Week 9/ Nanotechnology/ Andrew Curnow

March 11th, 2009

Making things smaller, that seems to be the goal of most electronics companies in the present day. From iPods to cameras, the idea of simultaneously decreasing size while increasing performance seems to be a near prerequisite of current day technology. In the general public’s point of, the “iPod Nano” is an innovative form of ‘nanotechnology’, and although indeed it follows the notion of shrinkage, the true science of nanotechnology dwells much deeper. Encyclopedia Britannica defines nanotechnology as: “Manipulation of atoms, molecules, and materials to form structures on the scale of nanometers (billionths of a meter).” This definition holds true, however the breadth as to what nanotechnology can truly achieve is extremely underestimated by the public. During the week of Professor Vesna’s lectures on nanotechnology the class covered various aspects of the term, as well as nanotech uses. From nanotube technology that can hypothetically, if not feasibly, achieve a ‘space elevator’ to the uses of nanotechnology in pinpointing specific atoms and making an atomic abacus, the obscurity of its uses is large. However in a more pertinent sense, the use of nanotechnology is the new expansionary frontier in the advancement of biotechnology. With the ability to go into a microscopic, even atomic realm with nanotech devices, researches are able to truly enter into the human body and even cells for medical purposes.

For my final project in DESMA 9 I chose to educate the public of Viruses and their effect on the human body. The basis of my topic fell under the current pandemic of AIDS caused by the Human Immunodeficiency Virus. The pandemic is currently one of the most feared issues of present day society. As I researched through nanotechnology I realized that in fact, nanotech is quickly closing into more effective, safe treatment to HIV. I encountered research at the University of Missouri that introduced an innovative form of drug distribution in the body. Using tiny machines, researchers were testing a device that would not only seek out cells infected with HIV, enter the cell through supersonic shockwaves that made the cells permeable for drug interaction, and set a small tracker that allowed a tracing of the diseased cell. The drug dispersing nanoparticles known as a ‘nanosponge’ would target areas of the body with high concentration of the disease. Though the drug would not be available for some time, it demonstrates the level on nanotechnology and its applicability in the medical world.

Though much testing utilizing biotechnology must be done before immediate use in certain fields, nevertheless its use is more than apparent. Even in an artistic sense, nanotechnology presents a new frontier. Designs on an atomic level give a human control of something they had never before been able to visualize. Overall, the uses of nanotechnology seem somewhat endless, and the new age that its use will bring is yet to be seen.




Extra Credit/Sound and Science/ Kelly Tseng

March 11th, 2009

I would define myself as a lover of music– music of all genres.  I have always found music as my means of escaping from reality.  Back in high school I joined the symphonic orchestra because I knew that it would be a great way to not only express myself, but to relieve my pent-up stress as well.  Thus, I was rather quite excited to attend the two sessions of the Sound + Science Symposium last Friday.  The topics to be discussed enveloped a trans-disciplinary investigation of scientif research and technological breakthroughs concerned with sound, aurality, and hearing.

The first session was Re(a)sonance byVeit Erlmann.  He introduced some very fascinating topics about the mind and body and how the only method of separating these two very distinct entities is through reasoning.  He noted that reason-ance was the process of reasoning and resonating at the same time.  Veit’s presentation also encompassed topics about resonance theories of pitch perception and patterns of vibrations on the brain.  He talked about Claude Perrault who made a valuable contribution in the acoustics by writing an exteded essay on sound and hearing.  His treatise on sound was a part of the book Oeuvres diverses de Physique et de Mecanique. Perrault was really interested in sound media and sources of sound.  He was one of the main figures in history who stressed the importance of vibration on consonance and dissonance.  I discovered through this very informative talk that a when one combines the  notes of consonance and disonance, the product is that of a harmonic tune.

I enjoyed the second session more than the first simply because it related more to the “scientific” aspects of sound and it was a more comfortable area for me.  The talk about Sound, Consciousness, and Culture: Exploring Music and Technology  through Semiotics and Ethnographic Study was very captivating.  I really liked when the speakers presented data showing the correlation between sound + perception and audio + visual representation.  As a science major, I feel that I am more sensitive over believing everything that I see or hear.  The fact that there was actual data that that proved the relationship between these figures was really cool.  The speakers, Lysloff and Chagras spoke about Husserl’s phenomenology and Varela’s neurophenomenology.  The topic of neurophemonology, which was quite enlightening, talked about how conscious experience is based on neural alertness and embodied agents.  Consciousness is an inactive experience that involves self-organization and embodiment.  I felt like the concept of time was quite influential on both speakers’ ideas because it has a very complex texture.  According to them, there are three levels of temporality:

1) “level of perceived entities, the temporal objects and events in the world. ”

2)”acts of consciousness, acts and sense, temporal features of the perceived entities.”

3) “flow of consciousness.”

Both sessions were quite informative, but what stood out to me was the idea of consciousness as an inactive experience.  This idea was very similar to what I had learned in a Cells, Tissues, and Organs class I took last quarter.  I had studied about the different aspects and functions of the ears.  Hearing is based on the mechanics of our brain processing the vibrations and motions in the environment around us.  Without such processes, we would not be able to hear sound.  For example, if a tree were to fall in the middle of a forest with no one present to hear the falling of the tree, would there be a sound?  The answer is no because sounds need to be perceived by a living being in order to be heard.

I looked up additional studies regarding the concept of neurophenomenology and found:


This article speaks about neurophenomenology as a derivative of the embodied approach in cognitive sciences.

