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  • Contributors - American Academy of Arts & Sciences
    Argonne National Laboratory She received her Bachelor s and Master s in Nuclear Engineering from Purdue University She is an active member of the American Nuclear Society North American Young Generation in Nuclear and Women in Nuclear She is passionate about getting more women into the science technology engineering and math STEM fields James P Malone is Chief Nuclear Fuel Development Officer at Lightbridge In 2009 he retired after a decade with Exelon Generation Company where as Vice President Nuclear Fuels he oversaw nuclear fuel reload design safety analysis and fuel procurement for seventeen operating nuclear reactors and guided management of used fuel Before joining Exelon he served for ten years as Vice President and Senior Consultant at NAC International advising on fuel reliability and the front and back ends of the nuclear fuel cycle While at NAC he worked on the international safeguards system for the Rokkasho Mura reprocessing plant in Japan Previously he worked at SWUCO Inc as a nuclear fuel broker a manager of technical services and finally as Vice President he also served as manager of economic analysis at Yankee Atomic He began his career in 1968 as an engineer in the utility reactor core analysis section of the Nuclear Engineering Department of United Nuclear Corporation He is a member of the American Nuclear Society and past Chairman of its Fuel Cycle Waste Management Division Robert Rosner is a theoretical physicist who since 1987 has been on the faculty of the University of Chicago where he serves as the William E Wrather Distinguished Service Professor in the departments of Astronomy Astrophysics and Physics as well as in the Enrico Fermi Institute and the Harris School of Public Policy Studies He served as Argonne National Laboratory s Chief Scientist and Associate Laboratory Director for Physical Biological and

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  • From the President - American Academy of Arts & Sciences
    to other cities in the coming year The Academy is now building a network of local program committees for members from New York to Washington to Houston to Chicago to Los Angeles and other cities in between Among the activities the local committees may choose to sponsor are informal lunch meetings receptions for new members panel discussions and lectures book talks by authors among our members presentations by members who are leading Academy studies and events related to Exploratory Fund projects In the pages that follow you will read about a 5 85 million gift from the Jack Joseph and Morton Mandel Foundation to endow the Morton L Mandel Program for Civic Discourse and Membership Engagement The gift has enabled the Academy to appoint Laurie McDonough as our first Morton L Mandel Director of Membership Engagement and to support the work of local program committees The gift will also fund state of the art technological enhancements to the House of the Academy including live interactive streaming capabilities and teleconferencing which will allow the Academy to include more voices in the conversation both members at a distance from Cambridge and the informed public This spirit of sharing the work of the Academy and of its members more broadly is part of a long standing tradition Over its history the Academy has sponsored public panel discussions and lectures that addressed important issues of the time In October 1852 the Academy announced a program of public lectures given by Fellows Louis Agassiz B A Gould Jr Oliver Wendell Holmes and George Ticknor in which they shared with the Cambridge community their expertise on the intersection of literature education and the natural sciences In 1919 the Academy again organized a series of Open Meetings with lectures on topics of general interest and then again

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  • Academy Receives $5.85 Million Gift from the Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel Foundation - American Academy of Arts & Sciences
    since its founding in 1780 The Jack Joseph and Morton Mandel Foundation based in Cleveland Ohio donated 5 85 million to establish the Morton L Mandel Program for Civic Discourse and Membership Engagement The endowment will strengthen and enhance the connection among the Academy s more than 4 600 Fellows and increase its engagement with the general public The hallmark of the Mandel Foundation s philanthropy is its commitment to invest in people with the values ability and passion to change the world The Foundation sees those values ability and passion in the exceptional Fellows and the substantive programming and initiatives of the Academy With its 5 85 million gift the Mandel Foundation aims to provide more opportunities in which Academy Fellows can exchange knowledge and expertise and advance new ideas Morton Mandel is Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Parkwood LLC and Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of the Mandel Foundation both headquartered in Cleveland With his brothers Joseph and Jack he founded the Premier Industrial Corporation where he served as Chairman and Chief Executive Officer until 2006 He was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2011 The major portion of the gift 5 million will be an endowment and will fund two new positions The Morton L Mandel Director of Membership Engagement who will develop new collaborative forums and platforms for Academy Members In June 2015 Laurie McDonough joined the Academy staff in this role She is designing and implementing programs and activities that will provide Members with more opportunities to connect to the Academy and to each other These activities include local program committees and regional events informal discussion groups and the implementation of a new digital platform that will allow Members to connect collaborate share resources and develop project ideas The Morton

