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Open Mind Families/Lines of Belonging
Aside from the two teams that worked on presentations for 'De Nacht van Kunst&Wetenschap', a third team started to work on the theme of families/lines of belonging. All three teams will present their work during Noorderzon festival.
The third team consists of Mineke Bosch, historian, Jean Christophe Billeter, biologist, Jantine Wijnja, performance artist and writer and Jan Klug, media artist and composer. In the first meeting there is a direct divide between the scientists concerning how to define 'family'.
Mineke starts off and shows us one of her objects of study: the diary of Frederike van Uildriks from 1877 a very outspoken woman who wrote for 40 magazines in her time and wrote books as 'Plantenschatz' and 'Natuurgenot'.
By studying individual lives through diaries like this, Mineke tries to get the bigger picture of an era. She specializes in womens lives and how their changing role in society also generated a different sense of 'family'
Jantine tells about her personal fascination with the theme of families: illustrates her story with a reference to a friend who collects film clips of families in the past, in these you can see certain patterns emerge...like that we always try to capture the highlights when we make pictures. That the weather is mostly wonderful, that there is happy people and cake and candles. Or that it is always holidays.
Mineke tells about another female diary writer whose diary she studied on; a baker woman called Baukje Vonk. Also in this diary small history meets Big History as we get both a sense of the historical events that happened and the back pain of her husband.
Mineke tells a lot more, for example how books in earlier times were read out loud, there was no silent reading.
Jean Christophe then introduces his object of study: the Drosophila Melanogaster or the fruit fly. These little flies use smell to regulate human interactions; male and female from different species don't like each others smell at all, so they don't mate.
The name Drosophila means 'who likes dew', because they mostly are born early in the morning.
Melanogaster, the additional name, comes from their black abdomen.
Mineke and Jean Christophe discover a bridge in their interest: Mineke studied a book,'Metamorphosis'about a female biologist who researched Drosophila. Jean Christophe knows of it too. They start to become enthusiastic.
Jean Christophe gets us very interested in fruit flies by telling more about their sophisticated communication. In the abdomen of the fly, there is a fluorescend (GFP) that marks the cells that communicate with other cells > you can read this as you would read a human face.
There is a machine that can read the odour lexicon of flies; they excrete a hydrocarbon (like gasoline) and you can measure that.
Male Drosophila make songs with their wings for courtship. Females have odours. The songs consist of Brr Bzz sounds, and the rhythm, or timing between the Brr and the Bzz defines the different species..
They don't have a personal song like birds have, but rather a song of the species (subdivisions of the Drosophila).
Odours are personal though.
Some species are divided 25 million years ago and cannot mate with each other.
You could say that biologists working in the field of research on drosophila are a kind of family that shares their knowledge without holding back.
The founders of this field of research have founded that tradition.
My impression is that connections are made through a creative act: JC and Mineke appear to have several links and connections 5 minutes into the discussion!
Mineke starts to talk about the history of family through the ages. Marriage was far more part of calculation in earlier times. Love is a very recent phenomenon as a decisive factor for marriage. The shape of families changed radically over time. We now live in a time where the choosen family becomes more important: soulmates.
There is a theory that Art was invented to remember who your ancestors were: JC for example can trace back his family lines to the 12th century. This is because in Switzerland (where he comes from) most families have heraldic signs/armory attached to their names.
As for the genetic family: mitochondrial DNA is passed on to the child entirely from the mother. This makes it possible to trace back inherited traits to primordial times; like in the book The seven daughters of Eve.
We come to talk about incest: mice brothers and sisters will copulate only when there is no other choice...but Egyptian pharaos and European Kings had no problems with it..
But life wants biodiversity, so incest is not a good option for us.
Is there a natural tabu on incest or is it a cultural phenomenon?
JC: Science is nothing more than storytelling!
M: Yes, we swim in a sea of stories
JC: Family can be defined generally as: a social unit who share an x amount of DNA together
Vasopressine is released in your body either when you're in love or when you are with kin.
Mineke is of a whole different opinion: families are generally defined by cultural circumstances, rituals, stories. For her, family is something you choose, or shape or find along the way.
