UBC Publications

UBC Publications

UBC Publications

The 432 Nov 4, 1987

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 W   E   D   N   E   S   D   AY
The Joys of Science
by Robert T. Klose
I am worried about my students.
Indeed, I panic sometimes. But it is the
panic, sporadic and non-life-threatening, of a man walking across a grassy
field riddled with gopher holes. You
see, I teach college biology, and from
my vantage point in the classroom, I
find gaps in what my students know
that cannot be filled with huge helpings
of facts. They are learning theories, the
products of science, but they don't
understand the way scientists think.
For me, scientists are a among the
most interesting people on earth. They
are incorrigibly curious and energetic;
so much so that their energies spill over
into nonscientific pursuits. They not
only peekaboo into the contents of the
living cell, but play the cello or struggle
with translations of German poetry as
well. These associated activities aren't
tangential; rather, they are an expression of the scientist's greedy need to
know-which is everything.
This is the scientific profession's
unspoken goal. In medicine, the desire
to eradicate all illness means a search
for immortality, does it not? For the
physical sciences, it is nothing less than
understanding the anatomy of the
universe. Yet somehow these ambitious undertakings are augmented by
seemingly incongruous interests like
playing the tunes of Bach and Benny
Goodman. This is what makes science
an exuberant enterprise. The scientific
historian Jacob Bronowski makes this
point clear in his book "The Origins of
Knowledge and Imagination." Although Albert Einstein played the
violin-"execrably" he says-he played it
not as a diversion, but because it was a
major manifestation of his whole
Today we also dabble in music and
the arts, yet we present science in a
sterile manner as if other discip>lines
had no role. Last semester I introduced
a lesson on skeletal anatomy by reading
Robert Frost's "The Witch of Coos"
aloud to my class. This is a poem about
a set of bones that goes for a walk one
winter night through a New Hampshire farmhouse "when the bed might
just as well be ice and the clothes
snow." My students seemed to enjoy it,
and I was not only grateful for their
attention but vindicated when they
discovered the simple moral of the
poem-that bone is a living tissue.
As it turned out, some students had
never heard of Frost. Nor of Walt
Whitman, Nathaniel Hawthorne,
Henry David Thoreau. Does literature
belong in the science classroom? Of
course, we should not forget that a
major reason Charles Darwin's ideas
caught on was because his detailed
observations on natural selection were
literate and comparatively easy to read.
What worries me about my students is
that they don't read the broad range of
books that would expand their knowledge of the universe. And though they
study math, they don't know that the
world of geometry is a fixed one or that
calculus can be used to describe the
changing motion of objects like the
planets. Unfortunately, science education has emulated the liberal arts by
fragmenting related areas of learning.
Bell jar: But to know the universe
demands more. It requires an awareness of science as a discipline with
connections to literature-even to the
simplest protocols of grammar. In a
profession that stakes its integrity upon
the exactness of its mathematical
calculation, students must know that
spelling "counts" and that careful
attention must be paid to their prose.
Without the ability to write about their
investigative findings, scientists are
mute. Without a working knowledge
of English, science becomes a foreign
language. For example, much like its
meaning outside of the biological
context, transcription is the word
scientists use to describe the cellular
process of making copies of segments
of the DNA molecule in order to
synthesize proteins.
But if there is a mortal sin here, it is
the teaching ot science without connecting it to the history of science. By so
doing we are telling our students that
all science is in the present-like the
fresh ever-ready answers on a flashing
computer. As a result, they can't
appreciate the frequently long and
painful struggle to know the scientific
process. The lack of historical perspective was dramatically demonstrated by
the student who asked me if Galileo
and Einstein ever met. To him the 20th
century and the 16th were the same.
We must, then, somehow separate the
centuries. Without perspective and
without integration, science is like a
heart we are trying to keep alive in a
bell jar, existing independently of
history, literature and music.
Scientists are creative individuals,
but we often save our exuberance for
our research and fail to share it with
our students. If we hear the music of
the spheres in Mozart's Divertimenti
for woodwind trio or know why Lewis
Thomas thinks a single cell is like a
microscopic reflection of all life on
earth, we have failed to bring this good
news to our students. What we must
do is demonstrate that the true scientist
is human in the fullest sense.
Take Aureolus Philippus Theo-
phrastus Bombastus von Hohenheim,
who gave himself the name Paracelcus.
