In the News – 30 April 2013

"Elderly man sneezing" - AP
“Elderly man sneezing” – AP

A new study finds that, “Living in the U.S. raises risk of allergies.”

The research, published in the Journal of American Medical Association concludes that, “Children born outside the United States have a lower risk of asthma, skin and food allergies, and living in the United States for a decade or more may raise the risk of some allergies,” according to the report.

"A bee collects pollen from a sunflower in Utrecht, the Netherlands. EU states have voted in favour of a proposal to restrict the use of pesticides linked to serious harm in bees." Photograph: Michael Kooren/Reuters
“A bee collects pollen from a sunflower in Utrecht, the Netherlands. EU states have voted in favour of a proposal to restrict the use of pesticides linked to serious harm in bees.” Photograph: Michael Kooren/Reuters

Continent-wide suspension of neonicotinoid pesticides,” voted by, “EU Member states.

Damian Carrington reports for the Guardian on the decision in Europe to ban, “Bee-poisoning pesticides,” calling it a, “Landmark victory for millions of environmental campaigners, backed by the European Food Safety Authority.

Ion trap apparatus. Image: Hartmut Häffner Source: Wired
Ion trap apparatus. Image: Hartmut Häffner
Source: Wired

Time Crystals’ could upend physicists’ theory of time.”

This article by Natalie Wolchover was published in Wired Magazine.

Wolchover reports on Nobel-Prize winning physicist Frank Wilczek’s plans to create a, “Theoretical object that moves in repeating patterns without using energy – inside a device called an ion trap.”

According to the author, “Time crystals derive their movement not from stored energy but from a break in the symmetry of time, enabling a special form of perpetual motion.”

Seeding a new kind of concrete” from Sunflower husks –

Published in the International Journal of Environment and Waste Management.

University of Turkey study, “Demonstrated that the use of husks reduces the density of concrete as well as boosts the material’s resistance to cracking after exposure to icy then thawing conditions,” according to the report in Science Daily.

"Small hydropower plant built in 2011 on Aurino river, Aurina valley, Bolzano, Italy."  Credit: Agenzia Ambiente - Ufficio tutela Acque della Provincia di Bolzano Source: Phys.org
“Small hydropower plant built in 2011 on Aurino river, Aurina valley, Bolzano, Italy.” Credit: Agenzia Ambiente – Ufficio tutela Acque della Provincia di Bolzano
Source: Phys.org

Switzerland experimenting with, “Increasing hydropower capacity without straining the environment.”

Jan Overney writes for Phys.org that Switzerland has, “Over 800 mini-hydroelectric plants awaiting approval,” but that the, “Biodiversity of Swiss river eco-systems could be at stake,” unless, “More enlightened policies,” are adopted to, “Help preserve the environment.

"Detainees kneel during an early morning Islamic prayer at the U.S. military prison for enemy combatants at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, in 2009."  (Photo: John Moore, Getty Images)  Source: USAToday
“Detainees kneel during an early morning Islamic prayer at the U.S. military prison for enemy combatants at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, in 2009.” (Photo: John Moore, Getty Images) Source: USAToday

Obama: We need to close Guantanamo Bay” – USA Today

From the report:

President Obama said Tuesday that his administration would re-engage Congress on closing the U.S. military-run detention center at Guantanamo Bay, calling the facility a “recruitment tool for extremists” and suggesting it is undermining U.S. security.

Up to 100 prisoners suffering from indefinite detention at Guantanamo Bay are being force-fed after going on hunger strike in protest.

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John Bunker’s “quest” to bring back apples – by Rowan Jacobsen

John Bunker Séan Alonzo Harris Source: Mother Jones
John Bunker by Séan Alonzo Harris
Source: Mother Jones

This article by Rowan Jacobsen, entitled, “Why your supermarket only sells 5 kinds of apples,” was published in Mother Jones Magazine.

There are hundreds of varieties of “heritage apples” that are all but lost today.

John Bunker has been distributing apple trees, “Through the catalog of Fedco Trees, a mail-order company he founded in Maine 30 years ago.

According to Jacobsen, “After laboring for years in semi-obscurity, he has never been in more demand.”

