Rare and Endangered Butterfly Species Recreated in Glass by Laura Hart

Glass artist Laura Hart (previously) uses a range of techniques to translate her love of plants and animals into meticulously crafted sculptures. For her “Butterflies” series, the artist has recreated rare species and subspecies from around the world with bright colors and symmetrical designs that perfectly mimic their natural muses.

Never recreating the same species twice, Hart casts the bodies of her one-of-a-kind insects using the lost wax molding and pate de verre kiln casting processes. Each delicate sculpture is around 18cm wide. A glass fusing method is used to make the realistic wings in stages, with intense hues and translucent sections outlined in black. The sections form tiny stained glass windows,[…]

Source: Rare and Endangered Butterfly Species Recreated in Glass by Laura Hart

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Michael Pollan’s Rules for Eating | Taking Charge of Your Health & Wellbeing

When asked about the biggest misperception around healthy eating, Michael Pollan answers almost immediately: “It’s much simpler than people think.”

“We have done an amazing job in this society of complicating what for every other animal is a pretty straightforward process: finding a suitable diet, enjoying it, and moving on,” he told Taking Charge during a visit to the University of Minnesota Earl E. Bakken Center for Spirituality & Healing.  “When I tried to figure out if I could offer any really simple guidance for eating, it came down to seven words: Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.”

How to eat food

Pollan, who has been writing about food for a quarter century, outlines his research in several popular books, including Food Rules: An Eater’s ManifestoThe Omnivore’s Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals, and, most recently, Cooked: A Natural History of Transformation, in which he brings his food systems knowledge to the kitchen to explore various ways of preparing healthy meals at home. His visit to the University of Minnesota was hosted by the Bakken Center for Spirituality & Healing as part of its Nourishing Minnesota initiative, which aims to inspire healthy food choices in the public – something Pollan is well-known for doing through his simple food rules.

“Eat food,” the first of his guidelines, might feel unnecessary, but Pollan says there are actually two types of food out there: Real Food, and Edible Food-Like Substances. You know the difference: an apple versus a fast-food burger. A sweet potato versus a bag of Cheetos. One comes out of the earth in a fairly simple form, and the other is highly processed. If you can tell the difference between these two, says Pollan, and mostly stick to Real Foods (especially plants) in healthy portions (not too much), then you’ve basically got healthy eating figured out.

Source: Michael Pollan’s Rules for Eating | Taking Charge of Your Health & Wellbeing

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Massive Murals Are Popping Up Around Detroit

What role will art play in Detroit’s future?

In 2014, when the City of Detroit threatened to sell many of the Detroit Institute of Art’s prized artworks to help the Motor City exit bankruptcy, the question of art’s role in the city’s future came front and center. Ultimately, the museum raised nearly a billion dollars to preserve the city’s cultural heritage—and its Picassos. Two years before, in what has become known as a “grand bargain,” local residents, husband and wife duo Anthony and JJ Curis, decided to open the Library Street Collective on a once-barren stretch of land. The Collective is a gallery with a traditional artist roster and a mission to revitalize the city by commissioning artists from the city and around the world to make public art in the streets of Detroit.

“Me or JJ don’t have an art background,” says Anthony Curis to Creators. “At the time, I was redeveloping a building in downtown Detroit that was meant to be a restaurant.” Back then, downtown Detroit’s state of near-total abandonment led him to open a gallery instead, at the suggestion of his wife. “The model wasn’t focused as much on the brick and mortar as it was on what kind of change we can make in the city.” He explains, “When we opened the gallery, we were really focused on public art and how could we change the landscape, making the community a little bit more vibrant and interesting. We are very interested in and keen on our mission to engage the public and reach people. […]

Source: Massive Murals Are Popping Up Around Detroit

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A Photo Series by Yoko Ishii Documents the Free-Ranging Urban Deer of Nara, Japan

In Nara, Japan,  Sika deer are not restricted to forests or parks, but rather mingle in the urban center much like humans—congregating in green spaces, browsing open shops, and even lining up neatly to pass through turnstiles. Although viewed as a burden in a most of the country, in Nara the deer population is sacred and protected by law. Beyond the Border, an ongoing series by Kanagawa-based photographer Yoko Ishii, captures the deer in everyday moments across the city, from collectively passing down a major street, to pausing to feed their young below a stoplight.[…]

Source: A Photo Series by Yoko Ishii Documents the Free-Ranging Urban Deer of Nara, Japan

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15,000 Black Paper Butterflies Swarm the Fondazione Adolfo Pini for Carlos Amorales’s Latest Installation of ‘Black Cloud’

Hordes of black butterflies of various sizes and species cover the grand staircase, mirrors, walls, and doors of the Milan-based  Fondazione Adolfo Pini. The dark and vast swarm is a part of the more than 10-year series Black Cloud by Mexican artist Carlos Amorales (previously) as a part of his solo exhibition THE ACCURSED HOUR. The butterflies surround an installation of paper cut-outs from his series Life in the folds, a project of gray-toned human and tree silhouettes which address the nature of human violence against other humans. [..]

Source: 15,000 Black Paper Butterflies Swarm the Fondazione Adolfo Pini for Carlos Amorales’s Latest Installation of ‘Black Cloud’

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The Gotthard Tunnel: also a women’s story

The world’s longest rail tunnel, 57km long, opened on 1 June 2016. This feat of Swiss engineering, which crosses the Alps and links the cantons of Uri and Ticino, was built by AlpTransit Gotthard SA, a subsidiary of the Swiss Federal Railways (SBB). AlpTransit has a workforce of 170, including 53 women, which makes it something of an exception in the construction and infrastructure engineering sector.

Women make their mark

Sissi, Heidi, Gabi and Gabi II: these are the names of the 450-metre long tunnel boring machines that dug the Gotthard Tunnel under the Alps. These feminine monikers do little justice to the hard work and tremendous contribution women have made to this gigantic building project for more than 20 years. Many women, in particular professionals from the environment and planning sectors, have dedicated years of their lives to ensure the success of the project. Christine Ebenhög, an engineer of German origin who has lived in the commune of Personico in Ticino near the south portal of the tunnel since 2003, is one of them.

Christine Ebenhög, balancing family life and a busy work schedule

Christine, a native of Erlangen in Bavaria with a degree in engineering from the University of Darmstadt, was just 32 when she moved to Ticino with her husband. As a mother of three, balancing family life and a busy work schedule was quite a challenge. But she was highly motivated and unafraid to stand her ground in a male-dominated world. Christine recalls: “As a woman, in the beginning I had to have sharp elbows to hold my own. The biggest challenge was organising our schedules, particularly once we had our fourth child. But because we both worked in the same community of engineers, my husband and I were able to juggle our schedules to make sure that one of us was always with the kids.”

Source: The Gotthard Tunnel: also a women’s story

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Gut microbiota may be the reason why cancer immunotherapy works for some but not all

Scientists found 11 bacterial strains and a link to a cellular process in mice that influences whether their immune system fights melanoma.

A group of 40 clinicians, computer scientists and microbiome experts say they’ve found a link between the gut microbiome and the immune system’s ability to fight cancer in their new study. They showed that mice with certain gut bacteria could fight off melanoma effectively while those without couldn’t. They also showed that mice with these gut bacteria had reduced unfolded protein response – a cellular stress response that can help the cell regain normal protein production but can also lead to cell death, and tumor take-over.

This link is important because the presence of these bacteria strains and reduced UPR could point out who checkpoint blockade immunotherapy, one type of cancer immunotherapy, works for. Currently, this therapy only works for half of the patients it’s given to, sometimes stops working after some time, or comes with autoimmune-sickness like side effects. Therefore, it would be helpful to know in advance who would be helped by checkpoint blockade immunotherapy, and who wouldn’t.

We spoke with Ze’ev Ronai at Sanford Burnham Prebys Medical Discovery Institute about the group’s findings as the latest in the hunt for biomarkers in cancer immunotherapy.

ResearchGate: How do immune checkpoint inhibitors work and who do they work for? 

Ze’ev Ronai: Immune checkpoint inhibitors “release the breaks” which usually protect tumors from being attacked by the immune system’.

RG: How did you come up with the idea to study the gut microbiome’s influence on cancer immunotherapy? 

