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Event - Female Competition and Dispersal Patterns in Chimpanzees Seminar



I attended the Female Competition and Dispersal Patterns in Chimpanzees seminar on Monday, February 25th where Anne Pussy, a professor Evolutionary Anthropology at Duke University presented her research on mother-infant relationships and effects of maternal conditions on behavior of young chimps.  Most interesting in her lecture was that mothers on a high fiber diet lose about 10% of their body weight and show a significantly higher rejection factor to their offspring than do mother’s on a lower fiber diet (and therefore, I suppose a higher weight).  To compensate for this mother aversion, progeny will increase their attempts at contact.  Further trials have revealed that the lower the mother’s weight, the more rejecting she would be.

A mother chimp and her child...


Other important findings of Professor Pussy’s research was that infants are not passive recipients of maternal care decisions and that infants have adapted to respond to variations in maternal behavior.  I have usually found studies of chimps interesting because of their highly intelligent behavior compared to rats or mice that I usually use in my lab studies.  I am happy to say that I found the correlation between weight and rejection of mother’s to be astounding, as I would have thought that the lower the female’s weight, the healthier she would be and the more she would be willing to take care of her progeny.  Also the discovery that young chimps adjust their behavior depending on their mother’s reactions and behaviors is very human-like and an impressive find.    

Event - LASER (March 7th)


To the left, Marepe's amplifying head and to the right is Tschape's Transmogrification of the Woman.

On March 7th, 2013, I went to the Leonardo Art Science Evening Rendezvous (LASER) event and listened to several of the most inventive and exciting artists, authors, researchers, and so on.  Some of these people include Madeline Schwartzman, Amisha Gadani, Seri Robinson, Blanka Buic, Allison Carruth, and more.  One of the projects that captured my interest was Madeline Schwartzman’s, an artist and author, book called “See Yourself Sesing: Redefining Human Perception.”  Schwartzman’s book explores the relationship between design, the body, technology, and the sensations over the last fifty years.  Some of these innovative ideas that she includes in her books are seeing with your tongue and plugging your nervous system directly in a computer. My favorite in her book is the Acoustic Head by Marepe which is designed to amplify singing and the Transmogrification of the Woman by Janaina Tschape. 

Defensive Procupine

Detaching-Skink-Tail Dress

Another favorite presenter of mine was Amisha Gadani, an artist, who designed defensive dresses.  One such dress was a porcupine dress with quills that stand erect when the wearer hunches over in a protective position. Another fascinating dress is a mimic of the skink’s ability to detach its tail when captured by a predator.  Listening to these presentations was a wonderful opportunity and made me curious enough to explore fields and ideas that I would never had known about. 

Book Project Fina - Mutual Changlings (Coevolution of Dogs & Humans)


Mutual Changlings


Evolution occurs due to changes in the environment such as the introduction of new species of organisms or the development of a relationship between two species which could lead to a symbiotic relationship where both species evolve together. This is called co-evolution or in other words, as one species changes, the other species will also in order to adapt. There are a diverse amount of examples of co-evolution between many different species; however, the most interesting, in my opinion, and well known co-evolutionary affiliation is through the relationship between dogs and humans. Australian Aborigines once said “dogs make us human” which could be literally true, and vice versa. An argument backed by Edward R.B. McCabe in his 2009 presidential address for the Evolution, Co-evolution, and the American Society of Human Genetics summarizes “that dogs and humans coevolved. As dogs evolved from wolves, they changed genetically. Humans showed changes at approximately the same time that are similar to those seen in domesticated animals.” Briefly, as Mark Derr, a popular American author and journalist noted for his books on dogs, likes to say, when dogs and humans met, they immediately began walking down the same path.  Although it is true that the coevolution of dogs and humans involved more the dogs evolving genetically and phenotypically, over a course of centuries humans have deeply interwove dogs into their culture and economy.  During his recent lecture during the UCLA Center for Society and Genetics: Dog + Human Co-Evolution program, Derr retold an old Native American folktale of the “dog children”.  To paraphrase the story, there had once a dog who could turn into a man.  One night, he lay with a girl and months later she gave birth to eleven pups, five male and six female.  Now, these pups akin to their father could change into human children also.  One night when they had removed their canine skins and were dancing and singing around the fire, their mother tossed all of their skins into the fire save for one.  Thus, ten of the pups remained human children and one remained as a dog.  Even though this would be an interesting explanation for the co-evolution between humans and dogs, in reality, this partnership probably has been evolving over millions of years. An example of one of the co-evolutionary benefits dogs provide humans is a more distinguished sense of smell, which the Dog Nose Knows project allowed humans to experience via a clever card game.     

The Umwelt of Dogs:

On February 2011, UCLA’s Institue for Society and Genetics held a workshop beautifully demonstrating the different perceptual worlds (or umwelt) of dogs and humans. The Dog Nose Knows (DKN) project was conceptualized by the UCLA Design│Media Arts Professor Victoria Vesna and Columbia neuroscientist Siddharth Ramakrishnan and was designed by Adeline Said Drucker. Drucker created a “sniffing booth” game that allowed players to become canine as they experienced real aspects of a dog’s life (i.e. obedience, territorialism, and social hierarchy) by using their “nose” to sniff out hazardous scents, urinate on spots to mark them as territory, and challenge other players to “duels”, also known as rock-paper-scissor mini-matches. The DKN project creates the scent-based world of a dog for humans to experience. Close your eyes and “imagine,” said Columbia University, New York dog-cognition researcher, Alexandra Horowitz, “imagine the scent-based world of a dog…look around and imagine that everything you see has its own individual scent. And not just each object – different parts of the same object may hold different types of information.” (Reference). For instance, picture a flower, where each petal has a different scent. Each scent tells the dog which insects it has been visited by, which individuals have touched it, and so on. The dog’s nose even allows for the dog to understand the passage of time by the change in strength and character of the scent. One recent study, from 2005, showed that dogs may be able to detect subtle differences in odor from one footstep to the next as they follow a human’s scent trail (Hepper & Wells). The DKN project offers humans a glimpse into the highly detailed world of a dog, revealing the dog’s acute sense of smell that benefits humans in the human-canine co-evolutionary relationship.

Dog’s Primary Sense:

“They haven’t got no noses,

The fallen sons of Eve;

Even the smell of roses

Is not what they supposes;

But more than mind discloses

And more than men believe.”

-- from “The Song of the Quoodle,” G.K. Chesterton


Humans are predominantly visual creatures with their short noses, the cone and rod receptors in the retina of their eyes that allow them to see in both color and black/white vision, and the highly developed complexity of their brains that allow them to analyze distance, depth, shape, texture, etc.  Dogs, on the other hand, experience much of their world through their nose.  Although we are still not able to fully understand exactly how they experience the world around us (Ramakrishnan), examination of the large surface area of the canine nasal passages lends higher efficacy in heat, moisture, and odor transfer, allowing for higher sensitivity to smell compared to humans.  In addition, accordion-like passages inside the dog’s head provides more time for the odor to be computed (identified); note that this phenomenon also allows for some dogs to track or find objects or people.  In a task called the ageing crime scene identification (Ramakrishnan), dogs were asked to identify certain people after varying lengths of time.  Correct identification occurred in up to sixty percent success rates for eight-week-old scents.  In some cases, researchers even used seven-year-old scents that also lead to positive identification.  Dogs have 220 million olfactory receptors in their nose versus the five million in humans; thus, making their smell about a thousand times better than humans.  Also, dog’s noses function quite differently from our own.  When we inhale, we smell and breath through the same airways within our nose, however when dogs inhale, a fold of tissue just inside their nostril helps to separate their olfaction and respiration leading to a higher concentration of odor in the nasal passages.  Since dogs can wiggle their noses independently and that the reach of each of their nostrils is smaller than the distance between the nostrils they can decide which nostril an odor arrived in.  This then allows them to locate the source of the smell. 

In conjunction to the above, dogs also have a secondary olfactory capability made possible by their vomeronasal organ, Jacobson’s organ, is located in the bottom of a dog’s nasal passage. This particular organ picks up pheromones, the chemical unique to each animal species that advertises mating readiness and other sex-related details, and other scents.  Scents are a very integral piece of information in memories, relationships (such as our human-dog co-evolution), and life in general.  For instance:

“Smell and memory have a strong link.  In two synapses, one triggers a memory that was stored in the subconscious.  We breath up to 24,000 times per day; we move 12.7 meters of air.  With every breath, we inhale smell molecules – information about our surroundings.  Even when we sleep, we smell.  Our kidneys smell, our skin smells” (Tolaas).  

Obviously, the sense of smell is an important part of our daily lives.  Sissel Tolaas, scent curator, researcher, and “professional provocateur” (NOWNESS) currently explores the aromatic potential of bacteria in her ongoing investigation into the most mysterious and evocative of our senses.  She believes in both enhancing and manipulating our personal perfumes and that the scents of the future will evolve from present scents which are too much caught up in a perfume craze.  Since she became immersed in the study and research of scents, Tolaas has created an archive of over 7,000 smells including the smell of her daughter at different ages, animal feces, aromatic socks, and so on.  Using her discoveries and knowledge on the complexities of smells, she has worked on projects such as educating children about pollution, a conceptual fragrance project with leading fashion photographer Nick Knight, and using scent aides in the recollection of traumatic memories in patients undergoing therapy.  Tolaas is trying to create awareness about the essential part scents play in our livelihoods.   

The Working Dog:

Through their highly evolved sense of smell, dogs have helped humans with hunting, keeping vermin and pests away, serving the military and police, assisting the disabled, finding injured people in natural accidents, and provided companionship.  Dogs and humans have partnered in order to achieve harrowing feats. “Dogs are used to detect landmines in war zones, truffles, track game and criminals…find humans trapped under snow or landslides and cadavers buried below the surface” (Dog Nose Knows). One such dog-human partnership occurred between former Secret Service agent Ed Hawkinson and his explosive-sniffing dogs. Hawkinson trained his dogs to protect the President and presently he trains Labradors to detect weapons in schools. Search and rescue (SAR) dogs have been widely used and even written about as in Nora Roberts’ lovely novel called “The Search”. Search and rescue dogs are trained to search out the odor given off by humans trapped beneath collapsed structures of natural debris. The dog barks at the site to alert their handlers where the victim lies and, depending on the reaction of the dogs, handlers can understand even from a distance whether the victim is alive or dead, or even whether the victim is uninjured or severely injured. The hours of training that dedicated handlers and hardworking dogs undergo when becoming a SAR team creates an extremely close bond between handler and dog, a unique and powerful example of co-evolution. 

The co-evolution between dogs and humans provide for both the comfort and prosperity of each.  While dogs provide humans with an exceptional sense of smell for rescue endeavors, pest control, safety, and companionship, humans have enhanced the social support, communication, and socialization skills of dogs.  So far, both seem to have benefited from their mutual relationship and both have changed genetically, phenotipically, and culturally to accommodate and advance the survival of the other species.  As it is often said, dogs can be a human’s best friend.  Hopefully humans are also dog’s faithful allies.  


Albano, Beja-Pereira. "Gene-culture Coevolution between Cattle Milk Proteins Genes and Human Lactase Genes." Nature Genetics. N.p., 23 Nov. 2003. Web. 23 Mar. 2013. <>.

"Animal Behavior/Coevolution." - Wikibooks, Open Books for an Open World. N.p., n.d. Web. 23 Mar. 2013. <>.

"The Anthropik Network." Â» Rewilding Humans. N.p., n.d. Web. 23 Mar. 2013. <>.

"Blaser Lab Group." Co-Evolution of Humans and Microbes. N.p., n.d. Web. 23 Mar. 2013. <>.

"Chemical Senses." How Many Footsteps Do Dogs Need to Determine the Direction of an Odour Trail? N.p., n.d. Web. 23 Mar. 2013. <>.

"Crittervision: What a Dog's Nose Knows." - 25 August 2011. N.p., n.d. Web. 23 Mar. 2013. <>.

"Dognition." Dr. Ádám Miklósi. N.p., n.d. Web. 23 Mar. 2013. <>.

"Dr. Steve Best." Dr Steve Best. N.p., n.d. Web. 23 Mar. 2013. <>.

"An Evolutionary Tale about Dogs and Humans,  UCLA Institute of the Environment and Sustainability." An Evolutionary Tale about Dogs and Humans,  UCLA Institute of the Environment and Sustainability. N.p., n.d. Web. 23 Mar. 2013. <>.

"The Human-Canine Bond." Dogs. N.p., n.d. Web. 23 Mar. 2013. <>.

" ." Human-Canine Relationships. N.p., n.d. Web. 23 Mar. 2013. <>.

Marzluff, John M., and Tony Angell. "Cultural Coevolution: How the Human Bond with Crows and Ravens Extends Theory and Raises New Questions." N.p., 2005. Web. 23 Mar. 2013. <>.

McCabe, Edward R.B. "2009 Presidential Address: Beyond Darwin? Evolution, Coevolution, and the American Society of Human Genetics." NCBI: National Center for Biotechnology Information. PMC: US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health, 12 Mar. 2010. Web. 22 Mar. 2013. <>.

Morell, Virginia. "The Secret of a Dog's Sniffer." Science NOW: Up to the Minute News from Science. N.p., 9 Dec. 2009. Web. 22 Mar. 2013. <>.

