Know your gnomon

first_imgThe story of Donner Professor of Science John Huth’s interest in primitive navigation techniques began with a body. Two bodies, actually.On his way to do some kayaking off Cape Cod a couple of summers ago, he was stopped by the harbormaster, who told him that two young women had gone missing the day before. They too had gone out in kayaks — neither with a compass — and told their boyfriends that they would return in only 15 minutes. After an hour with no sign of the women, authorities began a search and rescue operation. The next day, one body was found. The other was never recovered.“These young ladies were 19 and 20 years old, college students,” he said. “I actually have two students in college myself. If you read it in the newspaper, you might say, ‘What a shame. That’s horrible,’ and then turn the page. But having been out there at the same time, in the same conditions, it became harder for me to take.”In response to the tragedy, Huth, a physics professor who can often be found working at the Large Hadron Collider at the CERN complex in Switzerland, developed his “Primitive Navigation” class, first as a Freshman Seminar, then as a General Education course. The professor gave the families of first-year students a one-hour overview of the course Oct. 14 as part of the annual Freshman Parents Weekend program of lectures, tours, and open houses.Huth told parents that the goals of the course were not only to teach students practical skills that could one day save their lives, but also to help open up their senses to the natural world.“The people around you are relatively closed down, because we aren’t trained to notice [the natural environment],” Huth told his students. “And yet there’s a huge amount of information that’s right at the tips of our fingers that we’re tuning out.”To get the course material to stick with students, Huth designed “Primitive Navigation” as a combination of classroom learning and hands-on outdoor activities. In class, he taught students that common measures of distance grew out of human experience.To get the course material to stick with students, Huth designed “Primitive Navigation” as a combination of classroom learning and hands-on outdoor activities. In class, he taught students that common measures of distance grew out of human experience. The word “mile,” for instance, comes from the Latin “mille pacem,” or “1,000 paces.” Outside of class, Huth had students find their bearings — literally — by getting them to measure their steps, to pay attention to how fast they walked, and to understand how the movement of the stars was related to the change of seasons.“We took the students to the roof of the Science Center and had them identify some major stars,” he said. “They watched the movement over the course of an hour to try and get that motion ingrained.”Huth explained some other primitive navigation technologies to the crowd. Imagine that you’re in the middle of the woods. Your iPhone is out of juice, so there’s no global positioning technology to rely on. The terrain is unfamiliar. There’s not a soul in sight to give you directions. But if no man can help you find your way, a gnomon could. That’s because a gnomon is a stick that casts a shadow made by the sun, which makes it possible to create a working compass.For the course’s final project, Huth had students work in teams. The members of one — the Swiftness Collective — decided to see if they could actually navigate the Harvard campus using the type of sun compass that the Vikings might have had to get around hundreds of years ago. First, the students camped out on the banks of the Charles River on a cold, sunny day to create the instrument, marking off the shadows cast by the gnomon every 15 minutes from sunrise to sunset. The students then used the sun compass to orient themselves and to set the course for several campus landmarks: the Weeks Footbridge, Weld Boathouse, Blackstone Steam Plant, and the Memorial Church. Their bearings were just as good as a magnetic compass, and only a little askew from Google Earth data.When the talk was finished, Rosella Stow of Minneapolis said that she was pleased to know that her daughter, Margaret Nietfeld ’15, could find courses at Harvard that melded the intellectual with the practical.“I thought it was really interesting,” she said. “He’s teaching people what many generations of the past could learn from what was around them, so that his students can say, ‘What’s here to help me get my bearings and go in the right direction?’”The audience was asked to point in the direction they believed was East.last_img read more

Bloomberg named Commencement speaker

first_imgMichael R. Bloomberg, M.B.A. ’66, an entrepreneur and civic leader who built an information technology company into a global news and financial information service and served three terms as mayor of New York City, will be the principal speaker at the Afternoon Exercises of Harvard’s 363rd Commencement.“Mike Bloomberg’s career represents a rare blend of public leadership, private-sector entrepreneurship, and powerful philanthropic engagement,” said Harvard President Drew Faust. “He has led one of the world’s great cities, built one of the nation’s most influential information services, and generously committed his attention and resources to worthy causes in public health, the environment, civic life, the arts, and — not least of all — education. I greatly look forward to welcoming him in May.”Born in Boston and raised in Medford, Mass., Bloomberg received his B.A. from The Johns Hopkins University and his M.B.A. from Harvard Business School, and he has remained closely engaged with Harvard as an alumnus. The renovated Baker Library | Bloomberg Center is named in honor of his late father, William Henry Bloomberg, as is a professorship that was endowed in 1996.He began his career with an entry-level job at Salomon Brothers in 1966, and quickly rose through the ranks to oversee equity trading and sales before overseeing the firm’s information systems. After the firm was acquired in 1981, Bloomberg founded a small startup that used emerging technology to improve the delivery of information to the buyers and sellers of financial securities. Today, Bloomberg L.P. has more than 300,000 subscribers to its financial news and information service and about 13,000 employees worldwide.A believer in the power of philanthropy to improve people’s lives, he established Bloomberg Philanthropies, with areas of focus that include public health, the environment, government innovation, the arts, and education. His commitment to higher education is especially evident in his having given more than $1 billion to his undergraduate alma mater, Johns Hopkins, including particular support for the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.Elected mayor shortly after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks destroyed the World Trade Center in 2001, Bloomberg made increasing public safety, as well as improving education and enhancing public health, key areas of focus when he took office. New York voters re-elected him twice. He stepped aside from the mayor’s office on Jan. 1.Earlier this year, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon appointed Bloomberg as special envoy for cities and climate change, looking to the former mayor to mobilize municipal leaders to respond to the threats from climate change.“Mike Bloomberg is a prime example of someone who has done well and done good,” said Catherine A. Gellert, president of the Harvard Alumni Association. “I am sure that our alumni will be eager to hear from a member of our ranks whose career has had such a wide impact across the public, private, and nonprofit spheres.”    Bloomberg will speak on May 29 during Commencement Day’s Afternoon Exercises, which serve as the annual meeting of the Harvard Alumni Association. The exercises will take place in the Tercentenary Theatre of Harvard Yard, between Memorial Church and Widener Library.last_img read more

