The lecture on microscopy that the class received from a researcher at the UCLA facility provided a deeper understanding of the technology and its evolution. The lecturer introduced the earliest version of a microscope, which could only magnify something by 20 or 30 times. Today, however, we have small cameras that are capable of achieving the same level of magnification. The huge microscopes that the class saw in the previous session were capable of observing structures on an atomic level, which is several orders of magnitude smaller than the width of a hair.
1. The chemistry behind baking a bread
In our second week, we really got to take an interesting look at more botanically related science concepts. I really enjoy the fauna of the natural world, so I loved getting to dive into the science behind it. On Tuesday we got to bring in bread and share it amungst ourselves while learning about it. I loved seeing the spread on the table, with various forms of bread coming from each person.
I think the highlight of my week 2 in this class was seeing Alvaro speak about his research again! I love seeing and learning about his research on maize, especially as an artist/scientist who graduated from Berkeley & DMA coming from Mexico. I had the great opportunity of visiting his Maize exhibit in the sciences building last year.
Assignment 2: grains, maize, seed planting…
On Tuesday, we broke bread with each other. Everyone gathered around the table, excited to munch on some homemade bread baked with love and care. Whether it is feasting on focaccia bread that my friend brought to the Friendsgiving potluck or the quiet older coworker offering me her homemade tamales in the break room, sharing food feels like community to me.
Alvaro Azcarraga was our guest speaker for Tuesday and he introduced us to the world of corn and grains. Azcarraga introduced us to the milpa system which is "a traditional agricultural system in which maize is intercropped with other species, such as common beans, faba beans, squashes, or potatoes” (Lopez-Ridaura). This system is also known as The Three Sisters and has been used throughout history by various indigenous tribes in North America.
This week we covered a large variety of topics in class. On Tuesday, one of the first topics we covered was something (generally) all of us have consumed: bread. Other students and I brought many different types of bread to class and we all laid them out on a table. Most of it was store bought, but a few others actually made theirs. I have never made bread before and can’t imagine what it’s like to make it.
We began Tuesday’s class by sharing our pieces of bread and taking a more in-depth look at bread and wheat. Professor Vesna acknowledged a question that most of us were probably thinking, “what does bread have to do with art?” As she continued, we realized that the techniques of creating the bread, with sometimes as little as three ingredients (flour, yeast, water), were a complex and artistic process.
Week 2 was all about bread, wheat, rice, corn, nanomechanics, microscopy, and more visits to The California NanoSystems Institute at UCLA. We started the week by breaking bread in class together. I brought a small sourdough loaf from whole foods, but the table ranged from buttery croissants to pan au chocolate, french baguette, whole wheat, rye, and more sourdough.
As a former Biology major student, I have lost my connection to the life science realm for nearly two years. Nevertheless, taking the course this week awakened my memory and knowledge of biology once again. After immersing myself in the art and cultural world for about two years, I now comprehend biology from perspectives that are more philosophical and artistic.