Broadway theaters to dim lights to honor Carol Channing
Wednesday, January 16
NEW YORK (AP) — Broadway is remembering Tony-winning actress Carol Channing.
The marquee lights of every Broadway theater will dim at 7:45 p.m. Wednesday to honor Channing, who died Tuesday at her home in Rancho Mirage, California, at age 97. The Broadway League says the date marks the anniversary of the 1964 opening of “Hello Dolly!”
Channing delighted American audiences in over 5,000 performances as the scheming matchmaker Dolly Levi. Her performance earned her a Tony Award for best actress.
Broadway League chairman Thomas Schumacher says to see Channing “hold an audience in her thrall was a master class in star power.”
Besides “Hello, Dolly!”, Channing starred in other Broadway shows, but none with equal magnetism.
Channing received a special Tony in 1968 and a Tony for lifetime achievement in 1995.
Offices are too hot or too cold – is there a better way to control room temperature?
January 16, 2019
Associate Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of Michigan
Ph.D. Student in Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of Michigan
Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of Michigan
Carol Menassa receives funding from the National Science Foundation.
Da Li is funded by grants from the National Science Foundation to his advisor.
Vineet Kamat receives funding from the United States National Science Foundation. The work discussed in this article has been supported by the grant CBET #1804321.
Partners: University of Michigan provides funding as a founding partner of The Conversation US.
In any office, home or other shared space, there’s almost always someone who’s too cold, someone who’s too hot – and someone who doesn’t know what the fuss around the thermostat is all about.
Most often, building owners and operators find out how their heating and cooling systems are doing by asking occupants if they’re comfortable or whether they want to be cooler or warmer. However, everyone has a different ideal temperature at any given time, based on all sorts of factors, including their age and gender, their physical activity level, what they’re wearing and even how much stress they’re feeling at the moment. This is a complex problem: For instance, people entering a cool room in the summer may initially feel comfortable but end up feeling too cold after a while.
Those human variables are considered static over time in the current industry guidelines for heating and cooling, which recommend a range of 68.5 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit in winter and 75 to 80.5 in summer. As a result, people often feel too hot or too cold, despite how much energy heating and cooling systems use.
More people would be more comfortable – improving their health and productivity – if furnaces and air conditioners could respond in real time to how building occupants were feeling, including how they change through the day. Our research group has been working on how to incorporate human feedback about room temperatures into heating and cooling systems. What we’re developing could help people feel more comfortable, and even let buildings use less energy.
Getting people’s feedback
Some researchers have proposed asking office mates to basically vote on what the temperature should be. Using a phone app or website, building occupants say whether they’re too hot or too cold, and what would make them more comfortable. An algorithm then analyzes the groups’ answer and calculates a temperature estimated to be most acceptable to most people.
However, that method has two significant limitations: To work best, it requires near-constant input from people who are supposed to be working – and still doesn’t factor in whether someone who is uncomfortable could help themselves by putting on or taking off a sweater. It also doesn’t take into account how people’s bodies experience temperature, which is closely tied to how cool or warm they prefer their environment to be.
Monitoring temperature remotely
In previous research, our group placed multiple temperature sensors around an office, and combined their data with information from wristbands that sensed occupants’ skin temperature and heart rates and apps that polled workers about how they felt. We found that adding the data about how people’s bodies were reacting made the algorithm more accurate at calculating the room temperature at which people occupying a given space would feel most comfortable.
Our current project, seeks to make things even easier and less intrusive for people, eliminating the wristbands and apps, and only using remote sensing of people’s skin temperature to measure how comfortable they are. We developed a method using regular cameras, thermal imaging and distance sensors to detect occupants’ presence in a space, focus on their faces and measure their skin temperature. From that data, our algorithm calculates whether – and how – to change the temperature in the room regardless of the number of occupants in the space. When we tested it in an office occupied by seven people, they complained less about feeling uncomfortably cold or warm.
This method is most effective in multi-occupancy spaces, like open-plan offices, meeting rooms and theaters. It can accommodate, and account for, differences in temperature between people in different areas of a room, whether they are standing or sitting or moving around. And it can adjust on the fly without requiring active human feedback. Our group will continue to explore this and other non-intrusive methods to help people feel more comfortable – and be healthier and more productive.
Garbage collection in Syria is crucial to fighting the Islamic State
January 16, 2019
Author: Mark Ward, Lecturer, University of Washington
Disclosure statement: Mark Ward does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organization that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment.
