Saturday, December 20, 2014

The Blight: Could It Happen?


The future of the Earth is a big concern for most of our people. We begin to think a time in which our planet will be an improbable place to live in. Indeed, the 2014 movie Interstellar depicts interstellar travel brilliantly, but the movie has left various questions among the audience. Most viewers are intrigued about the gravitational singularity, the people who are called as “they”, the “Tesseract”, and other nebulous things. One of the most intriguing yet ambiguous thing is the Blight. Though the movie does not explain anything about the cause of the emergence of the Blight, there is one big question: are we ever going to be in danger — in the most extreme and speculative sense — of ever having just corn and okra to eat? In my opinion, the Blight depicted in the film will hardly happen because such pandemic will not occur easily, even if the Blight is caused by either a contagious disease or global warming.

The Blight depicted in Interstellar is possibly a widespread disease, but it might be better to consider the fundamental tenet of plant pathology called the disease triangle. It says that for any disease to spread widely it needs three things: a susceptible host, a pathogen, and the right environmental conditions. Take any one away, and the disease won't spread.[1] If the disease triangle is true, then the Blight in the Interstellar is completely erroneous. According to Dr. Kleinhenz, a professor in the Department of Horticulture and Crop Science at The Ohio State University (2014), “… it's very unlikely that a single superbug would spread across our diverse planet, or even do as well in Alaska as Peru.”[2] First, each pathogen affects different types of hosts. Not all pathogens can attack a specific plant. Also, each pathogen has different adaptability. Most pathogens cannot stand cold climate, so Alaska should be just perfectly safe for the crops. The plague in the movie, if true, is indeed as worse as zombie virus’s spreading.

Some people argue that a widespread disease is still the most possible cause of the plague. They point out that Dr. Brand’s remark about the Blight which breathes nitrogen might happen in real life. Of course it would be logical that if the Blight were existing, the Blight would surely win because the Earth contains 78% nitrogen and 21% oxygen. Nonetheless, the depiction is very unscientific. I wonder what kind of Blight is known to consume nitrogen. Until today, no viruses consume nitrogen, and only very diminutive amount of bacteria consume nitrogen. Even if the Blight does exist, and it annihilates all plants on the mainland, Lawrence Krauss, a notable physician, stated that there are still many other options of food source. He even ridiculed the nitrogen-consuming Blight in the movie by stating “… humans can just live with the ocean. We can subsist on seaweed and fish and — little known fact — the ocean produces most of our oxygen. No nitrogen!”[3] Thus, according to his statement, the Earth will die only after the disease can find a way to infect the oceans.

What about the global warming? Is Dr. Brand actually referring the nitrogen-consuming Blight as extreme climate change caused by global warming? Many viewers argue that this might be the cause of the disaster because global warming is really happening. In fact, just from the 20th to the 21st century, the Earth’s temperature has risen around 0.3 to 1.7 °C, and the oxygen’s availability has decreased around 0.2%[4]. Nevertheless, even though Dr. Kleinhenz accepted the idea that climate change is probably the possible cause of the plague in Interstellar, he further stated, “I've always been impressed by the resilience and adaptability of [our] community." He gave an example of how Michigan farmers were able to exchange their bad apple seeds caused by climate change with new adaptable apple seeds with the help of technology.[2] Moreover, astrobiologist David Grinspoon points out that even with a voracious climate change it would have taken millions of years to draw down the atmosphere's content of oxygen.[5] Therefore, the Earth would need an extremely long time to change to an uninhabitable planet.

In conclusion, the chance of the Blight attacking the Earth is ultimately small. I believe that we should not believe a film entirely without researching the films’ facts first. Our environment is maybe getting worst, but technological developments are always invented simultaneously. Of course, we should not fully rely on the scientists out there either. Though the chance is small, we people should begin to learn how important a good condition of our environment is. Conserve our environment, and we will preserve our lives.

