Monday, June 30, 2014

Carrie: Telekinesis, Mind Power

Carrie was my favorite movie and book when I was younger. The book is still one of my favorite ones - Stephen King is my favorite author - but this new version of the movie is not as good as the original version. The plot, though, remains wonderful and well told. It talks about telekinesis and this scene illustrates it effectively.

Taken and edited from the awesome site

Telekinesis denotes the paranormal ability of the mind to influence matter, time, space, or energy without the use of any currently known type of physical means.

 Divide the class into two groups - half the class reads text 1 and the other half reads text 2.


Telekinesis is generally considered limited to the movement of matter which would include causing an object to move, shake, vibrate, spin, break and to create heat or cold in an object via the speeding up or slowing down of the atoms an object is made of. A controversial metaphysical ability in which an individual can physically manipulate an object remotely using only the mind and without exerting any direct physical force. Telekinesis or 'psychokinesis' has been a staple of magic acts and illusionists for centuries but there are those who claim to be able to perform the feat through no tricks or illusionary means. There have been a growing number of claims in recent years in particular from young adults who claim to be able to perform telekinesis and other psychic feats. Numerous videos have appeared on-line purported to show individuals moving objects or manipulating a psi-wheel under a glass bowl.  Many people believe that there is physiological or psychological evidence for the human brain's capacity to do far more than we imagine: after all, they say, we only use 10 percent of our brains. They claim that psychic powers, including telekinesis, are merely the result of psychics being able to use more of their brains than others. After all, they ask, what wonders could we accomplish by tapping the other 90 percent of our brains?


The history of telekinesis is a history of frauds and fakery, both proven and suspected. Even many researchers studying psychokinesis admit that the data fall far short of scientific standards of proof. But they face an even bigger problem: there is no known mechanism by which the human mind could move or bend material objects. Even if our brain waves could somehow influence objects, the laws of physics demonstrate that the waves don't extend beyond a few millimeters from the skull. People who claim to have telekinesis are mostly a thing of the past. Of course, if people really did have the ability to move objects with their minds, they would likely not waste their time being tested in laboratories but instead becoming rich in Las Vegas altering dice rolls at craps, or as top sports stars fixing golf shots. In spite of results of various studies in Russia, the United States, and elsewhere that seem to indicate telekinesis is a real phenomenon, the mainstream scientific community feels that there is not enough quantifiable evidence to prove the existence of telekinesis or other psychic phenomenon. Researchers continue to work to prove or disprove psychic phenomenon. Recent theories have attempted to relate psychic phenomenon to quantum theory. Until definitive evidence is discovered, however, telekinesis will remain unproven. James Randi's psychic challenge offered to pay a large cash sum to anyone who could prove the existence of psychokinetic phenomena. No one has ever been granted the prize money, which sums up to more than 1 million dollars.

Edited from these great informative sites. Wonderful optional reading.

Pair up the one student from each group and have them share the information they read.

Watch the movie segment and discuss the questions that follow.

1) Describe the scene.

2) What are some of Carrie's telekinesthetic powers?

3) What did she do to find out about her powers?

4) What's your opinion about telekinesis? Is it a fact or mere fiction?

5) Would you like to have such a skill? Why (not)?

6) What advantages/disadvantages would this kind of power bring to one's every day life?

7) How different would our society be if everyone could do telekinesis? Would life be better or worse?


Friday, June 20, 2014

Titanic: Hindsight

Hindsight: the ability to understand, after something has happened, what should have been done or what caused the event.

I. Work with a partner:

1. What do you know about the Titanic?

2. Why is it such a famous shipwreck?

3. According to the definition of hindsight, what can we understand about the accident, making use of hindsight? Read the chronology and facts below before you answer this question.

II. Read the chronology of the happenings concerning the sinking of the Titanic:

Taken from:


    April 11th - Titanic departs on her first Atlantic crossing. Calm clear seas.
  • April 12th - Calm clear seas, fine weather. Ice warnings are given by other ships.
  • April 13th, 22.30 - Heavy ice warning is given by a passing ship Rappahannock which already
    reported some damage from ice. In total, Titanic receives 6 such warnings.
  • April 14th - Captain Smith delays a scheduled change of course by 30 minutes.
  • Scheduled lifeboat drill was cancelled by the Captain. Reasons are unknown but some people think it was to allow passengers to go to church. Lookouts were sent to the crows nest. Apparently the lookouts had no binoculars. At that time, some ships captains approved the use of binoculars whilst others did not.
  • April 14th at 23.40 - Titanic is 5 miles south of where she should have been had she been perfectly on course. Titanic and the iceberg collide some 1,500 miles south of the Arctic Circle.

