Oligarchy and Democracy in Plato’s Republic (Part 1)

In Books VIII and IX of The Republic, dedicated to imperfect societies, Socrates undertakes a systematic political and psychological survey of the forms of government following the demise of his perfect state, doomed to extinction like all human creations. It is gradually replaced by a new regime, inspired by Sparta’s principles of ‘honour’ and ‘worth’ (or ‘time’ in Ancient Greek), in which war becomes the main preoccupation of rulers chosen among ‘the simpler, hearty types’ instead of the intelligent Guardians ...

Electric Vehicles in China

China wants to lead the world in the manufacture and use of clean-energy cars, and to achieve this it will need to ensure research and development in battery production. Batteries have become vital to the manufacture of clean energy cars. As part of China’s industry development plan (April 2017), the government pledged to promote research and development of key battery cell parts and improve management structures in the industry. Batteries are at the heart of clean energy vehicles because they are ...

. . .and more about syntax

The more we think about syntax, reading or writing it, the more we close in on sentences. If syntax is basically the ordering of words, sentences are how we deliver or read that ordering of words. We can opt for doing this in staccato ways with punchy short sentences, in long leisurely orderings, or in sentences that withhold a crucial element until the very end. And good writers use all of these. It’s relevant, then, to do a quick review of ...

Happy Anniversary – or when is Wednesday?

Soviet-era propaganda poster On October 25 1917 the Bolsheviks seized power in Petrograd, beginning the process of Communist control in what would become the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics.  Based on that information alone, most would think that we are currently marking the centennial of the revolution, but. we aren't really. As students of Russian history know, the Tsars followed the Julian calendar while most of Europe followed (and continue to follow) the Gregorian calendar.  The change was evolutionary in nature, ...

Animating Still Life

I hope you remember reading a post of mine which was published on this site at the end of July this year titled Transforming the meaning of evidence and truth. If not, go have a look, and then watch this video, and read on below. https://www.youtube.com/watch?30=&v=-RetOjL1Fhw "What use is there for this technology, you may be asking? Well, with Facebook’s involvement, it is quite possible that users will be able to animate their profile picture and cause it to react to stimuli ...

Muhabbat Sharapova, Mathematician – and Hero of Uzbekistan

To be named as a "Hero of Uzbekistan" is to be awarded the highest national honour in that country. Recently, Muhabbat Sharapova, one of the country's top mathematicians, received the award - not for her mathematical prowess, but because she has turned down job offers from many leading universities and institutions in favour of remaining a maths teacher in her small home town. In an interview for the BBC's 100 women initiative, she says: "Mathematics is the mother of all sciences." ...

LANGUAGE vs SENSE PERCEPTION (Art and the Theory of Knowledge)

A picture - worth a thousand words? My visual arts blog this month has a Theory of Knowledge element. I’m in the happy position of teaching both DP Visual Arts and DP Theory of Knowledge. There is a lot of Art/TOK overlap, but one activity that I recently had with ToK and Visual Arts students was very much in the ToK mode of questions... Sight and Sound (The limits of language) The ToK starting point was a discussion of Ways of Knowing: how do ...

Collision theory and mechanisms – linking it together

I’ve just started teaching the kinetics topic to my students and so far we have focussed on the collision theory. Have you heard of this? The collision theory explains to us what happens during chemical reactions in terms of the collision of particles. In order for a chemical reaction to occur, particles need to come together (collide) with sufficient energy (speed). This is called the activation energy (and is defined as the minimum amount of energy required for a chemical reaction). If ...

Hume’s Sceptical Views of Religion

As an empiricist, Hume believed that all our ideas are originally based on first -hand experience which enables us to grasp the notions of ‘habit, contiguity and association of ideas’. The law of cause and effect is nothing but the psychological interpretation of a sequence of events. For instance, the repeated experience of the conjunction of flames and heat creates an association of ideas, which leads to the idea of ‘heat’: 'All our ideas are nothing but copies of our ...

Chocolate industry destroying rainforest in Cote d’Ivoire

The world’s chocolate industry is driving deforestation on a devastating scale in West Africa. As global demand for chocolate booms, ‘dirty’ beans from deforested national parks have entered big business supply chains. As much as 40% of the world’s cocoa comes from Cote d’Ivoire, and the rainforest cover has been reduced by more than 80% since 1960. The chocolate industry has many small-scale farmers who grow cocoa on plantations, many of which are illegal as they are in national parks or protected ...