Those familiar with his writings
assume he gave us the word 'bombast". He didn't; nonetheless, this 16th-
century alchemist—and physician of
that day—took on his peers with relish
and, when he wasn't defending his
scientific principles, drank wine with
his pupils, chased after women and
also found time to establish the need
for accurate diagnosis before treatment
begins and the role of chemicals in
medical therapy. Paracelsus, Bronowski says, gives us "the transparent sense
that a scientific discovery flows from a
personality." Knowing about him can
only prove that science is not a cold
and detached enterprise.
Newsweek: October 26/87
1.N1. STIEN -bs ^oft"
look at mose tor .lost faces,
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UBC, Vancouver
November 4, 1987     Numbers
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The 432
November 4,1987
A pair of flies that reproduced
would cover the entire planet with
its offspring in a year.
by David Suzuki
"The economy must continue to grow" — this is
one of the most pernicious and dangerous beliefs in
our society, and also one of the most deeply pervasive. Growth in population, consumption and GNP is
considered vital for the health of our economy, and no
politician would dare suggest otherwise.
Mathematically speaking, there are two kinds of
growth: geometric and exponential. When a quantity
increases by a fixed AMOUNT per unit of time (e.g. if
you get a $.20 per hour raise every year), it is said to
be growing geometrically. But if it increases by a fixed
PERCENTAGE (e.g. if you get a 3 percent raise every
year), it is growing exponentially. It may sound like a
minor distinction, but its consequences are profound.
The difference is that in exponential growth, the
actual RATE OF GROWTH is constantly increasing.
This year's raise of 3 percent also includes 3 percent of
LAST YEAR'S raise, and the numbers can get very big
very fast. That's 'the magic of compound interest' that
the banks are always telling us about: deposit $1,000 a
year at 10 percent compound interest, and retire a millionaire. Unfortunately, it works against us as well.
That's why steady inflation is so devastating.
With 7 percent inflation, prices will double every 10
years and within the lifetime of the average person
(over 70 years), a $1.00 ice cream cone will end up at
$128.00! If you can stand the shock, try calculating the
cost of a $75,000 home!
Any scientist can tell you that nothing in the
universe, including the universe itself, continues to
expand exponentially indefinitely. Everything is finite, and eventually exponential growth will simply
outstrip the available space. A pair of flies that reproduced exponentially would cover the entire planet
with its offspring in a year. In an old story, a man
asked as his reward for saving a king's life that he be
given as much grain as would be obtained by placing
one grain of wheat on the first square of a chess
board and then doubling the number on each successive square. Only 64 doublings gives hundreds of
times as much grain as is harvested on the entire
planet in a year!
For 99 percent of human history, we wandered
the planet in small family groups of hunter-gatherers.
We lived lightly on the land, and nature was vast and
infinitely self-renewing because it could absorb the
impact of our small numbers and simple technology.
A curve plotting human consumption and pollution
would remain virtually flat for most of our history.
Only in the last few centuries do we see a slight rise
in the curve. It accelerates in the 1800s and then leaps
off the page in this century.
Consider our numbers. It took all of human
history to reach the first billion people, last century.
Then in 150 y ears, the population doubled twice to 4
billion, and it will double again in less than thirty
more years. That's exponential growth. When you
consider that every doubling means the need for
twice as much of everything; food, water, oxygen,
space, clothing, and housing, continued growth
becomes unacceptable. Steady growth is an artifact
that we have lived with for a few decades, and
because our personal time frames are short, we
confuse this with the idea that it has and should always be like that.
We sit comfortably ensconced in our highly industrialized society and demand that the Third World
bring its numbers under control. But to maintain our
high quality of life, we consume vast quantities of
food and resources, If s estimated that the consumption per Canadian is more than 70 times greater than
for the average person in India. By that equation, we
have a population of almost TWO BILLION Indian
equivalents! We are the ones with the problem: we
are using up the resources on the planet far out of
proportion to our numbers.
Human beings are now the most ubiquitous and
numerous large mammal on the planet. And with
technological muscle, we are having an enormous
impact. Only a hundred years ago, it took two men
over a week to cut down one of British Columbia's
immense trees — today, one man with a chain saw
can do it in minutes. Nature is no longer so resilient
in the face of our relentless onslaught.
It is said that one species of plant and animal
becomes extinct each day, and the rate is increasing.