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  • Academy-WGBH Partnership - American Academy of Arts & Sciences
    News This collaboration will provide local audiences with greater access to Academy research and the expertise of its members as well as a more comprehensive understanding of local national and international issues through WGBH News reporting The first collaboration which aired during the week of July 13 2015 was a special in depth report series on water that drew from and expanded on research and expert commentary from the Summer 2015 issue of Dædalus On Water This five part series Water Pressure Saving a Threatened Resource traveled from the ports of New Bedford Massachusetts to drought ridden California to examine the availability security and sustainability of water across New England the United States and the world and the political and economic tensions that this natural resource presents to communities everywhere The series aired locally on 89 7 WGBH Radio Through this collaboration with WGBH the Academy will have new opportunities to advance its 235 year old mission to cultivate every art and science which may tend to advance the interest dignity honor and happiness of a free independent and virtuous people said Academy President Jonathan Fanton Our story began with John Adams James Bowdoin and other Bostonians who created the Academy to serve the Commonwealth and the new nation A partnership with a Boston institution like WGBH continues this long and distinguished tradition of service We are particularly delighted that the first product of our new collaboration will be a series of reports on our changing relationship with water an issue of real concern for New England and for the world WGBH News strives to bring a greater layer of depth and substance to our reporting said Phil Redo WGBH General Manager for Radio With this partnership our newsroom will have access to some of the most forward thinking experts

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  • Dædalus Explores the Challenges and Opportunities Associated with Increasing Demands on a Limited Resource: Water - American Academy of Arts & Sciences
    it frozen or liquid Is it clean or contaminated Is it here or elsewhere Is it available when needed or does it arrive when it is harmful Essays in the Summer 2015 issue of Dædalus include Water Climate Energy Food Inseparable Indispensible by Christopher B Field Carnegie Institution for Science and Anna M Michalak Carnegie Institution for Science Water in Mythology by Michael Witzel Harvard University Water Security in a Changing World by John Briscoe Harvard University Progress on Nonpoint Pollution Barriers Opportunities by Adena R Rissman University of Wisconsin Madison and Stephen R Carpenter University of Wisconsin Madison Water Unsustainability by Jerald L Schnoor University of Iowa Adaptation in the Water Sector Science Institutions by Katharine L Jacobs University of Arizona and Lester Snow California Water Foundation Urban Water Supply Reinvention by Richard G Luthy Stanford University and David L Sedlak University of California Berkeley Dynamic Markets for Dynamic Environments The Case for Water Marketing by Terry L Anderson Hoover Institution and Property and Environment Research Center Impair then Repair A Brief History Global Scale Hypothesis Regarding Human Water Interactions in the Anthropocene by Charles J Vörösmarty City University of New York Michel Meybeck French National Center for Research and Christopher L Pastore University at Albany State University of New York The Summer 2015 issue of Dædalus moves beyond the failures of our tried approaches to water management Guest editors Christopher B Field and Anna M Michalak instead frame contemporary events and issues within the context of the decisions we face and the opportunities that emerge when we are confronted with increasing demands on water resources Decisions about water often tell us more about our priorities than they do about the total amount of available water Many of the trade offs in allocating water involve three big water users food energy and environment A world with an increasing human population burgeoning energy demands evolving food preferences and a rapidly changing global climate means that everything about the water equation is dynamic The result is a complicated web of interconnections with potentially unexpected risks but also with many points for intelligent intervention Christopher Field a Fellow of the American Academy since 2010 is the Founding Director of the Carnegie Institution for Science s Department of Global Ecology and the Melvin and Joan Lane Professor for Interdisciplinary Environmental Studies at Stanford University Anna Michalak is a faculty member in the Department of Global Ecology at the Carnegie Institution for Science and an Associate Professor in the Department of Earth System Science at Stanford In their essay Water Climate Energy Food Inseparable Indispensable Field and Michalak present a number of case studies illustrating the competing drivers demands and tradeoffs that frame the decisions humanity makes about water use They make the case that an integrated systems approach to water issues is critical to identifying and evaluating options for sustainable solutions Among the other essays in the volume Terry L Anderson s Hoover Institution and Property and Environment Research Center essay Dynamic Markets