A lively discussion emerges that makes clear that the subject of the presentation will be the polarity between these two views...
zondag 6 juni 2010 Open Mind:
gathering on the 5th and 6th of june
In some way or the other all editions have their own characterization. This edition is the first one in which two scientists participate and thus a lot of the time they are discussing matters as seen from their different perspectives; from a biologist point of view and from a physicist point of view. The double amount of information is loaded into the conversation and Nelleke and Max are soaking it in for hours. We also eat a lot, which seems to be important to fuel the brains. Apple pies, coffee, strawberries with cream.....and so on.... Day 1.Hot and humid. We work in the garden and in the kitchen with the doors open. Everyone is happy with the 'Time, what makes us tick' sentence and during the brainstorm process we see how we need it, because it is easy to be trapped in divergent explorations...messing up scales of matter with scales of time, or messing up the timeline OF the universe with the different scales of time at work IN the universe simultaneously.... We start with the resume of our thoughts until now...Max states he will concentrate on the 'vertical scales of time' and Martha and Nelleke will fit in their human scale between all the others; sub-atomic and cosmic. Nelleke wants to take the documentary road; she wants to follow shift workers in their lives and see how their lives are effected by the collision between their biological clocks and the 'social clocks'; our responsibilities in life. Martha is working on 4 scales: the molecular scale, the organ scale, the human scale and the inter human scale....should Nelleke tackle all of these 4 scales in her work? Martha is dreaming out loud about having a city at her disposal for 2 weeks; in week 1 everyone would just follow the social clock as usual ('the alarm clock in the morning'). In week 2 people would live without alarm clock, and thus according to the free rhythms of their individual biological clocks...this would divide the city life into two different zones, she would expect: that of the early chrono types (morning people) and that of the late chrono types (evening people). As in her opinion there are more of us that are late chrono types, we would have a shift in our public lives towards evening work.(also schools, offices...) We hope to do this experiment once..but is goes too far to do it for this project. Martha explains the different ways of how she as a biologist visualizes human behaviour. For example in a 360 degrees model in which both activity levels and molecular levels are presented. Another way for her to visualize behaviour is to grind molecules to measure the levels of protein or DNA and put that in a 'raw data diagram' Nelleke asks what events and activities are at work in the cells at different times? Martha: cells are metabolically active at different times of day and night. As visualization she often uses a circle of 0/24 in which different processes are made visible at different times...for example in the organs. Eric explains about the Planck lenght as the border of time; on the scale of 10-43 we can still think about time; after that it stops.. This scale can be seen as chaotic; it has the appearance of foam, wild and unpredictable.. The next scale up would be quarks; these have the smallest distances we can really experience (natural space scale) We then stop because we are blending scales of matter with that of time which is not an answer to the question: Time, what makes us tick? We pose this question to both the universe, to Time itself and to us humans...at the same time.. Can we portray it then in a Matrushka figure: timescale in timescale in timescale etc? No! Eric says, because the inner core of the Matrushka must be the Big Bang and that is still happening now, not in the past. Day 2. Hot, more humid. Everyone is in much better condition.. Eric: we are in an oasis (the earth) and want to explain the desert around us (the universe) in the same terms as the oasis...that is wrong you could say. Marha brings in the book of Paul Davies ; 'About time'. This seems to give a good overview of different time scales in a simple way... Max: I am searching for the clockwork of the universe; all the different scales that have their own time and show how they synch. Eric: Not everything in the universe is cyclic...we not necessarily go from Big Bang to Big Bang. Martha: I would like to look for the connection between physical time and biological time... Eric: the human scale is such a small portion/slice in the whole scheme of things..nothing special in that sense.. We talk about energy levels and time: how stronger forces take less time to interact... We have to define our standpoint: are we relating Time back to the human level: how it effects us, and place ourselves in the middle of all time scales or are we from the outside looking in at the grand scheme of things in which we are just a layer...? We split these two stand points: Martha and Nelleke are going to work on the central human scale, Eric and Max are working on the outsiders perspective: 'the eye of God' so to speak. Martha and Eric express their concern, that what we make will be uncomprehensible for the public: will they understand what we are making? Max: science answers questions, art asks questions...art is triggering thinking and creates awareness. You can come out with your own thoughts and answers; divergent ones... After working apart for some hours, in which Nelleke and Martha watch 'Berlin, symphony of a great city'and Michel Gondry's split screen clip 'Sugar Water' wherein two girls are having a kind of synchronized day/night cycle. Nelleke comes up with the idea of following 3 people in weekday and weekend by placing camera's in their bedrooms and at their front doors. On another screen the day/night cycle and a representation of the social clock would play...interesting road to take. Eric and Max decide on a Mandala like structure for the Timescales of the Universe. The whole machinery and the interrelations would fit in this. In the centre of the mandala is the Big Bang, always there. They explore how to visualize the different scales; what f.e. the dance of the quarks falling apart and together again would look like... There's a long road to go, but we made a step forward. We also decide on how the two installations will work together....composer Dennis van Tilburg will play a crucial role in that. There is this idea to give the public a buzzer that defines how long you are aloud to be in the container and watch the loop...this will add suspense and also give a direct experience of time to them...intriguing idea.. Geplaatst door Nathalie Beekman op 07:00 0 reacties
dinsdag 1 juni 2010
Open Mind: Time, what makes us tick?
