David Szanto Slow Food’s University of Gastronomic Sciences Extra Credit by Mindy Truong

March 13th, 2009

David Szanto introduced us to his definition of gastronomy which is the law of stomach. He discussed information about the nonprofit slow food organization that was created in 1989. He also described Italy’s University of Gastronomic Sciences and the things that are offered by the university. The university held trips around countries in Europe which let students examine the production of a variety of foods and allowed for a better understanding of the culture of food. The main goal was to preserve the culture of food and be rid of fast food.

When the topic of fast food is brought up, the first thing that came to my mind was America and the massive consumption of fast food in our country. Highly known for its fast food consumption by other countries, America seems to have little perseverance of food and its culture. Having an abundance of fast food restaurants in America, its seems reasonable that many need to chose a quick and inexpensive meal especially when typical time that is allowed for lunch is approximately more or less 25 minutes.

America has a high obesity rate due to this 119 billion dollar industry. Thinking of obesity brought me to a popular television show on NBC called “The Biggest Loser.” Contestants on the show are obese and want to change their weight problem which puts them at high risk for death. As a fan of the television show, even though the people on the show are on the extreme end of the bell curve for weight, it brings awareness to the outcome that can come from the massive consumption of fast food. Contestants on that television show admit to huge consumption rates of fast food on a daily basis. The show displays what can be the outcome of high consumption of fast food with no exercise for some people.

To think about it dorm food is essentially like fast food. Produced in an assembly like manner such as fast food and having a high fat and calorie count, dorm food is no better than fast food. So why would so many Americans resort to fast food when the quality of food is poor? Although slow food is obviously the better choice of food to choose, it is not always the best convenience. The difference in pricing and timing is why fast food is a huge industry. Of course if I had the option to choose between slow food and fast food I would want to go with slow food. But many do not have the time or cash to go with slow food, so they stick to the alternative, fast food.

Mindy Truong

Sound Science Extra Credit by Khoa Truong-N

March 13th, 2009

I recently attended the Sound Science Symposium at CNSI, and the particular one that I visited discussed the relationship between music and the brain. The guest speaker for this particular lecture was Petr Janata.  For the most part, I found Janata’s lecture quite intriguing.  Some of the things that he discussed were above my head, but the things that I did understand were interesting.  He showed me a new perspective on how the brain is divided—one side is perception and one side is action. This reminded me of the spinning dancer program we saw in DESMA 9.  If you saw the dancer spinning to the left, then your imagination dominated your way of thinking.  If you saw the dancer spinning to the right, then your logic was what ruled your thought process.  In a way, Janata was showing us that the brain could be divided into two more separate categories: action and perception.  I had never thought that we as humans either perceived actions or performed actions, but it was true nonetheless.  Then Janata continued by saying how our perceptions directly affect our actions.  This is especially true when we are children, since the world is a whole new experience to us.  We see our parents talk in a certain way, or we see children like ourselves play on a television screen and we try to imitate that.  Janata also stated that this idea of perception and action could be applied to music as well.  For example, once we have heard a substantial music, we begin to expect to hear certain melody or notes in songs that sound familiar to us.  Having played the piano since I was a small child, I find this shockingly true.  Before this lecture I had never noticed, but it was in fact very true.  Whenever I listened to classical music or modern music, I would sometimes subconsciously expect the melody of the song to finish a certain way based on similar music I had heard before.
My favorite segment from the lecture was the part where Janata discussed his experiment where he played songs to ordinary people to measure their emotional response.  Basically, Janata just played some of the most popular songs on the air, and he measured the test subjects’ responses to the music.  He wanted to see if certain songs could evoke certain feelings or memories.  He wanted to prove that the brain could associate memories with certain melodies.  I find this especially true for myself since I am constantly listening to music on either my ipod or my computer.  When I read or do homework, I am usually listening to music.  The music I listen to today is different from the music I listened to my freshmen year in high school.  When I do decide to listen to some of my old music though, certain memories and feelings are awakened inside of me, and I feel as if I have been brought back to the time when I heard the song.  For example, I listened to one of the songs I used to listen to, and once I played that song, it instantly reminded me of a book that I read when I was in high school.  It was incredible that one piece of audio could, in a way, bring me back through time.  I not only remembered the book I read, but I also remembered where I read it and how I felt at the time I was reading it.  One fascinating website I found was Pandora.com, an Internet radio site that takes one song that you like and plays songs with similar musical properties.  It breaks down each song into several categories such as tonality, acoustics, distortion, etc, and groups the similar ones together.  This is like how our brains sort the music from the music we dislike as well.  There are certain characteristics that all of our favorite songs share, and when looking for music, we are attracted to these attributes.
This lecture truly opened my eyes to an entirely different perspective on music.  After attending this lecture, I have a better understanding of how my brain works.  Even in everyday life, I will try to catch myself whenever I have a pre-conceived notion about something based on previous perceptions.  Now every time I hear a song that makes me nostalgic, I will think of the Sound and Science Symposium.

