Scientists Working to Combat Florida’s Growing ‘Red Tide’

Scientists in Florida are on the cusp of developing promising methods to control toxic algae blooms like the “red tide” that has been killing marine life along a 150 mile (240 km) stretch of the Gulf Coast, the head of a leading marine lab said Wednesday.

Michael Crosby, president and chief executive of the Mote Marine Laboratory in Sarasota, welcomed a red tide emergency order issued this week by Governor Rick Scott, designating more state money for research, cleanup and wildlife rescues.

Scientists field-testing solutions

Interest in mitigation technologies has been heightened by a 10-month-long toxic algae bloom off Florida’s southwestern coast that has caused mounds of rotting fish to wash up on beaches from Tampa to Naples.

The red tide also has been implicated in at least 266 sea turtle strandings and is suspected or determined to have caused 68 manatee deaths so far this year, according to Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission figures.

In hopes of combating future outbreaks, scientists are field testing a patented process that would pump red-algae-tainted seawater into an ozone-treatment system and then pump the purified water back into the affected canal, cove or inlet, Crosby said.

Experiments carried out in huge 25,000-gallon tanks succeeded in removing all traces of the algae and its toxins, with the water chemistry reverting to normal within 24 hours, he said.

Scientists also are studying the possible use of naturally produced compounds from seaweed, parasitic algae and filter-feeding organisms that could be introduced to fight red tides.

A ‘bad bloom’

Red tides occur on an almost yearly basis off Florida, starting out in the Gulf of Mexico where swarms of microscopic algae cells called Karenia brevis feed on deep-sea nutrients and are sometimes carried by currents close to shore, usually in the fall.

This year’s Gulf Coast Florida bloom is the worst in more than a decade, originating last October and persisting well into the summer tourist season while spreading across 150 miles of coastline spanning seven counties.

“It’s a bad bloom by any standard,” said Richard Stumpf, an oceanographer who studies red tides for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

For reasons not well understood, strong northerly winds that normally break up a red tide by December failed to materialize last winter, Stumpf said.

It remains to be seen whether a single year of altered wind patterns will turn out to be an isolated deviation or part of more long-term changes in climate, Stumpf said.

Natural phenomenon

But scientists say red tides in and of themselves are a natural phenomenon observed as far back as the 1600s.

For humans, exposure can cause respiratory difficulties, burning eyes and skin irritation. The toxins are often fatal to marine life.

The latest bloom coincided with the spawning season for snook, an ecologically important and popular game fish in Florida, Crosby said. A portion of emergency funding ordered by the governor is earmarked for assessing impacts on that fish.

From: MeNeedIt

Scientists Working to Combat Florida’s Growing ‘Red Tide’

Scientists in Florida are on the cusp of developing promising methods to control toxic algae blooms like the “red tide” that has been killing marine life along a 150 mile (240 km) stretch of the Gulf Coast, the head of a leading marine lab said Wednesday.

Michael Crosby, president and chief executive of the Mote Marine Laboratory in Sarasota, welcomed a red tide emergency order issued this week by Governor Rick Scott, designating more state money for research, cleanup and wildlife rescues.

Scientists field-testing solutions

Interest in mitigation technologies has been heightened by a 10-month-long toxic algae bloom off Florida’s southwestern coast that has caused mounds of rotting fish to wash up on beaches from Tampa to Naples.

The red tide also has been implicated in at least 266 sea turtle strandings and is suspected or determined to have caused 68 manatee deaths so far this year, according to Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission figures.

In hopes of combating future outbreaks, scientists are field testing a patented process that would pump red-algae-tainted seawater into an ozone-treatment system and then pump the purified water back into the affected canal, cove or inlet, Crosby said.

Experiments carried out in huge 25,000-gallon tanks succeeded in removing all traces of the algae and its toxins, with the water chemistry reverting to normal within 24 hours, he said.

Scientists also are studying the possible use of naturally produced compounds from seaweed, parasitic algae and filter-feeding organisms that could be introduced to fight red tides.

A ‘bad bloom’

Red tides occur on an almost yearly basis off Florida, starting out in the Gulf of Mexico where swarms of microscopic algae cells called Karenia brevis feed on deep-sea nutrients and are sometimes carried by currents close to shore, usually in the fall.

This year’s Gulf Coast Florida bloom is the worst in more than a decade, originating last October and persisting well into the summer tourist season while spreading across 150 miles of coastline spanning seven counties.

“It’s a bad bloom by any standard,” said Richard Stumpf, an oceanographer who studies red tides for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

For reasons not well understood, strong northerly winds that normally break up a red tide by December failed to materialize last winter, Stumpf said.

It remains to be seen whether a single year of altered wind patterns will turn out to be an isolated deviation or part of more long-term changes in climate, Stumpf said.

Natural phenomenon

But scientists say red tides in and of themselves are a natural phenomenon observed as far back as the 1600s.

For humans, exposure can cause respiratory difficulties, burning eyes and skin irritation. The toxins are often fatal to marine life.

The latest bloom coincided with the spawning season for snook, an ecologically important and popular game fish in Florida, Crosby said. A portion of emergency funding ordered by the governor is earmarked for assessing impacts on that fish.

From: MeNeedIt

Five ‘Crazy Rich Asian’ Ways to Splash Your Cash in Singapore

Singapore is the setting for new Hollywood movie ‘Crazy Rich Asians’ – an adaptation of a best-selling novel that explores the insatiable consumerism of new money and old-world opulence in a continent producing more billionaires than anywhere else.

While the low-tax financial hub is often called a playground for the rich, Singapore’s wealthy tend to live a more conservative, low-key life than Hong Kong’s showy socialites or Macau’s high-rollers.

In step with the film’s release in the United States on Wednesday and ahead of its release in the city-state next week, here are five ways to spend your cash in Singapore.

1. Orchid-shaped supercars

Cars in Singapore are some of the most expensive in the world, owing to huge government taxes aimed at limiting their number in the tiny island-state.

That doesn’t stop the super-rich – Ferrari, Maserati and Lamborghini are commonly sighted. When a Singaporean character in Kevin Kwan’s book, Goh Peik Lin, moves to America to study she immediately buys a Porsche saying they are “such a bargain.”

For the super-rich patriot, Singapore-based firm Vanda Electrics has designed an electric supercar – Dendrobium. Its roof and doors open in sync to resemble the orchid that is native to Singapore and after which the vehicle is named.

A show car, built by the technology arm of the Williams Formula One team, was unveiled last year. It was originally estimated to cost around 3 million euros ($3.44 million) before tax, although Vanda Electrics advised the final price will likely be lower.

2. Yachts with submarines

Yachts are an affordable alternative to such supercars.

“Impulse buys of luxury items such as yachts are becoming more common” said Phill Gregory, the Singapore head of yacht dealers Simpson Marine, who sell everything from sports boats to super yachts costing tens of millions of dollars.

Gregory said Singapore-based clients have some of the most sophisticated tastes and an eye for style: sometimes he flies them to Europe to deck out their yacht with luxury furniture from the artisans of Milan or world-famous Carrara marble straight from the quarries in Tuscany.

Others have more unusual requests. These include a bespoke ‘beach club style’ lounge area set underneath a shimmering swimming pool, helipads or even a space to park a small submarine or sea-plane.

3. 999 roses

The iconic Marina Bay Sands hotel – which resembles a giant surfboard perched on three tall columns – features prominently in the film’s trailer.

The hotel features the invitation-only Chairman’s suite – the largest in Singapore – which has its own gym, hair salon, and karaoke room, and according to some media reports costs over $15,000 a night. There is no publicly available price.

The likes of former British soccer star David Beckham and Bollywood actor Shah Rukh Khan have stayed at the hotel.

George Roe, director of hotel operations at Marina Bay Sands, said he has had some unusual requests from his guests including organizing the delivery of 999 roses to a residential address in Singapore as a surprise.

4. Rare beef

“You do realize Singapore is the most food obsessed country on the planet?,” Nick Young, the very well-heeled protagonist of ‘Crazy Rich Asians’ tells his girlfriend Rachel Chu ahead of their trip to the city-state.

Even hawker stalls hold Michelin stars in Singapore but there’s no shortage of places for the super-rich to get their fix.

The restaurant CUT by Wolfgang Puck is the only one in Singapore to offer Hokkaido snow beef – which is even scarcer than Kobe beef – through an exclusive arrangement with a private reserve in Japan.

Only two cattle are harvested from the reserve every month, with CUT receiving about 20-30 steaks a month – a chunk of which goes to regulars who visit the restaurant every time it comes on the menu, said general manager Paul Joseph. The current price is S$330 ($240) for a modest 170 gram serving.

5. Gold tea

Forget wearing gold – in Singapore you can drink it. 

Boutique Singaporean tea company TWG Tea claims to sell one of the world’s most expensive teas – a white tea plated with 24-karat gold which retails at S$19,000 ($14,000) a kilo.

