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”

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”

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.

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

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”

To Be Science or Not To Be Science

What exactly is science?

by Melody Xu 

Cartoons by Alex Hanson

What exactly is science? What, if anything, makes it different from the humanities? There is no definitive answer to these questions. For the sake of discussion, however, let’s draw the line between science, which I’ll define as having the goal of discovering the true nature of the world, and other academic fields. I’ll recognize three different distinctions between science and other academic fields: the role of empiricism, the role of mathematics, and, finally, the role of peer review. Continue reading “To Be Science or Not To Be Science”