Narrator: Listen to a conversation between a student and a faculty advisor for the university newspaper.
Student: Hi, I am sorry to bother you, but…
Faculty advisor: Yes?
Student: This is about the newspaper.
Faculty Advisor: Oh, Ok. Well. I am only the advisor; the newspaper office is off campus on Pine Street.
Eh…what was it? Did you want to work for the paper? We are always looking for writers.
Student: Well, my problem was with the writing actually, with an article that was published in yesterday’s newspaper.
Faculty Advisor: Oh? Which one?
Student: The one about the student government and its president Sally Smith.
Faculty Advisor: Is this something to do with what the editor wrote about the statue? Eh, the statue at the main entrance of the university?
Student: Well, that’s part of it.
But you know, the editor used the situation to say some really unfair things, about the student government, and the president Sally Smith in particular.
I think the paper should publish a retraction, or at the very least an apology to Sally.
Faculty Advisor: Ok. Um… if I remember correctly, what you are referring to wasn’t a news story, but an editorial, right?
Eh, it was on the opinion page, it was signed by one of the editors, and was clearly labeled as commentary.
Student: Well, yes. But the thing about the statue,
Sally made this simple comment that was in really bad condition and should be replaced.
And, well, the tone in the editorial was demeaning. It accused her of not respecting the past and it had some personal stuff that seemed unnecessary.
Faculty Advisor: Wait a minute. Remind me.
Student: Well, you know, it implied that Sally doesn’t know much about the university’s history and it called her a big city politician because she’s from Boston.
It’s just mean-spirited, isn’t it?
Faculty Advisor: Haven’t you heard the saying “all publicity is good publicity”?
Faculty Advisor: I’d say the article is bringing attention to the student government organization, which is pretty invisible.
Eh, you rarely hear about what the student government is doing.
Student: But this article…
Faculty Advisor: And the piece, well, yeah, it had a bit of an exaggerated tone.
It was satirical, or at least it was meant to be. It wasn’t just poking fun at Sally,
but the whole idea that our school is sort of rural, and you know, not cosmopolitan.
Student: Well, none of us thought it was very funny.
Faculty Advisor: Well, sometimes it’s best just to roll with it.
It is just a cliché; everybody knows it is not true.
Student: But I thought we could expect better than that here.
Faculty Advisor: Well, I am certainly in favor of getting a variety of viewpoints.
[so why don’t you go talk to the editor, Jennifer Hamilton, and tell her you want equal time?
You or Sally could write a response.]
Student: [Really? She would let us do that? ] Didn’t she write it?
Faculty Advisor: I’ll let Jennifer know you are coming, she feels the same way I do.
She is journalism major. She would be happy to publish another point of view.
Narrator: Listen to part of a conversation between a student and his music history professor.
Student: So, I was wondering what I could do to improve my paper before the final draft is due.
Professor: Well, Michael, I have no problem with your writing style. It’s graceful and clear.
Eh, and it’s interesting that you are writing about your grandmother’s piano concert.
Student: Yeah, when you said we had to attend a concert and write about it, I immediately thought of her.
I have been to lots of her concerts. So I am really familiar with her music.
Professor: That’s not necessarily an advantage. Familiarity sometimes makes it hard to see things objectively.
Student: So I shouldn’t write about my grandmother?
Professor: No, no, no. I am just talking in general.
But as I mentioned in my comments, I’d like you to place your grandmother’s concert in… in a broader context.
Student: Yeah, I saw that, but I wasn’t sure what you meant.
I mean, I mentioned my grandmother’s childhood, how much her parents love music, how she played the piano at all our family gatherings.
Professor: Ok. I see what happened now. By broader context,
I mean how the concert relates to some period in music history.
Student: I see. Ok. Um… I have an idea.
Student: Well, as you read in my paper, my grandmother performs classical music.
Student: That’s her true love. But for most of her career, she performed jazz.
She originally studied to be a classical pianist.
But jazz was in its heyday back then, and when she got out of the conservatory,
she was invited to join a jazz orchestra. And the opportunity was just too good to turn down.
Professor: Really. Well, that’s fascinating. Because she probably had to reinvent her whole musical style.
Student: She did. But jazz was where the money was at that time, at least for her.
Professor: But she eventually went back to classical?
Student: Right. But only recently.
Student: So if I can show how her choices relate to what was happening in the world of music at the time…?
Professor: I think that might work very nicely.
Student: And if I do that, I guess I’ll have to like, interview her.
Student: And I guess that would mean…
Professor: You’ll have to rewrite most of your paper.
Professor: Yeah. Would an extra week ease the pain?