Week 9: Invisible but still there by claudia zapien

March 11th, 2009

The concept of nano art is a great example of the world of science and art coming together. two world that are sometimes considered as opposite as night and day and for many people they are two fields that don’t come together, but that is the biggest misconception there is. Nanotechnology can be very beneficial and also very dangerous if not used in the right manor. It is a new way to capture and image and the depth achieved by nano art is better than that of photography because instead of using photons as it is used in photography, nano art, electrons are and the electrons create much deeper depth. The nano landscapes consist of the molecular and atomic landscapes from the matter used at atomic scale and nano sculptures which are the structures created by scientists and artists by manipulating matter at molecular and atomic scales using chemical and physical processes. The final product is seen through scanning electron microscopes and atomic force microscopes and their images are captured and at many time undergo other artistic techniques to convert them into pieces of art.  

Africa made fomr silicon atoms at atomic scale

Africa made fomr silicon atoms at atomic scale

As i was looking through nano technology and trying to find interesting artwork done with the help of advancement in nano technology i came across a very interesting exhibition done by Alessandro Ascali and Robin Goode. They have incorporated their nano art to be a driving political force. They like the notion that the artwork that they are doing is invisible to the naked eye, yet t does exist. This idea that only because you cannot see it it doesnt mean it isn’t there. They have a few pieces of art that incorporate this concept but the one that caught my attention was the sculpture of africa. As we all know or should know, the origin of human life comes from Africa. It is a huge continent and i theory how could it be neglected, yet it is. African is a continent that is poor, neglected and exploited for its natural resources. Even with its major contributions to humans we still act as if it doesn’t exist as if it is the forgotten continent. Making a image of africa single silicon atoms is a great metaphor for the situation we are caught in. Atoms are the building blocks of everything and they are invisible to the human eyes. Only because we do not see the atoms doesn’t mean that they are not there and that they are not important. Without the atoms which are the building blocks for everything we would have nothing and Africa fall under the same lines, without africa we wouldnt be where we are today. We might not ever exist.  

By Claudia Zapien

Week 9/Nanotechnology and Its possibilities/Yu Hsiao

March 11th, 2009

In our capitalist society, it seems like the more the better. We’re always trying to push the limit of everything. We try to earn as much money as we can. Engineers try to push the limit of technology as far as they can. We’re constantly improving technology and making the impossible possible. With the breakthroughs of nanotechnology, there are endless possibilities to its frontier. By making circuits down to the size of atoms, computer chips could be more efficient and a lot smaller so more information could be stored. IBM has made incredible advance in nano-sized chips. Engineers at IBM achieve this by using the property of self assembly to generate the circuits for the computer chip. Because there’s limit to Moore’s Law, because we can only go so far with minimizing the size of silicon chips. There’s technological barrier to it. So IBM chose molecules that have self assembly property. I thought this was interesting because it’s sort of an indirect way to engineer a product. Instead of making the circuits directly, molecules are put to self assemble themselves into a functional system.



I thought the self assembly feature could be applied to artists. By knowing how molecules could self assemble, arts could use it to their advantage. So they could indirectly working on their art work. By designing combination of molecules that are put together. This way, the artist only has part of the control over his/her art work. We’ve talked about a lot of art works that are created from chance, and chaos, where the artist has little part in controlling the outcome of the art work. But using nanotechnology, we could have a new form of art which the artists has control, but not total control over his/her work. This way, an artist might be expecting a molecule to self assemble into something, but he/she might have made a mistake in designing the molecules, and the molecules come out different. It’s a new way to be creative, and to create different possibilities.



In our society, we also try to make building higher and higher. We have high rises, and skylines. If we could built a space elevator, then we would really build a skyline. Now we’re seeing nanotechnology is making space elevator a reality. Carbon nanotubes are being discovered as a very strong material. It is claimed to be stronger than steel. This project is possible if we used space shuttle to carry cable that is as long as the geosynchronous orbit, 21,700 miles. The cable is then snaked into the earth and connected onto a platform like structure. At the platform, using electron laser beam to ride the carbon nanotube ribbons up the cable to make it stronger. Overtime, the cable would carry over 20 tons of carbon nanotube, and the space elevator is a reality.

If a space elevator is built, there are endless possibility to our world. Space travel will be easier, and the cost will probably go down. Everyone will be able to experience space, its weightlessness. It will open up opportunities for the art world as well. Artists will be able to explore how the art medium responds in space without gravity. This is done by using nanotechnology. I thought this is cool because by employing nanotechnology, we opened up a whole new possibility with architecture, the space elevator. But if the elevator becomes a reality, then we will have another whole new breakthrough, where things could be done in space, and space could become more accessible to everyone.

week 9 / (nano)technology - the bugbear of our generation? / ben marafino

March 11th, 2009

Richard Smalley writes:

“A few weeks ago I gave a talk on nanotechnology and energy titled “Be a Scientist, Save the World” to about 700 middle and high school students in the Spring Branch ISD, a large public school system here in the Houston area. Leading up to my visit, the students were asked to write an essay on “Why I Am a Nanogeek.” Hundreds responded, and I had the privilege of reading the top 30 essays, picking my favorite five. Of the essays I read, nearly half assumed that self-replicating nanobots were possible, and most were deeply worried about what would happen in their future as these nanobots spread around the world. I did what I could to allay their fears, but there is no question that many of these youngsters have been told a bedtime story that is deeply troubling.

You [Drexler] and people around you have scared our children. I don’t expect you to stop, but I hope others in the chemical community will join with me in turning on the light, and showing our children that, while our future in the real world will be challenging and there are real risks, there will be no such monster as the self-replicating mechanical nanobot of your dreams.”

[from http://pubs.acs.org/cen/coverstory/8148/8148counterpoint.html]

With developing technologies comes some kind of concern, and usually from the most unexpected of fronts. The scientists working on the first atomic bomb took quite morbid bets on whether their contraption, not content on merely exploding, would ignite the Earth’s atmosphere. Today, these sorts of qualms have managed to stick around, but we are much wiser with the passage of years and inventions – all one has to do is witness the recent furor over the Large Hadron Collider at CERN. Apparently it seems that this sort of criticism has been relegated to a fringe element – those who really have no idea about what it is that they’re raising the alarm about – in this case, the chances of the LHC producing a black hole that threatens to swallow the Earth, and us all whole.

