Week 8

Plasma: The Most Abundant State of Matter

This week we had the pleasure of attending LASER presentation at CNSI to hear experimental physicist Walter Gekelman speak, as well as an exhibit displaying student works inspired by his research. As Dr. Vesna had praised him throughout our previous lectures, I came in knowing that his work is mainly carried out through creating and manipulating plasma. 

Physics, Plasma & Painting...

This week’s visit to the CNSI gallery was rather interesting for me. I never took the opportunity to take physics in high school, so the mini lesson in physics really interested me in the subject. I had no idea that something so simple as attaching some metal to a magnet and a battery could create a motor! What intrigued me even more was the discussion with physicist Walter Gekelman. His work was highly abstract to me, but from the ideas I was able to grasp I am truly amazed.

The Plasma Project

Even though I am a science major, understanding Walter Gekelman’s presentation was incredibly difficult. I’ve heard the phrase “plasma” mentioned before, but it was never really explained to me. After Dr. Gekelman’s lecture, I was only vaguely more informed about the nature of this fourth state of matter. I learned that matter becomes plasma when it is heated and the plasma forms rope-like structures that can interact with each other and can be measured and plotted when under the influence of a magnetic field.

Life Bringing Plasma

This week we were able to learn a little bit on plasma from a foremost expert, Dr. Gekelman. We learned about the different qualities of plasma, and what characteristics are featured by this elusive 4th state of matter. He began with a physical description of plasma as a superheated gas in which the electrons are given so much energy that they can dissociate and reassociate with their respective atoms freely, which requires a massive amount of energy. How much energy? Well Dr. Gekelman's lab alone uses more energy than the entire city of Westwood combined!

Understanding the fourth matter

I really enjoyed last Thursday’s lecture! As we listened to Dr. Gekelman’s discussion I couldn’t help but to remember the feeling I had when I first attended our BioArt lecture. I came in with no prior knowledge of the two existing worlds (Biotech and Art) and I felt like I knew nothing to contribute. Learning about plasmas, I felt the same way but just like how our class intrigued me, so did his lecture! In my science classes we’ve always discussed plasma, but we never really delve into it. It was just kind of there.

Biosecurity or Anti-Immigration?

For this week's blog, I read Gwen D'Arcangelis' article, "Chinese Chickens, Ducks, Pig, and Human, and the Technoscientific Discourses of the Global U.S. Empire." I am currently also enrolled in another Honors course entitled Plague Culture, in which we have been investigating the various images and discourses surrounding plague and other devastating epidemics.

Surveillance Society and the Future of Robots

Fear is one of our most innate human drives. It’s a natural feeling meant to protect us from potential danger. But is fear controlling our lives? While the article “Bioparanoia and the Culture of Control” focuses on our excess fear of germs, diseases, and biowarfare as central to our culture of control, I find the main of idea of fear relevant to our discussion of drones, robots, humanoids, and Gemini’s as a part of our shift towards a surveillance society.

DNA "Fingerprinting"

I learned about restriction fragment length polymorphisms (RFLP) in my life science class last quarter. It amazed me that a one-nucleotide change in DNA can help distinguish people with certain characteristics. A RFLP is a single base pair change in the DNA sequence that varies greatly among individuals. This change overlaps with regions of the DNA that code for a restriction site, or a specific palindromic sequence where a specific enzyme cuts the DNA, thus changes in this site determine if that fragment of DNA is cut.

LASER #2: Well-roundedness is inspiring

I attended another LASER this quarter that not only was more interesting in regards to the different art projects presented, but there were a lot more speakers as well. In addition, most, if not all of the projects, were new in the presentation. The artist who developed the “Infinity” art l sci exhibit for the week also presented his project. This was one of the projects that interested me the most because I spent about 2-4 years working with infinity in homework problems and learning it in class, but did not really imagine it as a physical entity.

Snakes: From Alcoholic Beverage to Cancer Cure!

When I think of a snake, I think “slither.” Snakes have been commonly associated with a slithery, sly, cunning kind of character in pop culture and western media. This harkens back to the old biblical tale of how the snake corrupted Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. As seen in the picture below, the snake in western culture has long been associated with evil. 

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Photo: genius.com

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