"Native American Legends." Native American Indian Legends. N.p., n.d. Web. 23 Mar. 2013. <>.

"Neuroanthropology." Neuroanthropology. N.p., n.d. Web. 23 Mar. 2013. <>.

"Next: Macroevolution Previous: Types of Evolution Coevolution." Coevolution ( Read ). N.p., n.d. Web. 23 Mar. 2013. <>.

"Olfaction | Sissel Tolaas's Scent Archive." AnOther. N.p., n.d. Web. 23 Mar. 2013. <>.

PBS. PBS, n.d. Web. 23 Mar. 2013. <>.

"Prehistoric Dogs - The Story of Dog Evolution." Dinosaurs. N.p., n.d. Web. 23 Mar. 2013. <>.

"Sissel Tolaas: The Science of Smell." NOWNESS. N.p., 2 Jan. 2013. Web. 23 Mar. 2013. <>.

Tyson, Peter. "Dogs' Dazzling Sense of Smell." PBS. PBS, 02 Oct. 0012. Web. 23 Mar. 2013. <>.

"UCLA Center for Society and Genetics (CSIG)." UCLA Center for Society and Genetics (CSIG). N.p., n.d. Web. 23 Mar. 2013. <>.

"UCLA Center for Society and Genetics (CSIG)." UCLA Center for Society and Genetics (CSIG). N.p., n.d. Web. 23 Mar. 2013. <>.

"UCLA Center for Society and Genetics (CSIG)." UCLA Center for Society and Genetics (CSIG). N.p., n.d. Web. 23 Mar. 2013. <>.

Vesna, Victoria, Siddharth Ramakrishnan, and Adeline Drucker. "Dog Nose Knows." Dog Nose Knows. UCLA Department of Design/Media Arts, n.d. Web. 22 Mar. 2013. <>.


Book Project Final - Multiply and Go Forth? (Overpopulation of Animals)


Multiply and Go Forth?

In the late 19th century, overpopulation of pets was already an increasingly distressful problem in the United States.  In an effort to reduce the number of attacks on humans and rabies outbreaks, canine control officers would club to death or drown stray dogs, unless a gas chamber was available.  In 1907, more than 108,000 animals were killed in gas chambers (Harbolt 35).  At the time, the goal of the humane societies was to provide quick and painless deaths to surplus animals as anesthesia had not been discovered and therefore, spays and neuters were viewed as an even greater evil than gas chambers.  Animal shelters were established within the United States as a control measure because thousands of animals were being abandoned, left as strays on the streets, brutally killed, abused, and neglected, and so on due to ignorance, pet overpopulation, and indifference.  These shelters found it prudent to decrease the amount of abandoned animals by humanely euthanizing them.  Therefore, the shelter owners and staff devised a series of ideas to control the overpopulation of pets.  Overpopulation of companion animals is a tragic problem that can hopefully be alleviated by preventive measures such as adopting pets rather than buying them, spaying and neutering pets or other alternative forms of sterilization, and by increasing awareness and understanding of the problem.

Companion animals, often called “pets”, usually refer to animals such as the popular dogs and cats that are two of the most common kinds of pets in households that have the ability to establish and maintain a relationship with human beings. Other exotic pets, for instance, iguanas, are also frequently abandoned by owners due to their size and difficulty in caring for them. Companion animals are in such demand because of their accommodating size, ability to be trained and controlled, and the potentially strong attachment bond that can grow between a pet and its owner. Over centuries, people have  Usually overpopulation of household pets occurs because of little demand for previously owned older pets, relinquished due to changes in the previous owner’s circumstances such as “job loss, foreclosure, divorce, or health problems” (Coate & Knight).  Other causes of domesticated animal overpopulation could result from choosing to buy rather than adopt pets.  It is a common myth that pet overpopulation is caused by “not enough homes” for all homeless pets; however, there are more than enough homes, just not more than enough willing potential owners to provide these pets with homes.  According to the Shelter Statistic Survey (1994-1997), which surveyed roughly 1000 shelters, over 2.3 million digs and1.8 million cats entered these shelters on an annual basis (Coate & Knight).  Statistics show that seventeen million Americans attain a new pet each year, which is more than double the number of shelter animals.  On the other hand, only 3.5 million people, or about 20 percent, choose to adopt their new pet (Pet Overpopulation).  Others will choose to buy their pets from pet stores or pet mills (where pets are bred) or they choose a variety of other cheap or free sources (i.e. friends, neighbors, or internet ads).  Virtually all puppies sold at pet stores originally come from pet mills where these pets live horrible lives, isolated in excruciatingly small cages with rare or no opportunity to exercise, play or socialize.  In addition, acquiring an animal from a friend, neighbor, or the internet might seem simple and innocent; however, in reality it would be contributing to pet overpopulation.  The majority of pets bought this way are not spayed or neutered, which can perpetuate the cycle of overpopulation.  Choosing to adopt will save a life and, since most adoption fees include spaying or neutering, vaccinations, microchipping, worming, and heartworm or feline leukemia testing, the cost of adopting a dog would be less in total compared to the bill all these services would cost at a veterinarian’s office.

Most humane societies, animal shelters, and rescue groups urge animal caregivers to have their animals spayed or neutered to prevent the births of unwanted and accidental litters.  Over the last 100 years, shelters have attempted to educate the public about the benefits of having their pets spayed or neutered as the main form of preventing more puppies or kittens being born (Stafford 180).  Despite increased public awareness about the need to spay and neuter pets, currently thirty-five percent of pet owners in the United Staes still choose not to do so, intentionally (for profit or for, what they mistakenly assume, an “experience) or out of ignorance (believing that their pets will not breed accidentally.  However, it must be noted that the urge to breed is very strong and frustrating when owners try to put up barriers for their pets.  “Both males and females will run out the door, break through screens, chew through leashes, and jump, climb, or dig under 6-foot fences to get to a potential mate.  Dogs can even mate through a chain link fence” (Stop the Overpopulation of Pets Inc.).  Pet overpopulation has been blamed on a number of groups, including (but not limited to) irresponsible owners who will not de-sex their animals, ignorant owners who believe that the female should have at least one litter, breeders, veterinarians who charge too much for de-sexing, the pet food industry, pounds and shelters. To hopefully encourage owners to spay and neuter their dogs and cats, clinics are beginning to offer low costs for the procedure; for instance, the Stop The Overpopulation of Pets Inc. is a non-profit organization that offers low cost spay and neuter for cats.  Hopefully through this program and many like it, animal owners will be encouraged to de-sex their pets.

