Tuesday, March 30, 2010

TIME: Anxiety of Influence

DNA. The final frontier. In 1953 James D. Watson and Francis Crick suggested what is now accepted as the first correct double-helix model of DNA structure. Their double-helix, molecular model of DNA was then based on a single X-ray diffraction image. Deoxyribonucleic acid makes up all the characteristics in our body from our height to the color of our eyes.

All our offspring carry genetic information from both parents: half each actually. However it does seem to many people that children more from one parent than the other. Such is the case in this article. What intrigued me most while reading was a genetic-serving service, that takes your spit and from it tells you your genetic makeup. You may discover some very curious things about yourself: how sensitive you are to pain, how high your IQ is etc.

Although my father believes these tests are a miracle of God, I, personally don't believe in them as much. They do seem to help in the long-run: they may tell if you can develop cancer before it actually starts developing. However, I'll reserve my judgment until it is publicly employed.

The text in itself is quite humorous with well-structured arguments both against and for these tests. I will always read Joel Stein's articles from now on. Throughout it he used his own experiences to describe the spit tests. I will end this post with funniest thing I have ever read in TIME :

"Too bad there's no gene for awesomeness" Joel Stein

Friday, March 19, 2010

Time: Generation Next

Have we ever wondered why our elder are so slow at operating and successfully using an computer or iPhone? Why do they seem to know more than us in terms of scientifical knowledge but less in technological terms? 
The gap between the elders and the youngsters is diminishing: more and more old adults are becoming technologically aware, for example 1 in 3 adults in the U.S always carries an iPod on his person. Young and old adults are now more than ever in recorded history extremely alike: they dress the same, they listen to the same music etc.
"They [millennials] are the most likely of any generation to think technology unites people rather than isolates them, that it is primarily a means of connection, not competition."
Will this rapid decrease in the differential gap between elders and millenials (as the youngsters of 2000 millennium are being called) aid the development and constant upheaval of society as we know it? It is because of the influence of millennials that we will observe the emergence of new ideas and technologies unlike anything that was previously seen during the 80's and 70's. Young people are now more educated, more diverse, more optimistic and unfortunately  less likely to have a job than previous generations due to the increase in expectations.

When asked about their goals in life, they weren't so much different than the generation before them: being a good parent, having a successful marriage. However they are much more politically progressive than their elders: they may support gay marriage, something unthinkable during the early 50's. 1 in 4 millennials shows no religious affiliation at all while the other 3 probably don't practice their religion very often.
What I believe is their most important characteristic is their ability of hopefulness. That is the greatest divide between the two ages. The millennials show an uncanny ability for diversification and for working as a team unlike their earlier generations which focused more on personal success and gain rather than on the advantage for the society as a whole. This is the most important factor for the future, if we want to survive any coming disasters or bridge any gaps in our way. We need youth.

Next Generation by Nancy Gibbs

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Book Review: A Short History of Nearly Everything

It has been some time since I wrote a post so I thought I'd start out with a little something I have been reading for some time now. Bill Bryson's book is everything that one could hope for: a simplified and exemplary sort of encyclopedia of all that is and was science. From the Big Bang to tiny quarks and electrons the book describes and explains it all, using a clear method to make it more accessible to the general public.

The book was an instant bestseller either due to the simplified language or the success of Bill Bryson's other creations including The Lost Continent and Notes from a Small Island. Bill Bryson wrote this book because he was dissatisfied with his scientific knowledge, mostly due to boring and uninteresting lessons at school. He sought to improve this knowledge for himself and for the whole world by use of this book.

For me this story of science has been a magnificent travel through space and time, something that Bryson was born for. It creates an atmosphere of interest and discontent among its readers due to their ignorance for the basic facts of science and of life itself. A short history provides a cure for such ignorance accompanied with a humorous yet factual style of writing that only Bill Bryson can provide.

"It was as if [the textbook writer] wanted to keep the good stuff secret by making all of it soberly unfathomable."
Bryson, on the state of science books used within his school.
 In my opinion, the book has been an interesting read either because of its ground-breaking writing or due to its scientific facts accompanied with soapy stories of Bill Bryson's past. However I will not attempt to force this book on anyone with a short attention span. Trust me, even I have dozed off when reading it sometimes.