The Trends in the News Concerning the Prevalence of Entertainment

 

            If you visited CNN.com you would notice that they have an entire section dedicated to entertainment. When pressing that link, you can learn anything about any celebrity you want. They’ve got a photo gallery of celebrities, a page of quotes by celebrities, and even a page titled” “The Justin Bieber Saga.”

            CNN isn’t the only website dedicating a large section of their website to celebrities, Fox News is also guilty. Their celebrity headlines range from Chris Martin and Gwyneth Paltrow’s breakup, to the most recent drama on New York Housewives.

            Additionally, if you watch television you can watch shows like Entertainment Tonight, Good Morning America or even entertainment segments during local, national and world news broadcasts. If you flip through the newspaper there’s an entire section dedicated to entertainment and there are entire magazines such as Elle, Cosmo, Men’s Health, Vogue and Women’s Health, just to name a few, that are strictly for entertainment.

            Entertainment news can be defined as information about movies, radio, television and celebrities, as well as games like puzzles, comic strips, cartoons and horoscopes. CNN’s website has an entertainment section, Fox News’s website has one, even the Associated Press’s website has a section for sports and oddity stories.

            “The more relevant you make celebrities the less relevant you become,” said Cory Anton, a communication professor at GV in a Communication Theories lecture. This made a profound impact on me. So profound, in fact, that I’ll be dedicating this entire article to how relevant entertainment news in general is in our society and how it is potentially harmful to ourselves and our society.  

            With the accessibility of Cable TV and internet, the supply of media content has multiplied drastically, which has resulted in greater diversity of content. It’s a well known fact that mainstream media exists to make a profit and it’s sad but true: entertainment sells more than hard news stories, so many of these media outlets have resorted to having entertainment segments or sections to increase ratings.

            According to Thomas Patterson in an article from Harvard College titled “Doing Well and Doing Good: How Soft News and Critical Journalism are Shrinking the News Audience and Weakening Democracy—and what News Outlets Can do About it,” entertainment news is weakening the foundation of democracy by diminishing the public’s information about public affairs and its interest in politics.

            Americans devote more hours of the day to media consumption than any activity except sleep and work. If during this time, we are steeped in entertainment and distracted by remote incidence, the contribution that the news could make to the quality of public life is diminished, and possibly unnecessarily. According to the article, entertainment news may actually be eroding people’s interest in news.

            After surveying the student population at GV, 40 percent of the votes (26 individuals), said they preferred entertainment news over hard news. Some of the reasons ranged from not being able to understand hard news, having too many things to worry about in life already, being too controversial to watch, to not enjoying politics.

            One anonymous survey taker said they preferred entertainment news because “life has enough bad news in it. I don’t want to spend my little free time watching or reading something that’s only going to make me feel worse about the world we live in.”

            At the end of the survey, 70 percent of respondents believed that citizens are less informed about current events because of the prevalence of entertainment news in our media today, while only 24 percent didn’t believe citizens are less informed today.

            One survey taker responded: “Depends on the definition of ‘current event.’ If it’s defined as war, famine and pestilence, then quite probably yes. If current events include the upcoming release of a new Justin Timberlake album, it seems people are right on top of it.”

            The most interesting result of the survey was that individuals that answered they preferred to watch or listen to entertainment news still agreed that the growing coverage and interest in entertainment news is a problem for our society.

            “I think [the prevalence of entertainment news] is a major problem. It’s creating a society of uninformed dimwits that don’t possess the ability to make a rational decision on anything important because they’d rather watch a video about Justin Bieber’s DUI than pick up a newspaper and read about what Congress is doing,” answered one anonymous survey taker.

            Another anonymous survey taker answered: I believe that a growing percentage of the population is more interested in soft news. It seems that they do not want to think, or work to make changes in our society. This means that it is easier for others to have their way, be it good or bad, because there is no opposition or watch-dog group to ask questions or point out flaws or better/other ways to accomplish something.”

            Another answered: “Sadly, I do think the increasing interest in entertainment news is a problem. Any time a person lets their brain rot it’s a problem. Entertainment news is sugar for the brain.”