The iceberg photograph below may have been the Titanic sinking iceberg
taken on the morning of April 15,1912 by a passenger on the German ocean
liner SS Prinz Adalbert, unaware of the disaster on the previous night.

The water temperature on the night of the Titanic sinking was thought to be about 28 degrees Fahrenheit, just below freezing - lethally cold for all those passengers who had been forced to take to the open water to
escape the sinking ship. There were insufficient lifeboats to hold all the passengers and crew, they totalled only 20, comprising of 16 wooden, 4 collapsible. Harland And Wolff wanted 64 lifeboats. By the end of 1912, or sometime in 1913. In all likelihood, the iceberg that sank the Titanic was itself doomed to dissolve imperceptibly in the waters of the North Atlantic.

II. Discuss:

What do you think that could have been done to prevent it from happening?

III. Divide the class into four groups. Each group reads about one of the four most important characters of the Titanic disaster listed below. Then reorganize the groups so that each student works with three other students who read about the other characters. Students tell each other about their characters' stories and why they were held responsible for the accident. Finally, they have to negotiate and decide who is the person who had the greatest responsibility for the accident and be able to justify their answers.

It was Captain Smith's fault:

This was Captain E.J. Smith's retirement trip. All he had to do was get to New York in record time. Captain E.J. Smith said years before the Titanic voyage, "I cannot imagine any condition which would cause a ship to founder. Modern shipbuilding has gone beyond that.”

It was the Shipbuilder's fault:

When the ship hit the iceberg, the force of the impact caused the heads of the rivets to break and the sections of the Titanic to come apart. If good quality iron rivets had been used the sections may have stayed together and the ship may not have sunk. About three million rivets were used to hold the sections of the Titanic
together. Some rivets have been recovered from the wreck and analysed. The findings show
that they were
made of sub-standard iron.

It was Bruce Ismay's fault:

Bruce Ismay was the managing director of the White Star Line and he was  aboard the Titanic. Competition for Atlantic passengers was fierce and the White Star Line wanted to show that they could make a six-day crossing. To meet this schedule the Titanic could not afford to slow down. It is believed that Ismay put pressure on Captain Smith to maintain the speed of the ship.

It was Thomas Andrew's fault:

The belief that the ship was unsinkable was, in part, due to the fact that the Titanic had sixteen watertight compartments. However, the compartments did not reach as  high as they should have done. The White Star Line did not want them to go all the way up because this would have reduced living space in first class. If Mr Andrews had insisted on making them the  correct height then maybe the Titanic would not have sunk.

 III. Watch the movie segment and discuss the questions: 

1. Describe the scene.

2. What were some of the problems that you saw in the segment that should have been dealt with differently, now that you can use hindsight?

3. Why is the use of hindsight so important in the case of the Titanic sinking?

4. What has changed in traveling security after the accident?

5. Think about a situation (or situations)  in your life in which you would have acted differently if you had had the chance to use hindsight?


Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Elysium & The Internship: Working Conditions

I really like Elysium, a science fiction that really intrigued me. The Internship is great beacuse it talks about Google workplace, a dream for most teenages.

Talk to a partner:

1. Where do you work? Describe your working conditions.

2. What are the positive and negative aspects of your workplace working conditions? What could be improved?

3. Rank the items below according to what you consider the most important features for your dream job. (1 - most important and the last one the least important)

( ) Challenging
( ) Good workmates
( ) Flexible working hours
( ) Safety
( ) Chances of promotions
( ) Comfort
( ) Long vacations
( ) Not wearing uniforms
( ) Fun
( ) Opportunities to travel
( ) Friendly boss

4. Group up with a few friends, compare your lists and justify your answers.

 5. Watch the segment from the movie Elysium and describe the working conditions, positive and negative aspects of this job, and what can be improved there. Then decide if you would like to work there.

6. Watch the segment from the movie The Internship and describe Google's working conditions, select positive and negative aspects of working there, and what can still be improved. Finally,  decide if you would like to work there.

7. What is the ideal job for you? What about working conditions?