Thursday, July 23, 2009

ADK Music Scene: Swing, Rock and Roll, Irish, Classical

Early Friday afternoon at LPCA a performance will be given by the Lake Placid Sinfonietta at 2 pm. For a mere $5 it’s the only opportunity to see this wonderful group of classical musicians in the afternoon this season.

Friday in Westport from 6 to 10 pm the Geo-Electrics will be playing rock and roll and country swing – perfect for dancing. The musicians; Curt Stager, George Bailey, Kary Johnson and Kyle Murray have lots of fun playing together and are super talented. I personally can’t wait to hear them even though I have to be back in Saranac Lake early to back up Aiseiri. The Westport event is free and takes place at The Heritage House (6459 Main St.) since it is now the new home for The Arts Council and NCPR’s new Champlain Valley radio signal.

Also on Friday night in Saranac Lake at O’Reilly’s Pub below Morgan’s 11 on Broadway there will be live Irish music starting at 8 pm. Aiseiri will be playing a couple sets until 10 pm. Aiseiri has a rotating line-up, this time it’s just three; John Joe Reilly on uillean pipes, Shane O’Neil on bodhran and yours truly on rhythm guitar. These guys are the folks who put on the Annual Irish Festival held in Lake Placid on Labor Day weekend. Sometimes great musicians stop in late and continue the music into the wee hours. It’s a great place to have a pint and a listen.

On Saturday in Saranac Lake at The Waterhole, Los Blancos are back. I had a blast dancing to these guys during Winter Carnival. I know many people who will be going again because they too had such a good time back in February. The band even has a clip from that Carnival scene. Check it out and you might see your friends having a ball.

Every Sunday through August 16th at 7:30 pm, The Lake Placid Sinfonietta is at LPCA. They are also playing a number of venues on Wednesdays and the occasional Friday. A full calender is located on their home page.


Thursday, July 23, 2009

Huntington Lecture Series At The Newcomb VIC

Adirondack Park Agency Visitor Interpretive Center on Route 28N in Newcomb is hosting the Summer 2009 Huntington Lecture Series. Each lecture on Thursdays at 7:00 PM. Here is the remaining schedule:

July 23 – Wilderness Pioneer Bob Marshall’s Adventures in the Adirondacks
Phil Brown – Adirondack Explorer

July 30 – Where, How Fast and How Far do Adirondack Deer Move? Exciting New Insights from GPS Collars
Matthew Smith – Graduate Student, SUNY-ESF

August 6 – Coyotes, Deer, and the “Landscape of Fear”
Dr. Jacqueline Frair – SUNY-ESF Faculty and Robin Holevinski – SUNY ESF Graduate Student

August 13 – Minerals of the Adirondack Highlands
Michael Hawkins – New York State Museum

August 20 – Vernal Pools: Teeming with Life and Mystery
Mary Beth Kolozsvary – Biodiversity Research Institute at NYS Museum


Wednesday, July 22, 2009

North Creek Depot Museum Lectures, Events

One of the great gems of the Adirondack region is the North Creek Railroad Station at North Creek in the Town of Johnsburg, Warren County. Listed on the State and National Historic Registers the railroad line hugs the western shore of the Hudson River and includes the restored station, freight, and engine houses currently occupied by the Upper Hudson River Railroad, a sand tower, and a ninety foot turntable.

Throughout the summer they offer an unique series of lectures called “Platform Talks” about the history of the area and its relationship to the railroad. There are an number of other events as well:

July 23 Platform Talk, “Sleeping in the Cellar.” Bert Miner recounts his younger days of hosting skiers.

July 30 Platform Talk, “The Adirondack Peddler.” Milda Burns and Ray Flanigan amuse with tales of the Adirondack peddler.

August 13 Platform Talk “Getting Started in Model Railroading.” Bill Bibby educates us on scenery, scale, and material sources for building your own model train.

August 14 The Depot Museum Hoe Down! Fun-raiser event of dinner and square dancing. Ticket information to be announced.

August 15 10-12pm Spring Chidlren’s Workshop – Allie Rose leads a hands-on demonstration about wind energy and participants will build a wind turbine model. This workshop is free and open to children age 7 and older. Adults are encouraged to attend with their children.