Alternative methods of serilization are coming into play; for example sterilization pills and immunocontraception.  Other organizations are becoming more creative. is an organization that proposes an animal sterilization pill to cut down on animal population and, in turn, to reduce animal abuse and killings (Zelman).  Another alternative measure to sterilization to prevent animal overpopulation from spilling out of hand is immunocontraception.  Immunocontraception is a humaine way to control animal populations where it is necessary and appropriate.  This method safely uses the body’s immune response to prevent pregnancies without harming the aimal or the population as a whole.  For instance, immunocontraception was used to control deer and the wild horse population across the United Sates and elephant populations in South Africa.    

It is also important to consider all the responsibilities and consequences of pet ownership before deciding to get a pet and always make a lifetime commitment to your pet.  Programs such as LES (legislation, education, sterilization) program created by the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) serve to focus on sterilization and vaccination against zoonotic disease.  Determined local organizations have implemented spay and neuter programs all over the world to humanely address the overpopulation of street dogs and cats (Street Animal Welfare).  HSUS has also established animal controls that enforce laws, rescue mistreated animals, humanely euthanize animals received who are not reclaimed by their owners or adopted , or who are suffering and untreatable, promote licensing of both cats and dogs, provide a low-cost spay or neuter program that enables all residents to sterilize their pets, and deter future problems through public education.

Although overpopulation is still a problem in the United Sates, shelters and organizations such as the HSUS have tried their best to delve into the problem and uncover solutions such as adopting, sterilizing pets, and educating pet owners on these issues of overpopulation.  Mass sterilization has been the best solution, especially when coupled with the education of the public in an attempt to change age-old values and beliefs toward pets (Rochlitz 124).  Over 80% of cats today have been sterilized and although there is still a number of dogs and cats missing homes, with more work in spreading the word on adoption and sterilization techniques, the imploding numbers of household pets will eventually decrease to a manageable amount.


Coate, Stephen, and Brian Knight. "Pet Overpopulation: An Economic Analysis."Http:// Cornell University, Department of Economics, Aug. 2009. Web. 22 Mar. 2013. <>.

Harbolt, Tami L. Bridging the Bond: The Cultural Construction of the Shelter Pet. West Lafayette, IN: Purdue University Press, 2003.

"Immunocontraception." Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 23 Mar. 2013. Web. 23 Mar. 2013. <>.

"Pet Overpopulation : The Humane Society of the United States." RSS. N.p., n.d. Web. 23 Mar. 2013. <>.

"Pet Overpopulation." Pet Overpopulation. American Humane Assocation, n.d. Web. 23 Mar. 2013. <>.

Rochlitz, Irene. The Welfare of Cats. Norwell, MA: Springer, 2005.


Stafford, Kevin. The Welfare of Dogs. Norwell, MA: Springer, 2006.

"Stop The Overpopulation of Pets Inc." Stop The Overpopulation of Pets Inc. Petfinder, n.d. Web. 23 Mar. 2013. <>.

"Street Animal Welfare : Humane Society International." RSS. Humane Society International, 2013. Web. 23 Mar. 2013. <>.

"Wildlife Overpopulation : The Humane Society of the United States." RSS. Humane Society Veterinary Medical Association, n.d. Web. 23 Mar. 2013. <>.

"World Overpopulation Awareness." WOA!! World Ovepopulation Awareness. N.p., n.d. Web. 23 Mar. 2013. <>.

Zelman, Joanna. "Animal Overpopulation: What's The Solution To 600 Million Stray Dogs?" The Huffington Post., 18 May 2011. Web. 23 Mar. 2013. <>.

Book Project Final: Overpopulation


Impacts of Overpopulation Seen in Both Humans and Animals:

Diana Lopez

Overpopulation is a large worry to many environmentalists. With a current world population of over 7 billion people, and even larger estimates in the decades to come, issues surrounding limited amounts of food, land and a clean water supply are rising. How is the planet going to feed future populations? With estimations of over 9 billion people by 2050,1 and even more extreme numbers by others, where is the sustainable food supply going to come from? How can people create and use sustainable and renewable resources to minimize the adverse effects on the planet?

In China and India, there are well over 1 billion people respectively. In fact, in China they have implemented the One Child Policy to counteract the large population growth that was occurring going into the 1970s. This policy, however, is only really strictly applied to the Han Chinese living in the overpopulated urban areas and not the ethnic minorities. “Han Chinese represent more than 91% of the Chinese population. Just over 51% of China's population lives in urban areas. In rural areas, Han Chinese families can apply to have a second child if the first child is a girl.”2 Because of their culture, males are highly prized in Chinese society. Often times, couples get pregnant multiple times and elect for selective abortion if the baby is a female, many times of course, female children are abandoned or infanticide is committed. For those who do not follow the rules, there are many unfortunate consequences. Many forced abortions are performed, and families are fined thousands and thousands of dollars. In fact, if a family happens to be rich, the government finds their opportunity to charge them with a larger fine than a middle class family would receive, for example. There was one case where an upper class couple were fined over 200,000 US Dollars.

Although in recent years China has not been contributing to the dramatic population growth, in many parts of the world, contraception has been a real issue for over population. Contraception, such as condoms, the birth control pill, or the shot, and many others, can all be used to prevent unwanted pregnancy. In rural or very Catholic countries, contraception is hard to come by or is looked down upon. Every year, hundreds of volunteers go out to these mostly third world countries, like Africa, and attempt to educate and provide contraceptives. One country in particular, Nigeria, has grown to be the most populous country in Africa, and according to the United Nations, it can grow to reach 240 million people by 2050. The president recognizes that his country’s people are religious and are “not expected to reject God’s gifts.”3; however, this sensitive issue makes it difficult for the president to push contraceptives on its residents, more so for women, which could ultimately “elevate the quality of life” without the burden of an extra child.

The effects that humans impose on the planet through the rapidly growing population is devastating not only to us with poverty and an overall lower quality of life, but to the environment (both plants and animals). With more people contributing to a larger ecological footprint - using up precious resources and adding to the existing pollution -  by damaging the earth, habitats of many species of animals, as well as plants, are threatened accommodate our need for fertile land for food or housing. In efforts to combat this problem, the Center for Biological Diversity distributed 100,000 free “Endangered Species Condoms” around the country in honor of Earth Day 2012.4 The Center for Biological Diversity collaborated with artist Roger Peet to create colorful condom packages featuring endangered species - from dwarf seahorses and burying beetles to panthers and polar bears - adversely affected by human’s growing population. A few of these cleverly generated phrases include: “Don’t go bare...panthers are rare,” “Safe intercourse saves the dwarf seahorse,” “Wrap with the polar bear,” and “Wear a condom a spotted owl.” Polar bears have been put on the U.S. endangered species in 2008, due to the global warming caused by the greenhouse gases of the 7 billion people, and counting, on this planet. These emissions have caused the Arctic Sea ice, habitat of the polar bear, to melt. And with the Florida Panther, a rise in the state’s population has nearly doubled in 30 years, inhabiting and driving the panthers out of their natural habitat,and causing the number of Florida Panthers to dwindle.5 With over 3000 animals classified as endangered worldwide (over 2000 plants), this art being utilized for the campaign can be useful. Although it reaches only a small demographic of people, primarily young men and women, these people are the future and control the outcome of future population numbers. Various small efforts, like these, is better and more informative than nothing at all. Afterall, the use of contraceptives is a great limiter of population growth.

