Sunday, July 30, 2023

Zooming across time and space simultaneously with superresolution to understand how cells divide

This image of actin filaments in a cell was taken using a type of superresolution microscopy. Xiaowei Zhuang, HHMI, Harvard University, and Nature Publishing Group/NIH via Flickr, CC BY-NC-SA
Somin Lee, University of Michigan

Cell division, or the process of how daughter cells emerge from a mother cell, is fundamental to biology. Every cell inherits the same protein and DNA building blocks that make up the cell it originally came from. Yet exactly how these molecular building blocks arrange themselves into new cells has remained a mystery.

Studying cell division requires simultaneously viewing nanometer-scale macromolecules like proteins and DNA all the way up to millimeter-scale populations of cells, and over a time frame that ranges from seconds to weeks. Previous microscopes have been able to capture tiny objects only in short time frames, typically just tens of seconds. There hasn’t been a method that can examine a wide range of size and time scales all at once.

My team and I at the University of Michigan’s Bioplasmonics Group developed a new kind of superresolution imaging that reveals previously unknown features of how cells divide.

Illustration depiecting superresolution over time as an hourglass, where the bottom shows a protein and the top a dividing cell going from unresolved to resolved
This hourglass depicts the process of superresolution over time, where the bottom shows a protein and the top a dividing cell going from unresolved, at left, to resolved, at right. Somin Lee, CC BY-ND

Advancing superresolution imaging

It wasn’t possible to view cells at the molecular level until recently with the 2014 Nobel Prize-winning development of superresolution.

Traditional light microscopes blur very small objects that are close together in a sample, because light spreads out as it moves through space. With superresolution, fluorescent probes attached to the sample could be switched on and off like twinkling stars on a clear night. By collecting and combining many images of these probes, a superresolution image can bring very small objects into view. Superresolution opened a whole new world in biology, revealing structures as small as 10 nanometers, which is about the size of a protein molecule.

However, the fluorescent probes that this technique relies on can quickly wear out. This limits its use in studying processes that take place over extended periods, such as cell division.

Two blue blobs, one at the bottom left and one at the top right, are separated by pink and blue specks on a black background.
This PINE microscopy image shows cells dividing, their nuclei stained blue. Somin Lee/Nature Communications, CC BY

My research team and I have a developed a solution we call PINE nanoscopy. Instead of absorbing light as traditional fluorescent probes do, the probes we use scatter the light so they do not break down with repeated light exposure.

To resolve very small objects that are close together, we built filters made of thin layers of polymers and liquid crystals that allow for detection of scattered light, which triggers the probes to switch on and off. This allowed us to see nanometer-scale details of cells that would otherwise be blurred by traditional microscopes.

Remarkably, we found that these nanometer-scale details could be viewed for very long periods – over 250 hours. These details would typically be lost over time with traditional superresolution methods.

Shedding new light on cell division

We then applied our method to study how molecular building blocks organize in cell division.

We focused on a protein called actin that helps maintain cell structure, among many other functions. Actin is shaped like branching filaments, each about 7 nanometers (millionths of a millimeter) in diameter, that link together to span thousands of nanometers. Using PINE nanoscopy, we attached scattering probes to actin to visually follow human cells as they divided.

We made three observations on how actin building blocks organize during cell division. First, these molecular building blocks expand to increase their connections to their neighbors. Second, they also draw closer to their neighbors to increase their points of contact. And third, the resulting networks tend to contract when the actin molecules are more connected to one another and expand when they are less connected to one another.

Based on these findings, we were able to discover new information about the process of cell division. We found that interactions between actin building blocks sync up with the contraction and expansion of the whole cell during division. In other words, the behavior of the actin molecules is connected to the behavior of the cell: The cell contracts when the actin expands, and it expands when the actin contracts.

Superresolution microscopy won the 2014 Nobel Prize in chemistry.

Uncovering disease with superresolution

We plan to use our method to study how other molecular building blocks organize into tissues and organs. Like cells, tissues and organs are organized in a hierarchy that can be examined from a scale of small to large. Examining the dynamic and complex process of how protein building blocks interact with one another to form larger structures could advance the future creation of new replacement tissues and organs, such as skin grafts.

We also plan to use our imaging technique to study how protein building blocks become disorganized in disease. Proteins organize into cells, cells organize into tissues and tissues organize into organs. A very small change in building blocks can disturb this organization, with effects that can lead to diseases like cancer. Our technique could potentially help researchers visualize and, in turn, better understand how molecular defects in tissues and organs may develop into disease.

Somin Lee, Assistant Professor of Electrical & Computer Engineering, Biomedical Engineering, University of Michigan

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license.

6 Small, Kind Gestures to Make a Big Impact Each Day

Everywhere you look, you can see moments of kindness. From a friend sending a thoughtful text message to a stranger holding the bus for someone running late or a person paying for someone else’s coffee, acts of kindness happen every day. While these moments can have a monumental impact on the person on the receiving end, they often go unrecognized.

In fact, a study published in the “Journal of Experimental Psychology” found that performing acts of kindness improves individual well-being and leads to more positive moods. At the same time, many people underestimate the impact their kindness may have on themselves and others.

To help foster positive connection among friends, family and communities, which the U.S. Surgeon General’s advisory revealed can help reduce the risk of serious health conditions, people should consider ways to weave moments of kindness into their daily lives.

Here are a few simple ways to show kindness:

Hold the Door for Strangers
It may seem small, but holding the door for someone who is entering or exiting a building after you is a brief way to offer a helping hand and set off a contagious string of goodwill.

Send a Thoughtful Surprise
Sending someone a favorite treat, book or even a photo memory can provide a positive boost to not only the recipient but the sender as well. To take this gesture one step further, have a gift delivered to a person you don’t know but may be in need of a thoughtful gesture – such as a basket to a soldier overseas or senior citizens in local nursing homes or assisted living facilities.

Celebrate and Share Kindness Online
So much of the world is connected via social media. To build positive connections online, seek out digital spaces or services that emphasize and inspire kindness, such as the Starbucks Kindness Mobile AR experience. By combining the real world with augmented reality, the experience invites people to explore and share acts of kindness through notes inspired by real stories of kindness, photos, videos and Kindness Cards that can be shared on social media or by text message.

Look for Volunteer Opportunities
Volunteering time to local organizations, such as nursing homes, homeless shelters or food pantries, is an engaging and personal way to help those in your community.

