A different take on Tut

first_imgIn recent years, DNA analysis has shed light on the parents of Egypt’s most famous pharaoh, the boy king Tutankhamun, known to the world as King Tut. Genetic investigation identified his father as Akhenaten and his mother as Akhenaten’s sister, whose name was unknown.French Egyptologist Marc Gabolde offered a different interpretation of the DNA evidence on Thursday. Speaking at Harvard’s Science Center, Gabolde said he’s convinced that Tut’s mother was not his father’s sister, but rather his father’s first cousin, Nefertiti.Nefertiti was already known to be Akhenaten’s wife and in fact the two had six daughters. Gabolde believes they also had a son, Tutankhamun, and that the apparent genetic closeness revealed in the DNA tests was not a result of a single brother-to-sister mating, but rather due to three successive generations of marriage between first cousins.“The consequence of that is that the DNA of the third generation between cousins looks like the DNA between a brother and sister,” said Gabolde, the director of the archaeological expedition of Université Paul Valery-Montpellier III in the Royal Necropolis at el-Amarna. “I believe that Tutankhamun is the son of Akhenaten and Nefertiti, but that Akhenaten and Nefertiti were cousins.”Gabolde’s talk, “Unknown Aspects of Tutankhamun’s Reign, Parentage, and Tomb Treasure,” was sponsored by Harvard’s Semitic Museum and the Harvard Department of Anthropology. It was hosted by Peter Der Manuelian, the Philip J. King Professor of Egyptology.Tutankhamun was a pharaoh some 3,300 years ago. He was made pharaoh at age 8 or 9 and ruled for about 10 years. In his talk, Gabolde covered some of the scarce known details of his life and his burial.Tut’s tomb, Gabolde said, was not intended as such. The real — and undiscovered — tomb, he said, was probably under construction when he died at 19, and is likely somewhere in the Valley of Kings, on the Nile. The place where he was actually buried was probably not intended for a royal burial but hurriedly prepared when Tut died unexpectedly, most likely of an infection that took hold when he broke his leg.The burial mask of Tutankhamun, known to the world as King Tut.“Nobody could imagine he would die so young,” Gabolde said.Other details of Tut’s life, which Gabolde has pieced together from carved images and inscriptions, include a military campaign in Syria, in which he likely didn’t personally take part. Tut also was interested in Nubia, a region in southern Egypt and northern Sudan. Inscriptions on a fan that belonged to Tut showed him hunting ostriches, whose feathers were used to make the fan. In addition, Gabolde said, a staff found in Tut’s tomb had inscriptions that showed it was made of a tall reed, cut by Tut himself in a city on the Nile delta.Gabolde also traced an ornament that was found with Tut when he was discovered in 1922, but had since disappeared. Gabolde said he believes the golden hawk-head clasp, part of a broad collar worn by Tut, is in a private collection, sold by Tut discoverer Howard Carter to pay for surgery later in his life. The rest of the broad collar was stolen during World War II, Gabolde said.last_img read more

