The Artistic Balance Between the Battlefield & Ballet

For my third blog entry, I'm happy to talk about a unique example of the benefits of Science & Arts that I was able to personally observe while being thousands of miles away from home.

During my first visit to the beautiful country of South Korea, I was amazed by a non-violent civil demonstration. With the recent political unrest of national protests driven by millions of Koreans, I was surprised at how peaceful and disciplined the protesters were. For example, I observed an organized demonstration with a high level of discipline and patriotism which resulted in protesters CLEANING the streets after the demonstration concluded. Think about that! Now that's a rear sight if you compare it to other countries and cities across the world.

Although that sight was an eye opener, there was something else that astonished me. I was more amazed at South Koreans unique approach to handling stress. With a highly competitive and intensified educational system coupled with increased military aggression from North Korea, the tension and stress level for South Koreans military students have been astronomical. It's hard to imagine a more stressful job than guarding a border with North Korea (Democratic People's Republic of Korea) post the historic Korean War in the 1950s. If you were in their shoes, how would you try to handle that level of stress?

One group of military students came up with a creative recommendation of trading combat boots for a different pair of shoes. The solution suggested was the enrollment of ballet classes within the military barracks to reduce stress. What a surprising suggestion which has proven to be a positive and creative out-of-the-box idea! This is an amazing example of balancing science & arts both figuratively and literally to solve a social problem. 

Take a look at this amazing story below!



Hurricane Disaster - Art & Design To The Rescue

For the second installment of the TWG blog, I want to bring attention to the use of science and arts in the process of solving a MAJOR problem created by a natural disaster - Hurricane.

After the unforgettable destruction caused by Hurricane Katrina in 2005, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) assisted affected families by allocating mobile trailers for temporary living accommodations. These mobile living units have been notoriously titled FEMA trailers.  After serving the affected communities throughout the southern states in the U.S., there were over 94,000 FEMA trailers remaining in excess. With this surplus of trailers not being used, the U.S. government was faced with the problem of finding alternative uses for the surplus trailers.

To further compound the problem, each trailer was constructed out of toxic particle board material that gave off carcinogenic fumes of formaldehyde. This problem was extremely dangerous because formaldehyde poses a significant risk to human health because it ultimately causes cancer. Mindful of this, the problem spawned from a localized issue of administering emergency relief to a major federal problem that had the potential of impacting the health of residents on a mass scale. WOW! What a major problem!

3 years after hurricane Katrina, a profound solution was derived using Science & Arts.

In 2008, a smart scientist and artist Jae Rhim Lee from MIT’s Media Lab came up with a great idea. Lee created an initiative called the FEMA Trailer Challenge. With a team of problem solvers from the Art and Technology community at MIT, Lee derived the concept of transforming the FEMA trailer into a healthy living space coupled with a sustainable vertical garden, compost station and rainwater catchment. Not only was the threat of formaldehyde removed, but the trailer was transformed into a modern and innovative living space that is perfect for the millennial age. Check out Lee’s amazing transformation video below which serves as a guide for out-of-the-box thinkers who wish to combine science & arts to solve major problems affecting society.


Infinite Melodies from Geometric Pi

For the first installment of the TWalton Group (TWG) blog, I want to cast light on a great example of problem solving using two of my most favorite subjects from STEAM: Mathematics and Arts. The two most appealing areas of Mathematics and Arts that I enjoyed on a daily basis at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) were Geometry and Music respectively. When people think of MIT, most may think of memorable movies such as: A Beautiful Mind, Iron Man and Good Will Hunting which all revolve around Mathematics; but many people may not realize that the most popular extracurricular activity that MIT students enjoy is Music ranging from instrumental composition to performances such as A-cappella and Rock-band groups.

While attending MIT, one of the most difficult problems that I’ve encountered was not just doing problem sets (P-sets) or math assignments, but simplifying the process of writing and composing music. The first song that I wrote at MIT took me over 3 months. Because of this strenuous and time consuming process I’ve always wondered, is there an easier way to compose music? How could I solve the problem of composing music in an easy and elegant way?

This search brought me to a beautiful approach used by a talented composer on YouTube. His methodology consisted of a direct relationship between a musical note on the piano and a mathematical constant, π which is the ratio of a circle’s circumference to its diameter. At first I didn’t understand his technique but after watching and understanding his approach, it was easy to see the beautiful relationship between Mathematics and Arts through his demonstrative YouTube video below. With π (Pi) consisting of an infinite series of numbers extending beyond 13.3 trillion (1013) decimal digits, he created an infinitely long instrumental by assigning a musical note to each decimal digit of π. From this approach, he was able to compose a beautiful song that proud nerds and music lovers everywhere can infinitely enjoy :)