Normally, that would make me laugh.
But I looked up where African penguins live. They’re from around the part of Africa closest to Antarctica. The weather gets as bad—or even worse—than Pittsburgh.
In the wild, the penguins would ride out that cold. A few, mostly the weak and sick, might die. As Steve Irwin used to say, “That’s nature’s way.”
But at the beginning of the 19th century, nature had about 4 million African penguins. Since then, the numbers have been plunging. There are only 55,000 African penguins left in the wild. At the rate it’s going, there won’t be any African penguins living free in 15 years.
The National Aviary wants to take special care of their African penguins, not only because they want to do their best for the animals, but because zoos are the last realistic hope for their species.
Careful records are kept on the family history of the penguins. They do this to maximize the genetic diversity of the species. Some of the birds are over-represented in the world captive population and aren’t permitted to breed. They are traded between zoos to ensure genetic diversity.
And they’re brought in when it’s too cold.
Because of habitat loss and pollution and even global warming, it’s unlikely that the African penguins will ever be reintroduced if they go extinct in the wild. Reclaiming habitat from industry and beach houses and toxic spills is rare. There’s only so much money for reintroduction, and there are species that might be better to spend that limited money on.
The only examples of these beautiful African penguins will be in zoos. And we’ll bring them inside when it gets too cold, because we don’t dare lose one of these remaining few.]]>
In “Convergent transcriptional specializations in the brains of humans and song learning birds1,” Pfenning et. al. took the full genetic sequences of several hominids, parrots, songbirds, hummingbirds and non-vocal learning birds and compared them using powerful and complex data analysis on computers. The researchers demonstrate that the area of the brain devoted to learning vocalizations evolved separately in primates and in birds. Among the birds (hummingbirds, songbirds, and parrots), the area for vocal learning evolved two or three separate times. That the same ability—the ability to learn and replicate vocalizations—evolved separately several times was to be expected. The ability to learn new patterns of vocalizations has many evolutionary advantages. But what the researchers found was the 50 or so genes used to control the development in this area were similar across the three groups of birds and primates. The last common ancestor of birds and humans was 310 million years ago. That’s a long time. Dinosaurs evolved about 230 million years ago, so the last common ancestor predates the dinosaurs by about 80 million years.
How did the different groups reach the same biochemical result?
Imagine you purchase a lot in a city. What you can build is determined by the size of the land, the geology, the surroundings, and any applicable zoning regulations. If the lot already has a foundation on it, your choices are more limited. You can destroy the foundation (expensive and time-consuming) or you can build based on the restrictions caused by the foundation. If the first floor has also been built, what you can build is much more limited unless you remove the additional work and start over.
In the same way, the structure of the brain of the last common ancestor of birds and primates imposed limits on how the brain could evolve.
Remember that evolution does not progress from simpler to more complicated or even from less fit to more fit. Evolution is random; it’s stupid, it doesn’t think and it doesn’t plan. The genes of the next generation are determined by chance: chance of mutations, chance in mating, and chance of survival. Even biologists have difficulty understanding this. We think of the first cells and then think of humans and mistakenly conclude evolution had a goal of creating intelligent creatures like us, but that isn’t a correct view of evolution. I find myself having to fight the incorrect urge to speak as if evolution had a goal. Anthropomorphizing evolution is an easy mistake to make, but very, very wrong.
If a bunch of organisms with a brain happen to evolve into creatures that can learn vocalizations, what’s the most likely way it can happen? Is it more probable that structures already in place will be used by chance, or is it more likely that those structures will be lost and then a new structure will happen to evolve? Now, actually calculating the odds on those possibilities is impossible, but you don’t have to run a Monte Carlo simulation to realize that more times than not, the existing brain structures will be used.
In the case of the vocal learning areas of the brains, apparently using certain genes is the most probable way to do it.