August 20 Platform Talk, “Stories from the field.” Steve Engelhart of Adirondack Architectural Heritage offers his expertise on the architecture of the area.

The North Creek Depot Museum is open Wednesday 1-3pm Thursday & Friday 12-5pm Saturday & Sunday 12-4pm. Call for information about private tours at (518) 251-5842 www.northcreekdepotmuseum.com.


Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Famed Comet Hunter To Appear At The Wild Center

On July 23rd, 2009 The Adirondack Public Observatory will host famed comet hunter David Levy at The Wild Center in Tupper lake for his presentation “A Comet Discoverer and Starwatchers Journey” in the Flammer Theatre at 6:30 pm. David H. Levy is one of the most successful comet discoverers in history. He has discovered 22 comets, nine of them using his own backyard telescopes. With Eugene and Carolyn Shoemaker at the Palomar Observatory in California he discovered Shoemaker-Levy 9, the comet that collided with Jupiter in 1994.

David Levy is the science editor for Parade Magazine and regular contributor for Sky and Telescope and Skynews Magazine. He is the author or editor of 35 books including David Levy’s Guide to the Night Sky and Guide to Discovering and Observing Comets. He won an Emmy in 1998 as part of the writing team for the Discovery Channel documentary, “Three Minutes to Impact.” He has appeared on the Today Show, Good Morning America, PBS, the National Geographic special “Asteroids: Deadly Impact”, and hosts a weekly radio show Let’s Talk Stars which is available worldwide. David Levy is currently involved with the Jarnac Comet Survey, which is based at the Jarnac Observatory in Vail, Arizona. Reception and book signing begins at 6 pm and again following his lecture. Weather depending, star gazing with the Adirondack Public Observatory will follow in The Wild Center parking lot. This evening event is free and open to the public.

Photo: David and Wendee Levy with the Palomar 18-inch Schmidt camera used to discover 13 comets.


Monday, July 20, 2009

Fly Tying Demonstration at the Adirondack Museum

Fly-fishing enthusiast Tom Coe will demonstrate the art fly tying at the Adirondack Museum from July 23 through July 27, 2009. The demonstration will be held in the Mark W. Potter Education Center from 10:00 a.m. until 4:00 p.m. and is included in the price of general admission. Coe will tie flies and display hand-tied flies including saltwater patterns and those suitable for bass, trout, and panfish. Visitors will discover the specialized tools and varied materials needed to tie flies as well. Coe will also offer environmental displays of fish habitats. Games, activities, and a hands-on tying station will help youngsters learn more about fish and create a fishing fly of their own.

Tom Coe has taught fly tying classes through extension offices, at nature centers, and at Morrisville State College – where he managed the Campus Aquaculture Facility for eighteen years. He has done fly tying demonstrations at outdoor shows, and has been the focus of television features that highlighted his fly tying. Coe was photographed fly-fishing on
the AuSable River many years ago for an article about the Adirondacks by Dr. Anne LaBastile.

Fly tying is part of a summer-long series of craft and trade demonstrations at the Adirondack Museum. To see a complete listing, visit the museum’s web site www.adirondackmuseum.org and click on “Special Events.”


Saturday, July 18, 2009

Adk Theatre Festival To Stage Readings of Adirondack Play

Adirondack Theatre Festival will present a staged reading of Hal Corley’s new play, Brush the Summer By on Sunday July 19 and Monday, July 20 at 8pm at the Charles R. Wood Theater, 207 Glen Street (Rte. 9) in downtown Glens Falls. Corley will actively solicit feedback from the audience during a post-show discussion moderated by ATF producing artistic director, Mark Fleischer. The public discussion will help shape the script as it moves towards a full production. Tickets are $20 plus service fees and may be purchased online at www.ATFestival.org or by calling the Wood Theater Box Office at 518-874-0800.

Producing Artistic Director Mark Fleischer will direct the reading. Featured in this two person script are the New York City actors Stephen Bradbury and Peggy Scott. Local audiences may remember Scott from her performance in ATF’s 2003 production of The Unexpected Man by Yazmina Reza.

In Corley’s play, a Southern divorcee on a leaf watching trip to the Adirondacks is shocked when she stumbles across a man sunbathing in the nude. Through subsequent encounters, she reluctantly succumbs to his charms. With equal parts comedy and drama, Corley explores the joy and danger of living in the moment, the challenges and rewards of forgiveness and the power and need of memory. The script addresses mature themes.