References:
[1] Agrios, G. N. 2005. Plant Pathology (5th edition). Elsevier-Academic Press. San Diego, CA.
[2] Durand, Faith. 2014. What’s the Deal with the Idea That Corn and Okra Are the Only Crops Left in the Future? Let’s Ask a Scientist. <http://www.thekitchn.com> [6 November 2014]
[3] Smith, Andrew. 2014. Lawrence Krauss Interviewed, Talks Interstellar and More. <http://www.bubblews.com> [22 November 2014]
[4] Climate Change 2013. Technical Summary [PDF Document] <http://www.climatechange2013.org>
[5] Corn, David. 2014. What's Wrong With the Science of "Interstellar"?. <http://motherjones.com> [12 November 2014]

            

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Why Standardized Test Is Essential

The fact that many countries use standardized test as the final evaluation has enraged many students across the globe. One of them is an American student, Suli Breaks, who questioned, “why unique individuals tested by the same means?” Similar remark came from an Indonesian student, Nurmillaty Abadiah, who wrote an open letter criticizing the 2013 difficult national exam. Nevertheless, there is indeed a reason why the US’ best universities require standardized tests along with GPA results and why national exam is used in Indonesia for applying to higher educational institutions. Standardized testing is ultimately important because it holds schools accountable, guides teachers to determine their teaching procedure, and is the most objective academic assessment.

To ensure all schools’ accomplishments are as what the government expects, a standardized test is needed to assess schools’ accountability across the country. In Indonesia, every high school has the same curriculum, but each has different standard on measuring the GPA of a student. With a standardized test, which is the national exam, the government can evaluate each school’s performance with equal method. Consequently, the national exam results from year to year have shown that prestigious high schools, although some of them only give small GPA, score better than unpopular high schools. Rural schools are also known for scoring very low at national exam. Therefore, the government will know which schools fail to accomplish what the curriculum expects, and it can allocate appropriate educational aids to these schools.

Standardized testing gives teachers guidance to help them determine what to teach students and when to teach it. Indonesian teachers are able to arrange a schedule and deadline to finish national exam’s curriculum effectively. They will also give attention to subject chapters that are covered in the national exam more intensively. Some creative teachers also invent fast formulas to solve particular problems that are absolutely helpful. In addition, when the students’ results of national exam are bad, teachers are the responsible ones. They will introspect why their students score badly, and they eventually will fix themselves to be better teachers in the future.

Some students believe that standardized testing is very unjust because it merely evaluates student’s progress for years just in a one day-test. Some also believe that most students cheat in the test. However, these remarks actually contradict the truth that standardized testing is perhaps the only available objective assessment. Take Indonesia’s university admission as an example. The “SNMPTN” admission route, which selects students based on their high school GPA, is indeed unfair because universities are very biased. They only favor particular schools. As a result, unpopular schools, usually are located in rural areas, do not have the chance to enter their students’ dreamed universities by “SNMPTN” route. Conversely, with an equal university entrance exam, known as the “SBMPTN”, all high school students are seen equally based on the test results, no matter from which school they are. In addition, who can guarantee that GPA results are not cheated? There are many examples of transactions between a student and a teacher to increase the student’s score.


To summarize, despite the disagreement over standardized testing, it is evident that standardized test is very important. Standardized test is not merely used for a student’s assessment; it is used to evaluate the country’s education to decide further movements by the government to improve the country’s education. It is crucial for every student to receive fundamental education and to be assessed by the test regardless of how good or bad students will score the test,. I wish that students would let the ‘standardized test’-phobia away because as what Suli Breaks said, test results are not the only factor for a great future.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

(Comparison) 2013 New Curriculum: A Revolution or a Fiasco?

“This country’s future depends on the country’s education, particularly its curriculum,” Mohammad Nuh declared. For the government and Nuh, the implementation of the new 2013 curriculum of Indonesia was a successful revolution because it abolished the old curriculum that expected the students to just merely sit and watch lectures. Nuh proudly announced the goal of the new curriculum: to make students active in lectures. I understand that Nuh wanted to follow most developed countries’ curriculums which aim to let students be active. However, despite the advantages that Nuh asserted, I believe that the new curriculum is a fiasco because it is very ineffective and is not suitable for Indonesia’s condition and culture.

The aspect that most 2013 curriculum victims worry is the effectiveness of the new curriculum since they believe that the old curriculum was more effective. Take the "giving homework" procedure change as an example. With the old curriculum, the teachers taught the students the basics first and gave them homework to advance their comprehension. On the other hand, the new curriculum is flawed. With the implementation of the curriculum, the students need to do a preliminary homework first before the teacher explain the chapter of the subject. Consequently, most students often find the homework hard. Some homework even expects the students to answer specific advanced question even though they have not learned the fundamentals yet. Therefore, what is the main point of giving homework if the students do not understand the basics of how to do it?