The same sort of furor has been raised regarding the potential of molecular self-assemblers, or ‘nanobots.’ Theoretically, it is possible that these nanobots could be engineered to make copies of themselves, given sufficient quantities of raw materials in the vicinity. A somewhat ominous clause, isn’t it? Suppose that these nanobots run out of their artificial supplies, and turn to the surrounding environment for new sources of spare parts – there, they begin to feed indiscriminately on whatever might provide them molecular sustenance – perhaps us humans? In the process of consuming us – and the planet, and whatever else… - might they end us as a race? A doomsday scenario, if there was one. Thankfully, the chances of such an eventuality (not quite the word now, is it?) are limited, for reasons that Smalley posits: namely, that it’s difficult to construct an efficient nanobot capable of manipulating single atoms. He essentially asserts that such atomic-scale manipulators have got “fat fingers”: “Chemistry of the complexity, richness, and precision needed to come anywhere close to making a molecular assembler–let alone a self-replicating assembler–cannot be done simply by mushing two molecular objects together. You need more control. There are too many atoms involved to handle in such a clumsy way.”

In his piece, Smalley also goes on to excoriate Drexler – among others - for needlessly raising the alarm about the possibility of these nanobots running amok. In the spirit of his words, we need not turn nanobots into our children’s newest bugbear, particularly when they haven’t been invented yet – and we don’t know whether it’ll even be possible? Such irresponsibility, according to Smalley, detracts from the real risks – the real wolves of the future, and chemists like themselves have got the responsibility to allay these fears and to bring our focus to bear on more pressing problems. Many parallels can be found in the LHC craze, but the two instances don’t quite measure up in intensity or foundedness of their arguments. With nanobots – sure, there might be a cause for worry there, but once you’ve considered the technical practalities, there’s really nothing left to make a fuss over. Not so for the LHC – really, the creation of a destructive black hole is a possibility that borders on the farcical, and that’s before you consider the worked probabilities (which are ridiculously low).

Perhaps we’ll just have to accept that all this fussing is an intrinsic consequence of new technologies and grin and bear it, while staying on the reasonable side of the argument.

week 9/Nano/Akhil Rangaraj

March 11th, 2009

Nanotechnology is a very wide term. It covers many fields, such as material science, physics, and computing.  Reflecting this companies and researchers use the nano prefix in many fields. However, this use is sometimes incorrect, as there really arent any nano-technology enabled components to the product. AS the field is only in its infancy, many things remain to be sorted out regarding this new technology.

One part of this, that doesnt necessarily concern the technolgy directly, is the regulation of these products. One common hollywood concept is that of nano somethings gone wrong. While swarms of nano robots devouring all life in its path is indeed far in the future, regulations in the governmental sphere is already in place.  Usually this regulation is merely added to the end of existing laws, and then enforced by angencies such as the Environmental Protection Agency, or the Consumer Saftey Commission. However, this is not a clear and coordinated effort, and several states (including California) have called for studies to determine how best to classify nanomaterials. It was assumed that nanoparticles behaved similarly to their larger counterparts, but this is not the case. Even if the compound is inert at macroscopic scales, it can still be harmful at atomic levels. For example, scientists have found that diesel nanoparticles damage cardiovascular systems in mice.


For this reason, it is important that research is done to verify that these nanoparticles are safe. It is imperative that these studies are done *before* the particles go into wide distribution. This is not to say that progress should be limited, only progress should be carefully undertaken. The wild rush to fossil fuels caused innumerable environmental and social problems; this should not be repeated. Currently, the EPA does not monitor true nanoparticles, because the particles are too small to currently filter. One specific example that was brought up in class was that of carbon nano-tubes. These microscopic tubes are incredibly strong, if propgated to large sizes. However, preliminary research finds that inhaling these tubes could cause effects similar to inhaling asbestos (e.g cause cancer).


The days of killer nanobot swarms is far off in the future, but the health risks from these nanoparticles are very real today. Current research shows that at least some nano-compounds cause damage to our very DNA. Therefore, much research needs to be done before we end up poisoning ourselves.

EXTRA CREDIT / 2 Sound Symposium Sessions / Erum Farooque

March 11th, 2009

I love sound. Its what makes music and I am totally addicted to music, anyone who lives with me says so. I went to two sessions of the SOUND + SCIENCE symposium on Friday from 5 to 7. I found all the different sounds the speakers produced fascinating. The first speaker spoke about ways to manipulate sound through the process of changing various tempos and grains of sound. Its so crazy to think about how many different elements of sound there are that you can adjust such as tone, grain, tempo, etc. The speaker manipulated sounds by fastening and stretching the grains in the sound clips. When he filtered the grains, each time a different sound was produced. I remember connecting every new sound he made with a sound familiar to me that I heard before. The sounds sounded like a mouse, a monster, and an alien. The micro-sonic sounds sounded like aliens to me, which was pretty funny. So by manipulating grains of a sound, we can make it sound like anything, but what are grains exactly. He said we break sound down to all sorts of particles, which are called grains. In quantum physics, each particle or grain is defined as a burst of energy. He also talked about how Ferraris are marketed based upon their sound. The trademark engine starting and bursting to life sound of a Ferrari is really what it is sold on. A convention he went to boasted new models of Ferraris with new features, one of which was the new sound.

The most interesting topic of his had to be the cone of silence chandelier. I don’t know how it works when when one walked under this specific chandelier, it was like a cone of silence where only you could hear the sounds in there and actually feel the sound move up and down. You could not hear the outside and people outside did not hear or feel what you did. You could visualize the sound and felt as if it was 3D, just like surround sound. He never explained how this worked, but merely amazed the audience with the concept of it all.

