All the World’s a Stage

“All the world’s a stage,” according to Shakespeare. But “life is not a dress rehearsal,” says author Rose Tremain.

Creating theater for politicians, as I did at my first job on Capitol Hill to setting the stage for TEDx speakers, my latest passion, has been a fun way to learn about journalism.

In between, I got my Master’s in Journalism. I quickly burnt out on police corruption and market moving stories. I took a break to raise two kids – the most challenging yet rewarding job I’ve ever had – and I changed my perspective. So I got involved with TEDx  because I believe TED talks are some of the best journalism out there.

An authentic voice and an idea worth sharing speaks for itself. Make it personal, emotional and relevant, I told Carly Mitchell, the last speaker I worked with. Follow the 10 TED Commandments, a guideline I also used when I substitute taught at The Start Up Institute here in Jackson Hole to help students write their elevator pitch.

  1. Dream big. Strive to create the best talk you have ever given. Reveal something never seen before. Do something the audience will remember forever. Share an idea that could change the world.
  2. Show us the real you. Share your passions, your dreams … and also your fears. Be vulnerable. Speak of failure as well as success.
  3. Make the complex plain. Don’t try to dazzle intellectually. Don’t speak in abstractions. Explain! Give examples. Tell stories. Be specific.
  4. Connect with people’s emotions. Make us laugh! Make us cry!
  5. Don’t flaunt your ego. Don’t boast. It’s the surest way to switch everyone off.
  6. No selling from the stage! Unless we have specifically asked you to, do not talk about your company or organization. And don’t even think about pitching your products or services or asking for funding from stage.
  7. Feel free to comment on other speakers’ talks, to praise or to criticize. Controversy energizes! Enthusiastic endorsement is powerful!
  8. Don’t read your talk. Notes are fine. But if the choice is between reading or rambling, then read!
  9. End your talk on time. Doing otherwise is to steal time from the people that follow you. We won’t allow it.
  10. Rehearse your talk in front of a trusted friend … for timing, for clarity, for impact.
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unnamed (4) Headstands on the TEDx red carpet

Mitchell, a gender fluid woman who talked about tolerance of her queer community and the gender spectrum at TEDxJacksonHole last month questioned my opinion and sought others’ advice. And I applauded her. She practiced her talk to Republicans and then encouraged her audience to allow boys to play with dolls and have tea parties, “just not the political kind.”

While some of her earlier drafts were obtuse and ostracizing, in the end Carly unified her audience with her brutal honesty and sense humor. I can’t take much credit for that, except for making her go to a yoga class with me.

It was the TEDly messages which raised the bar for Carly and for me. We all want world peace and harmony. The question is, what are we going to do with our one short life to help move in that direction? My TEDly answer is to honor myself, surround myself with people who inspire me and challenge the status quo with the kind of leadership that comes from behind.

“If you want to make peace with your enemy, you have to work with your enemy. Then he becomes your partner,” said Nelson Mandela.

Listening to the news, which seems to be hyper focused on gay marriage and Ebola these days, can make us angry and fearful. But the personal nature of TED talks often creates a relationship to current events that is educational, uplifting, and looks for solutions rather than placing blame.

So I choose to go to TED and now TEDx rather than the nightly news, and I think I sleep better at night.

– Julie Kling

You can see Carly Mitchell’s talk, and the other incredible TEDxJacksonHole Imagine speakers here: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLsRNoUx8w3rMezn-MfEv5Ri89xIT8wmfa

 

Snapchat: A New Lens for Old Sights

By: Hannah Bredar

Snapchat allowed me to share this Tolkien-esque vista with over 100 friends. (This view is from Buckskin Pass is in Colorado’s Maroon Bells/Snowmass wilderness area)

The days of Polaroids and darkroom photo development have been replaced by the modern era of digital ubiquity. Photography apps have risen in popularity among smartphone owners, as users are now able to take, store, and send pictures from one device. The Snapchat app is a particularly pervasive example. Indicative of the times, the name of this app is a quippy hybrid: “snap” morphs with “chat” to imply a short exchange, quick as a shutter speed. But what’s the point? Why not use real cameras? What’s the allure of Snapchat? Allow me to explain.