Foreshadowing feminism

first_imgDecades before the Civil War, girls as young as 11 helped gather signatures on anti-slavery petitions sent on to a recalcitrant U.S. Congress. That simple act of canvassing became a crucible of activism that transformed the American political landscape, propelling generations of women into social causes after the war.So argues a new paper co-written at Harvard. The “skills and contacts” that canvassing conferred on women who opposed slavery, wrote Harvard political scientist Daniel Carpenter in the American Political Science Review, “empowered their later activism.” In great numbers, he said, these former canvassers went on to use their new mastery of networking, persuasion, and organization in other movements, including campaigning for women’s right to vote.Carpenter is the Allie S. Freed Professor of Government, director of Harvard’s Center for American Political Studies, and director of social sciences at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study.He and co-author Colin D. Moore, Ph.D. ’09, a professor at the University of Hawaii, analyzed a new data set of more than 8,500 anti-slavery petitions sent to Congress between 1833 and 1845 — information that took eight years to gather, said Carpenter. The petitions themselves are not digitized, but the data set locating and characterizing them is the first “comprehensive statistical analysis” of such documents sent to Congress during the era of the infamous “gag rule” on the issue.In 1835 the 25th Congress, under pressure from pro-slavery Southern Democrats, imposed restrictions on those petitions, which in those days were often called “prayers,” or pleas for redress of social ills. Petitions could still be sent to Congress, the rule said, but they would not be read on the floor, entered into the record, or referred to committee. That invalidated the time-honored steps, from the colonial era on, by which petitions often became the bases for new laws.It was during this time that former President John Quincy Adams, then a congressman representing the Quincy-Braintree district of Massachusetts, would rise from his seat to offer an anti-slavery petition, only to be shouted down.There is a century of scholarship looking at the gag rule itself, said Carpenter, but little on the petitions sent to Congress during that era, and no “complete description of them.” (Most such petitions called for mild, halfway reforms, and seldom an outright ban on slavery.)But the gag rule, called the Pinckney Resolution 3, led to something quite different from its intent. Overnight, the number of anti-slavery petitions increased. And the gag rule awakened fervor among American women, said Carpenter.Before 1836, women had been active in largely nonpolitical reform movements such as benevolence and temperance societies, he said. But now they feared that petitioning — their primary means of public political expression — was threatened. They ceased just signing petitions, and began writing them and mobilizing volunteer canvassers.“Women’s canvassing exploded,” especially from 1837 to 1841, the study said. “The gag rule … cast women’s separation from the public sphere in stark relief.”The effect was electric and permanent, said Carpenter. “It mobilized an entire generation of women,” he said. “It is quite clear that the gag rule was perceived as a spiritual and political affront.”Female canvassers and their male counterparts stepped up the volume of anti-slavery petitions to Congress, said Carpenter. “Even though they knew these petitions were being tabled, thousands of them were flowing in.” He now sees the gag rule as a moment that changed the American political landscape by changing the role women played in it.The flood of anti-slavery petitions suggests a puzzling question. “You petition the sovereign, which goes back to the Middle Ages,” said Carpenter. “But why do you spend more energy doing so when you know the sovereign has sworn to ignore them?”The answer is that the “main audience” for anti-slavery petitions was not Congress, he said, but the press and the American public, the “townships, villages, rural hamlets across the United States where the state of anti-slavery opinion was still in play.”At that time, women could not vote or own property, but as canvassers they quickly deployed the advantages already theirs: extensive social networks and powers of persuasion honed by arguing issues of moral reform. Women also made good canvassers, said Carpenter, because they were perceived as trustworthy — unsullied by partisan life, and therefore not subject to political corruption.Add stamina, perhaps, to that list of women’s advantages. Many anti-slavery petitioners walked 20 miles or more a week in search of signatures. “It was a formative moment,” said Carpenter of the talk-filled strolls while canvassing. “Walking was both a sign of physical and spiritual and emotional commitment, and a pathway to their future activism.”Stamina and other advantages paid off, the study said. Female activists gathered twice as many signatures as their male counterparts during canvassing, even though they circulated the same document in the same cities and towns. “The ability of women to sign petitions as women, en masse, and to take an organizational role,” said Carpenter, “really marks a huge break with the social and political structures of the time.”The study also found that women were four times likelier than men to come to post-Civil War activism through prewar anti-slavery petitioning.Anti-slavery petitions of that era, not surprisingly, reflected the gender divide of antebellum America. There were women-only petitions, emphasized in the Carpenter-Moore study, along with petitions in which the columns of signatures were segregated by gender.“Women and men were regarded as having separate spheres,” said Carpenter, who in the paper acknowledged Harvard historian Nancy F. Cott’s contribution to the scholarship of 19th-century norms of gender segregation. She is the Jonathan Trumbull Professor of American History and the author of the landmark 1977 book “The Bonds of Womanhood: ‘Woman’s Sphere’ in New England, 1780-1835.”The Carpenter-Moore study undercuts the myth that social activism among women was driven by those in the higher classes. Women and girls active in antebellum petitioning, they found, “came disproportionately from the middle and lower rungs of the socioeconomic ladder.”One of the youngest known canvassers was Charlotte Woodward of western New York, who began gathering signatures at about age 11, apparently without the company of her mother. A few years later, in 1848, Woodward was living at home, making a few dollars at piecework by sewing gloves. But anti-slavery canvassing had primed her for activism. At 18, she became the youngest signer of the Seneca Falls Declaration, the primary document of civil rights for American women. Woodward was the only one of the original 68 Seneca Falls signatories to live to see women win the right to vote in 1920.To get to Seneca Falls in 1848, Woodward remembered riding 40 miles in “a democrat wagon drawn by fat farm horses,” joining a long procession of women and girls and sympathetic men. She also resented her menial work in those days, unrewarded by regular wages: “I do not believe there was any community anywhere in which the souls of some women were not beating their wings in rebellion,” Woodward said later. “Every fiber of my being rebelled.”Adding to the energy of the era, said Carpenter, was the Second Great Awakening, a revival-centered religious movement in which people turned to a communion with God that did not require the intercession of a church authority, a mindset that jibed with a time when petitioning for social reform reached an analogously energetic pitch. (Woodward herself lived in the “Burned-Over District,” a region of New York ablaze with revivals, including Seneca Falls.)The Carpenter-Moore study reminds readers of other now-obscure figures. Lydia Carpenter of Boston was a teenager when she started as an anti-slavery canvasser. The study also reanimates forgotten Massachusetts activist Maria Weston Chapman, chief lieutenant to anti-slavery icon William Lloyd Garrison.The study reminds readers of the equally forgotten Angelina and Sarah Grimke, a pair of South Carolina sisters who, as witnesses to slavery, went on to write and make public speeches on behalf of both racial and gender equality, sometimes as the stones from mobs outside rattled against the windows.Women canvassers received transformational training in activism, the Carpenter-Moore study found. The study also reintroduced a hidden treasure to researchers investigating the origins of American political activity in the early 19th century: a trove of petitions now languishing in state and national archives.In February, Carpenter and his colleagues will unveil a digitized set of petitions of all kinds sent to the Massachusetts Legislature between 1770 and 1870. Those petitions, are “much more strident” than those forwarded to Washington, D.C. “If you sent them to the U.S. Congress,” said Carpenter, “you took a more conservative tone.”Beyond the Massachusetts petitions, and those of 1833 to 1845, there are untapped troves of petition records all over North America, he said, two centuries or more of formal pleas in English, French, Spanish, and Native American languages on social, economic, and religious issues. “We certainly don’t have anything resembling a full record,” said Carpenter.So in the next few years he plans to research a wide-ranging book. “In the longer term, I’m interested in the history of petitioning in North America,” said Carpenter. “It’s not just a United States story.”last_img read more

