The Sagan Series: Singing the Praises of Space Exploration

July 10, 2011

“The Cosmos is all that is, or ever was, or ever will be.” — Carl Sagan For as long as I can remember, I’ve been fascinated by space. I never wanted to be an astronaut; I wanted to live in space. In high Earth orbit. On another planet. Or maybe among the stars. All my […]

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Thorkil Sonne, Putting the Autistic to Work

July 1, 2011

Earlier this week at the New York Times Opinionator blog, David Bornstein wrote about new initiatives to match some autistic adults to jobs that suit them. The autistic’s mental quirks make it tough to find suitable jobs, and her difficulty with social situations can create conflicts in the workplace. As a result, adults with autism […]

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The Grand Rapids Lipdub Video

June 2, 2011

In a January article at the Newsweek magazine website, Seth Fiegerman named Grand Rapids, Michigan one of America’s “dying cities”. The folks in Grand Rapids weren’t amused. On May 22nd, 5000 awesome people in that town came together to film a monster lipdub set to Don Maclean‘s “American Pie”. This amazing video — which Robert […]

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Gregg Breinberg and the PS 22 Chorus: Giving Kids a Voice

May 15, 2011

A decade ago, I bought a CD by the The Langley Schools Music Project. That album, Innocence and Despair, collected 21 songs recorded in 1976 and 1977 by students from the Langley School District in British Columbia. (The songs were recorded in a gymnasium!) According to music teacher Hans Fenger, who organized this project: I […]

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Stephen Hawking Speaks to the New York Times

May 9, 2011

In 1963, when he was 21, Stephen Hawking was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (also known as ALS or Lou Gehrig’s disease). At the time, he’d just begun studying theoretical astronomy and cosmology at Cambridge. Though ALS usually kills its victims within just a few years (you may recall that Lou Gehrig himself only lived […]

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Jessica Watson, the Girl Who Sailed Around the World — Alone

May 3, 2011

What did you do when you were sixteen? I read a lot of comic books, watched too many music videos, and sulked because my parents wouldn’t buy me stuff. You know — standard teenaged angst. When she was sixteen, Australian Jessica Watson did something awesome: She sailed around the world. Alone. Non-stop and unassisted. Watson […]

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Pearl Fryar, Unlikely Titan of Topiary

April 25, 2011

Photo by Duane Burdick To some people, a shrub is just a shrub; to Pearl Fryar, a shrub is a canvas. Fryar is an artist with plants. But he didn’t start out that way. When he bought his home in 1981, Fryar didn’t know anything about gardening. Still, he wanted to win Yard of the […]

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Ueli Steck, Speed Mountain-Climber

April 21, 2011

The Eiger is a wall of ice and stone in the Swiss Alps. It rises 3970 meters (13,025 feet) above Gindelwald. The north face of Eiger is also called Mordwand, or “the wall of death”. In the past century, at least sixty-four climbers have died trying to scale this treacherous slope. The western flank of […]

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Michael Moschen, Juggling Genius

April 19, 2011

Michael Moschen is one of the world’s most accomplished jugglers. Moschen is especially adept at contact juggling, a method in which the juggler doesn’t toss props into the air, but keeps them close to the body. When he was twelve, Moschen and his brother (and next-door neighbor Penn Jillette) learned to juggle from a library […]

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Ben Underwood, the Boy Who Could See with Sound

April 15, 2011

Ben Underwood was your average teenager. He liked to goof around with his friends, skate in the street, and waste time playing videogames. The only difference? Underwood was blind. In July 2006, People magazine published a profile of Underwood, the boy who saw with sound. The opening paragraph is awesome: There was the time a […]

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