Science vs Science Studies Smack-down

For lack of a better expression, shit hit the fan today in the world of science and science studies. And it’s all Brian Cox’s and Robin Ince’s fault.

Read More

Quick something I made on Google’s Ngram Viewer, just because I thought it might be an interesting comparison. I cut it from 1720’s because it gives the most interesting graphics, though there is also a momentary boom in 1634-1638, which I don’t quite understand.
Please note this hasn’t been done with a very in-depth review of how the Ngram system works (remembering it separates corpuses of languages, and is case-sensitive). It’s more of a curiosity of mine how people have thought about this kind of technology. Notice how, once the “artificial arm” starts being talked about, it echoes the booms and collapses seen in the “artificial leg” thread.
Furthermore, it’s interesting to see that the interest and writings on the subject don’t seem to reflect directly with wars, as one might thing. There is some correlation (come now, we were sure it would!), but the strongest boom since the 19th Century was that of 1908, which actually precedes the Great War!
This leaves place for consideration on what stimulates research and interest in these topics. What happened at that time that caused this increase?

Quick something I made on Google’s Ngram Viewer, just because I thought it might be an interesting comparison. I cut it from 1720’s because it gives the most interesting graphics, though there is also a momentary boom in 1634-1638, which I don’t quite understand.

Please note this hasn’t been done with a very in-depth review of how the Ngram system works (remembering it separates corpuses of languages, and is case-sensitive). It’s more of a curiosity of mine how people have thought about this kind of technology. Notice how, once the “artificial arm” starts being talked about, it echoes the booms and collapses seen in the “artificial leg” thread.

Furthermore, it’s interesting to see that the interest and writings on the subject don’t seem to reflect directly with wars, as one might thing. There is some correlation (come now, we were sure it would!), but the strongest boom since the 19th Century was that of 1908, which actually precedes the Great War!

This leaves place for consideration on what stimulates research and interest in these topics. What happened at that time that caused this increase?

So, I have been collecting a few interesting TED Talks on my Facebook. The truth is, though, my friends don’t really care about my research (well, the majority don’t, in any case). This particularly is a talk that has changed the way my PhD proposal will turn out. I had not considered for a single second the implications of research policy on prosthetic making and innovation. Then this guy came around…!

Jorge Silva’s talk is exceptionally insightful, saying that current bioengineering is amazing, but that we should take a second to think about what people really need. We should be creating solutions tailor-made for amputees’ problems, not for what we consider their problem to be. That is to say, thinking that their difficulty as “not having a hand” is over-simplification. Their issues are finer-tuned than that! 

Silva makes a call for more user-driven communities, open-sharing of innovations, designs and resources as well as an alternative business model, with the elimination of intellectual property and marginalisation of monopolies in the bioengineering industry. His, I find, is an important stand in the world of amputees and prosthetic-users, one that calls for participation and cooperation on all levels.

Where I personally come in is in the question of “volunteers”. And this is where I also depend on my potential PhD supervisor, who works (with many things) with the place of volunteers and human subjects in scientific research. I think it’s an important question to ask: what do they influence, how and why? Are their concerns heard, problems solved?

This is the moment I have been waiting for. Dissertation semester slowly approaches, and so do PhD proposal writings, and thus I have begun the time when I am free to explore the beautiful realm of prosthetics for actual studying purposes.

Which also means more constant updates. Whilst before it meant simply documenting an interest, this now means documenting my research. For the time being, there’ll be little reference to actual articles, but I will be exposing daily findings of prosthetics and biomechanics found from anything and everything. 

Shall we begin?

suicideblonde:

And you know, the fact is, nobody knew that they were prosthetic legs. They were the star of the show - these wooden boots peeking out from under this raffia dress - but in fact, they were actually legs made for me.
- Aimee Mullins, on her look in the Alexander McQueen S/S 1999 show.

One of her dozen pairs of legs. Look for her TED talks. 

suicideblonde:

And you know, the fact is, nobody knew that they were prosthetic legs. They were the star of the show - these wooden boots peeking out from under this raffia dress - but in fact, they were actually legs made for me.

- Aimee Mullins, on her look in the Alexander McQueen S/S 1999 show.

One of her dozen pairs of legs. Look for her TED talks. 

(Source: dirtyprettything, via thebaconsandwichofregret)

mischmaschmag:

Alan Oliveira, gold medalist (men’s athletics 200m - T44)

Yohansson Nascimento, gold medalist (men’s athletics 200m - T46)

Terezinha Guilhermina, gold medalist (women’s athletics 200m - T11)

Jerusa Santos, silver medalist (women’s athletics 200m - T11)

AWESOME DAY FOR ATHLETICS!!!

Btw, Alan Oliveira has beaten no less than Oscar Pistorius… Deal with it! ;)

Brazilian parathletes were AMAZING this year. Let me take my time to congratulate them. Alan Oliveira took my breath away in his gorgeous 200m (T44) dash, beating Pistorius in the last 80m. And what a dash!! 

