Tag: nanotechnology

Dazzling FireBall: Space Junk, UFO or AI Swarm distribution coverup


While we were in residence at Scientific Delirium Madness a large fireball was seen in the sky over Palo Alto. Actually it was seen from San Francisco down to Los Angeles at the same time and it made it to Nevada and Utah before breaking up. The standard news took a few days to debate what the slow, glowing, giant comet-mass was. Delta Aquarid Perseid Meteor Shower ice ball? Flaming commercial airliner death ball? Off track or off map space junk?

Two days afterwards, Jonathan McDowell, astronomer of the Harvard Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics tweeted, “Observation reports from Utah indicate the second stage from the first Chang Zheng 7 rocket, launched Jun 25, reentered at 0440 UTC.” So, officially we have an identified flying object, synopsis… Chinese space junk. It was 36 feet long, 10 cubic meters, about the size of a school bus. Yes it was a big mofo. It scared lots of folx into thinking it was armageddon, a missile attack or an alien invasion. Capt. Nick Mercurio from Joint Functional Component Command for Space at Vandenburg Air Force Base, said “Given the size of the rocket body, some pieces of it may have survived re-entry but it’s unlikely it posed any threat to people.”

I can tell you that there was some curious followings along the trajectory of our CZ-7 Rocket booster flame out. The skies had f-19s scrambling the first day and copters with surface to air missiles the second day. They seemed to be tracking the path of the Chinese space manufacturing drizzle. Perhaps looking for covert pico-cricket robot swarms, Zika glossolaia attenuators, silicon eating 味噌 tauco 豆醬 fungal strains or rapid prototyping AI bunker camoCNC Router malevolent machine superintelligence (see http://leonardo.info/blogs/djerassi-field-notes-asa-calow/ ).

Be aware that being from Woodstock NY allows for conspiracy theory to be wide and far fetched. When presented with a school bus sized surprise space junk sky show, it is not the worst independent maneuver to free associate worst case scenarios… international subversions, government cover-ups, even wildhair, keef brained kook theory. In my humble opinion 60% of X-files style panic nutball theory turns out to be closer to the actual than baseline liar-liar mass media CNNFOX whitewash.

Track yourself as space junk:


the genitals fell into the much-surging sea


“you can check lines 188-190 of Hesiod’s Theogyny ‘they fell from the mainland into the much-surging sea, so that the sea carried them for a long time.’ Therefore, no reference to the place where the genitals fell, but if you keep reading “lines 190-200 from the foam around them in the sea Aphrodite was created near the island of Kythira (south of the Pelloponese) and from there she follows to Cyprus (next to Turkey). No reference to the island of Kerkyra or Corfu is made by Hesiod (according to local folklore, based on its shape, the island is supposed to have been created in the place where Cronus flung the sickle). In conclusion, my advice is to install the sculpture wherever worship is necessary, maybe, in some of the states where chemical castration is legally used as a punishment for child molestation, for example California where you are right now. Seems like a very interesting project and the fact that it is inspired in Ancient Greek mythology should not limit its placement.”

– Prof. Dalila Honorato, Media Aesthetics and Semiotics at the Department of Audio and Visual Arts, Ionian University in Corfu, Greece

Chinneck Comes in Off the Roof.


Chinneck's Flying Helmet

Documentation of the Mask’s True Origins

I think I hear footsteps on the roof of the barn. Could it be Tom, the groundskeeper? Or maybe—because of some strange sequence of occurrences—it is James Chinneck in his flying helmet, having just disembarked from his alien craft.

Chinneck is the one who left mysterious “state certified fact” plaques along the trails here—marking the location of, and telling about: the rusty old sausage truck shot up with bullets; the most unstable piece of ground in America; the events leading to the dissolution of the last known elephant beetle orchestra.

I wonder if Hank is near—if so, that’s probably Tom on the roof because wherever Tom goes Hank goes. I set off to circumambulate the barn looking for one of them.

