Title Page• Name: Hayk Barseghyan• Major: Physiological Science, Russian Language and Literature• Date: June 6, 2012• Class: Honors 177 (UCLA Spring 12)• Professor: Victoria Vesna
Blog 1• My name is Hayk Barseghyan and I am a fourth year Physiological Science Major. Since childhood I was terrible at anything that had to do with art. My drawings were the worst in the class, and literature did not interest me at all. So, I turned all my attention and effort into sciences and here I am today. I have lived for about two decades now and have no idea what art is and how to understand it. I realize that there is something more to this world than precise answers. Thus, I decided to enroll in this class to learn about the art from a point of view of sciences that I am familiar with.
• The two cultures art and biotechnology are very distinctive areas of study, but that is only the first thought. Most of the art that is has been produced in the world has been a pure copy of the nature which is biology. The art has been repeating itself for many generations. The newer field of biotechnology brings newer areas where art could be created from biological and technological point. There is stereotype that art and science are two distinct areas and many universities concentrate more on the sciences leaving art to wonder around. Let us not forget that there is integration and interaction in almost every field of study, biology and art are not an exception. Many biological technologies have been created to suit not only the purpose, but also the looks.
There countless examples of art integrating with scienceand vice versa. However, the one that really caught myattention was the creation and modernization of totalmechanical hearts incorporated into living human beingsfor survival.
Bibliography:• ARTIFICIAL HEART June 24, 2009• http://rwjms.umdnj.edu/news_publications/news_release/AbioCor _Heart.html• The Total Artificial Heart• http://www.polyurethanes.org/blog/2011/11/the-total-artificial- heart/• Ducati Design Contest• http://www.motorcycledaily.com/2004/06/21june04ducati/• Art and Biotechnology: When Art looks into Science• http://therestisart.wordpress.com/2010/10/26/art-and- biotechnology-when-...• The Role of Biotechnology in Art Preservation• http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0167779905002 726
Blog 2• I have always wondered if it would be possible to produce enough food for the whole world without genetic modification. First of all, I think that there would not be these many people in the world without the ability of humanity to produce more food. So, maybe the development and progress of genetic modification of products stimulated population growth as a result of excess food. People would think that genetically modified food should not pose any danger to humans, but all it takes is one successful mutation of a virus and many people could die or become ill because of consumption of those foods. There could also be partial integration of those unusual genes into human genome over time of excessive genetically modified food consumption. Not much proof is provided by scientist to support either side of the argument.
• My family comes from a background where meat consumption is one of the main sources of daily meal. I am used to eating meat regularly, but I have never thought there could be more harm from it than good. Fifty years ago when people grew their own food it was safe to eat whatever they grew because it was grown on natural products. Today, big farms make cattle to eat corn which is not what animals are supposed to eat, this result in a higher levels of fats in the animal which human consume that potentially leads to cardiovascular diseases. And this is one side effect that we are aware of. The meat that I and my family have been consuming for the last several years came from those farms.
• I am now inclined to control whatever I eat and try to consume natural organically raised products because I do not know what long term consumption of genetically modified foods could lead, but certainly know that organic food will not lead to anything bad because it has been consumed by people for thousands of years.
Bibliography:• "What Are the Dangers?” Mothers for Natural Law. Web. 6 Nov. 2009.• Moeller, Lorena, and Kan Wang. “Engineering with Precision: Tools for the New Generation of Transgenic Crops.” BioScience 58.5 (2008): 391+. Expanded Academic ASAP. Web. 10 Nov. 2009.• Union of Concerned Scientists. “The Safeness of Genetically Modified Foods Is Unproven.” Opposing Viewpoints: Genetic Engineering (2009). Web. 1 Nov. 2009.• “20 Questions on Genetically Modified (GM) Foods.” World Health Organization: Food Safety. Web. 31 October 2009.• Genetically Modified Foods: Harmful or Helpful? Deborah B. Whitman Apr. 2000• http://www.csa.com/discoveryguides/gmfood/overview.php
Blog 3• Genetic Engineering has been used throughout human history to select phenotypes or genes that are most favorable. I think that there is nothing wrong with that. Just as humans in the past have been able to domesticate and grow some wild type plants and animals through long period of time, today humans are able to do such selections in a shorter period of time due to advances in technology. Some might think that it could bring some bad consequences, but that statement has not been proven. We can think of Genetic Engineering the same way as Natural Selection that Darwin explained in his book “Origins of Species.” Natural Selection selects the most desirable genes for the future generation and Genetic Engineering works the same way. The only difference is that it is done primarily by humans and not nature.
• I will be honest I do not really like seeing animals in the zoos or as pets. I think every animal deserves to live in the wild just like any one of us would never want to be imprisoned. There are exceptions though. Some animals require human care and in those situations it is fine to live by symbiosis. There are many cases in the world when humans torture their pets and then kill them fun. I think that some of these people should be imprisoned or fined, but many would disagree because industrial farms kill millions of animals and to provide human population with food.
