When Science Married Art

If science is a musical instrument you can play, a creature you could touch, a wonder you could watch, a rainbow you could paint on milk, a food you could make and taste, a piece of jewelry you could make for your own and write your name on it, then, do you still think  science is boring.

Back with deep impression of innovative ideas behind each exhibit in Wisconsin Science Festival, I made my first project for my multi-media class, based on the moments that touch me, the moments that I could see the marriage between science and art. I named the project: When Science Married Art.

Title Page of Multi-Media “When Science Married Art”

(Please see my multi-media on You Tube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vs0srNAfTC0)

Due to the time limitation of my project, I am trying to condense a large festival into a small piece of multi-media work.  But there are indeed too many impressive exhibits during the four days, so many and so attractive that I could not include all in a short one-minute project. Thus, I am thinking of finding something in common. I keep asking myself what impressed me most during the four days, the innovative idea behind each exhibit, the interesting talk with people, the smile on the face of children and parents…among these, there is one thing impressing me all the time and through the whole festival, that is, art. I could find the sense of art in almost every exhibits, and the organizer has made science become something one can touch, feel, taste, hear and practice. When science married art, it becomse so close to people’s daily experiences, thus approachable. The most important, people can learn how science applied in our life and what we can use to solve daily problems or beautify our life. Examples exists not only in large lecture or exhibits, such as the feature exhibit ” How Chocholate Is Made,” but also small ones, such as “Milk Rainbow.”

When I went to the exhibit telling how chocholate was made, there are many people  of different ages showing up. Elder people went there because they like making chocholate at home and would like to learn some tips, younger people even kids went there because they were more interested in tasting the hotly made chocholate after the lecture session. Both audiences have learned something, both are satisfied, which could been found from their smiling faces.

And the “Milk Rainbow” is a simple exhibit, which shows how soap works to get rid of dirt. But instead of using soap and dirt, the exhibitor drop different color dye into milk, and then drop dishwashing liquid, the dye drops then suddenly mingle together and form a  “rainbow.” Many kids are attracted by the colors and the “magic,” and as they crowded to see, they know the reasons behind the “magic”, and know how the soap work to clean oil and dirt in kitchen. Is that an amazing way to arise kids’ interest in learning science?

In front of the table of “Measuring molecular forces” exhibit, I even find a physicist from Italy, she was also quite interested in taking part in the activity and guess which liquid has largest molecular forces. The more interesting thing is, the physicist also didnot guess the right answer until she really tried the experiment. Because sometimes, no one could completely know every real-world stuffs until doing some experiments. The physicist said she also felt attracted by the experiment design, simple but effective to allow people find answers.  Similarly, I also find many old people  trying to figure out  bumble bees’ living habbits and seeing insects exhibits. Some of them told me that they came to this exhibit every year, and although they have already known many general science knowledge, they still think they can learn a lot from science festival. Thus, the festival is for all ages and all professions.

The art element in each exhibit definitely draw science close to art, arising people’s interest and allowing people to see beauty of science and art simultaneously.

When science married art, it is so close to us and easy to touch.

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Some thoughts about women journalists after reading a report

     In 2001, International Federation of Journalism (IFJ) (Peter, 2001) reported a survey on the status of women journalists. The survey employs questionnaire to investigate IFJ member unions about the concerned issues of the statistics of women journalists, the condition of equal pay and the portrayal of women journalists. The survey (Peter, 2001, p.3) is based on answers from 39 countries which represent 70% IFJ members and 37% IFJ countries, showing that there are significant improvements for female journalists’ condition compared to ten years ago. For example, the average percentage of female journalists has increased from 27% of ten years ago to 38%, and some countries such as Finland, Thailand and Mexico reach up to 50% (4). Policies and social structures are also established in many countries that improve representation and participation of female journalists. In Canada, 28% of newspaper journalists and 37% of television journalists are females. In United States, the number of women journalists in newspaper increase from 30% in 1970, to 40% of 1980, and to 48% by 2001. (Hemlinger, 2001  page)

        Although great progresses have been observed in recent years, inequality condition and subsidiary status of women journalists still remain. For example, although the average percentage of women journalists (Peter, 2001, p.4) is 38%, the percentage of higher positions, such as women editors, heads of department or media owners is only 0.6%. Besides, although IFJ have suggested setting up policies and structures to improve the representation and participation of women in journalists’ unions around world, only 40% (Peter, 2001, p.6) has women’s committee or equality council, and only five unions, like Australia, Germany etc. have quota system to guarantee the equal representation of women in the union’s government body. Moreover, even many countries have national law or collective agreements to ensure the equal pay for equal work for men and women workers, employers’ unfair distinction between men and women still keep equal pay as a problem for journalists’ unions, and law also does not enable unions to fight the discrimination effectively.

