Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Medical discovery by Leonardo confirmed

One of the basic tenets of this blog is that the artist is a pattern detector who can engage in basic discovery that can enhance science. Here's an example of a missed opportunity...

Leonardo da Vinci was the first to notice and characterise the human mesentery--an odd section of colon--in a drawing from about 1508. One of the first anatomical textbooks to include the mesentery was by the anatomist Henry Gray, in the first edition of the well-known medical textbook Gray's Anatomy. In this text, the mesentery was presented as a fragmented structure until 2016.

That change is because a 2012 paper on mesentery anatomy analyzed over 100 bowel sections, discovering that this part of the colon actually has a continuous spiral structure, rather than being a disconnected series of functionless bowel folds, as previously thought. Paradoxically, the sharp focus of surgeons prevented the big picture from emerging until now:
Even when performing open surgery on the intestines, the structure was hard for surgeons to spot. "When you operate on the right hand side, you don't really tend to see the left hand side and vice versa, if you operate on the left you just don't see the right."
This discovery opens up a new field of medical research to understand the function of this "new" organ.


Saturday, December 17, 2016

STEM to STEAM discussion on YASMIN

Yasminers

Announcing a YASMIN discussion beginning Dec 19

What does STEM to STEAM mean: New Ideas or Hot Moist Air ?

Moderator: Roger Malina
Discussants: Dimitris Charitos ( Greece), Guillermo Munoz ( Spain,
currently a nanoscience postdoc in Japan)

if you want to participate as an invited respondent- contact
rmalina@alum.mit.edu

As you know there is an international discussion on "stem to steam"
concepts and approaches for new art/sci/tech teaching and research
methods.  There is much debate and discussion on whether the ideas
behind STEM to STEAM are new in anyway, or whether the phrase is a
repacking of current work in a way to attract new funding ( for an
understanding the social and cultural processes at work in 'selling'
programs like stem to steam - on  a larger scale- see for instance
Patrick McCray's detailed book called The Visioneers: How a Group of
Elite Scientists Pursued Space Colonies, Nanotechnologies, and a
Limitless Future  http://press.princeton.edu/titles/9822.html   )

The US National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine are
currently conducting a two year study to address  the higher education
part of the question:

Integrating Higher Education in the
Arts, Humanities, Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine
http://sites.nationalacademies.org/PGA/bhew/humanitiesandstem/index.htm

The European Union has initiated the STARTS (science technology and
the arts ) funding program:

https://ec.europa.eu/digital-single-market/en/ict-art-starts-platform

which seeks to address the innovation argument:

STARTS encourages synergies between the Arts and innovation for
technology and society by promoting the inclusion of artists in
Horizon 2020 projects.An increasing number of high-tech companies
assert that scientific and technological skills alone are not
sufficient anymore. In this context, the Arts are gaining prominence
as catalysts for an efficient conversion of science and technology
knowledge into novel products, services, and processes.

We are proposing a discussion on the YASMIN discussion list on
this topic on Drec 19-2016-all members of the yasmin community
welcome to participate



in our own School at the University of Texas at Dallas faculty members are
learning how to teach science and engineering differently using STEAM
approaches: eg http://www.utdallas.edu/atec/

eg:

Karen Doore:
Curriculum Re-Design: Computer Science for ATEC Students
Karen Doore will present an overview of curriculum for CS
programming-sequence courses for ATEC and will include student
projects showcasing top student works. There are significant
challenges and difficulties in attempting to teach complex technical
material to a diverse student groups, particularly when many students
question the premise that these CS courses provide value for the
effort that is required to learn the course content. There are
current efforts to re-design curriculum for these courses. She is
looking for feedback and suggestions that can further guide the
curriculum re-design efforts.

