In Palm Springs this is technically session 2, but since we are Long Beach-centric, the numeration is off. Here in Palm Springs we began the morning with TEDDIY - 10 talks by members here, on topics from human jet packs to the genetics of psychotic killers. Some notes on just two of them:
Aaron Digman treated us to a Guitar Hero performance and challenged our collective framework about what constitutes a musical instrument and how might musical games shape and influence music--and the way children come to be musicians--in the near future.
Al Meyers unveiled his vision for a virtual education system, aligned to standards, integrated to a digital learning system, connected to other schools.
There were many others - Linda Avey, Jim Fallon, Yaacov Mutnikas, Tony Odriscoll and names I haven't captured yet.
Her first curatorial exercise - taking the game cards from the game "Masterpiece," which were reproductions from the collection of the Art Institute of Chicago, and placing them and moving them around the walls of her house.
She studied art history at a time when the art world didn't embrace most of the art world - women, people of color, people from regions outside of the traditional art world of Europe and to some extent the US.
"I was interested in the idea of why and how I could create a new narrative of art history and art in the world."
1994 - Black Male - the intersection of race and gender in art, 20 artists exploring black masculinity.
"I was confronted by how powerful images can be to people's understanding of themselves and others."
Harlem is interesting because people think of it in the past, present and future simultaneously.
Post-black - new set of questions
-what does it mean right now to be African American in America?
-what can art say about this?
-where can a museum exist as a place for us all to have that conversation?
We need to re-imagine this cultural discourse in an international context.
Non-Terrestrial Intelligence: Octopuses
What might indicate intelligence? One mistake humans make is that we apply our own criteria of intelligence in looking for intelligence in other species? (Thinking about Jill Tarter and SETI here - how are we limiting our search for life in the universe by listening for the sort of signals we know how to make?)
Her research differentiated three criteria: Personality, Play and Problem Solving
Personality - she found that octopuses can be avoidant, reactive or active
Play - they did an experiment with empty pill bottles to see how octopuses would react to it. They naturally tested them with their mouths, but eventually began to play with them.
Problem solving - octopus tend to eat clams that offer the least resistance to being opened. They have different tools for opening clams and will switch tools when the type of clam is switched - attentional spotlight.
Nadkarni is studying the canopy and its ecology, particularly the mosses
Prison project to study mosses, led to some terrific sustainability projects in prisons, just as beekeeping, raising endangered frogs ("raised in captivity, of course").
Did you know that bacteria can talk to each other? At any time we have 10x more bacterial cells in and on us than human cells. We have the basic 4 DNA proteins of human life,but we also carry 100 bacteria DNA types.
When bacteria were alone in dilute suspension, they didn't create light. But when they reached a certain concetration, they began to emit light. They use a chemical language to communicate. Alone, they don't create light, but they secrete molecules and the bacteria sense the concentration of the molecules. When it reaches a tipping point, the bacteria "turn on the lights" of bioluminescence.
Squid cloaking device - sensor on back senses amount of moonlight, has bioluminescent lobes that it keeps under a "shutter. The back senses the amount of light and opens the shutter enough to match the amount of ambient light, thereby erasing its shadow. (The shadow is what other animals use to track and eat the squid.)
All bacteria have similar communication that turn on group actions - quorum sensing. They basically cast chemical ballots which result in the "winning" action. Bacteria control pathogency through quorum sensing. Not only that, communication is intra-species - each has a particular molecule as its particular language.
There's also a second communication method - a second molecule that allows for inter-species communication. They count the other molecules they're sensing to see how many of "them" there are and make "decisions" on how to act.
So what does all this mean? It means awesomeness - if we can understand how bacteria communicate, we can tap into that communication stream to turn them off or otherwise incapacitate them as a new therapeutic tool, a new antibiotic tool.
We can also improve quorum sensing to leverage the immense nature of the bacterial world - tap into the good bacteria.
The "Indiana Jones" of virus study.
There is a vast, unknown world of the small - the microcosmos.
On screen he shows an image that looks like invading alien/robot creatures. They're actually a bacteria-eating virus - 1031 of this bacteriophage on the planet - the most numerous organism. If you created a 30 volume encyclopedia of all life on earth, 27 volumes would be on bacteria. (is that really what he said? or did he say viruses?)
If HIV was in tens or hundreds of thousands of people by 1929 when it crossed from apes to humans, why did it take us so long to discover it? If we sensed it earlier, how might have it altered the spread of HIV?
Most viruses come from animals and make the leap to humans.
Viral chatter - the pinging of viruses into human population, testing for a door in. His goal is to discover this creep, this testing earlier so that we can do more prevention and/or better track virus propogation.
Why did we think the responsibility rested with one indiviudal - one bush hunter? Bush meat might be a vector, but we can't blame the bush hunters or expect them to fix the problem. But bush hunters can be a valuable partner in the effort to fix the issue. Wolfe and his team have started the Global Viral Forecasting Initiative. It seeks to establish thousands of people in populations to continually monitor (and have them collect specimens from animals they hunt). It isn't just bush meat - it's live animal markets in Asia (where SARS emerged). GVFI is monitoring some hotspots, but there are many more to be watched.
Surface parochialism - the assumption that life exists just on the surface. If the volume of the subsurface areas is greater than that on the surface, might we also discover there is more biomass under the surface? And that the origins of life bubbled up from within rather than raining down from cosmic stardust above.
Thought experiment - take a substance, like a drop of water. We can figure out exactly the density of genetic code, nucleic acids. We can calculate the amount of expected energy. We can calculate the real entropy. If we see a difference, that might suggest another form of life was there.
Whoa. I do not understand that. I kind of understand each little part of it, but not how they add up to possibly suggest revelation of other life forms. After I'm done being a theoretical physicist in a next life, I'm going to have to take up molecular biology.Between talks, they showed this commercial from Discovery Channel. In our house, this is a favorite: