Tag Archives: science

What If – What sort of logistic anomalies would you encounter in trying to raise an army of apes?

What IfTitle: What If?: Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions

Author: Randall Munroe

What If? is a book of bizarre hypothetical questions and scientific answers.   But you could learn that just by looking at the cover, so here is my story about it.  I would not have known about this book if I had not gotten if for my birthday from my mom (my mom says I ask a lot of hypothetical questions).  And when I got it found it to be surprisingly intriguing. I have always loved hypothetical questions and have sometimes used them as a way of staying up longer to talk with my dad.

What If? can finally answer some of my more whimsical questions, like what would happen if every person on earth aimed a laser pointer at the moon at the same time – would it change color?  On the flip side, if my dad ever got his hands on it — it would put an end to our late-night discussions.  But enough with the backstory; let me tell you about the book.

Personally, I adore this book.  I love almost every bit of it.  I enjoy seeing questions other people would ask.  My favorite section is the Weird (and Worrying) Questions from the What If? Inbox.  In these sections, hypothetical questions are not answered, questions posed are hilariously weird (and worrying).  For example, page 14 has the question, “How many housese are burned down in the United States every year?  What would be the easiest way to increase that number by a significant amount (say, at least 15%)?”   Another gem  (I really like the weird and worrying questions – I cannot emphasize that enough) is:  “What sort of logistic anomalies would you encounter in trying to raise an army of apes?”

This book may be good for fans of Mythbusters because it applies science to the absurd.  It is also for anyone who enjoys illustrations of stick people acting out responses to questions.  Finally, I recommend this book for any fan of science.  The scientific explanations are written in an accessible and humorous way if you are a math genius.  In other words, it is hilarious.

Books of interest:

-Caleb, Greenwood, Teen Advisory Board member

GWD

Flowers for Algernon – thought-provoking and engaging

Flowers-for-Algernon-_book_coverTitle: Flowers for Algernon

Author: Daniel Keyes

Flowers for Algernon, by Daniel Keyes, is the story of a man named Charlie Gordon. Charlie was born with a brain disorder that caused him to have an IQ of just 68. However, Charlie has just been approved to pilot a radical operation that will turn him into a genius. Well, human pilot. It’s already been tried on a rat named Algernon, and it was an unqualified success. The story is told as a series of “progress reports” written by Charlie after the operation, for the purpose of documenting the effects of the operation for science. The operation is a fast success, and soon Charlie has an IQ of 185 and is an expert in every subject. But can his humanity survive the change?

For me, Flowers for Algernon was an extremely engaging and thought-provoking book. The book starts out with a quote from Plato comparing visual impairment with mental impairment, and admonishing anyone who would laugh at those with either. This seems like a straightforward thing to do. Only a deeply cruel person would laugh at a disabled person. But Flowers shows us that even our most well intentioned acts can carry unconscious cruelty. The scientists who design the operation, the medical community, even his own mother are all trying to “fix” Charlie. But, as Plato said, “the bewilderments of the eyes are two kinds, and arise from two causes, either from coming out of the light or from going into the light.” At the beginning of the story, Charlie was entirely in the dark, the worlds of politics, academics, and religion closed off to him because of his illness. Yet, when he comes into the light, is he not equally blinded?

As he gains intelligence, Charlie very quickly realizes that most of those whom he thought of as friends were actually laughing at him, patronizing him to feel better about themselves. He starts to see people for who they really are, frauds trying to navigate their way through life. As he surpasses everyone in intelligence, people start to resent him, and his social relationships suffer. He finds himself no more a part of the world than he was before. I was absolutely absorbed by Charlie’s transformation, from what was essentially a small child to an adult. The characters in this book are very believable, from the scientists that designed the procedure, Dr. Strauss and Dr. Neimar, to Charlie’s former teacher and current love interest, Miss Alice Kinnian. Everyone had a different, unique reaction to Charlie’s change, and they all teach him something about what it is to be human. This was probably my favorite part of the story, during his transition from “idiot” to genius.

There are too many themes in this story to count: The benefits of innocence, the insecurity of mankind, the limits of intelligence, the allegory of life. Yet what remains most striking is the emotional attachment that we feel for Charlie during the course of the novel. One of the things that makes me personally feel the most emotional is when someone who clearly is in a terrible situation nonetheless maintains a positive attitude. Charlie, and we imagine Algernon as well, don’t want people to feel sorry for them. All they really want is to impress their families and peers. In my opinion, Keyes is telling us that we have no obligation to do so. Charlie so desperately wanted to be smart, he never realized that what he had – his innocence, his kindness, his drive, and his love of people – was worth more than that. Life isn’t a contest like Algernon’s maze, after all. No matter what you do, you’ll reach the end. The value comes from the relationships that you form in the somewhere in the middle. A lot of society’s ills come from people taking themselves too seriously, worrying too much about their own pride. As Charlie puts it, “Its easy to have frends if you let pepul laff at you. Im going to have lots of frends where I go.”

