Archive for the ‘Week1_TwoCultures’ Category


Sunday, March 8th, 2009

I can’t stay that after this weeks lecture, I didn’t turn to the computer and lookup the word “Nanotechnology”. After some research, I have come to learn that nanotechnology is ever-present in our lives, representing the state of the art in advances in biology, chemistry, physics, engineering, computer science and mathematics.  From what I gathered, Nanotechnology’ is the engineering of functional systems at the molecular scale. This covers current work and concepts that are more advanced. In its original sense, nanotechnology refers to the projected ability to construct items “from the bottom up”, so to speak, using techniques and tools being developed today to make complete, highly advanced products. These products are in many ways molecular machinery, which has led to a manufacturing revolution. Nanotechnology is often referred to as a general-purpose technology. That’s because in its mature form it will have significant impact on almost all industries and all areas of society. It offers better built, longer lasting, cleaner, safer, and smarter products for the home, for communications, for medicine, for transportation, for agriculture, and for industry in general.img_nano2

            With all of this in mind, I turned to a more specific application of nanotechnology: medicine. Disease and sickness are caused largely by damage at the molecular and cellular level. Today’s surgical tools are large and from the viewpoint of a cell, even a scalpel is a blunt instrument that could potentially destroy, rather then heal.

Nanotechnology, “the manufacturing technology of the 21st century,” will allow scientists to complex molecular machines and molecular computers. It will let us build fleets of computer controlled molecular tools much smaller than a human cell, built with incredibly accuracy. These tools will let medicine, for the first time, intervene in a sophisticated and controlled way at the cellular and molecular level.

Nanotechnology will allow us new instruments to examine tissue in unprecedented detail. Sensors smaller than a cell would give us precise look at ongoing function. Tissue could be analyzed literally down to the molecular level, giving a completely detailed “picture” of cellular, subcellular and molecular activities.

menu-dendrimer-floating-189The Michigan Nanotechnology Institute for Medicine and Biological Sciences has a series of fascinating projects, one of which uses Biosensors, nanosensors, to monitor radiation-induced illness in space.  These biosensors, a project in association with NASA, are meant to be a non-invasive way to measure the biological affects of space travel of astronauts. When the nanosensors are placed into the blood cells of astronauts, they will provide “moment to moment” information on the astronaut’s health status. These molecules should also be able to administer therapeutics in response to the needs of astronauts to ensure their safety. I cannot say that I truly understand much of this technology, for an “outsider” to science, this seems unimaginable, but in many ways it is inspiring to know that these technologies are being created.  



by Diar Nejadeh

Week 9: Nanotech by Leah Sitler

Sunday, March 8th, 2009

This week’s topic of nanotechnology was incredibly interesting.  The guest lecture by Gimzewski was particularly fascinating to me.  One recurring theme was the good and the bad side of nanotech–The good being the cures and technological advances that nanotech has been a part of and the bad being the absence of toxicology and warning done on products which have nano parts.  It was particularly frightening to think of all the nanoparticles that are introduced into foods as preservatives and color and filler.  It’s incredibly disgusting if you think about it.

Professor Vesna was right when she said that nanotech encompasses everything we have studied so far in the class.  Nanotech is contributing to robotics, biology, and even space with carbon nanotubing.  Breaking everything down to its fundamental particles allows for endless possibilities.  In the 1500’s Alchemists were trying to convert mercury into gold, but the result was unattainable.  Modern day chemists and physicists can see just how close mercury is to gold (there is one proton and one electron difference).  And, thanks to modern science’s ability to rearrange at the fundamental level, it is now possible to convert mercury into gold. (Although it is very expensive and highly impractical).

The talk on Thursday reminded me of a book I read when I was a child, it was part of the His Dark Materials Series and was titled The Subtle Knife.  It was the second in the trilogy, the first being The Golden Compass.  In The Subtle Knife, there is a knife that has the ability to cut through molecules, opening up pathways to parallel worlds.  Similar in theory to the youtube video we watched about the 10 dimensions, each world represents alternative “endings” to our universe.  The knife that in this story seemed so magical to me now may be a reality.  Not that the ability to splice molecules will lead us into other universes parallel to our own, but that nanotech could one day be able to break apart the fundamental particles that make up our universe.


