Extra Credit - Michael Century Presentation - Miki Koga

March 14th, 2009

For our last DESMA 9 class, Michael Century joined us at CNSI for a presentation on “Modes of Interdisciplinarity in Art and Techno-Science”. It served as an appropriate and exciting culmination of the past ten weeks. In physics, we often refer to resonant modes when we talk about waves; modes are one half-wavelength or a half a period of a sine wave. More generally, a mode is a form or style in which something exists. Century seemed to have used the word in both senses: waves and forms.

During the latter half of the lecture, Century described three contemporary modes, or forms, of interdisciplinarity: integrative (synthesis), service (instrumental), and reflexive (ontological). For example, he described the case study of the avant-garde German Bauhaus that unified art and technology, or the case study on the Digital Harmony Hypothesis and John Whitney, who famously repurposed military hardware for film animation. However, I was most interested in Century’s talk about modes, or waves, of innovation. I learned that according to Schumpeter’s wave theory, there have been five waves of innovation since the Industrial Revolution that have gradually grown shorter. We are currently part of the 5th wave, beginning in the 1900s and characterized by digital networks, software, and new media. Its major difference from past waves is that the driving force is no longer steel and iron. Furthermore, all of the “hard problems” have been solved, so it is truly about innovating and taking existing knowledge to the next level. We are in the process of filling in the dots of the present wave. Thus, we can only speculate what the 6th wave will be, if there will even be one.

Schumpeter's Waves of Innovation

Schumpeter's Waves of Innovation

As in making most substantial predictions, we must first study general trends in history. Thus, let’s take a closer look at wave 4 and wave 5. Those who started to experiment with digital media, the Internet, etc. in the 4th wave anticipated what established prevalence in the 5th wave. This appears to be a common and logical pattern in past waves, so we apply it to our present situation. Innovative scientists and artists are currently experimenting with nanotechnology, robotics, biotechnology, and other areas that we have explored in our very class. So we wonder if that is the corresponding techno-economic paradigm to come. Will the so-called 6th wave really be an epoch of nanotech, robots, and biotech? If the modes predict anything, then it seems so. It is interesting to consider because this may manifest in our lifetime. Through all of our current artistic, scientific, and technological explorations, we have direct control over the future of a post-information age. With respect to Century’s diagram reflecting periods of compartmentalization and decompartmentalization, he leaves the future as a question mark: Stability (Middle Ages) → Threshold (Renaissance) → Stability (Modern Age) → Threshold (Information Age) → ? (Post-Information Age). It can either be a threshold continuation or entry into a new era of stability. These are all thought-provoking theories to leave this class with. DEMSA 9 has introduced me to a sea of emerging technologies, art-science collaborations, and pioneering ideas. The culminating guest lecture helped me realize the importance of taking all these things and looking at what is happening in the wider perspective of things, including history. We are constantly trying to get our hands on the latest gadgets and we hear of new technologies and research in the media daily, but let’s continue to take the time to consider all of the implications.

So with that, goodbye DESMA 9 blogosphere! It’s been nice sharing and hearing what you all had to say. :D

By: Miki Koga

Here’s a link to Michael Century:
http://www.arts.rpi.edu/pl/faculty-staff?siteid=3&pageid=59&personID=23&deptid=2&pgid=1

Extra Credit– Century by Leah Sitler

March 13th, 2009

This past Thursday, we had a guest lecturer Michael Century come and talk.  It was a very appropriate way to end the class, as he discussed the relation of art to science and interdisciplinarity.  It was reminiscent of the discussions we had in class and section during the first week of class.  It was a different way of approaching the separation between art and science than Snow’s The Two Cultures.  Instead of approaching it from a categorical perspective, Century discussed the separation in terms of periods in history, using the compartmentalization of the two as a measure of history.  His stability->threshold->stability model was very thought provoking.  Under this mindset, changes in history happen when there is a decompartmentalization between art and science–when human contact is made between the artist and the scientist.  The example of the middle ages (stability) to the Renaissance (threshold) to modern era (stability) was very effective.  It was during the Renaissance that artists and scientists first began to “hunt in packs,” and I couldn’t help but think of Leonardo da Vinci’s “Renaissance Man,” the ideal man being someone who was both intellectual and artistic.  This ideal combines both art and science, emphasizing the two equally.  In the modern era, the dualism and specialization returned with the Scientific Revolution.

Century then looked to the present (a concept that is hard to define), and continued the stability->threshold example by using the transition from the modern era (stability) into the postmodern or information age (threshold).  The present age being marked by the characteristics of reflexivity, social fluidity, and hybridity.  I cannot help but think of Einstein’s Theory of Relativity and Foucault’s theories on the subjectivity of identity.  There is an inherent instability and subjectivity in the two’s works and theories.  Will the next form of stability be in the absence of truth?  Will the next era be founded on the truth in an absence of truth?

Next, Century talked about Schumpeter’s waves.  It was interesting to see the pattern of technological advances in an historical context.  It was also very intriguing investigating the possible techno-economic paradigm to come, especially because the forthcoming intellectual technology has a much deeper cultural impact, as we are dealing with artificial intelligence.  

Century then talked about the contemporary modes of interdisciplinarity.  Integrative (synthesis), service (instrumental) and reflexive (categorical).  I had trouble understanding what the point of this part of his talk was, but it was still interesting, and the examples were very intriguing.  I got the impression that these three parts were cyclical, with reflexive’s characteristics of critical reflection, and leads to new art forms leading logically into integrative (synthesis) category.  One of his integrative examples, the Bauhaus, was really interesting to me, and also seemed incredible pertinent to the class.  The goal of Bauhaus was to create creative minds for architecture and industry that would then produce artistically, technically, and practically balanced utensils.  

http://germanculture.com.ua/library/weekly/aa022101a.htm

272551236_7b0e42bef0

bauhaus6

Extra Credit #5_Biophysics of Hearing by Brittany Santoyo

March 13th, 2009

At Dolores Bozovic’s presentation on the “Biophysics of Hearing,” she explains exactly how the human ear works and how exactly we are able to hear. First, our ear is made up of three partitions (the external ear, middle ear, and inner ear) that each perform imperative roles that are useless if left to fend on their own without the accessory of the other two. The external ear concentrates sound waves that are detected by hair cells down the ear canal which vibrates the eardrum. The eardrum is connected to the middle ear bones (three smallest bones in the human body). These bones, the malleus, incus, and the stapes, mechanically transmit the sound waves to the inner ear where the connected tubing called the eustachian to the throat. Also in the inner ear, there lies the cochlea which converts the sound waves into neural signals and then are transfers to the brain through the auditory nerve. When Bozovic was explaining this concept of hearing, it did not seem to be foreign to any of the twenty or so people in the room. However, the unique thing that she has based her research on is the pattern of the hair cells.

In Bozovic’s research in the Physics Department here at UCLA has lead to groundbreaking discoveries. At first glance, when the deep working of the ear was examined, nothing truly seem atypical or peculiar. On the other hand, once the ear was further examined, Bozovic and her team came to find that the pattern of the “mechanosensitive” hair bundle oscillated at its own volition. Her team extorted the sacculus from a bullfrog in vitro in order to advance the study. Honestly during the presentation, I had no idea what this sacculus was so when I looked it up I came to find that it is “The smaller of two membranous sacs in the vestibule of the inner ear.” ( http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/sacculus ) Then, they used an adaptable stimulus fiber to accurately compute the dislocation influence in relation with the oscillating hair cells. The entire time this was going on, it was being meticulously recorded and graphed for accuracy. It was noted that at the time of this seemingly spontaneous fluctuating hair bundle, there was also a budge in the “negative-stiffness region” that corresponded precisely in time and effect. The outcome, therefore, was that “This movement has to result from the interaction of the bundle’s negative stiffness, which creates a region of mechanical instability, with a myosin-based adaptation mechanism that continually repositions the bundle there.” (in Bozovic’s words exactly) The results were amazing to those who actually understood her findings.  For more on Bovzovic’s research: http://en.scientificcommons.org/12166776

During this lecture, I kept coming back to the fact that the ear honestly holds no sense of interest in my mind as hard as I try. Then, I remembered that many people endure spells of imbalance and dizziness due to inner ear infections which honestly perplexes me as much as this oscillating hair cells seemed to do to Bozovic. I tried so hard to relate this to the subject in Bozovic’s lecture and finally thought that I had found something because both the things at hand specifically involve hair cells and the role that they play. With this in mind, I decided to ask her myself as she hurried out to catch a class at ten, but was shot down when she told me that in fact neither had to do with the other because the inner ear and the outer ear hair bundles operate significantly differently. My hope of actually getting something valuable out of this lecture was gone.

