Experiencing the Bridge Between Biotechnology and Art Nancy Tu Environmental Science Major June 5, 2012 Honors 177 Biotechnology and Art Professor Victoria Vesna
BLOG #1 Heeeeeeeeres Nancy!Hello Bloggers! This is my intro (first blog) since I just added this class!Well, my name is Nancy and I am a fourth year Environmental Science Major and minoring inEnvironmental Engineering.I have always been into science and in particular the environmental field. I was part of theEnvironmental Science Academy (ESA) at my high school (Oakland High School) and also aprogram outside of school called the Student Conservation Association (SCA). I am going tograduate school next year, pursuing a PhD in environmental engineering at either GeorgiaInstitute of Technology, University of Colorado-Boulder or University of Michigan-Ann Arbor,still undecided. I am south campus all the way and consider it very painful to take any northcampus classes. It is very frustrating to write and convey something I already understand but Ialso find many south campus majors with the same attitude. I am taking this class because Ineeded an honors collegium class in order to graduate with college honors and this was one ofthe few that seems interesting and also fits my schedule.The closest I ever got to art was a ceramics class in high school. Granted it was high school, butit was very fun and enjoyable. Particularly, I took to the wheel quite quickly and was fairly goodat centering the piece.
Even though there is this divide between north and south campus, there are many areas thatbridge across the two. Writing is universal and pertinent in publishing papers. But another one isart and photography. As a south campus major, I must say that the diagrams and images ofwhether it is glycolysis or the central dogma of molecular biology really do make the materialeasier to understand. Art also has a special place for me as I come from the fourth mostdangerous city in America and know many people that have took to art to stay off the streets.Their murals are amazing and show that talent can come from anywhere. Ill leave you with themural and just this" I am very excited for this class and I hope to connect the bridge betweennano +bio + tech + art.This was done by the kids participating in the VAAMPProgram http://ousdhs.ousd.k12.ca.us/2001201091963647/site/default.asp
EVENTS BLOG #1 PAUL THOMAS Coming into this event on my first day of class, I was utterly confused to say the least! I thought his lecture or speech was made for the radio on NPR more than anything. Everything went into one ear and came out the other. That is until I saw the art exhibit. I thought the use of technology was out of this world. The way the observer was able to interact with the art that works with technology that finally translates into something you can hear and see change was amazing. I should have preface this with a background that I have no art training or interest at that when it comes to art. That said, other than the “cool” factor of this technology, I saw no point in the exhibit. I realized that it mimics the layers in the skin cell and depending on the heat and moisture of ones breath, but to me, it was more of a showpiece for how we an use technology. I realize that visuals and art are vital in learning and the way it can be integrated with science is unbounded. However, on its own, it served no purpose to me. I think a “what can this be used for” section would have helped, then again that would not be art but just pure science. I wonder about the algorithms and the technology that went into these two projects and the amount of time it took to make and perfect them.
BLOG #2 YUMMY IN MY TUMMY!So in preparation for this blog, I documented all the food Ive had for the day. I live in anapartment and only go home during breaks, if even that. So I basically survive on my owncooking and restaurants. The latter is much less prevalent as I am the typical broke collegestudent surviving on financial aid and the stipend I receive for research. Because the wallet istight, it is harder to buy organic food and food from the farmers market, which they have once aweek in Westwood. But as I am an environmental science major and have been constantlyeducated by the benefits of organic foods, locally grown produce and the carbon footprint ofbeef, I do what I can.There are many issues that can be discussed when it comes to food. One is the perception ofTrader Joes. I regularly buy their milk/soymilk, alternating between the two, because we all havea mindset that TJs is eco-minded and organic and good for you and the environment. But as Ilooked closely, the carton was not organic (like my passing mind thought) and because TJ is sosecretive about their farms and source, it is hard to really know whether or not it is good for you.Another thing I find that people have a misconception of is that natural = organic. This is nottrue! One example is the Green Chopsticks dumplings (picture below). From the packaging, the
green color and the name Green would convey that these dumplings were organic. When I wentto Costco to buy them, I asked the saleslady (there was a huge table advertising them and givingout free samples) whether or not these were organic. I have now gotten into the habit ofspecifically looking for the word organic because of the TJ soymilk incident (above). She saidthat they werent! But they were all natural and from a factory in the local LA area. Companiescan exploit the fact that different colors give a certain characteristic to the product and basicallycan have false advertising without technically lying. But we do tend to judge with our eyes firstand in turn also eat with our eyes first. The spiral pineapple looks more appetizing than regularlychopped pineapple, even though it is the same product. Note: I did cut that spiral pineapple! :)Like I said before, there are many issues that surround food; each has their benefits but also risksassociated with them. I have only touched on a few, but others include genetically modified food,food for fuel etc. Dont expect any of these issues to be resolved in the near future and expectmore issues to arise as technology improves!
