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Science As Art 2014 Winners



The heart has long been appreciated as a vital organ in the body, one whose persistent beating sustains human life. During the Middle Ages, the heart fell under the scrutiny of a variety of philosophers. Some, like Aristotle, reasoned that the heart, not the brain, was the important organ of the body that dictates human reasoning and rationality. Others believed the heart held different responsibilities as the seat of the soul, a place of emotion and passion.

The heart as a representation of love has survived especially through the heart shape, a symbol that has been prominent since the end of the Middle Ages. The simple heart shape has become a metaphor for affection, for lust, for devotion. As the image primarily associated with Valentine’s Day, it remains powerfully resonant of love.

In Othello, Shakespeare alludes to the importance of expressing such emotion with the phrase “I will wear my heart upon my sleeve.” The phrase once referred to the jousting tradition where knights wore colors that matched their respective ladies. Now, this idiom alludes to displaying emotions openly and fearlessly.

This collage, motivated by the recurring appearance of the heart shape in non-cardiac tissue, demonstrates how the heart shape we so commonly associate with love can in fact exist outside the organ of the heart. Taken from kidney, mammary gland, liver, and prostate gland tissue, these samples demonstrate how the heart shape lives on structurally in other bodily organs. These hearts are constructed with different kinds of epithelial tissue from simple cuboidal epithelium to simple squamous epithelium; different cells come to naturally construct the heart shape. The array of colors arose from the different dyes used to illustrate the tissue structures. The basic dye hematoxylin binds to basophilic components like nucleic acids and ribosomes, while the acidic dye eosin binds to acidic components like protein. Although the heart shape is embodied differently in these various organs, it maintains the basic structure of two symmetrical halves that coalescence to create a whole.

Passion and love are not isolated within the cardiac tissue of the heart. Instead, these emotions circulate throughout the entire body. We must embrace these naturally permeating feelings, and so, “I will wear my heart upon my sleeve.”

Thrombocytopenia-absent radius (TAR) syndrome is the absence of the radius bone located in each forearm and occurs during the development process in the womb. TAR is labeled as a mutation due to a change in gene RBM8A. This gene is responsible for providing instructions for making RNA-binding motif protein 8A. When the RBM8A gene has a mutation, the amount of protein cells reduce, eliminating at least 200,000 DNA building blocks from from the long arm of chromosome 1. When born, the infant must seek immediate medical care in platelet transfusion if their platelet count is below 80 x 10^9/L. These reduction are thought to cause problems in certain tissues, but there is no definite clarification to the specific signs and symptoms of TAR syndrome.

"TAR syndrome is a rare disorder, affecting fewer than 1 in 100,000 newborns." My youngest brother is the one in one-thousand children who were unfortunate enough to inherit this disorder. He has the best situation since he has both of his thumbs intact, no heart or kidney problems, minor facial alterations, and no allergic reaction to cow's milk. However, once fully grown, his arms will not pass his waist, creating further difficulties during his everyday life. It is already getting hard for him to put on his socks and shoes by himself.

For treatment, there is a process called splinting where casts are placed on the arms during infancy to decrease the amount of curving for better future functioning, but they will not look or function normally.  There is also a surgery for this disorder, but doing so limits full control of the wrist and there is always a risk when involving surgery.

Since TAR syndrome is rare and not all details are concrete, few doctors know how to look for this disorder and what to do if it occurs. If it wasn't for my mother's doctor who knew about this disorder, my little brother would have died. I love my brother and cannot imaging not having him in my life.

Further research in TAR syndrome needs to become a priority so this disorder can become more knowledgable, have better treatments, and even prevented during development.

Art is my way of spreading knowledge about TAR syndrome because images can give the most powerful message.

Click here to listen.

