January 16, 2016 § 2 Comments
The first week of 2016 found me in Las Vegas, to attend CES, the giant annual Consumer Electronics Show, for the very first time. In the sea of gadgets large and small, I wandered in the area designated for “wearables”.
Wearables have not, before now, really grabbed me, in spite of my coverage of health technology for years, and enthusiasm for the category in the tech world and beyond. I tried out a Fitbit last year for a few days initially, then in a few more short stretches of heightened self-motivation, but have let it collect dust on my night stand ever since.
Just around New Year’s I learned of “smart jewelry,” and we featured two collections — Ringly and Tyia — in our Lifestyle gallery. They made me realize why I had stopped wearing the Fitbit – many times I had been embarrassed by the unsightly plastic on my wrist, compromising my outfit.
With no better plans for my last afternoon at CES (my presumed primary mission having proven a bust the day before), I decided to just take it easy and see if I could find anything else like Ringly and Tyia that may actually be, well, “wearable”. I’m glad I did – these last few hours made the whole trip worthwhile.
I now share with you my review and stories of five “smart jewelry” makers, including my picks from CES; as well as my thoughts about this new generation of “wearables”. « Read the rest of this entry »
December 22, 2015 § Leave a comment
Whether you are kicking back having completed your holiday shopping, or are still in need of last-minute ideas, here is something fun you may want to do – take a survey on these science and technology-inspired artisan collections we are featuring this season, as unique, special gifts that are both delightful and educational!
October 28, 2015 § Leave a comment
The 3rd installation of the L.A.S.T. Festival, organized by Thymos Foundation and originally conceived by Piero Scaruffi, took place over the weekend of October 16 to 18, at Stanford University. The L.A.S.T. Festival celebrates the confluence of art with the multiplicity of new media technologies and nascent sciences that are transforming sociality and experience in the 21st century.
The Festival featured four programs:
- Interactive multimedia art installations that break the “Do not touch!” taboo of the traditional museum and are meant to let people experience something they never experienced before
- Inspirational talks by luminaries on cutting-edge technology and science, including Artificial Intelligence, Synthetic Biology, Nanotech, Space Exploration, and Neuroscience
- Live performances
- Interactive workshops or talks by artists
Click to watch video recordings of the talks.
And here are some photos of the art installations. Click on the images to learn more about each installation. « Read the rest of this entry »
July 10, 2015 § Leave a comment
Act III – The hybrid Here and Now
The birthday came and went, but the angst have not subsided.
Stop thinking so much about the future. Worry not about your place in the universe. Quit the futile attempt of analyzing yourself. “Here and now” I remind myself. Live the moment as it is!
But where is Here and what is in the Now? And how best to capture the moment? Suddenly I am so disoriented that even the zen attitude is challenged on the most fundamental levels.
The lifelogging exhibition still open for a few more days, my mind revisits the Science Gallery to take a look at another installation, which could be a superior method of capturing the “now”. Compared to some of the other works, it also emphasizes “caring for oneself” more than “knowing oneself”. Since the 24th September 2003, Alberto Frigo, an Italian media artist currently living in Sweden, has been photographing objects he has used with his right hand, as one of eighteen different aspects of reality he is collecting.
It has been 31 years since I inked the very first word in my journal, but my teenage self at the time gave it no forethought whatsoever about this number. Three decades in the future would have felt like the next life to her, too distant to be bothered with. Frigo’s project, on the other hand, is well planned out – it will be 36-years-long, from 2004 to 2040 when he turns 60.
April 26, 2015 § 7 Comments
A scientist’s chamber orchestra project for nature and humanity, a photographer’s beautifully haunting industrial documentary, an architect designer’s alluring vision of future human habitat, and my (humble) reflections.
Fashionably late for Earth Day.
Saturday morning at WholeFoods. I sit down at a table outside the check-out counters to start writing this article, while my parents go into the aisles for the week’s grocery. Earlier in the car, they were discussing an added task for this weekend – which other shops to go to next, to get what present for which relative or friend, since my father is going back to China for a month, my hometown being one of his stops. The task is a rather difficult one these days, as China has every kind of stuff sold in America, then some; but gifts remain a must to bring along with a visit, as good social grace and relationship gestures. Pushing a green shopping trolley, they continue their discussions.