• I enjoyed watching “Strange Culture” that showed the work of Kurtz and how FBI was mislead to convict him for killing his wife. It is quite understandable because there are so many cases in which one of the partners kills another for any reason that it is almost an instinct in police organizations to suspect husband or wife first and then go from there looking for evidence. Of course, it was pitiful to watch how one’s life, career and work could be destroyed in such a short period of time, but I am very proud of Kurtz because he fought till the end for his rights. Not many people have the strength to do that.
Blog 4• Noa’s exhibition was very interesting and memorable. It caught my attention because I never actually thought of things in that manner nor did I ever imagine looking at dust of pollen particles under microscope trying to figure out their three dimensional structure. What Noa did was absolutely fascinating to me and probably to most people that encountered her work. After seeing her presentation I can’t stop myself thinking about the smallest particles that make up different things. It’s like I want to know how everything looks under the microscope. I was one of the fortunate people that attended Noa’s exhibition. There I was able to apply everything she referred to in her presentation to the actual bodies of work that were presented on exhibition.
• Noa’s work also showed that everything in our world is interconnected to each other in some degree. These interactions make possible the life as we know to exist on Earth. Humans should try to preserve these interactions in order to conserve the biological balance that exists. Even destroying one little part of a chain will cause it to break overtime.
• There are many examples of medical technology and art used hand in hand. The most fascinating to be is the three dimensional structure of proteins in human bodies. There is countless number of art works designed by humans throughout the world, but our organism still is a leader in that area. Most of the human body is made up of proteins and there have to millions of different shapes of them in order to perform one particular function, be it protection by immune system or structural building blocks of organism. All these proteins coexist in balance and interact with each other to create an organism such as us.
Blog 6• I thought that Kathy Brew’s exhibit “Going Gray” was just fascinating. I agree with her that in our society there is a fear of aging and specifically having gray hair. Many people just do not want to accept the fact that they will get older no matter what they do be plastic surgery cosmetic creams or hair coloring. I also think that we should educate the population that it is natural to get older and that people should not fear it. Exhibits such as Kathy Brew’s “Going Gray” is very interesting way of conveying the thought of normality to people by showing personal experiences and ways in which we can adapt to aging.
• The interviews that were shown in the documentary shown on exhibit “Going Gray” several different scientist and doctors were discussing different reasons of hair becoming gray. The truth is that it depends on an individual. There could be many reasons for a person to go gray such as nutritional imbalance, aging, genetic inheritance, environmental stress, immune malfunction, loss of protein complexes that are responsible for hair color. All these can cause hair graying. The important thing is that people need to understand that it is natural and not fear it.
• However, when people do go grey they might not like the way they look. There is no fear of aging, it is simply cosmetic dislike. In such case I think it is explainable for a person to try to change the way he or she looks by any means necessary if that would bring personal satisfaction and will not harm the overall health of the person. One Chinese “He Shou Wu” helps to retain hair color naturally, but this does not mean that using hair coloring reagents or other things is wrong.
Blog 7 (Extra Credit)• Lejla Kucukalic’s lecture on Biotech and Biopunk was fascinating to me. I had never thought that science fiction and genetics could be interconnected with each other to produce such great ideas and inventions that were presented in the lecture. Professor Kucukalic talked a little about the Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein (1818) who was created in the laboratory to imitate a human being.
• I think the combination of biotechnology and genetics is the future of humanity. However, in comparison with Frankenstein I think that a better way of building or modifying a person would be by taking the best of many and combining them in one. This way it would be possible to save years of research spent on building a person from scratch meaning that the genome would be human engineered. A better way is to take already present genes and incorporate them into one single genome that will produce an ultimate man. Faster, stronger, and more intelligent.
Blog 8 (Memories Stored In DNA)Human brain has the ability to store and transmitmemories using images. There is specialized area inthe brain called Hippocampus that is involved instorage and generation of memories. The waymemories are sored is still not quite understood.However, it is speculated that visual or any otherstimuli that a person perceives is accompanied byproduction of proteins in the brain that are involvedin generation of new neuronal connections in thebrain.
It is possible to design a gene by geneticengineering and insert it into human cell usingballistics. A special air pressurized gun will shootmillions of copies of desired gene into cells some ofwhich will become incorporated into cells genome.The inserted recombinant DNA in the cells will betranscribed and translated into a protein which willlater be carried out from the cell into thebloodstream and taken into the brain regioninvolved in memory generation and retrieval.
Depending on the design of the gene and itsproduct the person will get different imagesappear in his imagination starting from knownpieces of art to any other custom generatedmemories. This technology will be crucial inusing human genetic programming ininformation storage. Retrieval of the informationcan be performed using any human subjectsince the mechanism is the same from person toperson.