Rapid eye movement (REM) sleep is that during which one’s brain activity is heightened and also during which one has the most intense dreams. The sleeping brain is nearly as active as the awake brain during these phases of a person’s sleep cycle, however they only occur for a total of approximately 20% of an adult’s total sleep. When a person first falls asleep they undergo Non-REM sleep for about 90 minutes and then experience short bursts of REM sleep throughout their sleep that grow longer the deeper one is into sleep. My composition “REM” captures the characteristics of a sleep cycle, in a few minutes. The song is divided into phases but the listener can imagine for themselves what the dreamer experiences during these stages. The song begins with sustained strings and a slow melody in the brass section that creates a feeling of falling as the protagonist is falling asleep and becoming more relaxed. The dreamer is then jolted into the first stage of REM for just a few moments with the main motif, followed by another calm “Non-REM” section of the piece. This phase is later interrupted by another longer period of REM sleep, in the form of an extended fantasy of the main melody. After this the dream experiences a phase of sleep that becomes increasingly turbulent and dissonant until it turns into the final stage of REM. The protagonist then awakes and is at peace, which is reflected in the music as it concludes seemingly with a sigh of relief as if to say “It was all a dream.”

This poem was created as an analogy between metastasis and the effects of my parents’ disastrous marriage on our family. Metastasis is defined as the spread of cancer from one part to another non-adjacent part. The process begins with a single cell which mutates and reproduces very rapidly. This explosive growth becomes a tumor, and the cells of the tumor then undergo several processes (metaplasia, dysplasia, then anaplasia) until a malignant phenotype results. This phenotype allows the cancer to enter the bloodstream, and thus the cancer spreads to another site. This scientific process served as the inspiration for my poem, which reflects my views on my parents’ marital troubles as a cancer that spreads to affect not only themselves but their children as well. The analogy of marital troubles to cancer can be seen throughout the poem by taking note of both the bold and non-bold text. In the opening stanza, I foreshadow the events of the poem by talking about predicting my parents’ troubles in the non-bold text. The bolded text uses simple language, so that all readers may understand, to describe how cancer grows undetected. In the second stanza, the bolded text describes cell division while the non-bold text expresses the internal division I feel when my parents fight. Both the bold and non-bold diction create a sense of desperation and urgency. Throughout the rest of the poem, the bold text continues to describe the development of a cancer cell while paralleling my feelings of anguish and frustration in non-bold text. The phrase “jail cell” is repeated to not only emphasize the subject of the bold text as a single cell which is the root of cancer but also to emphasize the feeling of seeing your own home as a jail. If the viewer reads only the bolded text, he or she will notice four sentences that outline the process of metastasis, the final being: “This is metastasis.”

Individuals with visual apperceptive agnosia are unable to group parts into wholes. They have damage to the ventral "what" stream in the occipital cortex. In this artwork, I have illustrated a meadow scene in which the parts of the flowers are disconnected. It is my representation of how those with visual apperceptive agnosia view the world. While those with agnosia are unable to see the meadow in it's entirety, those who do not suffer from agnosia see the meadow as a whole, almost automatically. It is a reminder that even the most basic, yet important, abilities of the brain may be glossed over.

The term ecology is brought to larger attention in the recent years, as the environmental issue became such a significant concern in the modern society. Since its existence, human has always been consuming the natural resources in the process of civilization. Of course, as an organism living on the earth, it is inevitable and rather natural that we consume natural resources as part of the life activity. However, the degree of natural environment being destroyed and consumed within the life activity of human during the recent years is surpassing the capacity of earth’s self-healing ability, and thus the environmental issue is becoming apparent year after year. When we say “environmental” issue, it is not only the matter of the environment and other animal species getting ruined, but it is also the matter that directly affects human lives since we are unquestionably part of the ecosystem, which makes us interrelated to all the living organism and nature on the earth.

That being said, there is an irony here; what human does as they strive to thrive is actually leading them into the danger and the possible fall. This painting depicts such irony upon the relationship between human and the environment; the hands peeling the earth represent the human force that tries to control and alter the nature by means of civilization and technology, yet the figures falling down into the trash can with the abandoned nature is also human itself. The fact that the hands peeling the earth is being the major emphasis in the painting both composition wise and lighting wise demonstrates how human tends to overlook the downside of their action thinking that they have the power and that they can control the world. In addition, the relationship between the hands and the earth is emphasized by the man-made, poisonous-looking red nail polish in contrast with the earth, representing the nature.  If we step aside from the human perspective, maybe human is the one that is unnecessary upon earth, and that the nature is moving toward the doomsday of the human being.