Wonder on the Web

Issue 50: Links to amazing stuff.

The Friendship That Built a Forest

These lifelong friends have both encountered severe physical disabilities: Jia Haixia lost his eyesight in 2000; Jia Wenqi lost his arms as a child. But together, they’ve made it their mission to care for their community in an extraordinary way. Since 2002, they’ve planted more than 10,000 trees around the Yeli village, turning what was once a wasteland of cobblestones and sand into a verdant forest. While their labor is most certainly difficult—financially as well as physically—they take great joy in their work. “We’re so delighted spiritually,” they explain.

The Ancient Art of Keeping Birds at Bay

In a Behemoth article last year, Mike Cosper wrote about how some airports have employed trained falcons to scare off birds. “Birds adapt to many of our attempts to frighten them off, but they never adapt to the sight of a natural predator,” he wrote. Now CNN’s Great Big Story is taking a look at Falcon Environmental Services and how it uses falconry techniques that have been around since 3,000 BC to keep planes safe. Company president Mark Adam sure seems to love his job, saying it gives him a chance “to see something that happens every day in the wild…up close, every day.”

Face Toward the Future

This clip showcases a powerful duet between renowned ballerina Alessandra Ferri, 52, and a hologram of her 19-year-old self—the age she danced her first principal role with the Royal Ballet. “With careful editing and timing, there’s warmth and a sense of tenderness between the older woman and her younger self,” writes Sarah Kaufman for The Washington Post. Yes, it’s an ad. But it’s a gorgeous one that caused us to pause and ponder. In an interview from this behind-the-scenes footage, Ferri shares that what made her want to participate in this project was “the possibility to share with every woman, particularly of my age, the enthusiasm for life and for the present moment.” Bravissimo!

The Loves and Lives of Fireflies

Our lead story and poem this issue both look at fireflies, and we’re not done yet. Neither, thankfully, is biologist Sara Lewis, who has been entranced by the bugs for the past 20 years. We wanted to draw special attention to her wonder-full new book, Silent Sparks, which is a field guide, a natural history, and a personal meditation. For a preview, check out her TED talk on “how magically fireflies can transform our everyday landscape into something ethereal and otherworldly.”

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Also in this Issue

Issue 50 / June 9, 2016
  1. Editor's Note from June 09, 2016

    Issue 50: Lightning bugs, beating hearts, and golden spirals. /

  2. The Most Spectacular Firefly

    We’re drawn to animals that shine their own light. For one, it’s a group effort. /

  3. Mysteries of a Beating Heart

    We don’t really know how a heartbeat sparks to life. /

  4. The Eagle, the Shell, and the Sunflower

    The Golden Spiral appears all over nature. /

  5. Bright Angels

    “When I was growing up, / they were lightning bugs.” /

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