Monday, May 30, 2016

Event 5 - Dr. Gekelman 'Fourth State of Matter'

Dr. Walter Gekelman, a researcher and foremost expert into the workings of plasma, inspired a group of students to create an art gallery based on one of the intrinsic properties of plasma; entropy. His talk to us about The Fourth State of Matter was all about the unique characteristics of plasma. Plasma is created by giving enough energy to an atom that the electrons become hyper excited and dissociate and reassociate with the atom spontaneously. This unstable state of matter only lasts for a billionth of a second at a time, but Dr. Gekelman considers this "a long time." His lab is more advanced and uses more energy than the entire city of Westwood combined, so he has the opportunity to stay away from "cool plasma" which is around 12 million degrees Celsius, and he is able to work with hotter and longer lasting plasma at a cozier 300 million degrees Celsius.

The data and numbers Dr. Gekelman is forced to work with are crazy, and requires extremely precise materials and intruments. And with this kind of dedication to the fourth state of matter, he inspired the UCLA Art Science Undergraduate Society to expand on a major characteristic of plasma; entropy. Entropy is the amount of disorder in a system or environment, and following suit the exhibit was titled Nonlinear Perspectives. And the different visions of entropy created a very unique collection of art pieces that had many profound meanings and interpretations.

This piece delved into the disorder of                 This piece saw a man figure in the center
the mind. The face is calm and but the                of a thunder storm. Depicting a human's
mind is in a state of disorder. The piece              condition as disordered and unpredictable.
is planned to have a set of faces which               The piece was interactive and the viewer
expresses the disorder through facial                  could move the lightning around leading
features in a time-lapsed order.                           to an endless amount of disorder possibilities.

This piece was a gif of a math function                        This piece was a set of three that
that gave a multidimensional structure                         portrayed the disorder of a life from
as its solution. The function was a chaotic                   infancy to adolescence, and into late
system, so it is highly variable based on                      adulthood. Each painting gets more
the initial conditions and can only be                           disordered with its relevant depiction of
predicted in the short term.                                           an age group, and forms a cyclic piece                                                                                         to allude to the circle of life.


 Gekelman, Walter. "Fourth State of Matter." Leonardo Art Science Evening Rendezvous. UCLA, Westwood. 19 May 2016. Lecture.

 Humboldt State University. "Atmospheric Absorption & Transmission." GSP 216 Introduction to Remotes Sensing. Humboldt State Geospatial Online, 2015. Web. 24 May 2016.

 HyperPhysics. "Nuclear Fusion." Nuclear Fusion. HyperPhysics. Web. 24 May 2016.

 Nonlinear Perspective. Dir. UCLA Art Science Undergraduate Society. UCLA, Westwood. 19 May 2016. Performance. 

Event 4 - Toni Dove

Toni Dove operating her interactive media
We had a chance to visit with contemporary artist Toni Dove, and we were briefed on her latest projects which involve interactive media. All scrubbing of videos and intensity of sound is controlled from a split screen motion capture camera, and immerses the active viewer without the need for clunky equipment. Her latest work incorporates human position to switch between different character states and perspectives such as: the character's mind, a second person's view, a trance/dream-like states, and from an overall timeline depending on how close to the screen one stands.

Soarin' Over California attraction at California Adventures
Virtual Reality platform
This type of cinema reminded me of interactive rides and attractions at amusement parks, such as the Star Wars attraction in Disneyland and Soarin' Over California in California Adventures. The Star Wars attraction fits passengers into a small shuttle lifted on a hydraulic system and uses a tilting axis to match the video's motion and create the illusion that the 'spaceship' riders are sitting in is moving around in outer space. Similarly, the free hanging attraction Soarin' Over California uses fans and moveable suspended seats to create the illusion that riders are paragliding over different parts of California. But even these rides are considered passive now with the influx of virtual reality.

Video Games are beginning to take on a new dimension in reality immersion. Virtual reality is used in anything from flight simulation and war combat, to casual gaming and bike training. It provides a virtual environment full of programmed conditions that many would be unable to experience outside of the simulator. In an attempt to create the most accurate virtual experience, some simulation companies have even gone so far as to create a 360 degree scree, a 360 degree treadmill, and the option to hook up paintball guns around the user that can fire from any direction to simulate real gun fire. This is currently the pinnacle of immersive and interactive media, but how long until this form of media is the norm and we have an even more immersive platform for experiencing new realities.
First person shooter game simulator

Myself meeting Toni Dove
after her guest lecture

Dove, Toni. "Toni Dove Blog." BUSTLELAMP. 22 Nov. 2014. Web 25 Apr. 2016.

Laser: Toni Dove Exhibition. Cond. Toni Dove. UCLA, Westwood. 21 Apr. 2016. Performance.

Hutchins, Raine. "The Ultimate Battlefield 3 Simulator - Taking Gaming To a New Level." GamerFront RSS. 18 Oct 2011. Web. 25 Apr. 2016.

Kelion, Leo. "Omni Virtual Reality Game Controller Secures Kickstarter Cash." BBC News. 07 June 2013. Web. 25 Apr. 2016.

Tsang, Maxine. "Week 9: Soarin' Over California." DH101 Fall 2014. 01 Dec. 2014. Web. 25 Apr. 2016.

Thegadgetshow. "Ultimate Battlefield 3 Simulator - Build & Test (Full Video) - The Gadget Show." YouTube. YouTube, 24 Oct. 2011. Web. 25 Apr. 2016

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Week 9 - Space & Art

Space and media have always shared close ties to one another. The media seeks to fascinate its audience, and space already has that effect on people to begin with. Shows like Star Trek and Star Wars have spread the idea around that there could be other planets with life on them and we may one day have the technology to communicate with other planets or even turn our galaxy into a community of worlds that we can travel between. But with our currently overpopulated world with limited resources, this is a real topic of discussion for scientists and theorists alike.

Matt Damon in The Martian colonizing mars by planting potatoes
Movies like Interstellar and The Martian are centered around this predicament we are currently in and present outer space as a solution to this ever worsening problem. But how likely is finding another world that we could settle, establish a colony, and actually live on? 

N = R_{\ast} \cdot f_p \cdot n_e \cdot f_{\ell} \cdot f_i \cdot f_c \cdot L
Drake's Equation

A man by the name of Dr. Frank Drake decided to look into this life-long question that so many people have found themselves pondering, and created an equation to estimate the number of active extraterrestrial civilizations in the universe. His equation has seven parameters and includes any rationale from fraction of formed stars that have planets, to fraction of those planets that have developed life, to average rate of star formation in our galaxy. This is the closest theory that has been thought up which estimates the number of life sustaining planets. There are 10 million, million, million suns (10 to the 18th power), one in a million suns having planets around them, and one in a million million having the right combination of chemicals, temperature, water, and day cycles to support planetary life. With all of this data, Dr. Drake has estimated that there are around 100 million worlds in the universe where life can potentially exist. In the Milky Way alone, there is estimated to be about 10,000 worlds with life on it. This seems like a remarkable find, and if we are able to communicate with these other life forms or even colonize viable planets, this could be a major solution to our current population strain.
The Milky Way Galaxy

In a world where space is quickly running out and resources are beginning to dwindle, space exploration might be the next step in finding humans a new home. And Drake's equation might be one of the most important equations we as a species have discovered.


 Drake, Frank. "The Drake Equation." SETI Institute. 2016. Web. 29 May 2016.

Fox, Steve. "Nine Real NASA Technologies in 'The Martian'" NASA. NASA, 19 Aug. 2015. Web. 29 May 2016.

Harris, William. "What Are the Odds There Is Life in Outer Space?" HowStuffWorks., 11 Aug. 2008. Web. 29 May 2016.

Jarmer, Michael. "The-milky-way." Michael Jarmer. 08 Dec. 2015. Web. 29 May 2016.

Vesna, Victoria. "Space & Art." Desma 9 - Week 9. UCLA, Westwood. 29 May 2016. Lecture. 

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Week 8 - Nanotechnology and Art

Nanoparticle boxed delivery
As a premed, I am always interested in learning about new medical technologies and what the future of medicine could hold. So of course, I was particularly interested in the new nanomedicine and nanotherapies that Dr. James Gimzewski referred to in the lectures. He spoke of configurable nanoparticles that can change formation or orientation depending on the medium (i.e. the "box particle" that can be closed outside of solution with nanoparticles held within, or opened to release these particles in a particular medium). There is a huge potential to find use for nanoparticles in drug transport and diseased cell locating. Which could make cellular treatment far more effective. These abstract ideas take a certain artistic vision and scientific know-how to come together just right in order to create a marvelous revolution in a given field of study.

Nanodiamond cancer delivery system
I was reminded of Mick Lorusso's work on nanodiamonds, whereby he's looking to do just that; to help create a nanodiamond transport system for certain cancer drugs. These diamonds are selectively permeable across cellular membranes of diseased cells, and congregate at damaged cells to diffuse into the cell and release their effective drugs. It's fascinating to me how something natural that is typically known for its beauty is being used on a microscopic level as a drug transmitter. The list of treatments these types of processes can influence is extensive, and it takes the right kind of collaboration to come up with such a concept. But when brilliant minds can come together, we may soon have these cutting edge treatments and technologies at our fingertips.
Nanoparticle drug delivery particle


 Gibney, Michael. "Dual-surface Janus Nanoparticle Offers Cancer Diagnosis, Drug Delivery." Ben-Gurion University of the Negev. 19 Dec. 2013. Web. 22 May 2016.

