Leonardo Art/Science Evening Rendezvous of February 10, 2016

Exploring the Frontiers of Knowledge and Imagination, Fostering Interdisciplinary Networking
UC Berkeley, February 10, 2016
Soda Hall (corner of Hearst and LeRoy), Room 310
NOTE: Use the WEST-entrance of SODA Hall entering from Etcheverry Plaza.
Chaired by Piero Scaruffi

The LASERs are a national program of evening gatherings that bring artists and scientists together for informal presentations and conversation with an audience. See the program for the whole series. The event is free and open to everybody. Email me if you want to be added to the mailing list for the LASERs. Like previous evenings, the agenda includes some presentations of art/science projects, news from the audience, and time for casual socializing/networking. This event is kindly sponsored by the Minerva Foundation.
Where: UC Berkeley
Soda Hall, Room 310
NOTE: Use the WEST-entrance of SODA Hall entering from Etcheverry Plaza.
Campus map
What (the order of the speakers might change):
  • 7:00-7:25: David Anderson (UC Berkeley/ SETI@home) on "An introduction to SETI@home" What if ordinary people's devices could do scientific computing? ... Read more
  • 7:25-7:50: Rachna Nivas (Chitresh Das Dance Company) on "India's Kathak Dance: Synthesizing rhythmical math, ancient philosophy, and complex movement" Kathak dance is one of the eight distinct classical dance forms of the Indian subcontinent... Read more
  • 7:50-8:10: BREAK. Before or after the break, anyone in the audience currently working within the intersections of art and science will have 30 seconds to share their work. Please present your work as a teaser so that those who are interested can seek you out during social time following the event.
  • 8:10-8:35: Leah Krubitzer (UC Davis/ Neurobiology) on "How does Evolution build a Complex Brain" The neocortex is a highly dynamic structure that is dramatically altered within an individual's lifetime... Read more
  • 8:35-9:00: Ken Goldberg (UC Berkeley) on "Wow and Flutter: Perception and the Seismic Landscape" Art installations that use a live stream of seismic data... Read more
  • 9:00pm-9:30pm: Discussions, networking You can mingle with the speakers and the audience

See also...
  • Other LASER series
  • Leonardo ISAST
  • Art, Technology, Culture Colloquia
  • Other LASER series
  • ScienceSchmoozer
  • LAST Festival
    • David Anderson is a Research Scientist at the University of California, Berkeley. His research interests revolve around using the Internet and computer technology to involve the global public in scientific research. He has spearheaded the development of volunteer computing, which has brought Peta-scale computing to scientists in a range of areas. He co-founded SETI@home and is director of the BOINC project, which develops middleware for volunteer computing. Dr. Anderson received graduate degrees in Mathematics and Computer Science at the University of Wisconsin. From 1985 to 1992 he served on the faculty of the U.C. Berkeley Computer Science Department. In addition to volunteer computing, his research interests include distributed systems, real-time and multimedia systems, and computer graphics."
    • Ken Goldberg is an artist and UC Berkeley professor. He and his students investigate robotics, automation, art, and social media. Ken is Director of the People and Robots Initiative (a CITRIS multicampus multidisciplinary research program established in April 2015) and UC Berkeley's Automation Sciences Research Lab (since 1995). Ken earned dual degrees in Electrical Engineering and Economics from the University of Pennsylvania (1984) and MS and PhD degrees from Carnegie Mellon University (1990). He joined the UC Berkeley faculty in 1995 where he is Professor of Industrial Engineering and Operations Research (IEOR), with secondary appointments in Electrical Engineering/Computer Science (EECS), Art Practice, the School of Information, and in the Department of Radiation Oncology at the UCSF Medical School. He is Editor-in-Chief of the IEEE Transactions on Automation Science and Engineering (T-ASE), Co-Founder of the Berkeley Center for New Media (BCNM), the African Robotics Network (AFRON), the Center for Automation and Learning for Medical Robotics (CAL-MR), the CITRIS Data and Democracy Initiative (DDI), Hybrid Wisdom Labs, and Moxie Institute. Ken's art installations are related to his research and have been exhibited at venues including the Whitney Biennial, Berkeley Art Museum, SF Contemporary Jewish Museum, Pompidou Center, Buenos Aires Biennial, and the ICC in Tokyo. Ken co-wrote three award-winning Sundance documentary films. Ken is Founding Director of UC Berkeley's Art, Technology, and Culture Lecture Series (since 1997).
    • Leah Krubitzer heads the Laboratory of Evolutionary Neurobiology in the Center for Neuroscience at the University of California, Davis. She is also a faculty member of the Department of Psychology at UC Davis. Leah Krubitzer's cross-species comparative studies illuminate the relationship between brain organization and brain function. Her primary experimental focus is on somatosensory regions of the cerebral cortex that control such things as touch, vibration, and position sense. Additionally, she has compared the organization of sensatory cortex in a wide variety of species, including star-nosed moles, platypuses, flying foxes, and several nonhuman primates. These studies show important similarities and differences between species in the cortical structure and in connections to underlying brain regions and provide vital clues about the evolutionary forces driving brain adaptation. Krubitzer's research provides new insights into the development of the cerebral cortex and the evolutionary forces driving brain adaptation. She has published numerous book chapters and articles in such journals as the Journal of Comparative Neurology, Science, and the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA.
    • A powerful leader amongst her generation of artists, Rachna Nivas brings a relevant and contemporary voice to the kathak tradition. A fierce performer and critically acclaimed soloist, she brings passion, integrity, and creativity to her performances and works, displaying the depth of her 17-year training under the legendary master Pandit Chitresh Das. After Das' passing in 2015, Rachna was appointed Co-Artistic Director of the internationally acclaimed Chitresh Das Dance Company. She is a senior mentor to over 100 students at the Chhandam School of Kathak and is known for her inspiring, energetic, and impactful teachings of empowerment through art.
    • Piero Scaruffi is a cultural historian who has lectured in three continents and published several books on Artificial Intelligence and Cognitive Science, the latest one being "The Nature of Consciousness" (2006). He pioneered Internet applications in the early 1980s and the use of the World-Wide Web for cultural purposes in the mid 1990s. His poetry has been awarded several national prizes in Italy and the USA. His latest book of poems and meditations is "Synthesis" (2009). As a music historian, he has published ten books, the latest ones being "A History of Rock and Dance Music" (2009) and "A History of Jazz Music" (2007). His latest book of history is "A History of Silicon Valley" (2011). The first volume of his free ebook "A Visual History of the Visual Arts" appeared in 2012. His latest book is "Intelligence is not Artificial" (2013). He has also written extensively about cinema and literature.