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  • Restoring the Foundation: Reviving the U.S. Science, Engineering, and Technology Enterprise - American Academy of Arts & Sciences
    that American industry has built on to create jobs during the last two decades was performed in the 1970s and 1980s During the period spanning from 1975 to 1992 basic research grew steadily at 4 4 percent per year in real dollars Despite this being a time of many challenges to the nation we remained committed to funding basic research But since 1992 our investment in R D as a percentage of GDP has flat lined Many presidents have said the goal of America should be to spend 3 percent of the GDP on R D Today it is around 2 7 percent The Academy s report recommends that we move toward 3 3 percent that we spend a tenth of that on basic research and that we do this by the year 2032 Why 2032 There are two reasons One is that the youth born today will begin college in 2032 The other is that if we increase our spending at the rate recommended by the Academy namely 4 percent per year as was the case during America s economic ascent we will by 2032 get our R D funding to where it would have been had we not flat lined in 1992 The bad news is that to achieve the increase we recommend we will have to find money to support a 75 percent increase in basic research over the next seventeen years The good news is that the amount we currently spend on basic research is so de minimis in the grand scale of federal budgets that to do so would require an increase of only 0 15 percent of the GDP The Academy s report makes a number of other recommendations One is that we reaffirm the importance of peer review in determining what research should be conducted Determining which specific research projects are selected for funding should not be prescribed by policies enacted by the U S Congress Another recommendation is that we adopt a five year rolling capital budget for basic research in order to give at least some idea of where we are headed in the long term and to prevent the sort of uncertainty that comes from not knowing whether the budget will go up or go down from one year to the next Pulling up the roots once a year to see if the flowers are growing is generally not a constructive practice I know of no successful company in this country that doesn t have a capital budget We recommend streamlining the proposal process for determining what grants are awarded by the government agencies that oversee research funding Today research proposals to government agencies have about a 20 percent overall chance of being accepted and a proposer will often have to wait a year to find out whether a specific proposal will in fact be funded The Academy s study also proposed practices that should make for better cooperation between industry government and academia In most countries these institutions work in harmony but in America we build barriers between them such as intellectual property rules regulatory policies and well meaning conflict of interest rules that lead to an adversarial relationship We propose that the research and development tax credit be made permanent Congress renews it each year and has been doing so for over fifteen years but industry can t plan on it so it doesn t make full use of it Then there s the matter of H1B visas America s science and engineering enterprise would barely function today without foreign born individuals who come to this country receive their education here and stay here But our immigration laws do everything they can to keep these people out or to drive them back out once they receive their education That too is counterproductive Generally the reaction to recommendations like these especially when made at a congressional hearing is that we don t have enough money But frankly that is not true The issue is not money The issue is priority Take the NIH The average American spends twenty five cents a day to fund the NIH Yet each year the average American spends about seven times that amount on store bought alcoholic beverages legal tobacco products and Halloween costumes for dogs We could afford more for research we simply need to ask what is important to us That is what the funding question boils down to And that brings us back to the American Dream which depends on having good jobs and the secret to good jobs is education A few years ago I was testifying before Congress on these very subjects and one of the members became impatient with me and said Mr Augustine don t you understand that this country has a funding problem Probably more succinctly than judiciously I replied Senator I do realize that we have a budget problem But I was trained as an aeronautical engineer and during my career I worked on many