Let’s assume you are on a white water rafting trip and pull your raft up onto the bank of the river. The lighting is magnificent, the rapids are terrifying but magnetic, and you realize this experience MUST be shared. You whip out your phone, open the Snapchat app, and take a picture. Assuming all of your friends also have Snapchat, you can send them this picture. However, the app gives you the ability to set a time limit for the number of seconds for which the photo will appear on your friends’ phones. If they click on the picture but are not paying attention for the six-second time limit you have set for it, they cannot reopen it! This scene before you — the mesmerizing dance of swaying trees and violent rapids — will go unappreciated by all but you unless your friends are paying attention for those six seconds you allow them.

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This view is worth more than any pot of gold. And yes, there are two rainbows. Taken via Snapchat in upstate NY, on the road between Elizabethtown and Westport.

So the question remains: what’s the point? What consequences do your friends incur from this experiential time limit? On the one hand, Snapchat limits one’s exposure to nature. Your friends only have six seconds to see and process the picture you send. This is no way to experience the wild! A six-second photograph can’t convey the triumph of the water’s strength as it shapes the riverbanks, nor does it hint at the ravenous sound of the falls in the distance, nor the lulling scent of sun-warmed balsam firs lining the shore. And then there’s you. Does looking through a lens put distance between you and your object of focus? Snapchat differs from ordinary digital and film cameras in that it is a form of social media; you are sending this picture to specific recipients. In all likelihood you are anticipating their reactions, allowing those to color your own immediate experience. We all know this feeling: it is difficult to be fully present when we are sending an email or a last-minute text. This is why there are hands-free laws and those omnipresent signs that read, “No Phones Please!” Snapchat, too, can be a distraction. Like many other kinds of social media, it prevents full absorption of one’s surroundings as one attempts to send time-limited photos and videos to one’s entire social sphere.

Snapchat captured this interplay of light and dark along a Champlain Area Trail in upstate New York

On the other hand, Snapchat could be portraying nature realistically: wilderness is something fleeting, rare, and valuable. One must be present and attentive when one is exposed to it. Snapchat enforces this reality, disallowing prolonged exposure to the precious vistas, permitting just a hint of sublimity. That human desire to have more of something after just a brief taste could encourage further rafting excursions and thus increased wilderness education. This is good: the more that people know about the natural world, the better we will be at protecting it. Additionally, as the Snapchat photographer, you are forcing yourself to view the scene piecemeal. The grander scope of the roaring water, the glaring sun, and the threat of hidden boulders has a tendency to overwhelm, and the limited parameters of your smartphone’s screen may allow you to process the vista more thoroughly, and to cherish it.

It is controversial whether or not Snapchat’s cons outweigh its pros. Long-form nature film, on the other hand, is widely accepted as a comprehensive representation of the wilderness. It educates the masses on the value of the wild, combining cinematography with narration to tell the history of a place. If individuals are inadvertently educating their peers about this history through apps like Snapchat, the primary consequence will be increased awareness. Is this deleterious? As you stand on the riverbank, taking a photograph and sending it off to your social sphere, you are neither mentally nor emotionally present. But imagine the good that could be done if your friends are paying attention when they open the photo! They are introduced to a world of dynamic beauty and sublime ferocity, if only for six seconds.

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I’ve tried to find an imperfection in this view and I simply cannot. Lake Champlain has never looked so good. Documented by Snapchat in Westport, NY.

