Urban farming

Urban farming (also known as vertical farming) is an intensive form of agriculture which produces high quality crops year round. Crops are grown in an artificial environment in which temperature and humidity are carefully controlled. Up to 95% of water is recycled and nutrients are carefully provided. LED lighting provides the wavelengths that plants require so energy is saved. Insects are not present so pesticides are not required. Nevertheless, electricity bills are high and the threat of power cuts is a ...

Deforestation in Brazil

Brazil accounts for around 40% of the world’s rain forests and around 10-15% of the world’s biodiversity. Over the last fifty years, it has lost about 20% of the original 4 million km2 of rainforest due to farming, logging, dam construction, mining and other infrastructural developments. At the same time, average temperatures have increased by 0.6ºC, and the area has experienced a number of severe droughts. Between 2004 and 2012, the rate of deforestation slowed down, but by 2017 it had ...

A cocktail party of literary theories

If you met Aristotle at a party he might inquire if you live the golden mean. This moralist theory is useful to consider characterisation, themes and reader response. Reader-response theorists believe texts need to have a reader before it can mean anything. They will ask you to fill the gaps and make connections. At this party, the post-structuralist host serves drinks, muttering “gaps and silences”. Those who are interested in psychoanalytical theory argue that the emotional conflicts between characters are most important ...

Working from Observation (“direct observation”)

In September, for many schools it’s the start of another school year, and if you are a DP visual arts student, you will be either returning for your 2nd year or starting your first. Where to Start? Of course, your teacher will probably suggest some initial directions that your art might follow to start with, but – depending on how much freedom you have – you might want to explore one of the most traditional routes in art-making: working from observation. I have ...

On the Inconvenience of Being Immortal

The most fundamental premise of philosophy is our human ability to propose some reasoned answers to questions related to the meaning of life, our place in the universe and the plausibility of immortality. Long before Montaigne, ancient thinkers regarded the philosophical activity as the way to become accustomed to the idea of dying and make it part of our daily existence. After all, as Epicurus pointed out, ‘why should we be anxious about death when we will never encounter it; ...

The Philosophy of “Game of Thrones”

The global popularity of “Game of Thrones” can be partly ascribed to the many themes raised throughout the eight seasons of the American television series. Behind the first veil of medieval fantasy lurk the ghosts of Hobbes and Machiavelli and their depiction of political power as the deadliest game of chess imaginable. To conquer the ultimate position of power is one thing, but to exercise authority over a long period of time proves a tremendous challenge for the heroes of ...

Democracy and Mediocrity

Friedrich Nietzsche was particularly contemptuous of the mediocrity which, in his view, prevailed among his contemporaries. His philosophical ideal of individuals knowing themselves so thoroughly that they were able to soar above the rest of the human ‘herd’ has become offensive to our modern conception of democracy and equality. But what if democracy was inherently and inescapably a breeding ground for a type of feckless, navel-gazing individuals, wallowing in their self-confessed limitations while enjoying the benefits of a benevolent state? Nietzsche’s ...

It’s all in the detail

Mathematics, as you will know from Theory of Knowledge, is at the top of the tree of knowledge. It is self-referential - that is, its theorems do not need to be proven by reference to the real world, but instead by starting with other axioms and theorems. Of course, maths has many real-world applications, and if you are starting out on the new Applications and Interpretations course, then you will spend a lot of time solving real-word problems. Many of the ...

Need help with specific topics? Check these blogs

Over the past few years I have written blogs for IB students on a wide range of mathematics-related topics. Some of these blogs have covered specific areas of syllabus content where I know students can have difficulties. With many of you either at the start of your diploma course, of halfway through, this seems like a good moment to help you find them. Quadratic factorisation can cause some head-scratching, although if you are following the new Applications and Interpretation course you ...

Physics is a mathematical science!

This is a quick note for those students who are just starting the IB Physics Diploma Course.  For most students, they take the HL course because they really like the subject or it is a requirement for their ultimate application to university (a physics or engineering course). Students often take the SL course because they simply like the subject. I am not aware of any student that has ever taken the Physics Diploma Course because… they want an easy life! The ...