Maestretti, Danielle. " The Eco-Myth of Trader Joes". 4 May 2010. Web. 15 April 2012.<http://www.utne.com/Environment/The-EcoMyth-of-Trader-Joes.aspx>."Benefits Derived From Aquaculture". Web. 15 April 2012.<http://www.biology.duke.edu/bio217/2005/ncm3/benefits.htm>.Shapley, Dan. "When "Organic" doesnt quite mean organic". TheDailyGreen. 19 July 2007.Web. 15 April 2012.<http://www.thedailygreen.com/environmental-news/latest/3977>.University Of Illinois At Urbana-Champaign. "Food Displays, Food Colors Affect How MuchPeople Eat." ScienceDaily, 11 May 2004. Web. 15 Apr. 2012.<http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2004/05/040511040654.htm>.Whitman, Deborah. "Genetically Modified Foods: Harmful or Helpful?" April 2000. Web. 15April 2012<http://www.csa.com/discoveryguides/gmfood/overview.php>.Shah, Anup. "Genetically Engineered Food". Global Issues 26 September 2002. Web. 15 April2012.<http://www.globalissues.org/issue/188/genetically-engineered-food>.
BLOG #3 Awww shes so cute!Ever since I could remember, my family always had animals around; my favorite was always ourdogs. The ironic part is that my parents dont really care for animals, though they wereindifferent about having fish or turtles. But since my siblings and I are in college and moved out,the house is now pet-free. However, my brother bought a dog 3.5 years ago and her name isLayla (pictured below in her Halloween costume). I always took care of her whenever I washome for break, as he would bring Layla home with him. Sadly, he too was a college student andcould not take care of her, so he brought her to an animal shelter, which I did not know aboutuntil months later! *cry!I find dogs/puppies, most of them at least, adorably cute and innocent. They are always hyperand friendly and willing to play. Just looking up puppies on Google images will start to make mesmile. They truly are a (wo)mans best friend! That said, I couldn’t train dogs to save my life. Iam like the grandmother that spoils the child rotten. I find it hard to hit a puppy say if they peedin the house. I have disciplined them but not to the point where I felt bad about the hit. I find itreally painful to watch while my brother is disciplining Layla. I mean look at that face!
Sadly, there are no more dogs around. But my other brother has recently acquired a cat! I havenever been a cat-person. I find them evil and moody and unpredictable. It also does not help thatI found out I was allergic to them; my eyes get extremely itchy and red but the allergy eye dropsare amazing! You cannot train cats but you also do not have to really take care of them. Here isQ-tip!, my brothers cat.So after watching the Strange Culture documentary, I felt very infuriated. I might not be an artist,but I know the dedication and care that they put into every piece they produce. I particularlyenjoy the pieces that mix in social issues and questions government policies. The art allows theobserver to what is really happening in this world. I did a little research into the background ofthis documentary and saw how strong the post 9/11 paranoia really is. I agree with the initialquestioning because it is weird seeing petri dishes in a home and once they found that thebacteria were harmless, that should have been the end. But the problem was the questioning ofgovernment policies that the CAE had brought to light with their art. This is a violation offreedom of speech (through art) and it was not like the art was going to lead to a coup. I was
happy and relieved to find that Steve Kurtz was freed of bioterrorism and other felony counts!We should love forward as a nation as the WTC is being rebuilt, which I saw I visited it overspring break.http://www.panynj.gov/wtcprogress/index.htmlSuddath, Claire. "What Took So Long? Why The World Trade Center Still Isnt Finished" Time.22 April 2012. <http://www.time.com/time/nation/article/0,8599,2092503,00.html>Duel, Diana. "Dog Whisperers Divorce Finalized". 22 April2012. <http://www.examiner.com/article/dog-whisperer-s-divorce-finalized>"How to Train a Dog at Home like Professional Dog Trainers". 22 April 2012. <http://www.dog-obedience-training-review.com/>Hylton, Wil S. "Are we Ready for Bioterrorism?". 26 October 2011. New York Times. 22 April2012. <http://www.nytimes.com/2011/10/30/magazine/how-ready-are-we-for-bioterro...
EVENTS BLOG #2 NOA KAPLAN As an environmental scientist, I really liked Noa Kaplan’s work. I thought it had the coolnessfactor but also incorporated meaning behind it. The lecture portion was riveting and I was especiallyinterested in the projection onto the sine wave. I thought that was a great mixture of mathematics andvisual art. Her tales of struggles of making the honeycomb made it all the more amazing when I finallysaw it. The dripping of the honey was a little controversial I thought as she was stating how muchenergy it takes for the bees to make it and she is using so much in her art. Then again it is art. It is thereto make a statement. I thought her jackets were amazing and very creative to say the least. I was able toask her several questions about it and Noa blew my mind with her skills and her abilities. The piecethat mimics the dust and lint I thought was breathtaking. The details of the fibers of the materials sheused was on point with what I imagined it to be zoomed up. From afar, it does look like a place kidscan play around in but I thought the size was very appropriate as we can walk through it, imitating dustmites. Great work on incorporating the audience! Her art was easier to understand, as I was able toreally see the purpose of it. I thought she gave a great lecture and the exhibit was amazing as well.