Be Kind to Your Mind
By practicing gratitude, compassion and kindness toward yourself, you can spark moments of kindness that are more genuine and intentional with others. Meditation practice, such as the free, guided collection from Starbucks and Headspace, invites calm and kindness, opening the door to cultivate a more considerate relationship with mind, body and world.

“Experiencing kindness in the world begins with cultivating kindness toward ourselves,” said Dora Kamau, mindfulness and meditation teacher at Headspace. “This week, try being kind to your mind and notice how this has a ripple effect on others and the world around you.”

Offer Words of Encouragement and Gratitude
Whether it be via a text, note or conversation in-person, words are a direct way to show kindness and help individuals feel seen, appreciated and respected. Depending on what the situation requires, providing a compliment or saying, “thank you,” can make a significant impact on someone’s day.

For more ideas to share a little kindness, visit


Send Kids Back to School with Soft, Delicious Sandwiches

Back-to-school season brings change to routines and often makes each day slightly more hectic, especially for families with little ones. This year, despite the hustle and bustle, you can make quick and easy lunches for your kids (and yourself) that are both simple and better for you. These sandwich suggestions can brighten busy school days with a taste of home.

Brighten your children’s day with a fun, colorful Caterpillar Sandwich inspired by the experts at Nature’s Own. This tasty snack calls for ham, lettuce, cheese, tomato, cucumber and fresh, soft, fluffy bread before using a cookie cutter to cut out sandwich rounds and shape them into a creepy-crawly (yet delicious) “caterpillar.”

For an even simpler lunch you can enjoy at home, grab to go or send off with your little one to savor in the cafeteria, this Fluffernutter Sandwich calls for just three simple ingredients. Spread peanut butter and marshmallow fluff on two slices of bread then enjoy for a flavorful break from the office or classroom.

Both lunchtime favorites are made using Nature’s Own Butterbread, baked with a simple buttery flavor to take sandwiches to new heights. Plus, it’s made with no artificial preservatives, colors or flavors; no high fructose corn syrup; and 0 grams of trans fat.

Find more inventive sandwich ideas at

Caterpillar Sandwich

Total time: 25 minutes
Servings: 6

  • 4 Nature's Own Butterbread slices
  • 4 ham slices
  • 2 lettuce leaves
  • 4 American cheese slices
  • 1 cherry tomato
  • 1 green onion
  • 2 Roma tomato slices
  • 6 cucumber slices
  • toothpicks
  • mayonnaise or cream cheese
  1. Using bread, ham, lettuce and cheese, make two ham and cheese sandwiches and two lettuce and cheese sandwiches.
  2. Cut cherry tomato in half. Cut green onion into circles.
  3. Using small biscuit or cookie cutter, punch out two rounds from each sandwich.
  4. Arrange sandwich rounds on sides, alternating slice of cucumber and tomato between each. Use toothpick to secure.
  5. Place halved cherry tomato on each end.
  6. Using small amount of mayonnaise or cream cheese, "glue" green onion rounds to cherry tomato for eyes.

Fluffernutter Sandwich

Total time: 10 minutes
Servings: 1

  • 2 tablespoons peanut butter
  • 2 Nature's Own Butterbread slices
  • 2 tablespoons marshmallow fluff
  1. Spread peanut butter on one bread slice. Spread marshmallow fluff on second slice.
  2. Put two bread slices together to form sandwich.


Nature’s Own

A sculptor of wind explains how to make fiber dance far above city streets

In 2018, Echelman’s sculpture ‘Earthtime 1.78 Madrid’ premiered in the Spanish capital. GettyImages
Janet Echelman, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)

Janet Echelman says she never set out to be a sculptor of wind. But if you have ever explored Porto, Portugal, walked the streets of Gwanggyo, South Korea, or passed through West Hollywood, you might have seen her massive iridescent sculptures of fiber floating above cities and the millions of people in them. Working closely with engineers, Echelman has spent the past 26 years of her career producing sculptures that rival the size of skyscrapers.

In March, Echelman spoke at the 2023 Imagine Solutions Conference in Naples, Florida, about her journey to becoming a sculptor, her creative process and how her sculptures have forever changed the landscapes of the cities where they ripple, dance and billow in the wind.

Janet Echelman speaks at the 2023 Imagine Solutions Conference.

What inspired you to create this type of art?

I began my career as a painter. In 1997, I traveled to India as a Fulbright scholar and planned to give exhibitions around the country. I had my paints and brushes shipped to India from the U.S., but they never arrived. As the deadline for the show loomed, I had to come up with something fast. In Mahabalipuram, the Indian fishing village where I was staying, I would watch the fishermen work and reel in their mounds of netting on the beach at the end of each day. One day, it occurred to me that those nets would make excellent material for sculptures. By the end of my Fulbright year, I had created an entire series of these netted sculptures with the fishermen, called the Bellbottom Series, named after the popular bell-bottom pants.

I’ve been working to develop and refine this visual language ever since. It’s an ever-evolving challenge to go from making handmade nets on the beach with fishermen in India to creating works the scale of one or two city blocks attached to skyscrapers.

How do you approach the engineering side of your art? How are these pieces constructed, especially given their large scale?

Every piece is planned out digitally first. The first sketches are very simple – it’s just me with a pencil.

But the final design in our studio is a complete digital color 3D model. We can see how the sculpture sits in space and how it attaches to everything around it. We’re able to move around the three-dimensional site to see the work from all sides.

My team and I have engaged in a decade of development of original computer software to do soft-body modeling of our sculptures, which allows us to design our 3D netted forms while understanding the constraints of our craft, showing response to the forces of gravity and wind.

Every element – every line of twine, and every knot – is modeled in terms of its thickness, stiffness, weight and density. So it’s actually quite an endeavor to analyze such unusual structures that are both porous and fluidly moving. This is not the standard – building departments typically analyze solid buildings made of things they know, like steel and concrete – so this is really pushing everyone to work in new ways.

In terms of the physical construction, my sculptures appear delicate yet are incredibly strong. They have to be able to withstand winds of a Category 5 hurricane. We achieve that by using highly engineered materials, including a fiber that NASA used for the Mars Rover called ultrahigh-molecular-weight polyethylene, which is custom-braided into structural ropes. We use a variety of other fibers to create the braided twine for the soft layers of each sculpture.