In fact, without tracking and suppressing the world’s population growth, many new ideas about sustainable resources, such as food and land need to be created and considered. One group called After Agri, a collaboration between Michiko Nitta and Michael Burton, looks at the future possibilities of our food system with effects of overpopulation and limited resources. They want to answer questions as to “What new cultural revolution will replace agriculture? How will our species and civilization be transformed?”6  In their latest projects,at one of their exhibitions, they explored two possible scenarios of our future food cultures. The first one was “Algaculture which proposed a greater symbiosis between algae and the human body and the Republic of salivation, a dark scenario that sees governments enforcing restricted food policies where the type of food a citizen receives responds to the emotional, intellectual and physical demands of their job.”7 After Agri answers questions as to how our future agricultural systems will change with the rise in population.  With the use of synthetic biology and geo-engineering nutrigenomics, and other sources of biotech, they have come up with a few good ideas. One idea  predicts algae as a major food source in the future – they call it Algaculture. In one of their exhibits, called ‘Algae Opera’, they use opera singers, which expel lots of carbon dioxide when they sing. They use this production of carbon dioxide to grow the algae. They believe that in the future, individual people will be able to grow their own food source. This idea would be beneficial to the planet because it is rather environmentally friendly by reducing a person’s ecological footprint. Instead of having to disrupt pristine land for more fertile rounds to grow food for a massively growing population, one could be able to use their existence, their carbon dioxide emissions to feed themselves.

Image may be copyrighted (


Opera singer wearing mask to produce algae. Mask is similar to the one above.

Images may be copyrighted  (

In After Agri’s second project, called the Republic of Salivation, their idea revolves around a scenario in which the government will have to start rationing  food through restricted food policies because of future food shortages and famine. These policies will make sure everyone is fed and will also ensure that cities do not rebel against authority. Depending on  an individuals employment, they will be fed according to the amount of energy they need to stay alive and finish a day’s work. Hard laborers will be fed higher calorie foods than people holding office jobs, for example, because more energy is required lifting heavy objects than sitting around at a computer desk.  “The exhibited piece explores an industrial worker’s diet that is largely designed on modified starch, enabling the body to work for longer on fewer nutrients.”8 This project also considers the types of food that can be grown in various parts of the world, and hope to limit food distribution to only that territory or part of the world. In this way, the land is not disturbed or altered to accommodate crops not native to the land reducing competition and cross breeding between species - both cause plants and local animals to become endangered. The various ways in which both Nitta and Burton look at future overpopulation and food resources is very intriguing, but although not very realistic, there is a small possibility in the far future.

Not only is overpopulation in the human population a huge concern, but overpopulation for animals is starting to become worrisome as well. In the U.S. alone, about 8 million stray or unwanted animals are taken to shelters every year. Out of those 8 million, 3.9 million of them are euthanized because no one wants to adopt them - space, resources, and funding is limited.9 Animal breeders are adding to this problem, because those pets that are not sold end up in shelters. Out of the 163 million cats and dogs in the U.S., 1 out of 20 of these animals end up at a shelter.10 There are plenty of homes for these poor animals to go to, but many people (only 20 percent choose to adopt a new pet)  are not looking to adopt or want puppies or purebred dogs. Unfortunately, the pet cloning business is not helping reduce the overpopulation of animals;  it is only adding to the case. After Dolly the sheep, the first cloned animal from an adult cell, many businesses lept to the opportunity to exploit this biotechnology. Many pet owners look to have a loved one “revived” or have their top show dogs cloned to replicate their former dog’s success. Cloning is useful, like in the areas of GFP (green fluorescent protein) to track pathways of diseases in animal models. Many organizations ,like the Humane Society, do not approve of animal cloning by pet owners because of the high incidence of overpopulation as well as the probability of increased animal suffering of the clones.

Image may be copyrighted (

Overpopulation is seen in both animals and humans on the planet, and much is needed to reduce the environmental impacts that occur from this unfortunate, but inevitable future. With the ideas mentioned above, there is so much potential of future populations to sustain themselves.  


1. "The 9 Billion-people Question." The Economist. The Economist Newspaper Limited, 24 Feb. 2011. Web. 22 Mar. 2013. <>.

2. Rosenberg, Matt. "China One Child Policy Facts." Geography., 14 Aug. 2012. Web. 23 Mar. 2013. <>.

3. "The Battle over Birth Control for Developing Nations | Globalization101." Globalization101. The Levin Institute, 6 Aug. 2012. Web. 22 Mar. 2013. <>.

4. Harwood, Amy. "100,000 Endangered Species Condoms to Be Given Away for Earth Day."100,000 Endangered Species Condoms to Be Given Away for Earth Day. Center for Biological Diversity, 23 Mar. 2012. Web. 22 Mar. 2013. <>.

5. Harwood, Amy. "100,000 Endangered Species Condoms to Be Given Away for Earth Day."100,000 Endangered Species Condoms to Be Given Away for Earth Day. Center for Biological Diversity, 23 Mar. 2012. Web. 23 Mar. 2013. <>.

6. Regine. "Bioart - We Make Money Not Art." Bioart - We Make Money Not Art. N.p., 18 Oct. 2012. Web. 23 Mar. 2013. <>.

7. Regine. "Bioart - We Make Money Not Art." Bioart - We Make Money Not Art. N.p., 18 Oct. 2012. Web. 23 Mar. 2013. <>.

8. Nitta, Michiko, and Michael Burton. "Food Forward: Michael Burton & Michiko Nitta."Food Foward. Stroom Den Haag, 15 Jan. 2012. Web. 23 Mar. 2013. <>.

9. "Pet Overpopulation." Pet Overpopulation. American Humane Association, n.d. Web. 22 Mar. 2013. <>.

10. "Pet Overpopulation." Pet Overpopulation. American Humane Association, n.d. Web. 22 Mar. 2013. <>.


"10 Billion Plus: Why World Population Projections Were Too Low." - ScienceInsider. N.p., n.d. Web. 22 Mar. 2013. <>.

"The 9 Billion-people Question." The Economist. The Economist Newspaper Limited, 24 Feb. 2011. Web. 22 Mar. 2013. <>.