Blade Runner, the fastest man on no legs.
Multiple gold-medalist in the Paralympics, first amputee medalist in an able-bodied competition, personal best in the 400m of 45.07s.
He will be competing in the 400m and the 4x400m relay this year for South Africa, in the Summer Olympics. 

Blade Runner, the fastest man on no legs.


Multiple gold-medalist in the Paralympics, first amputee medalist in an able-bodied competition, personal best in the 400m of 45.07s.

He will be competing in the 400m and the 4x400m relay this year for South Africa, in the Summer Olympics. 

Guys!! 
I’m feeling very professional!

Guys!! 

I’m feeling very professional!

Currently working on a paper proposal for the 15^th Anniversary Conference of the Work Group Medical Anthropology of the German Anthropological Association

This is what I have so far. Criticism is highly encouraged. 

"Though prosthetics have existed for millennia, it is only in recent decades that technological advancements have permitted medicine to mimic nature more thoroughly. This new generation of artificial limbs have come closer and closer to blurring the boundaries between human and mechanical. In this paper, I propose to take a closer look in the way the user of prosthesis integrate them in their daily lives. By the means of interviews and observations we explore the adaptation and eventual internalization of the limb by its wearer, searching to grasp not only the psychological consequences but also the social impact it may have. "

Or, from Amber Case’s point of view, you don’t even need a black hole anymore, as our own cellphones potentially act as wormholes in the space-time continuum.
Look her up on TED talks, I’ve posted it a few months ago on here.
Amazingly interesting concept.

Or, from Amber Case’s point of view, you don’t even need a black hole anymore, as our own cellphones potentially act as wormholes in the space-time continuum.

Look her up on TED talks, I’ve posted it a few months ago on here.

Amazingly interesting concept.

(via hannibaldancy)

marthastewarts:

queefnasty:

too futuristic


omfg

PURE GENIOUS!

This is also what technology is about: changing the paradigms about you, and seeing the world in a different way. This is but a small step into the new world that is slowly appearing around this through new technology. 

In the wise words of Neil Gaiman:

"The old rules are crumbling, and nobody knows what the new rules are. So make up your own rules.

(Source: videohall, via lorddanty)

///-Cartographies of the Body Workshop -///
Madrid, October 22-24, 2012

 

 STS department, Philosophy Institute, Spanish National Scientific Research Council.

 

There are many ways to talk about the body. Yet, there are also many ways to practice and visualize bodies. In this conference we aim to have an input selection of versions and repertoires of bodies in the analyses offered by STS and social science approaches. The body is the primary environment in which we live, the physical boundary that identifies us, as “unique individuals”, and the other, other bodies. Science and technology have focused on the task of knowing, opening, modifying, slicing, describing and prescribing notions on bodies. For this conference, we do not wish to start with a predetermined idea of what a body is and what are its borders but we seek to analyze, however, the many bodies that can be  enacted by different practices and the connections between them. Thus we invite contributions to the conference that seek to offer a version of the body, topographically or analytically, empirically or theoretically.
What other repertoires could be mobilized to talk, practice, and visualize bodies? What are the networks that can be made visible to talk about them? (The destruction of the public and the erosion of the commons and its effects on bodies, the fluidity of notions of the “patient” and “illness”, the metabolic and gastric functions of eating for which without no bodies will survive, etc.)

 

Confirmed key note speakers are Thomas W. Laqueur (Department of History, University of California Berkeley), Sebastian Abrahamsson (Department of Sociology and Anthropology, University of Amsterdam) and Sandra Eder (Institute and Museum for the History of Medicine, University of Zurich).

—————-

Of course, this information has arrived to me because my mother has these incredibles sources which I need to pester her to teach me. In any case, I’m hoping I’ll be in Europe for my Master’s degree next school year, and thus be able to participate to this seminar, because it sounds like something that is right up my alley. Plus, I was checking up on these key note speakers, and they all work with very interesting things. Notably Mr Abrahamsson, who works with a group of people on the concept of bodies and feeding. I’m going to copy-paste the exact description of his work from the website (which you will find in the source):
Bodies, as we perceive them, are normally bounded in space – they appear to us as whole and impermeable, separated from other bodies and the environment by a boundary that we call the skin. Eating and metabolic bodies, however, open up and incorporate their environment complicating this distinction between inside and outside. But eating bodies are not radically unbounded and permeable; rather, they are semi-permeable, keeping some things inside and excreting others. A mouth can be such a semi-permeable boundary, but other organs (the esophagus, the cardia, the pancreas, the rectum) and metabolic and digestive processes (cooking, chewing, swallowing, ingesting, absorbing, and excreting) can also be described as semi-permeable boundaries separating and mediating between several insides/outsides. How are such boundaries done and studied in practice? What are the repertoires of spatial models/imaginations that can be drawn from such boundary work? How do these boundaries reconfigure what it could mean to eat? And how can those models/imaginations afford a different sense of what a body can be and do? These are some of the questions that I hope to explore in my project by probing situations where eating (as defined above) is considered problematic.