Hal Corley has developed his plays with major regional theaters, including Atlanta’s Alliance, the Dallas Theater Center, Seattle Rep, and in NYC with The Abingdon, Cherry Lane, Ensemble Studio Theater, and Urban Stages. Two plays, An Ounce of Prevention and Finding Donis Anne, have been widely performed (Syracuse Stage, Philadelphia’s Walnut Street, NYC’s Westbeth, and in LA, Boston and Charlotte, NC). Hal’s more recent productions include: Peoria, Theatre Artists Studio, Scottsdale, AZ, where he was guest-artist-in-residence in January 2009; ODD, winner of the 2007 Premiere Stages Competition, co-produced with NJ’s Kean University; The Death Bite, Theatre Artists Studio, AZ; Easter Monday, Pendragon, Saranac Lake, NY; Legion, San Francisco’s New Conservatory Theater Center; Mama and Jack Carew, Key West Theatre Festival, and In the Charge of an Angel, Stageworks, Hudson NY.

The “play-in-progress” slot has been a regular part of ATF’s summer seasons since its inception in 1995. Fostering new work is at the heart of ATF’s mission. According to Fleischer, “ATF has a long history of developing new works of theatre. While some view these projects as risky ventures with unknown titles and creators, I view this commitment to new work as a research and development. Some of our new shows have become hits, others haven’t. But no matter the success of the show at the box office, providing a stage and a forum for emerging writers and artists has helped to strengthen new voices of the American theatre.” Many of the shows ATF has helped to develop have gone on to perform in theatres not only across America, but across the globe. These shows have included Becky Mode’s Fully Committed, Bill Bower’s It Goes Without Saying and Deb Filler’s Filler Up!


Friday, July 17, 2009

Barrels, Buckets, and Casks: Coopering at Adk Museum

Coopering is the ancient art of making casks, barrels, vats, buckets, and other circular or elliptical wooden vessels bound together by hoops. Historically, wooden barrels were used for the storage and transportation of all sorts of goods. Coopering was a valuable skill. David Salvetti will demonstrate the art of coopering at the Adirondack Museum at Blue Mountain Lake on July 18, 19 and 20, 2009. The
demonstration will be held in the Mark W. Potter Education Center from 10:00 a.m. until 4:00 p.m. and is included in the price of general admission.

David Salvetti’s love of woodworking began at age seven – with simple
projects such as birdhouses. In 2005, at the age of fourteen, woodworking became something more. The Salvetti family visited the Adirondack Museum in July of that year. The rustic furniture on exhibit fascinated David. Inspired by what he saw, Salvetti cut a sapling on the family’s property and built a twig chair. Another chair
followed in 2006 – winning “Best in Show” (4-H Youth Division) at the Oswego County Fair. David entered the white birch chair in the 2007 New York State Fair, Adult Arts and Crafts competition – winning another blue ribbon. David’s prize-winning rustic chair is on display at the Adirondack Museum and will become part of the permanent collection.

David Salvetti’s exploration of traditional woodworking techniques has led him to build his own shed, making shingles to cover the structure by hand. He has learned to make watertight wooden buckets without nails, adhesives, or modern sealants. He demonstrates his skills at Fort Ontario State Historic Site in Oswego, N.Y.

Coopering is part of a summer-long series of craft and trade demonstrations at the Adirondack Museum. To see a complete listing, visit the museum’s web site www.adirondackmuseum.org and click on “Special Events.”

Photo: Wooden sap bucket, ca. 1800s. Collection of the Adirondack Museum.


Thursday, July 16, 2009

ADK Music Scene: Childstock Festival, Bluegrass and the Sinfonietta

This week I’m posting from The Catskill Irish Arts Week in East Durham, NY. in a few moments I’ll be taking a class in beginner Irish guitar accompaniment. That may seem funny because I already accompany some Irish musicians but the truth is I need the fundamentals. Despite internet connection issues and cell phone service sparsity I’m attempting to give you a good overview of the activities I’ll be missing this weekend in the Adirondacks while attending this great week of all Irish music and bluegrass at Grey Fox.