The second session had a very interesting topic of sound illusions. The first was the illusion of different tones our right and left ears hear. Our right ear always hears the high tones while the left hears low tones, even if the speakers are reversed. Thus, that creates the illusion of the speakers only playing that specific tone, when its really our ears that are picking only upon that tone. Then she repeatedly played her saying hi then low consecutively for a while and experimented with the various words that we heard. Based on what you heard, you could infer something about that person and what is on their mind. If you heard “you die”, she advised you go seek help, that was what depressed students heard. Personally, I heard many various things: “like hi”, “blank eye”, “white guy”, “black eye”, and “lie”. I have no idea what this says about me, but it is interesting and very funny how random my thoughts, i guess, are. This was a illusion of what you heard, when in reality only “high low” was being repeated. Another random interesting fact was that left-handed people were more likely to hear something more complex than others. She also played a small sound byte that got higher each time, this illusion was that they were different sound bytes but our brains connected them into one that sounded like something climbing and then descending.

Lastly, the funniest part of the session was when she compared regular talking to singing. She played her saying a sentence and repeated the end of it over and over again and each time it sounded as if the pitch got higher and eventually it sounded like she was singing, but it was the same initial clip of her only talking not singing. everyone heard it. This made me think about how songs get stuck in people’s heads. Sometimes a phrase gets stuck in one’s head as well, this seems weird though. Why would someone just saying something get played over and over again in your mind. This repetition clip tied it together. Repeated talking of the same word or words sounds like singing. So a sentence stuck in one’s head is just like a song stuck in one’s head.

The sound symposium really brought art and science together, especially in the first session. Analyzing sound and figuring out ways to adjust it is a science but actually producing the sounds and joining them together is an art. Sound is music, which is definitely art.

~Erum Farooque

week 9

March 11th, 2009

I somewhat agree with Jim Gimzewski and Victoria Versa with the idea that the famous saying  ” seeing is believing” does not apply to nanotechnology. Just the name nanotech suggests a small thing already. When we talk about basing our belief in what we see, we most likely expect those things to be in the visible light spectrum. However, it turns out that the things we do not see have great impact on our health and in our entire life. This is when nanotechnology comes i to play.

As it sounds, nanotechnology is the study of the control of matter on atomic and molecular scale. To reiterate, this is really important when trying to study little things that cause us to be the way we are.


ImageThe above are pictures taken from http://nanoengineer-1.com/content/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=36&Itemid=46.  I chose to paste these pictures as references because they portray life in the nano level.

Most of us know how enormously nanotechnology has contributed in the modern life. This is true in all aspects, especially in the scientific field. Because of some help of the  nanotechnology, the police department for instance is able to identify suspects from old crimes.

In the science field the impact of nanotechnology is even greater especially in the engeneering department. In the mdical field nanotechnology is acting as a responding agent to many questions. For instance,

http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2007/07/09/BUGPUQSED01.DTL reports that with the hope of nanotechnology, sooner or later drugs with no side effect at all will be made by enhancing the precision of a drug. This  problem that has been a nightmare for decades but finally about to be solved, just like problems of syphilisis and tuberculosis were resolved.

Computer science is another area where nanotechnology has an impact,still according to http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2007/07/09/BUGPUQSED01.DTL. It is reported that nanotechnology has allowed the International Business Machines corporations to manufacture some powerful computers,wich they said will not overheat as the actual do. Clearly we can see that nanotechnology is a toolthat multi-task effectively in the benefits of every body. It helps so much that if it was a person it would have gotten all the awards possible on earth.

In the engeneering field, nanotechnology is active as well. It consists of  manipulating different nano sample in order to produce new ones. For instance,  the human genetic engeneering . This is the modification of  the genotype of an individual person, with the aim of  to determine the phenotype of the newborn or to change the existing phenotype of a child or an adult. Here we can see nanotechnology acting as an creating agent. 

To sum up, nanotechnology is a great tool in today’s life. Its application helps direct the world to a completely developed and less impure wolrd by answering most of the impossible questions, such as changing phenotypes, making drugs with no side effect, eventlally nanotechnology will come up with a way to cure cancer and AIDS in the future.

By Fabrice

Week 9/Nanotechnology/Nathan Reynolds

March 10th, 2009

Nanotechnology has generated a considerable buzz within the past few decades.  The purpose behind it is to make everything more efficient, by reducing its size.  A parallel to this would be our computers today.  Years ago a single machine could take up an entire building complex to do nothing more than simple mathematics calculations.  Things are considerably different today.  I’m using this smaller descendent of the gargantuan to type up a rather poorly thought out web blog among other things.

Nanotechnology is the same.  Nanotubes composed of carbon promise incredible strength and durability.  Nanomachines are being researched to perform advanced tasks.

Science fiction helps push these dreams along by using the tools of CGI to make them manifest in the fantasy world.  Tiny robot spiders check the identities of people in Minority Report, while the Discovery Channel envisions tiny machines that travel the body in search of impurities to remove.

There is great promise in nanotech, but at our current pace it will take considerably more time before anything monumental can be achieved.

Some may interpret this as pessimism, but it is pragmatic more than anything else.  Take for instance carbon fiber tubes.  They were being researched five years ago, and they’re still being researched today.  Nothing grand has occurred yet, the process is expensive, and the fibers are inconsistent.  A goal that scientists have is to construct a space elevator from carbon tubes, but with our current production capabilities such progress is inconsequential.

Personally though, I am horribly afraid of nanotech, especially if it is applied to robotics.  The first simple machines built by our ancestors served as tools and cudgels at the same time.  We add a killing edge to the technology we create.  Now take into consideration microscopic machines.  Such devices could easily enter into the human body and wreak all sorts of havoc.  Devices on the microscopic level may be able to evade detection altogether and could be used for ultra-modern assassination purposes.

Indeed, this sounds a little crazy compared to my other blog posts, but there is a plausible threat posed by minimizing things too much.

Week 9/Invisability Cloak/ Lam Tran

March 10th, 2009




Imagine a cloak that you can put on and it will make you invisible.

