Last Updated 25 Mar 2020

The Power of Knowledge

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The Power of Knowledge Our present day cabinet of curiosities (the "Cabinet") is akin to early modern representations, which contained a vast range of objects representing the power of divine creation, in that the Cabinet represents, through its display of five objects, the power of human knowledge. Each of these objects helps mankind acquire and/or use knowledge.

The order of objects displayed has been designed to reflect the evolution and utilisation of knowledge: an illustration of the DNA spiral helix (the building blocks of life); seed samples (the growth and development of organisms); the electron icroscope (allowing detailed examination of objects); the tablet-style computer (the dissemination and democratisation of knowledge); and the moon rock (exploration of space). DNA Spiral Helix The deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) helix is the only object in the Cabinet which is a representation.

Whilst DNA exists in every cell it would need the Electron Microscope to render DNA visible. Two strands are shown twisted into a helix with rods between the strands. How does this represent DNA? Phillip Cohen (2006) describes the helix thus: Each strand spells out the genetic code as a chain of four chemical letters alled bases: adenine (A), thymine (T), cytosine (C) and guanine (G). A,C,G and T sit on the rods between the two strands which are made from a sugar molecule and a phosphate molecule (Genetics Home Reference, 2013).

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The discovery of DNA and the evolving knowledge of it, has proved immensely powerful because of what it enables us to do, for example: to detect a criminal's guilt from a single hair beyond reasonable doubt; detect family connections by comparing DNA from two or more people, dead or alive; (hence the certainty that it was Richard Ill's remains found in Leicester); and to give the power to cure or eliminate previously incurable diseases, through the mapping of the human genome.

Seed Samples Seed samples appear on the shelves at the seed bank of The International Maize and Wheat Improvement Centre, labelled in see-through closed plastic containers. The first seed bank was established by N. Vavilov in 1926 outside St. Petersburg, for scientific research and cross-breeding purposes (BBC, 2013). Since then the world has changed dramatically, resulting in an increased consumption of natural resources. Seed banks around the world have assumed a new and very important ole in the preservation of rare and dying species of all kinds of plant forms.

Today the Millennium Seed Bank in Kew Royal Botanic Gardens is working on the 'Noah's ark project and has acquired ten percent of the world's plant species threatened by climate change and the expansion of human habitats (Kew, nd). Seed samples preserved by seed banks provide not Just the opportunity for detailed study but also the power, opportunity and possibility for future generations to preserve most of the plant forms in the world (as we know it now) and to regenerate species to help feed the growing world population. An Electron Microscope This electron microscope is linked to three computer screens, showing typhoid bacteria in pink.

Invented in 1 by German natural philosophers Max Knoll and Ernst Ruska, the electron microscope, though cumbersome and expensive is "capable of high magnification and greater resolving power than a light microscope" Oohn Innes Centre, 2013). Its capability to magnify finer details by two million times, revolutionised the studies of the behaviour and treatment of light resistant bacteria (such as typhoid bacteria) and viruses and enables detailed forensic analysis to take place. This object symbolises man's quest not only to understand his natural environment, but his ambition to control and manage it.

The micrographs are artefacts in their own right; they can be displayed on their own as scientific evidence. The electron microscope can be displayed alone in a science museum, as a demonstration model for public use or in the Cabinet with the other four items chosen, to show the prominence and ever-increasing possibilities of technology and science and to illustrate man's evolving knowledge. A Tablet Computer Tablet-style computers combine several electronic components, such as a computer, amera and hand-held gaming device, into one convenient portable package (Martin, 2013) which is affordable for many consumers.

The invention of the personal computer allowed individuals to access academic libraries and newspapers/ magazines via the internet (Slaughter, 2010) and (eventually) to communicate with other users, subject to a web connection. A tablet computer allows access to a wealth of information. A search engine acts as a filter to any subject; this enables appropriate content to be accessed. The rising popularity of internet-enabled phones, results in thousands more opportunities to access and create data being pened up. This technology enables knowledge to be shared and democratised - no longer resting with a narrow elite (Slaughter, 2010).

The tablet computer incorporates a camera to allow for the quick transfer of photographs and videos around the world. The camera can challenge and record human behaviours: this ability to provide a contemporaneous record of human behaviour has resulted in the power of Governments to dictate the historical record of events being publicly challenged. Early computers also helped plot the course to the moon of the Apollo 11 flights in 1969. (Taylor, 2013). A Piece of Rock from the Moon Moon rocks are of various shapes and sizes and "range in age from about 3. billion years up to about 4. 5 billion years old" (Museumwales, 2009). A wealth of previously unknown knowledge has been gained from studying these rocks, they have "been of great value in advancing our understanding of the Moon and the history of our solar system" (Astro. washington, 2009). Scientists believe that earth rocks and moon rocks were once either part of the same body or were originally combined before they were formed (Natural history museum, nd). On religious grounds, this could challenge raditional views on God's formation of the earth.

Moon rocks can be exhibited on their own as artworks - as natural art that reflect the universe in a microcosmic form in accordance with the Chinese tradition of the Philosopher Stones (BBC News, 2012). Moon rocks are priceless due to their scarcity, given the high cost of returning to the Moon to obtain more. In conclusion, the Cabinet symbolises the startling possibilities of human potential and the evolution of knowledge. The discovery of DNA and the creation of the Electron Microscope enabled, in their turn, turtner discoveries and developments to ake place. Conversely, the collection of seed samples allows for the preservation of what currently exists. 0 The tablet computer encapsulates the democratisation of knowledge, through ever-increasing access to data. 0 The moon rocks represent the ambition to move beyond the world and the infinite possibilities of exploring and understanding our universe. 0The Cabinet is designed to inspire awe in the observer through the display of symbols of the technological and scientific progress that has led to a better understanding of our world and beyond.

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The Power of Knowledge. (2018, Jun 21). Retrieved from

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