Beth Fiteni Wants Folks to Understand the Current Administration’s Track Record on The Environment

In a recent blog post, Environmentalist Beth Fiteni of Green Inside & Out, offers, “important facts about changes to federal environmental laws and policies that the mainstream press does not typically cover.

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Spencer’s Picks: Overcoming Pandemic Fatigue; Art, Science & Suggested Solutions; The Happiness of a Dog

Dr. Spencer Thomas atop the Uffizi in Florence, Italy

Photo of Dr. Spencer Thomas atop the Uffizi in Florence, Italy. Photo by Katheryn Laible

 

As usual, when he’s not scrying into the mysteries of metals at the atomic level, or pondering puzzles of more efficient means of tapping energy, Dr. Thomas is bringing some light into our life. Here are a few of the things he’s brought to our attention:

Now that we’re about a month into the college semester with social distancing and remote learning, a lot of people I know are feeling a bit of a drag. You are not alone: Lonliness at Pandemic U: 14 tips for college students and their parents

Along similar themes, but more for everyone:: Your Surge Capacity is Depleted. This is Why You Feel Awful (and a couple good things you can do about it)

One thing that’s helpful is — to help! Here is a heartwarming and inspiring story from one of my very favorite professors from back in my undergrad time at Stony Brook. Bente Videbaek is an amazing person who has been working hard to make sure people have masks Facebook Page: “Humans of Mather Hospital”

When you feel a bit grounded and ready to stare some of the bigger challenges facing humanity in the face: Countdown is a global initiative to champion and accelerate solutions to the climate crisis. One of the speakers, Dr. Rose Mutiso, is a friend of mine – we were graduate students together. She’s the incredible CEO of the Mawazo Institute, which supports women scientists and leaders throughout East Africa. She has also spoken at TED and written in Scientific American about the challenges that people in Africa face building digital and clean-energy infrastructure.

One for the Coltrane fans out there: The most feared song in jazz, explained. It’s not too hard for a layman to follow this breakdown of “Giant Steps,” even as it’s still among the most challenging things a musician may face

Finally, no big point here, but a bit of joy for you since we could all use it: The happiness of this dog after they put prostheses on

Spencer Thomas received his PhD in Materials Science and Engineering from the University of Pennsylvania. After some time at North Carolina State University in Raleigh, we are DELIGHTED to welcome him back to Long Island as a researcher at Stony Brook University. He also happens to be Katie’s brother. For a time, Spencer studied metals at the atomic level; the way atoms are arranged in a material can change its properties; one can take ordinary metals make them stronger, more flexible, corrosion resistant, even radiation resistant. We’re still endeavoring to understand what he’s doing now well enough to explain it so simply.

Spencer believes that no matter who you are, good communication can put scientific concepts within reach. The modern world demands scientific literacy and it is the responsibility of scientists to make that possible.

Local Company At Forefront of COVID Testing, Possibly Even a Vaccine

Another new friend is John Shearman, a marketing and communications specialist who has spent his career serving innovative technology companies Island-wide. He currently works for a fascinating company called Applied DNA Sciences, Inc, which is an anchor tenant of the Long Island High Tech Incubator.

A primary service of Applied DNA is to enable the authentication of products and supply chains through unique molecular identifiers — basically they literally apply DNA to things like textiles, microchips, cannabis and other products so that their authenticity can be validated.

In recent years they have also become involved in vaccines for blood cancers. When the COVID-19 crisis erupted, they quickly turned to that .

They are very excited that, in partnership with Stony Brook University, they have developed clinical tests for COVID-19 that are apparently 100% accurate. While this aspect is still receiving approvals it may even be saliva based (bye-bye-brain tickle!), and fast enough that local companies and others will be able to regularly offer safe, quick, accurate tests for their employees on a regular basis.

This is a big step toward being freed from our collective quarantine. They’re also working on DNA vaccines in partnership with Takis Biotech, some of which are already being tested on mice and seem to show some significant promise.

Here’s hoping!

Synchronicity Picks: Two Ways of Knowing, Life Is Beautiful, Grow for Good

We’ve been thinking a lot about science and spirituality lately, and how we wish those who resonate with our hearts wouldn’t so often trouble our minds with claims of or against science that just aren’t so. In turn, we wish those who like to stick to science would remember that there’s a lot we don’t fully understand,…Reiki may seem pseudosciency, but there’s legitimate science behind the healing power of touch.

It’s a challenging subject…and we are grateful to both the scientists and spiritual guides we know who help us at least begin to understand their views and clarify what our own thoughts are…

This is beautiful and touches right on that! Two Way of Knowing: Robin Wall Kimmerer On Scientific And Native American Views Of The Natural World by Leath Tonino in The Sun

As for science…as we scoured the Internet trying to better understand the science regarding masks…we stumbled across this article from Jeremy Howard, a U. of San Francisco data scientist who, together with 18 other scientists recently completed a review of available research on the subject.

It seemed really helpful. Then, we dug deeper to figure out what we were reading. This is how we discovered, The Conversation which felt refreshingly broadly and intelligently resourced… Then we read their about statement…Sounds good to us!!!

On the spiritual side, we appreciate Ambassadors of Wellness: The SOUL-U-TION Revolution Donna Martini shares her sweet, wise “Mantra Mouse,” and invites all so inclined to meditate and pray with her.

Did you know there’s a church of Rock n Roll that has long been happening for decades every Sunday morning on WBAB 102.3? You don’t have to be a Catholic to appreciate Religion and Rock hosted by Msgr Jim Vlaun

Attitude adjustments help. Katie has often said she is not, in fact, an optimist. but so often delightfully surprised by human beings giving it their best anyway, that she’s decided to support them. This recent NPR piece is making her think a little bit differently about that: Optimism: Is it a Personality Trait, Or Could People Possibly Learn It?

This was interesting: “Nick Hanauer: How Do We Begin To Reinvent Capitalism?” This is part IV in the TED Radio Hour exploration of reinvention. It features a billionaire entrepreneur who believes today’s stark inequality is a product of decades of bad economic theory. He’s still a strong proponent of capitalism, he just thinks we’ve got to start looking at it differently…

We are pleased to see Jed Morey has created something new: a Grow for Good Podcast which “introduces listeners to business leaders who have grown their companies by doing good things.”

We’re in for all the good we can get, anywhere we can find it!

Finally, here’s a great to start your week: Life is Beautiful. It’s author Hugh Hollowell is into “creating a compelling vision of a better world,” as “a writer, a farmer, a pastor, and a foster parent who loves cats” and does some consulting. Released on Mondays, this is an offering of five beautiful things to start your week.

“Because the world is beautiful, but sometimes it’s hard to notice it.”

Synchronicity Picks: The Heath Brothers

We’ve got to be honest, we haven’t had the heart to crack open “Upstream” yet, mostly because it’s all about solving problems before they get out of hand and we happened to receive it just as we felt the current situation had already been left to get out of hand… Grateful to all who are working together honestly and earnestly to get things under control!

Meanwhile, the book on the right “Switch: How to Change Things When Change is Hard” remains among our favorites. It’s filled with wonderful, evidence based, real-life examples of folks who identified what was working and did more or that.

It gets to a basic concept Kate learned a long time ago when she was a Psychology Major at SUNY Stony Brook: If you want to get animals to behave certain ways, the thing that works is Positive Reinforcement.

“Catch ’em being good!” as Professor Daniel O’Leary probably still says.

We were struck by the use of this at the Guide Dog Foundation not too long ago, too. As long as they were behaving, the dogs could have praise lavished. If they weren’t they simply got ignored. It was the quietest kennel filled with the happiest dogs we’d ever visited!

Still, this book takes that concept and goes a little bit beyond, adding a major focus on something those who teach sales often hit upon: No matter how cool we think we are, humans are essentially emotional beings. Our rational mind is like a rider on elephant of feelings. Any attempt by that rider to drive, or another to lead him had best take that into consideration…

The Heath Brothers do, and they do it well. The book is well worth reading and re-reading, especially by any who want to make a healthier, more sustainable world!!

Spencer’s Picks: What? Why? How Can I? COVID Considerations…

Dr. Spencer Thomas atop the Uffizi in Florence, Italy

Photo of Dr. Spencer Thomas atop the Uffizi in Florence, Italy. Photo by Katheryn Laible

Dr. Thomas is back, sharing bits of the Internet that intrigue him. Here are some he’s recently found helpful. Hope you appreciate them, too!

I have long appreciated XKCD, A webcomic of romance, sarcasm, math & language. This particular cartoon “Pathogen Resistance” offers a nice sorta positive outlook on things. It echoes my gratitude that so many people have elected to take this situation seriously and have helped us flatten the curve as much as we have.

Please keep it up!

I’ve mentioned “Smarter Every Day” before. I found this really inspiring: “How to Help Your Hospital Fight COVID-19 Locally”

The YouTube Channel: “Health Care Triage” offers great videos, including many on the current crisis such as “How Can I Grocery Shop Safely? When Is Someone Sick Enough for the ER?”“Should I Disinfect My Amazon Deliveries?”“Can I Buy Stuff From China? What About Screen Time? and something we all want to know: “When Can We Get Back to Normal?”

Lately there’s been a lot of discussion and accusations levied against China, from people believing that this virus is a biological weapon or that it came from a lab mishap in Wuhan. Personally, I think this is a distraction – what matters right now is beating the infection.

However, there is already a lot of research on where these kinds of viruses come from and scientists around the world are concluding that it’s extremely likely that COVID-19 came from a chance encounter with a wild bat. FiveThirtyEight has a good summary on “Why Scientists Think the Novel Coronavirus Developed Naturally – Not in a Chinese Lab”

Humans interact with animals all the time and there’s always a tiny chance of something like this happening – it’s inevitable and nobody’s fault. If we learn anything from this, it’s that this was always going to happen eventually and it will happen again in the future.

There is no way to make sure nothing like this ever happens again. That’s not something we can control. What we can control is our response to it.

It didn’t need to get this bad or go on this long, but it’s too late to fix our past mistakes. What we can do right now is everything in our power to stop the spread, while supporting those for whom these sacrifices are a bigger ask. What we can do in the future is build a society that can better weather storms like this.

In terms of getting back to normal, here’s a Roadmap to Resilience, an expert-driven, muti-disciplinary, muli-political-leaning plan to get the world open again.

Meanwhile, on a more personal level, here’s a good quarantine survival guide: Lockdown Productivity: Spaceship You from CGP Grey.

Spencer Thomas recently received his PhD in Materials Science and Engineering from the University of Pennsylvania. He is now doing his Postdoc at North Carolina State University in Raleigh. He also happens to be Katie’s brother. Spencer studies metals at the atomic level; the way atoms are arranged in a material can change its properties; one can take ordinary metals make them stronger, more flexible, corrosion resistant, even radiation resistant.

Spencer believes that no matter who you are, good communication can put scientific concepts within reach. The modern world demands scientific literacy and it is the responsibility of scientists to make that possible.

 

Spencer Thomas received his PhD in Materials Science and Engineering from the University of Pennsylvania. After some time at North Carolina State University in Raleigh, we are DELIGHTED to welcome him back to Long Island as a researcher at Stony Brook University. He also happens to be Katie’s brother. For a time, Spencer studied metals at the atomic level; the way atoms are arranged in a material can change its properties; one can take ordinary metals make them stronger, more flexible, corrosion resistant, even radiation resistant. We’re still endeavoring to understand what he’s doing now well enough to explain it so simply.

Spencer believes that no matter who you are, good communication can put scientific concepts within reach. The modern world demands scientific literacy and it is the responsibility of scientists to make that possible.

A Marriage of Art and Science to Address Global Food Insecurity: PlantingSeed Jewelry

Photo of GrowMore Jewelry

Dr. Kate Creasey-Krainer seems as much an elegant permaculturalist, dedicated to environmental health and sustainability, as she is a highly trained and published plant geneticist. She believes that science is only as good as the integrity of the science communication with those of us who aren’t experts.

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Nikola Tesla: The Man, The Myth, The Legacy

We are grateful the rain held off as we traipsed about the site of Nikola Tesla’s last and only surviving laboratory, “Wardenclyffe.” There, board member Neil Baggett talked about the great scientist and his time on Long Island, and plans to advance his legacy. While nothing can replace an in-person tour – we highly recommend taking one if you can! — here is a bit of what we learned:

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