Just as the possibilities and limits of space are endless, so with nanotech.  It seems that we will never be able to reach a limit to the largeness or smallness of technology.  Infinity in both directions.  Although, I can’t help but wonder what would happen if we developed technology that could cut through the fundamental particles that make up the universe.  Is this where dark matter comes from?  Or maybe it’s the source of black holes? If the particles can be split, does that mean that they really are the most fundamental form of matter?

I suppose we will simply have to wait and see.  One of the things that stuck out to me the most about the guest speaker’s talks was that there are endless possibilities with nanotech, but someone just needs to think of what to do next.  Technology is not the limiting factor, but creativity and imagination is.  He called for us to think and be creative.  It was a nice way to tie the whole course together, and bring it back to the original concept: the convergence of art and science.


Sunday, March 8th, 2009


Nanotechnology is a relatively new technology that is somewhat similar to quantum mechanics. Nanotechnology focuses on the study and manipulation of matter on the atomic and molecular levels. Richard Feynman is recognized as the person who constructed the foundations for the study of nanotechnology in his lecture, “There is Plenty of Room at the Bottom.” At first, this new discipline is extremely hard to comprehend and visualize, as it deals with miniscule objects that the naked eye is unable to see. To convey a sense of what nanotechnology entails, Nobel Laureate Sir Harry Kroto once made an analogy saying that the nanometer is like a human head in comparison to the planet if the planet were the size of a human head.

Even beginning to think on such a scale is a hard obstacle to overcome. The average thickness of human hair is about 5×10-5 m, which is about as small a thing that the naked eye will ever see. A nanometer is 1×10-9 m. The little fingernail, which is roughly 1 cm wide, is equivalent to ten million nanometers. These comparisons give a sense of what nanotechnology is dealing with. When science is taken to this level of precision, human rationality becomes less relevant and imagination begins to play a larger role. That is why there have been many fantasies and fears associated with the development of nanotechnology. The dream is of immortality and power and the fear is of mind control.

I think that I, for one, would certainly be unable to visualize, let alone comprehend, concepts on such a small scale. I suppose that this is to be expected; even my high school physics teacher commented on the confounding nature of nanotechnology. He prepared a small and general presentation to expand on course topics, and this presentation happened to touch upon nanotechnology. He commented on the scale on which nanotechnology operates, and noted that this new science is poised to radically change our way of thinking if it is pursed to its fullest extent. He sounded hopeful for the potential of this science and professed to be very interested in where it will eventually take us. However, he also said that science is ever-changing and unpredictable, so it is possible that nanotechnology will eventually reach its limit, but will give rise to another new strain of science that is still unfathomable at our current time period and technological level.

Later that summer, I took a small tour at a research facility, and they also happened to bring up the topic of nanotechnology. This seemed to show that nanotechnology has already staked its position in the world of science, and has become a widely discussed topic in scientific discussions. At the time, I remembered that my teacher had given a similar presentation, so I decided to pursue the topic and give a few comments and raise a few questions. Unsurprisingly, the people giving the tour were confident that they would be able to make new developments and discoveries in this field very soon. I figured that of course they would have to say if they wanted to sound credible and productive. But the tour did give me a sense of the profoundness of science and just how much there is in the world that we have yet to understanding. Nanotechnology is a major step in our struggles to bridge the gap between our ignorance and complete understanding of the physical world.

Wen Wu

EXTRA CREDIT- Sound/Science Day 2- Biophysics of Hearing by Diar Nejadeh

Friday, March 6th, 2009

Sound and Science Symposium- Day 2 March 6th- 9am Lecture 



Dolores Bozovic, from UCLA’s Department of Physics and Astronomy, lecture, “Biophysics of Hearing”, was a critical analysis of hearing.  She began her lecture with a video from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute to illustrate the way in which sound enters the ear.  The ear functions through sensory detection of a mechanical stimuli.  The cochlear structure of the ear has something like sensors, more specifically, the hair cells are detectors.  Bozovic explained that the study of the ear was important to a physicist, in the desire to discover how an organ like the ear works.  From her basic knowledge of the ear, it appeared that the ear would not “work”, but it clearly does and her work investigates the manner in which the ear works.  Her laboratory studied how hair cells react to mechanical stimulus.  She used the North American Bullfrog has her system of study and from the bullfrog she would extract the sacculus of the bullfrog for study.  

Again, the mechanism which works as a sensor within the ear, is the hair cell.  There is a core to every hair cell.  This hair cell, with a hole through the entire shaft, which allows for ionic flow, a mechano-electrical transduction.  The cochlear cells within the ear stay stimulated for several hours, which allowed for Bozovic’s study.  She discovered that there is a universal non-linear response to hearing.  Hearing appears as a unstable and oscillating curved pattern when graphed.  When looking at a slow motion video of the hair cells, there is miniscule movement that can only be tract through computer mapping to find the center of mass of each cell.  Her study still continues today, but the purpose of her study is to understand how individual activities link together to explain the behavior of the whole organ.  The system of the organ is adaptive at multiple time scales, yet there is no internal clock to the mechanism.  

Bozovic’s lecture was filled with a great deal of scientific language that I could not understand, but it was fascinating to understand how sound works.  Sound or vision are two mechanisms most individuals take for granted.  Sound is an everpresent element of our lives, to function without sound would take a great deal of adaption and assistance.  This lecture illustrated the complexity of hearing.  It is a highly sensitive organ, that does not function the same way each time sound enters the ear.  I also found it interesting that this lecture was not given by a biologist, but by a physiscts.  Her fascination to understand hear, was evident in the delivery of her lecture and her understanding of a subject that is outside her field of study.  

We spoke in this course on the complexity of art and science, and the need for a connection between the two, but it is clear that science itself is a complex field with a need for coordination and discussion between departments.  


By Diar Nejadeh 




Abstract_Heeseok Lee

Monday, March 2nd, 2009

Project name: Hide and Seek


When a light ray is incident upon a reflecting surface, the angle of reflection is equal to the angle of incidence. Both of these angles are measured relative to a normal drawn to the surface. The incident ray, the reflected ray, and the normal all lie in the same plane. Mirror always makes reflection and I am going to use this reflection of mirrors to make an art. There will be many mirrors in different locations and angles in a room. As persons enter in a mirror room, he/she needs to find a blind spot, which mirrors cannot reflect him/her. The purpose of  set-up of art is to make people to enjoy this hide and seek game as they get the idea of how science of reflection works.


Week 8

Sunday, March 1st, 2009

During week 8’s lectures, there were a few things that I thought was interesting and stood out to me. One of them was the concept of “power to the tenth.” Kuno played a video that showed us the definition of the tenth dimension during his presentation. We watched that video before a couple weeks ago in one of Professor Vesna’s lecture. Also I believe a student showed that video during discussion. After watching the video, I was still a little confused on what is the tenth dimension. From what I learned, the tenth dimension is based on the concept of uncertainty and occurs during our “time.” So does that mean that we are living along in the tenth dimension? The following video is another video from Rob Bryanton (the person behind the video of the 10th dimension). It’s more of an explanation of space and time, I found it quite helpful since I was a little confused. In this video, Bryanton also talks about the number zero and how it is not empty like how we usually think it is.

Another topic that really caught my attention was space and time. The majority of the time when people think about space, they think of a vast black background with billions of light but space apparently is much more grand than that. There is so much about space that we will never know. I believe Professor Vesna told the class that a short visit to space was nearly $38,000! Unbelievable! I thought that going to space would be a big and prized trip but I guess not. A trip to space cost less than one year of medical school, now are we taking the space around us for granted? The concept of space exploration is new and very interesting, and it pushed me to think further about the topic.

After lecture as I sit here and reminiscing, I remember bits and pieces of a movie that involved going back in time, “Back to the Future” of course. “Back to the future” relates to week 8’s topic of space and time. “Back to the Future” is a 1985 science fiction movie, it tells the story of Marty Mcfly, a teenager who is sent back in time from 1985 to 1955. He meets his parents while they were in high school and accidentally attracting his mom! Then there is Doc, a scientist that modified a car into a time machine. The car travels to a date and time using plutonium in a nuclear reaction. This movie shows that science (the time machine) and art (the movie itself) do coexist in everyday life.

By Julie Pham

Space: The True Manifestation of the Love Affair Between Art, Science, and Technology- by Leslie Grant

Sunday, March 1st, 2009


Space has been mystifying to mankind for quite some time. This is understandable, as people are always intrigued by the unknown and have an obsession with being the first to explore uncharted territories, whether the territories are literal or metaphorical. I believe some of the added appeal comes from the possibility (more like reality) that there are some aspects of space that will always be a mystery to us, areas that we cannot even begin to fathom. All of these things come together to explain why this week’s topic was so interesting to me. Previously I had never truly thought about how such an abstract topic could directly relate to something that was familiar to me, but this changed when I heard Gil Kuno’s presentation. Seeing him present the same Rob Bryanton video that Professor Vesna showed us during second week in order to explain the theories of time and dimensionality solidified in my mind the idea that space can be seen as the inspiration behind the work of many artists and mathematicians. I feel like humans’ desire to create an accurate depiction of the unfathomable, space, is manifested in an array of mediums, all of which are characteristic of the very nature of this class when combined. 

Upon realizing the reach of space, not only in the sense of exploration but also in the ways that it encourages us to use creativity, I decided to investigate some of the ways artists, scientists, and even mathematicians choose to incorporate space technology into their work. In doing so, I came across the perfect example of how important the portrayal of space is to our society- Robert McCall. McCall is an artist, born in 1919, who has been enthralled with outer space possibilities. Originally he dedicated himself to working in science and technology, then he moved on to work on the portrayal of some of America’s proudest moments in space history through a range of paintings, sketches, and prints. One could say that he is just another artist whose subject of choice happens to be space if it weren’t for the fact that his artwork has attracted the attention of many as it does not only depict space, but man’s role in space thus far. He has been recruited as a visual historian for NASA, his artwork is displayed at the Epcot Center, Pentagon, NASA Johnson’s Space Center, and various art and history museums throughout the world, and he also dabbles in the entertainment aspect of artwork. Some of his involvement in the entertainment field includes serving as the art director for both Star Trek: The Motion Picture, and Disney’s  2001: A Space Odyssey. Upon searching for some examples of his work I can see the reason for his great success, I was absolutely blown away by the qualities of it. In my opinion it goes far beyond the fact that he has clear artistic talent and his portrayals seem life-like, it is also the fact that he has the ability to make you feel as if you are familiar with the unknown. Here is a link to his multiple galleries, if you wish to see for yourself: This is one of the paintings I found that I thought truly encompassed the qualities that makes America fascinated with the capabilities of space. 


In trying to describe this my mind always floats back to just one word…epic.



Final Abstract By Arthur To

Sunday, March 1st, 2009

For my final project, I still intended to stress the importance of dental hygiene, but will no longer further continue my last design. I still want to invent an effective toothbrush that is practical, but this time, I want to involve more of the artistic creativity side. My new idea is a toothbrush that scans your teeth and presents you with a 3D visual image of your teeth through a hologram. In this hologram, it will be color-coded, from a light pinkish red to a dark vivid red. The vividness of the red determines the dirtiest parts of your teeth and where you should spend the most time brushing and cleaning.

Consciousness by Jessica Young

Sunday, February 22nd, 2009
The topic in lecture this week is one which I became very familiar with during a psychology class I took in High School. The idea of consciousness is a topic that holds particular interest for me in that everyone’s perception of just what consciousness is, is entirely subjective. The concept of conditioning is fascinating because we as humans strive toward individuality, but in actuality have been taught to react to certain stimuli and respond to various situations in a very uniform matter. We start this training from the moment of conception and it is such an integral part of our life that most people don’t even realize that their reactions are learned behaviors.

Another facet to the idea of conditioning which I think is astounding is the human brain’s capability to unknowingly block out certain stimuli. When a person is given a number of tasks to carry out, their focus can become so narrow, that they fail to notice other events occurring simultaneously. This is a perfect example of this concept:

Although this is a rather extreme example of this phenomena, there are other examples that have much more familiar implications, such as someone who runs into a pole as they try to both walk and text. Their mind is so focused on the texting that they fail to notice the pole blocking their pathway.


Another way to study human consciousness is through the practice of hypnosis. My mother actually owns a hypnosis CD and as preparation for this weeks blog, I listened to it this weekend. The aim of the hypnosis was stress relief and let me just say, it worked! The CD started off with a soothing melody and the sound of a woman’s voice directing you to relax various parts of your body in a fixed progression. As this process neared completion, I really felt relaxed. The sensation was one of being at the point of sleep, without fully passing over into the realm of unconsciousness. Your were aware of everything going on in the room around you, but were almost in a comatose state were you felt that you couldn’t move your extremities. The voice of the woman then shifted from being directing to almost suggestive. In the beginning you felt compelled to follow the instructions for relaxation, but after it somehow seemed like everything she was telling you was advice rather than a command. She gave a myriad of different suggestions for eliminating stress from your life, then left it up to you to select the method that was most conducive to your lifestyle, according to your stress level. As the CD neared it’s end, the woman reversed the process of relaxation and began to help the listener unrelax all the parts of the body. At the end, once she had finished the process, she snapped her fingers, allowing the listener to completely exit that state of stillness.



The last state of consciousness that I wanted to discuss was that of out of body experiences. Many claim to have out of body experiences after near death encounters, but I found this woman’s account to be the most compelling:

All in all, I believe that such experiences are rare, but nevertheless true. Some claim that these experiences are entirely caused by chemical reactions within the brain, but I think such people are mistaken.


From the eyes of Consciousness, Joshua Wilson

Sunday, February 22nd, 2009

Tuesday’s lecture was fascinating; it involved the discussion on “Consciousness”. Now to start off, I want to say that I had to be conscious in order to remember the lecture’s title. So what am I trying to say, what I’m trying to say is consciousness is describing a person mental state, whether he/she is aware or not. The human consciousness is the very evidence that a person is apart of society. Meaning, he/she is aware of their actions, and has the ability to make decisions. To explain what I mean a little further, let’s take an example of someone being hit by a car, but has to be hospitalize for a while. The doctor would tell the family that he is unconscious, meaning he is not aware of his current mental, and he also has no control over what he can do. So he is not apart of society, but he/she still holds a position in the world. The conscious state is clearly opposite of what I described in the last sentence but we can also draw more from consciousness. Through consciousness we as people are able to connect with the world on different levels. We are able to also affect the world and people around us due to our consciousness. So in a way, it benefits us as a people and it is also a person/adult way of survival.

The conscious state in tells that a person has emotions. This goes back to the whole idea of being affected by the world and the world affecting us, and emotions are the buttons in away to our soul, they can be pushed wrong or push right. When they are pushed right, one feels appreciated and satisfied with society and himself. But when the opposite happens, you get the opposite output from an individual. Consciousness may also involve thoughts, sensation, perception, moods, and self-awareness. What I have just mentioned are all in away survival tactics. They all help a person cope with the realities of the world, and they also help a person survive and prosper in the world. For example, if people didn’t have the ability to think on their conscious, the world would be plain, without inventions.  Or if a person didn’t have perception, they would have the ability to avoid danger of all kind. Consciousness in away is the opportunity for the soul to perform to it full capacity.

As human beings, I believe that our consciousness is unlimited: meaning an animal’s consciousness is limited to trying to survive or do what they were developed to do. We have the ability to consider or plan for what might happen in the future. We have also been blessed to have the ability to gain control over other creatures and animals. Being conscious is basically being alive to the world. Consciousness I also believe is a vital section in the brain that God imprinted, so that Mankind could make a world from decisions, and images from the mind. How would the world have been if god created Man without a consciousness but only to serve him? Maybe everyone’s destination would have been haven.

Joshua Wilson