Sunday, March 16, 2014

How does a jargon like ‘particle physics’ affect our daily lives?

            Mr. Andre David of CERN (European Organization for Nuclear Research) explained how particle physics benefits the society through the talk “The Higgs Boson We Cannot Unsee” held last January 29,2014. Luckily, on the 4th of July year 2012, the elusive Higgs Boson, which was initially theorized in 1964, was observed by the said organization. As explained by CERN, their discovery is consistent with the Higgs Boson predicted by the Standard Model. This is the simplest manifestation of the Brout-Englert-Higgs mechanism.

            Now, for most people like me who do not understand an inkling of those physics jargon, how does this discovery affect our daily lives?

            Particle physics gave way to the birth of imaging devices like the x-ray, CT scan, MRI, etc. With these, numerous ailments and diseases are being diagnosed precisely. Hence, treatment becomes more efficient and many years are added to people.

            Electricity, the blood of our modern era, is carried through cables made of superconducting material. With particle physics, alternative ways of creating power and transporting power where born then which propelled our society into progress.

World Wide Web
            Information is a trade that is intangible yet so precious. Knowledge makes the impossible possible for mankind. Nowadays, internet helps the millions of people all around the world obtain some precious information.

            There are a lot more examples of how particle physics touch and alleviate our daily lives, these are just the top three that struck me the most. As a layman, I do hope that our government give enough support to our scientists and researches. Since, through diverse researches do we discover remarkable inventions.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Tide-Powered Energy

Over the years, the search for renewable and sustainable energy has inspired many scientists, engineers and creative individuals to design and create better alternatives for our energy source. Recently, M3 Wave developed a device which can be moored to the ocean floor that harnesses the energy from tidal waves into electrical energy.As the waves continue to pass through and fro, it provides a sustainable and natural movement.

According to an article in, the device is designed to be powered by the pressure exerted by the waves, which forces air to travel to another chamber which has a bidirectional turbine, thus creating electrical energy. 
The great thing about this product is that it provides little carbon footprint and will not disrupt the natural marine ecosystem. Its also designed to be durable, so that it can survive even the harshness of the underwater environment. However, the system is still undergoing additional testing and will likely be available for public or private use in the near future.

M3 Wave's design
The possibilities that devices like this offer are great, especially for a country like ours. Given that the Philippines is an archipelago and is literally surrounded by water, having a device like this can really help our energy industry in providing sufficient electricity for everyone. It will also create a competitive energy industry, which may result in having cheaper energy prices. It can also be just the answer to our energy crises, like to other provinces that are suffering from rotating blackouts. 

Hopefully, new technologies and discoveries will usher a new wave of scientists that can turn to nature as inspiration and find better solutions.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Marine Conversations; Ms. Anna Oposa

           The forum I attended was Ms. Anna Oposa’s Marine Conversations. It was about her journey on how she became a chief mermaid of Save Philippine Seas. She explains that sometimes not everything you plan will be as it is.

              I may not be interested in her campaign, but as living thing in this earth, I support her. As she stated, the earth without art is just eh. Her concern in this earth must reach to everyone so that our world would be a better place in the future. We need to be aware that everything we do have an effect on each of everyone. Her journey from when she was a student up to now was really inspiring. It might be very different to mine as a UP student, but I learned that everything has a purpose. She was practicing to be the next Lea Salonga and her 4-year course was related to writing, yet her passion leads her to be the chief mermaid of Save Philippine Seas. Her interest in nature started when one he professor ask them to chose either to take finals or pick trash. Well, she chose to pick trash. Maybe it was one the moment that help her realize that she was meant to be a mermaid.
The thing I like most in her talk beside that she sang A Whole New World was her encouragement that every one of us must come out in our shell. We should be courage to do what we think is right and we should think creatively so it will benefit each one of us including mother earth. By the way, I also love her PowerPoint presentation, it was really nice and so many cute pictures that grab my attention.  

Largest PH solar power plant to rise in Palawan           

              There are many issues evolving and still existing issues about environment that are not solve and currently in process of finding solutions One of them is the necessity to find ways not to cause more pollution to our mother earth.
The solar power plant building in Palawan is indeed a great help. We need to find resources in nature without exploiting too much of it. And I think this project is a hell big help especially in Palawan. There will be no more power shortage and more provinces will have enough electricity for more work to done. If we look at the bright side of it, it will be a big help to Palawan as one of our tourist destination. No more foreigners will complain about no electricity. But my question is will it cost fairly to people? Especially it is a joint venture with a foreign investor; usually we have to pay for it for a higher price.

