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monDAY, august 20, 2012 3

The california aggie

Hudson Lofchie

Caesar’s last breath


ll things flow. Nothing stands. -Plato Throughout history, many writers, scientists and philosophers have waxed poetically some version of the idea that we are the universe experiencing itself. At first, this seems like some hippie jargon about universal love and peace. But look deeper, and there is an astounding level of scientific and philosophical thought in that small phrase. They say that whenever you take a breath, you take in air molecules from Julius Caesar’s dying exhale. His breath emanated from his body and dispersed across the globe, crossing oceans and continents, getting recycled through trees, and eventually ending up in the path of your morning run. Whether it’s every breath, or every tenth breath that has Caesar’s air, the romance of the idea

is not lost. Every breath, every bite and into the air, follows pressure currents every sip you take is far more than just and rains down. Where that rain falls, what it consists of at that moment. We parts of every body of water are colare pieces of everything that has ever lecting into one place. happened. A farmer dies in Greece. His ashes A star goes supernova in a faraway are spread over the olive orchard that galaxy. The abundant hydrogen and has been in his family for generations. helium fuse together under the imThe orchard gets watered with the rain, mense heat and pressure, and form and the ashes seep into the soil. The the heavier elements required for life, ashes fertilize the soil and become part like carbon and oxygen. The fusion of of the olives. The olives are transported hydrogen and helium into heavier elusing fuel from dinosaurs and come to ements is what makes the stars burn our plates to become part of us. bright and hot, and powers all life on This is not the same as a butterfly earth. When the star explodes, those flapping its wings in Brazil and causelements are hurled ing a tsunami in Sri into space to finally Lanka. This is not an When we are in the city, we are abstract “butterfly efarrive on Earth. Stars die so that we can breathing in molecules that once fect.” This is real-life live. belonged to a terrible lizard connections between Millions of years everything. Every ago, a dinosaur died atom that we are and fell to the bottom of the sea. As it made of came from somewhere else decomposed, it lost all of its oxygen, niand went through its own journey to trogen and phosphorous, leaving just get to wherever it is in us now; our carbon and hydrogen. As the layers of brains, eyes, ears, fingers, or anything decomposed matter became deeper else we use to sense the world around and deeper, reaching depths of 10,000 us. We are pieces of the universe put feet, the heat and pressure changed together into a thinking, conscious, that organic matter into hydrocarbons, self-aware package that can then exa.k.a., oil. Along comes man, who pulls perience itself. the oil out of the ground, loads it into Whether or not you can come to cars and combusts it to get from A to B. terms with breathing Caesar’s last When we are in the city, we are breathbreath or being made of stardust, we ing in molecules that once belonged to are all part of a larger system. In a a terrible lizard. Dinosaurs died so we sense, a person never dies. They simcould drive. ply become something else. Water from the seven seas and every major river on Earth evaporates HUDSON LOFCHIE can be reached at

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The human colonization of space Experts emphasize research and incremental planning By BRIAN RILEY Aggie Science Writer

Will newly designed space rockets and vehicles be used only for exploration, travel and tourism in the coming decades, or will humans take the first major steps toward establishing multi-generational “colonies” of people in space? Professors and students at UC Davis involved with Professor Steve Robinson’s upcoming research center on campus for the study of human/vehicle interaction will be debating such topics in the coming academic year. Students who take his “Introduction to Spacecraft” class in the spring will also participate. “I think we’re a long ways from really putting colonies of people out there that would live their whole lives in space,” said former NASA astronaut John Glenn. Robert W. Phillips, a former chief scientist of NASA’s International Space Station (ISS) program, agreed: “You don't want to get too carried away with living someplace else until you've at least gone to visit and explored it to determine what's there.” Phillips, who graduated from UC Davis in 1965 with a Ph.D. in physiology and nutrition, trained as an astronaut in the 1980s. While much of the debate about space colonies in the 1970s focused on the idea of creating space habitats in the “free space” between the Solar System’s planets, many experts today say establishing colonies on the surface of a planet (like Mars) or on the surface of a planetary body (like the Moon) would be much more feasible. “Eventually you have to

