Nevertheless She Persisted: The Cycle of Science and Nature

This blog is part 4 of a four part series about our Sisyphus machine. all links are presented below.  It is produced in concert with Jing Ke and myself (Samantha).  We are happy to unveil this to you and to the class! 

This is it! Here we go! The big reveal!  This blog will discuss the project from a finished standpoint but more importantly It will critique from Jing’s and my perspective, how the project went, what we could improve, and what could be done with some reworking.  this will be divided into the project, then Jing’s opinion, and mine last.

The Project:  “Nevertheless She persisted”

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After careful thought about the duality of man and nature,  the concept of scientific progress being masculine and the feminine identity of nature brought to light a duality that closely resembles the eco-feminist theories of the seventies and the more recent feminist conversations surrounding the united states congress.  “Nevertheless she persisted” is the story of women standing up and speaking against the control that male congress leaders in the U.S. came to think was the norm.  they rose up and in the same way nature rises to meet mankind.

It also hearkens back to those times when the greatest of power, the moon, the earth, the winds, love, and time were in the hands of powerful goddesses in the Etruscan, Egyptian, Greek, and roman pantheons – not in the control of man.  Recognizing that same power, and recognizing the evolution of super-bugs to combat scientific protection from them seems almost perfect.  So we have chosen to name our Sisyphus machine, “Nevertheless She [as in mother earth] persisted.”

For a more detailed discussion of the meaning of our machine view our second blog!

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Jing’s Critique:

Composing and constructing the Sisyphus machine has taken both Samantha and I a lot of time, but we got there in the end.

I would evaluate the workflow of building the machine to be slower than planned, and we did have to make a few adjustments to our Sisyphus blueprint to save time as the oncoming due date approached such as minimizing the carving needed in the walls of the Styrofoam box, due to limitations surrounding the hotwire machine. We also encountered complications with the construction of the internal motor. Specifically making sure that the cogs could maintain friction and turn with sufficient torque. The other was underestimating how heavy the models we made that were supposed to rotate, were. The arms of the machine were unable to support the weight of models. However, to solve both problems that were outlined, Samantha used a rubber band to increase friction and bind both cogs together so there was enough support and rotory motion for the clogs to turn. For the arms we basically added more lego pieces to the design then desired. The model of the man also fell onto the floor and shattered into a few pieces. Thankfully we did have some super glue on hand.  We ended up each designing two sides of the machine (ultimately all sides were decorated) in a black-and-white scheme to demonstrate the balance of color symbolizing the balance of nature and to make it easier if we wanted to carve in the future.

The overall box’s intent seems spot on.  Trying to tip the scales of life in one’s favor will undoubtedly make nature, “leap frog”. The box exemplifies the importance of equilibrium and thoroughly represents the ever-going war between Man and super microorganisms. There is no winner.

However, evaluating the problems we had this time around I believe there is definitely more to improve on such as being able to manage our time better, handling our materials better and being more on the ball when crisis hits.

To find out how it was made click here to read this blog!

Samantha’s Critique:

The sisyphus machine has taken a lot of hits from concept to final product but overall it does its job.  I’m very proud of Jing for her work on the external designs and the figurines and am very happy to have worked with her on this.  There are several areas of improvement, particularly with the admitidly janky mechanism I wish I could improve such as the lego parts which are very bad at sustaining eight of the figures and can’t do much about the friction.

I think that we did very well in composing the designs and the images given the dimension of the box.  It was a little wonky working with the odd dimensions but jing pulled through phenomenally.  The internal mechanism works albiet haphazardly and it was really a lot of fun to build.

Improvements made to the box as a whole would be its overall length.  I think that the lenght was too long to really support the designs on the sides of the box as needed and more thought should have gone in to how we would cut the roman columns out.  Despite prior experience with a hotwire device before I am a little miffed at myself for not getting to cut out the columns properly.  thinking on it cardboard would have been better suited to build up the box instead of cutting it from styrene.

The concept of the box was to make a comment on the cycle of science and nature and I think that in that way we did very well.  The notion that human scientific advancement is inevitably followed up with great natural leaps and that our affects on the world occur three fold makes its point very clearly in a siyphus machine.  the designs on each side represent a duality as Jing said.  I feel anyone coming upon such a machine in public, given some time, would completely get it.


This has been a fantastic collaborative project and I feel so lucky to have had Jing as a partner.  Thank you to the first year class of creative arts and to the home-stay families who had to endure our project on their kitchen tables for so long!

All four blogs are presented in this list:

  1. What does Perpetual Motion, Sisyphus, and the Anti-Vaxxer Movement have in common?
  2. Behind Pandora’s Box: Why Anti-Science Can’t Stop Science
  3. Rome, Built in a Day: How We Made a Sisyphus Machine
  4. Nevertheless She Persisted: The Cycle of Science and Nature

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