The finding that convergent neural circuits for vocal learning are accompanied by convergent molecular changes of multiple genes in species separated by millions of years from a common ancestor indicates that brain circuits for complex traits may have limited ways in which they could have evolved from that ancestor.2
Is it the only way to produce vocal learning? No one knows, but I doubt it. There could be some creature out there that evolved vocal learning a different way. If different gene patterns for vocal learning exist, one of the four groups examined (mammals, parrots, hummingbirds and songbirds) might have used it instead. That the four groups all used a similar genes to perform the same function shows that alternate methods are likely rare.
Going back to the octopus, some species are capable of learning to mimic other creatures or their surroundings visually. Is this “display learning” a similar form of data analysis to vocal learning or is it hardwired mimicry? Do both systems use similar genes? The last common ancestor between vertebrates and invertebrates date back at least to the Cambrian. so that’s a very long time ago and in a totally different system in the brain. If the genes for display learning and vocal learning have similar properties (let alone similar genetic sequences), it would tell us there are severe restrictions on how brains learn.
Please look over the following material. You might want to cut some things out. Remember, you want this to be a pleasant experience for the child. If the child asks questions, maybe you’ll think of some things to add on your own. In this series, I’m giving what I’m wishing I had been given when I was in grade school starting with aquariums, but 8 year old me is not the child you’re working with.
For this lesson, you will need your notebook and something with which to write.
If there’s a place on the cover, write “Aquarium Notebook #1.” Beneath it, write your proper name. This is your notebook. If there’s no place on the cover, there might be on the inside. If not, write it on the first page. On the next page, write the date.
There are many different types of aquariums. An aquarium can be a lush freshwater tank with plants and fish; it can be a crystal clear saltwater tank filled with animals. Some people keep aquariums with only plants. If a fish is ill, the “hospital tank” might only contain water, medicine, and the sick fish.
There are two things that all aquariums have: the tank and the water. You need both: without the water, it’s not an aquarium. Without the tank…it’s a mess!
Let’s look at the water first.
Write this question down in your notebook: “What is water?” What are the things you think of when you think of water? Write down as many as you can before you read my suggestions.
When I think of water, some of the things that I think of are that it’s wet, it’s heavy, it can be hot or cold, it’s transparent, and it’s necessary for life. You can freeze it into a solid, you can boil it into a gas, and when you have a leak in your house, it’s a mess to clean up. You can dissolve things in water—including air!
Many of those properties of water are what make an aquarium possible. Imagine water with no weight—the water would float away, which would make keeping an aquarium very difficult. Imagine water that you couldn’t see through. You might have fish in your aquarium, but it wouldn’t be any fun.
Water is a form of matter. In very advanced science, what matter “is” can get very strange, but for everyday use, you can think of matter as being something that has mass, volume and temperature.
What is mass?
Mass is how much an unattached object resists being moved. If something is just sitting there, you have to work to move it. Once something’s moving, you have to work to stop it from moving. How much you have to work is its mass.
On everyday Earth, we treat mass and weight as the same thing. Weight is the force of an object produced by gravity pulling on it. If you’re on Earth, you can get away with saying mass and weight are the same. But if you were on the International Space Station, where things are weightless, nothing has weight but it still has mass!
There have been aquariums on space stations, but I doubt you’re creating your aquarium on a space station or on the moon. So we’ll treat mass and weight as the same. But whenever someone treats mass and weight the same, I want you to think “Yeah, but they’re not the same!” Just don’t say it out loud, because people will look at you funny.
Water, being a form of matter, has mass—and on Earth, it has weight. Milk is mostly water, and if you pick up a gallon jug of milk, you’ll realize it’s pretty heavy. A gallon of milk weighs 8.6 lbs. Now, water, which doesn’t have all the extra things of milk dissolved in it, weights 8.3 lbs.
Estimation is when you want an answer that’s “good enough.” Everyone estimates, because it makes life easier. If you want to play catch with a friend, and you say “Go about 10 yards away,” your friend doesn’t take out a tape measure and measure 10 yards exactly. Your friend might go 9 yards away or 10.1 yards away or even 15 yards away. Your friend estimates the distance. The answer is “good enough.”
