The Allman Betts Band Releases First Single, “All Night”, Off Forthcoming Debut Album [Listen]

first_imgThe Allman Betts Band are gearing up to release their debut album, Down To The River, due out June 28th via BMG. The new record was appropriately recorded at the legendary Muscle Shoals Sound Studio in Muscle Shoals, AL and produced by Grammy Award winner Matt Ross-Spang (Jason Isbell, Margo Price, John Prine, Elvis Presley).Down To The Record also features special guest collaborations with Peter Levin, B3 Hammond player from the Gregg Allman Band, and Chuck Leavell, former Allman Brothers Band keyboardist and current musical director for the Rolling Stones.On Friday, the torch-bearing family band, which features Allman Brothers Band offspring Devon Allman, Duane Betts, Berry Oakley Jr., as well as Johnny Stachela, Johnny Ginty, R Scott Bryan, and John Lum released the album’s first single, “All Night”, which you can listen to below:The Allman Betts Band – “All Night[Audio: The Allman Betts Band – Topic]In addition to their world tour dates, The Allman Betts Band will join John Fogerty on the road for select dates later this summer with stops in Providence, RI; Portland, ME; and Boston, MA as well as a performance at Radio City Music Hall in NYC. Additional tour dates are expected to be added soon.“Anytime you get to play with your heroes it’s a dream come true, but John Fogerty, that’s pretty special. We are beyond honored to share the stage with him on these upcoming dates,” says Betts in a press release. “As a longtime fan of CCR, I’m so amped up to do some shows with one of the best voices in rock music,” adds Allman.Check out the tracklisting of the new album below, as well as The Allman Betts Band’s full tour schedule, and head to their website for additional information.The Allman Betts Band – Down To The River Tracklist:All NightShinin’TryDown To The RiverAutumn BreezeGood Ol’ DaysMelodies Are MemoriesSouthern AccentsLong GoneView TracklistThe Allman Betts Band – Down To The River 2019 Tour Dates:May 6, Oklahoma City, OK @ Tower TheaterMay 8, Lincoln, NE @ Bourbon TheaterMay 9, Salina, KS @ Stiefel TheatreMay 10, Dallas, TX @ Kessler TheaterMay 11, Houston, TX @ Heights TheaterMay 12, Austin, TX @ MohawkMay 14, Lubbock, TX @ Cactus TheaterMay 15, Albuquerque, NM @ National Hispanic Cultural CenterMay 16, Tucson, AZ @ Fox TheaterMay 17, Flagstaff, AZ @ Orpheum TheaterMay 19, Chandler, AZ @ Chandler Center for the Performing ArtsJun 8, Garberville, CA @ Redwood RunJun 14, Lowell, MA @ Lowell Summer Music SeriesJun 15, Utica, NY @ Stanley TheatreJun 18, Kent, OH @ The Kent StageJun 19, Three Oaks, MI @ Acorn TheaterJun 20, Cincinnati, OH @ Taft Theatre BallroomJun 21, Columbus, OH @ Express LiveJun 22, Kokomo, IN @ Foster ParkJun 23, McMinnville, TN @ Cumberland CavernsJun 25, Bristol, TN @ Paramount TheaterJun 26, Rocky Mount, VA @ Harvester PACJun 27, State College, PA @ State TheatreJun 30, Winter Park, CO @ Blues from the TopJul 5, Westhampton, NY @ Westhampton Beach PACJul 6, East Hampton, NY @ John Drew Theater at Guild HallJul 7, Norwalk, CT @ Wall Street TheaterJul 8, Ocean City, NJ @ NJ Music PierJul 16, Munich, DE @ Backstage HallJul 17, Luxembourg, LUX @ RockhalJul 23, Cologne, Germany @ KantineJul 24, Amsterdam, NL @ ParadisoJul 29, Hamburg, DE @ MarkthalleJul 30, Berlin, DE @ LidoJul 31, Nürnberg, DE @ HirschAug 9, Providence, RI @ Bold Point Park*Aug 11, Portland, ME Maine @ Savings Pavilion*Aug 13, Boston, MA @ Rockland Trust Bank Pavilion*Aug 15, New York, NY @ Radio City Music Hall*Aug 29, St. Charles, IL @ The Arcada TheaterAug 30, Fort Wayne, IN @ Sweetwater Performance PavilionSep 1, Lakeville, PA @ Cove Ent ResortsSep 13, Colorado Springs, CO @ Pikes Peak CenterNov 1, Auburn, AL @ Woltosz Theatre* w/ John FogertyFestival DatesMay 18, Dana Point, CA @ Doheny Blues FestivalJun 16, 2019 Bethel, NY @ Mountain JamJun 28, Rochester, NY @ Rochester Jazz FestivalJun 29, 2019 New Martinsville, WV @ Back Home FestivalJul 2, Milwaukee, WI @ SummerfestJul 14, 2019 Suwalki, Poland @ Suwalki Blues FestivalJul 20, 2019 Maidstone, UK @ Ramblin’ Man FairJul 21, Peer, Belgium @ Peer Blues FestivalJul 25-28, 2019 Scranton, PA @ Peach Music FestivalJul 25-28, 2019 Breitenbach, GER @ Burg Herzberg festivalAug 2, Notodden, Norway @ Notodden Blues FestivalAug 10, 2019 Duluth, MN @ Bayfront Blues FestivalAug 24, 2019 Arrington, VA @ LOCKN’ FestivalSep 5-8, 2019 Las Vegas, NV @ Big Blues BenderSep 14, Telluride, CO @ Blues & Brews FestMORE DATES TO BE ANNOUNCED!View Tour Dateslast_img read more

