Page 1

E C D Y S I S FALL 2017


ECDYSIS A journal for the aesthetic expression of science at Harvard College

Cover Art: Fiery-billed aracari (Pteroglossus frantzii), by Lily Lu ’19 Logo Design: Ariana Chaivaranon ’18 ecdysisjournal.org

Braintree Printing Braintree, MA 2017


Editor’s Note

Dear Ecdysis readers: You may be wondering what our aracari heralds. The energy of the head-snap, seconds before a merry berry-burst. In this issue, we offer you our exuberance. You are invited to dive into the gazes of budding herpetologists and physicists, mathematicians and neuroscientists – and in some cases, scientists well past their years of student toil – to see what it is that hooks us in natural phenomena, what we can’t quite keep to ourselves. From bacteria that form astral bodies to rock formations that mimic life, we bear stories of things that occur and exist. You will experience what surprises us in our own research and what still resists us, what stopped us in our tracks when we were looking for something else. The ice that rimed a liquid nitrogen pump. The subtleties of the human blood vessel that elude a tissue engineer. Instead of the gecko, the gift of its transcendence. As to that exuberance, it may be déjà-vu. It’s perhaps the oldest fibre of the Ecdysis soul. The excitement is in the sharing: your reading. Flip through. Zero in on your favorite artist, the name of the classmate you thought slept in lecture. Either way, it will be our treat. There’s nothing quite like the pulse of discovery, its perpetuation. - Rebecca Greenberg, ’18


Board Editor-in-Chief | Rebecca Greenberg ’18 Associate Editors Visual Art | Lily Lu ’19 Auditory Art | Vaibhav Mohanty ’19 Writing | Joy Li ’19 Design Chair | Olivia McGinnis ’20 Technology Chair | Vaibhav Mohanty ’19 Publicity Chair | Trevor Chistolini ’18 Staff Katja Diaz-Granados ’20 Nisarga Paul ’19


Meet the Team Trevor Chistolini is a senior concentrating in Chemistry & Physics and Philosophy. He assists with seeking funding, scouring the campus for great submissions, and organizing new talks. He enjoys exploring the links between the arts and sciences both indoors when drawing or outdoors when running amongst trees. Amazed at what Ecdysis has accomplished since its origin, he is excited for what lies in the future and hopes you agree.

Joy Li is an associate writing editor for Ecdysis. She is a junior from San Diego, CA in Winthrop studying Visual and Environmental Studies. If you want to contact Joy, odds are you can find her scouring the Square for cheesecake or acai bowls (or where her next AADT practice is!)

Katja Diaz-Granados is a sophomore and Integrative Biology concentrator. In her spare time, she loves illustrating birds and taking care of the adorable froglets in the O’Connell dart frog lab.

Vaibhav Mohanty is the technology chair and associate editor of auditory art for Ecdysis. He is a junior currently pursuing a concentration in Chemistry & Physics with a secondary field in Music. Vaibhav is passionate about scientific research and composing classical and jazz music.

Rebecca Greenberg is the editor-in-chief of Ecdysis. She is a senior from Providence, RI and an aspiring biologist and writer. She runs everywhere, even when she’s not late, but will stop for a redtail hawk or a muskrat.

6

| ECDYSIS Fall 2017


Lily Lu is a junior in Dunster house concentrating in Integrative Biology and is currently the visual art editor of Ecdysis. Aside from assessing the visual art submissions to the magazine, Lily also does small jobs here and there ranging from designing posters to opening bank accounts. Outside of Ecdysis, Lily likes to spend her time drawing and being impressed by birds.

Olivia McGinnis is a sophomore and the design chair for Ecdysis. A Neurobiology concentrator from Philadelphia, PA, Olivia hopes to work at the intersection of science and policy. Her favorite spot on campus is the sunken garden at Radcliffe Yard, and she misses her dog very much (hi Willow!).

