BIOLOGY 103
FALL, 2000
FORUM, WEEK 8-10


Name: Paul Grobstein
Username: pgrobste@brynmawr.edu
Subject: after break and ...
Date: Mon Oct 23 10:36:21 EDT 2000
Comments:
Welcome back. Trust you've been trying out, and thinking about, life? Conversation about diversity, clumpiness, life elsewhere has been moved to a new file And web papers are available I left here some earlier thoughts about atoms, molecules, and how they help us make sense of life. And that's probably a good continuing theme for the forum this week (unless something else has struck you particularly in your thinking/experience over break): how useful is the molecular perspective in making better sense of life?
Name: jeanne
Username: jbraha753@aol.com
Subject: recommended reading
Date: Wed Oct 25 20:30:27 EDT 2000
Comments:
I hate to backtrack, but I thought some of you would be interested in the cover article of the current issue of Discover magazine (November). It's called: "The Mystery of Multiple Universes -- Is Ours the Only One?" The astronomer featured suggests that there are probably many universes out there, but ours is the only one with the conditions that allow for the existence of life. He just published a book, Just Six Numbers, that describes the six factors he sees as being particularly conducive to the existence of life/that our universe just so happens to have: the strength of the bond in atomic nuclei; a really weak force of gravity relative to that bond (so atoms can stick together); the density of matter in the universe (this relates to gravity again - basically all the stuff in our universe doesn't get sucked into a single ball of stuff, nor does it spread out forever); something about cosmic antigravity that didn't make a ton of sense to me; the rate at which the universe ripples and expands and makes new structures (this was also fuzzy...); and the 3 spatial dimensions in this universe. (The term for all the universes that are thought to exist is multiverse. I like that.)

So I guess this wasn't as huge a tangent from Dr. Grobstein's question as I thought it would be: these numbers that explain the uniqueness of our situation here in our universe is at the molecular level, for the most part. The general principles that provide the parameters for their relationships are those which allow for life. So check it out. And there's a nice article on the comeback of dirigibles -- these things put the Goodyear blimp to shame.
Name: allison
Username: ahayesco@brynmawr.edu
Subject: an interesting lab
Date: Wed Oct 25 23:40:31 EDT 2000
Comments:
I was thinking about today's lab (where we measured heart and breathing rates and amplitudes) and how amazing our (and other species) adaptability is. Not only do species adapt to certain situations over a long time period (I mean in terms of evolution), but creatures' bodies also react and adapt to short term situation changes like exersize and temperature...and this reaction, of course, begins and is carried out on a molecular level.

Something chemically triggers our heart to beat faster and stronger when we need more oxygen because we are exerting ourselves more. Our lungs automatically speed up respiration rates when they detect the same thing. The fact that all life processes can pretty much be broken down into processes of the macromolecules that we have been learning about in class makes all of this stuff worth knowing. How molecules and atoms come together in more and more complex ways to preform highly specialized tasks, is pretty amazing considering they are made of simply elements bonded together in


Name: Jess
Username: jhayesco
Subject: macromolecules and life
Date: Thu Oct 26 14:49:46 EDT 2000
Comments:
The way in which the macromolecules we have been talking about help me to make sence of life is by showing how similar everything actually is -- and how diverse it all is at the same time. It is amazing to me that just in changing the way in which molecules are put together, or by changing a small subgroup on the end of a molecule, a huge array things are created. This helps to explain how there can be so much diversity in life, but also why many things are similar, and possibly even clum
Name: Katie Kaczmarek
Username: kkaczmar@brynmawr.edu
Subject: living food?
Date: Thu Oct 26 19:29:44 EDT 2000
Comments:
I have to say I really liked Naomi's comment. I've never thought about whether vegetables are still considered alive when you eat them...If so we animals are certainly guilty of vegicide! I know a song called "Carrot Juice is Murder" which expresses some of these sentiments. Here's a taste of it: "I've heard the screams of the vegetables/watching their skins being peeled/Grated and steamed with no mercy/How do you think that feels?/Carrot juice constitutes murder/Greenhouses prisons for slaves/It's time to stop all this gardening/Let's call a spade a spade."

