Instagram Photo Diary: Museum of Science

Documenting a day at the Museum of Science, with a special spotlight on the POPnology exhibit.

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Photos and text by Alex Hanson

My mom and I took a trip to the Museum of Science in Boston yesterday, and had a total blast interacting with the exhibits and taking photos along the way. Below, find my Instagram photo diary of the trip. 

Continue reading “Instagram Photo Diary: Museum of Science”

“We Are All Matter, and We All Matter”

In class last week, Melody pointed out her love of a sentence on the final page of the paper.

By Alex Hanson

This semester I have been granted the absolute highest honor of taking a class with my friend and HERpothesis collaborator Melody Xu. Our class focuses on feminist science studies,  science and technology studies, and tinkering in technoscience. Last week, we read a paper called “Animal Performances: An Exploration of Intersections between Feminist Science Studies and Studies of Human/Animal Relationships,” by Lynda BirkeMette Bryld, and Nina Lykke. The title is a bit intimidating, and the text offers theoretical concepts that required me to reread several paragraphs, but it is overall a really interesting look at the way feminist science studies can apply to human’s relationship and perception of animals. (If you’re interested, you can find the paper here!)

In class last week, Melody pointed out her love of a sentence on the final page of the paper: “We are all matter, and we all matter.” In the context of the paper, it is addressing each individual’s ability to blur the separation between humans and animals. On it’s own, I think this quote is beautiful because it connects humans to the rest of the universe as “matter”— that inanimate “stuff” that makes up everything but also feels very separate from us as human individuals— and addresses the individual power we hold because we are made up of that matter. Since Melody brought it up in class, I haven’t been able to get it out of my head. I made this image of the quote in order to do its some justice with bright colors and a bold font.

Cyborgs and Technofeminism: The World of He, She, and It

This is far from just a simple cybernetic love story.

By Melody Xu

Collage by Alex Hanson, using the cover art from He, She, and It

The year is 2059. After the Two Week War of 2017 which nearly destroyed human civilization as we know it, the world is now run by twenty-seven enterprises — commonly referred to as the multis — which have formed their own social hierarchies and standards of living. However, most of the population lives in the barren and nearly destroyed world (the glop) that exists outside of the multis’ enclave, a place that is overrun by poverty and crime. Despite the huge gap between the rich and the poor, technology has never been more advanced. People in this new world communicate by plugging themselves into machines and projecting themselves into Cyberspace. This is the world of He, She, and It.

In this 1991 cyberpunk novel by Marge Piercy, the story starts with artificial intelligence expert Shira, who lives in one of these multis, Yakamura-Stichen (Y-S), losing custody of her son Ari to her ex-husband in an emotional custody battle. Afterwards, she decides to live the heavily controlled confines of Y-S in order to return to her hometown of Tikva (which means hope in Hebrew). Tikva is one of the few last “free towns” left in the world, remaining unallied with any of the twenty-seven corporations. However, in Piercy’s future world, where information is even more precious than gold, Tikva has been under the attack of “information pirates”, dangerous computer programmers set on unlocking the secrets of the town’s mainframe. The cyborg Yod was illegally created for the single reason of combating these attacks. However, before Yod can protect the city to his full capacity, the cyborg must be able to pass as a human and Shira is tasked to help it with its socialization. During their time together, they eventually fall into a romantic relationship and become allies in both fighting to protect Tikva and for custody of Avi again. Continue reading “Cyborgs and Technofeminism: The World of He, She, and It”

Spatial Sounds and Pikachus: An Augmented Reality Appreciation Post

“Even though the future seems far away, it is actually beginning right now.” – Poet Mattie Stepanek

By Melody Xu

Collage by Alex Hanson

The world has been taken by storm by Pokemon Go. If you don’t know what Pokemon Go is (you must be living under a rock), you’re missing out! Definitely go check out the App store and download it because your life will never be the same again. If you’re one of the millions of players already enjoying the game (please stop, you’re the reason the servers are crashing), good for you!

Regardless of whether or not you’ve already caught them all, Pokemon Go serves as a fantastic example of a game that implements augmented reality, or AR for short. By definition, any technology that inserts “digital interfaces into the real world” (according to the Salem Encyclopedia of Science) is an example of augmented reality.

People often group augmented reality together with virtual reality, but there is a stark difference between the two. While virtual reality attempts to create, in essence, a separate reality apart from real life, augmented reality aims to add (or augment, hence the name) the real world. While the fundamental concepts for augmented reality have been around since the early days, the actual term itself didn’t appear until the 1990s. Creators who utilize AR are unique in that they use the technology to enhance what users experience, rather than creating a whole new world for them. Continue reading “Spatial Sounds and Pikachus: An Augmented Reality Appreciation Post”

CoderGals: An Origin Story

One of the girls asked, “What if you LOVE to code?” and every girl still raised her hand.

By Rachel Auslander

Collage by Alex Hanson featuring an image courtesy of CoderGals

When I was in 6th grade, my mom found a drag-and-drop coding program called Alice. I started using it because it seemed fun. I was obsessed with iMovie at the time, so using code to make little animations with animals appealed to me. I played around with it for a few months, then I forgot about it. Two years later, I discovered Codecademy. I started to learn how to make a website, which was so cool. It was amazing to be able to create something that could be immediately available for anyone to see. However, I had the same problems during both of these experiences. I knew boys involved in robotics, but none of my female friends were interested in coding. I also didn’t have a role model or a mentor.

The root cause of this is visibility. Exceptional women in STEM exist. They’re not unicorns. They’re just rarely highlighted by mainstream media. When I was younger, I loved J.K. Rowling because I loved the Harry Potter series— I even dressed up as her for a historical figure fair. I had never heard of what I consider real wizardry, coding, in any books. I also looked up to Emma Watson and Miley Cyrus because those were the role models promoted to me. The icons that girls are presented with are generally celebrities, musicians, or actresses— not scientists or successful businesswomen. The funny thing is that these are all creators, but we are told to look up to creators of content rather than creators of innovations. This isn’t inherently bad, but if girls don’t have STEM role models to look up to, how will they become involved? It’s hard to be what you can’t see. Continue reading “CoderGals: An Origin Story”

Hotwiring Haute Couture: Tech in Your Wardrobe and on The Runway

Wearable technology is likely to be a key element in the way we remember the fashion of the ‘10s.

By Julia Arciga

Feature image: The Dior Eyes virtual reality headset, courtesy of Dazed 

The trends of fashion eras—the ‘20s, ‘50s, ‘60s—are reflective of the society and zeitgeist of their respective moments in history. What will the kids of the year 2070 define our fashion era as? What are our society’s defining details? Wearable technology is likely to be a key element in the way we remember the fashion of the ‘10s.

Technology is involved and integrated in our lives at almost every level and in almost every aspect. Fashion is no different. What are some examples of this? Light-up sneakers. Fitbits. Apple Watches. Those rings that vibrate and light up when you get a text message. There are even entire websites devoted to wearable technology. Having your tech with you is no longer enough—having it on your body is the hot new thing. One part of it is the practicality: Fitbits monitor steps and motivate people to get up and moving. Apple Watches and those cool tech rings allow the wearer to know what’s happening on their smartphone without having to look at it. Continue reading “Hotwiring Haute Couture: Tech in Your Wardrobe and on The Runway”

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”