 

Clooney named 2010-11 Luce Fellow

first_imgThe Association of Theological Schools in the United States and Canada and the Henry Luce Foundation have named Francis X. Clooney, the Parkman Professor of Divinity and Professor of Comparative Theology at Harvard Divinity School, one of six Henry Luce III Fellows in Theology for 2010-11.The Luce Fellows program was established in 1993 to identify leading scholars in theological studies and provide them with the necessary financial support and recognition to facilitate their work. Clooney was selected as a Henry Luce III fellow for his excellence and creativity in theological commentarial writing. The fellowship program is one of the premier fellowship programs for theological scholarship.last_img read more

 

Nabokov’s blues

first_imgIn 1967, novelist Vladimir Nabokov was asked what he might have done had he not become an author.“It is not improbable that had there been no revolution in Russia, I would have devoted myself entirely to lepidopterology and never written any novels at all,” said Nabokov, who wrote more than 30 works of fiction.Unbeknownst to many, Nabokov had two distinguished careers: one writing fiction, and one studying butterflies. Now, an international team led by Naomi Pierce, the Hessel Professor of Biology and Curator of Lepidoptera at Harvard’s Museum of Comparative Zoology (MCZ), has shown that Nabokov was remarkably insightful about the biogeography and evolution of blue butterflies in the family Lycaenidae.Ten years before publishing “Lolita,” Nabokov, in a moment of broad evolutionary insight, published a detailed hypothesis for the origin and evolution in the New World of the butterflies he studied, the Polyommatus blues. Nobody paid much attention to the entomological musings of the amateur lepidopterist, who was then a lecturer in literature at Wellesley College and unofficial curator of lepidoptera at the MCZ. In a room in the museum, he pored over specimens looking for clues to their ancestry.It was 1945, long before the advent of molecular genetics. Armed only with a microscope and the insight born of a hobbyist’s devotion to his science, Nabokov described the migration of Polyommatus blues from Asia over the Bering Strait in five waves, each giving rise to a separate New World group. He predicted that modern-day South American species of blues arose from the earliest of these groups when they migrated south across the isthmus of Panama.Alternatively, rather than migrating across the Bering land bridge, the species in South America might also have been the product of the splitting apart of Australia, South America, and Africa from an ancient protocontinent known as Gondwanaland. But Pierce felt this hypothesis, proposed by Col. John Eliot, an expert on the taxonomy and systematics of the family Lycaenidae, seemed unlikely given the age of the butterflies involved.Pierce and her team set out to reconstruct the Polyommatus blues’ family tree using modern sequencing techniques. In so doing, the scientists hoped to determine whether Nabokov had been correct, or whether the alternative hypothesis could explain the distribution of Polyommatus blues across the Western Hemisphere.“The study required eight years of work, including the collection of samples across the New World from Canada to Patagonia,” Pierce says. “It would not have been possible if the postdoctoral fellow who led these expeditions to South America, Roger Vila, were not such an intrepid naturalist and mountaineer.  Many of these species are rather rare, and can only be found in small populations on the tops of the Andes for a very short time period each year.”Pierce and her colleagues used a molecular clock — a method of determining how long ago two species became distinct — to determine when the butterflies arrived in South America, which would indicate which hypothesis was correct.“The breakup of Gondwanaland occurred 80 to 100 million years ago,” Pierce says, “whereas the isthmus of Panama formed 3 to 5 million years ago. Even if the molecular clock were relatively inaccurate, we could nevertheless distinguish between these two very different scenarios.”The group’s finding, reported in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Not only was Nabokov correct about the general origin of the blues in the New World, but he correctly predicted the age sequence of all five waves of migration. The oldest of the groups crossed approximately 11 million years ago, Pierce’s group found, when a land bridge was still in place. It was that first group that later migrated across the isthmus into South America.Nabokov’s genius is not lost on Pierce.“What’s the probability of predicting the exact sequence of five evolutionary events?” she marvels. “He had extraordinary insight, and for 65 years, nobody really paid much attention.”Papers by Vladimir Nabokov on the migration of certain butterflies in the Americas. At the time, Nabokov was working at Harvard’s Museum of Comparative Zoology as an unofficial curator of lepidoptera species. Photo by Justin Ide/Harvard Staff Photographerlast_img read more

 

Animal scents

first_imgA new Harvard study of how mice respond to scent cues from potential mates, competitors, and nearby predators has laid a foundation for further investigations that may lead to a greater understanding of social recognition in the animal brain, with implications for a host of human disorders ranging from autism to post-traumatic stress disorder.While it has long been known that many animals rely on a secondary olfactory organ, known as the vomeronasal organ, to detect certain scents, new research, directed by Higgins Professor of Molecular and Cellular Biology Catherine Dulac, identifies for the first time exactly how such scent cues are detected and interpreted.In the Sept. 21 online version of the journal Nature, Dulac’s group reports identifying 88 proteins that act as receptor molecules, together with the range of specific signals each protein is responding to. Scents may indicate a potential mate or the presence of a predator. Depending on which receptor is activated, the mouse’s brain receives a signal to approach or to flee and avoid becoming another animal’s dinner.“This discovery is an enormous achievement. I have been trying to get to this point for 15 years,” said Dulac, who is also chair of the Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology. “Now that I know the identity of these chemical cues, I can design experiments to help us understand how these receptors are activated, what signals are sent to the brain, how the brain makes sense of that signal, and how that leads to specific behaviors. These are absolutely essential questions in neuroscience that we can address because we now have the molecular and genetic tools to do so.”Making sense of how those social and defensive signals are processed in the brain of mice, Dulac said, could shed light on how similar signals are processed in the brains of humans.“It doesn’t matter if it’s olfactory input for a mouse or visual input for a human,” Dulac said. “The behavior circuits are built along the same architecture; they are simply fed by different sensory modalities. Our goal now is to understand how the brain makes sense of that input. That research could offer insight into mental disorders related to problems with social recognition, like autism and even schizophrenia.”The discovery of the scent-specific proteins grew out of Dulac’s identification, more than a decade ago, of the genes that encode such vomeronasal receptor proteins. Though approximately 300 such genes were eventually identified, it wasn’t until her current research that she was able to answer two critical questions — exactly what type of signals the receptors were detecting, and how those signals are interpreted.While researchers expected the receptors might be used to help mice interpret much of their surroundings, they were surprised to find that the vast majority of the scent signals were not devoted to finding mates or other mice, but to identifying and evading predators.“These findings suggest that it’s relatively easy for a mouse to identify another mouse, but it’s much more complicated to identify a predator,” Dulac continued. “Predators may be reptiles, birds of prey, or other mammals, so it seems, evolutionarily speaking, that the mouse needed to multiply the number of receptors to predators to be sure it can detect as many as possible.”The findings also clarify whether such signals are interpreted through a combination of receptors — similar to the way a human eye uses just three receptors to recognize many subtle gradations of color — or if vomeronasal receptors respond only to individual stimuli.“What we discovered is that the second model — the use of many discrete receptors — is more accurate,” Dulac said. “Most of the receptors seem to be tied to specific predators.” Further studies, Dulac said, will seek to link the activation of specific receptors to the initiation of identifiable behaviors, and try to answer a very old question: What are the “innate” and “learned” components in social and predator recognition?Funding for the research was provided by the National Institutes of Health and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute.last_img read more

 

Potential diabetes breakthrough

first_imgThe researchers who discovered betatrophin, HSCI co-director Doug Melton and postdoctoral fellow Peng Yi, caution that much work remains to be done before it could be used as a treatment in humans. But the results of their work, which was supported in large part by a federal research grant, already have attracted the attention of drug manufacturers. Researchers at the Harvard Stem Cell Institute (HSCI) have discovered a hormone that holds promise for a dramatically more effective treatment of type 2 diabetes, a metabolic illness afflicting an estimated 26 million Americans. The researchers believe that the hormone might also have a role in treating type 1, or juvenile, diabetes.The work was published today by the journal Cell as an early online release. It is scheduled for the May 9 print edition of the journal.The hormone, called betatrophin, causes mice to produce insulin-secreting pancreatic beta cells at up to 30 times the normal rate. The new beta cells only produce insulin when called for by the body, offering the potential for the natural regulation of insulin and a great reduction in the complications associated with diabetes, the leading medical cause of amputations and non-genetic loss of vision. <a href=”https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lk4DDlct__4″ rel=”nofollow” target=”_blank”> <img src=”https://img.youtube.com/vi/Lk4DDlct__4/0.jpg” alt=”0″ title=”How To Choose The Correct Channel Type For Your Video Content ” /> </a> Since the publication of this story, there have been questions raised about some of the conclusions reached by the researchers. The authors of the study wrote this clarification that was published as a Perspectives piece in the journal Cell. “If this could be used in people,” said Melton, Harvard’s Xander University Professor and co-chair of the University’s Department of Stem Cell and Regenerative Biology, “it could eventually mean that instead of taking insulin injections three times a day, you might take an injection of this hormone once a week or once a month, or in the best case maybe even once a year.”Type 2 diabetes, a disease associated with the national obesity epidemic, is usually caused by a combination of excess weight and lack of exercise. It causes patients to slowly lose beta cells and the ability to produce adequate insulin. One recent study has estimated that diabetes treatment and complications cost the United States $218 billion annually, or about 10 percent of the nation’s entire health bill.“Our idea here is relatively simple,” Melton said. “We would provide this hormone, the type 2 diabetic will make more of their own insulin-producing cells, and this will slow down, if not stop, the progression of their diabetes. I’ve never seen any treatment that causes such an enormous leap in beta cell replication.”Though Melton sees betatrophin primarily as a treatment for type 2 diabetes, he believes it might play a role in the treatment of type 1 diabetes as well, perhaps boosting the number of beta cells and slowing the progression of that autoimmune disease when it’s first diagnosed.“We’ve done the work in mice,” Melton said, “but of course we’re not interested in curing mice of diabetes, and we now know the gene is a human gene. We’ve cloned the human gene and, moreover, we know that the hormone exists in human plasma; betatrophin definitely exists in humans.”While Melton was clear about the need for more research before the hormone could be available as a drug, he also said that betatrophin could be in human clinical trials within three to five years, an extremely short time in the normal course of drug discovery and development.Working with Harvard’s Office of Technology Development, Melton and Yi already have a collaborative agreement with Evotec, a German biotech firm that now has 15 scientists working on betatrophin, and the compound has been licensed to Janssen Pharmaceuticals, a Johnson & Johnson company that now, too, has scientists working to move betatrophin toward the clinic.But were it not for the federal funding of basic science research, there would be no betatrophin. A Melton proposal titled “Searching for Genes and Compounds That Cause Beta Cell Replication” impressed National Institutes of Health grant reviewers, and received federal funding for 80 percent of the work leading to the discovery of betatrophin.“At a time of great uncertainty for federal research funding, the discovery of betatrophin is a reminder of the importance of basic research,” said Harvard Provost Alan Garber. “Were it not for a National Institutes for Health grant, this promising new approach to treating diabetes might never have come to light.”As is often the case in basic science research, serendipity played a role in the discovery of betatrophin, which Melton and Yi originally called Rabbit because they discovered it during the Chinese Year of the Rabbit, and because it makes beta cells multiply so quickly.For more than 15 years the major focus of Melton’s work has been not type 2 diabetes but the less common type 1, or juvenile diabetes, which he began focusing on when his son was diagnosed with it as an infant. (The disease later was also diagnosed in his daughter.) Additionally, most of Melton’s work has involved using stem cells, the fundamental building blocks of all human organs, as disease treatments and targets for drug discoveries. But stem cells played no direct role in the discovery of betatrophin. It was, rather, a classic example of scientists with sufficient resources asking questions, and pursuing answers, that fell outside the usual scope of their laboratories and institutes.“I would like to tell you this discovery came from deep thinking and we knew we would find this, but it was more a bit of luck,” explained Melton, who in addition to his roles at Harvard is a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator. “We were just wondering what happens when an animal doesn’t have enough insulin. We were lucky to find this new gene that had largely gone unnoticed before.“Another hint came from studying something that people know about but don’t think much about, which is: What happens during pregnancy?” he said, “When a woman gets pregnant, her carbohydrate load, her call for insulin, can increase an enormous amount because of the weight and nutrition needs of the fetus. During pregnancy, there are more beta cells needed, and it turns out that this hormone goes up during pregnancy. We looked in pregnant mice and found that when the animal becomes pregnant this hormone is turned on to make more beta cells.”Melton and Yi have been working on the project for more than four years. But the big breakthrough came on Feb. 10, 2011. “I was just sitting there at the microscope looking at all these replicating beta cells,” said Yi, and he could barely believe his eyes. He said he never had “seen this kind of dramatic replication.”At first unsure whether to repeat the experiment or to tell Melton right away, Peng said he rushed into Melton’s office, printed out the image he was seeing, and showed it to Melton, telling him they probably had a breakthrough. “I showed him this picture and told him this is a secreted protein, and he was really, really excited about this result.”“I remember this very well,” Melton recalled. “It’s a black-and-white picture where you’re looking at a section, like a section through a sausage, of the whole pancreas.  When you normally look at a black-and-white picture of that, it’s very hard to tell where the beta cells are, the insulin cells.“But in this test,” he continued, “any cell that was dividing would shine up bright and white, like a sparkle. He showed me this picture where the whole pancreas is largely black, but then there were these clusters, like stars of these white dots, which turned out to be all over the islets, the place where the beta cell sits. I still keep that black-and-white picture. We have much fancier color ones, but I like the black-and-white picture, because it’s one of those moments when you know something interesting has happened.  This is not by accident. I’ve never seen any treatment that causes such an enormous leap … in beta cell replication.”The following morning, when Yi sat down at his lab bench, there was a formal-looking, cream-colored envelope lying on the brown surface of the bench. He opened it up, and took from the envelope a handwritten note from Melton. It read:“Dear Peng, I can hardly sleep — I am so excited by your result. It’s a tribute to your hard work and hard thinking. Can’t wait to see the data from the repeat. Doug.”last_img read more

 

Ready to serve

first_imgSteady rain forced one of Commencement week’s usual outdoor events inside on Wednesday. But the wet weather did nothing to detract from the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) celebration that commissions Harvard men and women as officers in the U.S. military.Proud parents, family members, and friends applauded and cheered, and shed more than a few tears, as four men and one woman from the Class of 2013 were honored during the late morning service in Boylston Hall’s Fong Auditorium.Air Force 2nd Lt. Courtney Diekema from Holland, Mich., a comparative government concentrator, will be assigned to Goodfellow Air Force Base in San Angelo, Texas. Navy Ensign Colin Dickinson of Garden City, N.Y., an economics concentrator with a secondary concentration in organismic and evolutionary biology, will enter the Navy Supply Corps School in Newport, R.I. Marine Corps 2nd Lts. Brian Furey of Portland, Maine, an economics concentrator, and Gavin Pascarella of Corona, Calif., a government concentrator, both are being assigned to the Basic School in Quantico, Va. Physics concentrator and Navy Midshipman Christian Yoo of Bronxville, N.Y., will be commissioned and receive his first assignment at a later date.The event’s 50th reunion guest speaker was retired Air Force Lt. Col. David R. Downer, who studied at the Harvard Graduate School of Design (GSD) for two years after graduating from Harvard College in 1963. Downer offered words of wisdom gleaned from decades in the service traveling the world during tours of duty as a civil engineer.“Decisions have consequences,” he cautioned the group, but those can lead to great things. “You must always accept greater responsibility when it comes your way, whether you feel up to the challenge or not.”Harvard President Drew Faust praised the graduating Harvard students for their dedication and commitment to serve, and lauded the more than 300 students now enrolled at Harvard following military service, either on a break from duty to develop new skills, or as they transition to civilian life. Those students include an Air Force major now at the GSD studying how urban infrastructure and design shapes violent urban frontlines, who hopes to help governments mitigate conflict in divided cities; and 16 veterans at Harvard Law School, including a West Point graduate who defused bombs while she was serving in Afghanistan.Faust urged her listeners to reflect on the importance of thanking those who have served. She recalled the words of retired Navy Admiral Mike Mullen, who during a West Point commencement speech two years ago said he feared that people “do not comprehend the full weight of the burden we carry or the price we pay when we return from battle.”Faust said an important reason she welcomed ROTC back to Harvard was to help others understand the military, and the impact that military experience makes on those who serve. The best way to thank our veterans, she added, is to meet their needs better.“We must commit ourselves to taking responsibility for the burden our veterans have carried and the price they have paid. We must bind up their wounds and return them to the future they were willing to sacrifice in our behalf. And we must seek to understand … what, in Admiral Mullen’s words, we ‘are asking the military to endure.’”In 2011, Faust worked closely with Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus to return ROTC to Harvard’s campus after a 40-year absence.Courtney Diekema (left) gets a congratulatory hug.last_img read more

 

