OneNOAA Science Seminar online

Mark Stoeckle presented recent eDNA work assessing marine fish diversity and abundance at OneNOAA Science Seminar Series on August 26, 2020. The recorded presentation and lively discussion is available online for “Trawl and eDNA Assessment of Marine Fish Diversity, Seasonality, and Relative Abundance in Coastal New Jersey, USA”

The recording for this webinar can be viewed from Adobe Connect, here:

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Intern Isabel Kirsch

Isabel Kirsch, a student at Yale College, has worked with PHE during the summer of 2020 as an intern exploring the immune system through the lens of human performance enhancement. While Isabel’s internship is drawing to a close, we look forward to continuing collaboration and thank Isabel for creatively expanding the scope of our research.

Michael Shellenberger’s new book

We are long-time admirers of Michael Shellenberger and Ted Nordhaus, who co-founded The Breakthrough Institute in 2003. TBI award Jesse Ausubel its annual prize in 2014, and Iddo Wernick has served as a Breakthrough Fellow. Perrin Meyer has also participated in TBI activities, and fostered appreciation in TBI of diffusion and loglets. Michael, who founded Environmental Progress in 2016, has now authored a best-seller (it climbed to #5 among all Amazon non-fiction last week) Apocalypse Never. Jesse and ideas developed over the years in PHE figure significantly in the book.

Alan Curry takes on new challenge

Alan Curry, who has worked creatively and fruitfully with the PHE for more than 8 years, has joined a biotech start-up in a management role as his primary employment. Happily, Alan will continue part-time with PHE, for example, in our studies of technology in the “blue” (maritime) economy and in regard to human performance enhancement. Best of luck to Alan in the new endeavor!

Discoveries of the Leonardo Da Vinci DNA Project

Biologists in the Leonardo Da Vinci DNA Project have shared a trio of fascinating, innovative papers.

Manolito G. Torralba, Claire Kuelbs, Kelvin Jens Moncera, and Karen E. Nelson of the J Craig Venter Institute, La Jolla, California, and Rhonda Roby of the Alameda California County Sheriff’s Office Crime Laboratory, used small, dry polyester swabs to gently collect microbes from centuries-old, Renaissance-style art in a private collector’s home in Florence, Italy. Their findings are published open access in the journal Microbial Ecology, “Characterizing microbial signatures on sculptures and paintings of similar provenance.”

Concurrently available are a pair of papers by David Thaler, of the University of Basel and a guest investigator in the Program for the Human Environment.  David’s papers are

“Evidence for extraordinary visual acuity in Leonardo’s comment on a dragonfly,” and “Sfumato in Leonardo’s portraits: Optical and psychophysical mechanisms.”

Thaler’s papers form part of a collection now in press as a book: Actes du Colloque International d’Amboise: Leonardo de Vinci, Anatomiste. Pionnier de l’Anatomie comparée, de la Biomécanique, de la Bionique et de la Physiognomonie, edited by Henry de Lumley, CNRS editions, Paris.

Two major newswires, Agence France Presse and Agencia EFE, each did separate stories:

Manny Torralba et al.
AFP Microbes Could ‘help Save Old Masters’ And Catch Forgers

Agencia EFE Identificar microbios en obras de arte abre la puerta a una mejor preservación

David Thaler

AFP  Leonardo da Vinci’s ‘quick eye’ may be key to Mona Lisa’s magnetism  

German version Forscher: «Schnelles Auge» half da Vinci beim Zeichnen und Malen

Agencia EFE La rapidez visual “súper desarrollada” de Da Vinci podría explicar la sonrisa de la Mona Lisa

LiveScience, United States Did Leonardo da Vinci’s ‘quick eye’ help him capture Mona Lisa’s fleeting smile?

By Leonardo Da Vinci DNA Project (summary)

Genetic detectives ID microbes suspected of slowly ruining humanity’s treasures