 Gimzewski, James. "Nanotech Jim Pt5." YouTube. 21 May 2012. Web. 22 May 2016.

 Lorusso, Mick. "NanoDiamonds." Week 2 Honors 177 Seminar. UCLA, Westwood. 07 Apr. 2016. Lecture. 
 Mochalin, Vadym N., Olga Shenderova, Dean Ho, and Yury Gogotsi. "The Properties and Applications of Nanodiamonds : ..." Nature Nanotechnology. Macmillan Publishers Limited, 18 Dec. 2011. Web. 10 Apr. 2016
 Wang, Brian. "DNA Boxes Could Deliver Drugs." Nanoparticle Drug Delivery. 06 May 2009. Web. 22 May 2016. 

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Event 3 - Leap Before You Look

A brief history and mission statement from Black
Mountain College. (taken at the Hammer Museum)
After listening to the poets from Black Mountain College talk at the Hammer Museum, I wanted to learn more about Black Mountain College's culture and impact from 1933 to 1957. The school was formed as an interdisciplinary liberal arts college giving most attention to the humanities and arts. The exhibit Leap Before You Look showcased many pieces of art and literature that captured the essence of Black Mountain College. Even the name of the exhibit captured the mindset of the driven students and faculty that worked at this revolutionary campus. Many scholars congregated at this newly forming college when the mission statement included no deans, administration, or comparable pay. These scholars joined Black Mountain College's campus without any safety net, and with no idea which direction the school would be taken in. With only a drive to learn and collaborate, Black Mountain College opened its doors to all races, genders, and scholarly backgrounds. Located in North Carolina during a time of heavy segregation and low social rights, this type of referendum turned heads.
Both students and faculty working on school
improvements. (taken at the Hammer Museum)

The school attracted many scholars in the humanities and arts, which happens to work out nicely for displaying historical pieces in a museum. The school's liberal arts education was a huge step in the right direction for accepting different types of students and scholarly fields into a collegiate environment. Many principles of the liberal arts education today stems heavily from this school, such as an equal emphasis on all subjects instead of a disproportionate emphasis on math and sciences. Following student passions was key to this educational philosophy, and it's a shame that we didn't take away more meaning from Black Mountain College's operation.

Paintings inspired by social and political issues
of the time. (taken at the Hammer Museum)

I also bought my sister some chocolate at the
gift shop as a thank you for tagging along.
(taken at the Hammer Museum)


Davidson, Michael, Rachel Blau DuPlessis, Duncan McNaughton, and Michael Palmer. "Poetry - The Kinetics." Black Mountain College's Literary Descendents. Hammer Museum, Westwood. 14 Apr. 2016. Reading.

"Black Mountain College." State Archives of North Carolina: Natural and Cultural Resources. State Archives North Carolina. Web. 18 Apr. 2016.

"Hammer Readings - Poetry: The Kinetics - Black Mountain College's Literary Descendants." The Hammer Museum. One Long House, 14 Apr. 2016. Web. 18 Apr. 2016.

Changeling. Dir. Merce Cunningham. Chor. Polly Motley. Hammer Museum, Westwood. 16 Apr. 2016. Performance.
Leap Before You Look. Curator: Helen Molesworth. Hammer Museum, Westwood. 16 Apr. 2016. Exhibit. 

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Week 7 - Neuroscience & Art

The Milky Way Galaxy
The human brain is one of the most intricate hard wire networks of the natural world. We have over 100 billion neurons in the brain; that's 10^9 nerve cells packed into our skulls! To put that into perspective, there are about 300 billion stars in the milky way galaxy! Through newfound techniques like neuron mapping and "brainbow" mapping, we can see exactly how expansive the neuron connective network really is. The interconnected nature of neurons makes it one of the fastest processors we know of. Our human minds can process data and make
"Brainbow" imaging of a single brain fold
connections to other topics and information very efficiently. This is due to the physiology of our neural network. Each neuron in the brain is connected to a multitude of other neurons, processing data simultaneously, and firing an action potential to the proper neurons with great precision. This means each cell can process data independently of other cells, so our brain can multitask very well. This is how we can make decisions and think of ideas very quickly with a slow "buffering" time.

