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"We made the wrong mistake." – Yogi Berra

Important Subjects to Understand The Spice Trade

Posted in Asian Studies on September 6, 2015 by Andrew
“The sea is vast and great; with favourable winds it is possible to cross within three months; but if you meet slow winds, it may also take you two years. It is for this reason that those who go to sea take on board a supply of three years’ provisions. There is something in the sea which is apt to make a man homesick, and several have thus lost their lives.” (Kan Ying, Chinese ambassador 97 A.D.) When it comes to the Spice Trade, the most important aspect to know about is the geography and physical place of the different locations involved. Since the trade involved places very far from each other, it made the situations difficult for the merchants to move their products to the destinations. Also, since transportation was relatively sluggish at during that time, there were many obstacles that stopped people from delivering their goods. For example, in order to transport spice from Moluccas to somewhere like Italy, the spice would have to be shipped across a part of the Atlantic Ocean, into India, where it is sold again and transported to Italy. Also, due to the long distances, the goods would often be sold multiple times in order to get to the destination. This also makes transportation easier from each individual merchant, but increases the price dramatically. The places in the middle of the trade route in which ships stopped by soon became wealthy and advanced due to the different types of people that visit.
Speaking of price, there is obviously the supply and the demand. The less you have and the more people want it, the more valuable it is. The Europeans demanded spice during that time for 2 main reasons. First of all, the seasonings made food taste better and it also covered up the taste of spoiled meat. Second of all, due to the rarity of it, most Europeans believed that it was related with Heaven and Paradise. Soon, even people from the middle class started to imitate the rich people, which led to an increased demand in spice. Due to the poor transportation, limited supply, and long distance traveling involved, the price of spice was set to a remarkable standard. “They (the people of Ta-ts’in which is also called Li-kan) traffic by sea with An-hsi and T’ien-chu, the profit is ten-fold. They are honest in their transactions and there are no double prices. The budget is based on a well-filled treasury.”(Chinese official Later Han (25-220 AD). After being shipped, guards were often hired to protect it, as if it were treasure.
If you know that owning a product and being able to trade it for money, why wouldn’t you want to control it? This happened to be the result of the wealth generated from the spice trade. After realizing the enormous profit created from the trade, the Europeans decided to take over, which resulted in a war between the European nations and the Indies. After defeating the native Indians, they turned against each other, in order to completely control the trade. “Permit me to put you on guard with regard to the East Indies- the French are determined to send as many troops as possible-4000 men are already ordered; the regiment.De I’lse de France of 1600 men arrived while I was there to embark for the Island of Bourbon.”(Secret transcript written in 12 November 1787 by a British spy).
Indirectly, the involvement of transportation, conflicts, and geography significantly contributed to the spread of religion and ideas. As people interacted, whether it’s from a war, or just from trading goods, ideas are constantly being passed around. Like the Silk Road, the spice trade also contributed to the spread of Buddhism, Christianity, and several other religions.
Map
In conclusion, in order to understand the spice trade, one must understand the involvement and effects of geography, the economy, and the sociology (in this case, the conflicts). These aspects not only contribute to price, but also the spread of ideas. Using the knowledge of these 3 aspects, you can thereby understand how the spread of ideas and the remarkable prices were formed and how exactly these systems functioned. With the knowledge of these ideas, one can thus truly understand what makes the spice trade different from just simply the trade of resources.
Sources: http://orias.berkeley.edu/spice/textobjects/primary_sources.htm

