Saturday, October 18, 2014

The Binding of Isaac (with DLC Wrath of the Lamb)

Two weeks ago, I got a new video game called "The Binding of Isaac". I also bought the DLC pack, the Wrath of the Lamb, which is an add on to the game. In this post, I will explain the Plot of the game.

The prologue explains how Isaac and his mother have a simple life; Isaac plays with his toys, and his mother watches Christian broadcasts on the television. Then, his mother hears a voice from above, thinking it is God, when it really is Satan. "God" says that Isaac is corrupted with sin. His mother removes Isaac's toys and clothes. Then, she locks Isaac in his room. "God" AKA Satan says once again that it isn't enough and he requires a sacrifice. The sacrifice will be Isaac. Isaac's mom goes to the kitchen, and grabs a butcher's knife. Isaac sees through a crack in his door. He finds a trapdoor under his rug and without hesitation he flings open the hatch. Just as his mother bursts through the door, he jumps down into the depths below.

In the game there are many monsters, ranging from flies and spiders to headless demon creatures that squeal and launch blood and poison bombs at you. You start out as Isaac, and shoot tears that do damage to monsters. You start out with one bomb. However, you can upgrade yourself by finding chests, blowing up blue tinted rocks with bombs, or finding treasure rooms that have power ups. My personal favorite power up is Epic Fetus, which allows you to launch missiles at the monsters and do massive amounts of damage. If you are unlucky like me, you can run into mini bosses, such as Wrath, Envy, and Gluttony. They are similar to bosses, except toned down and have less health. You can gain more health through power ups and Eternal Hearts.

When you finally reach the boss room, you must fight the boss unless you have the item "We must go deeper." After you kill a boss and everything else in the room, the room spawns a power up you can choose or not choose to pick up. It also gives you red hearts, soul hearts (a buffer for red hearts), or rarely, an Eternal Heart. Red hearts fill "container hearts" which are the max hearts you get (expanded by Eternal hearts or Power-ups).

Finally, you can proceed to the next level down. The levels are: Basement 1 (Cellar 1), Basement 2 (Cellar 2), Caves 1 (Catacombs 1), Caves 2 (Catacombs 2), Depths 1(Necropolis 1), Depths 2 (Necropolis 2), Womb 1 (Utero 1), Womb 2 (Utero 2), Sheol, Cathedral, and finally Chest. The Basements/Cellars, Caves/Catacombs, and Depths 1/Necropolis 1 have normal bosses, ranging from Widow, the upside-down spider, Pin, a worm, to the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse.

When you reach Depths 2/Catacombs 2, the boss is Mom. You kill mom (weird huh!) and proceed to Mom's Heart in the Wombs/Uteros. After you beat Mom's Heart, you proceed to Sheol, and find Satan and kill him. Then, you proceed once more.

SPOILERS TAG
After beating Satan, you find yourself in a Cathedral. There you must find Isaac, and kill him. This is extremely strange and I don't know how to interpret this because essentially you are killing yourself. After beating yourself, a ginormous chest appears and you climb in. Note: This part is not supposed to be known until you actually find it. Therefore, readers must know that they are reading a spoiler for one of the most essential parts of the game. The FINAL Boss is ???. He is Isaac's dead brother, and you have to kill him again. He is the exact same as Isaac, except with more health, and more damage. After you beat him, another giant chest spawns, and when you look into it, you win. You have to win at least thirteen times to find all the endings, then to actually beat the game and become a platinum god, you have to find every single item.

You must be Mom, then restart. Then you beat Mom and Mom's Heart, and restart. Then you beat Mom, Mom's Heart, then Satan. This goes on and on. 

The Meeting Point of Art and Science

Some say science and art are completely different things and have no similar aspects. Is that true? Science and art are similar, and different in comparable characteristics. Science and art explain things. However, science may explain it mathematically and using physics. Art explains it with more emotion and imagery. To understand with both views allows a person to see the world in a whole new view. People can see something and know the mathematical reason it happens, and how it affects them from an emotional stand point.

Both artists and scientists have the same goal. They both want to have a better understanding of the world .They both use their imagination to do this. The goal of Einstein was to understand something new about the universe that had never been realized before, such as relativity. Einstein said, “Mozart’s music is so pure and beautiful that I see it as a reflection of the inner beauty of the universe.” Einstein, one of the greatest scientists, thought that music, an art form like his science, were both representations of the inner beauty of the universe. Leonardo da Vinci once said, “Art is the queen of all sciences communicating knowledge to all the generations of the world.” (Emphasis is mine). Leonardo da Vinci also believed that science and art are similar. Not only does this represent that art is a science, it also portrays that art communicates knowledge to all the generations of the world. Knowledge is understanding. He expressed it in a different way than Einstein, but the goal was the same. Leonardo da Vinci and Einstein used art and science together to successfully illustrate and clarify the mysteries of the world.

However, art and science remain different in certain ways. Yes, science and art both explain things, but that doesn’t mean that they explain things the same way. To explain the phenomenon of a tsunami a scientist may say, “Two ocean tectonic plates collided causing an underwater earthquake. The underwater earthquake stirred the waves which resulted in a tsunami.” On the other hand, an artist may limn, “Mother Nature struck her hand upon the people who angered her, unleashed her terror, and smothered them with her waves of destruction.” Art can stretch an imaginary line farther and farther, bending the rules, but science cannot, for even the slightest stretch could bring disaster. Imagine an architect designing and building a bridge. The bridge is incredibly beautiful, yet, many of the calculations are not accurate. Eventually, the bridge will fall down. A scientist may look at a river running and say, “Why does it run so quickly?” or, “Why does it move so wonkily?” After that the scientist will conclude how gravity pulls water down and it causes erosion... An artist may see the same river, and interpret it with a picture and poem. They both interpret things, but in completely different ways.

Understanding science and art on a social level is extremely important. A group of friends may get together, talking about art, not knowing anything about science, and one friend is left out, because he or she only knows science, and not art. This impedes their communication to a certain extent. The group of friends could have a debate on whether art is better than science or vice versa, but they can’t have a more casual conversation. However, understanding both is possible, because they are similar in so many ways. Once a person has understood art and science, they can see the world with a whole different perspective. They can see the world like a scientist, understanding the physics, and can see the world as an artist, unleashing the imagination to its fullest extent. Imagine that someone is trying to make the color green, which is society. You need the color blue, science, and the color yellow, art. Without one of these, you cannot make green, or society.

What type of art best portrays science? I think writing does. Despite all the similarities between science and art, only the art of writing can truly describe what goes on in science. In fact, in order to do science, a person must know how to write, or else they wouldn’t be able to prove their hypotheses. Stephen Hawking is a perfect example. He cannot draw, dance, or play an instrument to express his understanding of the universe. Aside from the one person in the world who understands his speech, the only way he was able to communicate his vision of the universe was through writing.

The English poet and writer Earl Edward George Bulwer-Lytton once said, “Art and science have their meeting point in method.” His quote perfectly summarizes the relationship between art and science.

Elemental Affection

 The names of the elements always captured me with their unpronounceable, unpredictable, onomatopoeic, simple, or comical names. My favorite five of all of the element names are:
1.      Aluminium
2.      Krypton
3.      Molybdenum
4.      Gold
5.      Chromium

Aluminium is the chemical element with atomic number 13, a light silvery-gray metal.
Aluminium is found in Bauxite ore. Aluminium is used in aluminium foil, cans, cars, metal sheets, buses, bicycles, and coins. Aluminium is not rare, but it has an exceptional ring to its name. Aluminium is a unique word to me. It has two different spellings, Aluminum, and Aluminium. I prefer Aluminium, because when I say words with an ending “-ium” I feel satisfied. It is a very simple name, but simple is sometimes better.

Krypton is the chemical element with atomic number 36. Krypton is highly unreactive because it is a noble gas, and is used in some light bulbs. All noble gases are inert. It is also used for photographic flashes and for krypton fluorescent lasers. Krypton always reminds me of Superman. I am not into comic books and super heroes, but one of the first super heroes I ever knew about was Superman. Krypton reminds me of Superman because Kryptonite poisons Superman, and I thought Krypton sounds extremely similar to Kryptonite, and perhaps Kryptonite was based on it. Krypton is very “comic”al. Despite Krypton being a noble gas, kryptonite can kill Superman. I don’t see anything noble about that. Krypton is very rare, and is obtained by distillation of liquid air.

Molybdenum is the chemical element with atomic number 42. Molybdenum has the sixth highest melting point of all metals, and has low solubility in water. Molybdenum is used in fertilizer for cauliflower, and is used to make armor, aircraft parts, electrical contacts, industrial motors, and filaments.

Normally, on Monday, I go to fencing class. One Monday, I was a little early, and there was a book on the elements, just sitting in the fencing lounge. I grabbed it, sat down, and the first page I opened was to Molybdenum. I tried in vain to pronounce it. “Moleee-beedeenom, Molybb-db-dnum.” My fencing teacher saw me struggling and brought the entire class over. He made a challenge. Anyone who could pronounce the word, would get a prize. After everyone’s feeble attempts, mine included, we started a second round. I was tense, and I quickly gathered all of my knowledge about pronunciation. I broke the word into syllables. Finally, it came to me. I impatiently waited for my turn. I pronounced every syllable carefully. “Mol-ib-de-num” My fencing teacher reached into his pocket, grabbed the prize, and said, “Here is a Molybdenum bar.” Everyone sighed or said, “Aw!” The bar was black and emitted a cold feeling. From that moment, Molybdenum was embedded into my memory, and I started to have affection for strange unpronounceable words. I like the word Molybdenum, but the actual metal engenders no special affection.

Gold is the chemical element with atomic number 79. It is a rare element. Gold never tarnishes and is inert. It is precious and shiny. It is magnificent and bold. It is my favorite element of all. Gold is a prized valuable item. Gold doesn’t sound very bold nor like a luxury thing. This is because you hear it too much. On the other hand, the metal is prestigious. It is used to describe heroes, and used to make important statues. When you win something, you get gold medals, or gold ribbons, or something gold colored! Gold is used for dentistry such as gold teeth. It is also used in aerospace, electronics and computers, finances, and investing. It was the basis of currency for thousands of years. However, scientists treat it like any other metal, experimenting with it like they would with iron or copper. It is so rare that approximately 181,881 ordinary tons of gold have been mined out of the Earth from the beginning of history to 2011. In comparison, 2 billion tons of iron ore are mined annually.  

Chromium is the chemical element with atomic number 24. Chromium also has a nice “–ium” at the end, but it shines distinctively. It can be polished to a mirror finish, and is used in motorcycles, school bus paint, and used in lasers. It is the twenty-second most abundant element, making it mildly rare, and I love how it is shiny and bright. It is magnetic, and above thirty-eight degrees Celsius it becomes paramagnetic, meaning it attracts only certain objects. Chromium has many special properties which are amazing. It is a very onomatopoeic word for me, because when I say Chromium, I think of chrome, a very shiny object like Chromium.

These words gave me a great affection for the elements.


Oreo Tectonics

Oreos are a great, tasty way to learn about geology. The tectonic plates under the Earth are like giant Oreos. This metaphor helps us understand mountains and how they form. Not only does the metaphor make you sweetly imagine, you can also experiment with it to get delicious results!

Before, however, we must understand how tectonic plates (or Oreos, if you prefer) move. The tectonic plates float on the mantle. The Earth’s mantle is molten rock and elements, so it flows around. When the top part of the mantle cools, it sinks to the bottom of the mantle only to be heated up and brought back to the top. While this is happening, the mantle is spinning, moving the tectonic plates on top. In these experiments, the Oreos are the tectonics plate and your hands will be used to move them.

How are mountains formed? The forming of mountains is called orogeny. Well, have you ever pushed two Oreos against each other? Most of the times, both of them crack and two of the halves will go up or down. This broken bit is the mountain. Now, raise one of the Oreos and put it on top of another Oreo. That is a mountain as well. If there is an Oreo in between two Oreos, and the Oreos on the outside are pushed towards each other, then the Oreo in the middle will crack and crumble into a mountain or mountain range. The final example of making a singular mountain with Oreos is when you break one Oreo in half, making a “fault” then pushing the two parts together and making a mountain.

In scientific terms, the plate tectonics are doing the same thing. They move around along the flow of the mantle, and eventually bump into each other. If at least one of the plate tectonics has enough momentum, it will crush and crack and break and bend. These broken parts become the mountains. The tectonic plates also can slip onto each other, just like in the above Oreo experiment. One tectonic plate will slide on top of another and that will form a mountain. A tectonic plate can form a crack or fault after extreme stress, and then the two parts of the tectonic plate, collide and form a mountain. These processes take millions of years. Experiments with Oreos, however, take only a matter of seconds. Mountains form because the plates are under great stress and release great amounts of energy.

If you take more than two Oreos and smash them together with varying force, all of the broken bits will be mountains, and you will have a mountain range or, an Oreo range. If you take two Oreos, then smash them together with equal force they won’t be able to rise on top of the other. The only solution for the Oreos is to break. They will both break, causing bits to become mountains. The final example of a mountain range occurs underwater. It is formed when you move two Oreos apart, the magma rises, represented by a third Oreo, then cools to form a mountain.

Scientists describe mountain ranges similarly. Plates may collide into each other and chunks will rise out of the ground. An example of two tectonic plates pressing against each other with equal force, and density would be the landmasses of India and Eurasia. They couldn’t submerge each other so the edges could only rise. This formed the Himalaya mountain range. The Sierra Nevada range was formed when there was a fault, and the fault plate was lifted. The Mid-Atlantic Ridge was formed by cooling magma and the separation of two tectonic plates. The Andes and Alps are Fold Mountains, where two plates crushed a third plate in between them, causing it to crush, crack, and fold.

A metaphor is a great way to explain science. The Oreo metaphor is an accurate metaphor that tackles plate tectonics in geology effectively. This metaphor gives a visual effect that helps us see and understand plate tectonics in a fun and easily understandable way. The Oreo metaphor is an epitome of plate tectonics. It is surely sweet and delicious.

Big and Small

Questions came to my head like cooking popcorn. Pop! Pop! Pop! What is the biggest thing in existence? At first, I thought it was the Earth. What is the smallest? I thought it was an ant. Later, I learned of molecules. What made up molecules? Atoms did. What made up atoms?

The Earth is small. Atoms are even smaller. Quarks are the smallest. Our solar system is big. Our galaxy is bigger. The universe is the biggest. All of these sizes captured and fascinated me.

Before I was mesmerized by small things, I wanted to know what the biggest thing in existence was. Big things seemed so grand before the eye, being magnificent like a king’s statue or intricate like the Taj Mahal. I thought the Earth was the biggest. I started wondering and asking questions. I also read many books about big things. They all converged to one thing. The Universe was the biggest. When I was very young, I thought Universe meant Earth, instead of realizing that the books meant it as an actual separate thing and not another name for the Earth.

I was finally corrected in third grade. In third grade, one of our science questions was: what is the biggest thing in The Universe. Being misled by my own thinking, I said it was the Earth. Evidently, I was wrong. The answer was: The Universe. The teacher told me The Universe is a separate thing that continues to expand, collapse, create, and destroy eternally. After learning that The Universe was the biggest thing in existence, I felt I had accomplished something. After figuring out what the biggest thing was, I unknowingly was led into an interest in small things.

I was amazed by ants, and how they can lift fifty times their own weight. They had six tiny little legs, with proportionately long antennae that can sense things that are the equivalent of human hearing, seeing, feeling, and smelling. They can also sense pheromones in the air. Their tiny little legs can pitter patter across a room silently, unnoticed by any animal. I was captivated that so much activity could occur in such a small, delicate insect. I thought, “Ants must be made of something?” I was right. They were made of cells.

