Tag Archives: 科学

“The History of English in 10 Minutes” by The Open University

The Open Universityオープン大学)は、世界で初めて遠隔教育を中心とする高等教育に成功した、1969年設立の公立大学。Milton Keynes(ミルトン・キーンズ)に 本部を置き、国内13州すべてに地域拠点を持つ。現在、75ヶ国に22万5千人以上の学生を擁し、生徒数はヨーロッパ一、世界で最大規模の大学の一つに数えられる。ちなみに日本語でのウェブサイトまである。

写真の「The History of English – in 10 minutes」は、オープン大学が YouTubeチャンネルと iTunes U Channelsのために作成したビデオで、イラストとナレーションを使い、1600年の英語の歴史を面白おかしく10分間で説明するというもの。ビデオは各1分10章に分かれており、ローマ帝国撤退後やってきたアングロ・サクソンの言語を元に、キリスト教宣教師がもたらした宗教関係のラテン語やバイキングの言葉約2000語、1066年のノルマン人による征服によるフランス語約1万語(主に政治や公的ビジネス、食関係)、シェークスピアが作った新語なんと2000語(puppyやeyeballsなど)、欽定訳聖書の作成の際に使用されたメタファーやモラルに関する語、王立協会設立と科学の発展により作られた専門用語、そして大英帝国時代に植民地からもたらされた現地語(barbecue、canoe、boomerang等)が加わっていった。1756〜65年に作られたA Dictionaries of the English languageと1857年から71年かけて作成されたオックスフォード英語辞典により、英単語の公式な綴りが確定された。その後、アメリカ先住民と世界中からの移民の影響を受けたアメリカ英語、コンピュータ時代到来により生み出されたIT用語、そしてHinglish(ヒンドゥー英語)、Chinglish(中国英語)、Singlish(シンガポール英語)といった現地化された英語から取り入れられた単語など、いろいろな要素が合わさって現在の英語が作り上げられた。


The Open University is a distance learning and research university, founded in 1969 by Royal Charter in the UK and funded in part by the British Government, and it was the first successful distance teaching university in the world. The administration is based in Milton Keynes, but has regional centres in each of its thirteen regions around the country. With more than 250,000 students enrolled, including more than 50,000 overseas students in 75 countries, it is the largest academic institution in Europe by student number and one of the world’s largest universities.

The History of English – in 10 minutes」, the photo above, is the first cross-platform commission for the Open University’s YouTube and iTunes U Channels. The total of 10 mini-episodes (1 minute each) explain 1,600-year history of English with animated illustrations and typical British humours. Starting from the arrival of Anglo-Saxons after Romans were gone, Christian missionaries brought some religious Latin words and Viking left about 2,000 words. Then 10,000 French words, mainly related to official businesses and culinary, were added after Norman Conquest in 1066. Shakespeare created massive 2,000 words and phrases such as puppy and eyeballs, and the King James Bible, completed in 1611, created terms of metaphor and morality. English of science was needed when science was advanced and the Royal Society set up in 1660. During the British Empire between 1583 – 1914, many local words were brought back, such as barbecue, canoe and boomerang, from British colonies worldwide. A Dictionaries of the English Language was published in 1765 after 9 years of work, and Oxford English Dictionary after 173 years of its predecessor came out in 1928 with astonishing 71 years of patient effort, and the proper spellings and meanings were established. American English has been developed with influences from Native Americans and immigrants from worldwide, and British English has been taking many words from it. In the recent decades, IT terms have been created after computer was invented, and English has become a global language and localised English such as Hinglish (Hindu English), Chinglish (Chinese English) and Singlish (Singapore English) exports some words to original English.

Narrations are quite fast but illustration gives us a good understanding. You can also learn a little bit of British history. After all, these are very cute and funny!


