The corn has matured (they’re less full because of low volume of watering while I was away… but that’s ok… they’ll taste great!), and I’ve got a huge corgette/zucchini for my trouble. Must get around to harvesting the peas soon.
Upcoming…. that flower promises a tasty patty-pan squash in my future…..
So this semester, at the request/suggestion of the people who bring USC freshmen the Freshman Seminars, KC Cole and I started a new course. Turned out we were brought in to replace another professor who was originally billed to do what looks to be an Art appreciation course. Looked good. The title was “The Art of Seeing and the Seeing of Art”. For whatever reason, that professor was no longer doing it, and relatively late in the day we were asked if we wanted to do a seminar, and it would be one of two freshman seminars that meets from 2:00-3:50 (or so) each Wednesday afternoon and deliberately engages with the events of the Visions and Voices programme. (See earlier blog post about that programme.)
Well, of course KC and I thought that we’d have fun with this, by mixing art and science and… everything else together. So we changed the title to “The Art and Science of Seeing, and the Seeing and Science of Art”. Heh.
The first meeting of the course, we had nine students registered, and five or six showed up. Yay! (These seminars are designed to enable freshmen to engage with all sorts of extra material, learn to take part in wide ranging discussions with their peers and a professor or two in a non-confrontational environment, and enrich their first year -some titles (more here): “You Can’t Go Home Again: Now What?”, “Bioterrorism and Emerging Diseases: Their Impact on Society”, “Beer and Belly Rings: Facts and Fictions About Today”s Youth”, “The Art of the Comic Book: Graphic Narratives from Maus to Sin City” (Blast! Why can’t I do that one?!)- are capped at 18 students in order to maintain intimacy of the discussions and discourse, etc….. lovely idea).
Then we handed out the syllabus. The word “science” was spotted. Faces fell. We Continue reading ‘The Stampede’
Apparently, we are hard-wired for superstition and religion. This is according to Bruce Hood, of Bristol University, in the UK. I learned this from an article in the Guardian by James Randerson, which you can read here. The good professor:
suggests that magical and supernatural beliefs are hardwired into our brains from birth, and that religions are therefore tapping into a powerful psychological force.
He goes on to say (in a speech at the British Association Festival of Science in Norwich, or, more probably the press conference after his session):
“I think it is pointless to think that we can get people to abandon their belief systems because they are operating at such a fundamental level,” …. “No amount of rational evidence is going to be taken on board to get people to abandon those ideas.”
And what is being called “irrational”, by the way? Another quote:
But almost everyone entertains some form of irrational beliefs even if they are not religious.
“For example, many people would be reluctant to part with a wedding ring for an identical ring because of the personal significance it holds.
I’m sorry, but I don’t see why that is irrational. Since when is preferring objects of emotional significance actually irrational? All this seems to do is reinforce for the reader the stereotype that scientists regard emotions as “illogical”. This is of course utter crap, if you’ll pardon my French.
“No amount of rational evidence…” Really? I actually have found that there are a lot of things that people are willing to abandon as “irrational beliefs” if you take the time to Continue reading ‘Very Superstitious, Ladders ’bout To Fall’
The BBC’s Radio 4 starts a new programme about astronomy tonight. Called “The Cosmic Hunters”, it sounds as though it will be rather good, so do tune in. It will be on Wednesdays at 9:00pm. It will be discussing various areas of recent research, using some of the optical telescopes that we’ve come to know and love (like the Hubble) and will also talk about future telescopes, such as the Webb.
There’s a little article written by the presenter, Chris Riley, here. It is as a sort of preview of the radio show in which he talks about the search for extrasolar planets and the hunt for the oldest galaxies, among other things. Of course, if you don’t get a chance to hear the broadcast, you can always go to the programme’s website to hear archived programs (for a short period).
… since on Friday, our event of Thursday night, along with a photo of KC and myself in action, made the front page …of the campus newspaper, the Daily Trojan! This is a big deal, you see. Front page spots for faculty in the student newspaper…. and colour photos to boot. Such treatment is for the football team almost exclusively, I was led to believe.
Story, by Laura Simurda, is here.
Photo by Joseph Zuniga of the DT. (Heh… if you look closely you can see that I forgot to take off my cycle-clips. I wear them all the time as it is the best place to keep them, when on campus…. also, think of it as a sort of silent protest against excessive car use.)