‘Brain candy,’ with beer

first_imgScience left the lab Monday night and found a warm welcome — along with some frothy pints — in the backroom at The Burren, an Irish pub in Somerville.David Haig, the George Putnam Professor of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology, took the stage for the graduate student-sponsored outreach program, sharing the science of body heat on a not-so-cold winter night.“I love it. This is awesome,” said John Chamberlain, a Medford native who joined other science enthusiasts to hear Haig’s presentation. “You get to talk to scientists, pick their brains. It gets your own mind thinking about this stuff. If you’re a nerd like us, it’s brain candy … and there’s beer.”Haig spent about 20 minutes discussing the science behind the practice by warm-blooded mammals and birds of huddling together to maintain heat. He took the audience on a globe-spanning tour, from the bare Antarctic ice, where emperor penguins huddle for months as they incubate eggs; to a rat’s den, where nearly naked rat pups snuggle for warmth; to a winter burrow, where marmots pile to keep their bodies from freezing; to hospital delivery rooms, where humans are born.“It sounded like a fun thing to do, talking in a very different environment,” Haig said of the offbeat venue. “It’s a little bit of a challenge to be educational … It’s hard sometimes just to talk to members of your department about what you’re doing. Tonight, to talk to people with … less background — in ways that are not misleading — is a bigger challenge.”The Science by the Pint series is run by students from Harvard’s Graduate School of Arts and Sciences. The program, one of several run by the GSAS student group Science in the News, is coordinated by doctoral students Nicole Espy and Cristina Popa.Science by the Pint began in 2008 and each month features a different Harvard scientist in an informal discussion of science and of research. In recent months, the program has been drawing 60 to 70 people to its events, Espy said, though Monday’s crowd was between 80 and 100.,The program kicks off with the scientist’s talk and then segues into a more informal segment, where the scientist, graduate students, and postdoctoral fellows rotate among tables to answer questions and talk about their work.“We’re trying to put a scientist at every table so everyone gets a chance to meet” them, Popa said.Popa and Espy said the program’s goal is to make science more approachable and discuss interesting issues that members of the community read about regularly. Past topics have included bioethics, yeast evolution, and the troubles facing honeybees.“We’re trying to put a face to the scientists, and we invite the community to demonstrate how scientists, I guess, walk among us,” Espy said, so “science doesn’t seem locked in a bubble.”Ann Fiegen, a graduate student and past treasurer of Science in the News who attended Monday’s event, said the program discourages lengthy, formal, PowerPoint-fueled presentations and instead asks the scientists to deliver short talks that kick off the subsequent discussion. Besides informing the community, the program benefits graduate students and postdocs who participate in the table talks, Fiegen said, giving them practice in discussing complex scientific subjects — including their own work — in a way that is easily understandable.Haig’s talk ranged from snuggling practices to nudity, which branched off to why some creatures are born hairy or feathered and fully formed — like horses, cows, and chickens — while others are born naked — like humans, robins, and rats — and so require extra care and development. Haig said he suspects the difference depends on how the newborn stays warm. If it is independent and needs to conserve its own heat, it is born furred or feathered. If it takes heat from its mother and its nest- or littermates, it is born naked.The Burren’s Dan Moy said the series is an offbeat selection among the wide array of events at the pub, which include music, poetry, and standup comedy.“We are a really diverse place. We like to do different things,” Moy said. “This is the biggest one [so far]. Every month it’s been bigger.”last_img read more

 

Shadowing the Supreme Court

first_imgWhile some Harvard students use the break between semesters to relax and recharge, others go for something a little more intense, like the chance to work on a legal case with sweeping implications.For the past several years, Harvard Law School (HLS) students have spent their break time in Washington, D.C., parsing reams of heady data and crafting nuanced legal arguments to cases headed for the U.S. Supreme Court.“The idea of the clinic is to get students exposure to working on actual Supreme Court cases at various stages,” said Kevin Russell, a lecturer on law at HLS and a partner in Goldstein & Russell, P.C., a small Washington firm that focuses on practicing before the Supreme Court.Russell and his partner, Harvard Lecturer Tom Goldstein, run the annual HLS Supreme Court Clinic that pairs small groups of students with the firm’s lawyers. For three weeks, the teams draft certiorari petitions — documents asking the Supreme Court to review cases ­— or briefs in opposition to certiorari. The students also work on merit and amicus briefs in support of a case, and on preparations for oral arguments.Last month, third-year HLS student Caitlin Halpern and her team helped to write a merit brief for a case involving a federal bank fraud statute. The court will hear Loughrin v. United States in April.Halpern and her teammates pored over similar cases, researched relevant statutes, and wrote a draft of the brief, with help from their instructor. The final step involved a rigorous, line-by-line edit of the document to hone its message. Halpern’s biggest takeaway from the clinic was the need to simplify.“My team went into the briefs thinking we wanted to answer every question and address every counter-argument. And our editing process involved a lot of focusing on themes and making things very straightforward … and not necessarily including every single detail.”Last year, students help to compile an amicus brief for the landmark case involving the Defense of Marriage Act. While at the clinic in 2007, HLS graduate Elizabeth Prelogar worked on a petition for certiorari concerning whether detainees at Guantanamo Bay had habeas corpus rights and whether legislation that stripped the federal courts of jurisdiction over claims by those detainees was constitutional.“I can’t imagine a better setting as a student to learn how to craft persuasive legal arguments in real-world cases,” said Prelogar, who is now an appellate attorney for the firm Hogan Lovells. “I learned a tremendous amount about effective brief writing and oral advocacy during the Winter Term, which helped me realize how much I love the process of litigating an appeal.”In addition to the bank-fraud case, this year’s students worked on two certiorari petitions involving prisoner’s rights. One addressed the question of whether prisoners can get exceptions to restrictions on hair length of they grow it long for religious reasons. The other focused on whether a person sentenced to death has the right to know the planned method of execution.While the clinic involves long days and late nights writing and revising briefs, as well as discussions with instructors about areas of Supreme Court practice, it also involves meetings with officials who help to decide federal policy and law. Students lunch with judges on the D.C. Circuit of Appeals and meet with members of the  U.S. Solicitor General’s office, which represents the federal government in cases before the high court.“They get to meet all these interesting people and kind of see the process from a practitioner’s perspective, which is, I think, fairly different from what you get in a lecture course where you are kind of reading the end result of that process,” said Russell.This time, the students also attended a moot court session at Georgetown University and traveled to the Supreme Court to hear oral arguments in the same case. Hearing the nine justices pose pointed, probing questions to each other, discuss complicated statutory issues, and suggest hypothetical scenarios was a highlight for Halpern.“It was really fun to see how the justices spar with one another … they came off as so smart and balanced.”Halpern said she also enjoyed seeing some of the members of the court live up to their reputations. Associate Justice Stephen Breyer was witty and professorial, at one point offering a lengthy explanation of the history of hay. Associate Justice Antonin Scalia had a minor outburst when he realized that the government hadn’t provided him with a part of a statute.Later that day the group spoke with Associate Justice Elena Kagan, the former HLS dean. She discussed her work with the court and how it differs from her time as U.S. solicitor general, when she was on the opposite side of the bench, arguing cases on behalf of the government.Another type of interaction stood out for HLS student Eden Schiffmann, who worked with Halpern on the bank-fraud case. Schiffmann said the chance to meet with Kevin Loughrin, a plaintiff convicted in Utah of bank fraud and sentenced to three years in prison, was a high point of the clinic.“Oftentimes, Supreme Court practice is described as monastic, where you don’t really have much interaction with the facts of the case or the events that gave rise to it,” said Schiffmann. “It was really great to be able to speak with the person whose life experiences gave rise to the case, and to understand how it will affect them if, hopefully, we win it.”The clinic’s pace is hectic. An early packet of information sent to the most recent attendees included a note stating that their free time would be limited. Halpern said their days usually began about 9 a.m. and included time for lunch, a dinner break around 7 or 8 p.m., followed by a few more hours of work. “It’s definitely been a demanding schedule,” she said. “We are certainly having time to eat and sleep, but not so much time to sightsee and hang out.”But the HLS students agreed the rewards were well worth it. Schiffmann called his experience invaluable.“I am grateful to Harvard for giving me the opportunity to do something that I think is exceptionally unusual, and was the kind of thing that I didn’t even know would be possible when I applied to law school.”last_img read more