My wife is jealous about Hank—that I’m spending time with him, tossing pinecones with the old boy. She loves Australian shepherds. Tom told me that Hank—rescued by Tom’s daughter from a sack in a ditch—used to be a runner. One night in desperation Tom drove the wily dog to a busy roadside truck depot at 4 AM. Tom opened his vehicle door and nudged Hank out. Hank bolted, and cruised haphazardly around the concrete expecting Tom to chase after. Tom, aloof, didn’t pursue him, but the Mac trucks barreling by soon disoriented Hank. “Go ahead run all ya want. There’s nowhere to go…I’m all you’ve got.” This ritual took just under an hour but it cured Hank of his fits of escape.

There’s no sign of Hank or Tom outside the barn.

I do run into a man leaning a ladder against the building. I say to the back of his head: “Was that you walking on the roof?” “Yes, the shingles need work,” he replies.

They take good care things here: the land, the buildings, and the residents. However the sculptures must endure the vicissitudes. There are a multitude of sculptures on this property. The program makes no attempt to preserve the sculptures, so a creation can forfeit its legacy if it succumbs to the elements. A weak structure can live on though if its story is meaningful.

The story of this place is meaningful. Djerassi’s daughter, Pamela—a poet and painter—took her life in 1978 here on this land. Carl Djerassi—a wealthy scientist—commemorated his daughter’s life by starting this artists’ residency in which I now participate. When his wife, Diane Middlebrook—Stanford professor like her husband—died in 2007 he added more artist housing to the campus. Carl died in January of this year. This special session of the residency incorporates scientists among artists—a nod to the program’s founder.

I continue around the building, with plans to complete the circuit; I run into Karl. He is in the sun with a mask across his mouth shaking a can of spray paint. He tells me he’s painting props for an upcoming performance. He has choreographed a dance that proves the Pythagorean theorem. He’ll perform it soon in New York City.

I tell him that I dreamed of tessellation last night. I explain that though I quickly picked up the dance routine he taught me yesterday it was more on intuition than explicit understanding. However, last night in bed at 4 am I awoke and realized that the rhythm of the feet in the first half of the dance is the rhythm of the hands in the second (clap-step-clap-clap, step-clap-step-step…).

I short-circuit my tour of the building perimeter and head back in, walking through the expansive shared space of the Artists’ Barn. There are doors everywhere: entrances and exits to bedrooms, studios, workshops, a fully stocked kitchen, and the outside air. Throughout the year ad hoc tribes of a dozen humans move in and out of this place transiently.

I walk by Deborah, the primatologist who used to consult for design teams at Nissan, and Katie, the artist whom I saw earlier studying a piece of leather she had molded and coated in home-made aluminum paint. She makes art using the tools of nano-chemistry.

I live in a large and lovely room with a Mason and Hamlin grand piano, a record player, a desk, a couch, a wood burning stove, a Wurlitzer electric piano, closets of sound equipment and a lofted bedroom and bath. I was one of the first to arrive here. Alone in the Artists’ Barn that first day I ran about, inspired by the sunny mountain scene I saw through the expansive glass wall of the barn. I jumped up and down in my room and buzzed with joy. I did a few cartwheels.

That’s when I first encountered Chinneck in his flying helmet, having just been dropped off in the dry grass by the silent, weightless alien machine. He walked in my room and shrugged his shoulders in questioning judgment of my childish behavior. But then he introduced himself and took me on a tour of the grounds. He showed me all the art. He foreshadowed what Margot Knight, the program’s director, was going to tell us residents the following day. He told me she would say that we all had a job to do here at Djerassi and that the job just was “to be.” He said not to listen to her though. He said this was all some new-agey rubbish and that I better accomplish something real professional-like while I’m here.