Above The Skies

Posted in Humanities with tags , , on June 4, 2015 by Andrew
Chapter 1: Living
Being like the rest felt great. Equality made our lives perfect. Work is harsh, but when others are placed in the same circumstances, it feels great. It feels great to be the same. Life is always fair, and that’s a gift of God.
Ten years ago, our world was at war. My father served as a soldier under the Reach’s commands. During that time, three major tribes, also known as the Three Criminal States, were opposed to the Reach. The entire story is complicated. The beginning of this conflict started approximately nine years ago. There was once this land they called China, that went into war with the United States. These at that time, were the two greatest powers in the world. The Sino-american peace treaty was created, but that was only the beginning. Competition continued to intensify, making war the only path to follow by. I was only 19 at that time, when the first of them dropped. It was a sunny afternoon, around twelve o’clock or so, when the first of the birds hit. It plunged into the ground, as a beam of light blasted through the horizon. For a second, everything was silent. The next second, everything was flat. The tall buildings, the schools, my friend Bob, everything, disappeared in a flash, without a single sound. I was too death to hear it. Something inside me had always reminded me that I was alive. I had survived the blast. For whatever reason I was chosen to live, I thank God, I thank my savior. Before we knew it, half the world’s population was gone, gone with the light. As devastating as it was, this marked the new era, the era of Demacia, the era of the Reach, the era of the new world, the era of the new society, the era of a new beginning.
“About time,” as captain Cook glared at me with one of those you-know-the-problem type of face. A fire seemed to be rising inside him, as his wicked eyes stared into my soul, raising the hair on the back of my neck. My vision moved upward to the ticking fingers of the clock. No wonder, 1 minute past time. Before I notice it, a giant palm knocks me half unconscious, sending me to the ground, as my head buried into the dirt. I rub the dust off my face, as Cook drags me off the ground. “Get your ass straight miner, ain’t nobody got time for your shit!” He gives me another smack, knocking me back into consciousness. Our supervisor James Alfred Cook, was always like this. He was always a grumpy man. During the war, his family left him, and he was set alone to face life all by himself. The blast devastated him, and he lost one of his eyes in the process. Grumpy old Cook turned into an alcoholic, and there was literally nothing to get him to smile.
Schedule, check, license, check, bag, all ready. In a single filed line, we marched into the mines. It was my turn to man the Endurance, as I squished myself into the cockpit of the colossal monster. It had a 10 meter long drill on its tip, used to dig deep into the earth, in search of endosium and other resources, that were sent away to worship the Gods and for The Reach to provide us protection. Some called it the Big Daddy. We’ve been through the darkest times of our era, and now all we wanted was security. The Endurance buried its monstrous body into the soil. 10 meters, 100 meters, 500 meters, 1 kilometer deep. It wasn’t really a dig, more like a drop, straight to the mantle of the Earth.
“Endurance 1 deployed, launching initiation sequence.”
“Roger that Pete.”
Within a second, I found myself in lava, yet alive. The Endurance’s heat managing system has been launched to its fullest, which makes it capable of resisting lava, without being destroyed. 10 degrees celsius inside the cockpit, perfect. The lava was deadly, yet lively. Even under the molten liquid, you can see the layers moving up and do    wn, due the change of heat and density of the lava. I flicked the switch of the EEL, the electronic endosium locator, and a green web instantly popped out of the computer screen, locating the direction towards my target. I steered my direction of the Endurance torwards the target, and at the speed of sound, the machine roared and plunged itself into the rocks, crushing everything in it’s way. Before we know it, a load of endosium is sent into our storage, packaged in crates. It was a dangerous job, but neat, and simple as that.
Chapter 2:  Realization
“Come on kids, let’s go, we have 2 minutes left.”
