Editing a picture to make it “Instagram worthy” can be difficult. Most simple apps have the basic filters, highlighting and exposure tools that you might expect. But apps that transform photos into a custom portrait in the style of your favorite artist need to use something more complex. This is because imposing, for example, the distinctive brushstrokes and features of Vincent can Gogh’s The Starry Night onto an average photo can often distort the structure of the image. Existing programs focus on the content and style of images, but usually do not preserve the edges and contours of the subjects photographed. This causes the final image to lose the structural details of the original photograph.
On a daily basis, most of us do not think about the crops that our food comes from. And yet, the importance of commercial crop studies cannot be overstated, especially for human health. Without the crucial genetic mapping resources developed by Prof. Edward Buckler, plant breeding and genetics, these studies would be impossible. As a geneticist at the United States Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Research Service, Buckler is in a unique position to manage a variety of national resources to lead such studies. These efforts culminated in a Washington, D.C. ceremony in April, where Buckler was awarded the National Academy of Sciences Prize in Food and Agricultural Studies.
In the 1960s, most computers took up an entire room. Faster computers now find themselves on the wrists of people all over the world. As devices get smaller, humanity seems to be on track to create the sorts of machines that physicist Richard Feynman predicted in his 1959 talk, “Plenty of Room at the Bottom.” Feynman discussed the two main outcomes of technological progression: the miniaturization of information and ultimately, the miniaturization of machines. In order to get a step closer to achieving the second goal, researcher Marc Miskin developed a method for creating machines the size of human cells by taking inspiration from the Japanese art of origami. Just like folding origami to create various complex shapes, these machines are capable of folding in on themselves to reproduce many simple shapes.
For some, science is more than a lifelong passion or a suitable career path: it’s the difference between life and death. Carrie Lazarre, a Tompkins County resident who has been suffering from stage IV colon cancer for the past decade, says that sustained colon cancer research has been crucial in keeping her alive all these years. Along with hundreds of others, Lazarre chose to participate in the March for Science at the Bernie Milton Pavilion on Ithaca Commons on April 22 to showcase the importance of science for everyday Americans. The march was part of a larger endeavor across the United States and the world to stand up for science research, funding and policy. The main event, which attracted approximately 40,000 people, took place in Washington D.C., with satellite marches in around 500 locations across the United States.
What is science’s role in policy-making? Why are scientifically validated policies sometimes rejected by the public? These were some of the questions that Mayor Svante Myrick ’09 hoped to address at an event organized by Cornell Advancing Science And Policy on April 12. The goal of the event, ‘Take a Politician to Work Day,’ was to encourage dialogue between scientists and politicians in order to help both groups understand how they could collaborate to craft public policy. Post a tour of the research facilities at Cornell, Myrick hosted a public forum on the topic.
What do cells talk about? Years of research have shown us that cells secrete and receive chemical substances to interact with each other. Clearly chemicals play a major role in cell communication, but is there more to the language of cells? Prof. Mingming Wu, biological and environmental engineering, and her colleagues research ways in which cells use their physical environment to communicate with each other. Specifically, cells placed in a matrix of microscopic fibers interact with these fibers to send out signals.
Members of the Cornell Senior Leaders Climate Action Group held a public forum Tuesday, explaining how they intended to build upon the University’s existing Climate Action Plan to achieve carbon neutrality by 2035 while fielding questions from curious and concerned citizens. The majority of the 90 minute event focused on open discussion. A panel of Cornell scientists, administrators, faculty and deans aimed to reassure the local community that shifting towards renewable energy sources would leave an overwhelmingly positive impact on the town, although the panel still pointed out some minor issues they intended to address. SLCAG formed in 2015 as a way to consider ways to address various climate issues, including increasing carbon dioxide emissions. In March 2016, Provost Michael Kotlikoff asked SLCAG to provide the University with ideas to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, with the intention of pursuing multiple alternative energy avenues.
Cornell is a gold mine of fantastic gardens, beautiful foliage and abundant flora. In just the five-minute walk from Mann Library to Rockefeller Hall, one can see trees of all sizes and a wide variety of flowers. With colorful flower blossoms in spring and large full trees in summer, the valley, campus walkways and gardens are scenic masterpieces for much of the year. But there is much more to these shrubs, leaves or grasses than meets the eye. Cancer, Alzheimer’s and Diabetes are all debilitating diseases.
Studies in evolutionary biology tell us that all living organisms originated from a common ancestor, yet lifespans vary greatly. Clearly, something in the genome accounts for such stark differences; the question is what? Why do we live as long as we do? Why do our bodies break down as we age? On March 6, Prof. Vadim Gladyshev, medicine, Harvard, led a seminar at Cornell titled “Mechanisms of Aging and Redox Control” that attempted to answer some of these questions.
On a list of the most controversial topics in science, genetically modified organisms would easily be close to the top. Concerns about their safety and effect on naturally bred species continue to dominate scientific and policy discussions. Prof. Sarah Davidson Evanega, plant breeding and genetics, however, is assured of their safety and maintains that they could play an important role in fighting global food insecurity. Speaking at the Food Security and Global Growth: The Big Picture conference on March 4, Evanega detailed the manner in which climate change threatens global food security, emphasizing the ramifications for farmers. “A Tanzanian farmer, Selma, that our team spoke to, spent $300 — half of her annual income — on preparing and planting her two acre maize field.