We said that water is 8.3 lbs. per gallon. If you have a 20 gallon aquarium, how much does the water weigh? Can you multiply 8.3 * 20 in your head? 20 is 10 * 2, so 8.3 * 20 is the same as 8.3 * 10 * 2, which is 83 *2. 2 *3 is 6, 80 * 2 is 160, so 8.3 * 20 is 166.
What if you’d estimated by saying water is 8 lbs. per gallon? 8 * 20 is 160 and you’re done. It’s not the correct answer, but it’s only wrong by 6 / 166 which is about .036. That’s pretty small. For what we’re doing, we can estimate by saying water is 8 lbs. per gallon.
When your teacher at school asks for an answer, assume she wants an exact answer. But when you’re trying to work things out for yourself to see about how much something is, you can estimate.
Here are some other estimating tricks. In English units, we use pounds (lbs.) for weight and gallons for volume. In the metric system, we use kilograms for mass (and we’re going to use mass as if it were weight, but we know that’s not quite right, right?). 1 liter is .264 gallons, which is a little bit more than 1/4th. There are .454 kilograms in a pound, which is almost ½.
So we can estimate the number of liters in a gallon by saying there are 4 liters in a gallon and ¼ a gallon is a liter. We can estimate number of kilograms by saying it’s a half a pound and half a pound is 2 kilograms.
So how many liters are in a 20 gallon aquarium? There’s about 80 liters. Now, the fun thing about the Metric system is, water weighs 1 kilogram per liter. So how much does an 80 liter aquarium weigh? It weighs 80 kilograms.
Your friend bought a 5 gallon aquarium. What does it weigh in lbs? How many liters is it? How much does it mass in kilograms? Write down in your notebook “A 5 gallon aquarium is approximately”. Below that, write down approximately how many pounds it is, how many liters and how many kilograms. Try to do the calculations in your head. Don’t move on until you do.
What did you get for the answers? Did you write “40 lbs, 20 liters and 20 kilograms”?
Now, write down A 5 gallon aquarium is exactly”. Below that, multiply 5 by 8.3 to get the exact number of pounds. Divide the number of gallons by .264 to get the exact number of liters. Once you have the number of liters, you’ll know how many kilograms it is. You can do these calculations with a calculator, or, if you’re feeling adventurous, do it using a pencil and paper. Write those answers down.
Again, what were your answers? Did you get 41.5 lbs? 18.9 liters and 18.9 kilograms?
Which way was easier to solve the problem?
Let’s say another friend bought a 55 gallon aquarium. Write down “A 55 gallon aquarium is approximately” and below it write down how many lbs., liters and kilograms. See if you can do the calculations in your head. Then write down “A 55 gallon aquarium is exactly” and below it write down how many lbs., liters and kilograms.
Did you get 440 lbs, 220 liters and 220 kilograms for the approximation? Did you get 456 lbs., 208 liters and 208 kilograms?
Now, let’s think about our results a little bit. Is 160 lbs and 80 kilograms—the weight of the water in a 20 gallon aquarium—a lot? Scientists estimate the mass of an adult man at 75 kilograms. 80 is a bit more than 75 kilograms. 80 kilograms not a tremendous amount, but it’s more than a gallon of milk. What do you think would happen if you put a 160 lb. aquarium on one end of a table? Have you ever seen someone sit on a table and the table move or even get tipped over? Would you put an 80 liter aquarium on top of a cardboard box? It might be possible to make a stand out of cardboard that would safely hold 80 kilograms. But what happens to cardboard when it gets wet? Do you think working on an aquarium might get the cardboard wet? Even if you were careful, the aquarium could leak. A leak would be a problem by itself, but imagine what would happen if the cardboard stand got soggy!
You have to put your aquarium on a piece of furniture so you can see it easily. What do you think that piece of furniture should be like?