airplanes that during their development program were too heavy to fly and never once did we solve the problem by taking off an engine The engines that drive our nation are education research and technology Put simply that is the message we need to carry to our nation s leaders I hope you will help Neal Lane Our second speaker this evening is Steven Chu He is a distinguished scientist a Nobel laureate in physics who took time out to serve in the Obama administration as the twelfth Secretary of Energy from 2009 to 2013 He was the first Nobel laureate to serve on a U S President s cabinet Dr Chu shared the 1997 Nobel Prize in Physics for work he carried out while at Bell Labs on laser cooling and trapping of atoms a technique that allows scientists to study individual atoms with remarkable accuracy and that has many applications including atomic clocks which are now the standard for time and frequency Technologies such as GPS or the Internet would not be possible without them Dr Chu was born in St Louis and studied at the University of Rochester and then the University of California Berkeley where he received his Ph D He has held faculty positions at Stanford and at the University of California Berkeley where he served as director of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory which became a center for biofuels and solar energy research In this brief introduction I cannot adequately convey the impact Steve Chu had as Secretary of Energy so I m just going to use a brief quote from the MIT Technology Review of February 9 2015 Steven Chu broke the mold In his four years of service he made the Department of Energy more innovative launching the Advanced Research Project Agency for Energy ARPA E to support projects that are not yet ready for private investment He also created innovation hubs to bring people from different disciplines together on energy problems and he rejuvenated funding for solar research And of course he did many other things Along the way he was also a key figure in the federal response to the April 20 2010 Deepwater Horizon accident making sure that decisions about the response and cleanup were informed by science After stepping down as Secretary of Energy in 2013 Dr Chu returned to Stanford University where he is continuing his pathbreaking physics research with a focus on biology biomedicine new energy technologies and many other important applications Dr Chu has a long list of honors beyond the Nobel Prize including election to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences the American Philosophical Society and the National Academy of Sciences and election to several foreign honorary organizations including the Royal Society Dr Chu is a member of the American Academy Study Committee that wrote the Restoring the Foundation report Steven Chu Steven Chu is William R Kenan Jr Professor of Physics and Professor of Molecular and Cellular Physiology at Stanford University He is former U S Secretary of Energy and former Director of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory He was elected a Fellow of the American Academy in 1992 The way the public envisions research a lone gifted person working in seclusion and coming up with brilliant ideas is not how it usually happens Research typically is done with teamwork a lot of joint stimulation At times in the history of science institutions remained at the forefront of knowledge creation for several generations of scientists Some of these led to what we might call golden moments in science Two examples that stand out are the Medical Research Council s Laboratory of Molecular Biology or LMB an offshoot of the Cavendish Laboratory at the University of Cambridge and AT T Bell Laboratories Among the scientists who have worked at the relatively small Laboratory of Molecular Biology over the years thirteen have been awarded Nobel Prizes as have at least seven postdocs and scientists who trained there At the LMB structural molecular biology was developed that led to our ability to determine the atomic structure of proteins Perhaps the most famous discovery made by scientists who worked at this legendary laboratory is the structure of DNA Bell Labs also had an extraordinary number of scientists and engineers who were awarded Nobel Prizes fifteen in all What is remarkable about this track record is that Bell Labs liked to hire young scientists instead of established stars The vast majority were freshly minted Ph D s or young scientists who had just completed a postdoctoral position The wealth of scientific discoveries and engineering marvels that came out of Bell Labs was remarkable Bell Labs invented the negative feedback electronic amplifier needed for long distance transmission Their engineers and mathematicians defined the very concept of information proved the fundamental limits of information transfer proved that perfect information transfer is possible even in the presence of noise and loss of data and established the theoretical limit to any error correcting scheme They developed a telephone network based on electronic rather than mechanical switches invented the transistor that became the basis of computer switching the laser the silicon solar photovoltaic cell the CCD charged coupled device that replaced film cameras and functional magnetic resonance imaging that has revolutionized behavioral psychology and neuroscience They also invented the