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Wednesday, May 10, 2017



                 (Alan Weisman in The World Without Us)

Listen to the first 8 min of the talk and TAKE Notes
Produce a 200-word composition

Author Alan Weisman has a knack for the dramatic. In The World Without Us, subways are flooded, bridges crumble into the sea and wildlife reigns supreme once the world is relieved of pesky humans.
Despite the massive environmental destruction he’s witnessed firsthand, Weisman remains hopeful.  

More and more, every story becomes an environmental story, 
         Alan Weisman -May 2008 
To discuss the topic...
               go to previous post:



His next book on amazon

Countdown: Our Last, Best Hope for a Future on Earth?

was released in September 2013 by Little, Brown and Co.

Weisman visits an extraordinary range of the world's cultures, religions, nationalities, tribes, and political systems to learn what in their beliefs, histories, liturgies, or current circumstances might suggest that sometimes it's in their own best interest to limit their growth. The result is a landmark work of reporting: devastating, urgent, and, ultimately, deeply hopeful.
By vividly detailing the burgeoning effects of our cumulative presence, Countdown reveals what may be the fastest, most acceptable, practical, and affordable way of returning our planet and our presence on it to balance. Weisman again shows that he is one of the most provocative journalists at work today, with a book whose message is so compelling that it will change how we see our lives and our destiny.

For a gloomy learning on our future history...

TEDx Talks by 2014

Sitka Symposium Faculty

watch the 3rd contribution:
Alan Wiseman talks about
 history’s most influential invention - the Haber-Bosch process -
and how we can solve the mess it made.

and the no-winner goes to...Peoplequake or-and World without people

Which books do you prefer:eerie forecasts or chiller-spine ones?


PEOPLEQUAKE  by Fred Pierce
Wherever we look, population is driving the most toxic issues on the political agenda: 
PeoplequakeChina’s billions are undermining all efforts to halt climate change. 
• Terrorists lurk in refugee camps across the Middle East. 
• AIDS seeps from African townships. 
• Migrants are flooding Europe, swamping public services – yet their labour keeps these same services from grinding to a halt.
 But here is something you may not know. The population bomb is being diffused. Half the world's women are having two children or fewer. Within a generation, the world's population will be falling. And we will all be getting very old. 
This groundbreaking book explores how we got here, and where we are going. 
  • Do we face an environmental apocalypse? 
  • Could we go out with an incontinent whimper? 
  • Or might the wrinklies, led by a new breed of tribal elders, create a better, happier future?
Brilliant, heretical, honest, Fred Pearce confronts our demographic demons.

For an  INDEX: see 3 chapters on ecology 
(to  see negative review, click on  this):

Part Six Reaching The Limits 
Chapter 22: ‘The Tigers and the Bulge’  Across East Asia, between 1965 and 1990, the working-age population grew four times faster (p.230). This can be termed the ‘Youth Bulge’. Some environmentalists see a new nexus of disorder where youth bulges, worsening environmental problems and conflicts feed off each other. 

 The violent youth culture of the Gaza shanty towns may be indicative of the coming era’. The small Palestinian enclave trapped on a strip of desert between Israel and the ocean is today one of the most densely populated, environmentally damaged and violent places on the planet (p.237).
Chapter 23: ‘Footprints on a Finite Planet’ recalls Paul Ehrlich estimate of the planet’s carrying capacity at about five billion people. In 2008, with 6.8 billion people on the planet we were consuming 30% more resources each year than the planet produces (p.239) 

Chapter 27: ‘Silver Lining’ examines increasing longevity in wealthy countries with some people remaining active into the 80s. Many examples show this is not a problem in practice. An optimistic picture can be drawn.
The Land Grabbers by

His latest book: The land grabbers (2013)

in his new essay Fred PEARCE opens up vastly important new terrain few of us have even noticed. When the rich and powerful start buying up the planet’s fundamental resources—land and water—from the poor and vulnerable, we’d all better notice.”
—James Gustave Speth, 

WRITE the 3 aspects you could relate to from the 

figures in the statistics (click on link).

