In depth post #1

Good evening, I am David Li, a grade 10 TALONS student, and for my in-depth project this year I am doing financial analysis and studying how this can be applied to the stock market. Throughout the year my goals are to have a basic understanding of financial literacy, to learn how the stock market functions, and be able to use this knowledge to attempt to predict how certain events or policies can affect the market.

What

Financial analysis is taking data, whether it is information from the news, data from Yahoo finance, or any other form of information, and using it to try to predict the future of a certain part of the market. For example, if I hear that a certain currency has high inflation, I can predict that gold prices or bit-coin prices are probably going to rise, while if I hear that a travel ban is going to happen I can predict that cruise stocks are going to fall. Through being able to analyze data I can compare companies, learn or at least understand economic trends, and potentially utilize this skill 

Why

I have always been interested in data and information, so when I heard that accounting was no longer a viable option for in-depth I instantly turned to financial analysis. I am also thinking of potentially working in this field in the future, so exploring this through the in depth project can really be helpful.

How

I am going to learn financial analysis by reading related books and articles, applying them to analyze businesses and current affairs, and using this knowledge to try to predict the future of specific parts of the market. I will talk more in-depth about my plan in the plan section.

Plan (timeline/process)

After discussing with my mentor, he suggested I divide my five-month period into four sections. 

For the first month, I should focus on reading and researching to gain a better understanding of how the economy and the market functions. He gave me several book recommendations, including “The Economics Book” (very descriptive name) which I am currently reading, “经济解释” (Explanation of Economics), and “The Interpretation of Financial Statements”.

After I have a reasonable understanding of the general market, I can start to focus on researching and analyzing specific companies, which my mentor can guide me in and correct me if I make any mistakes. He suggested I spend about one week on each company, which should be sufficient time for me to research and understand how the company functions, and he can check my work at the end of each week.

After about four to six of these projects, I can start analyzing and comparing multiple companies or even entire industries and attempt to predict the future growth of these companies and analyzing how certain events can affect these companies/industries. My mentor’s advice was that I spend two to three weeks on each of these comparisons, and we can meet each week to discuss my progress.

I can keep doing this until late April, by which time I can start working on my final presentation. I am still not quite sure about what exactly my final presentation is going to be, but it will probably be along the lines of analyzing current affairs and attempting to predict the near future or comparing companies and predicting their growth.

Who can I ask for help from?

I am doing pretty well at the moment, as I have multiple sources to ask for help from including my mentor, my aunt, who works in real estate investment, and my grandmother’s student, who is currently an economics professor at Nanjing University. I also often talk to friends or family members about political or economical news, and their opinions always help me a lot. When I am really out of ideas on things to read about, I sometimes even look for economy-related conspiracy theories online, since although the theories themselves are ridiculous. oftentimes the root problem that they are talking about is actually legit.

Progress report:

So far I have read about 40 pages into “The Economics Book” and had a discussion with my mentor about what this project is going to look like. As I had to change projects at the last second I wasn’t able to do as much as I was hoping for, but at this rate, I should be able to stay on track and stick with my plan.

Night of the Notables: Huineng

Good evening, I am Huineng, the sixth patriarch of Chan, or as it is known in the west, Zen, and welcome to the Night of the Notables. Unfortunately, due to COVID restrictions, this year our event is being held online, but this is nothing to be thwarted about. As I once famously said, “One’s body is just a vessel for his mind…”, so what does it matter if we are unable to physically gather, as long as we can converse our understandings?

When people think of Buddhism, the first thing that comes to mind may be Japanese Sōhei monks or Chinese kung fu warriors, however, this impression isn’t entirely true, as these monks are actually not actually traditional Buddhist followers. Rather, they are followers of Zen, or later Shinto Buddhism, neither of which can represent West-Indian Buddhism. Buddhism originated in modern India, spread to China in the second century A.D. Stemming out from China, the religion became dominant in East and Southeast Asia, and now has over 200 million devoted followers and almost two billion believers.

However… this religion hasn’t always been as influential as it is today. When Buddhism was first introduced to eastern Asia during China’s Han dynasty, it was rejected multiple times. Even after it finally broke into the country, the religion only barely managed to stay afloat. So… how did this religion become so influential? Well, that’s where I came in.