Nisarga Paul is a junior in Quincy studying mathematics and physics. He joined Ecdysis two years ago and is on the writing board. Nisarga is interested in the philosophical and aesthetic aspects of physics and enjoys puzzling over how they can be captured in art forms such as poetry.

ECDYSIS Fall 2017|

7


Table of Contents

10 ......................................................................................................... Chamaeleo dilepsis by Maximillian Prager 12 ............................................................................................... Summer’s Nocturnal Offerings by Nisarga Paul 13 .............................................................................................................. Aspergillus oryzae by Scott Chimileski 14 ............................................................................................................. Exploring Bacteria by Scott Chimileski 15 ................................................................................................ Pyrolusite Dendrites by Elba Alonso-Monsalve 16 .............................................................................. Dichotomy of Engineered Blood Vessels II by João Ribas 18 ............................................................................................................... Our Vision, Theirs (II) by Javier Masís 19 ........................................................................................................... Lacewing Oviposition by Christian Perez 20 .......................................................................................................................... Scaffolding by Grace Matthews 22 .............................................................................................................. Frost on Pipe by Elba Alonso-Monsalve 24 .......................................................................................................................... Veins of Oak by Robert Vincent 25 ................................................................................................................ Diffraction by Elba Alonso-Monsalve 26 .................................................................................................................. Ghost of a Gecko by Christian Perez


Chamaeleo dilepsis by Maximillian Prager

10

| ECDYSIS Fall 2017


Chameleons are capable of changing the colors of their skin when courting a mate or combating a rival. Color-changing fish and lizards typically achieve the trick by altering the density of their skin pigments. A handful of other species, including certain squids, manipulate structural components such as iridophores, specialized cells whose varying refractive indices interfere with light to reflect different colors. It was recently discovered that chameleons evolved a unique bilayered iridophore structure: they modify the spacing of nanocrystals within the iridophores of the topmost layer against a basal layer that reflects low frequency light, resulting in lightning-quick dramatic displays. Over the course of my brief interaction with this chameleon, I saw its color change from white-spotted lime to black-spotted deep green with vivid orange striations. Canon DSLR, 100mm Macro Lens.

ECDYSIS Fall 2017|

11


Summer’s Nocturnal Offerings by Nisarga Paul

The hardened ground one clutches and the earth that crumbles into cubes and settles back. The hotness of the octahedral air. The glinting tetrahedra of the distant roaring streetlights. Icosahedral drops like certainty condensed on blades of grass. The great dodecahedron. Whispers of the eternal geometer, cricket chirps. One wonders (with lightly flickering eyes) what incipient lies take root in dark trembling moments between wake and sleep, quivering hours between sun and stars?

The Platonic solids are five geometric entities of remarkable symmetry that were once believed to represent the elements and the universe. This view, known as Plato’s cosmology, had a lasting impact on natural philosophers as far into the future as the 17th century, when Johannes Kepler proposed a model of the solar system based on nested Platonic solids—another remarkable, but false, theory.

12

| ECDYSIS Fall 2017


Aspergillus oryzae by Scott Chimileski

The fungus Aspergillus oryzae - a crucial ingredient of sake, miso and soy sauce - grows in filamentous colonies, resulting in starlike formations. Canon EOS 5D Mark III, 50 mm lens.

ECDYSIS Fall 2017|

13


Exploring Bacteria by Scott Chimileski

Myrmarachne 699 by Javier Alejandro MasĂ­s

14

| ECDYSIS Fall 2017

ECDYSIS Fall 2016 |

14


Pyrolusite Dendrites by Elba Alonso-Monsalve

As minerals form, they sometimes develop fractal patterns. This pyrolusite (manganese dioxide) sample from the rock collection at the Harvard Museum of Natural History crystallized into dendrites, a term that comes from the Greek word for “tree.� Dendritic patterns are widespread in biological structures, including our own nerve cell endings and lung bronchioles. Canon EOS Rebel T6i, 18-55 mm lens. Left Unidentified bacteria isolated from a decaying log migrate across a semi-solid nutrient agar surface, forming dendritic patterns. Canon EOS 5D Mark III, 50 mm lens.

