If man were to faithfully follow the teachings of Miss Carson…we would return to the Dark Ages, and the insects and diseases and vermin would once again inherit the earth.

This is how one chemical company executive reacted to Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring, the 1962 book that contained so much evidence on the damaging ecological and human health effects of the pesticide DDT that it revolutionized how the world used the chemical. DDT was once sprayed from trucks to blanket entire towns. Now it’s banned from widespread commercial use…and we’re still waiting for the Dark Ages.

You can read a nice little summary of the impact of Rachel Carson and her book at the National Resource Defense Council.


Four Ed Tech Companies in Seattle Worth Noting

At the Ed Tech Meetup I wrote about previously, several start-up companies presented their products to a “Shark Tank panel” of local Seattle educators for feedback and comments. All of the presentations were good and it was interesting to see the ideas on which people are working. Interestingly, all of the companies had experience in or created products for reading/English literacy and educator productivity. Here are links and brief descriptions for the products that were described (in order of appearance): Continue reading Four Ed Tech Companies in Seattle Worth Noting

A student studying (Public Domain).

Ed Tech & Equity in Seattle

On Friday, I had the opportunity to go to an Ed Tech Meetup in Seattle, and I thought I’d share some resources and opportunities that I came across. The best thing about the meetup was the emphasis on equity. A speaker at the meeting mentioned Richard Culatta, Director of the Office of Educational Technology, and afterward I found this video of a fantastic twelve minute speech he gave in March.

Continue reading Ed Tech & Equity in Seattle

The greatest discoveries of science have always been those that forced us to rethink our beliefs about the universe and our place in it.

– Robert Lee Park, in The New York Times, 7 December 1999


What makes us human?

Artificial Intelligence has been a recurrent theme that has appeared in a lot of science fiction movies and games. It’s also a recurrent theme in the human experience because it explores questions such as “What makes us human?”. I will discuss a few thoughts on some examples that I have come across recently in one game (Thomas was Alone) and two films (The Imitation Game, Ex Machina) after the jump.

Continue reading What makes us human?

My 3 Favorite Fun Science Channels on YouTube

1. Kurz Gesagt

I’ve featured their animations before, but I’ll say again that it’s worth checking out these videos (which sound like they were narrated by the guy from Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy) are creative, fun, and cover a wide variety of current topics related to science and society.


2. The Brain Scoop

Emily Graslie used to make her own videos on YouTube, and then she was hired by Chicago’s Field Museum to make videos on taxidermy, lost dioramas, and a dead squirrel with a face tumor. A mix of natural history, museum behind-the-scenes, and gross (aka cool) stuff.


3. NPR Skunk Bear

I just discovered Adam Cole and NPR’s Skunk Bear, with this fantastic video that further proves how peeps are useful for little outside of experiments, animations, and dioramas! Certainly not eating.

Peep Galileo is adorable!


I know there are a lot of science-related YouTube channels out there—what are your favorites?

The Science Slug


George Mayerle’s International Eye Chart

I found this little gem while exploring the National Library of Medicine’s “Hidden Treasure” collection of interesting items of the past. This chart is for eye examinations, published in 1907 and created by German eye doctor George Mayerle, who worked in San Francisco, California. He helped form the first national optical association, the Optical Specialists’ Association of America, and developed this eye chart to aid in diagnosing eye ailments.

When the chart was sold, advertisements promised that it would help increase the income of general practitioners, because  the chart “convinces the patient as to his professional skill and ability to diagnose, and, at least, correct defective eyesight.” I find this amusing because it seems to imply that persuading people that you know what you’re doing is just as, if not more, important than fixing some visual disorders!

Luckily, I am freshly practiced to look at eye charts because I just got my own eyes checked yesterday! Let’s take a closer look (pun intended). Continue reading George Mayerle’s International Eye Chart


Disney’s “Sleeping Beauty” artist honored admirably in The Banner Saga

The Banner Saga is the first game of a series based on a mythical world in which humans and Varl, Norse-like giants, are struggling to survive. The intriguing story begins with an ending: the gods are dead, the sun has stopped moving in the sky, and no one knows why.

This opening sets the stage for a Viking-esque world embedded with a deliciously deep mythology, ethically challenging choices for the player, and interesting and complex characters. However, the real icing on the cake for me was the graphics: upon reflection, I would say that The Banner Saga was by far the most beautiful game I played in 2014. Continue reading Disney’s “Sleeping Beauty” artist honored admirably in The Banner Saga

Coding plurals in the English language

Code for returning the plural form of an animal or English noun.

My coworker shared with me a little bit of interesting code he was working on so that the game returns the correct plural form of nouns. In the code, you can see there’s a list of exceptions in which the singular form is the same as the plural (moose, sheep, etc.), and unique cases (children, oxen). Then there are a few rules for singular nouns with particular endings:

  • if the singular ends in -y, the plural ends in -ies (e.g., butterflies)
  • If the singular ends in -lf, the plural ends in -lves (e.g. wolves)
  • If the singular ends in -s, -ch, -sh, or -x, the plural just adds ‘es’ (e.g. bushes, birches, foxes)

And everything else just gets -s added! Just thought it was interesting.