-Jacob, Greenwood, Teen Blogger

GWD

Philosophy: A dead field of study?

philosophyAs time passes I find myself more and more captivated by the core values seemingly promoted by philosophy — the way of thinking about complex issues in relation to one’s self, one’s knowledge and how one conducts his/her life.  Being someone who considers themselves in relation to others a relatively deep thinker, I enjoy the act of metacognating (thinking about one’s thoughts).  Philosophy has many different branches — metaphysics, epistemology, etc.  Broaching topics from existence, the process of thought, knowledge etc., philosophy is generally thought to be a large field of science with many sub-topics.

Why is philosophy so broad in comparison to other sciences? Well, the simple answer is, it’s not. However, the longer answer is due to the fact that figuring out how to best logically reason out one’s own rationality requires a lot of different elements in order to do so.  Now, why is it that nowadays people speak of philosophy as a “dead” field?  How can a field that involves critical thinking, self-awareness and determining the important questions surrounding one’s existence be pronounced dead?  Unbeknownst to me until recently this seems to be the common notion surrounding this study of thought as well as other humanity-related subjects and liberal arts. Continue reading

Library Goings-on: 7/28 – 7/31

Teen Social Hour:

What do you Teen social hourdo for fun?  Do you like playing video games or board games?  Do you like listening to music or surfing the Internet?  Do you like talking and texting, laughing out loud?  Do you like snacking and chatting with friends?  If you answered “yes,” at least once, then the Teen Social Hour maybe just the place for you. Come by yourself, bring a friend, or join your friends for video games, board games, music, computers, food, and fun. This are Teen Space events not to miss!

Monday, July 28:

flappy bird

From 3 – 5 pm @ High Point: Game On + Hour of Code. Get some gaming in on the Wii or Kinect, play board games, eat snacks and try your hand at Hour of Code’s drag and drop programming.

 

 

BWB

From 6:30 – 7:30 pm @ NorthgateBow-Wows and Books. Practice reading with a new friend who is warm, friendly, and a perfect listener! Certified therapy dogs and their handlers join young readers to read one-on-one in a relaxing and nonjudgmental environment.  Teen volunteer opportunity!!

Tuesday, July 29

 

digital teen drop inFrom 1 – 3 pm @ West Seattle: Teen Re-Creation Drop In. Need some space and support for your digital projects this summer? Drop in for help, ideas and snacks!

 

 

chess

From 4 – 5:30 pm @ High Point: Drop In Chess.  Come play a game of chess! Children and teens are invited to drop by for fun and casual games of chess.  All skill levels are welcome. Chess sets and guidance by an adult chess coach will be available.

 

 

science lab

From 5 – 7 pm @ Magnolia: Hands-On Science Lab. Dive into science and learn something new! We’ll do a variety of fun experiments to find out how things work and why.

Wednesday, July 30

calligraphy

From 2 – 3:30 pm @ South Park: Calligraphy: The Art of Lettering.  Learn the history of different alphabets from local teaching artist Amaranta Sandys, then practice basic calligraphy techniques with a variety of writing tools. For tweens and teens.

 

 

 

Teen Advisers

From 3 – 5 pm @ Green Lake: Teen Adviser Meeting. As part of our Teen Adviser Group, students entering high school can earn service learning credit at The Seattle Public Library while working on special projects as a group. Applications are required.

 

 

3-d printing

From 3 – 4:30 pm @ Northeast: Digital Frabication Showcase.  Excited about 3-D printing and laser printing? Discover fabrication techniques & learn about design modeling with experimental digital artist Meghan Trainor. Registration is required.

 

Check back often as we’ll be sharing as many of our programs as we can. You can also find all of our Summer Programming by going to the Calendar of Events and limiting the audience to “Teens.”

We’d love to hear back from you if you attend a program.  You can take pictures, make visual art, write us a reaction post, or just share general thoughts.  Touch-base with your local librarian, or e-mail them to us and we’ll share them here or at our new Tumblr!

Here’s to a great summer, Seattle!  😀

Library Goings-on: 7/22 – 7/25

Teen Social Hour:

What do you Teen social hourdo for fun? Do you like playing video games or board games? Do you like listening to music or surfing the Internet? Do you like talking and texting, laughing out loud? Do you like snacking and chatting with friends? If you answered “yes,” at least once, then the Teen Social Hour may be just the place for you. Come by yourself, bring a friend, or join your friends for video games, board games, music, computers, food, and fun. This is a Teen Space event not to miss!

Wednesday, July 23

MOHAIFrom 12-1:30 @ West Seattle: Vintage Photo Poetry. Explore captivating images from the Museum of History and Industry’s archives and create poems and short stories using vintage typewriters!

 

 

mangaFrom 2-3 @ Northgate: Art of Manga Calling all sketchbook warriors! Do you have a stash of drawings itching to be shared? Need help with a tricky plot point? Share your frustrations and skills with other manga-ka in the making.

 

 

flappy birdFrom 2 – 4 @ Lake City: Flappy Birds. Create a Flappy Birds game app with Hour of Code’s drag & drop programming, then play it on your phone or share with friends! This is an independent, self-paced program. Laptops are available.