ECDYSIS Fall 2017|

15


Dichotomy of Engineered Blood Vessels II by João Ribas

This painting represents engineered blood vessels in hydrogels, waterbased gels widely used in the creation of biological molds (e.g. contact lenses) and 3D-bioprinting. The piece is part of a series of acrylic paintings that explores issues surrounding the artificial creation of human tissues in the laboratory. Bioengineering innovations are also subtractive processes in that they reduce the fluidity of organic structures such as the human body into binary patterns. Here, our assumptive conception of human vasculature appears as a welldefined geometric form against a watery matrix of variegated blues.

Acrylic on canvas, 12” x 9”.

16

| ECDYSIS Fall 2017


ECDYSIS Fall 2017|

17


Our Vision, Theirs (II) by Javier MasĂ­s

I study visual categorization using rats as a model, with the ultimate goal of understanding object classification at the neural level. In my research, rats play a video game where the image of an object shows up on the screen. Their choice of left or right communicates their categorization of the object. I designed a new set of objects (shown above) that were very similar to those they had previously seen. The differences between both sets of objects seemed to me negligible to the object category, but they were surprisingly significant for the rat. I was reminded that the nature of perception is such that it integrates seamlessly into our understanding of the world, even though perception is not reality. POV-Ray (tracing program)

18 | ECDYSIS Fall 2017 18 | ECDYSIS Fall 2017


Lacewing oviposition by Christian Perez

These lacewing (Chrysopidae) eggs are only about a millimeter long. They were attached to a stem in Manly, NSW, Australia, by long wire-like filaments for protection against scavenging insects. As the neon green subjects caught the light of my head torch, the filaments blended into the darkness. As a result, the eggs appear to hover eerily behind the ovipositing neuropteran.

Canon PowerShot, 5 cm x 3 1/3 cm.

ECDYSIS Fall 2017 |

19


Scaffolding by Grace Matthews

In this painting, the nonporous plastic surface of the paper caused water to pool. Subsequent evaporation left a film of dried paint in flowing organic forms. The abstraction of the scaffolding subject due to fluid dynamics serves as a commentary on nature’s place in our increasingly urbanized civilization. Do we box nature to our ever-growing structure, or does nature serve as the foundation for our growth?

Watercolor on yupo paper, 24” x 18”.

20

| ECDYSIS Fall 2017


Scaffolding, detail.

ECDYSIS Fall 2017|

21


Frost on pipe

by Elba Alonso-Monsalve

Liquid nitrogen is pumped around telescope cameras as the cooling effect reduces measurement noise. Liquid nitrogen at -196 ËšC (77 K) running through this pipe freezes water from ambient humidity on its surface, forming a frost coating that evokes a forest of tiny white firs. Canon EOS Rebel T6i, 18-55 mm lens.

22

| ECDYSIS Fall 2017


ECDYSIS Fall 2016 |

23


Veins of Oak by Robert Vincent

I altered a photograph of a sunlit red oak (Quercus rubra) leaf to highlight internal leaf structures. In particular, I focused on photosynthetic pathways, including the vein-like phloem and xylem vasculature (green and blue) and leaf cells containing chloroplasts and stomata (red). While overseeing a restoration project, I was thinking about the effects of forests on groundwater levels and the mechanisms the plants use to move water out of the soil, through the plant, and back into the atmosphere via transpiration. When I held the leaf to the sun, the structures for these processes began to reveal themselves. Photoshop, digital photography.

24

| ECDYSIS Fall 2017


Diffraction

by Elba Alonso-Monsalve

In this photograph, lights from the ceiling diffract off the surface of the phone screen. White light is a mixture of colored lights that each correspond to their own wavelengths. The pixels on a phone screen are so small that they cause light to diffract and split into its component wavelengths. Diffracting light through gratings can be used to identify the substance emitting the light, from the gas inside a light bulb to the surface of a star. Canon EOS Rebel T6i, 18-55 mm lens.