Every country has its own curriculum that mostly fits its condition. Currently, the ultimate factor for a student's graduation is the national exam. The old curriculum was very apt because for the national exam, theoretical approach is much more important than observatory approach. Additionally, with the "SNMPTN" admission route, universities would easily differ a student’s achievement to another’s as the grade was presented in numbers. On the contrary, as the new curriculum is implemented, the old system will be in trouble. Without maximum theoretical approach, the students will score badly on the national exam. Also, with the new grading system, which presents a student's achievement in letters rather than in numbers, universities will have trouble in comparing “A” grade of a student to that of another student. Thus, a big reformation will need to take place.

Lastly, education of a country is a reflection of its culture. The old curriculum was fitted for Indonesia because Indonesians are taught to respect older people. As a result, most of the students are reluctant to ask the teachers, and a passive teaching was a better approach. Not only in Indonesia, Taiwan also used the similar approach; however, Taiwan constantly ranks top-ten in country with best math and science ranking, beating European countries. Conversely, the new curriculum has some problems in rural areas, where the teachers are mostly conservative. They consider an argumentative student as an impolite student. The new approach is not fully implemented either because our “respect the older” culture is still prevalent. Only a few students be more active, but most still remain passive.

The government should have predicted whether the implementation of the new curriculum will be effective or not. Our country has its own preferences. Indonesia does not have to follow other countries’ curriculum if the old one is actually the better one. Nevertheless, as the new curriculum has taken place, I can only wish that a revolution for our education's productivity would happen in Jokowi’s presidency.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Comparison Paragraph

Many scientific-fictional films are favorite movies of myriads of people. These films’ success are mostly attributed to their enthralling representation of the chosen one. In fact, some of the chosen ones share literally similar stories, as demonstrated by Harry Potter in Harry Potter movie series and Frodo Baggins in Lord of the Rings movie series. While both later fulfilled the prophecy, they both initially depicted as ordinary boys who did not realize their abilities and their missions. Harry Potter was an ordinary boy in real world who was unaware of a magical world’s existence. Similarly, Frodo Baggins was only a peasant who never went outside of his village. However, both later faced unexpected and bizarre coincidences. Potter unexpectedly met Voldemort who killed his parents, while Frodo was visited by a stranger who gave him a mission to carry a ring. They were unaware of what they actually should accomplish, but they later learned their prophecies. While intense moments haunted them in their journey to finish their missions, these moments helped them to grow great courage. From this comparison, it is apparent that most of the chosen ones are able to fulfill their prophecies by developing bravery during their journeys.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Villain Analysis

Movie business is one of the current fastest growing market. The most successful movies are usually movies which represent a protagonist who is assisted with a task to fulfill an ancient prophecy. For example, Harry Potter series have grossed billions of dollars. However, what if the chosen one is actually a person who will be the primary villain in the movie? This is what exactly happens in the Star Wars series, in which a talented boy named Anakin Skywalker transformed into the notorious Darth Vader.

I choose Darth Vader due to the fact that his story generally relates to our world’s dictators. Originally named Anakin Skywalker, he had a miserable past. He and his mother were slaves for Watto, an owner of a junk shop in Planet Tatooine. Anakin has no father, thus making his birth miraculous like Jesus’ birth. Unlike other people, he has the ability to see things before they happen. Fortunately, a man whose name is Qui-Gon Jinn discovered his talent. Jinn then introduced himself as a Jedi. Jedi is the guardian of peace and justice in Star Wars’ galaxy. Interested in Anakin’s power, Jinn invited him to learn as a Jedi in Planet Corruscant, capital of the galaxy. Jinn successfully freed Anakin, but Watto did not want to release his mother. After encouraged by his mother, Anakin decided to leave his mother and go with Jinn.

