Posts by Raji Ganesan

  • ASU Imagination Project: Join us!

    ASU Imagination Project: Join us!

    Friends! Students! Creators! Consider this your invitation to join the ASU Imagination Project (the CSI student group). I’m here to provide some updates on what we’ve…


    ASU Imagination Project: Join us!

    Imagination Project GraphicFriends! Students! Creators! Consider this your invitation to join the ASU Imagination Project (the CSI student group). I’m here to provide some updates on what we’ve been working on during our first year, and a preview of the incredible projects we have on deck for part two.

    The Imagination Project expands on CSI’s events, projects and research to provide new, hands-on opportunities for student involvement and creativity. Building from CSI’s exciting fusion of sciences, arts, humanities and engineering, we focus on reaching out to students (yes, even you!) to promote interdisciplinary collaboration and discovery.

    This year, we kicked off what I like to call our “science over pizza” talks, where we engage with incredible innovators in a remarkably intimate setting. We sat down with astrobiologist Sara Walker to discuss the future of space colonization and the origin of life. We were delighted with presentations by resident intellectual powerhouses like Merlyna Lim, an expert on social media and social change, and Ed Finn, who discussed his doctoral research in the field of digital humanities. We talked carbon nanomaterials over brownies and coffee.

    Each of these talks includes an in-depth, enriching Q+A and conversation session. We are committed to creating an environment where students feel comfortable having actual conversations with experts. We are planning future conversations on video games and education, as well as the science behind music, movement, visual art and film. With such a vast population of gifted students and faculty, we have a nearly endless supply of inspiration for discussions and interactive demonstrations (and even the occasional field trip!).

    Other projects currently in the works include:

    • The CyberSenses workshops, which somehow combine hacking and making with deep philosophical conversations about what it means to be human;
    • The Biochar initiative, which turns junk mail into substances that boost the nutrition of soil and fertilize plants sustainably.
    • Last but not least…Chemistry: The Musical

    If any of this sounds interesting, then request more information about attending the events…or better yet, just join the club! To join, please email me, Raji Ganesan (media and outreach officer) at rajiganesan7 AT gmail DOT com. You can also check out our Facebook group for news, events and updates.

    I can say this with complete honesty: the Imagination Project is one of those rare campus groups where all of the members are actually passionate and engaged. It’s not about padding a resume, or freeloading for food (at least not all the time). It’s a cohesive group with artists, engineers and people who just love to learn! And, if you are one of the people who worries that they don’t belong because they are not a science major: WAIT. STOP. COME BACK. WE HAVE PIZZA. But more importantly, that’s simply not true. Please don’t let the word “science” alienate you, because all it really means is “discovery.” Come find out what we’re all about. You won’t be disappointed.

  • Beautiful Disasters

    Beautiful Disasters

    Robert Krulwich, NPR Science Friday correspondent and RadioLab contributor, recently shared a blog post about the phenomenon of ice crystals forming in the shape of flowers…


    Beautiful Disasters

    Mammatus CloudsRobert Krulwich, NPR Science Friday correspondent and RadioLab contributor, recently shared a blog post about the phenomenon of ice crystals forming in the shape of flowers in the arctic waters. As he says, “the sea, literally, blossoms.” Aside from the clear metaphorical and poetic implications, these frigid flowers indicate a much broader theme of the elegance of earth science: the capacity of something magnificent and unique to arise from an inherently destructive process.

    The public eye is certainly no stranger to global warming, as environmentalists, scientists, and politicians alike are constantly scrutinizing its causes and effects. Over time, however, it seems the discussion has shifted more towards what we can do to reduce our carbon footprint, and away from the effects on the arctic. Apparently the connection between this controversial crusade and these unexpected creations is quite clear. As the water in the poles gets warmer, and becomes more thermally different from the air, more of these intricate crystals will appear. The air is so dry, it robs the sea of some of its moisture and becomes humid, but only for a moment. The water vapor, at this point, is denser than it would like to be, so it releases some of its moisture, which turns back into crystals – resulting in these beautiful formations.

    2012 certainly proved to be a year of complex meteorological disturbances (thankfully not including the Mayan Apocalypse). Looking to the destructive rampage of Hurricane Sandy on the east coast of the United States, the scars left by Typhoon Bopha in the Philippines, and a series of wildfires across the western United States, there is certainly something to be said for the destructiveness of Mother Nature – no questions asked. However, once we accept the cyclic nature of so many natural processes that we can hardly begin to control or even anticipate, it may be worth looking to the often-beautiful aftermath of geographic carnage. It cannot begin to make up for lives and homes that are lost, but at the very least, it makes the earth seem a little more forgiving.

    A final bizarre weather tale for your consideration: The citizens of Saskatchewan province in Canada were hit with some of the most severe tornado attacks they had ever experienced in June 2012, yielding a fair amount of flipped houses, and dead wicked witches. However, after the disruption subsided, the skies cleared to reveal clouds unlike any they, or any one else, had ever seen before. Rare, bubble-shaped, cotton ball tufts identified as Mammatus clouds decorated the vast expanse of Canadian sky. People walked out of their homes, some in better shape than others, and simply stood in awe at what was above them.

    It is a moment like this that reminds us that there are two sides to the coin of natural disasters. So readers, I implore that next time you are stranded in a monsoon, snowstorm, or classic Arizona haboob, well, first seek shelter! But after the storm subsides, step outside and see if the sun does not look a little softer and more majestic in the dusty haze.

    Image courtesy of julie patterson, used under Creative Commons license. Thanks julie!