I, on the other hand, am preoccupied with my article for Earth Day. WholeFoods seems like an appropriate venue to kick off the writing while waiting for my parents to go through their chores. But before I type the first word, that feel-right ambiance also cast a shadow of doubt. Have I, a California-living, healthy-eating, WholeFoods-shopping “liberal progressive” become too out of touch with reality and too self-righteous? « Read the rest of this entry »
March 14, 2015 § Leave a comment
At 9:26am this Saturday, take a moment to pause from your bike ride, lazy cup of coffee, dog-walking in the park, or whatever you will be doing for the weekend morning.
It will be a special moment that comes only once in a century:
March 14, (20)15, 9:26:53:59…..
when the date and time digits match those of Pi, π, that mathematical constant expressing the ratio of a circle’s circumference to its diameter, an irrational number that goes on forever.
While Pi Day has been celebrated on March 14 for 27 years, in honor of this mysterious number, the Pi Day this year is the most accurate of the entire 21st Century, an occurrence that will not roll around again until March 14, (21)15.
Although PI Day is not mainstream enough for merchants to have blasted promotions at you for two months, festivities are popping up around America on college campuses, at museums or other public venues to commemorate the occasion. March 14th being also Albert Einstein’s birthday, math and science lovers have even more reasons to spend this weekend in exuberance.
If you are not geeky enough to have planned on participating in such festivities, and are now at a loss for how to revel in this unique moment, I offer you the company of something quieter and more intimate; something sweet and beautiful, which you might appreciate for your children or for yourself.
Some Pi arts, and two stories of the creators behind them. « Read the rest of this entry »
August 20, 2014 § Leave a comment
By day, Dr. Stephon Alexander, Associate Professor of Physics and Astronomy at Dartmouth College, is a theoretical physicist specializing in the interface between cosmology, particle physics and quantum gravity. By night, he “blows sax”. Born in Trinidad and raised in Bronx, NY, Alexander draws music heritage from Jazz, Caribbean Reggae and Hip Hop. His ambition in science is big – to unify quantum theory, Einstein’s theory of relativity, and string theory, which have fascinated him since childhood, into a theory of quantum gravity! When he gets stuck, he turns to music like Einstein used to do, except his instrument for relaxation and subconscious realization is the tenor saxophone, instead of violin and piano.
“Exploring a physics problem is like jazz improvisation—understanding the basic rules and themes lets you take off in spontaneous new directions. Music allows me to understand physics on a simpler, yet deeper level.”
August 6, 2014 § 1 Comment
As impressive as the Rodin collection at Stanford University’s Cantor Art Center – one of the largest in the world, with 200 works in all – most of them are not one and only edition of the artist’s masterpieces. As part of his bequest, Auguste Rodin authorized the Nation of France to continue to cast his works poshumously, either from his original plaster molds or from molds newly taken from his plasters. Up to twelve examples of each size can be cast of each of Rodin’s works.
However, a recent exhibition at the museum (on view April 9 – August 3), inspired by the great artist’s sculptures of human hands, was truly one of its kind.
A multidisciplinary collaboration between the Cantor Art Center and Dr. James Chang, a hand reconstruction surgeon at Stanford’s School of Medicine, supported by the School’s Division of Clinical Anatomy and the Lane Medical Library, “Inside Rodin’s Hands: Art, Technology, and Surgery” looked at the artist’s powerful depictions of hands with an anatomical eye, aided by cutting-edge technologies such as 3D imaging and augmented reality. Take for example Left Hand of Eustache de Saint-Pierre. The images and video clip here illustrate the three-dimension, anatomical view for visitors to see “beneath the skin”, with imaginary bones, nerves and blood vessels:
July 16, 2014 § 1 Comment
The separation of science and the humanities is relatively new—and detrimental to both
By Carlo Rovelli. Excerpted from The Universe: Leading Scientists Explore the Origin, Mysteries, and Future of the Cosmos. Copyright © 2014 by Edge Foundation, Inc. Published by Harper Perennial.
We teach our students: We say that we have some theories about science. Science is about hypothetico-deductive methods; we have observations, we have data, data require organizing into theories. So then we have theories. These theories are suggested or produced from the data somehow, then checked in terms of the data. Then time passes, we have more data, theories evolve, we throw away a theory, and we find another theory that’s better, a better understanding of the data, and so on and so forth.
This is the standard idea of how science works, which implies that science is about empirical content; the true, interesting, relevant content of science is its empirical content. Since theories change, the empirical content is the solid part of what science is.
Now, there’s something disturbing, for me, as a theoretical scientist, in all this. I feel that something is missing. Something of the story is missing. I’ve been asking myself, “What is this thing missing?” I’m not sure I have the answer, but I want to present some ideas on something else that science is. « Read the rest of this entry »