science

  • March 8, 2020

    Sisters of Invention

    In honor of International Women’s Day 2020, this week’s Progressive Pioneers will be a quadfecta of amazing young women who are trying to change the world for the better. All too often the news is dominated by negative stories, and one would think that the world is a sad place. However, that is not the case! For optimistic, creative, inventive, and resourceful entrepreneurs Greta Thunberg, Alaina Gassler, and Anna Stork & Andrea Sreshta the world couldn’t be more full of promise and hope. Here are their stories: Greta Tintin Eleonora Ernman Thunberg is a Swedish environmental activist on climate change whose campaigning has gained international recognition. Thunberg is known for her straightforward speaking manner, both in public and to political leaders and assemblies, in which she urges immediate action to address what she describes as the climate crisis. Thunberg first became known for youth activism in August 2018 when, at age 15, she began spending her school days outside the Swedish parliament to call for stronger action on global warming by holding up a sign saying (in Swedish) “School strike for the climate”. Soon, other students engaged in similar protests in their own communities. Together, they organized a school climate strike movement under the name Fridays for Future. After Thunberg addressed the 2018 United Nations Climate Change Conference, student strikes took place every week somewhere in the world. In 2019, there were at least two coordinated multi-city protests involving over 1,000,000 students each. At home, Thunberg convinced her parents to adopt several lifestyle choices to reduce their own carbon footprint, including giving up air travel and not eating meat. Her sudden rise to world fame has made her a leader and a target. In May 2019, Thunberg was featured on the cover of Time magazine, which named her a “next generation leader” and noted that many see her as a role model. Thunberg and the school strike movement were also featured in a 30-minute Vice documentary titled Make...
  • January 1, 2020

    Tarzan of Mars

    Today’s Progressive Pioneer is none other than the ultra-prolific planetary romance and adventure novelist Edgar Rice Burroughs (EBR). Burroughs’ work—particularly on his John Carter of Barsoom (i.e. Mars) series—are the unsung inspiration for stories such as Flash Gordon, Star Wars, and even Avatar. All eleven Barsoom novels describe a world so rich in detail, culture, wildly eccentric science and technology (for his time), outlandish and terrifying creatures, and extraordinary complex characters story tellers have been tapping into for over a century. However, Burroughs’ work goes beyond just his Barsoom/Mars books. He is even more known for his Tarzan adventure novel series of 26 books. These stories were so famous during Burroughs’ time that he immediately saw the tech trend value in exploiting them in all forms of media (against so-called experts’ advice at the time). Tarzan became an instant hit on radio, in comic books, and in film. In fact, even Burroughs’ daughter Joan married Tarzan film actor, James Pierce, starring with her husband, as the voice of Jane, during 1932-34 for the Tarzan radio series! However, the most interesting fact about Burroughs’ Tarzan is that not one but two towns were named after the character! Tarzana in California, which started out as EBR’s eponymous ranch in the Los Angeles area, and eventually became incorporated as the American town of Tarzana in 1927. Tarzan in Texas was also formally named in 1927. There’s even an impact crater on Mars named after EBR! Burroughs was born in Chicago Illinois on September 1st, 1875 and died on March 19th, 1950 at the age of 74. He was married twice, first to Emma Hulbert (1900–1934) where they had three children together (Joan, Hulbert, and John); and then to actress Florence Gilbert Dearholt (1935–1942). He passed away in Encino California but he is laid...
  • January 1, 2020

    Ad Astra Per Feminae

    With the 34th anniversary of the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster this past Tuesday, I thought it would be fitting to pay tribute to Christa McAuliffe as the first teacher in space who perished on that fateful day back in 1986. And, I thought it would also be fitting to include Sally Ride, America’s first woman astronaut. Both are Progressive Pioneers who advanced space exploration for generations of future American female astronauts, young women everywhere. Here are their stories: Sharon Christa McAuliffe (A.K.A. Christa) is famously known for being chosen as America’s first teacher in space. Though, she never made it into space due to a tragic accident involving the Space Shuttle Challenger 73 seconds into liftoff on January 28, 1986. Despite the loss of McAuliffe and the other six crewmembers aboard the space craft, which is regarded as a national tragedy, McAuliffe’s life is celebrated and honored all across the country. Schools, scholarships, documentaries, and more have all been named in her honor. She has inspired whole generations of kids since that fateful day to reach for the stars and to achieve their dreams. McAuliffe was born in Boston on September 2, 1948. Her father, Edward Christopher Corrigan was an accountant of Irish descent, and her mother, Grace Mary Corrigan, was a teacher of Lebanese Maronite descent. McAuliffe received a bachelor’s degree in Education from Framingham State College and a master’s degree in Education (supervision & administration) from Bowie State University. She married Stephen J. McAuliffe in 1970, with whom she had two children, Scott and Caroline. She eventually took a teaching job Concord High School (Concord, NH), where she would eventually apply for President Ronald Reagan’s Teacher in Space Project for NASA. Out of 11,000+ applicants, she and teacher Barbara Morgan were the final two chosen in 1985, with McAuliffe earning the top spot. Both McAuliffe and Morgan took a year’s leave of absence to train for the space shuttle mission...
  • Not too long ago I entered into a very special writing contest: 2016 Climate Fiction Short Story Contest hosted by Arizona State University. Not only was it a good way to jump start my writing that had been a little stale lately but also it was an opportunity to have my work read by one of my favorite Science Fiction authors: Kim Stanley Robinson! As from the Wikipedia link above details, Robinson is one of the greatest modern sci-fi authors and overall fiction authors of the 21st century. His books are both captivating and epic in scale. He covers every aspect of a topic with the utmost dedication. For example, his pan-Antarctic adventure, ANTARCTICA, was so incredibly precise due to the fact that he actually spent 6 months down there and almost lost his hand due to frostbite while writing this amazing book. His Mars Trilogy (RED MARS, GREEN MARS, and BLUE MARS) are Hugo award-winning seminal works that are considered the most accurate fictional account, scientifically speaking, of what it would truly be like to explore and terraform the planet Mars. His take of ecological science that pervades all of his books are the final word in how to write about climate change. But Robinson never lets the science, politics, or plot get in the way of writing about some of the most amazing characters in the genre. So when I found out that HE was judging the contest, I had to…had too…submit a story! So I wrote one called: THE NITRITE PARADOX. In a future Earth where humanity is all but extinct. Those scant few that remain, live on a mostly lifeless world that seems destined for sterilization. This is the lonely story of Millie Li. An aging Asian-American woman who struggles to plant her garden in the...