-Khoa Truong-N

Extra_Credit Louise M. Darling Biomedical Library by Richard Jin

March 12th, 2009

Louise M. Darling Biomedical Library –

This afternoon, I went to the Louise M. Darling Biomedical Library. First and foremost, I would like to say how incredible confusing it is to get to the biomedical library if you decide to take the Life Sciences Building entrance. There are signs that point to the library but after a while, they just lead to a corridor and stop. In fact, you are supposed to take the elevator down to the first floor and then navigate your way from there.

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My initial reaction upon entering the library was that it was extremely small. What I learned later on was that it was in fact 13 floors high. The square footage per floor is not very impressive; however the library tries to cram as much material onto a floor as possible. The rows are extremely narrow, but it is just a testament to how much material this library carries. I have never seen so many medical books in one place before, in an ordinary library perhaps a shelf or two would be dedicated to these topics, but in this library, they had countless rows of information on a subject such as ADHD alone.

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The construction of the building is pretty old however. The stairs are not kept in the best of conditions and the air circulation is not the best. While I was there, it was pretty stuffy. This was probably due to the low ceilings, approximately 7.5 feet high. The people studying there were mostly graduate students and adults, although you could spot the occasional undergraduate there.

 

Ghetto Stairs

Ghetto Stairs

 

 

As I perused through the rows, I found that the majority of the topics were interesting topics – perhaps it is because I am a biochemistry major. If I had to spend leisure time in a library, I would probably prefer to spend it in this type of library because it contains content that I am actually interested in – then again, I would probably not spend my leisure time in a library to begin with.

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The amount knowledge we possess in terms of living organisms to date is astonishing. However, I would venture to say the majority of the research found in the books at the library has only been conducted within the past 20 years. I would venture to say that within the next 20 years our knowledge of biological systems will grow exponentially, filling enough books to occupy 50-70 floors.  

 

13 Floors of the Library

13 Floors of the Library

 

By Richard Jin

Extra_Credit North/South Mixer: a Post-Class reflection by Richard Jin

March 12th, 2009

North/South Mixer –

Ten weeks ago, I went to the North/South Mixer with a couple of the people I had just met in class. I think reflecting on this experience ten weeks later – because like a typical college student I’ve procrastinated this post to the max – it brings a different perspective on the event than if I blogged about it immediately afterwards.

Upon entering the CNSI building, I had no idea what to expect. How many of the people would be from class? Would I be able to carry on an extended conversation with any of them? However, when I walked in I was surprised to see that the majority of the audience consisted of adults. There were a couple of students clustered here and there, but I could tell that it was a little awkward. I joined in on a group of people from our class and we introduced ourselves – our names, majors, interests. We were a very eclectic group of students, business/econ majors, biochemistry majors, engineering majors, material science majors, and history majors. After the traditional greetings were made, there were a lot of awkward pauses. I could tell most of us were trying to think of something interesting to say to break the silence; however, nothing came to mind. In the end we resorted to asking “So, what do we do now? Are we supposed to mingle with the adults?” Most of us were confused, it was supposed to be a mixer, but after all of the formal introductions we had run out of things to say.