With permission of an adult, jump up and down in the middle of a room. Does it make a lot of noise and do things vibrate a bit? Now, go jump near a wall. What kind of noise does it make and how do things vibrate? Finally, go jump up and down in a corner. What happens? Write down in your notebook what you did and what you observed.
Next, stand in the middle of the room on one foot. How easy is it to stand on one foot? Go over to the wall, lean slightly on it, and see if you can stand longer on one foot than you could in the middle of a room. Finally, lean in the corner and stand on one foot. Where is it easiest to stand? Write down in your notebook what you did and what you observed.
You want the aquarium to be stable. You don’t want it to vibrate, you don’t want it to fall over, and you don’t want it to fall through the floor. There’s not much danger of a 20 gallon aquarium falling through the floor, but what if you had a 100 gallon aquarium? About how much would that weigh? Could it cause problems in the middle of a room?
Where do you think the best place to put an aquarium is based on your jumping up and down and trying to stand on one leg? Write down in your notebook how you would rank places to put your aquarium.
Next, what if you had to put the aquarium in the worst place in the room? What can you think of doing to give your aquarium the best chance to survive if you put it there. Write that down in the notebook. Drawing pictures will help explain what you’re saying. You can also talk to the person helping you. Can they think of other things that could be done to make the aquarium safe? If you don’t have to, would you want to do these things? Do you think they would be more or less expensive?
By estimating, you were able to figure out how much different size aquariums would weigh (or mass). Estimation lets you think about things without investing effort you don’t need to make. If you had done the exact calculations, would it have made any difference in the answer as to where you’d put an aquarium? If you had a 5 gallon aquarium, do you think you could get away with putting the aquarium in the worst possible place? What if it were a 55 gallon aquarium? Would you be worried if you had to put it in the worst possible place?
Estimation lets you know if it’s worth doing the full calculations!
When I was writing this, I did the multiplication in my head and got an answer for the weight of a 20 gallon aquarium of 8.3 * 20 as “246 lbs.” I multiplied the 8 by 30, not 20. Because I estimated the weight at 160 lbs., I knew something was wrong. Now, I didn’t know whether my estimation was wrong or my full calculation was wrong, so I pulled out a piece of paper and did the calculation carefully. I got the correct answer of 166. Because I had estimated, I avoided a significant mistake.
When you’re done with a test, go back through and look to see if your answers are reasonable. Where appropriate, estimate the answer—does the estimate match the answer you put? Estimating is a way to check your work!
Finally, draw a line under the last thing you wrote in your notebook. That’s all for today, and the line lets you know where that day’s data ends!]]>
You will have your child work out how big an aquarium to get, but you will want to direct the conversation. There are several considerations.
I hope this post helps you think about the important points before you begin this project.
I named this series “Science in 80 Liters” because an 80 liter (20 gallon) aquarium is a nice compromise between size, ease of maintenance and cost.
You may wish to go smaller or larger, depending upon your situation. You may guide your child or children through the decision, or you may simply choose a size and go on from there.]]>
But that’s not how most science happens, and that’s not how an aquarium should happen.
Most science happens while going through a set of steps. Now, most people don’t think of these steps as steps, and they may rearrange the steps, combine them, or just do it subconsciously. But the steps look approximately like this:
At this point, I’m supposed to put “Evaluating “ as #7. In real life, evaluating happens all the time. During the “thinking” phase, evaluation happens naturally. That’s part of thinking. The same goes for planning. Unlike comic books where Reed Richards (Mr. Fantastic) and Tony Stark (Iron Man) have unlimited funds, a lot of evaluating can happen during the “Calculating costs” and “Purchasing” parts of the experiment. A researcher might ask herself questions like these:
Evaluation can occur during “Assembling,” especially when the researcher finds out things don’t go together like the instructions say. Think “Ikea furniture.” I know of one case where it really was Ikea furniture that didn’t go together like the drawings showed and changed the experiment.