John Bunker, “Has sewn the seeds of a grassroots apple revolution.

Source: Fedcoseeds.com
Source: Fedcoseeds.com

Reading this article was the highlight of my morning.  Jacobsen begins:

EVERY FALL AT MAINE’S COMMON GROUND Country Fair, the Lollapalooza of sustainable agriculture, John Bunker sets out a display of eccentric apples. Last September, once again, they covered every possible size, shape, and color in the wide world of appleness. There was a gnarled little yellow thing called a Westfield Seek-No-Further; a purplish plum impostor called a Black Oxford; a massive, red-streaked Wolf River; and one of Thomas Jefferson’s go-to fruits, the Esopus Spitzenburg.

Jacobsen describes John Bunker’s apple display at the County Fair and the people who gather there.

All weekend long, I watched people gravitate to what Bunker (“Bunk” to his friends, a category that seems to include half the population of Maine) calls “the vibrational pull” of a table laden with bright apples. “Baldwin!” said a tiny old man with white hair and intermittent teeth, pointing to a brick-red apple that was one of America’s most important until the frigid winter of 1933-34 knocked it into obscurity. “That’s the best!”

It wasn’t just nostalgia,” Jacobsen writes.

A steady conga line of homesteading hipsters—Henry David Thoreau meets Johnny Depp—paraded up to Bunk to get his blessing on their farm plans. “I’ve got three Kavanaghs and two Cox’s Orange Pippins for fresh eating, a Wolf River for baking, and three Black Oxfords for winter keeping, but I feel like there are some gaps I need to fill. What do you recommend for cider?” Bunk, who is 62, dished out free advice through flayed vocal cords that made his words sound as if they were made of New England slate.

People also approach Bunker’s table with apples in hand or photos of apple trees from their yards, Jacobsen continues.

Everywhere he travels in Maine, from the Common Ground Country Fair to the many Rotary Clubs and historical societies where he speaks, Bunk is presented with a series of mystery apples to identify. He’s happy to oblige, but what he’s really looking for are the ones he can’t identify. It’s all part of being an apple detective.

North America once blossomed with many and varied apple trees.  What happened to all of them?  Jacobsen writes:

In the mid-1800s, there were thousands of unique varieties of apples in the United States, some of the most astounding diversity ever developed in a food crop. Then industrial agriculture crushed that world. The apple industry settled on a handful of varieties to promote worldwide, and the rest were forgotten. They became commercially extinct—but not quite biologically extinct.

The apple trees live on, despite modern industrial agriculture.  “Even when abandoned, an apple tree can live more than 200 years,” he writes.

There is a bent old Black Oxford tree in Hallowell, Maine, that is approximately two centuries old and still gives a crop of midnight-purple apples each fall. In places like northern New England, the Appalachian Mountains, and Johnny Appleseed’s beloved Ohio River Valley—agricultural byways that have escaped the bulldozer—these centenarians hang on, flickering on the edge of existence, their identity often a mystery to the present homeowners. And John Bunker is determined to save as many as he can before they, and he, are gone.

Grafting apple trees is the only way to ensure that a particular variety will remain in-tact, Jacobsen  explains.

An apple fruit is a disposable womb of the mother tree, but the seeds it encloses are new individuals, each containing a unique combination of genes from the mother tree and the mystery dad, whose contribution arrived in a pollen packet inadvertently carried by a springtime bee. If that seed grows into a tree, its apples will not resemble its parents’. Often they will be sour little green things, because qualities like bigness, redness, and sweetness require very unusual alignments of genes that may not recur by chance. Such seedling trees line the dirt roads and cellar holes of rural America.

Apple trees must be cloned instead of sewn from seed.  “Snip off a shoot from the original tree, graft it onto a living root stock and let it grow,” Jacobsen writes.

Continue reading this beautifully constructed report by Rowan Jacobsen, click here.  The author has also included a link to illustrations of apple varieties, from most to least sour.

What kind of apple tree is in your backyard?

