Argonne National Laboratory and Fermilab (both national laboratories managed by the University of Chicago) have particle accelerators that smash bits of atoms together at very high energies, allowing particles to emerge that are otherwise not part of the everyday world. These odd beasts—Z bosons, pi mesons, strange quarks—populated the universe seconds after the Big Bang, and allow their observers to glimpse the fabric of the universe.
Put two or three ideas or items in a particle accelerator thought experiment. Smash ‘em up. What emerges? Let us glimpse the secrets of the universe newly revealed.
The short film “Powers of Ten” begins with an aerial shot of a couple picnicking in a Chicago park. The camera zooms out ten meters. It then zooms out again, but the degree of the zoom has increased by a power of ten; the camera is now 100 meters away. It continues to 1,000 meters, then 10,000, and so on, traveling through the solar system, the galaxy, and eventually to the edge of the known universe. Here the camera rests, allowing us to examine the vast nothingness of the universe, black void punctuated sparsely by galaxies so far away they appear as small stars. The narrator comments, “This emptiness is normal. The richness of our own neighborhood is the exception.” Then the camera reverses its journey, zooming in to the picnic, and—in negative powers of ten—to the man’s hand, the cells in his hand, the molecules of DNA within, their atoms, and then the nucleus both “so massive and so small” in the “vast inner space” of the atom.
What becomes clear from far away that you can’t see up close? What intricate structures appear when you move closer? How is the big view related to the small, the emptiness to the richness?
As we’re now into the 6th month of what is being described as the worse financial crisis since The Great Depression, we’re beginning to sort out what is happening and what we might have to do about it. Of course there are always two (or three) schools of thought about how we should proceed. But which one we choose depends on how we define the problem.
Please take a listen. After you have, post what you think. We thought September 11th was the defining moment of your young lives, but this crisis will be what determines our futures.
There are also some associated links on the episode page (like a senator and Treasury Sec. Geithner commenting about how good this episode was, in their very “senate-hearing” boring manner) or links to the Planet Money blog/PodCast which details different elements of the economic system what they mean/do.
One last element that I would like you to consider: how does this audio episode make itself persuasive? Is it primarily logos, ethos, or pathos? Consider if it is persuasive at all. What do you think its overall aim is? Do they have an agenda (a preconceived conclusion that they would like you to walk away with)? Or do the reporters seem even-handed? And what techniques do they use to build their ethos about this complicated topic? How do you feel after listening?
After Mr. E mentioned how the only other people who watch more TV than Americans are the Japanese, I looked for these clips. My theory as to why they watch so much TV (besides Mr. E’s more work = more TV watching theory) is based on crazy Japanese game shows. Below are a few that I have found. Don’t be shocked if you find Sean-like antics.
A few of the clips are from an old Japanese game show that has been dubbed into English as MXC (Most Extreme Elimination Challenge) for American enjoyment. Huzzah for Japanese contestants willing to do anything to get on television and not sue!!!
@Rice: Right you are Kenny.
If you’ve been following the election, you must know that this one is tough fought. There have been allegations and accusations back and forth. Behind it all we have the backdrop of potentially the most cataclysmic economic disaster since the Great Depression. And we have seen the debates, the tough as nails debates.
Sometimes during the campaign we might forget that we’re Americans first. But the candidates don’t. Moreover, this year they work in the same legislative body, so they’re colleagues as well.
Here is a video from Al Smith charity dinner that’s held every year. It has become a tradition for candidates on the campaign trail to grace the dinner and enjoy a night of good humored fun, even though the campaign is winding down into its fiercest last days.
This is the CSPAN video of this year’s dinner. First McCain speaks (since he is the senior senator) and then Obama. Both have some pretty good one-liners; and if you’ve been paying attention to the ins-and-outs of the campaign rhetoric , you’ll pick up some subtle references, too. I have to say I can’t think of too many places where this kind of comity (and comedy) is seen just days before the most important election of their lives.
McCain starts at 6:55. Obama at 23:15.
For the wikipedia article on Al Smith, click here.
For the wikipedia article on his charity dinner, click here.
Every year, The University of Chicago rolls out the topics for its much vaunted UNcommon Application. It is chock full of oddities and a bizarre twist or two–in fact, it kind of reminds me of you all. So much more fun, though, than the run of the mill, “Tell us why you’re right for our university.”
From time to time I’ll post the current and past questions. Feel free to comment on them. They’re designed to be essays, so the topics may seem sprawling; you’re welcome to shorten your response. But I like their general take: show us how you think; how you tackle a problem; how you respond creatively.
Our Current Topic:
Chicago author Nelson Algren said, “A writer does well if in his whole life he can tell the story of one street.” Chicagoans, but not just Chicagoans, have always found something instructive, and pleasing, and profound in the stories of their block, of Main Street, of Highway 61, of a farm lane, of the Celestial Highway. Tell us the story of a street, path, road—real or imagined or metaphorical.
I have been in this samurai fanatic phase for quite some time now as many of you may have noticed; but I would like to try and explain why I got into them in the first place. I was reading random articles on the world wide web and came across the word Bushido. I was completely flabbergasted. I had no idea what this word came close to meaning! So as I like to do when I am bored I went to dictionary.com and put it in but then thought to myself why not search for it in the greatest source for knowledge…wikipedia. So I put the word is in there and it put out an article and then like my curious self I had to click on all the links. I was amazed how honorable and high up on the moral ladder samurai were expected to be. I grew obsessive up until now where I cannot put a book about samurai or even japanese culture aside. Although my curiosity has grown into a huge obsession I can never forget the code that the samurai held up for themselves.
In recent days we, as in the AP English class, have been discussing DBQ’s and how knowing about current events can help. I have decided to help with that a little by introducing this topic that has recently hit the news:
WARNING: I in no way accept credit for the following article that is directly copied from the YCL Newsletter that I receive weekly.
II. In the News: “Food Price Crisis” Food Price Crisis. By PWW Editorial BoardAmong the necessities for human life — indeed, all life — food obviously occupies a central place. In recent decades advances in agriculture and in the ability to distribute food around the world seemed to promise an end to the age-old scourge of famine.
But lately, threats have grown to the affordability and even availability of food.Staples such as grains have been hit especially hard. Some traditional food exporting countries are limiting or barring exports.
That is my question. How, in this predominantly conservative world, can we change the world in any way without becoming part of some organization that follows the same rules that we are trying to get rid of !?
Take for example a “gang” called Straight Edge. This group of people merely started up to spread the idea of abstinence, and sobriety; but have sadly turned out to be considered now as an actual gang convicted of harassment, murder, and even terrorist activities. Some say that they are a menace and some say that they are the ideal group of people for the future but my point is this: Can we change this world without succumbing to criminal actions and/ or becoming part of something we stand against?