2014 Science Media Finalists Announced!

CongratsFbook

Congratulations to our 2014 Science Media Awards finalists in the program and content categories! View the official PressRelease and check out our incredible lineup of science films up for awards this year:

CONTENT CATEGORY FINALISTS:
Best Earth Sciences Program 
 
(Including Geology, Paleontology, Oceanography, and Meteorology)

Your Inner Fish: Your Inner Reptile
Tangled Bank Studios & Windfall Films, for PBS

The Day the Mesozoic Died
Howard Hughes Medical Institute

David Attenborough’s Natural History Museum Alive 3D
Colossus Productions

Best Biological/Life Sciences Program 
(Including Botany, Zoology Genetics, Neuroscience and Evolution)

Your Inner Fish: Your Inner Fish
Tangled Bank Studios & Windfall Films, for PBS

Unnatural Selection
Sky Vision & Terra Mater Factual Studios, GmbH

Decoding Neanderthals
A NOVA Production by Arrow International Media, Ltd. for WGBH

Best Environmental & Conservation Sciences Program
(Interdisciplinary Examination of the Environment and Ecosystems)

Earth a New Wild: Plains
National Geographic Television & Passion Planet for PBS

Battle for the Elephants
Everwild Media for National Geographic Television

Inside the Megastorm
Dragonfly Film & Television Productions, Ltd. for NOVA/WGBH in association with BBC

Killer Whales – Fins of Change
Terra Mater Factual Studios, GmbH, Brian Leith Productions, WNET/Thirteen & NDR Naturfilm Doclights

Best Medical Sciences Program
  
(Including Clinical Science, Epidemiology, Pharmacology, Bioengineering, Stem Cell Research and Public Health)

American Experience: The Poisoner’s Handbook
An Apograph Productions, Inc. film for American Experience
American Experience is a production of WGBH

Jabbed: Love, Fear and Vaccines
Genepool Productions

Kids on Speed? Episode 1
Essential Media and Entertainment

Toxic Bees – Nature’s Mayday
Public Television Service, Taiwan

Best Physical Sciences Program 
(Including Physics, Chemistry, Astronomy and Nanoscience)

Particle Fever
PF Productions, LLC & Anthos Media, LLC

COSMOS: A SpaceTime Odyssey — Standing Up in the Milky Way
Fuzzy Doors Productions, Cosmos Studios, Inc. in association with FOX Broadcasting Company & National Geographic Channel

Eyes of Atacama
Terra Mater Factual Studios, GmbH

Best Technological Sciences Program 
(Including Robotics, Computer & IT, Artificial Intelligence, Mechanical & Systems Engineering)

The Incredible Bionic Man
Darlow Smithson Productions, Ltd. for Smithsonian Channel

Genius of Nature: Sensing
Terra Mater Factual Studios, GmbH, Oxford Scientific Films & BBC

Zeppelin Terror Attack
Windfall Films, Ltd. for NOVA/WGBH, Channel 4 & National Geographic Channel

Rise of the Drones
Pangloss Films, LLC for NOVA/WGBH

Best Human & Social Sciences Program 
(Including Psychology, Anthropology, Sociology, Linguistics and History of Science)

The Perfect Runner
Clearwater Documentary, Inc. & Smithsonian Channel

The Ultimate Formula: What is the Universe Made Of?
NHK

Enigma Man – A Stone Age Mystery
Electric Pictures

PROGRAM CATEGORIES:


Best Limited Series

COSMOS: A SpaceTime Odyssey
Fuzzy Door Productions and Cosmos Studios, Inc. in association with FOX Broadcasting Company & National Geographic Channel

Your Inner Fish
Tangled Bank Studios & Windfall Films, for PBS

Years of Living Dangerously
Roaring Fork Films

Richard Hammond’s Miracles of Nature
Terra Mater Factual Studios, GmbH, Oxford Scientific Films & Hamster’s Wheel

Best Short Program

Your Inner Fish: We Hear with the Bones that Reptiles Eat With
Tangled Bank Studios & Windfall Films, for PBS

Snows of the Nile
Day’s Edge Productions

Invisible Ocean: Plankton & Plastic
Emily V. Driscoll/BonSci Films

Return of the Cicadas
Samuel Orr/www.MotionKicker.com

Best Short Series Program 

Freaks of Nature
Off the Fence Productions

QUEST: The Science of Sustainability
KQED in collaboration with five partner stations

