Silviculture 2012 Review

Silviculture is an open forum for discussion. It is a place where Dalriads of all viewpoints can meet and rationally and respectfully talk about ideas.

“Everything you know about everything is wrong.” These were the concluding remarks of the very first Silviculture meeting in October 2011, presented by John Hope and James Stewart on the topic, ‘Does Time Exist?’ Ross Wakefield spoke these unforgettable words after a complex and enlightening talk and discussion which saw the two Year 10 boys dismantling the foundations of time using phrases and terms far beyond our comprehension and rebuilding them in a way which made sense, in a wibbly-wobbly way. We covered space, time, space-time, the universe, reality and unreality in a discussion which was highly amusing and immersing all at the same time and made a great start to the year of Silviculture.

The second discussion that took place was brought by Naoimh Ledwith and was exploring the question, ‘Is humanity progressing for the good of the world?’ It was a fascinating discussion on a vast number of topics, with discussion ranging from global warming, stem cells, Nazis, sperm and Karl Marx!

The next two topics were tremendously challenging and were linked; the first was on the topic of Free Will taken by Luke McAuley. Luke began by discussing different and conflicting viewpoints on the topic and erupting into a heated discussion on fatalism and then getting side-tracked onto other topics such as Schrodinger’s Cat and probability with the result being many confused and amazed faces.

The second presentation was on the topic of Chaos and was taken by Ross Wakefield himself who began by proving, through mathematical formulae, that there is, in fact, no such thing as chaos! The most memorable part of the discussion came when Ross talked about fractals and ended by showing the most entrancing video clip displaying infinity using fractals. What began as a mathematically mind-boggling talk ended with absolute awe and a glimpse of eternity. You can watch this clip on Youtube using the key word Mandlebrot.

In January 2012 we felt in need of a little cheering up so we discussed Existentialism and had a very energetic exchange of ideas about the nature and purpose of existence. Peter Adams, next year’s President, took us on a magical mystery tour with his presentation on Artificial Intelligence when we discussed the nature of being human. Thomas Hancock introduced The Death Penalty in March and we were all a little worse for wear after that! Just when you though it was safe to look at the present unbearable slide, he produced another! Finally, Claire Crawford took us back to the start of 2011 with a further look at a much-loved topic – Time Travel.

It has been a very successful year for Silviculture and I am happy to have been a part of this small but important Society and helped to develop it this year along with the committee – Naoimh Ledwith, Bethany Millican and Andrew Martin. I wish Peter all the best for next year – remember Peter, there is no such thing as chaos and you may or may not have free will!