December 15, 2006

Khan and Gershenfeld

Neil Gershenfeld’s article “FAB? discusses the way personal fabrication and creativity by computers. Now that computers are an almost integral part of design work he fears that this will become a very real and very widespread problem. The human mind will be limited by the constraints of the computer. In “Silence and Light? Louis Kahn takes a slightly different view on human creativity. He seems to think that all creativity comes from without. Indeed it is true that people draw from their own experiences and observations and he thinks that without that humans have limited or now ability to be creative. I do not think that their opinions are mutually exclusive. On one hand human creativity does come from within. Creativity is an expression of someone’s inner self. However, a person is shaped by their own history and it isn’t wrong to say that experience is an inspiration for creativity.

Technopolies

As technology becomes more advanced and more familiar society more reliant on that technology. It is incredible to think that half a century ago mankind had never seen a computer. Today they are inescapable. To realize how integral they are to our culture we must imagine life without them. It is hard to think about how our modern economy would operate without them.
stockticker.jpg
Without computers the massive amounts of information that is processed daily at stock exchanges would have to be calculated by hand. Our modern technology also allows instant access to information over long distance, so people everywhere can take part in this daily process.

On a more personal level, the computer has become an integral part of people's daily lives. From childhood, individuals learn to use computers for work, play and social interaction. Computers are an almost necessary tool at most modern universities.
library computers.JPG
I personally access my computer at least six days during a typical school week, and the use of a computer is required for all of my classes (except karate) at some point during the semester.

This obsessive use of technology in our society reflects Neil Postman's pessimistic idea of technopoly. Our culture is sadly too reliant on technology to work for us in our daily lives. Without it our country could almost be crippled. Computers operate all kinds of machinery, sort and manipulate databases everywhere and exchange information all over the world. The fact that the almost comical Y2K scare could occur reveals that people understand that modern technology has been given a very central role in their lives. Maybe it's more of a problem then they think.

November 12, 2006

Mathematics in Design

This is a sphereflake:
url.htm
The sphereflake is created by orienting spheres symmetrically around a larger sphere. The process is continued with spheres of exponentially smaller sizes around these smaller spheres and repeating the process infinitely.

The sphereflake can then be attached to others to create more complex patterns.
sphereflake-dark.jpg

This is just one example of how mathematics is used to design and create objects of beauty. Through math architects can create spaces that are pleasing to the eye through symmetry and proportionality.

October 23, 2006

Opposition

Since their creation, man has sought after ways to conquer nature due to their own limitations and the obstructions created by nature. An example of this is man’s desire to fly. Clearly impossible under their own power flight has been a dream of man since ancient times. The possibility of flight was obvious because of the example of birds, and men pondered for thousands of years. The ancient Greeks told a tale of Icarus. Icarus and his father, Daedalus, constructed wings of feathers and wax to escape from their prison cell in a tall tower. Their plan worked successfully until Icarus, deluded by pride in his accomplishment, flew too high. The wax in his wings melted causing him to fall to his death in the sea.
icarus.jpg
Although the dream of flight existed from this early day it took thousands of years for it to be fulfilled. It wasn’t till the 18th Century that people finally managed to fly for any sustainable time. They used balloons filled with gas or heat to make them lighter than the air around them. Then in 1903 the Wright brothers made the first powered flight in a vehicle lighter than air. Through their experiments they unveiled this whole new possibility to the world.
plane_wright_65_lg.jpg
Since then the technology has been improved to allow large numbers of people to travel anywhere in the world in a single vehicle.
0620854.jpg
This is only one example of man's efforts to solve the problems presented to nature by means of the creativity and problem solving skills they have been given.

October 15, 2006

Phenomenon

Rivers and streams are a seasonal phenomena. Every year their water is replenished by melting snow and spring rains.
falls.jpg
As the year progresses the water level gradually fades away as its source is depleted. This dramatically alters the shape of the landscape around it, as the water covers less of the shore.
river.jpg
Such a recurrence is clearly a phenomenon in terms of its clockwork (the changing of seasons) frameworks (the consistency of the change and the directed flow of the river) and things (the water, the shore and the river itself.)

October 2, 2006

squirrel

This is a squirrel.
squirrel.jpg

I chased it up a tree. I’m such a bad person, but it was fun, and now I know how to embed images.

Life is good.

October 1, 2006

Down by the river

There is a place I like to go to near the East River Flats. Here I can sit alone with God, removed from the usual distractions of life. Sometimes I sit on a rock a short distance from the shore. Here I can watch the light of the sun play off of the waves, I can toss stones in the water and watch them splash in and sometimes I can see ducks swimming by. From here I can see the Washington Ave. Bridge and hear the distant sounds of the cars trickling across. A faint reminder of the human activity surrounding me.

At other times I can sit away from the river under a slab of stone. Here I can read in relative seclusion. This is perhaps the best place I know of for reading and thinking by myself. There is no other human influence on my thought and I can reflect on who God is, who I am and what my place is in this world.

Metrodome

In the last year I have become increasingly vexed by the proposals of the Vikings and Twins to build new stadiums. It seems that the stadium hasn’t aged well at all and there is certainly room for improvement, but that hardly justifies the cost of two new stadiums each costing well over half a billion dollars. The stadium is certainly less than ideal for baseball with its white ceiling and frankly it’s hardly worth fighting for its existence as a baseball field as the Twins have already gotten approval for a new stadium. However I strongly believe that the Vikings should make every effort to make use of the Metrodome. Frankly they don’t deserve a stadium as much as the Twins do and the actual stadium doesn’t hinder game play in the same way it does for baseball. Besides, I think the Metrodome has a lot of character both as a sports venue and as a part of the downtown skyline. I’m no expert but I think they should make every effort to use what they already have before going ahead and building a new stadium.

September 27, 2006

Downtown parking

I had guests this last weekend and was reminded how parking around the city has grown to be pretty big problem. I am very much in favor of people walking and taking public transportation, but for someone visiting out of town this isn’t always possible because they have to park their cars first. I think the obvious solution is to build ramps in the downtown area. Ramps are efficient spatially and can be built underground. They should be operated by the city as most businesses reserve their lots for their patrons and the resulting revenue could be put toward promoting public transportation and cleaning up downtown. Perhaps in my limited exposure to the city I overestimate the problem. The solution could be as simple as setting up signs to better guide drivers to parking. But from my experience improvement is necessary.

September 17, 2006

Midtown Market

The Midtown Market is filled with people buying and selling an incredible variety of international foods. I am impressed by the diversity of the products and the patrons bustling about the marketplace. These people all have an entirely unique background, yet they are all gathered here in the same premise. They have this unique opportunity to experience the crowd around them and to share this moment of life with the people around them. They fill the atmosphere of the market with energy.

In my mind energy represents the quantity of activity, either potential or immediately occurring, contained in any entity. Energy is present in abundance in places like the Midtown Market where people from all over congregate. The energy in the market is created when the people walk in. It is used whenever the people present are prompted into action, perhaps when they are drawn to a certain product or when they become engaged in conversation. It is transferred between people as they buy, sell and converse. Every time people interact they leave a little bit of themselves and their story behind with their acquaintances.