Neurological File Cabinets

Sherlock is able to use all of his memory processes to his highest benefit, but sciences have a lot yet to learn what really happens when the brain forms a memory.

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By Sydney Rappis

Art by Alex Hanson

BBC’s TV series Sherlock takes a modern twist on the classic sleuth tale. The title character, an antisocial drug addict with psychotic tendencies played by Benedict Cumberbatch, is undoubtedly one of the most clever protagonist on television today—rivaled only by other Holmes-inspired characters. One of the biggest reasons to watch the show, other than to see Cumberbatch work his magic, is to see how Sherlock will use his above average intelligence to solve any crime. He seems almost hero-esque in his abilities, but in the episode “The Hound of the Baskervilles” Dr. John Watson introduces the concept of a mind palace. Sherlock is able to solve the unsolvable crime not only because he is observant, but also because of his helpful ability to remember almost everything. Watson explains that Sherlock uses a memory technique where you think up an imaginary place and you stick all the information you want to remember in it, that way you won’t forget anything. All you have to do is “find your way back to it.” It can be any sort of place, so naturally supercilious Sherlock uses a mind palace. In theory though, it could be anything from a street, a closet (as another character later jokes) or a filing cabinet.

Looking closer at the function of memory is important. It doesn’t matter if you’re a detective, a student, or someone trying to remember names at a party: It’s a fact that a good memory will only help you in life. But why do we remember certain events over others? Why do people remember things differently? How can we only remember certain details, sometimes not even in the right order? Since the brain is just a hodgepodge of mystery for most scientists, it’s difficult to really answer any of those questions. Still, examining how the memory processes in the brain actually function is quite important, so here’s what we think happens: Continue reading “Neurological File Cabinets”

The Scully Effect

In the face of alien-human hybrids, paranormal activity, and unimaginable monsters, Scully was able to provide the scientific evidence and logical proof.

By Lily Bellinghausen

Art by Alex Hanson

The cult classic sci-fi show of the 90s, The X-Files, was unlike anything on television before its time. The writing, the crackling chemistry between the characters, the dark, thrilling mystery and dangerous edge of it all transformed the way television was made and viewed. It pushed limits. It was modern. It was eerie but beautiful. Even after fourteen years off the air, its fandom is still growing because of its intangible pull and and iconic characters. With nine seasons, two movies, and an upcoming revival, we hope that the truth is out there. Continue reading “The Scully Effect”

Editor’s Letter 1/20/16

Welcome to HERpothesis!

Hello hello!

Welcome to the launch of HERpothesis online! This site has been formulating itself over the past eight months or so. It started as a thought I had last summer— “I wish there was somewhere I could read and think about STEAM [science, technology, engineering, art, and mathematics] from a female perspective, where it’s really fun. And creative.” Then last November HERpothesis rose from piles of emails, Google Docs files, and Photoshop layers as a 24-page black and white print zine featuring essays, art, and comics from high school and college women expressing their excitement about the world around them. Now, HERpothesis takes the web as a fledgling site incorporating more voices, more ideas, and more (full color!) art. The concept remains the same: create a platform for young, creative women to discuss and ponder STEAM ideas creatively, where readers can learn something and get inspired to explore these subjects outside of the classroom. However, HERpothesis’s new home online will enable it to be the dynamic, engaging space it is meant to be. I am thrilled to share it with you!

Today on HERpothesis you’ll find an essay about how one student incorporates coding into her film school studies, a cartoon-laden distinction between science and other academic fields, a proposition for combining STEM and the arts in your education, an interview with an astrophysicist bringing fashion and astronomy together, Bill Nye fan art, and photographic wonderings of what it means to see art and feel like you’re a very small part of this big universe— all created by some amazing high school and college women.

From here on out, we’ll be posting new content every few days. If you’re interested in engaging with HERpothesis across the web, you can find us on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram. If you’re interested in contributing to the site, check out our About page and email me at herpothesis@gmail.com.

Thank you for checking out HERpothesis! I can’t wait to see where this goes.

