Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Athlete Hacks: Why Many Olympians Will Pee Pink Or Purple:

In seeking performance edge, Olympians select from a strange menu.

Juicing a beet provides a deeply colored liquid rich in chemicals called nitrates, and promises to provide multiple sources of assistance to athletes, both physiological and psychological.
Image credit: Ed Yourdon via flickr

Call them pre-performance tweaks, athlete hacks, or just plain smart. In an effort to extrude every last bit of performance from their bodies, Olympians are likely to ingest some strange-sounding supplements in their final preparations for competition.

Beetroot juice, bicarbonate of soda, and caffeine may sound like the ingredients for a particularly colorful science-fair project, but sports physiology experts say these competition-legal supplements may significantly improve an athlete's performance.

"A one-percent difference in performance is something that will separate the guy who wins the 100 meter gold medal from the guy who comes last in the race," said Michael Gleeson, an exercise biochemist at Loughborough University in Leicestershire, U.K.

Caffeine is one supplement that many non-athletes rely on every day. Although athletes' use was once subject to limits under antidoping rules, it is no longer a regulated substance. The athletes are seeking many of the same benefits that the rest of us gain from a cup of coffee.

Beyond the benefits that most people recognize, such as increased alertness, "[Caffeine] also improves a lot of other physiological parameters, so a lot of people take it," said Keith Baar, an exercise physiologist at the University of California, Davis.

"There's no real reason why athletes wouldn't be taking caffeine," said Gleeson. "The dose that's needed to improve performance through a central brain stimulant effect is fairly low."

One limit to performance in many events that last longer than a minute, but usually less than 10, is the buildup of lactic acid in muscles. When intense exercise requires more energy than the body can provide through the aerobic process that uses oxygen, it creates energy using a different process, which ends with the formation of lactic acid. Buildup of this acid causes a burning sensation and can impair muscle contraction, slowing down athletes.

Some Olympians will take bicarbonate -- better known as baking soda -- to counteract this process. In theory, having a supply of bicarbonate in the blood allows it to buffer the acid's hydrogen ions, slowing down any buildup in the muscles, and helping to improve performance.

Bicarbonate is used by those athletes that can abide its often significant effects on the digestive system. Once it reaches the stomach, bicarbonate produces carbon dioxide, which can cause flatulence, bloating and other unpleasant, potentially performance-impairing side effects.

"If an athlete can actually physically tolerate taking that supplement without too much gastrointestinal problems then it may well improve their performance," said Gleeson.

But recent scientific studies suggest that it might not actually work as well as was indicated in early studies, said Baar.

Juicing a beet provides a deeply colored liquid rich in chemicals called nitrates, and promises to provide multiple sources of assistance to athletes, both physiological and psychological. Nitrates are also found in other vegetables such as Swiss chard and roots.

Studies have shown that beetroot juice alone can improve performance by 2-3 percent in events lasting 20-30 minutes, said Baar.

"[F]or events lasting more than a minute and lasting up to several hours, it's a potentially performance- enhancing supplement," said Gleeson. "It essentially will improve endurance exercise performance by making you more efficient in the use of oxygen."

"Efficiency is one of the key things that's going to distinguish between a winner and just somebody who's there to compete," said Baar.

Beetroot juice also has an additional, instantly recognizable effect that could have a significant psychological impact. The vegetable's natural color can add unfamiliar hues to athletes' waste products.

"You're going to pee purple, you're going to poo purple," said Baar. "There's nothing quite as good for a placebo as seeing, 'Oh yeah, I'm taking the beetroot, there it is, everything is working really well.'"

In some cases, a supplement's physiological effect of might not be the most critical part of its contribution to an athlete's performance. Believing that something improves performance, whether it is a preparation ritual, or a supplement, might offer its own performance-enhancing effect.

This is one reason why it's so difficult to analyze the true effects of many supplements. A 2-3 percent difference would likely be easily recognized in a scientific experiment, but a lesser improvement might not, Gleeson indicated. Olympic medals are often decided by substantially smaller margins.

Athletes take many other supplements, both in training and in competition. But a winning performance does not prove that an intervention works.

"One of the many problems in this field, this whole area, is that to scientifically prove that something improves performance is very difficult to do for anything that might only have a relatively small effect," said Gleeson.

Contacts and sources:
By Chris Gorski

Can Herbal Products Provide Sun Protection?

Recent research supports the ability of some herbal agents, taken orally or applied topically, to prevent sunburn and limit the damage caused by excessive exposure to ultraviolet (UV) light. Natural products with proven and promising photoprotective properties are highlighted in an article in Alternative and Complementary Therapies, published by Mary Ann Liebert, Inc., publishers. The article is available free on the Alternative and Complementary Therapies website.

The article “Herbal Sunscreens and Ultraviolet Protectants” specifically identifies golden serpent fern (Phlebodium aureum or Polypodium leucatomos) and Asian ginseng (Panax ginseng) as herbal products that, when taken orally, may reduce the local and systemic negative effects of UV light exposure, including photoaging, increased risk of skin cancer, and harm done to immune system function. Sufficiently high oral doses or topical application of green tea (Camellia sinensis) may also offer photoprotection.

Golden serpent fern (Phlebodium aureum)
File:Starr 050107-2831 Phlebodium aureum.jpg
Credit: Wikipedia

Contacts and sources: 
Vicki Cohn
Mary Ann Liebert, Inc./Genetic Engineering News

Listen To Other Worldly Whale Songs: Whales Sing Like Birds; New Recordings Hint At Rebound

When a University of Washington researcher listened to the audio picked up by a recording device that spent a year in the icy waters off the east coast of Greenland, she was stunned at what she heard: whales singing a remarkable variety of songs nearly constantly for five wintertime months. 

Kate Stafford, an oceanographer with UW’s Applied Physics Lab, set out to find if any endangered bowhead whales passed through the Fram Strait, an inhospitable, ice-covered stretch of sea between Greenland and the northern islands of Norway. Only around 40 sightings of bowhead whales, which were hunted almost to extinction, have been reported there since the 1970s.

