I am a realist, after all, and I do fret over things I may be able to do little or nothing about directly: economic injustice; wars and the repeated failure to learn from history; our gun-crazy society; the overreliance on tests to spur academic achievement; and attempts to strip women of their reproductive rights.
But I’ve found that life is a lot more pleasant when one looks at the bright side, seeing the glass half full and assuming that reason will eventually prevail.
Archive for May, 2012
Mistakes made during cell division long ago may have lead to the sophistication of the modern human brain.
A copyediting error appears to be responsible for critical features of the human brain that distinguish us from our closest primate kin, new research finds.
When tested out in mice, researchers found this “error” caused the rodents’ brain cells to move into place faster and enabled more connections between brain cells.
Scientists discover benevolent virus that kills all grades of breast cancer within seven days
The virus, known as adeno-associated virus type 2 (AAV2), is naturally occurring and carried by up to 80 percent of humans, but it does not cause any disease.
Researchers learned of its cancer-killing properties in 2005, after Penn State scientists observed it killing cervical cancer cells. They also found that women who carried the AAV2 virus and human papillomavirus (HPV), which causes cervical cancer, had a lower propensity to develop cervical cancer.
Leo Politi Elementary School wanted only to make a dreary corner of campus more inviting to its 817 students. Workers ripped out 5,000 square feet of concrete and Bermuda grass three years ago and planted native flora.
What happened next was unforeseen. It was remarkable.
The plants attracted insects, which attracted birds, which attracted students, who, fascinated by the nature unfolding before them, learned so much that their test scores in science rose sixfold.
At great personal risk — sweating, he says, through his fear — Lucas [Benitez] was the driver for a daring 2001 rescue of four Florida farmworkers who were brutalized and effectively enslaved by growers. He played an important role in convicting those responsible: brothers Juan and Ramiro Ramos, who’d made millions holding workers against their will by, according to the FBI, “threaten[ing] them at gunpoint, promising torture and death if they tried to escape.”
Noise from wind turbine blades, inadvertent bat and bird kills and even the way wind turbines look have made installing them anything but a breeze. New York design firm Atelier DNA has an alternative concept that ditches blades in favor of stalks. Resembling thin cattails, the Windstalks generate electricity when the wind sets them waving.
In pronoiac history: A stockbroker named Nicholas Winton brought 669 Czechoslovakian Jewish children to England, saving their lives. He refused to take credit for his deed until his wife found a scrapbook of the children that he saved and gave it to the BBC. He turns 103 this year.
In October 1938, after the ill-fated Munich Agreement between Germany and the Western European powers, the Nazis annexed a large part of western Czechoslovakia, the Sudetenland. Winton was convinced that the German occupation of the rest of the country would soon follow. To him and many others, the outbreak of war seemed inevitable. The news of Kristallnacht, the bloody pogrom (violent attack) against German and Austrian Jews on the nights of November 9 and 10, 1938, had reached Prague. Winton decided to take steps.
Rosette Nebula: a “stellar nursery” that resembles a flower
Known formally as NGC 2237, the petals of the Rosette Nebula are actually what astronomers refer to as a “stellar nursery,” a massive, energy-rich molecular cloud brimming with nascent celestial bodies. The nebula owes its symmetric shape to the winds and radiation that emanate from its central cluster of young stars — many of which are only a few million years old.
In 1985, decades after he first started flying, [Stan] Brock went the extra step and started a nonprofit, Remote Area Medical. Since then, the all-volunteer group has held more than 660 medical clinics worldwide, providing free health care to half a million people.
Against the century-old church next door, the modest, modern building that houses the science lab of Seattle’s private Bertschi School could seem out of place. Its metal roof glints in the daylight, a surrounding garden of native grasses rustles in the breeze, and in-ground windows offer a view of the water that flows beneath. Jason F. McLennan remembers when the owners cut the ribbon on this 1,400-square-foot addition.
Then, he recalls, the children started chanting. Not “Bertschi!” but “Liv-ing build-ing! Liv-ing build-ing!” Those elementary-schoolers knew what stood before them—a structure built to have minimal environmental impact, to exist in an almost symbiotic relationship with its surroundings, operating more like an ecosystem, less like a consumer.
[Lily] Yeh is the founder of — and force behind — Barefoot Artists, an organization that revitalizes neighborhoods around the globe through the transformative power of art. In Palestine, that meant working with villagers to create a wall mural that Yeh calls “The Palestinian Tree of Life.” In China, it meant transforming a once imposing, prison-like school into a bright and brilliant place for learning. In Rwanda, it meant helping people heal the still-raw wounds left from that country’s genocide with a memorial to the lost.
In each of the locations, Barefoot Artists collaborates with locals, joining with them to create something beautiful or soothing or enlightening. As Yeh sees it, she is igniting the light of creativity that rests in all people.
World’s largest colony of endangered turtles found off west Africa. Discovery of up to 40,000 leatherback sea turtles may see species removed from critically endangered list
The world’s largest colony of leatherback sea turtles has been identified by scientists, raising hopes that the giant creature may not be as endangered as previously thought. A new survey has revealed that Gabon, west Africa, has between 15,730 and 41,373 female turtles using its nesting beaches.