 

A lifetime of scholarship, recognized

first_imgSteven Shapin, the Franklin L. Ford Research Professor in the History of Science, whose scholarship has had a wide-reaching impact on both the history and sociology of science, has been awarded the 2014 Sarton Medal for Lifetime Scholarly Achievement by the History of Science Society.The prestigious award is the highest honor bestowed by the History of Science Society. It recognizes George Sarton, the founder of the journal Isis, and one of the founders of the modern phase in the history of science. The Sarton Medal has been awarded annually since 1955 to an outstanding historian of science selected from the international scholarly community.“It is, of course, a great honor — which I take to honor the Harvard department as a whole,” Shapin said of the award. “For my part, I was as surprised as I was delighted, not least because I’ve spent all of my working life prior to coming to Harvard 10 years ago in an interdisciplinary ‘science studies’ program and in a Department of Sociology. I’ve never much minded what discipline I belonged to or for what sorts of scholars I was writing, but disciplines, after all, count for a lot. People who dislike my work tend to assign it to some discipline other than theirs, but if I had to live in any one academic place, the history of science would be home and the History of Science Society, founded 100 years ago by Harvard’s George Sarton, is the discipline’s leading society.”Though best known as the co-author, with Simon Schaffer, of “Leviathan and the Air-Pump: Hobbes, Boyle, and the Experimental Life,” Shapin’s work has long been recognized for promoting serious methodological reassessments of how we understand historical change in science.Of particular note is Shapin’s restructuring of the way we think about the “big issues” of science — the nature of truth, the role of trust, the emergence of accredited knowledge, representations of scientific identity, and the moral authority that modern science has come to hold.He was among the first to propose fresh ways of understanding the role of experiment in the sciences by investigating the places and spaces in which experiments took place, the kinds of people who performed them, and the ascription of responsibility for the results though the notions of “invisible technicians,” replicability, and “virtual witnessing.”Shapin’s other work explored the gradual emergence of what could be called scientific identity — the defining features of a professional scientist as opposed to a natural philosopher. Those same themes are further explored in Shapin’s analysis of the modern scientific vocation, which probes shifts in the patronage and management of science in the 20th century, arguing that personal networks of trust remain as crucial as ever for setting up the relationships and establishing the flows of capital that support science, and that these relationships involve assumptions about integrity that have not been washed away by commercialization.Shapin also has written extensively about bodily care (or bodily indifference), dietetics, and the embodied life of the savant.Shapin holds a Ph.D. from the University of Pennsylvania, and has held faculty positions at the University of Edinburgh and the University of California, San Diego; he joined the Harvard faculty in 2004. In addition to “Leviathan and the Air-Pump,” he is the author of “A Social History of Truth,” among other works. He has received numerous honors, including the J.D. Bernal Prize and the Ludwik Fleck Prize of the Society for Social Studies of Science, the Robert K. Merton Book Award of the American Sociological Association, the Herbert Dingle Prize of the British Society for the History of Science, a Guggenheim Fellowship, and a fellowship at the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences.last_img read more