He reminded me that Jim Crutchfield had been here the year previous and that Crutchfield was a big shot physicist. He asked me to explain my research on birds to him, but then he interrupted me with abrasive questions. When I faltered he barked louder. He asked me to play a tune on the piano for him. I began the second movement of Mozart’s piano sonata in C. “Really? he scoffed, “That’s such a basic piece.” Then he smacked the backside of my head, told me to get up and played the piece himself. “That’s how it is supposed to sound!” he gloated. All the while he was still wearing this flying helmet.

Finally I broke. I said “What’s with that ridiculous head gear? You look like a fool in it.” The helmet was big and boxy; black like tar paper; spackled with silver mirror splotches. It was adorned so as to evoke a bird’s head, complete with a beak. The beak was shiny—stainless steel. The helmet looked intense and mysterious but also crude and mask-like. It was somehow very enchanting and I coveted it.

I grabbed the helmet and snatched it from his head. He yelped “My flying helmet!”

He swiveled around to grab for it and briefly his eyes met mine before he looked down—away. I saw his face though. It was grotesque, misshapen, like a twisted rag with skin and sensory organs attached. I still held the helmet but I offered it back. The pain in his eyes when I saw them moved me, despite his biting cruelty. He reached for the helmet and placed it back over his head.

I tried my best to just get on with the residency. Chinneck disappeared rather quickly once I challenged him. Nevertheless his words still haunted me. There was enough skepticism among the other residents about Margot’s existential imperative to amplify the echoes of Chinneck’s voice.

It is now the fourth day of my stay. Back in the barn I head for my room to play piano. I sit down and begin to improvise. The sounds are jagged, disjointed, dissonant and rapid. I am discharging my anger with Chinneck. Why did he deride me? I ponder at how I’ve already grown to love his plaques, his enchanting tales. How he must suffer though. The footsteps are above me now. I play in rhythm to them. I close my eyes and dive into a trance but am soon yanked out by a knock at my door.

I open my eyes. As I zip to the door I sense a dark mass on the floor in my peripheral vision—it was not there before. Deborah beckons. She says “Hey, James Chinneck is here. He’s showed up unannounced. Come say hi!”

It is indeed the same man I met my first day. He is engaged in unabashed affability with the residents. His mangled face is not covered. It is somehow painless now, though still alien—there is a new softness to his visage. He is all smiles. I am introduced as though we have never met. He does not let on—though he does reach out to hug me as though we are long lost friends. He holds me in an embrace for a split second and in my ear he whispers “I’m sorry.”

The day winds on and everyone falls in love with James. He tells us wild stories of his adventures here. They are farcical, bold and ridiculous, but we cry for more.

James packs up his Prius and drives off after a bout of sentimental farewells. I return to the room and discover Chinneck’s mask there. The following day I begin to justify its presence. I tell the other residents I made this mask.

Quantum Dot Music Evolution


A few weeks ago Guillermo and I posted about our first foray into representing quantum dots musically.

We realized there was much more potential to explore this idea. In our subsequent days at Djerassi we developed another, richer, Quantum Dot Music collaborative project. Through this project we mixed concepts of nanostructure semiconductors, single Quantum Dot (QD) optical emission and music. We translated emission spectra of QDs, to produce a visual/musical interface that allowed users to explore the unique sounds that our methods generated for each QD. The interface was presented at the open house at Djerassi on Sunday, July 19th 2105. Below you can see an image of the interface. We also include several sound sample that you can listen to.

Figure 2

Nano Table


3DPT(3D Periodic Table. Michael Aldersley)


I had noticed about this fantastic Scientific Delirium Madness Residence on the Yasmin list, which by the way is having days of struggle these last months. Quickly I sent my proposal, including two projects related to nanotechnology. Here I would like to present the preliminary results that I´ve developed on one of these projects during the residence, which I called the “Nano Table”.

