Author Archives: brdo0223

Blog Post 9 – Optional Replacement

When I wrote Blog Post 1 at the beginning of the semester, much of the only science I really focused on was astronomy and space science. For instance, the prompt was to write about what science means to me and I wrote solely on the topic of astronomy. Granted, this still is a large passion of mine and can partially define who I am, but after listening to future scientists of different fields in Writing on Science and Society, I have definitely become more open to these other fields.

Topic ranged from space to health/medical science to physics to biological studies and industrial research. I felt that I had a very narrow minded view of science at the beginning of this semester and didn’t care too much about other areas aside from my own. After examining many different readings, listening to my classmates’ passions in their fields, and doing research of my own for my writing projects, I have come to realize that every field in science helps each other. This is one of the great things about science: its ability to connect and intertwine with different areas far and wide.

If I were to rewrite my first blog post, I would be more inclined to include many different areas of science. In my original post, I wrote “That idea of Earth being the only place to support life is a very crazy and conceited thought to me.” I find a bit of irony in this statement now because, like my accusation of those who believe we are the only life in the universe, I believe I was being a bit conceited as only caring about astronomy as opposed to any other scientific area. Don’t get me wrong, though. I don’t believe having a passion for one area of science is a bad thing at all, but I just believe I could have done better in including more areas of science.

Overall, I would agree that this class has helped me grow as an individual. Not only has it opened my mind to more aspects of science, but I’ve realized that I can do something to make advancements in scientific research. I have learned that writing has a ton of power in informing and inspiring, persuading, or even attacking different issues in today’s society. Using this tool, anyone can gain significant support and momentum in their respective studies and hopefully, I will be able to do just that someday in years to come.

-Bryan Doyle

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Blog Post 8

Popular Informative Science

What about the tone and organization of this article appeals to the general public?

After reading the article on 3D printing, I was immediately drawn to the idea. The author had a strong way of organizing the article into small paragraphs in order to keep the attention of the reader and not allow them to drift off. Another strategy the author uses is setting an image for the reader through the tone of the article. Colorful language is used to put the reader in the place of the author to the point where they can visualize what the 3D printer look like and how they work. These two strategies allow for a successfully written popular informative science work.

In what ways do popular-informative articles cite/reference the research that they use?

In order to be a science article, the article still has to contain evidence/citations. It can be done as formally as a scientific report, though, in order to maintain a popular and easy-to-read article. In the assigned reading, it seemed that the author used facts from credible sources and inserted them in the article just as a normal sentence. Instead of quoting and citing the source, the author used the actual fact in the article and gave credit to whatever entity originated it.

 

Popular Writing

What tone is conveyed by each article?

Each of the assigned articles has a tone that attempts to relate the reader to the topic at hand. In order to keep the audience interested, the popular articles try and show that their issue affects the reader, no matter who it may be. For instance, the Godzilla article’s author states appeals to the majority of the population’s love for a hero and fear of the seemingly indestructible villain. The article also made it a point that the villain is usually created as a direct or indirect result of mans’ flaws. This kind of relation that each article uses is what draws a reader into the piece because it appeals to them personally.

In which article(s) do graphics play an important role? Why do you suppose this is the case? What do you think the author is attempting to do in each article? (What is his/her purpose?)

In the Earth Day article, the author relied heavily on graphics. I believe this is due to the fact that talking about the magnitude or size of the Earth and the importance to preserve it is a difficult topic to keep a reader interested. Using different satellite images and photos that really explain the point, the author was able to allow the reader “breaks” from the reading and focus on the importance of the issue through visualization. Each article has, generally, the same purpose: to get the reader interested in their respective topic. Using these different strategies for each article, they were able to take average and boring articles and turn them into something that anyone can find interest in.

 

Informing through Internet Sources

How does this article appeal to a popular audience?

Firstly, the title is what draws the reader in: “Electric Stimulation To Spine Gets Paralyzed Patients Moving Again.” After seeing this, and with basic knowledge of the impossibility due to paralysis, the reader will already be hooked. Secondly, this article takes the story of four paralyzed men and shows that there is technology being developed to help them move again. A popular audience means that, most likely, they have experienced similar situations (just maybe not to this scale). The article, in a way, tells a story of triumph over the seemingly impossible odds.

How does this article maintain its audience’s attention?

Throughout the article, the author uses quotations and imagery of how disadvantaged these young men were. It describes their reason for being in this situation and the difficulty in overcoming it. Once a popular audience hears a story like this, they want to know how it turns out for the people involved. Because of this, they continue reading the article with interest. This kind of “hero’s tale” is something that popular audiences love to see.

In what ways does this article educate, inspire, and entertain?

Again, just the stories that the author uses in the article about the four men allow for all of these elements to be achieved. It gives a brief explanation of the technology that allows for the movement (inform), shows that the seemingly impossible can be overcome through movement after paralysis (inspire), and both of the previous two elements are causes for the entertainment aspect.

