Professor Elena Aronova presented a compelling case on the origins of sciences and the history of science. She discussed the road-maps and the structure to conduct a scientific revolution. She introduced us to the interplay between sciences and politics and pointed out that military sciences was what made governments funds and invest in sciences. She spelt out the role played by genetics and heredity in politics highlighting that the information revolution and cold war collided at similar time periods.
In an interesting question and answer session in the afternoon seminar, Professor Aronova spoke very highly of citizen science. This discussions was most intriguing to me as it left me challenged. I left the seminar thinking whether i was a contributor to science. Even though i love sciences, what is it that i can personally do to contribute to scientific knowledge. Citizen Science was my go to. Aronova claimed that citizen sciences have encouraged collaboration in scientific studies as a discipline and has helped eradicate competition.
Science is more of a career and is not seen as a hobby even though it should be viewed as so. Not all that love science are able to go through school and ultimately become scientists. Not everyone who wishes to participate in science eventually gets paid. This separates science as a profession from an adventure. There are several concepts and theories in science that need to be perfected and the scientists cannot do this by themselves. There is an opportunity for normal people outside the scientific field realms to advance knowledge. If we make it a collaborative process, i cannot imagine where the world is headed in terms of technological advancements and scientific ones too.
Being a fan of science is just not enough. We should get our feet wet by just simply collecting data or recording useful observations and reporting it to the relevant parties. There is so much power that we as volunteers hold and we can certainty progress science up a notch. The situation in the 21st Century is so much more favorable towards amateur scientists than before when they were not welcomed or acknowledged in scientific circles. A revolution has began and we should reap the benefits in our lifetimes. Depending on ones passions, whether you love bird watching, video gaming, or sky watching etc. Record data while doing what you love the most. Scientific institutions are today seeking consent to be part of individual’s lives to better their research. Let us allow this. Astronomers for example cannot accurately record movements of galaxies and other heavenly bodies 24/7, if we happen to notice something out of the blue. Dial in or E-mail in, whatever channel of communication to make sure your input is recorded. Citizen Scientists, lovers and contributors of science. Once there is an interplay between science as a hobby and science as a profession, things get more fun and realistic. Who does not want to witness that? I know i do!
The celebration of research was nothing but a success. It was amazing to see my colleagues research projects so polished considering that a month ago we were all brainstorming on what to focus on. Prof. Fleming played a key role in shaping all these projects. He made us repeat our projects to every single guest speaker that attended the afternoon seminar, this in fact seemed to help the majority of us (personally, i know it did) The guest speakers also gave personal feedback and suggestions to better the projects. The seminar’s sub title Order Vs Chaos helped narrow down scope and provide more concise boundaries on how to approach our projects.
During the presentations i visited each of my colleagues’ stations and had nothing more than admiration for how far the had all come. Each project inspired, challenged or enlightened me differently. I was grouped with Ava whose UNHCR project directly correlated to my project. During peer review sessions we shared a lot of insight and even shared reading out of class. Her coverage of the refugee institution was comprehensive and gave relevant information for anybody without prior knowledge to understand. Sabrina’s project on the Origin of news had a very contemporary twist to it as well. I admired how she connected old print media with modern day social media news outlets.
CP’s cryptocurrency presentation was relevant to the times considering how Bitcoin is trending in today’s news. Everybody is in the rush to grab a part of the profits without the historical background of the commodity itself. CP revealed negative effects of Bitcoin mining that i had no idea of. Phil’s project on Financial bubbles was also very much needed if i may say. He illustrated on the signs of a bubble and how to avoid one giving the class insight on investment decisions. Stephan’s Lucifer effect was extraordinary. He managed to present a scary project very passionately. I have to admit that i went on dug deeper on the Stamford prison experiment as it seemed too captivating. Walker touched on a childhood passion i had, trans-humanism. We have our favorite superheros or superpowers that we wish to have. He situated his research in literature which made it more pleasant.
A section of my colleagues like Bernard and Amber worked on topics that we very personal to their lives. Bernard’s Origin of my tribe was eye-opening and impressive. What pushed him to pick such a topic? was a question that rang behind my mind as he presented. He however stood up to the task and delivered. Amber researched more about he scholarship program and how low-income students at Colby interact with the rest of the population. He analysis on the surveys she put up totally backed up her arguments. As an art major Ronnie brought in her drawing expertise on the project and highlighted the origin of origin stories through colorful and eye captivating illustrations. Last but not least, Anna’s Acupuncture project was phenomenal. She sort of marketed the practice and made you consider booking an appointment just to experience the effects.
Professor Stefano Colangelo from the University of Bologna made a compelling case and a thorough presentation on the origin of contemporary poetry. First, i would like to applaud him for his charisma and effort to deliver the lecture in English, he personally mentioned that he taught himself how to read and write English in his 30’s. Even though he studies Italian poetry, Colangelo translated every single bit of useful information to support his arguments. His humor and enthusiasm truly filled the night lecture session. He introduced poetry as a study of literature that introduces new metaphors to understand new subjects. The skillful word play in poetry and its passionate delivery would cause you to take interest in any subject matter.
Poetry is also abstract, it is tough to accurately trace the origins of contemporary poetry because for all we know the practice might have been deeply embedded in the earlier centuries. Colangelo made an interesting claim that travel by sea was very connected to writing poems. Travel by sea was the primary mode of travel for traders and explorers, this gives us a skeleton estimate on poetry’s origins. Colangelo also pointed out that drinking wine was also associated with writing poems. Wine drinking can be traced back to the BCE eras, again making it hard to pinpoint a specific origin.