Seriously, though, this is an interesting topic. Vegetables don't have brains like we do, so when exactly are they declared dead? When they start to liquify, or when their plucked from their natural state? If anyone else has ideas about this I'd be very interested.


Name: Meghan
Username: mmccabe@brynmawr.edu
Subject: re: living food?
Date: Thu Oct 26 21:33:06 EDT 2000
Comments:
I think a vegetable can be considered "dead" when it is removed from its natural state. Once it is removed from its natural state, like the ground(i.e. carrots) or a tree, it can no longer grow, which I think is an important part of life: the ability to grow and adapt to one's environment. I don't want to beat this vegetable topic to death, but I just thought I'd throw in my two cents.
Name: Naomi
Username: nlim@brynmawr.edu
Subject: Enzymes
Date: Thu Oct 26 23:04:12 EDT 2000
Comments:
i wish i had an answer for the whole veggie topic, but oh well :) -> maybe prof. grobstein could help?? i would, however, like to address a different concern of mine dealing with the discussion we had on class on wednesday about the need of enzymes to convert things to energy. if termites can convert cellulose to energy because they possess a certain enzyme, is it possible for humans to naturally develop enzymes such as this?? also, is it possible to "lose" an enzyme if it is not being used? in addition, with the advances in genetic engineering, couldn't it someday be possible to alter genes or DNA so that we would be able to convert cellulose to energy?
Name: Leila
Username: lghaznav@brynmawr.edu
Subject: simplicity
Date: Fri Oct 27 01:09:27 EDT 2000
Comments:
I just wanted to take a moment to marvel out loud, or in text as the case maybe, about how amazing the world is around us. I mean the simple fact that it takes only four nucleic acids to form every living organism around us is astounding. For simple factors can be combined in seemingly inexhaustable ways to create the rich variety of life around. It follows the generaly trend we have discovered in class so far. That life moves the simplistic to the more complex. from Rna we go to DNA which takes us to proteins by way of mRNA. Each factor building upon another until we have something as profoundly complex as the human body. I know I sound dumb, but just--wow.
Name: Rachel H.
Username: Garg0yle99@hotmail.com
Subject: backtracking
Date: Fri Oct 27 15:13:30 EDT 2000
Comments:
Sorry to get off the very fascinating subject of carrots being dead or alive, but I wanted to ask a possibly dumb question regarding Monday's class (sorry to make you all try to remember back that far). If mutations are caused by DNA and/or RNA "leaving out" something when replicating, then is stuff like "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles", who were mutated by weird liquidy stuff, possible? Can an outside catalyst cause DNA and RNA to screw up? I'd also like to know if there's anyone else who's disturbed by the realization that there are vegetables hibernating in their refrigerators? Because I find that a little weird...
Name: anonymous
Username:
Subject: Rachel's comment
Date: Fri Oct 27 15:14:59 EDT 2000
Comments:
Hey, having vegetables hibernate in your fridge is a lot less disturbing than having a human toe hibernating in there!
Name: Debbie
Username: dplotnic@brynmawr.edu
Subject: Puberty and Protein
Date: Fri Oct 27 19:58:12 EDT 2000
Comments:
I found the cover story of this week’s Time Magazine, entitled “Early Puberty: Why Girls Are Growing Up Faster,” especially interesting in light the class discussions about macromolecules. The article discusses how today’s girls are entering puberty far younger than in previous generations. It reports that for Caucasian girls 1 in 7 and for African American girls almost 1 in 2 experience pubic hair growth and breast development by age 8. According to this article, speculation as to the primary reason for this phenomenon is has to do with a specific protein called leptin that is produced by fat cells. Leptin is the protein that made headlines last year such as “cause of obesity found,” because leptin is associated with the body’s ability to regulate food intake. And leptin also is a determinate with regard to how much of the body’s energy will be stored as fat. (The Internet is filled with reports of scientists scrambling to develop ways to control leptin production, presumably to allow people to not be overweight.) But, as we learned in class macromolecules usually have multiple functions within the body, and leptin also functions as catalyst for puberty. As the body enters puberty it also produces more fat and therefore more leptin. And the hypothalamus region of the brain, which controls (among other things) the development of secondary sexual characteristics, has leptin receptors. Therefore, it is hypothesized that because girls, and the population in general, are “fatter” than in previous generations the body is being signaled to begin puberty earlier than ever.
Name: jill
Username: jmccain@brynmawr.edu
Subject: cholesterol and violent behavior
Date: Fri Oct 27 23:13:27 EDT 2000
Comments:
just wanted to register my amazement at that link that was suggested in class, between cholesterol, or lack thereof, and violence. it seems like if this study was done cross-culturally, the possibility of social factors having a large part in it all would be less likely. i mean, though many countries are also incredibly concerned with body fat as america is, this concern must manifest itself in different ways. it's fascinating to see what happens when we try to alter our bodies in some way because of culture, and it in turns alters culture again. we limit our fat intake because of cultural values, and that changes our bodies' hormones, and that in turn affects our emotional stability and(maybe) contributes to suicide which (finishing the circle) certainly affects culture. one more way that science and culture are intertwined.
Name: Katie K
Username: kkennedy@brynmawr.edu
Subject: an answer to naomi
Date: Sat Oct 28 01:51:37 EDT 2000
Comments:
I think we do have the ability to "lose" an enzyme, and the forum can correct me if I am wrong, but in the case of lactose intolerance my understanding of it is this: as a children, most people can digest milk- but sometimes as people grow older they lose the ability to digest it and this is what makes them ill if they intake dairy. in some, not all cases of this, those that become lactose intolerant lose the ability to express the protein in dna.