By Brittany Santoyo

Michael Century (Extra Credit) by John Philip Bongco

March 12th, 2009

Michael Century–a guest speaker–drew DESMA 9 to a close. Overall, I would describe Michael Century’s lecture as being very captivating. It was interesting how he brought the course to an end in a similar way to how it started. In a nut shell, Michael Century spoke about how society (has always) and continues to construct divisions  between the focuses of art, science and technology, essentially labeling and segregating them. He began by dividing periods of history into three sections of time: 1. de or un-compartmentalization 2. compartmentalization and 3. stability. Compartmentalization meaning separate distinct parts, decompartmentalization being the opposite and stability implying a balance. He associated stability with the middle ages since the middle ages are often characterized by its unified church system. This meant that there was strict church dogma (a system of principles and tenets, as of a church) and a generally tightly ran society; however, this meant that the boundaries between different practices of arts, science and technology were more distinct. Michael described the Renaissance–another great era in history–in correlation with the word “threshold” meaning that this period of time was the beginning of new thinking, ideas and thus revolutionary art, science and technology. As a result, there was a lot more interaction between different fields and disciplines of art, science and technology. The boundaries between all practices were becoming less distinct. This is why many people call a multi-talented person a Renaissance man or woman. That Renaissance being is considered to be skilled, a prodigy, or an expert in multiple practices. The last stage of time Michael Century mentioend was the “information age”, an era where information is at our fingertips. Some would say that this is the era of the present. We can access information about a subject of interest from across the globe in seconds. He described it a time of society with more fluidity, interaction, etc.

I guess the most important questions that are up for debate is whether or not these stages of history are repeated like a cycle or if they exist as a time line? If so, what period of the cycle do we lie at in the present? It is quite evident that we are in an age where information is easily accessible, but the distinctions between art, science and technology are extremely distinct. In the beginning of this course, we talked about how the division between two cultures is extremely relevant to us as students because it is so visible on campus. We have north campus and south campus and a rivalry that exists between the two regions. It would make sense to consider Michael Century’s model of history as a cycle since history does seem to repeat itself. Michael Century encouraged us to continue thinking out-of-the-box for lack of better phrase. He emphasized that our current state is relatively fluid and that in order to remain in a period that perpetuates fosters growth and the beautiful correlation of different areas  and fields requires us to be open-minded. In this way, we can remain in a state of threshold and perpetuate the beauty and learning that comes from states of Renaissance, learning and information.

By: John Philip Bongco

Nicolas Nelson Sec1A, Extra Credit 5 (Michael Century)

March 12th, 2009

<!– /* Style Definitions */ p.MsoNormal, li.MsoNormal, div.MsoNormal {mso-style-parent:”"; margin:0in; margin-bottom:.0001pt; mso-pagination:widow-orphan; font-size:12.0pt; font-family:”Times New Roman”; mso-fareast-font-family:”Times New Roman”;} a:link, span.MsoHyperlink {color:blue; text-decoration:underline; text-underline:single;} a:visited, span.MsoHyperlinkFollowed {color:purple; text-decoration:underline; text-underline:single;} @page Section1 {size:8.5in 11.0in; margin:1.0in 1.0in 1.0in 1.0in; mso-header-margin:.5in; mso-footer-margin:.5in; mso-paper-source:0;} div.Section1 {page:Section1;} –>
/* Style Definitions */
table.MsoNormalTable
{mso-style-name:”Table Normal”;
mso-tstyle-rowband-size:0;
mso-tstyle-colband-size:0;
mso-style-noshow:yes;
mso-style-parent:”";
mso-padding-alt:0in 5.4pt 0in 5.4pt;
mso-para-margin:0in;
mso-para-margin-bottom:.0001pt;
mso-pagination:widow-orphan;
font-size:10.0pt;
font-family:”Times New Roman”;}

Nicolas Nelson Sec1A, Extra Credit 5 (Michael Century)