You have two chances to catch a band called Jatoba. On Friday they are going to be at the Monopole starting at 10 pm in Plattsburgh. Then on Saturday they’ll be at the Waterhole in Saranac Lake; a free show starts at 7pm and it’s outside on the patio. Later that night stick around for The Hospice Benefit which aside from being for a phenomenal cause will offer a variety of bands to listen and dance to. I wish I could tell you more but the bands are a mystery as of Wednesday night, however, I’m sure it’ll be worthwhile night.

The big event this weekend is Childstock in Malone. With music from Kim and Eddy Lawrence to Raisinhead it looks to be a great day. Check out my previous write-up for more details.

In Lake Placid at Lake Placid Center for the Arts (LPCA) on Saturday, the Claire Lynch Band will be giving an outdoor concert. The show should be wonderful as they’ll be sharing their Grammy-nominated bluegrass music with the audience.

Also at LPCA on Sunday The Lake Placid Sinfonietta will be performing at 7:30 pm. Tickets are $22 and include meeting the artists plus wine and cheese after the concert.

photo: Eddy and Kim Lawrence


Thursday, July 16, 2009

Comments Sought on Route 28 Widening, Maintenance

The Adirondack Park Agency (APA) will hold a legislative hearing on Tuesday, July 28, 2009 at the Forestport Town Hall on a proposed widening and improvement of a ten mile stretch of Route 28 from Route 12 (in Forestport, Oneida County) to the Moose River in the Town of Webb (Herkimer County). The project sponsors, NYSDOT and National Grid, will also be there to answer questions or address concerns about the design of the project. APA staff will be available to discuss the permitting process. The legislative hearing will start at 6:15pm.

Here is a description of the project and other details on the meeting which were supplied by the APA:

The project begins approximately 6 miles north of the intersection of Routes 12 and 28 in Alder Creek and terminates at the Moose River in McKeever for a total project length of approximately 10.3 miles. The project consists of resurfacing a section from the southerly limit of the project for a length of approximately 2 miles; a reconstruction section for approximately 2.5 miles through Woodgate and a portion of White Lake; resurfacing a section with minor widening for a length of approximately 1.5 miles through a portion of White Lake; and resurfacing a section for the remainder of the project for a length of approximately 4.5 miles through Otter Lake to the Moose River in the Town of Webb. There will be utility relocations throughout the reconstruction section to provide a minimum offset from the edge of travel lane of 16 feet. There will be additional isolated utility pole relocations within the resurfacing sections to provide the same 16 foot offset.

PURPOSE OF MEETING: This is an informal legislative hearing conducted by the Adirondack Park Agency pursuant to APA Act section 804(6) to receive public comment on the proposed project. The hearing will include introductory presentations on the project design by the NYS Department of Transportation and National Grid. Agency staff will take notes on the public comment. Comments may be submitted by verbal statements during the hearing or by submitting a written statement. Agency Board Members and Designees may be present to hear the public comments. The Agency Board will make its decision on the project at one of its monthly meetings at some time in the near future.

GOAL OF THE MEETING: To allow the public to express concerns regarding this proposed project and how it may positively or negatively impact individual properties or the community.

MEETING FORMAT: NYSDOT, National Grid and APA personnel will be available from 5:30 to 6:15, prior to the formal presentation, to address any questions or concerns that individuals may have about the design of the project or the APA permitting process. At 6:15 APA Deputy Director Mark Sengenberger will commence the formal portion of the hearing. He will introduce NYSDOT and National Grid personnel who will make brief presentations concerning the project objectives, scope, schedule and cost. During the presentations, the public can ask questions for clarification purposes only. Following the presentations, members of the public will have the opportunity to make brief verbal statements about the project. There will be a sign up sheet for any persons wishing to make public comment. In order to allow everyone to speak who wants to, comments will be limited to no more than 3 minutes in length and speakers will go in the order that they signed up. Members of the public can provide additional written comments to the Agency at or after the meeting. Town of Forestport and Town of Webb officials will be present and introduced at the meeting.

APA Project No. 2008-0216

NYSDOT PIN: 2018.60


Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Theatrical Exploration of the Champlain Quadricentennial

The Adirondack History Center Museum in Elizabthetown is presenting the annual Bits and Pieces Festival, From the Center of the World: A Celebration of Lake Champlain, beginning Friday, July 17 at 11:00 am. An inter-generational group of actors takes on 400 years of history with reflections on the Quadricentennial. Five production dates are scheduled: three Fridays at 11:00am on July 17, 24, 31 and two Sundays at 4:00pm on July 26 and August 2.

