Last week during our final meeting, we discussed and brainstormed about the plastic book. Initially I was thinking about “Infinity War against Plastics” as the working title, because I think this title might appeal to the kids in high school who are interested in pop culture. But the finalized working title “Plastidemic ; Recovering from plastic plague” just catches my eyes.
Last Thursday, Professor Vesna asked us to brainstorm the contents of the plastic book for our final projects. Besides recycling different kinds of plastics into art work, I think it’s better for the book to address on the points of utensil plastics. As I have done the research for the plastic utensil, the pollution is enormous, 40 Billion plastic utensils are used once and discarded in America every year. Moreover, 500 Million plastic straws are used once and discarded every day (zoeticalife.com, 2018).
On last Thursday, many of our classmates presented their fascinating ideas and proposals to us. One topic that I found the most interesting is the artistic work of indigo dyeing on traditional Chinese medicine. TCM, an abbreviation for traditional medicine, is a style of medicine that involves herbal medicine, massage, and acupuncture. It has existed and been widely used in China for more than 2000 years. Traditional Chinese medicine has become the orthodox system of medicine before the introduction of Western medicine into China.
Last week we saw a wide variety of interesting and inspiring proposals in the midterm presentation by our classmates. Ideas from different field collide with each other and give us different angle to solve the social problem. We saw the abuse and pollution of microfiber, the poetry created by DNA, the plastic art work, and the data analysis of plastics in ocean. Because I’m a math major student, I was extremely interested in data analysis of plastics pollution, which utilizes the idea of network in math.
This week, under the guidance of Xin Xin, we did a bioplastic workshop together and I really enjoyed the process. Compared with the indigo dyeing workshop two weeks ago, this workshop is even more interesting to me, as we were actually “cooking” out the bioplastics by ourselves. The informative lecture given by Dr. Ggimzewski last week introduced bioplastics as an alternative solution to the fuel made plastics. The bioplastics are made from starch and scientists use sorbitol and glycerin to plasticizes the starch into a plastic.
This week Dr. Ggimzewski gave us a very informative and interesting presentation on plastics. He started with the broad introduction of polymer by talking about some naturally existed polymer such as starch or rubber. Then he talked about the development of artificial polymer and how plastics were invented. I was very surprised when I knew that the invention of plastics was an accident and it wasn’t there before 1840.
This week, under the guidance of Maru Garcia, we did an Indigo workshop together and I really enjoyed the process. This is the first time for me to do indigo dyeing and before the lecture, I have no idea of how indigo dyeing works. The video shown in the beginning of the lecture was very informative, as it gave me a comprehensive overview of indigo dyeing.
In last Thursday lecture, we watched a talk given by Jae Rhim Lee about her mushroom burial suit. That is the strangest TED talk I’ve ever seen, but it is also the fascinating and impressive one by completely reshaping my prior knowledge and introducing me to the new biotechnology field. The suit she wears during the talk is called the “Infinity Suit”, which represents a union of nature and mankind, utilizes mushroom to decompose the toxins in our bodies after our death.
Born and raised in China, I spent 18 years living in my home country where science and engineering receive the most attentions. Art is considered a way to expand one's interest but should not be his or her career goal. For instance, children often learn different forms of art during their elementary school but as soon as they enter the junior school, they are required to forsake their hobbies. The junior school does offer their kids art class, but the time reserved for those class is usually taken away by math or physics teachers (Wang 2015).