            On the same subject, someone responded “the media force-feeds us entertainment news and yes this is a problem. As a society we are effectively lobotomizing ourselves with this nonsense!”

            Returning to Anton’s quote: “the more relevant you make celebrities the less relevant you become.”  To be a good functioning democracy, the public must have a clear grasp of the daily workings of its government. Entertainment news provides little beneficial political information and American’s are overdosing on stories of stupidity, scandal and corruption. Entertainment news is causing apathy toward politics, which will eventually turn into apathy toward all news that isn’t entertainment. Ultimately, American’s will become disenchanted with their best source of political information and voting and participation in government, if done at all, will be performed blindly.

            The survey I conducted did have a silver lining: 60 percent of responders said they preferred hard news over entertainment news and their reasoning restored some of my faith in society. One anonymous taker responded:

            “I have no desire to find out what crap the celebrities are up to. I want to know what psychotic crap the politicians are handing to teachers now, if a tornado is about to take out my house, or if I need to donate food to the food banks because some politician has decided food stamps are too expensive.”

             So it seems that there is an increasing prevalence of entertainment news in our media today and there is still a lot of hard news coverage. Some believe that the prevalence of entertainment news is ruining our society while others disagree.

            “I definitely think people are more interested in entertainment news but I’m not sure it’s a huge problem,” one survey taker responded. “The people that want to be interested in hard news will be.”

            Another answered “In some degree yes, I think citizens are more interested in entertainment news, but I think the problem has to do with education. It’s OK to like entertainment news more than hard news, just as long as you’re keeping up with the hard news. However, when people don’t understand the importance of being an informed voter, it’s only natural that media is going to focus on entertainment news to stay afloat. Teaching people to think critically starts with education, and our education system in America is so messed up right now.”

            So based off the Harvard article and my survey, it seems like the best approach to the news is watching, reading, or listening in a healthy balance. It’s okay to like entertainment news more than hard news as long as you continue to educate yourself with what’s important. It seems that the prevalence of entertainment news in society and our media only becomes problematic when that’s the only type of news a person watches and when they’ve become entirely clueless about what’s happening in the world around them. 

A Journey Through Time and Space: A research paper on black holes, white holes, wormholes, and the possibility of time travel.

     “Who are we? We find that we live on an insignificant planet of a humdrum star lost in a galaxy tucked away in some forgotten corner of a universe in which there are far more galaxies than people.” Carl Sagan was the man who had once spoke this quote. If we take time to look at the big picture, the human race and the Earth we inhabit really is insignificant when it comes to the whole scheme of the universe. This is one of the reasons why so many people wish time travel and travelling to other universes were possible. We wish to figure out the universe in entirety, and we want to know if we’re alone or if there’s more than our version of “life.” Currently, time travel and travelling to other universes is nothing more than fiction that movies like Star Wars and books like The Time Machine by H.G. Wells have created. However, there are some real, as well as some theoretical, objects in space that could, theoretically, allow us to travel throughout time and space. These objects are: black holes, white holes, and wormholes. In this paper I will discuss what these objects are, how they work, and how they could, together, allow space travel.

     A black hole is an invisible object in space that is so compact that, within a certain distance of it, even light isn’t fast enough to escape. Black holes are thought to be born from stars or other massive objects that collapse from their own gravity to form an object whose density is infinite. Once all the dying stars’ fuel for nuclear burning has run out, what’s life is the core; In a black hole, otherwise known as a singularity. The space surrounding the singularity, where the escape velocity must be equivalent to the speed of light is what’s called the event horizon; or “the point of no return.” (Seidel).

     Speculation of black holes has dated back as early as 1783 when John Michell theorized that there might be an object massive enough to have an escape velocity greater than the speed of light. Simon Pierre LaPlace theorized not long afterwards that it is possible that the largest luminous bodies in the universe would be invisible (Is a Black Hole Really A Hole?). Black holes really came to light, though, after Albert Einstein developed and published his theory of relativity in 1915, in which he predicted space time curvature; going against Newtonian physics, which stated that all things in space travelled a straight line unless acted upon.