The performance project has been created in collaboration with the Depot Theatre, the Westport Central School and the Westport Heritage Festival. It focuses on seven pivotal moments in Lake Champlain history that have global significance. The moments are depicted through fictional characters using soliloquies to explore their personal connections to each event, the changing landscape, and the curious process of human “discovery.” The production moves the audience through and around the museum. » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Builders and Realtors: Learn About Home Energy Efficiency

Many Adirondack homes have been languishing on the market, For Sale signs weathering on the lawn. Yes, a lot of real estate is overpriced and a lot of people are nervous about buying, but maybe some of these places would be snapped up if they weren’t under-insulated oil-sucking money pits.

If you’re thinking of selling, or are in the business of selling homes, or are just interested in learning more about how you can reduce fossil-fuel use in your own household, there’s a daylong program in Saranac Lake Thursday, September 24 you might want to sign up for.

Local can-do person Gloria Volz has arranged to bring the Green Build Science (GBS) training program to the Adirondacks. The course is designed mostly for Realtors and building trades professionals, including contractors, interior designers and home stagers. However anyone, including home and business owners, are welcome to learn more about sustainable building practices, energy efficiency and energy-saving tax credits.

An greenhouse gas inventory of the Adirondack Park commissioned last year found that out of 45,965 year-round homes here, 18,000 are “badly in need of insulation.” About 60% of the energy in every home is wasted through inefficiencies, according to Community Energy Services (CES), based in Canton. A few nationwide numbers: the USA Green Build Council says 92% of people surveyed said green features are important when buying property, and 40% of new homes are being built with green features. That last percentage is depressingly low, actually.

The New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) offers a Chinese menu of cash incentives for all kinds of ways to improve home efficiency, from insulating to replacing appliances, to tapping in to clean sources of energy like sun, wind and geothermal, or carbon-neutral local sources like wood and pellets. Sometimes it’s daunting to figure out how to take advantage of these programs, so the September 24 seminar might help with that. If you’d like to start right away, CES is set up to help Adirondack homeowners navigate their way to better home finances and Earth stewardship.

For more information or to register for the course, visit greenbuildscience.net or Volz’s site.


Monday, July 13, 2009

Adirondack County Fairs 2009 Schedule

Local county fairs start this week, so here is our full list of Adirondack county fairs, listed according to opening date. As usual, I’ve included a few of the most important regional fairs as well. See you at the fair!

July 14 – 19
Jefferson County Fair (Watertown)

July 14 – 19
Saratoga County Fair, Ballston Spa

July 21 – 25
Lewis County Fair (Lowville)

July 21 – 26
Clinton County Fair (Morrisonville)

July 27 – Aug 2
Oneida County (Boonville)

August 1
Warren County Youth Fair (Warrensburg)

August 3 – 9
St. Lawrence County Fair (Gouverneur)

August 8 – 16
Franklin County Fair (Malone)

August 12 – 16
Essex County Fair (Westport)

August 18 – 23
Herkimer County Fair (Frankfort)

August 24 – 30
Washington County Fair (Greenwich)

August 27 – September 7
New York State Fair (Syracuse)

August 29 – September 7
Champlain Valley Fair (Essex, Vermont)

September 4-13
Vermont State Fair (Rutland, Vermont)


Saturday, July 11, 2009

Adk Museum Presents The Adirondack Mining Village

Mining was once a major industry in northern New York State. Small iron mines and forges appeared along Lake Champlain in the late 1700s. In the 1820s, the industry began to grow rapidly, reaching its peak in the mid-to-late 1800s. The story of mining is much more than minerals found and ores extracted. This Monday, July 13, 2009 Dr. Carol Burke will explore human aspects of Adirondack mining in an illustrated program entitled “The Adirondack Mining Village” at the Adirondack Museum at Blue Mountain Lake.

Part of the museum’s popular Monday Evening Lecture series, the presentation will be held in the Auditorium at 7:30 p.m. There is no charge for museum members. Admission is $5.00 for non-members.