 

Truth vs. ‘truthiness’

first_imgThe nation is divided between those “who think with their head and those who know with their heart,” Stephen Colbert told viewers in 2005 as he explained his concept of “truthiness” to the world. During an episode of “The Colbert Report,” the comedian, acting as his alter ego, a self-important, conservative political pundit, argued that thinking is pointless when you can just feel the truth with your gut.Colbert’s biting bit added a new catchword to the American lexicon (truthiness was Merriam-Webster’s word of the year) and it touched a cultural nerve. It took aim at larger-than-life personalities who “say whatever comes to their mind with no particular attention to what we might call the truth warrant,” and reflected a postmodern skepticism about truth, said developmental psychologist Howard Gardner in a speech Tuesday at the Harvard Graduate School of Education.In 2000, Gardner’s book “The Disciplined Mind: Beyond Facts and Standardized Tests, the K-12 Education That Every Child Deserves” argued for a K-12 curriculum that embraced beauty, truth, and goodness. Eleven years later, his retake, the book “Truth, Beauty, and Goodness Reframed: Educating for the Virtues in the Age of Truthiness and Twitter,” examined how postmodern cynicism and the cyber age had threatened those core virtues.This week, Gardner revisited the topic in the first of a three-part, weekly lecture series. The discussions are aimed at delving further into how conceptions of those virtues have continued to shift, and what people, and especially educators, can do about it.Gardner, Harvard’s John H. and Elisabeth A. Hobbs Professor of Cognition and Education, kicked off the series by discussing truth. (The second and third lectures will explore beauty and goodness, respectively.) Truth, or the accuracy of statements or propositions, is tested, he said, by a postmodern philosophy that “challenges received notions” of what truth is.That skepticism is reflected in the way many Americans keep up with what’s happening in the world. Years ago, three major networks and a handful of respected newscasters recapped the day’s events with unquestioned authority. Walter Cronkite famously closed his news broadcast with the catchphrase “And that’s the way it is.”“People really believed what they said,” said Gardner.Today, millions tune in to hear what satirists Colbert or Jon Stewart have to say about current events. “You infer what the news story is from how they make fun of it,” Gardner said. “This would have been inconceivable 50 years ago.”But skewering newsmakers, he added, often means skewering the truth. “Basically what Stewart and Colbert do is to say, ‘You can’t really believe what people are saying in press conferences and press releases.’”Technology further challenges and complicates notions of truth. In an age of social media, virtual realities, and ubiquitous hackers and cyber bullies, establishing what is true, or whom or what to trust, is increasingly complicated.One way forward, suggested Gardner, is to “go beyond the notion that there’s a fixed body of truths located in books or in Wikipedia entries anywhere, and focus instead on when somebody makes a statement, on what basis did they make that statement; what was the evidence?”Getting to the truth also involves a close investigation of how others learn. While more traditional forms of classroom instruction are valuable, he said, it’s also critical to study how people “go about doing what they are doing.”“We learn the best about how historians work, how economists work, how scientists work … [by] watching them at work, seeing how they tackle a problem, seeing what they do. … There isn’t a single truth, but rather there are truths in different fields, and we have to learn how people in those fields make truth judgments.”Being open to new perspectives, an ability to change past perceptions, and an understanding of one’s own prejudices and biases are other keys to parsing the truth, said Gardner. One should also be prepared to think about things in entirely new ways.“We have to update, just like a good computer file. If you are thinking the same way that you did 50 years ago, that’s not good.”Thought revolutions, such as Nicolaus Copernicus’ theory of the universe that placed the sun at the center of the solar system instead of the Earth, Charles Darwin’s groundbreaking theory that life evolved over millions of years, or Sigmund Freud’s theory of the unconscious, fundamentally changed how people think.New data emerges all the time, Gardner said, “and we need to pay attention to that.”The Harvard professor has taken his own advice. In his 2011 book he claimed that anybody “willing to work hard enough can finally figure out what’s really going on.” On Tuesday he said he believed the statement more five years ago than he does today. “What I would say now … [is] it’s much better to continue to strive to figure out what’s going on, knowing that you may not be completely successful, than to give up and say ‘It’s all noise, it’s all power, it’s not even worth the effort to find out.’”Educators play a key role in that regard, said Gardner. Unless teachers believe that as a result of their teaching, students are better equipped to evaluate what they read and hear, “then we are not serving them very well.”Howard Gardner’s lecture “Beauty” will be held on Jan. 13 at 5 :30 p.m. in the Gutman Conference Center, 6 Appian Way. “Goodness” is on Jan. 20.last_img read more