The Grand Golden Yin Zhen is described as a “glimpse of the divine in a teacup”, and the gold is said to have anti-oxidant properties that revitalize and rejuvenate the skin.

From: MeNeedIt

Five ‘Crazy Rich Asian’ Ways to Splash Your Cash in Singapore

Singapore is the setting for new Hollywood movie ‘Crazy Rich Asians’ – an adaptation of a best-selling novel that explores the insatiable consumerism of new money and old-world opulence in a continent producing more billionaires than anywhere else.

While the low-tax financial hub is often called a playground for the rich, Singapore’s wealthy tend to live a more conservative, low-key life than Hong Kong’s showy socialites or Macau’s high-rollers.

In step with the film’s release in the United States on Wednesday and ahead of its release in the city-state next week, here are five ways to spend your cash in Singapore.

1. Orchid-shaped supercars

Cars in Singapore are some of the most expensive in the world, owing to huge government taxes aimed at limiting their number in the tiny island-state.

That doesn’t stop the super-rich – Ferrari, Maserati and Lamborghini are commonly sighted. When a Singaporean character in Kevin Kwan’s book, Goh Peik Lin, moves to America to study she immediately buys a Porsche saying they are “such a bargain.”

For the super-rich patriot, Singapore-based firm Vanda Electrics has designed an electric supercar – Dendrobium. Its roof and doors open in sync to resemble the orchid that is native to Singapore and after which the vehicle is named.

A show car, built by the technology arm of the Williams Formula One team, was unveiled last year. It was originally estimated to cost around 3 million euros ($3.44 million) before tax, although Vanda Electrics advised the final price will likely be lower.

2. Yachts with submarines

Yachts are an affordable alternative to such supercars.

“Impulse buys of luxury items such as yachts are becoming more common” said Phill Gregory, the Singapore head of yacht dealers Simpson Marine, who sell everything from sports boats to super yachts costing tens of millions of dollars.

Gregory said Singapore-based clients have some of the most sophisticated tastes and an eye for style: sometimes he flies them to Europe to deck out their yacht with luxury furniture from the artisans of Milan or world-famous Carrara marble straight from the quarries in Tuscany.

Others have more unusual requests. These include a bespoke ‘beach club style’ lounge area set underneath a shimmering swimming pool, helipads or even a space to park a small submarine or sea-plane.

3. 999 roses

The iconic Marina Bay Sands hotel – which resembles a giant surfboard perched on three tall columns – features prominently in the film’s trailer.

The hotel features the invitation-only Chairman’s suite – the largest in Singapore – which has its own gym, hair salon, and karaoke room, and according to some media reports costs over $15,000 a night. There is no publicly available price.

The likes of former British soccer star David Beckham and Bollywood actor Shah Rukh Khan have stayed at the hotel.

George Roe, director of hotel operations at Marina Bay Sands, said he has had some unusual requests from his guests including organizing the delivery of 999 roses to a residential address in Singapore as a surprise.

4. Rare beef

“You do realize Singapore is the most food obsessed country on the planet?,” Nick Young, the very well-heeled protagonist of ‘Crazy Rich Asians’ tells his girlfriend Rachel Chu ahead of their trip to the city-state.

Even hawker stalls hold Michelin stars in Singapore but there’s no shortage of places for the super-rich to get their fix.

The restaurant CUT by Wolfgang Puck is the only one in Singapore to offer Hokkaido snow beef – which is even scarcer than Kobe beef – through an exclusive arrangement with a private reserve in Japan.

Only two cattle are harvested from the reserve every month, with CUT receiving about 20-30 steaks a month – a chunk of which goes to regulars who visit the restaurant every time it comes on the menu, said general manager Paul Joseph. The current price is S$330 ($240) for a modest 170 gram serving.

5. Gold tea

Forget wearing gold – in Singapore you can drink it. 

Boutique Singaporean tea company TWG Tea claims to sell one of the world’s most expensive teas – a white tea plated with 24-karat gold which retails at S$19,000 ($14,000) a kilo.

The Grand Golden Yin Zhen is described as a “glimpse of the divine in a teacup”, and the gold is said to have anti-oxidant properties that revitalize and rejuvenate the skin.

From: MeNeedIt

Academy Looks to Boost Hollywood’s Next, Diverse Generation

The diversity crisis in Hollywood may rage on, but the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences continues to try to open up access to the entertainment business for people from underrepresented communities and give some a foot in the door at the most critical moment — when college graduation is in sight and the job market is looming.

