Your T-Shirt Might Not Want to Be a T-Shirt
Question: What is the relationship between objects of fixation in literature and art?
Bill Brown: Right. Well, I would, let me answer that, maybe let me avoid that question, perhaps, right? Because I think that what has become increasingly clear at the end of the 20th century is how much 20th century art is trying to teach us about objects and about object culture, which is to say about how objects make meaning, how objects make meaning for us. And I think right now, certainly in the contemporary art world, there is so much installation work, largely I'm thinking of Tara Donovan's incredible styrofoam cups which end up looking like clouds because they’re glued together, a lot of refabrication. Or **** production of these object ecology, so it's, you know, toothpicks, Q-tips, and scraps of this, and then the other thing, and they end up being this sort of cosmos.
And artists like that, I think, and not just those artists, I think really mean to be alerting our attention to other ways that objects might be configured, or as I like to put it, or have put it in one essay or another, the possibility that the material world might want to be organized other than the way we've organized it, right? So that the desire, the denim of your jeans or the cotton of your T-shirt, the object of its desire might be to be a different object, right? Your T-shirt might actually want to be part of a flag, you know, something along those lines. And I think it's been a very contemporary art, and a very powerful conduit, to those sorts of ideas. And those sorts of ideas, philosophically, are very much a part of say, vitalism, I'm thinking of Henri Bergson and then Bergson as re-thought by Deleuze. But it's, I think it's only in the presence of such art that you really experience some of these alternatives, or what I'm calling something like the desire, an inanimate object world's desire to be reconfigured, to have a different shape, right? And right now, around the city, around your city, if you look at Orozsco’s work in the MoMA, with something like the yogurt tops on four different walls, or Urs Fischer at the New Museum, there's huge aluminum sculptures, I mean, these are all, this is all work that is very powerfully, I think, dramatizing the presence of objects and the importance of objects, as opposed to say, images. And I think that, you know, if something happened in the 20th century, it's that image culture ended up trumping object culture. And we have great theories of image culture, too, Debord's Society of the Spectacle, Baudrillard's Orders of Simulacra, and we do, I think, also have powerful theories of the object. But I think that it's really image culture that got the most attention toward the end of the last century.
There's also, there's another artist, a Chicago artist, Marie Krane Bergman, who has for years been doing vast monochrome on canvases made up of very, very small sort of hillocks of paint. And now one of the practices that she's taken up is to put paint, acrylic paint, on the floor and then to pick it up and hang the paint, after it's dried, hang the paint. So she will do grids, for instance, and hang them up and then the grid will sag a bit. And one of the obvious effects of that work is to make one recognize that, you know, paint is never still, you know, paint is always moving. You know, a 15th century painting, that paint is still moving, it might be moving very slowly, but it's moving. And it's also, you know, to my mind, a fascinating way for painting to be attending to a different material ground, not as Greenberg and others would say about flatness, about the shape of the canvas, but rather to the paint itself, right? So now it's just the paint unsupported, as it were supported just by a nail, that becomes the art object. But there's another moment where, you know, you really do experience with those works, the vitality of paint, even if it's drooping.
Recorded on March 4, 2010
Interviewed by Austin \r\nAllen
Many modern artists have explored the idea that the material world "might want to be organized other than the way we’ve organized it."
It's just the current cycle that involves opiates, but methamphetamine, cocaine, and others have caused the trajectory of overdoses to head the same direction
- It appears that overdoses are increasing exponentially, no matter the drug itself
- If the study bears out, it means that even reducing opiates will not slow the trajectory.
- The causes of these trends remain obscure, but near the end of the write-up about the study, a hint might be apparent
Through computationally intensive computer simulations, researchers have discovered that "nuclear pasta," found in the crusts of neutron stars, is the strongest material in the universe.
- The strongest material in the universe may be the whimsically named "nuclear pasta."
- You can find this substance in the crust of neutron stars.
- This amazing material is super-dense, and is 10 billion times harder to break than steel.
Superman is known as the "Man of Steel" for his strength and indestructibility. But the discovery of a new material that's 10 billion times harder to break than steel begs the question—is it time for a new superhero known as "Nuclear Pasta"? That's the name of the substance that a team of researchers thinks is the strongest known material in the universe.
Unlike humans, when stars reach a certain age, they do not just wither and die, but they explode, collapsing into a mass of neurons. The resulting space entity, known as a neutron star, is incredibly dense. So much so that previous research showed that the surface of a such a star would feature amazingly strong material. The new research, which involved the largest-ever computer simulations of a neutron star's crust, proposes that "nuclear pasta," the material just under the surface, is actually stronger.