 Fortunately, we there was an art exhibit there for us to explore.  We walked through the nanoparticle/speaker exhibit and once again, were utterly confused. What followed was perhaps the most interesting part of the night. We all tried to figure out what the white speakers were saying to us, what it meant, and what the purpose of the exhibit was. Coming from different backgrounds, it was interesting to note the various interpretations each of us had and how we went about analyzing the exhibit. I felt as if the north campus majors were more interested in what the speakers were actually saying, whereas the south campus majors were trying to figure out how the sensors worked. Together I felt as if we thoroughly dissected the piece, and many people brought to my attention a lot of things that I didn’t even consider exploring. In the end we decided what the speakers actually said corresponded to our proximity to the speaker box sensors. There was nothing unique about it. It didn’t matter who stood in front it, the set of speakers just ran an audio clip on loop.

In the end, we decided even though collectively we figured out how it worked, we couldn’t understand the purpose of the exhibit. But it was this artwork that brought our minds and focused it to a common goal.

I contrast this experience/mixer to the one that I just came back from - the mixer at CNSI right after the last lecture. I looked around the room and I realized we weren’t so awkward around each other anymore. We have plenty to say, perhaps it was the realization that between us, there isn’t a huge chasm, but rather, despite our different interests, they can and are related in one fashion or another. My group of friends joined another group of people and we talked about various topics discussed in class – the interesting, the dull, and our perspectives on its purpose in the world.

Juxtaposing these mixers, it is evident that the class has opened up our eyes, and broadened our scope of view; there is no longer strictly a north or south campus, but rather, an intermingling of both.

by Richard Jin

Extra Credit: Sound + Science Symposium by Kimberlie Shiao

March 10th, 2009

I went to the Sound and Science Symposium on Friday, attending James Marston’s talk on “Using Audio Cues to Enhance Navigation and Spatial Learning for the Blind”. Marston is conducting research at UCSB to improve the ease of mobility for the visually impaired, and is visually impaired himself. As he began the lecture, I was surprised by the number of blind or visually impaired people there are- about ten percent of the population and the majority of them are unemployed. This is mainly because they have difficulty independently interacting with the outside world, especially new environments, and thus a number of them stay at home.
In some Asia countries, like Japan, the busier streets have bumpy yellow tiles in the sidewalk (or floor of train stations) for blind people to follow (with different bump patterns for where a turn or crosswalk is, and busy intersections will often have audio cues for crossing), but I don’t think I have ever seen anyone using them. I suspect these tiles don’t actually provide much freedom to a blind person, as it assumes the blind person knows where he or she is going (or that he/she is merely wandering around the city for fun). The technology Marston works with, UCSB’s Personal Guidance System and Talking Signs, aims to remedy this lack of environmental cues. A GPS and device (which can either beep or vibrate on the user’s wrist) helps indicate whether or not the person is facing in the right direction. The device also talks, telling the user how far to go. The more helpful aspect is the Talking Signs, which has the device read out locations in the direction the device is pointed in. Unlike the GPS, Talking Signs is really helpful for blind people because it gives more accurate directions (a GPS doesn’t know which way you’re facing), can be used indoors, and can be used to indicate locations such as “water fountain” or “book store.”
I think Talking Signs is a fantastic way to allow blind people independent mobility. It gives them a good mental map of the area, allowing the blind to take shortcuts they wouldn’t have realized otherwise (a efficiency problem for the blind I never thought of). There is also an excellent amount of precision allowing navigation on the paths of parks. The main draw back to Talking Signs is that it might be hard to install widely and maintain. With Braille, it is fairly easy to make, put up and switch signs (though, I doubt they’re used much, since how would the blind know the sign is there in the first place?) Talking Signs would probably be more expensive, requiring devices to emit the infrared signal and might be difficult to change the message if, say, the bookstore was replaced with a coffee shop. But I think with time, many major public areas such as public transportation terminals and government buildings, would have Talking Signs installed. Businesses could also be encouraged to install Talking Signs because of the new customers it would bring. If a good number of the blind used this technology (hopefully user cost wouldn’t be an issue), and major buildings and stores had Talking Signs installed, I think it could really help these people move around in society again.