      Generally speaking, inequality status of women journalists embody in the aspects of salary, promotion chances, and treatment by managers, which is similar in any kind of cultures.

     As we can see that, in recent years, there are indeed improvements for the conditions of women journalists—the ratio of women in newsroom is increasing and journalists’ unions help implement more and more measurement and policies to guarantee the gender equality in newsroom. And the literatures reviewed in my paper are all trying to find the reasons or exclusion mechanism that lead to poor conditions of women journalists or drive women leave the newsroom. On one hand, from global level, the reasons such as male-dominance profession, prejudice for women’s ability, unfair treatment in salary and job assignment, marginalization, traditional role or responsibility of women etc are almost similar in every country, on the other, different culture also has different obstacles for females journalists, some of which, such as traditional view of women’s inferior status and traditional way of doing journalism practice, are making female journalists even harder to achieve their goals.

      Although the ratios of female journalists in news industry are still minority and unequal conditions still remain, there are many journalists unions working on proposals to correct the improper practice. By setting up regulations and quota systems, journalism organizations could gradually guarantee the participation of female journalists and provide more equal job opportunities for them.

       In my point of view, the solution for sex discrimination does not only rely on the female’s part or setting up regulations or systems, I think there is also necessity to increase their male colleagues or media owners’ awareness of the intellectual and talents of women journalists. There is no doubt that the variety of talents and thinking patterns can greatly improve the quality of media product and attract variety of audiences. Neglect of contribution from women, who have different talents and intellectual from men’s, would not only reach limitation in creativity of news production, but also would have problems in reaching larger readers’ pool, like one of the literatures finds, which are disadvantageous for media industry from a long-term view.

Reference:

1. Peters, B. (2001). Equality and Quality: Setting Standards for Women in Journalism. (n.d.). International Federation of Journalism. Retrieved from http://www.ifj.org/pdfs/ws.pdf

 2. Hemlinger, M.A. (2001). Women in Newspapers: How Much Progress Has Been Made? Evanston, IL: Northwestern University, Media Management Center.

Compare Two Favorite Newspapers

     Having been interested in the two newspaper–Sydney Morning Herald and New York Time– for a long time, I would like to compare their differences and similarities. The reason of choosing these two newspapers to compare is because Australia is an English-Speaking country, and its practice in journalism should have many similarities with Britain and United States. However, due to its political and cultural backgrounds (for example, Australia journalism lacks both a bill of rights and an explicit rights to freedom of speech in the Australian constitution.2 The 2006 Reporters Without Borders survey ranking the countries of the world in relative press freedom listed Australia as number 35 behind Ghana and Mauritius. Different from Australia, American journalism is the representation country of well-known “liberal model”), Australia also has its own journalism features. Thus it should be interesting to investigate the similarity and differences between the most popular newspapers in the two countries. In this paper, the on-line forms of SMH and NYT are studied and compared.  

     Sydney Morning Herald (SMH) is a daily broadsheet newspaper published by Fairfax Media in Sydney, Australia. Founded in 1831 as the Sydney Herald, the SMH is the oldest continuously published newspaper in Australia. The newspaper is published six days a week and is one of the most leading newspapers in Australian media. The New York Time (NYT)is an American daily newspaper founded in 1851 as New-York Daily Times and continuously published in New York City since then. The New York Time has won 106 Pulitzer Prizes and the print version is the third largest newspaper overall, behind TheThe Wall Street Journal and USA Today. Its website is also the most popular American online newspaper website with more than 30 million unique visitors per month 1.

     Generally Speaking, the content of NYT is organized in three sections: news, opinion and features. Each section includes subsections. For example, news section includes wolrd, U.S., N.Y./region, business, technology, science, health, sports, education, weather, and obituaries etc. Opinion section includes editorials, Op-Eds and letters to the editor, and features includes arts, movies, theatre, travel, NYC guide, dining & wine, home & garden, fashion and style, crossword, The New York Times Book Review, The New York Times Magazine, and Sunday Review.