Partners: University of Washington provides funding as a member of The Conversation US.
Just a few years ago, I was a diplomat working on the Turkish-Syrian border. My job was managing the U.S. government team responsible for delivering aid to Syrian towns and cities loyal to the Syrian opposition.
These were towns that had turned against President Bashar al-Assad when the Arab Spring swept across the Middle East and Assad ordered his army to shoot peaceful civilians protesting against him.
Now I’m retired from the Foreign Service and teaching international relations at the University of Washington in Seattle, where my students struggle to understand why the U.S. never seems to learn from past mistakes in the conduct of our foreign affairs.
Given recent decisions and announcements by President Trump about withdrawing much of our aid and our troops from northern Syria while the civil war continues and the Islamic State Group, or “IS,” still threatens, it’s a timely question.
Stability and local services
To understand what’s at stake in Syria, it’s helpful to look at Iraq.
More than 15 years after the U.S. invaded Iraq and eight years after the U.S. said it was leaving the country, Iraq is unstable. Five thousand U.S. soldiers remain in Iraq today, tasked with shoring up the still struggling Iraqi armed forces.
One of the reasons for the instability is the U.S. decision in 2003 to dismiss nearly all leaders of the Iraqi civil service when it toppled dictator Saddam Hussein because they were members of Hussein’s Baath Party.
With much of the civil service gone, local services like water and electricity fell apart and essential public employees fled. That left a perfect vacuum for extremist groups like IS to exploit by taking control of essentially ungoverned territory. The U.S. continues to pay the price for this avoidable decision today.
If the U.S. cuts off support for communities inside Syria that oppose Bashar al-Assad and fly the Syrian Opposition flag, and withdraws American troops from the fight against IS – as President Trump has announced – we will be making the same mistake again. We’ll be creating a vacuum our enemies can exploit.
Keeping local officials on the job
The U.S. has supported these communities since 2012. I directed the distribution of hundreds of millions of dollars in U.S. government aid from 2012 until 2016, as head of the team known as the Syria Transition Assistance Response Team.
Syrian refugees will never go back home if their towns can’t offer the basic services they enjoyed before the war.
Our simple strategy was that when peace returns to Syria, key local officials would still be on the job, ready to reconnect their communities to the national systems that provided services before the war.
Thus would begin the long, difficult process of reuniting Syria.
The money and supplies my team and I delivered helped keep important local officials on the job so they wouldn’t give up and flee their country to seek refuge in Turkey, Lebanon or Jordan, like millions of others before them. These were experienced civilians who could keep the water and power on, manage the sewers and clean the streets.
We helped them with small stipends – a portion of their former salary – because the Syrian government had stopped paying them. And we provided equipment they needed to do their jobs: garbage trucks, generators, water tanks and fire trucks. We helped teachers, doctors and local police with small stipends, supplies and equipment, too.
Nothing was more satisfying for me than seeing videos of a new garbage truck that we sent from Turkey removing piles of garbage from the streets of Saraqib or one of the new ambulances we provided tending to innocent civilians injured in the latest barrel bombing in Aleppo.
It’s in everyone’s interest to keep civil service workers on the job, paid something and equipped. That will help put Syria back together again someday and deny ungoverned space for IS and other extremist groups. The last thing the U.S. and countries in the region need is for Syria to disintegrate into warring regions, like Iraq and Libya today.
Other countries joined the effort to rebuild Syria, notably the U.K., the Netherlands and Denmark. Still more countries are contributing to an international fund based in Jordan that helps the same communities; my team cooperated closely with this effort.
Stopping this funding means jeopardizing Syria’s future at the worst possible time, just as the conflict appears to be coming to an end. I believe that reuniting the country should be the priority now.
Syria’s neighbors, especially Turkey, long supported the U.S. approach because it kept Syrians in Syria, diminishing the flood of refugees to Turkey.
Of course, the Syrian government and its supporters, Russia and Iran, opposed our aid. The assistance we gave sustained communities that the government and its allies continue to bomb into submission and surrender, particularly in Idlib province.
But the aid President Trump cut, sometimes called stabilization assistance, goes to local civilian officials, working to help the sick and wounded and keep children in school.
An opening for IS
Similarly, withdrawing U.S. troops sent to Syria to eliminate IS – when our own count suggests at least 1,000 IS fighters remain there – may serve short term political ends, but will likely come back to haunt the U.S. and Syria’s neighbors.