-Kimberlie Shiao

Extra Credit-Slow Food’s University of Gastronomic- Idy Tam

March 10th, 2009

After attending to David Szanto’s presentation on the University of Gastronomic Sciences in Northern Italy, I learned both about both the Slow Food Organization and the university. One of the main questions that Szanto’s focused on is “What is Gastronomy?” Szanto explained the definition as the “law of the stomach”, with “gaster” meaning stomach and “nomia” meaning law.  He then proceeded to talk about the connection between food and culture. I began to reflect how important certain foods are to certain cultures, regardless to its nutrition values. In addition, people immediately associate, let’s say, Italians with pasta, Japanese with sushi, and Americans? What is strange is that Americans are widely known as fast food consumers.

Szanto’s presentation about Slow Food explained about an organization aimed against the idea of fast food. The organization was founded in 1989 to offset the concept of fast life and to endorse the idea of “truly tasting food.” In the capitalistic America, the busy streets and busy life, leaves many people a limited amount of time to really enjoy a healthy and delicious meal. Many busy people are left with the choice to drive their cars through the McDonald’s drive through and order themselves a “quick” meal, which consists of a big mac meal, supersized, with 20 pieces of chicken nuggets and an ice cream sundae. Probably most people would not order that much for themselves for one meal, but if we calculate the calories and fat content in this meal, it exceeds what one should consume in several days.

Szanto demonstrated that although eating is a need for daily living, the idea of eating to enjoy has become lost in many cultures, like that of the American. He also mentioned that Slow Food is aimed to protect the heritage of food. If we help spread this concept of preserving the importance of how food is for a culture, we can encourage people to stay away from fast food. We can probably develop a certain dish that people can associate with the Americans. In addition, Szanto also introduced us to the University of Gastronomic Sciences and the classes that the program has to offer.  He explained that most of the courses dealt with food and that there would even be many opportunities for students to go to different places to explore the food of different cultures.

When I saw first saw the name of the presentation, it really reminded me of the movie Fast Food Nation. If Eric Schlosser had addressed the Slow Food organization as a resolution to the obesity problem in America, it might work out! The Slow Food Organization has several objectives, which is forming and sustaining seed banks to preserve heirloom varieties in cooperation with local food systems, preserving and promoting local and traditional food products, along with their lore and preparation, educating consumers about the risks of fast food, and more. Through this, they desire to provide “good, clean, fair” food.

Extra Credit- David Szanto By Mary Tam

March 10th, 2009

On Friday, February 27, I went to David Szanto’s presentation. His presentation was on the Slow Food Organization that was created in Northern Italy at the University of Gastronomic Sciences. He is a graduate at the University of Gastronomic Sciences and he actively volunteers for his school to teach other what slow food really is. It was interesting how he asked people what gastronomy is and many people did not know what it means. Then he explains to everyone what the word means by breaking the word up into “gaster” and “nomia.” The two words mean stomach and law respectively. According to David Szanto, the Slow Food Organization’s purpose is to inform others what slow food really means and what fast food is doing to many people today. The main objective of the organization is to eliminate fast food chains and incorporate healthy, “slow” food in our lives.