Professor: Ok. So are there other musicians in your family?
Student: Yeah. My mother plays piano, too. Not as well as my grandmother, but…
Professor: And you?
Student: I don’t play any instruments, but I sing in the university choir. In fact, we are performing next week, and I have a solo.
Professor: That’s great! Could I tell the class about your concert?
Student: Um…sure. But…about my paper… what question should I be asking my grandmother?
Professor: You know what, I have a meeting now. Why don’t you come to class a few minutes early tomorrow?
Student: Will do.
Narrator: Listen to part of a lecture in an anthropology class.
Professor: One of the big questions when we look at prehistory is why did the earliest states form?
Well, to begin we’d better define exactly what we mean when we talk about states.
The human groups that are the smallest and have the least social and political complexity, we call bands.
The groups that are the largest and most socially and politically complex, we call states.
So, the level of complexity here refers to the organization of people into large, diverse groups, and densely populated communities.
And there are four levels in total: bands, tribes, chiefdoms and states.
But, but back to my original question.
Why did early states form? Why not just continue to live in small groups?
Why become more complex?
One theory called the environmental approach hypothesizes that the main force behind state formation was population growth.
It assumes that centralized management was critical to dealing with issues caused by sudden population surges, like a strain on limited food supplies.
At the least complex end of the spectrum, the few families living in bands are able to meet their own basic needs.
They usually hunt together and forage whatever foods are available to them, instead of domesticating animals and planting crops.
In order to efficiently take advantage of the wild foods available, bands are often nomadic and move around following herds of animals.
This strategy is feasible when you have a small population.
But when you have a large population, well, the whole population can’t just get up and move to follow a wild herd of animals.
So you need sophisticated technologies to produce enough food for everyone.
And there is an increase need to resolve social problems that arise as people begin to compete for resources.
To manage intensified food production, to collect, store and distribute food, you need centralized decision-making, centralized decision-makers.
It’s the same thing when it comes to maintaining social order. You need to create and efficiently enforce a formal legal code.
It makes sense to have a centralized authority in charge of that, right?
So a hierarchy forms. By definition, states had at least three social levels.
Usually, an upper class of rulers, a middleclass comprised of managers and merchants,
and a lower class of crop producers and agricultural laborers.
The environmental approach hypothesizes that states appear in certain environmental settings,
settings which have a severe population problem or a shortage of agricultural land.
But not everyone agrees with the theory. It definitely has some weaknesses.
For example, states have developed in places like the mild lowlands of Mesoamerica and in Egypt’s Nile River Valley.
Both places had vast areas of fertile farmland, no shortage of agricultural land. And what about population increase?
Well, there were some early states that formed where there wasn’t any sudden population increase.
So it seems that these are valid criticisms of the environmental approach.
Narrator: Listen to part of a lecture in an astronomy class.
Professor: Today, I want to talk about a paradox the ties in with the topic we discuss last time.
We were discussing the geological evidence of water, liquid water on Earth and Mars three to four billion years ago.
So, what evidence of a liquid water environment did we find in rock samples taking from the oldest rocks on Earth?
Student: Eh… Like pebbles, fossilized algae?
Professor: Right. And on Mars?
Student: Dry channels?
Professor: Good. All evidence of water in liquid form, large quantities of it.
Now, remember when we talked about star formation,
we said that as a star ages, it becomes brighter, right?
Hydrogen turns into Helium, which releases energy.
So our standard model of star formation suggests that the Sun wasn’t nearly as bright three to four billion years ago as it is today,
which means the temperatures on Earth and Mars would have been lower, which in turn suggests…
Student: There would have been ice on Earth or Mars?
Professor: Correct. If the young Sun was much fainter and cooler than the Sun today, liquid water couldn’t have existed on either planet.
Now, this apparent contradiction between geologic evidence and the stellar evolution model became known as the faint young Sun paradox.
Now, there have been several attempts to solve this paradox.
First, there was the greenhouse-gas solution.
Well, you are probably familiar with the greenhouse gas effect, so I won’t go into details now.
The idea was that trapped greenhouse gases in the atmospheres of Earth and Mars might have caused temperatures to raise enough to compensate for the low heat the young Sun provided.
And so it would have been warm enough on these planets for liquid water to exist.
So, what gas do you think was the first suspect in causing the greenhouse effect?
Student: Um…carbon dioxide, I guess. Like today?
Professor: In fact, studies indicate that four billion years ago,
carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere were much higher than today’s levels.
But the studies also indicate that they weren’t high enough to do the job-make up for a faint Sun.
Then some astronomers came up with the idea that atmospheric ammonia might have acted as a greenhouse gas.