Listen to the bowheads repeat their other-worldly song as they cross the Fram Strait.
Bowhead whale song 1  http://ow.ly/cDtNO
Bowhead whale song 2  http://ow.ly/cDtRe 

This bowhead whale is a member of the population that lives in the Alaskan Beaufort Sea. The bowheads that were the subject of this study are rarely seen. 
Kate Stafford

Stafford and colleagues put two hydrophones, or underwater microphones, on moorings attached to the seafloor in Fram Strait, leaving them there for as long as the batteries would last: nearly a year. Since the population of bowhead whales likely to pass through was thought to number in the tens, they didn’t anticipate much interesting data.

“We hoped to record a few little grunts and moans,” Stafford said. “We were not expecting to get five months of straight singing.”

Not only did they record singing nearly every hour of the day and night, they picked up more than 60 unique songs. A paper detailing their discoveries appears Tuesday (July 31) as the feature article in Endangered Species Research and is openly accessible online.

The variety of tunes was so surprising that the researchers compared the whales’ song catalog to that of birds. “Whether individual singers display one, multiple or even all call types, the size of the song repertoire for… bowheads in 2008-2009 is remarkable and more closely approaches that of songbirds than other… whales,” they wrote in the report.

They have yet to learn why the whales sang so consistently last year.

Scientists believe that bowhead whale song comes from males during mating season. In most other kinds of whales, individuals either sing the same song their whole lives or all members of a population sing the season’s same popular tune. If bowheads are like the former, that would mean more than 60 males were in the Fram Strait. If the population is evenly split between males and females, there could have been more than 100 whales – far more than anyone thought comprised this population.

With further study, the scientists instead could discover that individual bowhead whales have a repertoire of songs that they sing during a season. That would be equally interesting because it would make the bowheads the only known whales to sing a variety of songs in the same season.

The findings also hint at the possibility of a rebound in bowhead whales.

“If this is a breeding ground, it would be spectacular,” said Stafford. “For such a critically endangered species, it’s really important to know that there’s a reproductively active portion of the population.”

In addition, since the whales are difficult to study given their year-round residence in the Arctic, virtually nothing was known about where they spend their winters. The research offers a clue about the whales’ migration path.

Only a handful of bowhead whale populations remain. The largest historic population, which includes the individuals studied for this report, once possibly numbered more than 30,000 members but was hunted to near-extinction from the 1600s through the 1800s. Commercial whaling reduced bowhead whale populations in other regions as well; combined, the four remaining populations are thought to number fewer than 10,000 members.

Bowhead whales come up for air in the icy Alaskan Beaufort Sea. 
Credit: Kate Stafford

Bowhead whales are massive creatures. They grow to over 60 feet long, may live to 200 years old and can weigh 200,000 pounds. They use their huge skulls to break through ice as thick as 1.5 feet.

Bowhead whale song is unique in that the whales appear to sing with “two voices,” simultaneously producing high- and low-frequency sounds. The whales sometimes repeat the same tune for hours at a time.

Stafford and her colleagues deployed the two hydrophones 60 miles apart. They made 2,144 hours of simultaneous recordings from September 2008 through July 2009. In order to conserve battery power and take recordings for a longer period of time, the hydrophones worked for nine minutes out of every half hour.

The hydrophone in the west, covered in dense ice and in colder water, picked up far more singing than the one in the east, where there was spotty ice coverage and warmer water. The greatest frequency of song occurred in the darkest, coldest period.

“It’s clear there’s a habitat preference,” Stafford said. The thick canopy of ice may provide better acoustics than the loose pack ice and therefore might be favored by singing whales, she said.

“As Arctic sea ice declines, there may be some places like this that are important to protect in order to preserve a breeding ground for the bowhead whales,” Stafford said.

To answer new questions that the data opens up – including how many whales make up this North Atlantic population – Stafford hopes to do additional study.

Co-authors of the paper include Sue Moore and Catherine Berchok from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration; Øystein Wiig of the University of Oslo; Christian Lydersen, Edmond Hansen and Kit M. Kovacs from the Norwegian Polar Institute; and Dirk Kalmbach with the Alfred Wegener Institute of Polar and Marine Research in Germany. The research was funded by NOAA and supported by the Norwegian Polar Institute and the Alfred Wegener Institute.

Contacts and sources:
Nancy Gohring
University of Washington

More Chernobyl Radiation In Food Chain Than Predicted Says Finnish Researchers

The transfer of radioactive compounds is not straightforward and is higher than old models predicted.

A new study by Tiina Tuovinen, from the University of Eastern Finland, and her colleagues casts doubt over the validity of models used to assess the impact of radiation on human health. Their work is published online in Springer's journal Hydrobiologia.

The Chernobyl accident in 1986 led to a discharge of radioactive compounds into terrestrial, freshwater and marine environments. Over a period of time, these compounds have been taken up by organisms and have made their way into the food chain.

View of Chernobyl taken from Pripyat
File:View of Chernobyl taken from Pripyat zoomed.JPG
Credit: Wikipedia

Since the accident, the fall-out from the power plant accident has been used as a major source of information for models which predict the transfer of these radioactive compounds into ecosystems, estimating their doses and assessing their potential effects on human health and wildlife.

The authors explain: "The ability of models to accurately predict concentrations and doses depends critically on the empirical data on the behavior of radioactive compounds in the biosphere and also on the correctness of basic assumptions used in the models."

Their analysis of the contamination of two Finnish lakes by radioactive compounds (137Cs in particular) suggests that the models used to predict consequences on human health are based on a false premise. Their work therefore questions the validity of the models used and the conclusions that can be drawn from them.

The researchers collected data from two lakes in Northern Finland to investigate the transfer of 137Cs from lake water into fish during a twenty-year period after the Chernobyl nuclear power plant accident. Their results show that, contrary to what has been assumed until now, the transfer of the radioactive compounds is non-linear. In addition, the levels of these compounds appear to be three times higher in fish-eating species (piscivores) than in non-fish-eating species.

Contacts and sources: 
Joan Robinson

Tuovinen TS et al (2012). Transfer of 137Cs from water to fish is not linear in two northern lakes.Hydrobiologia; DOI 10.1007/s10750-012-1224-8

New Answers Found To Tunguska Meteorite Mystery

The mysterious explosion that occurred in the early morning on June 30, 1908 near the Stony Tunguska River, has been haunting the researchers for over a hundred years. Recently, a group of experts from the University of Bologna found a strange anomaly in the center of Lake Cheko, located eight kilometers from the epicenter of the explosion that may be a fragment of a celestial body.

