WiSE Words: Imposter Syndrome

I looked around at the women around me. They looked quiet, studious, and were definitely better students than me.

By Lynn Wang

Art by Annika Hanson

There are some moments in life that deserve to be treasured: true love, getting curved up to a passing grade on the organic chemistry exam, and walking into a room full of strangers to discover that you’re all sisters in the same struggle.

I applied for the WiSE (Women in Science and Engineering) undergraduate fellowship on a whim, at the end of my final exams last winter. I was sure nothing would come of it; I’ve become pretty desensitized to rejection letters over the years. So when I was accepted, I was delighted— and a little intimidated. I wasn’t sure what to expect. How could I, a lowly biochemistry sophomore, have possibly been competent or formidable enough to gain entry into such a selective program? As I stepped into the elevator for our first luncheon a week ago, I remember thinking that I would be tossed out immediately. A pre-med struggling to keep a 3.0 GPA, with no active research projects, surely did not deserve to be given such a special honor, much less a research grant.

I resolutely give credit to the Goddess of Irony that I walked into a first meeting where the topic of choice was imposter syndrome. Continue reading “WiSE Words: Imposter Syndrome”

Extended Consciousness in the World of Tomorrow

Are we still human when our minds are cloned so many times over, fragmented into downloaded files, and uploaded consciousness?

Words and Illustration by Alex Hanson

When we die, what happens to our memories? Where do our personalities and experiences go? Don Hertzfeldt (you might recognize his out-of-this-world Simpsons couch gag or his short “It’s Such a Beautiful Day”) explores one futuristic, somewhat dystopian possibility in his short film “World of Tomorrow” (which is on Netflix and I HIGHLY recommend watching). “World of Tomorrow,” which is nominated for an Oscar and has already received awards from Sundance and South by Southwest, is a two dimensional animated short about Emily Prime, a young girl, and her adult third generation clone (let’s call her Emily Three). Emily Three brings Emily Prime to the future to share her personal experiences in a dystopian world where no new humans are born. Instead, every living person is a clone of someone who lived many years ago, injected with the memories of their prime and all the clones in line before them. Emily Three struggles with her low emotional capacity in a world where consciousness and body no longer develop together. Instead, consciousness is transferred between clones, or can be downloaded from a person once they die. For some elderly, their consciousness is transferred into a bodiless box, where they exist alone in darkness for an undetermined number of years. Continue reading “Extended Consciousness in the World of Tomorrow”

Using Technology to Show the Fashion in Science

For me, mechanical engineering has been a path to combine technology, science, engineering, and fashion.

By Erin Winick, Founder, Sci Chic and Mechanical Engineering Student

Illustration by Alex Hanson, using images courtesy of Sci Chic 

Fashion and science. Two things people rarely imagine going together. As an engineering student, people often fail to understand all of the opportunities available through my degree. Many think I am only going to build bridges or work on math calculations for the rest of my life. Although these are career options, the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) fields provide gateways to a lot more avenues than one might think. For me, mechanical engineering has been a path to combine technology, science, engineering, and fashion.

Since I was a kid I have always loved sewing. I made my Halloween costumes, pillows, and pajamas with the steady guidance of my mom. Sewing is an awesome opportunity to work with your hands and use 2D patterns to make something 3D — something that is essentially an engineering challenge. I have expanded this love of hands-on making into a love for fashion and mechanical engineering. I am a loyal project runway fan and have branched into making my own clothes as well. One day I thought, “Why not combine the two?” Continue reading “Using Technology to Show the Fashion in Science”

Ex Machina’s Artificial Intelligence: What Does It Say About Humanity?

There is no #YOLO in the AI world.

By Julia Arciga

Illustration by Annika Hanson

Ex Machina does something that is rarely achieved well in today’s sci-fi film realm. It blends science with philosophy to bring the viewer to a breaking-point question: What really makes a human human, and can it be truly replicated through Artificial Intelligence (AI)?

Que internal existential crisis about what defines humanity

One of the big plot points of the movie is a little something called the Turing Test created by Alan Turing (yes, the same Alan Turing from The Imitation Game). Basically, the Turing Test is a sort of pass-fail for AI—if the AI can pass as a human in conversation, then it’s “en route to true intelligence.” In the movie, the brilliant and scary Nathan— the CEO of a Google-esque company and the creator of the AI— wants to take the Turing Test a step further, and test whether his AI displays a convincing enough human-like cognizance to supercede the fact that the AI is known to be artificial. Continue reading “Ex Machina’s Artificial Intelligence: What Does It Say About Humanity?”

Steps to the Scientific Method

How has the scientific method come to be the process that we know it as today? Has it always been the same?

By Melody Xu

Art by Alex Hanson

Everyone has heard of the scientific method. It’s mentioned in practically every high school science textbook, presented to students as some sort of divine method to conduct experiments. In a way, the idea of the scientific method has been black-boxed for us; we know that it yields results, but do we know how it works? How has the scientific method come to be the process that we know it as today? Has it always been the same? In order to gain a better understanding of the scientific method, the history of it must also be examined.

There have been many different variations, where some steps may be combined or implied rather than explicitly stated, but the underlying concept, I would argue, remains pretty consistent. The steps are to (1) ask a question, (2) do background research, (3) construct a hypothesis, (4) conduct an experiment to test the hypothesis, (5) analyze the data, (6) draw a conclusion, and finally, (7) determine whether your hypothesis was correct or not. There are a plethora of different cultures and people that have had an influence on our modern scientific method, but I will be describing just a few of the earliest contributors: Aristotle, Ibn al-Haytham, Francis Bacon, and just briefly, Isaac Newton. Continue reading “Steps to the Scientific Method”

Time Will Tell: The Stories of Prague’s Astronomical Clock

I can’t ignore the fact that observations of our universe and storytelling are still inseparable.

Writing and photos by Alex Hanson

Walking through Prague’s Old Town Square is like diving into the pages of a gilded storybook. The wide spaces between the tall, elegant, centuries-old buildings gives the impression of a purposeful manipulation of what pedestrians on the street can and cannot see— as though you were one of many dolls in a very large dollhouse, subject to the story being told around you by an unseen player. It is this feeling that makes the square’s famous astronomical clock seem so mystical.

The medieval astronomical clock, created in 1410, is on the side of a tower of Prague’s Old Town City Hall. It is a huge clock face surrounded by statues, with two windows and a golden rooster above and a calendar with zodiac details below the astrolabe. In a realm lined with gray cobblestones and bronze statues, the clock’s bright blue face and gold details make it one of the most eye-catching parts of the square. Every hour tourists and passing locals gather around the clock to watch its hourly toll, comprised of ringing bells, statues becoming animated, and the two windows opening to reveal statues of the apostles rotating in and out of sight of the crowd below. Continue reading “Time Will Tell: The Stories of Prague’s Astronomical Clock”