual flashback and reinforce the points made by the interviewees. Some photos were shown in color and others were show in black and white. Photos in color enabled the audience to live in the moment. For example, when Laura, a sign language educator, was working with Nim, there were photos of Laura enjoying her time teaching Nim. There were also photos of Nim signing ordinary objects like toothbrush. The color allowed the audience to live in the moment and make them think as if Nim were a regular human child learning how to speak. However, the color photos change to black and white when Nim is injected and transported to Oklahoma. This was a sad moment of deception for the audience and Nim’s caretakers. The black and white reveal so much havoc keeping Chimpanzees have caused.

This project has revealed that nature prevails over nurture. While the scientist believed they could teach Nim a new language, Nim has kept to his Chimpanzee nature.

Waiting for Light

I remembered my first visit to China during summer in 2008. I was only eight, but I can still imagine the country very clearly. On our visit, my family and I stay at my relative’s house in the city for a couple of days, however we decided to visit the rural area and spend the night. Why would we spend the night in the middle of nowhere? Well, it was my father’s childhood hometown. He wanted my siblings and I to experience how it was like growing up without immediate warm water from a faucet, air conditioning during the hot summers, and lights at night, so he could continue working on the farm.

I had always lived with warm water when I took a shower in the bathroom, I had always have air conditioning in school and home, and I had always had light whenever it was dark or even still when it was day. My parents only told me how impoverished the rural areas were, and how we were lucky. I disregard their comments and didn’t take in consideration the words they had said. I was in for a shocker when I spent the night there.

Reading “Waiting for Light” reminded about my visit to my father’s hometown. A significant amount of Chinese are living conditions are similar to how the villagers in India have to live everyday- without light. While I only had to spend one night without light, it gave me insight on how much it makes a difference when there is light. As an eight year old, I depended on light because I was scared of the dark. Without a night light in my room and in the hallways, I would live in fear thinking that there were monsters in my house. For civilians in India who lacked light, it was a much more serious reason that they needed light. Light could be the reason they are out of their poverty stricken state. They could be able to study in with light and shops are able to operate longer because they can see.

In 2012, I visited China again. My family and I went back to my father’s hometown for my deceased grandfather’s birthday. As we traveled through in the car, I noticed wooden poles were placed equidistant from each other with lights hung unsecured to each pole. It wasn’t constructed properly, however it made all the difference.                                                .

Transformation of Robots and Land Animals

In the articles “Robot Helps Study How First Land Animals Moved 360 Million Years Ago” and “Robot Replicates How Our Ancestors First Walked on Land”, translation and transformation are utilized in changing the rhetorical elements of each piece.

The main idea from both articles is that a robot was engineered with the inspiration from the first  land animals who walked on land. Each article goes over the same idea; however, they are meant for different audiences. The titles of the articles itself are able to inform us that these two articles have a different rhetorical appeal. One title is more specific while the other is less detailed and shorter.

The first article “Robot Helps Study How First Land Animals Move 360 Million Years Ago” was placed on the Georgia Tech News website.The audience of the website is geared towards people who are interested in new research and findings. The article is lengthier, and includes a video of researchers from different institutes discussing in depth the mud skipper fish and robot model on land. The article is aimed towards this audience because they are the ones who are interested in findings and therefore, spend more time reading about the research.

The second article utilizes translation because this article is brief and easier to understand. With only a few paragraphs, the second article, “Robot Replicates How Our Ancestors First Walked on Land” is able to summarize the first article. This article is geared towards a different audience. Terms from the first articles like “analogous” and “multidisciplinary team” are replaced with “similar” and “four different disciplines”. This helps the new audience decipher the article quicker. Instead of video, gifs are placed throughout the article. This helps an audience of people who briefly want to know about the research without spending much time.

Mice in Research

From a quick glance of the layout and scheme of each website, I immediately got a different feel for both. The Jackson Laboratory felt positive yet clinical, while on the other hand the National Anti- Vivisection felt somber and serious. I gather that it was the choice of color that each of the website utilized.

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The Jackson Laboratory was to able evoke a clinical sense because of the website’s use of the color white.The white color used by this website gives an impression of organization and efficiency. It brings to mind an image of laboratories scientist use to conduct their experiments on mice and furthermore an image of sterilized equipment used in the process. It further establishes professionalism. It shows the intended audience that the laboratory is serious and dedicated to providing mice for genetic research in order to help humans improve diagnosis and treatments in diseases. It shows that they are serious about bettering the health of those who will benefit from the research. The color white is also associated with perfection, an idea that the Jackson Laboratory want to accomplish. Through their extensive research in modifying these “tools”, they want to be able to help others find a more efficient diagnosis of diseases. Eventually, with more strains of mice, a cure can be found, and a perfect society with healthy people is able to form. This idea is associated with positivity because progress and advancement is a part of the image for a brighter future.

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National Anti-Vivisection Society, also known as NAVS, uses the color white as the main background also. However, their white background is duller in comparison to The Jackson Laboratory. NAVS attempts to express the misleading and skeptical reports of projects using mice and other animals with a darker scheme on their website. The darker scheme contributes to a somber mood in order to show the seriousness of the harm done to animals during experimentation. In order to effectively obtain donations for alternate ways of research, the color scheme provides a great way for people to be persuaded into contributing. The slightly off white color dampens the mood of the audience subconsciously and allows the audience to feel the same way the supporters of NAVS feel. 

Into the Maelstrom

Typically in the motion of a science discovery, a hypothesis is made, a theory is tested, and lastly, results are produced. Jennifer Francis went through this process by dedicating seven years total in her life circumnavigating the globe, hypothesizing the Arctic’s effect on the rest of the world, and producing studies on the jet stream patterns.

Even though she spent her time studying the jet streams and change in wind pattern, how would we know her proposed theory is actually true? The article Into the Maelstrom was an informative piece, but what I gathered as mere a reader, who a little significant background in atmospheric science, it seems to me that Francis’s theory was boosted by media as true. Rather than focusing on the substance of the theory itself, I wanted to focus on how the theory gained the publicity and impact. The more Francis’s story is publicized, the more credibility her theory gains. The more credibility the source endorsing her has also has had an impact on her theory. There are many factors that contribute to this. First, her media coverage. Francis herself has been featured on the front page of New York Times, and others like Geographical Research Letters, and National Science Foundation. These outlets are able to deliver Francis’s theory to the intended audience- other scientist and people who are interested in the climate change. Second, the more controversy from other scientist, the more publicity it seemed to have. Rather than genuinely focusing on the substance, the public just wants to focus on the drama. Third, Francis has also had public figures endorsing her hypothesis. One source was Holdren’s YouTube video. As a politician, he is able to lead his supporter in his way of thinking, and he is also able to bring more attention on the hypothesis.