ECDYSIS Fall 2017|

25


Ghost of a Gecko by Christian Perez

26

| ECDYSIS Fall 2017


Myrmarachne 699 by Javier Alejandro MasĂ­s

No velvet geckos (Amalosia lesueurii) were to be found that day in the field (Woy Woy, NSW, Australia). Late in the evening, however, I saw a shed skin caught in the threads of an old spider web. Canon PowerShot, 30 cm x 20 cm.

ECDYSIS Fall 2016 | 27 22 77 EECCDDYYSSI ISS FFaal ll l 22001177 ||


Contributors

Elba Alonso-Monsalve is a junior at the College studying physics and math. She enjoys photography, singing opera, and reading poetry. Scott Chimileski is a microbiologist and photographer based in the Kolter Lab at Harvard Medical School, where he focuses on imaging the social, multicellular and emergent properties of microbes. This year, Scott is exhibiting his work at the “World in a Drop” exhibit at the Harvard Museum of Natural History and has just published Life at the Edge of Sight, a book that communicates the unseen biology and beauty of the microbial world to a general audience (Harvard University Press). Lily Lu is a sophomore at the College studying Integrative Biology. She is currently pre-med until she finds something better to do, which may involve birds or illustration. Javier Masís is a graduate student in David Cox’s lab studying visual object recognition. He is also a photographer and finds photography to be an exquisite blend of art and science. Grace Matthews is a freshman, and as of now she hopes to concentrate in Biomedical Engineering. She has worked with many different visual arts media for as long as she can remember, however it was only in these past two years that she began to closely examine her surrounding environment for inspiration, realizing that she wants her work to go beyond just the “pretty picture”. Nisarga Paul is a junior at the College studying mathematics and physics. His only real goal in life is to write poetry in outer space. Christian Perez is a recent graduate who concentrated in Integrative Biology (Class of 2017), focusing his studies in herpetology and entomology. He is currently conducting research on deimatic displays of frilled dragons (Chlamydosaurus kingii) in the Northern Territory of Australia. Maximillian Prager is a junior in Dunster House studying Integrative Biology with a particular interest in reptiles. He spends his summers working in Gorongosa Park, Mozambique, where the unique wildlife and scenery inspires his writing and photography.


João Ribas spent his Ph.D. (’17) researching ways to engineer hearts and blood vessels at Harvard Medical School. He likes to combine art with science to invoke unexplored aspects of scientific reasoning and to use art to question science’s approaches. Robert Vincent earned a Ph.D. in Earth and Environmental Science, and is the Assistant Director and Advisory Lead at MIT Sea Grant where his research focuses on biophysical feedbacks and ecosystem processes.


Acknowledgements

Dr. Brian Farrell, for his last lecture in OEB 10: Foundations of Biological Diversity, Spring 2016, which inspired the aim of this journal. The Derek Bok Center for Teaching and Learning, for their interest in the educational aspect of our mission and for their media support. The Elson Family Arts Initiative Fund, The COOP Public Service Grants Program, and the Office for the Arts for their generous gifts that made this publication possible. Dr. Robert lue, for his advice on exploring the interface between the arts and the sciences. Dr. David Edwards, for his mentorship and introduction to his inspiring art & design center Le Laboratoire Cambridge. Dr. Oliver Knill, for introducting us to the art of multivariable calculus and linear algebra and to the Elson Family Arts Initiative Fund. Dr. Andrew Berry, for knowing interesting people and pointing us towards them. Dr. Elena Kramer, for introducing us to the impressive arts initiative in her class OEB 52: Biology of Plants.


ecdysisjournal.org

Ecdysis Fall 2017 Issue  
Ecdysis Fall 2017 Issue  
Advertisement