President Trump may worry about the price tag for rebuilding Syria, once the war ends. He is right to be concerned. The cost will be enormous and arguably the U.S. should not spend a dime.
The old adage – you broke it, you fix it – applies to the Syria conflict. I believe we should let Syria, Russia and Iran pay the billions it will take to fix what they broke – the infrastructure of bombed-out cities and towns.
The modest U.S. investment in local communities that the White House cut off – $200 million, not billions – could have helped prevent the collapse of communities in the future.
So, what do I tell my students in Seattle?
I remind them that they are our future leaders. I tell them that if we are not to repeat the mistakes of my generation, they should study and learn from history, and avoid short-term fixes to disentangle the U.S. from future foreign interventions.
“Silver bullets” don’t work – and usually force us to return later, at a greater cost.
An ancient relative of humans shows a surprisingly modern trait
Study finds an archaic hominin had modern dental growth
COLUMBUS, Ohio — A relative of modern humans that lived at least 104,000 years ago in northern China showed evidence of dental growth and development very similar to that of people today, a new study found.
An international team of scientists performed the first systematic assessment of dental growth and development in an East Asian archaic hominin fossil that is known as the Xujiayao juvenile.
The fossil is of a 6 1/2-year-old who lived between 104,000 and 248,000 years ago found at the Xujiayao site in northern China.
The researchers were surprised to find that in most ways, this child’s dental development was very similar to what you would find in a child today, said Debbie Guatelli-Steinberg, co-author of the study and professor of anthropology at The Ohio State University.
“The Xujiayao juvenile is the oldest fossil found in east Asia that has dental development comparable to modern humans,” Guatelli-Steinberg said.
“It may suggest that these archaic humans had a slow life history like modern humans, with a prolonged period of childhood dependency.”
The study was published today (1-16-19) in the journal Science Advances.
Teeth provide some of the best data anthropologists have about the growth and development of our ancient ancestors, she said. That’s because growth lines in teeth retain a record of dental development.
Compared to our primate cousins, modern humans – including their teeth – take a long time to form and develop. Anthropologists believe this characteristic is associated with humans’ longer periods of child dependency – how long a juvenile relies on support from a caregiver.
Among other techniques, the researchers used synchrotron X-ray imaging to look inside the fossil to see the internal structure of the teeth, including growth lines that revealed the rate of tooth development.
The results were surprising in part because so many other features of this hominin are not modern, such as the shape and thickness of the skull and the large size of the teeth, according to the researchers.
“We don’t know exactly where this enigmatic East Asian hominin fits in human evolution,” said Song Xing, lead author of the study, who is at the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Beijing.
“It has some affinities to archaic human relatives like the Denisovans and Neanderthals with, as we found, some more modern features. It is a strange mosaic.”
Using the growth lines in the teeth, the researchers estimated the death of the Xujiayao juvenile at about 6 1/2 years of age, said study co-author Mackie O’Hara, a graduate student in anthropology at Ohio State.
The first molar of this juvenile – what we call the 6-year-molar today – had erupted a few months before death and had started to wear a bit. The root was about three-quarters complete, similar to humans today.
“We found that this juvenile was growing up – at least dentally – according to a schedule similar to that of modern people,” O’Hara said.
Another aspect that was similar to modern humans was the perikymata, which are the incremental growth lines that appear on the surface of the tooth.
“We found that the way these perikymata were distributed on the Xujiayao juvenile teeth was close to what we see in modern humans, and not to Neanderthals,” Guatelli-Steinberg said.
Another interesting finding related to the long-period growth line, which is laid down about every eight days in modern humans.
“This juvenile had a 10-day rhythm, which you don’t see very often in early hominins,” she said. “Most of the early hominins had a shorter rhythm, closer to seven days. This is another aspect that is much more modern.”
The one aspect of dental development in the Xujiayao juvenile that was not modern was the rate of growth in the roots of the teeth. Here, the juvenile showed relatively fast growth, compared to a slower growth in modern humans.
While the dental development of this juvenile suggested it had a slow life course similar to modern humans, Guatelli-Steinberg cautioned that we don’t know what happens in later childhood in hominins like this one.
“It would be interesting to see if dental development in later childhood, such as the growth and development of third molars, was also similar to modern humans,” she said.
The research team included scientists from China, the United States, Spain, France, the United Kingdom and South Africa.