Body of work

first_imgPer-Olof Hasselgren already knew English when he arrived to the United States from Sweden 31 years ago, but in his stateside conversations, he couldn’t help but sense an owl in the moss.Befuddled when someone remarked that something was “fishy,” Hasselgren didn’t yet grasp American slang and idiomatic expressions. “Something’s fishy” wouldn’t make much sense directly translated into Swedish, but Hasselgren eventually located its Swedish counterpart, that aforementioned head-scratching phrase involving feathered critters in a bog. (Another American expression, “to beat around the bush,” would mean to “walk like a cat around hot porridge” in Sweden.)The George H. A. Clowes, Jr. Professor of Surgery at Harvard Medical School and surgeon at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center began keeping a log of these newfound turns of language as he discovered them, learning that quite a bit of American slang was based on anatomy and body parts, his specialty.Though the surgeon spends most of his days focusing on endocrine organs, phrases like “foot in one’s mouth” and “tongue-tied” truly piqued his interest, along with the idea that expressions can be both funny and educational.“When I have medical students and residents scrubbed in during my cases in the operating room, there are many opportunities to demonstrate and discuss anatomy,” he said. “I often make the point that anatomy matters. I usually also jokingly add, ‘You even need to know your anatomy to be able to speak and understand your language properly.’”About four years ago, Hasselgren realized he had a project on his hands and began shopping around his compendium of expressions. That book, “Body Language — From Head to Toe,” contains more than 2,000 English idioms, words, and expressions related to anatomy.Hasselgren also looked for body-related expressions in Swedish but concluded that more are found in English. “A lot are … butt-related,” he noticed. So many, in fact, that they warranted their own chapter that features expressions like butt out, butthead, butt of a joke, as well as some choice curse words. All are defined, as with any dictionary, and Hasselgren even demonstrates how to use each in a sentence (in case you don’t already know it like the back of your hand).An avid reader, Hasselgren said he’s always enjoyed the writing component of his profession, mostly penning articles for scholastic journals. But “Body Language” is decidedly cheekier work, especially for the often humorless field of medicine.“I like to play with words, and most people pick up on it,” he said. “I often had to get up quite early before going to work to work on this book and then continue late evenings. It took some effort, but I had a lot of fun.”He was, after all, just following his gut.last_img read more

Many U.S. families considering pregnancy don’t know Zika facts

first_img Read Full Story Many people in U.S. households where someone is pregnant or considering getting pregnant in the next 12 months are not aware of key facts about Zika virus, according to a new poll by Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health researchers. The nationally representative poll of 1,275 adults, including 105 who live in households where someone is pregnant or considering getting pregnant in the next 12 months, was conducted March 2-8, 2016 in cooperation with the National Public Health Information Coalition (NPHIC), an organization serving state and local public health communications officers.Among people in households where someone is pregnant or considering getting pregnant, the researchers found:Approximately one in four (23%) are not aware of the association between Zika virus and the birth defect microcephaly.One in five (20%) believe, incorrectly, that there is a vaccine to protect against Zika virus.Approximately four in 10 (42%) do not realize Zika virus can be sexually transmitted.A quarter (25%) think individuals infected with Zika virus are “very likely” to show symptoms.Such results suggest this key segment of the population does not have the latest Zika virus information presented by public health officials.“We have a key window before the mosquito season gears up in communities within the United States mainland to correct misperceptions about Zika virus so that pregnant women and their partners may take appropriate measures to protect their families,” says Gillian SteelFisher, director of the poll and research scientist in the Department of Health Policy and Management at Harvard Chan School.last_img read more

University Choir alumni reunite to make music in Memorial Church

first_img Read Full Story Generations of Harvard University Choir member voices filled the sanctuary, Appleton Chapel and even the hallways of Memorial Church last weekend in a musical reunion of Harvard’s celebrated chorus.More than 100 alumni from across the country attended the three-day event, reuniting old friends and providing the opportunity to make music again in the place where lasting memories and friendships were created.Choir members representing Harvard classes from the past 60 years — including one member of the Class of 1958 — took part in events throughout the weekend. Dr. Murray Forbes Somerville, who served as University choirmaster and organist at the Memorial Church from 1990 to 2003, also attended to share the conducting and rehearsing duties.“It was wonderful to have everyone back, making music in a place very special all to of them and to the collective group,” said Edward Elwyn Jones, the Gund University Choirmaster and Organist. “Many people in the Choir, the Choral Fellows and also the Sunday Choir, spend a significant amount of their time in this building and grow to love it as a center, not only for their music-making but also their social lives. It’s wonderful to welcome them back home here.”The reunion was organized by the University Choir Alumni Committee. The festivities kicked off with a dinner Friday evening. On Saturday, former choir members took part in a morning rehearsal, followed in the afternoon by a performance of Johannes Brahms’ “Ein Deutsches Requiem,” conducted by Somerville.At Sunday Services, Alumni singers joined with the members of the current University Choir to sing Nun danket alle Gott, SWV 418 by Heinrich Schütz (1585–1672); “Give All to Love” by Memorial Church Composer Carson Cooman ’04; and “Hear My Words, Ye People” by Hubert Parry (1848–1918).“Splendid making music together with nearly 100 alumni returning, alumni from Ed’s time, alumni from the time when I was university organist and choirmaster, and also a number of the alumni from my distinguished predecessor John Ferris,” said Somerville. “It’s a weekend of remembrance and looking to the future, and reconnecting.”Somerville recently made a generous gift to the choir in support of the Choral Fellows, a group of 16 choir members who sing at Morning Prayers every weekday during the academic term and at special concerts throughout the year.“I am honored and humbled by Dr. Murray Forbes Somerville’s generous gift to the Choral Fellows, an institution which he founded,” said Jones. “He is a tireless supporter of what I’m doing at the church.”last_img read more

Merry and bright?

first_imgAccording to the song, it’s the most wonderful time of the year. But for many, it’s the time of year filled with added pressures, demands, and unrealistic expectations that leave them feeling decidedly less than wonderful.To better understand how the holiday season can trigger the blues ­— and how to avoid them ­— the Gazette spoke with Natalie Dattilo, director of psychology in the psychiatry department at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, who specializes in the treatment of depression and anxiety.Q&ANatalie DattiloGAZETTE: This is supposed to be a happy, joyous time of year, so why do so many end up feeling down around the holidays?DATTILO: With my patients I talk about stress being something we experience when the real and/or perceived demands of a situation outweigh our real or perceived resources. That’s one way to frame any sort of problem for which we are experiencing an overwhelming amount of stress or pressure or even burnout — in other words, what’s being asked of us is more than we have to offer.So what are our resources that we bring to a situation? We have our time, energy, money, in some cases, effort, and interest. Sometimes there’s just an imbalance when those resources are being depleted. And I think the holiday season is a good example of a time in which there’s an imbalance, that what’s being asked of us is more than what’s usually being asked of us, and that can be pretty stressful at baseline.And what’s being asked of us around the holidays? Well, we’re working hard to finish tasks and projects so that we can go enjoy some time with family and friends. So that time crunch is a real experience for people. There are social activities, and events, and people, and wrapping presents, and cooking meals, an entire additional list of things to do that are all really important, or supposed to be important, which I think is another perceived demand of the situation that can exacerbate our feelings of stress. So there are real demands, and then there are things that we put on top of that, like the expectation that it should be fun, and joyful, and everybody should be getting along, and feeling merry. Those expectations are all just adding more pressure to the situation because we might not be able to match them.Natalie Dattilo specializes in the treatment of depression and anxiety.GAZETTE: Do you draw a distinction between stress and depression around the holidays?DATTILO: I do make a distinction, although it’s a fine distinction. For those of us who may be prone to experience bouts of depression, our risk for that is elevated during times of stress. If that is something that you know about yourself, that you are prone to bouts of depression, this time of year you could be particularly vulnerable simply because the stress at baseline is elevated and that’s a risk factor for episodes of depressive relapse.The connection for me between periods of prolonged stress and depression is when we begin to feel ineffective in our ability to meet the demands of a situation and really helpless in our ability to do well under such circumstances. Around the holidays we often feel we can’t perform well, be happy all the time, buy great presents, remember everybody, wrap all the presents. When that gap feels really wide, we can feel really helpless and powerless to the demands of the situation and that can be enough to trigger a state of dysphoria or depression for some people because it feels helpless, but it can also feel hopeless. Some people feel there is no way they can ever participate in the way that is being asked of them.GAZETTE: Do you have any sense if men and women suffer differently or in greater numbers, or if children are particularly at risk?DATTILO: I think one of the things about the holidays that might be a unique feature for people is the emphasis on family, and if you have lost loved ones, I think the same would hold true for men, women, or children when the holidays serve as an anniversary or as a reminder of people who are no longer with us. If that is an area that is sensitive for people, that might be one factor that is a little bit different this time of year. There are also just difficult family dynamics. To me that speaks to the expectation about how families ought to function and if you are not in one of those “happy” situations you can feel particularly vulnerable this time of year.GAZETTE: Do you relate the holiday blues to seasonal affective disorder?DATTILO: The timing of the holidays as it relates to seasonal affective disorder is unfortunate because I think people can experience seasonal affective disorder and struggle during the winter months, and that may affect their ability to engage in the holidays in a way that they would enjoy. It’s a little bit again the chicken and the egg. I don’t know if the seasonal affective disorder would be triggered by the holidays, but the holidays certainly don’t help some people who are suffering with the shorter days and fewer hours of sunlight. But I would also suggest that for some people who do suffer with seasonal affective disorder that the holidays might actually be helpful. The holidays might give them a boost in their mood if they are able to experience them in an uplifting way and bring them some relief, as opposed to the other way around.GAZETTE: The holidays are so often overrun with food. Is the tendency to overeat connected to how we might be feeling?DATTILO: One hundred percent. It’s cause and effect. It’s hard to know which of those is affecting the other. Do we feel more stressed and so we are eating more, or is it the other way around?GAZETTE: What are your suggestions for how people can cope with the stress of the season?DATTILO: One of the things that is important for people to keep in mind is self-care. We don’t take a break from self-care during the holidays. It might be a bit more challenging, especially if we are operating outside our normal routine and traveling, or visiting family, but making self-care a priority can be an important antidote.Sleep is key. Often during the holidays your sleep schedule can be thrown off, so remembering to get enough sleep is important.Alcohol use can go up around the holidays, so being mindful of that is important.Monitoring your expectations and the mindset that you bring to either events or the holiday season itself is critical. Sometimes we talk about the holidays being stressful, and as a result we then expect them to be stressful. And when we expect things to be stressful, that can in turn become the reality. It doesn’t have to be that way. If you can adjust your mindset in such a way to remind yourself that while it may be stressful, it’s also a time to practice gratitude, and connection. And even if you are not doing that with other people, you can still use the holidays as a time for self-reflection, for self-appreciation and joy.If you find that this is a time of year that you struggle, I recommend that you take a minute to sit down and make a list of the things about this time of year that are important to you and that you value, and then make sure the things that you are doing are in line with those things that are on that list. When science meets mindfulness Lower risk of depression with elevated exercise Smartphones, teens, and unhappiness 35 minutes a day of physical activity may protect against new episodes, even in the genetically vulnerable Researchers study how it seems to change the brain in depressed patients Spike in depression led psychologist to find a link Related The Daily Gazette Sign up for daily emails to get the latest Harvard news.last_img read more