“Statin Nation: The Great Cholesterol Cover-Up” -Documentary

Produced and Directed by Justin Smith

Published on Apr 17, 2013

For more information about this film and additional resources, please visit www.statinnation.net

From the film synopsis published on Statin Nation website:

We are told that cholesterol is a major cause of heart disease. At least 40 million people are currently taking cholesterol-lowering medications, known as statins, and millions more people are avoiding foods that contain saturated fat and cholesterol.

The basic idea is that dietary saturated fat raises cholesterol levels, and these two substances somehow clog-up our arteries, causing a heart attack. This idea is often referred to as the diet-heart hypothesis.

However, a numbers of doctors and researchers have been challenging this hypothesis for decades, and the latest heart disease statistics reveal some alarming facts. Such as:

● People with high cholesterol tend to live longer

● People with heart disease tend to have low levels of cholesterol

● Cholesterol-lowering of a population does not reduce the rate of heart disease

‘All in the Timing’ opens May 3rd at Ensemble Theatre of Chattanooga

From the ETC press release:

ENSEMBLE THEATRE OF CHATTANOOGA CELEBRATES 20TH ANNIVERSARY PRODUCTION OF COMEDY “ALL IN THE TIMING

Ensemble Theatre of Chattanooga (ETC) will open All in the Timing by David Ives on Friday, May 3, 2013. The production will run through Sunday, May 19, with performances on Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30 PM and Sundays at 2:30 PM. All performances will be held at the theatre’s space inside Eastgate Town Center at 5600 Brainerd Road.

All in the Timing is a series of six one-act comedies. Originally produced in 1993, the collection is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year. The stories range from an unlikely love story between a conman and his unsuspecting mark to three monkeys with typewriters trying to reproduce Hamlet to a musical parody of minimalist composer Phillip Glass.

Joseph Tipton makes his directorial debut with ETC’s production of All in the Timing. “As a first-time director, All in the Timing has been a fun experience,” says Tipton. “It’s been challenging at times, but the actors brought a lot to the process, which has helped me immensely. It’s also quite a treat to be putting it up during its 20th anniversary year.”

Tickets are $15 for General Admission and $10 for students with a valid student ID. They can be purchased online at http://www.ensembletheatreofchattanooga.com, by phone at (423) 987-5141, or at the door beginning one hour before each performance. Discounted tickets are available for groups of 10 or more. Doors open 30 minutes before show time. Free parking is available at Eastgate Town Center.

ETC’s production of All in the Timing features Marianna Allen, Amy Henricks, Casey Keelen, Cody Keown, Jeremy Wilkins, and Taylor Williams, all in multiple roles. Christy Gallo is the stage manager.

Taylor Williams (left) and Jeremy Wilkins (right) explore The Philadelphia
Taylor Williams (left) and Jeremy Wilkins (right) explore The Philadelphia

David George Haskell, ecologist and author of ‘The Forest Unseen’ to speak at UTC

Source: theforestunseen.com

2013 Pulitzer Prize finalist David George Haskell will speak in Chattanooga on May 3rd, 2013.

From the press release:

David George Haskell, Ecologist &Author of ‘The Forest Unseen’ to speak at UTC

Chattanooga Arboretum and Nature Center at Reflection Riding and the UTC Department of Biological and Environmental Sciences will present David George Haskell, author of The Forest Unseen:  A Year’s Watch in Nature, on May 3, 2013 at 7:30 p.m. in UTC’s Benwood Auditorium.  Dr. Haskell has just been announced as a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for general non-fiction.  The NewYork Times writes “… [Haskell] thinks like a biologist, writes like a poet, and gives the natural world the kind of open-minded attention one expects from a Zen monk rather than a hypothesis-driven scientist.”  According to the book jacket, the author, observing a one-square-meter patch of old-growth Tennessee forest each week fora year’ “… brings to life the forest world and its inhabitants as we’ve never seen them before….”

Dr. Haskell holds degrees from the University of Oxford and from Cornell University.  He is a Professor of Biology at the University of the South, where he served as Chair of Biology.  His research has been sponsored by the National Science Foundation, Environmental Protection Agency, Fish and Wildlife Service, and World Wildlife Fund.  The Oxford American featured him in 2011 as one of the southern U.S.’s most creative teachers.  Learn more about David Haskell and The ForestUnseen:  A Year’s Watch in Nature at theforestunseen.com.