Its sort of like the thing Harry Potter had. Well.. it isn’t a thing in science fiction or a magical piece of cloth in a fantasy novel.

That’s right… at University of California, Berkeley, they have made amazing breakthroughs in creating an invisible cloak!

Its not some sort of optical illusion. It doesn’t run on electricity.It uses nano technology. Well technically it uses metamaterials but nanotechnology enabled the creation of this. Before this, the closest thing science can do to enable invisibility is a combination of cameras and projectors. This cloak uses a fabric that is sort of a fish net that are nano-meters apart. The result creates something that sort of bends light around the object surrounded by the cloak. That’s just plain amazing. By making the cloth and taking it down to the nanoscopic level, science is able to achieve things that seem just impossible. There are no gears or smaller parts in this; the fabric takes on certain characteristics. This is how nanotech is. Its not that science fiction nanobot crap. There are no smaller parts within the nanotech that does all the things that it does. It is a particle that takes on a desired characteristic.

Now from the videos and pictures, you can see that the cloak and the person wearing it is still visible. However, making it seem transparent is still mind boggling. They have made shirts (not on the market) that are made of this material. I think it would make a cool clothing line. I’d buy that. Making a clothing line out of these metamaterials is sort of the application of science into the world of art/fashion.

It will still take a while before they perfect this. The scientists, not just at Berkeley, are trying different patterns and materials to try to perfect the cloak. Even the distance between the gaps in the cloak matter. Probably variations in a few picometers would make a difference. The scale of which these scientists are working are so small no optical microscope can really see. A regular light telescope is limited to 2000x. This is not enough to see something 10^-9 meters. They use electron microscopes instead and the image magnified ends up on a computer monitor.

Lam Tran

Week 9/ Art Through Scientific Means/ Kelly Tseng

March 10th, 2009

What is nanotechnology?  First of all, one nanometer is one billionth of a meter.  Therefore, the study of nanotechnology is related to the study of matter at an atomic and molecular level.  If it is still quite difficult for you to imagine how small a nanometer is on a scale of meters, compare the size of a marble to the size of planet Earth.

I find it quite remarkable how nanotechnology is so diverse, extending over the fields of medicine, energy production, and electronics.  Application of its fundamentals leads to creations in many significant devices and materials such as nanoprocessors (microprocessors capable of creating features smaller than 100nm).

This exciting and diverse topic inspired me to search for other innovative projects or creations in this field of science.  When I came across projects based on the new art discipline at the art-science-technology intersections (known as nanoart) I was quite thrilled because this basically tied in the theme of our DESMA 9  class- Art, Science, and Technology.  Nanoart is unique in that it features creations of natural matter using chemical and physical processes.  The end result is something as beautiful as an authentic piece of art you would find at an art gallery.

These flowers were grown by scientists by putting droplets of liquid metal on a silicon chip.  The scientists then manipulated the pressures and temperature in the experiment to create three-dimensional flowers.  The shape of the flowers were produced by weaving wires made of silicon carbide.  These wires, in the next several years, will hopefully be used to develop the next generation of electronic devices.

I am extremely enthralled by this picture because it is really breathtaking.  It reminds me of a still water oil painting by Claude Monet.  The artist of this picture called “Nano Poolette” is Carol Cooper and was found on a blog site featuring nano-materials and nanotechnology “built” from everyday objects from the nanoscale up.


Overall, nanoart, I believe, is a remarkable and innovative synthesis of both the scientific and artistic realms.  I really admire the fact that such great art pieces could be produced from natural processes involving scientific methods.  Many artistic creations are visualized with scientific research tools such as the scanning electron microscope and atomic force microscope.  The captured “scientific images” are then developed and processed using “artistic techniques” to convert them into amazing works of art such as the ones seen above.

Week 9/ Nano/ Patrick Morales

March 10th, 2009

Dave’s iPhone Sneak Peek

Oxymoronically the nano industry will become a huge deal in the future.  As of today there are many properties of nano particles that scientists are still researching.  I personally had little to no idea what nano technologies actually consisted of so I went to the most popular trusted source: YouTube. I found countless videos warning about the dangers of nanotechnology and the importance of controlling the release of nano particles in the environment. In one of the videos it astonished me that a leading scientist said that the effects of introducing nano particles are largely unknown. This information suddenly became more troubling when I learned that we are already using nano particles in everyday articles such as toothpaste, tennis balls and soap. There is a certain level of danger with all products but with products that utilize nano technologies the effects might be small to the point of non-detection.


Even with the justified caution with nano particles I am fascinated by the doors that nano-tech could open up for our understanding of our planet. The director of the Material Science Division at the Lawrence Berkeley National Lab enthusiastically stated “Suddenly it’s like the periodic table projects out into a new dimension. It’s not just that we have the list of elements but it’s when we can change their sizes and each size is a little bit different than every other when it’s very small.” Could this possibly one of the keys into the dimensions of reality that are largely a mystery to us? Is the world made up of layers of different sized molecules? I don’t know and I don’t believe that any scientist could possibly answer those questions today, especially because much of the research involving nano technology is to solve problems of the world that we do know.

“Till now scientists have dissected animals and other creatures to attain more knowledge about the matter from which they are made of, and often succeeded…” but what new discoveries could nano technology uncover? One possibility is the eventual phasing out of a reductionist view point on medicine, molecules and life. By being able to ‘infiltrate’ the blood stream with nano bots or more accurately target illnesses in our bodies we could sophisticate complex system science techniques.

But where does art fit in with nano? It fits right nicely in fact. Visual art is being use d to make some complex anno properties more relatable and easier to understand. The pictures that were used in Thursday’s guest lecture were all computer generated images. So while the market for scientific research expands so will the market for science based art. The entertainment industries infatuation with nano is definitely bound affect the image of the emerging technology.

