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Page 17 text:
Everything You Wanted to Know About
One of the most misunderstood issues of this century is thc
mushroom. This by-product of nature has baffled scientists for
thousands of years: they just didn't know what to make of it. But,
over the years, people began to delve into the secrets of the
mushroom and much light was thrown on this fascinating miracle
of nature. And this year marks the final decade of research and
experimentation on the mushroom because complete knowledge of
this wonder has been attained. In order to be able to appreciate the
magnitude of this great achievement we must look back to the very
beginnings of research on the mushroom.
lt all started some thirty thousand years ago, in what is now
Asia, when Neanderthal man is known to have worshipped the
mushroom. This religion, known as Mushism, spread quickly
among the cavemen because it had no demands on its followers,
except that they were forbidden to Eat any mushrooms. And it is
from such early beginnings that we get the belief- dispelled only
recently -that mushrooms aren't for eating.
The Egyptians were the first to record the research done on the
mushroom and it is from their studies that we get much of our
knowledge of mushrooms. Their most famous mushroomologist,
Almush Biroom, is credited with the discovery that not all
mushrooms have the same characteristics, In his first tand onlyi
experiment he ate a mushroom, dispelling all beliefs that they were
poisonous. However, these beliefs became prevalent again when he
died three days later.
The Greeks were the next to explore the fascinating world of
mushrooms. Rather than conducting experiments on them the
Greeks incorporated them into their way of life. Their
philosophies were mushroom-oriented, and temples were erected
in honour of the Goddess of Mushrooms: Champignonia. The
liberal-mindedness of these people even went so far as to invent
geometry based on the mushroomg we still don't know how they
did it, and perhaps this is why it is not taught in any schools.
However, the Greeks' most lasting contribution to modern society
is the tradition of giving a huge mushroom to the winners of the
During the Roman era the mushroom underwent a "Dark
Ages" period. They tried to make wine out of mushrooms, but it
was found that they grew mouldy and the smell was unbearable.
They also tried using them as a cure for cuts by placing sliced
mushrooms on an open wound. This technique, however, did not
always work because new mushrooms would occasionally sprout
from the patients.
The next breakthrough in mushology did not come until the
Renaissance, when people started questioning the facts about the
mushroom. Indeed, many men devoted their lives to the progress
of mushology: men such as Leonardo da Mushroomi who, while
tossing mushrooms in the air, discovered the parachute, and
Mushelangelo, who created La Mush, the sculpture of a clump of
mushrooms that has since captivated the world in its moving
depiction of serenity. However, there were many men who spent
their lives searching for the secret behind the mushroom's beauty,
and did not find it: and others who sought the secret of eternal
youth in the mushroom, and did not find it, and still more who
hoped to discover the secret of making gold from mushrooms, and
did not find it. Successful or not, these were truly valiant men!
When the New World was discovered, mushology spread over
the globe via the efforts of men devoted to its cause: the
mushionaries. There arose conflicts between the mushionaries and
some of the natives of certain lands, because the natives refused to
accept 'the mushg' they were obsessed with the pebble. However,
those natives did not have much choice in the matter, and soon
they were 'converted'
Then, due to many wars and revolutions, there was a sltimp in
mushology, and the 'great quest' for complete knowledge of the
mushroom was slowed. But only for a few years. When the sntoke
cleared 'the pursuit' began once again. This era became known as
the Age of the Golden Mushroomi because many new discoveries
were made. There was Muwton who, in his famous experiment of
inertia, put a mushroom in a vacuum bottle and found that
nothing happened. From this truly great experiment scientists have
been able to derive many gravitational laws. And one must not
forget the memorable Madame Mushie and her noble husband,
who conducted many experiments to prove that some mushrooms
are radio-activeg they succeeded, finding a mushroom which falls
apart four days after being picked.
At this time astronomers catne up with the theory that
mushrooms are beings from another planet, but this was shot
down when, compiling all the scientific data on the mushroom,
Charles Mushwin wrote the "Origin of Mushrooms." ln this book
he proposed that all living beings on earth, even man, had their
beginnings from the mushroom. This was thought to be a
preposterous idea until, many years later, new evidence was un-
covered by the famous archaeologist, Dr. Mushy, at Olduvai
Gorge, in Africa, to prove this true. But the most famous and
influential personage of the Age of the Golden Mushroom was a
German psychologist called Freum. He delved into the
psychological aspects of mushrooms and found that they
possessed an intelligence equal to that of porpoises and chim-
panzees. Soon mushrooms were being seen at circuses all over the
world, jumping through hoops, balancing balls, and swinging on
the trapeze. Man-eating mushrooms were displayed in cages, and a
few courageous lion trainers dared put their heads into the mouths
of those monstrous beasts. Many experiments were carried out on
mushrooms, the results of which laid much of the groundwork in
Half a century later it was found, after extensive research, that
many many mushrooms, despite the fact that they are of no
nutritious value whatsoever and they taste like soap, can be eaten.
