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The Final Frontier?

April 30, 2012 Leave a comment

Celestial findings have always held a strange fascination for me; in a world that is rapidly shrinking in its exposure and proximity, where better for one to turn to when it comes to daydreaming of adventure and the great unknown. As a humble Star Trek fanatic, I’ve been meaning to do a post all semester about space exploration but nothing quite relevant nor worthy of the topic caught my eye until this past week. 

US space entrepreneurs have just announced a venture to launch robotic prospectors in the hopes of bringing water and other precious minerals back to earth from certain asteroids. My initial reaction was one of overwhelming excitement, and I thought this would be plenty of inspiration for a post. The aftermath of this announcement however, turned out to be even more thought-provoking.

Frans von der Dunk, (quite the name) a professor of space-law at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, has publicly announced his opinion that the applicable legal-system, both in the US and internationally, must be further developed to catch up to this sort of technological innovation. Although there are certain treatises and pieces of legislative work that address the legalities of space-initiatives, such as the 1967 Outer Space Treaty which says that outer space constitutes a “global commons”, it is a field that is far too underdeveloped for this kind of mission.

My initial, admittedly not mature reaction, was not a positive one. Who is this Frans von der Dunk to limit the genius of today’s space cowboys? Having given it some thought though, I realize that his words of caution may be in our best interest. It is so tempting to throw caution to the wind and jump into an idea, a new project, so overwhelmed are we by the thrill of seeing inspiration materialize through hard work. This often blinds us to the repercussions of our actions, and disasters that could have been prevented by more careful planning have a way of coming out of the woodwork. The space race has been an area of contention for decades, and its parameters remain vaguely undefined. In the article I read, the authors compared this sort of project to deep-sea mining- what jurisdiction is applicable in such an alien environment? Who is responsible for the projects that go on there and the products they send back home? Should this be part of the public or private sector? Who can determine ownership and rights in a place that is physically beyond the realm of human control? 

I think that this is fascinating because it is one of the issues that our generation is going to have to contend with. Although I’ve accepted that I will probably never get to co-captain the USS Enterprise, I still value the importance of questions that bridge our life on Earth with the adventures and possibilities that outer space has to offer. What do you guys think? Where are our responsibilities in terms of this?

Here’s the link to the article to read more!http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/04/120426134927.htm 

 

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Brain freeze sheds light on animal rights

April 30, 2012 2 comments

Any real fan of House will remember that episode when the protagonist induced a headache in a comatose patient in order to test a new medication. Later on, he did the same to himself, in the noblest of self-sacrifices for the sake of science. 

In the same vein, this article from the Huffington Post that deals with brain freeze briefly discusses the ethics of inducing migraines in patients to test medications and to observe the affliction itself. Surely, though, our standards for how we treat ourselves–the members of our own species–should have some implications on how we treat other species. A rat, for example, stands to lose far more when injected with cancer cells than a human does when injected with nitroglycerin, no? What other argument is there except the antiquated Great Chain of Being one to justify practices in which our morals seem inconsistent? Unless we accept that God granted humans dominion over ever living thing, where do we look to justify the speciesism that dominates our worldview? 

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Thinking in a Foreign Language Helps Economic Decision-Making

April 30, 2012 2 comments

In this article http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/04/120425093938.htm research supported by the National Science Foundation has presented evidence that runs contrary to establish economic theory.  In this study researchers studied the difference between when someone makes a decision in a foreign language as opposed to their mother tongue. As it turns out people have a better chance of making more advantageous if they consider their options in a foreign language. This is due to the fact that when someone thinks in a foreign language their brain functions in a more deliberate manner which makes way for better decision making. Image

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Lost phone?

April 30, 2012 1 comment

Hey everyone!

Do you eve feel paranoid or anxious when you don’t have your cell phone around you?

Then you might have nomophobia, a fear of being without a cellphone.

The word nomophobia was first used to describe the symptoms of certain people. People felt anxious and nervous without having their cell phone. Now I thought this was too silly to believe. However, my term of communication seems to be very different with kids these days. One, there are multiple communication method other than phone and face to face interaction.

Now there are facebook, skype, and other communication tool. And slowly, each communication tool is being specialized in our daily life. I have also seen the commercial with this woman with a buisness suits saying in a commercial that she never leaves her phone away from her.

I was able to live for 3 days without a phone because I had facebook and other tools to talk to. I actually dont see the need of phone.

Nomophobia — fear of being without your phone — is on the rise – latimes.com

What do you think?

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America’s New Stand On Climate Change

April 30, 2012 Leave a comment

The other day I read this article on the current standings of global warming http://topics.nytimes.com/top/news/science/topics/globalwarming/index.html. It was a pretty interesting read for me, as my final project has to do with science communications relating to global warming.  This article reiterates the fact that a mounting body of scientific research shows that greenhouse gas emissions continue to rise as a result of human activity. Study of these greenhouse gasses has allowed an indication to be made of a trend in their emissions and at this point scientists fear that it will be extremely difficult to preempt tremendous climate change in the future. With that being said the United States is spearheading an entirely new international effort aimed at reducing these greenhouse emissions.Image

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Researchers show why music is so addictive

April 30, 2012 1 comment

In this article, they explain why it may feel like you are ‘addicted’ to music. It turns out that listening to music releases dopamine, which is the chemical released in our brain that makes us want to repeat things that we have previously done. It s also why drugs are also something that people get addicted to. While listening to music that you enjoy, your brain is stimulated by what it is listening to, creating a body response like chills. 

Not only does this explain why some people say that they can’t live without music, but it also explains why music has been around for ages, according to the article.

I thought that the biological explanation was fascinating, since I am one of those people that can’t live without music in my life.  

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Man’s Best Friend

April 30, 2012 1 comment

            For as long as I can remember my family has always had a dog living with us in the house. Arriving at this realization got me to start to think about why we as human beings generally accept having a different species live amongst us in our homes.  As it turns out the earliest archaeological evidence of the domestication of dogs dates all the way back to China in 7000BC. Scientists have also determined by comparing the proportions of grey wolf haplotypes to modern dogs that the Middle East is the most probable location of the origins of initial domestication of dogs. This early form of domestication probably begun with the domestication of orphaned wolf cubs that studies have shown is possible to be done before a cub is twenty one days old. Over time the DNA of wolves and dogs split giving humans the opportunity to domesticate and cross breed dogs to use as guard animals and beasts of burden. This cross breeding based upon favorable attributes yielded dogs with increasingly juvenile characteristics that prompt cross species protective behavior in most adult mammals, including humans. Image

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