 

Thursday, July 24:

arduliano adventureFrom 3 – 4 @ Northeast: Arduino Adventures: Technology, Art or Both? Learn what Arduino micro-controller boards can do with experimental artist Meghan Trainor, who uses a small computer that can sense its environment to produce motion, lights or sound.

 

Friday, July 25

Youth in FocusFrom 10:30 am –  12 pm @ Columbia: Zoom In: Photography Your Community Learn photography basics with Youth in Focus. Do on-location shooting, learn about composition & using Adobe Photoshop Lightroom. No camera required but registration is!

 

 

4doctorsFrom 1 -3 @ West Seattle: Teen Re-Creation Drop-InNeed some space and support for your digital projects this summer? Drop in for help, ideas and snacks!

 

 

 

 

Teen book clubFrom 6 – 7:15 pm @ Broadview: Science & Fiction: Tween book GroupChallenge your inner scientist, mathematician or engineer! Read a mix of real science and science fiction books this summer and talk about them with other tweens.

 

Check back often as we’ll be sharing as many of our programs as we can.  You can also find all of our Summer Programming by going to the Calendar of Events and limiting the audience to “Teens.”

We’d love to hear back from you if you attend a program.  You can take pictures, make visual art, write us a reaction post, or just share general thoughts.  Touch-base with your local librarian, or e-mail them to us and we’ll share them here or at our new Tumblr!

Here’s to a great summer, Seattle!  😀

Library Goings-on: 7/16 – 7/18

Wednesday, July 16:

Teen AdvisoryFrom 2 – 3:30 pm @ GreenwoodTeen Advisory Board (TAB) Meeting.  As part of our monthly TAB, high school students can earn service learning credit at the library while working on projects as a group. Applications are required.  (Greenwood’s TAB meets most months, to check in on projects and have group work time. You can write book reviews, blog or vlog posts, help with programming, create displays, and more.)

 

need to knowFrom 4 – 5 pm @ Douglass-TruthNeed to Know.  What do you need to know about working, going to college, or other responsibilities? Learn something new every week when you stop by the teen area for answers, advice and activities.

 

 

Thursday, July 17:

Teen AdvisersFrom 3 – 5 pm @ Green LakeTeen Adviser Meeting.  As part of our Teen Adviser Group, students entering high school can earn service learning credit at the library while working on special projects as a group. Applications are required.

 

 

Game OnFrom 3 – 5 pm @ Beacon HillGame On!  Move with the music, hit a home run, crash Mario Karts, cheer on other gamers and meet other teens. Whether you are a gaming expert or a newbie, here is your chance to get some game time.

 

 

Tai ShanFrom 6 – 7 pm @ West SeattleTai Shan Performs “Living Fiction.”  Enjoy the sounds of Seattle pop-folk artist and songwriter Tai Shan playing new songs with her band.  The band will perform songs from “Living Fiction,” Shan’s new CD with music inspired by her favorite books.

Shan is a Seattle-based pop-folk artist and songwriter who is known for her unusual chord voicing, wide sweeping melodies and detailed lyrics. As a music teacher, performer, composer and collaborator with a wide variety of jazz, folk, and pop musicians, she has gained a dedicated fan following through performances across the West Coast. Shan is also an active contributor to the Seattle chapter of The Bushwick Book Club, a group whose passion is not only to read books, but also write and perform songs about the books.

Friday, July 18:

Youth in FocusZoom In: Photograph Your CommunityLearn photography basics with Youth in Focus. Do on-location shooting, learn about composition & using Adobe Photoshop Lightroom. No camera required, but registration is!

 

 

lego mindstormsFrom 2 – 4 pm @ BroadviewLego Mindstorms Workshop.  Work in teams to assemble and program a digital Lego Mindstorms robot, and then watch it come to life. No experience needed. Registration is required.

 

 

scienceFrom 2 – 4 pm @ SouthwestScience Exploration + Legos.  Need a space to be creative and have fun? Come to Teen Space at Southwest, it’s a place to meet up and hang out! This month, we’re doing messy science experiments and building creative things out of Legos.

 

Check back often as we’ll be sharing as many of our programs as we can.  You can also find all of our Summer Programming by going to the Calendar of Events and limiting the audience to “Teens.”

We’d love to hear back from you if you attend a program.  You can take pictures, make visual art, write us a reaction post, or just share general thoughts.  Touch-base with your local librarian, or e-mail them to us and we’ll share them here or at our new Tumblr!

Here’s to a great summer, Seattle!  😀

Teen Review: Octavian Nothing (Book)

Octavian NothingTitle:  Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing: The Pox Party
Author:  M. T. Anderson
Summary:  Octavian was born in a strange society in Boston during the 1770s. In this society, strange experiments are taken everyday and observations are always made. For example, each person is called by a number and is only called that. The only exceptions are Octavian and his mother. Later on Octavian discovers the true nature of the experiments and his part in them.

I started reading this book because it seemed like a strange twist that what I usually read. The experiments are strange and it keeps you interested because you want to know what is the nature of this society.

I kept reading because I don’t really know any other books like this because it is strange and unusual. It keeps you entertained though and it makes you keep on reading to discover what is going on.

Websites of interest: M. T. Anderson

Fabio, Northeast Teen Adviser