Lake Cheko
Credit: "Kosmopoisk" Romeiko

Tunguska is the common name of the three major tributaries of the Yenisei: The Upper (Angara), Medium (Stony) and Lower. In the area near the village of Stony Tunguska near the village of Vanavara on June 30, 1908 around 7:00 am a big fireball was seen, overflying the territory of the Yenisei River basin from the southeast to the northwest (on an alternative testimony, the body was cylindrical in shape). The flight ended with a deafening booming explosion over the taiga at seven to ten kilometers above the ground.

Trees knocked over by the Tunguska blast. 
Photograph from the Soviet Academy of Science 1927 expedition led by Leonid Kulik 

A powerful blast wave was recorded by observatories around the world. A flash of light was observed at a great distance - the ball has become a pillar of fire at about 20 kilometers altitude. On the territory of more than two thousand kilometers trees were knocked down and in houses, located hundreds of kilometers from the epicenter of the explosion, windows were blown out.

The Southern swamp—the epicenter of the Tunguska explosion, in 2008 
Credit:  . Photo by Vladimir Rubtsov, taken at June 30, 2008. Source: Rubtsov (2009)

Ironically, within 13 years no one dared to carry out studies on the site of the explosion. Only in 1921, a romantic enthusiast, a member of the Mineralogical Museum in Moscow, Leonid A. Kulik, accidentally learned about the Tunguska mystery from an old sheet tear-off calendar, and his interest was sparked. With the support of Academicians Vernadsky and Fersman, he organized the first expedition to the area of ​​Stony Tunguska.

Photograph from Kulik's 1927 expedition 
File:Tunguska event fallen trees.jpg
Credit:  Wikipedia/Leonid Kulik 

Kulik and his companions gathered over 230 fragments weighing over 200 pounds. But these were the fragments of meteorites that fell earlier in the taiga. In addition, the expedition found microscopic silicate and magnetite pellets and fragments of rock with a high content of elements, indicating a possible cosmic origin of the substance. However, it has not been established whether they were remnants of the above events.

Today there are about 120 scientific, pseudo-scientific and pseudoscientific hypotheses explaining the nature of the Tunguska phenomenon. The most common of them is the fall of the meteorite (presumably iron) or passing meteor swarm - was quickly called into question because meteorite fragments have not been found.

Despite the doubts in meteorite nature of the explosion, the enthusiasts continued to search for a crater (or craters) in the area of the suggested epicenter, and not without success.

For example, in 1994 participants of the research association "Kosmopoisk" Romeiko managed to make a successful aerial Stony Tunguska region. The pictures clearly show the outlines of a mysterious lake, located a few dozens of kilometers from the epicenter of the alleged explosion.

The lake is of round shape, and its area is 200 to 250 meters. The shores of the reservoir are covered by forest, where some trees are felled. Since Taiga is difficult to pass in that area, the place had previously been virtually unknown. According to the hypothesis of Romeiko, it is a water-filled crater of meteoritic origin.

                                                                          Lake Cheko 
Credit:  "Kosmopoisk" Romeiko

Researchers from Bologna led by a specialist in marine geology Luca Gasperini ran into another "crater" in 2007. The Italians drew attention to the taiga Lake Cheko that lies eight kilometers north-west of the alleged epicenter of the explosion. The location of the reservoir coincides with the flight path of a giant body that later without good grounds became known as the Tunguska meteorite. It is interesting that Lake Cheko is not observed on any map made before 1929, and according to the testimony of local residents, prior to the crash in 1908 it simply did not exist.

Under The project "Tunguska 99," Gasperini and his colleagues conducted a study of the lake on the ground. First of all, they were struck by its nearly hemispherical form. It was also found that the bottom of the reservoir has the shape of a cone, and its maximum depth is about 50 meters. This may indicate that something huge had struck the tunnel at this point and sank into the ground. Indeed, the ground penetrating radar recorded a large object at a depth of 10 meters below the bottom of the lake.

The Italian scientists suggest that the "culprit" was a fragment of an exploded cosmic body. The weight of the "fragment" is about 1,5 × 106 kilograms.

Yet, the discovered "craters" are still just a speculation. To date, no object was found in the Stony Tunguska that would clearly indicate that they are relevant to the old events.

Contacts and sources:
Story by Irina Shlionskaya

Aqua CERES: Tracking Earth's Heat Balance

Is the heat budget of the planet changing? Thermometers on the ground can give us a snapshot of a summer heatwave or winter cold spell, but it takes something like NASA's CERES instruments to give a long term picture of whether the planet is keeping more of its heat than it loses back into space.

Credit: NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center

The 10 Most Persecuted Academics in America

Sadly, academic freedom isn’t a right guaranteed everywhere. Scholars and academics around the world are routinely threatened, removed from their positions, beaten, and even driven into exile for their opinions and publications. Even here in the U.S., where freedom of speech is a fundamental right guaranteed by our Constitution, there can be dire consequences for academics who espouse viewpoints that are different or controversial. Jobs can be lost, careers ruined, and in some extreme cases, the persecution may result in death threats or murder. We’d like to think of our nation as an enlightened one where multiple viewpoints can coexist, but the reality is that many professors, academics, and intellectuals are silenced here for their views just as they are in other parts of the world. Learn more about just a few of the American academics who have seen everything from death threats to imprisonment for daring to have different points of view.

Chandler Davis:

After receiving his doctorate in mathematics from Harvard in 1950, mathematician and professor Chandler Davis thought he would enjoy a fruitful, though perhaps uneventful, career in academia. Unfortunately, that wasn’t to be. Davis came from a politically radical family and following in his father’s footsteps, Davis joined the Communist Party of America, though he never actually took part in any of the party activities and soon lapsed on his membership in the wake of WWII. Regardless, this association resulted in Davis coming under the scrutiny of the House Unamerican Activities Committee along with two other professors at the University of Michigan, Mark Nickerson and Clement Markert. Davis refused to cooperate with the investigation and was not only dismissed from his position but sentenced to a six-month prison term. While Davis would use his time incarcerated to complete a research paper, the experience soured him on American academia and he has lived in Canada since 1960. In 1991, he and his colleagues started the Davis, Markert, Nickerson Lecture on Academic and Intellectual Freedom, one positive outcome of a shameful episode in American history.

Frances Fox Piven:

Frances Fox Piven is a professor of political science and sociology at The Graduate Center, City University of New York and has been an outspoken activist throughout her career, opposing the Vietnam War, educating voters, supporting unions, and fighting for those who are disenfranchised. Her political views have caused a fair amount of controversy and her writings on welfare, the poor, rebellious social moments, the American electoral process, and the Bush administration have resulted in a fair amount of hateful speech being directed toward her in recent years. Much of the hate stems from conservative commentator Glenn Beck, who has accused Piven of trying to destroy the economy and incite violence, words that motivated many of his less civil fans to harass the 78-year-old with a number of threatening emails, letters, and calls, some calling for her death. Due to these threats, guards were posted outside of her classroom and the FBI is investigating the origin of the hateful communications. Piven doesn’t seem intimidated, however, stating that she sees this as a chance to encourage people like Beck to “practice journalism more responsibly.”

Dana L. Cloud:

An associate professor at the University of Texas at Austin, Dana L. Cloud’s research into feminism, Marxism, and social movements made her a target of conservative writer David Horowitz, who in 2006 included her in his book called The Professors: The 101 Most Dangerous Academics in America. Horowitz accused Cloud of being an “anti-American radical” who supports the propaganda of the Saddam regime and brings her own, presumably dangerous, political views into the classroom. Words like these are rarely without consequence, and in the years since Cloud has seen numerous letters sent to the university calling for her dismissal, as well as threats of physical violence against her and her family. Cloud has spoken out publicly against Horowitz’s claims (even confronting him personally at an event in 2009), and there seems little evidence that she’s dangerous, but his accusations have nonetheless left her and others whom he named in his book to deal with serious threats, damage to their reputations, and potential harm to their careers.

Ward Churchill:

Ward Churchill is perhaps one of the most hated and controversial professors in the United States. In 2005, an essay Churchill wrote four years prior received national attention because of his assertion that the attacks on September 11 were the unavoidable consequence of unlawful and improper U.S. foreign policies. As a result of these incendiary comments, Churchill received more than 100 death threats and the University of Colorado began investigating Churchill for research misconduct. The result? Churchill was fired in 2007. Believing he was fired for the ideas he had published rather than his academic misconduct (dismissal is not the usual punishment for low-level research misconduct at the University of Colorado), Churchill filed a lawsuit against the university for wrongful termination. The court found that Churchill was indeed wrongly fired, but the battle hasn’t ended yet and is headed to the Colorado Supreme Court to determine whether the university has immunity from lawsuits like the one filed by Churchill.

Sami Al-Arian:

Born in Kuwait and raised in Egypt, Dr. Sami Al-Arian immigrated to the U.S. in 1975, eventually obtaining his Ph.D. in computer engineering from North Carolina State University in 1986. The son of Palestinian parents, Al-Arian founded the Islamic Committee for Palestine while he was teaching at the University of South Florida, which would be the beginning of his troubles with the law, as Al-Arian took a staunch anti-Israel position and supported a variety of Islamic causes. This involvement later caused former Attorney General John Ashcroft to call him “the most dangerous man in the world,” alleging that Al-Arian played a major role in funding, managing, and supervising terrorist organizations. Al-Arian was fired from his position at USF, indicted by the Department of Justice, and put in jail. And there he sits, to this day. Despite the constitutional right to a speedy trial, Al-Arian spent more than two years in solitary confinement waiting to hear the evidence against him, in conditions so questionable that Amnesty International called for an investigation. When he finally received a trial, a jury found Al-Arian innocent on eight of the charges against him and hung on the rest, with only one juror believing him guilty. The government, heavily invested in the case, decided to re-try him, offering a plea bargain if he would agree to leave the country and admit his guilt. Al-Arian agreed, but instead of the deal he was promised, he was sentenced to another 57 months in jail, during which he was called to testify against other accused terrorists, a violation of his plea bargain. Each refusal has caused Al-Arian to be held in contempt and resentenced to more time in prison, and he is still under house arrest. Whether Al-Arian is truly guilty is up for debate, but what is clear is that being on the wrong side of a political issue can land you in serious trouble, even in the U.S.

J. Robert Oppenheimer:

Most of us know Oppenheimer as a brilliant theoretical physicist who helped develop the first atomic weapons and made amazing discoveries in the fields of quantum mechanics. While he is often remembered for his achievements today, during his lifetime Oppenheimer was much more of a politically divisive individual. Like many other young intellectuals in his day, Oppenheimer supported many progressive policies that were to get him in trouble during the paranoia of the McCarthy era. His wife and a number of his close friends and colleagues were members of the Communist Party, though he himself was not an official member of the party. During the development of the atomic bomb, Oppenheimer was under close watch by the FBI (his phone tapped and mail opened), but it wasn’t until later that he would feel the full wrath of the investigation as the result of powerful political enemies who claimed to have evidence of his communist ties. The head of the Joint Atomic Energy Committee even advised J. Edgar Hoover that Oppenheimer was a Soviet agent. In 1953, Oppenheimer’s security clearance was revoked despite never being dishonest about his left-leaning views and the Communist connections of his peers. An extensive analysis of KGB archives in 2009 found that Oppenheimer has never been involved in espionage for the Soviets, despite efforts to recruit him, and in fact had removed several people from the Manhattan Project with Soviet sympathies.

Tsien Hsue-shen:

Tsien Hsue-shen is another academic working in America who met with some serious consequences during the McCarthy Era. During the 1940s Tsien helped to found the Jet Propulsion Lab at Caltech, making significant contributions to the missile and space programs in the U.S. through his work there. Unfortunately, the Chinese-born Tsien would come under suspicion of having Communist ties when he applied for naturalization in 1950, and he would be stripped of his security clearance, a penalty that made him unable to continue his career in the United States. As a result, Tsien decided to head back to his native China in order to find work, but with China now under communist leadership, U.S. government officials decided to detain Tsien on Terminal Island, imprisoning him for more than five years while the U.S. and China negotiated his release. Despite no substantial evidence of communist ties and the support of his colleagues, Tsien was forced to return to China in 1955 in exchange for American POWs captured during the Korean War, a move that his friend and attorney Grant Cooper called “one of the great tragedies of this century,” as his genius would be used to benefit the now Communist China, for whom he developed a number of ballistic missiles and long-range space rockets.

Angela Davis:

While academia is often accused of being too liberal, academics who lean a little too far to the left, like Angela Davis, can find their careers in jeopardy. An activist, radical, and scholar, Davis led the Communist Party and the Black Panthers during the tumultuous ’60s and ’70s, and was widely known as a radical feminist and activist for civil rights. Urged on by California Governor Ronald Reagan, the University of California fired Davis from her position at the school because of her membership in the Communist Party, an unlawful move that caused the UCLA regents to be censured by the American Association of University Professors. A California court agreed, stating that her political affiliations could not serve as a basis for her dismissal and she was reinstated at UCLA, much to the chagrin of the board. The board would again attack Davis for using “inflammatory language” in 1970. Davis had little time to retaliate, as things were about to get a lot worse for her. She would soon find herself on the FBI’s “Ten Most Wanted” list and would be arrested for her alleged involvement (the guns used were in her name) in a violent courtroom altercation that left six dead. In 1972, Davis was acquitted of all charges and would go on to teach at the University of California Santa Cruz and Syracuse University later in her career. Her trial would serve as the inspiration for two famous songs: “Angela” by John Lennon and Yoko Ono and “Sweet Black Angel” by the Rolling Stones.

Margo Ramlal-Nankoe:

Assistant professor Margo Ramlal-Nankoe was seeking tenure in Ithaca College’s sociology department, something she thought she’d easily attain given the glowing reviews by her students and colleagues. She was surprised when a small number of influential faculty members began actively campaigning against giving her tenure, as she had a strong academic and professional record. Of course, like most cases of academic persecution on this list, the reasons were largely political. Ramlal-Nankoe had spoken out against sexual harassment within the department, which probably ruffled some feathers. Yet she believes that at the heart of the campaign against her are her political views on Israel and Palestine, as she is an advocate for peace and has supported organizations and written articles on human rights violations she feels are being perpetrated by Israel. These unpopular views led to racist and sexist attacks and later an open death threat from another faculty member. Ramlal-Nankoe was told she didn’t fit into the department, was denied tenure, and that the board wanted a “native-born American.” She no longer teaches at the university.

Loretta Capeheart:

Free speech is a lofty ideal but one that isn’t always upheld in the United States, even in academic circles, as Loretta Capeheart would find out. Capeheart, a tenured professor at NEIU, has always been a vocal union supporter and an anti-war activist, but those issues, among others, would lead to direct conflicts with the school’s administration. In retaliation for her outspoken activism, push for minority scholars at the school, and support of student protestors, Capeheart would be denied merited awards and the appointment to chair of her department, a position to which she was elected. The university president told faculty at the school that they should be ready to “accept the consequences” of any of their actions or words, even those supposedly protected under the First Amendment. The most disturbing aspect of Capeheart’s situation? Capeheart took her case to court and after a four-year legal battle the judge ruled that NEIU was in the right, based on the legal case Garcetti v. Ceballos, which denies public employees the right to criticize their superiors. This opens up academics at institutions to being fired for a wide range of statements, further eroding the already shaky foundation of academic freedom in America.

10 College Business Incubators We’re Most Excited About

College campuses are ripe with innovation, as students grow through education and experimentation in school. To help foster this innovation, many colleges and universities have opened business incubators, helping students and others in their community to help make their innovative dreams a reality. Whether they’re offering tricked-out labs or incredible funding opportunities, these incubators offer a great opportunity for students who are smart (and lucky!) enough to participate. Follow along as we explore 10 of the most exciting college business incubators around today, and be sure to share your own favorites in the comments.

    At Rochester Institute of Technology’s Entrepreneurs Hall, innovation is a way of life. Offering a “holistic entrepreneurship program,” this residential community has entrepreneurship at every step of the college experience. Within the community, residents get access to co-ops, mentoring, courses, and always-on access to the incubator. Students will even receive a minor in entrepreneurship as they develop their own business plans. Even students who aren’t in Entrepreneurship Hall can join other innovators at Rochester, in the Center for Student Innovation lab where they can tinker with new ideas, creating physical models and getting advice for their next steps from advisors and even other student participants.

    At Boston University, there’s an incredible array on business incubation opportunities. Boasting resources for life sciences, bio-tech, medical devices, photonics, clean energy, and engineering, BU can help to incubate businesses in just about any physical technology. Only 15 technology startups are accepted at a time, but what the program lacks in quantity, it makes up for in quality. Participants in the incubation program learn valuable lessons in entrepreneurial management, finding financing from incubator companies, modern office space, and fully permitted labs with a wide range of technical equipment and engineering resources. Boston University’s business incubator has produced numerous success stories, including HemaQuest Pharmaceuticals with two drugs in Stage 2 clinical development to treat blood disorders and viral-related cancers, as well as Modular Genetics, a biotechnology company focused on sustainable gene engineering.

    Students at Syracuse University have an incredible resource to tap into with the Syracuse Student Sandbox. This program offers resources from beginning to end, offering office space, in-house technical support, experienced mentors, and valuable funding resources. The Sandbox is designed to accelerate the process of business creation through a 12-week experiential-based program, producing either investment-ready firms or ready-to-go, revenue-generating entities. Although Syracuse offers a heavy amount of help, students are able to maintain 100% equity in their companies, making this a valuable opportunity for entrepreneurial-minded Syracuse students. Current participants include Craftistas, CrowdRouser, and Flat Shoes Tattoos.

    At the UC Davis College of Engineering, students with high-impact, innovative ideas can find a way to speed them up into the marketplace. This incubator is all about supporting technology transfer, sharing learning experiences with students, providing professor support, and facilitating partnerships and collaborations with other groups on campus, like the UC Davis Center for Entrepreneurship. This year, the ETTC graduated its first company, Dysonics, a startup based on audio technology research. Dysonics secured $750,000 in funding from angel investors to develop products that will reproduce three-dimensional, immersive sound in headphones.

    At the Harvard i-lab, it’s all about innovation, as participants take part in entrepreneurial activities to learn, launch, grow, and even support others in creation. The program features classes, workshops, and more, plus essential resources and advice for getting business ventures off the ground. Even established ventures can get help, with growth resources including dedicated space and focused support. Some of the i-lab’s long-term residents include mobile app ActivePepper, baby gear rental company Baby Buggle, and software developer Rover.

    In partnership with the University of Alabama at Birmingham, Innovation Depot offers a facility and program for technology business development, focusing on biotechnology, life science, information technology, and technology service businesses. With a next-generation facility offering both office space and laboratory space full of amenities, it’s a great place to locate a technology startup. Successful companies currently taking part in the Innovation Depot program include Panorama Public Relations, R&D trainer Gas Technology Institute, and tech support company Radical Support.

    This business incubator takes innovation to the water, functioning as an “economic engine” for Eastern Long Island’s aquacultural, environmental, and agricultural industries. The location of this incubator is key, as it’s right off of Long Island Sound and located close to many nature preserves. Plus, it’s within a designated NYS Empire Zone, so the incubator has benefits and incentives available to program participants, including investment tax credits, wage tax credits, and even exemption from sales tax. Within the building, you’ll find plenty of tricked-out lab space (including both fresh and salt-water access) for innovation, plus conference and event space for tenants.

    In the Motor City, technology startups can turn to the super-cool Tech Town incubator, a program created by Wayne State University to reignite Detroit’s entrepreneurial culture. Founded in 2000, Tech Town boasts an incredible list of resources for tech-minded entrepreneurs, including work space, access to capital, educational workshops, and guidance with business development programs, coaching, and mentoring. Entrepreneurs working with Tech Town even get access to Wayne State’s significant research, academic, and technology assets. Although decidedly urban in nature, Tech Town boasts 12 blocks, 43 acres, and a rich history: the TechOne building was once the Chevy Creative Services building, and the Corvette was designed on the building’s third floor. With nearly 300 companies working under its roof, participants in the Tech Town program contribute to the growth and livelihood of Detroit and the Wayne State University community. Even established corporations can’t resist the attraction of Tech Town: the Henry Ford Health System relocated its genetics labs to Tech Town’s research space.

    This tech business incubator hits early, even before participants are in college. Founded by a 15-year-old (now 19), Teens in Tech Labs is a tech incubator for teens with Microsoft backing, and it’s designed to give young entrepreneurs a space to get their great ideas out with a whole lot of support. Nearly 1,000 young entrepreneurs have been touched by the program, through events, workshops, and conferences. Based in Mountain View, Calif., with hubs in New York City and Boston, Teens in Tech Labs has opened up its incubator to young entrepreneurs worldwide, making it possible for teens everywhere to take advantage of the tools and resources available.
  10. NYU-POLY:

    NYU-Poly has not one, but four business incubators, boasting incredible support for fledgling businesses in the greater New York City area. Its first, Brooklyn Enterprise on Science and Technology (BEST) helps science and technology companies grow with a student patent program, intellectual property commercialization, help from business advisors, and funding recommendations. Varick Street focuses on next-gen technology and adaptable business models, growing businesses in digital media, cleantech, and even social media and mobile apps into real life successful startups. Through NYC ACRE, NYU-Poly builds clean tech and renewable energy companies, sharing resources for physical and virtual tenants, while offering guidance and business assistance. Most recently, NYU-Poly has introduced DUMBO, a city-sponsored business incubator in Brooklyn created to support the development of technology startup businesses. Boasting an awesome view of the Brooklyn Bridge, event space, coworking areas, and plenty of guidance, DUMBO is one of the most up and coming places in the city to start a business. Participants can even take advantage of networking opportunities, discounted legal and accounting guidance, guidance from NYU-Poly faculty, and office hours with well-known entrepreneurs.

Contacts and sources:
Tim Handorf

14 Inspiring Podcasts for Getting Out of Debt

Getting out of debt is often a journey that takes many months to complete, not just a few moments. Although books and guides are great for getting started, staying on track when getting out of debt requires constant motivation and encouragement, and podcasts are a great medium for just that. Whether you're listening to financial experts, families who have crawled out of the debt hole, or the latest financial news, these podcasts offer regular, interesting insight for those who are working to get out of debt. Subscribe to these 14 inspiring podcasts to find the tools and knowledge you need to get out of debt and stay there.
  1. The Dave Ramsey Show:

    Considered to be one of the most influential voices in debt management and personal finance, Dave Ramsey's show is a must-listen for anyone working their way out of debt. Listen in to learn about how to solve your real-life financial issues with budgeting, wealth building, and ultimately, financial peace.
  2. Money Girl's Quick and Dirty Tips for a Richer Life:

    Listen to Money Girl's podcast to find tips for personal finance, real estate, and investing, all great information for getting out of debt and staying there. This podcast is perfect for all levels, discussing credit utilization, how to raise your credit score, and items that you can save money on.
  3. The Suze Orman Show:

    As one of the most recognized personal finance experts in the U.S., Suze Orman has a lot to say about getting out of debt. Sharing straight talk and down-to-earth advice, listen to Suze's podcast to find out what you are doing wrong financially and what you can do right.
  4. Wall Street Journal's Your Money Matters:

    From The Wall Street Journal, the Your Money Matters podcast is full of advice for personal finance. Check out these sessions to learn about getting out of credit card debt, working on budgeting, and even being able to afford college tuition and retirement.
  5. Rebound:

    Although podcasters Spencer and Lisa Ashby are no longer updating their podcast, it still remains as an incredibly inspirational resource for those seeking to find a way out of a crushing debt burden. Listen along to find out how this couple recovered from losing a business, losing their home, and going through a million dollar lawsuit.
  6. Consumerism Commentary:

    On the Consumerism Commentary podcast, you'll learn about issues that matter to consumers, especially getting out of debt. The hosts of this podcast help talk guests through money management, economic issues, and budgeting, plus great strategies for escaping debt.
  7. Man Vs. Debt:

    On the Man Vs. Debt podcast, Adam Baker shares his story of getting out of debt. Follow along as Baker discusses breaking free from the daily grind and finding control in your finances. Listen in for tips, success stories, and helpful interviews.
  8. Sermon Audio: Debt:

    For those seeking a Christian approach to debt relief, SermonAudio.com offers an up-to-date podcast feed of the latest sermons discussing debt. Check out this podcast to find out what the bible says about battling debt.
  9. The Debt Collection Drill:

    Recorded for debt collectors, this podcast is full of helpful information on your rights as a consumer when it comes to debt collection. Find out about harassing phone calls, recording, and when you're within your rights to sue a debt collector.
  10. JW's Financial Coaching :

    Create a new lifestyle of debt-free living with the help of the JW's Financial Coaching podcast. Listen in to find a new perspective on your money, finding out how guests broke free of their debt and how you can break through your own financial barriers.
  11. Big Dumb Stupid Debt:

    Listen to Emily Chase Smith's debt podcast to learn about dealing with big, dumb, stupid debt. Smith discusses debt negotiation, hope, bankruptcy, and repos with plenty of advice and humor.
  12. Attend College Debt Free:

    This series from 2011 is a great resource for learning how you can go to college without loads of student debt. Attend College Debt Free discusses grants, school choice, finishing school quickly, and finding scholarships for a smart way to graduate without going in to debt first.
  13. Total Debt Relief Blog:

    Odiogo's podcast offers a discussion of debt relief, especially credit card debt. Check out the Total Debt Relief podcast for negotiation skills, debt settlement, and myth-busting credit card debt rumors.
  14. Payplan Debt Advice:

    One of the UK's leading debt management companies, PayPlan shares excellent debt and credit advice to listeners. Listen in to PayPlan Debt Advice for information about mortgages, bankruptcy, debt management, and more.

Contacts and sources:
Rosa Ray

8 Biggest Health Concerns for Adolescents

YOLO!” It’s the call of kids these days, and it means “you only live once.” But teenagers have it pretty tough, and no one wants them to “YOLO” themselves into an early grave. Puberty is awkward, school is boring, and parents are the worst. But there are other insidious factors that make adolescent life hard. Pressure to smoke, drink, and have sex lead to health problems, as do hours spent in front of video games and television. Consider the top eight health concerns for adolescents. Be safe out there — you only live once.

  1. Obesity

    Childhood and adolescent obesity is often cited as the top health concern for young people in America. First Lady Michelle Obama recognizes the severity of the issue, and has made combating youth obesity her pet project. Obesity increases risk of heart disease, diabetes, and a host of other health problems. One out of six adolescents is obese. Tips for parents can be found here.
  2. Alcohol and Drug Use

    Drug use, experimentation, and abuse are top health concerns for young people. According to TeenHelp.Com, more than one-third of high school teens have used marijuana in the past year, while 70% of teens have used alcohol. Also problematic for teens? Cocaine, stimulant, and inhalant use, as well as prescription drug abuse. Another concerning statistic of teen drug use is its availability — almost one-third of high school teens have reported that drugs are readily available to them at school.
  3. Smoking

    It’s not just marijuana that kids are lighting up — cigarette smoking is a huge health concern for teens. Six thousand young people begin smoking tobacco every day, and one-third of those will continue their habit. When you do the math, that’s approximately 800,000 new smokers every year. And all of these are adolescents. Learn more about preventing teen smokinghere.
  4. Pregnancy

    Teen pregnancy and sexual health are an enormous concern for adolescents. While teen pregnancy has been steadily declining (a 44% drop since 1991), shows like 16 & Pregnant and Teen Mom are some of the most popular on television. TheCDC reports that while birth rates are declining, the U.S. still boasts nine times as many teenage mothers as many developing countries. If you’re a teenager in need of education about your sexual health, click here.
  5. Abuse and Neglect

    Even in adolescents, child abuse and neglect are huge youth health concerns. Young girls who suffer abuse are 25% more likely to become pregnant as a teenager, and a whopping 80% of abuse sufferers meet the criteria for at least one psychological disorder by the age of 21. Another harrowing statistic? More than 90% of young sexual abuse victims are acquainted with their abuser. Child abuse happens in every socioeconomic class, and across ethnicities and genders. Learn more about how you can prevent it here.
  6. Driving

    While it’s viewed as a rite of passage for teens, driving is also a key health concern of today’s youth. Any number of unknowns exist on the open road, and young drivers are more susceptible to driving mistakes due to lack of experience. Sixteen-year-old drivers have the highest crash rate of any driving age, and death rates increase upon addition of passengers. One-third of teen deaths occur due to auto accidents. For tips on vehicle and driving safety, visit SafeTeenDriving.org.
  7. Stress

    Stress comes in all shapes and sizes, and it’s a top health concern for America’s teens. Learning how to handle life’s road bumps is normal, but the amount of stress today’s teens are expected to handle gracefully is not. Stress can come from family, finances, academics, or social pressures — and can lead to a host of future medical problems, as well as acute issues. Teens are most stressed in the early evenings, and they naturally respond to their set of stressors in different ways than adults.
  8. Mental Health

    Being a teenager is tough. Being a teenager and being different than your peers, tougher still. Bullying, puberty, drug use, college, body image, sexual orientation: these are all issues with which today’s teen must grapple. Many teens must deal with adult stressors, and may be ill-equipped to do so; and many adolescents were abused children, whose coping mechanisms are hard-wired differently than most. Suicide is the third leading cause of death in America’s teens, and almost one-fourth of adolescents suffer from a mental health disorder, including severe eating disordersIt gets better, kids. And if it doesn’t, seek help. There are many mental health advocates trained to help you.