Burke’s presentation reflects an ongoing project that documents accounts of the daily lives or ordinary people who lived and worked in the now abandoned mining villages of Tahawus and nearby Adirondac (known in the 1950s as “The Upper Works”). Dr. Burke will share photographs and recollections of everyday life in these former company towns.

Carol Burke, a Professor at the University of California at Irvine, is a folklorist and journalist whose ethnographic work has produced books that document the lives of Midwestern farm families, female inmates in our nation’s prisons, and most recently, members of the armed services. Six months ago she was embedded with an army unit in northern Iraq.

Dr. Burke spends her summers in the Adirondacks and is currently documenting the everyday life of the once-flourishing mining village of Tahawus. Before joining the faculty at the University of California at Irvine, Professor Burke taught at Vanderbilt University, Johns Hopkins University, and the United States Naval Academy.

The broad story of mining in the Adirondacks is one of fortunes made and lost, of suicide, madness, and ambition, and the opening of one of America’s last frontiers. Mining shaped the physical and cultural landscape of the Adirondack Park for generations. The Adirondack Museum plans to open the completely revitalized exhibit “Mining in the Adirondacks” in 2012 to share this incredible history.

Photo: Adirondack Village, Near the Upper Works. From Benson J. Lossing’s The Hudson, from the Wilderness to the Sea, 1859.


Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Lake Placid: Wet and Wild Wednesdays Start July 8

The first Sprite Wet and Wild Wednesday, the weekly freestyle show featuring aerialists, debuts for the summer at the freestyle pool at the Olympic Jumping Complex tomorrow July 8 at 1 p.m. These weekly shows features freestyle and aerial athletes launching up to 60-feet into the air off of the kickers, where they execute a series of spins, twists and flips before splashing down in the 750,000-gallon pool.

Athletes of all levels – from the beginner to World and Olympic champions – train at this site, which has one of only two pools in the U.S. where freestylers are able to perfect their moves. Current athletes training in Lake Placid include U.S. and World Champion Ryan St. Onge, and 2006 Olympic bronze medalist Vladimir Lebedev from Russia – both of whom have their eyes on the 2010 Olympic Games in Vancouver. U.S. Ski Team members Matt DePeters and Ashley Caldwell as well as Russian Anton Sannikov are all spending the summer at the freestyle training center hoping to make their respective Olympic teams as well.

During Wet and Wild Wednesday, visitors have a chance to win some great prizes and learn more about the sport of freestyle. Spectators can come early or stay late to ride the chairlift from the Base Lodge to the bottom of the 120-meter ski jump tower. From there, guests may take the enclosed elevator up 26-stories to the Sky Deck and experience a ski jumper’s view of the Adirondack High Peaks and surrounding area.

Admission to the venue is $14 for adults and $8 for juniors and seniors. The price includes entry to the competition as well as the chairlift and elevator ride to the Sky Deck. In addition, with the purchase of a $29 Olympic Sites Passport, your one-time entry into the jumping site is included. The passports can be acquired at any ORDA venue, as well as the ORDA Store on Main Street in Lake Placid.


Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Biomimicry, Nature’s Solutions Focus at Wild Center

A new exhibition at The Wild Center looks at how humans are tackling problems by uncoding natural solutions to problems in the wild. From MIT to the University of Tokyo scientists equipped with new tools that let them look into the nano structure of nature are discovering the secrets to some of the most elusive tricks in the world. Their sights are aimed at everything from making energy from sunlight to replicating the way spiders forge a material stronger than steel at room temperature.

David Gross, head curator at The Wild Center, which will showcase some of the breakthroughs this summer, has spent more than a year researching where the new science is headed. Gross is a biologist, and his lifetime of observing animal behavior turned him on to the bio-based discoveries. “Most of these new breakthroughs are happening because people saw something in nature, and were curious about how it happened. How do spiders make silk? How does a burr stick to a dog’s fur? In the last decade we have developed the tools to see and work at tiny scales, where nature works, so we can start to build things in a revolutionary new way.”

This relatively new science, coined biomimicry, (from bios, meaning life, and mimesis, meaning to imitate) studies nature’s best ideas and then imitates these designs and processes to solve human problems. The core idea is that nature, imaginative by necessity, has already solved many of the problems we are grappling with. Basically, after 3.8 billion years of research and development, failures are fossils, and what surrounds us are the secrets to survival.

