From 'The Water's Edge To The Cutting Edge': Fish Skeletons, CT Scans And Engineering

Giant clingfish (Chlorosichismus dentex) with limpet in the gut.

Giant clingfish (Chlorosichismus dentex) with limpet in the gut. TAMU Collection/Courtesy of Adam Summers hide caption

toggle caption TAMU Collection/Courtesy of Adam Summers

Adam Summers used to trade Snickers bars to get free CT scans of dead fish.

He likes fish. A lot.

Summers is a professor at the University of Washington in the biology department and School of Aquatic and Fisheries Sciences.

“I’ve always been a fish guy,” he says. “It’s just been in my blood since I was as small as I can remember.” Summers was a scientific consultant on Finding Nemo and did similar work with Finding Dory.

He describes himself as a biomechanist — he studies “how physics and engineering govern some parts of biology.” Some of that refers to, for example, studying how humans could use ideas from the structure of a fish skeleton to design an underwater vehicle.

“A lot of what I do is in the realm of what’s called biomimetics,” Summers tells NPR. “I’m looking to the sea for inspiration, for biomimetics solutions to technical problems.”

Scan of an armored poacher, Xeneretmus triacanthus.

Scan of an armored poacher, Xeneretmus triacanthus. UW Collection/Courtesy of Adam Summers hide caption

toggle caption UW Collection/Courtesy of Adam Summers

He’s based on an island about 60 miles north of Seattle, at the University of Washington’s Friday Harbor Laboratories. The lab is only a short walk from the water — from “the water’s edge to the cutting edge,” Summers says. As part of his work at the lab, his team is trying to make 3-D CT scans of all 33,000 varieties of fish.

So, why?

Researchers like Summers want to understand how fish work. To do that, he says, “one of the very, very useful things is to understand exactly what the skeleton looks like. It is shockingly complex. Your skull is just a few bones. Fish skulls are dozens and dozens of bones.”

Hogchokers & Hatchetfish: @Fishguy_FHL‘s quest to scan every species of fish. Via @omgirlsvt https://t.co/xqlkxOgZrG pic.twitter.com/4U0tf0pgJU

— Chris Sergeant (@UnderWaterWorId) July 26, 2016

That’s where the CT scans come in. The machines are usually used to see the insides of humans. Many years ago, Summers wanted to see the insides of fish.

“I would beg, borrow and bribe my way to getting good CT scan data,” he says. “I would go with my pockets full of Snickers bars to a particular scan tech who worked at night and didn’t mind if I showed up with a damp bag full of stingrays. And I would trade Snickers bars for free CT scans.”

Bull sculpin, Enophrys taurina.

Bull sculpin, Enophrys taurina. OSU Collection/Courtesy of Adam Summers hide caption

toggle caption OSU Collection/Courtesy of Adam Summers

Eventually, private donors ponied up funds for a small CT scanner for the Friday Harbor lab, a move Summers called “transformative.”

Now the goal is to create a digital library with 3-D images of all 33,000 species of fish. Summers says it can be done in about three years by scanning multiple fish at the same time.

“I love the idea of getting all this stuff up on the Web for anyone to access for any purpose,” he says. “To allow the general public and every scientist out there to just download these data is fabulous.”

In three months, he says the team has put up scans for more than 500 fish. He predicts the project will save money — he says research agencies frequently scan the same species more than once. Having the data open for anyone will eliminate any research overlap.

“Every aspect of fish is absolutely fascinating,” Summers says. “It has just an unbelievable amount of information there to be picked out.”

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Trump Responds To Slain Soldier's Father, Who Appeals To GOP Leaders

Khizr, whose son was killed in Iraq, speaks directly to Donald Trump at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia on July 28. His wife Ghazala Khan stands beside him.

Khizr, whose son was killed in Iraq, speaks directly to Donald Trump at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia on July 28. His wife Ghazala Khan stands beside him. Robyn Beck/AFP/Getty Images hide caption

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In one of the most powerful moments at the Democratic National Convention, a Muslim father of a fallen U.S. soldier took the stage with his wife beside him and spoke directly to Donald Trump.