      In the home page of NYT, they provide the most attractive and significant topics for audiences to review. Seven days’ investigation makes me find that these topics mostly involve politics, laws, international economy, health, science and video news. There are also spaces for market, travel and fashion, but compare to the previous topics, they take smaller ratios.

      The content of SMH is also divided into many small sections including new south wale, national, world, business, sport, environment, national times, tech, digital life, entertainment, life and style, travel, cars and exec style. However, the homepage topics seem to be more diverse. One can read almost every kind of topics from homepage–political news, local news, video news, economy, wars, Rugby world cup, local food, entertainment, TV guide, property, travel, cars and executive style. Besides news, there is also a small window on the left-side top of the page to let you personalize your weather.

     Diversity of SMH can also be found inside each subsection. Take the subsection of “World” as example. In NYT, the “World” news mostly focuses on international politics, economy and wars. Inside the section, the content is divided into different geographical area–“Africa,” “Americas,” “Asia Pacific,” “Europe” and “Middle East.” While in SMH, the “World” section is divided by two ways. The first way is by content, which divide world news into five kinds–“Enviroment,” “Strange But True,” “Science,” “Multimedia,” “Blog Central.” The second way is by international places (countries and cities), people and organizations. And one can also see that except covering the most regular topics as many other newspapers do, such as topics of international politics, economy, wars, and hot social event, the “World” section of SMH also involve some kinds of news that are close to people’s life or even anecdotes, such as a children abuse case of a women, “Ordinary ‘heroes’ pull biker from beneath burning BMW,” and “Prison break for mother” etc.

      Another feature that makes SMH different from NYT is its large quantity of classified advertising sites, such as The Guide (television), Good Living (food), Domain (real estate), Money (personal finance), Drive (motor), Stayz (rentals) and RSVP (dates) etc., which have close relevance to people’s daily life. Also, it seems that SMH prefer to adopt larger photographs on website than NYT.

     The writing styles of news presentation in both newspapers have much in common. Print journalism has long embraced the inverted pyramid, especially for “hard” and breaking news. However, there are also exceptions.: in NYT, the feature pages, letters or opinion are more in narrative styles; in SMH, except for letter and opinion, “Timelines”(obituaries), “Stay in Touch” (gossip), “Arts & Entertainment,” “Insight,” “Eco,” “Film guide” and “Television” were written in specific styles, either feature, commentary or gossip style and were marked by page banners.

     Another feature of NYT is when referring to people, The New York Times generally uses honorifics, rather than unadorned last names

      In addition, the difference of how the news is presented in SMH and NYT may also be due to their different political viewpoint. The SMH has been a conservative newspaper in history until 2003 and then in recent years switched to spearhead political campaigns. However, in 2004, SMH declined to endorse a party at the 2004 federal election and decide that it would not endorse any part at election. While the NYT has been variously described as having a liberal bias or described as a liberal newspaper. These differences, to some degree, can also produce influence in news presenting.

     No matter in NYT or in SMH, one can see the frequent use of the Big Three—The Associated Press, Reuters or Agence France Presse. SMH adopt photographs or some news from the Associated Press and Agence France Presse, while NYT uses the Associated Press more frequently.

Reference:

  1. Adams, Russell, “New York Times Prepares Plan to Charge for Online Reading,”The Wall Street Journal, January 24, 2011.

A Little Thought about Science Communication

The word of “Science,” compared to the words like “Art,” “Food,” “Music,” “Movie,” etc, is dull and bored for many people. I still remember every time I took part in dancing parties or various kinds of salons during my undergraduate time, when people came to me and asked my major, my answer always made them surprised, ” Wow, physics? that is too profound for me.” –this is the most often response I received. And then it is not hard to imagine that almost nobody would like to continue any further talk with me about the topic of my major.

On the contrary to this situation, almost every day when I was a Ph.D. student, I could find my advisor’s excitement in physics research either from the email he just sent me or from the later talk during the daily coffee time. The most common word my advisor used to describe science is “beautiful.” Science is beautiful and interesting in his eyes, because he could see those fantastic scientific phenomena and the reasons behind it, and because he could see principles or rules in the science world, which make everything ordered and harmonious, and also could create new things that benefit people’s lives if  used properly. Because he know how to appreciate science.

You see, people have two completely different attitudes toward the same thing, why? Some may argue that, it is because, for every kind of thing, there are always some people who like it and others who do not. Well, for me, this explanation may be part of the reasons, but not all. Sometimes, attitude could be changed. Have you ever liked someone that maybe you disliked or even hated at the very beginning? Have you suddenly known how to appreciate a kind of music or food that you may not have much interest when you first time got to them? I think people start to like something when they could find interesting points inside it, and when they could see beauty of it. Thus, interest is the most powerful motivation.

