Why Birds Sing? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f_cqJsdnOrg
Street protests are in. From Bangkok to Caracas, and Madrid to Moscow, these days not a week goes by without news that a massive crowd has amassed in the streets of another of the world’s big cities. The reasons for the protests vary (bad and too-costly public transport or education, the plan to raze a park, police abuse, etc.). Often, the grievance quickly expands to include a repudiation of the government, or its head, or more general denunciations of corruption and economic inequality.
Aerial photos of the anti-government marches routinely show an intimidating sea of people furiously demanding change. And yet, it is surprising how little these crowds achieve. The fervent political energy on the ground is hugely disproportionate to the practical results of these demonstrations.
Notable exceptions of course exist: In Egypt, Tunisia, and Ukraine, street protests actually contributed to the overthrow of the government. But most massive rallies fail to create significant changes in politics or public policies. Occupy Wall Street is a great example. Born in the summer of 2011 (not in Wall Street but in Kuala Lumpur’s Dataran Merdeka), the Occupy movement spread quickly and was soon roaring in the central squares of nearly 2,600 cities around the world.
Read more. [Image: Joshua Lott/Reuters]
Plastic debris washed up on beaches gets turned into beachfront art:
The spherical sculpture is 79” (200 cm) in diameter, in case you’re wondering.
(photo credit: Halans on Flickr)
Source: Flickr / halans
Air pollution kills about 7 million people worldwide every year and is now the single biggest environmental health risk, with more than half the fatalities due to fumes from indoor stoves, according to a new report from the World Health Organization (WHO) published Tuesday.
"The evidence signals the need for concerted action to clean up the air we all breathe," said Maria Neira, head of the WHO’s environmental and social public health department. "The risks from air pollution are now far greater than previously thought or understood, particularly for heart disease and strokes."
The toll, a doubling of previous estimates, means 1 of every 8 global deaths in 2012 was linked to polluted air and shows how reducing pollution inside and outside people’s homes could save millions of lives in the future, the United Nations health agency said.
Here’s a great photo to end the week. Dennis Demcheck a U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) employee, snapped this great photo of a female Great Horned Owl nesting in a Live Oak tree. Here’s what he had to say about it. “She was ‘staring me down’ because she had eggs to protect. It was taken in southwest Louisiana in the Mermentau River Basin near the town of Thornwell.”
By day they work as computer programmers and stock boys and academics. But at night they are known as urban explorers. The Brooklyn Bridge, London’s Shard, Notre Dame—each structure is an expedition waiting to happen.
Each sewer, each scaffold, each off-limits site is a puzzle to solve. No wonder the cops are after them. Matthew Power embeds with the space invaders and sees a world—above- and belowground—that the rest of us never knew existed.
Big scientific discoveries—the kind that shift our view of the world and our place within it—don’t come along very often.
This week, though, one did.
New data seem to offer, for the first time, direct evidence of the entities Einstein predicted in his general theory of relativity: gravitational waves. Which is a finding that, if it holds up, sheds new light on nothing less than the origins of the universe. The discovery is, according to one expert, “an amazing achievement.” It is also, according to another, “one of the greatest discoveries in the history of science”—“a sensational breakthrough involving not only our cosmic origins, but also the nature of space.”
So, basically: This is big, you guys! Einstein big! Nature-of-space big! Big Bang-big!
There’s just one small thing, though. The findings shared this week also share a significant caveat: They haven’t yet been peer-reviewed. They are discoveries that are, as far as scientific institutionalism is concerned, provisional. They’re stuck in a kind of epistemological limbo—as information that has not yet been converted into fact, and data that have not yet been codified into knowledge. Official status: truthy.
Read more. [Image: Reuters]
Finnish education often seems paradoxical to outside observers because it appears to break a lot of the rules we take for granted. Finnish children don’t begin school until age 7. They have more recess, shorter school hours than many U.S. children do (nearly 300 fewer hours per year in elementary school), and the lightest homework load of any industrialized nation. There are no gifted programs, almost no private schools, and no high-stakes national standardized tests.
Yet over the past decade Finland has consistently performed among the top nations on the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA), a standardized test given to 15-year olds in 65 nations and territories around the world. Finland’s school children didn’t always excel. Finland built its excellent, efficient, and equitable educational system in a few decades from scratch, and the concept guiding almost every educational reform has been equity. The Finnish paradox is that by focusing on the bigger picture for all, Finland has succeeded at fostering the individual potential of most every child.
I recently accompanied Krista Kiuru, Finland’s minister of education and science, when she visited the Eliot K-8 Innovation School in Boston, and asked her what Finland is doing that we could learn from.
Read more.[Image: hydropeek/flickr]
This really big rough diamond could mean there’s water hidden in layers deep, deep under the earth.