10/28/2016: Curious

There is no doubt that Kim Todd found a way to pique my curiosity with her article from The Best American Science and Nature Writing . Todd managed to write an interesting article about a subject that usually would not interest the majority of readers. The article Curious was phenomenally constructed using hidden rhetorical devices that grabbed the reader’s attention and kept them engaged in the article.

The foundation of her article lies within the story of the Surinam toad. Todd uses this bizarre and rare animal to hook the reader’s attention and support her argument. This foundation gives the reader an irresistible urge to read on. The description of the toad itself may be the most powerful grabber used in the article. Todd describes the birth of its young in a gut wrenching fashion that, as stated, makes you that much more interested in the animal. In my case, I was too captured in the topic that I had to watch the, in fact, gruesome birth of Surinam toads online. However, Todd also provides feedback into other’s curious adventures with the Surinam toad. She uses the history of researcher’s experiences with the toad to show how human curiosity can be generalized to us as a species. Using these examples, Todd does not try to prove to the reader that he or she is a curious person, but shows them that we as humans have a curious desire that must naturally be filled.

Since reading this article, my perspective of the world has changed. I am aware of the curiosity of humans and how we are prone to let our brains roam the landscape we inhabit. Todd’s use of the Surinam toad not only helps her get this point across, but also creates a work of science writing that is not data and jargon, but incredibly fascinating and informational.

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10/21/16: Project Nim

I find that the researchers in the Nim experiment had an incredible opportunity to work with a species that is so similar to us as humans. Given the challenge to teach a Nim, the chimpanzee, sign language to the point of sentence formation and correct syntax, researchers built relationships throughout the duration of the experiment. The interaction between the researchers and the chimpanzee created a story of friendship, love, and science. The film was able to convey the great amount of emotion and attachment involved with this social science expereiment. singer_1-112411

Nim Chimpsky and head researcher Herb Terrace

The chance to live with a chimpanzee would not be the same as living with another domesticated animal. Cats and dogs are fun and loving, but living with a chimp allows for a relationship with a species that has community, friendship, and strong emotion. Imagine how different life would be with another thumbed creature in the house. Nim was able to dress in human clothes, enjoy “social pleasures”, and even help with chores. The film continuously emphasizes the human nature of Nim throughout the movie. It even goes to the extent to stress that Nim was almost taken to court to help plead his case of inhumane treatment of chimpanzees.

Also, it was these human traits of Nim that made the researchers so attached to him. From the beginning, Nim favored some people over others; for example, he would attach himself more to Stephanie than he would to Weir. Nim and Stephanie’s relationship went so far as to her finding interest in Nim’s sexual curiosities and obsessions. Also, the film further proved the researchers attraction to the chimp through emotional interviews with crying, sobbing, and strong language. Because of this, I felt the film spoke more to the life of chimpanzees in the human world than the ability for chimps to learn human sign language. Although the film did not discuss extensive detail of the social experiment, it did give a great biography of the project and Nim Chimpsky’s life.

10/14/16: Waiting for Light

The excerpt Waiting for Light examines one of the most interesting energy crisis solutions in an underdeveloped country. Omnigrid Micropower Company has created a business that does not have the goal of extorting the customers, but instead helping the customers and the native country of the enterprise. The ability to provide electricity in the form of lanterns doesn’t only help the impoverished stay safe and productive, but also it opens horizons for incredible ingenuity and expansion of the idea. Waiting for Light uses the story of Jake Abrahamson to support OMC in their mission of providing power to the people of rural India.

 

The article explicitly states the severity of the power problem in India through appeals to logos and pathos as well as a narrative story with Jake’s interactions with the Indian people. The comparison to the population of the United States and Canada increases the effectiveness of the article. The author was aware of the primarily Western audience that would be conscious of how large this fact implies the powerless Indian population is. The narrative aspect of the story gives the argument its pathos characteristics. The audience is grabbed through the translated conversations between Jake and the natives of India. For example, Jake learns how impactful such a little lantern is on the population of India. This idea of a lantern bringing such a huge impact shows the audience the magnitude of help that is necessary for these people to survive.

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Waiting for Light also mentions the ability of these omnigrid companies to expand into the Internet sector. If Internet were available to these rural Indian people, the population would see an incredible decrease in poverty, and an incredible increase in education. The possibilities of the omnigrid companies are endless. First, the companies provide solar lantern and wi-fi routers. Next, they will be providing computers, educators, or even industrial equipment to the people, and that is the essence of the article: to show the success and ability of a company that is out to help the underprivileged people of the Earth.

