science

  Spencertown Academy Arts Center is presenting the new exhibit: “Mysterious and Unexpected: The Merger of Art and Science.” There will be an opening reception on Saturday, July 23rd from 4-6PM and the show will remain on display through August 14th.

Curator Barbara Lax Kranz says the exhibit displays the work of six artists who incorporate science to create their art. We will meet two of the featured artists this morning.

Often inspired by current issues in science, Carrie Crane’s recent work uses the tools of Knowledge Visualization (graphs, maps, and diagrams) to address issues of ambiguity and subjectivity in visual communication.

Karen Schoolman is an abstract painter, a student of botanical illustration, and a physician. A packet of 50-year-old x-rays of her mother’s leg inspired her current artwork.

  It’s 1942 and the Nazis are racing to be the first to build a weapon unlike any known before. They have the physicists, they have the uranium, and now all their plans depend on amassing a single ingredient: heavy water, which is produced in Norway’s Vemork, the lone plant in all the world that makes this rare substance. Under threat of death, Vemork’s engineers push production into overdrive.
 
For the Allies, the plant must be destroyed. But how would they reach the castle fortress set on a precipitous gorge in one of the coldest, most inhospitable places on Earth?
 
Based on a trove of top secret documents and never-before-seen diaries and letters of the saboteurs, The Winter Fortress is an arresting chronicle of a brilliant scientist, a band of spies on skies, perilous survival in the wild, sacrifice for one’s country, Gestapo manhunts, soul-crushing setbacks, and a last-minute operation that would end any chance Hitler could obtain the atomic bomb—and alter the course of the war.

  In his new book, AlmightyWashington Post Reporter Dan Zak reexamines America’s love-hate relationship with the bomb, from the race to achieve atomic power before the Nazis did to the solemn 70th anniversary of Hiroshima.

This life-or-death issue is unraveled in Zak’s account, with a cast that includes the biophysicist who first educated the public on atomic energy, the prophet who predicted the creation of Oak Ridge, and the Washington bureaucrats and diplomats who are trying to keep the world safe. 

Zak shows that our greatest modern-day threat remains a power we discovered long ago. Dan Zak is a reporter for the Washington Post. He has written a wide range of news stories, narratives, and profiles while on local, national, and foreign assignments, from Oscar night in Los Angeles to the US military drawdown in Iraq.

  Dr. Siddhartha Mukherjee is the Pulitzer Prize-winning, bestselling author of The Emperor of All Maladies. He has now written the history of the gene and a response to the defining question of the future: What becomes of being human when we learn to “read” and “write” our own genetic information?

His new book is The Gene: An Intimate History

  Michael Specter has been a staff writer at The New Yorker since 1998. He focuses on science, technology, and public health. Since joining the magazine, he has written about agricultural biotechnology, the global AIDS epidemic, avian influenza, malaria, the world’s diminishing freshwater resources, synthetic biology, the debate over the meaning of our carbon footprint and new ways to edit DNA.

Specter came to The New Yorker from The New York Times, where he had been a roving foreign correspondent based in Rome. From 1995 to 1998, Specter served as the Times Moscow bureau chief.

Since 2012, Specter has been a Visiting Professor at Bard College, in the department of Environmental and Urban Affairs.

Michael Specter will be at The Mahaiwe in Great Barrington tomorow at 7 p.m. His talk is titled: Editing the Human Genome: The Possibilities and Perils. 

  Sean Carroll, acclaimed theoretical physicist from Caltech, and author of the highly-praised books From Eternity to Here and The Particle at the End of the Universe, is a rockstar in and out of the science community—in fact, he was personally offered jobs by Stephen Hawking twice, and turned them both down!

In the vein of Stephen Hawking’s A Brief History of Time, Sean Carroll’s new book: The Big Picture takes readers on a journey of unprecedented scientific scope, examining everything from the matter that makes up the far reaches of our universe to the molecules that make up our DNA—and all the biology, physics, astronomy, and humanity in between.

Sean Carroll is a theoretical physicist at the California Institute of Technology who has worked on the foundations of quantum mechanics, the arrow of time, and the emergence of complexity. 

  Based on research involving crows, dolphins, parrots, sheep, wasps, bats, whales, and of course chimpanzees and bonobos, Frans de Waal explores both the scope and the depth of animal intelligence.