Upon learning as a Jedi, Anakin faced many rejections. In Corruscant, the Jedi council doubted that Anakin would be able to fulfill the prophecy. It foresaw huge sorrow and fear in Anakin, therefore rejected him. Later, Jinn was killed by a Sith. Sith is the galaxy rebel who wants to dominate and prevail the galaxy. Following Jinn’s death, the Jedi council heavy-heartedly fulfilled Jinn’s request, which was to admit Anakin as a Jedi. Three years later, he and Kenobi, his new master, accomplished the mission of rescuing the kidnapped Corruscant’s chancellor, Papaltine. Papaltine then suggested the Jedi council to give the “Jedi Master” rank to Anakin, but the council once again refused.

Anakin is a prodigy. His measured “force potential” is the highest among all Jedis. However, he is totally rebellious as he violated many Jedi ethics. Being a Jedi means that you have to make sure that your thought is free from anger, fear, and arrogance. Moreover, celibacy is a must. On the contrary, Anakin thought that most of the missions given to him were too easy. He detested the Jedi council as he thought that the Jedi council underestimated his power. He even made love with the princess of Planet Naboo, Padme, and later married her.

Death is Anakin’s biggest anxiety. Once, he dreamed that his mother was dying. When he went to Tatooine, he learned that the Tusken tribe kidnapped and killed his mother. Full with vengeance, he mercilessly killed all of the Tuskens. The next year, Anakin learned that Padme was pregnant with twins. Anakin was happy, but he constantly had a vision of Padme dying in a childbrith. He did not want to repeat the same thing as what had happened to his mother. Anakin sought help to Papaltine, but Papaltine told him that being a Sith would save Padme’s life. Anakin was shocked when he discovered that the chancellor is the Sith’s group leader. Concerned on Padme’s life and fascinated by the freedom of power usage in Sith’s world, he decided to be Papaltine’s apprentice. Papaltine then started a mission for Corruscant to annihilate the Jedis and changed Anakin’s name into Darth Vader.

Vader found a very great pleasure by killing every single Jedi and being the commander of Papaltine’s troops. He finally could prove how powerful he was. After slaying many Jedis, he eventually forgot his true purpose of being a Sith. When Anakin went to Planet Mustafar in order to search and kill Kenobi, he met Padme. Anakin asked Padme to join him, but Padme begged him to come back to the right path. Feeling betrayed, Anakin choked Padme until she was unconscious. Enraged by Anakin's deed, Kenobi emerged and battled Anakin. After battling for a long time, Anakin slipped and fell into the lava of the planet, resulting in Anakin’s defeat. Anakin was dying slowly, but later saved and revived by Papaltine. His charred body was replaced with robotic body. At the same time, Padme gave birth to Leia and Luke, but she passed away. When Vader learned that Padme was dead, he became outrageous. He blamed everything and finally vowed to conquer the entire galaxy.

Vader might be too malignant, but he still had a good side. In the last movie of Star Wars series, Vader sacrificed himself to save his son. Thirty years after Vader's revival, his son, Luke, became a famous Jedi. Interested in Luke’s power, Vader told his troops to bring Luke to him. When Luke learned that the infamous Sith was his father, he finally came to Vader by himself. Vader battled Luke to introduce the unlimited power of the dark side. At the same time, Luke reminded Vader of the fault that Vader had done, especially Padme’s death. The battle ended with Vader’s defeat. Papaltine asked Luke to be his new apprentice, but Luke refused. Not happy with Luke’s decision, Papaltine then shocked Luke with lightning spell. The sight of Luke's agony broke the dark side's hold on Vader. Vader then lift Papaltine and threw him into an abyss. However, Vader was severely wounded by the lightning spell. Before he died, he apologized to Luke for everything he had done. Finally, Vader, or initially Anakin, rested in peace.

Many people, especially dictators, have the same story as Darth Vader’s. For example, we can relate to the story of Hitler’s life. Hitler’s mother was dead after being treated by a Jewish doctor. He also could not stand to watch the Jews thriving in Europe. He eventually grew hatred towards Jews and later slayed them. Coveting for bigger territories, he fought the entire Europe and even the Soviet Union. Mussolini’s story is not different. He was rejected by the socialist party and consequentially created the cruel fascist party to rule Europe. Both Hitler and Mussolini claimed that their ethnic were the best, but they both later faced big loss. Other dictators also have similar stories. The different part of Vader’s story compared to dictators’ is his sudden change from the dark side to the right path. Could it happen in our real world?

