N Listen to part of a lecture from a sociology class.
P: Today, we’re going to be looking at how people interact within groups. Now, let’s imagine a perfect example of people working together to achieve a goal. Let’s say … musicians playing together. Take a symphony orchestra, for starters. No one person could possibly play all the instruments required. Only by working with a large group can the song be played. So, we can see that groups can make things happen that people can’t make happen alone. OK. Groups are good. You don’t have to take my word for it, though. People have been working in groups since time started. Men would hunt In parties while groups of women and children gathered plants. Being in a group also really aids In learning. Once one person in the group discovers, say, fire, he or she can teach it to everyone else. If you’re all by yourself, you’ve got to discover and master everything without any help. Certainly, that’s the hard way to go.
- Groups are good and allow for divisions of labor, multiple tasks being performed at the same time, like with the musicians, and fast and easy transfers of knowledge. Before we get ahead of ourselves, though, let’s decide on what we mean when we say group. In 1976, Dr. Michael Shaw defined a group as two or more people interacting with one another in such a way that each person influences and is influenced by each other person. He also said that the members must interact with one another, have the same goals, and have some sort of shared identity, which makes them see themselves as different from other groups. And how does a group form? Well, take this class, for example. The first day of class Is the forming stage. You come together and everyone Is really polite, because no one knows anyone else. Then, there Is the storming stage, where you’ve got a lot of tension because people are trying to get status and Influence. Like, who is going to be the best student, the professor’s favorite? Once that’s all been decided, the norming stage Is started. Here, all the people in the group agree on basic positions and rules. Say, Bob here In the front row will be the best and Tony In the back there, sorry, Tony, will be the one always sleeping during the lectures. The final stage Is the performing one, where the group can finally function as a team and accomplish something. Hopefully, your accomplishment will be everyone getting a high grade, right?
So, we know that groups are good, they help us, and also how they form. But, could there be situations where groups do not work well together?
It’s more common than you think, and Is not related to the people in the group not liking one another. Let’s take a factory with five workers who make shoes. Each worker, alone, can make three pairs of shoes a day. So, how many can they make as a group in one day? Not fifteen, Actually, It’ll be more along the lines of, say, twelve. Why? Well, It’s due to something called the Ringelmann Effect, which states that there is an Inverse relationship between the size of the group and the contributions of each individual member, The more people there are, the less each one tries.
Why? Let’s say you’re watching the Olympics and you see the top skier. Chances are you’ll remember his name the next day. How about the rowing team? Never, You’ll never remember all of their names. You’ll just remember the country they are from. OK? Right. And the people on those teams know that. So, there is less reason for them to try hard because, In the end, their Individual performance will not be evaluated. There is no joy In winning nor Is there shame in losing. They do not win or lose. It’s the group that wins or loses. Which is why I always give Individual marks In my classes. It’s so that everyone will try harder, because they know I will be giving them a mark based solely on their effort.
N Listen to part of a lecture from an astronomy class.
P: Welcome to class, everyone. Make sure that you take lots of notes, right, because this stuff is going to be on your final exam. Ok. Well, today’s topic Is Titan, which Is a moon of the planet Saturn. Like most of the objects In our solar system, Titan was named after a mythological god. Actually, the Titans were a group of gods, who, unfortunately, basically lost their Jobs to the Olympians … but that’s a different story. Right. Titan. I guess I should start by saying that Titan looks more like a planet than a moon.
For one thing, it’s really, really big. It’s the second largest moon in the solar system; only Jupiter’s moon Ganymede Is larger. In fact, Titan is larger than both Mercury and Pluto. Another thing Is that it has a very planet-like atmosphere. Its atmosphere is tenser than the ones found on Mercury, Earth, Mars, and Pluto. What would happen if you decided to take a vacation on Titan? Well, you’d get some pretty good exercises, for one thing. The pressure on the surface is about 1.6 bar, so that means gravity Is sixty per cent stronger there than on Earth. Just walking around would require a lot of effort. What else? Well, you’d have some serious trouble breathing. Mostly, the air there is made up of nitrogen and other hydrocarbon elements. But, you’d have nice things to look at, I guess, because the hydrocarbon gives everything a nice orange hue. And, you’d want to remember to bring a really good winter coat. The surface temperature on Titan is about -178°C,
A smart travel agent might tell you to wait a few million years before you go, actually. By that time, there might be oxygen and life there. Here’s why: Some believe that Titan’s surface Is partially covered with massive lakes of ethane that contain methane. This methane, from chemical reactions started by energy from the sun, creates ethane, acetylene, ethylene, and hydrogen cyanide. And remember I said that there were a lot of hydrocarbons there, too? Well, the hydrocarbons and the hydrogen cyanide are really Important In the creation of amino acids, which are needed for life to begin. Basically, scientists believe that Titan now Is like Earth was millions of years ago. If you Just wait a while, ok, a long while, it might develop along the same lines as Earth has.
Well, what else can I tell you? Let me see … what about the surface of Titan, the landscape? For starters, for a long time we really didn’t know what It looked like, Remember, it has a really thick atmosphere, so we couldn’t get a good look at what was below it. But, not too long ago, we got some nice pictures of the surface from a probe that the Europeans managed to land on the surface. What did it tell us? Well, it confirmed a lot of what we had already guessed, which Is good. If It had contradicted everything we had thought, then that would have made us unsure about all the things we’ve guessed about other planets and moons around us. That would have been a major problem. What about new things? We know that the surface Is soft, with a thin hard crust over It. It would feel something like wet sand, I guess. And there is a constant wind of about fifteen miles per hour on the surface. Sort of sounds like a weather report, doesn’t It? And what about the atmosphere that we couldn’t see through before? Don’t worry. It’s about twelve miles off the surface; below that it’s nice and clear. That’s all we have time for today. I’ll see everyone next Thursday.