Archive for the ‘week 8’ Category

Week 9: Nanotechnology By: Julie Dinh

Sunday, March 8th, 2009


This week we focused a lot on nanotechnology. Before I entered this week I had no clue of what nanotechnology is. Based on the word, I assumed that it was something that dealt with technology only, but who knew after reading the article The Nanomeme Syndrome: Blurring of fact & fiction in the construction of a new science by Jim Gimzewski and Victoria Vesna I discovered that it mainly deals with arts and science.


This proved to me that nanotechnology is the true definition of this class because it combines all of the aspects we have learned about in this class. I truly believe that art and science will be recognized as a partnership in the future because there are so many topics that require the arts and science to co-exist. Soon we will not see them unequally, but rather a joint project that will highly impact this world.


Nanotechnology in a way is already using both the arts and science to highly impact the world. Although nanotechnology is considered mainly a science, it still needs the help of the arts and humanities to function. This was evident to me in Professor James Gimzewsk’s lecture on Thursday. He really stressed the ideas of art, science, and technology. Although we have highly advanced technologies now with science, I believe that with combining art to it we will make a combination that will help better the world. It will do so by improving technology that can allow us to further our knowledge about health and better technologies that will make this world unstoppable.


With nanotechnology, scientists are able to use particles that are extremely small to create new technologies that would allow them to further their knowledge on such diseases as cancer. They have been focusing on sciences that deal with the atomic and molecular level, allowing them to create technologies that may soon improve the treatment for cancer. With this idea they came up with an idea to create nano-shells. Nano-shells can be made to help get rid of tumors. This would highly impact the world because cancer is one of the main causes of death.


Although nanotechnology could still be related to non medical practices, my favorite idea about nanotechnology is the medical aspects of it. One thing that I found so interesting was that nanotechnology can also affect surgery. With nanotechnology using small particles, they would be able to perform surgeries inside a person’s body with a small apparatus and nanobots which repairs our bodies potentially leaving little or no scars.


Clearly there are many benefits to nanotechnology, but I am also aware of the problems it may cause. Although Gimzewski’s lecture focused on the importance of art, science, and technology in nanotechnology, he still clarified the flaws in nanotechnology. He used the example of sunscreen. By adding nanoparticles into the sunscreen, it appeared clear, but the tiny and invisible particles was harmful to the skin of consumers. Although nanotechnology may have its disadvantages, I still believe that it does us more greatness than harm. With all of the medical advances that it may provide, I am willing to take the risk of anything negative happening because with this risk we may discover technological health advances that can change the world.


By: Julie Dinh


Sunday, March 8th, 2009

James Gimzewski’s lecture in class brought up many aspects of nanotechnology and the impact that it may have on the world. Additionally, Professor Vesna showed us many examples of nanotechnology during her lecture on Tuesday, including her association and investigation into the Buckyball. But what really grabbed my attention was the reading by Jim Gimzewski and Professor Vesna when they discuss how nanotechnology will lead us into a shift of “our perception of reality from a purely visual culture to one based on sensing and connectivity.” This interested me on two levels: this idea is embedded in my final project and this concept could be of much help in cancer research, the professional field that I hope to one day delve into.

As mentioned in the reading, science on the microscopic level has been visually perceived by science fiction; actual footage of the inside of cells and molecules has not fully been achieved. But through nanotechnology, gaining actual visual access into the human body could help to solve many problems. This is part of my final project as I attempt to use nanotechnology to get inside of the human body in order to diagnose health problems such as plaque buildup and colon cancer. Oftentimes, there are medical treatments available for such health issues but limitations in detection do not allow for these treatments to become useful as the disease has progressed too far. But with the ability to get actual footage of the circulatory, respiratory, and digestive tracts, detection can be timely and quick, allowing for timely and proper treatment to better aid ill patients back to health. This entire process could potentially save millions of lives that would otherwise have ended due to disease. Nanotechnology is at the basis of this concept as it is needed to receive the video footage from inside the body. Such devices have been created, such as the video pill, which is designed to be swallowed and receive images from inside the digestive system (more information at

The Video Pill.

The Video Pill.

Even smaller cameras would be needed in order to enter into the circulatory system and beyond. But as nanotechnology rapidly advances, this could definitely be a life-saving innovation that has the potential to redefine the entire medical field.

