Category Archives: Science

Bob Shell: Letters From Prison #11

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Photo: Tony Ward, Copyright 2018

 

 
Letters From Prison: Part 11, 2018

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Letters by Bob Shell, Copyright 2018

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As an observer of the world and all its wonders, I am very concerned that we are such poor stewards of this “jumpin’ green sphere.” (as Lord Buckley called it.). Annyone who persists in denying climate change is just not paying attention. The Arctic ice cap is melting! Now people seem to think that only concerns polar bears and Eskimos, but it should seriously concern us all. All of that ice is FRESH WATER, man! Once enough fresh water floods into the Laurentian Sea and desalinates it, this will seriously affect the temperature differential of the Atlantic that drives the major currents (to say nothing about what it will do to the fish). The only reason that northern Europe, the UK, Scandinavia, Iceland, etc., are habitable is the North Atlantic Current, which pumps warm water (and air) up from the tropics and warms things up for the people there. Take away that current, have it loop farther south, or greatly weaken it, and you have Siberia! Sure, people do live in Siberia, but they can’t grow their food there. Shut off the North Atlantic Current and most of Europe becomes too cold for crops. Keep the current shut down and you have a new Ice Age (this same effect causes all ice ages) and it will come to that if the Arctic keeps melting. It’s probably far too late to stop the melting, if we even could.

All that being said, I’m not convinced that we caused this. Many blame us and our addiction to burning fossil fuels, but ice ages are cyclical, and we weren’t around in significant numbers before the last big one, and most likely not around at all for most of them. So I doubt we’re the sole cause of the coming one; but we may well have nudged it sooner; it would have. happened regardless. Of course what’s happening in the northern hemisphere is also happening in the southern, and probably with similar effects. I know a lot less about ocean currents in southern oceans. But the truth, as illogical as it may seem at first, is that global warming at the surface causes and precedes ice ages. And we should be preparing ourselves for this. Most scientists who study the past are “gradualists” who believe that all earth changes take a long time. Their opposites are “catastrophists” who believe that some changes can be sudden. There is evidence accumulating that the last big ice age may have arrived pretty suddenly, perhaps in just one season. Maybe even faster. The mammoths found in the permafrost of Siberia show signs of being flash frozen, and scientists from Japan believe they can extract viable sperm from one and use it to artificially inseminate an elephant to produce an elephant/mammoth hybrid from which they can breed a new herd of mammoths. The famous Beresovka mammoth was killed and frozen so fast that it was still chewing on its last meal. That didn’t happen gradually! Slow freezing allows ice crystals to form inside cells, and those crystals tear up the complex cellular machinery and burst the cell walls, basically reducing tissue to mush. Flash freezing, as Clarence Birdseye discovered, preserves cellular structure, so your frozen foods aren’t mush. Mammoths have been found so fresh that people have dined on mammoth steaks! Gradualism be damned!

The movie The Day After Tomorrow used this idea to good effect, and it was based on Whitley Strieber’s book The Coming Global Superstorm, where I first encountered these ideas. I’ve since read much on the subject, and I’m convinced.

What’s this got to do with photography? you may ask. Well, I didn’t only photograph unclad females. In fact, the majority of my stock photography sales have been of landscapes and nature pictures. As I mentioned before, I’m (through Shutterbug) one of the founders of NANPA, the North American Nature Photographers Association, and was Technical Editor of Outdoor and Nature Photography magazine. I care about the natural world deeply. If I’m wrong about the coming ice age, and I truly hope I am, I’d like to see the natural world be around for future generations to love, and photograph. Weather isn’t the only threat to the natural world, we are destroying it at a ridiculous speed. There is nothing more absurd than cutting down forests to raise more cattle for our hamburgers, yet we’re doing it at an alarming rate. Those forests make the oxygen we breathe! Do we want to eat our burgers while sucking on a tube from an oxygen tank?

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About The Author: Bob Shell is a professional photographer, author and former editor in chief of Shutterbug Magazine. He is currently serving a 35 year sentence at Pocahontas State Correctional Center, Pocahontas, Virginia for involuntary manslaughter for the death of Marion Franklin, one of his former models. Mr. Shell is serving the 11th year of his sentence. To read more letters from prison by Bob Shell, click herehttp://tonywardstudio.com/blog/bob-shell-letters-from-prison-10/

 

Also posted in Affiliates, Art, Blog, Current Events, Environment, Friends of TWS, History, Photography, Politics, Popular Culture, Travel

Mu Qiao: The Shape of Water

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Photography and Artist Statement by Mu Qiao, Copyright 2018

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The Shape of Water

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“Water is the source of life”. Water, the basic element of life not only bred and maintained life, but also became the basic environmental factor of human society. The physical and chemical properties of water make it possible to exist in nature in three forms: solid, liquid and gas, and participate in the ecological cycle of nature. Therefore, water is omnipresent. It is as large as a vast ocean, as small as raindrops on glass, and even as invisible in the body of animals and plants. In addition, with the process of industrialization and the continuous development of modern urban civilization, water has more mixed forms, such as drinks and wine, and participates in urban landscapes such as rivers and fountains. Since then, water is not only an element of life, but also a carrier of life.

This portfolio focuses on the impact of water as a natural, environmental, cultural and life factor on human life. And the relationship or interaction between human activities in water bodies. Photographs of natural factors include rain, snow, and other weather scenes in Philadelphia’s city streets. The photos of environmental factors include the landscape of the coastal or riverside cities. Cultural factors include human recreation or fishing in the water. Photos of wine and drinking places are examples of water as a factor of life. The natural landscape is presented with a wider viewing angle, black and white colors and horizontal composition. Objects and activities are expressed in smaller perspectives and prominent colors. I hope that through this series, readers will be aware of the importance of water in our lives, discover the details and beauty of water which we usually neglected.