Week 9\Nanotechnology\Amy Chen

March 10th, 2009

Through trying to understand the Art in Nanotechnology I looked up articles in which would better explain what it was.  Of course we’ve learned that the nano size is one billionth of a meter or the human hair is 50,000 nanometers.  One article in particular was done by National Geographic, which became even more surprising when they started mention the University of California…UCLA and then Victoria Vesna.  http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2003/12/1223_031223_nanotechnology.html It’s crazy to see her involvement in this movement.  Even while looking for other articles, her work has been repeatedly documented and is actually quite wide-spread.  I liked this analogy from the article best in describing the shift in reality in understanding matter. 

“The technology marked a paradigm shift in how scientists analyze miniscule matter, allowing them to record shape by tactile sensing instead of viewing it, much like a blind man reading Braille, only on the atomic scale.” 

What seems to bring everything back to beginning was the familiar feeling that I have heard or seen the examples of art in nanotechnology listed by National Geographic.  Sure enough it was Professor Vesna’s pieces that she had shown us in the first week of class.  It was funny reading the descriptions about a mandala and immediately connecting it to Professor Vesna’s work.  Although she has shown us her work and described it, it’s nice to read it’s direct link to nanotechnology.

“Images of a grain of sand are projected in evolving scale from the molecular structure of a single grain to the recognizable image of a pile of sand. In this bottom-up method of visual image building, the mandala slowly emerges.”

Since the article was written in 2003, I looked to see if any new nanotechnology art have been recently created.  

One piece I did enjoy is this piece done by Fanny Beron because as she says, it reminds us that nanoscale research can have unpredicted consequences at a high level. It shows catastrophic scenes through the use of an electron micro-graph.  The idea of an analogy from something so small to linking to a concept that can affect us on such a large scale is interesting yet scary.  

Also, while randomly esearching through more nanotechnology articles I came across this http://scienceblogs.com/framing-science/2008/05/at_the_new_york_times_and_glob.php which is fairly recent, done in 2008.  It states that they have found long nanotubes, “one of the wonder materials of the new age of nanotechnology,” to carry a health risk similar to that of asbestos, a wonder material of an earlier age that turned into a scourge after decades of use when its fibers were found to cause lung disease.”  It is certain types of carbon nanotubes that are used in small but growing number of Space Age applications that if inhaled - could even pose a cancer risk.  Although we are understanding matter through a different lenses through newfound technology of nanotechnology, we have to realize the certain risks that come about.  It’s scary to read this and reminds me of the picture posted above, “nanoscale research can have unpredicted consequences at a high level”

Week 9: Nanotechnology/Jasmine Huynh

March 10th, 2009

Nanotechnology is defined as the study of the control of matter on the atomic and molecular scale. It can be applied to a wide range of topics, ranging from handheld devices to medicine. On Thursday, we had a guest speaker who showed various and interesting aspects of nanotechnology. He provided a great talk on nanotechnolgy that discussed many different topics, ranging from atoms to the bigger human scale. It’s hard not to think of a topic like nanotechnology as strictly scientific, but I was able to find a very interesting nanotechnology-art fusion project called “Nanoart 21.”

The website can be found here: http://www.nanoart21.org/. The website defines NanoArt be:

“a new art discipline at the art-science-technology intersections. It features nanolandscapes (molecular and atomic landscapes which are natural structures of matter at molecular and atomic scales) and nanosculptures (structures created by scientists and artists by manipulating matter at molecular and atomic scales using chemical and physical processes). These structures are visualized with powerful research tools like scanning electron microscopes and atomic force microscopes and their scientific images are captured and further processed by using different artistic techniques to convert them into artworks showcased for large audiences.”

Basically, NanoArt which encompasses the core topics that we discuss in our Desma9 class: art, science and technology. I thought this was a very interesting proect because it was truly a fusion of art and science. Both aspects were prominent in the projects. For example, a scanning electron microscope, a truly scientific tool, is used to make sculptures and atomic landscapes, which are clearly artistic projects. One of my favorite pieces of work on the website was:

This piece was done by Lisa Black and submitted for the 2008-2009 NanoArt Exhibition. I like how the background of this piece looks like its a type of cell under magnification in a scanning electron microscope, but the foreground looks like an abstract piece of art. I think this is the perfect summary for our class: art and science blended into one project.

More of these great projects can be found on this website: http://nanoart21.org/nanoart2006/index.php?cat=13 which showcases all the entries into the 2008 NanoArt Exhibition. It was fascinating to read how the artists all came from different backgrounds–some were artists by training, and some were cellular biologists. Seemingly from different fields, they were both able to create unique masterpieces which ultimately wound up at the same exhibition. Nanotechnology is one of the fields that makes it easy for this fusion to occur.

Week 9 / Nanocomposite Coating by Marie De Austria

March 10th, 2009

When thinking about nanotechnology, I always imagine tiny machines and robots that can enter the human body and repair broken tissues or futuristic spies that can surreptitiously mount foreign government’s walls. I never thought that nanotechnology can be used to make sunscreens that are more efficient at absorbing ultraviolet rays from the sun or better yet, make tennis balls bounce better and longer.

Tennis ball manufacturers have always been looking for a way to make their tennis balls last longer by retaining the original air pressure inside the ball. Finally, Wilson Sporting Goods released their Wilson Double Core tennis balls with the promise that they will last twice as long as the normal tennis balls. The technology behind their claim is that the second coat inside the tennis balls is made of nanocomposite coating that prevents air from seeping out from inside the ball. The coating that the Wilson company invented is known as Air D-Fense. The coating begins with a latex polymer with butyl microspheres where the vermiculite platelets are added. The key to the coating process is to let the coatings dry with as much of the platelets still aligned. This creates an effective barrier so that air will not escape.

This technology is used to create a lighter but sturdier tennis racket which is popular but quite expensive today.