Science is beautiful in scientists’ eyes, but is dull and bored for many general people, which is because the language of science is too obscure and hard to approach for common people, and thus set up a fence in front of them. And the duty of science communicator is to open a door on the fence, or to build a bridge between science and general audiences, which make general public feel easier to access the world of science and appreciate its beauty.

As for how to achieve effective science communications, there are tons of researches and investigations in this area. As I just put, I personally think interest is the most important element. When communicating science to general public, could we adopt a more interesting way or could we show the beauty of science more directly and vividly so that it could easily arise people’s interest to follow? When I first time watched the movie of ” Men in Black,” it started my interest to explore a little bit more about astronomy or cosmology in spare time. I do not mean we have to use some “fancy factors” like science fiction when communicating science,  but trying to make science more accessible and “colorful” instead of “dull”is surely to have positive impact on attracting people’s eyes on science.

Moreover, “interest’ does not only mean attracting eye balls, but it also means “usefulness.” (Thanks to my science communication seminar course, I could have chance to reflect more about this aspect through discussion with colleagues)Science is a kind of knowledge that could also bring practical benefits to people’s lives.When people encountered problems or difficulty in daily life, they would automatically turn to somewhere for help. For example, if your car always has some unknown problems, except for sending it to auto repair company, you may want to figure out what happens to your car and how to maintain your car. Then, checking instruction books or consulting repair company staffs and learning some knowledge about mechanism may be kinds of way people may want to do to solve their problem. Another example also involves that, knowlege of nutrition and health may be interesting for women who like keeping fit and pay attention to beauty. 

Thus, when communicating science to the public, if we could make people realize that the knowledge of science is relevant to their lives or things that they are concerned and is quite useful, then people may be more interested in getting to know science.

Book Review (One of my favorite journalism book)

When the book “Women in Science: Then and Now” was first published in the year of 1983, the title was “Women in Science: 100 Journeys into the Territory”. The book included the portraits of 100 gifted and spirited women scientists painted by Vivian Gornick, and it was the first time that many women in science saw their own doubts, fears, and frustrations—“to see their own experience mirrored”—in pages of the book..

Twenty-five years later, the effort for women throughout the academic world has been measurably made, and the situations of women scientists have also been largely improved. But more subtle forms of inequalities and obstacles in women’s science career still exist, and prejudices and discriminations become institutionalized and are not very apparent unless we know where to look.

In this new volume, besides keeping the powerful portraits of 100 uncommon women scientists, Gornick further includes the stories of the women scientists she has revisited twenty-five years later, which completely revealed those pioneering women’s rigorous minds, passion for discovery, and their overwhelming efforts to balance a productive life and professional survival. From those stories, we could not only read women scientists’ life, persistancy and struggles, but also see the changes and efforts done from 1980 to 2008 to improve the situation of women scientists, as well as the necessity and urgency of further improvement in real equality for females in science.

The author, Vivian Gornick, is an American critic, essayist, and memoirist. She wrote for Village Voice during the early 1970s and reported on the explosion of American feminist consciousness through the prism of her own experience, and her willingness to use her own life experiences to tell a larger social story has become the hallmark of her writing.

In this volume, she narrated the stories of women scientists by describing her interview experiences with them and compared women scientists’ situations in mid-eighties with that in the year 2008. Instead of writing a collection of women scientists’ biography, Gornick distributed those stories into the three parts of her book as supportive evidences: The first part is about the thinking pattern for scientists and the women scientists’ passion for discovery; the second part is about the negative influence of prejudices and discrimination in women scientists’ careers; the third part involves the women scientists’ efforts to balance a productive life with professional survival. And each part involves two sections: then and now. “Then” describes the women scientists’ situations in mid-eighties, while “Now” compares the situation in past with that in present (2008). This structure provides a clear narrative line, which exhibits the changes and efforts in the real equality in women scientists’ careers in the past twenty-five years.

Vivian Gornick is good at writing impressionistic journalism, and this volume is a good example. Besides, Gornick also likes using comparison, analogy and metaphors in developing her thoughts. For example, when she was trying to illustrate scientists’ mind, she first described a writer’s mind of conceiving a fiction, then compared it with scientists, concluding “scientists do what writers do.” Also, in her words, science—like feminism—becomes a means of “demystifying the self and the environment.” All those vivid descriptions and interpretation make readers engaged in her writings and get to her points quickly and easily.