EVENTS BLOG #3 GENETICS + AGING SYMPOSIUM I thought this topic was particularly interesting as I am a female and in this day and age, age isa very controversial topic. The artists really went against the tide and challenge our perception onbeauty. I thought the layout of the room was fantastic. The Andy Warhol section as hilarious and thebest I thought. I was too shy to try on the wig but I complimented the ones that did. I love interactiveexhibits. I took a video of the artist speaking but this only allowed pictures so I took some screenshots of her. I thought she was very empowering and strong in her belief and that really translatedinto her work. As a person of Asian descent, it is in our culture to honor our elders and I believe thatin Western society, we do not. It is a stigma to be old because it is not considered beautiful anymore.Another issue might be because it is a closer time to death and death is of course scary and depressingso we shy away from that topic. However, beauty is probably the biggest factor in our society. Withthe cosmetic industry booming and the media obsessed with perfection, young people will be suckedinto that mentality. It is refreshing to see someone defying that age stigma and defying what webelieve is beauty.
BLOG for Final: WAR!So for my part of the project, I will focus on the threat to our countrys infrastructurenamely the electricity grid and water systems. This idea stems from Alan Turingsprominent role in helping to decipher German codes. Considered the father of computerscience and AI, Turing was an English mathematician, logician, cryptanalyst andcomputer scientist. He invented the Turing Machine, solidifying the concepts ofalgorithms and computation, a step-by-step procedure for calculations. But his maincontribution was the bombe, an electromagnetic machine that could find settings for theEnigma Machine of the Germans, thus decoding the Germans military/politicalmessages. In modern times, Turing would even be considered a hacker.So what does this have to do with the present war? Our war on terrorism since 9/11 hasbeen very apparent. But from the terrorists perspective, there are many otherinfrastructure that they can target. These critical infrastructure includes: airports,highways, rail transport, hospitals, bridges, transport hubs, network communications,media, the electricity grid, damns, power plants, seaports, oil refineries and watersystems. These vulnerable infrastructures are targets for sabotage, terrorism andcontamination. The two that I will focus on, like i said at the very beginning is theelectricity grid and water systems. The electricity grid (as seen below) is aninterconnected network for delivering electricity from suppliers to consumers. Because itis connected, knocking out one source can lead to a cascade of blackouts to neighboringstates. As most if not all of the power plants are computer monitored, this would beTurings Disneyland, hacking into the system, shutting it down, sending a virus, whereverthe mind leads to. We live in the electricity generation where everything we do utilizes itin some form or another. Knocking out this power source will not only disrupt our dailylives, but will lead to increase in crime and chaos.
For the water system, even though the central stations are computer generated and canalso come under attack from hackers, I want to focus on contamination. This can bebacteria, hazardous substances, and viruses, anything that can lead to mass infectionthrough the waterways. These waterways include both drinking water and wastewater
infrastructure. Because the water systems are more localized to the size of counties, itwould also be harder to produce a countrywide epidemic using this method. But like theWTC, it need not be countrywide to cause chaos and disaster.http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Infrastructure_securityhttp://www.cleantechblog.com/2012/01/u-s-water-infrastructure-fail-almos...http://www.wwdmag.com/house-committee-discusses-smart-water-grid-planshttp://www.cleanwateramericaalliance.org/2012/01/11/smart-water-grid-–...http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electrical_gridhttp://www.nationalgrid.com/uk/Electricity/http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/2010/07/power-grid/achenbach-text
EVENTS BLOG # 4 TURING SYMPOSIUM The Turing Symposium was very impromptu on our part but I feel we did an amazingjob. Turing was the father of artificial intelligence and what we now know is the computer.Without this class and symposium, I would have never known that despite living in the age oftechnology. I went to a few lectures here and there throughout the day because I was veryinterested in how Turing has affected the different section of society today. The lectures all daywere very informative and really made the day about Turing. I though the most interesting oneswere the voice mimicking and the homosexuality lectures. It was exciting seeing the waypeople have tried to mimic the sound of someone’s voice. I believe it is too complicating tofactor into the algorithms the rises and falls and tone of someone’s voice. It will probablyhappen one day but probably not in my lifetime. The lecture on homosexuality should havebeen given to everyone on campus and around the country. I am very liberal, grew up in theBay Area near San Francisco so I am fine with gay rights and marriage. But I believe that it istrue how gays are the new blacks. In California, we are relatively more accepting but it will taketime for everyone to adjust. It is a civil liberty and no religious group should have a say in howthey live their lives. It is really a shame what happened to one of the geniuses this world hasever seen. There is definitely a moral in there that should be spread!
Summary: This packet contains all the blogs (regular and events) for the quarter. It was a mindopening experience to bridge the gap between art and technology. As a pure science geek, I hadno appreciation for art but as the quarter went by, I saw myself opening up to the world of artand all its wonders. The compilation is a good reflection of this change and I really enjoyed thisclass and all the events. This has been a great learning experience, not just about the science orart but also about myself. I also hereby release any of the pictures contained in this packet that Ihave personally taken.