Driving is more expensive than you think

first_img Tough days for MBTA Related Cheaper estimate for Boston rail link As president, Trump wants to rebuild America’s core; here are the likely smooth roads and potholes ahead Through the Bloomberg Harvard Initiative, student fellows help mayors to improve lives Storms revealed system’s problems, but also its import to area, analyst says; now comes the hunt for solutions Our crumbling infrastructure Faculty and staff save resources while setting an example for health and wellness A summer of service to cities The path to sustainable commuting If you think the cost of driving is borne only by individuals who own cars, you may want to think again.And you might be surprised just how pricey it is.A team of graduate students at the Harvard Kennedy School estimate that the annual price tag for maintaining Massachusetts’ car economy is roughly $64.1 billion, with more than half of that coming from public funds. While they didn’t perform an analysis for all the states, the group notes that the cost structure would be similar.“This is a huge number,” said the paper’s lead author, Stevie Olson, M.P.P. ’20. “It’s unexpected because the majority of drivers, citizens, consumers experience roads for free. You just drive out your parking lot, your driveway, and you’re on the road. No one’s charging you, but there’s all of these costs that are both public costs, indirect externalities that are also costs, and then private costs that people are incurring.”The paper, which the students wrote as part of an applied lab course, found that costs are diffused across a number of areas and involve things people don’t often consider. Beyond those for individual drivers, road maintenance, snow removal, and policing, there are less-obvious ones, such as those associated with added pollution, value of land set aside for parking lots, lost productivity from sitting in traffic, and various costs associated with injuries and deaths on the road.Using publicly available data, the authors put the annual public tab at $35.7 billion, which amounts to about $14,000 for every household in the state. Those that do own vehicles pony up an additional $12,000 on average in direct costs.The authors say their goal is to demonstrate the total costs of driving so that information can be used for comparison when held up against other types of transit investments, like bus, subway, and train systems.,“If you think about it as an equation, this is a variable that has not been in the conversation, and it’s something that should we be considering as we think about what is the best way to provide transportation options to the public,” said Linda Bilmes, the Daniel Patrick Moynihan Senior Lecturer in Public Policy at the Kennedy School.“We’re not trying to say that cars are bad or that we don’t need roads,” said Bilmes, who oversaw the study. “We’re just trying to say that if we think about the overall cost/benefit analyses around transportation when it comes to this conversation, not only is there a cost to the vehicle economy, but the cost is actually larger than we may have realized.”For example, “When we think about the cost of investing in public transportation, we tend to think about it as if the alternative is free, as if we are spending several billion on the North-South Rail Link [a project connecting the Massachusetts’s largest railroad stations] as opposed to not spending any money,” Bilmes added.The study was written as part of Bilmes’ “Greater Boston Applied Field Lab,” which provides students experiential learning opportunities working with state and local government. The lab takes on external clients who pose real-world questions relating to finance and operations. Massachusetts Rep. Seth Moulton ’01, M.P.A./M.B.A. ’11, suggested the study and helped connect the graduate students to officials in his district.“I asked for this study because we lead the country in bad traffic, and the best solution to that problem is building a reliable, regional, electrified rail system,” Moulton said in an email. “But, a lot of people point to the cost of a rail system as the excuse not to do it. They advocate for wider roads and other short-sighted fixes, but the truth is we pay massive amounts to subsidize car travel and don’t even know it. Professor Bilmes and her students finally put a price tag on driving.”In the paper, the students broke down the total costs into three buckets: direct budgetary costs, indirect social and economic costs (which include many of the more intangible costs), and private costs. The first two buckets make up the $35.7 billion the public pays and the third bucket is the additional $28.4 billion car owners foot. It accounts for driver expenses like gas, regular maintenance and repair, depreciation, and financing.To get these figures students worked with the mayor’s office from the city of Lynn to average what the city spends on roads over five years. They then used that data to estimate what the state’s other 351 municipalities spend. The team also went through the overall state budget and those of various agencies like the Department of Conservation and Recreation to calculate all the money going to roads. Students also spoke to a number of scholars and experts in the vehicle economy to determine the most reliable statistics to use in their calculating model for figures not in the budgets they looked at.The authors, some of whom have graduated, hope their model will be recreated in other states.“While the $64 billion cost applies to Massachusetts, the costs of the vehicle economy are similar across states,” Olson said. “The price tag for this infrastructure is big in every state, and you can imagine collectively as a nation that the total is huge. We can use the study to think about urban travel, such as in a metropolitan area, but we can also use it to start thinking about interstate travel. The study illuminates tradeoffs that we make when investing in transportation infrastructure, and, rather than think of roads as free, we need to realize that significant resources go into the operation of the motor vehicle economy.”“We need leaders in our state who look beyond the cars in front of us to make smart decisions about our transportation future,” Moulton said. “This study will help us do it.”The Greater Boston Applied Field Lab (MLD-412) operates with support from the Rappaport Institute for Greater Boston, a University-wide entity housed at the Harvard Kennedy School that was founded and funded by the Phyllis and Jerome Lyle Rappaport Charitable Foundation. Cost of tying together North and South stations could be under $4 billion, Kennedy School study says The Daily Gazette Sign up for daily emails to get the latest Harvard news.last_img read more

High School Seniors Detour in Virtual Reality Before Graduation

first_imgHigh school students make an impression during virtual reality internshipGraduation season is in full swing and soon the class of 2018 will be venturing into the real world. But a select group of high school seniors recently took a detour into the world of virtual reality as part of a unique internship program with Dell’s product engineering team, and I had the honor of joining them for part of the journey.My interest in this program is twofold. First, I’m a father, and I’ve seen first-hand the benefits of investing in our youth. Second, I am passionate about encouraging young people in under-represented communities to get excited about and involved in STEM education. I’m active with the local chapter of the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE) and serve the executive sponsor at Dell for the national NSBE organization. This has allowed me to contribute to the development of a diverse workplace and to give back to the community by encouraging the next generation of engineers.A New Kind of ProgramInternships are nothing new at Dell – we work with university undergraduate and graduate students all the time – but a recent challenge from our leadership to get more involved in STEM initiatives led my team to propose a program for high school students in the Pflugerville Independent School District, located near the Dell campus in Austin. We had no idea what to expect from a group of younger students, but their hard work and creative thinking literally blew us away (pun intended – read on to see why).In all, 13 students took part in the paid program, meeting several days a week for six weeks with our engineers to create a virtual reality experience. The project sounds simple, but was actually quite complex: create a virtual world and have it generate real-world stimuli. In this case, the students designed a virtual room in which there is a fan. When you turn on the fan in the virtual room, it signals a real fan to blow air on you. The interns were divided into teams, with some working on hardware, others on art and graphics, and others on virtual reality programming.Team Phoenix for the Win!I had the honor of observing the teams as they presented their final projects to a group of Dell leaders earlier this month. While we are so proud of the fantastic work the three teams accomplished, Team Phoenix won first place by creating a project that clearly stood out from the rest. All three teams used Dell Visor VR headsets, Dell G5 Gaming laptops and a third-party microcontroller as the basis of their solution. The judging panel noted that Team Phoenix took things to the next level by incorporating other stimuli such as hot and cold air, as well as a clever use of animations within the virtual world that they created. The result was visually stimulating and scored high on all of the criteria (difficulty, creativity, artistry and final presentation). Each member of Team Phoenix received a Dell G5 Gaming laptop, but they were all winners in my book! Scroll down to hear what some of them had to say about the experience.Special thanks to Sonny Quintanilla and the Dell Client Product Group – Software Engineering organization for guiding the students throughout the process, and to the Pflugerville ISD teachers and staff who partnered with us on this venture. And my sincerest congratulations to the winners and all the Pflugerville ISD students who participated. You all are leaps and bounds ahead of me at that age…and I thought I was pretty advanced! I know your parents and teachers are proud. As you graduate and contemplate your future in the real world, I hope you will seriously consider a career in science, technology, engineering or math. Whatever you choose, your future is bound to be bright.In Their Own Words…“It really helped that we were able to all work together despite what our backgrounds were.”-Liandra Niyah“I want to thank everyone who made this internship possible because I guarantee you this has been some of the best six weeks of my life. I loved working at Dell; it’s an amazing place.”-Heather Brown“I was always curious about virtual reality and had never experienced it before until this point. My first experience with VR was at Dell during a field trip, and I fell in love with it instantly. It was just such an immersive experience.”-Roger Ellis“Just to talk about how much this internship has fired me up, I’ve already started my own project. I’m so proud of my team and what we were able to achieve considering none of us really had any background in what we worked on.”-Danny Link“I feel like all of our interests were piqued throughout the internship.”-Carter Doan“Communication was really important in our success. At first we didn’t know each other, so we were working separately even though we were a team, and we didn’t realize the importance of communication and teamwork.”-Nate Mekurialast_img read more