That father, Khizr Khan, condemned the Republican presidential nominee for proposing a ban on Muslims entering the United States.

“Let me ask you, have you even read the United States Constitution? I will gladly lend you my copy,” he asked Trump, pulling a copy of the document out of his suit coat. “Look for the words ‘liberty’ and ‘equal protection of law.'”

Khan’s son, Humayun Khan, was an Army captain. In 2004, the 27-year-old was killed by a suicide bomber in Iraq after having warned his fellow soldiers to stand back. He was awarded the Bronze Star and Purple Heart posthumously.

Khan told Trump that Arlington cemetery is filled with soldiers of “all faiths, genders and ethnicities.”

“You have sacrificed nothing and no one,” Khan said.

Trump has now responded.

In an interview with New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd Friday night, Trump didn’t zero in on Khan’s accusations but rather on his wife, Ghazala Khan, who stood beside her husband silently. His response to Dowd was brief.

“I’d like to hear his wife say something,” Trump said.

Trump expanded on that sentiment in an interview with ABC News Saturday.

“If you look at his wife, she was standing there,” Trump said. “Maybe she wasn’t allowed to have anything to say, you tell me.”

In an interview on MSNBC the previous night, Ghazala Khan explained why she chose to remain silent on stage.

“I cannot see my son’s picture. I cannot even come in the room where his pictures are,” she said. “That’s why when I saw the picture on my back, I couldn’t take it and I controlled myself at that time. So, it is very hard.”

Her husband added that she served as his “coach” while writing the speech and said she gave him the strength to speak on stage.

“Forty years of marriage has brought us in a position where we are strength for one another,” Khan said. “Her being there was the strength so I could hold my composure. I am much weaker than she is in such matters.”

He added that his remarks at the DNC were “only half of the speech.” The other half, he said, is for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Speaker Paul Ryan.

“There is so much at stake and I appeal to both of those leaders, this is the time,” Khan said. “There comes a time in the history of a nation where an ethical, moral stand has to be taken regardless of the political cost.”

He added that no one has been able to convince Trump otherwise on his views of Muslims and other immigrants.

In that Saturday ABC News interview, Trump was also asked to respond to Khizr Khan’s assertion that Trump has sacrificed nothing. The GOP nominee first asked if Clinton’s speech writers scripted Khan’s remarks (Khan has claimed to have rejected such help), then said, “I think I’ve made a lot of sacrifices. I work very, very hard. I’ve created thousands and thousands of jobs.”

He added that he, along with others, was “very responsible” for getting the New York City Vietnam Veterans Memorial built. According to the Washington Post, Trump attended only a few of the 20 planning meetings for the memorial.

Trump’s views on Muslims also remain unchanged. When asked how he would respond to Khan in general, he said:

“We’ve had a lot of problems with radical Islamic terrorism, that’s what I’d say.”

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5 Takeaways From The Democratic National Convention

Hillary Clinton and Tim Kaine stand on stage amid celebratory balloons and confetti on the last day of the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia on July 28.

Hillary Clinton and Tim Kaine stand on stage amid celebratory balloons and confetti on the last day of the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia on July 28. Andrew Harnik/AP hide caption

toggle caption Andrew Harnik/AP

The Democratic National Convention is over. Here are some of the big takeaways from a week in Philadelphia that had more suspense and drama than expected.

The Democrats Are Really, Really Good At This

Just like Barack Obama’s two conventions, this one was flawlessly choreographed. Even the revolt of the Bernie Bros had a more-or-less happy ending.

The speakers, the videos, and even the entertainment were all designed to drive the message of optimism and inclusion, hour after hour, day after day. The Democrats even had a lot more “showbiz” than Donald Trump promised but might not have quite delivered.

The pacing was also effective. The first two days were all about locking down the base and the lineup of speakers on Monday and Tuesday was what you’d expect at a Democratic convention. But the last two days presented the Democrats as the “big tent” party; the podium on Wednesday and Thursday was filled with emissaries to the other side — former Reagan White House staffers, the former Republican mayor of New York City, retired military leaders, and the families of police officers killed in the line of duty.

