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Spencer's Journal

First question.

Tensions dealing with race

Unfortunately, technology, in the broadest terms, has made previous attempts at solving this issue. I am referring to a social/city engineering, whether it be the Jewish ghetto’s from the Holocaust or the contemporary gentrification of modern cities. However, most of these have had tremendous reverse effects and polarize the problem. I believe one solution could hinge on science and tracing individuals genes and heritage. George Schuyler wrote a fiction novel Black No More. It explores the hypothetical situation of scientific formula wherein a black person may change the color of their skin and pass as white. Obviously, the novel is a satire, but what I find prevalent in a realistic solution is a prefatory quote that speaks to the notion that, in America in the 1920s, it would be unrealistic to find a person completely white or completely black. I think science and the concise study of human genomes could present actual evidence showing that any ‘pure race’ is a false idol. From a humanities perspective, racism, xenophobia, etc. is a huge roadblock to our current limitations of science and technology. As we addressed in class, we have the science to currently solve a lot of the world’s problems but for one reason or another choose against implementing them. Now, this may not solve the problem to do with capitalism, but it is my belief there is still and underlying issue of racism, wherein first world nations like the United States look negatively at the third world nations be it Africa, South America, or the Caribbean. You may think this is a bit of a leap, but a friend recently told me an anecdote he learned in a science course at the University of St. Andrews. There used to be a huge problem with mosquitoes in Georgia, Alabama, and the Carolinas. They used a spray, forgive me for not remembering the exact name, that was extremely effective in killing off mass amounts of mosquitoes and decreasing the problem drastically. However, there were chemicals involved that could be harmful for the human population. Once the problem was taken care of in the United States the product was then banned worldwide. I believe it is more than just coincidence that it was made sure the problem be taken care of in the States, without affording a place like Africa the same opportunity, and today we see the continent still struggling with the spread of disease through a massive mosquito population.

Accessibility of drinkable water

This is a major problem in the world today that is only highlighted by the recent debacle with the aftermath of the earthquake in Haiti. Although technology may be able to help prevent some of the destructiveness of natural disasters, I am less optimistic of human being able to completely prevent said disasters altogether. As a result, I think there will always be the likelihood of such disasters causing large disruptions to nation/community’s, especially those still classified as ‘developing’, infrastructure. When this occurs one of the first problems that needs to be accounted for is the distribution of clean, drinkable water; next to Oxygen it is the most fundamental factor of human survival. This is an issue that can be attacked through the interplay of science AND technology. For one, science can continue to research the best and most efficient means of water purification. This may likely be the tablet method or some other way, but whatever method it is then technology that needs to be utilized to find appropriate means in which to implement said device. Obviously, one cannot go around to every home every morning and drop tablets into each pot of water, there has to be a better way, and that is where engineers come in. Engineers can also use technology, in a cooperative effort with geoscientists, to find better and more efficient means of harvesting natural fresh water. This would most likely start with the development of more efficient and reliable well systems, something that can quickly be introduced to areas that have recently suffered a dramatic natural disaster. Although my knowledge is limited, I know this is a current focus of programs like Engineers Without Boarders in less developed areas of South America and Africa.

Technology itself

Sometimes I feel like with every problem we solve with technology we are simply creating ten more. For instance, through computers and all the associated growing technology we are solving millions of issues dealing with communication, education, and time. However, my personal belief is that it is propagating a generation that is glued to the screen. This then creates problems with people’s eyesight, their social skills, and most importantly, obesity. Altogether it polarizes this new generations interests in a shift from the natural world surrounding us First off, the scientific method needs to be utilized in order to find some accurate reading on just how much of an effect all of this computer/television/entertainment/educational technology is having on today’s population. There are a number of things to be measured: overall health, social skills, and an appreciation for the natural world. I bring all this up because I think science, specifically the scientific method, could lead to some interesting findings. Unfortunately, I don’t think this issue is one that should be solved with more technology. Instead, based on the findings there should be some sort of education process wherein one is correctly taught how to balance the use of new technology with use of our natural surroundings.

Second question.

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