underlying programming language used by Apple and Google by cell phone technology by undersea transatlantic transmission and by satellite communications Many of these inventions grew out of basic research at Bell Labs but what was basic research and how was it incorporated in an industrial laboratory As an example consider Clinton Davisson who came to Bell Labs during World War I to work on vacuum tubes for the military He was a young scientist going places an instructor at Princeton who could easily have had an academic career in one of the best universities but he liked the atmosphere at Bell Labs and Bell Labs liked him They recognized that Davisson was brilliant and they gave him freedom to explore so he stayed Beginning in the early 1920s Davisson and his assistant Lester Germer were investigating the angular dependence of electrons in a vacuum tube scattering from a nickel plate They knew about a development in a new theory called quantum mechanics that suggested that particles like electrons or atoms could act as waves They constructed a vacuum tube containing a collimated and variable energy electron source an annealed nickel target and an electron detector that could be rotated with respect to the surface In 1927 they reported that the electrons scattering from the surface were described by wave diffraction used to describe X ray scattering from periodic crystals This seminal experiment confirmed this fundamental property of the quantum nature of matter A decade later Davisson became the first Bell Labs scientist to be awarded a Nobel Prize A number of aspiring scientists were drawn to Bell Labs to work with the great man One of these people was a young physicist named Bill Shockley Shortly after Shockley joined Bell Labs in 1936 he recalls a conversation with the director of AT T Research Mervin Kelly As Shockley writes in his Nobel lecture Upon my arrival I was assigned by Dr M J Kelly to an indoctrination program in vacuum tubes In the course of this program Dr Kelly spoke to me of his idea of doing all telephone switching electronically instead of with metal contacts Although I did not choose to continue work on vacuum tubes and was given freedom to pursue basic research problems in solid state physics Dr Kelly s discussion left me continually alert for possible applications of solid state effects in telephone switching problems The vision of the management at Bell Labs and a team of brilliant scientists led to the invention of the transistor in 1949 Apart from the time Shockley spent working on radar during World War II he devoted most of his time working on theoretical studies in solid state physics In 1945 Kelly formed the Solid State Group with Shockley as the leader John Bardeen Walter Brattain and Bill Shockley were awarded another Nobel Prize in 1956 For the next half century Bell Labs remained a leader in semiconductor physics semiconductor materials science and devices based on semiconductors The first transistor was something only a mother could love it is ugly and ungainly but Bell Labs knew it was the secret to miniature low power electronics that would revolutionize the world And they were right The practical applications have been immense but it all came out of the basic research that developed quantum mechanics in the 1920s The researchers who invented quantum mechanics never dreamed that a theory developed to explain the spectra of light from atoms would lead to the transistor and the laser How did LMB and Bell Labs remain at the pinnacle of science for a half a century Was the magic in the water they drank Or can we understand and replicate these institutions today I have thought a lot about this over the past twenty years and I have concluded that we can draw several lessons Lesson one Great people try to hire people better than they are people who have the potential to surpass them They don t hire people to be assistants they seek protégés The very best people aren t insecure or at least they are less insecure They want the very best people around them Second tier people are more drawn to people who think and act like them Radical thinkers carry more risk and are by definition not widely recognized In short A s hire A s and B s hire C s I see this pattern in industry in government and in academia Another common denominator was that LMB and Bell Labs had very flat management structures In the research departments of Bell Labs with which I was familiar managers who oversaw up to several hundred research employees were expected to be engaged in active research with their own brains and in the case of experimentalists their own brains and hands Sydney Brenner a Nobel laureate who worked at LMB for many years said about the laboratory We attracted the best Our job was to create people better than ourselves At LMB especially in the early days they felt a collective mission When I talked to Sydney of those early days he told me Everybody worked in the lab Flies rats physicists chemists were all going in the same direction Perhaps that was an exaggeration Flies tend to be a bit more erratic But the excitement of the research at LMB the understanding of biology down to the molecular level as it was unfolding was totally infectious Lesson two After hiring the very best people let them spread their wings and let them find their way The management at Bell Labs supplied its scientists with funding shielded them