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About The Author: Mu Qiao is a Graduate student enrolled in the School of Architecture, University of Pennsylvania. To access additional articles by Mu Qiao, click herehttp://tonywardstudio.com/blog/mu-qiao-the-game-of-sunshine/

 

Also posted in Blog, Contemporary Architecture, Current Events, Documentary, Engineering, Environment, Photography, Politics, Popular Culture, Student Life, UPenn, UPenn Photography

Wenjia Guo: View on the Roof

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Photography and Artist Statement by Wenjia Guo, Copyright 2018

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View on the Roof

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As an architecture student, I always treat design as a process of choice. Choose to show the real structure or hide with decorative materials. Choose to display the mechanical equipment or dress up with modernist elements. It is the same with the photographic medium, photographers choose the light, the subject, the environment as well as the attitude. So, this time, I used my pictures to discuss something that architects tried to hide from the public, the roof view. Nowadays, architects value roofs as the fifth façade. They came up with the concept of a green roof tried to turn the roof into a positive element in life and the environment.  However, during  development over time, architects used the parapet wall to prevent people from easily seeing the roof from the ground. I found several roofs to photograph and recorded these views. From an aerial view to observe these buildings, I found them familiar and strange. The equipment on the roof is still in the quiet of day there to complete their functions, do not look forward to my visit, but once I pay more attention, the snow in spring, the narrow skylight, the huge heating all tells their own story. Architecture design for me is a way of expressing my thoughts to the world and  to photograph structures like this provides me with an opportunity to read to the world.

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Portrait of Wenjia Guo by Mu Qiao, Copyright 2018

Portrait of Wenjia Guo by Mu Qiao, Copyright 2018

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About The Author: Wenjia Guo is a Graduate student in the School of Architecture, University of Pennsylvania. To access additional articles by Wenjia Guo, click herehttp://tonywardstudio.com/blog/wenjia-guo-travel-friends/

 

Also posted in Architecture, Blog, Cameras, Contemporary Architecture, Current Events, Documentary, Engineering, Environment, Photography, Popular Culture, Student Life, Travel, UPenn, UPenn: Photography Students, Women

Eileen Ko: Colors of Spring

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Photography and Artist Statement by Eileen Ko, Copyright 2018

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Colors of Spring

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I experience great joy when the cold winter ends and spring arrives. I also experience great joy when I see the bare trees finally become decorated with bright-colored flowers. I like it when spring comes around and my surroundings in nature become full of life. The faint and soft sound of the warm breeze, the shining rays of sunlight, and the pure clean smell of nature. The world that seemed so dull and cold has come alive once again. If you haven’t already noticed, spring is my favorite time of the year.

So, what do I want to say through my photography?

I want to celebrate the whole world coming alive after winter in which it seemed that everything was dead. I want to find beauty in the variety of colors and shapes that I find in flowers and plants. I want to capture new life and the scent of greenery. I want to treasure the renewal of excitement and zest for life.

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Portrait of Eileen Ko by Grant Wei, Copyright 2018

Portrait of Eileen Ko by Grant Wei, Copyright 2018

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About The Author: Eileen Ko is a Nursing student in her junior year at the University of Pennsylvania, Class of 2019. To access additional articles by Eileen Ko, click herehttp://tonywardstudio.com/blog/eileen-ko-home-sweet-home/

 

Also posted in Blog, Current Events, Documentary, Environment, Photography, Popular Culture, Student Life, UPenn Photography, Women

Grant Wei: Blinking Through Memories

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Photography and Text by Grant Wei, Copyright 2018

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BLINKING THROUGH MEMORIES

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On a warm morning, my grandmother opens the elevator door to give a warm embrace to her childhood friend, who had visited Beijing for professional reasons.

“How long has it been?” she exclaims. “Blink of an eye, and here we are.” She seats herself and her guest on her well-dusted couch from earlier in the morning. The TV had been left on, leaving a quiet rumbling of a CCTV news anchor to an otherwise quiet room.

Twenty years from their last reunion, my grandmother and her friend had much to talk about. But, at the same time, not much has changed. They still worked the same jobs as they did twenty years ago, still married to the same people, still had the same dulled idiosyncrasies they had when they were living in another form of government housing in Hunan.

They talked and talked, until she left. And then, they never had a chance to speak again.

We live our lives creating one memory to the next, letting some memories fade into nothingness as we make room for more memories in our life. It cycles. And cycles. And before you realize, you have lived your life without room to make new memories.

One moment, you are practicing violin in front of a mirror. The clothes you were wearing were the clothes that no longer fit on your cousin. Your haircut was… not cute. Nothing is quite on your mind because your stresses, in retrospect, weren’t really stresses at all. They were at the time. But grades, games, girls — why did you ever care as much as you did?

Blink.

You got into Penn. It is, supposedly, the happiest moment of your life. But you are overwhelmed with the sensation that you don’t deserve to get in. You tell your best friends and your parents, giving them a quick call on the phone after storming out of the cafeteria during PMEA Regional Orchestra with tears in your eyes. You were happy then.

Blink.

Now, you are writing about memories as if putting things down on a page could potentially free you from the cycle of blinking through your life. Things have happened to you. Friends were made and losts. Goals were realized and abandoned. But somehow, through it all, you still anchor yourself to the same memories that have created your identity.

And so it goes..

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About The Author: Grant Wei is a Sophomore enrolled in the College of the University of Pennsylvania, Class of 2020. To access additional articles by Grant Wei, click herehttp://tonywardstudio.com/blog/grant-wei-consumption/

 

Also posted in Art, Blog, Cameras, Current Events, Environment, Health Care, Photography, Popular Culture, Student Life, UPenn, UPenn Photography