Breakfast with my kids was quick. We haven’t got much time. Today is December 30, the day of the Reach’s grand meeting, to celebrate our achievements over the year. When we arrived at the meeting, there was a enormous screen in the middle. It wasn’t just a screen, but a holograph, where President Mann’s face will appear in the end of every year to talk to us from the Reach. A beam of light is shot out from the screen, following with another one. One by one, the beams form the image of the President’s face. He was in a green outfit, much like the ones we wear. “Welcome, my fellow citizens. Today, we celebrate our accomplishments over the year. Welcome to the 67th anniversary of Demacia and The Reach! Let us all greet the upcoming year of 2026, together, as a nation!” Laughter bursted from the screen, followed by our cheers.
The afternoon went by nice, until Jessica came to me during my work, only to inform me that my father was kidnapped by two mysterious men. Without even thinking, I called the police.
“Excuse me sir.”
“Yes. This is the 890, do you request any assistance?”
“I live in Section 5 and my father was kidnapped.”
“Your father? What’s his name?”
“Joseph Wallman. We are currently very worried about his absence. Please help us.”
“Joseph Wallman? He’s your father?”
“Yes why?”
“Hold on.”
“Hello? Hello?”
There was no answer. Without informing Cook, I left the extraction site, and headed towards the police station. Along the way, I noticed two policemen on one of those walkers, those huge vehicles that were rarely used. The last time I saw these things in action, was when they tried to capture the serial killer Shaw Kane. On the back seat, I noticed someone familiar. He had a long beard, with a scar on his face. No doubt, it was my father.
I jumped out the car and stood right in front of the walker. The driver exited the vehicle, and pointed a pistol at me.
“Who are you!? Get the hell out of the way!”
“I’m Peter, and this man in your vehicle-“
“This man is a criminal of the state, and is going to be taken to execution. Now get out of my sight!”
Execution. My father. Execution. My father. This was impossible. From a distance, I saw my father’s arms reach out from the bars separating him and the front seat, as it locked against the second officer’s neck.
“Peter! It’s now or never! Make the move!”
Without any doubt, I swung my fist into the officer’s face, as he fell to the ground, unconscious. The man in the car was dead, as my father walked out unharmed.
“Let’s finish off this guy.”
He grabbed the pistol from the officer on the ground and placed a bullet in his brain. Shocked, that’s the right word. My father killed someone. This idea kept on repeating in my mind, but as we went home, I never questioned him. We never talked.
At night, I finally decided to ask him about the situation.
“What happened today? Why were you arrested?”
“Peter listen, there are just many things you don’t know about this society, that you shouldn’t learn.”
“Why father?” I questioned.
“I- it’s too dangerous.”
“Please father, I need to know.”
“Okay son, so the world in reality, isn’t exactly the same as we know it. There are so many things that people try to hide from you. Now please. Just go to sleep son.”
Chapter 3: The Massacre
That night, my head was on fire. This flashing back and forth inside my brain. I don’t understand what’s happening. Something was constantly emerging and fading away inside of my head. My instincts tell me that something horrible was about to happen.
We were counting days, expecting someone to show up on our front door and drag us out for execution. It was quite odd. For a few days, we seemed to have lost contact with The Reach. There was no TV broadcast, there was simply no interaction. As a week passed, we started to calm down. Maybe they thought it was actually a doing of a criminal. Maybe we are actually safe. Over this time period, the working hours proceeded, and we simply pretended we knew nothing. We remained calm… but not for long.
12 o’clock in the afternoon, everything was fine, we were at our lunch hours. 12:30 PM, I saw heard the first explosion at our front gates of our community. Following it came the rest of them. Many screaming happened in the process, we were set into chaos. This had become the right time for them to show up, since we were now sitting ducks. Before I knew it, the ground underneath me ruptured. I flew back as if I were hit by a truck, and my partner Will just disappeared into the ashes. Dizzily, I wiped the dirt off my torn face and ran clumsily back home, searching for Jessica and Scott.
“Scott, Jessica, guys! We need to go now! Where are you!”