produce something that is of value to people back here on Earth or elsewhere,” Phillips said, adding that mining for helium-3 (He-3) on the Moon for energy use on the Earth is an achievable goal. Since the amount of cosmic dust in free space is relatively small, natural resources there are limited, so it would be difficult for freefloating communities in space to make products for interplanetary commerce. “If they don't have exports, it will be a dying unit, because in order to get money coming in – in order to do other new things – they're going to need help from the outside,” Phillips said. Phillips is the author of the new book Grappling with Gravity: How Will Life Adapt to Living in Space? which explores these issues in depth. The aging process in space was explored when Glenn flew on the Space Shuttle Discovery with Robinson in 1998. Glenn allowed himself to be studied as a kind of human guinea pig. Glenn explained that the purpose of the research was to compare test results from him with results from younger astronauts, and find differences in the immune system, protein turnover and vestibular functions and the balance system. A further step in aging research as it relates to possible human colonization of space is to study multiple generations of animals in space. “We have absolutely no information on multi-generations in space, not even with rats,” Phillips said. With President George W. Bush’s decision in 2004 to phase out the Space Shuttle program before a replacement vehicle was ready for

8/13/2012 puzzle solved

Sudoku courtesy

use, opportunities for research of this type are reduced and NASA astronauts can currently only fly to the International Space Station on Russian rockets. “I think President Bush’s decision to cancel the shuttle was just flat wrong. I just disagree with that,” Glenn said. Glenn retired from the U.S. Senate in 1999, five years before the decision was made. President Barack Obama did not reverse the decision, and the shuttle program ended in 2011. “We’re in a newly competitive position around the

world,” Glenn said, adding that more research in space and research at centers like the one planned by Robinson are needed in order to “expand our knowledge and continue research in keeping [the U.S.] in the lead in research in the world.” “I think UC Davis is very fortunate to have gotten somebody like Steve Robinson,” Glenn said. “Steve is really an outstanding person. NASA’s loss is UC Davis’ gain.” BRIAN RILEY can be reached at science@

Hard Enter digits from 1 to 9 into the blank spaces. Every row must contain one of each digit. So must every column, as must every 3x3 square. Each Sudoku has a unique solution that can be reached logically without guessing.

KVIE Art Auction On air with winning art


Aggie Arts Writer

The annual KVIE Art Auction is including the work of 16 Davis artists in its collection from Sept. 28 to 30, with three of these artists winning the juror award. Each year, Northern Californian households have the opportunity to tune into a parade of expression on their public access channel KVIE. The channel hosts Northern Californian talents every year and throws a preview gala to determine the best artwork in show. The art show gathers an eclectic mix of artists utilizing different mediums. This year, three Davis artists received the juror award for exemplary rule in their artistic achievements. “I paint… to make people see the things they don’t appreciate,” Marie Therese Brown said. Brown is one of the recipients of the juror award, given to her for her plein air painting. The French words describe the act of painting in the moment.


She delves into the bustle of both the city and the wild to capture the life in objects other-

wise overlooked. In this case, her choice of focus was the bridge over the Sacramento River.

She chose the bridge for its placidity — no one ever thinks of the bridge they are crossing. She took the time to appreciate the lights falling off the handrail and the water’s reflective nature. Brown said she wants to make people realize how beautiful things really are, adding that there is an endless supply of beauty in Davis. Different artists use different mediums and in the case of artist Emma Luna, who is also a recipient of the juror award, her choice of ceramic cloth goes beyond the canvas. “I always try to be very unique. In my work there must be an originality to it,” Luna said. Luna’s artwork involves the manipulation of ceramic material and suggests a sort of elegance to the piece. Two pears sit side by side on a cloth that encompasses the fruit. Luna describes this as being synonymous with couples, transcending the artwork’s fruity nature. In a way the metaphor goes beyond the fruit to rank state-

ments on same-sex couples, male and female couples, peas in a pod, whatever can be coupled. To Luna, the piece makes a statement wherever there are couplings and can be interpreted by an inquiring audience to their own preferences. Luna strives to give audiences an appreciation of everyday life from form, shape and texture. “It’s always nice to have people enjoy your artwork,” Luna said. In art sometimes there is a functional side and a sculptural side, said Thomas Post, another recipient of the KVIE juror award. In his piece, there is movement and physicality. Post describes his collages as accompanying feelings of space and openness. Tune in to the three-day live auction on KVIE from Sept. 28 to 30, or view it online at kvie. org/artauction. The three Davis artworks are “American River Bridge,” “Two Pears On A Ceramic Cloth” and “Still Point.” PETER AN can be reached at

August 20, 2012