We are destroying some 3,000 acres of tropical rain
forest (the home of over 60 percent of the world's
wildlife species and a major
source of atmospheric oxygen)
every day! We are destroying
habitats and injecting out
industrial toxins into the air,
water, and soil as if they were
all limitless and infinitely self-
cleansing. They are not.
Surely it's time to sit down
and examine some of these assumptions. Ifs not enough
simply to argue that we must
aim for zero growth. The near
vertical curve of our growth must be leveled and
made to come down very gently, or it will simply
plunge straight down when the carrying capacity of
the planet is surpassed. I believe that any responsible
person must now be thinking of NEGATIVE growth.
It matters much to me that something of the
natural beauty and wonder of this planet be left for
my children and future generations. The consequence
of the doctrine of continued growth is that we lose
biological diversity in order to have vast choice
between 30 brands of breakfast cereals or 20 kinds of
toothpaste. Somehow, I don't find the equation very
satisfying. A world increasingly devoid of nature will
ultimately require an increasingly man-made environment that is devoid of variety and unpredictability. It
is instructive to remind ourselves of the great dinosaurs. People think of them as losers, yet they ruled
the planet for 150 million years. It's clear that some
major environmental change, perhaps collision with
an immense asteroid, caused their sudden extinction.
We have been around less than half a million years,
and within the past few decades, we have caused
environmental changes on the scale of those that did
the dinosaurs in.
Dimensions May 1987
Nov. 4/87, Number 5. Published by The Science Und
eigraduate Society; SCARFE 9
- 228-4235. The 432 is published bi-monthly.
Layout Artist
Vince Jiu
Leslie Chan
Juliet Armstrong
Nicole Brand
Barry Shanko
Morgan Burke
Ken Otter
Gwen Burton
Assistant Editor
Gillian McNamara
Derek Miller
Peter MacDougall
Eric Walker
Jean Guay
David New
Eric Carlos November 4,1987
The 432
Page 3
Drugs in the sea
UBC Community Relations
The search for new and better anticancer drugs goes on all over the
world. Now researchers are looking
underwater. Off the coast of British
Columbia, two potential anti-cancer
drugs have been discovered.
The chemistry of marine organisms
is very different from that of land
plants and animals, and is almost unexplored. Dr. Ray Andersen, a chemist at
the University of British Columbia, is
working with the National Research
Council to investigate all invertebrate
animals off the east and west coasts of
Canada for new drugs. In particular,
he and his colleagues are looking at
slow moving, colourful, soft shelled
creatures that use chemical compounds
as part of their defence against predators. One of these is the sea anemone.
If you place a starfish next to an
anemone, the first thing that happens is
that the anemone bends over and sort
of samples the skin of the starfish with
its tentacles. As soon as these tentacles
then have detected the chemical that's
in the skin of the starfish, the anemone
very quickly goes into, for an anemone
is a dramatic behavioral response.
Anemones are generally cecile animals
that sit in one place for their whole
entire life until they either die of old
age or something comes along and eats
them. This particular anemone first off
lets go to its grip on the rock, and it
goes into a rather peculiar sort of
swimming motion where it flops its
tentacles around in the water. It's not
the Mark Spitz of the swimming world
but it is effective enough that it can
keep itself suspended off the bottom of
the ocean. The currents will propel
them or drag them away from the
predator, the starfish.
This reaction of the sea anemone
to the starfish is well-known to scuba
divers. To UBC scientists in search of
new compounds, it was more than just
a curious phenomenon—it signified
the presence of a potentially useful
chemical in the skin of the starfish.
A week in Science
by Rose Lai
Hi! My name is Rose Lai, and I am
the Science Week Co-ordinator this
year. All of you should know by now
that Science Week is January 24 to the
30th. The events this year will include
some traditional ones, e.x., the Departmental Displays in the SUB concourse,
Blood Donor Clinic, Chemistry Magic
Show, Computer Science Car Rally,
Physsoc Paper Airplane Contest and
Scavenger Hunt. In addition, we have
proposed some new ideas and arrangements:
-A Tricycle Race (down Main Mall
between Departments) on Friday,
January 29.
-Films of a Science Fiction or anything
at the SUB Auditorium on Tuesday,
January 26.
-Instead of having the Crystal Ball on
Friday night, we are going to turn the
SUB Ballroom into a huge Beer Garden,
and the Scavenger Hunt will take place
following the Beer Garden (can you
imagine what will happen?!!)
-A Boat Cruise aboard the MV Malibu
Princess for 150 people on Saturday
night, January 30. The crystal ball will
take place on the boat.