In his new book, he offers a firsthand account of how science has stood traditional behaviorism on its head by revealing how smart animals really are, and how we’ve underestimated their abilities for too long.

Frans de Waal is the C. H. Candler Professor in Emory University’s Psychology Department and director of the Living Links Center at the Yerkes National Primate Research Center. His new book is: Are We Smart Enough to Know How Smart Animals Are?

In our Ideas Matter segment we take time just about every week to check in with the state humanities councils in our 7-state region.

Today we'll be speaking with New York Council for the Humanities Public Scholar Victoria Alexander about the relation between art and science - and the novelist and lepidopterist Vladimir Nabokov.

In addition to being a Council Public Scholar, Victoria is the Director of the Dactyl Foundation, where she facilitates interaction between artists and scientists.

  Half a century after walking on the moon, iconic astronaut Buzz Aldrin reflects on a lifetime of achievements and what he’s learned through it all in his new book, No Dream Is Too High: Life Lessons from a Man Who Walked on the Moon. Aldrin, speaks intimately and from the heart, sharing his experiences in space, in war, and as a public figure.

Buzz Aldrin, best known for his Apollo 11 moonwalk, holds a doctoral degree in astronautics and, at age 86, continues to wield influence as an international advocate of space science and planetary exploration.

  The New York Times has called our next guest - a “rock star” in the computer world.”

David Gelernter is an expert in the fields of parallel computing, “mirror worlds,” artificial intelligence, and cognitive thinking. His new book is The Tides of Mind, a revolutionary explanation of the phenomenon of human consciousness. In the book, he reminds us that no computer can ever replicate the Human Mind,

Gelernter will be in our region tomorrow for a pair of NYS Writer’s Institute events – a 4:15 Seminar and an 8PM reading – both at the Performing Arts Center on the Uptown Campus at the University at Albany in the Recital Hall.

He is the author of eight books including The Muse in the Machine, about teaching computers to experience emotion and write poetry and Mirror Worlds, a work that predicted the rise of the Internet. In1993 Gelernter was a victim of a mail bomb sent by the “Unabomber,” an experience he recounts in his book; Drawing Life: Surviving the Unabomber.

  The Olana Partnership is presenting an illustrated lecture and book signing with acclaimed author Andrea Wulf at Hudson High School on Saturday, April 9 at 4pm. The event will be Wulf’s first East Coast stop on her United States and UK tour.

The Invention of Nature is Andrea Wulf’s newest her award winning biography that reveals the extraordinary life of the visionary German naturalist Alexander von Humboldt and how he created the way we understand nature today.

Perceiving nature as an interconnected global force, he turned scientific observation into poetic narrative, and inspired Frederic Church on numerous levels. Andrea Wulf joins us to talk about the book and her upcoming event.

In his new book The Perfect Bet: How Science and Math are Taking the Luck Out of Gambling, mathematician Adam Kucharski reveals the long entangled history between betting and science. Weaving together ideas from mathematics, psychology, economics and physics Kucharski brings to life the game of chance. He introduces readers to a group of MIT students who made a fortune playing Massachusetts state lottery games, showing how PhD level pundits using methods originally developed for the U.S. nuclear program to accurately predict field goals and race times, and explains why poker is one of the ultimate challenges for artificial intelligence. Adam Kucharski is a lecturer in mathematical modeling at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and an award winning science writer.

  Most people don't give a second thought to the stuff on their head, but hair has played a crucial role in in fashion, the arts, sports, commerce, forensics, and industry.

In Hair, Kurt Stenn - one of the world's foremost hair follicle experts - takes a global journey through history, from fur merchant associations and sheep farms to medical clinics and patient support groups, to show the remarkable impact hair has had on human life.

  The Blue-Sky Boys dramatizes the unorthodox creative process used by a group of maverick engineers at NASA to land men on the moon.  It’s a wild comedy about the beginnings of the Apollo space mission and about the crossroads of science and art.

Capital Repertory Theater in Albany, NY will launch (pun intended) a production of the play directed by Gordon Greenberg. Previews begin tonight and the show opens on Tuesday.

The show is written by Deborah Brevoort who joins us to tell us more. 