How was it made? Did it undergo the standard of building a structure like this? Are there no trees, plants or mountain destroyed when it was built? I hope so. Cause the purpose of this is to help solve nature problem and not to add more.

If only the government has the will to invest in these projects so it will be a big help to the lives of Filipino people. If only those who are in the positions to help will sincerely help and get their job well done, then Philippines will have a booming economy.
              I hope it will be indeed beneficial to the people of Palawan and also to our country.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Cultural Change, Dissent and Medieval Science

                     The connection of ideas of the title of the forum conducted by Dr. Jovi Miroy, cultural changes which is the effect of dissent and dissent originating from the medieval sciences, is already profound. As defined, medieval science is systematic, organized and heavily philosophical in which it involves ‘scientia’ or ‘going beyond faith’ and is distinguished from ‘doxa’ which means ‘opinion’. It has two goals: to understand change and change itself. Now, I will base my paper to my fellow Filipinos. According to Dr. Miroy, we don’t have cultural change contexts in which we only have contexts for behavioral changes. I agree. Many of our traditions, practices and beliefs didn’t come from us but rather from Western societies which influenced the way Filipinos in the Middle and Ancient times lived. For example, based from the article that I’ve read in Wikipedia and my knowledge from the articles that my professor gives in Kas 1 last semester, the Philippines was first settled by Melanesians, after them the Austronesians or more specifically, Malayo – Polynesians then came the Spaniards followed by the Americans and lastly, the Japanese. All of these countries had left a great impact on the traditional way of life and culture of the Filipinos. Up until now, our way of life still depends to these foreign countries that continues to prosper more specifically the U.S.A. while we, Filipinos, are way 100 steps behind on innovation. So why did I come up to the idea between the Filipinos and the medieval sciences? Simple. Change. A change of our system politically, socially, economically, spiritually, all of which constitutes the cultural aspects of our nationality. But before that, let me discuss further my observations regarding the way of life of many Filipinos at present times. Various situations wherein we fail to acquire prosperity is because of the different bad habits that we practice like crab mentality or lack of creativity resulting to having no originality which is very common to us Filipinos. Another factor is laziness. Also, nepotism is common to us Filipinos. An example of this habit is, ‘a well-connected passenger gets the airport’s special lane while hard-working OFWs sweat it out on a long line.’ What then is the cause of this bad habits? Some may say technology but for me it is the colonization of our country. But how can one resolve this problems among the Filipinos? The title of the forum. First, we need to have our context for our Cultural Ways and Traditions so as to uphold the strength of our unity and consciousness as Filipinos to the fullest and to create a society that have innovative and creative thinkers leading to a prosperous country of ours. Second, Dissent pertaining to the practices politically, socially with technology, economically and spiritually as that of the Church’s beliefs and traditions in which many of these practices are abused by people nowadays. And lastly, application of the methods of the Medieval Sciences, in which it is a form of science that is very helpful plus it has clear and distinct ideas providing demonstration. It’s goal mainly was to understand nature\change in nature so as to bring about change itself. That is, a shift in life models and a shift in paradigms is what we need, what Filipinos need to understand the problem we are having.


Thursday, February 20, 2014

Red Love

Aptly timed for the Valentine’s season, One Love Part Two was a discussion that tackled love from the perspective of leftist philosophy. The discussion had three parts: the first one was hinged on arguments detailing the bourgeois facet of love and how this facet of love is the dominant view in society, as evidenced by the art that such a society produces or reveres; the second part tried to look at the notion red (or communist) love through theories on queer (homosexual) love; and, the third was a rhetorical summary of some of the views presented in the two previous parts. The talk was held at the College of Science Auditorium last week, February 13th.

The arguments of the first presenter, Portia Placino, detailed how society’s views on love were shown through the works of arts that have been made by several artists over the years like Manet, Rembrandt, Gainsborough, Amorsolo and Manansala. Placino presented several slides in which certain views on love were offered by the artists. The general view offered by Placino detailed the trajectory of love from courtship to engagement to marriage to family and these were shown through various artworks. She maintained that, through the artworks presented, the social view on love is often anti-women and capitalist. 

Take for example the sculpture of Cupid and Psyche’s love story where Psyche, the woman, had to literally go through heaven and hell just to get the love of Cupid, who had to do nothing. Another example is Thomas Gainsborough’s Mr. and Mrs. Andrews in which a portrait of a couple is shown and they are assumed to be married. The real conceit of the painting however is the fact that Mr. and Mrs. Andrews now have a larger tract of land as a result of their union. Placino added that marriage as a way of augmenting one’s property is a common practice and, if such is the case, Placino asked if marriage (and love) is a bourgeois concept.
The second talk of the seminar was conducted by Dr. Roselle Pineda and focused on red love as queer love. What the talk aimed to do was to provide an alternative to the prevalent heteronormative and heterosexual notions (both capitalist notions) of love in society by presenting a leftist view on love that relied on homosexual ideas.