The same technology, nanocomposite coating, is also being used to create more efficient and long lasting critical engine parts. These parts, when tested against control specimens which were not given the superhard nanocomposite coating treatment, performed with lower friction against other parts of the engine and lasted longer – meaning it did not wear out as fast as the control specimens. If they develop this technology more, we may be able to create more efficient cars and engines which will reduce manufacturing waste – something to really look forward to when thinking about the possibilities that nanotechnology can fulfill.

It goes on to show that the success of a certain technology is not measured by how grand and big the machine is but how it can be used in many different aspects of life. From hopes of creating tiny surgical robots that can enter the bloodstream to making tennis balls last longer and bounce better, nanotechnology really does hold a huge potential and a great deal of promise in the future.

Furthermore, it is interesting to see how creative people can really be. It is one thing to discover something novel but to also use it to solve a problem is simply genius. It is like using a book to prop a shaky desk or a stool to reach something beyond our height allows us to reach. Creativity and inspiration, then, are the links between science and art. In art, you need creativity to express your inspirations in a way that could be experienced by the audience. In science, you have to express your inspirations in a creative way to benefit the masses. And this convergence is displayed in the Wilson Double Core tennis balls. The Wilson Company was inspired by the idea of creating better tennis balls and they used nanotechnology in a creative way to tackle the problem and produce a solution that everyone can now benefit from.


Week 9\Microchip Images\Marian Portugal

March 10th, 2009

When Professor Vesna was discussing nanotechnology during Week 9’s lectures, she mentioned how she was able to play around with micro particles, and showed us a picture of one of her creations on the powerpoint presentation.  She was able to move the particles around, and spelled out the word “desma.”  I thought it was really cool how the word “desma” was written out so clearly and with a lot of precision, despite how small the particles were.  I expected it to be kind of messy because the particles were so small.  This creation that she showed us reminded me of integrated circuits and their hidden images.

Integrated circuits, or silicon microchips, have been in use since the 1950’s.  Through the years, advancements in technology have allowed us to create chips so small, that you could fit several of them on the tip of a finger.  This decrease in size compacts more movement into each chip, and increases the amount of energy per unit of surface area.  When I tried to imagine how small these chips can be, I thought it was impossible to be able to create hidden images embedded within them too.  Dr. Vesna’s picture of the particles spelling out “desma” inspired me to talk about these images for this week’s blog. 

        I understand how technology has allowed companies to create these tiny icons in their microchips, but I did not understand how people discovered their existence.  The chip’s exterior has to first be taken off because the images are hidden behind it.  After, they use a microscope to look for specific areas on the chip that the image would most likely be found.  After that, they continually increase the magnification to take a closer look until they find the pictures.  Upon researching about these pictures, I came across a website that showed me exactly how microscopic these works of art really are.  Most of these images range from 20 to 200 microns.  One micron, or one micrometer, is one millionth of a meter.  The typical strand of hair is 88.9 micrometers in diameter.  One of the most famous micro images on a chip is the image of Waldo.  He is 50 micrometers wide, a little more than one half the width of a strand of hair. 

            It interests me how companies put these images in their microchips.  Some of the images that have shown up include Waldo, sailboats, bicycles, Kermit the Frog playing the guitar, a camel, and the cartoon character, Dilbert.  I think it shows us not only how advanced our technology is, but about the desginers’ individual creativity and character. 

According to Molecular Expressions, “chip designers have been placing cartoon characters and other images on integrated circuits for many years.”  I think it is extremely creative that these chip designers came up with this clever idea to make their mark in the most inconspicuous places.  With these microchips getting smaller and smaller, it amazes me how designers are still able to create these images.  






Week9/ Nanotechnology/ James Martin

March 10th, 2009

This week’s topic was nanotechnology.  Nanotechnology has the potential of changing our society in so many ways it is unfathomable.  There are so many different possibilities and directions that nanotechnology can push mankind for the better.  This week we received a special lecture from James Gimzewski of the chemistry department.  There was one project that he briefly spoke of that really caught my attention.  He spoke of the space elevator.

The concept of the space elevator refers to an elevator-like tool that would allow for the transportation of objects into space without shuttles.  It is a fixed structure that would go from the earth passed geostationary orbit.  Current technology is not capable to create such a device that is light and strong enough to reach space.  However the most recent conceptualization for the space elevator is to use carbon nanotube as mentioned by James Gimzewski.  The cable that leads up to space would be made entirely out of single walled carbon nanotube.  The problem over the space elevator is the fact that the material must be extremely light and extremely strong.  This is where the nanotechnology come into play.  Without nanotechnology, carbon nanotubes would never have been created.  Projects like the space elevator are becoming reality due in large part to nanotechnology.

Nanotechnology can also be used in art and to help it last as long as possible.  Italian scientists are developing a way to use nanotechnology in order to restore many art piece a lot better and for a lot less money.  The technology is being created at the University of Florence in which water nanocontainers are being used.  Basically what is happening is that tiny droplets of cleaning agents are suspended in water to form micro-emulsions and are restoring paintings much better.  There are two main advantages of what is happening.  It is a better way of cleaning the old paintings and it is also a lot cheaper.  As techno logy advances, the scientists will further their understanding of the nanocontainers and create a plentiful version in order to clean.  Also, there it is a much more environmentally friendly way of cleaning the paintings, which is better for everyone.  Nanotechnology created a way far better way to clean the surface of old paintings.


Another field in which nanotechnology is being used is in computers.  The first computer that was ever made was so large that it could probably have taken up most of our lecture room in Broad.  As nanotechnology has progressed the computer has progressively gotten much smaller to wear it can fit in our hand now.  In James Gimzewski’s lecture, he mentioned how something’s, such as computers, will soon no longer be able to go any smaller and will lose many functions if they do go really small.  I also feel that there is a point in which things can become to small and there is no longer a purpose to having it.  As far as I can tell, nanotechnology seems to have a really positive future.