When I researched cells, I found that they were too small for the naked eye to see, but were productive “machines” that move the body, transfer messages for the body, and use the energy that the body ingests to help keep the body alive. I read on. I found a surprising fact: cells are living. I was shocked! How did something so small live without a heart or a brain? I dwelled on this topic for many years before finally understanding it. It was not until the fifth grade that I finally understood cells. Now, I could continue my quest to find the smallest thing in The Universe.

What are cells made of? What is smaller than a cell? When googling these questions, I expected the answer to be: cells are the smallest thing in the universe, they are made of nothing. Instead, I got the answer: molecules. There was something smaller than a cell. What was smaller than a molecule? Atoms!

Atoms are the base structure of The Universe. After reading this line, I thought that atoms were the smallest thing in the universe. It wasn’t until the end of the school year that I learned something I couldn’t believe. Atoms were made of electrons, neutrons, and protons.

On Wikipedia, there was a link for electrons, neutrons, and protons. I clicked; thinking that is would only be the definitions of the three items, for they MUST have been the smallest thing in The Universe. They HAD to be! My eyes widened, my jaw dropped down. I was wrong. Inside my head, I screamed at myself, “HOW!!!” I cried. I was furious and piqued, because I wanted to be right for once. I was enthralled and angry. There were even more dreaded smaller things! I was happy to make progress, but bemoaned that I was wrong. Even electrons, neutrons, and protons were made up things: quarks.


Through these answers, I learned that a scientist can’t make a definite assumption or jump to conclusions in science before learning about it.  At this moment, these little quarks lingered in my mind, and I thought they might, just might, be made of something smaller. However, that is a mystery yet to be solved…

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Stranded

Jux woke up sputtering. Cold water was being splashed onto his face by Burl. Burl held his water bottle close to him, as if someone was trying to steal it. Jux looked around. The town was in ruins. There were human officials everywhere, he saw a medic run past him. He stood up. He was a total wreck. His muscles were aching, and he was dizzy. Burl put Jux on his shoulders and ran.

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All the way across the world...

"This is Extra-Terrestrial Management Squadron 499." Soldiers, scientists, and political officers rushed about. A General, General Phillips, announced, "The incident that happened near London, England, was not from an asteroid, or any other space rock. It was extra-terrestrial. Alien. We have here a specimen of the raining objects. I advise you not to touch it, for the last guy who did caught on fire." People gathered around the 1 inch piece of metal. He continued, "We have calculated that it was part of a spaceship, and that it is falling. We must stop it before it reaches 10,000 feet,  for if it impacts the Earth, we can say goodbye to the Northern Hemisphere. That is if the physical object hits the Earth. If it has any engines of a special type, then-" He paused. "Then we can say goodbye to our loved ones, friends, and neighbors. This might be the last hours of the people of planet Earth."

General Phillips went to the tech room of the Extra-Terrestrial Management Squadron facility. He said, "What are our options rookie!?"

"We can launch missiles at the unidentified object, which is extremely risky, or... We can use a device I have been working on."

"What is it?"

"It is a teleportation device. However, I haven't tested it yet, and it could disperse all the atoms of a human body into nothingness."

"It is the best we have."

"But sir, when our troops do get up there, what would they do?"

"They will try to fix the communicators and call for help to other extraterrestrial beings, like the Martians."

"How do we know these aren't the Martians?"

"Well duh!? Martian ships don't even look like this. They look completely different. Plus, "Martians are our friends." The General marched off. The tech rookie mouthed, "What?"
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Jux started running around, looking for other passengers of the cruise. Burl screamed. Jux turned around and saw Burl flickering. "HELP! I AM TELEPORTING!!!" Burl zapped away. Jux looked down at himself. He was teleporting too! He blinked and found himself on the cruise ship. He looked around and saw all kinds of droids walking around. He said, "Hey!" They looked at him. They said in unison, "Problem detected. Solution: Kill. Kill. Kill. Kill. Kill." Jux looked around, there was no sign of Burl. Jux bolted. He smashed through a door and looked out into space. An air bubble was sealing the ship, but there was no wall. He carefully walked around it, and continued to run.

He bolted through another door, ran up stairs. Suddenly, he tripped, and something grabbed him.

TO BE CONTINUED