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The Wave Review

I recently watched a German film called ‘The Wave’. It is based on a real life experiment that happened. The concept fascinated me so I did a bit of research on the actual experiment!
The story is based on a real experiment that took place at Cubbereley High school in ‘Palo Alto’ California, on the first week of April 1967.

The experiment was undertaken by Ron Jones, a history teacher. Jones wanted to show his sophomore students how powerful the pressure to belong could be, and explain fascism to his class. Fascism is when a government tries to lead you and dictate the way you live, think and so on. A common example is the Nazis. Nazis were fascists and led by Hitler up to and during the WWII.

In the experiment Jones wanted the students to realise why people would see individuality as a drawback of Democracy. Jones articulated this main point by instilling the motto: “strength through discipline, strength through community, strength through action, strength through pride.” He felt that this would practically show them how susceptible people are to such ideologies.

Jones applied the fundamentals of autocratic government (Unity, Discipline, Equality, Community) and applied them in his class, he was glued to the fact that this would show his students how prone, or at risk people are to ideologies such as this one.
Jones started the first day of the experiment with simple exercises, such as good posture, proper seating, and he also had an arranged seating plan for the students. He made the students stand to ask or answer question and they were required to address Ron as ‘Mr Jones’ He thought this would make them a little more engaged in the experiment and feel the vibe of an orderly and disciplined community.

By the third day Jones had given the group a name, and had made up a salute which he ordered class members to use and salute each other even outside of the class.
The experiment attracted lots of students and there were over two hundred participants at the end of it. The ‘third wave’ members even showed dramatic improvements in their academic areas of work! Each of the students felt as if they belonged to the movement and Jones assigned them roles such as designing third wave banners, stopping non members from entering the class etc.

However by the fourth day of the experiment, Jones brought the movement to an end as it spiralled out of control.

Does this go to show how susceptible we are to autocratic ideas? Do we really need them? Or do we just think we do? Is the feeling to belong and fit in really that powerful? Are we that close to extremism that we don’t even know it? Is it really that easy to be susceptible? To get carried away?

Why were the students so engaged with the ideas? What might it tell us about people today? About our society?

Allegory of the Cave-Plato’s theory

I have always thought about the world and the way it is exposed. Things such as how and why people don’t always think beyond what portrayed to them by media, governments, family, etc. really fascinates me. And usually if they do they are probably rejected or treated with contempt. “You Can Recognize A Pioneer By The Arrows In His Back”!

So when I stumbled across the Greek Philosopher, Plato’s theory, it took me a while to understand what he actually meant.

This is Plato’s theory:

Imagine some people living in an underground cave. They sit with their backs to the mouth of the cave with their hands and feet bound in such a way that they can only look at the back wall of the cave. Behind them is a high wall, and behind that wall pass human-like creatures, holding up various figures above the top of the wall. Because there is a fire behind these figures, they cast flickering shadows on the back wall of the cave. So the only thing the cave dwellers can see is this shadow play. They have been sitting in this position since they were born, so they think these shadows are all there are.

Now imagine if one of them manages to free himself, the first thing comes to his mind would be, where did these shadows come from, until he turns around and sees the real figures, he would be dazzled to see the sharp sunlight, he would be dazzled to see the clarity of the figures because he only saw the shadows on the wall, and if he manages to get out and climb over the wall and past the fire into the world outside, he would be even more dazzled. But after rubbing his eyes he will be struck by the beauty of everything. For the first time he will see the colours and clear shapes. He will  see the real flowers and animals that the cave shadows were only poor reflections of. But still he would be asking himself, where did the flowers and animals come from? (Adapted from ‘Sophie’s World’: p.82)

There are quite a few different understandings of his theory, a common one being that the relationship between darkness of the cave and the world beyond, corresponds to the relationship between the forms of the natural world and the world of ideas. For example, in the natural world we have pleasures such as food, music, material ambitions etc. The worl of ideas makes us think that there is something beyond this.

Metaphorically, this basically means that we live in a world of shadows, which we think we enjoy, and don’t see the reality of ideas.

Also, Plato postulated that philosophers’ role in society is to be the investigators of reality by constructing ideas from outside/beyond the box (meaning outside the cave).

I personally think of the theory as:

The people who have their feet and hands bound and have their back to the mouth of the cave are us (normal people today) and the human like creatures that walk past the mouth of the cave are the media and people in the spotlight (government, celebrities, etc) and the various figures they hold up are what they want us to believe and think (things like talent shows and beauty pageants). Lastly the fire could represent how all of these things are exposed to us, like TV, Magazines, etc. So on the whole Plato’s theory is about how we live in a world where things are shown to us and automatically we are brainwashed to accept it and believe it is the way society works.

Planted in Fascination

When I was younger, around the age of five, my father told me not to peel or scratch the bark off a tree. He said they can feel, a bit like humans, and it would hurt them, just as it would hurt us if someone tried to peel our skin off! OUCH!

