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December 5, 2006

Ideas of Gershenfeld and Khan: Mind and Machine

Neil Gershenfeld is the director of MIT's Center for Bits and Atoms and heads the Media Lab's Physics & Media research group. He takes part in investigating the relationship between the content of information and its physical representation.

In Fab, Gershenfeld shows his investigation on the revolution of personal computers to personal fabricators that is to come in the future.
His idea of personal fabrication is to make anything, including itself by assembling atoms. With this idea of creating functioning systems, he held a class at MIT, called “How to Make (almost) Anything�, which is what this reading was based on.

Louis Khan
Architect Louis Khan is considered to be one of the great master builders of our time. In his text, “Silence and Light� he writes about light as the giver of all that is present. That what we see is light playing with materials, patterns and forms. Also, in this text, his ideas reflect those of Gershenfeld’s.

Personal Fabrication (Gershenfeld) and Brains as Machines (Khan)

Gershenfeld’s idea of personal fabrication- a machine that makes a machine- involves the integration of logic, sensing, actuation and display. These are the essentials in making a functioning system. Here, he is focused on technological advances with machines such as computers.
Louis Khan also writes of machines, but in respect to the brain and the mind. He identifies brains as the machines we make for calculating or computing, these computers are the brains, not the mind. The mind, then, makes it but will never give you anything that brains can do. Mind is the instrument, and the brain is the soul.
Here, we have two different ways of looking at machines. Gershenfeld views the universe as a computer. Where as Khan writes of a machine that is based on the human body.

In these to readings, Gershenfeld also talks of his course at MIT call How to Male (almost) Anything. And Khan also talks about the human intuition to create.
While reading these, I notice that with students who are driven to create new functioning systems, it’s almost like we are machines ourselves. Gershenfeld mentioned how personal fabricators are machines that can create other machines. Therefore, machines would almost have an “intuition� to create, like what Khan says of human beings. So, Khan’s idea of basing the machine on the human body is also reflected in Gershenfeld’s Fab. Gershenfeld also has an analogy as our universe as a computer, all made of tiny, elements and atoms that come together to create a functioning system in its entirety.

October 9, 2006

Seasonal Phenomena

Spring: a time of new life; fresh. Summer: season of heat; enjoyment. Fall: rich colors; tranquility. Winter: the ending season; resting joys. A perfect combination of seasons in the Minnesota region. Each season has abundant contributions to our lives throughout our days, months, years. How fortunate we are to experience, annually, this phenomena. By living amongst these seasons, we perceive them with our senses.

In the fall, we can step outside and inhale the crisp air; we smell the fresh, dry air; the leaves brush along the ground; wind blows into our faces. Through these experiences, we can understand the clockworks, frameworks, and things contained in this phenomena. The trees, streets, wildlife, buildings and people are all things that are involved in the phenomena of seasons. Our lives, wildlife interaction, offices, assignments or landscapes are all frameworks of these things. They are a number of these things in invariant relationships. Schedules, meetings, changing from day to night, growth in nature or just the process of waiting for something to happen are a few of the clockworks that exist in this phenomena. The changing of seasons brings changes in our lives, in nature, building materials, the cycles of things once living, everything we live in is a part of this phenomena.

With the changing of seasons comes aging, wisdom, adaptation and new life. But we experience these changes within a pattern. We live through many long winters and many short summers. And each time these seasons recurr, new clockworks, frameworks and things appear and affect our lives. It's a process that is only patrially spontaneous. We naturally know what each season will bring and when it will occurr. But only in a broad sense. We will not know how intense, how light, how pleasant, or how terrifying each rotating season will be. This is all part of the great seasonal phenomena.