9/23/16: Running is Always Blind

The article “Running is Always Blind” has satisfied an incredible amount of my curiosity. I have always been amazed at the intelligence and responsiveness of the human body, but have not been able look deeper into the subject. However, Sam Schramski uses his journalism of the subject to provide insight into the amazing world of biomechanics. He is able to inform the reader of the developing subject, while also giving a glimpse at the cutting edge of biomechanic research and technology.5

What I found most interesting was the ability of the brain to process information and relay it to the body without consciously thinking about the action. This relationship between reactions and the brain was a topic that I wish I had been able to study during my psychology class, yet was not able to explore. However, while reading the article, I couldn’t help but think about how this research pertains to the game of golf. After playing the game for 13 years, I have come to realize how much of the game has become instinctive. During certain swings or motions, conditions change, and my body must adapt. However, a golf swing happens too fast and with too much force for any human to consciously react. So, there must be an underlying factor outside of our conscience that dictates our biomechanics. Schramski further explained how the body and mind are able to react faster than one can think through the study of science and technology. He noted that many robots have been programmed and designed to mirror human motion, yet none have succeeded in finding the natural balance of the human body. Since some of the most intelligent people in the world have not managed to crack the code to human biomechanics, I think it speaks to the idea that we are created to be unique to nature and our environment.

9/9/16: Be Nice to Mice?

The use of mice in scientific research has been a controversial discussion for years, but the two websites we read this week have presented opposing views of the topic. The National Anti-Vivisection Society (NAVS) has posted a website that is, obviously, opposing the use of mice and other animals in scientific experimentation. While on the other hand, the Jackson Library has constructed a website post that highlights the benefits and achievement of animal experimentation. The two websites are unique in their persuasive and informative tactics.

In my opinion, the Jackson Library has proposed a more palatable view of the topic. Their website has qualities that are easier to read, and more directed at the subject at hand. For example, the Jackson Library website uses a much more appealing website to the eye. The website uses text that is larger than that of the NAVS website, which makes it not only easier to read, but also less intimidating to finish. However, physical characteristics are not the only attribute that makes the Jackson Library website more attractive to the reader. The  article,”Why Mouse Genetics?”, uses terminology that is easier to understand than the more complex vocabulary of the NAVS article. NAVS has filed their article with statistics and logos information that is, in fact, very useful and convincing, but not as appealing to my preferences. But in the case of the “Why Mouse Genetics” article, I can easily find information that is useful and beneficial to an argument supporting the use of mice in laboratories. Not to mention, the “Why Mouse Genetics?” article has a bulleted synopsis of major points at the bottom of the web page. Friendly website design and organized thoughts in “Why Mouse Genetics?” gives the Jackson Library a leg up in their argument supporting the use of Mice in Laboratories.

9/2/16:Into the Maelstrom

After reading Into the Maelstrom, I was not thoroughly convinced or impressed of Jennifer Francis’s theory of global warming. However, I was impressed with the interesting rhetorical tactics used to persuade the readers toward the author’s opinion. First, the layout of the novel The Best American Science and Nature Writing is an unconventional way to persuade readers. Most authors would find data and conduct research to emphasize or prove a point; however, Rebecca Skloot has constructed a series of other author’s writings with similar beliefs to examine her own points such as global warming and scientific collaboration. This form of rhetoric is effective because the reader is able to see that multiple people, including both authors, have the same opinion on the topic of discussion. With respect to the chapter at hand, Into the Maelstrom, I thought the use of a narrative style work was a unique way to effect the reader’s opinion. The story of Jennifer Francis at the White House, sailing around the globe, and convincing Holdren of her theory provides a great setting for the rhetorical device. The narrative was able to keep my attention throughout the novel even though it was centered around a topic I do not have much concern or interest in. Also, Into the Maelstrom was broken into sections or “chapters” with unique and fun titles to capture the reader’s attention. For example, the chapter named “A Stiff Headwind” allows the reader to prepare for a section introducing hardship and struggle for Francis while also serving as a double meaning: the jet stream headwind under discussion and a headwind you would face on a sea voyage such as Francis’s. The rhetorical tactics used in the novel were very effective, but I just do not feel the same passion about the topic as Jennifer Francis or Rebecca Skloot.