The first day of the trip consisted of driving to Down House to see where Charles Darwin had lived. We had gone to the George and Dragon Inn where we stopped for lunch that I enjoyed as it was the first time I had a chicken and leek shepherd’s pie and finally got to try leek for the first time. We then looked at the cemetery where some of the Darwins were buried and then drove to Charles Darwins house where you could tell by the spacious landscape how important nature was for him. I liked the drive as it really displayed the landscape of smaller suburbs in London and gave a little bit of an idea of how it would feel to live there. After the tour, we then drove to the heart of London where I got to finally see famous buildings in person like the parliament building and Big Ben (kinda). Finally later that night, I left and found an Indian restaurant with Indian food that you will not find anywhere in America that was also very good and quite inexpensive.
For this day we first stopped at the British Museum that I enjoyed a lot as a lot of the artifacts were quite beautiful like the statues from Greece and the Museum itself was gorgeous as well. It was very interesting to see the Rosetta stone in person and real sarcophagi from Egypt as well. Later, I spent the day wandering around London just to admire the layout of the city more by also taking time to eat in a cafe and to go around and see the bridges and Trafalgar square. I additionally went to the National Museum and got to see a lot of beautiful paintings that night. Later that night I joined a group of people to eat at a Gordon Ramsay restaurant, which I was quite excited about because I have watched a lot of shows by Ramsay and really wanted to try dishes that he had created and was not disappointed.
For this day, I woke up and went to look at the bridges further down from our hotel and saw the London Bridge and then went on a tour of the really impressive Tower Bridge. I also got to go on a tour to see how the draw bridge of it actually works and got to walk along the top of it. I also got to ride a double decker bus which was more fun than I expected it to be. I then met up with some friends in Europe where we went exploring and found a bar where you had to enter through a bookshelf.
This day we had gone to Westminister Abbey which I was really happy about because I got to see where Isaac Newton and Stephen Hawkings were burried, two scientists who I admire greatly. I also like seeing the other famous people buried there from various writers to political figures. I additionally thought that much of the stonework and stained glass was beautiful to look at as well. Then we went to the London Eye and even though it was raining, I still thought it was a really nice view. After the group dinner we went to the Royal Society, which I thought the ancient books they showed were fascinating because of how long they have survived. In the afternoon, I tried to find a shop to buy some tea but then ended up lost and walked around and went to a lot of little stores. I then later joined for the group dinner at a different Indian restaurant and later spent the night roaming again where I went to Trafalgar square at night and wandered into places like Chinatown.
(London 5/Paris 1)
This day we went to the train station to go to Paris which made me a little sad because I didn’t want to leave London quite yet. Paris was completely different compared to England in layout and architecture and was actually nothing like I thought it would look or feel. Touring Notre Dame was incredible as just the sheer size of it combined with its stonework and stainglass was more beautiful than the pictures of it that I had seen online. Later that night I joined a group of people and we walked everywhere for sight seeing with first the Sacre Coeur then to the Arts district where we ate in a shop with a very talented piano player who sadly didn’t get tipped and then to the top of the Arc de Triumph for another pretty view of the city at night. We also saw the Eiffel tower at night and finally the Flame of Liberty.
This day we visited mainly museums where we first went to the Musée de Paleontology. My favorite part of the museum was seeing the whale skeletons which reminded me how massive they could be and impressed that creatures that size still exist. I later went to the zoo and saw animals that would not be thought of in America . Then I ate lunch at the Grand Mosque de Paris where I had the best tea in my life. Later I just explored the other various museums and also found some Banksy graffiti. That night I went to the group dinner in Au Pére Louis where I got to try stereotypical French food like snails.
Then on this day we went to the Eiffel tower and got to see a really nice view of the city. Then we went to see the Museé de l’Homme which I didn’t find that interesting due to the lack of actual artifacts there. Later we went to the Pasteur Institute where my favorite part was seeing Pasteur’s tomb. I also did think that the Musée des Arts et Metiers would have been more interesting if we were allowed to explore it by ourselves as there were a lot of interesting artifacts in there that the tour guide spent little to no time on. I also tried to go shopping later that night but didn’t have much luck as I didn’t realize how early stores closed in Paris. I did manage to go to eat at an outside patio places and then wandered around looking at the architecture for the remainder of the night.