Through the use of a series of case studies on early poets, Colangelo did his best to situate poetry in the early 1900’s and how it became very popular in Italy. One case study that stood out to me was Benedetto Croce (1966-1952) Professor Colangelo presented him as an active defender of the arts with poetry included. “Art is intuition and expression.” I dug deeper into this phenomenal poet of his day to try figure out the origins of his passion for arts and poetry. He became introduced to art by his uncle. He developed an early interest in law and later enrolled at the University of Rome where he eventually dropped out. Croce moved out of Rome and thanks to his inheritance, he did not need to work so instead he traveled and read widely.
Benedetto Croce became interested in history and began to develop fundamental questions such as whether history was an art or a science? He concluded that history was an art and this birthed his passion for arts. He developed uttermost respect towards those who created, interpreted, constructively criticized and viewed art. Croce formed an idea termed ‘artistic intuition.’ Later in his life, in an effort to promote art he started a magazine that became very influential during his time. His famous work Breviario di Estetica (Breviary of Aesthetics) -which Professor Colangelo mentioned, made claims that art was superior to science or metaphysics. He later went on to write a lot of literature that is today being studied and translated into several languages. Using his brief history of his artistic journey when can lay parallels to the origins of contemporary poetry.
Chris Gavaler a specialist on superhero fictions attempted to trace back the origins of superheros. He acknowledged that comics studies is an expanding field, admitting that he himself was sort of pushed into it by the curiosity of senior students aiming to do a thesis on the subject. He describes that he used superman as a reference point or a lens if you like to magnify and evaluate what came before and observe what came after. He suggests that it is tough to give an exact origin of superheros due to the several building blocks tied to this particular narrative.
What thrilled me was the discussion of the role of Hollywood in spreading superhero ideas. Companies like Marvel have dedicated their entire portfolio into movies that re-tell these superhero tales. Blockbuster action movies are tremendously profitable. The big advantage that film producers are capitalizing on by producing such films is that, there is already an existing demand (the stories are already quite popular) and people would pay to watch each edition that comes out. Marvel is creating franchises out of these scripts and making serious profits as a result.
Companies are spending millions to acquire rights to these superhero original scripts. Disney and Marvel have the capital needed to fund these films, ability to source and pay for star actors and existing partnership with movie distributors and streaming services. It is believed that these firms courageously spend nearly $300 million on a budget to create Spider man, Justice League, X-Men, Batman vs Superman and Avengers films. It is interesting to draw the parallels on how initial fiction tales can transform to money making machines. Markets for such superhero blockbusters outside the US are essentially what hold the industry together. Superhero movies in Brazil, China, U.K, Mexico, and South Korea open their first weeks with an average of $15 Million. The recent Justice League film for example, opened in theaters in Brazil generating about 14.2 Million in its first weekend. The probability of success for producing Superhero movies is higher than producing drama, comedy or romantic-comedy movies. Gavaler might be tracing a history, an origin but his research has contemporary context connotations. The superhero narrative is here to stay, it will be very interesting to see the re-making of these stories as films to fit the modern society expectations. Superhero comic books seem to be faced out with the rise of technological advancements such as Imax movie theaters. The demand on superhero literature also seems to have flatten but this is a topic that will never be eroded as there is no boundaries to the creativity that can be employed to push forward these superhero tales.
On her second visit to Colby, Professor Janet Browne lectured on her specialization – Charles Darwin. “The origin of the Origin.” Opening her presentation with visuals of Darwin represented in a picture, oil painting and caricature she narrated on how popular Darwin had become. Darwin was one of the most famous scientists of his day. His work was regarded as the foundation for the modern world. A man who had a revolution named after him. At the age of 22 while on his voyage of the Beagle his experiences gave him the apparatus to speak about the Origin of Species. Darwin’s publication The Origin of Species sold out and its arguments spread like forest fire not only in scientific circles but also in public domains. He arguably started the first international scientific debate in history.
Theology or Science? The church had been a dominant institution in the early 17th century but science overthrew religion. Science through Darwin attempted to explain what people thought was a divine origin. His doctrines made people feel uncomfortable. The notion of evolution was new to the Victorian society. Evolution had been a subject of study for years prior to Darwin’s publication, there were several other evolutionary thinkers and opponents of organic evolution such as Lyell and Louis Agassiz but Darwin’s 1859 publication was the climax and served as a mid-point to the so-called Darwinian revolution.
The Darwinian revolution is an on-going movement whose origins can be traced to the 18th Century. The impacts of the climax publication live on long after Darwin’s death. The effects of his theories began to be felt while he was yet alive, his concepts are experiencing gradual acceptance as the centuries go by. The 21st Century is currently witnessing the most heated debates of Darwin’s notions. The debates are fueled by the contemporary knowledge of genetics and heredity. Darwin’s concept of natural selection became popular in all kinds of spheres, this concept was in some way used positively but majority of the times it became adopted to push forward narratives of injustice. Herbert Spencer’s widely published works were read and embraced by elite in society. Spencer coined the term ‘survival of the fittest’ in an effort to replace Darwin’s natural selection. This was a vulgarization of the evolution theory that became very popular in the 19th Century. Spencer emphasized that only some would survive the struggle stressing that the lower class were not worthy in society. He flipped Darwin’s findings to justify and promote inequality and injustice.
Eugenic doctrines were invariably coupled with other ideologies the Darwinian revolution. Initially, Eugenics began as a study to explain the decline of the nation’s biological fitness as evidenced by the British army during warfare. Galton referenced Darwin’s work as he spearheaded the Eugenics movement. He saw the need for society to diverge from what was becoming the norm of degeneration. ‘Keep Britain clean’ and he thought Eugenics would do this. Galton thought society was confining in natural selection and voiced out that they should add artificial selection. He might have wished for the success of natural selection but he certainly felt that things should be added on to make it all work.