  There are 13 million people with cancer in the United States, and it’s estimated that about 1.3 million of these cases are hereditary. Yet despite advanced training in cancer genetics and years of practicing medicine, Dr. Theo Ross was never certain whether the history of cancers in her family was simple bad luck or a sign that they were carriers of a cancer-causing genetic mutation. Then she was diagnosed with melanoma, and for someone with a dark complexion, melanoma made no sense. It turned out there was a genetic factor at work.

Using her own family’s story, the latest science of cancer genetics, and her experience as a practicing physician, Ross shows how to spot the patterns of inherited cancer, how to get tested for cancer-causing genes, and what to do if you have one. Theo Ross’s new book is: A Cancer in the Family. 

  Can a football game affect the outcome of an election? What about shark attacks? Or a drought? In a rational world the answer, of course, would be no.

But as bestselling historian Rick Shenkman explains in Political Animals: How Our Stone-Age Brain Gets in the Way of Smart Politics, our world is anything but rational. Drawing on science, politics, and history, Shenkman explores the hidden forces behind our often illogical choices.

We hear all the time about weight gain, weight loss, how Americans are the heaviest we have ever been, and myriad plans for remedying our egregious fatness. Yet, what if much of what we are told, and what we believe, simply is not true?

Writer Harriet Brown set out to explore our relentless obsession with weight and thinness in the new book Body of Truth: How Science, History, and Culture Drive Our Obsession with Weight--and What We Can Do about It.

 As a young medical student, Dr. David Casarett was inspired by the story of a two-year-old girl named Michelle Funk. Michelle fell into a creek and was underwater for over an hour. When she was found she wasn’t breathing, and her pupils were fixed and dilated. That drowning should have been fatal. But after three hours of persistent work, a team of doctors and nurses was able to bring her back. It was a miracle.

If Michelle could come back after three hours of being dead, what about twelve hours? Or twenty-four? What would it take to revive someone who had been frozen for one thousand years? And what does blurring the line between “life” and “death” mean for society? In Shocked, Casarett chronicles his exploration of the cutting edge of resuscitation and reveals just how far science has come.

It has been called “the great destroyer” and “the evil.” The Pentagon refers to it as “the pervasive menace.” It destroys cars, fells bridges, sinks ships, sparks house fires, and nearly brought down the Statue of Liberty. Rust costs America more than $400 billion per year—more than all other natural disasters combined.

Journalist Jonathan Waldman travels from Key West, Florida, to Prudhoe Bay, Alaska to learn how rust affects everything from the design of our currency to the composition of our tap water. Jonathan Waldman’s new book Rust: The Longest War explores how this substance could determine the legacy we leave on this planet.

Annie Jacobsen is the best-selling-author of Area 51 and Operation Paper Clip. Now drawing on years of research, exclusive interviews, and private documents Jacobs has written a history of Defense Advance Research Projects Agency (DARPA) the world's most powerful and advanced military science agency and the Government's most controversial secret weapon. 

The name of the book is The Pentagon's Brain: An Uncensored History Of DARPA, America's Top-Secret Military Research Agency.

James Wellman on Flickr

  The Springfield Museums, located in the heart of downtown Springfield, Massachusetts, is comprised of five world-class museums; the Michele & Donald D'Amour Museum of Fine Arts, the George Walter Vincent Smith Art Museum, the Springfield Science Museum, and the Lyman & Merrie Wood Museum of Springfield History.

The Museums Association is proud to be home to the Dr. Seuss National Memorial Sculpture Garden, a series of full–scale bronze sculptures of Dr. Seuss's whimsical creations, honoring the birthplace of Theodor Geisel, a.k.a. Dr. Seuss.

Heather Haskell - Director of the Springfield Art Museums and Collections joins us this morning to discuss highlights from two of those those museums – The George Walter Vincent Smith Art Museum and D’Amour Museum of Fine Arts.

  Legendary "space statesman" Buzz Aldrin is a vital advocate for the continuing quest to push the boundaries of the universe as we know it.

As a pioneering astronaut who first set foot on the moon during mankind's first landing of Apollo 11--and as an aerospace engineer who designed an orbital rendezvous technique critical to future planetary landings--Aldrin has a vision, and in his new book, Mission to Mars: My Vision for Space Exploration, he plots out the path he proposes, taking humans to Mars by 2035.

