Spaceships, Satellites & life

Discovering new boundaries has always been part of humanity. Whether it is in the field of science, psychology or geographically, humans always had had the need to answer the inexplicable and to explore. Now that the earth has been fully discovered and mapped, men turned their attention toward a world of infinity possibilities: space. Full of mysteries, the sky and the stars have always been a constant a source of wonder and interest.

Since the first time men went in space, progress has never stopped, but not without a price. Not fully understanding this new world and the high technological difficulties have lead to many deaths over time. Those deaths can be caused by an error in the construction of the spaceship or a miscalculation in the calculated program of the astronauts. There also the question of money. Discovering the space and building spaceships to go in space cost a lot of money that could be used for to help fight HIV in Africa or simply to improve our world on Earth. So why risk the lives of astronauts and not help the people living on Earth.

At first, it would be easy to see the discovering of space as a loss of resources and money as well as unnecessary risks for some people. Let’s not forget that because of those missions and technological advancement many lives were saved. The use of satellites has allowed us to predict the weather all around the world and to save lives by predicting any natural catastrophes. Going in space as also allowed us to create new ways of communication such as cell phones which makes so much more people reachable and can also be used if anyone was in danger. When astronauts go in space, the lack of gravity allows them to study the human body and its functioning. The discovering of space has allowed us to understand so much more and to be capable of improve life on earth that it has became a necessity where those who risk their life know the chances they take.



Plastics Beads, Walnut Shells, and Fish

In a world of consummation and mass production, the motto is more with less. How can a company make more products with less money? Sometime, this way of thinking can lead to us using products that might not be the best for us and the environment.

A good example would be the microbeads situation in the cosmetic world. These little beads are made of plastics and are no longer than 5 millimeters of diameter. They are mostly used in body wash, exfoliant… They have a polish rounded shape and are capable are polishing and cleaning the top surface of the skin called stratum corneum. The positive side, as consumers, is that those microbeads are made of inorganic compounds, which means it can’t interact with the chemistry of the skin. However, on the negative side, those microbeads found in cosmetics wind up in water and pollute our lakes and rivers. They are particularly a threat to birds and fish. When those animals eat the plastic beads, it prevents them from getting actual nutrients and to block their stomach.

A good alternative for cosmetics is the use of organic material such as rice, walnut shells, etc. Those materials are actually more efficient for the skin as an exfoliant and safe for the environment. If this is the case, why use those microbeads when better alternatives could be use? The production of microbeads is cheaper than using organic compound which means they get a better profit the product is sold. If the production becomes more expensive, the products will either cost more or the company will gain less money. Companies should not sacrifice the environment in order to make more money. They also should provide the best product they could which would mean replacing plastic microbeads by organic compounds.

Medicine, Business & Abuses

Life and health have always been important values in most societies. Our goal is to live the longest life as healthy as possible. Access to treatments and its organization have always been an issue. Mixing medicine and business has always been regarded as something frowned upon. However, to be capable of providing the care needed a practice must have the necessary funding to pay the doctors, the nurses, all employees, the treatment machines… Obviously, any medical practice will have to rely on business somehow. The question is: are there any abuses?

Right now in the United-States, medicine is use as a way to make money. Some medical practices function as a company where the goal is to make the more money as possible. The perfect examples would be when prostate cancer and breast cancer are involved. In some case those type of cancer can be detected very early on at a stage that those not represent a threat to the person. At this stage, the cancer could simply be closely watched by healthcare specialists. This activate surveillance allows the patient a longer period of time without any side effects that a ‘’premature’’ treatment would cause. The problem in the United-States is that doctors often skip this surveillance and go directly to surgery or chemotherapy or radiotherapy in order to make money. For example, a 50 years old man with a stable prostate cancer will be treated immediately instead of using the activate surveillance method. This decision from the doctor will mostly lead the loss of this man’s prostate which could incapacitate him from having erections or becoming urinary incontinence. The doctor will prefer make more money with the immediate treatments than actively watch the cancer and give better life conditions, which should be the true motivation behind treating people.

Nature, Knowledge & Destruction

According to the Collins Concise English dictionary, nature is a word that comes from the Latin word nātūra which is derived from nātus, the past participle of nascï, meaning to be born. Nature has many different definitions in itself, but can really be seen as the base of everything.