Dr. Haskell’s presentation is co-sponsored by Wild South, Lookout Mountain Conservancy, North Chickamauga Creek Conservancy, and the Tennessee River Gorge Trust.

Foraging bumblebee electrifies petunia – University of Bristol

From the video:

An electrode is inserted into the stem of a petunia and a bee is allowed to forage freely in the vicinity.  The potential recorded at the electrode is displayed in real time to show the electrical effect of a foraging bumblebee landing on the flower.

These measurements were carried out in a faraday cage.

Video and electrode recording by David Roberts

“Sirius” Documentary

From the video description:

Published on Apr 26, 2013

We are definitely not alone in the Universe… nor here on Planet Earth. Sirius is an important documentary from Emmy award winning Director Amardeep Kaleka.

The Earth has been visited by advanced Inter-Stellar Civilizations that can travel through other dimensions faster than the speed of light. What we have learned from them about energy propulsion can bring us to a new era, but those in power have suppressed this information in order to keep us at their mercy. It is time for you to know… and this documentary will let you in.

Dr. Steven Greer, founder of the worldwide Disclosure Movement and the Center for the Study of Extraterrestrial Intelligence is working with Emmy award winning filmmaker Amardeep Kaleka and his team at Neverending Light Productions to produce one of the most significant films of our time.

This film exposes the greatest story never told:

The Earth has been visited by people from other worlds who are not malicious, but in fact concerned for the future of humanity.

A cabal of military, industrial and financial interests have kept this contact and what we have learned from it secret for over 60 years.

Their secrecy is meant to suppress the knowledge that can liberate the world from the yoke of oil, gas, coal and nuclear power and replace the current world order with one of New Energy and true Freedom.

“Dalai Lama: I would be pleased if my successor was female”

The Dalai Lama is in Britain to receive the Templeton Prize Photo: Sameer Ashraf/Barcroft India Source: Telegraph

In an interview with Presenter for Channel 4 News Cathy Newman, the 14th Dalai Lama states that he, “Would be pleased if his successor was female.

According to the report by Cathy Newman, published by Telegraph.co.uk:

In his broken English, pausing occasionally to consult with his translator, he told me: “I think [it would be] good because you see, biologically, female[s] have more potential to develop affection or love to other. Some scientists, they tested two person, one male, one female looking at one sort of movie. Female [was] more sensitive: response is much stronger. So therefore…now we are 21st century…female have more potential so should take more active role regarding promotion of human compassion.”

Newman points out that women don’t have a, “Monopoly on compassion.”

But, she also reveals that the next Dalai Lama won’t be chosen by the current one.  The “high lamas” are in charge of choosing who the next Dalai Lama will be.

Newman describes the process:

Traditionally, they search for a child born around the same time as the current Dalai Lama dies. It can take several years, and involves looking out for a number of mysterious signs. They might have a dream about where the next Dalai Lama comes from. Or if the current incumbent is cremated, the high lamas might watch which direction the smoke blows in, or go to a holy lake – Lhamo Lhatso – in central Tibet and watch for a sign from there.

Newman contrasts the Buddhist tradition of including women with the Catholic tradition, where women are excluded from becoming Pope.  She calls Buddhism “rather more enlightened.”

The Buddha himself was the first religious founder after the Jains who allowed women into his order, and that was more than two and a half thousand years ago. In practice, though, women weren’t given the same opportunity to educate themselves as men, so the idea of a woman being installed as Dalai Lama was as notional as the sign from the lake.

Newman concludes this report by stating that the opinions of the self-named “feminist” Dalai Lama may hold weight with the high lamas as they choose his successor.

He’s said in the past that women and men are equal in “education, intelligence and reason”, and as a result “we have entered the age of equality between men and women”. In fact he’s gone further, suggesting that the woes of the world, and “the need to promote a more altruistic society” mean that “we might be entering the ‘age of the woman'”.

Try telling that to Archbishop Welby and Pope Francis.