Ammar’s Experience at Science Online ’10

By Ammar

This past January, I had the humbling privilege of attending the fourth annual Science Online conference. At the conference, I had the opportunity to meet hundreds of scientists from around the world and make a few contacts in the process. This conference allowed me to learn how to truly converse with scientists and broadened my knowledge on technology and science in general. During and after the conference, it become lucid to me that technology, science, and medicine are all bound to essentially fuse into one topic sometime in the future, whether it is in a decade or in a century. At the conference, in addition to speaking to professors and researchers from around the world, I also had the opportunity to have a quick chat with Michael Specter, the keynote speaker. I felt extremely privileged to be speaking to someone of his caliber and, quite frankly, a bit nervous due to the fact that I had just seen him on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart not too long ago.

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After introducing myself and explaining what a high school student was doing at the conference, I had the opportunity to learn about his experiences as a journalist, scientist, and a celebrity of sorts. Shortly after, the conference attendees congregated to listen to what quickly became a riveting keynote speech. I was extremely fascinated by what Mr. Specter had to say and, at some points, befuddled with the viewpoints that some groups of people that he mentioned had regarding vaccinations and genetically modified foods. The fact that several scientists in the audience openly denounced the ideology of Mr. Specter made the speech that much more enthralling. Although I was ultimately in concordance with what Mr. Specter was saying, it was quite interesting to hear the story from someone else’s point of view. After the conference, I maintained interactions with Mr. Specter by sending him a follow-up email. I was very glad to see that he responded with alacrity and was glad to hear my outlook on his speech and participation in the conference.

(L to R) Michael Specter talks with Jack, Ammar, and Mike.

The one presentation at the conference which truly stood out to me was “Art and Science: Visual Metaphors- Glendon Mellow and Felice Frankel”. Traditionally, I have not been someone who is terribly interested in art. However, after seeing how digital imagery, photo manipulation, and science can all blend into one, I become truly fascinated in the presentation. Although I was extremely intrigued in how Glendon Mellow was able to take several religious ideologies and merge them with scientific principles in artwork, I gravitated more toward Felice Frankel’s presentation. I believe this can be attributed to the fact that I have a personal inclination toward photography and photo manipulation rather than traditional artwork. The way that Ms. Frankel was able to take a simple image and have it portray science on such an in-depth level was amazing. For example, I was especially impressed in how she portrayed quantum mechanics in her photo of the ‘Quantum Apple’ with no shadow. This supported the idea that in quantum mechanics, everything is not as we actually see it. For this reason, amongst others, my impression of Ms. Frankel was not only that she was an excellent photographer, but that she was a remarkable thinker as well. Her photos were truly worth a thousand words. 

In conclusion, I would like to thank both Staten Island Academy and the Science Online conference leaders for presenting me with the opportunity to attend the conference this year. My experiences at the conference were amazing and I formed memories and ideologies which I will carry with me for many years to come.


  • Glendon Mellow

    Ammar, both Felice and I were thrilled that you and some of your classmates decided to attend our session. We had a good group, and I think the discussion opened up some new ideas – I know it did for me.

    If you’re interested in trying some of the techniques that Felice employs in her stunning work, a great way to see if you enjoy it before dropping the money on Photoshop is to try Gimp. ( Gimp is a free program that does almost everything that Photoshop Elements can do. I use Gimp, Photoshop and ArtRage when I manipulate my oil paintings. There’s a wealth of tools out there, and I’m only an email away if you need a tip.

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