These activities will be finalized
later; also, more details on these events
will be published in subsequent 432
editions. If you want to give advices on
what we should do, or you want to
help in organizing some of these
events, please do not be shy and leave a
message for me in Scarfe 9(you can also
come to see me during my office hour
on Thurs. 12:30-1:30)
I am sure that your suggestions,
combined with the events already
planned, will make this year's Science
Week an unmatchable success compared with previous years. Please note
that I am not saying this just for the
sake of giving an introduction. I am
very, very serious about this and I wish
all of you can get involved. So, from
now on, please keep your eyes on these
events because every 432 edition will
contain something about Science Week.
I will love to hear from you!
Science Week
January 24-30
Ski Challenge
Departmental Display
Departmental Display
Car rally
On top
by Jean C. Guay - Assistant Editor
The 432 has made great progress in
the past few months. From it's humble
origin as a simple newsletter, it has
evolved to a eight page, high quality,
newspaper. The transition wasn't easy
and required tremendous work by a
dedicated team coordi-nated by our
hard working editor, Vince Jiu. On top
of that, the paper has already sponsored two fundraisers since the beginning of the year. The first was the
successful Loose Leaf Paper Sale which
not only saved students 40% over the
bookstore price but also contributed
over $400.00 to the Terry Fox Run. The
second fundraiser is the sale of the
Entertainment Saving Coupon book.
All profits of this fundraiser will benefit
the Children's Hospital. This coupon
book is the best for $10, saving you 50%
off everyday needs (sport equipment,
food, car equipment and maintenance,
movies etc.).
The 432 is committed to sponsoring
fundraisers that not only help charities
but also Science Students. We found
that it is a fabulous opportunity for
Science Students to contri-bute to
charity while saving money! If it
wasn't a GREAT deal for Undergraduates we wouldn't be selling these books
- promise!
Science clubs
by Todd Abiett, president
Science... This word has many
different meanings, but what does a
degree in Science mean? It does not
mean everyone in Science becomes a
research scientist. One of the things I
find very interesting is the many
varied careers after our time as
undergrads. I have known, friends
and acquaintances who went on to
Medicine, Dentistry, Pharmacy,
Education, Law, Forestry, Applied
Science, Commerce, Rehab and of
course Graduate Studies. The
students gathered around you right
now will go on to do many important
tasks in our modern society.
This great diversity of interests
does lead to problems for our own
Science Undergraduate Society. How
do you unify a group with interests
ranging from molecular genetics to
astronomy, from computer science to
botany? Right now the Science
Undergraduate Society Student
Council's Constitution recognizes
year reps (three from each year, two
from first) and reps from each
departmental club. Sounds fine,
except that not all of the departments
have clubs. The ones that do have
clubs are: Chemistry (CSC), Computer Science (CSSS), Physics (phys
soc), Geology (Dawson club), Microbiology, Astronomy (Astronomy,
Aerospace) and apparently Mathematics (they haven't sent a rep to our
meetings). This leads to a problem
because many of you do not have
departmentai representation on   •
There are two possible cures.
We can try to get a club going in
every department or we can elect
representatives from the student
body in the departments that do not
have clubs. I believe the best solution is a combination ,of these two
If you are interested in being a
founding member of a departmental
club or just need some help and support in doing this, contact me (Todd
Abiett) in Scarfe #9 or phone 228-
4235 anytime. If you believe that the
student body representative is a
good idea, then come talk to me also.
This great diversity of our
faculty also provides us with one of
its greatest strengths. We are capable
of almost anything we desire. If you
take into account our many attributes
and see the many fields we affect,
you'll begin to understand why
...Science Holds the Power.
Senate reports
by Andrew Colbeck
THE 432 will now print monthly
the goings on-in Senate. If you'd like
more info/stats, or have something to
say, drop on by to Scarfe 9 or tine senate
office, SUB 262. This is what went on at
the October 14th meeting:
Presentation (on behalf of Dr. Strang-
way) of the University Five Year
Capital Plans 1988/89 -1992/93
A paper prepared by the Vice President, Administration and Finance that
was submitted to the Ministry of
Advanced Education and Job Training.
Consisted of proposals for Buildings
and Major Revisions and Public Works
Projects, over $1,000,000. If all proposals were met, the total building cost
would be $205.18 million.
Presentation of the annual Report to
Senate by Regent College
Included faculty appointments, enrollment, diplomas awarded, libra:ry
update, building progress of the new
Regent College, and Administrative
Report from the Senate Admissions
Of 128 total appeals, 46 were granted
Report from the Senate Committee on
Senate approved the acceptance of
three student awards totalling $4000.
Report from the Faculty of Graduate
Two Centres, Studies in 19th Century
Music and Molecular Genetics as they
became, respectively, bereft of staff
(and grant) and subsumed by a wider
Report from the Registrar's Office
Figures from Sp>ring and Summer
enrollment for 1987. Breakdown of
Winter Session enrollment 1987/88 by
year and faculty. Page 4
The 432
November 4,1987
A Day in the Life of an E.X. U.B.C.
Science Student...
by Karl Friedrich Hieronymus von Muenchhausen
I leave the Chem Lab and make my way to the
library. I intend to savor my hour break. Climbing the stairs, finding a carrell and opening my
physics note- and textbooks takes almost no time.
I must review my notes from yesterday and read
the section that will be covered today. All too
soon the hour is over and I must pack up and go
to my class.
I am one of the first to enter. I take out my
clipboard, pen and calculator and watch the other
people slowly straggle in. It's now time for the
class to start but still no instructor has shown up.
The door finally opens again and a little wizened
gnome appears, his gleaming friars spot reflecting
the overhead lights. He scurries up the aisle, his
arms full of books and demo aids, not looking
where he is going. He stumbles over some books
that someone had accidently (?) left there. Two
people sitting by the wall start giggling, their
bodies heaving with uncontrolled mirth. The rest
of us scarcely deign to observe the rambunctious
antics of these evidently immature adolescents.
How stupid!
The instructor reaches the front, drops his
books on a handy table, snatches up some chalk
and prepares to start his lecture. With curt
phrases and dainty hands pawing notes on the
blackboard he starts his lecture. Those two are at
it again, giggling crazily, looking at the rest of us
and again bursting out with laughter. Dark
circles under their eyes give us a clue to the inexplicable behavior of these two bright, as they
seem to be from the copious notes they take (their
papers are still blank) students. Tired? Here?!
How could that happen here? They must have
been partying too much, or, perhaps, they could
have been writing midterms. That's the ticket;
must be midterms. The instructor is completely
flummoxed by the pair, but decides to continue
He writes a new formula on the board and we
start squirming. One person has the courage to
ask about the undefined, hitherto unknown,
symbol. "Must be from Richmond, all others
seem to know the symbol, can only be a
Richmond students," the instructor muses, "the
poor sod, to come from such a place as Richmond.
Richmond, a dreadful place, brrr." Finishing his
contemplation, he peers owlishly over his spectacles, about to explain his cryptic writings; his
mouth is half open, dark-pink tongue protruding
from the corner of his mouth. Is he masticating
on his tongue? Well!
We frantically copy down the important information. Wow! Already the class is almost
over; what has been learned? Not too much
judging by those two, still giggling occaisionly.
THose two, don't they realize that education is a
serious business. We are here to learn after all!
Glancing at my watch, I realize that the class is as
good as over and I still haven't learned anything
yet. How typical of this class. I sure hope the
Chem lecture is more informative...
Because the editor was so absorbed in
reading the facinating center-page article in the last issue, he completly forgot
to include the author's name - Morgan
Burke. We're sorry Morgan, please
come back! We miss your great writing.
s ?i °f Ala "^  f7?9
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Mm November 4,1987
The 432
Page 5
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The 432
November 4,1987
The Answer
by Derek Miller
There are a few numbers that
cause a sensation whenever they
are mentioned: 1066, for example,
or 451 (as in Fahrenheit), or,
perhaps most of all, 666. Recently,
another number has been added to
the ranks of mysterious, forboding
numbers: 432.
Time was that the three numbers 4,
3, and 2 had no particular significance, other than that they were
part of a descending linear progression. Now, frantic whispers of
"Do YOU know what 432 stands
for?" echo ominously along dark
corridors. Cliques develop based
on interpretations of the name of
this paper. Fights start. Blood
Okay, maybe not.
Nevertheless, many of you
have wondered just what relevance
432 hast. Over the past several
weeks we have received mountains
of entries, each proclaiming to
represent the one true meaning of
the three bizarre figures.
