Week 3 – Core Friday Lecture – “The Pluto Files”

This week’s core Friday lecture was on “The Pluto Files”. It showed a video on why Neil Degrasse Tyson declared Pluto as “not” being a planet and the controversy it stirred up throughout the nation and other parts of the world. The video also showed us how Pluto was first discovered by a farmer in the U.S. who constructed his own telescope with pieces of farm material. This discovery made a mark in American history and that is one of the many reasons why the “degradation” of Pluto’s status became such a controversial issue.

This video allowed me to have a deeper understanding in why Pluto is and is not a planet. It made me wonder and two different voices played in my mind. A part of me agrees that Pluto is not a planet and another part of me thinks that Pluto is. Which is true? After spending a large amount of time contemplating between these voices, I have arrived to a conclusion that neither is right or wrong.

The part of me that agrees that Pluto should not be a planet says that context in science has always been changing as advancements in technology and human creativity continues to prevail. Take Galileo for example; his proposal about the Earth not being in the center of the universe sparked outrage throughout society of his time but in the end, his assumptions were correct. Another part of me insists on keeping Pluto as a planet in our solar system for tradition and the fact that there is a blurred understanding of what qualifies to be a planet since we lack the understanding of our solar system and the rest of the universe.

My questions: How do you think that controversy of Pluto now being a dwarf planet is related to historical events? Would you agree that history tends to repeat itself? Do you agree that is it important for one to challenge conventional wisdom and claim that Pluto is not a planet?

~Vivian Tran~

Week 3 – Core Blog #3

Why do you think Pluto’s status is an important part of the intro to Core One?

I think the introduction of Pluto’s status to core one is important because we get to see who supports Pluto as being a planet and the others that oppose it. Are the people who support Pluto too stubborn to adjust to changes in the scientific world?? Or is it that the people who see Pluto as a dwarf planet were just too lenient to the changes that the high authorities in the scientific world make? By bringing this topic up for discussion, we get to hear both side’s point of view and reasoning and what other controversial issues it may include.

On the plus side about educating students about this topic, it contributes to ridding the ignorance within people and potentially preventing unnecessary bitterness towards the topic of Pluto being a “dwarf planet”. To be honest, I was angry when I found out that Pluto was no longer a planet but I never knew the reasons why it was degraded. All I was told was that Pluto was just a tiny ball of ice orbiting in our solar system. A couple of years back I thought to myself, “That’s it?! THAT’S why it’s not considered a planet anymore?! Size doesn’t matter!”

After reading the articles on Pluto and the research conducted to support its claim about Pluto being a dwarf planet, I now understand the other side of the story and I can finally stop feeling bitter due to my ignorance on the topic. Since I have been enlightened by information from both sides of the story, I can be open-minded and place my opinion on this topic. I feel that some people who are against the idea of Pluto being a dwarf planet is making this subject too personal but I must not forget to mention that they are not wrong either. In fact, neither sides are right or wrong because this topic has shown us how little we actually know about the universe, our theories taught worldwide that might be altered by future inventions and experimental break-through, and what does qualify to be considered a planet in our solar system.

My question: When you found out that Pluto was no longer a planet in our solar system, how did you feel about it? Were you apathetic, sad, or angry? Why did you feel this emotion?

~Vivian Tran~

Week 2 – Core Friday Lecture – “Harmony of the Spheres”

The first key of the piano was struck. Its crystal clear note is followed by a wave of symphonic melody. Soon after, the first breath into the trumpet was blown. Its deep, vibrating sound waves transcends its physical gleaming beauty in the light. The tone sends sensations of emotions that overwhelm the audience. As I listen to the live music, the sound and quality is much more defined and clearer compared to listening to it through my speakers. The pitch and depth of the tune creates a powerful impact and succeeds in drawing out one’s emotions in response to the tone of the music.

Within this lecture, it has come to my attention that some people today, including myself at times, do not appreciate the beauty of live performances. We do not think about the talent one must hold to achieve such instrumental mastery. Some are too interested in auto tuned house music that is broadcasted on mainstream. Henrik Jul Hansen, the main lecturer of this Core Friday session, explained that music was associated with logic and that it was mostly improvised in contrast to today’s scripted musical arts and performances.

A thought has struck me while working on this assignment. By not improvising and utilizing one’s creativity to their fullest potential, the creation of new master pieces lacks spontaneity. By following a script a majority of the time, our inner drive to push forward and walk a different path slowly deteriorates. “Why work more than I have to?” one might state.

Now back on topic, music and other intangible traditions contribute to the drive that people have in finding out the origins of mankind. I think music stimulates the conscious and subconscious mind. A better way of viewing this is by comparing music to a catalyst in a chemical reaction. It enhances one’s imagination and perception also with syncing with their emotions.

My question: Without music, how do you think the world would be like today? Do you think imagination is equivalent to knowledge or more or less significant to knowledge? Comparing classical music to today’s hip-hop hits, what emotions or thoughts do you encounter when listening to music in each category?

~Vivian Tran~

Week 2 – Core Blog #2

During the second week of lecture, Professor Van Breugel lectured on Edward R. Harrison’s Masks of the Universe. Van Breugel breaks down the context and paraphrases Harrison’s perspective about mankind’s perception of the universe and how our upbringing will inevitably affect our assumptions and judgment. Our knowledge of the universe is limited and we are still far from discovering the ultimate answer which we may or may not be prepared for. However, mankind has prospered as a result from technological advancement due to the drive that people tend to have in finding out the unknown and unlocking the secrets of the natural world. We may ask ourselves, “What is the universe? How does it evolve? What is the purpose of life…?” or something similar of that sort. We will never know unless we continue to have faith in mankind’s ability to find an answer.

Van Breugel explains to us how human views of the universe and morals have drastically changed over time due to the occurrence of particular events and traditions being passed down from generation to generation. He quoted Albert Einstein:

“Common sense is the collection of prejudices acquired by age 18.”

I agree with both Einstein’s and Van Breugel’s opinion upon this matter. In addition, this quote strongly ties into Harrison’s idea that one can never be unbiased for their perspective has already been affected by the people they know and their environment. For example, the morals and values that convention today view as just has been passed down from previous generations that have made and learned from their “actions”. I do not dare label what they did as “mistakes” because the conventional perspective of their time viewed it as the norm. Thus, the concept of human sacrifice for any religious ritual or practice is now viewed as murder.

Since the earliest record of history, humans have always wanted to valued, to be viewed as significant in this vast world, and to have a purpose for the things they do.  They sought for answers through methods of magic which eventually changed to mythic and finally scientific. Although it is impossible to be unbiased, we can still do our best to minimize the affect our own values and perspectives have on our experiments and research by putting the scientific method into practice. By doing so, there is a more defined cut between what is and what we want it to be.

My question: How has convention affected your views of morals and ethics? What do you think caused convention to pass down some concepts as just and unjust?

~Vivian Tran~