WildFIRE PIRE: Wildfires, Climate Change, & the Ecosystem
Dennis Aig and Daniel Schmidt, Montana State University, Department of Science and Natural History Filmmaking

Best Radio & Podcast Media
The STEM Story Project — The Poison Squad: A Chemist’s Quest for Pure Food
Sruthi Pinnamaneni

Desperate for a Cure: The Search for New Alzheimer’s Treatments
WCAI – The Cape and Islands’ NPR Station

Shared Planet
BBC Natural History Unit

Best Hosted or Presenter-led Program

COSMOS: A SpaceTime Odyssey — Standing Up in the Milky Way
Fuzzy Doors Productions & Cosmos Studios, Inc. in association with FOX Broadcasting Company & National Geographic Channel

Richard Hammond’s Miracles of Nature — Super-Bodies
Terra Mater Factual Studios GmbH

David Attenborough’s Natural History Museum Alive 3D
Colossus Productions

Best Children’s Education Program 

Wild Kratts: When Fish Fly!
KrattBrothers Company, Ltd. & 9 Story Entertainment

Plum Landing
WGBH Educational Foundation & Global Mechanic

Watermelon Magic
Spring Garden Pictures

Survival of the Sexiest, Parts I & II
Animator: Baker & Hill
Developed by National Geographic & Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology

Best Integrated/Cross Platform Media

Tales from the Poisoner’s Handbook
American Experience/WGBH Educational Foundation

Live from Space
Arrow Media, Channel 4 & National Geographic Channel

Birds of Paradise: Amazing Avian Evolution

Developed by National Geographic & Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology

Best Student and Emerging Science Filmmaker 
Seizing the Unrecorded
Ingrid Pfau
Montana State University, MFA Science and Natural History Filmmaking Program

When the Peacock Sings: A Prequel to the Monsoons
Shaz Syed
University of Salford: Mediacity

Pride
Rosh Patel
Montana State University, MFA Science and Natural History Filmmaking Program

Best Immersive Cinema (3D/Large Format) 
Flight of the Butterflies 3D
SK Films

Jerusalem 3D
A Cosmic Picture/Arcane Pictures Film, National Geographic Ventures

Mysteries of the Unseen World (IMAX)
National Geographic Entertainment & Day’s End Pictures

Best Immersive Cinema (Fulldome)
Moons: Worlds of Mystery
Charles Hayden Planetarium & Boston Museum of Science

Bella Gaia: Beautiful Earth
Remedy Arts, LLC & Denver Museum of Nature & Science

Dark Universe
American Museum of Natural History

Supervolcanoes
Spitz Creative Media, Mirage3D & Thomas Lucas Productions in association with Denver Museum of Nature & Science

Best Online and Interactive Media
Sound Uncovered: An Interactive Book for the iPad
Exploratorium

The RNA Lab
NOVA

David Attenborough’s Natural History Museum Alive App
Colossus Productions

 

“Eye” Wonder: 10 Things You Didn’t Know About Frog Eyes

By: Sarika Khanwilkar

Science. The word invokes rolled eyes and memories of bad grades in some people, and a sense of curiosity and excitement in others. My name is Sarika, and I’m in the latter category of people who find pleasure in scientific discovery and mystery. I have ample personal experience with science professors to know that communicating this subject can be challenging but is critically important.  For example, all that buzz about the bee conservation crisis cannot be effective without awareness of the causes, such as loss of suitable habitat and use of pesticides. The effectiveness of these scientific stories will inspire people to take actions that stop the trend. Science media is a powerful tool for both conservation and education, which is why I’m here at the Jackson Hole Wildlife Film Festival. For the past month and a half, me and my two frogs have been settling into our new location, Jackson, WY, where I get to intern for this amazing organization!

 

Albero, a White's tree frog (Litoria caerulea), climbing up my arm.
Albero, a White’s tree frog (Litoria caerulea), climbing up my arm.

