In “The Really Big One,” by Kathryn Schulz from The New Yorker, the main topic of discussion is the eminent threat of a magnitude 8.7 - 9.2 earthquake in the pacific northwest. The earthquake itself will be damaging, but the tsunami that follows it will be much more so. Schulz describes how it will likely cover over 140,000 square miles of land and will displace millions of people, killing over 13,000. She goes on to explain how unprepared states are for the disaster and how it would cost an absurd amount of money in damages. Hearing this, one would think there would be a massive effort to build buildings to withstand the disaster and shelters, but this is not the case. People are doing almost nothing. Why? Because the quake could happen tomorrow, 100 years from now, or even thousands of years from now. We just don't know.
Reading this article, I had a slight sensation of butterflies in my stomach. The whole time, all I could think about was "what if this threat was affecting me." I am from Rhode Island, so I know what it is like living near the ocean. If a tsunami hit the east coast, it would cause unimaginable damage. People would do everything they could to devise a plan for one of these natural disasters. This is what the pacific northwest should do. At the very least they need to have a plan. Shultz talks about schools within a mile of the coast and said how, if a massive tsunami were to happen, there would be nothing they could do.
I recently rewatched the Martian for the second time and like the movie more the second time around than the first. As an aerospace engineering major, the idea of space travel and inhabiting planets other than Earth is fascinating to me. It was crazy to see how someone stuck on mars could survive and make it back to Earth. I think this movie is a hit with people because technology is approaching a level where this movie's plot is not completely far-fetched. People like Elon Musk are modern day Mark Watneys. We are experiencing some serious problems that will need to resolved, such as climate change, and Musk is one of the people looking for solutions. If climate change eventually gets so bad that we can’t live on Earth anymore, Mars is our next best option.
The movie provides a good depiction of how one of these earlier missions might look like. To get to mars, we would need much faster ships than we have now (or else it will take years to get there) and countries around the world must work together. It also does a very good job of displaying the risks of this type of mission. Mark Watney almost dies as a random sand storm forces the crew of astronauts to leave the planet early. He then faces numerous other challenges, like making food, water, heat, and contacting Earth. Overall, the movie provides a glimpse at a possible future we will see in our lifetimes and shows what risks come with such advanced technology.
For thousands of years, humans have lived in close proximity to animals. Whether it was using them to carry things, to ride, to eat, or even as a companion, all sorts of different animals have contributed in some way to society. The way we see most, or perhaps the one with the greatest impact is domesticated animals. No one car argue with the idea that a dog is a mans best friend, or that cats can be OK sometimes. Regardless of you opinion on cats and dogs, domestication is a process that has taken years and years of training and breeding. Project Nim is a documentation that describes the life of a chimp named Nim as he is brought up in a human household and treated like a human. During his life, researchers from Columbia University teach him sign language to see if chimps have the brain power to make full sentences and communicate.
Nim was taken from his mother when he was less than a year old. Even though he was put immediately into human life, he did not lose all of the chimp in him. The film was arguing that, although you can teach chimps some sign language and communicate with them, you can not humanize them. During the film, Nim learns a lot of signs and can display many different words, but still hurt people and other animals. This shows how, even though you can teach a chimp about some communication, they still have their animalistic instincts.
During class this week, we have had a lot of discussion about transformation. We looked at two articles, one from Popular Science, and one from Georgia Tech News. It was interesting to see how the articles differed. For example, the Popular Science article's title was "Robot Replicates How Our Ancestors First Walked on Land” and the Georgia Tech News article's title was “Robot Helps Study How First Land Animals Moved 360 Million Years Ago”. These two titles show how both articles have different purposes and intended audiences.
Firstly, the Popular Science article leads with a title that grabs the reader's attention. It provides just enough information so that you are interested, but not too much where you know what the article is going to say. It also uses simplified language and was to the point, with fewer details than the Georgia Tech News article. The article's audience is the general public who are interested in science. With the simplified language and structure, as well as short length and graphics, the article is meant the average person. The purpose of the article is to entertain and inform. On the Popular Science website, there several ads on every page relating to general popular media (Miley Cyrus, Kim Kardashian, etc.). The people going to this website and reading these articles don't want to read facts and a long paper, but want a succinct description of the topic.
On the other hand, the Georgia Tech News article is very informative. Unlike the Popular Science article, this one takes the time to give background information and fully flesh out what the experiment was, its results, and what those results mean. The audience is people who want to learn about this subject. Since the article is longer and more informative than the Popular Science one, the reader has to be committed to taking more time to read it. The purpose of the article is to inform. Once again, a reader is reading the article to learn about the whole experiment, not just a summary.
Georgia Tech News-
This week in class we have been discussing the photo essay. In the WOVENtext, pg 289, it defines a photo essay as "a group of photos that tells a unified story or makes a unified argument." An example of a photo essay we looked at was "Life in the Googleplex," by Eros Hoagland. It was interesting to me that these essays can either tell a story or make an argument. From previous photo essays that I have seen, the idea that an essay's only purpose is to tell a story seems almost impossible. In almost every one, there are underlying points the authors are trying to make. In Hoagland's essay, he uses photos from different areas in the google headquarters to show how the work environment looks. The first picture shows someone working at a computer, but the rest depict different activities employees are allowed to do. For example, employees can bring their dog into work. (shown below)
Throughout the photo essay, Hoagland is attempting to portray google as a great place to work. Instead of showing several photos of people working, he chose to show people having fun. This makes google's public image extremely positive, especially for young people who may be looking for a job. This is part of the audience Hoagland is trying to write to. Time readers who saw this likely were pleasantly surprised as to how google is such a creative envirnment. Also, his photos all show very different parts of the facilities, making it look like an average day at google is filled with all types of activities.
(Life in the Googleplex) http://content.time.com/time/photogallery/0,29307,1947844,00.html
We recently discussed the chapter "Into the Maelstrom" in the BASNW and the UCS (Union of Concerned Scientist). We also watched a video of a woman lighting the methane coming out of her faucet on fire. I found these three items very interesting, but the video was especially notable for me. Watching the video, I was initially very intrigued when the woman held a match to her water and plumes of fire exploded from it. Is fracking really causing this issue on a large scale? Will this happen all over? Could this gas release be harmful?
The video was set up to speak to a specific audience. Taken with a regular video recorder in this woman's kitchen, there were dishes and items around as if the video was taken spontaneously. The cameraman asked here a few questions and she answered with some data regarding the volume of methane per liter in the water. This was all in an attempt to relate to the average youtube viewer who would likely be persuaded to look deeper into the topic of fracking.
The video also has a clear purpose, to increase interest around fracking and put it in a slightly, if not completely negative light. The viewer can make these judgements after seeing water come out of the tap and ignite, when she talks about the increasing levels of methane in the water and when she fills a cup and methane bubbles out of the water. Considering these are not the norm for drinking water, a person will note these things as negative results of fracking.
The final piece of this video is that it was funded by the Gas Drilling Awareness Coalition. When I heard this, my opinion about the video was changed. Originally, I thought this was just a woman showing the world that she can light her water on fire. However, seeing that it was funded by this coalition, I realized it was filmed to make people think one way about fracking. I also then questioned the legitimacy of the video. Surely there is more methane in the water now than there was before, but is there enough to light it on fire? Or is this coalition just trying to influence people's opinions on fracking. Regardless, the video presents images and ideas that peak the interest of many viewers and might sway the way they feel about fracking.