An American Soldier, World War, and India

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28 years ago, a Chicago-based couple found a shoebox of photographs of the Indian countryside and they traveled halfway across the world to find their origin. PHOTO: Scroll

Here’s the plot: In 1988, a couple visited an estate sale of a deceased friend and stumbled upon a shoebox of old photographs tucked under a couch. It contained more than a hundred envelopes filled with negatives and contact sheets for photographs depicting India in 1945. The identity of the photographer: unknown.

But only until they set out to discover the man behind the lens. The answer (and the photographs) hang at Delhi’s Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts till January 31.

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Stepping Up to the Plate

Polystyrene lunch plates are being shown the door in some US cities. PHOTO: NRDC

Polystyrene lunch plates are being shown the door in some US cities. PHOTO: NRDC

New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Miami, Orlando, and Dallas. Six cities. 4,536 schools. 2,848,000 students enrolled. 469,000,000 meals served annually. And one organisation that unites them all and its plans to combine purchasing power and coordinate menu creation and food service in schools. Meet the Urban School Food Alliance. And here’s their latest idea: ditching polystyrene lunch trays and replacing them with compostable lunch plates. It’s a significant move since all together, the schools in the Alliance serve up 2.5 million meals a day.

But what’s most revolutionary about these new plates is what they’re made of. The polystyrene used in traditional lunch trays is a petroleum-based plastic that won’t break down for hundreds of years. When the trays end up in landfills — and 225 million of them do every year — they leech pollutants into the water and air, according to the group. The new plates, by comparison, are made of recycled newsprint and can break down within a matter of weeks in commercial composting facilities. They’re also only a tiny bit more expensive, at $0.049 apiece compared with $.04 apiece for the plastic trays.

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Biomechanics Exhibit at the Field

Animals that move through air and water have evolved a variety of wing and fin forms, as well as sleek, streamlined shapes that harness the power of fluid dynamics for propulsion. © Ernie Cooper 2012, macrocritters.wordpress.com

Every day, just using any part of our bodies to move, see, talk, or eat — among countless other activities, we are enjoying the biomechanics that have evolved to perform the functions necessary to survive. An exhibit at the Field Museum in Chicago called, “The Machine Inside: Biomechanics” will be closing on January 4th, so this post is more of a celebration of the exhibit than an invitation to check it out. If you won’t be in Chicago before the 4th, they have a great website with photos and a good video.

Imagine if your jaws could crush over 8,000 pounds in one bite, your ears could act as air conditioners, and your legs could leap the length of a football field in a single bound. From the inside out, every living thing—including humans—is a machine built to survive, move, and discover.  Beginning March 12, 2014, investigate the marvels of natural engineering in The Machine Inside: Biomechanics. Explore how plants and animals stay in one piece despite the crushing forces of gravity, the pressure of water and wind, and the attacks of predators. Using surprising tactics, creatures endure the planet’s extreme temperatures, find food against fierce competition, and – without metal, motors or electricity – circulate their own life-sustaining fluids.

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