Mainframes Without Experts?

first_imgThe short blog on the long goodbyeDigitalization is roaring through the field of IT like a hurricane, upending everything in its wake. Business processes, business models, working relationships, even society at large – they are all succumbing to the upheaval. Only classical large computing systems – the insuperable mainframes – are weathering the storm. Their ranks may be thinning, but mainframes are still mainstays at most large companies, insurance firms, and banks. Mainframes are secure and reliable, making them popular systems for transaction-heavy applications, but the main reason they’ve stuck around so long is because of how expensive it would be to replace them.Nonetheless, they are well past their expiration date. It’s now been over 15 years since the end of the mainframe was predicted. It was said to be unavoidable, unstoppable, and far preferable to deal with it today rather than wait until tomorrow. That was quite a few tomorrows ago. Technical wizardry made it possible to delay the end again and again – for example, by introducing object-oriented programming and Linux to the mainframe. Nonetheless, we always knew we would one day be forced to bid farewell to this once revolutionary technology. Digitalization’s prevailing technologies and processes make that abundantly clear. With a bit of acrobatic finesse, you might be able to work with AI, big data, or cloud computing, but once you hit apps and DevOps, the party is over. These modern technologies simply don’t have a place in the old mainframe landscape, and any additional tricks would just make systems more complex and more expensive. At some point, it is simply time to accept the fact that mainframe technology belongs to the (rather distant) past, and to finally bite the bullet and do what needed to be done 15 years ago – or ten at the very latest: develop strategies to replace the mainframes.And this long goodbye from mainstream technology is not only causing technical problems. Since at least the turn of the millennium, we have been warned there would soon be fewer mainframe experts in the field. Slowly but surely, they are leaving the workforce and heading for retirement. There is no reinforcement in sight, because what young, ambitious IT fan is willing to devote a career to things like PL/1? They would much rather become blockchain experts or work in media. The increase in Germany’s retirement age from 65 to 67 has granted the mainframes a bit of a grace period – and I don’t doubt that desperate mainframe operators were one of the first things on politicians’ mind when that piece of legislation was passed.Nevertheless, that relentlessly ticking clock will soon reach the day when there are simply not enough experts around to operate these systems. And because legislation that requires mainframe experts to work until the end of their lives and even beyond is bound to encounter both legal and biological hurdles, it is finally time to look squarely at the solution we’ve been avoiding for so long: It’s time to switch off the mainframe.last_img read more