Albeit I admit I was very anxious to escape from our last day of class, I was a little engaged at some of Michael Century’s arguments. Again, I guess that’s what makes a good art activist—the same as in literature. His claims made me give an initial incredulous “Nu-uh,” and though after some of his evidentiary support I came to understand and even share some of his views, there are other, more sensitive ones that I maintain to disagree on him with; however, he brought these concepts from the back of my mind and into light, so now I may critically examine them. If I end up swayed by his arguments, he has accomplished his purpose. If not, the struggle it took me to earn the right to keep my beliefs makes me all the more entitled to treasure this now valuable, meaningful opinion. Either way, critical rhetorical speakers (i.e. ones who use logos, pathos, and ethos) in persuasive presentations are successful if they accomplish either, in my opinion. Although politically this philosophy is subject to extinction via natural selection; if the opposing side now values their opinions all the more, they are less likely to sympathize with the speaker’s cause. But this is a majoritarian standpoint; in an ideal world, any view that is critically earned is important to a diverse environment. Okay, enough of that quasai-philosophical tangent—on to the meat of his seminar:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G6YZK1UjQ-g&feature=PlayList&p=513CEB56758B880D&playnext=1&playnext_from=PL&index=7

Century claimed that artistic/scientific/technological trends oscillate in the pattern of the absolute value a damped sinusoid over time; that is, went up to peaks then down to zero then back up again, but not with as much intensity as the previous wave. On the contrary, though I myself haven’t done any meta-analyses on anthropological development, I believe the triple trends have gone up exponentially, particularly since the generation preceding my own. Imagine the world in the late forties and early fifties; it’s almost frightening (to those of us who still fear the unknown) to think about such an inconvenient, unfamiliar, immaterial world. Yes, there would be so-deemed “good” and “bad” aspects of living in that era, but as far as raw data and advancements go (although the precise definition of advancement should also be critically scrutinized), I believe some of the crowning achievements have been made in the past few decades. And if the recent times do mark another time of “finding new things” as he so fervently suggests, then wouldn’t it be a contradiction to say that relatively little is fluctuating nowadays, and less-so in the coming ones?

http://www.success.co.il/knowledge/images/Copernicun-Model.jpg

Lastly, he claimed that the “Post-Modern Era”—more or less the present—was another time of redefinition—the liquid phase in an undulating pattern of societal mood swings comparable to those of the earth, to cycles of ice ages and global warming. He said (which, to my albeit naïve perspective at least, broached presumptuous blasphemy on modern man’s part) our “re-de-compartmentalization” was comparable to the original Renaissance. While I stand by my former claims that we are living in a truly revolutionary time—one might even call it a “paradigm shift”—we possess a foresight and a liberty that the first Renaissance men did not. They had no predecessors from whom to draw their foundations for the theories and proofs they channeled into the populated world from the ether itself. The most radical modern activists have legal technicalities to circumnavigate and financial limitations to deal with at worst; the first scientists and artists faced seizure of work, defamation, imprisonment, and even death. Yes, we are in a remarkable time with true heroes doing pioneering work. But I think the men of old are still entitled their due respect.

Nicolas Nelson Sec1A, Extra Credit 4 (Sound and Science)

March 12th, 2009

<!– /* Style Definitions */ p.MsoNormal, li.MsoNormal, div.MsoNormal {mso-style-parent:”"; margin:0in; margin-bottom:.0001pt; mso-pagination:widow-orphan; font-size:12.0pt; font-family:”Times New Roman”; mso-fareast-font-family:”Times New Roman”;} a:link, span.MsoHyperlink {color:blue; text-decoration:underline; text-underline:single;} a:visited, span.MsoHyperlinkFollowed {color:purple; text-decoration:underline; text-underline:single;} @page Section1 {size:8.5in 11.0in; margin:1.0in 1.25in 1.0in 1.25in; mso-header-margin:.5in; mso-footer-margin:.5in; mso-paper-source:0;} div.Section1 {page:Section1;} –>
/* Style Definitions */
table.MsoNormalTable
{mso-style-name:”Table Normal”;
mso-tstyle-rowband-size:0;
mso-tstyle-colband-size:0;
mso-style-noshow:yes;
mso-style-parent:”";
mso-padding-alt:0in 5.4pt 0in 5.4pt;
mso-para-margin:0in;
mso-para-margin-bottom:.0001pt;
mso-pagination:widow-orphan;
font-size:10.0pt;
font-family:”Times New Roman”;}

Nicolas Nelson Sec1A, Extra Credit 4 (Sound and Science)

These presentations were particularly salient to me personally at this point in time because they pertained to my final project. I proposed a device which could generate gravitational waves to be used possibly in static-to-kinetic art and stationary simulator rooms (both of which seem as of today—at a time when such a device as could accomplish this—as paradoxile and oxymoronic; however, that’s the point!). The brunt of my purpose however was inter-universal communication to possible forms of intelligent life in nearby membranes in the eleventh dimension. The trouble was this: A. at the time of the sound and science symposium, I hadn’t yet gone to Adam’s office hours to get advice on how to make the project serve a more artistic purpose so I wanted to ensure that the method of communication had artistic overtones, as would after all be representative of our human race, and B. after our presence was established and we could develop a Morse-code like language to intercommunicate, the challenge was still to compose visual images in our relays.

http://www.lahutchinson.co.uk/IMAGES/ILLUSTRATIONS/till%20birnam%20forest.jpg

Though most languages—probably the only exception to this generality—are at the core audio-based, most everything in the world associated with beauty is overwhelmingly visual. That was actually the premise behind the exhibition, I believe; as Linda Weintraub attempted to redefine beauty with a thorough analysis of alternative visual and multi-sensory conception pieces, the Sound and Science Symposium (by the way, I think the obviously-fitting SSS alliteration is perfect—it reminds me of waves) redefined it using another sense entirely—the sense of sound, which is intrinsically related to the sense of balance in the inner-ear. Thus said (and as the “sense of balance” is synonymous with the “sense of acceleration,” and gravity is in fact acceleration), this exhibit caught my attention immediately.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_BbkDTrYVhM&feature=related

Though the other concepts touched upon were fascinating—particularly the heated, plasticizable material exposed to high frequency noise in its animated journey across a sheet and also the march of tiny spires (who looked remarkably like cypress trees dancing in the wind, or marching on against Macbeth’s stronghold) of magnetized iron through a sea of longitudinal pressure waves—one topic discussed was particularly useful to my final project: ripple tanks. The idea is to fill a tank with water, reflect light across its surface and off a mirror, aimed at a projector screen, which would in turn display a negative of the ripples on the water. The sound art approach was, appropriately, to use sound waves to agitate the water into different pleasing patternations. However, I thought that if the gravity waves could be aimed accurately, perhaps several low-frequency ones could be launched into the tank—bending the light in just the right places to create a shimmering, fluid monitor screen for other universes. Far-fetched, eh?

Extra Credit Week 10: Michael Century By: Julie Dinh

March 12th, 2009

On Thursday, March 12, I attended our last class session in the CNSI building. We were scheduled to listen to a lecture by Michael Century. I did not know who Michael Century was but I assumed that he was either an artist that dealt with science and technology or a scientist that dealt with art. I assumed this because this is what our class is about and Professor Vesna has the great ability to expose us to the great co-existence of art, science, and technology.

Michael Century presented us a great lecture. He exposed to the connections of art, science, and technology. Although he presented many great points, what interested me most was his idea of the 3 modes of interdisciplinary. The 3 modes were 1. Integrative-Synthesis 2. Service-Instrumental 3. Reflexive-Ontological.

The topic of interdisciplinary modes interested me because I believed that they related most to our studies in this class. For example, the first mode of interdisciplinary stated that: “two or more disciplines are brought together to aim of combining insights or methods from each to produce new knowledge or objects. I believe this really connects with what we learned in class because with every topic we learned art and science co-exist. One that really came to mind was nanotechnology. In nanotechnology science and art and can be combined to create something new that can potentially change this world. We also demonstrated this when we did our midterm and final projects. We combine the worlds of art, science, and technology to create a wonderful invention that will change a part of the word.

I really found this valuable because it wrapped up what we learned throughout the quarter. He connected all the concepts learned in class to make a connection that most of us did not realize until now.

Another topic under the 3 modes that interested me was the Bauhaus Exhibition. This interested me because Michael Century had stated that it was an institution that brought art and technology together. For instance, he used the example of the dancer that was a teacher that taught architecture. This teacher also believed that the “body is a living machine.” I thought this was extremely interesting because here we are at UCLA and we have one class that highlights the different ways art and technology co-exist and this class open many people’s eyes to realize why this is important and how it will better our world. Compared to the Bauhaus Exhibition, this course, Art, Science, and Technology, can be much more in depth because if there can be a whole exhibition dedicated to this topic, that proves that there is more we can learn.

Although I believe that I have learned a lot from this class, after Michael Century’s lecture, I come to believe that there is more for me to learn and I am willing to expand my knowledge. Throughout this school year, Professor Vesna has enforce into our knowledge that in some instances, art, science, and technology are required to co-exist to make certain things work. Michael Century also made me realize the importance of the connections between these topics. I learned that none of the topics should be superior over the other because without one or the other, things that can potentially change our lives would not exist.

By: Julie Dinh

 

Extra Credit: S and S: Professor James Marston By: Julie Dinh

March 12th, 2009

On Friday, March 6, I attended a presentation at the Sound and Science Symposium. This presentation was by Professor James Marston of UC Santa Barbara on the “Using Audio Cues to enhance Navigation and Spatial Learning for the Blind.” I chose to go to this presentation because I never really exposed myself to blindness, so I believed that this would be great exposure for me.

Just as I thought Professor Marston explained many of the topics dealt with audio cues and navigation system to assist the blind. One the main aspect of blindness that he spoke about was bounded and unbounded areas. Although people who are blind expose themselves to both bounded and unbounded areas, bounded areas remains the more simple way for them to navigate. It is easier because they are guided by the sidewalks, lights, and cars. The unbounded areas are more difficult because they do not have the cues that would easily guide them. So for these unbounded areas, Professor Marston created the Talking Sign.

This Talking Sign benefits the blind because informs the blind of where to go by informing them about how many more feet they need to go before they meet their destination and signals them what direction to go. Not only did he create the Talking Sign but Professor Marston also created the Remote Infrared Audible Signage (RIAS), which allows a person to sense their surrounding and where they are standing. With this creation, the blind will be able to sense when a car is coming or how far are they from running into a person or it is also able to allow them to catch a plane easier by allowing them to find boarding gates easily. Before the blind is able to use this device freely, they need to program the device to where their destination is or else the device will not read and function as it has planned. Although RIAS seems like a navigation system, it is not because it will not tell you where the nearest gas station is for example.

Although I do not know much about the blind, I believe that these two devices created by Professor Marston will highly benefit the blind. This will help them adapt the world around them better and more accurately. With inventions like these the disabled is a step close from navigating and dealing with the average life more efficiently.

By: Julie Dinh

Nicolas Nelson Sec1A, Extra Credit 3 (Slow Food)

March 12th, 2009

<!– /* Style Definitions */ p.MsoNormal, li.MsoNormal, div.MsoNormal {mso-style-parent:”"; margin:0in; margin-bottom:.0001pt; mso-pagination:widow-orphan; font-size:12.0pt; font-family:”Times New Roman”; mso-fareast-font-family:”Times New Roman”;} a:link, span.MsoHyperlink {color:blue; text-decoration:underline; text-underline:single;} a:visited, span.MsoHyperlinkFollowed {color:purple; text-decoration:underline; text-underline:single;} @page Section1 {size:8.5in 11.0in; margin:1.0in 1.0in 1.0in 1.0in; mso-header-margin:.5in; mso-footer-margin:.5in; mso-paper-source:0;} div.Section1 {page:Section1;} –>
/* Style Definitions */
table.MsoNormalTable
{mso-style-name:”Table Normal”;
mso-tstyle-rowband-size:0;
mso-tstyle-colband-size:0;
mso-style-noshow:yes;
mso-style-parent:”";
mso-padding-alt:0in 5.4pt 0in 5.4pt;
mso-para-margin:0in;
mso-para-margin-bottom:.0001pt;
mso-pagination:widow-orphan;
font-size:10.0pt;
font-family:”Times New Roman”;}

Nicolas Nelson Sec1A, Extra Credit 3 (Slow Food)

David Szanto’s unsettling (on a few levels, but that’s what art activism’s all about) presentation began with a little etymology; as several people in the audience could not define gastronomy for them, he gave the literal translation from Latin: “stomach law.” It’s interesting—take the word astrology, “the study of the stars.” As discussed in previous blogs, pure (or at least unfounded) quackery, right? However most Romanized scientific compound words (e.g. biology, cosmology, geology, paleontology, anthropology, sociology, gemology, etc., etc.) have the –logy—“the study of”—suffix. What makes it imperative to differentiate astronomy—the celestial laws—from “the study of stars” as a reliable study? Did not the former evolve from the latter, much like modern physics evolved from classical physics? Is it simply because the old word came first, and some people still follow such superstitions? Or is it that the way we approach the cosmos more of a human “ought” or obligation as opposed to observation? Either way, what is certainly an obligation is the laws by which we must abide—the laws of physics: mortality. What is certainly an “ought” is the proper treatment of our poor smooth muscles; after all, we cram them full with an awful lot for them to digest!

http://www.starling-fitness.com/wp-content/uploads/fatfastfood.jpg

The Italian Slow Food Organization’s frankness (and perhaps their quixotic sanguinity) impressed me; their mission is to flat out usurp the Burger King’s crown, de-rank the Colonel, put Jack back in his box, flip Ronald McDonald’s smile, erase Wendy’s face, send the Carl’s Jr. star plummeting to the earth, etc. and essentially wipe out the fast food corporation’s indomitable businesses. While their intentions are noble—to reincorporate “slow food” (the converse of “fast food”) into the everyday diet and liberate us from the powerful grip obesity, type two diabetes, heart disease, etc. have over us, plus restore the value of a good meal—and while I totally agree with their opinions, I foresee some immediate ethical repercussions of their intended policy. Firstly, the manual workers, albeit demographically inexperienced and aloof, are entitled to their jobs, as are a majority of the executive people, barring those who spread the fast food propaganda without any attempt to make amends to their undeniably grotesque system. Plus, there are many who depend on its convenience—and whose fatty-sensitive taste buds have become addicted to this sort of dietary lifestyle. But the SFO’s bravery is noble nonetheless, and they are mobilizing themselves to strike on American soil.

http://img.timeinc.net/southern/events/news/images/ThanksgivingFeast.jpg

Deeper down than the medicinal value of pure foods, hand-prepared as a dish and not assembly-line manufactured like a car, edibles transcend what is merely nutritious and broach the territory of what is spiritually satisfying and aesthetically—even emotionally pleasing. Cultural foods go as far as to be representative of entire nations and heritages. All-in-all, I doubt there is anyone who would take a drive-thru sack over a home-cooked meal (except of course those people not fortunate enough to have good cooks in the family), but unfortunately it will take some sincere effort and consume a good deal of financial and agricultural resources to make the SFO’s dream a reality.

Joshau Wilson(extra credit)- The Bark Beetles take over

March 12th, 2009

I attended many lectures on Friday but the one I’m going to blog about is titled “Insects, Trees, and Climate: The Bioacoustic Ecology of Deforestation and Entomogenic Climate Change”. I want to first analyze the title. The title mentioned three subjects: Insects, trees, and Climate, and due to the title I figured the environment was affected by some type of insect. And because the environment is affected, I thought maybe the lecture was going to be on how insects are causing climate change. The lecture did involve that, in fact the lecture was the most fascinating lecture.

 Today’s environment is undergoing climate change daily, but many people believe its just humans, but due to this lecture I have found that nature has a way of polluting itself. Due to climate change in Antarctica which is linked to global warming, there has been said by the Google news that “It’s altering the food chain, and may lead to greenhouse gas in the atmosphere”. For example, the basic food plankton is declining; also populations of Adelie penguins have dropped in the region. This outcome due to climate change is only the beginning affects, and it will only increase.  But the point I want to make, and the message from the lecture is, the infestation of Bark Beetles in the forests, is also contributing to the climate change and global warming.

The speaker, James Crutchfield, brought up a good point “Order vs. Disorder”. And what I took from it was two questions: when do you decide to impose order to fix the disorder? Or when do we as a society just allow the disorder to just run its course? As of right now, there is a problem dealing with infested trees, supposedly there is an infestation of  Bark beetles, which are killing millions and millions of trees, and predictions shows that it will continue to progress. But the world is clueless on rather to just allow the problem to continue or find solutions. “Order vs. Disorder” can also apply to situations involving countries fighting over land and rather another country should intervene or just let them fight. We as humans feel comfortable in a place with order, because disorder creates: confusion, madness, wars, rebellion etc. Instinctively, humans would want to fight for order, so allowing disorder would be the last result.

The disorder with Bark Beetles is causing chaos. For example, by the Bark Beetles killing trees, the dead trees release carbon in the air which contributes to global warming. The speaker cited a quote by Pierce “So it is that we owe the weakness of the human mind one of the most ingenious of mathematical theories, the science of chance or probability”. This quote was interesting; it made me evaluate how I use chance and probability on a daily. We take chances on a daily and expect a great outcome but a great outcome is not for certain. In times where disorder seems uncontrollable, maybe the correct thing to do if it involves nature is just allow it or just use science and take a chance.

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/11/18/science/18trees.html?_r=1

http://www.naturephoto-cz.com/photos/krasensky/european-bark-beetle-predator-1617.jpg