MIT Media Lab and MIT Museum – Ramón y Cajal

I have only recently heard about the MIT Media Lab although it is as old as me. The Media Lab was born in 1985 to “combine a vision of a digital future with a new style of creative invention”. It started to set up what was seen as radical for that time: “open computer gardens, personal computing on every desk and a multimedia network to every room”. Since then it has created numerous disruptive technologies in different fields, from electronics to entertainment, fashion to healthcare, etc. by promoting a collaborative and an interdisciplinary culture inside the research community.

Some examples that are dear to me include: the Communitive Biotechnology initiative, which includes the development of low-cost enabling hardware and experiments in the interface of art and biology; and the Open Ocean initiative in which researchers work at the intersection of science, technology, society, and art to set up new ways to understand the ocean and empower people to explore and make better changes.

The Media Lab has not only a broad research agenda but also a degree-granting Program in Media Arts and Sciences. The website is amazing and it is an incredible source of news, from videos to talks, projects to summits and much moreIt was there that I learned about the MIT Museum and its current exhibition “The Beautiful Brain: The Drawings of Santiago Ramón y Cajal”.

From the exhibition “The Beautiful Brain: The Drawings of Santiago Ramón y Cajal” at the MIT Museum. “The Beautiful Brain: The Drawings of Santiago Ramon y Cajal” was developed by the Frederick R. Weisman Art Museum, University of Minnesota with the CSIC’s Cajal Institute, Madrid, Spain.

The exhibition presents the drawings of Santiago Ramón y Cajal, the father of modern neuroscience and also an extraordinary artist. As the museum nicely illustrates: “his drawings of the brain were not only beautiful but also astounding in their capacity to illustrate and understand the details of brain structure and function.” Learn more about the exhibition on the museum’s website and if you have the opportunity (I don’t!) please go visit the exhibition until the 31st of December 2018. 

Ramon y Cajal was awarded the Nobel Prize in 1906 and, in spite of time, his work continues to captivate and stimulate modern neuroscientists and artists. One particular artwork that I love (already from 2010) was made by the neuroscientist Pablo Garcia Lopez, who was inspired by Ramón y Cajal’s beautiful metaphors:

“Like the entomologist in search of colorful butterflies, my attention has chased in the gardens of the grey matter cells with delicate and elegant shapes, the mysterious butterflies of the soul, whose beating of wings one day reveal to us the secrets of the mind.” (Ramón y Cajal, 1901).”

Mixed Media Artwork by Pablo Garcia Lopez. For more work from this artist visit his website: https://www.pablogarcialopez.com

Inspired by this quote, Pablo Garcia Lopez created this amazing mixed media artwork by playing with neuroscience, that he so well knows, and mixing the image of a brain positron emission tomography (PET) scan with the colorful butterflies that Ramón y Cajal was talking.

For more work from this sci-artist visit his website: https://www.pablogarcialopez.com

World Science Festival – 10 years!

The mission of the World Science Festival is to inspire the general public to learn more about science and to convince them of its value and implications for the future. Every year at the end of May, beginning of June, the Festival gathers great minds in science and the arts to produce live and digital content, thereby taking science out of the laboratory and bringing it closer to the public. Through musical performances, theatrical works, interactive explorations, debates and outdoor activities, the Festival has drawn the attention of more than two million visitors over the past ten years, with millions more live streaming the programs online.

Launched in New York City, the World Science Festival has now expanded to Brisbane since last year with a mind blowing annual program (usually taking place in March).

If you missed the live streaming of the Festival check out the website nevertheless, it has great resources, such as infographics, articles, videos, and free online master classes available anywhere in the world to let you explore your scientific curiosity!

Special Report: Adaptation to Climate Change in Portugal

Comic art is a great way to educate young people about climate change. With that in mind, the award-winning project ClimAdaPT.Local launched the comic book “Special Report – Adaptation to Climate Change in Portugal”, which can now be used to teach about climate change in classrooms all over Portugal. The book tells the story of a journalist and a cameraman working on a story about climate change and its consequences in Portugal. It is based on real persons and stories and highlights the challenges people face and also possible solutions to address climate change locally. 

This comic book was created by Bruno Pinto (writer), Penim Loureiro (drawing) and Quico Nogueira (colour). Another great example of how Art & Science combined can change the view of the world around us. You can download the full comic (both in English and Portuguese) from ClimAdaPT.Local here.

Continue reading “Special Report: Adaptation to Climate Change in Portugal”