In terms of cancer research, nanotechnology may be the key to answering the ultimate questions regarding cancer cells and why/how they form. Cancer is the second leading cause of death in the United States, according to the National Center for Health Statistics (full data at But being able to get inside of cancer cells may be the key to better understanding how they work. For me, I hope to become a cancer researcher but would not mind if the cure for cancer was found before I get the chance. With these rapid advancements in nanotechnology, microscopic cameras small enough to get inside of a living cell may only be a few years away. There have already been successes in creating color cameras capable of taking pictures (not videos) that equal the size of a fingernail.

An example of one of the worlds smallest cameras.

An example of one of the world's smallest cameras.

With the rapid increase in research around the world and advancing nanotechnology, the cure for cancer may be closer than we believe. Nanotechnology has a lot of potential power within the medical and research profession.

Much of microscopic science is based on educated yet abstract portrayals from various forms of research. But being able to get actual footage of these microscopic objects would not only be extremely fascinating and amazing but also hold great medicinal use. Achieving this requires nanotechnology and its ability to continue improving over the years to come. The possibilities that stem from nanotechnology are nearly endless, but I believe that those relating to medicine and health are the ones that we need to be pursuing above all others. This world has come a long way in detecting, diagnosing, and treating ill patients; nanotechnology may just be the field that puts all of this over the top.

- Travis Johnson

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.

Week 9 - Nanotech by Esteban Torres

Sunday, March 8th, 2009

Week 9 by Esteban Torres

cgon188l1During week 9 we mostly talked about and read about nanotechnologies.  On Thursday in Lecture, we had a guest speaker talk to us about nanotechnologies.  In our “Blurring Fact and Fiction” reading for this week, the journal began by describing the scale that nanotechnology operates in.  One nanometer is one billionth of a meter.  When trying to comprehend this scale, our minds fail because our human experiences and scale perceptions do not allow us to accurately understand the scale.  The text had some scale comparisons, such as explaining that the thickness of a human hair is about 50,000 nanometers.  Still, we can try to comprehend such a scale, but we really don’t. 

            Nanoparticles are so small that they cannot be “seen” by use of any technology (ex. microscope).  So the way to comprehend and map nanoparticles is by sensing them (feeling them).  For example, according to the article, the STM (Scanning Tunneling Microscope) operates by feeling the surface of the particles with something that resembles a tiny needle.  The article describes this new way of perceiving as a “shift from visual to tactile perceptions.”  Because of something known as the Raleigh Limit, there is an actual limit on how much you can magnify something before the image becomes blurry.  New technologies (tactile) technologies are necessary to comprehend what is going on in the scale of nanoparticles. 

            It was in 1959 when Richard Feynman introduced the idea of nanotechnology to the world.  According to the journal entry, he was more a “flamboyant personality” than he was a scientist.  This reminded me of Einstein’s quote: “I am enough of an artist to draw freely upon my imagination. Imagination is more important than knowledge. Knowledge is limited. Imagination encircles the world.”  A man who perhaps did not have any scientific basis for an idea was able to see beyond the potential limitations and let his imagination wander.  I think that this is a really important aspect in human intellectual development. 

            I think that the worst thing to do when you are brainstorming an idea is to consider the limitations first, and then consider the possibilities that are left.  Often we can override previously established rules with new ideas.  Rules that we think are fixed rules are often not fixed at all.  We make mistakes in judgment all the time.  Even physical laws we once believed to be universal – it turned out were relative, as regarded by Einstein’s theory of relativity. 

            The article talks about the blurred line between fact and fiction in nanotechnology.  One of the main questions in this field of study is whether the methods applied by mechanical engineering can possibly apply to engineering in nanotechnology?  The scale is so much different; it might be the wrong way to go about this new technology to apply our old ideas of engineering.

            Our guest speaker on Thursday, Jim Gimzewski, talked about the dangers in applying nanotechnologies, and also the moral problem of companies that apply the use of nanotechnology in their products, without truly informing the consumers.  For example, he talked about how a certain brand of sunscreen used nanopaticles in its product in order to make the sunscreen clear when applied to the skin.  The consumers did not know about this, and it turned out that the nanoparticles were dangerous and affected the skin.  With this kind of unperceivable technology, there are many opportunities for people to be very irresponsible.  The speaker talked about how there are about 50,000 industrial chemicals used in all the products around us, of which only about one-thousand have been tested for toxological effects.  Learning about these things makes me feel worried that the same irresponsible use of nanoparticles will take place.  There has to be more control over industry.  We criticize China for their lack of control (ex. lead in toy products), but obviously, we have huge problems with control of chemicals and technologies right here in the U.S.  Nanotechnology could do great things and bad things for us; but I hope that if the people find a problem with a certain nanoparticle or chemical, that they will not disregard the problem just for a monetary profit.  This all ties back to the pale blue dot – in an age where our wildest inventions and imaginations are coming true, we have to make sure we take care of each other because this planet and our species might be the only thing we’ve got.  We must proceed with passion and excitement, but also an air of caution. 


“Albert Einstein Quotes.” Famous Quotes and Quotations at BrainyQuote. 08 Mar. 2009 <>.
CartoonStock - Cartoon Pictures, Political Cartoons, Animations. 08 Mar. 2009 <>.

 Vesna, Victoria, and Jim Gimzewski. “The Nanomeme Syndrome: Blurring of fact & fiction in.


Sunday, March 8th, 2009


Space has always been a major frontier for scientists to tackle. It has remained a little known mystery throughout the human existence. Although many attempts at understanding it and even traveling through it have been made, especially in the last century, space retains its confounding and elusive nature, preventing us from fully understanding it.

Space has been a significant area of study ever since the beginning of science. First, there were the days when people believed the earth was the center of the solar system. Then Copernicus disproved that theory and placed the sun at the center of the solar system. And there was also Galileo, who invented a magnificent telescope that could view farther into space that any other telescope at his time. And more recently, the subject of space exploration has expanded even further past our solar system, into other galaxies such as our neighbor galaxy, Andromeda.

This baffling entity enclosing our planet has not only captivated the attention of scientists around the world, but it has also immensely intrigued the general public. The subject of space is not an uncommon topic during everyday intellectual discussions. Besides being discussed in an academic context, space has also been envisioned and portrayed by many movies. These movies are sometimes about people getting lost in the immensity of space, or more commonly, about contact from other intelligent beings from space. Speaking of other intelligent beings, this has also been a most prized goal for scientists studying space. A most compelling and interesting question about space still remains unanswered: Are there other intelligent life forms in outer space? This question has provided the basis for much our imagination, motivation and excitement in space study and movie-making.

In the last century, during which space shuttles have actually been sent up into space, many major achievements and discoveries about this great frontier were made. The objects of most concentrated study have been the moon and Mars, which are both neighboring celestial bodies. We have sent rovers to the surface of Mars, and people have even able to walk on the moon, supposedly. I say supposedly because there have been suspicions that the moon landings were faked, but that is a whole other issue. The point is that these momentous accomplishments were able to produce great results, such as a wealth of additional information and answers about the moon and Mars. I think by far the most astounding and interesting discovery that has been made so far is the discovery of water on the surface of Mars, because this means that Mars can support life forms. And of course, without a doubt, this incited great excitement and anticipation amongst scientists and the general public alike. The excitement was because we are getting closer to the answer to that unanswered question, and the anticipation is regarding what is to come next.

These discoveries mentioned above does not by any means mean that we fully understand even the smallest portion of space. Space is more or less infinite, and this could be debated, but we can safely say that its size is so great that is incomprehensible to us. Therefore, the amount that we still do not know about space is likewise infinite. Space still holds great mystery for the human race, but hopefully the efforts in space research will continue to yield results and soon we will able to understand maybe a small percentage of the universe we reside in.

Wen Wu

Week 8 Blog _ Space Art _ Sarah Van Cleve

Monday, March 2nd, 2009

During class on Tuesday we learned a lot of facts and information about space and alike but seeing as this is a “Design Media Arts” class I decided to look into ways artists have expressed themselves in space (“outer-space”, not empty space just in case that needs clarification).

One of the coolest pieces of “space art” that I found was a sculpture called “Orbiting Unification Ring Satellite” or “O.U.R.S.” The structure never actually came to being but the idea behind it is really interesting. The structure was meant to celebrate the advent of the new millennium and promote global unanimity as a giant ring large enough to be seen by the naked eye by viewers on Earth. The original design had O.U.R.S. measuring one kilometer in diameter with a ring thickness measuring about thirty meters—large enough that it would appear to be a quarter of the size of the moon. Using a new technology which was being developed by the European Space Agency, the “artists” were going inflate the large structure and upon reaction with solar energy the special material made of a laminate of Kevlar, Kapton and an ultra-violet sensitive resin the “Inflatable Space Rigidized Structure” was supposed to harden as it was. Unfortunately this costly project was never built because of a lack of significant financing but the idea behind this literally gigantic symbol of worldwide unity is an awesome piece of “theoretical art.”


Another piece of space art I like was designed as a precursor to O.U.R.S. The idea was first proposed in 1988 as a way to mend the sore feelings that still existed at the end of the Cold War, particularly those between the two superpowers with space programs: Russia and the United States. The project was called “O.U.R. Space Peace Sculpture” and in a similar matter to O.U.R.S. it was a white ring, this one measuring only six meters in diameter though. The word “peace” was written on the outer covering of the ring in every language that is spoken throughout the world. In 1992 the Space Peace Sculpture was deployed on a spacewalk on the Mir Space Station using similar inflatable technology to that which was meant to be used for O.U.R.S.

On September 3, 1995 it is said that the first art exhibition in space took place. The exhibit, called Ars Ad Astra, was a presentation of twenty pieces of artwork in the Russian Mir Space Station. The European Space Agency asked artists worldwide submissions on the theme “Space and Humanity.” The artwork was judged by the cosmonauts and in the end the American Elisabeth Carol Smith for her “When Dreams Are Born” (see image below). Though this exhibit in space may not seem too exciting I thought that cosmonaut Thomas Reiter’s enthusiasm for art was inspiring: “…and let me tell you that there are many things here on board which keep us alive, of course technical systems which produce oxygen to breathe, water to drink which clean the air from carbon dioxide, food and all these things which help to keep us alive, life support systems. But I can tell you that this kind of thing (he holds up an art work from ars ad astra) are a part of what is necessary to keep us alive, to keep the memory to the Earth, to our families, to our friends, to the nature.”

How Insignificant We Are by Adam Wyatt

Monday, March 2nd, 2009

Space is more like a fantasy world to most people. They are unable to really understand what it is. It is so foreign to them. Space is just this infinite volume or mainly nothing. Even our own solar system is mainly just empty space. Everything is just so far away, it seems almost impossible for people to be able to travel even just our solar system. If traveling our solar system is so outrageous, then traveling outside of that to another galaxy seems even more impossible. We humans are now really confined to a small area around the planet Earth.

In the video in class, we got to see the universe one tenth at a time. As the video kept zooming out we saw that to the universe, Earth is just a tiny blue dot in the vastness of space and amongst the billions of other tiny dots out there. This displays how insignificant Earth is to the universe. However, it raises the great questions of what else is on those other dots. I do believe in life outside our own planet. It seems only to make sense that if we by chance were formed with chemical reactions, that this happened as well on another planet. Do I believe that they are some super advanced race? Probably not, but it is possible. It is also possible that we, in comparison, are a super advanced race. There is really nothing to reference off of to tell.

Some see my argument that Earth is really insignificant at a very depressing view. I, however, do not see it that way. I really see it as just all the more to explore and learn about. Art and science really mirror each other here. No artist would ever think that there is nothing left to explore in art. Something new is always invented, discussed, and worked with. This is the same in science. No scientist would ever view his work complete. A scientist is really only done when we have complete understanding of the universe, and because we cannot explore it all yet, the scientist must keep working to figure it all out.

By Adam Wyatt

Abstract - Wei-Yi Lin

Monday, March 2nd, 2009

To show a great extent that arts and sciences are inter-related, my proposed mechanism “Chamber of Fear: tragic catharsis” is pledged to purge the emotions of the experimental subjects through an artificially designed algorithm and a controlled facility. A series of personalized, short, and tragic videoclip would be programmed spontaneously during the three-staged experiment so to inflict pain upon subject’s deepest and traumatized memory. Purgation of subject’s emotion and his unknown sub-consciousness is a way to release mental stress. The process involves stimulating physical senses especially the sense of smell with the use of genetically modified scent. Experiment would show that expressions and minds of persons can be made and cured.

Week 8 - Entropy and Chance Art - Miki Koga

Monday, March 2nd, 2009

Entropy, the second law of thermodynamics, has always been an interesting topic for me to study in chemistry as it is based on human experience. The natural order of the universe is towards increasing entropy or disorder. Ice melts in warm weather, iron rusts over time, objects fall when dropped. My chemistry teacher once told me that entropy is also a good excuse for a messy room: “Oh, it’s just the second law of thermodynamics…” Anyway, I never fully comprehended how it translates into art until we explored various examples on Thursday’s lecture. Guest lecturer Gil Kuno spoke about John Cage, the American composer who explored chance in art. Cage delved into notions of “indeterminacy in composition” by composing pieces like Music of Changes, Imaginary Landscape No. 4, and ‘prepared piano’ works. Gil also mentioned the famous 4’33”. I remember coming across a YouTube of the composition a while ago and simply being confused and indifferent. Therefore, I decided to revisit the work:

Although I still cannot fully appreciate it like the many admirers of his work, I do find it creative and thought-provoking. Every performance of the piece is unique and contingent on the environment. It forces the audience to slow down, listen, and become aware of the music in their surroundings. It is up to them to fill the blank sheets, space, and time with beauty of their own. Such chance introduces a new twist to the art. It supports the philosophy that chaos is just organized confusion. The piece is organized in that it is divided into three segments and lasts 4 minutes and 33 seconds. However, the composition itself is ultimately indeterminate.

Like John Cage and his piano compositions, Gil also explored chance art in his multiple creative projects. One work that stood out to me was the slinky sculpture that he created in The Hammer Museum courtyard. The kinetic, in-the-moment art coordinated into a sort of performance by incorporating two WAC students made for an exciting, unique creation that could be filmed in real-time.

The ‘Six String Sonics’ performance with the six instrument strings was such an incredibly executed concept as well. The orchestra of chaos created made it a much more interesting composition with an added layer of depth that cannot be produced otherwise. I perceived an ethereal, electronic-pop sound and vibe from the particular performance piece we viewed in class. The structure with the various musicians sitting around jamming on their one-string instruments seemed to be the solid foundation in the otherwise chaotic atmosphere.

Lastly, this is a little off-topic with my blog but I just wanted to share this version of “Powers of Ten” that I found interesting:

Space- Joshua Wilson

Monday, March 2nd, 2009

I sometimes question what’s really beyond the perimeter of this earth: is there life on the opposite side of the sun? Why in such an everlasting infinite vacant area would the earth be the only sign of human life form? The word space to me means: an infinite amount of room. But if we look at it from a different view point, it can be seen as room full of space and matter.  The lecture this week involving the guest speaker, Gil Kuno, was interesting in a way that it gave me a whole different view on design media arts, and how to create art through many ways, for example sound.  He also took his art work and showed the class how art and technology works together.

Gil Kuno in lecture spoke on the “Power of the Tenth”, and he also presented the original video on it.  The video was interesting; it allowed us to view the world a tenth at a time. It was also interesting, how the movie zoomed in and out a square at a time. Now going back to how a little blue dot sits in vast amounts of space which has been known as limitless, how could that blue dot believe that their the only sign of life. Many people in human history and in today’s era have imagined life beyond the premises of the earth, many have also believed and still believe that we the human race are ignorant what’s out there because we have not traveled all across the universe. For example, movies such as “Aliens” or “war of worlds” reflect the thoughts and theories people have on what has not yet been discovered.  Could it be that the earth is falling in space but never reaches a stop because there is no end to space? The real thought of space and how the earth fits in space has all been hard to understand by different societies. People have been ok with just knowing that there are large amounts of space past the skies of this world.

Nations of today have and still travel space, where they travel to discover the unknown. Space is full of what’s considered unknown, and that is what drives nations to spend billions of dollars on space travel.  As of now, NASA has put together a detector, named Kepler, which will enable them to travel through space and find any Earth-like planets. In the article discussing this invention, Jon Morse quoted “Kepler is a key component in NASA’s broader efforts to ultimately find and study planets where earth life conditions maybe present”, here we see why space travel is important, to discover the unknown. Let’s just say there were other life forms out there; then I believe there would be planet to planet wars. In many ways, people are afraid of what is different, or the unknown, but I believe not knowing can have its benefits and it could also have its downfalls. There is a great saying, “ignorance is bliss” or in other words it creates a sense of comfort.

Joshua Wilson