“Daddy! Daddy!”
I heard a far cry as I found them charging into my stomach holding me tight to them. I picked them up and headed for the door. Before I reached the doorstep, the door opened itself. Two men charged into the room, carrying P90 SMGs. I saw it with my own eyes, when the first bullet penetrated my son. One more flew past and hit my daughter. Time slowed down, as I watched them collapse, hopelessly. There was no time for regret. Enraged, I grabbed the vegetable knife in the kitchen and slashed the first man’s throat. In a second, I felt an intense pain in my shoulder, I was shot. Swiftly, I launched the weapon from my hands, and it hit, deep inside the soldier’s skull. I tried standing up, but my vision was blur, and I felt my weight act upon myself. Blackness, pure blackness, as I lost consciousness.
I checked the clock, 9:00 PM. Thanks to the USR nanotechnology, I had recovered in only a few hours. My father never made it out of our section. I was in the Underground Secret Resistance hospital, an uprising that I’ve heard of a while ago. General Bard, leader of the USR, entered the room, as he helped me up.
Chapter 4: Retribution
We were led into an enormous room, covered in metal pieces. Out of these scraps, two colossal structures emerged from the distance. “Welcome, meet project Cerberus, the watchdogs of hell. Our hope, our future, lays in their hands,” Bard shouted with honor. The three monsters were sent up from deep underground, into their silos, as if they were ready to annihilate an entire race. “Comrades, your mission, is to destroy a computer lab, located in the Southern region in Demacia. Intel shows that this computer system is providing a plasma shield generator for the city above, for the Reach. Without the downed shield, there would be no way we can win this war. The sky is their heart, and the shield is their protection, so that’s where we’ll strike! We will provide the transport to escort you tomorrow morning, 8:00 AM sharp. Sergeant Peter, you will be responsible of planting the explosive charges since you are our finest engineer. Make it quick, and do it at any cost! Do I make myself clear?”
“Hoorah!”
8:00 AM
“ACC1, approaching target.”
“Roger that, ACC2 in bound.”
“ACC1, taking heavy fire! We’re going down! Mayday! I repeat, we’re going down!”
The world was spinning around me, as altitudes dropped. The world turned dark.
“Peter.”
My eyes found the first glimpse of light. Captain Cook.
“You okay? We’re still in one piece. Let’s keep moving.”
For a second, I thought we were all dead. The next second, blood splatted over my face. Cook was shot.
“Kee, keep, moo, moving,” he murmured, coughing on his own blood.
Then came the bullet shower, Cook was torn to bits. His arms here, and his legs there. Luckily, I was still inside the downed helicopter, or we would’ve lost our very last hope. I grabbed the SMG from Cook, still soaked in blood, and blasted towards the firing source up on the roof of the building. There was a short scream, as the man fell off and hit the floor. Agent James and his men soon arrived to escort me. We entered the building, blasting our way through their armed forces.
These men were definitely caught off guarded, or we would’ve found ourselves grasping for air, as they close upon on us. We made our way in, searching every hallway, and finally, we made our way to the room. We were sprinting across the hallway to our objective, when suddenly, I heard a sound of thunder. I felt an enormous shake on my back, as the impact blew the living souls out of James and his men. Their reinforcement has arrived. It was now or never. I stuck the C4 explosives into the computer slots, and waited. As the Reaches forces entered, the room, it was time to click the switch. For the first time of my life, I’ve felt the light. For a second there was a bright light bursting out of nowhere. For the first time of my life, I felt hopeless, but the same time, I felt that I’ve brought hope to the rest of them.
Afterword:
Nothing was heard of Peter ever since. He was nothing, but a normal man, who, like everyone else, lived under the shrouds of propaganda, covered inside the dome, covered from the truth. But for everyone else, this didn’t last for long…
July 30, 2026
The three Cerberus dogs soared through the sky, as they ripped the skies apart. Operation Retribution was in action, to end this tyrannical society once and for all. In a moment, everywhere, everything, was in chaos. A moment after, there was harmony, there was joy. Peace was restored.