Contacts and sources:
Hannah Peterson

25 Libraries We Most Love on Pinterest

Everyone seems to flock toward Pinterest these days, delighted by its numerous boards allowing them to bookmark Internet ephemera they find valuable and worth sharing. Numerous libraries — be they specialty, public, or affiliated with a school — have harnessed its popularity to push education and literacy causes to the digital generation. Such a strategy thankfully seems to be succeeding swimmingly. Some of the best-curated Pinterest accounts out there fuse old and new into a spectacularly informative feast for the mind. And sometimes gullet, for those who enjoy posting links to edible crafts.
  1. New York Public Library:

    By this point, the New York Public Library serves as far more than a repository of bookish delights. It also happens to be a wonderful museum of American culture, a status reflected in the eclectic pins it presents.
  2. New York Public Library Art and Picture Collection:

    NYPL hosts two Pinterest accounts, with the second one showcasing its extensive holdings regarding art and design across the decades. The boards cover a nicely broad swath of mediums, from two-dimensional digital images to classic films, and celebrate culture’s myriad faces.
  3. Biblioteca UPM:

    With 32 boards and 867 pins to explore, the Universidad Politencia de Madrid offers Pinterest enthusiasts and bibliophiles hours of joy. Content spans more than just bookish subjects, with lots of history and research tips available in both English and Spanish.
  4. Fullerton Public Library:

    One doesn’t have to live in Fullerton, Calif., to love and learn from its Pinterest presence. While some content will only pique the interest of locals, its photos and book recommendations are sure to pique a remote user’s attentions.
  5. ICE Library:

    The Institute of Civil Engineers in London shares its archives with Pinterest users with a jones for history, design, and other relevant subjects. Browse its boards chock full of education materials straight from its archives as well as engineering feats members find inspiring.
  6. Rice Library:

    Presented by the David L. Rice Library at University of Southern Indiana, this account shares its new holdings, participates in “What are You Reading?,” provides links to e-books, and plenty more. Stop here to scope out some intriguing infographics and score advice on what to check out either here or at another library.
  7. Harris County Public Library:

    One of the coolest features of this Houston-based library system’s Pinterest is its “Book of the Day,” which showcases recommended reads from across genres, mediums, and author backgrounds. It also hosts boards with even more specialized suggestions and even craft instructions — among others, of course!
  8. Scribner Library:

    When looking for advice on which graphic novels and nonfiction books and movies about sustainability need a little look-see, head to this site by Skidmore College. The institution’s museums and faculty publications are also available for those interested in learning more about the school.
  9. Oakland Library TeenZone:

    Young adult audiences are quite the hot commodity these days, and libraries the world over are clamoring to meet their needs while still keeping them learning. When looking for inspiration about multimedia treats to offer up local teens, this Pinterest account might very well prove one of the most valuable resources.
  10. Penguin Library:

    Beloved book publishers Penguin show off their English Library series, which prints 100 of the most groundbreaking, notable reads in the language. Though not a library in the traditional sense, it still makes for a fabulous Pinterest account to follow for Angliophile readers.
  11. UNLV Architecture Studies Library:

    Another specialized library, this time zeroing in on books and other resources regarding architectural basics and wonders. Both interiors and exteriors are on display here as well, making it a great Pinterest for a broader audience.
  12. Birmingham Public Library:

    Alabama’s Birmingham Public Library carries its educational aims into the digital sphere, with boards focusing on history, crafts, film, and other not-book subjects. However, there’s certainly plenty for bibliophiles to love and enjoy as well, especially a nice long list of recommended reads.
  13. San Francisco Public Library:

    Multimedia buffs will absolutely adore how San Francisco’s libraries are using Pinterest to show off their impressive photo and history collections. Be sure to check out its painstaking list of books set in the city as well as reviews of its Bay Reads Books series!
  14. Grimshaw Library:

    Few libraries digitally merge crafts and books with the deft skill of this Alberta-based institution, whose boards mainly focus on projects to do at home and at Grimshaw itself. Parents with kids at home for the summer will especially appreciate the suggestions they so helpfully post.
  15. Donors Forum Library:

    Like its name implies, the Donors Forum Library mainly collects and shares books related to philanthropic and charitable efforts. Every month, it shares its latest additions for visitors either wanting to drop by or pick up suggestions about what to read next.
  16. California State Library:

    History buffs head here to delve into resources pertaining to California’s colorful and unique history through a variety of different media — especially photos! California State Library also keeps its followers informed about the state’s different grant projects currently underway.
  17. American Libraries Magazine - ALA:

    Why follow just one location when the American Library Association’s official periodical makes it easy to keep track of so many at once? Cinematic fanatics will definitely appreciate its updates on the National Film Registry, and the Ask the ALA Librarian feature answers some of the most pressing, popular questions about running and getting the most out of these amazing institutions.
  18. O’Fallon Public Library:

    O’Fallon, Illinois’ passionate gaggle of librarians, share what they think readers of different tastes might enjoy . More disciplined fans might like to follow along with their summer reading series for both kids and adults.
  19. CTR Library UTAustin:

    Transportation enthusiasts could easily lose hours browsing these carefully curated boards presented by University of Texas’ Center for Transportation Library. Almost 460 pins (at the time of this writing) are available for anyone wanting to learn anything about the history of people getting from Point A to Point B.
  20. Sacramento Public Library:

    Sacramento Public Library keeps things fun and relevant, with book lists corresponding to upcoming holidays and designated months. As with many libraries on Pinterest, it also loves sharing inspiring crafts and photos, along with a staggeringly long general compilation of what patrons should pick up next.
  21. SCPL Teens:

    From Spartanburg, S.C., comes a Pinterest board wholly devoted to keeping teens occupied with healthy, skill-building activities. Pretty much all of them, for those paying attention, involve crafts of some sort the Youth Of Today can do at home or during relevant library events.
  22. IArtLibraries:

    Art and literature go together like art and literature, and visitors to this Pinterest can stock up on suggestions regarding everything from knitting to typography. It’s an amazing stop for anyone looking to nurse their creativity and meld their love of books with their love of visual expression.
  23. UofL Libraries:

    The librarians at University of Louisville love sharing the books and movies they think the student population might love, though their pins certainly transcend the Cardinal population! While their photograph collection has yet to even hit 10, it will still fascinate anyone who finds history scintillating.
  24. Mid Continent Public Library:

    Pinterest users wanting to follow the latest bestsellers, snag some craft instructions, read what librarians recommend, and other hallmarks of visiting the local library will love this account. It’s incredibly comfortable and cozy — or at least as comfortable and cozy as digital spaces can get.
  25. Awful Library Books:

    OK, so it’s a digital library and blog rather than a brick-and-mortar deal, but Awful Library Books still merits reading. It showcases hilariously terrible design work and titles from bookshelves past, though you probably already figured that one out.

Contacts and sources:
Helen Olson