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Sometimes when the Internet speaks, the big corporations listen.

Consider the case of Greg Louganis, the award-winning Olympic diver whose handsome mug has been conspicuously absent from a certain sports-inspired cereal box since the height of his record-breaking career in the 1980s.

"Never got a Wheaties box," Louganis said in an HBO documentary about his life. "Their response was that I didn’t fit their wholesome demographics or whatever. Basically, being gay, or being rumored that I was gay."


Shortly after the documentary aired, a Change.org petition popped up, garnering more than 43,000 signatures in support of Louganis earning his rightful place as the temporary visage on the breakfast of champions.

On April 4, 2016, General Mills announced that Louganis would finally get his due.

Well. Kind of.

Image from General Mills.

General Mills named Louganis as one of three athletes who "haven’t yet received the honor of being on a Wheaties box for their past athletic achievements."

According to a blog post announcement, Louganis will be joined by Janet Evans, an Olympic swimmer who held seven world records and four gold medals, and was celebrated for her short stature and unorthodox swimming style; and Edwin Moses, an eight-time gold medal-winning track-and-field Olympian who is also remembered for his innovations in reforming Olympic eligibility rules and drug-testing policies. Their respective individual boxes will be available from May through August 2016.

"Their accomplishments certainly put them into consideration for the cover of a Wheaties box at the time, along with several outstanding world champion athletes who were selected by the brand team in their era," said Kevin Hunt, a social media manager for global communications at General Mills. "But today … there’s no time like the present for Janet Evans, Greg Louganis, and Edwin Moses."

However, Mike Siemienas, manager of brand media relations at General Mills, made it clear that their decision to recognize these remarkable athletes after-the-fact was "not about who gets the most votes or who gets petitions."

Image from General Mills.

Whether the petition made a difference or not, General Mills missed a big opportunity with this announcement.

Look, we can't presume to know what goes on behind closed doors at General Mills (although we're pretty sure it involves lots of tasty cereal). But it does seem suspect that this announcement would come on the heels of Louganis's heavily-publicized documentary and the petition it inspired.

On one hand, it makes sense that General Mills would want to save face and pretend this "throwback series" was just a nifty coincidence, rather than saying, "Yeah we totally screwed up by giving in to homophobia at the height of the AIDS scare in the '80s. Our bad. But we can make it right now, so hey — better late than never!"

On the other hand: Imagine the kind of statement it would make if a major corporation stood up and said, "Discrimination is wrong. We made a mistake, and we're sorry."

Greg Louganis at the 1988 Olympics in Seoul. Photo by Pascal Rondeau/Getty Images.

Despite their egregious gaffe with Louganis, Wheaties does have a fairly positive history of diversity.

They broke ground with Babe Didrikson Zaharias, the first female athlete to appear on the box in 1935, followed one year later by Jesse Owens, their first black athlete. They also recently made a special commemorative box to celebrate Evan Wolfson, a lawyer, gay rights activist, and founder of Freedom to Marry.

And of course, Caitlyn Jenner was a spokesperson for the company for even years (even if she wasn't out at the time).

Muhammed Ali didn't receive a Wheaties box until 1999, likely due to the public controversies around his conversion to Islam and his refusal to be drafted into the U.S. Army during the Vietnam War. Photo by Henny Ray Abrams/Stringer/Getty Images.

The fact that this new box collection of heroes from the past includes a black man, a woman, and an out gay man is still a major step forward for representation.

When people see other people like themselves being recognized for their accomplishments, it sends a message that they matter too.

But it doesn't just matter to the world-at-large; it also means the world to the athletes, even if that recognition is a little after-the-fact.

"This means so much more than it would have back then," Louganis told the New York Times. "Getting it now means people will see me as a whole person — a flawed person who is gay, HIV-positive, with all the other things I've been through."

A breastfeeding mother's experience at Vienna's Schoenbrunn Zoo is touching people's hearts—but not without a fair amount of controversy.

Gemma Copeland shared her story on Facebook, which was then picked up by the Facebook page Boobie Babies. Photos show the mom breastfeeding her baby next to the window of the zoo's orangutan habitat, with a female orangutan sitting close to the glass, gazing at them.

"Today I got feeding support from the most unlikely of places, the most surreal moment of my life that had me in tears," Copeland wrote.

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You could say Marine biologist, divemaster and National Geographic Explorer Dr. Erika Woolsey is a bit of a coral reef whisperer, one who brings her passion for ocean science to folks on dry land in a fresh, innovative and fun new way using virtual reality.

Images courtesy of Meta’s Community Voices film series

Her non-profit, The Hydrous, combines science, design, and technology to provide one-of-a-kind experiential education about marine life. In 2018, Hydrous produced “Immerse 360”, a virtual underwater journey through the coral reefs of Palau, with Dr. Woolsey as a guide.

Viewers got to swim with sharks, manta rays and sea turtles while exploring gorgeous aquatic landscapes and learning about the crucial role our oceans play—all from 360° and 3D footage captured by VRTUL 2 underwater storytelling VR cameras.


Hydrous then expanded on the idea to develop two more exciting augmented adventures using Meta Quest 2 technology: “Expedition Palau,” a live event where audiences can share a “synchronized immersive reality experience”, which includes live narration from Woolsey, and “Explore,” a “CGI experience” to enjoy the magic of the ocean at home.


www.youtube.com

“I’ve been extremely fortunate to explore and study coral reefs around the world,” Woolsey said, sharing that it was “heartbreaking” to see these important habitats decay so rapidly while the latest scientific reports did not clearly lead to widespread compassionate action.

“How do we care about something we never see or experience?” she reflected. As she discovered, virtual reality would be a powerful solution for eliciting empathy. “VR has the ability to generate presence and agency and make you feel like you’re there. It's that emotional connection that can bridge scientific discovery and public understanding”

The combination of virtual reality and the ocean’s natural breathtaking beauty is, as Woolsey puts it, a “match made in heaven” for getting people more engaged in ocean education. “When you’re floating you can look up and down and all around you…seeing a school of fish surrounding you and reefs in these cathedral-like structures. Rather than watching a video of a scientist, you get to become the scientist.”

Hydrous also has special kits to provide middle school students hands-on learning about ocean life. In addition to a journal, activity cards and a smartphone VR viewer, each kit includes lifelike 3D printed model pieces of a coral reef so that middle school students can try building their own.

These reef models even turn white when temperatures rise inside the aquarium, which mimics the real “bleaching” that corals endure when they die due to higher than normal ocean temperatures. Students really do become scientists as they figure out how to bring color back to their reef.

While it’s true that the health of our oceans affects us all, the growing threats our oceans face—pollution, overfishing, climate change—don’t always affect us on an empathetic level. Through the use of technology, Woolsey has created an innovative way to connect hearts and minds to one of the Earth’s most important resources, which can inspire real and lasting change.

“We can’t bring everybody to the ocean, but we’re finding scalable ways to bring the ocean to everyone.”

To learn more about Hydrous, click here.

via UNSW

This article originally appeared on 07.10.21


Dr. Daniel Mansfield and his team at the University of New South Wales in Australia have just made an incredible discovery. While studying a 3,700-year-old tablet from the ancient civilization of Babylon, they found evidence that the Babylonians were doing something astounding: trigonometry!

Most historians have credited the Greeks with creating the study of triangles' sides and angles, but this tablet presents indisputable evidence that the Babylonians were using the technique 1,500 years before the Greeks ever were.


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