Archive for January, 2014
Almost two months to go, to the day, until my channel launch and lots of things have suddenly arrived all at once! Mucho excitement my monkee fiends! We now have the fur samples, the eyes and all my stuffing to make me nice and shapely. After many, many examinations and swatch combinations it has now been settled… I will be chocolatey brown with a dash of sandy beige.
The first thing I think of when someone says “painting” to me is the chemistry. In my younger years, I had the privilege to attend a lecture series on forensic analysis. I had originally thought that the talk on art fraud would be quite boring following the talks on arson and insurance fraud. How can you top smelling burnt articles to learn the differences between various combustable chemicals? Turns out that I could not have been more wrong; the one thing I remember most clearly from that day is the talk on art and the chemistry of the paints and canvases.
To me and you, a good copy of a painting could look like the real McCoy. With forensic analysis, hidden information, such as the true date range a pigment, varnish or canvas came from can be determined. Forensic scientists can do many things to date or verify the providence of a painting. Pigment dating. Carbon-dating. White lead dating. Infrared analysis. Microscopy. Two techniques that particularly impressed me where UV-fluorescence spectrography and X-ray diffraction and fluorescence. Certain paints and varnishes associated with historical developments have known responses to UV light, some fluorescing more than others, such that UV-fluorescence spectroscopy or spectrography can be used to determine which period a component of the painting does, or does not, come from. X-rays can also be used to determine the components of the paint and composition of the pigments; as art materials have advanced and new pigments have been developed, the purity or components present can reveal the likely age or exclude certain time periods where a pigment or component was known not to have existed.
Foiling criminals who would try to dupe us with copies of great art, chemists do that…
On March 28th, I plan to launch my channel on YouTube. The star of the channel will of course be me, Bench Monkee! I thought it would be fun to keep a log of the progress as we approach the launch date, sharing some fun stories and photos along the way. Except for the awesome news of this upcoming channel, I’ve not got much to share today. All I will say is, I’m anxiously waiting on some new fur samples so I can look glam in time for my debut in front of the cameras.
In the late 1800s, the time of Jack the Ripper, some of the early procedures that would become known as forensic science included inspection of a victim’s eyes for evidence. It was believed that eyes could capture the image of a killer, that the last thing that a victim would have seen would be retained on the retina like a final photograph trapped within the eye. There are reports that the police did photograph the eyes of victims in the hopes of finding such evidence. This method, called octography, became well-known because of its use in trying to identify Jack the Ripper. This belief was so widely held at the time that killers would destroy the eyes of their victims (Encyclopedia of Octography, Derek Ogbourne, 2008, p40).
History often repeats. Once again, the eyes are being looked to as a source of forensic information. Although it turned out that the image of a killer isn’t left on the retina of a victim, it appears that there is now technology that can now allow us to resolve the image of a person reflected in the eyes of another within photographs. This technology is now allowing the police to peer indirectly into the eyes of victims to identify the photographer, and even witnesses, to identify criminals by examining high resolution images of the reflections on the eyes.
I was going to write about science today, but something came to my attention this morning that has appalled me.
A response to a video calling for the banning of socialism gets banned.
I know of a vlogger, Sequester Zone, who makes videos about philosophy and is one of the rare educated commentators on youtube. He started vlogging because of the dire lack of sound philosophical education on youtube. One of the alternatives, a Rocking Mr E with over 6,500 subscribers (at this time), presents philosophy and political tutorial type vlogs that are often littered with incorrect facts and an obvious misunderstanding of philosophical fundamentals and ideologies. These misunderstandings and factual inaccuracies are being passed on to his audience.
I have listened to a number of Rocking Mr E videos and although I find some of the things he says repugnant and although it erks me that he exhibits a misunderstanding of certain philosophical ideas, I’m totally fine with him having the freedom to do that. I worry about the confusion and miseducation he is creating, but I’m fine with him having the freedom to do what he wants. And, seeing other vloggers pointing out his errors and trying to educate the youtube community provides me with a certain feeling of relief knowing that any miseducation is being pointed out and corrected.
Until this morning.
It came to my attention that Sequester Zone has had a number of his videos deleted on the basis of harassment. These videos were of a series on Rocking Mr E for the purposes of bringing to people’s attention the incorrect information publicized by that channel and correcting it. Aptly called Bad Philosophy with Rocking Mr E. I understand how it could appear to be harassment by having a whole video series dedicated to one person. However, this series of videos was simply a response to the original video series on philosophy put out there by Rocking Mr E and was done in order to ensure the youtube audience were being educated appropriately with respect to philosophical and related political ideologies. Sequester Zone actually has an academic background in philosophy. If incorrect information is being propagated by a youtube channel, isn’t it the right thing to do to point it out and correct it?
The last video which seems to have prompted this banning of the Sequester Zone Bad Philosophy series was a response to one created by Rocking Mr E on banning socialism. You can listen to his video here and, hopefully, be as repulsed as I was at some of the things he says. While the response to this video by Sequester Zone included some name calling at the end, when Sequester Zone lost his composure when faced with such hatred and hypocrisy being propounded by Rocking Mr E, it was no where near as bad as some of the comments I see out there. There are many vlogs out there where repeated profanity, such as b*tch, c*nt etc. are used in response to the opinions of other vloggers on various subjects. The name calling in the Sequester Zone videos came no where close to this. No where near. Yet, Sequester Zone’s videos have been deleted.
So, does calling someone out on being a hypocrite and highlighting their misunderstanding of certain ideologies mean that the whole video series should be expunged? If we can’t correct people and draw inaccuracies to people’s attention for fear of upsetting them, how do we educate?
How is it that someone who is propagating misunderstanding and miseducation with some, what appears to be, real hatred of certain ideologies allowed to keep making videos on youtube with no recompense? Yet, someone trying to correct the false information and push against such hatred ends up having his videos removed? Did youtube even compare the content of the two channels? Or can those who hate socialism just cry harassment to have those socialist-friendly videos removed?
Again, a response to a video calling for the banning of socialism gets banned. It appears the banning of socialism is already in process.
A physics professor (to myself whom I call idiot-boy), suggested that we simplify scientific language and replace words like theory, hypothesis and law with the word model. Words that have very specific and different meanings he wants to replace with one word, model. A word ambiguous in itself. Here is the original article. Here is and article by Scientific American that succinctly disagrees and goes on to define some typically misinterpreted scientific terms.
I am angered that one of my own, a physicist, a professor, an educator, should have the nerve to suggest we simplify the science language allowing both laziness and further ambiguity to insert itself into science and scientific communication. There is nothing wrong with having specific words.
If people don’t understand the exact meanings, that just shows us we need to do better as educators at explaining them, not remove them!
My significant other hearing me rant on this subject brought up the horrifying parallel with George Orwell’s 1984. So here, I illustrate the insidious nature of wanting to simplify scientific language by the removal of certain terms.
First read this, taken from George Orwell’s novel 1984:
“It’s a beautiful thing, the destruction of words. Of course the great wastage is in the verbs and adjectives, but there are hundreds of nouns that can be got rid of as well. It isn’t only the synonyms; there are also the antonyms. After all, what justification is there for a word which is simply the opposite of some other word? A word contains its opposite in itself. Take “good”, for instance. If you have a word like “good”, what need is there for a word like “bad”? “Ungood” will do just as well — better, because it’s an exact opposite, which the other is not. Or again, if you want a stronger version of “good”, what sense is there in having a whole string of vague useless words like “excellent” and “splendid” and all the rest of them? “Plusgood” covers the meaning, or “doubleplusgood” if you want something stronger still. Of course we use those forms already. but in the final version of Newspeak there’ll be nothing else. In the end the whole notion of goodness and badness will be covered by only six words — in reality, only one word. Don’t you see the beauty of that, Winston?”
Now read this, taken from Three Science Words We Should Stop Using:
“Take out all three of these “science” words from introductory texts. They do more harm than good. The problem is that people have firm beliefs that they mean something other than what they are supposed to mean. I don’t think we can save these words.
So, how does a model replace the three words I don’t like? Well, if we say science is all about making models, you don’t have to use the word hypothesis. Instead you can talk about predictions a model makes (testable predictions). A theory is a model, so that would be a one to one replacement. What about Laws? I don’t think it would be terrible to also replace Laws with the word “model”.”
Scary to hear an educator talk like that, isn’t it?