Graphical view at evolution of population by continent:

population by continent
source: United Nations, Department of Economic and Social Affairs, Population Division (2013).
 World Population Prospects: The 2012 Revision.projected populations based on
the medium-fertility variant.


"The World Without Us" 

Book Review by Teresa Friedlander (click on blue link above)
The World Without Us by Alan Weisman (webpage)

What would happen if human beings simply disappeared from planet earth? That is the question author Alan Weisman seeks to answer. 
Rather than treat this as a parlor game, Mr. Weisman takes us through a careful examination of earth’s current state in terms of geology, anthropology, archaeology, physics, biology, and recorded histories. From there he removes the human race and predicts several series of events which might take place and follows the process through to its likely conclusion. 
What would this planet look like after the dust settled? 
Which plants and animals would survive the changes and thrive in the new environment?
 The World Without Us  (click on -multimedia) is thought-provoking and alarming piece of work, but at the same time, it is an appreciative inquiry into the forces of nature which we humans have only recently begun to respect.
interview Leonard Lopate -WNYC... here:

Monday, May 8, 2017

STEPS to Women in Science: From Blackwell to Noether. "Kinder, Küche und Kirche" -

Pondering about women and science, we are limited by our timeline. Before twitter, who were the first inspiring women in science in the XIX century?

 Those who had to break the mental male barriers.
What women scientists do we have to draw insight and inspiration from? Keep reading ... 

SECTION 1. Women in medical studies

SET 1.1. USA 

In America and many countries of Europe, allowing women to study at university coincided with the pressure applied by the civil women‘s movements on the governments of the individual countries.In 1842, Elizabeth Blackwell enrolled at the Medical Faculty in Geneva in the State of New York, ―inspired from the glowing thought to open the medical career for the world of women‖. After enduring resistance and vehement reactions from the academia, she successfully graduated from the Medical Faculty in 1847.By comparison, the first woman physician in the United States, Elizabeth Blackwell, received her medical license in 1859.
1864: Rebecca Crumpler became the first African-American woman to graduate from a U.S. college with a medical degree and the first and only black woman to obtain the Doctress of Medicine degree from New England Female Medical College in Boston, MA1886: Winifred Edgerton Merrill became the first American woman to earn a PhD in mathematics, which she earned from Columbia University

SET 1.2. Switzerland -Sweden - 

Since 1864, women studied medicine at the University of Zurich and from 1872, in Bern and in Geneva, Switzerland.1875: Stefania Wolicka-Arnd, a Polish woman, became the first woman to earn a PhD in the modern era, which she earned from the University of Zurich in Switzerland1883 Sweden: Ellen Fries, First female Ph.D. promoted.1884 Sweden: First female medical doctor: Karolina Widerström


In 1867, the Russian student Nadežda Prokofjewna Suŝlova attained a doctorate in medicine at the University of Zurich.2 From the 959 female students admitted at the military-medical academy of St. Petersburg from 1872 to 1881, 609, that was 63.5 per cent, finished their medical studies and graduated. 

It was  disproved the most popular objections from opponents of medical studies for women: 
  • like the mental inability of women, because of the ―lighter weight of the woman‘s brain. ―Science and experience would have proved for a long time, that intelligence does not depend on brain mass.
  •  A further argument was the weaker physical strength of women. However, the successful use of female doctors in the American Wars of Secession or the Krim-War in 1877 had proved the opposite.
  • A third argument was the incompatibility of profession and family, which was a weak argument, since female doctors in Russia had shown, that they could manage profession and family. 

SET 2. OTHER COUNTRIES : Spain -Japan - India

  • Dolors Aleu i Riera (1857–1913), first female medical doctor from Spain, 1879. she was finally allowed to take her medical practitioner's examination in 1882.
  • Ogino Ginko entered Juntendo University, which was at that time a private medical academy with an all-male student body. Despite prejudice and much hardship, she graduated in 1882, and after numerous petitions, was finally allowed to take her medical practitioner's examination in 1885.
  •  Kei Okami studied at the Woman's Medical College of Pennsylvania, she graduated in 1889,  She thus became the first Japanese woman to obtain a degree in the Western medicine.
  • Kadambini Ganguly (1861–1923), the first Indian woman to obtain a medical degree in India having graduated from the Calcutta Medical College in 1886.