The ropes are then all hand-spliced together with methods that have been used for hundreds of years to construct boats in the maritime industry. These are old human technologies passed down from generation to generation.

Once we have these knotted net panels, we incorporate different colors to create patterns within the work. These panels are then attached to rope structures and usually lifted into space using cranes. My team pulls them into tension so that they can withstand immense forces of nature.

What was the hardest sculpture to create from a technical standpoint, and why?

My commission for the St. Petersburg pier in Florida titled “Bending Arc” was challenging, because it needed to withstand a Category 5 hurricane – and yet we did it. There’s footage of it during Hurricane Ian, and it was just dancing beautifully.

Hurricane testing starts in the design stages. Our detailed digital models are tested and analyzed for their capacity to withstand certain forces of wind, which, for public safety reasons, is required in order to obtain a building permit. My sculptures have to satisfy the same requirements as a skyscraper, and they can withstand the same forces as any major building.

What are you currently working on that you’re excited about?

I am excited to continue to explore the relationship between dance and art. In 2014, I collaborated with the Stuttgart Ballet in Germany to create sculptures that dancers could interact with in their performances.

Since then I have worked with a choreographer and engineer at Princeton University to create a sculpture that the dancers actually enter into and interact with. Their movements cause the sculpture to move and appear as if it were a dancer itself at a larger scale. I see it as an exploration of our planet and its climate. It illustrates how the Earth and human beings are always mutually influencing one another – and yet we are not equals.

What do you hope your art evokes in people?

It’s important to me that each person can create their own meaning from art. They are the expert in their own experience.

If my work offers a moment of contemplation and allows you to feel a sense of calm and your own interconnection with the wind, sun, people and city, then that’s all I could hope for. I like how complete strangers often start talking to each other underneath the sculptures. Our cities are made up of straight lines and hard edges and my sculptures offer something completely different – they are soft and adaptable, yet they’re the same scale as skyscrapers.

If my art prompts people to contemplate that the world can be built in a completely different way than it always has been, if it opens up questions, then that is the most an artist could ever hope to do.

Janet Echelman, Mellon Distinguished Visiting Artist, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. 

Friday, July 28, 2023

Deaf rappers who lay down rhymes in sign languages are changing what it means for music to be heard

Rapper Beautiful The Artist performs in the music video for the dip hop song ‘DEAFinitely Lit.’ Beautiful The Artist/YouTube
Katelyn Best, West Virginia University

In April 2023, DJ Supalee hosted Supafest Reunion 2023 to celebrate entertainers and promoters within the U.S. Deaf community.

The event included performances by R&B artist and rapper Sho’Roc, female rapper Beautiful The Artist, the group Sunshine 2.0, DJs Key-Yo and Hear No Evil, as well as ASL performer and former rapper Polar Bear, who now goes by Red Menace.

Many of these artists, activists and entrepreneurs have contributed to an ever-growing hip-hop scene within the Deaf community, which includes a subgenre of rap known as dip hop.

As hip-hop reaches its 50th anniversary, five decades of its cultural impact reverberates in mainstream and underground settings. What originated in the Bronx can now be found all over the world, taking on new forms as it has evolved in a diversity of spaces and places, from trap music and horrorcore to spaza, a subgenre that emerged in Cape Town, South Africa.

Dip hop is one of many styles of rap that have developed over the years. But it stands apart from other subgenres of hip-hop because rappers lay down rhymes in sign languages and craft music informed by their cultural experiences within the Deaf community.

The birth of a musical movement

As an ethnomusicologist, I’ve followed the development of dip hop since 2011, documenting how rappers have pioneered this art form while introducing outsiders, like myself, to Deaf culture.

In 2005, the rapper Warren “Wawa” Snipe came up with the term “DIP HOP” in ASL and English to classify a developing style of rap music within the Deaf community.

While artists of this style identify their music in different ways – some use labels like “deaf rap,” “deaf hip-hop” and “sign rap” – the designation “dip hop” goes beyond adding a qualifier to the broader musical genre of rap. Instead, it signals an independent style grounded in both hip-hop and Deaf culture. Like bounce, trap and drill, the label “dip hop” makes a greater distinction from being a variation of rap to a style that is heavily situated within Deaf culture and determined by Deaf aesthetics.

‘Feel The Beat’ by Signkid (ft. Mr. Off Key).

In many ways, dip hop has followed a trajectory not unlike hip-hop.

In the late 1990s and early 2000s, Deaf DJs and entertainment entrepreneurs organized DIY parties, nightlife events and social gatherings. These venues provided opportunities for rappers, DJs, dancers and other artists to begin to develop and explore their own style of hip-hop and connect with other rappers and DJs.

Cities with Deaf schools served as cultural hubs for musical networking. Gallaudet University in Washington, D.C. and the National Technical Institute for the Deaf in Rochester, New York, have acted as significant sites of production within the U.S. by connecting deaf and hard of hearing students from all over the world.

Additionally, greater access to recording technology, video streaming sites and social media have given Deaf artists tools to create music and connect with other artists and fans.

The many forms of dip hop

While the incorporation of sign language is a fundamental element of dip hop – and remains at the forefront of defining this style – dip hop extends far beyond crafting original rap songs in sign language.

It involves musical expression that’s shaped through a Deaf cultural lens – songs that reorient mainstream notions of what can be considered music. At the same time, every artist has their own rapping style, with dip hop performances taking on a range of different forms and structures.

For example, some dip hop artists work with both oral and manual languages to make their music accessible to hearing people. There are those who perform in both languages simultaneously, and others who prerecord their vocal track, which plays in the background as they rap in sign language.

Some artists collaborate with interpreters. In “Vergiss mich nicht,” artist Deaf Kat Night raps in German sign language, while the lyrics are interpreted orally in German.

Then there are those who collaborate with hearing or deaf DJs. “Breaking Barrels,” featuring DefStar, is just one of the many collaborations between Wawa and DJ Nicar.

Performances can also involve musical instruments. Sean Forbes, for example, performs with a live band while also rapping in ASL and English, an approach seen in his music video “Calm Like a Bomb.”

Alternatively, there are rappers who create music for Deaf audiences and solely rap in sign languages. These songs, however, may still have auditory components, which often consist of artists composing their own beats or raising the volume of previously recorded songs to rap over.

Dip hop, like many styles of music, comes to life through live performance. Artists move across the stage with their hands flying through the air as audiences pulse to the rhythm of the blasting bass beat.