Ergonomics – Real Design @ Design Museum

デザインミュージアムで3月9日まで開催中の「Ergonomics – Real Design」展。Ergonomics(エルゴノミクス、人間工学)にスポットを当てた、小規模ながら、なかなか面白い展覧会だ。人間の動きや特性に関する知識にデザインと工学技術を駆使し、安全で効率がよく、使い勝手の良いシステムや製品、サービスをつくりあげることを目的とするエルゴノミクスは、「日常生活の中の科学」と称され、生活必需品から交通、医療、原子力、防衛まで、そのエリアは多岐にわたる。この展覧会では、テレビのリモコンや巻き尺などの小さいものから、より大規模で複雑な交通システムや医療ケアまで、プロトタイプ、インタラクティブ・ディスプレイ(対話型展示)、そしてエルゴノミクス・デザインの例を使って、16点の製品を紹介、実生活に役立つ効果的なデザインを作り上げるエルゴノミクスの重要さを説く。

普段何気なく使っているけれど、使いやすさや効率を考え抜かれて作られている製品もあるのだなと実感。確かに、一口に巻尺と言っても、男性か女性か、また日曜大工からプロまで、違うユーザーによって使い方も必要とされているものも変わってくる。FISCOは、そんなニーズにあった、様々な巻き尺を作っている。衛星放送サービスのSKYリモコンは、使用頻度や使いやすさを考慮して、形状や材質、重さ、そして各々のボタンの場所などをデザイン。そうして作り上げられた製品は、さらなるユーザーテストを経て世に出た。12年経った今も、小さな変更以外はオリジナルのデザインが使われている。下の写真のパンフレットにあるのは、「PeopleSize」というソフトウェアで、バスの座席やヘルメット、赤ちゃん用の哺乳瓶等々、それぞれの製品用途に必要な体の部位のサイズを算出してくれる。個人的に好きなのは、アート・デザイン教育で名高い王立芸術学院(The Royal College of Art)に属するHelen Hamlyn Centreがデザインした、NHS医薬品のパケージデザイン(写真一番下)。シンプルだけれどカラフルで洗練されていて、お年寄りや目の不自由な方にも配慮し、医薬品の名前や情報がわかりやすくデザインされている。これなら薬を服用するのも病院に行くのも、少し嫌じゃなくなりそう。

Design Museum‘s “Ergonomics – Real Design” (ends on March 9) is a small but interesting exhibition, spotlighting on Ergonomics design. Described as the science of everyday life, ergonomics combines the knowledge of human performance with design and engineering to create systems, products and services which are safe, efficient and enjoyable to use. Fields of ergonomics are as diverse as everyday life product such as the small tape measure and TV remote control, to the vast and complex areas of transport systems, medical care, nuclear power, and defense system. This exhibition displays 16 products through prototypes, interactive displays and examples of ergonomic design, to show the importance of ergonomics in creating effective design for the real world.

I’ve never realized that some products we use in everyday life are made through comprehensive scientific examination to be usable and to maximize the user’s health and productivity. What users need from a simple tape measure are different, depending on the user’s sex or the purpose such as DIY or professional use, and FISCO created a range of measuring tapes based on the usage and needs. The SKY Remote Control was created with the optimum shape, texture, and weight, looking at the comfort and shape of the remote when being used and the arrangement of the buttons to improve interaction, and the final design was validated by further user trials. After 12 years of its development, it is still in use, with few changes to the original design. “PeopleSize” software (in the photo of the exhibition information below) tells designers and manufacturers the exact range of the dimension of particular parts of the body needed in the design of their products – for example, a bus seat, a helmet, or a baby’s bottle. What I like the most personally is the graphic design of medication packaging for NHS (photo on the bottom), designed by Helen Hamlyn Centre at the Royal College of Art, a famous school for art and design in UK. The design scheme is simple yet colorful and sophisticated, taking into account the needs of the widest range of users, particularly the older and partially sighted, so that the users can find the necessary information easily. The nice package design like this lessens my reluctance to take medicine or to go to hospital!

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NHS Prescription / Homeopathy Remedies for Cold and Flu

昨日、バスから追い出され、雪の中を半時間歩いたせいか、ひきかけの風邪が悪化した。鼻がぐずぐずしてひどい鼻声になり、しょっちゅう鼻をかんでいる。風邪薬を買いに行きがてら、薬局で先日もらった処方箋薬も受け取る(上は以前使用しなかった処方箋)。イギリスでは、処方箋薬は無料。だから特に指定がなければ、価格の安いジェネリック医薬品が処方される。薬代は無料でも、処方箋料(NHS prescription charges)を一回につき£7.20払わなければいけない。なので、成分や薬効が変わらなれば、値段の安い、処方箋の要らない市販薬を勧められることもある。

