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?”
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”
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”
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.
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”
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”
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 Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. If you’re interested in contributing to the site, check out our About page and email me at email@example.com.
Thank you for checking out HERpothesis! I can’t wait to see where this goes.
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.