Unlike most monks of the time, I came from an extremely poor family. As such, I knew neither how to read nor write, and so had to learn Buddhist scripture through lessons and experiences rather than scriptures or poems. Coming from such a different background, I saw the world from a perspective no other monk could, and with this advantage, I quickly realized why this religion was so unpopular and came up with a list of reforms. The new branch of altered Buddhism will later be known as Southern Zen, as opposed to the more traditional Northern Zen. As you have probably already guessed, my reforms were quite successful. Within a hundred years, Buddhism became the dominant religion of China, and within another century Southern Zen swept across East Asia.The Spread of Buddhism - Ancient india

Now, due to time constraints, we won’t be able to analyze every detail of my reforms, but here’s a general overview.
First, I noted the religion’s biggest problem, which was a lack of support. When I asked other monks why this was, the other monks told me that only those who deserve enlightenment will seek it, and we don’t have more believers since only very few people deserve the pursuit of knowledge. However, I disagreed. If Buddha took pity on the peasants, why only offer them food and shelter, but not enlightenment? “A spark of light can wipe away a century of darkness, a thought of wisdom can clear a life of stupidity”, so what does it matter if someone started with a bad foundation?
After careful consideration, I came to a different conclusion. Having come from a rural village myself, I understood the difficulty it was for information to travel. It wasn’t that no one was interested in Buddhism, but rather that very few people even knew of the religion’s existence. To solve this problem, I encouraged my students to travel and visit others, as opposed to the more traditional method of sitting and waiting for others to seek you. This method proved very effective, and within a year everyone within several hundred miles of our temple knew about Buddhism. However, even though our temple was always full of visitors, very few people actually chose to stay. Most would just come in, ask some questions, and quickly leave again.
At first, I confused as to why no one showed any interest, but soon I saw the problem, illiteracy. Traditionally, Buddhist teachings have always been written in sultras, translated straight from Sanskrit, and was very complex and difficult to understand. Having never understood these sultras my self, I can relate to the frustration of not being able to read, and how discouraging it could be for someone potentially interested in the religion. To solve this problem, I simplified these scriptures, and even rewrote some of them as poems or songs, only covering the essence and scrapping all the irrelevant text, making them very easy to memorize and understand.
After solving these two major problems, I also implemented a variety of smaller changes, and the results were spectacular. As I mentioned above, within fifty years of my death Zen spread across China, and within another century it swept across Asia, influencing the world in a way that only Christianity can compare with.
Some people may have heard about Koans before, but do you understand them? The word Koan originated from the Chinese word, Gong An, meaning official file. These files are stories purposefully left vague and up to the reader’s interpretation, which can often be used in philosophical conversations or quoted in religious debates. Recently, I have been reading through Koans, and several really interesting stories caught my attention. If you are interested in reading these stories or discussing them with me, please scroll down to the comments section.
That was my presentation, thank you for your time, and feel free to comment on any questions. Thank you!

Developing the Leaders Around You

The organization’s growth potential is directly related to its personnel potential.
The Law of Explosive Growth
To add growth, lead followers. To multiply growth, lead leaders.
Any group, team, government, or organization is always both built on and built by its team members. As such, the most important direction for any organization to work towards is growing its personnel potential.
The Law of Explosive Growth explains that if a leader only attempts to lead followers, then he can only recruit the people attracted to him, and can only gain one follower at a time. However, if the leader trains his followers into fellow leaders, then they can each lead their own followers, which increases the growth speed of the organization by an exponential scale.
I chose the Law of Explosive Growth, as I think it is the most important law taught in this session. When I was learning about this law, I compared an organization to a spear. If the leader only trains followers, he can only ever be the tip of the spear. Effective if sharp, but once he fades away the entire group collapses. If he trains other leaders, he can still act as the tip of the spear, but if someone else is more capable than him, he can also choose to become the blade or even the transition, still ready to step up if necessary, but not carrying the entire group.
The law defines the importance of developing fellow leaders as opposed to simply attracting followers, and is the ideal situation for the TALONS community to be in. I will apply this rule to future leadership projects by developing my mentorees into leaders and encouraging them to develop their mentorees into leaders as well.

The Leadership Challenge
Leaders are hard to find.
Leaders are hard to gather.
Leaders are hard to unite.
Leaders are hard to keep.

The biggest challenge with leading leaders is that they also want to lead rather than follow. First, you have to be able to spot a leader. Then, you have to be able to persuade them to join you. After they have joined, you still have to make sure they cooperate with the rest of the group, and if they don’t, it’s hard to keep them in your organization.
I chose this law since I often experience these challenges. In the TALONS program, everyone is meant to work together, and we do, so this isn’t much of a problem. But outside of the school environment, this becomes a challenge. Even if I can identify another leader, why should they join me? Why should they work with me? Why should they work for me? Through the TALONS experience, I found that the best way to lead another leader is by establishing a personal connection with them. If you only lead by position, they do not need to follow you or obey you. However, if you lead through permission they may willingly follow you and be interested in what you have to say.
As stated above, this challenge usually doesn’t apply to the TALONS community, but it still occasionally occurs and so it is important to understand and know how to deal with it.

Five Levels of Leadership
The Five Levels of Leadership states that leaders lead through different kinds of power. The worst kind of leader leads through positional power, as they are only able to lead because someone else told them they could. The next type leads through permission power, as in the followers willingly follow the leader. The third type leads through productional power, as people follow them for what they have done. The fourth type leads through people’s development, as people follow them because of what they have done for them. The highest tier of leader leads through personhood, as in people follow them for who they are.
I picked this law since I think this is a good guideline for what leaders should strive to be.
This applies to the TALONS program, as climbing this pyramid should be a common goal for all of us. We are already unintentionally advancing up the pyramid, but if we begin to intentionally do it the process will be more efficient.
On the first day of grade 9, nobody knew anyone else, and so we were working together because of the position. We were all classmates, so we have to work together. Soon after we reached the permission phase, where we respect each other and so we willingly listen to each other’s comments and suggestions. Some people have already reached the production phase, I haven’t, so that is what I am working towards. Two things I can do to achieve this is to increase momentum and be more willing to express myself. I can increase momentum by relating previous problems with current ones to find a solution, and I can express my self by communicating with my group members more.

Levels of Leadership
Levels of Leadership explains what each level of leadership should look like. Entry-level leaders know where they should be going but have never gone there. Credible leaders know where they should be going and have gone there before. Accepted leaders can take their followers there with them, and the highest level of leaders should be able to take other leaders there with them.
I chose this topic since it accurately describes the journey of a leader. When I first joined the TALONS program I had no idea what a leader was supposed to do. Gradually, by watching the teachers and grade 10s I developed a sense of what a leader should look like, and started working towards that goal. By the end of the year I have achieved my goal, and this year I am trying to take others there with me.
My plan for this year is to be able to take my mentorees there with me, and from that point, I will try to work towards the highest level and take other leaders there with me.

TALONS talk

Does magnetism affect plant growth?

Does magnetism affect plant growth?

If you have any questions, please leave them in the comments section!

 

(script)

Does magnetism affect plant growth?

Magnetism and magnetic fields influence a lot of things in our lives. From directing the compass to raising and lowering the tide, it shapes how we live our lives. Their effects have been known and used for thousands of years in many fields, including exploration, machinery… and farming! The effects of magnetism in the first two fields are well known, but many people doubt if magnetism has any effect on crop production.

Even before humans learned about magnetism, we noticed that certain patches of land are more productive than others, and plants planted in certain periods tend to grow better than others. This knowledge can be seen in many places, including ancient Egypt, where they timed their planting based on the moon and other astrological signs, and ancient china, which based their entire calendar on the lunar cycle.

Modern-day science is still unable to fully explain how magnetism affects plant growth, but there are many theories. The three main ones being:

magnetic forces alter the membrane structure of the seed

Magnetism purifies water

and

Magnetic fields simulate gravity, which speeds up auxin growth.

The first one is exactly as it sounds. Magnetism affects plants in ways that we still aren’t fully aware of yet, but one of the results is that with certain magnetic fields, plant membrane structures can be altered to absorb more nutrition and water so that the seed would grow faster. This is theorized to be one of the main reasons why ancient civilizations planted based on the moon. 

The second theory is also quite simple. Water is rarely pure. Most of the water that we use to water our plants or hydrate our crops have many minerals that cannot be absorbed. In some cases, exposing this water to a strong magnetic force can change these minerals into ones that the plant can absorb, so when this water is used to water the plant, it provides more useful minerals and leaves less waste.

An example of this would be purifying saltwater. As anyone who has ever watered a plant should know, you have to use fresh water to water plants. Saltwater has many poisonous minerals, which can potentially kill the plant, and the salt will accumulate on the soil surface. This can retard the plants’ ability to absorb nutrients. Magnets can solve this problem. Certain magnetic fields can weaken the bond within hydrated ions, freeing the salt ions from the hydrogen atoms. Further treatments of the water can either separate the salt and other impurities from the water or make them absorbable to the plant.

To summarize, in this situation, the magnetism is not really affecting the plant’s growth, but rather purifying the water that it needs to grow.

Speeding up the auxin growth is much more complicated.

Auxins are growth hormones that are inside of plant cells. It can cause the plant cell to grow elongated. The more auxins that are inside of a plant cell, the longer it grows.

Auxins’ growth rates are affected by a variety of factors, and directly impacts the growth of the plant, so it essentially acts as the information processor for the plant. After it receives and processes information, it acts to this information. An easy way to understand this process would be to compare these auxins to electrons. They move towards certain things, and away from others, causing “positive and negative charges”

An example of this process would be phototropism. This is when the auxins react to light by pointing towards it. This is a perfectly balanced portion of the plant stem. There are two auxins inside of each cell, so they are all equal in length, meaning that the plant grows straight up. When light hits the cells, however, the auxins will “move” away from the light. This results in one side, the one with more auxins, being “negative” and the side with fewer auxins being “positive”. The negative side has more auxins, and as I previously mentioned, more auxins mean more elongated cells. This causes the negative side to being much longer than the positive side, so the entire stem bends towards the positive side.

Now, how does all this relate to our magnetism theory? Well, auxins not only react to light, but they also react to gravity.

Auxins are affected by gravity by going lower, meaning that if the stem isn’t straight, there will be more auxins on the lower part of the stem than there are on the higher part. This means that auxins will always make the plant grow away from the ground. Taking an extreme example, if the stem is horizontal, all the auxins will gather at the bottom, making it take a 90-degree turn and point straight up. Now we can finally relate all this to magnetism. A powerful enough magnetic fields can simulate gravity. A powerful enough magnetic field can simulate gravity, and forces all the auxins to act to nothing but itself, meaning that the plants will ignore “distractions” and grow straight up. This process is known as negative geotropism.

To summarize, this process uses magnetic fields to fool the auxins in a plant to ignore all other factors and grow straight up, speeding up its growth process.

In conclusion, does magnetism affect plant growth? Both yes and no. Placing a fridge-door magnet beside a flower won’t help it grow faster, but using super-charged magnets on entire fields of crops can dramatically increase their growth speed. Magnetism can also be used in a variety of other ways to affect plant growth, including changing a seed’s membrane structure to allow it to absorb more water and minerals, purifying water to make it more useful to plants, and using magnetic fields to create a super-strong gravitational force that tricks plants into only growing straight.

“Pulling Salt Out of Seawater with Magnets.” Khalifa University, 9 Sept. 2019, www.ku.ac.ae/pulling-salt-out-of-seawater-with-magnets/.

“Magnets Help Plants Grow.” Archive – U.S. Agency for International Development, 2012-2017.usaid.gov/news-information/frontlines/feed-future/magnets-help-plants-grow.

“SVS: Ocean Tides and Magnetic Fields.” NASA, NASA, svs.gsfc.nasa.gov/4541.

Massimo E. Maffei. “Magnetic Field Effects on Plant Growth, Development, and Evolution.” Frontiers, Frontiers, 18 Aug. 2014, www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpls.2014.00445/full.

“Does Planting by the Moon Work?” Garden Myths, 18 Feb. 2018, www.gardenmyths.com/planting-moon-calendars/.

“Cryptochrome and Magnetic Sensing.” Theoretical Biophysics Group, www.ks.uiuc.edu/Research/cryptochrome/.

StackPath, www.gardeningknowhow.com/garden-how-to/info/magnetism-and-plant-growth.htm.

In-Depth Night!

Welcome to my In-Depth Presentation!

Good evening, I am David Li from the TALONS class, and thank you for joining me here tonight! For my In-Depth project, I chose to do traditional ink-wash painting.

I created a Prezi (<–) presentation as a brief overview for my in-depth year.

As I mentioned in the presentation, I ran out of supplies and was unable to meet with my mentor at all after spring break due to the Covid-19 pandemic, so I had to come up with some alternative solutions. In the end, I settled on changing my topic to Chinese calligraphy.

Thanks for joining me here tonight, and if you have any questions, please leave them in the comments section below.