  For a long time, veteran environmental journalist Fred Pearce thought in stark terms about invasive species: they were the evil interlopers spoiling pristine “natural” ecosystems. Most conservationists and environmentalists share this view. But what if the traditional view of ecology is wrong—what if true environmentalists should be applauding the invaders?

In The New Wild, Pearce goes on a journey across six continents to rediscover what conservation in the twenty-first century should be about. The case for keeping out alien species, he finds, looks increasingly flawed. As Pearce argues, mainstream environmentalists are right that we need a rewilding of the earth, but they are wrong if they imagine that we can achieve that by reengineering ecosystems.

Lucas Willard / WAMC

New York’s Capital Region has become a hub for high-tech manufacturing and nanoscience. While those terms may bring computer chips to mind, a weeklong symposium wrapping up today in Albany is exploring how nanoscience can be used in medicine. 

  By the age of nine, Taylor Wilson had mastered the science of rocket propulsion. At eleven, his grandmother’s cancer diagnosis drove him to investigate new ways to produce medical isotopes. And by fourteen, Wilson had built a 500-million-degree reactor and become the youngest person in history to achieve nuclear fusion.

How could someone so young achieve so much, and what can Wilson’s story teach parents and teachers about how to support high-achieving kids?

In The Boy Who Played with Fusion, science journalist Tom Clynes narrates Taylor Wilson’s extraordinary journey.

  The legalization of marijuana is the next great reversal of history. Perhaps the most demonized substance in America, scientifically known as Cannabis sativa, simply a very fast growing herb, thrived underground as the nation's most popular illegal drug.

Now the tide has shifted: In 1996 California passed the nation's first medical marijuana law, which allowed patients to grow it and use it with a doctor's permission. By 2010, twenty states and the District of Columbia had adopted medical pot laws. In 2012 Colorado and Washington state passed ballot measures legalizing marijuana for adults age 21 and older.

Bruce Barcott, a former Guggenheim Fellow in nonfiction, is a frequent contributor to the New York Times, Rolling Stone, National Geographic, the Atlantic Monthly, Outside magazine, and many other publications. His book is Weed the People: The Future of Legal Marijuana in America.

David Nightingale: Steinmetz (4/9/1865 - 10/26/1923 )

Apr 19, 2015


When 24 yr old Steinmetz arrived in New York harbor in 1889 he was nearly turned back. His frail and stunted body, his inability to speak English, plus no money, caused the immigration officials to reject him, for fear he might become a "public charge". Fortunately, the friend he had travelled with, who could speak English, assured the officials that he would personally look after him, and cover any debts, adding that Steinmetz had graduated in mathematics at the top of his class, in the Prussian city of Breslau (now part of Poland).

  There are thousands of working dogs all over the US and beyond with incredible abilities—they can find missing people, detect drugs and bombs, pinpoint unmarked graves of Civil War soldiers, or even find drowning victims more than two hundred feet below the surface of a lake.

These abilities may seem magical or mysterious, but Cat Warren shows the science, the rigorous training, and the skilled handling that underlie these creatures’ amazing abilities.

  In recent years, there have been major outbreaks of whooping cough among children in California, mumps in New York, and measles in Ohio’s Amish country—despite the fact that these are all vaccine-preventable diseases.

While America is the most medically advanced place in the world, many people bypass modern medicine in favor of using their faith to fight life threatening illnesses.

According to our next guest, children suffer and die every year from treatable diseases, and in most states it is legal for parents to deny their children care for religious reasons.

Dr. Paul Offit is a Professor of Pediatrics in the Division of Infectious Diseases at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine and Director of the Vaccine Education Center at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. His new book is Bad Faith: When Religious Belief Undermines Modern Medicine.

Jim Bell, planetary scientist and professor in the school of earth and space exploration at Arizona State University, tells the phenomenal story of the Voyager spacecraft expedition in his new book, The Interstellar Age: Inside the Forty-Year Voyager Mission.

As a scientist whose career has been closely tied to the mission from its inception, Bell delivers a detailed account of the ambitious human stories connected to Voyager and explores the mind-bending scientific accomplishments of humanity’s greatest space mission.

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