     There are four different kinds of black holes that we know of: Static, Charged, Rotating, as well as a Supermassive. All four kinds are made up of the same three elements: The Photon Sphere, the Event Horizon, and the Singularity. There are always exceptions, though, which will be covered in greater detail later in this paper. The Static black hole, which is often referred to as Schwarzschild black holes after Karl Schwarzschild postulated them in 1916. The static black holes are the simplest of the bunch because they are simply defined as having a mass but no electric charge or angular momentum; when something doesn’t have angular momentum, that simply means that it is stationary and doesn’t spin (Research Paper on Black Holes). This type of black hole is said to have one photon sphere, one event horizon and one singularity. It’s also the only vacuum theorized that is spherically symmetric; meaning there is no observable difference between the gravitational field of this type of black hole and any other object with the same symmetry and mass.

     The next kind of black hole, the charged black hole, is one which possesses an electric charge. It is said to have one photon sphere, one singularity, but two event horizons. Hans Reissner and Gunnar Nordstrom are responsible for theorizing this type of black hole and coming up with an equation to explain its possible existence. They discovered that if a small charge is added to a black hole, the event horizon would shrink and a second, inner horizon would form just above the singularity.

     The more charge that this type of black hole had, the smaller the outer horizon becomes, while the inner horizon expands (Jillian). What happens, then, if the magnitude of the charge becomes as great as its mass? Reissner and Nordstrom predicted that both horizons would eventually vanish and leave a naked singularity. Having a black hole with no outer or inner horizon and simply a singularity would create a problem for those people who would attempt time travel. You would have absolutely no warning as to where the black hole began and you would instantly be sucked in and ripped apart by the hole’s tidal forces.

     The third type is called the Rotating black hole and was proposed in 1963 by New Zealand mathematician Roy Kerr. His concept hinges on neutron stars, which are massive collapsed stars the size of Manhattan but with the mass greater than that of Earth’s sun (Kaku). Kerr postulated that if these dying stars collapsed into a rotating ring of neutron stars, their force would prevent them from combining into a singularity. Since this black hole wouldn’t have a singularity, Kerr believed it would be safe to enter without the fear of the infinite gravitational force pulling and stretching you until you were ripped to shreds. Because of this reason, this is the only type of black hole that is used when the theoretical discussion of time travel arises (Bonsor and Lamb).

     The Supermassive black hole is the final type. Theoretically, it could be any of the three types: static, charged, or rotating. The only difference is that it is much, much larger. Supermassive black holes range anywhere from one million to billions of times the mass of our Sun (Research Paper on Black Holes).

     According to Einstein’s Theory of Relativity, black holes (at least the static ones), do exist in space. Applying these black holes to time travel, though, seem to be impossible currently because of his Theory of Relativity, as well as the principles of the speed of light. The Theory of Relativity states that a particle (that has rest mass) with a subluminal velocity needs infinite energy to accelerate to the speed of light. However, to allow for time travel, one would have to be travelling faster than the speed of light, which is currently impossible (Bonsor and Lamb).

     White holes are often called “anti-black holes.” This is because they’re black holes running backwards in time. Just as black holes swallow things irretrievably, white holes only spit things out. These objects would have a negative gravity and emit an extremely bright white light. However, it should be noted that white holes violate the second law of thermodynamics, and are only a thing of speculation (Hamilton).

     Karl Schwarzschild not only proposed his own theory of a black hole with his Schwarzschild metric, his system also consists of a white hole and two universes connected by a wormhole (a topic which will be covered in just a few paragraphs).

     In order for white holes to be of any use when it comes to time travel, parallel universes must exist. These parallel universes would exist alongside one another in hyperspace (Mendez). They would not be on the same plane of space; there would be no way of reaching them with simply a spaceship because they are not in the same dimension. Since they are parallel, they are in different dimensions, and in order to reach them one would have to travel, theoretically, through a black hole and exit in the other dimension through a white hole. These two holes would be connected by a wormhole, which will be discussed later.

     One reason why white holes cannot exist in space is because they violate the second law of thermodynamics. The second law of thermodynamics says that any ordered system becomes more disorganized with time, and so a system which adds order, such as a white hole, is not at all possible (Wojcik).