For anyone under the age of 13, a pet frog is cool. As one gets older, the thrill seems to fade, but not for me; I love frogs! Last summer, I traveled to remote parts of the Peruvian Andes to complete research on Chytriodiomycosis, a fungal disease severely impacting amphibian populations around the globe. I became fairly intimate with hundreds of frogs, and as I was gazing into the eyes of who I thought was my frog prince, I started wondering about them. How similar are human eyes to frog eyes? Does a frog see the same things I see? Why am I spending multiple hours every morning collecting live food? Here’s what I learned:

Ten ways frog vision differs from human vision:

1. Frogs have two transparent eyelids, one on the bottom, one on the top, and a third semi-transparent eyelid called the nictitating membrane. The nictitating membrane of the red-eyed tree frog (Agalychnis callidryas) has a spectacular tiger-stripe design, which camouflages the bright red color of the eyeball without compromising the frog’s vision.  Just like our eyelids, they serve to protect the eye underwater and keep it moist on land.

The semi-transparent nictitating membrane of the red-eyed tree frog is clearly visible in this photo that captured the frog mid-blink. Photo credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/marlinharms/6833187613/
The semi-transparent nictitating membrane of the red-eyed tree frog is clearly visible in this photo that captured the frog mid-blink. Photo credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/marlinharms/6833187613/

2. Frogs can regenerate structures of the eye after damage and serve as a scientific model to study this process. Current research aimed at blindness prevention in humans involves the chemical induction of cell regeneration.

3. Frogs use their eyes to help them swallow food.  After a frog has caught prey in its mouth, you will see the eyeballs retract into the head, pushing the food down and allowing the frog to swallow. Although a frog has teeth and a tongue like humans do, they use their teeth to keep the victim in the mouth and not for chewing. A frog’s tongue is attached at the front of the mouth as opposed to the back, like ours. This is why it is difficult for a frog to swallow without the help of their eyes.

4. Frogs have a much larger field of view than humans, due to the placement of their eyes. The eyes, situated on the top and sides of the head, allow them to see almost 360 degrees around them (which helps for a species that can’t turn its head).

5. Frog vision is somewhat crude because a frog would starve to death surrounded by food if it was not moving. Evolution has favored vision that focuses on active and mobile objects.

6. Some species of frog can develop directly on land but for species that start life as a tadpole underwater, their eyes must change when they metamorphosize into a frog. This happens because just like you can run faster on land than in water, the speed at which light travels is slower in water than in air. As tadpoles adjust their sight to live in the terrestrial environment, the lens changes from spherical to a flatter shape to maintain vision when light is moving faster through air.

7. Frogs are nearsighted with a focal length of approximately 15 cm., while the focal length of a human eye is about 2.2 cm. We differ from frogs in the way our eyes accommodate, which is the process of focusing on objects that are at various distances away from the eye. Frogs achieve accommodation via lenticular movement, which is moving the lens backwards and forwards, while humans change the shape of the lens.

8. Color vision can impact sexual selection in frogs. For example, the strawberry poison dart frog (Dendrobates pumilio) utilizes the perception of color as a visual cue for mate choice.  This can explain sexual dichromatism, when males and females differ in color, in species of frog.

Sexually dichromatic frogs mating. Photo credit: http://animals.howstuffworks.com/amphibians/frog4.htm
Sexually dichromatic frogs mating. Photo credit: http://animals.howstuffworks.com/amphibians/frog4.htm

9. There are two types of photoreceptors, rods and cones, in the eyes of humans and frogs. Humans have only one type of rod, with maximum absorption of light at a wavelength of 502 nm (green light). The eye of a frog contains this rod plus an additional one, with peak absorption of light at 433 nm (blue light). This rod allows superior detection of blue light in amphibians.

10. Frogs are nocturnal, and their eyes contain a layer of tissue called tapetum lucidum, which is not present in the human eye, that allows them to see at night. This is what produces eyeshine, seen in the photo below and in photos of cats and other animals with this tissue.