There are many lessons that I got with the existence of Darth Vader. Firstly, you may be the most talented person, but that does not mean that you will always get the best. You have to calm your arrogance as everything has its perfect time. Secondly, you must avoid greediness. Greediness may lead to joy at first, but you will slowly forget people whom you care. You will be a very selfish person and will eventually end up in anguish. Thirdly, even the vilest man still has a good side. When people you care change into bad people, don’t stop reminding them to bring them back to the right path. And lastly, you don’t know when you will die. Whenever you do something wrong, make sure you apologize soon.
               

Monday, September 29, 2014

My Dream Job

Hello! This is my dream job story from my friend's perspective, Kurniawan Cahyo . He is absolutely a wonderful writer. I hope you will enjoy it! :)

Garmastewira’s Dream Jobs in the Future

What do you want to be in the future? It’s a kind of question that we’ve heard since we were pre-school students. Most people always have a hard time to answer that question. I myself have to admit it’s one of questions that I try to avoid. I will tell you about my friend’s dream job. His name is Garmastewira, or we usually call him Rangga.

Obviously, Most of SEEI (School of Electrical Engineering and Informatics) students are interested in technology. Many of them also want to work that is related to video games, especially the boys. In the future, Rangga wants to be a gadget inventor or game developer. I was told by him that he has been into gadget since he was a child. Everytime he looked at sophisticated electronic devices, he was curious about them. He questioned how they were made, who made them, and why people made them. Because of it, he wants to answer his curiosity by being a gadget inventor in the future. He said that he wants to make the mobile phone way more sophisticated by adding 3-dimensions video call. It will use hologram to make it 3-dimensions. He also wants to make people operate the phone by voice command. Even though the voice command isn’t something new, he thinks that it’s still have many problems. Therefore, he will straighten up the problems and make the voice command more perfect.

Rangga’s another dream job is becoming a game developer. Although he loves to play games, he is not a maniac. His most favourite game genre is RPG, such as Final Fantasy. He wants to be a game developer because he likes programming and writing stories. However, he doubts his imagination for the game’s graphic. Hironobu Sakaguchi is Rangga’s inspiration because he is blown away by the fact that Mr. Sakaguchi is able to make beautiful games with amazing stories. By being a game developer, he has a wish to make people all around the world feel  happy.

There are reasons why Rangga wants to be a gadget inventor or game developer. He is fascinated by all of gadget inventors and game developers because they can make innovative inventions that blow people mind. They always try to develop technologies to be more useful and sophisticated. They also spread the technology trend easily and have big influences to people around the world. Rangga also thinks that being a game developer or gadget inventor will bring him lot of profits and make him famous. In Rangga’s opinion, the obstacles that may block him to achieve his dream jobs are struggling in teamwork, easily giving in, and perhaps his mother. His mother is a really religious person so she doesn’t want Rangga doing wasteful or weird acts.

Rangga has plans to make his dream comes true. Like the other college students, he will study and work hard. In the second year, he will choose his major carefully so it can help him achieving his dream jobs. He wants to study abroad if he is given any chances and also become Singapore, Hong Kong, or United States citizen. He will do some internship in big companies to earn some experiences related to his dream jobs. The most important thing, he will practice his English skill well. Thus, he can communicate with people from all parts of the world easily. If all of the preparations are ready, he will start one of his dream jobs.  

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Introduction

Greetings!

My name is Garmastewira. Most people can't pronounce my full name correctly, so my mom gave me a common nickname, "Rangga". I'm a freshman at Bandung Institute of Technology. I chose SEEI faculty due to my passion of inventing something. I'm always excited on anything about computers. I love music, no matter what the genre is. I never miss a single day without playing my old grand piano. I like individual sports like running and swimming, but I absolutely dislike any kind of team sports, especially football. Living as a single man for 17 years, I hope that I will find someone special in campus before my 18th birthday.

That's some information about me. I'm not certain on what I will become in the future, but I really want to contribute a big invention to the world. I wish that I could be as influential as Steve Jobs!

Friday, May 2, 2014

First Post!

Hello guys!

This is my first post on this blog. I decided to create this blog as my old blogs were nonsense lol. This is going to be my main blog. I will publish ANYTHING. It can be experiences, opinions, nonsense things, etc. Everything here will be written in English, as the other purpose of making this blog is to train my writing skills :)

Well that's it, enjoy this blog!