-Bryan Doyle

Blog Post 7 – A Review on Public Speaking

In hopes to better myself in the area of public speaking, I attended the colloquium “Solar Wind – Magnetosphere – Planetary Core Coupling at Mercury” hosted by James Slavin and the Astrophysics and Planetary Sciences department in the JILA auditorium. In addition to listening to the content of the presentation, I tried to study the strategies used by the presenter in order to keep his audience interested and convinced.

It seemed to me that the purpose of Mr. Slavin to inform his audience, which consisted of mostly graduate students, about a more specific topic in space research: Mercury’s Magnetosphere. Mr. Slavin was able to establish his credibility fairly easily given his history in space research and used that credibility to direct his talk to the given audience. In other words, as an average undergraduate college student not involved much in this area of study, a handful of the presentation went right over my head.

At the opposite end of the spectrum, I tried to see what the presenter did physically to create a successful talk. Slavin used a Powerpoint presentation that looked professionally done. The slides weren’t too wordy and involved various diagrams and figures to support his research. He also used body language which gave me the impression that he was comfortable in this environment. As a result, this created a convincing presentation and aided to my belief that he knows this topic very well.

All in all, this presentation was very traditional. Although it was meant to be a colloquium, it felt as if the audience was supposed to agree with the presenter in the end. Small exchanges of views were thrown out into the air by a few of the assumed-to-be graduate student audience members but all views were just formed to be additions and agreements to the original research by Slavin.

When it came to a presentation on recent research in this field, it seemed that Slavin was confident and involved. His talk was a traditional presentation and followed much of the standard procedures to create a successful public presentation. Although I don’t think the seminar/colloquium aspect was fully achieved, I still think I was able to pinpoint strategies used by Slavin to interest and convince his audience including tone, body language, and technology that established confidence and credibility.

-Bryan Doyle

Blog Post 5 – Interview with an Astronaut

Once I decided I was going to write my final project on the topic of human spaceflight, I knew there was one man to talk to: Professor/Colonel Jim Voss. Colonel Voss is currently a professor in the Aerospace Engineering department at the University of Colorado, and has plenty of experience in the field of spaceflight. He is a former astronaut who has been on multiple missions to the International Space Station and lived there for 6 months at a time. Colonel Voss is also well known for holding the record (with Susan Helms) for the longest Extra-vehicular activity (EVA), or spacewalk, on the International Space Station for 8 hours and 56 minutes.

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Upon talking to Colonel Voss, I asked him about his strategies and struggles with communication about spaceflight to both people in his field and outside of it. Colonel Voss told me the biggest problem with communicating to the public was that “People don’t understand why we go to space and what we do there. The challenge is getting people to see the value – they often have a poor understanding of the cost to go to space and usually don’t know the benefits.” All in all, the general public doesn’t quite understand the benefits that have come from space research and this results in a knee jerk reaction when they see a number with a some zeroes behind it. When it comes to the people in his own field, Colonel Voss mentioned that the biggest problem was “…convincing people that a particular technical solution is the better solution [than another proposed solution].” There are multiple solutions to one problem and proving that one is better than the other can result in troubles in communication.

After asking Voss about his strategies and solutions to these issues, he stated that for the public “I try to communicate the cost to benefit ratio by providing the reality of expenditures by our government to support space activities and by giving real world examples of benefits from space activities.” Voss tries to clear any haze the public may have from the little knowledge about the field they contain. As for a solution to the issue in the space community, Voss stated “I try to use sound engineering analysis to show the value of one answer over others.  Trade studies where solutions are compared analytically is a method that I sometimes use.” He simply uses mathematics and analysis to prove one solution is a better option than others.

The most important piece of information I gained from Colonel Voss was how he communicates with the public. Since my project is directed towards the populace of the United States, it’s important to start off with explaining the research and what their benefits are that come from it. The biggest obstacle in this topic is the lack of understanding many people have about spaceflight. In order to successfully communicate with my target audience, I’ll need to take this into account and hope to give them a better understanding of space research.

-Bryan Doyle

Public Interest in Human Spaceflight

I discovered an issue that could very well be a primary reason as to why the general public is no longer interested in spaceflight, while searching for articles over a plethora of journals and magazines. The majority of the articles I found were published in scientific journals and magazines that the average American would never read. These articles that discuss this topic are mostly directed to the audience of engineers, physicists, and mathematicians, while the general public is deprived. Now, don’t get me wrong. There is absolutely nothing negative with the presence of articles directed at such an audience, but my goal is to expand the fascination and importance of spaceflight to the general public.

With the average American kept in mind, I found one article on the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) website that was written by a Public Information member of the organization: The Next Era of Human Spaceflight by John Varrasi. The article was well written towards the general public as the audience and there were few technical terms that only PhD’s would understand. Varassi put pieces of the article in the perspective a former astronaut and director of the Johnson Space Center, which allowed me to feel related to such a prominent figure in the industry. The article was also very easily readable and organized with clean headings and figures to draw the reader’s attention, while still successfully getting the point across of the importance of spaceflight missions and future plans.

Although the article is affiliated with an advanced scientific journal, the writer does a superb job in making the issue readable and interesting to an everyday American. He touched on the effects spaceflight has had on commercialism and everyday products as an added benefit to the reader. Like many scientific writers, the author’s benefits could very well be an increased popular interest in the subject of spaceflight, which also leads to more funding. I can take ideas and rhetorical strategies from this article and, hopefully, apply it sufficiently to my final project. Furthermore, I hope to be able to learn more about the subject for my own knowledge and apply it to raise public interest in spaceflight.

-Bryan Doyle

Ain’t That a Kick in the Head: Effects of Concussions on Brain Activity

A concussion is a minor traumatic brain injury that occurs when one’s head hits an object or a moving object strikes the head. This results in a decrease in brain function in addition to headaches for a temporary period of time. Recently, theories have come to rise that believe concussions are possibly the cause for some cases of depression, memory loss, and aggression.  Many of these cases appear with professional athletes in sports such as football, boxing, and ice hockey, which would likely be due to the generally violent nature of the sports where head trauma is anything but a rarity. More and more research has been performed to aid in finding out how dangerous consequences of concussion are on a longer time scale. If minor head trauma is found to cause serious neurological damage, there are surely ways to prevent it.

The New York Times released an article about one former professional football player who believes the numerous blows to his head were the cause of his dementia and memory loss. As one of the most influential and greatest fighters in the sport of boxing, Muhammad Ali also is also believed to have developed Parkinson’s disease due to the amount of head trauma he received on a daily basis according to an article published in The Guardian. These two figures are only a small sample of the sheer number of cases that link head trauma as the cause of various neurological diseases. There have been thousands of reports that athletes are suffering from different neurological problems accredited to the number of violent hits and lack of protection in each of their sports.

In 2008, The Center for the Study of Traumatic Encephalopathy (CSTE) began researching the effects of head trauma on the brain of professional athletes, while collaborating with the National Football League (NFL). From the data collected by a large amount of donors, it seems that the CSTE can safely conclude that repeated head trauma does have a long term effect on neurological activity. Athletes from different high contact sports show many of the same symptoms of brain deterioration according to the research. In support of what the research has suggested, about 80 former and current NFL players have filed lawsuits against the NFL aiming to hold it responsible for the care of the damaged players.

Concussions, nowadays, are beginning to be taken more seriously than ever before now that this light has been shed on the after-effects. Preventative steps have begun to be created in order to lessen the number of head trauma incidents around the professional sports world. The NFL, NCAA, and NHL have all been developing safer helmets for their players, while also being more stringent on rules and regulations in each sport when it comes to contact. Of course, the only guaranteed prevention is if the players stopped playing their respective sports altogether, but that is not likely to occur. For now, there is only hope that safer equipment will continue to be created to aid in keeping neurological deterioration away from athletes’ futures.

-Bryan Doyle

Unique, you say? (Revision 1)

“Unique.” Humans have been force fed this idea about Earth for the entirety of our lives. If we aren’t unique, then where is the proof of life elsewhere in the universe? It’s obvious, isn’t it? We have never seen “aliens,” so we can safely draw the conclusion that we are alone in this universe. Right?

Wrong.

The size and complexity of the universe makes the thought of us being alone seemingly impossible. Neil deGrasse Tyson, a well-known astrophysicist, explains the reality of the “uniqueness” in the attached video.

“That’s like going to the ocean, taking a cup of water, scooping it up [looking at the cup] and saying ‘There are no whales in the ocean.’ Here’s my data. You need a slightly bigger sample.” I can’t agree with Tyson more. Just because we can’t see life in the small area we have explored (barely beyond the reach of the solar system), doesn’t mean we can jump to the conclusion that we are alone. That idea of Earth being the only place to support life is a very crazy and conceited thought to me.

After taking astrophysics and astronomy classes, one is humbled to see how huge and vast the universe really is. There are a few hundred billion stars in the Milky Way galaxy, and a few hundred billion galaxies in the OBSERVABLE universe. “Observable” means that these numbers only reflect what we are able to see from Earth. When I learned this, I realized that “unique” is the furthest from the truth when it comes to Earth’s position in the universe. This idea strengthens my passion to continue our space exploration in the days to come.

-Bryan Doyle

Unique, you say?

Unique. Humans have been force fed this idea for the entirety of our lives. If we aren’t unique, then where is the proof of life elsewhere in the universe? It’s obvious. We have never seen aliens, so we can safely draw the conclusion that we are alone and unique in this universe, right?

Wrong.

Well known astrophysicist, Neil deGrasse Tyson, explains this thought in the attached video. “That’s like going to the ocean, taking a cup of water, scooping it up [looking at the cup] and saying ‘There’s no whales in the ocean.’ Here’s my data. You need a slightly bigger sample.” I can’t agree with Tyson more. The idea of Earth being the only place to support life is a very crazy and conceited thought to me.

I can pinpoint the reason I became so interested in science, astronomy in particular. After taking astrophysics and astronomy classes, one is forced to see at how huge and vast the universe really is. The sheer number of stars in our Milky Way galaxy alone is intimidating, let alone the seemingly infinite amount in the whole of the universe. That’s when I realized that “unique” is the furthest from the truth when it comes to Earth’s position in the universe.

-Bryan Doyle