At half-past six in the evening about a week ago (January 12), I was busy washing my coffee cup at the faculty lounge of the Institute of Geology when my colleague noticed that the ground was slightly shaking. As I was busy doing something else, I did not notice the tremor but I was not surprised knowing how prone our country is to earthquakes.
Newspapers early this week contained stories about the Piston transport strike, high oil prices and the supposed rollback of the big oil companies. Alongside these items were numbers about the recession and the A(H1N1) pandemic. Embedded in these news reports are calculations of costs of these basic items as well as the science behind the spread of an epidemic. Mathematics and science have never been so integrated in the appreciation of issues that affect each and everyone.
Quirino Grandstand m2 total count AREA count Quirino Grandstand central area 41369.72 165478.89 Quirino back area 3483.86 13935.46 Quirino roxas blvd 25083.82 100335.28 Rizal Park exposed until orosa 10730.3 42921.2 quirino inner road ½ 6874.82 27499.3 quirino inner road ½ 6874.82 27499.3 quirino left/right 8361.27 33445.09 quirino left/right 8361.27 33445.09 Quirino Grandstand + Rizal park total 111139.91 444559.63 Liwasang Bonifacio Liwasang Bonifacio AREA count central area 2090.32 8361.27
During the Ayala rally last week against the House of Representatives’ Con-Ass resolution, the Computer Professionals Union (CPU) organized a cell phone-to-Twitter link for texters to be able to update and participate in the protest event. Twitter is a micro-blogging tool that allows users to post 140-character messages called “tweets” to keep fellow users updated on any topic of conversation under the sun. “Hashtags” are keywords with the “#” symbol affixed that are included in a tweet used to indicate what topic the message is about.
Crowd estimates figure in most news reports after a big mobilization or event. Every time a sizeable mass action has been conducted, whether in Mendiola, Ayala, or Edsa, conflicting estimates are issued that either downplay or magnify the data. The politics of the count is obvious as strength in numbers is a statement in itself.
Is there some way to effectively quantify the size of the crowd in a mobilization?
In the Science and Technology STS) class during my undergrad in UP, we read about John Desmond Bernal. It immediately made me wonder if he was related to the acclaimed director of the same surname. It turned out that he was more related to my profession as he was a physicist in the 1930s.
Internationally used as a distress signal in radio communications, a “Mayday” signals a life-threatening emergency happening onboard a plane or a sinking ship. Spoken three times in row (“Mayday Mayday Mayday”), it comes from the French phrase for “come help me” (venez m’aider) and requests immediate assistance from those who receive the call.
On Saturday, a power failure struck a large portion of the Visayas region and left the major islands without power for the afternoon. Power was slowly restored completely only later that night. The trip-off occurred shortly before 10 a.m. while the Energy Development Corp. (EDC) was conducting maintenance work on a plant in Leyte. It seems that the failure propagated throughout the power network in the Visayas. The blackout affected the entire Cebu-Negros-Panay grid for five hours.
One of the things that bothered me when I was young was the fact that Holy Week (and the corresponding rituals and fasting) can fall on different days within the year. It was unlike Christmas, which we always expect to fall on the 25th of December each year. Palm Sunday, Holy Thursday, Good Friday and Easter Sunday seem to be fixed only by the day of the week but not on what date of which month it will be celebrated.