None of them, of course, were
I'm here to tell you what is. But
I must warn you that after all of
this hype and press and general
hoopla, it isn't all that interesting,
or even creative. So don't come
running to me, complaining about
how you were cheated and let
down and all that. I don't really
Anyway, the name. "The 432"
arose out of a summer meeting in
the now-defunct CPAX, where a
harried group of four people,
myself included, tried to think of a
reasonable alternative to "The SUS
News." Somehow one of us blurted
out that it would be rather neat to
have a paper whose title was a
number, like, say, 432.
And so it was decided. Next
came the even more difficult task of
thinking of a reason for giving the
paper such a dumb (or at the very
least unusual) name. The first suggestion, and hence the original
reason, was that since the Science
faculty colour is blue, that 432
could represent 432 nanometres,
one of the wavelengths of blue
light. So there's the scoop. Take it
or leave it.
by Vince Jiu ■ Editor
To my staff, council members and everyone who made this
paper possible, this issue is dedicated to you. Your ideas,
dedication, perseverance and abilities have transformed this paper. Without your support and patience, this could not have
come about. Thanks.
I would also like to thank Charles Reddin (AMS Business
Manager, Don Issac (Director of Finance), Alexandra Johnston
and Peter Francis (AMS typesetters) for their prompt service
and professionalism.
Our staff meets every Friday (11:30-1:30/2:30-3:30) and if
you have any suggestions to improve this paper, come and see
me or Jean because this is your paper. Remember, you can make
the difference.
Tired of Hospitals?
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1:30 pm -
2:25 pm -
Bob gets a craving; he stops by
Baskin-Robbins to pick-up two sundaes
for the price of one.
He then drives his car to Mr. Lube and
gets 5$ Off the already low price for an
oil change.
3:50pm - Before getting ready for the evening,
Bob stops off at Cookies By George
picks up a dozen cookies for the price
of half a dozen.
4:30pm - On his way home, he drops by 7 Eleven
to Pick-up TWO FREE videos.
6:15pm- He picks up his girl friend. They go
to Pizza Patio and receive 50% off their
favorite pizza.
6:55pm- They skip dessert and decide to attack
six donuts from Nuffy's Donuts. The
donuts taste even better because they
only paid for three of them.
7:10pm- Forgetting about their Free movies
from Seven Eleven, they decide to goto
the Cineplex Odeon. They only paid
3.25 per ticket and it's not even tuesday!
Row can Bob save so muchmoney on everyday purchase
items? He obtained a copy of the Saving Spree Coupon
Book from Science at UBC!
For Only 10$. Get yours while they last!
Physics Society
Noon Lecture
Thursday, Nov. 12
Dr. William Unruh
"Acceleration, particles,
and thermodynamics"
We are now taking orders for
the new Physics crest. Come into
Physsoc in Hennings 307 and check
it out.
Ball hockey players wanted to
play on the Physics team. See Jan
Weisbrod or James Kao in Hennings
hj    o,   az
Even though the Zoology department doesn't have a club, a few daring individuals are promoting Zoology Sweatshirts. There are two designs, two colours in all sizes and
they are only $15(non-profit). The
sale ends Friday November 6 1987
and until then they are located beside Biol 2000 with smiling faces
waiting for all you zoologists!.
UBC's Astronomy and Aerospace club is an ambitious band of
men and women dedicated to the
study of "Things Up There" and
"How To Get Closer To Them." In
between serious activities — stargazing, model rocketry, guest lectures, and world tours—we are also
a social group. We have planned a
trip to Hawaii to see the Canada-
France-Hawaii Telescope, a big
^party to celebrate the return of our
30cm Cassegrain telescope to active
duty, and a Pizza-and-Games
Night. More info will be released as
soon as we have it.
The Club meets every second
Monday (from Nov. 2) in GEPA142
at 5:30pm. For more information,
contact out Fearless Leader, Mike
Kraft, at 224-9969.
The big winner in the "432-
WHY? contest" is... BOB
He'll be off for a luxurious
night at FOGG N' SUDS with a
$40 gift certificate courtesy of
the 432. This is a well deserved prize as Bob contributed
many entries. In fact, more
than any other entrant!! Congratulations, Bob, and we're
sure that you'll be interested to
read the real answer in this
issue. November 4,1987
The 432
Page 7
How to read faster
by Bill Cosby
When I was a kid in Philadelphia, I
must have read every comic book ever
published. (There were fewer of them
then than there are now.)
I zipped through all of them in a
couple of days, then reread the good
ones until the next issues arrived.