James Martin

Extra Credit/ Sound Symposium/ James Martin

March 9th, 2009

I attended the Sound and Science Symposium on Friday from 2-3 and found it very interesting.  The guest speaker was James P. Crutchfield, a physics professor at UC Davis and the Vice President of the Art and Science Lab in New Mexico.  He spoke about his project entitled “Insects, Trees and Climate: Case Studies in Parallel Perception.  Professor Crutchfield was very interested in animals and wildlife.  He first found that frogs were emitting ultrasound to communicate amongst one another.  They were not mating due to bad physical conditions and were communicating to each other that they were not going to mate.  Crutchfield then tried to see how ultrasound was used in nature in the middle of the forest.  What he found was astonishing.

Trees were communicating and giving off ultrasound.  It was the environments way of communicating.  He found that the trees were dehydrated due to drought and were giving off certain frequencies around 150KHz.  Once he found that the trees he thought his job was over, but there was still a great discovery: the bark beetle.  Bark beetles had infested the trees and were causing the trees to be extremely dehydrated.  Crutchfield created a vibration transducer to try and hear what was happening inside the trees.  What he found was that the bark beetles were communicating through ultrasound chirps.  They were giving off frequencies anywhere from 200-300KHz.  Trees are dying off and many thought that it had to due with a lack of water but in fact it had everything to do with the bark beetle.  Nanotechnology has discovered many aspects of life and is very helpful in many other projects.

I also caught the very end of another project however I was unable to get the name of the artist.  Basically, she put sound stations all over New York City and collected sounds and data for certain periods of time.  The sounds were collected to show what was happening in New York and placed on the Internet so anyone could hear it.  The sounds that came varied.  This is believed oft be of different CO2 concentrations in the air, which caused different pitches and sounds.  Sound was collected in order to give a picture of the city.

James Martin

week 8 \ the (apparently?) universal panacea of space \ ben marafino

March 9th, 2009

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the (apparently) universal panacea of space

It’s quite strange how space seems to get proposed as a universal panacea to all of Earth’s ills. We’re growing short on precious metals? Let’s mine asteroids? Too many people on Earth? Let’s move them up there, either to the Moon or even other planets! … and so on. The reality of the situation is that many of these proposals are impractical to begin with, yet we continue to indulge our fantasies of space while losing sight of more realistic solutions right here on Earth. However, it would in all likelihood be quite unfair to assert that space itself is not worth exploring or exploiting - it turns out that humanity - and the Earth itself, perhaps - just isn’t ready for the big leap yet.

Let’s take one example of a commonly proposed project - the space ‘elevator.’ Its supporters assert that it’ll supplant expensive rocket launches as a more convenient system for delivery of materials (let’s say satellites, spaceships, space station components, construction materials, etc…) to space. I don’t necessarily dispute that, but let’s take a step back and think about the sheer scale of such a proposal. It’ll require a 35,000-kilometer-long cable (that’s nearly 22,000 miles, for those of you who find yourselves metric-challenged) that won’t snap when subjected to centrifugal and gravitational forces as the Earth rotates. Others have proposed 100,000-kilometer (62,000 mi) long cables, to be constructed from similarly panacea-like materials, like carbon nanotubes - turns out the longest carbon nanotube we’ve managed to make so far is only 18 millimeters long. That’s about as wide as one of your fingers.

Again, perhaps we’ve got too much faith in our inventiveness. Yes, humanity is indeed a creative and cunning race, but we must be careful not to get ahead of ourselves. To trust too much in what we deem possible only serves to inflate even further our technological hubris - which might prove dangerous when the right circumstances come along. In addition, we must look to the Earth before space for solutions - after all, if we do manage to relocate even a fraction of our planet’s population, what about all the people left behind? Much would have been wasted for so little gain, and indeed this is a worrying theme that we encounter far too often in our daily lives. Witness the out-of-control prices of medical treatment in the US, largely the result of reliance on the latest and greatest breakthroughs in medical technology, which are inherently expensive to discover and to bring to the patient. They are not necessarily undesirable advances in themselves, but their use - to the near-total exclusion or sequestration of other, older, yet just as effective methods - should not be monopolised. Likewise with space - have we even gotten to the point where such solutions are practical enough to discuss seriously in the public sphere, or are they destined to remain the stuff of science fiction? The future will reveal the answer - whenever that may be.

Learn some more about space elevators here: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/sciencenow/3401/02.html

(Sorry for submitting this a little late, Alberto, but I’ve been bogged down by midterms and finals, among other things!)

Extra Credit\Sound + Science Symposium\Marian Portugal

March 7th, 2009

Brain Networks for Tracking Musical Structure

Petr Janata

UC Davis

Dept. of Psychology & The Center for Mind and Brain

I attended the 11 AM – 12 PM lecture on Friday, March 6.  The guest speaker was Peter Janata from UC Davis’s Department of Psychology and The Centre for Mind and Brain, and his subject was about brain networks for tracking musical structure.  He explained that his main reason for this topic of research, which is also his hypothesis is that when people are engaged in music (such as simple clapping/dancing to music, performing music, anything that relates to music), they are obviously interacting with an external environment/stimulus.  Because of this, the brain has to be affected, and Dr. Janata is researching exactly how it is affected.

The part of his lecture that I thought was the most interesting was when he described tonal space.  Tonal space is a way Dr. Janata showed music on a surface.  There are several different chords scattered on a surface, and a variety of colors spread out onto that space.  These colors range from red to blue.  When an area is red, the chord it is covering is playing an active part in the music.  When an area, is blue, the chord it is covering is not playing an active part in the music.  As the song progresses, the colors move around the space to cover different areas to show which chords are being played more or less.  When Dr. Janata showed us an example by playing a song by Three Doors Down, the tonal space became an artistic representation of music.  He calls his work the “Psychology of Music,” and uses models to identify parts of the brain that are following the same temporal structure of the music.  In other words, he is trying to find brain waves/patterns that match the music’s movement at the same time of the music’s progression. 

Musical Space