Final Project Update


Conceptually developing the “Phoenix: a survivor’s guide” research algorithm and prototype publication has proven quite challenging considering the aim was high to accomplish several goals:

  1. Design, layout and scope. Submit IRB Proposal. Make initial contact with participant groups.
  2. Field research and data collection (speak to 2-3 stakeholders).
  3. Data analysis and review. Modify plan according to findings. Write rough draft and rough layout of the survival guide.
  4. Have 1 sample copy of the survival guide for the class demo.

To date, these goals have been accomplished with the exception being the IRB submission. Although the initial questions and IRB submission has been completed, the response from initial field research has altered our course. During preliminary field research with stake holders, it was determined that further study was needed to more precisely target the publication. The initial concept of creating a printed publication for homeless populations was due to the assumption that internet connectivity may be of limited availability to this demographic. During initial discussion with homeless shelter administrators, this assumption was debunked as not applicable to shelter observations. Additionally, it was added that the cel phone has become a primary life-line for “vulnerable” populations and is considered one of the last things given up in a homeless or survival situation.

Although the availability of cel phone and data communications devices does not preclude the development of a survivor guide in general, it does alter the trajectory of behavioral research questions and research design. The use and availability of data communications may suggest an opportunity to deliver a technology, app or website to deliver fresh survival information to vulnerable communities.

It is felt that further field research be conducted in a grass-roots manner and several shelters be visited, volunteer time be committed and true insight into the population be gained prior to submitting a formal research proposal.

In the meantime, resource availability and survival tips, including bio-markers have been identified and documented to support the Survival Guide prototype. Additionally, photo documentation of resources and bio-markers has been achieved and a prototype publication will be produced.

New knowledge has been gained with respect to three important matters:

  1. Phoenix has established an intake organization for managing new homeless cases. Shelters are no longer solely responsible for managing intake and processing of vulnerable families and women.
  2. Phoenix still has not created this intake system for men who are the vast majority of the homeless population in AZ (68-71%)
  3. Homeless populations may have access to and/or use data communication technology and might warrant research specific to this fact.

In addition, new contacts have been made for accessing vulnerable communities in Phoenix for future research.

Citrus Color as Biomarker for Seasonal Health Status Indicator

As organic beings, biomarkers are always within, on and around us in everyday life. The biomarkers that I pay attention to most outside of my own body-system are often related to season/soil and agricultural biomarkers.

One such system that I care for is a Lemon-citrus tree. I transplanted this tree 5 years ago as a youngling and have maintained, monitored and pruned this tree to produce lemons of distinct and useful flavor. The breed is known as Sorrento as it is from the family of Italian lemons that of which produce the world’s tastiest Limoncelo (a refreshing, alcoholic beverage) enjoyed traditionally off the Amalfi Coast of Italy –


Each fall and spring, I attend to trimming and preparing the tree when it shows signs of adaptation to the next harvest season. Being as the “fall” and “spring” in an arid, temperate, desert climate can vary greatly from year to year, the timing for watering, fertilizing and pruning an tree or shrub can make the difference between a healthy and high volume fruit generation each season and/or a low volume and struggled fruit bearing.


Identifying with the seasonal biomarker (the sun) and it’s movement on the horizon as well as it’s intensity has suggested to me a change from the summer season to the fall. Additionally, temperatures, both in the evening as well as the afternoons have dropped significantly and are indicative of a good time for tending to the fall citrus season.

The most identifiable biomarker for citrus health and growth is the skin coloration of the fruit. The color tone ultimately provides a cue regarding it’s water allocation, soil condition and sun exposure.

In the below example, you can see where the discoloration of the fruit is suggesting a ripening fruit, it is also showing pale signs of yellow vs. a vibrant and healthy “lemony”  yellow. This is a biomarker for early(pre season) fruit development.

Ripened lemon fruit, too early and appearance is thin and underdeveloped.
Unripened lemon fruit looking healthy and plump

A green lemon suggests it is unripened. The vibrancy, and plumpness of this fruit suggests a future ideal lemon is possible here.  These visual “biomarkers” are critical for my ability to maintain and harvest a healthy batch of lemons this year. Albeit, not for Limoncelo (this time), rather for a nice fat lemon cake (see Food Science experiment).

Additionally, I have discovered that the current interest is in respect to identifying diseases in trees using biomarker, genetic and scientific methods:

1) Report of Suggestions on Florida’s Asymptomatic infected trees –

2) Point-of-use nanosensor for detection of citrus greening disease (Huanglongbing) –

It would appear as though some technology exists for identifying citrus health by using computer vision as well as other technologies. Perhaps one could be developed for home gardening use? I also like the idea of designing an infographic for citrus health monitoring as in:

Perhaps one is needed for citrus in AZ?