A performance by dip hop artists Wawa and Polar Bear at Gallaudet University’s 2015 DSP Bash.

Some artists further immerse their audiences in the musical experience by using specialized instruments and equipment such as subwoofers, objects that can conduct vibrations like balloons, or new forms of haptic technology, which refers to wearables, such as vests, that channel sound vibrations.

Some artists also incorporate visuals into their performances through the use of video screens and sound-activated lights.

Breaking into the mainstream

Dip hop artists have struggled to be acknowledged as musicians in their own right – to have their artistry be the focus of attention, rather than the fact that they’re deaf or hard of hearing.

That’s starting to change.

In 2009, Finnish rapper Marko “Signmark” Vuoriheimo signed a record deal with Warner Music Finland and released “Smells Like Victory” and “Speakerbox” that same year.

This marked the first time in history a Deaf artist was signed to a major record label. The following year, Detroit-based rapper and National Technical Institute for the Deaf alumnus Sean Forbes signed a contract with WEB Entertainment and released the single “I’m Deaf,” attracting mainstream attention to this style of rap.

Man wearing sunglasses and a shirt that reads 'deaf and loud' holds his hands up to his ears.
Sean Forbes poses during the 2014 National Association for the Deaf Breakthrough Awards Gala. Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

And through the support of the Deaf community, hearing allies and fans, Forbes’ EP “Little Victories” reached No. 1 in the hip-hop category on iTunes and made it to the top 200 Billboard chart in 2020.

The following year, Wawa’s single “LOUD” was a top 20 dance track on iTunes. In 2022, Forbes and Wawa made history again as the first ASL performers at a Super Bowl halftime show.

In “Sign of the Times,” Wawa raps:

  Sup beautiful people
  I’m the Godpop of dip hop
  Deaf eyes through hip hop
  With signs for your eyes 
  Blow your mind and it won’t stop. 

As dip hop evolves, it continues to push the boundaries of convention. In the spirit of hip-hop, dip hop rebels both musically and socially against cultural norms, breaking the mold and expanding possibilities for musical artistry.

Through their performances, dip hop artists not only subvert preconceived notions of music but also of Deaf culture and deafness, changing what it means for music to be heard.

Katelyn Best, Teaching Assistant Professor of Musicology, West Virginia University

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. 

UPS and Teamsters agree on new contract, averting costly strike that could have delayed deliveries for consumers and retailers

Teamsters employed by UPS practiced holding rallies ahead of the strike that wasn’t. AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes
Jason Miller, Michigan State University

The International Brotherhood of Teamsters union and UPS have agreed on a new five-year contract that boosts wages and guarantees more air conditioning in drivers’ trucks. The tentative deal, struck on July 25, 2023, came one week before an Aug. 1 deadline that the Teamsters had set for threatened strike – which would have been the first by UPS workers since 1997.

The Conversation asked Jason Miller, a supply chain scholar at Michigan State University, to explain what happened and to sum up the significance of this deal, which is slated to keep 300,000 workers on the job.

A uniformed employee sits in the driver's seat of a truck with UPS written on the side.
Millions of Americans depend on UPS drivers to deliver their packages. AP Photo/Michael Dwyer

What’s in this contract?

UPS has agreed to:

  1. Increase starting hourly pay for part-time workers to US$21, up from $16.20;

  2. Raise the hourly pay of existing part- and full-time workers by $2.75 in 2023 and $7.50 more over the next five years;

  3. Make Martin Luther King Jr. Day, the third Monday of January, a paid holiday;

  4. Stop requiring UPS employees to work overtime hours on their days off;

  5. Add fans and install air conditioning in many trucks to improve cooling;

  6. Create another 7,500 full-time Teamster jobs and fill 22,500 open positions;

Teamsters General President Sean O'Brien hailed the agreement as a victory. “This contract sets a new standard in the labor movement and raises the bar for all workers,” he said.

What does this deal say about the supply chain and labor?

This deal further reinforces the strong bargaining position of unions representing workers in the logistics sector – not just in the U.S. but also in Canada, Europe and elsewhere.

U.S. shipping could still be disrupted amid one of the tightest labor markets in decades, since UPS rival FedEx recently had its 5,200 pilots reject a new labor agreement.

That said, TForce Freight – formerly UPS Freight – reached its own new five-year contract with the Teamsters earlier in July, as did competitor ABF Freight. Unionized pilots at Delta Airlines and American Airlines also recently agreed to new contracts with large raises – a 34% boost, in Delta’s case.

My view is that UPS was more willing to accept the Teamsters’ demands because current economic conditions favor labor. In addition, the company realized that a strike could have cost it substantial market share, up to 30% of volume by one estimate. Combined with the company’s recent high profits, it was not in UPS management’s interest to let a strike proceed.

What would have happened had there been a strike?

Roughly 57.3% of the packages UPS delivers are shipped straight to consumers. The rest go to retailers and other businesses.

Based on my years of researching transportation operations and supply chain disruptions, the impact of a UPS strike would have stretched far beyond delayed delivery of everything from pet food to tennis rackets that U.S. consumers buy online.

A UPS strike could have disrupted the availability of spare parts for cars and wholesale medical supplies, just to name a few essentials. Consumers would also have found it harder to get clothing and shoes in stores, as retail locations are typically replenished by parcel carriers.

Even a 10-day strike could have cost the U.S. economy an estimated $7.1 billion, according to research firm Anderson Economic Group. That would have made it potentially the costliest strike in U.S. history. These costs stem from the 340,000 striking workers losing an estimated $1.1 billion in wages and UPS losing $816 million in earnings. The balance of this estimate would result from the disruptions incurred by UPS customers.

What’s next?

The tentative agreement now must be ratified by Teamsters employed by UPS. Voting is expected to conclude on Aug. 22. My expectation is that the union’s rank-and-file members will approve this contract.

Portions of this article appeared in a prior article published on July 20, 2023.

Jason Miller, Associate Professor of Supply Chain Management, Michigan State University

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license.

Bus Safety Tips for Back-to-School Season

Another school year means millions of children across the United States will begin and end each day with a bus ride. The way many kids ride to school today, however, is the same as it was 25 years ago – in diesel school buses, which have been shown to be harmful to children’s health, the community and the climate.