But ammonia would have been destroyed by the ultra-violet light coming from the Sun and it had to be ruled out too.
Another solution, which is proposed much later, was that perhaps the young Sun wasn’t faint at all, perhaps it was bright.
So it is called the bright-young-Sun solution,
according to which the Sun would have provided enough heat for the water on Earth and Mars to be liquid.
But how could the early Sun be brighter and hotter than predicted by the standard model? Well, the answer is mass.
Student: You mean the Sun had more mass when it was young?
Professor: Well, if the young Sun was more massive than today’s,
it would have been hotter and brighter than the model predicts.
But this would mean that it had lost mass over the course of four billion years.
Student: Is that possible?
Professor: Actually, the Sun is constantly losing mass through the solar wind, a stream of charged particles constantly blowing off the Sun.
we know the Sun’s current rate of mass loss, but if we assume that this rate has been steady over the last four billion years,
the young Sun wouldn’t have been massive enough to have warmed Earth, let alone Mars, not enough to have caused liquid water.
Student: Maybe the solar wind was stronger then?
Professor: There is evidence that the solar wind was more intense in the past.
But we don’t know for sure how much mass our Sun’s lost over the last four billion years.
Astronomers tried to estimate what solar mass could produce the required luminosity to explain liquid water on these planets.
They also took into account that with a more massive young Sun, the planets would be closer to the Sun than they are today.
And they found that about seven percent more mass would be required.
Student: So the young Sun had seven percent more mass than our Sun?
Professor: Well, we don’t know.
According to observations of young Sun like stars, our Sun may have lost as much as six percent of its initial mass,
which doesn’t quite make it. On the other hand, this estimate is based on a small sample.
And the bright-young-Sun solution is appealing. We simply need more data to determine the mass loss rate of stars.
So there’s reason to believe that we will get an answer to that piece of the puzzle one day.
Narrator: Listen to part of a lecture in a zoology class.
Professor: A mass extinction as when numerous species become extinct over a very short time period, short,
geologically speaking that is, like when the dinosaurs died out 65 million years ago.
And the fossil record, it indicates that in all the time that animals have inhabited Earth,
there have been five great mass extinctions, dinosaurs being the most recent.
In each of the others up to half of all land animals and up to 95 percent of marine species disappeared.
Well, today we are witnessing a sixth mass extinction,
but unlike the others, the current loss of bio-diversity can be traced to human to human activity.
Since the Stone Age, humans have been eliminating species and altering ecosystems with astounding speed.
Countless species have disappeared due to over-hunting,
habitat destruction and habitat fragmentation, pollution and other unnatural human causes.
So, as a way of repairing some of that damage,
a group of conservation biologists has proposed an ambitious, or some might say, a radical plan,
involving large vertebrates, or , megafauna. Megafauna include elephants, wild horses, big cats, camels, large animals.
Eh, actually, the proposal focuses on a particular subset of megafauna, the kind that lived during the Pleistocene epoch.
Ok. The Pleistocene epoch, most commonly known as the Ice Age, stretched from 1.8 million to 11,500 years ago.
In the Americas, many megafauna began disappearing by the end of the Pleistocene.
So here’s the biologists’ idea.
Take a select group of animals, megafauna from places like Africa and Asia,
and introduce them into other ecosystems similar to their current homes, beginning in the United States.
They call their plan Pleistocene rewilding.
Now, the advocates of Pleistocene rewilding cite two main goals.
One is to help prevent the extinction of some endangered megafauna by providing new refuges, new habitats for them.
The other is to restore some of the evolutionary and ecological potential that has been lost in North America.
What do I mean by restore evolutionary potential?
Well as you know the evolution of any species is largely influenced by its interactions with other species.
So during the Pleistocene epoch…
let’s take the now extinct American cheetah, for instance.
We believe it played a pivotal role in the evolution of the pronghorn antelope,
the antelope’s amazing speed, to be exact, because natural selection would favor those antelope that could outrun a cheetah.
When the American cheetahs disappeared, their influence on the evolution of pronghorn and presumably on other prey animals stopped.
So it is conceivable that the pronghorn antelope would have continued to evolve, get faster maybe,
if the cheetahs were still around. That’s what’s meant by evolutionary potential.
Importing African cheetahs to the western United States could, in theory, put the pronghorn back onto its…
uh, natural evolutionary trajectory according to these biologists.
Another example is the interaction of megafauna with local flora, in particular, plants that rely on animals to disperse their seeds.
Like Pleistocene rewilding could spark the re-emergence of large seeded American plants, such as the maclura tree.