IBM's Watson winning the jeopardy championship 
Computers work differently, by using a circuit network. The network is similar, but is more linear, and each "decision" must be made separately before moving on to process the next piece of data. But technology has come a long way, and IBM has pushed this boundary of processing ability to a new level with the creation of "Watson." IBM has set up a circuit network of about 10 trillion circuits which is equivalent to a 10^11 neural network. With this raw processing power, IBM's Watson has been able to sweep away the competition by being able to quickly compile the important information out of data and come up with the most reasonable decision. While this feat of creating a hyper intelligent computer is impressive, what I find most impressive is that it took a computer with 100 times the processing power to outperform humans consistently. This means our natural processing is more powerful and more efficient than even the world's leading super computer! Not too bad for a population that relies on computers for so many daily operations as Frazzetto and Anker's Neuroculture presents. They go on to show how our culture depends on these artificial neural networks for film, literature, television, visual arts, education, and entertainment. But our brain is still a better multi-tasker and we have the ability to think with more efficiency and clarity than a supercomputer. So maybe we're selling ourselves short on a day to day basis.


 Center for Brain Science. "Brainbow." Center for Brain Science. Harvard University, 2010. Web. 12 May 2016.

 Frazzetto, Giovanni, and Suzanne Anker. "Neuroculture." Nature Reviews Neuroscience Nat Rev Neurosci 10.11 (2009): 815-21. Web. 12 May 2016. 

IBM. "What Is IBM Watson?" IBM Watson. IBM, 15 Aug. 2015. Web. 12 May 2016.

Jesusmrv. "IBM Watson and Cognitive Data as the Future of Information Data Systems." Jrodthoughts. 14 Oct. 2015. Web. 12 May 2016.

Pro Documentary. "IBM Watson: Smartest Machine Ever Built - Documentary." YouTube. YouTube, 18 Dec. 2014. Web. 11 May 2016.

Uconlineprogram. "" YouTube. YouTube, 17 May 2012. Web. 12 May 2016. 

Voytek, Bradley. "Are There Really as Many Neurons in the Human Brain as Stars in the Milky Way?" Nature Publishing Group, 20 May 2013. Web. 12 May 2016.

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Week 6 - Biotech & Art

DIY Bio emblem
The juxtaposition between the need for DIY biology, and the resentment society has for DIY scientists is unnecessarily absurd. Society thinks of home-scientists as mad-scientists and believes all experiments should be conducted in universities or research laboratories. But the people who have access to those kinds of facilities don't always have the same research intentions or aspirations as those being shut down at home. And the worst part is that scientific progression is hindered by the discrediting of DIY scientists.

Steve Kurtz's home being raided by FBI bioterror agents
For example, Steve Kurtz was working on genetically modified agriculture for his own research and for a museum exhibit, but had all of his research, materials, and experiments seized from him on suspicion of bioterrorism. He was considered a criminal and taken to jail by the FBI before the investigation even began. Instead of treating him as a professor in collaboration with other scientists (which he was), he was treated as a biohacker. This segued nicely into Chris Kelty's Meanings of Participation: Outlaw Biology. In this essay, Kelty speaks of the difference between outlaws, hackers, and the victorian gentlemen in regards to DIY biology. The victorian gentlemen were described as scientists with access to any technology and a mastered knowledge on their researched subject matter. The real discrepancy comes between the hackers and the outlaws. The hackers are described as groups of people trying to control a system that they understand well. This has no benefit to society because nothing is learned and nothing is taught to others. But outlaws are described as individuals who try out new things and share what they learn with others. Unlike the hackers, outlaws have value to society due to their curiosity and craving to follow their unusual questions and hypothesis.

Scientific collaboration
Scientists like Steve Kurtz are outlaws; they follow their uniquely inquisitive minds, and share their results with other scientists in a collaborative manner. Society needs to understand the difference between terrorists and true DIY scientists. The DIY community has the chance to make a huge impact in many fields of science, and accepting these scientists is a huge step in letting the rate of science progression rise to it's real potential.


 BIOVIA Blog Team. "Scientific Collaboration All the Rage at Bio-IT 2016: Utilizing Butt and Digital Solutions - Blog." BIOVIA. 27 Apr. 2016. Web. 08 May 2016. 

 Engel, Oliver. "DIY Bio: The New Era of Biotechnology." SQ Online. 14 May 2014. Web. 08 May 2016.

Kelty, Chris. "Meanings of Participation: Outlaw Biology?" Journal of Science Communication (2010): 1-8. ISSN 1824 – 2049. Web. 08 May 2016.

Triscott, Nicola. "Reunions and Resistance – Critical Art Ensemble." Nicola Triscott: Art, Science, Technology & Society. 04 Oct. 2011. Web. 08 May 2016.

Regine. "DIYsect. A Series about the DIY Biology & Biology-Art Intersection." We Make Money Not Art. 20 Mar. 2015. Web. 08 May 2016.

Uconlineprogram. "5 BioArt Pt4." YouTube. YouTube, 17 May 2012. Web. 08 May 2016.