For seven weeks this summer, 107 college students from across the nation convened in Los Angeles for internships at places like HBO, Warner Bros., Dolby Laboratories, Universal Pictures, IMAX and AMC Networks, in addition to film screenings and weekly panels on various aspects of the film industry from people at the top of their fields.

Notable speakers this summer included cinematographer Janusz Kaminski (Schindler’s List), production designer K.K. Barrett (Her), Sorry to Bother You director Boots Riley and actress Lily Collins, who dished on the casting process. Cinematography and production design students even got to work with Daryn Okada, an academy governor, to recreate a scene from Mean Girls, which Okada shot.

The program, now in its second year, continues to evolve. In addition to giving spots to more than 30 additional students, this year Academy Gold added a Production Track program for students interested in cinematography, production design, post-production and film editing.

Statistics dire for most

The statistics remain dire in the entertainment business job market for anyone who isn’t a white, straight, able-bodied male. A survey from the Center for the Study of Women in Television and Film found that of the top 100 grossing films of 2017, 2 percent had female cinematographers and 14 percent had female editors. And according to the University of Southern California’s Annenberg Inclusion Initiative, across 1,100 of the top grossing films over the past decade, 64, or 5.2 percent, had black directors and 38, or 3.1 percent, had an Asian or Asian-American director.

Academy Gold is an industrywide effort to infuse the entertainment business with diverse talent at the early stages of a career. The film academy, which puts on the Oscars, has been criticized in the past for the lack of diversity in its membership ranks, and has been making strides to correct that in the past two years. In addition to inviting new members with an eye toward inclusion, the Academy Gold program is addressing the issue at an earlier stage.

Academy Gold wrapped its summer program this past weekend and sent its second class of alumni back to finish their college educations armed with a designated mentor for eight months, contacts, peers and even a few new career ideas.

“A lot of students who came in thinking they wanted to do one thing have said, ‘You know what I think I might be interested in cinematography or editing,’” said Bettina Fisher, the academy’s director of educational initiatives.

First-hand experience

Tatianna Sims, a 21-year-old New York University student from New Jersey, interned this summer with Marvel Studios in the VFX and post-production department.

“The greatest thing about this program is hearing about first-hand experiences from people who have amazing careers,” said. “From the outside, it looks like this gilded place where no one can enter, but when speaking with a lot of the panelists you see how achievable a lot of your goals are.”

Twenty-six entertainment businesses funded the program, which not only ensures that interns are paid, but also provides stipends for more than 30 students to help with living expenses. It proved “life-changing” for Vaughn Arterberry, a 22-year-old aspiring director from Oakland, Calif, who interned in production and development at Focus Features this summer before he starts at the University of Southern California Film School in January.

“I wouldn’t have been able to afford to live in LA this summer without some help financially,” Arterberry said before a panel on film financing and distribution. “I’m extremely grateful for what they’ve done.”

Benefits apparent

Some alumni are seeing the benefits of their Academy Gold experience and the mentorship with a film academy member that follows.

Jordan Moss, who interned in the accounting department of Paramount Pictures in its pilot year and aspires to be in animated feature development, said he’s most grateful for the peers he met.

“I believe that these are the people who are going to be running the industry some day,” Moss said.

Program administrators want to start tracking the development of their alumni as they hopefully get jobs and rise in the industry.

“We have made significant progress and we look forward to pushing this program forward and expanding it to more students in the future,” said Edgar Aguirre, the academy’s director of talent development and inclusion. “At the end of the day, this is going to be an opportunity to guide and develop the next generation of leadership in this industry.”

From: MeNeedIt

US University Puts Electronic Assistants in All Student Housing

One American university is putting electronic voice-controlled assistants in every student housing room on campus.

Saint Louis University recently announced it will equip every student living space with Amazon’s Alexa system. The school in St. Louis, Missouri, will place about 2,300 Echo Dot “smart” devices in all student dorms and other university housing.

Officials said the university will be the first in the world to put the devices in every student living space. The devices and the Alexa service are being provided at no costs to students.

The Amazon Echo is a speaker with the ability to listen and “talk” to users and can perform some operations. The Alexa assistant competes with similar systems made by Google and Apple.

Devices linked to the systems have become increasingly popular in homes in recent years. They can be used for things like looking up information, playing music, ordering food or buying things on the internet. The devices can also complete actions in the home. These include turning lights on and off, and controlling systems for heating and cooling and security.

Amazon calls these different tasks Alexa can perform “skills.”

Amazon said in a website post that Saint Louis University chose the Alexa system after carrying out a test program. The program involved the Echo Dot and a device from a competing company. It said the students had a better reaction to the Alexa system.

