City College

Birds, Dolphins and Mimicry

December 28, 2010 | City College, CUNY Lecture Series, Hunter College

The ability to learn and mimic vocal sounds is rare in nature but found in certain birds and in dolphins says Diana Reiss, professor of psychology at Hunter College. “There’s been a lot of anecdotal reporting over the years that dolphins are highly mimetic,” says Reiss, an expert on dolphin cognition. City College associate professor of biology, Ofer Tchernichovski, who studies brains and vocal learning in birds, says birds, which are capable of vocal learning, even “dedicate” part of their brain to produce and learn bird songs. In a lecture, “Bird Culture and Dolphin Intelligence: How we learn from animal behavior,” part of the Serving Science Cafe Series, Reiss and Tchernichovski discuss their own research, and their collaborative study at the Baltimore National Aquarium to decode dolphin vocalization.
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Rivers at Risk

December 1, 2010 | City College, Newsmakers

Nearly 80 percent of the world’s rivers are so adversely affected by humanity’s footprint that the drinking water of 5 billion people and the survival of thousands of aquatic species are threatened, according to a report in the September issue of Nature. “We’ve repaired problems after they arise,” says Charles Vörsömarty, a professor of civil engineering and director of CUNY’s Environmental Crossroads Initiative at City College and the lead author of the study entitled, “Global Threats to Human Water Security and River Biodiversity.” Vörsömarty insists that there should be a more proactive approach and a global sharing of information and tools. We should be “protecting ecosystems and allowing ecosystems to do the very good job that they naturally do in providing stable and clean water supplies.”
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New Dominican Gallery Opens

December 1, 2010 | City College, Newsmakers

In recent years, the Dominican Republic has accounted for the largest number of the foreign-born residents in New York City. And now a new exhibition space has opened to celebrate that experience. “We wanted people to see the diversity of the Dominican people,” says Ramona Hernandez, director of the CUNY Dominican Studies Institute at City College, about the gallery, which is housed in the library’s multipurpose room. The inaugural show, “Manifestaciones,” by the artistic collective Dominican York Proyecto GRAFICA, is a set of 12 prints that explore the Dominican American identity.
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Greenland’s Hottest Year Ever

October 13, 2010 | City College, CUNY Lecture Series

With its massive — and melting — ice sheets, Greenland is the ideal laboratory for scientists studying the effects of global warming, says Marco Tedesco, assistant professor of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences at the City College of New York. This summer, scientists recorded Greenland’s hottest year ever, a “spectacular, catastrophic year in the arctic,” according to Tedesco, who spoke on “Glacial Meltdown and the Impact of Global Warming,” at the University’s Serving Science lecture series. “Since we started observing Greenland, using satellites in 1979, there’s been a strong increase in both melting and surface temperature,” he says.
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Obesity’s Sick Days

September 21, 2010 | City College, Newsmakers

The number of work days Americans lose each year due to obesity has more than doubled in the past two decades, according to a new study co-authored by Erica Lubetkin, acting chair of the Department of Community Health and Social Medicine at the Sophie Davis School of Biomedical Education. “Many creative solutions will be needed to reverse this trend,” says Lubetkin, “and these interventions must be implemented through an individual’s life span — particularly during early childhood.”
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Nobel Laureate Lederman, Supreme Court Justice Sotomayor Address CUNY Grads

June 11, 2010 | City College, CUNY Lecture Series, Hostos Community College

Nobel Laureate Leon M. Lederman challenged The City College’s Class of 2010 to “help make the world a better place” in a commencement speech delivered 67 years after his own graduation from CCNY. The renowned physicist, who received his B.S. in chemistry in 1943, urged the graduates to tackle the most difficult issues of their time. “The major concerns facing the citizens of the 21st century will be population growth, environmental and global climate change, and the increasing gap between the rich and poor,” said Lederman. “It’s my wish that you — beneficiaries of the greatest education I know — can enjoy its benefits and help make the world a better place.” Other distinguished speakers at The City University of New York’s 2010 commencement ceremonies included U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor, who told Hostos Community College graduates of her mother’s struggle as a single parent and return to school, at 47, for a nursing degree. “Hostos opened the doors to my mother’s dreams and it opened the path to where I am today,” said Justice Sotomayor.
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Little Bubble, Big Bang

June 11, 2010 | City College, CUNY Lecture Series

Think bubbles that form new bubbles, inflating, creating a flat, uniform multiverse — an infinite bubble bath. In Allan Guth’s theory of the universe, multi-universes exist, each created in a quantum event — the bang of the Big Bang theory — a rapid, turbocharged inflation that flattens the universe only to bubble again and create a new one. What triggered the inflationary cosmos? Therein lies uncertainly, but Professor Guth reports that “once inflation starts, it never stops.” A theoretical physicist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and author of “The Inflationary Universe,” (1997), Guth presented “Inflationary Cosmology: Is our Universe Part of a Multiverse? “, the keynote lecture of a symposium hosted by The City College of New York. He is introduced by Michio Kaku, CCNY’s Henry Semat professor in theoretical physics.
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Down Side of Globalization

May 11, 2010 | City College, CUNY Lecture Series

Two decades ago, the goal of globalization — making goods cheaper and more available — seemed like an ideal way to level the economic playing field, but according to Jon Jeter, author of “Flat Broke in the Free Market: How Globalization Fleeced Working People,” its deregulation and privatization policies have resulted in today’s high unemployment and led to an all out-war on the working class. “The first step in improving our circumstances is to come to terms with the social and political construction of our discontent, known in the U.S. as the global financial system,” said Jeter, a former South Africa bureau chief for the Washington Post, who spoke at a Book Talk sponsored by CCNY’s Center for Worker Education. “The free market has, virtually, enslaved us.”
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Cuomo Says Go Green

April 30, 2010 | City College, CUNY Lecture Series

To fix the economy, says former Gov. Mario Cuomo, we must focus on manufacturing, which “made us economically strong in the first place.” Delivering the Samuel Rudin Distinguished Visiting Scholar Lecture at City College, Cuomo said, “The nation needs to invest in technology, with a distinct green emphasis that will include making and selling turbines for wind farms, solar panels, clean coal, and, yes, nuclear power plants.” New York’s longest-serving Democratic governor added that despite providing “extraordinary assistance to banks, major industries, citizens out of work,” the Obama administration’s response to the downturn “has not been enough.” The president, Cuomo said, “needs to create an economic stimulus, but, at the same time, not create a deficit so great that it cheapens our dollar unduly and convinces the Chinese to cut their badly needed lending to us.” Listen Now >>

Wild Adventure

April 27, 2010 | City College, CUNY Lecture Series

A dip in a tank full of hungry piranhas or communing with a pack of wild African dogs is like a day at the office for nature writer Richard Conniff. The frequent contributor to Smithsonian and National Geographic, Conniff shares his outrageous vignettes from his latest book, “Swimming with Piranhas at Feeding Time: My Life of Doing Stuff with Animals,” at a Book Talk sponsored by City College’s Center for Worker Education. In one story he described his fascination with how cheetah cubs were able to devour an antelope killed for them by their mother. “Their mouths were blood red,” said Conniff, explaining why the cubs were in such a rush to finish their meal. “Vultures had began to edge closer like waiters wanting to clean up after a banquet so they can go home.”
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