Some of the most important evaluation occurs during the first couple runs of the experiment. Even when doing a double blind study, a researcher will check to make sure things are running smoothly. Most of the time, they don’t. The researcher may not have ever done this particular experiment before. Perhaps no one has done it. The first couple times, researchers check to make sure everything works as planned. Often it doesn’t, and the researcher goes back to the beginning and work through the steps again with the new knowledge.
Sometimes things don’t work as planned. And, if you look at all those serendipitous discoveries, you’ll find that those wonderful accidents were found during the evaluation phase of going through these steps.
What’s the one thing common to all of these steps?
Seriously. Everyone knows that scientists record data. there are even cute aphorisms about data collection like “Document or it didn’t happen” and “Collect data; it makes it look like you’ve been doing something.”
But think about it even in your own life. Ever come up with a great idea and forget it during lunch? If you’d kept notes, that wouldn’t have happened. Think of something when planning a party but forget about it until the first guest knocks at the door?
So your first homework assignment is to go out and buy lab notebooks: one for you and one for each child with whom you’re working.1
You don’t need to get the big expensive professional lab books. Composition notebooks are wonderful, especially if they happen to have the numbered pages. Everyone keeps their own data. The adult will keep the adult version, but each child should keep his or her own. Yes, there should be words and numbers in the book, but there should also be drawings of things observed. If you take a picture of the aquarium or the supplies, printing out the picture and taping or gluing it in the book is wonderful. Scientists use drawings, photographs and more to record things–as well as words and numbers.
By keeping a notebook yourself, you’re modelling the behavior for your child or children. The children are practicing important skills like writing and drawing.
Also, when something goes wrong, that notebook might help you figure out what it was or keep you from making that mistake again!
Today, scientists and educators are making a deliberate attempt to interest children in science, technology, engineering and mathematics—it’s abreviated STEM. In the past, such activities tended to be aimed mostly at boys. Now, the goal is to interest everyone, no matter their gender.
I learned through books. My first book on aquariums taught me how to set up a small 5 gallon tank. As I got bigger books, I got bigger tanks. My Dad was an engineer, but for the most part, he stuck to lifting heavy objects, curbing some of my excesses, and suggesting how to look up an answer. It worked for me.
Part of me would love to write a book for third through fifth graders explaining the science as they set up a modern aquarium. Unfortunately, my wife and I weren’t blessed with children. I’m not sure if I’d know how to write for third to fifth graders.
As I thought about it, I realized I don’t want to write for those third to fifth graders. I want to write for their parents. The parents can guide their children, pick and choose the topics that are appropriate, and interpret the lessons for their children’s level of understanding. With any luck, the parents and children have fun together with the tank.
And who knows? Maybe the parents will gain a little more understanding and appreciation for science.
As I see it now, I’ll write a lesson about once a week, focusing on the particular topic involved with that stage of the aquarium setup. That might seem slow, and, as I get a feel for it, perhaps the frequency of the posts will increase. But one of the tricks to setting up an aquarium is to take it slowly. If, in a single day, you purchase an aquarium, set it up, and put the fish in, there’s a high probability that you’ll waste a lot of money and kill the fish.
If anyone is going to follow along, I would appreciate getting feedback. What was clear? What wasn’t clear? What was too difficult for your child to understand? What was too simple? What was too expensive? What better ways are there to do this? A comment section is available at the end of each article. I’ll make every effort to answer questions and learn from any suggestions.]]>
What was I thinking? As a child, computers were huge machines that took up rooms and required several technicians to keep running. The average person didn’t have access to these computers. None of the science fiction stories envisioned something like Twitter and Facebook.
We take these science advances as normal. iPhones more powerful than a 1978 Cray supercomputer. Werner Von Braun would have loved to have had even one of the laptops.
We are living in a science fiction story. Science fiction explores the implications of science on humanity, and the impact of computers on our society is astonishing. And that’s just social media. On the way to PCPGH8, I saw an advertisement for depositing a check using a cell phone. My car has numerous computer processors in it–with far more power–than the spacecrafts that went to the moon. A toaster might have more computing power than the lunar module.