Yes indeed, when I was a kid, the
reading game was a snap.
But as I got older, my eyeballs must
have slowed down or something! I
mean, comic books started to pile up
faster than my brother Russell and I
could read them!
It wasn't until much later, when I
was getting my doctorate, I realized it
wasn't my eyeballs that were to blame.
Thank goodness. They're still moving
as well as ever.
The problem is, there's too much to
read these days, and too little time to
read every word of it.
Now, mind you, I still read comic
books. In addition to contracts, novels,
and newspapers. Screenplays, tax
returns and correspondence. Even
textbooks about how people read. And
which techniques'help people read
more in less time.
I'll let you in on a little secret.
There are hundreds of techniques you
could learn to help you read faster. But
I know of 3 that are especially good.
And if I can learn them, so can you -
and you can put them to use immediately.
They are common sense, practical
ways to get the meaning from printed
words quickly and efficiently. So you'll
have time to enjoy your comic books,
have a good laugh with Mark Twain or
a good cry with War and Peace.
Okay. The first two ways can help
you get through tons of reading
material - fast- without reading every
They'll give you the overall meaning of what you're reading. And let
you cut out an awful lot of unnecessary
1. Preview - if it's long and hard
Previewing is especially useful for
getting a general idea of heavy reading
like long magazine or newspaper
articles, business reports, and nortfic-
tion books.
It can give you as much as half the
comprehension if as little as one tenth
the time. For example, you should be
able to preview eight or ten 100-page
reports in an hour. After previewing,
you'll be able to decide which reports
(or which parts of which reports) are
worth a closer look.
Here's how to preview: Read the
entire first two paragraphs of whatever
you've chosen. Next, read only the first
sentence of each successive paragraph.
Then read the entire last two paragraphs.
Previewing doesn't give you all the
details. But it does keep you from
spending time on things you don't
really want - or need - to read.
Notice that previewing gives you a
quick, overall view of long, unfamiliar
material. For short, light reading,
there's a better technique.
2. Skim - if it's short and simple
Skimming is a good way to get a
general idea of light reading - like
popular magazines or the sports and
entertainment sections of the paper.
You should be able to skim weekly
popular magazine or the second section
of your daily paper in less than half the
time it takes you to read it now.
Skimming is also a great way to
review material you've read before.
Here's how to skim: Think of your
eyes as magnets. Force them to move
fast. Sweep them across each and
every line of type. Pick up only a few
key words in each line.
Everybody skims differently.
You and I may not pick up exactly
the same words when we skim the
same piece, but we'll both get a pretty
similar idea of what it's all about.
To show you how it work I circled
the words I picked out when I
skimmed the following story. Try it. It
shouldn't take you more than 10
My brother Russell thinks monsters live
in our bedroom closet at night. But I
told him he is crazy.
"Go and check then," he said.
I didn't want to. Russell said I was
"Am not," I said.
"Are so," he said.
So I told him the monsters were going
to eat him at midnight. He started to
cry. My Dad came in and told the
monsters to beat it. Then he told us to
go to sleep.
"If I hear any more about monsters," he
said/T'll spank you."
We went to sleep fast. And you know
something? They never did come back.
Skimming can give you a very
good idea of this story in about half the
words - and in less than half the time it
would take to read every word.
So far, you've sen that previewing
and skimming can give you a general
idea about content - fast. But neither
technique can promise more than 50
percent comprehension, because you
aren't reading all the words. (Nobody
gets something for nothing in the
reading game.)
To read faster and understand most
- if not all - of what you read, you need
to know a third technique.
3. Cluster - to increase speed and
Most of us learned to read by looking at
each word in a sentence - one at a time.
Like this:
My - brother - Russell - thinks -
You probably still read this way
sometimes, especially when the words
are difficult. Or when the words have
an extra-special meaning - as in a
poem, a Shakespearean play, or a
contract. And that's O.K.
But word-by-word reading is a
rotten way to read faster. It actually
cuts down on your speed.
Clustering trains you to look at
groups of words instead of one at a
time - to increase your speed
enormously. For most of us, clustering
is a totally different way of seeing what
we read.
Here's how to cluster: Train your
eyes to see all the words in clusters of
up to 3 or 4 words at a glance.
Here's how I'd cluster the story we
just skimmed:
My brother Russell thinks monsters live
in our bedroom closet at night. But I
told him he is crazy.
"Go and check then," he said.