The world we know today was created by the evolution of nature. Nature is part of u; it is what drives us to evaluate. Everything we now know comes from nature. The food we eat that keeps us alive is part of nature. Our knowledge in agriculture and cooking is due to our environment. Nature is also science. It is in nature that scientist found their answers to certain principals and the desire to know more about nature and how to use it that brought our knowledge to where it is now. We found nature everywhere and it gave us everything we have, so why are we so inconsiderate of it now?

Since the industrialisation, our rate of pollution has enormously increased. It is as if we only wanted what the earth can give us without ever giving back. Some countries are now more considerate since we have now discernible effects of our past behaviour, and regulate the pollution made by industries. However other countries prefer to make more money than help the planet and continue to harm our environment. It is unnecessary to say that all humans are concerned in this problem since it is a global problem what touches us touches others. Our actions are not without any consequences and it would be time that the countries change their consummator habit and be more eco-friendly to our earth which is where everything started and evolved from.

Penicillin, Syphilis & African-Americans

Penicillin is a drug, but more precisely an anti-biotic often use nowadays. This drug was discovered by Alexander Fleming in 1928, in London*. Penicillin was discovered to be the first cure for syphilis who had killed many people.

In 1932, the US Public Health Service decided to start studying hundreds of poor African-American men who showed symptoms related to syphilis.* In order to study the disease, the government decided not to give them penicillin to continue their research. In studying syphilis, many died of this disease and propagated it to their wives and children. In the 1950’s penicillin was widely spread as a safe antibiotics that could cure syphilis. However this treatment was still denied to African-Americans that were part of the study or being treated.

Human testing has to be highly regulated; because science sometimes tends to cross the line of what is right or wrong for their curiosity. For a research to be ethical, the subject of this experiment must volunteer. He must be explained all the parts of this research, properly informed on what are the implications of the experiment. The subject also must be treated. The doctors cannot withhold a treatment to study a disease like the government did with the African-American part of their study. There must also be accurate records of the experiments and the results. In the case of the study for syphilis, the number of surviving subjects was estimated between 76 and 111 where as the numbers of death were estimated to be between 28 and 101, which is a big leap.

This study was not a success. Most criteria that make a research ethical were not followed and created a controversy in the scientific world. When humans are being tested, the person’s right should always be followed.




Nuclear, Energy & Dangers

It is in the human nature to want to control everything. It gives a feeling of safety since men are the ones deciding when and where. However, control needs power, and this power is sometime not as good as we might think. An actual problem would be the nuclear power, a force so big that it can scrape a city of the map.

Nuclear energy comes from atoms. The energy that is made by the exothermic nuclear power generates heat and electricity. Nuclear energy really has a great potential as an energy resource, but the dangers that comes with this technology is not without any consequences. Some people believe that nuclear energy is the solution to global warming. However when a problem occurs and a industry loses the control of their machines, it is not just water that escape, but radioactive components. It then destroys the environment by killing the closest elements, but can still affect people all over the world, since the soil is now contaminated, agriculture is then impossible, cancer and genetics changes occurs which can have devastating consequences on a population. There is also a lot of secrecy around the issue of nuclear power. There is not a lot of information that explains how the radioactive wastes, made from this energy source, are disposed of. It becomes an issue, because those are harmful components that can affect the life of many persons. We should know what happens to those wastes, so we can make sure that we are not being contaminated without knowing it.

Apart from using nuclear power for energy, this source can also be use as a weapon. Most countries now wish to have access to nuclear bombs, whether it is for protection or any other reason. It raise the question if nuclear really is the solution to our problem or an additional problem.

Cooking, Women & Science

Cooking first appeared while humans were still very primitive, and it has became one of the most important parts of all society. Cooking is life, because without food we could not survive as well as we now do. In the past men hunted down the dinner, but it was the women who took care of the food. For many centuries, the responsibility of cooking was passed down to the women of the family and it was their duty to make food for the rest of the family.

When analysed, cooking can be seen as a practical application of chemistry principles. Ingredients are mixed and they need to reach a certain texture before continuing to the next step, which is what chemistry is. It is a chemical reaction where elements are exposed to heat and other substances which change the state of the elements without changing its composition, since the atoms linked one way earlier are still there but are bonded to different ones.