I See What You’re Thinking… (Not a horror story)

Posted in Humanities with tags , , on May 29, 2015 by Andrew

I SEE WHAT YOU'RE THINKING

“To the future or to the past, to a time when thought is free, when men are different from one another and do not live alone — to a time when truth exists and what is done cannot be undone: From the age of uniformity, from the age of solitude, from the age of Big Brother, from the age of doublethink — greetings!” (Orwell, page 14)

Propaganda, cameras, eyes, everywhere. In every single spot of Winston Smith’s world, there is always an eye watching you, without you ever noticing it. In this world, the society is divided into three parts, the Inner Party, the Outer Party, and the Proles. Winston is in the middle class, working in the Truth Ministry. His role is to alter images, and change the way people perceive history, to alter the way people look at the truth. The Thought Police play a great role in this society. The Thought Police make sure that not only do people obey orders, but would also think the same way. People who are different would be arrested. Like the world of Fahrenheit 451, these people live under the shrouds of propaganda.

“Down with Big Brother! Down with Big Brother!” (Orwell, page 26) In contrast to this society, there is a secret organization known as the Brotherhood, who’s goal was to destroy the party. As the story progresses, Winston meets O’Brien, and starts to make his way out of the puzzle, seeking for the gate where truth beholds.

Courage

Posted in Humanities with tags , , , on May 19, 2015 by Andrew

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“I spent a few long days caged inside the bars. I asked Hassan to kill me, but it didn’t happen” (Bowden, page 139)

The ending of this story isn’t the same as how I expected it to be. Michael Durant was saved when the US government agreed to exchange Aidid’s men in order to bring him back. Although this may seem like a ridiculous ending, the theme of this book is reflected during this scene. Taking in everything, yet refusing to fall, that’s what kept Durant alive. “I had some flashbacks of the battle. Everything about that place was dreadful, yet I had to move on.” (Bowden, page 160) When Durant heard that the first helicopter was shot down, he aborted the mission to rescue the downed members. Subsequently, he became the next victim. The UH-60, the helicopter Durant was on, was destroyed by an RPG. Despite his circumstances, he continued the rescue mission, until everyone was dead besides him.  Durant fought against thousands of Somalis, and faced torture from eleven days of captivity, yet still had the courage to survive. It is the courage, to fight for a living, that helped him live through the darkness.

 

A Story of A Patriot: Stuck, Surrounded, Horrified…

Posted in Humanities with tags , , , on May 4, 2015 by Andrew

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PDF File: Black Hawk Down Climax

“I was horrified.”(Bowden, page 268)

The targeted men in the mission were captured, except for Aidid. On the other side, however, many US soldiers were either dead, dragged onto the streets, and tortured. Approximately 80 of them were severely injured. Michael Durant, a captain of the 160th SOAR. When the Super Six Four, one of the Black Hawk helicopters went down, he and 2 others managed to survive the crash. Shortly after, his crew were killed, and he was the only one in his section that survived.

However, after being surrounded by thousands of Somalian militias, he became the only survivor out of his crew. “Everyone gone. Only I was taken prisoner.” (Bowden, 266)

After a negotiation between the US and the UN, a rescue team was finally deployed inside Mogadishu to save the remaining survivors. Despite their efforts, they did not have enough vehicles to bring everyone back. The remaining troops were forced to run a mile to a UN extraction point. “As he approached the intersection of Hawlwadig Road and National Street, about five blocks south of the Olympic Hotel, he saw a tank and the line of APCs and Humvees and a mass of men in desert battle dress. He ran until he collapsed, with joy” (Bowden, page 350) This event was also known as the Mogadishu Mile.

The survivors were rescued, except for Durant, still sitting inside a prison, being held captive. At any moment now, somebody, one of Aidid’s men, may show up in front of doorstep, to either execute him, or give him the painful way of dying. Durant was terrified, inside a prison cell, hopeless.

 

Sited Sources:

Docstoc (for outline of figure): www.docstoc.com

Photoshop (Editing): http://www.adobe.com/products/photoshop.html

Fate Decides

Posted in Humanities with tags , , , on April 23, 2015 by Andrew

“Chopper down, I repeat, chopper down!” (Bowden, 294)

A mission that should’ve taken only 3 hours, lasted for more than 3 days. In 1993, a hundred US task force marines were set out to capture warlord Aidid and two of his lieutenants in Somalia, but found themselves fighting for their lives against a few thousand Somalian militias. Following the mission was the Battle of Mogadishu. An original mission was turned into a brink of survival. Stuck in the city of Mogadishu, these marines were severely outnumbered.

The background story is set in 1993, Somalia. At that time, the entire nation suffered under famine and civil war. This resulted in many casualties, and the UN had no choice but to throw out a peacekeeping operation in Somalia. After the peacekeepers withdrew from the nation, Somlia’s militia started fighting the rest of the UN servants. “Our target, Mohammad Farrah Aidid.” (Bowden, 94) As a result, the United States sent a hundred Army Rangers, known as the Delta Force, led by Captain Mike Steele, combined forces with the 160th division of the SOAR (Special Operations Aviation Regiment), in order to capture Mohammad Farrah Aidid, who was a leader of one of the warring factions in Somalia, and who claimed himself the president of of the nation.

Aidid’s weapon supplier was taken captive by the US marines. However, only after an hour into the mission, the first Black Hawk helicopter went down. Then fell the second one. The story talks about these soldiers, in an effort to escort the downed Hawks, and at the same time, struggling to survive.

Michael Durant, the main character in this story, was a member of the SOAR, served as a chief warrant officer in the US Army, and was also the pilot of the second downed Black Hawk helicopter. When the crash occurred, Durant and his crew of 3 managed to survive it. However, the mission had to continue, as there were still a dozen of US soldiers trapped inside Mogadishu. Durant and his crew found themselves fighting through the Somalis, knowing that it was over.