I think some types of bacteria also have the ability to turn different enzymes "on and off" as well.


Name: Katie
Username: kgallagh@brynmawr.edu
Subject: Cholesterol, etc
Date: Sun Oct 29 21:51:39 EST 2000
Comments:
I think that the study relating cholesterol and violent death, while it is certainly interesting, is not reliable enough to make a broad generalization - because it was done cross-culturally. In doing so the study ignored a whole lot of social baggage. It looks at those two numbers and nothing else. Perhaps in certain cultures, it is more acceptable to die violently (remember, the study included suicide). This is certainly true of the traditional Japanese culture - honor is valued more than life, as demonstrated by the kamikaze fighters and other military actions during WWII. Is this belief rooted in a low cholesterol level? In America, cholesterol has become evil, and so many people try to reduce it to almost nothing. How do they do this? By eating low/no-cholesterol foods, by dieting. I don't know about you, but not "being able" to eat the foods that I love would certainly keep me cranky, and so maybe I wouldn't react as well in a life or death situation because of this added stress. I appreciate that there could be a relationship between cholesterol level and violent death on some level, but the relationship is surely not strong enough to determine how one is going to die.
Name: Katie
Username: kgallagh@brynmawr.edu
Subject: Rachel's comment
Date: Sun Oct 29 22:13:59 EST 2000
Comments:
Outside substances can cause genetic mutation - nuclear radiation has been mutating ecosystems for years. Evidence is also being gathered on how radiation levels affect cancer rates. I'm not sure if this sort of thing is what Rachel is looking for - I don't know of any results that are as immediate as Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, since it takes the radiation time to kick in, but I am also not extremely well read on nuclear radiation - anyone want to jump in on the tangent?
Name: Mary Rochelle
Username: mrochell@brynmawr.edu
Subject: Gene?
Date: Sun Oct 29 22:37:34 EST 2000
Comments:
This may be a little late to post, but I was thinking about class on Wednesday i think it was, when Prof Grobstein mentioned that headlines which read "Gene that causes X was discovered." I honestly thought that there were aspects of humanity that caused things. Not like cancer, or homosexuality, but isn't baldness a gene? and albino-ism? I know that diseases and personality traits aren't passed down as genes, but aren't there things that can be 'discovered' as a gene?
Name: Sarah Naimzadeh
Username: snaimzad@brynmawr.edu
Subject: abcdefg
Date: Tue Oct 31 10:02:11 EST 2000
Comments:
I would just everyone to know that class on Monday inspired me to pick up all of my books and put them on the shelf in alphabetical order. How improbable.....
Name: Rachel Hochberg
Username: Garg0lye99@hotmail.com
Subject: pondering
Date: Tue Oct 31 19:23:20 EST 2000
Comments:
It was mentioned in class on Mon. very briefly, that the universe is bounded and that nothing crosses over those boundaries. I think I might have asked this before, and if I did, I apologize, but if the universe is bounded, then what's outside of it? In conversation with Katie on this subject, she brought up the idea that the universe must be bounded, otherwise how would we know it's expanding? But if the universe is everything there is out there, which is the impression I have always been under, then how can there be boundaries? and what is it expanding into?
Name: Elizabeth Paluska
Username: epaluska
Subject: thinking vs conditioned response
Date: Tue Oct 31 23:27:31 EST 2000
Comments:
One of the questions that arose after the lab today was the difference between thinking and response due to conditioning. The question we were examining was "Does thinking take time?" The first exercise was to measure response time. Then after this measurement was recorded, more "difficult" tasks such as distinguishing between colors and reading directions were added. But, eventually after several trails I felt as if the tests that involved more "thinking" were actually more similiar to the original response test. For example, in the negation test I just kind of blankly stared at the screen where I knew the words would appear and waited to see the word NOT or the DON'T and clicked accordingly. So I guess my question is how can we be sure that the test actually measures the time it takes to think if the word DON'T can represent the black square in the first response test and the command DO CLICK represents a blank screen? Perhaps I just did the thinking test too many times today.
Name: Katie Kaczmarek
Username: kkaczmar@brynmawr.edu
Subject: evolution and thermodynamics
Date: Thu Nov 2 18:51:16 EST 2000
Comments:
While I was online the other day, I found a site that gave another example of a specific case of going from lesser improbability to greater improbability: evolution. Here's the link:,

http://www.newton.dep.anl.gov/newton/askasci/1993/biology/bio090.htm.

I thought it was a good explanation linking some of the topics we've already talked about.