from extraneous bureaucracy and urged them not to be satisfied by merely doing good science When I started there my department head told me to spend my first six months in the library and to talk to people before deciding what to do A year later during my first performance review he chided me to be content with nothing less than starting a new field I was a cheeky kid at that time and said I would love to start a new field Can you give me a hint as to which field I should start Lesson three People stimulate each other they get people to talk in informal settings When I became a department head at Bell Labs my job was to help scientists in my group flourish I would say Oh you re working on this You should talk to so and so over here They may be able to help you You should talk to them to find out what they re doing The Bell Labs culture promoted communication and communal brainstorming Most laboratories hold seminars where the scientists report on their work but often they are attended only by the scientists own group or those in their immediate specialty At LMB Crick instituted an annual week long set of seminars known as Crick Week which would be attended by all members of the laboratory At Bell Labs lunch was the common scientific meeting ground Even if you weren t hungry you would go down at midday for an hour and sometimes longer We would sit at big round tables with no borders that allowed squeezing in A common question was What are you up to In formal seminars talks would seldom go more than fifteen minutes before someone would say I don t understand this What are you talking about One outspoken department head was famous for regularly getting up and saying What the hell are you doing that kind of crap for The more civilized form of the question is What is the fundamental direction and importance of what you

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  • Discovering Handel’s London through His Music - American Academy of Arts & Sciences
    house at the base of Berkeley Square on Charles Street has survived There s a pub just one door down which was also in existence at the time and I do like to speculate on whether Anne Donnellan or Handel ate there Figure 4 William Hogarth The Wesley Family with Anne Donnellan 1731 Wellington Collection Stratfield Saye Preservation Trust Image courtesy of Stratfield Saye Preservation Trust Probing the lives of Handel s friends has helped round out certain difficult periods in Handel s life For instance at the very end of his life Handel began losing his sight by 1754 he was completely blind This loss ended his compositional work but not his ability to perform music on the keyboard His friends continued to ask him to play instruments in their homes and he continued playing up until his death in 1759 For instance Delany reports in a letter how in late 1755 Anne Donnellan had him try out her new Jacob Kirkman harpsichord at her house on Charles Street at the base of Berkeley Square which still survives In a combination of historical and financial sleuthing I found Donnellan s financial records at Goslings Bank a private bank that many women used for the convenience of having a financial advisor And within those records I found the record of her purchase of the harpsichord from Jacob Kirkman for nine pounds and nine shillings in January 1756 This is a wonderful example of how documents can come together to support one another When Handel first arrived in London late in 1710 before he had his own house and had built all of these friendships in the neighborhood he sometimes performed at public concerts held by Thomas Britton Britton was a dealer in small coal or charcoal who is described as walking through the streets of London in a blue smock with a sack of small coal upon his back crying out his wares on the two notes that formed an octave Above his shop he had a music room where he held concerts Many foreigners came to these concerts to get a sense of the cultural scene in London I m certain that Handel was one of the foreigners attracted to this scene I like to imagine that at Britton s concerts Handel played his Trio Sonata in F one of only two trio sonatas that Handel is known to have composed before he came to London This trio was written for two violins cello and harpsichord and it is a sassy little piece It would have introduced Handel to his London audiences in a wonderful way Listening to the trio you get the sense of a children s game of playing notes that are approaching then running away or are more like objects tossed back and forth What is astonishing about this trio is that once begun Handel doesn t continue along with this playful progression he moves away from it and slides into an unexpected chromatic passage before returning to the chase As soon as this return accelerates up to full speed Handel suddenly cuts it off as if with a guillotine There s a long silence before the piece picks up again with a new chromatic passage and moves to a close One imagines this composition might have shocked the English auditors who learned quickly that Handel s music was not well behaved With a piece like this trio sonata the young Handel would have introduced himself as an innovative risk taking composer His music might not be shocking to us now since we have learned to relish the striking juxtapositions and silences he built into his scores But if you were hearing Handel s music