About Karen Doore

Karen Doore is a Senior Lecturer and PhD Candidate in the Computer
Science Department at UT Dallas. Her research focus is Computer
Science Education, with an emphasis on curriculum design for
Non-Majors. She earned her BS in Material Science and Engineering from
the University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN and an MS in Computer
Science with a focus on Intelligent Systems from UT Dallas. She
currently teaches required CS programming-sequence courses for ATEC
students, and has been working for several years as part of the
re-design effort for the curriculum of these courses. Her new
curriculum has an enhanced focus on computational modeling, so that,
in addition to learning fundamental programming concepts, students
learn how to model dynamic, interactive systems. One goal of this
modeling focus is to provide students with skills to design,
communicate about, and implement dynamic interactive programs, such as
games, animations, and design tools

Our school of Art Tecnology and Emerging Communication has also
announced 6 full PhD scholarships including STEM to STEAM creative
work and research.

for the YASMIN discusson we are interested in STEM to STEAM topics
in artistic work, art-sci-tech research, education and personal behaviour !!

Hopefully STEM to STEAM is not just vapor ware !

Roger Malina
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Friday, November 18, 2016

Patterns of narrative

More and more, it seems clear that human thought naturally organizes itself along patterns of narrative.

Story is how we process and understand our world, then encode that information to pass along to others. There is an argument that information passed down through aboriginal Australian songs may encodes verifiable geological events from 8,000 years ago. Their visual art tradition appears to do something similar. And--at its best--what is the Judeo-Christian bible if not distilled wisdom about how to be a human from about 10,000 years ago to 100 a.d.?

Business theory accepts this idea. The "knowledge transfer cycle" states that:
"Knowledge can be stored in databases, documentation, process tables, decision trees, wikis and quick reference guides. But one of the most powerful ways to store knowledge is through stories. Much knowledge, especially tacit knowledge, exists in the minds of the experts and can be made accessible through mentoring or through connections using social media tools."
In the 1960's, Philosopher Roland Barthes worked to understand in narrative, "a principle of classification and a basis of description," pointing out that "there is a deep gulf between the most complex product of chance, and the most simple conscious construction..." He looked for the rules governing narrative construction in narrative itself: all narrative.

More recently, story narrative has been getting attention from science.
"...mathematicians at the University of Vermont have now looked at more than 1,000 texts to see if they could automatically extract their emotional arcs. And their results show something interesting, not just about narratives, but also about using this approach to study literature."
Using digitized texts from Project Gutenberg, the study found 6 consistent patterns of story. And--startlingly--these patterns hold not just in fiction but in non-fiction as well. We impose these patterns on all communication.

So what does that mean to FSMLs? Only that if we are not creating our own narrative, someone else will do it for us (and we may not be happy with the results). Understanding narrative may be a scientific process, but creating it is not: it is an artistic one.

a2ru Lays Out Aggressive Agenda for Role of Arts

"At the Alliance for the Arts in Research Universities (a2ru) conference this month in Denver, representatives from over 30 member universities talked about the need to reinvent the college curriculum, and retrain faculty too. Our students, many said, need the new thinking skills for the new economy or they will fail to get a job. The so-called 'jobless recovery' will march on but with fewer and fewer American kids...using the arts and arts integration, teaching through the arts, has the most potential to change the basic curriculum. 
Taken together, these techniques will engage students; enhance their memory and retention. Importantly, it will give them the skills they need to compete in an economy that values not just knowledge but creativity that leads to innovation. 
Yes, there are other ways to generate creativity but as Laurie Baefsky, an extremely talented executive with skills in the arts, education and conference management, and Executive Director of a2ru put it: 'arts integration is the bullet train' to acquiring creativity..."
Read complete article at Huff Post.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Art needs science

The value to science and scientists of connecting to art is something we have explored extensively in this blog, i.e. this post. In making this connection at field research sites and marine labs, society benefits hugely from the increased discovery and outreach potential that artists can bring.

But society also benefits by increasing the environmental literacy of artists. The art/sci disconnect comes from both sides (see this discussion). Art builds culture, and in the absence of ecological understanding, aesthetics can make disastrous messes:
"We have come a long way in our understanding of introduced species in the century since publication of the Journal of Ecology began. One hundred years ago, introductions were widely celebrated, and acclimatization societies were busy ‘enriching’ the flora and fauna in many regions world-wide. Some of the more notable achievements of acclimatization societies include introducing starlings and house sparrows to the United States (in an attempt to introduce all the birds mentioned in Shakespeare’s works to New York’s Central Park; Marzluff et al. 2008)...and distributing ornamental plant species such as Lantana camara and Miconia calvescens to gardens world-wide (Meyer 1996CRC Weed Management 2003)." -- Moles, et al