Name: jeanne
Username: jbraha
Subject: more entropy
Date: Thu Nov 2 19:24:08 EST 2000
Comments:
my all-time favorite example of entropy is this: whenever a series of cars is parallel-parked along the side of a road, they wind up unevenly spaced. rather than maximize the space available by getting close to the car in front, the drivers leave large (but too small for another car) gaps between their precious bumpers and the bumper of the car on either end. sadly, i did not think of this one by myself - i read it a while ago. i have yet to come up with one on my own to top that.
Name: jess
Username: jhayesco
Subject: a thanksgiving metaphor for entropy
Date: Fri Nov 3 00:47:51 EST 2000
Comments:
Food, like life, can be a highly improbable assembly. Take a pumpkin pie, for example--since thanksgiving is on its way. A pumpkin pie is a highly organized set of things. The driving force of its organization is the disorganization of something else, and guess what that is? Your kitchen. It's true for most people (except those meticulous cooks that clean as they go) that after you are finished making the pie, the flour, water, pumpkin, sugar, eggs, butter and whatever else you put in it will be all over the kitchen, in various probable, low energy places (like the floor, chairs, the sink) So, remember to think about biology this thanksgiving. (and just think about all the potential energy stored away in your guests that can help you make your kitchen all nice, shiny, and improbable again!)
Name: allison
Username: ahayesco@brynmawr.edu
Subject: reply on universe comments and lab
Date: Fri Nov 3 00:51:38 EST 2000
Comments:
First, I wanted to agree with Rachel's comment on her confusion about the universe. What is the universe expanding into and how can it be bounded if it is constantly expanding? That sounds like a contradiction.
On a totally different note, I was also confused about this weeks' lab. If the "MAJOR" question we are posing is whether or not the mind and the thinking of the mind is purely physical, the lab doesn't really seem to help any. What we are really measuring is the reaction times of our muscles and organs: how fast it takes for a signal "don't" or "do" to move from our eyes to our brains. Then within our brains, a signal that is more complex will take longer to physically move around. ( By complex I mean coming from a more complicated initial command, the instructions, and involving either differentiating colors or reading. It is in a sense "bigger" or needs to "go" to more places within the brain) Since I don't think there is any dispute about the existence of this physical component to "thinking," we can't then make an argument about whether or not there are other, non-physical, components to thought. Besides, if there were such components, they would be, by definition, sepearate from time and space as we know it. Hense, impossib
Name: Robin Reineke
Username: rreineke@brynmawr.edu
Subject: Bounded VS Boundary
Date: Sun Nov 5 11:58:59 EST 2000
Comments:
I guess we established in class that the universe was "bounded" but did not have an actual "boundary". I suppose by "bounded" we mean that things do not pass in and out of it, but I'm still confused as to how there can be an "in " and "out" if there is no boundary. We also used the word "contained", so maybe we mean that new elements cannot enter the universe?