Investments are being made to clean up the nation’s school bus fleet, like the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Clean School Bus Program, which will provide $5 billion over five years to help replace existing buses with low- and zero-emission models. One alternative energy source, propane, is an environmentally friendly and affordable option that can be implemented today to provide a better tomorrow for more students. The low-carbon emissions energy source is abundantly available and can work in tandem with other energy sources, including electric, to move the nation’s school bus fleet further down the path to zero emissions and ensure every child has a safe, clean, healthy ride to school.

In addition to speaking to your children’s school district officials about alternative school bus solutions, there are lessons parents can teach their children about how to remain safe before, during and after their daily trips on school buses. Consider these tips from the experts at the National Association of Pupil Transportation.

Before the Bus Arrives

  • Ensure backpacks are packed securely so papers and other items don’t scatter as the bus approaches.
  • Create a morning routine that puts kids at the bus stop five minutes before the scheduled pickup time. This helps avoid a last-minute rush, when safety lessons are easily forgotten, and ensures kids are safely in place for boarding.
  • Encourage children to wear bright, contrasting colors so they can be seen easier by drivers.
  • Instruct children to walk on the sidewalk. If there is no sidewalk, advise them to stay out of the street, walk single-file, face traffic and stay as close to the edge of the road as possible.
  • Walk young children to the bus stop or encourage kids to walk in groups. There is safety in numbers; groups are easier for drivers to see.
  • If kids must cross a street, driveway or alley, remind them to stop and look both ways before crossing.
  • Verify the bus stop location offers good visibility for the bus driver; if changes are needed, talk with nearby homeowners or school district officials to implement changes. Never let kids wait in a house or car, where the driver may miss seeing them approach the bus.
  • Remind children the bus stop is not a playground. Balls or other toys can roll into the street and horseplay could result in someone falling into the path of oncoming traffic.
  • Instruct children to stay at least three steps away from the road and allow the bus to come to a complete stop before approaching it.

On the Bus Ride

  • When boarding the bus, items can get bumped and dropped. Caution children that before picking anything up, they should talk to the driver and follow instructions to safely retrieve their possessions.
  • Teach safe riding habits: Stay seated with head, hands and feet inside at all times; keep bags and books out of the aisle and remain seated until the bus stops moving.
  • Instruct children to never throw things on the bus or out the windows and to never play with or block emergency exits.
  • Remind kids that loud noises are off limits so they don’t distract the driver. That includes cellphones and other electronic devices; instruct children to put them on mute or use headphones.

Leaving the Bus

  • Remind children to look before stepping off the bus. If they must cross the street, teach them to do so in front of the bus by taking five big steps (approximately 10 feet) away from the front of the bus, looking up and waiting for the driver to signal it’s safe.
  • For parents who meet their kids at the bus, eliminate the risk of your children darting across the street by waiting on the side of the street where they exit the bus.
  • Make the bus ride part of your daily “how was school?” discussion. Encourage kids to talk about the things they see and hear on the bus so you can discuss appropriate behaviors and, if necessary, report any concerns to school administrators.

Benefits of Propane Buses
Every day, 1.3 million children in the United States ride to school in 22,000 propane-powered school buses, which are currently in use by more than 1,000 school districts across 48 states. Alternative fuels, such as propane, offer multiple benefits for school districts and students alike because propane buses reduce harmful emissions, save money and provide a safer ride for students.

Student Health
Propane reduces harmful nitrogen oxide emissions by up to 94% compared to diesel and emits near-zero particulate matter emissions. Both emissions, which can be found in the cloud of smoke emitted from the tailpipes of diesel buses, are known triggers for asthma, bronchitis and other respiratory problems, according to the EPA.

Propane has a range of 400 miles and the performance needed to drive long distances without stopping to recharge or refuel.

Cost Savings
While propane and electric are both options for clean student transportation that also reduce the harm to air quality, the cost is not equal. On average, an electric school bus costs $375,000, meaning districts can purchase three propane-powered buses (which are only $6,000 more expensive than diesel buses) for the price of one electric bus. In fact, a study from the World LP Gas Association found the cost savings of getting rid of all diesel buses and replacing them with propane would save enough money to hire 23,000 teachers due to lower long-term fuel and maintenance costs.

Find more information and learn how to talk to school district officials about adopting clean school buses at

Propane Education & Research Council

4 factors driving 2023’s extreme heat and climate disasters

2023’s weather has been extreme in many ways. AP Photo/Michael Probst
Michael Wysession, Arts & Sciences at Washington University in St. Louis

Between the record-breaking global heat and extreme downpours, it’s hard to ignore that something unusual is going on with the weather in 2023.

People have been quick to blame climate change – and they’re right, to a point: Human-caused global warming does play the biggest role. A recent study determined that the weekslong heat wave in Texas and Mexico that started in June 2023 would have been virtually impossible without it.

However, the extremes this year are sharper than anthropogenic global warming alone would be expected to cause. Human activities that release greenhouse gas emissions into the atmosphere have been increasing temperatures gradually, at an average of 0.2 degrees Fahrenheit (0.1 Celsius) per decade.

Three additional natural factors are also helping drive up global temperatures and fuel disasters this year: El Niño, solar fluctuations and a massive underwater volcanic eruption.

Unfortunately, these factors are combining in a way that is exacerbating global warming. Still worse, we can expect unusually high temperatures to continue through at least 2025, which means even more extreme weather in the near future.

An illustrated chart showing global warming has a much greater influence on temperature
An illustration by the author shows the typical relative impact on temperature rise driven by human activities compared with natural forces. El Niño/La Niña and solar energy cycles fluctuate. The Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai volcano’s underwater eruption exacerbated global warming. Michael Wysession, Author provided

How El Niño is involved

El Niño is a climate phenomenon that occurs every few years when surface water in the tropical Pacific reverses direction and heats up. That warms the atmosphere above, which influences temperatures and weather patterns around the globe.

Essentially, the atmosphere borrows heat out of the Pacific, and global temperatures increase slightly. This happened in 2016, the time of the last strong El Niño. Global temperatures increased by about 0.25 F (0.14 C) on average, making 2016 the warmest year on record. A weak El Niño also occurred in 2019-2020, contributing to 2020 becoming the world’s second-warmest year.

El Niño’s opposite, La Niña, involves cooler-than-usual Pacific currents flowing westward, absorbing heat out of the atmosphere, which cools the globe. The world just came out of three straight years of La Niña, meaning we’re experiencing an even greater temperature swing.

