Thursday, June 9, 2016

Final Essay

Monday, June 6, 2016

Event Blog 3 - California Academy of Sciences

I visited the California Academy of Sciences up in San Francisco during a trip home on May 30th. The academy has been one of my favorite museums since I was young, but I hadn't visited in a long time, so the return trip was really nice. The museum is divided up into several different sections, including an aquarium, a rainforest dome, and a planetarium.

Map of museum

In the context of this course, the museum is an excellent example of the interconnection between science and art. The museum is envisioned as a center for scientific education, with detailed exhibits that explain not only what is there, but why it is there. Each animal exhibit has a description of the animal's locale, living habits, and particular traits that help it survive and thrive in its environment. That said, the excellent educational text is enhanced by the artistic layout and design of the exhibits. My favorite part of the museum has always been the rainforest dome - a huge, three story tall transparent dome that encloses a recreation of an actual rainforest, complete with birds, insects, and other animals that are free to fly around rather than being confined to cages and tanks. The concept is unique because visitors can fully immerse themselves in the rainforest environment, which lends itself to a whole new level of experience beyond your typical museum that just lets you watch from a distance.

Picture of me with museum guides outside the rainforest exhibit

One other smaller exhibit that stood out to me in a different sense was the Foucault Pendulum, a large swinging pendulum hung from an installation in the ceiling that aimed to demonstrate the effects of the Earth's rotation as it changes the path of its movement to gradually knock down colored pegs. The beauty of its construction is captivating, and also rewarding of patience - a peg is knocked down only once every 33 minutes, but the swinging of the pendulum drawing ever closer to the next peg is as soothing as it is a fascinating display of the motion of the Earth.

The Foucault Pendulum


Image 1 - Bouknight, Ray. "Map of Main Floor, California Academy of Sciences." Flickr. Yahoo!, 10 November 2014. Web. 06 June 2016.

Image 2 - Self taken

Image 3 - Self taken

Braginsky, Vladimir B., Aleksander G. Polnarev, and Kip S. Thorne. "Foucault Pendulum at the South Pole: Proposal For an Experiment to Detect the Earth's General Relativistic Gravitomagnetic Field." Phys. Rev. Lett. Physical Review Letters 53.9 (1984): 863-66. Web.

"California Academy of Sciences." California Academy of Sciences. N.p., n.d. Web. 06 June 2016.

Calacademy. "The Foucault Pendulum." California Academy of Sciences. N.p., n.d. Web. 06 June 2016.

Krane, Kenneth S. "The Pendulum: A Case Study in Physics." Phys. Today Physics Today 59.7 (2006): 52-53. Web.

"Foucault Pendulum." Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, n.d. Web. 06 June 2016.

Event Blog 2 - Nonlinear Perspectives Exhibition and LASER

I attended the Nonlinear Perspectives art exhibition and following LASER talks with professor Walter Gekelman on May 19th. This was a two part event; the first hour being an art exhibition put on by the Art Science Undergraduate Society, and the next two being a series of talks and discussion.

Exhibition promotional material

The exhibition's theme was 'chaos and entropy'. I have a fairly minimal understanding of entropy based on my coursework, but it appeared that the artists' pieces were mainly centered around the general idea of chaos rather than the textbook thermodynamic definition of entropy. The artwork was very interesting, with a total of five or six separate pieces which each of the student artists said a few brief words on. I thought the coolest part of the exhibit was actually in the students' backgrounds - among them were biologists, mathematicians, and engineers alike, who also happened to be passionate about art.

Selfie at the beginning of the LASER talks

After hanging around the exhibition, we then moved to a different room for the LASER talks. We had a total of three presenters - the first was a former PhD in physics who decided to switch gears and focus on art. The second was an artist who drew inspiration from neuroscience and used oxytocin mixed in with paint for her pieces. The last was professor Walter Gekelman, a physicist who works with plasma in UCLA's Basic Plasma Science Facility. His talk was the most interesting for me, as he is clearly very deeply entrenched in the physics world, but also shows a distinct interest in art. The images drawn from his plasma research had a distinctly beautiful element to them:

3D magnetic fields generated from plasma collision


Image 1 - "NONLINEAR PERSPECTIVES + FOURTH STATE OF MATTER." Home Page. UCLA Art | Sci Center, n.d. Web. 06 June 2016.

Image 2 - Self taken

Image 3 - Gekelman, Walter. "Basic Plasma Science Facility at UCLA." BaPSF. N.p., n.d. Web. 06 June 2016.

Moore, Nathaniel B., Walter Gekelman, and Patrick Pribyl. "Ion Energy Distribution Function Measurements by Laser-induced Fluorescence in a Dual Radio Frequency Sheath." Journal of Vacuum Science & Technology A: Vacuum, Surfaces, and Films J. Vac. Sci. Technol. A 34.2 (2016): 021303. Web.

Gekelman, Walter, Patrick Pribyl, Henry Birge-Lee, Joe Wise, Cami Katz, Ben Wolman, Bob Baker, Ken Marmie, Vedang Patankar, Gabriel Bridges, Samuel Buckley-Bonanno, Susan Buckley, Andrew Ge, and Sam Thomas. "Drift Waves and Chaos in a LAPTAG Plasma Physics Experiment." Am. J. Phys. American Journal of Physics 84.2 (2016): 118-26. Web.

Niemann, C., W. Gekelman, C. G. Constantin, E. T. Everson, D. B. Schaeffer, A. S. Bondarenko, S. E. Clark, D. Winske, S. Vincena, B. Van Compernolle, and P. Pribyl. "Observation of Collisionless Shocks in a Large Current-free Laboratory Plasma." Geophys. Res. Lett. Geophysical Research Letters 41.21 (2014): 7413-418. Web.

"Home Page." Home Page. UCLA Art | Sci Center, n.d. Web. 06 June 2016.

"Art Science Undergraduate Society." Home Page. UCLA Art | Sci Center, n.d. Web. 06 June 2016.