SPIE Traveling Lecturer: The Science of Invisibility

On Friday, January 27th, we were pleased to host Professor Greg Gbur from the University of North Carolina, Charlotte (UNCC) Department of Physics and Optics for our yearly SPIE Traveling lecturer series.

This year’s talk had everyone intrigued from the beginning. With the clever title “How not to be seen: the science of invisibility,” Professor Gbur talked us through the crazy science fiction and the even crazier science of cloaking technology, invisibility, and metamaterials. We laughed, we cried, we asked “WTF.” Slide after slide, we were emerged in the science and fun speculation with what one can do with the increasingly plausible notion of invisibility. Protect from earthquakes? Make a hole in a wall? Turn a spoon into a coffee cup???

Apparently, this is what theorists do 🙂

Also, Greg is a fantastic, interesting speaker, and we were so glad to host him. Professor Gbur also writes two web blogs on creepy stuff in science called the Science Chamber of Horrors, and a fun exploration of physics, optics, and pulp fuction: Skulls in the Stars

Thanks for joining us on this blustery day, Greg! We hope you come visit us soon!

Art in Science 2016: Reception and Winners

On November 17th, we held the reception for our annual Art in Science competition.

We were pleased to have received 40 submissions from departments across UCI’s campus. The stellar quality was impressive! Our guest judge, Professor Stephen Barker and Dean of the Claire Trevor School of the Arts, eloquently told us his vision for the winners: how one may make emotions and perceptions come alive in art.

Professor Barker and our very own and much beloved adviser, Professor Eric O. Potma from the Department of Chemistry, came to unanimous decision on the top two winners and one honorable mention.

Honorable Mention: Neha Garg, “LCAT Particles”

The picture represents the particle (fluorescent) trapping in the microstreaming vortices at air-liquid interfaces. The air-liquid interfaces are actuated using an acoustic wave which creates streamlines in the fluid causing the particles to trap.


2nd Place: Haoxin Zhange, “Fear of the Brain”

When animals or human beings are threatened, they feel fear. In my study, the virus containing the m-cherry fluorescent protein gene sequence and the opsin gene sequence was labeled to Parvalbumin-positive neuron subtype in certain areas of the mice’s brain. Exciting these neuron optogenetically will induce the innate fear responses of the animal. In the behavioural experiment, rodent presented freezing behaviour, which means they were feeling fear, when stimulating these specific neuron. The brain tissue was then sliced and the labeled neurons were captured by confocal microscopy. This figure presents the neurons responsible for fear emotion in rodent brain.

1st Place: Yasemin Sarigul-Klijn, “Musicglove”

[This comic is] inspired by the research that has gone on with my lab to aid people with disability, and that I too have had the privilege to contribute to.

With a good dose of art and snacks, we bid 2016, adieu. To view this year’s, and past year’s winners, drop by the lobby in Natural Sciences 2 when you need a study/lab break! 

Light Symposium – Light in Arts

Light as material and metaphor

Stephen Barker’s talk, “Light as Material and Metaphor” was one of the most
engaging talks I’ve attended while at UCI. Stephen Barker is currently serv-
ing as Interim Dean of Arts, but nevertheless enthusiastically answered our call
for talks when we first dreamed of the Light Symposium, an interdisciplinary
collaboration of various departments on campus. Stephen opened up with a
general walkthrough of light in art, and how its use has always been the center-
fold for many of the great artists. The evolution of light in art, however, as a
sort of tool to the focus and crux of a piece, was the most englightening part of
the talk for me. Stephan, speaking with increasing excitement, navigated us
through various interpretations of light, opening up new meanings and discus-
sions. Especially illuminating was the discussion of J.M. Turner’s use of light
as it progressed from tool to subject.

Improv game: how to create a graveyard in East Texas

Dr. Jaymi Lee Smith, a skilled lighting director and professor in the Theatre
department here at UC Irvine, good-naturedly took the random suggestions
from a bunch of over-ca einated scientists:
J: So how are we going to place our character in a graveyard in East Texas?
Audience: backlighting!
J: How much?
Someone in the audience: …63
Jaymi walked us through how a lighting director thinks and experiences the
stage. In the smallish, but intimate, Nixon Theatre nestled into a crook of the
arts department, next to buckets of chemicals used for developing photographs,
we were able to create outlandish scenes and asburd storylines using Jaymi’s
suggestions and expertise. It was one of the most unique experiences of the
Light Symposium: I think it’s safe to say that not many of us have, or will
have, the experinces of lighting an entire stage using top-notching technology,
and with Jaymi’s guidance, it was a blast.

Reception at Play: in Three Acts

To celebrate the end of the Light Symposium, we partnered with Samantha
Young from the Beall Center of Art+Technology to bring you Play: in Three
Acts. Each interactive exhibit by artists from around the country explored
di erent aspects of light in exceptionally entertaining ways. In the first exhibit,
one creates waves by moving through a fixture hanging from the ceiling, and
so sparks a cacaphony of previously recorded sounds that are on a 20 minutes
loop, so every iteration is different. In the other, two people race using various
lamps from di fferent eras found at yard sales form around the country. In the
third – and I will fully admit to be scared out of my wits – one is submerged in

total darkness, and like in the fi rst exhibit, one’s body movements through the
space sparks sounds that follow you around as you try to fi nd your way back
to the light. Although spooky, it was interesting, and important, to recall that
we only have light because we also have darkness, a theme that we seemed to
explore in one way or another through all the exhibits and talks at the Light