So gearing up for the next meeting with the team of the Noorderzon edition...we decided to make 'Time, what makes us tick?' the premisse to work with. It covers the whole field of scales we're about to explore: from the cosmic timescales to the subatomic ones and the human scale in between... Nelleke Koop wants to set up a research with Martha Merrow to look into the biological clocks of shiftworkers (taxidrivers etc). She will take this documentary material as a starting point for her scale....Max Hattler wants to cover the more abstract scales; that of our universe...or even that of multiverses....Eric also suggested different possibilities of time travel. Would be great if the animation was a blueprint for timetravel.. I also wonder: can you make an atlas of timescales without mentioning scales of un-time? At what level does un-time begin? Strings? More questions! Next weekend we gather and see where we go! Geplaatst door Nathalie Beekman op 03:52 0 reacties
dinsdag 18 mei 2010
Open MInd: Time
In the weekend of 8th and 9th of may we gathered with the new Open Mind Group for the Noorderzon edition. Group members: Martha Merrow (chronobiology), Eric Bergshoeff (physics), Nelleke Koop (film) and Max Hattler (animation). (blogs will occasionally be in english) Day 1 We started in Martha’s house on a saturday morning...inside we entered an italian restaurant in full swing...Martha had been cooking from very early on...through the windows overlooking the canal, boats were moving slowly in the wind, in a greyish dreamy light. We sat around the table and had something like this day long conversation.. Martha: Everything in a cell is going up and down; clocks are at the heart of the metabolism In different seasons the oscillations in the cells differ...and thus our behaviour.. Until the 1950’s our biological rhythms- also the birth giving ones- were really stable. Then artificial light was spread; we started to live a more inside life detached from the seasons....the social jetlag started..a social jetlag is where our internal biological clock collides with the 'social clock'. We are synchronizing differently in different stages of life....when you’re around 50 you synchronize like you’re 10 years old again. The whole body is an interaction of oscillators; and an oscillator is working like a pendulum...we talk oscillations in RNA, in proteins...on all levels.. She shows a scheme of 3 interacting oscillators in mice cells with a rhythmic output... She then tells a story of a scientist who did an in vitro evolution experiment: she took a bacteria which is known for its beautiful circadian clock and collected mutants of this bacteria who had developed different circadian clocks; and exposed them to different day/night cycles..Within 10 generations the bacteria who were most close to the environmental cycle won...always.. Evolution is not compatible with free running rhythms...she states Blind cavefish in Mexico are getting their cycle from Bat Shit: they give the sense of a day/night rhythm to fish who have otherwise no indication whatsoever. As time is the theme we muse about, Eric suggests ‘From eternity to here”; a popular book about perceptions on time, written by Sean Carroll. Eric: Einstein came to his relativity theory when he was asked to think about how to synchronize clocks at different train stations.. Martha: Time? I measure an instant and the instant after that. I actually see time as a graph; simple as that. The biological clock is cyclic, we’re living in a loop. Eric; the laws of physics are not dependent on whether you move or are at rest... When you move with constant speed this is the case..but in a zone of accelleration there is an extra force, so there the laws of nature ‘change’. We look at different perspectives on time in 3 films: Different scales of time: we look at Powers of Ten from the Eames office, which is about space, we would be interested to do this in scales of time Frozen time: We consider being locked up in an instant as in 'Groundhog Day' and in 'Dilemma' from Boris Paval Conen. We conclude that we consider internal vs external time an interesting topic and the difference in time perception between biologists and physicists. Eric: the clock is only working in our world, not in a vacuum. That’s why Einstein invented the Light clock. Martha: The biological clock is (re-)set by light. A biological rhythm doesn’t have a switch. The cycle is bigger or smaller according to light doses. People have an internal