On this free day I went to the Pantheon which I really like because of its interior and the fact that many famous people who lived in France were buried there. Next I went to the gardens nearby our hotel to explore a little. I later finally made it to the Lourve and got to see paintings and sculptures that I have read about and marveled at for such a long time. The rest of the night I did a lot of shopping that night from going into book stores to finding pastry shops and buying macrons.
This talk was interesting as I had never really heard about the relationship between disease and geography. This area is especially prevalent in studying vaccine trials in regards to geography. I had never realized that herd immunity could be a large factor that affects the results of studies on new vaccines. I also didn’t realize how much of a factor things like locations and environment can have on the health of people. Additionally, it was interesting on hearing her talk about the accomplishments of Jon Snow, especially with how he had used mapping to discover that people were become diseased from using the same drinking pump. The amount of work he had done surveying people for a hypothesis that he believed in is really inspiring in terms of remembering to work hard towards something you believe in, even if you might not end up successful.
I thought Dr.Conklin’s discussion was very interesting from how instead of simply talking about the Musee de l’Hommee’s, she made it a point to relate it to the time period at which the changes occurred in the museum’s history. By doing so, I was able to gain more context into aspects of the museum. One such example includes the display of skulls that the museum has. These skulls were a popular aspect back when it was believed that brain size corresponded to race. By providing such context, I additionally learned about how looking for physical differences between races used to be a rather large area studied in science that was quite controversial. Additionally, I learned about helpful things about French culture for when I visit, such as how France is a center for racial sciences, a fact which would explain the types of artifacts that are found in various museums in France and bring me more awareness when viewing them.
I enjoyed Dr.Kinghorn’s lecture as I have barely any knowledge about botany or its uses in medicine. As a result, I was surprised to learn facts like how 3/4 or the population relies on plants for medicine. This statistic illuminates how important nature really is for human survival, as medicine is another vital role plants have play in human survival. It was also really interesting to learn how without any advance knowledge of chemistry, ancient people figured out how to use plants for medicine, with 122 plants still being used today for medicine. It was also very interesting to learn how people have managed to exploit poisonous plants in a way that can be beneficial to humans. One interesting example was the Calabar bean. In the past, people used it as a “truth” drug in the sense if the perpetrator died from ingesting the bean, they were then guilty. Other times when the person survived, they were regarded as innocent or telling the truth. The real reason for this effect was that if the bean was broken, its poison would be absorbed and the person would perish almost immediately where if the bean was swallowed whole, the person would survive. Later, it was found that the poison in this bean was found to have a use in treating glaucoma. It is really fascinating to see how something so poisonous could be turned around so as to become an advantage instead of a disadvantage.
I liked learning about Louis Pasteur from Dr.Alber’s talk as I did enjoy some details that she pointed out that I had not known before. One such detail includes how Louis Pasteur’s laboratory looked like. From the labs I have seen, it is such a stark contrast. I personally love nature and love to be outside whenever I can. Because of this, I always love to be in buildings that have lots of windows for natural light as not only do I find it relaxing, but also a good way keep me motivated when doing work. Having such a wide open and naturally well lit laboratory seems like something that would have inspired him to continue working on experiments without getting too fatigued with the process. This was quite important due to the nature of his experiments. I didn’t realize how much work his experiments took, as I didn’t understand that you have to basically create everything from the glass holding containers to the chemicals themselves. Without modern luxuries such as having equipment and supplies readily available, it is even more impressive the lengths he took to not only to create and test experiments, but to further continue so as to find solutions to the problematic discoveries he had made.
When I was young, I used to be obsessed with dinosaurs and listening to Dr. Gnidovec speak about such things brought back a kind of nostalgia for those times when I was younger. I was really fascinated by the connections that Dr. Gnidovec made between the fossils of dinosaurs and about anatomy. I never really made this connection that a lot of the fossils were put together as a result of basic anatomy knowledge from related animals and to see Dr.Gnidovec speak about this was enlightening. I also never thought about the need to be knowledgeable in anatomy in order to have a good understanding of fossils. Additionally, I really enjoyed having almost a preview of dinosaurs that we would be able to see when going to the museums abroad as now I have a better idea of what to look out for and will have a larger appreciation for what I see. Furthermore, one of the main reasons I really enjoyed Dr.Gnidovec’s talk was because of his passion. I don’t think I will ever meet anyone as passionate about sharing their knowledge of fossils. It was this passion that helped really convey across small details about fossils that I didn’t really think I would have as much of an interest in.