In my scientific research I study the emission from single semiconductor quantum dots. These nanostrusctures are fascinating, as in many ways behave as single atoms. They are called “artificial atoms”, because we can control its properties by changing the size, shape, chemical composition, crystal structure, lattice parameter, … This made me think about the possibility to arrange a particular “periodic table” for these artificial atoms. I came here with the idea to develop some interaction with the artists and scientists to answer to these questions: Is there any possibility to think about a periodic table for these artificial atoms?  Would it make sense any possible periodic table for nanostructured elements?

My starting point was that periodicity with semiconductor quantum dots may be has no sense, as any change in shape or size for quantum dots is translated into different electronic configuration. So, we can say that there is a continuous “artificial atom” evolution, instead of this discrete configuration of the periodic table. However, may be it is possible to find some periodicity, even if it is not composed by discrete arrangements.

In my presentation talk I’ve just presented the problem, circulating around one idea: thinking about a third dimension for the periodic table. Nanotechnology could be thought as a kind of this third dimension. For example, nanoparticles could be arranged as a third dimension along a vertical axes of the Silicon position in the periodic table. However, with this approximation it was only possible to arrange a small amount of elements, since semiconductor nanoparticles are most of the times binary or ternary alloys, even more complicated.

Returning from the dinner, Luca and me were speaking about the possibilities, and he just asked me – why are you thinking in three dimensions?, why not four?, or even more? –. I was answering him, trying to imagine in which way I could represent more than three dimensions, when I understood his question. Yes, I just needed another parameter, and before to enter to my studio I visualized that this fourth parameter would be the frequency from the quantization energy for each nanoparticle. Yes !! Each nanoparticle has its own confinement range, and this is just the range where nanotechnology is important for semiconductors: the area where the exciton (electron bonded by a hole in the semiconductor crystal) is confined by the size of the nanoparticle.

The next day I selected the mathematical expression to relate semiconductor materials with nanoparticle diameter and, finally, excitonic energy. I used the easiest model, just considering effective mass approximation and spherical nanoparticles. This model is too far from any realistic approach, but it is the starting point to make some calculus and pictures.

I just arranged some information from different binary semiconductors (effective masses for electron and holes, and their dielectric constants). With this information I calculated the excitonic radius, and then the excitonic energy, following these expressions:


 Next step was to plot these results, and I did it arranging different materials with increasing energy gap. So, this was an important decision. In this step I forgot any input from the periodic table of elements, and began a new arrangement basing the classification on the energy gap of the semiconductor. Here you can see the first result using a double log plot:

Tabla Nano 1

 As you can see, for each material, as nanoparticle diameter increases, the excitonic energy decreases until reaching a stable value (energy gap). It is very important that semiconductor nanoparticles with lower energy gaps have large confinement range. However, this is not completely true, as it must be taken into account in more realistic phenomena (related to atomic size, crystal structure, growth process, …). But, the figure could be used to visualize the area where nanotechnology is important for semiconductor nanoparticles. In order to get a clearer picture of this region, I plotted a 2D image:


Here it is shown in a clearer way the evolution of the excitonic energy for each material as particle sizes increase. All lines tend to the large particle limit, where nanotechnology effects (quantum confinement, in this case) don’t apply. In my imagination, the area between the top line (corresponding to the small particles) and the limit case (bulk limit), corresponds to a visualization of the quantum confinement for semiconductor nanoparticles. It seemed to me a triangle, and I just plotted the following arrangement:


As we go upwards in this triangle, material energy gap increases, excitonic bohr radius decreases, and the theoretical range for quantum confinement decreases in a first approximation of the effective mass approach.

This visualization doesn´t make sense to describe any realistic system, since many simplifications have been made. However, it could be understood as an example of how scientific imagination could be engaged by the artistic community. In this case, trying to understand how to visualize a nanotechnological arrangement of semiconductor materials. For sure, the more interactions with artists, the more esthetical and sophisticated final graphics and ideas would be developed.


Note: I used only a small group of the possible binary semiconductors, as here I don´t have access to all the parameter information for all materials.