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The greatest mystery of all

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Human fetus (source: BBC)

Out of everything that is mysterious to us, out of all the things we wonder about and frighten us, I think we are the most mysterious of all. We are, in essence, animals, like dogs or owls; but we do things that are abnormal for an animal to do, no matter how high the evolution chain is.

First things first, we are the only animals to discriminate other members of our own race because of something as trivial as their appearance, and we are also the only animals to kill our own kin out of emotions like hatred or envy. I don’t think I have to say we are also the only animals to organize and go to war over something as insignificant as oil.

Secondly, while we may be the most intelligent animal on the planet (well, some of us are) we still created and worshipped an invisible power just because we couldn’t understand why we, or anything, existed: that power is called God. Or Allah. Or Yahweh. Not to mention we’ve also used their name to justify murder for centuries, even millennia.

And finally, I want to talk about our capacity to survive: human beings have been faced with so much destruction, and even near extinction, over the course of our history, and yet here we are, alive and kicking. We’re like overgrown cockroaches: surviving even when the odds are completely against us.

However, the greatest mystery about ourselves is why we are like this. Why do we kill? Why do we steal? Why do we discriminate? Why do we worship God? Where did we get the capacity to reason like we do? It’s because of all I’ve talked about in this text, and more, I think the human being is the most complex, intricate, mysterious and terrifying thing on earth, maybe even in this universe.

Paco S.

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The best novel within Gothic fiction

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Cut from Dorian Gray (Oliver Parker, 2009)

Gothic fiction is one of the main literary genres of the 19th century. For me, the most representative Gothic novel is “The Picture of Dorian Gray”. This novel was written in 1890 by amous writer Oscar Wilde. The main themes are horror, youth, beauty, society, love, friendship and portraits. In the past few years there have been several adaptations from the original novel.

The story is about the life of Dorian Gray. He was a lovely and nice man until he met Lord Henry. Dorian started living under Lord Henry’s influence, which stated that youth and beauty were the most important things in life. Gray starts committing a lot of crimes, such as killing his own girlfriend. His soul was reflected on a portrait that his friend Basil painted one day. So Dorian Gray was always young and beautiful, just as the portrait was created.

The painting got older and uglier day after day, but Dorian didn’t. Because of this reason I think that “The Picture of Dorian Gray” is the most representative novel of Gothic Fiction. It shows true human horror, but with some supernatural elements.

Agostina C.

Life on Mars?

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Cut from The Martian (Ridley Scott, 2015)

What would you find scarier, thinking about how there may be life on other planets or about how we might be completely alone in the universe? The discourse on aliens has been a popular subject throughout the 20th and 21st centuries, and it’s even grown more popular with the recent discoveries of NASA. Everyone has their personal opinion on this matter and I just can’t find a reason why someone would cross out the possibility.

As of February 23, 2017, there hasn’t been a discovery on life outside our planet. However, just yesterday NASA announced that 7 new planets have been found in a solar system not relatively far from ours, and that three of them appeared to have the ideal conditions for life. And that’s just in one solar system, in an investigation that cost NASA months, even years of research! The universe is so immense that, even if there was life, we most likely wouldn’t be able to find it. Following this argument, I think saying life doesn’t exist in other planets is a bit selfish. When most people think about aliens, they refer to big, green, scary creatures with circular-spaced spaceships. I think of aliens as organisms living outside the Earth, whether they follow this imaginative description or simply are microscopic bacteria that live underwater.

Moral matters are also to be taken into consideration in this subject. What would happen if we, after all, found aliens? The word ‘alien’ comes from the Latin adjective ‘alius’, which means ‘other’. The human race has always shown mistrust towards individuals that aren’t alike. Take into account, for example, the Nazi Holocaust. This human massacre was entirely based on hate. If humans can be so monstrous with one another, how cruel could they be with other creatures?

In conclusion, life in other planets is entirely possible based on the fact that the human mind can’t prove it otherwise, and that the universe is so huge that choosing not to believe in it would not be a wise decision.

Elena A.

What is it like to be ‘crazy’?

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Inmates at Pilgrim State Hospital, Brentwood (NY), 1938

I’m sure you’ve heard about it, someone has been murdered by a mental disordered person, or a traumatic experience for a young boy made him commit suicide… A big mystery for doctors is the way they have to treat those people, what they think and what makes them do such horrible things. What do they really feel? Can we help them? Is their destiny already written?