Charts show the reversing of El Nino and La Nina ever 5-7 years or so and how each El Nino peak corresponds with higher temperatures.
Comparing global temperatures (top chart) with El Niño and La Niña events. NOAA Space Weather Prediction Center

Based on increasing Pacific sea surface temperatures in mid-2023, climate modeling now suggests a 90% chance that Earth is headed toward its first strong El Niño since 2016.

Combined with the steady human-induced warming, Earth may soon again be breaking its annual temperature records. June 2023 was the hottest in modern record. July saw global records for the hottest days and a large number of regional records, including an incomprehensible heat index of 152 F (67 C) in Iran.

Solar fluctuations

The Sun may seem to shine at a constant rate, but it is a seething, churning ball of plasma whose radiating energy changes over many different time scales.

The Sun is slowly heating up and in half a billion years will boil away Earth’s oceans. On human time scales, however, the Sun’s energy output varies only slightly, about 1 part in 1,000, over a repeating 11-year cycle. The peaks of this cycle are too small for us to notice at a daily level, but they affect Earth’s climate systems.

Rapid convection within our Sun both generates a strong magnetic field aligned with its spin axis and causes this field to fully flip and reverse every 11 years. This is what causes the 11-year cycle in emitted solar radiation.

A chart shows regular waves of increasing and decreasing sunspot activity. The current cycle is above what was forecast but not near previous highs.
Sunspot activity is considered a proxy for the Sun’s energy output. The last 11-year solar cycle was unusually weak. The current cycle isn’t yet at its maximum. NOAA Space Weather Prediction Center

Earth’s temperature increase during a solar maximum, compared with average solar output, is only about 0.09 F (0.05 C), roughly a third of a large El Niño. The opposite happens during a solar minimum. However, unlike the variable and unpredictable El Niño changes, the 11-year solar cycle is comparatively regular, consistent and predictable.

The last solar cycle hit its minimum in 2020, reducing the effect of the modest 2020 El Niño. The current solar cycle has already surpassed the peak of the relatively weak previous cycle (which was in 2014) and will peak in 2025, with the Sun’s energy output increasing until then.

A massive volcanic eruption

Volcanic eruptions can also significantly affect global climates. They usually do this by lowering global temperatures when erupted sulfate aerosols shield and block a portion of incoming sunlight – but not always.

In an unusual twist, the largest volcanic eruption of the 21st century so far, the 2022 eruption of Tonga’s Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai is having a warming and not cooling effect.

An animated GIF shows the eruption from under water sending a large cloud of water vapor into the sky.
The Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai volcano’s eruption was enormous, but underwater. It hurled large amounts of water vapor into the atmosphere. NASA Earth Observatory image by Joshua Stevens using GOES imagery courtesy of NOAA and NESDIS

The eruption released an unusually small amount of cooling sulfate aerosols but an enormous amount of water vapor. The molten magma exploded underwater, vaporizing a huge volume of ocean water that erupted like a geyser high into the atmosphere.

Water vapor is a powerful greenhouse gas, and the eruption may end up warming Earth’s surface by about 0.06 F (0.035 C), according to one estimate. Unlike the cooling sulfate aerosols, which are actually tiny droplets of sulfuric acid that fall out of the atmosphere within one to two years, water vapor is a gas that can stay in the atmosphere for many years. The warming impact of the Tonga volcano is expected to last for at least five years.

Underlying it all: Global warming

All of this comes on top of anthropogenic, or human-caused, global warming.

Humans have raised global average temperatures by about 2 F (1.1 C) since 1900 by releasing large volumes of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. For example, humans have increased the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere by 50%, primarily through combustion of fossil fuels in vehicles and power plants. The warming from greenhouse gases is actually greater than 2 F (1.1 C), but it has been masked by other human factors that have a cooling effect, such as air pollution.

If human impacts were the only factors, each successive year would set a new record as the hottest year ever, but that doesn’t happen. The year 2016 was the warmest so far, in large part because of the last large El Niño.

What does this mean for the future?

The next couple of years could be very rough.

If a strong El Niño develops over the next year, combined with the solar maximum and the effects of the Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai eruption, Earth’s temperatures would likely soar to uncharted highs. According to climate modeling, this would likely mean even more heat waves, forest fires, flash floods and other extreme weather events.

Both weather and climate forecasts have become very reliable in recent years, benefiting from vast amounts of data from Earth-orbiting satellites and enormous supercomputing power for forecasting the flow and interactions of heat and water among the complex components of the ocean, land and atmosphere.

Unfortunately, climate modeling shows that as temperatures continue to increase, weather events get more extreme.

There is now a greater than 50% chance that Earth’s global temperature will reach 2.7 F (1.5 C) by the year 2028, at least temporarily, increasing the risk of triggering climate tipping points with even greater human impacts. Because of the unfortunate timing of several parts of the climate system, it seems that the odds are not in our favor.

Michael Wysession, Professor of Earth, Environmental, and Planetary Sciences, Arts & Sciences at Washington University in St. Louis

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license.

Enjoy a Workday Reset

7 ways to break away from your desk and boost morale

When the sun is shining and comfortable weather is calling you outdoors, focusing on tasks at work can become a challenge. Workdays are often long and strenuous, making that blue sky and fresh air all the more tempting.

Don’t let a full to-do list bog you down. In fact, taking a break from your desk and averting your eyes from the computer may actually help you mentally reset and increase efficiency through the remainder of the day.

Consider these popular ways to disconnect for a short while so you can take on busy days without feeling overwhelmed.

  1. Stretch – After hours of sitting, stretching from head to toe can be a good way to get physically active if you’re short on time and stuck at your desk. Neck, shoulder, arm, back and leg stretches are all easy ways to stand up and disengage from the computer. Another trick: practice wrist exercises to avoid injury or strain from typing.
  2. Go for a Walk – If you have a few minutes to spare, leave the office or your desk at home entirely and head outside for a walk. A stroll through your neighborhood or the city sidewalks can provide the fresh air and physical activity your body craves.
  3. Take Five Outside – On hot days when a mid-workday walk might not be the right refresh, skip it and simply find a shady spot to sit down. You can enjoy the benefits of fresh air and sunlight without getting too hot.
  4. Rest Your Eyes – Follow the rule of 20s. If you’re working a computer job, eyestrain may be a serious concern. Give them a break by looking 20 feet away for 20 seconds every 20 minutes.
  5. Enjoy a Favorite Snack – Push that office chair away from the computer and treat yourself to a bite of something you enjoy. For example, Nestlé rallies nut butter bombs are a perfect cure for those back-to-back video calls, delivering a balance of permissibility and indulgence while helping you rally through your workday. Available in three craveable flavors – raspberry peanut butter, brownie almond butter and salted cashew butter – the chilled delights combine decadent chocolate and smooth nut butter for a rich burst of flavor with no preservatives, artificial flavors or artificial colors.
  6. Check in with Friends – Squeeze in a midday chat to catch up with a friend or coworker. Socializing is a feel-good way to take your mind off work even for just a few minutes.
  7. Sip an Afternoon Coffee – If caffeine gives you that much-needed jolt to finish out the workday, head to your favorite local shop for a refreshing iced beverage. Pair it with a chilled snack like Nestlé rallies nut butter bombs for a perfect sweet and savory afternoon pick-me-up.

Find more delicious ways to rally through the day by visiting

Nestle rallies

Fuel for Full Days of Learning

Between morning routines, days spent in the classroom, extracurriculars and homework, it may seem like there’s never enough time in the day during the school year. However, making time for tasty meals and snacks doesn’t have to be another burden on jam-packed schedules.

These quick recipes for a flavorful twist on a breakfast favorite, easy-to-make sliders featuring kid-friendly flavors and delightful treats to enjoy at the end of the day can help keep little learners (and older family members, too) fueled up and ready to tackle all the school year throws their way.

Find more recipes to get you through busy back-to-school season at

Simple, Kid-Friendly Sliders

For those busy school nights when time is at a premium and you need to get a meal on the table quickly, these simple yet savory Pepperoni Pizza Sliders can be a perfect solution. A modified take on a kid favorite – pizza – they’re easy to make after work and extracurricular activities to steal a few moments of family time enjoying the cheesy pepperoni goodness before completing homework and beginning preparations for a new day.

Pepperoni Pizza Sliders

Recipe adapted from

  • 1 package slider rolls
  • 1/2 cup pizza sauce
  • 1/2 cup mini pepperoni
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded, low-moisture, part-skim mozzarella cheese
  • 1/4 cup butter, melted
  • 1 teaspoon parsley flakes
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
  • nonstick cooking spray
  1. Heat oven to 350 F.
  2. Keeping rolls connected, cut sheet of rolls horizontally, separating tops from bottoms. Place bottom halves of rolls in baking dish.
  3. Spread pizza sauce evenly over bottom halves. Sprinkle pepperoni over sauce. Sprinkle mozzarella over pepperoni and cover with top halves of rolls.
  4. Mix melted butter with parsley flakes, dried oregano, garlic powder and shredded Parmesan cheese. Spoon evenly over sliders.
  5. Cover baking dish with aluminum foil sprayed with nonstick cooking spray to keep cheese from sticking.
  6. Bake 20 minutes.
  7. Remove foil and bake additional 5-10 minutes, or until Parmesan is melted and golden brown.
    Cut sliders and serve immediately.

A Fresh-Baked After-School Sweet

After a long day of learning or a tough homework assignment, many kids love a warm, chocolatey homemade cookie. Once your kiddos pack away the calculators and put their pencils down, serve up an ooey-gooey delight as a reward for all that hard work.

These Brown Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies are ready in just 30 minutes and made with high-quality ingredients you can count on like C&H Dark Brown Sugar for that familiar homemade flavor.

Find more sweet after-school desserts at

Brown Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 15 minutes
Yield: 18 cookies

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/4 cups C&H Dark Brown Sugar
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup chopped pecans, toasted
  • 1 1/2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
  1. In medium saucepan over medium heat, melt butter and cook until foaming and golden brown. Remove from heat and transfer to heatproof bowl. Place in refrigerator until solidified, about 45 minutes.
  2. In medium bowl, whisk flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Set aside.
  3. Once butter has solidified, remove from refrigerator. In bowl of electric stand mixer, using paddle attachment, beat butter and sugar at medium speed 2-3 minutes until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, and vanilla. Mix until combined. Scrape sides of bowl as needed. Reduce speed, add flour mixture and beat to combine. Add pecans and chocolate chips; mix at low speed until combined. Place dough in refrigerator and rest 30 minutes.
  4. Preheat oven to 350 F and line baking sheets with parchment paper.
  5. Using 2-ounce ice cream scoop, portion out dough on prepared baking sheets, spacing about 3 inches apart. Gently flatten dough balls using palm.
  6. Bake 13-15 minutes, or until golden brown. Allow cookies to cool on baking sheets 10 minutes then transfer to wire rack. Serve warm.

A Traditional Breakfast with a Twist

The same bowl of cereal can get boring after eating it for breakfast day in and day out. You may find yourself looking for something new and exciting to start school day mornings on the right foot.

Kids can be picky when it comes to breakfast foods, but this recipe for Sausage French Toast Roll-Ups is a quick and easy way to fill their bellies with a taste of several flavors they may already love. A sizzling sausage link wrapped with French toast, it combines a favorite breakfast protein and traditional deliciousness in one roll.

Sausage French Toast Roll-Ups

Servings: 12

  • 12 sausage links
  • 2 eggs
  • 2/3 cup milk
  • 3 teaspoons almond extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 6 bread slices, crust removed, cut in half
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • syrup
  1. In skillet, cook sausage links according to package directions. Set aside.
  2. In medium bowl, whisk eggs, milk, almond extract and cinnamon.
  3. Dip bread slice in egg mixture. Wrap bread slice around cooked sausage link, pressing seam to keep from unrolling. Repeat with remaining bread slices and sausage links.
  4. In large skillet over medium-high heat, melt butter. Place roll-ups in skillet, seam-sides down, and cook until all sides are browned, approximately 10 minutes.
  5. Drizzle with syrup.
C&H Sugar

65 years of NASA – an astrophysicist reflects on the agency’s legacy

NASA’s missions have inspired generations of young people to pursue the sciences. Patrick Semansky/AP
Stephen G. Alexander, Miami University

Sixty-five years ago, in 1958, several government programs that had been pursuing spaceflight combined to form NASA. At the time, I was only 3 years old.

I’ve now been a professor of physics and astronomy for nearly 30 years, and I realize that, like countless others who came of age in the 1960s and ‘70s, NASA’s missions have had a profound effect on my life and career path. From John Glenn’s first flight into orbit to the Hubble telescope, the agency’s legacy has inspired generations of scientists.