Look Who’s Chanting “U.S.A!” Now

Donald Trump has given the Democrats a lot of openings and they tried to take advantage of every single one of them last week. They appropriated the rhetoric and imagery of patriotism and American exceptionalism, something that used to be a Republican franchise.

Audience members wave American flags as Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton speaks on the last day of the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia on July 28.

Audience members wave American flags as Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton speaks on the last day of the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia on July 28. Andrew Harnik/AP hide caption

toggle caption Andrew Harnik/AP

From the chants of “U.S.A! U.S.A!” to the huge American flags waving during the speeches of retired military officers supporting Clinton, the Democratic Party is arguing that it is the more patriotic party. Speaker after speaker seemed to be sending the message that it is not American to build a wall, bar an entire religion from entering the country, and denigrate people based on their looks or disabilities.

Presidential elections are supposed to be won by the candidate who is more optimistic and future-oriented. Donald Trump is trying to send that bit of conventional wisdom to the scrap heap. But the Democrats are still betting that hope, love and optimism sells better than gloom, doom and fear.

She Is Who She Is

Many people were expecting Hillary Clinton to offer more of herself in her speech. But Clinton is a guarded, cautious politician and rarely shows big crowds a peek of the person who can be warm and engaging one-on-one and in small groups.

Hillary Clinton delivers an acceptance speech framing herself as a workhorse on the last day of the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia on July 28.

Hillary Clinton delivers an acceptance speech framing herself as a workhorse on the last day of the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia on July 28. Alex Wong/Getty Images hide caption

toggle caption Alex Wong/Getty Images

Her speech was a more polished, even sometimes soaring version of her usual stump speech but any glimpses of the “real” Hillary Clinton were just slivers. Yes, she sweats the details of policy because it matters to her and yes, she cares more about the “service” part of public service more than the “public” part, but voters looking for a revealing insight to help them relate to her didn’t get one.

There were no new insights or even new anecdotes. Sometimes her voice was modulated; sometimes she was lecturing.

But she did touch all the themes of the convention and she used humor when she went after Trump. Instead of reinventing herself, she embraced her brand. She’s steady and ready — a workhorse not a show horse. And, yes, she’s been around a long time.

“Sometimes the people at this podium are new to the national stage,” she said. “I am not one of those people.”

The Emergence Of A New Democratic Party?

So much has been said about how far to the left the Democratic Party has moved. And that’s true.

But there was something else happening in Philadelphia. The agenda was liberal, but the rhetoric and imagery were conservative. If Donald Trump is laying a wrecking ball to the Republican Party, the Democrats are assuming there will be plenty of refugees — defense hawks, suburban women, moderate Republicans and independents — looking for a new home.

Both parties are responding to a growing nationalist sentiment. In Philadelphia, the Democrats were trying to develop a new kind of multi-ethnic nationalism, more inclusive and welcoming than Trump’s white identity politics.

How Much Will It Matter?

The Democrats had a great convention. Hillary Clinton’s speech was solid if not spectacular. But the next day’s GDP report — only 1.9 percent growth in the second quarter — was a dose of reality. The number of people who think the country is on the wrong track is close to 70 percent. Hillary Clinton is still enormously unpopular. And third terms are historically very hard to get.

Only 100 days left until Election Day.

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County Sheriff: Hot Air Balloon Crashes In Central Texas, No Apparent Survivors

A hot air balloon carrying at least 16 people crashed in central Texas, and the Caldwell County Sheriff said “it does not appear there were any survivors.”

Sheriff Daniel C. Law said in a statement that “investigators are determining the number and identities of victims at this time.”

The emergency dispatchers received a 911 call at 7:44 a.m. local time, and “when the emergency responders and the sheriff’s office arrived on scene, it was apparent that the reported fire was the basket portion of the hot air balloon,” Law said.

The sheriff says it happened in the Maxwell, Texas area, about 35 miles south of Austin.

We’ll update this story as authorities release further information.