Many people around the world today, especially Americans are becoming obese because of the convenient fast food restaurants that are prevalent in America. David Szanto said those are not real food and in order to taste the true essence of food, people have to eat slow food. It is real food that includes all the necessary nutrients. Fast food to me, seem to all taste the same. There are not that many variations. It is very redundant and all I can think of, when I hear the word fast food is hamburgers, fries, and a heart attack waiting to come. Many people know fast food is unhealthy for them, but they continue to go to fast food restaurants because it is affordable and convenient. If everyone spends the time to drive or walk to a fast food restaurant, they can go to the nearest supermarket and stock up on fruits, vegetable, and make many easy meals. I really enjoy cooking good meals. I wish one day I can make a difference too by going on Food Network and teach Americans how to make Slow Food fast and good.

The Slow Food Organization is also here in America. David Szanto tries to inform us about what food is good fair and clean. The word good can mean a lot of things to a lot of people. When it comes to slow food, the idea of good means enjoying delicious food created with care from healthy plants and animals. The pleasures of good food can also help to build society and celebrate culture and regional diversity. When we talk about clean food, we are talking about nutritious food that is as good for the planet as it is for our bodies. It is grown and harvested with methods that have a positive impact on our local ecosystems and promotes biodiversity. We believe that food is a universal right. Food that is fair should be accessible to all, regardless of income, and produced by people who are treated with dignity and justly compensated for their labor.

This book shows what fast food really does to us.

Nanotechnology by Brandon Aust

March 10th, 2009

The possibilities of nanotechnology are endless. I find the most interesting thing about nanotechnology is the concept behind it. The technology keeps getting more and more complicated, yet we desire for the size to get smaller and smaller. It seems like a paradox to me that we can put more advanced equipment into such a smaller package. But, as technology has shown, the desire is to always get more compact. For example, the first computer took up an entire room, and now a laptop can fit in a small bag. The technology within the computer is getting smaller too. With smaller grooves and the hard drive, storage can increase immensely.
Nanotechnology is also a large part of human culture. It is prevalent in many books and movies. Nanotechnology always reminds me of the movie Fantastic Voyage. I find it funny that technology is almost to the point to make this a reality. Not the part of actually shrinking humans, but to have medical equipment that can fit in a human’s bloodstream in order to fix medical problems. Nanotechnology is also in The Matrix, which was also prevalent in our discussion of robotics and consciousness. I really had never noticed how encompassing these parts of our culture are when it comes to the various aspects of the scientific world. It’s very interesting that these topics can save lives and also entertain.

fantastic

In a way, it is kind of frightening, and yet very exciting where technology can take us. We are currently in a time period where technology is developing faster than it ever has. It is difficult to even name one technological breakthrough, such as how the automobile defined the late 1800’s, because there are so many new ideas being produced or thought up of every day. One has to make an effort to stay informed about all the technology that is even around them.

For some odd reason, nanotechnology reminds me of the concept of space that we discussed last earlier. The way in which this technology is so small in compared to our world makes me think of how small we are in the entire universe. I am currently learning about relativity in my physics class, and I find myself thinking of these concepts. It really reminds me of the scene in Men in Black in which “the galaxy is on Orion’s belt” in which our galaxy is obtained in a marble of an even larger area of space. The perspective of things is simply mind blowing. Going back to the idea of consciousness, we may be unaware of the fact that we are a sort of nano-being to an even larger life form. I think that nanotechnology is a great topic to philosophically link many of the concepts we have discussed in earlier classes.

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-Brandon Aust

Extra_Credit Sound and Science Symposium by Richard Jin

March 10th, 2009

Sound and Science Symposium – Gabor’s Sonic Model: A Research Review

The section of the Sound and Science Symposium I attended was lecture by Curtis Roads, a professor at UC Riverside, on Gabor’s Sonic Model and the research currently being down with this model as its basis as it relates to electronic music.

Although I was unable to comprehend a great deal of the lecture –the target audience of the lecture being audiophiles and music theorists – I found that for the most part, the portion of the lecture I could understand was pretty interesting. Roads first went into primitive traditional electronic sound, the basis of electronic sound today. On this level, the sounds that were being produced consisted of a great deal of beeping, buzzing, knocks – very computerized “music.” Though, in my interpretation of the word “music” I wouldn’t consider what I heard music.