Biomimicry is gaining in recognition throughout the world. A recent article in the United Kingdom’s Daily Telegraph highlighted this truly international movement. A fast, ultra-broadband, low-power radio chip, modeled on the human inner ear that could enable wireless devices capable of receiving cell phone, internet, radio and television signals has recently been developed by scientists at MIT. A National Geographic article highlighted biomimetics in April 2008.

Here are some examples of how looking at nature can help solve some of the problems of humanity.

Locusts Don’t Crash
Locusts fly in swarms but never crash. How do they avoid having multi-locust pile-ups? Car manufacturers like Volvo and Nissan are studying locusts, and other insects like bees, to discover their crash-avoidance systems to see how they can be incorporated into our vehicles, making our roads safer.

Frozen Frog Hearts
Organs used for transplants can last as little as five hours. Keeping hearts and other organs on ice can significantly damage the tissue making the organs not viable. So how does the wood frog manage to freeze in the winter and thaw itself in the spring with no damage to its internal organs? Scientists are working on ways to mimic their non-toxic antifreeze to prolong the life of transplant organs.

Shine a Light on Moths and Butterflies
Moths, unlike cats, have very non-reflective eyes, a trait that protects them against nocturnal predators and helps them see at night. Their eyes have a series of bumps that help keep the light from reflecting. Using a silicon coating on solar panels that resembles the texture of moths’ eyes improves the solar collecting efficiency of solar panels by as much as 40 percent, bringing the price of solar down.

Scientists recently discovered that butterflies harvest the warmth of the sun through small solar collectors on their wings. Their wings are covered with an intricate array of scales, arranged in such a way that the light reflects off of other scales rather than bouncing off the wing where the warmth would be lost. Chinese and Japanese researchers designed a solar cell based on the butterfly’s intricate design and converted more light to energy than any existing solar cell at a lower fabrication cost.

The Whale’s a Fan of the Owl
Plane’s wings have streamlined edges so they can cut through air more efficiently, right? One of the biggest animals in the world, the humpback whale has extremely unstreamlined edges and can still fly through the water. Scientists have determined that the tubercles, or bumps, on the edge of the flippers produce more lift and less drag than sleek flippers. This discovery has implications for wind power and ceiling fans. Owls fly silently through the night, stealthily approaching their prey before capturing their next meal. Would mimicking the design of owl’s wings silence the noise of the fan in your computer? Engineers are studying the tips and curvature of owl’s wings and have created a quieter and more efficient fan blade design.

Gross says the promise of this kind of science is huge. “I’ll use the spider example. They can make seven different kinds of thread, do it all at room temperature, and it’s not just stronger than steel, it’s stronger than anything we have invented. And at the end of the day the spider can eat its own web and recycle the material. Imagine if we could make buildings out of tiny beams that required no mining, no smelting, and minimal energy, and could be entirely recycled again at room temperature? Or if we could figure out how plants photosynthesize, we could solve all of our energy needs.”

Why the Adirondacks? “One thing about these inventions is that you need to be able to watch nature to see what it’s up to, and it makes the Adirondacks a living lab. You can see the wood frogs that freeze solid and thaw, right here at The Wild Center. If you pay attention at The Wild Center you can begin to look at things differently when you’re outside and learn from them.” Gross says the inventions are everywhere. “The real breakthrough is that we can start to see the molecular structure and even the chemistry lab inside a spider, that’s what is fueling the breakthroughs.”

On a walk at The Wild Center Gross points out subjects under study. A bee buzzes by. “We know they vote. They can come into a hive and present a case for a new hive location, and elect which option to choose, and the bees all head to the new location. Computer companies are trying to figure out how so much information is shared and acted on so accurately and quickly.”

The Wild Center’s exhibit, throughout the 31 acre campus, is the first of its kind in the world. It will feature 51 stories of how humans are studying nature and discovering a better way to do things. How does nature make colors without using toxins? How do loons desalinate salt water? How can dogs detect cancer cells just from sniffing a person? A trained sniffing dog, a robot that can scurry over almost any object based on a cockroach and a silent fan modeled on an owl’s quiet flight will be on display. From the moment visitors enter the parking lot, until they leave, they will discover amazing ways that nature has solved its own challenges without using high heats, harmful chemicals or overusing its own resources.