    Extended abstracts:

    Most of the world's computing power is in consumer products such as laptops, smartphones, and game consoles. What if these devices could do scientific computing? That's the idea behind SETI@home, which uses millions of home computers to look for extraterrestrial radio signals. I'll talk about the history and status of SETI@home, and the use of volunteer computing in other domains.
    I'll present several art installations that use a live stream of seismic data from the Hayward Fault including Ballet Mori, a performance to commemorate the 1906 San Francisco Earthquake, where SF Ballet Principal Dancer Muriel Maffre responded to a musical composition modulated by real-time data. Our latest version is "Wow and Flutter": http://memento.ieor.berkeley.edu/flutter/ The size and position of each bloom is based on real-time changes in the Earth's motion, measured as a vertical velocity continuously updated from the seismometer. The horizontal position of blooms is based on time, their vertical position is based on magnitude of the second derivative, and their size is based on the time between extrema.

    Kathak dance is one of the eight distinct classical dance forms of the Indian subcontinent, known for its powerful footwork, lightning pirouettes, delicate hand gestures, and dramatic storytelling. But what lies behind the beauty and dynamism of this dance form? This lecture demonstration will delve into: the music of kathak, one of the most complex musical systems in the world, containing cyclical time signatures coupled with intricate rhythmical mathematics; some of India's philosophies rooted in the dance, such as aum, ardhanariswara (the synthesis of masculine and feminine energies), shunya (nothing), Infinity; kinesiology of kathak through Kathak Yoga, a mind-body practice that integrates rhythmical compositions, organic math, singing, instrumentation, and breath control to achieve a higher state of consciousness.

    Leah Krubitzer

    Title: Cortical plasticity within and across lifetimes or How does Evolution build a complex brain. The neocortex is the part of the brain that is involved in perception, cognition, and volitional motor control. In mammals it is a highly dynamic structure that has been dramatically altered within an individual's lifetime and in different lineages throughout the course of evolution. These alterations account for the remarkable variations in behavior that species exhibit. Because we cannot study the evolution of the neocortex directly, we must make inferences about the evolutionary process from a comparative analysis of brains, and study the developmental mechanisms that give rise to alterations in the brain. Comparative studies allow us to appreciate the types of changes that have been made to the neocortex and the similarities that exist across taxa, and ultimately the constraints imposed on the evolving brain. Developmental studies inform us about how phenotypic transitions may arise by alterations in developmental cascades or changes in the physical environment in which the brain develops. We focus on how early experience shapes the functional organization and connectivity of each individual's brain and behavior to be uniquely optimized for a given sensory milieu. Such plasticity plays an integral role in shaping the brains of normal individuals, and as well as those that have lost or altered sensory inputs, such as congenitally deaf or blind individuals. This loss of sensory input early in development leads to dramatic changes in both the normal organization and connections of the neocortex as well as in sensory mediated behavior. Studies have also demonstrated that enhanced sensory experience that occurs during critical periods of development has a profound effect on the resultant organization and connectivity of the neocortex. In our experiments we examined the specific types of alterations that occur when individuals develop with lost or enhanced sensory inputs in both experimental and natural settings. Because all aspects of complex social experience including parental rearing and sibling interactions are mediated by our sensory systems, it follows that these types of complex patterns of sensory inputs are fundamentally important for shaping both the organization and connectivity of the neocortex. In turn, the ultimate behavior generated by the neocortex will be highly adaptive for the context in which the individual develops.

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