Name: Naomi
Username: nlim@brynmawr.edu
Subject: lab
Date: Sun Nov 5 15:31:11 EST 2000
Comments:
I agree with Allison to a certain extent about the lab on Wednesday. While the brain certainly does control physical reactions, aren't there different parts of the brain with different functions? For example, my reactions for the first two tests were average, while my reactions on the latter two were quicker. I wonder if this is related to the fact that I had a better understanding of how the tests worked by the time I made it to these latter tests or if my "thinking process" in these two tests were quicker because my brain is somehow more apt in this aspect. Also, would the results of the lab have been different had we done the tests in reverse order? I guess I'll have to wait for the next lab to find out :)
Name: Trudell Smith
Username: tsmith@brynmawr.edu
Subject: universe "bounded"
Date: Sun Nov 5 21:26:35 EST 2000
Comments:
I will like to add to Robin's comment on the universe "bounded". If the universe is bounded(meaning that our universe is not effected by things outside of it), Can it EVER be effected by anything outside of it? If possible, our universe can grow or can be added to another universe. I think one of these things that may cause a change in the boundary, will be another big bang. Who knows how a Big Bang becomes a bang?(rhetorical queston)
Name: Leila
Username: lghaznav@brynmawr.edu
Subject: the world
Date: Sun Nov 5 22:53:13 EST 2000
Comments:
The thing that confuses me is if the universe has limits what happens when you reach the end of the universe? is it just a black void of nothingness? or do you sail off the end of the world so to speak and tumble into something? nothing? if something is limited, it has to be limited by something meaning that there is some object or thing holding it in. What would that be in the case of the universe??
Name: Katie
Username: kgallagh@brynmawr.edu
Subject: the Universe
Date: Mon Nov 6 01:16:16 EST 2000
Comments:
Perhaps the concept of the universe isn't quite what is should be. Perhaps what we think of as the universe is just everything that resulted from the Big Bang - all the planets, stars, time, space (as a collection of what I'll call "forces" - gravity, the way space bends, etc). Everything between these things - the void of outer space - is what the universe is in now and what it's expanding into - it's infinity. The universe is bounded by the outermost reaches of matter and forces because there's nothing in the infinity beyond them to affect the universe, but it has no set boundaries because it's continuously moving and spreading into infinity.
Name: Jenny Wilson
Username: wilson_jl@yahoo.com
Subject: Repitition, Reaction, and ADD
Date: Mon Nov 6 11:00:32 EST 2000
Comments:
Last Wednesday's lab proved to be quite a challenge for me. As a n adult with ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder), I really got to see my disability(?) manifest itself. Not only did I fail to respond to the visual stimuli in a reasonable amount of time, but I managed to forget the purpose of each exercise midway through each "case". I would be interested in knowing more about the bilogiocal aspects of ADD as opposed to the psychological aspects. Is ADD neurologically linked? Does this disorder affect one's response time to visual and auditory stimuli?