I didn't want to. Russell said I was
"Am not," I said.
"Are so," he said.
So I told him the monsters were going
to eat him at midnight. He started to
cry. My Dad came in and told the
monsters to beat it. Then he told us to
go to sleep.
"If I hear any more about monsters," he
said, "I'll spank you."
We went to sleep fast. And you know
something? They never did come back.
Learning to read clusters is not
something your eyes do naturally. It
takes constant practice.
Here's how to go about it: Pick
something light to read. Read it as fast
as you can. Concentrate on seeing 3 to
4 words at once rather than one word
at a time. Then reread the piece at your
normal speed to see what you missed
the first time.
Try a second piece. First cluster,
then reread to see what you missed in
this one.
When you can read in clusters
without missing much the first time,
you speed has increased. Practice 15
minutes every day and you might pick
up the technique in a week or so. (But
don't be disappointed if it takes longer.
Clustering everything takes time and
So now you have 3 ways to help
you read faster. Preview to cut down
on unnecessary heavy reading. Skim to
get a quick, general idea of light
reading. And cluster to increase your
speed and comprehension.
With enough practice, you'll be
able to handle more reading at school
or work - and at home - in less time.
You should even have enough time to
read your favorite comic books - and
War and Peace!
Any undergraduate science students who wish to nominate a professor in
the Faculty of Science for the Teaching Excellence Award may still do so
— the nomination deadline has been extended to NOV. 6,1987. Simply
complete the nomination form provided, and return it to Scarfe 9 by
Academics Coordinator: Linda Lo
Teaching Excellence Award
Nomination Form
Course(s) Taught:_
Student No.
- Only one nomination or support vote per student per semester.
- A committee member cannoit nominate or support an award.
- A brief outline should be included with this form describing the reasons for the
- All forms (and outlines) should be completed and handed in to the Science Office by
November 6th 1987.
-Please include ten supporting signatures with student numbers.
Quick Bucks!
Wanted: Science Sales is looking for
two commission salesperson to work
three to four hours per week. See Dale
Shewchuk at Scarfe 9 or leave message
at 228-4235.
 . j
Wanted: The 432 is looking for a Science student willing to distribute the
paper around the different Science
Buildings every second Wednesday
morning and afternoon. Compensation is 15$. See Vince or Jean at Scarfe
9 or leave message at 228-4235. .
Day of the long
by Stella Wong
It was the first day it rained in three
weeks. One hundred and sixty hardy
Science long boaters showed up for
Intramurals first annual Day of the Long
Boats (October 25). Though cold and wet,
many thought the event was an incredible
Place    Team Name    Captain Time Heat
1 Rehab Med 17:04 2
2 Rehab Reruns 17:16 1
3 Geology       S. Szalkai 17:44 2
4 Pit Pub 18:11 1
5 CEC 18:33 2
6 Physiology (blue)
R. Pederson    19:03      1
7 Physiology (yellow)
L.Kohne 19:13 1
8 Intramurals 19:42 2
9 SS Entropy   M. Fraser 20:07 1
10 Physical Geog
S. Tewnion  20:23      1
11 Science II   G.Wong      20:39      2
12 Science I    G.Wong      21:03      2
Place Team Name Captain Time
1      VOC 17:54
Gage . 18:56
CEC 19:13
Rehab 19:40
Forestry 20:00
Place       Team Name
C. delos Rios
K. MacKenzie
1 Novice Rowers
2 Forestry
4 Fiji
5 Mathematics   Martin Lampa
1 Medicine
3 Law
4 EUS Civil
5 Pre-med
6 Biochem
1 False Creek Canoe Club
2 Forestry
3 Mathematics   Martin Lampa
5 Computer Science
Wes Buchanan
6 Science Voyageurs
Steve Bermann
1 Novice Rowers
2 Fiji
3 Geology S. Szalkai
4 Phys Ed
5 Microbiology   C. Eickhoff
6 Biol/Chemistry  Tim/Walter
Minnie Ho 2035
00 The Day the boats Came In
'Or did they: Jericho Beach via N.W. Passage."
1r   J--
•o. .tf J*J
"Duhhh - we got the paddles...'
"...Synchronized Eskimo roll???..."
"Oh....No...."    "Crash!"
"Nature calls - Dale runs"
"We left the beer? ...Mutiny!"
"Hit it! Hit it!  ...I can't!  I can't, I'm Frozen'
"First in 'No Boat' category."


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