This was the culmination of man's search for meaning. As a
denouement, it was also found that the leftover mushrooms can be
used as insulation and thus contribute greatly to the solving of our
To all those men who dedicated their time, patience, money, and
even lives to the advancement of mushology there can be only one
thing to say: "Never has so much been owed by so many to so
many." And so, on this memorable day, let us bow our heads in
honour of those truly inspired men, whose failures and successes
have made this world a better place in which to live.
tSeeond Prize Essay, Gavin
lnce l.angmuir Writing Competition!
'But Were Afraid
Page 16 text:
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Page 18 text:
"The computer is . . . " There are many different ways to
complete this sentence: the choice depends upon a person's point
of view. One might choose, "The compttter is the greatest
technological advance since the invention of moveable type,"
while another might feel that, "The computer is the greatest
danger to the freedom of the individual." A third possibility is,
"The computer is making children mentally lazy: they can't even
add tw o and two without using it." The list goes on and on until,
finally, it becomes clear that the computer is just another tool
which. by itself, is neither good nor bad.
We live in an age of technology: we enjoy its benefits and we
suffer from its draw backs. ln the years since l950 television has
had a great impact on our society. Unfortunately, it seems that the
problems it has caused may outweigh its benefits, for we have a
generation of children who are addicted to passive viewing. Many
people think that this attitude has extended into daily life so that
these children prefer to watch others being active instead of doing
things themselves. Will the mini-computer, which is now becoming
so common, affect children in the same way that television did?
Will it encourage them to do still less for themselves? ls this just
another step along the pathway leading to a dehumanized society?
l think not.
The computer which our school has been given looks like a
television set with an electric typewriter built into it. By itself it
does nothing! That is the very essence of computer programming,
for the programmer must take an active part if he is to achieve
anything. Before the machine will act, the programmer must
develop an algorithm, or series of logical steps, for solving his
problem. Perhaps during a programme run other difficulties may
develop, then the programmer must adapt, expand or even
completely change his original programme. This active interaction
of man and machine is very different from the passive absorbing
ofentertainment from television.
Writing a programme is a highly creative experience . . . hence
the title of this essay, borrowed from the magazine of that name.
The first step is an exercise in imagination, for one must think
though a problem before beginning to solve it. This creative step is
even more important when one is designing a computer game . . .
truly designing one, not merely copying a commercial video game.
An artist has some idea what his finished picture will look like: a
poet knows the theme and general plan of his poem: a programmer
knows the outline, purpose and approximate scope of his
programme. Each is creative in his own special way: each must
work in his own special medittm: the artist uses paint, the poet uses
words and the programmer tiscs machine language.
When a programmer has translated his ideas into machine
language, tour computer uses a version called BASICJ then he can
type instructions for the machine to follow. Gradually a
programme is built, complete with IF. . . THEN statements, FOR
. . . NEXT loops, ON . . . GOTO variable addresses, LET and
DEFINE lines until, at last, END is reached. Now its creator can
run the programme and see what happens. Does it work? Does it
produce sense? Has some essential been left out? The sense of
excitement one has when watching the first run of a new
programme is hard to express. It is like the thrill which someone
who has designed his own house receives when he sees the com-
pleted building. It is even like the pleasure one gets when a pet
correctly performs a trick it has been carefully taught.
Programming is fun!
I remember the tremendous pleasure I felt when l saw my first
programme running and printing out answers on the display
screen. It was my programme. I had thought of an idea, organised
the steps, created the programme and now it ran! That was the day
I discovered it had passed midnight and I had been at the keyboard
for six hours. It was one of the most absorbing experiences of my
life. This sort of experience is open to just about anyone who has
access to a mini-compttter and who has some creative ability.
Programming is a very personal matter: it must be learnt rather
than taught. If a person enjoys the experience he will be prepared
to make the necessary effort to improve. He may develop a
"style," for there is no rigid way to write a programme, and find
personal ways to tackle various problems. The way that a
programme is finally set out is a reflection of the way of thought of
its creator. Does the programme have variable loops so that new
information can be easily processed, or is it restrictive? Are the
steps logical and simple to follow, or are there many involved
nested loops? Is it an open programme which can be quickly
learned and applied, or is it secretive and full of esoteric
procedures? A computer programme reveals much about its
Any creativity demands a framework within which it can be
displayed. Marble has a grain, paint has specific reflective
properties and words have a definite structure. From a com-
paratively small set of symbols and statements a programmer can
build an immensely complex programme which will work perfectly
if, and only if, every instruction and line statement is correct. For
example, commas and semi-colons have special meanings in
BASIC and they are not inter-changeable, so an entire programme
may fail because a single comma is misplaced. The machine will
make no allowances for muddled thinking or vague statements:
everything must be logical, concise and correct.
The precision of thought and action which programming
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