少し前に街角でもらったフリーペーパー、The Epoch Times大紀元法輪功関連の新聞だそうだ。知らなかった!読んだのは英語版)に載っていた、新型インフルエンザに効くというホメオパシー・レメディーをBoots(ブーツ)で買っておいたので、風邪にも効くかなと使ってみた。ホメオパシーが盛んなイギリスでは、ブーツ等の普通の薬局で手に入る。最初に少しの喉の痛みを感じてから、風邪やインフルエンザのひきはじめに効くというAconite(Aconitum napellus:アコナイト、トリカブト/£4.99)を使用。その後数日間は、レメディーのせいか安静にしていたからかどうか分からないけれど、症状は悪化しなかった。風邪がひどくなった今日から、新型の初期流行に最も効果的だったというArsen alb(Arsenicum Album:アーセニカム、砒素/£4.99)が、鼻水を伴う風邪にも効くというので試している。



Probably because I was kicked out from the bus and forced to walk in snow for half an hour yesterday, my cold got worse. My nose is runny and my voice has changed, and I have been blowing my nose  all the time. So I went to a pharmacy to buy a cold medicine, and picked up my prescription drug as well (the prescription above is the unused one I got in the past). In UK, a prescription drug is free, but you pay NHS prescription charges for £7.20 (price from April 2009 to now). and usually a cheap generic medicine is given if you don’t choose others. A pharmacist often recommend to buy over-the-counter drug, if it is cheaper than prescription charge and if the ingredients and effectiveness are more or less the same with the prescription medicine.

I bought two homeopathy remedies from Boots, which supposedly effective for Swine flu, after I read the Epoch Times‘ (free paper founded by practitioners of the Falun Gong – I didn’t now it) article about it. First I had used Aconite (Aconitum napellus) , which can be helpful at the first sign of flu and cold symptoms. My condition had been the status quo for few days – I don’t know because of the effect of Aconite, or because I had been at home kept myself warm. Now my symptoms got worse and I started to take Arsen alb (Arsenicum Album), which is “the most commonly indicated remedy for the H1N1 virus outbreak of early 2009,” as I read that it works for a blocked nose as well.

Homeopathy is not supported by modern scientific research, and it is said that there is little evidence the remedies work other than as a placebo. But homeopathy is £40 million industry in the UK, and Boots admits that they sell homeopathic remedies because “they sell, not because they work“. M believes only science, not homeopathy or alternative medicines – so do my parents who are both pharmacists. I myself don’t mind to try anything as long as it works and safe. I also understand people who find a hope in alternative medicines if there is no other cure. Let’s see if my homeopathic remedy works for me. I bought usual cold medicine as well, in case it doesn’t work at all.


The video below is the TV commercial of Beechams, the GlaxoSmithKline owned cold and flu remedy, that I happened to see on TV while I waswriting this entry. HSBC bank also used Sumo wrestler for their advertising last year. But HSBC was under fire as the campaign uses the image of a western man whose skin tone has been darkened and that make-up has been applied that appears to narrow his eyes, and it has upset Japanese living in UK, according to the Guardian article. Personally I don’t think it is a big deal – a portrayal of a foreigner is more or less based on a stereotype, not only Japanese. M complains that some Japanese TV programs make fun of ‘Gaijin’, foreigners in Japanese. At the end of the day, I think any country does the same, or otherwise it would be very boring if everything is goody-goody.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

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Race: Science’s Last Taboo @ Channel 4 series

Race: Science's Last Taboo

↑こんな広告が10月末にテレビや新聞に登場。Channel 4の「Race: Science’s Last Taboo(人種:科学の最後のタブー)」シリーズの1話で、人種とIQ(知能指数)が関連しているという社会通念を、ジャーナリストのRageh Omaarが科学的に論破するというドキュメンタリーだ。この広告につられて、このシリーズの3つの番組「Race & Intelligence: Science’s Last Taboo(人種と知能指数:科学の最後のタブー)」、「Bleach, Nip, Tuck: The White Beauty Myth(漂白、美容整形:白人の美の神話)」「Is it Better to Be Mixed Race?(混血の方が優れている?)」を見てみた。

Race & Intelligence: Science’s Last Taboo」は、「nature versus nurture遺伝要因対環境的要因)」論争を元に、知能指数の発達は、遺伝性なものなのか、生活環境によって決定されるのか、科学的に追求するという主旨だが、以前に発達心理学のクラスで習ったことばかりで、目新しいことはない。アメリカの統計によると、平均知能指数は、東洋人>白人>黒人・その他有色人種という順になっている。東洋人は儒教の影響で、勉学に励むことが美とされており、子供の教育にかける親の情熱は他の人種に比べて高い。それに比べ、黒人は貧困層に多く、親が子供の教育に力を入れられず、学校教育も劣悪なことが多い。だから、同じ所得水準・環境に置かれれば、どの人種も知能指数に違いはない、というのがジャーナリストの結論。確かに、中流階級以上の黒人の知能指数は、貧困層に比べて高い。結論通りかもしれないが、現在、実験対象となる大きなサンプルがなく、まだ科学的には証明されていない。また、知能指数は個人差が大きく、人種間の平均値を比べることに意味があるのか。何人だから頭がいい、悪いというのは、単なるステレオタイプだ。大事なことは、知能指数という「数」にこだわりすぎず、貧困層の教育環境を良くすること、親への啓蒙活動、そして何より本人の努力と意思なんだと思う。

Bleach, Nip, Tuck: The White Beauty Myth」は、イギリスに住む有色人種が、白人のようになるために、肌の色の漂白から整形手術、豊胸・減胸手術(アフリカ人はヨーロッパ人より一般的に胸が大きいそうだ)、手術で背を高くする(南アジア人は背が低い人が多い)等々を取り上げている。ハリウッド映画や白人が主であるファッション・モデル等、確かに白人が美の手本として世界に広められているということもあるかもしれない。でも、白人が大多数の国においては、白人の美が基準なのは当然。ロンドンは有色人種率が高いが、全国的には90%近くが白人だ。このような環境に置かれたら、自分もああなりたいと思うのは自然なこと。例えば、イギリスの平均サイズの女性が、イギリスよりも痩せていて背の低い女性の多い日本に来た場合、自国では普通でも、周りはスリムで小柄な女性ばかり。そんな人ばかり見ていると、自分は太り過ぎ、背も高いし何だか居心地悪い、などと思うようになるのでは(現に、私も日本に帰ると自分は太り過ぎ?と不安になる)。また、これらの美容整形を受ける人たちに共通していえることは、過去の辛い経験等から、自分に自信がないこと。だから、白人のようになれば、人生良くなるという錯覚を抱いている。彼らに必要なのは整形手術じゃなくて、心理的サポートじゃないだろうか。

Is it Better to Be Mixed Race?」は、ハーフの子供を持つジャーナリストが、自分の子は他の子よりも優れていると思いたいだけの、超思い込みの激しい番組。科学的根拠も希薄だ。混血(差別的表現とのご指摘があるかもしれませんが、他に日本語での表現方法がないので、ご容赦ください)の進んだブラジルでの研究で、混血は均斉のとれた顔立ちが多く、人は左右相称の顔を魅力的だと感じるとの理由で、ミックスの方が美しい。また、スラム街の住人(混血が多い)は、富裕層(白人が多い)に比べて、よりストレスに強いという結果が出たから、精神的にも強い。そして、正統派ユダヤ人等純血のグループ間で、ある種の遺伝病が多いから、混血の方が身体的にも丈夫。事実かもしれないけれど、決定的証拠もないのに、ちょっと決めつけが過ぎる。まるで、純血の人々はいずれ滅びる弱い存在であるかのような態度で、混血、異人種感結婚がいかに優れた子供を生み出すかを強調する。純血を説く白人至上主義者を批判しているわりに、言ってることはそんなに変わらない。番組中、科学者たちが言っているように、知能指数と同じく、その人の生活環境に大きくされるため、混血の子供イコール優れていると考えるのは間違いだと思うのだけれど。

BBC、Channel4の人種問題を扱う番組には(先日のQuestion Timeを含む)、正義感を振りかざし、差別はいけない、人は皆平等だと常に説教されている気がして、少し違和感を感じる。あんまり声高に言いすぎると、逆効果になる気がするのだが。しかし人種問題は、どうしていつも非白人のジャーナリストが担当するのか?白人だと、「Politically Correctness」(差別・偏見なく公平に)という意識が強すぎて、言いたいことも言えず、無難な番組しか作れないからだろうか。人種だけにスポットライトを当てず、人口構成比の半分を占める女性への差別も、もっと取り扱ってほしいものだ。

↑ The sensational ads above appeared on TV and newspapers at the end of October. The ads were about a documentary, a part of Channel 4’s “Race: Science’s Last Taboo” series. Journalist Rageh Omaar explored myths about correlation between race and IQ and revealed what he thinks important lessons for society. I saw three programs of this series; “Race & Intelligence: Science’s Last Taboo“, “Bleach, Nip, Tuck: The White Beauty Myth“, and “Is it Better to Be Mixed Race?.”