However, cooking was never considered as a science. When science was invented, the access of knowledge harvested by this discipline was strictly reserved to men. Furthermore, not all men had access to it, most were monks, nobles, kings, scholar… Women were not even considered as equals. Their role was to take care of the family, not to question the world. Cooking was a discipline associated strictly to women; therefore it never really became a science.

Cooking should be considered as an application of science, since it uses all the principles of chemistry in a practical way.



Makeup, Cosmetics & Chemicals

For centuries, civilisations have used cosmetics in deferent forms. Egyptians used to wear makeup based on oils and natural herbs, Chinese and Japanese used rice powder for their face. Cosmetics have always been part of us. At the beginning, makeup was natural and made with what the earth provided. Nowadays, the process of making makeup is much more complicated and the results are sometimes not as good as we think.

One of two major issues with makeup is the chemicals used in order to have the desired product. The skin takes in general 26 seconds to absorb a product, and according to Ian Taylor from Green People, up to 60% of ingredients will absorbed by the skin and then received in the bloodstream.* When those chemical are absorbed this way, they are not detoxified by the live. They then remain is the blood where depending on the level of concentration certain chemicals can interact will cells causing changing that can eventually be bad for our body. Certain ingredients used in mainstream cosmetics are considered toxic but because researchers do not have enough data concerning undesired effects, they are still used. An example would be paraben. This ingredient is used as a preservative, but shows a strong correlation with women developing breast cancer.* Another example is petroleum jelly. They are used in makeup in order to make them cheaper. Disposing of this ingredient is very expensive so petrol companies sell it to cosmetic companies.* The danger with petroleum jelly is because of its texture, it blocks the pores of the skin keeping it from breathing. After seeing the effects of such ingredient in common make up, t is clear that cosmetic companies will stretch the boundaries of the regulations on which ingredients is allowed or not. Whether the ingredient is dangerous or not, if it is allowed because there are no studies proving exactly their undesired effects; the cosmetic companies won’t hesitate to use those ingredients if it means they will save money and expending the shelf-life of their products.



Doctors, Drugs & Money

A doctor is a person that will directly or indirectly influence a person’s life according to the decision he makes. They are the ones who make the diagnostic and the prescription. Either way, they will have an impact on many lives.

Doctors are bound to offer the best service they can and take no chance with someone else’s life. So, what happens when doctors let their objectivity and moral influenced by pharmaceutical companies? Contrary to the construction or business world, the medical world is one where fatal decisions are made. In this world, there is no place for things such as lobbying or corruption, because it is not just about saving money for a particular company. It is also about people’s health and their well-being. So when doctors accept these favors paid by pharmaceutical companies, it makes the patient wonder if they really are getting the best treatments possible. It becomes an ethical problem where the doctor actually gambles with the life of a patient in order to make even more money. It becomes a debate between money and health.

In research, this problem was of high interest about 10 years ago. This kind of lobbying was very present. Pharmaceutical companies really took advantage of it in order to interest more doctors to get on board with a particular research project. This problem could prevent some drugs with a bigger potential to be tested and further advanced, because of the lack of promotion. It makes us wonder where the line between money and health should be drawn.

Arts, Sciences & Applications

Science is the quest of knowledge of principles and understanding of everything around us. Art is the pursuit of perfection, to imitate or to go against the work of nature. Those two definitions are different, but it is also possible to see a similarity between them.

Science and art are often seen as two different disciplines that have nothing in common. However, when we start to really look into their definition and their meaning, we see they both share resemblances. Science tries to prove the phenomenon of life and how everything works and arts is simply the application of science. If the study of the human body and how it moves is science, then dance can be considered the application of it. As a dance we have to have a certain knowledge of our body and our limitations. Sometimes, it is the knowledge brought by science of our environment that makes art even more impressive, because with time and experiment, we have came to the conclusion that to execute a certain move you have to counteract the laws of gravity therefore science. Science has also helped the evolution of sculpture and painting. Mathematic is needed to know the quantity of material necessary for a sculpture and geometrics for the proportions. Chemistry is use in painting. The mixture of chemicals and natural products, the right quantity to give the desirable color, is an application of science. Science can also be an application of art. The best example would be architecture, where drawing and creating is a big part of the whole process. Physics is applied to know how to counter act the force of gravity and to allow the creation of a piece.

I believe that science and art form a thigh bond and are essential to each other. Science could not be without art and art could not be without science.