"The Battle over Birth Control for Developing Nations | Globalization101." Globalization101. The Levin Institute, 6 Aug. 2012. Web. 22 Mar. 2013. <>.

Dileo, Dan. "Alternatives to Condoms: The Catholic Church and Contraceptives | The Cornell Daily Sun." Alternatives to Condoms: The Catholic Church and Contraceptives | The Cornell Daily Sun. N.p., 01 Apr. 2009. Web. 22 Mar. 2013. <>.

Harwood, Amy. "100,000 Endangered Species Condoms to Be Given Away for Earth Day." 100,000 Endangered Species Condoms to Be Given Away for Earth Day. Center for Biological Diversity, 23 Mar. 2012. Web. 22 Mar. 2013. <>.

Li, Le, and Alastair Jamieson. "China: One-child Policy Is Here to Stay." NBC News. N.p., 16 Jan. 2013. Web. 22 Mar. 2013. <>.

Moore, Malcolm. "Chinese Couple Pay £130,000 to Have a Second Child to Avoid One-child Policy." The Telegraph. Telegraph Media Group Limited, 01 June 2012. Web. 22 Mar. 2013. <>.

Nitta, Michiko, and Michael Burton. "Food Forward: Michael Burton & Michiko Nitta." Food Foward. Stroom Den Haag, 15 Jan. 2012. Web. 22 Mar. 2013. <>.

Oak, Manali. "Causes of Overpopulation.", 11 July 2012. Web. 22 Mar. 2013. <>.

"Pet Overpopulation." Pet Overpopulation. American Humane Association, n.d. Web. 22 Mar. 2013. <>.

Regine. "Bioart - We Make Money Not Art." Bioart - We Make Money Not Art. N.p., 18 Oct. 2012. Web. 22 Mar. 2013. <>.

Rosenberg, Matt. "China One Child Policy Facts." Geography., 14 Aug. 2012. Web. 22 Mar. 2013. <>.

Pictures (in order of apparition):

Rosenberg, Matt. "China One Child Policy Facts." Geography., 14 Aug. 2012. Web. 22 Mar. 2013. <>.

"P.L.U.T.O. Spay/Neuter." P.L.U.T.O. Spay/Neuter. N.p., n.d. Web. 23 Mar. 2013.

Nitta, Michiko, and Michael Burton. "Food Forward: Michael Burton & Michiko Nitta."Food

Foward. Stroom Den Haag, 15 Jan. 2012. Web. 23 Mar. 2013. <>.

Regine. "Bioart - We Make Money Not Art." Bioart - We Make Money Not Art. N.p., 18

Oct. 2012. Web. 23 Mar. 2013. <>.

Book Project Final: Bioluminescence Background


Background on Bioluminescence:

Diana Lopez

With continuing research in bioluminescent technology, future applications could be revolutionary in not only medical, but also in environmental fields. The source of bioluminescence is derived from living organisms. Bioluminescent species make their own light through chemical reactions that occur within their own bodies to produce a glow. This method is far more efficient – because it generates less heat – than the light produced from an ordinary light bulb, and the ability to harness this is a great interest to many scientists. Various life forms on the planet are bioluminescent like a glowing species of fungus, insects, centipedes, millipedes, worms, jellyfish, and oceanic microorganisms. Scientists have yet to find out the various reasons for why all bioluminescent species glow. There are earthworms that secrete a luminescent mucus and the reasons for which some species of mushrooms glow is unclear; however, they believe the bioluminescent spores assist in attracting insects in order for them to help spread the spores throughout the forest. Though in a variety of other species of animals, scientists have found an explanation through their research as to their primary uses for bioluminescence in both land and water organisms - communication, locating food, attracting prey, camouflage, mimicry, and self-defense.

Actually, a vast majority of these bioluminescent species are a culmination of marine life; it is mostly a marine phenomenon, not commonly observed in a wide array of fresh water or land species. Furthermore, researchers have found that up to 80 to 90 percent of deep-dwelling sea organisms have luminescent properties.1 These marinous, glowing creatures  usually emit green or blue light because this wavelength of light travels faster in water than any other wavelength, allowing it to be easily visible at far distances in the dark depths of the ocean. “A notable exception is the Malacosteid family of fishes, also known as Loosejaws. These fish can produce red light and can see it when others cannot. This gives them an advantage by allowing them to see their prey while without making their presence known.”2 Because such organisms live thousands of meters below the surface of the ocean, researchers have a hard time learning about them. This has made it difficult to understand the purpose of having such bioluminescent properties; however, they have noticed a few uses. Marine biologists have found that some species keep their lights on all the time, or some species turn them on and off selectively. In some, their lights are used as a “night light” to illuminate their path in the pitch black ocean depths, as well as utilized for camouflage, communication, and mating. With anglerfish, for example, they lure their prey using an illuminated “bulb” located on top of their head. Anything that is attracted by the anglerfish’s light becomes its victim, as it quickly attacks its unsuspecting prey with its powerful jaws. These magnificent adaptations, all arising from the luciferase-luciferin system, has caught the attention of a wide range of scientists that want to harness this energy for uses in medical and environmental applications.             

Bioluminescence of jellyfish.                           A sea pen in a dark environment. Image courtesy of

        Bioluminescence Team 2009, $NOAA-OER.

Nearly 200 years ago, French pharmacologist Raphael Dubois was one of the first scientist to discover the fascinating natural phenomenon of bioluminescence. In 1887, he conducted experiments on a species bioluminescent clam tissue called the common piddock. He ground its tissue in order to extract the unknown properties that caused the glowing to occur. When the ground tissue was mixed in cold water, it glowed for only a few minutes. In hot water alone, there was no glow; however, when the hot water extract was added to the cold water containing the clam tissue, it started to glow again. From these results, he partially discovered the mechanism in which the light-producing chemicals use. The hot water extract, he called luciferase, and the cold water extract he named luciferin. After his discovery, future scientists found that the reason the cold water extract (luciferin) reactivated and glowed again after the hot water extract (luciferase) was added was because luciferase is the catalyst of the luminescence chemical reaction; so, when added to luciferin (the light producing substance) a glow is emitted.3 Years after Raphael Dubois had identified the luminescent properties in the common piddock, an American biologist Edmund Newton Harvey spent time exploring a myriad of diverse organisms to find their unique luciferases and luciferins. He found that the luciferases and luciferins from different species were not interchangeable - the reason being, as he hypothesized, was that every organisms’ luminescent pathways had evolved to suit their individual needs.     


Image courtesy Edie Widder.

At its most basic level, understanding luminescence pathways, in its production, is not very difficult. The way in which luminescence works requires two substances called luciferin and luciferase. “In bioluminescence, a luciferin produces light, and a luciferase allows the light-producing chemical reaction to take place. In this reaction, the luciferase acts as a catalyst. The luciferase allows oxygen to combine with the luciferin. This reaction produces photons of light and the oxidized luciferin becomes inactive oxyluciferin.”4 This reaction also requires ATP (adenosine triphosphate) to use as an energy to carry out the reaction. At the end of the luciferin-luciferase reaction, byproducts such as water and oxyluciferin are produced.

image is coprighted (

In the following sections of this chapter, an assortment of uses for bioluminescence will be examined as well as problems and criticisms (also artistic representations) for utilizing such technology. There are many promising uses of this biotechnology in the medical world than in any other field. Specifically with bioluminescent imaging (BLI) where it “uses the light given off of bioluminescent organisms to spot abnormalities and other infectious diseases. Current research has found success in identifying eye cancer and even breast cancer with this technique. BLI also offers researchers a chance to study the structure of cancer itself, which could lead to a cure down the road.” 5 In medicine they have also used bioluminescent bacterium, called Vibrio fischeri, through its use of “quorum sensing.” “Quorum sensing” is the bacteria’s ability to find, sense, and communicate with other bacteria it is surrounded with. The possibility of utilizing something like this to combat infectious diseases would be very beneficial, from finding the source of food poisoning to being infected with cholera. In later sections, this will be examined in detail, but as for other applications of bioluminescence, it has been used in labs for FISH (Fluorescent in situ hybridization), immunohistochemistry, in the context of GFP (green fluorescent protein), and in DNA microarrays.

As of now, bioluminescence has being explored as a source of green energy. In fact, before safety lamps were invented, during the early days of mining, the curious power of bioluminescence was somewhat harnessed to light up dark mines all throughout the UK and Europe. Dried fish skins were frequently utilized to bring light into the darkness since it was discovered that certain species of fish glowed through bioluminescence - the luciferin-luciferase system. However, since Thomas Edison’s invention of the electric incandescent light bulb, just over 200 years ago, its use has uncovered many environmental issues that have raised many questions about sustainable and renewable energy. With an entire city lit up every night and inside dark rooms, more damage than good is being done to the environment. Over 70% of the incandescent light bulb’s energy produces heat rather than actual light, and these light bulbs also give off carbon dioxide.6 Although there are alternatives that use much less electricity, and therefore uses less nonrenewable resources, for example, compact fluorescent lights (CFLSs), it is not the greatest substitute in lowering electricity’s negative environmental impact. However, in recent years, much work has been invested in discovering new ways to create light through the use of bioluminescence.

In 2010, in a worldwide synthetic biology competition called iGEM (International Genetically Engineered Machine), a group of scientists and engineers from Cambridge took magnificent steps towards harnessing the light created by various bioluminescent species. The team consisted of scientists and engineers from diverse backgrounds in order to apply the knowledge of their field into the project as a unique perspective. The group of nine students inserted genes from both fireflies and bioluminescent bacteria into E.coli. They inserted the luciferase genes into E. coli to make them grow brightly. “Codon optimisation and single amino acid mutagenesis allowed us to generate bright light output in a range of different colours. Future applications include and quantitative biosensors and biological alternatives to conventional lighting.”7

(Image: Theo Sanderson) may be copyrighted

In addition, this chapter will include ideas and criticisms of creating a transgenic tree species (inserting the luminescence gene from glowing animal species into trees) to light up urban life. Scientists want to use luminescence as an alternative to our current light source. In a very science fiction type of idea, researchers have explored ways to potentially create bioluminescent trees. These trees would be able to replace current street lamps and help light roadways and signs. If the luciferase gene could be inserted into trees to light up dark streets during the night instead of using our current lamp posts, massive amounts of energy could be saved reducing street lights’ adverse environmental impacts.  In a competition, called iGEM, as previously mentioned, researchers took the first step towards engineering the first bioluminescent trees. If this gene could be successfully transplanted into another organism, then future attempts towards these bioluminescent trees are possible. Ideas like these, and various other applications of the use of bioluminescence will be explored, as its use could be very beneficial in most aspects of technology.


1. Venton, Danielle. "8 Beautiful Bioluminescent Creatures From the Sea." Conde Nast Digital, 19 Jan. 0011. Web. 22 Mar. 2013.

2. "Deep Sea Bioluminescence." Bioluminescence. Sea and Sky, n.d. Web. 22 Mar. 2013.

3.  Soniak, Matt. "How Do Fireflies Glow?" Mental Floss. N.p., 12 Mar. 2011. Web. 22 Mar. 2013.

4. Wilson, Tracy V..  "How Bioluminescence Works"  10 July 2007.<>  22 March 2013.

5. Fong, Lu. "How Do Scientists Use Bioluminescence in Research? - Curiosity." Curiosity. Discovery, n.d. Web. 22 Mar. 2013.

6. Belzer, Les. "Why Are Incandescent Light Bulbs Bad?" EHow. Demand Media, 26 May 2010. Web. 22 Mar. 2013.

7. "Team:Cambridge/TheTeam." Main Page. N.p., n.d. Web. 22 Mar. 2013.


Belzer, Les. "Why Are Incandescent Light Bulbs Bad?" EHow. Demand Media, 26 May 2010. Web. 22 Mar. 2013.

"Deep Sea Bioluminescence." Bioluminescence. Sea and Sky, n.d. Web. 22 Mar. 2013.

Firth, Niall. "How 'bioluminescent' Trees That Glow like Fireflies Could One Day Replace Our Streetlights." Mail Online. N.p., 26 Nov. 2010. Web. 22 Mar. 2013.

Fong, Lu. "How Do Scientists Use Bioluminescence in Research? - Curiosity." Curiosity. Discovery, n.d. Web. 22 Mar. 2013.

Olins, Heather. "Science BlogHeathrs." We Beasties. N.p., 29 Nov. 2010. Web. 22 Mar. 2013.

Soniak, Matt. "How Do Fireflies Glow?" Mental Floss. N.p., 12 Mar. 2011. Web. 22 Mar. 2013.

"Team:Cambridge/TheTeam." Main Page. N.p., n.d. Web. 22 Mar. 2013.

Venton, Danielle. "8 Beautiful Bioluminescent Creatures From the Sea." Conde Nast Digital, 19 Jan. 0011. Web. 22 Mar. 2013.

Wood, James B., and Kim Zeeh. "Marine Animal Bioluminescence." And Aquarium Fish. Coast Tropicals, n.d. Web. 22 Mar. 2013.

Pictures (in order of apparition):

Bioluminescence of a jellyfish seen with the lights off. Digital image. NOAA Ocean

Explorer: Operations Deep Scope 2004. U.S. Department of Commerce, n.d. Web. 22 Mar. 2013. <>.