Technology & Teamwork Come Together to Print 3D Prosthesis for Children

first_imgThe Autumn Project TeamAdults: Seamus Jones, Brian Blossom, Sarah Egnatuk, Ronnie Egnatuk, Keith Dyer, Karl HamandChildren:  Autumn Egnatuk, Stella Hamand, Andi EgnatukNot Pictured but played an integral part: Chad Fenner, Scott Johnson, Andy WilksSoon after, Ronnie followed up with the Autumn project team: “It has been two weeks since Autumn received the additional hands form Dell and we could not be more impressed with how proud she is to wear them and show them to her family and friends. We are truly grateful.”This is a wonderful example of how collaboration, innovation and technology can make a massive impact and truly change lives.As Seamus explained “If we can make a difference in a child’s life, by providing greater functionality and most importantly increasing his or her confidence, we want to help. That’s why we do what we do.”At Dell EMC, we use technology to enable others to reach their full potential. We’re proud to be a part of this project, and as Seamus said, “This is only the beginning.” He is currently in contact with several nonprofit organizations to grow awareness of dysmelia and help both children and adults with limb differences.For additional information on this project, or if you or someone you know has dysmelia and could benefit from a 3D printed prosthesis, email Seamus Jones at [email protected] special thanks to e-Nable and Team Unlimbited for providing the open-source 3D templates both Dell and Deloitte continue to use in building 3d printed arms for children and adults who ask for them. This project is truly an inspiring ‘open source’ team effort. Autumn throwing a ball with her mom Sarah’s encouragement! Seamus Jones helps Autumn get familiar with her new handcenter_img Autumn Egnatuk is a typical four-year old girl. She loves gymnastics, her beloved doll “Rainbow” and the Disney movie Frozen. She’s curious, full of energy and enjoys playing with friends and her younger sister. The fact that she was born without a left hand doesn’t seem to slow her down. She can do everything her preschool classmates can – and then some!Autumn Egnatuk with her parents Ronnie and SarahAfter she was born, Autumn’s parents Ronnie, an OEM Enterprise Product Specialist at Dell EMC, and his wife Sarah researched everything they could about limb differences and prosthetics. Most guidance recommended starting early. However, their initial attempts to get a prosthesis for Autumn were met with frustration and disappointment.The Egnatuks secured an appointment at a world-renowned hospital that caters to people with amputations and limb differences, hoping for assistance and a long-term plan for Autumn. Unfortunately, they were told that because Autumn was meeting age-appropriate developmental milestones, she didn’t need a prosthesis. Insurance doesn’t typically cover them for children, despite research showing multiple benefits. A prosthesis not only increases functionality for children with limb differences, but it can help build self-confidence, which is critical for kids during this period of their lives.Children like Autumn who have dysmelia (the term for all types of congenital limb differences) not only want to blend in with their classmates and friends, but they want – and deserve – the increased functionality that a prosthesis can bring. Determined, Ronnie and Sarah continued their quest and finally found a company in Houston, TX, that had experience in pediatrics and specialized in upper limb prosthetics. They began the tedious process of filing for medical necessity with their insurance company. After seven long months, Autumn was finally approved for a passive prosthesis device. It looks like a doll’s hand but does not function. It was a good start, but not a long-term solution for an energetic and growing little girl.3D Printing ProsthesisIn September 2018, an article on Dell’s internal website caught Ronnie’s eye. Tara Sawyer’s story “Changing Lives Through 3D Printed Prosthetics,” described Dell employee Keith Dyer’s daughter Phoebe, and her journey to getting a 3D printed arm. The Dyers live in the UK, and like Autumn, 7-year-old Phoebe has dysmelia. The Dyer family worked closely with Deloitte Digital to get 3D printed hands for Phoebe. Phoebe loves her prosthesis, and even got to show off her custom Manchester United hand to the players at a home game!Ronnie was intrigued and reached out to Phoebe’s dad Keith to learn more about their process. He wondered if this process might be something they could look in to for Autumn back home in Texas. Around the same time, Seamus Jones, who works in Technical Marketing for Dell EMC, was also inspired by the story and reached out to Keith to see how our team in Round Rock might be able to help locally. Seamus knew that we had 3D printers on site because our OEM team often develops custom solutions for customers. We have the design (CAD) and 3D printing expertise to accomplish a project like this. Keith put him in touch with Ronnie, and the “Autumn Project” in Texas was soon underway!3D PrintingIt takes approximately 14 hours to print a child’s size hand using 3D printer, and another four+ hours to assemble. But the time and cost are minimal compared to a traditional prosthetic.3D Printers in Round Rock, TXFor the Autumn Project here in Round Rock, Seamus coordinated with engineers Ric McKinney and Karl Hamand, who readily agreed to help. Normally, most of the 3D printing done onsite is industrial black. But they wanted to give Autumn the opportunity to customize hers, so the PowerEdge Product Marketing team agreed to sponsor the ABS and PLA material in additional colors. Autumn chose a yellow and orange version, and a light blue and white “Frozen” version.Before long, the team had created two brand new hands for her:The Hand OffJanuary 18, 2019 was the big day – time to present Autumn with her new hands. The Egnatuks traveled from their home outside of Houston, TX, and Keith was in town from the UK.Seamus brought donuts and toys to help Autumn feel comfortable (he has daughters of his own, and knows sugar is often a quick way to make friends with a little one!). The most important thing was that she felt comfortable and had time to try on and get used to her new hand. After all, this entire project was about her.As you can see, the hands were a hit:Autumn trying on her new prosthetic while Keith Dyer shows her pictures of his daughter, Phoebelast_img read more