This weekend I performed my own experiment per Jeff's request for this week's lab: I practiced the first few exercises several times over. My initial theory was that my response time would improve with practice; however, I was unable to prove this via my experiment. Nevertheless, I still believe that there is a correlation between the two variables, and that my experiment was tainted by the subject--me. My next experiment is to see if my response time improves with the administration of my ADD medication (the controversial drug, Ritalin). I'm confident that I will be able to improve my response time, and thus prove that the variables are positively correlated (as repitition increases, response time increases).


Name: srabonti ali
Username: sali@brynmawr.edu
Subject:
Date: Mon Nov 6 15:25:12 EST 2000
Comments:
in response to leila's question of whether the end of the universe just a black void of nothingness...isnt a black void of nothingness still something? i dont know whether that makes sense. i always think that the end of the universe is incomprihensible (is that a word)? and something that we can never describe in words. it is kind of like what robin said about not really being sure what the universe having a boundary means.
Name: Adria Robbin
Username: arobbin@brynmawr.edu
Subject: the universe
Date: Mon Nov 6 16:20:50 EST 2000
Comments:
I like the discussion that has started here about how large the universe indeed is. I think that it might not be in a human being's capacity to be able to fully comprehend the vastness of it. It's also interesting to be thinking about this subject of 'boundedness'and 'boudaries' as we are continuing to overstep old boundaries and now have a possible living situation in outer space. It's truly amazing to think about how far we've come in a relatively short period of time. A question I think about sometimes, however, is whether or not we has human beings are really supposed to be overthrowing these boudaries and venturing outside the planet...
Name: jabeen
Username: jobaray@brynmawr.edu
Subject: ADD
Date: Mon Nov 6 19:43:25 EST 2000
Comments:
to respond to Jenny's comments on her experience with the lab as effected by ADD...in terms of the biological aspects of ADD..some proposed etiologies for ADD include neurological damage and genetic variation and studies have shown that in children with ADD there is a reduced amount in brain volume in certain areas of the brain...all of these things may in some way account in for a "slower reaction time" on the tasks...? Because of the nature of ADD, it makes sense that you would find it difficult to focus on the task, and have problems in attending to the task, and one would assume that the Ritalin would help...so it would be interesting to see if your results improve, especially if they do in fact increase with repetition. Out of curiosity, did you find that you were making frequent errors out of being impulsive in your "answers", or was it that it just took a longer amount of time to read the directions and find out what was needed? (i hope that makes sense) becasue maybe in the former case the ritalin would help and in the latter maybe it might or might not? im not sure, just kind of guessing... ...anyway, as for the lab in general, im skeptical that the latter cases were truly a measure of "thinking" as opposed to simple response...like elizabeth said, wasnt it really about looking for the key words and clicking (or not) on the button?
Name: Paul Grobstein
Username: pgrobste@brynmawr.edu
Subject: some more grist
Date: Tue Nov 7 18:43:49 EST 2000
Comments:
Is interesting indeed how much interest there is in the boundedness of the universe. Wonder why? And whether there is, what might be, the connection to biology. Anyhow, the question (or at least one question) seems to be how could something be bounded, and yet not have an edge. Imagine an infinitely large sheet of paper and some shapes (a circle, a square, and so forth). The shapes can move along the surface of the paper as far as they want in any direction (no edge) but cannot move above or below the sheet of paper (their "universe" is bounded). Flatland, a classic book from the late 1800's, describes such a universe (among others), and is available on line. An August 2000 Scientific American article, "The Universe's Unseen Dimensions", raises the possibility that our 3D universe is in fact, like the sheet of paper, embedded in a larger dimensional reality and describes projected experiments which might show that our 3D universe is not in fact bounded, that it CAN be, in very limited and specific ways, "affected from outside". Maybe that's the interest/connection to biology? Is there in fact something "outside" what we know/have been able so far to study, that can affect us/living systems? In any case, Cosmos in a Computer is a nicely down and accessible introduction to what's going on/being thought about in cosmology these days.

On another subject: very interested in/appreciative of Jenny's ADD posting, and the follow up thoughts about questions that might be asked. ADD a very complicated, intriguing, important area for some fresh thinking, exploration. For any one interested, there are a number of on line papers on ADD by students in Biology 202 over the past several years (see listing)


Name: anonymous
Username:
Subject: add..again
Date: Wed Nov 8 10:27:03 EST 2000
Comments:
sorry but just another point on the add comment...add and dyslexia have been linked, and some point of the theories put out there was that dyslexia was a disability in the automization of skills. SO, for example, this one study used a visual search task of some kind (like putting a bunch of red x's in a bunch of red o's and being able to pick it out), and one should technically being able to get better with practice at such a task because it becomes more automatic...however, the dyslexics were not able to acheive this....possibilty of it as an explanation?
Name: jabeen
Username: jobaray@brynmawr.edu
Subject: lab
Date: Thu Nov 9 17:28:30 EST 2000
Comments:
for yesterdays lab when we made up our own experiemnts, I did mine on the effect of listening to music while doing the different tasks. But afterwards, I was thinking about it and was wondering how the fact that I was listening to music which was in another language while performing the tasks which required reading in english would effect the results...does anyone know the effects of first/second language, bilingualism, multilingualism are in terms of "time to think" or response time? or maybe it doesnt matter? or depens on how well you know each language? or even which you learned first?
Name: Katie Kaczmarek
Username: kkaczmar@brynmawr.edu
Subject: sentience
Date: Thu Nov 9 23:22:59 EST 2000
Comments:
Being an avid fan of science fiction, I thought the comment that there was no way to test for sentience very interesting. In the Uplift Series by David Brin, humans have lifted up chimpanzees and dolphins into sentience. (I talked about this in my web paper.) I think this is very interesting. If this were to happen, we wouldn't know if we had actually succeeded in lifting these species into sentience until they told us so! In the books, another interesting point came up: even though chimps and dolphins were sentient, there were still very few truly original and creative thinkers among them; they tended to "imitate" their human patrons.
Name: Jess
Username: jhayesco
Subject: some responses
Date: Fri Nov 10 09:39:00 EST 2000
Comments:
I don't know anything about how a second language would effect response times, but it is an interesting question. I would guess that it would depend not only on how well one knows the second language but also how close the first language is to the second. I bet the results would differ from person to person too, just as listening to music can increase some peoples resonse times and decrease others.

It is interesting to think of Flatland, the book that Prof. Grobstein mentioned, in terms of our universe. For some reason, when I read the book, I only thought about it in terms of different dimensions but I didn't relate it to our universe. In the same way that Flatland is bounded by two dimensions, our universe could be bounded by three. There is another book, a take off on Flatland called Sphereland (which is less sexist than Flatland, although both are interesting). Sphereland also addresses different questions about boundedness that are interesting to our universe discussion.


Name: jeanne
Username: jbraha7563@aol.com
Subject: labs and language
Date: Fri Nov 10 10:19:28 EST 2000
Comments:
another interesting test, if you are fluent in multiple languages, would be to compare your times if you could do the tests in the different languages (have the instructions written in each). people i've spoken to who are truly fluent (most learned as children) think in the language of the conversation they are having. people who just have a strong command of a second language say they have an extra step in their thought process: read in english, translate to native lang., think, translate thought back to english. so we'd have to add "translate" to each set of activities in the experiment. this suggests to me that it would take longer, because most of us took longer to do multiple tasks (like adding the negation). so if you did the tests in both languages, you could compare the results to see if there is that "translate" step for you. listening to music in another language might artificially influence you to add the translation step even if you don't normally do that. (i hope this made sense)
Name: Naomi
Username: nlim@brynmawr.edu
Subject: language shift
Date: Fri Nov 10 11:16:01 EST 2000
Comments:
I don't know too much about language acquisition or the role that language plays, but there are definitely tons of implications. I would say that listening to music in your better language and taking a test in that same language would produce faster results because wouldn't two different languages for the music and test cause you to "code-shift" --> which I think would take more time? Also, it probably depends on whether you are able to think in both languages and how well you can do this. In response to jeane's comments, i don't think that each process necessarily requires translation because there are bilingual people equally (or almost) fluent in English and their native language, so they are able to think in both.
Name: allison
Username: ahayesco
Subject: music and thinking
Date: Fri Nov 10 19:07:20 EST 2000
Comments:
I am intrigued by Jabeen's question about whether or not listening to music in another language would effect the rates in the "Time to Think" lab. I think any discrepencies in times to read, think, or negate, would only make sense when listening to music with lyrics in a language different from that in which the questions are asked, but known to the listener. In other words, listening to spanish music should only affect me if I understand and am paying attention to what they are saying. Otherwise, the voice becomes just like another instrument. Right?? The other question I have which kind of fits with this is, has anyone ever heard that classical music is supposed to make people think better or faster? Someone told me that once. I think it is just a myth, but has anyone else ever heard it?
Name: Leila
Username: lghaznav@brynmawr.edu
Subject: genetics
Date: Sun Nov 12 00:36:03 EST 2000
Comments:
I must confess that my curiosity is growing greater and greater about the issue of genetics. In class we talked about how DNA gives the code to make proteins but what really interests me is genetic recombination, the combing of two people's dna to create a totally unique piece of dna, how that happens and what that means in terms of recessive and dominante genes. I know we haven't covered any of this but I'm extremely eager to learn.
Name: Leila
Username: lghaznav@brynmawr.edu
Subject: classical music
Date: Sun Nov 12 00:38:49 EST 2000
Comments:
I also have heard classical music can be linked to higher intelligence in children. People in the music world like to proclaim that fact from the heavens. I don't think it's a myth. Music does affect people's moods and behaviors, techno music has created many phenonmenons (spelling sorry) in this department. ALthough you also have to examine if homes that play classical music are perhaps more well balanced or something along those lines. It's probably not just classical music but a combination of factors.
Name: jill
Username: jmccain@brynmawr.edu
Subject: bilingualism and thinking
Date: Sun Nov 12 18:53:25 EST 2000
Comments:
in response to the conversation about bilingualism and thinking, i've been reading about thinking capabilities in relation to fluent bilingualism lately. there are two different levels of bilingualism, Fluent English Proficient people (those who can think easily in both languages) and Limited English Proficient people (those who have limited knowledge of one of the two languages and therefore don't think in both languages, but need to translate sometimes before they can think). FEP's have a greater ability to do conceptual problems on average. This is attributed to their use of two different symbols (words) for every object. The scores for FEP's were significantly higher on average than monolingual people. LEP's don't show this greater average aptitude for conceptual problems. I wonder then if this would affect the 'negating' part of the test that we did for lab. would FEP's be able to more quickly adjust to using a different 'symbol' to represent an instruction. for example, would a FEP be able to train herself more quickly to see 'don't click' and comprehend 'do click' because she is used to having more than one symbol for the instruction 'do click?' it's an interesting area of study, especiallly since as a society we encourage our upper and middle-class students to become bilingual while we often encourage immigrants to learn only english and not speak in their mother-tongue, thus losing their chance at being an FEP.


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