Dr. Pineda cited marriage as an example of how heteronormative love is a capitalist idea. Instead of the union being a manifestation of love, the married couple becomes a “consumer unit,” with the idea of each of them possessing their respective partner. However, in a truly communist society, Dr. Pineda, taking from the ideas of Alexandra Kollontai, asserted that love is to be benefitted by the collective and not just two private individuals.

Therefore, the communist idea of love is grounded on open and not exclusive relationships where marriage has no place. Much like homosexual love in which most relationships are averse to marriage and are, more often than not, open, communist love should be anchored on the same principles as queer love.
For the last part of the talk, Professor Gerry Lanuza described what love is for him, as supported by quotes from Mao Ze Dong, Che Guevarra and excerpts from Alan Badiou’s work. He likened love to fighting for the good of the collective, as they are violent, extremist, and partisan.

Normally, I am skeptical in attending forums centered on leftist ideas and principles because I feel that the people behind communist propaganda can get too aggressive in their delivery and therefore come across as arrogant. Sometimes, people behind these movements can be so bent with their beliefs at the expense of looking at all sides equally. But this particular talk somehow changes that impression for me. Its general mood was lively and academic. The points presented were based on solid facts, as in the theories of Alexandra Kollontai and the widely accepted interpretations of the different works of art. It was also not too preachy; it merely inquired the possibility and asked the audience to consider. “Is it really love that we want or is it simply to comply with the social norm?” “Is self-expression really about defying boundaries or is it actually more of a subscription to social dictation?” Now that is something to think about.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Cultural Change, Dissent and Medieval Science

                My knowledge about medieval science is so utterly feeble as to be totally depressing. It became somehow comforting to me that a public lecture on the history and philosophy of science was held last February 10, 2014 by Dr. Jovi Miroy, an Associate Professor of Medieval Philosophy at Ateneo de Manila Unversity. The lecture was primarily focused on the relationship between dissent and cultural change, and their role in medieval science. The lecture also dealt with a topic often subject of heated debates – the link between science and God.

                The discussion began with the definition of science. For the medieval mind, science or scientia served as any body of knowledge that could be systematized, including theology, a subject which we would not consider science today. That time, theology interwove itself through medieval culture and learning, and was not perceived as a truly separate discipline from philosophy or the study of natural phenomena. However, science, as we know now, is a body of knowledge, the type which can be rationally explained and reliably applied, and the type which shall follow and involve an understanding in accordance with logic or reason. In universities, it was seen as an essential area of study in its own right and was an independent field, separated from theology.

                During the latter parts of the lecture, Dr. Jovi Miroy talked about dissent – a specific sentiment or philosophy of non-agreement or opposition to a prevailing idea or belief. I learned that dissent is important in science because it leads to scientific revolution or cultural change. After the lecture, I figured that cultural change is similar to Thomas Kuhn’s paradigm shift, a topic already discussed in our Science Technology and Society (STS) class. From what I remember, a paradigm shift occurs when scientists encounter major anomalies that cannot be explained by, and radically alters, the universally accepted paradigm within which scientific progress has thereto been made. Some examples of paradigm shift were Copernicus’s sun-centered universe and Kepler’s optics, which both owed their inspiration and much of their detail to medieval antecedents.

                At first I cannot seem to digest all of the information that was being shared by Dr. Jovi Miroy and I admit there were moments when I totally got lost during his one and a half hour discussion. What I appreciate most from the lecture was that it concretized the fact that there was religious support for natural science by the late Middle Ages and recognition that it was an important element of learning. This runs contrary to the popular view of the Middle Ages being something of a dark age for science, dominated by the rule of faith rather than the light of reason. There really was nothing dark about the Dark Ages, as was said by my STS professor Benjamin Vallejo, Jr. in one of his essays. The natural philosophy, theology, and culture of the Middle Ages, in fact contributed to the formation of the modern sciences.

                The lecture ended with a lot of questions from the audience regarding changes in the Philippine society and an answer from Dr. Jovi Miroy that changes always start within individuals ourselves. Dr. Jovi Miroy left us, listeners with the challenge to open our minds to understanding the natural world for us to be able to take control of it. In the end, it was one very intellectual and informative public lecture for us students.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

How Discoveries Progress in Society

One cannot "unsee" a lecture such as that which this author attended: informative, interesting, and most importantly, relatable. Given by André David Tinoco-Mendez of the CERN (Conseil Européen pour la Recherche Nucléaire or European Council for Nuclear Research), the talk was about the relevance of experimental particle physics in society.