The seminar I’m in right now, by William Reynolds Young, is discussing the implications of social media for marketing. He just mentioned that businesses are getting far fewer phone calls and more texts, Twitter and Facebook messages.
Not everything is better. Will also mentioned Miley Cyrus. Certain politicians taking photos of body parts or texting to their mistresses also come to mind.
What would a science fiction TV show in 1966 called “2013” have looked like? Imagine explaining paying with a debit card at the self-checkout line at the grocery store.
We live in a science fiction story, but it has become normal for us.]]>
I got stuck on the grammar technicalities and editing. One of the reasons I created the UnSpace blog was to recover my writing skills that I lost when my focus was on editing. I’m still learning.
In the meantime, here are a bunch of fascinating links from around the web.
- The Fine Art of Baloney Detection.
- Rational Wiki’s “The Fine Art of Baloney Detection” by Carl Sagan in handy chart form.
Note: Several links were incorrect and were updated 5 October 2013. I apologize for the error.]]>
On the website ChristianAnswers.net, in the article “Second Law of Thermodynamics – Does this basic law of nature prevent Evolution?” the author states:
Naturalistic Evolutionism requires that physical laws and atoms organize themselves into increasingly complex and beneficial, ordered arrangements. Thus, over eons of time, billions of things are supposed to have developed upward, becoming more orderly and complex.
However, this basic law of science (2nd Law of Thermodynamics) reveals the exact opposite. In the long run, complex, ordered arrangements actually tend to become simpler and more disorderly with time. There is an irreversible downward trend ultimately at work throughout the universe. Evolution, with its ever increasing order and complexity, appears impossible in the natural world.
Christian Answers says this after crudely stating the Second Law:
It is well known that, left to themselves, chemical compounds ultimately break apart into simpler materials; they do not ultimately become more complex. Outside forces can increase order for a time (through the expenditure of relatively large amounts of energy, and through the input of design). However, such reversal cannot last forever. Once the force is released, processes return to their natural direction – greater disorder. Their energy is transformed into lower levels of availability for further work. The natural tendency of complex, ordered arrangements and systems is to become simpler and more disorderly with time.
I say “crudely” because
If I were to describe the Second Law of Thermodynamics in simple words, I would say “Systems will remain at the same level of organization or become more disorganized over time. Any organization in one part of the system must be offset by disorganization elsewhere in the system, such that the total disorganization remains the same or increases.” I’d actually rather throw an equation at my readers, but explaining that equation would get even messier.
Note: There’s a special case. Theoretically, if you perform certain actions in a certain way (1), then you can wind up not changing the overall entropy at all. In practice, there will be friction or some sort of energy loss so the entropy of the Universe will increase, but if you could eliminate friction and other losses, the change in entropy would be zero.
Anyway, the ability to trade entropy around using energy is what makes pretty much everything possible–to quote Douglas Adams, “Life, the Universe and Everything.”
When you eat food, you decrease your entropy, at the expense of whatever you just ate. The stuff you give off as a result of your digestive processes (CO2, water vapor, methane, and those “excretory products”) are at a higher entropy than when you ate them. Your entropy decreases, but the overall entropy increases in the process of digestion and metabolism.
If entropy prevented evolution, it would also prohibit:
Another trick to “disprove” evolution is to improperly draw your boundaries. The Second Law of Thermodynamics assumes that what you’re looking at is in an area where nothing comes in or leaves. If the “box” is big enough (the Universe), there’s no problem. But if you draw the “box” around an organism with the food outside and say “evolution can’t happen because of thermodynamics,” then you’ve drawn your box improperly. If you draw the “box” around the Earth and leave out the sun that produces the energy life needs, then you’ve left out the place the energy for the food comes from–and you’ve drawn your “box” incorrectly. One of the big tricks in thermodynamics is figuring out how to draw those “boxes.”
Here is a chart I put together to help explain this. Now, I did the chart humorously and only had vector graphics for what I hope is a Tyrannosaurus Rex and an Apatosaurus. No, they didn’t live at the same time. I got the Apatosaurus the same place I got the T. Rex and the Earth and the sun for this gedanken experiment.
In the end, the point is, life gets the energy necessary to locally reverse entropy from food. Food gets the energy from other food, which gets it from the light that comes from the sun. The sun gets the energy from fusion. Every step along the way, entropy increases. It’s energy from the sun that ultimately powers evolution.
The Second Law of Thermodynamics in no way prevents evolution. Anyone telling you differently doesn’t know what they are talking about.
Saying that they don’t know what they’re talking about is the most optimistic interpretation I can think of. The late Duane Gish of the Institute for Creation Research was a biochemist and claimed the Second Law prevented evolution. I don’t know why. Maybe he was bad at thermodynamics. It’s a difficult class. Maybe he never had thermodynamics. Maybe he forgot his thermodynamics.
In (I believe–I can’t find a copy of it) the first issue of the defunct Science 80 magazine, there was a debate between Gish and Dr. Isaac Asimov. Yeah, the science fiction writer Isaac Asimov–he was a good scientist, too. Asimov clearly pointed out to Gish that the Second Law did not prohibit evolution. Years later, Gish was still claiming the Second Law prohibited evolution.
Maybe Gish didn’t understand Asimov. Maybe Gish rejected what Asimov said because he didn’t like the conclusion. Maybe…maybe Gish preferred something that “disproved” evolution to the truth. I don’t know, and Gish is no longer here to defend himself. As a Christian, I hope that Gish was doing his best and that was all the better it got.
But in the end, anyone who tells you the Second Law of Thermodynamics prohibits evolution is telling you something false.
Finally, I just noticed that nowhere did I capitalize “sun” in the graphic or text. Redoing the graphic is something I don’t want to do, so I’m leaving “sun” uncapitalized. As an editor, I’m horrified, but I’ve got about 5 more minutes to get this up and go do other stuff. Actually, I hope that’s the worst spelling or grammar error I’ve made here. I don’t have time to proofread today.
PittsburghGives is an initiative of The Pittsburgh Foundation. The aim of this initiative is to:
I’d like to make three recommendations (please feel free to choose your own):
Nancy and I are “bird people.” We have several parrot companions, used to breed parakeets, lovebirds and cockatiels professionally, and own the hardback version of “The Alex Studies” by Dr. Irene Pepperberg. We love to go to the Aviary to see Penguin Point, the Wetlands Exhibit, or any of the other displays the Aviary has. We gladly support the Aviary’s efforts in conservation and education. We’re members of the Aviary. We hope you’ll donate to them–and become members, too!
Phipps Conservatory’s work in conservation and education is also amazing. The flowers are beautiful to look at. I suspect Phipps and the Aviary may become our refuge from Pittsburgh’s February. The work Phipps has done on making their new facilities have little environmental impact is simply stunning engineering. Not only do the solar panels and wind turbine provide energy for the buildings, but the buildings themselves reduce their energy needs to an absolute minimum. This work demonstrates the practicality of green engineering as a cost-savings measure in addition to a measure to save the environment.
When I was a paramedic, the Persad Center was one of the sources for information on working with “Patients With AIDS (PWA).” That source of information became crucial when I was exposed to HIV while treating a patient. I was fortunate–my exposure, while severe, did not result in me contracting HIV. But going through a year of HIV testing was terrifying, and Persad was one of the organizations that helped me get through that time. Today, Persad provides programs for Mental Health, HIV/AIDS, Youth and Family Services, Training and Education, SAGE Older Adult Services for both lesbians, gays, bisexual and transgender persons and the greater community.
If you’d like to donate to one of the above organizations, clicking on the Day of Giving link on October 3 will take you to a link where you can donate and have your donation matched.