Sunday, July 24, 2016

Week 5: Nanotechnology+Art

The first lesson from this week was about Nanotechnology and Art. I am surprised and amazed each week at how art can be related to each of these sciences. I had always heard of nanotechnology, but I never actually understood what it meant. However, I learned that nanotechnology refers to the branch of technology that deals with dimensions and tolerances of less than 100 nanometers.

This week's lecture on nanotechnology and art was taught by James K. Gimzewski, a nanoscientist and professor at UCLA. He mentioned Richard Feynman and his lecture, "There's Plenty of Room at the Bottom", which was a talk on nanotechnology before the word even existed. One of Feynman's first challenges was to write 25,000 pages of the Encyclopedia Britannica on a pin head. At this point in the lecture, I thought to myself, how is that even possible? Later on, I learned that 260,000,000 pages of the encyclopedia on a pin head and that truly amazed me.

After learning about what nanotechnology was, I wondered how it fit into art. I learned that nanoparticles is not something that was created recently, but had always existed. For example, in Roman pottery from 400 B.C., the red color came from nanosized gold. The blue color on the Blue Morpho Butterly was not due to pigmentation but to nanoparticles. Even the stained glass in churches and cathedrals had nanoparticles inside of them. To me, this was amazing. Science had a lot more to do with art than I ever thought.

What blew my mind even more involves the different properties of materials in the normal scale vs. the nanoscale. What may appear as a solid in the normal scale can be a liquid on the nanoscale. An insulator can become a conductor on the nanoscale. Moreover, I learned that the size of a material on the nanoscale can also affect its color. I wonder what new masterpieces artists will be able to create by using science and manipulating colors.

This topic was my favorite so far. I never knew what nanotechnology really was, yet alone figured that art was related to it. It was so strange to learn that nanotechnology is involved in our everyday lives and that it is even used in colors and art. At this point, I'm convinced, art and science are truly not two separate cultures, but ones that learn and depend on each other.


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