clock that spans around 24 hours, even in isolation. Then we eat lunch together: spaghetti, meatballs in tomato sauce, aubergine out of the oven, caramel pudding, salad, wine, coffee, more coffee....) Eric explains string theory, once more. Einsteins General Relativity: only working on large distance scales, NOT on a molecular level. Gravity in a cell is a very weak force; but...many particles add up. What do you need for a electric/magnetic attraction is polarity (attraction and repulsion) Gravity needs mass so no polarity needed. Heisenberg and Schrodingers Quantum mechanics: forces that are at work at very very small scales work different. Uncertainty: you cannot define velocity and position of a particle at the same time. In particle interaction you don’t count gravity..but squeezing them all together will create mass and thus gravity....Then you need quantum mechanics to cooperate with relativity theory. Is the Big Bang a good place for that? The Higgs particle is the ‘missing link’ that needs to be there because it gives theoretically mass to all other particles. Fixed time: Quartz watches and Atomic clocks: very precise as quartz vibrates in a regular way and the atomic clock works on electronic waves; the movement of the electron. Martha: the timescale of my research is not even as small as minutes, but rather hours and days... Eric: in relativity we use a uniform system to measure both space and time; so we don’t count in miles, but in seconds.... Martha: Egyptians were among the first to divide days and nights into 24 hour blocks. But their seasons effected the duration of their hours. Eric: why do we get older? Why is it that we age? Martha: because telomeres shorten at each division? Eric: death creates the timeline we need in order to enjoy life. Nathalie: Simone de Beauvoir: ‘No one is immortal’ describes the life of a man who lives forever; it makes him totally crazy. Day 2: Outside in the batch of the Elsborger Onland, the light above the little lake is of a Russian Quality: grey with brown streaks. Max asks about the perception of time; does time really speed up when you’re older? All: Lots of activities, lives full with speed and pressure and responsibilities seem to speed up the sense of time. We watch ‘the Mirror’ of Andrei Tarkovsky, brought by Nelleke. Tarkovsky is a genius in how he combines past and future in one ongoing shot. The way he uses a house with different related chambers symbolically hints to a kind of ‘spacetime’ : the chambers are referring to both space and time, past and future. Also the way in how velocity and consiousness are related is revealed in his scenes: slow motion for example immediately refers to a dream state of mind. (At the end of the scene we see a house that from the outside looks like the house we all sit in and you could nearly feel like the camera will move into our little shed, out of the film) We ask ourselves what a speeding up of time would bring us: we watch 2001 a Space Odyssey of Kubrick, the scene where velocity creates an out of body experience of the lonely astronaut which brings him into a state wherein he sees himself in different stages of his life simultaneously) (outside the window a big hare jumps by, from right to left and back) Nelleke: the Arabic sense of time is: the sky above us is the future, the ground under our feet is the past. Wonderful how in this perception past and future are happening now..at the same time, but still have a direction! Nelleke: The Indians think that we are looking forward to the past…Eric: that looks like the Big Crunch: the loop we’re in that brings us backwards to the Big Bang….something that already happened will happen again. By the way: We are in an accelerating expanding universe and we measure that by looking at Super Nova’s. Martha shows us a timelapse film of the exterior outside her window: all things move in their own rhythm: boats, clouds, cars, trees… She alsways shows this film to her students for bringing through the message that everything has its own rhythm/clock. Eric: We can only communicate if there is a time delay. We can not sit at our own ends of the table and communicate at exactly the same time.. But as soon as we touch even with only one finger that’s a different story; the we're both at the same place and time (The creation of Adam of Michelangelo suddenly makes more sense: it hints to the Now) Martha: you can change your future by giving yourself a daily boost of light: it will interfere with your inner clock… She brings in that we can use the Timefree zone in the Biological centre… use ourselves as Guinea Pigs in an unofficial way for 24 to 48 hours during the next session? Martha cooks again: asparagus, polenta, cheese, wine…etc There has been a theory which stated that if we use light to shine on the back of our knees, where a lot of blood vessels are just under the skin, that we could interfere with our biological clocks… this was falsified afterwards. Only our eyes can register light in such a way that it can influence our day/night rhythms. We then talk about the light quality of different places and how it affects your mood/consiousness. ‘The Unbearable Lightness of being’ comes to mind: how the light quality of the old Eastern Europe is dark brown and golden and that of California is white and sharp. Eric: the black hole is to the Galaxy as the sun is to our solar system: in the middle of our galaxy there is this black hole and everything turns around it. Time and Light are interconnected! Light slows down in a black hole: so there is a curvature in time caused by the black hole… Spacetime: where it happened and when it happened is the fourth dimension. Max shows the painting where his Heaven and Hell animations are based upon…he has kept the quality of simultaneous time (that is the inherent nature of a painting) in a time based work; both the slow movement through the layers and the loop generate a non sequential nature of the work. Eric: the unreasonable effectiveness of mathematics is: if we stick to figures we are more free, because we don’t need the visualization of facts..which is a confining thing, while it keeps us in our known, mundane dimensions… At what scale does the material world start to be time independent? On the level of electrons? In jetlag your whole body is out of balance; all cells and organs have to readjust to their own rhythm. (We end the meeting and the light changes from a grayish to a sunny condition. The group leaves, Martha walks off with her pots and pans…. Summary of interests: The relationship between inner and outer time (biological clock versus social clock) The interrelation between time and light Time as a tool to understand the world: scales and perception Mandelbrot fractals and Powers of Ten are elegant ways of looking at scales: on every scale the same ingenuity of order The rules of the synchronization of the pendulum apply to all scales Zeitgebers and social jetlag: what is the impact of living against the clock? If you enter at different phases of oscillation, also on the small particle level, it would be the same: Life is an infinity of oscillators that interplay on all levels Cyclic time: we’re repeating ourselves time and time again Time perception is changing at different times of day Light and time are connected in both biology and in physics We will see each other back in the first weekend of june; after this wild exploration we will work on some focused topics
(Metaforen: eerder deze week had ik een gesprek met Henk Broer, wiskundige vand e vorige editie, die stelde dat alles in de wetenschap metaforisch is. En dat is kunst natuurlijk ook; bij uitstek zelfs! Opeens was het verband tussen beide gebieden klip en klaar....)
Martha ondertussen verbaast zich over het feit dat er door natuurkundigen zo weinig experimenten worden gedaan om de theorieen te testen. "I would go crazy if I couldn't do that" zegt ze.
Eric vertelt dat als je een theorie hebt, dat je dan kunt gaan berekenen of het klopt, dat is de methode.
Vervolgens vertelt hij over de Big Flash, die zeer korte tijd na de Big bang geweest zou zijn. het zit zo: licht heeft ruimte nodig om te reizen. Na de Big Bang ontstond ruimte en begon het licht met een enorme kracht door de uitdijende ruimte te bewegen: the Big Flash. Deze flash schijnt nog steeds waarneembaar te zijn; als achtergrondruis of -glow in het universum. Zelfs op een televisie met antenne schijnt die waarneembaar te zijn.
Tijd komt nogmaals aan bod: is er een begin aan de tijd? Er is een richting, waarom? vraagt Eric zich nogmaals af.
Hoe sneller je beweegt, hoe langzamer tijd gaat...we zien dat nooit in het dagelijkse leven want we gaan niet snel genoeg om dat effect te kunnen zien...
Dan rammelt Eric opnieuw aan ons verstand; Licht reist altijd met dezelfde snelheid; iedere seconde zo'n 7 x rond de aarde.
Toch meten we dingen altijd in relatieve termen...allerlei voorbeelden komen aan de orde. Onze hersenen kraken.
zaterdag 27 maart 2010