Many types of maclura used to grow in North American, buy today, just one variety remains and it is found in only two states.
In the distant past, large herbivores like mastodons dispersed maclura seeds, each the size of an orange in their droppings.
Well, there aren’t any mastodons left, but there are elephants, which descended from mastodons.
Introduce elephants into that ecosystem and they might disperse those large maclura seeds, like their ancestors did.
Get the idea? Restoring some of the former balance to the ecosystem?
But as I alluded to earlier, Pleistocene rewilding is extremely controversial.
A big worry is that these transplanted megafauna might devastate plants and animals that are native to the western United States.
In the years since the Pleistocene epoch, native species have adapted to the changing environmental there, plants, smaller animals,
they have been evolving without megafauna for millennia.
Also, animal species that went extinct 11,000 years ago, uh, some are quite different genetically from their modern-day counterparts,
like elephants don’t have thick coasts like their mastodon ancestors do when they graze the prairies of the America West during the Ice Age.
Granted, the climate today is not as cold as it was in the Pleistocene.
But winters on the prairie can still get pretty harsh today.
And there are many more considerations. Well, you see how complex this is.
If you think about it though, the core problem with this sixth mass extinction is human interference.
Pleistocene rewilding is based on good intentions, but you know, it probably would just be more of the same thing.
Narrator: Listen to part of a lecture in a music history class.
Professor: So, uh, if you are a musician in the United States in the early twentieth century, where could you work?
Student: Same as now, I suppose. In an orchestra, mainly.
Professor: Ok. And where would the orchestra be playing?
Student: Uh, in a concert hall or a dance hall?
Professor: That’s right. And smaller groups of musicians were needed in theaters as accompaniment to visual entertainment,
like cabarets and variety shows.
But the largest employer for musicians back then was the film industry, especially during the silent-film era.
Student: Really? You mean being a piano player or something?
I thought movie theaters would have used recorded music.
Professor: Well, no. Not during the silent-film era.
We are talking a period of maybe thirty years where working in movie theaters was the best job for musicians.
It was very well-paid. The rapid growth of the film industry meant movie theaters were popping up everywhere.
So suddenly there was this huge demand for musicians.
In fact, over 20,000 jobs for musicians were gone, disappeared at the end of the silent-film era, 20,000.
Ok. So from the beginning, music was a big part of film, even at the first…
Student: Excuse me, professor. I think I read somewhere that they used music to drown out the sound of the film projectors?
Professor: Yeah. That’s good story, isn’t it?
Too bad it keeps getting printed as if it were the only reason music was used.
Well, think about it. Even if that were the case, noisy projectors were separated from the main house pretty quickly,
yet music continued to accompany film. So, as I was saying, even the very first public projection of a film had piano accompaniment.
So music was pretty much always there.
What’s strange to me though, is that at first film music didn’t necessarily correspond to what was on the screen.
You know, eh, a fast number for a chase, deep bass notes for danger, something light and humorous for comedy.
And that’s instantly recognizable now, even expected. But in the very early days of film, any music was played.
A theater owner would just buy a pile of sheet music and musicians will play it, no matter what it was.
Pretty quickly though, thankfully, everybody realized the music should suit the film.
So eventually, film makers tried to get more control over the musical accompaniment of their films.,
and specify what type of music to use and how fast or slow to play it.
Student: Are you saying there was no music written specifically for a particular movie?
Professor: Yeah. Original scores weren’t common then.
Rarely a filmmaker might send along an original score composed especially for a film,
but usually a compilation of music that already existed would be used. Yeah, that was a good time for a lot of musicians.
But that all changed with the introduction of sound on film technology.
Actually, even before that, organs could mimic a number of instruments and also do some sound effects.
So they were starting to replace live orchestras in some movie theaters, and it only takes one person to play an organ.
Student: Ok. But even after that someone still had to play the music for the sound for the sound recordings, the soundtracks.
Professor: Yeah. But think of all the movie theaters there were, most employing about six to eight musicians, some even had full orchestras.
But in the early 1930s, most theater owners installed new sound systems.
So suddenly a lot of musicians were looking for work. Once recording technology took off,
studio jobs working exclusively for one film company, eh, studio jobs did become available.
But the thing is, each major movie company pretty much had only one orchestra for all their productions, a set number of regular musicians.
So if you could get it, studio musician was a good job.
If you were cut out for it, musicians had to be able to read music very well,
since the producers were very conscious of how much money they were spending. They didn’t want to waste any time.
So a musician was expected to play complicated pieces of music pretty much without any preparation.
If one couldn’t do it, there were plenty of others waiting to try. So there was a lot of pressure to do well.