We can make a preliminary statement based on our introductory knowledge in particle physics and say that it is impossible for such a field to contribute to a better life in society. We can ask critical questions like, "How can such ultra-small particles, some of which are still begging proof for existence, help improve the economy of a third-world country?" and "Is it worthwhile to invest a large amount of our resources for such endeavors?"

The first part of the lecture has touched upon this subject by discussing the nature of science as a whole. Advancement basically requires taking risks, for progress usually comes from a highly unexpected source. This makes sense since innovation is supposed to be new—it is supposed to induce a change in society, for the better. The lecturer has given examples to illustrate this, such as the first appearances of electricity and the first computer of Babbage: they were first viewed as an after-dinner recreation. At their time of introduction, they seemed useless, but look how important they are now in our society.

We can liken therefore the science worker to a one who holds out a dim lamp in a maze of roads: one can only partially see one's path. Sometimes, when a fork shows, one can never tell the more advantageous way. That is why the lecturer has warned his audience of the psychological strength that is required of science workers—for (non verbatim)"once you come crashing with high speed to a dead end (referring to an error in one of the forks chosen), you have to be able to pick yourself up, pick up the pieces [of your work], and choose another way."

Because of its newness, society at first will withhold its support in one's endeavor, especially when it requires much resources and when the material does not show promising usefulness.

Then the innovation can be considered ubiquitous once society perceives its usefulness. The emphasized word is repeatedly used by the lecturer, used to describe something common or prevalent. It does not have to be really useful; we just have to be convinced that we need it. Here marketing is crucial, without undermining the importance of truth in advertising claims.

It is a vicious cycle of discovery (meaning: a new idea), innovation (a tangible invention based on the idea), and ubiquitous product, and this cycle usually moves toward the betterment of society according to the principles of natural selection.

As an example, the lecturer enumerated the evolution of our artificial light source. First, the discovery of fire brought the innovation of candles, which in turn made beeswax and animal fat ubiquitous. The latest turn of the cycle starts with the discovery of semiconductors to the innovation of LEDs, and hopefully in the near future, its ubiquity will be sped up by reducing its cost of production.


We go back to that last question we have regarding the usefulness of particle physics in society. Based on the discussion above, we can never tell if a discovery is useful or not until we have the innovation and until society learns to accept it. These are three separate phases of product development that usually takes time and lots of people to before progressing.
Take, as a particular example, the recent discovery of the Higgs Boson particle at the lecturer's laboratory. Physicists are particularly excited about this because this particle (pun intended) interacts with all the other particles—a feature that is never seen before. But engineers and teachers and the public in general will not appreciate it until another group of specialists come in and formulate an innovation out of it, and until yet another group present and distribute it to the rest of society.

We say it is inevitable for this discovery to be converted into an innovation, and eventually into a ubiquitous product, because we see the amount of human resources and earthly resources invested to discover it. That is, if the discovery has actual potential for conversion, which we can never tell outright from knowledge that such a discovery exists or even in the extensive knowledge of that discovery. It takes a lot more than mastery of the discovery to come up with an innovation.

Imagine all the member states funding for this endeavor, all for the containment of specialists in the field of nuclear physics in a laboratory which enables them to play with their toys without hurting anyone (as the lecturer has expressed in his talk). These activities have brought about advancements in fields such as imaging, either medical or for security purposes, wherein knowledge of the particles and their behavior with different materials are used to identify contents of luggage or tumors inside the body.

Another important contribution of CERN is the development of the World Wide Web, where back there it was originally intended to distribute the workload of calculating their model equations to computers all around the world. This we now know today as cloud computing.

To answer the second question posted at the start of this article: Is it worthwhile? We actually cannot put an absolute equivalent of worth in these products to validly compare with the amount of resources spent in the whole cycle of discovery, innovation, ubiquity. Would we rather sit in the darkness than explore the uses of fire, however dangerous it might be? Shall we stifle the insatiable curiosity of the person about his/her surroundings?

If we might notice, we see that the practical applications of these activities are rather minutely related to the original questions that these physicists try to answer (according to the website of CERN): What is the universe made of? When did it start?

It is exciting to think of the changes in society once they have fully answered these questions. In the meantime, we move onward through the cycle of discovery, innovation, and the contribution to society: a ubiquitous product.


CERN. (2014). About CERN. Retrieved from CERN:

David, A. (2014, January 29). Andre David's Curriculum Vitae. Retrieved from CERN website: