NU’s Scientific Image Winners @ EPL

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The twelve stunning winners of Northwestern University’s 2016 Scientific Images Contest are making their annual EPL stop as they tour Chicagoland.  Selected by a panel of artists, scientists, and community leaders, the eye-popping images were captured during wide-ranging scientific research and “invite you to enjoy both the aesthetics and innovation of NU Science.”  As a bonus, this year’s exhibit also features artwork by ETHS students inspired by NU’s research-based images.  Prints of the NU images are available for purchase, and you can catch the show at the library through January 15.  You can also learn more about the contest by visiting HELIX – an online magazine produced by NU’s Science in Society.

Sara Grady’s Best Reads of 2016

sg-treeMy name is Sara Grady, and I’m a former engineer with the heart of a poet.  As a Road Scholar with the Illinois Humanities Council, I travel the state talking about how stories, myths, and words influence our culture and communities.  I love language, breathe books, and teach science writing at Northwestern University.  I wish I had a green thumb.

 

 

 

1)  The Invention of Nature by Andrea Wulf (2015)

You’ve probably never heard of Alexander von Humbolt, and neither had I.  But his prolific, revolutionary nature writing and scientific explorations inspired a 19th century whos-who, from Charles Darwin and Thomas Jefferson to Ralph Waldo Emerson and John Muir.  Wulf’s detailed biography reads like a novel and quickens the senses like the very best nature writing can.  Rightfully winning a glut of prizes this year, it is a delightful read — and now I truly appreciate the namesake of one of my favorite Chicago parks.

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An Interview with celebrated Evanston author Laurence Gonzales

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Photo by John German

Laurence Gonzales’s impressive list of literary achievements just got even longer.  Already the winner of two prestigious National Magazine Awards and the Distinguished Service Award from the Society of Professional Journalists, the bestselling Evanston author recently had the honor of seeing his acclaimed book Flight 232: A Story of Disaster and Survival adapted for the Chicago stage.  Titled “United Flight 232,” the House Theatre of Chicago production opened to rave reviews on March 11 and runs through May 1 at the Chopin Theatre.  But that’s not all.  On March 21, Gonzales was also named a Miller Scholar of the Santa Fe Institute (SFI) – an award previously received by author Neal Stephenson and actor-playwright Sam Shepard and given annually to “highly accomplished, creative thinkers who make profound contributions to our understandings of society, science, and culture.”  In celebration of all his good news, we recently spoke with Gonzales via email about the origins of Flight 232 and its journey to the stage, his plans for his twelve months at SFI, and his appreciation of the poet James Wright.

Continue reading “An Interview with celebrated Evanston author Laurence Gonzales”

NU’s Scientific Images Contest Winners 2015

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“Chaos to Order” by James Hedrick (2nd Place)

Don’t miss the twelve stunning winners of Northwestern University’s 2015 Scientific Images Contest as they make their annual stop at EPL.  Selected by a panel of artists, scientists, and community leaders, the eye-popping images were captured during wide-ranging scientific research and “invite you to enjoy both the aesthetics and innovation of NU science.”  Prints of the images are available for purchase, and you can learn more about the annual contest by visiting HELIX – an online magazine produced by NU’s Science in Society.

Have You Read . . . ?

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If the lush green island above looks strangely familiar, that’s because you’ve undoubtedly seen it many times before. Although if you’re having trouble placing just how you know this beautiful wild landscape, that’s because you’re probably used to seeing it look more like this:

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Of course you know that the second picture is Manhattan Island as it looks today, the bustling hub of New York City. But the first picture above is the same island, Mannahatta or “Island of Many Hills,” (as it was called by local Native Americans) circa 1609.

For the past ten years the scientific researchers at the Mannahatta Project have been painstakingly recreating what the island would have looked like prior to the arrival of Henry Hudson and his crew on September 12, 1609. When the New World came calling, the island of Mannahatta was an amazingly diverse and abundant natural landscape, with more ecological communities, plant species, and birds than today’s Yellowstone, Yosemite, and Great Smoky Mountains National Parks. In addition to housing numerous large mammals, fish, and other wildlife, the island was also home to the Lenape tribe of people. In the 400 years since Hudson’s arrival, Mannahatta gave way to Manhattan, cultural diversity replaced biodiversity, and economic wealth replaced ecological wealth as the land that once existed was rendered virtually unrecognizable. Until now, that is. Over the past decade, the Mannahatta Project has been digitally rebuilding the land of yesterday by analyzing soil records, geography, rivers and wetlands, maps, descriptions of long disappeared plant and animal life, as well as by studying the landscape of the island today. The project is extensive in its research and astounding in its results.

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You can explore the island past and present in extensive detail in the new book Mannahatta: a Natural History of New York City. Inside you’ll find a full explanation of the science behind the project, detailed descriptions of just what the researchers discovered about the island, and a look forward to what Manhattan might look like 400 years from now. All of this is accompanied by numerous stunning illustrations of what the researchers believe Mannahatta to have looked like long ago, as well as amazing side by side comparisons of various spots around the city as they look now and how they would have appeared in 1609.  

And for a more distilled and interactive look at the project, check out the very cool Mannahatta Project website. As the project researchers believe, by looking backwards into the past, perhaps we can glimpse a new ecological vision for the future.