Proper Application and Distribution of Soil Fertilizer for Effective Foliage Health Maintenance

Not everyone is fortunate enough to be financially able to hire a gardener or arborist to maintain the natural environment on their property. Property owners are often challenged to identify and address the needs of the natural environment they choose to keep. This often leads to erroneous or incompatible soil fertilization and watering schedules for each plant respectively. Applying the incorrect amount of fertilizer can “burn” or “starve” a tree. While applying fertilizer indirectly can lead to incomplete fertilization and starvation of a tree’s nutritional requirements.


Although I have personal experience fertilizing crops, I am still often sloppy and incomplete in my application. I recently fertilized my palm trees in my yard and realized how indirect some of my application was. One side of the tree had the gravel pushed back and the roots were exposed to the application, whereas the opposite side did not have the rocks or debris cleared and the application was void of fertilizer.


After a complete watering for several days, the fertilizer should now show increases in the proposed mineral composition of the”Lilly Miller” fertilizer product when sampling soil taken from beneath the surface. Although the fertilizer will have an effect on the unapplied side of the tree, the dispersion of the chemicals takes additional time and considerable soil soaking. A 15 minute daily drip watering has occurred 3 times, without a full soaking or rainfall. Watering has also been concentrated towards the cleared and fertilized side, likely enhancing the effectiveness of the concentrated application.


The 10-5-8 reference on the packaging is intended to suggest a 10%N(Nitrogen), 5% P2O5(Phosphate), 8% K2O(Potash) composition makeup.

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Soil was sampled using a 1.5″ pvc tube hammered into the ground, sampling 3-6 inches in depth from each side of the tree.

Hypothetically, the available Nitrogen, Phosphate and Potash will show significantly higher values on the directly applied side of the tree than that of the un-applied side.

In effect, the outcome of my hypothesis requires a full soil test to determine the values and differences/similarities in the available N, P2O5 and K2O. Additional tests of various chemicals and values may reveal additional findings of interest.

These findings would be of value to gardeners or professionals interested in maintaining healthy foliage through proper fertilizer application and distribution.

Grand Canyon Hike UV Exposure

The hike into the tribal land of Havasupai Falls, Grand Canyon is an intense 12 mile hike through various rugged terrains. Descending over 2000 feet, the climate changes drastically from the top to the bottom. The one consistent heat related aspect of the hike is the intensity of the sun. The sun intensity drastically effects the experience of heat throughout the hike. Beginning at 5800ft elevation, the trailhead is often scorching hot as their is no shade throughout the first 2 hours of the hike. Once you have completely descended into the canyon, the walls begin to provide sporadic shade. However, hikers are still exposed to the sunshine more than the little shade available. As such, the experience of descending into the canyon is very intense(even more so on return as you are progressing uphill).


As I prepared to descend the Canyon with my friends, I finalized a DIY UV sensor to measure the amount of UV, Infrared and visible light intensity. I embedded the system into the top of my hat. Hats are critical for protecting your face, neck, shoulders, eyes and body. As such, I collected a sampling of the intensity of these variables throughout the descent from the Supai Hilltop to the Havasupai Village, some 8 miles and 2000 feet in elevation. I recorded the start time as we took our first steps from the hillside.

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Using a 9V battery afforded the compact installation of the full system into the inside top of my shade hat.

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I chose to ditch the breadboard because I had plenty of power and ground sources as well as ports to wire my peripherals into. I borrowed an OpenLog SD card reader/writer to the solution to enable portable capture of the incoming data.

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Soldering the cables assured the smallest system possible for portable and hassle free data recording. I also used ziplock baggies to enclose the equipment to ensure they remain dry and free of dirt and dust(and especially catepillars who were in huge quantities)


Although I used my handkerchief as the barrier between my skull and 9V of streaming data electrons, I prototyped the solution using a shopping bag.

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I also made sure to log my on/off times so as to compare my narrative from human experience to help identify data anomalies or variations. Of course, shaded parts of the canyon will reduce the UV index and likely other data points. Most of the shade should have been in the end of the data stream for example(as we arrived in the village, we experienced more tree and canyon shade.

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Although the data is now being reviewed, I can see in the data where some of my experience is analogous with the recorded information.


Additionally, I think this is a pretty cool solution to data capture in a Do It Yourself approach to creative science exploration. I look forward to further analyzing the data. First off, is creating some temporal markers for inference,

How Hot is Hot?