The competition between forces from protons and neutrons inside a neutron star create super-dense shapes that look like long cylinders or flat planes, referred to as "spaghetti" and "lasagna," respectively. That's also where we get the overall name of nuclear pasta.
Caplan & Horowitz/arXiv
Diagrams illustrating the different types of so-called nuclear pasta.
The researchers' computer simulations needed 2 million hours of processor time before completion, which would be, according to a press release from McGill University, "the equivalent of 250 years on a laptop with a single good GPU." Fortunately, the researchers had access to a supercomputer, although it still took a couple of years. The scientists' simulations consisted of stretching and deforming the nuclear pasta to see how it behaved and what it would take to break it.
While they were able to discover just how strong nuclear pasta seems to be, no one is holding their breath that we'll be sending out missions to mine this substance any time soon. Instead, the discovery has other significant applications.
One of the study's co-authors, Matthew Caplan, a postdoctoral research fellow at McGill University, said the neutron stars would be "a hundred trillion times denser than anything on earth." Understanding what's inside them would be valuable for astronomers because now only the outer layer of such starts can be observed.
"A lot of interesting physics is going on here under extreme conditions and so understanding the physical properties of a neutron star is a way for scientists to test their theories and models," Caplan added. "With this result, many problems need to be revisited. How large a mountain can you build on a neutron star before the crust breaks and it collapses? What will it look like? And most importantly, how can astronomers observe it?"
Another possibility worth studying is that, due to its instability, nuclear pasta might generate gravitational waves. It may be possible to observe them at some point here on Earth by utilizing very sensitive equipment.
The team of scientists also included A. S. Schneider from California Institute of Technology and C. J. Horowitz from Indiana University.
Check out the study "The elasticity of nuclear pasta," published in Physical Review Letters.
Scientists think constructing a miles-long wall along an ice shelf in Antarctica could help protect the world's largest glacier from melting.
- Rising ocean levels are a serious threat to coastal regions around the globe.
- Scientists have proposed large-scale geoengineering projects that would prevent ice shelves from melting.
- The most successful solution proposed would be a miles-long, incredibly tall underwater wall at the edge of the ice shelves.
The world's oceans will rise significantly over the next century if the massive ice shelves connected to Antarctica begin to fail as a result of global warming.
To prevent or hold off such a catastrophe, a team of scientists recently proposed a radical plan: build underwater walls that would either support the ice or protect it from warm waters.
In a paper published in The Cryosphere, Michael Wolovick and John Moore from Princeton and the Beijing Normal University, respectively, outlined several "targeted geoengineering" solutions that could help prevent the melting of western Antarctica's Florida-sized Thwaites Glacier, whose melting waters are projected to be the largest source of sea-level rise in the foreseeable future.
An "unthinkable" engineering project
"If [glacial geoengineering] works there then we would expect it to work on less challenging glaciers as well," the authors wrote in the study.
One approach involves using sand or gravel to build artificial mounds on the seafloor that would help support the glacier and hopefully allow it to regrow. In another strategy, an underwater wall would be built to prevent warm waters from eating away at the glacier's base.
The most effective design, according to the team's computer simulations, would be a miles-long and very tall wall, or "artificial sill," that serves as a "continuous barrier" across the length of the glacier, providing it both physical support and protection from warm waters. Although the study authors suggested this option is currently beyond any engineering feat humans have attempted, it was shown to be the most effective solution in preventing the glacier from collapsing.
Source: Wolovick et al.
An example of the proposed geoengineering project. By blocking off the warm water that would otherwise eat away at the glacier's base, further sea level rise might be preventable.
But other, more feasible options could also be effective. For example, building a smaller wall that blocks about 50% of warm water from reaching the glacier would have about a 70% chance of preventing a runaway collapse, while constructing a series of isolated, 1,000-foot-tall columns on the seafloor as supports had about a 30% chance of success.
Still, the authors note that the frigid waters of the Antarctica present unprecedently challenging conditions for such an ambitious geoengineering project. They were also sure to caution that their encouraging results shouldn't be seen as reasons to neglect other measures that would cut global emissions or otherwise combat climate change.
"There are dishonest elements of society that will try to use our research to argue against the necessity of emissions' reductions. Our research does not in any way support that interpretation," they wrote.
"The more carbon we emit, the less likely it becomes that the ice sheets will survive in the long term at anything close to their present volume."
A 2015 report from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine illustrates the potentially devastating effects of ice-shelf melting in western Antarctica.
"As the oceans and atmosphere warm, melting of ice shelves in key areas around the edges of the Antarctic ice sheet could trigger a runaway collapse process known as Marine Ice Sheet Instability. If this were to occur, the collapse of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet (WAIS) could potentially contribute 2 to 4 meters (6.5 to 13 feet) of global sea level rise within just a few centuries."
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