     A wormhole is a funnel in a region in space which connects two different places within the same space time or connects two asymptotically flat times (i.e. parallel universes). Wormholes, like white holes, are also purely hypothetical since it would require exotic matter, or matter with a negative energy density, to hold the tunnel open (Black Holes and Quasars). However, Einstein’s general theory of relativity allows for the existence of these since it states that any mass curves space time.

     There are a few different types of theoretical wormholes. The Schwarzschild wormhole has an unstable throat and is connected to a black hole. This theoretical wormhole would be one where you could go past the black hole’s horizon without being torn apart by its tidal forces (Hamilton). As you travel further and further inside, you will eventually be able to see through the mouth on the other side, and eventually you would pass through the black hole, reach the white hole, and be spit out into a different universe.

     Another type of wormhole is a Morris-Thorne wormhole. It differs in a few aspects from the Schwarzschild wormhole. First, this wormhole’s throat is more stable, and even though it still has an enormous tidal force at its mouth, it has no horizon. Because of this, it would only require planet size masses, which is much less than the other wormhole.

     A Visser wormhole is formed by knitting together two ‘deep’ potential wells to form a throat. The inconvenience, though, is that it requires a lot of exotic matter to keep it open. Unlike a Morris-Throne or Schwarzschild wormhole, the Visser wormhole has significantly less tidal force due to this exotic matter.

     The final type of wormhole is called an Ellis wormhole. There really aren’t many differences in this special case from the general case, other than that time flows smoother and the mouth is completely spherically symmetrical (Schimelpfenig).

     Since wormholes would significantly shorten the amount of time it would take to travel from one point in space to another, many scientists have theoretically speculated that if any type of wormhole were connected to a black hole at one end and a white hole at another end, space travel would be possible (were these objects to exist).

     As with every theoretical situation, there are problems that exist whilst considering the possibility. There are paradoxes, such as the Grandfather Paradox. Also, there are issues like an inconsistent casual loop and a consistent casual loop could occur and need to be considered.

     “Imagine, you’re a time-travelling assassin, and your target just happens to be your own grandfather. So you pop through the nearest wormhole and walk up to an 18-year old version of your father’s father. You raise your laser blaster, but what happens when you pull the trigger? You haven’t been bon yet. Neither has your father. If you kill your own grandfather in the past, he’ll never have a son. That son will never have you and you’ll never happen to take that job as a time-travelling assassin. You wouldn’t exist to pull the trigger, thus negating the entire string of events.” (Bonsor and Lamb).

    This is what is known as the Grandfather Paradox, and it is probably the most famous paradox relating to time travel. This sting of events is also called an inconsistent casual loop.

     While considering the possible issues with time travel, one must also consider the idea of a consistent casual loop. According to physicist Paul Davies, such a loop might play out like this: a math professor travels into the future and steals a groundbreaking math theorem. The professor then gives the theorem to a promising student. Then, that promising student grows up to be the very person from whom the professor stole the theorem to begin with (Bonsor and Lamb). These issues and paradoxes make the thought of time travel an even more complicated possibility.

    If time travel were to exist there would need to be black holes to act as an opening of a portal, a white hole, as an exit point of the portal, and a wormhole to act as a link between the two. While it is very interesting to theorize about how time travel could be possible, because of the different issues and paradoxes that would go along with it, time travel is a much more complex theoretical speculation than we had previously expected. 

 

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Evolution of Food Regulation Throughout the United States

     Food regulation is something that has been looked after since small farmers began producing goods in Colonial America. Vast expansion of the population, however, created a demand for consumers’ products to be properly labeled for health and nutritional education, as well. This demand from American consumers created an issue for the government when it came to addressing the demands, and figuring out how to have a uniform system nationwide. Because of the growth of our country, Congress took away the power of regulations from individual states and created the Department of Agriculture (as well as the Food and Drug Association) to see that there are uniform regulations and standards, and that they are being met throughout the United States.

