Lecture on Thursday was great! (Although I am looking forward to Professor Vesna’s return this upcoming Thursday- you have been missed!!) Professor Gimzewski gave a fun talk on polymers. The highlight of his talk is definitely when he called actin an “awesome polymer.” I would agree with him; it is a pretty awesome polymer. Polymers are incredible.
I tend to prefer natural polymer chemistry, as that is my field. I love the reactions that take place with actin nucleation and elongation, DNA polymerization, and protein transcription. Synthetic plastics and polymer chemistry is something different though. The chemical reactions between natural and synthetic polymers are the same basic nucleophilic attack on an electrophile. But synthetic polymer chemistry is a field of chemistry that is producing so many environmental issues. I think we can find a better replacement for plastics.
Dr. Gimzewski prompted us to blog about a day without polymers (synthetic). Which made me think, what if we did live in this world and instead of this massive hydrocarbon chains of plastic, we used phosphodiester bonds and actin filaments. Sure, they wouldn't last as long, but do we need things to last forever anyway? Can we take any of this with us when we go? The truth is, I can’t live a day without polymers (as my life is). I work in a lab and at the hospital, many of my instruments are polymers. I wear athletic shoes with high-tech polymer soles and have no fully leather shoe. My computer is a must in my life and filled with polymeric pieces. My dogs harness has plastic clips. Considering fungus as a replacement options for polymers, I found a great article that questions if we can replace plastics with mushrooms. Per Eben Bayer the CEO of Ecovative, we can. However, the setback, as is always, is the funding/money to produce these products. (Gunther, 2013)
Professor Gimzewski’s prompt gave me some inspiration for my mid-term project (which is also the prompt for the week 4 blog). The remainder of my blog will be my proposal for my midterm assignment.
I would like to propose an art project that encompasses the topic of polymers, natural vs. artificial plastics. The aim will be two-fold. One, to establish the idea of a network that Professor Vesna spoke of on the first day of class and two, to show the absolute destruction caused by plastics. The first part of the project proposal will be to take an ordinary globe and cover it in actin. In my lab we produce massive amounts of amoeba actin. This is where I would be able to obtain the actin (thanks amoeba). My proposal is to cover the globe in the filaments (they are white and stringy, resembling that of a spider web). Behind the globe on a TV will flash Polymol structures and genetic sequencing analysis of the different actin isoforms. Actin is a 95% conserved protein. Much like us and our genetic code, only we are even closer to 100% similar than actin isoforms are. It will establish that just as actin covers the globe, so do we. And just as actin is almost nearly the same, so our we. And just as actin is establishing networks inside of the cell, we establish networks across the globe. I would like to include some other imagery, dark and light, that insinuates that we are forming the wrong type of networks sometimes with war and perceived differences.
The second part will be to photograph people with plastic coming out of them in the same vein as the Chris Jordan photographs from his project Midway: Message from the Gyre. This will highlight the issue of plastics in our ocean and plastic islands like the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. Like Professor Gimzewski said... the plankton eat the plastic, which are eaten by small fish, which are eaten by bigger fish, which are eaten by us. We will not look much different than these birds one day.
In all, my midterm proposal project will have the theme of polymers, both natural and artificial, and their impacts.
After a bit of a heavy read, I thought I’d leave with a string vest image. (Thanks for the laughs Professor Gimzewski).