Bioluminescence Team 2009, NOAA-OER. A sea pen in a dark environment. Digital

image.NOAA Ocean Explorer: Operations Deep Scope 2004. U.S. Department of Commerce, 2009. Web. 22 Mar. 2013.

Widder, Edie. Note the green fluorescence of the eyes of this short-nose greeneye fish.

The submersible team collected the specimen for optical studies in the ship’s onboard laboratory. Digital image. NOAA Ocean Explorer: Operations Deep Scope 2004. U.S. Department of Commerce, n.d. Web. 22 Mar. 2013.

"How Bioluminescence Works." HowStuffWorks. N.p., n.d. Web. 23 Mar. 2013.

Sanderson, Theo. Street lamps with a difference. Digital image. Glowing Tree Could Light

up City Streets. New Scientist, 25 Nov. 2010. Web. 21 Mar. 2013.

Event 2: The Museum of Jurassic Technology

On Saturday, March 9th, my classmate, Zafar Gill, and I visited the Museum of Jurassic Technology on Venice Boulevard in the Palms district of Los Angeles.  Of all the events available, I chose to attend this museum as I was intrigued by the relevance of the term “Jurassic Technology.”  I did not really know what to expect and was pleasantly surprised.  Although the collections of exhibits in the museum were largely unrelated and unclassifiable, the artistic presentation of the museum’s collection was strikingly beautiful.  The dimly lit atmosphere and confusing floorplan made walking throughout the museum a truly unique experience.

The Museum of Jurassic Technology, “an educational institution dedicated to the advancement of knowledge and the public appreciation of the Lower Jurassic,” was founded in 1988 by David Hildebrand Wilson and Diana Drake Wilson [1].  The Wilsons, however, never explained the relevance of the term “Lower Jurassic” in relation to the museum’s collections.  The offbeat museum was clearly a “museum about museums,” as New York Times Critic Edward Rothstein noted [2].  Many of the exhibits lacked any sort of explanation and were simply collections of outdated or “jurassic” technology, as pictured below.

Despite the largely unrelated exhibits, the museum certainly contained a few amazing gems.  The Stereofloral Radiographs of Albert G. Richards were by far my favorite exhibition.  This exhibit contained a collection of stereographic radiographs of flowers which lit up as you stepped closer to view them.  The radiographs contained exquisite details that allowed the viewer to examine every aspect of the flower specimens.

Although I never found out what “Jurassic Technology” was supposed to refer to, I enjoyed my experience at the Museum.


1.       "The Museum of Jurassic Technology." Smithsonian Magazine. N.p., n.d. Web. 23 Mar. 2013. <>.

2.       Rothstein, Edward. "Where Outlandish Meets Landish." The New York Times. The New York Times, 10 Jan. 2012. Web. 23 Mar. 2013. <>.

Westwood Farmer's Market

I frequent the farmer's market in Westwood quite often. It's really not the most exciting farmer's market out there but it's been a nice thing to do before our 4pm class every week :)

This week, after delving into research for my final paper, I went with a new objective in mind: determining how much of the food at the farmer's market is actually organic and GMO free. It turns out that even at a farmer's market this is not an easy task. Many of the fruit and vegetable merchants described their foods and "pesticide free," but not organic. Due to some language barriers I wasn't actually able to get an explanation for what this meant. Why would pesticide free not be organic as well? It's possible that since these farmers are not certified organic they are not allowed to use the term organic when they sell their produce, but I was rather disappointed to hear this from a fairly large number of merchants.

I did make a new discovery this week though. I didn't think to take any pictures but it turns out that Andrew captured the little booth in his picture where he's eating the strawberry. I am referring to the Jazzy Sprouts booth, which graciously caters to us Bruin fans by displaying our school colors (bonus points!!). This was also one of the few booths where all of the food was organic. In this booth I found a wonderful old man (I think he was in his late 70s but he was so energetic and he looked amazing) that was selling all kinds of fresh sprouts and sprouted beans. He suggested them as a snack or an additive to salad and he let me taste a few varieties. I highly recommend that you all go out and try this because I am absolutely hooked. It tastes wonderful, it makes you feel really good, and it's really healthy!

I found a picture of him online! You can also see the "magic mix" that I bought in the picture :)

You're going to thank me for this I promise :)


A few weeks ago I attended the LASER event on campus. This was a wonderful experience because a very large group from class attended, as well as many others from various departments and professions. In coming to the event I had no idea what to expect or what we would see, but I was pleasantly surprised by the wide range of projects and ideas that were presented at the event. A combination of books, art pieces, and drawings, all the result of some creative thinking and a need to express oneself.

The presentation that most held my attention was the one by Margaret Sun. When she ran through those countless images and shared with us her various expressions of movement and the human body I felt like we were witnessing the evolution of her thoughts and imagination. Each image connected to the one before to some degree and it almost seemed like a child's imagination was simply running wild. I'm not completely sure that I understood the purpose of those thoughts and ideas but it was a lovely journey nonetheless!

The other project that I thought was very intersting was Seri Robinson's idea of using fungi to create art by forcing the fungi to create certain patterns in wood. Where do people come up with these things?! I thought that this was a very interesting and fun project as well. By manipulating bacteria to live in certain parts of the wood they were actually creating an art piece. This reminded me a little of the blog a posted a few weeks ago where artist Hubert Duprat was providing Caddisfly larvae with jewelry to make their protective cases. I have added the link below in ase you happened to miss that blog!

Event: Westwood Farmer's Market


            Farmer’s markets are a response to biotechnology. The modern system of food distribution, cultivation and genetic modification does not leave much room for local farmers and organic foods and it’s mostly due to biotech. The ability to modify our food to make it better suited to travel and wide scale distribution has resulted in the death of a local food culture. This is what farmers markets are attempting to change. They are an attempt to unify organic growers and local foodstuff producers with the general public. Once a week they bring their goods into an area that usually does not have access to primary food producers.

            The Westwood farmer’s market does just this. Every Thursday from 12-6 PM along Broxton Ave several farmers and other food producers bring their wares into Los Angeles and make them available to a student population that mostly has no choice but to eat heavily processed foods. It is also an injection of a different cultural setting into the usually very posh Westwood area.

            I personally found it a very refreshing place to visit on a Thursday afternoon. You could almost feel the tension being released from everyone’s minds as students enjoyed the sun after finishing the always-taxing finals week. It was also a chance for delving into the fresh food that I am oh so often lacking in my diet. In all it was a nice way to wrap up the quarter, and the strawberries weren’t bad either. It has been a wonderful quarter Victoria I cannot believe I almost did not take this class as it has easily been one of my favorites. Have a good break!