Ronai: An unexpected observation we made led us to explore the possible role of the gut microbiota in the control of anti-tumor immune response. We noticed that our mice, a genetically modified strain lacking one gene, were able to inhibit melanoma growth. We were surprised to find out that such inhibition was lost when the mice were treated with a cocktail of antibiotics: This implied a possible effect of the gut microbiota which is known to be deregulated following antibiotic treatment. Then we let these mice live together with non-genetically modified mice that didn’t reject the tumor. This co-housing resulted in loss of the tumor rejection phenotype, seen in the mutant mice. Since co-housing is known to affect the microbiota composition, we set to directly assess the possibility that the gut microbiota have a direct role in the activation of the immune system to attack tumors.

RG: How did you study their influence on the gut microbiome? 

Ronai: We used a number of computational tools to help us dissect the information gathered from the analysis of the gut microbiota composition of our mice, comparing those that reject tumors to those that do not. This computational approach enabled us to identify a set of 49 bacterial families that were enriched in the mutant mice – which exhibit tumor growth inhibition. Further computational work allowed us to focus on 11 bacterial strains that were then directly tested for their effect on anti-tumor immunity in mice. We grew these select bacterial strains in culture and administered them to mice that lack bacteria in their gut (germ free mice), assessing the impact of these bacterial population.[…]

Source: Gut microbiota may be the reason why cancer immunotherapy works for some but not all

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This Ancient ‘Warg’ Was Scarier Than a Tolkien Beast, Terrorized Kenya 22 Million Years Ago

This hypercarnivore was larger than a modern polar bear, the largest land-based carnivore alive today.

n the “Lord of the Rings” series, author J.R.R. Tolkien invented the fantastical “warg,” a wolf-like beast with sharp teeth that lived in the Misty Mountains. Little did Tolkien know that such a creature, perhaps one even more terrifying than a warg, actually existed.

This newly discovered but now extinct carnivore lived about 22 million years ago in what is now Kenya. It was larger than a polar bear, the largest land-based carnivore alive today; it weighed up to 3,300 lbs. (1,500 kilograms), measured 8 feet (2.4 meters) long from snout to rump and stood 4 feet (1.2 m) tall at its shoulders.[…]


To get an idea of the size of <i>Simbakubwa kutokaafrika</i>, here is the beast next to an adult human.

Source: This Ancient ‘Warg’ Was Scarier Than a Tolkien Beast, Terrorized Kenya 22 Million Years Ago

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Should Computers Run the World? – with Hannah Fry

Hannah Fry takes us on a tour of the good, the bad and the downright ugly of the algorithms that surround us. She lifts the lid on their inner workings, to demonstrate their power, expose their limitations, and examine whether they really are an improvement on the humans they are replacing.

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Eye-Opening Entries From the 2019 National Geographic Travel Photo Contest

Photo and caption: David Edgar. I took this photo of an adolescent humpback whale in the South Pacific, several miles off the coast of Tongatapu, Tonga. I captured this as a split-shot with half my dome port submerged, and the other above the surface. This playful whale came right up to me and looked directly into my eyes as the tip of his rostrum glistened in the afternoon sun. Looking closely, you can see Loni, our expert skipper, lining up a surface shot of this incredible encounter from the roof of our dive boat.

National Geographic’s  2019 Travel Photo Contest has been running since March 18, and will continue to accept submissions until May 3, 2019 at noon Eastern Standard Time. Each week, the publication has been unveiling a selection of entries received the previous week. Images from week four include a split-shot capture of an adolescent humpback whale, a candid moment of a mother loon feeding her chicks […]

Photo and caption: Michelle Valberg. Nothing better than being in my kayak in the rain, watching beautiful moments like this unfold.

Photo and caption: Alessandra Meniconzi. This winter, the breathtaking Khuvsgul Lake in Mongolia—called by locals, the “dark blue pearl”—has signs of climate change. The frozen surface melts faster than usual and the ice was not very thick. The sounds were scary: thundering, cracking, shaking, but locals keep moving across the ice as their means of transportation.

Source: Eye-Opening Entries From the 2019 National Geographic Travel Photo Contest

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