Social Studies

No. Starting things off, this is not a blog about middle school geography. This is a discussion (albeit one-sided) of how we define what it means to be social.

Last time on IDEAS Seminar, our young hero (me) mentioned that in this day and age he felt that we were becoming less social as a people. To me, it seems that through technology we’ve grown more distant from one another and our social skills as a whole are on the decline. Rather than going to talk to someone face to face, mano a mano, we can just call someone on the phone… but who am I kidding? No one actually calls anyone anymore, now we just text each other back and forth maniacally. How much information can you really gather from a series of acronyms followed by an emoji? I mean really? To me, social relationships are cultivated when in physical contact and texting/ social media is just a method to arrange these “get-togethers”.

Yet some would argue that what it means to be “social” is now changing. Some say that through our technological revolution, our definition of social is changing. Perhaps, in modern times, the most social thing you can do is to update your status on Facebook. Admittedly, texting may not be as informational as physical contact, yet the shear amount that most people participate in may make up for this. If you’re texting someone all day, in some ways you’ve been interacting with that person for hours on end. This is especially true of two people who are in a relationship. I dare you to try and take away either person’s phone. You will lose more than just a few limbs.

Perhaps it isn’t fair to say that we are becoming less social as a whole.But who really knows? All I know, is it’s time for your hero (me) to sign out for the day.

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*This unmodified picture is from: http://aha-soft-icons.deviantart.com/art/Social-LongShadow-Icons-481470144

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It’s a Bird! It’s a Plane! It’s… Mars?

For those of you who don’t know, there is a planet in outer space that we have been keeping an eye for a while. Thanks to modern science, we’ve been discovering that our planetary neighbor might just hold more secrets than we first expected.

In recent years there’s been a bunch of chatter about a possible human expedition in the near future. So why do we find this rock in space so interesting? Well, if you’ve been following news, a few months back Mars was discovered to have running water on it’s surface. Just to emphasize this point, as a human who drinks water on a daily basis, this is incredibly significant.

We’ve also recently discovered new cauliflower shaped objects on Mars. You’re probably wondering how I go from something as dazzling as water on Mars to space cauliflower, but hear me out. When these fantastical cauliflower objects were discovered they were compared to a similar oddity on Earth. In a region of El Taito, similar cauliflower-like structure’s were found. On Earth, we’ve found evidence of microbial fossils on the cauliflowers. If this is the case with Mars (albeit this is extremely unlikely) it may be the first evidence of life on Mars. This warrants some investigation.

With that, we arrive at that the less than enthusiastic news. Sadly, due to some technical problems, the next Mars probe launch has been put on halt until 2018. Looks like we’ll have to wait a few more years before we draw any conclusions… but one can’t help but be a little hopeful. PIA19912-MarsCuriosityRover-MountSharp-20151002

The Good Life

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Exam week is around the corner here at Lehigh and once again people are on the verge of complete emotional collapse. Whenever I run into my sister on campus these days our conversation always seems to end with “Dan, fix my life.” This got me thinking, what exactly would constitute as “fixing” someone’s life?

In the society we live in, there seems to be this general idea that the so-called “good-life” consists of a strict daily regiment of lounging on a beach in Tahiti. There would be no debt, financial struggles, responsibilities of any sort, or even conflict. Essentially, we are obsessed with Kenny Chesney’s immortal lyrics “No shoes, no shirt, no problems.” Yet, we are so absorbed in this endeavor to escape reality, we don’t really think about what it would actually be like.

Aside from the constant need for sunscreen, we’d be in a world with no reason to do anything. Without deadlines and without the need to work for survival, we’d have no motivation to do anything. Sure, you could go surfing for a while, but what would be the point? In the same way that we outgrew Miley Cyrus and Bieber, things that seemed exciting and crazy would eventually sink to mediocrity.

As humans, we have an incredible capacity to lose interest in things that are commonplace. What does this mean for our “Good-life”? Perhaps we will still dream of palm trees and sandy beaches, but ultimately, that is one dream that doesn’t need to become a reality.

Corn on the Cob

So today I basically became aware of the fact that everything in the world is corn. That burger you ate last night, yeah, probably some corn in it. Chicken nuggets? Mhmm. Even some soda’s contain that lovable little yellow vegetable.

Why do I want you to care about corn? Well, I’m less concerned with the fact that we are eating vegetables and more concerned about how this vegetable came to be. Back in the earliest days of people corn was minuscule. So how did corn get to be to the delicious size that it is today?

