Article Ideas, Outline, Notions and Musings

Human Behavioural StudiesApe with weapon

  • Areas of Interest #1: Understands that group and cultural influences contribute to human development, identity, and behaviour. 
  • Area of Interest #2: Understands conflict, cooperation, and interdependence among individuals, groups, and institutions.


  • • When people repeatedly view violence in different forms of entertainment, they become hardened to it and are not upset by it.
  • • Playing violent video games and watching television programs or movies with extreme violence is just a leisure activity and not something that can desensitize people to violence.
  • • We glorify violence in our country – biggest and badest is best
  • • Societies that glorify violence and accept it as a form of entertainment are barbaric and uneducated. It suits government to have an uneducated populous.
  • • Violence begets violence, and if you watch it you will want to behave in a similar
  • Manner – involuntary audience movement while watching contact sports

Using as an exemplar what many people considered a very violent society – the ancient Romans. While the Roman Empire was undoubtedly one of the most powerful and technologically advanced and literate societies of its time, it was also one of the most violent. Explore the fact that one reason cited for the fall of Rome is the decline of morals and values, among other things.

  • Entertainment Roman Style – wine and games (cheap food and full contact human interactions – keeping the uneducated busy. 


  • • What type of violence-based leisure activities do Americans participate in and/or
  • support? All contact sports, aggressive competition (passive aggression), hunting…et al..
  • • What does our support of these types of activities say about our inherent human \ primate attitude toward violence?
  • • In ancient Rome, the death penalty was common for criminals, prisoners of war,
  • and for people in positions of power. In what ways does our modern society mirror the ancient Romans when it comes to these three areas? How is our society different?

• Murder was common in ancient Rome, regardless of social class. Can same could be said about American society? Why or why not?


Many lessons can be learned from the behaviour of the ancient Romans. While few except the scholars and writers of the time seemed opposed to the level of violence in ancient Rome, Can we say that it was ultimately a contributing factor in the downfall of the Roman Empire?

Examine American culture and the way people in the U.S. view violence against one another. Choose a topic such as:

  • • The death penalty
  • • The sale of violent video games
  • • The sale of violent music
  • • Violent television programming (including certain sporting events)
  • • The violent crime rate in the U.S.
  • • The American prison system
  • • Violence in U.S. schools
  • • Gang violence

This work should that examine the similarities and differences between American attitudes about this type of violence and what the Roman attitude may have been. In what ways do the two societies seem to share a common belief?


  • How do the two societies differ when it comes to these topics? How do you think
  • American society will be affected in the long term by the violence that is part of our daily lives?
  • What can be done to prevent violence from causing the downfall of America, or is this even a possibility?
  • Discuss opinions and support them with as many specific reasons, facts, and examples as can be provided.

Dr Paul Benham © May 2014


The “Lyrids” Meteor Shower – April 22nd

Image: Lyrid impacts from the ISS

Dr Paul Benham 2014
The Lyrids meteor shower are usually active between April 16 and April 25 every year. It tends to peak around April 22 in Northern Ireland.

Considered to be the oldest known meteor shower, the Lyrids are named after constellation Lyra. The radiant point of the shower – the point in the sky where the meteors seem to emerge from – lies near the star Vega, one of the brightest stars in the sky during this time of the year.

The Lyrids are associated with comet Thatcher, which takes about 415 years to orbit around the Sun


The “New Earth” – Kepler 186f in the constellation “Cygnus”


Kepler-186f, the First Earth-size Planet in the Habitable Zone

Dr Paul Benham © 2014 (Article: Kepler 186f – New Earth )

This artist’s impression depicts Kepler-186f, the first confirmed Earth-size planet to orbit a distant star in the habitable zone. The habitable zone (sometimes referred to as the “Goldilocks Zone”, not to hot, not too cold, just right) lies within a range of distance from a star of a particular magnitude where liquid water might pool on the planet’s surface. Pooled water is thought to be a precursor to the development of more complex biological organisms given 3 – 5 billion years to of non-interruption allowing it to start naturally.

This is conjecture at the moment but probability points us to draw such conclusions. The discovery of Kepler-186f confirms that Earth-size planets readily exist in the habitable zones of other stars and signals a significant step closer to finding a world similar to Earth.

Kepler-186f resides about 500 light-years from Earth in the constellation Cygnus. The system is also home to four inner planets, seen lined up in orbit around a host star that is half the size and mass of the sun.

Kepler-186f is known to be less than ten percent larger than Earth, but its mass, composition and density are not known. Previous research suggests that a planet the size of Kepler-186f is likely to be rocky.

Kepler-186f orbits its star once every 130 days and receives one-third the energy that Earth does from the sun, placing it near the outer edge of the habitable zone. Standing on the surface of Kepler-186f, the brightness of its Sun at high noon would appear as bright as our sun is about an hour before sunset on Earth.



The Kepler-186 – Solar System

This diagram compares the planets of our inner solar system to Kepler-186, a five-planet star system about 500 light-years from Earth in the constellation Cygnus. The five planets of Kepler-186 orbit an M dwarf, a star that is half the size and mass of the sun.

The inner four companion planets each measure less than fifty percent the size of Earth. Kepler-186b, Kepler-186c, Kepler-186d and Kepler-186, orbit every 4, 7, 13 and 22 days, respectively, making them very hot and inhospitable for life as we know it.

The Kepler Space Telescope infers the existence of a planet by the amount of starlight blocked when it passes in front of its star. From these data, a planet’s radius, orbital period and the amount of energy received from the host star can be determined.

**images courtesy of JPL, CA.

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