     Even in Colonial America, there were early state laws modeled after English laws that looked after certain foods and how they were handled; these laws aimed at protecting against food adulteration. The earliest state law passed on food regulation was in Massachusetts in 1785. Signed by Samuel Adams, this law would fine or imprison persons who were found selling diseased, corrupted, or unwholesome products. After the states began implementing their own laws on food regulation, Congress decided they wanted a more uniform, universal way to distinguish quality items, and thus they formed the Department of Agriculture in 1862 (Ernst, Nancy Dillingham, et. Al). Shortly thereafter, the Department of Agriculture created a specific branch within itself, the Food and Drug Association, which is responsible for regulating food, drugs, medial devices, and cosmetics (Hickmann, Meredith A.). What began as individual state mandates sparked an entirely new department within the government, where many important laws and provisions came into action.

     The first federal law the Department of Agriculture produced was the Pure Food and Drug Act in 1906. This act was the first federal law against and prohibiting adulteration or misbranded food (Ernst, Nancy Dillingham, et. Al). While this law was implemented on packaged and processed foods, it didn’t cover any meat products. In order to cover this loophole, the Department of Agriculture accepted the Federal Meat Inspection Act as an amendment in 1906 and enacted it as a permanent law the following year. This follow-up law ensured that meat products were wholesome, not adulterated, and labeled properly (Hubbert, WIlliam T.) In order for this law to be saw through, the inspectors are made to examine and inspect all animals before they’ve headed to slaughter. Preventing infected livestock from going to slaughter diminished the chances of infecting the slaughterhouse, and all meat sources. Then the inspectors must ensure humane methods of slaughter are used, and lastly, they must perform a post-mortem exam and deem the product “inspected and passed.” (Toldra, Fidel). It wasn’t until 1957 that the Poultry Products Inspection Act was passed, which essentially covered all poultry items to go through the same regulation, inspections, and labeling processes as meat and raw produced items  (Ernst, Nancy Dillingham, et. Al). 

     The year 1938 proved to be a crucial year for the Department of Agriculture and for progress on laws on food regulations. In this year the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act was made law. This act was made to update previous laws due to its imperfections as well as to respond to recent technological advances (Fortin, Neal D.) This new law required labeling of every processed, packaged food to contain the names of the food, its net weight, the name and address of the manufacturing distributor, and a list of ingredients (Ernst, Nancy Dillingham, et. Al). Not only did this law strengthen the regulations and rules over the adulteration of food; it also gave the Food and Drug Association more authority over nutrient content of foods. 

     President Bush Sr. signed another crucial law in 1990. This law, called The Nutrition Labeling and Education Act, built upon the Fedral Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act, by mandating nutrition labeling for most all foods, including standardizing serving sizes on the labels, and calling for a uniform use of health claims (Ernst, Nancy Dillingham, et. Al). This law, as the others, had loopholes; issues relating to food safety, grading, organic, kosher, natural, organic, and date labeling were not included (SOURCE). At the same time the Department of Agriculture was developing this law, a committee was being formed at the Institute of Medicine to figure out how food labels could allow consumers to adapt or adhere to healthy diets. After their study was conducted, that concluded that labeling would indeed improve the health of American’s because it would enable them to make wise and nutritional dietary choices (Symbols, Committee on Examination of Front-of-Package Nutrition Ratings Systems and).

     Within the past 20 years there have been a number of amendments made to food regulation laws. The most recent provisions to the Nutrition Labeling and Education Act happened within four years of it passing. The first, proposed in 1991 and enacted in 1992, included that point of produce was added for raw produce, meat, and poultry, as well as nutrition labeling and serving sizes. The most recent provision to the 1990 law was a regulation covering health claims, which was enacted in 1993, and the next was regulations on nutrition labeling and nutrient content claims, enacted in 1994  (Ernst, Nancy Dillingham, et. Al). There have also been new regulatory laws passed. The Food Quality and Protection Act was passed by Congress in 1966 strictly mandated and regulated health-based standards on pesticides used on foods (Fortin, Neal D).

     Since the governments formation of the Department of Agriculture and the Food and Drug Association in 1862, many changes have occurred in the way that companies produce and distribute their products, as well as many changes to how the regulations put on these companies are universal and for the consumers protection. These changes have been extremely important to consumers because of the health and nutrition benefits, as well as to companies. Without these regulations, America’s food industry wouldn’t be as vast and powerful as it is today. 

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