Presumably, one day someone decided to eat a piece of this tiny corn. Like all corn, he failed to completely digest it, and that little hunk of corn was planted in a pile of “enriched soil”. Over the years, people continued to snack on the larger hunks of corn and the smaller pieces slowly faded away. Fast forward a ridiculous number of years and poof, corn on the cob.

However, this new corn suffers from a fatal flaw. In all our efforts to create the David Hasselhoff of corn, we overlooked something significant. It’s only one vegetable. One crazy bug or insect could severely damage corn production and leave us in a very bad, very awkward situation.

It seems that in many cases with advances in technology (in this case corn technology) we don’t always think in the long term. Sure, eating an entire large pizza from Dominoes seems like a chance to achieve Nirvana. Yet, I’m almost certain you’re stomach will be throwing a tantrum the next day. When will we stop looking for short term answers to long term questions? maiz-y-teosinte1

Unmodified picture from: http://lacienciaysusdemonios.com/2009/10/06/el-huerto-evolutivo-4-del-teocinte-teosinte-al-maiz-la-evolucion-es-la-repanocha/

LOOK IT’S SPRING… almost

Four O’clocks are finally ending here at Lehigh and things are finally going back to normal. This week, for me at least, has been one of the most stressful in my life. Between exams, housing applications, and life in general, my stress levels peaked. Quite frankly, this progression to normalcy is complete ecstasy.

For those of you out there who still have exams this week, you’re almost there. A few more days and exams will be a fading memory and break will be there to whisk you off your feet.

What’s that you say? There’s more exams on the way… but wait… I can’t hear you over the sound of this great beach party I’m at. Gnarly waves brah.

Oh? Was that something about more homework and harder concepts? If only I wasn’t skydiving, your words might matter to me. In the meantime, I’m just going to keep falling at an ungodly speed until I pull my parachute. Booyah!

“But what about–”

No. Right now I’m sitting on my back deck, reading this fantastic book, sipping some lemonade, and enjoying the sun. Take it up with mMixed_clouds_over_Santa_Clarita,_CAy secretary. Please leave a message… or don’t. I don’t check the answering machine anyway.

My point is simple, life is stressful, enjoy the moments when you don’t need to be. Take a break. Life can go on a while without you.

 

 

*Picture by Chevy111 at English Wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=46662450

Technology and the Public

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Look out your back window. What if I told you that the house just down the street- yeah that one- was actually a nuclear reactor? How would you react? If you have any sense of self preservation, you’ll probably freak out a little bit. In fact, you’d probably try to move as far away as possible as quickly as you could. Hello Tahiti. Yet, for as long as that house had been there, you’d been living safely in blissful ignorance.

This brings up an interesting question, should the “public” be aware of everything that is going on around them? On the one hand, through popular culture and movies we seem to be ingrained with this fascination for government conspiracies. Basically, we are trained to hate when the government doesn’t tell us something. Yet, how do you explain to a single mother of four children both the danger and benefits of a nuclear reactor?

As a budding engineer, I hastronaut-11050_960_720.jpgave this ingrained belief that ultimately the expansion of the technological universe will benefit human kind. To achieve this, we have to keep experimenting, taking risks, and learning from our failures. Sadly though, if you tell someone that they could erupt into flames at any minute, they instantly want to shut down whatever threatens them; and they are most certainly right to do this. But are they? At the other end of the spectrum, does the end justify the means? Maybe the answer isn’t as black and white as it seems.

 

 

 

The Meaning of Life.

You got it, I’m about to answer all the questions you will ever have. As an IDEAS major, I know all, and see all… And…That is what they call hyperbole. Look it up, it’s one of the most useful things in existence.

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Now onto the age old question, “What is the meaning of life?” Some people argue that it’s as simple as procreating. Yup, go make some babies and you’ve done your part. If that’s enough for you, you may stop here. However, if you’re looking for more than that, let’s keep playing this little game.

To address this whole baby idea, what if you don’t want babies? Does this mean your life is meaningless? Of course not, and that’s why I can’t put myself behind this theory. Then there are those who argue that we exist to better humankind. That our goal in life is to make people “better.” Yet what does that really mean? Who has the authority to say what is the “right” path for us to walk? I don’t know if anyone does. Then, of course, there are those who argue that position belongs to a higher power… but who’s? (Just a quick disclaimer, I do not mean to step on any toes and state this as more of intellectual jousting material than anything else).With so many different beliefs out there, how do we know ours is the right one? I suppose that’s up to the individual.

To me that’s the key point. I personally don’t feel there is a single universal meaning to life. We are defined by our actions. In similar fashion, our meaning is defined by our lives. So if your dying to know the meaning of life, stop. Look around at the life you’re living, and you’ll find your purpose there.