SET 3. GERMAN Lands.

The conservative promises Kinder, Küche, and Kirche (children, kitchen, and church), which would abolish economic exploitation in the workforce.

Women’s entry into medical schools and the medical profession in Germany occurred relatively late in comparison with other European countries and the United States.
To receive medical certification in Prussia until 1899,
It was not until the period between 1900 and 1908 that women across Germany could attend a university. 

SET 3.2. VIENA 1878

In the struggle for higher education of women, the Habsburg Monarchy developed a completely individual ―facet‖. The right for free choice of career and therefore on a choice of study for all citizens, which was assured with Article 18 of the 1867 Constitution, was simply negated. The threatening loss of the civil order by women, who called in their citizen rights, forced educated citizens, to hold an unconstitutional position.
Karl Lemayer, head of a department of the ministry, mentioned ―the social order‖, whose guidance ―would still rest in the male gender‖. If women were to have ―a terrain‖ at the university, it would be impossible to limit it.
With a new decree from the Minister of Education, dated 6 May 1878, the ‗question of women‘s rights‘ was further negated at Austrian universities.

 Strong networks were created by male and female physicians, once medical studies for women were finally allowed. They contributed to the international success of the Viennese Medical School.

SECTION 2. Herren Profesors. 

1. Theodor Ludwig Wilhelm Bischoff (1835-1843)

a passionate university lecturer at Munich Univ. who was vehemently against the idea of women studying medicine because they were "anatomically" inferior. He wrote about his theory down 1872 in a book entitled "The Study and the practising of medicine by women" (Das Studium und die Ausübung der Medicin durch Frauen).

"The laws of divine and natural order reveal "the female sex to be incapable of cultivating knowledge, and this is specially true in the fields of natural sciences and medicine"
2. Eduard Albert

One of the fiercest lobbyists against female medical students was Eduard Albert, a professor of surgery at the University of Vienna. His essay ―Women and Medical Studies‖ (1895) outlined his arguments why women were incapable of studying medicine. The real aim in life of women was ―to have children‖ and ―to weave husbands heavenly roses in their earthly life‖. 

To sum up: 
Patricia Mazón’s Gender and the Modern Research University: The Admission of Women to German Higher Education, 1865-1914: 
"Those professors expended much energy protesting women’s access to higher education, often stressing how studying would negatively affect women’s attractiveness, health, and reproductive development"

SECTION 3. From a class of her own.

Emmy Noether (1882-1935) 

The Greatest Female mathematician
Una mujer llamada Noether_MEDIA_1

German universities rarely accepted female students at the time. She had to beg the faculty at Erlangen to let her audit math courses. It was only after she dominated her exams that the school relented, giving her a degree and letting her pursue graduate studies.

Her work got noticed, and in 1915, the renowned mathematician David Hilbert lobbied for the University of Göttingen to hire her. But other male faculty members blocked the move, with one arguing: "What will our soldiers think when they return to the university and find that they are required to learn at the feet of a woman?" So Hilbert had to take Noether on as a guest lecturer for four years. She wasn't paid, and her lectures were often billed under Hilbert's name. She didn't get a full-time position until 1919.

 Einstein eulogy -1935:
In the realm of algebra, in which the most gifted mathematicians have been busy for centuries, Fraulein Noerther discovered methods which have proved of enormous importance in the development of the present-day younger generation of mathematicians.
Pure mathematics is, in its way, the poetry of logical ideas. ...    Her unselfish, significant work over a period of many years was rewarded by he new rulers of Germany with a dismissal, which cost her the means of maintaining her simple life and the opportunity to carry on her mathematical studies.