Spacewalkers complete 4 years of power upgrades for station

first_imgCAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) — A four-year effort to modernize the International Space Station’s power grid is finally complete. A pair of NASA astronauts installed the last battery during a spacewalk Monday, and the unit checked out well. It was the second spacewalk in five days for Mike Hopkins and Victor Glover. Over the weekend, flight controllers in Houston used the station’s big robot arm to replace the last batch of old batteries with a new, more powerful one. Hopkins and Glover quickly put the finishing touches on this newest lithium-ion battery. Their work completes a series of spacewalks that began in 2017.last_img read more

Saint Mary’s to host Meet Me at the Avenue Sunday

first_imgSaint Mary’s will be hosting its annual Meet Me at the Avenue event for students admitted to the Class of 2022 students Sunday.Campus visit coordinator Bekah Stanton said in an email that the event aims to experience Saint Mary’s as a potential student.“It’s intended to give accepted students an opportunity to meet other members of their class, learn more about the College and discover if Saint Mary’s is the place they’re going to call home,” she said.Stanton said they are expecting about 250 students, and 650 guests including family members.The event opens with several talks, for both students and parents together and separate, Stanton said.“The day will begin with remarks by various individuals, including Saint Mary’s College President, Jan Cervelli,” Stanton said. “Following that, the students will branch off to a segment in the residence halls while the parents will remain in the auditorium and hear from current students and their parents on a panel. The entire group will also have the opportunity to hear from a recent alumna about her experience at Saint Mary’s.”Attendees will then have the opportunity to explore campus, she said.“Prospective students and their families will then experience lunch in the dining hall, participate in campus tours and take part in an open house,” Stanton said. “Faculty from each department and club leaders are some of the individuals who will be present during this time. Following this, we offer students and their families the option to go to Mass in the Church of Loretto.”There will also be new events added to the schedule, including showcasing the renovated Angela Athletic & Wellness Complex, she said.“The open house location has changed to the new Angela Athletic & Wellness Complex this year,” Stanton said. “This will allow us to showcase our amazing new space. Because Angela [Athletic & Wellness Complex] is also being dedicated this weekend, we’ve invited students to participate in various activities within the dedication celebration, including workout classes and panel discussions.”She also said admissions is introducing a session for Spanish-speaking families, aimed to help ease their transition into college.“New this year, we will also be hosting a College 101 for ‘Spanish Speaking Families,’” Stanton said. “This will involve a question and answer session with representatives from the office of admission, financial aid and multicultural services, all of whom speak Spanish fluently. It will also include a current parent and current students who will provide examples of what helped them through their first-year transition.”Stanton said Meet Me at the Avenue allows prospective students to get any last-minute questions they may have answered.“Whether their questions pertain to a specific major, about college requirements, or about life on campus, there will be individuals present to answer all,” she said.Stanton said she believes this event is an important opportunity for prospective students to visit the campus.“This is a great way for students to get on campus, meet their potential classmates and discover if they picture themselves at Saint Mary’s,” she said. “We also have a beautiful campus, and I think it’s important for students to visit and see this beauty firsthand. Prospective students are also able to interact with many of our current students during the event, giving them a good indication of the types of great women we have here.”Tags: angela athletic and wellness complex, Class of 2022, Meet Me at the Avenue, Saint Mary’s Admissionslast_img read more

WATCH: Fredonia High School Band Virtually Play Together

first_imgApp users, tap here to watch video.FREDONIA – While social distancing is keeping many physically apart, it’s not stopping a local band from playing together.The Fredonia High School Symphonic Band put together a virtual fight song.In total, 58 members of the 2019-20 band can be seen playing together in the video above, provided by Fredonia Central School District teacher Andy Bennett. Share:Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)last_img read more

