Pop-Up Windows is done and I’m finally able to get back to all my other classes. After putting this project down for some time (sorry :/) I picked it back up, and realized I’m not entirely in love with where it went.
It started with the idea of cactus absorbing the radiation emitted by computers. I’ve been very scattered with this after that, kinda just following the path that the research takes me but with no clear direction and while I ended up with a cool idea half-way through the semester (make a line of objects), it still felt very “mushy” in regards to the concept and the science behind it.
From here, I decided to enlist my sister’s help. While she has no ties whatsoever to physics or what I’m doing, she is an MD/PhD and currently working at a research lab in the NYU’s Langone Medical Center. I figured her research chops are way beefier than mine, and she should be able to help me wrangle my rampant thoughts back in.
Man was I RIGHT!
We started talking about how the project started and what I was struggling with, and then we zeroed into three main questions to answer, to see if my original idea was even feasible.
The questions were the following:
- Do computers / phones actually emit any sort of radiation?
- If they do, what is it?
- what materials block, shield it or absorb it?
From those three questions, we determined that yes, computers/phones do emit radiation and it’s called non-ionizing radiation. The problem with this finding is that radiation by computers has NOT been proved to affect health in any way, although radiation in general causes cancer and reproductive issues, so most research is focused on that.
This was a bit of a blessing in disguise since the original idea was to reduce/or block the negative effects of this radiation and that seems to have gone out the window.
I decided then to veer into the mental aspects of computers/phones, and the hyperconnectivity of today.
I came back to the idea of the signal jammer then, but with a clearer purpose in mind. So I started looking for ways of creating signal jammers that would be non-disruptive in a collective way (meaning, just affecting the person using the device) and landed on the tried and true aluminum foil, and a pleasant surprise of salt water (this brings it back full circle for me, since nature is supposed to output negative ions which are supposed to counteract the positive ions emitted by technology).
I also found this interesting video that after doing a series of lo-fi examples (start from marker 6:21), highlighted the fact that there are other things made out of aluminum foil that work just as well.
I had been rejecting the idea of using aluminum foil because the material itself was so flimsy and just not usable in a durable, polished way. But I started looking into existing things made out of aluminum and landed on this nice malleable aluminum sheets that could be perfect for creating things with a better level of finish.
I ordered a couple of samples + a yard of the material to see what I can make with it, and if it’ll work well.
For the water prototype, I’m looking into waterproof pouches or containers and building something that’s filled with water around it. Not sure how it’s gonna work but now it’s time to get down and get my hands dirty.
It’s interesting that this is bringing me back to such raw natural things (water and metal) and it’s making me think very much of alchemy, the Chinese Wu Xing system or the whole notion of the Avatar: the Last Airbender (nerd alert) and the four classical elements. I’m gonna look into this a bit more to see if I can have some of these ancient aspects inform my design.
I’m feeling MUCH better about this now that I was able to put some good time and thought behind it. Now I just have to make!