Tapetum lucidum causes eyeshine in animals such as frogs. Photo credit: http://www.travelblog.org/Photos/4247149
The tissue, tapetum lucidum, causes eyeshine in animals such as frogs. Photo credit: http://www.travelblog.org/Photos/4247149

This list helps to illustrate the immense diversity of life that Earth supports. There is infinite potential to learn by studying frogs, a species that is so different from ours. Much of what we learn from them can improve our daily lives. For example, studying the toe pads of frogs is helping to develop safer and more reliant tire tread. Unfortunately, like bees, amphibians are in a conservation crisis. Conservation is more than saving a single species – it’s about realizing and appreciating unique characteristics of all inhabitants on this planet.

 

 

 

 

Things to Click 7/18/14

Mysterious, Giant Crater Appears in Siberia

“Scientists are scratching their heads about an 80-meter-wide hole recently discovered in a remote part of Siberia called Yamal (which means “end of the world.”)”

Read more about the mystery

Read the latest update on the crater 

Cyclops Shark Found Three Years Ago off the Coast of Mexico

Photo by: Pisces Fleet Sportfishing
Photo by: Pisces Fleet Sportfishing

“A commercial fishing crew caught a dusky shark in mid-2011 off the coast of Baja California Sur, Mexico. When they cut the shark open, they discovered their catch had not only been pregnant, but had a fetus that was rather unique: The shark fetus was albino and only had one large eye centered in its face.”

Read more about this Cyclops

The Quest to Brew Beer With Space Yeast

Photo courtesy of Ninkasi Brewing Company
Photo courtesy of Ninkasi Brewing Company

“To find an answer, Ninkasi Brewing Company of Eugene, Oregon teamed up with the Civilian Space eXploration Team and Team Hybriddyne to launch some live yeast to space, bring it back to Earth, and then brew beer with it.”

See more

 

 

From the Field

by: Chase Dekker

Living in Jackson, WY has its perks, with the biggest being the abundance of outdoor activities at close hand. My favorite activity is searching the quietest corners of Grand Teton National Park for wildlife and whatever else I might find. Grand Teton plays host to many of North America’s charismatic species such as moose, elk, bison, wolves, and bears: black and grizzly. The other day, I was driving up an isolated road in the North section of the park and wasn’t having much luck finding anything. When I was tired and about ready to give up as the sun was just about to set over the Teton Range, I noticed a mother moose run out of the willows with twin calves in tow. I hadn’t yet seen a moose calf since my arrival in Jackson a week prior, so this was a real treat.

mooseandtwins

I got out of the car to get a better look when they started to run for the road. This is when I noticed they weren’t running because of me. Only about 150 feet away a grizzly bear tore through the willows and stood up on its legs to get a better look. I was ecstatic that I was watching a grizzly bear hunt. The moose ran across the road and the bear continued to pursue the group. I pulled my car forward, parallel of the bear and it looked as though he became a bit distracted, which allowed the moose to get safely over the flowered meadow hill and out of sight.

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The bear looked as though it was not in any mood to waste much more energy chasing them and began to walk around only 60 feet from my car looked for another source of food. I watched the bear dig up roots and sniff around for over 10 minutes before it vanished into the forest. I have been searching since for this bear but have not found him or her since, but I’m hopeful the bear will show its face again soon.

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When going out looking for wildlife, it is always important to not only be aware of what’s out there, but respect it as well. These animals, such as bears and moose, are extremely dangerous and could kill a person without even trying. It is a joy though, however, to find and see them in their natural habitat, and the biggest advice I have is to go out during dawn and dusk and to know where to look. For example, moose like swampy and willowy areas and bears like more open meadows and willows as well, so it will raise your chances to look in the spots the animals frequent instead of aimlessly driving around. However, most of wildlife watching is pure luck. I’ve had experiences where a bear walks across the road and is only visible for 10 seconds and if I was just 20 seconds later to the scene, I would have never seen it. So don’t get discouraged if you don’t find anything at first! The more you put yourself out there, the more you’ll see, and that’s a guarantee!

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