Vietnam likely to scale back coal plant construction program

first_imgVietnam likely to scale back coal plant construction program FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Bloomberg:Vietnam may scale back a plan to boost coal’s role in its power generation as financial restrictions and local environmental concerns make it more difficult to build plants.The National Steering Committee for Power Development has recommended eliminating about 15 gigawatts of planned new coal plants by 2025 due to slow progress and the unwillingness of some regions to develop them, according to state-controlled news website VietnamPlus. The central government will have final say on the plan.The recommendation underscores how coal’s status as the cheapest and easiest option for developing countries to bring power to their people is being challenged on multiple fronts as richer nations shy away from the fuel. Global banks are refusing to lend, making it more difficult and costly to build plants burning the dirtiest fossil fuel, while costs are tumbling for competing renewable generation.Under the committee’s proposal, coal would provide about 37% of Vietnam’s electricity by 2025 instead of half as previously planned. Renewable power would help fill the gap, increasing to about a quarter of the country’s power from 13% in the existing version. The share for natural gas and major hydropower plants, which comprise most of the remaining capacity, would be left little changed.Vietnam is a flashpoint in the global debate about coal power. About 17 gigawatts of coal power is already under construction with another 29 gigawatts at various pre-construction phases, said Daine Loh, an analyst at Fitch Solutions. It has the fourth-largest pipeline of proposed plants, according to BloombergNEF, many of which have drawn financing in past years from lenders in Japan and other countries.Several banks in Japan, as well as South Korea and Singapore, last year joined lenders from Europe and the U.S. in limiting financing in the fuel because of concerns that climate change would mean the polluting projects would have to be shut before loans could be paid off. The departure of Asian lenders will likely be an inflection point in keeping new plants in places like Indonesia and Vietnam from being financed, BNEF analyst Allen Tom Abraham said in a Feb. 25 report. Private sector companies have proposed building about 20.3 gigawatts of coal plants in Vietnam through 2030, according to BNEF. Less than 8 gigawatts of that has reached financial close, and many of the remaining plants will never get financing, Abraham said.[Mai Ngoc Chau, Dan Murtaugh]More: Vietnam may back off from coal as plants get harder to buildlast_img read more

Big Cocaine Seizure Made Off Guatemala’s Pacific Coast

first_imgBy Dialogo December 07, 2009 The Guatemalan navy and the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration detained 12 people who were transporting 2,000 kilos (about 2.2 tons) of cocaine aboard four speedboats off Guatemala’s Pacific coast, officials said. A Guatemalan army spokesman told reporters that the joint operation was carried out in the country’s territorial waters, some 80 nautical miles off the coast of the southern province of Escuintla. Because it was an operation led by the DEA and the case is still under investigation, the identities and nationalities of the suspects were not revealed. According to local media, the drug smugglers departed from South America and had Mexico as their final destination. On Oct. 21, the DEA, with the support of the Guatemalan navy, captured a semi-submersible vessel in which three Colombians and two Mexicans were transporting five tons of cocaine. That shipment was seized off Guatemala’s Pacific coast and was the biggest cocaine haul ever confiscated in that country’s territory. About 11 tons of cocaine have been seized this year in Guatemala, according to official figures. Separately, Guatemalan security forces seized a shipment of 82,899 tablets of pseudoephedrine – the key ingredient in methamphetamine – that had been shipped from Bangladesh. The pseudoephedrine, whose importation and sale has been banned in Guatemala since February, was found at a warehouse near La Aurora international airport. The shipment of the drug had been hidden in a shipment of women’s clothing that had recently arrived in Guatemala from the Asian country, the National Police’s press office said.last_img read more

Lindenhurst Man Pleads Guilty to Fatal DWI Crash

first_imgSign up for our COVID-19 newsletter to stay up-to-date on the latest coronavirus news throughout New York A Lindenhurst man has admitted to driving drunk and causing the crash that killed a 56-year-old woman in the victim’s hometown of Huntington Station last year.Ryan Gurecki pleaded guilty Tuesday at Suffolk County court to charges of vehicular homicide, manslaughter, assault and driving while intoxicated.Police have said that the 35-year-old man was driving a Ford Explorer westbound on Jericho Turnpike when he struck a Ford Escape stopped at a red light that was waiting to make a left turn onto Route 110 at 9:23 p.m. Sunday, June 26, 2016.The three people in the Escape were taken to Huntington Hospital, where Karen Holden died from her injuries. Her 57-year-old husband who was driving the Escape and her 23-year-old son were admitted to the same hospital in stable condition.Gurecki is scheduled to be sentenced May 5 by Judge Fernando Comacho.last_img read more

Industrial comment

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Opinion: flexibility here to stay

first_imgTo access this article REGISTER NOWWould you like print copies, app and digital replica access too? SUBSCRIBE for as little as £5 per week. Would you like to read more?Register for free to finish this article.Sign up now for the following benefits:Four FREE articles of your choice per monthBreaking news, comment and analysis from industry experts as it happensChoose from our portfolio of email newsletterslast_img