Anyway, nearly eight years on and this advice and information has stuck with me for as long as I can remember, so I suppose it was a familiar come back when I stumbled across a fascinating article in the New Scientist magazine. The article was about how plants and trees touch, hear, taste, smell and see. 

Today, many trees are being cut down, to build roads e.t.c. Plants aren’t really a big deal anymore, gardening shows are being replaced by talent contests. So is it really a big surprise when a group of scientists find out how trees and plants can use their senses? Probably not. 

In mythological stories e.g. lord of the rings, trees were thought of as humans and treated with just the same amount of respect. But that’s all changed now, trees obviously can’t be seen as humans…or can they?! 


Did you know that plants SEE light? They have photoreceptors in their stems and leaves, sort of like how we have them in their eyes. Plants can also see and know where the direction of light is coming from; it’s as if they are hungry for it. 

And if you thought that was clever wait until 
you hear about the Venus Fly Trap! The Venus Fly Trap is known for the way it senses a fly coming towards it and magically traps it in it powerful leaves. But how exactly does it do this? Well, when a fly comes towards the plant it sends a current which radiates throughout its leaves, it then activates the ion channels in the cell membrane and snaps shut! This all takes place in less than a tenth of a second. 

So it is now beginning to become clearer on how trees and plants use their five senses. These magnificent creations play a very important role in the universe and I suppose it’s safe to say they are not a graffiti wall, but are extraordinary in their purpose and should be well honoured.

Victoria Pendalton and Jess Varnish’s Disqualification: Olympics

So there I am sat on the couch, with a can of coke in one hand and a packet of crisp in the other (clearly betraying Gary Taubes) and enjoying one of my favourite events in the Olympics, the Keirin Cycling Sprint. This sport is for the most agile of cyclists, and in order to compete for this even, both your strength and stamina has to be at its maximum. 
 On this particular occasion it was the women who were competing (Australia vs Great Britain). It was very intense because quite a lot of people wanted “team GB” to win but were aware of Australia’s capability and how good they were. Fortunately Great Britain powered their way through the course beating Australia and it was soon announced that Jess Varnish and Victoria Pendleton had broken the world record! The crowd here hysterical and everyone was really proud, Pendleton was honoured and overjoyed with her effort. 
Whilst the audience were celebrating Great Britain’s success, the mood quickly vacillated (as it often does in sport) from joy to despair as it was announced that Victoria Pendleton and Jess Varnish had been disqualified! Why?! They gave an outstanding performance and Pendleton could have won 3 medals in one game if she had not been disqualified
 
 
So what was real reason Varnish and Pendleton were disqualified? It is believed it was due to the fact that she had set off too early, a hundredth of a second to be precise. That’s faster than the blink of an eye! This one, tiny tragedy cost both Varnish and Pendleton a gold medal. 
  
Victoria Pendleton and Jess Varnish World Record:

Higgs Boson Explanation

What is the Higgs Boson? 
The Higgs Boson is a type of particle (referred to as the “God Particle” in an atom) which is part of what’s called ‘The Standard Model’ particle. It was founded by scientists at CERN and they are 99.9% sure that the Higgs Boson really exists. Dr Andreas Krassnigg, a physicist with the University of Graz in Austria elaborates:

“Picture the Standard Model as a car. Then you could imagine the Higgs boson to be, or provide, the wheels of that car”.

“For our car this is a question of central importance, since it determines what the car can do and how. While not having wheels would not have been a bad thing automatically – there are other fancier ways to move a car around, it has now turned out that the wheels seem to be there and that this is the way the car moves.”

So the Higgs Boson particle gives the other sub-atomic particles such as protons, neutrons, electrons, etc their mass and other qualities.

How was it discovered? 

The Higgs boson was discovered by Peter Higgs (and whom it was named after) and the CERN. But how they really discovered it was from a machine called ‘The Large Hadron Collider’ and it is an instrument that smashed atoms together.
 Why is it important and what changes will it make?
The Higgs Boson Provides a kind of insight into how the Universe works. And it’s possible to say that new types of technology fields will open due to the discovery of the Higgs Boson.
 
Another world wide benefit, says Dr Simon George, who is involved in the ATLAS experiment using the Large Hadron Collider is that young people will be inspired: “The highly trained PhDs who get snapped up by the private sector, and enthused children who will become our scientists in the future”
 

But Higgs himself said he doesn’t know what the implications are for the discovery!
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/science/large-hadron-collider/9381684/Higgs-boson-Whats-it-for-I-have-no-idea-says-Prof.html

Prometheus Film Review

I went to watch Prometheus the other day and was quite impressed with it so decided to do a review!

Prometheus is a prequel to the well known film ‘Alien.’ It is also a mixture of science, religion, adventure and horror. It is about a cadre of scientists who take part in an expedition about the origin of humanity, inspired by some ancient cave paintings.
The film was very gripping right from the beginning, which made it very interesting and I was eager to know what happened next. There was also quite a strong build up and the storyline became more and more clear as the climax built up. The ending also wrapped the story up neatly, but I felt as if the very last bit was slightly rushed, and it was a shame as this was a very good film! 