The Echo Dots will include a special skill developed especially for Saint Louis University. It will provide information and answer questions about local school activities and campus life.

Next year, the university plans to add more personalized skills, such as providing information about classes and grades.

The university said it did not increase student tuition to pay for the project. Instead, officials said, it was financed through the school’s general fund, as well as partnerships with Amazon and n-Powered.  The company, based in Los Angeles, California, helped develop the parts of the system that are related to Saint Louis University.

David Hakanson is Saint Louis University’s vice president and chief information officer. In announcing the project, he said it will fit well with students who are “highly driven to achieve success in and out of the classroom.”

He added: “Every minute we can save our students from having to search for the information they need online is another minute that they can spend focused on what matters most: their education.”

While the devices are being placed in every university housing space, students do not have to use them. For those wishing not to take part, the school suggests students just remove the devices from their rooms and put them away in a safe place.

Other universities have also experimented with voice-controlled assistants in student living areas.

A year ago, Arizona State University announced a program that provided Echo Dot devices to a special housing area for engineering students. In the program, all engineering students moving into the special housing community were given the choice of receiving an Echo Dot if they wanted one.

As is the case at Saint Louis University, Arizona State students are able to use the system to get the latest information on university programs and events. However, the Arizona students also have the chance to sign up for classes that teach subjects related specifically to creating new uses for Alexa devices.

Octavio Heredia is a director with Arizona State’s Fulton Schools of Engineering. He said he thinks it is a good idea for students to get as much experience as possible with the voice assistants to improve their development skills and prepare for future jobs.

“Once they are familiar with the devices, they are going to want to further develop their own skills and begin integrating that technology – the hardware and the skills – into other projects,” he said.

From: MeNeedIt

US University Puts Electronic Assistants in All Student Housing

One American university is putting electronic voice-controlled assistants in every student housing room on campus.

Saint Louis University recently announced it will equip every student living space with Amazon’s Alexa system. The school in St. Louis, Missouri, will place about 2,300 Echo Dot “smart” devices in all student dorms and other university housing.

Officials said the university will be the first in the world to put the devices in every student living space. The devices and the Alexa service are being provided at no costs to students.

The Amazon Echo is a speaker with the ability to listen and “talk” to users and can perform some operations. The Alexa assistant competes with similar systems made by Google and Apple.

Devices linked to the systems have become increasingly popular in homes in recent years. They can be used for things like looking up information, playing music, ordering food or buying things on the internet. The devices can also complete actions in the home. These include turning lights on and off, and controlling systems for heating and cooling and security.

Amazon calls these different tasks Alexa can perform “skills.”

Amazon said in a website post that Saint Louis University chose the Alexa system after carrying out a test program. The program involved the Echo Dot and a device from a competing company. It said the students had a better reaction to the Alexa system.

The Echo Dots will include a special skill developed especially for Saint Louis University. It will provide information and answer questions about local school activities and campus life.

Next year, the university plans to add more personalized skills, such as providing information about classes and grades.

The university said it did not increase student tuition to pay for the project. Instead, officials said, it was financed through the school’s general fund, as well as partnerships with Amazon and n-Powered.  The company, based in Los Angeles, California, helped develop the parts of the system that are related to Saint Louis University.

David Hakanson is Saint Louis University’s vice president and chief information officer. In announcing the project, he said it will fit well with students who are “highly driven to achieve success in and out of the classroom.”

He added: “Every minute we can save our students from having to search for the information they need online is another minute that they can spend focused on what matters most: their education.”

While the devices are being placed in every university housing space, students do not have to use them. For those wishing not to take part, the school suggests students just remove the devices from their rooms and put them away in a safe place.

Other universities have also experimented with voice-controlled assistants in student living areas.

A year ago, Arizona State University announced a program that provided Echo Dot devices to a special housing area for engineering students. In the program, all engineering students moving into the special housing community were given the choice of receiving an Echo Dot if they wanted one.

As is the case at Saint Louis University, Arizona State students are able to use the system to get the latest information on university programs and events. However, the Arizona students also have the chance to sign up for classes that teach subjects related specifically to creating new uses for Alexa devices.

Octavio Heredia is a director with Arizona State’s Fulton Schools of Engineering. He said he thinks it is a good idea for students to get as much experience as possible with the voice assistants to improve their development skills and prepare for future jobs.

“Once they are familiar with the devices, they are going to want to further develop their own skills and begin integrating that technology – the hardware and the skills – into other projects,” he said.

From: MeNeedIt