Leonardo Art/Science Evening Rendezvous of September 8, 2014

Exploring the Frontiers of Knowledge and Imagination, Fostering Interdisciplinary Networking
San Francisco, September 8, 2014
c/o University of San Francisco
Fromm Hall - FR 115 - Berman Room
Chaired by Piero Scaruffi and Tami Spector

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.

Leonardo ISAST and USF invite you to a meeting of the Leonardo Art/Science community. The event is free and open to everybody. Like previous evenings, the agenda includes some presentations of art/science projects, news from the audience, and time for casual socializing/networking.
See below for location and agenda.
Email me if you want to be added to the mailing list for the LASERs.
See also...

  • 6:45pm-7:00pm: Socializing/networking.
  • 7:00-7:25: Loren Frank (UCSF) on "What is a memory?" Recent discoveries have given us new insights into how memories are stored and retrieved... Read more
  • 7:25-7:50: Lia Cook (Visual Artist) on "Woven Faces and Neuro Nets" Abstract... 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: Birgitta Whaley (Berkeley Quantum Information and Computation Center) on "What role does Quantum Mechanics play in Biology? Advances in nanotechnology are driving the development of microscopic studies of biological phenomena... Read more
  • 8:35-9:00: Marcy Darnovsky (Center for Genetics and Society) on "The Case for a New Biopolitics" New practices in the life sciences are raising profound challenges to social justice, the public interest, and the human future... Read more
  • 9:00pm-9:30pm: Discussions, networking You can mingle with the speakers and the audience

  • Lia Cook, Visual Artist, Professor of Art, California College of the Arts works in a variety of media combining weaving with painting, photography and digital technology. Her current practice explores the sensuality of the woven image and embodied memories of touch and cloth. Working together with neuroscientists she investigates the nature of the emotional response to the tactile quality of woven faces and uses the laboratory experience with both process and tools to stimulate new work. Lia Cook exhibits her work nationally and internationally. Recent solo exhibitions include: "Neuro Nets + Net Works" Perimeter Gallery, Chicago "Icones Jacquards" Les Drapiers , Liege, Belgium and "Weaving and Innovation: Digital Fibers Converse with Neural Networks" at University of Wisconsin, Madison. Her works are in the permanent collection of the MOMA, NY; Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY, Cooper Hewitt; Museum of Arts and Design, NY; Minneapolis Institute of Art; Cleveland Museum of Art; Smithsonian Museum, Washington DC; The National Collection, France; Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco; Musee Bellerive, Switzerland; National Gallery of Australia; Zhejiang Art Museum and the National Silk Museum, Hangzhou China
  • Marcy Darnovsky is the Executive Director of the Center for Genetics and Society, a public affairs organization working to encourage responsible uses and effective societal governance of new reproductive and genetic technologies. She speaks and writes widely on the politics of human biotechnology, focusing on their social justice and public interest implications. Her articles have appeared in The Nation, Democracy, Harvard Law and Policy Review, The American Interest, Alternet, Science Progress, The Journal of Life Sciences, Modern Healthcare, Contraception, Bioethics Forum, Tikkun and many others. She has appeared on dozens of television, radio, and online news shows and has been interviewed and cited in hundreds of news and magazine articles. She has worked as an organizer and advocate in a range of environmental and progressive political movements, and taught courses at Sonoma State University and at California State University East Bay. Her Ph.D. is from the History of Consciousness program at the University of California, Santa Cruz.
  • Loren Frank is a Professor in the Center for Integrative Neuroscience and the Department of Physiology at the University of California, San Francisco. He received his Ph.D from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and did post-doctoral research at Harvard University and Massachusetts General Hospital before joining the faculty at UCSF in 2003. His research seeks to understand the nature of memory, and has provided critical insights into how memories are stored and how memories are used to guide decisions. His findings have established a causal link between a specific pattern of brain activity and memory, and he and his colleagues are currently developing new tools that will make it possible to study and interact with memory processes throughout the brain. His long term goal is to understand these processes well enough to develop approaches to treating memory-related problems including learning disabilities and Alzheimer's disease. He has received numerous awards for his scientific discoveries and his mentoring, including fellowships from the Sloan, McKnight and Merck foundations as well as the the Society for Neuroscience Young Investigator Award, the UCSF Faculty Mentoring award, and the College Mentors for Kids Inspire Award.
  • Piero Scaruffi is a cognitive scientist 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 "Demystifying Machine Intelligence" (2013). He has also written extensively about cinema and literature.
  • Birgitta Whaley was born in England and moved to the US following an undergraduate degree in Oxford University. She received her Ph. D. from the University of Chicago in 1984 and was appointed to the faculty at the University of Berkeley, California in 1986, where she is now Professor of Chemistry, Director of the Berkeley Quantum Information and Computation Center, and senior faculty scientist at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. Fellow of the American Physical Society and former chair of the APS Division of Chemical Physics, her honors include Kennedy and Sloan Foundation fellowships, an Alexander von Humboldt research award, a Miller Institute for Basic Research in Science Professorship at Berkeley, and senior Fellow at the Wissenschaftskolleg in Berlin (2012-2013). Advisory activities include committees for the National Academy of Sciences, the scientific advisory board for the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics and the Kavli Institute for Theoretical Physics. Her research is broadly focused on quantum information and quantum computation, control and simulation of complex quantum systems, and quantum effects in biological systems.

Address and directions:

University of San Francisco
2130 Fulton Street
SF, CA 94117
Fromm Hall - FR 115 - Berman Room

See the campus map and directions

Extended abstracts


The discovery of Quantum mechanics immediately transformed both physics and chemistry; and questions were soon asked about its implications for biology. The first era of quantum biology focused on the structure and stability of biological entities like molecules. A second era began in the 1960s, with lasers allowing experiments on the very short time scales relevant to atomic and molecular motions. Today, we have novel nanoprobes of real living cells, and evidence for biological phenomena that may involve highly non-trivial quantum effects such as long-range coherence and entanglement. I shall review some of this history, and then describe studies of dynamical quantum effects in biological systems, discussing the diverse questions that these studies raise for our understanding of the biological world we inhabit.


The ability to store memories for experiences and then use them to inform decisions is one of the most remarkable abilities of the brain. These memories are central to our identities; in a very real sense our personality and the sum total of our experiences define who we are and how we interact with our world. In this talk he will introduce the brain areas that are critical for making and retrieving memories. He will also discuss recent results that has given us new insights into how memories are stored, how these memories are then retrieved and how they can be used to guide decisions.

Darnovsky. From commercial surrogacy to sex selection, from police DNA databases to patents on life, from early fetal gene tests to "three-parent IVF," new practices in the life sciences are raising profound challenges to social justice, the public interest, and the human future. Many of these issues are taking us, in the words of former Vice President Al Gore's recent best-seller The Future, "beyond the outer edges of the moral, ethical and religious maps bequeathed to us by previous generations." Responsibly used, human genetic and reproductive technologies offer promising new ways to treat disease and otherwise improve the human condition. If misused, they could exacerbate existing disparities and create high-tech forms of discrimination and inequality. Currently, public attention to the social and ethical concerns about human biotechnologies is episodic and disconnected. Only a few non-governmental organizations have programs addressing them. In the US, public policies are thin at best.Political understanding of human biotechnologies is at an early stage, perhaps comparable to the state of understanding of environmental issues that existed before the publication of Rachel Carson's Silent Spring. But a new biopolitics is taking shape. This talk will take you on a tour of the thorny ethical and societal questions raised by human genetic and assisted reproductive technologies, and of the new biopolitics that is emerging to confront them.
Photos and videos of this evening