Interviewing people on the street in the hottest part of the day as an approach to understanding the effects of heat and humidity on people was the approach I used to gain insight into the question of how heat effects the public.


The resulting patterns of language suggests that hydration is important to each individuals experience of heat.

Additionally, the variance of people’s perspective and guesses of the temperature were varied. Even individuals with extensive outdoor experience and/or work outdoors had a large discrepancy between the actual temperature and their best guess.

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Subjective Heat Differentiation

In an early attempt to identify an application for a useful technology such as thermal printing, I began with a poop-emoji sticker. The negative/positive design methodologies immediately apply with respect to considering what will be extracted from the image and what will remain. I opted for the largest print area so as to optimize the thermal feedback.

The range of this idea has expanded significantly however. Arizona has the highest rate of infant death heatsroke rates of any state in the nation(CDC 1999-2003). The severity of temperatures in an enclosed space in the desert are intolerable without hydration and even with hydration, it can become deadly.

A problem currently exists in which heat tolerances and approximations are varied between individuals based on their age, health, demographic/ethnographic make-up as well as many other factors.

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In Arizona, outdoor temperatures can easily rise to 115-120 degrees fahrenheit. Cookies, bacon and other food stuffs have been prepared in jovial news reporting fashion throughout the years. However, the dangers of heat-stroke are very serious.

An enclosed vehicle can reach temperatures of 150 degrees farenheit or more and can increase in temperature more than 40 degrees fahrenheit per hour.

The relationship between temperature and brain activity has been extensively studied using electrophysiology. Animal studies have shown a close relationship between brain temperature and cerebral metabolic rate of oxygen. Previous studies in rats and dogs reported that temperature changes of more than 1°C significantly altered both functional neurologic outcome and histopathology.

Although infant deaths by heatstroke are down 18% in 2014 from the national average of 39, the problem is still very real.

Children are often endangered due to a quick parental judgement call of “it will only be a minute’ and/or the adults tolerance to heat may convince them that the temperature is not as severe of a danger as it may be to a child.

Additionally, a child’s body temperature increases at 3-5X the rate of adults.

75% of the temperature rise occurs within five-minutes of closing and leaving the car. I am proposing a quick and immediate visual cue for how dangerous it is to remain in a vehicle without cool air. A simple character based design that changes colors according to a 3-5 temperature range model.

below 60 degrees = white

60-80 degrees = yellow

80-100 degrees = orange

100+ degrees = red

With the consequences being high with regards to the safety of children and pets, a novel solution would entail an identifying reference. The sticker aspect can be played on for children’s approval and reference. Various characters, shapes and designs can be used. Municipalities could incorporate into civil safety and public service initiatives to remind parents of the dangers of heatstroke.

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My applied silkscreen is an experiment in color combinations and variations in concentration for research into the viability of this sticker concept. I created 2 prints, with the same template. Both prints used the same “neon green” ink/paint and the same “vibrant red” heat sensitive powder. Print #1 was printed using a 1/1 ratio of ink to thermal pigment. Print #2 was printed using a 1/.5 ratio.

The results were testing in direct sunshine as the heat radiating through the window gave me a great visual for how much the color was actually changing.

The results were unimpressive for several reasons:

  1. The black paper chosen to print on. I chose this to create a stark contrast base so I could get a better sense of whether the thermal material would likely work when applied to a vinyl sticker.
  2. The screen had a few anomalies. Particularly in the bottom right corner.
  3. My limited skill and experience leads me to believe I should have held the paper down better when lifting the screen as it would remain attached and create a peeling visual effect.

I did learn about the variations in concentration of material as well as vinyl applique use of template for screen printing. Not to mention I now have a new idea for a community outreach project and DIY science application to “improve the human condition”. It would appear as though more experimentation is necessary to identify more controlled temperature ranges and color applications thereof. I would also like to experiment with applying this to the surface of a vinyl sticker although I have a sense it will crumble and/or peel off in the extreme heat and sunshine of AZ.

Introductions – Nathaniel Greene

I am Nathaniel Greene, award winning animator, puppeteer and Imaginologist. I enjoy the DIY approach to experimentation, science and art. I make shit all the time and appreciate the surprise elements of DIY. I am taking this class to further investigate the scientific method from an experimental approach.

A DIY citizen project that I find interesting is Arcosanti. A fusion of architecture and ecology being tested in the Verde Valley of Arizona by a small collective of “citizens”. Their efforts and insights into community based housing, minimal transportation and social interaction study has termed the experiment “urban laboratory”. More at: