Scientific and Mass Culture

Appearances, vision and our perception of the world

IN a casual discussion inside my research lab one afternoon, I posed this question to my staff and students: what is the connection between the Mamasapano debacle and the color of the cocktail dress that was originally posted in Tumblr? There was a bit of discussion between them before I gave an answer. I will share that thought with our readers at the end of this column.

The speed at which the news of a “mysterious” color-changing dress spread was facilitated by the same natural phenomenon that caused the story in the first place. The Internet is a collection of servers that is interconnected by fast fiber optic cables that transport flashes of light that contains the text, images and multimedia that we all consume in our web browsers, smartphones and other devices.

Author: 
Giovanni Tapang, Ph.D.

Art and Science

WHEN I was asked to present a short talk last week at the Ateneo Art Gallery with a topic on art and science, a lot of friends and colleagues were excited, and at the same time intrigued, by the idea of a physicist talking to a predominantly artist audience. This stems from the notion that there is a tight separation between the two disciplines—something that is assumed by many but is always disproved in practice.

I have heard a comment in a similar vein from one colleague from the Humanities. She pointed out in a forum that as scientists deconstruct the world by looking at its constituent molecules, atoms and the interactions between them, one fails to see the beauty in all of these—as if the scientist stops to appreciate beauty, and art for that matter, once he or she goes into “scientist mode.”

Author: 
Giovanni Tapang, Ph.D.

Brain drain?

An opinion piece came out last week in another periodical arguing that our concern about “brain drain” is misplaced and that global cosmopolitanism is a forgivable choice of professionals looking for opportunities to improve themselves and their economic well being. Arguing that millions more of other professionals stay otherwise, the article instead points out that we have an over-supply rather than a lack of experts in the country.

Author: 
Giovanni Tapang, Ph.D.

Revisiting vulnerability (3): Fixing elections by fiat

Commission on Elections (Comelec) Chairman Sixto Brillantes announced a few days ago that the Comelec will not anymore conduct another mock polls prior to the May polls. This is despite the many major glitches that were observed during the February 2 mock elections and the still unresolved issues of the source code powering the precinct count optical scan (PCOS) machines. During the mock trials, volunteer observers from Kontra Daya and other groups documented some ballots being rejected by the PCOS machines and delay in the transmission of election results to the canvassing centers.

Author: 
Giovanni Tapang, Ph.D.

Black hole

I had an interesting discussion last Tuesday with a young PhD faculty from the UP Physics Department who is about to go to his postdoctoral studies abroad. He came from the Philippine Science High School program, took his undergraduate and graduate physics degrees from the UP and is one of the most promising young faculty in the department. We were discussing about the serious problem of the lack of science and engineering faculty and researchers in the country and how many of his high school batchmates find jobs either out of the country or in lines of industry outside of their expertise.

Author: 
Dr. Giovanni Tapang, PhD

Scholars

Despite the rain last Monday, the College of Science of the University of the Philippines in Diliman held a recognition program for its students who have garnered grades that qualify them as University and College scholars. These are those students who have grades higher than 1.25 and 1.75 respectively. Their recognition as scholars do not carry any monetary remuneration but is a testament to their academic achievements and is a source of pride for their parents.

Author: 
Dr. Giovanni Tapang, PhD

Science and K+12

LAST week, news reports carried the announcement of Education Secretary Armin Luis-tro that Science would be dropped from the subjects being taught at the Grade 1 level. This decision of the Department of Education (DepEd) is based on the design of the K+12 curriculum and the department’s efforts to decongest the Basic Education Curriculum. Instead of Science, the Grade 1 curriculum will focus on “oral fluency” and include learning areas on the Mother Tongue, Filipino, Edukasyon sa Pagpapakatao, MAPEH (Music, Art, Physical Education and Health), Mathematics, Araling Panlipunan (Social Studies) and English. Science will be introduced as a subject only when the student comes in at Grade 3.

Author: 
Dr. Giovanni Tapang, PhD

Scientists and heroes

Yesterday marked the birth anniversary of Andres Boni-facio, Filipino nationalist, revolutionary and Supremo of the Katipunan. His anniversary yesterday was marked by protests actions in the metropolis by workers and peasants due to the ever increasing costs of living nowadays. Pressed by current economic concerns, people made the celebration of his birth also a time to reflect on the value of heroism in our time.

Author: 
Giovanni Tapang, Ph.D.

Merging culture and New Media

THE trend to democratize is inherent in many technologies especially in information technologies which makes the communication and consumption of information more and more participatory in nature.

Author: 
Ms. Gladys Regalado

The brain drain and the GPH-NDF peace talks

The preliminary results of a recent study by the Department of Science and Technology Science Education Institute (DOST-SEI) show that the “brain drain” phenomenon continues and has even worsened during the past few years. According to DOST-SEI Officer in Charge and Deputy Director Dr. Leticia Catris, the number of emigrating science workers from the Philippines has ballooned to around two and a half times compared to the figure 11 years ago. In 1998, there were 9,877 outbound science workers from the country. More than a decade after in 2009, the number has grown by 148 percent to 24,502. More than half of these are health professionals and nurses while a fifth are engineers.

Author: 
Giovanni Tapang, PhD
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