Discovery Life

The “Life” program is a series of amazing episodes in Discovery channel, and also one of my most favorates (http://dsc.discovery.com/tv/life/).

The most frequenly word appearing in “Life” episodes is “extroordinary.” “Extroordinary scenes,” “extroordinary details,” “extroordinary enviroment” …Yes, it is indeed an extroordinary series, which show audiences animals in almost every corner of world and help people be able to reach animals as close as possible. This program makes me adore the beauty of nature and appreciate the amazing life varieties which are all the creatures of nature. And these episodes also make me realizing that we human beings is not the only amazing creature of nature mother, there are many other life forms that are very beautiful and astonishing, almost every kind of which have one amazing gift from mother nature.

Animals, plants, are all actors in “Life.” Toads catching  flies, Giant Lizards fighting for food, grasses eating insects, fish flying across the water surface…Almost every kind of animals in the world give a show on the “Life” stage, some of which we are familiar, others are not. It is obvious that animals cannot be natural actors, they simply do what they normally do.  Then, who make them good actors and behave so charming in front of the camera? The photographers and producing crews.

We could see the interviews of these people  in every short episode, and they answered our questions of how they could make such wonderful films. The use of special camera, sepcial shooting angles and sophisoficated editing effort all count for the success of this program. Like Series Producer Martha Holmes says :”We want to film in such a way, as audiences, they feel involved. When you are a bird, you are flying in the air…” Thus, People like me who sit in front of the screen would feel so close to the animals by following cameras to see extroordinary details of the actions of these creatures and would have a amazing feeling when we follow the camera to be able to “fly“ with birds and “swim” with whales.

I also prefer that in every episode, photographers or producers are invited to talk about their experiences of making these films. Because as audiences, many may wonder how these wonderful videos are made, and the interviewws help answer their questions. Sometimes, I think it may be dangerous for photographers to follow dangerous animals, such as shooting giant lizards to eat flesh or lions fighting for mates. More than one time, I saw from the episodes that photographers are setting just several steps to the dangerous animals, and I think they are real photographers and also really brave.

In a word, I like these episodes so much, which make me feel astonished and amazed by the greatness of nature.^_^

 

 

 

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My first Cut-In

The picture is the video capture of my first cut-in I did in Spring Break^_^,  but I cannot upload videos although I would like to because wordpress wonot allow uploading videos for free, haha~. After I did this first one, I shared my video with relatives and friends, and they are all excited and sending me their sincere compliments, comments, encouragement and best wishes. I remember there is a old saying that when you share your pain with your friend, it becomes half; when you share your happiness with your friend, it doubles. So, I feel multiple happiness this time from persons whom I love and who love me.

Doing cut-ins are very good and valuable chances for me to practice on-camera performance and standard English pronouciation. I like and enjoy communicating with audiences in front of camera. From training in B2 class, I know that anchoring is actually a comprehensive art which does not only need you read script correctly, but also need you to use your facial expression, eye contact and energy level to make the audiences build credit in you. Like my instructor says, you are telling stories, and you have to behave like telling stories to your friends, mom and beloved ones, so that you would look more approachable and audiences could also feel your sincerity.

For me- a non-native English speaker, I also need to make a lot of efforts in correcting mispronouciation and trying to make my voice sound clear and standard. This time, my pronouciation has been much more improved than before (quote from the News director)–although there are still problems, and I also  find reading a little bit slower and trying to pronounce each word clearly indeed help.

Besides, I find relaxing is an important point  in achieving good performance, although it is hard to completely relax when you sit in front of the camera. Being nervous would make you stuck or read wrong words, and also I think audiences would feel your mood in front of camera, when you are not relaxed, you look stiff and unnatural when you are telling stories.

Proper breathing is another thing I need to improve, and every time when I pay more attention on reading scripts correctly, I would forget proper breathing. Next time, it would be one of my  improvement targets.

Here I also would like to greatly appreciate my instructor, my friends, my relatives and a taxi driver who watch my show on TV for their comments and suggestions. My father told me that ” you should hear the opinions from experts, general audiences, people who know you and who don’t know you, and their suggestions combined are what you are going to impove every time.” Yes, this time I have all, and they are also very helpful and beneficial, Thank you! I would try to make progress every following time!^_^