October 2, 2015 |
TWO YEARS AGO, Chiwetel Ejiofor was the toast of the Toronto International Film Festival for his heartbreaking, welt-inducing role in "12 Years a Slave. " Last month he was back for "The Martian," in which his relationship with the white man is very different. This time he's trying to save one - Matt Damon, lost in space. "I suppose if there is a connection," Ejiofor said, "it's that the films both do speak to human respect. In the deeper themes of 'The Martian,' there's this sense of community.
September 10, 2015 |
In 1944, before anyone knew what DNA looked like, a young graduate student sought to learn more about genetic mutations by irradiating 50,000 bacteria with ultraviolet light. Most of the cells in Evelyn M. Witkin's petri dishes died in the process. But four were somehow resistant, and her subsequent insights would prove fundamental in helping the world understand how living things protect themselves from radiation and DNA damage. On Tuesday, Witkin, 94, was honored with a prestigious Lasker award for her long career, the last decades of which took place at Rutgers University.
August 24, 2015 |
A few hundred times every year in the United States, a mysterious agent attacks the bile ducts of a newborn baby, often leading to a liver transplant. And several times over the last century, a mysterious agent attacked the bile ducts of lambs and other livestock in Australia, killing hundreds of animals in all. Plenty of pediatric liver researchers have wondered whether there was a connection. Could it be a virus? Genes? Rebecca G. Wells, a physician scientist at the University of Pennsylvania, dropped a line to Australia to see whether she could find out. The eventual result was a tale involving fluorescent fish, an odd-smelling plant, and painstaking chemical detective work to ferret out one fateful substance in that plant.
August 21, 2015 |
JOSEPH TERRANCE Heard had this dream. He would start a program for boys who have had discipline problems at school and encourage them to chase the same dream that led him to a successful career in science. It was part of Joe's lifelong commitment to encourage others to follow his path, which took him from a childhood of poverty in Philadelphia public housing to a fulfilling career in mathematics and science research. His brother, Justin, said Joe spent his "time and efforts mentoring many of the youth of our community trying to light the spark of knowledge and education wherever he could.
June 27, 2015 |
Robert A. Roosa, 90, of Wayne, a retired microbiologist who supported scientists as a research institute administrator, died Friday, June 19, of a hemorrhage after falling. Dr. Roosa, who earned his Ph.D. in medical microbiology from the University of Pennsylvania in 1957, spent a long career at the Wistar Institute in University City, a biomedical research institution. He joined the organization in 1960 as a researcher, working in a lab, and later went on to oversee several facilities as a science administrator.
June 19, 2015 |
Somewhere in a remote part of Canada, antennae are likely picking up the signals of 100 shorebirds that just weeks ago were on the beaches of Delaware Bay, where they were caught with giant nets and fitted with tiny transmitters. The birds are robin-size creatures called red knots. After precipitous declines in their population on the bay - from about 100,000 birds in the 1990s to about 12,000 a few years ago - federal officials designated them as threatened in December. Researchers know that red knots have one of the longest migrations on the planet - from the tip of South America to their breeding grounds in the Arctic.
June 3, 2015 |
William Russell Turner, 103, of Ardmore, a senior research scientist at the Atlantic Richfield Co. from 1940 to 1971 and a member of the Philadelphia Stock Exchange from 1971 to 1994, died Wednesday, May 20, of respiratory failure at home. Mr. Turner was born in the coal region of Schuylkill County. His father died when he was 6, so he learned to find his way at an early age. He graduated from the University of Pennsylvania and was first employed by ARCO as an operator in the cracking department of a refinery, where petroleum crude is converted into gasoline and other products.
May 5, 2015 |
IT IS STILL to be determined whether Chip Kelly is a genius, but at least after this weekend's NFL draft we can say that he is not a mad scientist. For a mad scientist, the vision is all that matters. The consequences of what it might cost in the attempt to achieve it become irrelevant. Mad scientists are reckless. There is little that is comforting about their experimentation. Success is due to random luck, not well-conceived design. Failure is just as likely. Mad scientists are unreliable.
March 13, 2015 |
AS A YOUNGSTER growing up in King of Prussia with a fascination for science and math, Jayatri Das enjoyed spending time at the Franklin Institute. As with many Philadelphia-area students, walking through the giant heart made an impression on her. Today, Jayatri Das, Ph.D., is chief bioscientist at the institute, where she led the team that created the museum's largest exhibit, Your Brain, which opened last June. Tonight, Das will be among four women scientists to be spotlighted in the fifth annual "Color of Science" program at the Franklin Institute.
February 27, 2015 |
Snowy owls, with 5-foot wingspans and piercing yellow gazes, are a rare sight in this region, so far from their high Arctic realm. Last winter, however, the majestic birds showed up in numbers not seen in half a century. Birders declared it a once-in-a-lifetime event. Incredibly, it is happening again. The owls are back this winter, if not quite as abundantly. Their appearance over the last two years has sent researchers into a frenzy of data-gathering on a species that has given up little about where it goes, what it does, and why. During snowy owl "irruptions," unusually high numbers travel south for the coldest months, out of Canada and into the United States.