The first we think about when they ask us about a mental illness is, “those people are crazy” or “they just hear voices”, nothing outgoing, just a passive reaction. But no one really knows what’s happening in their “originally” innocent minds. Maybe they are pushed to do things they don’t want to, or their imagination takes control of them… We don’t even have a small idea of what they really feel, and with no information we can’t help them.

Doctors treat them as a patient with a number, so usually they aren’t treated as they really need. It’s a mystery now we can help them and the way we can get them out of that terrifying state they are in. It’s an unknown world that only people get in, and normally never get out.

In conclusion, we should start more investigations about this problem, not only to help those people. We should treat them with more respect and try to get to the bottom of this case.

Carmen K.

Pros and cons of wearable technology

wearables.jpgMore and more companies are beginning to produce smart, wearable technology such as, but not limited to, smart watches, heart rate sensors and even heart rate modifiers. However, at what point should we start being wary of this technology that follows us everywhere? In this text, I will explain why I think wearable technology can be very dangerous, albeit at the same time somewhat beneficial to us.

Firstly, I’ll state that I do not think wearable tech isn’t beneficial in any way. It can help us complete mundane tasks far more easily and efficiently. However, I believe that in this case the pros outweigh the cons.

For starters we have the issue of dependency. The fact that humans are extremely dependent on technology is no news, many studies confirm it and, if we were a little more conscious, we’d see it ourselves too. But you can leave your phone at home. Imagine having a little, discreet piece of technology on us at all times: the dependence that this would produce would be overwhelming, not to mention the addiction it would create.

Secondly, we have the loss of artisan crafts. Watches are really complicated and intricate devices that take a lot of skill to make, while all it takes is a motherboard, a screen and a programmer to make a smart-watch. What will happen once smart-watches take over the market? The craft of watch making will be lost, and we will lose a big part of our culture.

Third and finally, there is the issue of our privacy. Companies can already track us through our phones but, as I said before, you can leave your phone at home. The espionage potential that wearable devices have is unlimited and endless.

So to conclude, even while I think wearable technology has the potential to do good, its potential to do bad outweighs the first. Dependency, loss of culture and privacy are all very important aspects of our life and we should be very careful with wearable tech, because it can destroy this aspect.

Paco S.

The Mystery of God

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The Creation of Adam (Michelangelo, c. 1512)

How did humanity invent God? And if we did… for what reason? It is not clear to establish the moment in history in which God first appeared, although the reason why he/she/it did is pretty evident.

There has always been this necessity born in the human mind of feeling safe, of feeling that we should control everything, that we do things for a reason, a good reason. Attending to all of these necessities, we created religion, the belief in something already stipulated, that can push our actions and decisions to the good side and that at the same time consolidates the interior peace of knowing that if we follow the rules, we will be happy.

But… is it really necessary to include in religion the existence of something bigger than us? Did we create him? Or was it already in the minds of the first humans? Is it possible to find answers to these questions?

This mystery is the biggest in the planet, there is not a method that allows us to check the answer, and maybe there will never be one. And the most important thing is that the solution to it would change completely the world and the minds of millions of people.

Julia V.

Frankenstein, or the Modern Prometheus

frankenstein.jpgTitle: Frankenstein

Author: Mary Shelley

First publication date: 1818

Genre: Gothic fiction

Plot summary

Viktor Frankenstein is a young man who discovers the spark that ignites life. Astonished by this discovery, he creates a human being that turns out to be so horrendous and hideous that he turns his back on him. From Ingolstadt, in Germany, he follows his creator to Switzerland and England, where he decides to hunt him down, due to his unwillingness to create a female companion for the monster. After killing his family, Frankenstein and ‘his’ fiend hunt each other, leading to their deaths. This book carries the message of fight between good and evil, because the monster can be seen as Viktor’s alter ego.

Personal opinion

This book is a perfect example of how the human mind works, because on one hand, Viktor is the innocent, good side of it, and on the other hand, the monster is pure evil, but because society made him that way. Both things together build up a person. This concept amused me througout the book -it´s like a fight between good and evil. Despite the complicated vocabulary used in certain chapters, I had no problem following the main plot, and I really enjoyed it.

María M. A.