Overall, I would highly recommend this film to not just sci-fi fanatics but anybody. The thrilling storyline will have you hooked from beginning to end. However there are one or two gory scenes which some viewers may find disturbing but this film is definitely worth the while if you are a sci-fi/mystery lover!

Here is an embedded link to the trailer of ‘Prometheus’

Hustings

Yesterday I attended a debate arguing whether Bradford should have an elected mayor or not. These are some highlights and pictures from the event. It was my first political hustings I have attended, and I didn’t really know what to expect. A ‘hustings’ basically means a place where political campaign speeches are made.

 

Jeanette Sunderland, who is with the Liberal Democrats, was against having an elected mayor, because she thought such a person would have too much power, and if there was an elected mayor it would be more likely to be a man who was quite wealthy – even though our current mayor is a woman?
Another incident during Sunderland’s speech was at a point when she asked the crowd “who actually voted in the last local election?” she assumed hardly anybody had, therefore, they probably would not vote for an elected mayor. But she was slightly taken aback when at least 75% of the crowd sitting there put their hand up. But people who attend hustings are normally very political, so therefore are more likely to vote.


The only people who were in support of an elected mayor were Alyas Karmani from the Respect party and Simon Cooke from the Conservative party. I noticed when Alyas Karmani was delivering his speech, David Green from the Labour party (who was against an elected mayor) was blatantly on his phone.


Alyas Karmani gave quite a good speech; first he criticised the current councils for their consistent failings. He then stated what a Mayor’s role should be and explained they are a “voice for the entire city and a champion”. He also questioned why Ian Greenwood had not attended the debate and it was as if the “council was being run by Laurel and Hardy!”


There was some heckling during the debate, especially when it was time to ask questions because the Chair, Ratna Latchman, gave everyone the chance to air their thoughts, despite the fast pace of the discussion, and managed to tie things together quite neatly!

Overall, there wasn’t a huge turnout, and I expected some drama and possibly a fight. But it was quite a good experience and I would probably go again because you sort of get a feel for the process and if I hadn’t gone I probably wouldn’t know how the process works. 

National Government and Local Council ‘Two cheeks of the same Backside?’

There is a forthcoming local election, this involves nominating a candidate to be you local councillor for the area you live in. If you have any concerns or complaints you normally hand them over to your local councillor to deal with.
One particular candidate, whom I met, is Dawud Islam; he is with the Respect party. I spoke to him briefly a couple of days ago and he told me the difference between National Government and Local Council. Basically, councillors are different to MPs and only deal with problems locally that are within their area e.g. bins, litter, building permission.

Problems in my community that affect me personally:

The “Wastefield” Bradford has not been finished yet, or even built; therefore there is no proper shopping centre in Bradford.  Where am I supposed to get my “Vans” from? Bradford kids have suffered fashionably!
I cannot swim due to the closure of local pools; yet Bradford Council are drowning in a £5.7 million surplus.
 
In the education league tables, tragically Bradford remains near the bottom.
I sometimes feel as if I’m being deprived of opportunities that other kids have.
We have given Labour too many chances which they have consistently failed in fulfilling. But are the Respect party going to make a change? Somehow I am inclined to doubt it.

George Galloway by-election

By George, what is happening in Bradford!
 
I have recently been thinking about the problems in Bradford, particulary Bradford West.
Facts:
  • The Westfield Bradford was supposed to start work round about the year 2006, but we still see a pile of rubble almost 6 years on.
  • The British Soldiers are still in Afghanistan
  • Bradford has a very large population of young people and youths, who are politically very disengaged.
So it must have come as quite a surprise when famous politician George Galloway anounced he was running for the role of Bradford West’s new MP (Marsha Singh had resigned due to health issues).
I have attended two of Galloway’s Rallies now, and the way he persuades and gets people to listen with his tone of voice and the words he uses, is exeptional. But people were not very critical and were just accepting what George Galloway had to offer.
The Respect party were against the Labour, Conservative, and the Liberal Democrats. George Galloway won by over 10,000 votes, followed by Imran Hussain who came second and got 8,201 votes, which leads me to an incident that happened yesterday when I was on my way to the George Galloway party in town.
We went by taxi (due to most petrol stations being closed) and my dad asked the taxi driver if he voted for Imran Hussain or George Galloway. The taxi driver replied that he voted for George Galloway, because a couple of days ago Imran Hussain knocked on his door, introduced himself, and then added “Are you going to look after us BRO?”. 
“Are you going to look after us BRO?” rather than discussing how Labour could help him and his family is not the way to win an election.
The only time we might catch George Galloway using any sort of slang word is when he is drunk-but then again George has never touched a drink in his life.