I had never considered that AT ALL. The notion of seeing our bodies as a “semi-permeable boundary” is immensely interesting! We do indeed absorb things around is, physical things, for nutrients and oxygen. Let’s push the boundaries on this notion: if we integrate the exterior into us, what makes cyborgs so different from us? Is is the sheer mechanics of it all? Where does the limit lie? We accept food, and many artificial elements are ingested through food-coloring and conserving agents, etc, yet people who eat colorful candies are less conspicuous than those who have mechanical limbs for a valid purpose (bettering the quality of their daily lives). 

It seems to all come down to pure social values. But as a speaker put out to us at the Utopiales Sci-Fi meeting in Nantes, France: where does the limit lie between healing and augmenting?

(Source: eatingbodiesfluidnetwork.wordpress.comhttp)

"He may see the trials he has suffered as a blessing in disguise, especially because of what it is felt that suffering can teach one about life and people. (…) Correspondingly, he can come to re-assess the limitations of normals, as a multiple sclerotic suggests:
Both healthy minds and healthy bodies may be crippled. The fact that “normal” people can get around, can see, can hear, doesn’t mean that they are seeing or hearing. They can be very blind to the things that spoil their happiness, very deaf to the pleas of others for kindness; when I think of them I do not feel any more crippled or disabled than they. Perhaps in some small way I can be the means of opening their eyes to the beauties around us (…)."

- Irving Goffman, “Stigma: Notes on the Management of Spoiled Identity”, 1963.

Once again, I feel obliged to excuse myself (again, to myself) for my absence. It is not because I’m not more present in this blog (notepad, information hoarder) that I do not continue my reading on cyborgs, androids and robots (oh my!). 

I’m currently taking deviance sociology here in Rome (Università di Roma Tre) with a Neapolitan teacher by the name of D’Agostino. I have been fortunate enough in my Italian language level to be able to understand what he says 90% of the time. The fact that he spent a while studying at Berkeley University in California might help, as he speaks English and is available every time I’ve needed help.

All personal information aside, Goffman’s book “Stigma” is a biggie on this teacher’s bibliography. I’d already read his “Interaction Ritual: Essays on Face-to-Face Behavior”, which I found absolutely amazing. However, I read it during my first year of studies, and feel that it is now time to go through it again (the same must be said about many of the classics I read throughout that first year). However, “Stigma” seems to be right up our alley, my dear friends.

 Let’s refresh Aimee Mullins TED talk. She follows in the same line as the multiple sclerotic Goffman quotes. She declares not feeling any more disabled than “normals”. The terminology utilized is also interesting. For the sake of simplicity, Goffman choses to name “normals” those of us who are not branded or marked or show any trace of outer, or inner stigma. That is to say, those who show no trace of visible, or known, stigma. Example: a person lacking a limb carries a stigma, as does (in those times and even to this day in some places) a person who is known to be homosexual. 

I believe Goffman’s book carries with it an interesting idea to explore when working with cyborgs. Why? Because we may have to redefine the whole concept of physical stigma, specially when it is used as a negative definition. Normality in itself might have to be redefined if becoming a cyborg becomes normality. Of course, this all comes with the one “hiccup” of having to define a cyborg in itself, which, believe me, I am having quite a lot of difficulties. 

For the moment, I’ll leave you with this, and with a strong recommendation: read this book, it is great! In true Goffman form, it is simple to read and digest, and full of great testimonies and definitions.

…logging off…

PS: I’m hoping to become a lot more active once again. I’d forgot what a pleasure it is to write without really thinking about it, and that is what this blog is for, after all. Plus, I finally finished reading the “Millenium” trilogy by Stieg Larsson. Worth a read if you’re into detective stories, but B- for narrative. Though that might be because of the translation… Ok! I’m off!

Absence.

Tumblr world! I am BACK! 

Yes, I know, I never actually said I was going to be gone, but hey… I was busy. I’ve been traveling a lot these last few months, but I am finally settled again. My headquarters are now in Rome, Italy. They were in Nantes, France, before. 

I now have time to continue my reading and research, so expect a lot more from this little… scrapbook on cyborgs on the weeks to follow. I’ll keep you all posted. ;)

I’m not purposely trying to make people cry, but these kinds of implant, like this little boy and the little girl I posted before with the flex-run legs, are some of the reasons that cyborgs interest me. This kind of technology is life-changing. Not in the way the Internet revolutionized the whole way we are connected, but it LITERALLY changes somebody’s day to day life.