First flight into orbit

The date was Feb. 20, 1962. My first grade teacher, Ms. Ochs, told the class that we would be doing something different on that day. She went to the blackboard and wrote in large block letters “John Glenn” and “NASA.”

She asked if any of us knew what those words meant. None of us did, so she grabbed a globe, and using a pen with a plastic cap, she demonstrated that John Glenn, an astronaut, would soon be launched on a rocket – the pen – from Florida. When the rocket got high enough, Glenn in the Mercury capsule – the cap – would separate from the rocket and go into orbit around the Earth. She demonstrated this by moving the pen cap around the globe.

My class then sat and listened to the historic launch of Friendship 7 carrying Glenn, which was the first U.S. mission to send a man into orbit around the Earth.

A small, funnel-shaped spacecraft in orbit above Earth
During the Gemini mission, two spacecrafts attempted the first-ever space rendezvous. This image, taken in the Gemini 6 craft, shows the Gemini 7 craft just 43 feet away. NASA

There would be three more missions in the one-manned Mercury program, culminating in Gordon Cooper’s Faith 7 mission, which completed 22 Earth orbits. The program proved that NASA could put a manned spacecraft in orbit and bring it back safely to Earth. Next, NASA was ready to move on to a more maneuverable two-person spacecraft.

A two-person spacecraft

In 1965, NASA planned to launch the two-person Gemini spacecraft, and I moved on to the fifth grade where my teacher, Mrs. Wein, was also a space enthusiast. In December, NASA launched the joint missions of Gemini 6 and 7, and Mrs. Wein gave me permission to stay home from school to watch the TV coverage.

This was the first time that two piloted spacecraft performed what is called a rendezvous maneuver, where they meet up in orbit. Orbital maneuvers like this require very precise calculations and a spacecraft in which astronauts can make path changes in orbit – which is what the Gemini capsule was designed to do.

A diagram showing the Earth and the Moon as circles, with a space craft's path from Earth, to the moon, and back to Earth.
A lunar orbit rendezvous occurs when a smaller lunar lander breaks off a main spacecraft while in orbit to land on or circle the Moon before returning to the main craft. NASA, CC BY-ND

The Gemini 6A and 7 spacecrafts practiced a rendezvous maneuver in Earth’s orbit. At the time, I didn’t understand the importance of this mission, until Mrs. Wein directed me to the “S” volume of the World Book Encyclopedia. There, under “Spaceflight,” was a full-page diagram of the lunar orbit rendezvous plan that a NASA engineer, John Houbolt, had developed to get the astronauts to the Moon and back.

The central feature of the lunar orbit rendezvous was that two spacecraft, the Apollo Command Module and the Lunar Excursion Module, would rendezvous in orbit around the Moon using the same technique the Gemini 6 and 7 missions had demonstrated. The technology of this maneuver, used in Apollo missions, would later help land Neil Armstrong on the Moon.

On to the Moon

The Earth, partially covered by darkness, as visible from the moon
‘Earthrise,’ captured by the Apollo 8 mission, was the first look at Earth from afar. NASA

In December 1968, when I was in eighth grade, I watched the Apollo 8 mission orbit the Earth on TV. It was the first time that anyone, whether U.S. astronaut or Soviet cosmonaut, had left low Earth orbit. This mission gave us “Earthrise”, the first look at our home planet as seen from afar.

The Apollo 11 Moon landing happened in July 1969. I will never forget sitting in my living room as Armstrong stepped off the Lunar Excursion Module onto the lunar surface. With Armstrong’s steps, the aspirations of a lost president, thousands of NASA scientists and engineers and millions of public followers were fulfilled.

CBS News anchor Walter Cronkite captured the wonder of the moment when he slowly removed his glasses, rubbed his hands together and exclaimed, ‘boy.’

In December 1972, when I was a senior in high school, Gene Cernan became the last person to walk on the Moon during the Apollo 17 mission. Like many of us who witnessed the Apollo missions, I listened to Cernan’s final words from the Moon, where he challenged young people to continue what NASA had begun.

Inspired by Cernan’s words, I went on to earn degrees in aerospace engineering and worked on both the reentry of the Skylab Space Station and the early mission planning for the Magellan spacecraft that visited Venus.

At this point, I made a career change – I returned to school to study physics and ultimately ended up in theoretical astrophysics.

After Apollo

NASA has had a profound influence in the sciences. For one, the ability to guide unmanned robotic spacecraft anywhere in the solar system was a byproduct of the technologies necessary for the manned Apollo missions. Using this technology, NASA has sent probes to all of the planets – and some non-planets – in the solar system, revolutionizing scientists’ knowledge of our cosmic backyard.

Perhaps the most ambitious of these is the Mars Perseverance Rover, which looks for chemical evidence of past or present life on Mars. It also collects and leaves samples for a potential return mission sometime in the 2030s.

In terms of pure astronomy, NASA’s space-based observatories span the electromagnetic spectrum. The Hubble Space Telescope and its newly launched cousin, the James Webb Space Telescope, have allowed astronomers to get large telescopes above Earth’s optically hazy atmosphere. With these instruments, we can see almost to the beginning of time, since looking deeper into space also means looking back in time.

The James Webb Space Telescope is revolutionizing our view of the cosmos – there has not been an equal revolution in observational astronomy since Galileo first pointed a telescope at the heavens in 1609.

Two images showing a suite of galaxies with small boxes around faint red smudges.
Images from the James Webb Space Telescope showing early galaxies. NASA, ESA, CSA, Tommaso Treu (UCLA), CC BY-SA

Looking ahead

What will the future hold for NASA? It’s hard to say.

Recently, private enterprise has driven advances in both launch vehicles and satellite design, although NASA will likely continue to have a leading role, not only in the spaceflight but the scientific research as well.

I hope that today there are elementary teachers like Ms. Ochs and Mrs. Wein who will nurture the wonder and excitement of spaceflight in their students. But they won’t have to just listen on the radio. They can watch livestreams, like those of launches of SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy in 2018 and NASA’s Artemis I in November 2022.

NASA’s first 65 years have been an amazing record of accomplishments. When the students I teach today near my age, I wonder what amazing things – about which we can only dream – they will look back on.

Stephen G. Alexander, Associate Professor of Physics, Miami University

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license.