Best,

Alex Hanson

Editor-In-Chief

Dimensions of “The Sympathetic Imagination”

For all we know, they could’ve just landed here on this blue-green planet that we call “home.”

Words and Photographs by Katie Smythe

Katie photographed Diana Thater’s “The Sympathetic Imagination” exhibit at LACMA for The Los Angeles Times High School Insider in December 2015. Here, she dives into one aspect of the exhibit in particular and shares what inspired her to photograph it.

I decided to focus on my favorite piece from this exhibit— a vacant room containing only giant, odd colored planets projected onto a blank wall. When I walked into this room I felt small, unimportant. It immediately evoked emotion, which is why it was my favorite part of the exhibit. It gave me that familiar feeling in my stomach, that knot that continues to tighten as you realize that you’re not sure if anything in your life is real, if you mean anything within the entirety of our expansive universe. When I took the pictures above, I wanted to make sure they evoked the same emotions I felt when I walked into that room. I included a silhouette of a family with the large beige-orange moon in the background to create an atmosphere of unknown. No one knows who these people are, we can’t see their faces— only the shapes of their black shadow bodies. Do they know who they are? For all we know, they could’ve just landed here on this blue-green planet that we call “home.”

My other favorite part of the exhibit was the room that held the TVs with fluorescently colored planet-like objects inside of them. This is the first thing you see when you enter the exhibit. The first thing that makes you question the meaning of it all. With the “Sympathetic Imagination” I don’t think Thater’s goal was to necessarily make us feel anything at all, but rather see what we are blind to a lot of the time. To inspire us to take the chance to look around at the people and places that surround us every day. Too many of us live on the surface, simply skimming the top layer of existence. Too afraid to delve beneath the known, to discover what’s beneath the mundane, beneath the routine we’re all so constantly sucked into. I think that Thater wanted us to see this. I’d like to think that’s why she titled it “The Sympathetic Imagination.” It exaggerates the entire theme of the collection. It heightens the idea of the fake, synthetic, materialistic lifestyle that consumes the entire human race.

Astrophysics, Fashion, and DJ Carly Sagan: An Interview with Emily Rice

People get worried about being on this direct path, especially for something that’s perceived as competitive, like science or academia, but really there’s a lot of people that took a more winding path or forged their own way.

Interview by Alex Hanson

Emily Rice is an astrophysicist, assistant professor at City University of New York, research associate at the American Museum of Natural History, co-founder at the astronomy-meets-fashion blog STARtorialist, host of Astronomy on Tap in New York City, parody video creator, and overall kickass lady. She is a master of combining the expressive and the scientific, and her projects contribute to a sense of community within astronomy, as well as showing the general public that science can be fun and creative. I got to interview Emily over Google Hangout about her work, STARtorialist, and her DJ alter ego. Continue reading “Astrophysics, Fashion, and DJ Carly Sagan: An Interview with Emily Rice”

STEM and the Arts: Why Choose?

The foundations of science rest on good artistry, just as good artistry depends on good science.

by Lynn Wang

Illustration by Charlotte Southall

A great deal of the way we talk about education and careers has to do with this implicit understanding that STEM and the arts—liberal and otherwise—are at odds with each other. You can hear it in the way your history teachers rail against your high school’s devotion to the arts, scornfully dubbed a “waste of resources.” Maybe you’re an art student who is amazing at what you do, but can’t fathom yourself sitting in another math class because x is just too hard to find. Or maybe you constantly have to listen to grumpy uncles who blame our generation’s unemployment on lazy millennials who all pick up English majors because they’re too stupid to hack (haha, get it?) an engineering or computer science degree.

Maybe it’s your classmates who reinforce the divide. It’s easy to spot in the way your engineering friends sneer at English majors, and vice versa. Or you’ve noticed how all your liberal arts-oriented peers on your semester abroad started to treat you differently when they found out you were a biochemistry major. The message are all the same: MATLAB doesn’t get along with Matisse, and that’s just the way it is. Continue reading “STEM and the Arts: Why Choose?”