This is a developing story. Some things that get reported by the media will later turn out to be wrong. We will focus on reports from police officials and other authorities, credible news outlets and reporters who are at the scene. We will update as the situation develops.

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Pitching A 'Clintonville' Protest During The Democratic Convention

Dee Snyder camps in "Clintonville," a tent-city style protest that was held in a vacant lot in the Kensington neighborhood of Philadelphia during the Democratic National Convention.

Dee Snyder camps in “Clintonville,” a tent-city style protest that was held in a vacant lot in the Kensington neighborhood of Philadelphia during the Democratic National Convention. Hansi Lo Wang/NPR hide caption

toggle caption Hansi Lo Wang/NPR

As tens of thousands of politicians, party delegates and protesters swept through the City of Brotherly Love this week for the Democratic National Convention, dozens of homeless Philadelphians and out-of-towners pitched tents on a grassy lot.

They were part of a protest over the four days of the convention organized by Cheri Honkala, a Philadelphia-based activist with the Poor People’s Economic Human Rights Campaign.

Boarded-up buildings and empty lots dot the Kensington neighborhood, which was once a manufacturing hub of Philadelphia.

Boarded-up buildings and empty lots dot the Kensington neighborhood, which was once a manufacturing hub of Philadelphia. Meg Kelly/NPR hide caption

toggle caption Meg Kelly/NPR

She put together a similar demonstration during Pope Francis’ visit to Philadelphia last year, calling it “The Church of the Poor.” This time, Honkala set up camp in Kensington, a Philadelphia neighborhood that was once a manufacturing hub, and named the tent city “Clintonville,” harkening back to the “Hooverville” camps of the Great Depression during President Herbert Hoover’s administration.

There’s currently no Clinton in the White House, but Honkala said the camp’s name was a critique of Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign and of President Bill Clinton’s bid to “end welfare as we have come to know it” by signing a reform law that put in place work requirements and limits on cash assistance.

The goal of this protest, she explained, was to draw more attention to families who are living below the poverty line and struggling to survive. Volunteers created temporary homes in an open space with used furniture left in dumpsters and other castaways from Philadelphia’s more well-to-do areas.

“Just a mile away, you can find people throwing away nice couches and chairs,” said Honkala, who ran as the Green Party’s vice presidential candidate in 2012.

For Philadelphia resident Dee Snyder, Clintonville was less about activism than shelter.

After she and her two adult children were evicted from their apartment, Snyder spent days scrambling to escape the hot and stormy weather and to find a place to sleep. Homeless shelters, she said, were out of the question.

Volunteers dismantle the "Clintonville" campsite on the last day of the Democratic National Convention.

Volunteers dismantle the “Clintonville” campsite on the last day of the Democratic National Convention. Hansi Lo Wang/NPR hide caption

toggle caption Hansi Lo Wang/NPR

“They don’t take dogs,” explained Snyder, 62, who owns two. “I don’t want to get rid of them. We’ve had them for ten years. You don’t just give them away.”

Her son eventually found the tent city set up in a vacant lot about seven miles north of the convention arena. They slept on tattered mattresses under a blue tarp held up by makeshift wooden frames.

“We were told we could stay through the storm,” she said. “So we have to ride out the storm until things get figured out.”

During the day, many of the Clintonville demonstrators took their activism to the streets, marching and participating in other protests, including a “fart-in” organized by Honkala.

Others with young children or unable to walk in the heat stayed behind, trying to cool off in the shade next to piles of canned food. Sandra Rivera, a protest organizer working with Honkala, pushed her one-year-old daughter around the camp in a stroller. She questioned whether the $60 million a local fundraising committee was expected to raise to host the DNC was being put to good use.

“I want to see those millions that they promised for schools,” she said.

Stephanie Torres was born and raised in Kensington, a neighborhood, she says, full of "bad energy" and "bullets with no name."

Stephanie Torres was born and raised in Kensington, a neighborhood, she says, full of “bad energy” and “bullets with no name.” Meg Kelly/NPR hide caption

toggle caption Meg Kelly/NPR

Other local residents who walked by the tent city also said they wanted to see more resources invested into low-income neighborhoods like Kensington, which had one of the city’s largest numbers of violent crimes last year, according to a report by the Pew Charitable Trusts.