Finally, Our Finishing Touches- Polymers Day 5

Posted in Science with tags , , on April 15, 2015 by Andrew

 

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Today, we were able to make our finishing touches on our polymer project. Our candles were finished and we started to work on our infomercial videos. Our candles turned out to be very successful, so we decided to go by that idea. Our candle was now capable of granting light to a dark room, and at the same time, giving the room a pleasant scent, as shown in the pictures above. The polymers are also made of different colors and decorations that all come in a kit, which means the user would be able to customize his/her desired type of polymer.

 

This was the logo that we made for the infomercial:

 

 

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POLYNDER LOGO

 

Polymerzzzzzz!!!!!!!!!!! Day 4

Posted in Science with tags , , on April 12, 2015 by Andrew

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Unfortunately, after looking at the results of day 3, there’s been another change of plans. Our polymers dried perfectly, but we realized that it would be unrealistic to turn the polymer into a disco ball. Why? The polymer can break easily, which makes it a lot harder for us to bend it into a ball shape. Our new idea is to change our design into a candle.  We hope that this is our final idea, and that we won’t have to change our plan again.

In order to test out the polymers, we decided to heat them up in a microwave. We wanted to make sure that the polymer itself can resist heat. After putting the green, red, yellow and blue polymers inside the microwave for 1 minute, we recorded these results:

Red

1 minute on red- molten, brown, hard, shrunk, swollen

Blue

1 minute on blue- Shrunk, hardened, dry, turned dark and brown, swollen.

Green

10 seconds on green- liquid and slimy and drips

20 seconds on green- full of air bubbles. Jelly-like

30 seconds on green- not gather able, in small chunks. 

40 seconds on green- turning solid, gather able.

50 seconds on green- not gather able, hard, solid forming, big chunks of solids. Inside is hard, outside is bouncy. 

60 seconds on green- little amount of jelly, hard, gather able.

Orange

10 seconds on reddish orange polymer- almost completely liquid.

20 seconds- white stain forming on the surface.

30 seconds- drippy, kind of gather able. 

40 seconds- More liquidy

50 seconds- More liquidy, not soaked.

60 seconds- gather able, liquidy, evenly spread, slimy, not soaked.

As you can see, we were not able to get the information of every 10 seconds for the red and blue polymers. However, their results proved that they were not compatible for making a candle. The green one was a bit better, as it remained slimy and gained a bit water during the process. We observed that the orange one was the best, since it wasn’t too wet, but at the same time, it had the best form and texture.

A Change of Plans- Polymers Journal Part 3

Posted in Science with tags , , on April 8, 2015 by Andrew

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After looking at the results of Day 2, we’ve decided that we might as well create a disco ball instead. What we want to do now is to make sure we get the same type of plastic layering but with different types of colors. These plastic pieces will be going on the ball. When we place a lamp in the middle, the different colors will result in different colors of light.

Yellow, green, dark green, and blue, these were the colors we used for today’s polymers. We figured out that the less guar gum we used, the more liquid-like our polymer will be, just like how the polymer from Day 2 started off as. We want to make it moist at first, and let it slowly dry to get the same results as the one we experimented in Day 2.

Polymers Project – Journal Entry 2

Posted in Science with tags , , , on April 6, 2015 by Andrew

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Today, me and my group of 3 members came up with a brilliant idea. Our plan was to make our polymer into a pencil cushioning. In school or at home, pencils are used everywhere. To make writing a comfortable experience, we decided to make our polymer soft. We also had to make sure that the polymer won’t just end up as a blob in the end. The polymer we were using was super slime, and we added approximately 20 milliliters of guar gum.

However, after the experiment, the polymers started to dry out. We started to realize that the water started separating with the blob itself, making the blob dry. The blob started to form this plastic-like layer on top. This gave us a new inspiration. If our pencil cushion plan failed, we could make a 3D class instead. The 3D glass will be made of the translucent plastic layer of the polymer. Of course, this will require some advanced knowledge on how to bend the light that passes through the polymer, but the results of our experiment suggest that this could be a possible idea.