for the first time and his early work at that it would have likely signaled to you that he was a figure well worth paying attention to You would never be lulled into an expectation of what would come next Besides being neighbors playing music with one another and visiting each other s houses Handel s friends had another point in common none of them had conventional marriages Handel never married neither did Goupy nor Donnellan The other friends had marriages that were forced on them or they made clandestine marriages where the couples effectively eloped without any provision from their families and were then largely ostracized for doing so Elizabeth Mayne was the exception as the only friend who had anything resembling a conventional marriage negotiated by the participating families through a marriage contract that outlined a proper exchange of status and money At this time marriages more resembled mergers and acquisitions than a love match Despite the conventional preparations however Elizabeth Mayne s husband it turns out had murdered a woman in Essex some years earlier There is certainly something unconventional about that One of the delights of my research was that the Mayne family didn t know this fact and they eagerly asked for all the documents So my research has revealed that having a murder in your family three hundred years ago turns out to be an exciting event at least it seemed to be in this case Some of the other friends had much more difficult marriages For instance Elizabeth Palmer married Ralph Palmer who was related along with his family to the aristocratic Verney family by marriage Elizabeth whose maiden name was Peacock was the child of servants and this fact did not sit well with the Verneys Lord Verney in particular was extremely unhappy about the marriage and all sorts of legal documents were taken out to separate Elizabeth Peacock from any portion of the Palmer inheritance In another case we have James Hunter the scarlet dyer He was the third son of a family of Huguenot traders though he did not expect to get very far from that position His oldest brother was sent to Aleppo to work for the Levant Company as an apprentice but as the third son James was not

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  • Forty Years of Evolution in the Galápagos Finches: An Interview with Peter and B. Rosemary Grant - American Academy of Arts & Sciences
    research Zackory Burns In layperson s terms could you describe your most recent discovery as published in Nature 518 February 2015 the evolution of Darwin s finches and their beaks revealed by genome sequencing Peter and B Rosemary Grant The history of a group of organisms like Darwin s finches on the Galápagos lies coded in their genomes the totality of genetic factors that govern how they develop and how they function Through partial genetic analyses we had previously obtained glimpses of that history But now by sequencing the genomes of all of the species we could create as full a record of their history as we shall ever have in the absence of fossils This record tells us who is related to who It indicates when the process of species multiplication began in the Galápagos It tells us to our surprise that species have probably been hybridizing throughout the history of the whole group for perhaps as long as one million years Further it has helped us to understand the evolution of beaks the trait that so impressed Charles Darwin on his epic 1835 visit to the islands The record has revealed one of the genes that is important in regulating beak shape development Species differ in beak size and proportions some beaks are elongated while others are blunt We discovered that species with pointed beaks had one particular variant of a gene called ALX and species with blunt beaks had another variant of that gene Interestingly the same gene is expressed early in human development and mutations in the gene cause defects in the development of the human face including cleft palate Zackory Burns You were able to observe the creation of a new species of Darwin s finch Why is this significant Peter and B Rosemary Grant The world has literally millions of species of animals plants fungi and microorganisms Many biologists would like to know how and why they evolved in the way that they did Charles Darwin s central question how do new species form is still with us today because we don t observe the process from start to finish The standard explanation is that speciation begins with a population splitting into two In the Galápagos it is easy to envisage this happening through colonization of a new island by a few birds followed by the establishment of a second population two populations formed from one The two populations then evolve in different directions each adapting to its own environment They become so different that later when they encounter each other through dispersal of some birds from one island to another members of the two populations either do not interbreed or do so rarely By carefully following the lifetime fates of measured finches we discovered an interesting twist to the standard speciation theory rare hybridization between two species can lead to the evolution of a third This happens under special circumstances the genetic and morphological variation of the hybridizing species increases producing novel genetic

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