I enjoyed Dr.Otter’s talk as not only did it teach me about how science changes through the ages, but helped me understand the Kuhn readings on a much better level. I thought a really interesting point from the lecture was how facts can be destroyed if society believes so. After hearing that statement, my first reaction was that the statement was not what it seemed as when something is named a fact, it has evidence that follows a logic to prove it. But after thinking about this statement, I realized its truth as that is what has happened repeatedly in history. Something could be an indisputable fact supported by mountains of evidence, but it is not deemed widely as credible unless everyone in society adheres to such a fact. One example of this would be evolution. Despite the amounts of data collected on the subject, some sub communities in the religious world disregard such findings. Resultantly, it is not considered a fact in these communities despite having actual proof to support it. Additionally, the power of the statement that facts can be destroyed by society is immense as it shows that discoveries based in fact can be forgotten. If this happens, science takes a larger amount of time to progress and perhaps some discoveries could be lost forever.
I really enjoyed Dr.Mathur’s lecture about blackholes and the research that Stephen Hawking had done on the subject matter. It was really interesting to learn more specifics about blackholes, such as how Hawking Radiation is created. I didn’t realize that Hawking Radiation was theorized to be created in the process where inside the event horizon if an electron is created, a positron can be created on the outside of the event horizon. It is these positrons that Hawking Radiation is composed of, as the electron is not seen since it is inside the event horizon and consequentially sucked towards the singularity of the black hole. I really enjoyed this lecture because how it gave a glimpse into how the more theoretical side of physics is verified to be correct. Usually, physics problems can be solved through arriving at certain solutions through which the math can be connected to reality. In the realm of physics where the math required can’t always be related to physical quantities, such as though imaginary numbers, problems get more complicated to solve as it is harder to verify solutions experimentally. Resultantly it was interesting to learn that a main way that theories are verified in areas like the physics of blackholes, is through just making sure the theory aligns with previous theories and overall is consistent with everything that has been learned and tested up to the current point in time.
I really appreciated Dr.Goldish’s lecture because of how he set out to clarify the misunderstanding of how science and religion have been at war throughout all of history. I believed that the church was always against science from hearing pieces of scientific history like how Galileo was committed of heresy and sentenced to basically house arrest for the rest of his life. But looking more into it after Dr.Goldish’s lecture, I read how after Galileo was proven to be correct and the church resultantly cleared his name. This showed how the church was willing to accept science, even when it did not perfectly fit the church’s teachings. In the lecture, Dr.Goldish exemplified this through talking about the events that occurred between Copernicus and the church. I was intrigued to learn how it was a myth that the church loathed Copernicus from the beginning but rather utilized him. This occurred when the current Pope specifically asked Copernicus to research more about how the planets and stars move in the sky so as to create a better calendar system. As shown in this case, the church wanted to involve science in this new decision rather than cast it out. Additionally, the rejection of his findings about the orbit of the Earth with respect to the Sun was mainly from a few colleges rather than the entire church. Overall, this lecture gave me a new understanding of how science and religion have interacted throughout time and helped clear discrepancies I have had about it all. Moreover, it also proved how important it is to hear all of the details of a story before forming an opinion, as without all of the details it is very easy to misconstrue what truly happened, just as I have about the relationship between science and religion.
I had really enjoyed today’s lecture, especially since I am a woman pursing a career in the sciences in this modern day. Today was eye opening to the fact that I had never heard of a lot of the women mentioned, like Dorothy Crowfoot Hodgkin or Caroline Herschel. With the large push for gender equality in this day and age, it is interesting to look at the past to realize how far we have come despite the work that still needs to be done. It also intriguing to learn that a large reason that women in the past were able to pursue a career in the sciences was because of them having unique situations, which in term yielded them opportunities not usually available to women. One such example includes Caroline Herschel. Because her height was stunted from being affected by typhus at a young age, her parents believed that she was destined to be a spinster. By not being raised to be married off, she was given education opportunities not usually afforded to women. Without this education, she would not have been able to create mathematical methods for astronomy. If she was raised as a “typical” girl in that time period, she would have never had discovered what she did and the astronomy field would have progressed much slower than it has or maybe differently altogether. Additionally, it was fascinating to learn that the reason that not many girls were able to go into such abstract science fields was because the opportunities for them to enter such areas did not exist. The only reason that women could get into science fields in the past was through related jobs that required data collection. Since collecting data was not always a skill required job, women were able to enter these roles and if they were lucky, progress in such fields. This all makes me feel very lucky to have been born in a society where not only is the entrance to the science fields allowed for women, but encouraged.