Sound Science: Trailer for Gravity

Gravity appears to have the biggest, baddest villain in all of film: physics. The second trailer for the film, simply titled “Detached,” overwhelms with a powerful sense of anxiety that doesn’t come from what’s there but from what’s missing. See the trailer below:

Contrary to what many Hollywood space films portray, there is no sound in space and the Gravity trailer does an amazing job of emphasizing this. Sound is produced from the vibration of molecules, which the vacuum of space is lacking. The only in-movie sound in the trailer comes from the radios of the astronauts. Everything else is silent even when the collisions start. There is something unsettling about a silent catastrophe.

 

Gravity’s film poster.

Aside from the lack of sound, there is an appropriate lack of appreciable gravity. The parts of the ship are cast off in a wide array of directions, and they’ll continue on those paths until interrupted—this goes for Sandra Bullock’s character who’s been flung emptiness. According to astronomer Phil Blait at slate.com, the science of the wreckage seems to check out. 

While the upcoming Star Wars may have all the excitement of the previous films, it looks like Gravity is going to bring out the very real fear of physics.

Bytes of Truth: Simple Science Behind Shark Week

Tomorrow is the first day of Shark Week:  the Discovery Channel’s annual phenomenon that stirs a nationwide morbid fascination with these nightmarish cruising predators of the briny deep.

This year’s programming includes shows such as Voodoo Sharks, Sharkpocalypse, and Alien Sharks of the Deep. In preparation for the event, Scholar Hero provides you with a short list of shark facts to get you acquainted with the glorious field of elasmobranchology (shark science):

Photo Source:

(Photo Source: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Headquarters http://www.flickr.com/photos/usfwshq/)

 The Real Sense of Danger

Contrary to popular fear, the likelihood of an attack fatality is about 1 in 3,748,067. Even in those circumstances, humans are not their intended prey—but the seals that we look like are.  Most attacks are non-lethal “hit-and-runs,” commonly perpetrated by one of a dozen of species (there are over 300).

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Citizens of the underwater world. (Photo Source: Ryan Espanto http://www.flickr.com/photos/ryn413/

Unique Adaptations

Modern sharks have existed for over 100 millions years and have adapted many unique attributes. Notable ones are their receptors that detect electrical signals produced by the movement of other living beings. Additionally, high levels of urea in their blood prevents water loss through osmosis.

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The fact of a Lemon shark. (Photo Source: Maritime Aquarium at Norwalk http://www.flickr.com/photos/maritimeaquarium/)

Social Sense

Showing a remarkable amount of social behavior, Lemon sharks keep to circles of friends and even learn from each other. While most sharks do form social structures, Lemon sharks are very selective about the company they keep.

To learn more about sharks beyond the gory yet insightful onslaught of Shark Week, check out the National Geographic site (http://animals.nationalgeographic.com/animals/sharks/) on them here. Shark Week starts August 4th on the Discovery Channel.

Sources: http://news.softpedia.com/news/13-Things-You-Did-not-Know-About-Sharks-68082.shtml

http://www.cracked.com/funny-742-sharks/

http://oceanservice.noaa.gov/facts/sharkseat.html

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/03/27/sharks-killed-per-hour-infographic_n_2965775.html

http://newswatch.nationalgeographic.com/2013/03/11/shark-have-social-networks-learn-from-friends/

 Nathan Repp is a writer for Scholar Hero, Inc.

Mind Over Body: Staying Mentally Healthy in the Academy

“So, how’s your dissertation coming along?” “I really don’t want to talk about it right now.”

There’s an old saying that college is a lot like watching ducks in the pond: on the surface, everyone seems to be doing just fine, but if you look underwater, you’ll see that everybody’s kicking like crazy just to stay afloat.

Many students feel like they exist on the fine line between stability and chaos, with their mental state as the site of mounting tension. More often than not, a few students will actually break and succumb to a multitude of disorders, and the rate of this occurring increases dramatically in graduate school and beyond.

Unfortunately, not enough studies on this problem have been conducted. According to an article published by the American Psychology Association (APA), at least 17% of students reported having a serious mental disorder at the University of California, Irvine, with 30% reporting having a mental health concern that affected their well-being or academic performance. Another survey by the APA found 87% of psychology students at the University of California, Berkeley experienced anxiety, 68% reported symptoms of depression, and even 19% have thoughts of suicide.

A powerful demographic for a very serious problem.

This phenomena has potentially destructive consequences for the potential success of a college student’s career. The National Alliance of Mental Illness (NAMI) reports that 64% of students diagnosed with a mental health condition take extended leaves of absence of drop out entirely. If this problem persists, more and more students will miss out on  opportunities to complete the degrees necessary to fulfill their potential.

What can be done to ameliorate this disturbing trend? A number of suggestions from several authors:

  • Seek help as soon as you can – This especially goes for males, who make up only 40% of all counseling services. There’s no shame in preserving your mental health, especially if it prevents a far more grave circumstance.
  • Attend support groups – Do this whenever possible, as they serve as a reminder that you’re not alone in your experiences.
  • Communicate with your family – Only 7% of parents report that their students experience mental health issues. Families should not be in the dark if you’re going through something serious, and often they become your unwavering basis of support.
  • Educate yourself (with a professional) – If you think you might have an issue, don’t try to self-diagnose online. Talk to a counselor or a doctor about your possible condition.
  • Exercise regularlyFor a many number of reasons, exercise has been widely viewed as a terrific solution to mental disorders such as depression and anxiety. For “heavy thinkers” such as scholars, exercise provides a moment to focus your mind on other things, build confidence, and, of course, improve your physical health in the process.

We at Scholar Hero aren’t necessarily doctors or healers ourselves, but we hope to contribute to the overall project of improving mental wellness by making scholarly activities much more manageable. Many students complain about the stress of grant application, job seeking, paper writing, and other academic activities that don’t have to induce so much misery. For graduate students and scholars, the stress and work never seems to end.

Being a scholar shouldn’t be about “publish or perish” or something to that effect. Academia should be about the productive exchange and elaboration of knowledge, and we hope to provide the tools that will keep it that way.