Mario Morales, 56, said he supported the protesters but was skeptical of how much convention attendees would pay attention.

“Will they take time out to come here and see the sadness and the hopelessness and the pain and the broken dreams, man?” he wondered aloud. “Or would they rather go look at the nice markets and the nice cheesesteaks?”

If any convention delegates did venture to Kensington, they would have found a neighborhood that Stephanie Torres said she’s not proud to call home.

“You wouldn’t want to be raised or grow up around here,” said the 22-year-old bartender who has “Ambition” tattooed above her left eyebrow. “You just got to stay alive. Day by day, it’s just surviving.”

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Come Together (Or Not): Music At The Democratic National Convention

Over 40 Broadway performers gathered to sing "What The World Needs Now Is Love" at the Democratic National Convention on Wednesday night.

Over 40 Broadway performers gathered to sing “What The World Needs Now Is Love” at the Democratic National Convention on Wednesday night. Nicholas Kamm/AFP/Getty Images hide caption

toggle caption Nicholas Kamm/AFP/Getty Images

Last week in Cleveland, the music played at the Republican National Convention often seemed at odds with the messages coming from the stage – sometimes to the explicit distress of the musicians. By Sunday evening, with Donald Trump’s event over and with Hillary Clinton’s about to begin, an eclectic group of musicians had assembled on John Oliver’s show Last Week Tonight for a skit with a bipartisan message: Their work shouldn’t be used in the political realm. The motley crew included Usher, Cyndi Lauper, John Mellencamp, Josh Groban, Sheryl Crow, Michael Bolton, Nancy and Ann Wilson of Heart and Dan Reynolds of Imagine Dragons, all singing a “hands off” anthem: “Don’t use our song / ‘Cause you used it wrong / It might seem appealing / But you’re just stealing.”

Last Week Tonight YouTube

By contrast, at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia this week, American musicians and entertainers — by and large a liberal bunch, it must be said — lined up to get behind the nominee. Some even became actors in this particular piece of political theater, taking on the explicit mission of bringing a divided party closer together.

Philadelphia’s own Boyz II Men kicked things off on Monday night, pulling out its 25-year-old debut single “Motownphilly” to welcome the delegates. “Not too hard! Not too soft!”, three of the group’s original members sang in a smooth performance that showcased them as hype men for their hometown; the only messaging was the one implied by their mere presence at the DNC. Thursday night featured Sheila E. at her drum set, playing with three Latin percussionists including her father, Pete Escovedo. Like Boyz II Men, E. didn’t speak from the stage at all, though she has made public statements about the importance of this election to Latino and African-American voters.

Democratic National Convention YouTube

At least one vocalist was invited to the DNC to do more than sing. Pop star and actress Demi Lovato, who has wrestled quite publicly with mental health and addiction issues, took the mic on Monday night to speak about mental health advocacy and urge politicians to support laws that make care more accessible, before launching into her hit “Confident.”

Some performers hinted at a message of reconciliation — not between the red/blue political divide in the U.S., but rather between supporters of Hillary Clinton and of Bernie Sanders. Carole King was one; after singing arguably the biggest hit from her vast catalog, “You’ve Got a Friend,” she riffed: “Hillary’s got so many friends! Bernie too! And all of us together!”

PBS NewsHour YouTube

Other artists stuck to paeans to love and fellowship — which, during any other political season, would probably have been received as feel-good and wholly generic missives. But in this strange election year, they carried a surprisingly potent punch. On Wednesday night, a busful of Broadway luminaries performed Burt Bacharach and Hal David’s “What the World Needs Now Is Love,” which many of the same stars recently recorded together as a fundraiser following the mass shooting at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Fla. Among the 40-plus voices were Audra McDonald, Idina Menzel, and Ben Vereen — who sported a cap reading “Spiritual Enforcer” — as well as an off-key Rosie Perez, who appeared both self-aware and good-humored about her vocal shortcomings among that all-star lineup. Lenny Kravitz struck a similar note in his performance of “Let Love Rule,” which he song with the help of a choir and a Hammond B-3 organ. In case anyone missed his point, Kravitz ended by reiterating: “We gotta let love rule! One God, one planet, one people! And love is the only solution!”

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Kravitz brought the same sentiments to an event just across the Delaware River in Camden, N.J., where on Thursday afternoon he joined Lady Gaga and DJ Jazzy Jeff for an invite-only free show for delegates called “Camden Rising” — something of a bid for resurgence by the long-struggling city. Though it wasn’t an official DNC event, Gaga didn’t miss the opportunity to stay firmly on the Democratic message. Her setlist included progressive staples “This Land Is Your Land,” Phil Ochs’ “The War Is Over” — and, in perhaps a direct exhortation to the fractured left, The Beatles’ “Come Together.”

In the entirety of the convention week, the most awkward appeal for harmony came from Paul Simon, who had the thoroughly unenviable task of preceding Bernie Sanders’ address on Monday night.

The iconic singer and songwriter was introduced by Senator Al Franken, a Clinton supporter, and comedian Sarah Silverman, a former Sanders supporter; they were lustily heckled. Simon walked onstage right after Silverman said, in obvious exasperation with the crowd, something that became one of the most quoted lines of the night: “To the Bernie-or-bust people: You’re being ridiculous.”

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Even so, the energy appeared to shift when the artist walked out onstage; those rowdy delegates seemed primed to give this musical legend his proper due. But what would Simon sing? His choice was freighted with meaning, especially considering that Simon & Garfunkel’s “America” had already become closely identified with the Sanders campaign.

As soon as the pianist played the opening bar of his selection, it was immediately obvious what Simon was going for: He had selected “Bridge Over Troubled Water.” The metaphor was blindingly clear: Simon would be the delegates’ bridge to harmony. And maybe — just maybe — Simon’s former partner Art Garfunkel, who originally sang this iconic song, would also materialize onstage. What a model of reconciliation for the Sanders and Clinton camps that could be!

And yet, the performance backfired. Maybe the key was just a hair too high for comfort, but Simon sounded uncharacteristically frail and unsettled. Garfunkel was nowhere to be found. And some of the crowd continued to audibly jeer Clinton and her supporters from that night well into Thursday evening.

Still, as the week progressed, the live performances grew more buoyant — especially on the part of some female artists keen to the significance of a woman being nominated for president by a major party. Andra Day sang “Rise Up” with a marching drumline, and Alicia Keys dedicated her performance of “Superwoman” to the Mothers of the Movement “and all mothers who have lost their sons or daughters to senseless violence.” Keys also made a bid for unity between the Sanders and Clinton camps before launching into her song “In Common.”

PBS NewsHour YouTube

Some of Clinton’s hallmark anthems from the primary season were put back on heavy rotation this week. Rachel Platten’s “Fight Song,” which has been deployed by Clinton’s campaign for some time now, was the music that ushered the candidate to the stage for her acceptance speech Thursday night; it was also the basis for a video produced by actress Elizabeth Banks that had the feel of a viral effort and featured an eclectic array of performers, including Platten herself, as well as several members of the cast of the movie Pitch Perfect, opera star Renée Fleming, Idina Menzel (again) and Australian-born hitmaker Sia.

The other mainstay of this week in Philadelphia was the songbook of Katy Perry — another staunch Clinton supporter since before the Iowa caucus. Before she performed her hits “Rise” and “Roar” last night, Perry had an exhortation not so much for the crowd in Philadelphia, but for those watching from their screens at home. “On Nov. 8,” Perry said, “you’ll be just as powerful as any NRA lobbyist. You’ll have as much say as any billionaire. Or you can just cancel out your weird cousin’s vote, if you like.”

It will only be over the course of the next few short months that we’ll know if artist endorsements, let alone Hillary Clinton’s platform and the candidate herself, will sway many voters — or if these musicians are just preaching to the Democratic choir.

PBS NewsHour YouTube

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