Race & Intelligence: Science’s Last Taboo” explored what elements decide IQ, based on “nature versus nurture” debates. Basically what the program told us was what I learned in developmental psychology class and it is common sense in psychology. According to the statistics in the US, average IQ is in this order; East Asians > whites > blacks and other ethnic groups. Influenced by Confucianism, the East Asians highly values in education and parents’ passion to educate their children surpass other groups. On the other hand, the African Americans parents, many of them live under poverty and are single parents, cannot afford to spend too much time to take care of their children’s education, and schools in their area tend to be of poor quality. Therefore, the journalist’s conclusion was that there would be no difference in IQ among different races, if under the same environment and the same income levels. It is true that the average IQ among middle class African Americans are higher than the ones in poor neighborhood. Probably the conclusion is correct, but there are no big sample for comparison and therefore it is not proven scientifically. I think there is no point to compare the average IQ, because individual difference is far bigger among one race than between races. It is wrong to say if you are smart or not, based on your race. Instead of obsessing with the number, the important things are to give a better educational environment to everyone, and to advocate the parents, and the most of all is the your effort and determination to succeed in what you are interested.

Two-parts documentaries of Bleach, Nip, Tuck: The White Beauty Myth” examine the growing trend for ‘deracialisation’ surgery. The programs pick up ethnic minorities living in UK who try all kind of things to make them look “white” – bleaching their skins, breast enhancement or reduction (Africans in average have bigger breast), operation to make you taller (South Asians are shorter than white in average), nose jobs etc. It is true that Hollywood and fashion industry, in which majority of the models are white, promote ‘white’ beauty standard, but for me it is all about the personal problems. First of all, if you live in the country where big majority are white, it is natural for minorities to conform to majority’s values. UK looks pretty diverse if you see only London and other big cities, but still about 90% are white nationwide. Let’s say, if average size British woman lives in east Asian countries where people are more petite, she may feel more or less fish out of the sea and probably feel a bit uncomfortable about her body (I myself feel a bit too fat every time I come back to Japan with full of bone-skinny women).  More than the admiration of white beauty, I see lack of self-confidence and insecurity in people who want to ‘erase’ their ethnic traits, probably due to their past traumatic experiences. They have a false belief that their life will improve if you become more ‘white’. Maybe what they need is psychotherapy than operation.

Is it Better to Be Mixed Race?” is the most annoying program among all what I’ve seen in the series. The scientist who presented the documentary just wanted to believe that her mixed-race daughter is better than others and the scientific proof shown in the program were weak. Quoting the result of the research in Brasil where you can observe advanced level of racial mixture, she believes that mixed race people are more beautiful because mixed race have more symmetrical face, as research shows that people tend to be attracted by symmetrical features. Also people in Favela, where mixed race are more common, are more stress resistant than white affluent population in Brasil, she concluded that mixed race are psychologically stronger. There are higher in certain genetic diseases among more pure-blooded group such as Orthodox Jews, and this made her think that mixed race are physically strong as well. Maybe it’s true, but I don’t like the way she boasted how great mixed race people are, as if pure-blooded people are weak and inferior, soon to extinct. She criticized white supremacists who don’t agree with interracial marriage, but what she said is not so different from those whom she accused. However, as one of the scientist in the program said, it is highly depend on your lifestyle and environment and it is too simplistic to say that mixed race is better.

Sometimes I feel something uneasy with the BBC and Channel 4 programs (including Question Time the other day) dealing with race and discrimination – they are so full of justice, preachy and condescending by telling us how bad discrimination is and everyone is equal. Yes it is true, but it may cause adverse reaction if you push too hard.  Also why non-white always make the race related programs? I guess because whites cannot say anything due to politically correctness and end up making goody goody program. I wish they also deal with discrimination against women more, which consist half of the population, instead of talking about race all the times.

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