Then he went on to discuss the fundamental differences between acoustic sound and electronic sound. He played a clip of an orchestra and asked if anyone could tell him whether it was produced by humans or by a machine. I could not, but by the way he posed the question, I assumed it was made by a computer. I think it’s amazing what computers can produce now. Electronic music can essentially mimic acoustic music, eliminating the need for true artists/musicians.

Electronic Music mimicking Acoustic Music (sorry for the bad quality, I have a recorded it from the lecture on my computer)

In his discussion of the difference between acoustic and electronic music, he outlined the major advantages of electronic music over acoustic:

1.      Liberation of sound. Electronic music is not confined traditional notes. There is a heterogeneity, of sound; not static or fixed, but it can evolve/mutate on the microsound level (i.e. each grain of sound can be different). Essentially it is not confined to common music notation.

2.      Virtual reality of composition programs. Music is no longer confined to one place, but rather, can electronic sound can be imposed on any virtual setting like a church, a cathedral, a lecture hall, with reverberation and constructed sound effects.

3.      The composer is the performer. There is no need for an extravagant orchestra or band.

4.      The notation of music in electronic music is graphical, not structural, allowing for a full range of sound.

5.      Frequency precision allows for polytonal constructions, pitch vs. noise.

6.      Temporal precision allows for the construction of precise rhythms and eliminates the need for meter.

7.      Memorized control and algorithmic control, let’s a composer handle more layers and depth of music than capable

 

Electronic music essentially allows the composer to focus on different aspects of music compared to the traditional composer can because it can focus on smaller time intervals and more precision.Electronic Music

 

However, the setback of electronic music is that there is no aesthetic component to it. Roads mentioned the Phillips Pavilion which is a concert hall for electronic music. If it is just a hall full of speakers, I believe that in some regards, the music is missing something, almost as if it were just cold and mechanical despite its precision and beauty. When he first mentioned the Phillips Pavilion and described it, I immediately thought of Brave New World by Aldous Huxley where the citizens when to “The Feelies” a concert hall where “At the beginning of the movie a scent organ spills a diversity of fragrances through the theatre and delights the audience by smells of rosemary, lavender or sandalwood and new-mown hay. After that a music machine produces sounds of synthetic music and warbling human voices that changes its heights every couple of seconds to fascinate the listeners. The “feely” effects are caused by metal knobs on the arms of “pneumatic” chairs” (Groth, Huxley, Aldous - Brave New World - Entertainment for the Masses).

 

Phillips Pavilion

Phillips Pavilion

 

As for the research, Roads went into some of the research he was doing with Gabor’s Model which included pulsar synthesis which includes a special separation of formance, something not possible in acoustic music. This allows composers to go in between form and rhythm. Other research includes emission control, which is essentially a voice modulator which can control inflections in sound/voice, tone, and speed without compromising pitch. The Perhaps the most interesting proposal Roads made was the notion that we have programs which can superimpose a setting on music (set a piece in a cathedral or a bedroom, reverberation techniques), however it would be interesting to develop a program which can take a piece and then extract the reverberation to construct the architecture of the building it was most likely played in.

 

However, although electronic music provides a new method in which we can delve further into music, I feel that in order for music to be experienced in its entirety or fullness, there needs to be a component of humanity in it.

By Richard jin

nanotechnology by joseph hernandez

March 10th, 2009

hummer-hx-detroitnew-ipod-nano

I found it really interesting how nanotechonology can have such an enormous impact on society.  Whether it is through its social awareness of Obama, like our guest speaker showed us, or the interpretation of what society depicts nanotechnology.  The nano-hummer kind of blows my mind of how it can be interpreted.  Yes, it is a smaller and more efficient version of the Hummer but it is no way a typically nano-sized piece of techonology.  Even the ipod nano seems a little ridiculous to but it makes much more sense then the nano-hummer.