Picasso and Einstein: Modern Communists

First off, this post has nothing to do with whether or not Einstein and Picasso were communists. The title just sounded catchy, and I hoped it would catch your attention. Anyway, on to my post.

As I was doing research on Modernism, I found a website that was the course website for a course entitled “Science and Modernism.” One of the suggested reads was  Einstein, Picasso: Space, Time, and the Beauty That Causes Havoc. Seeing that these two experts were influential in modernism, I decided to give the book a try. A few seconds later on the Kindle, I had downloaded the book, and immediately became interested in the premise of the book.  The author himself says that he is “more interested in why Einstein and Picasso Picasso made their discoveries than in how they went about developing insights.” The author explores this by reading parallel biographies on both Picasso and Einstein. An ingenious way of exploring this topic.

Picasso’s work Blue and Rose were his two artworks that established his reputation.  Einstein, on the other hand was on the cutting edge of physics. He discovered scientific theories that completely revolutionized Newtonian Physics(at least at high speeds). One thing the author emphasizes is that although these thinkers were revolutionary in their discoveries, if they had been born later, others probably would have made these discoveries.  These two minds would have made other discoveries.  This made me think that the paradigm shift that was created by Modernism was as much as what caused these discoveries as the minds themselves. Continue reading

Social Darwinism, The “Science” of Racism

From a societal standpoint, natural selection had a huge historical impact on the world. I would like to focus on one of those aspects, as I have had somewhat of a personal experience with it. When Darwin proposed the idea of natural selection, he theorized that the animals more fit to survive in a certain environment would be the ones that would out compete their rivals. It was natural therefore, for more fit animals to drive less fit animals to extinction. Darwin’s theory was published in November 22, 1859 but his ideas were widespread among noted scientists as early as 1836, the year he arrived home from his trip to the Galapagos islands. Continue reading

The Five Dollar Day

The invention of the car is possibly one of the most influential inventions in the last hundred years. Henry Ford was the pioneer and the father of the personal car movement.  As well as inventing the car which had a dramatic impact on the ability of individuals to travel, Ford revolutionized the way that business is performed.  According to this article at the time he introduced the Five Dollar day, wages were around $2.50 a day.  With all the technology that had been invented earlier, Ford was curious as to why productivity hadn’t increased.  He discovered that it was due to low worker motivation. Since he knew individuals responded to incentives, and money is a great incentive, he essentially doubled salaries overnight. He figured that this would motivate his employees, and allow him to attract more skilled and reliable workers. And he was right. This essentially revolutionized the way that workers were paid in America.  Essentially Ford was initiating a profit sharing plan to motivate his employees and thank them for the good job that they had done.  This profit sharing program still remains to be one of the most successful ways to motivate employees to be more productive today. If you look at one of the most lucrative industries today, this fact becomes blatantly obvious. Continue reading

The Chair of Death

In Dr. Zappala’s post Human Interfaces he talks about the book “The Design of Everyday Things.” As I was reading the post, it made me realize how important physical appearance is to us. Putting aside the question of do looks matter in relationships, they seem to matter a great deal when it comes to products. In the book “Blink” by Malcolm Gladwell, the author discusses in great deal how important this is to the consumer. He even cited a study involving alcohol and the containers it came in. When two competing brands of alcohol switched containers, consumers still preferred the spirit with the more attractive case, even though the product inside had changed. A majority of this section of the book focused on a chair. the Aeron chair to be exact. In brief, the Aeron chair was designed to be one of the most comfortable office chairs in existence. Its only problem was that it was hideous. In fact, one of the the staffers working on the chair jolkingly created a mock tabloid headline that said, “CHAIR OF DEATH: EVERYONE WHO SITS IN IT DIES” and made it the cover of one of the early Aeron research reports. Despite the fact that this chair was practically the most comfortable office chair available, it was rated time and time again as being rather uncomfortable. This was because the average consumer had already made a judgement on what the chair SHOULD feel like based on its looks. We do the same type of judgement with computer programs. If the human interface is confusing, or if the graphics are not all that great, we dismiss it as a terrible program. Unfortunately, we seem to live in a world where first impressions, and ease of use trump all other factors when we are making decisions. Seems as if a knowledge of psychology is becoming more and more important if an individual wants to become a successful businessman.

Of Bacon and Negative Feedback Inhibition

In my Digital Civilization class, we were assigned to read Observations Upon Experimental Philosophy by Margaret Cavendish. While reading the article, there was one quote that really stuck out in my mind, “Art, with all its Instruments, is not able to discover the interior natural motions of any part or creature of Nature.” This quote reminded me of just how intricate nature is. Specifically, it made me think of two processes in nature that we tend to take for granted. Those processes are equilibrium and Negative Feedback Inhibition. For those of you who do not know what those processes are, I will attempt to give a brief explanation. Continue reading