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Reading this is almost enough to make you dizzy:

"The Cessna wheels over a blowing whale. My passengers, both marine mammal researchers, peer down a wing at her. She blows again. Twisting the airplane's control, the horizon wobbles in the windshield and then suddenly tilts sharply. ...


Next to me, the researcher hangs farther out the open window, her hair lifted like Medusa's snakes. 'Oh look!' she says, pointing. The blue whale gives one last blow, kicks up her fluke, and dives. ... The researcher jots something down in a notebook and then quickly reaches into the backseat for a plastic bag. Few people have the stomach for this kind of flying and I carry a supply of zip-lock plastic bags. ... Opening an Oxxo bag instead, she turns to me and politely asks,'Would you like a cookie?'"

— Sandy Lanham


Wildlife pilot Sandy Lanham wrote this about her work flying over one of earth's most remote, dramatic places.

Thanks to her, we know a lot more about the incredible creatures that live there.


Humpback whale mama with her baby, taken during a flight with Sandy. ©Florian Schulz/ visionsofthewild.com.

The Sea of Cortez (aka the Gulf of California) is chock-full of sea life. But for a long time, no one knew what all that marine life was doing.

Jacques Cousteau called it "The Aquarium of the World." Blue whales, fin whales, gray whales, hammerhead sharks, whale sharks, marlin, Humboldt squid, and five different species of sea turtles frequent the gulf. But no one knew much about how all those marine creatures were behaving. It's a big place and hard to get to. Most researchers who traveled there had to hug the coast in boats, just dipping their toes in. Wildlife biologists were desperate to learn more.

The Gulf of California lies between Baja and mainland Mexico. Image via Wikipedia.

In 1990, Sandy Lanham had been living in Arizona and was trying to figure out what to with her life. She'd worked with children and had been a flight instructor, a belly dancer, and a print salesperson. What next?

She loved wildlife and she loved flying. As a girl in Michigan, she would lie on her back, looking up through the trees, watching airplanes go by. She had recently acquired a very small, very old plane — a 1956 Cessna that she said was the oldest model still in the sky.

"Bad paint. Good heart," she said of that plane. She nicknamed it Emily. Image by Kaye Craig, courtesy of S. Lanham.

Then The Nature Conservancy contacted her. They desperately needed a pilot to fly a wildlife recon mission. It changed her life.

Her first flight was an eye-opener. They were looking for endangered pronghorn antelope in Mexico. The numbers of pronghorn were very low, and the only way to find them in an area that big was to survey from the air.

During that flight, she learned that researchers of all kinds of wildlife in Mexico were eager to learn more about the Baja peninsula and the Sea of Cortez. There was very little money for wildlife research in Mexico, and no one had access to airplanes to do surveys from the air. Sandy realized she could pair her love of flying with her love of wildlife and fill this gap.

In 1991, Sandy founded Environmental Flying Services to get scientists up in the air, flying after the wildlife they so much wanted to understand and help.

The beginning was hard. Researchers helped out with fuel costs, and she wrote grants to foundations to cover her expenses. "I even resorted to going into restaurants and stealing toilet paper," she remembers.

The first proposals she wrote were turned down. "I was just too weird," she told me. " A woman, wanting to fly a plane, in Mexico, to survey a bunch of different wildlife — it didn't fit in anyone's funding categories."

Finally, she landed a couple of small grants for a few thousand dollars each, which helped her convince other funders that she had a lot to offer. Ultimately, with their help, she flew over 10,000 hours with wildlife researchers and photographers (sharing the costs for about $4.5 million worth of research flights).

Sandy's flights allowed photographers to take photos like this one of fin whales grabbing a snack. ©Florian Schulz/visionsofthewild.com

Sandy helped unlock many mysteries about Baja's wildlife.

She helped researchers discover new prairie dog colonies in northern Mexico and develop recovery efforts for endangered pronghorn antelope, and she helped us learn that the Sea of Cortez is a nursing ground for blue whales, the first such nursery ever discovered. She also saw rare events, such as sperm whales ramming heads.

Getting a head count on pronghorn antelope. Gail Collins/U.S. FWS.

As one researcher put it, "without her, we don't fly."

Sandy was awarded a MacArthur "Genius Grant" in 2001 for her dedication to getting hard (what she calls "crunchy as krill") data on all kinds of wild animals. This data is critical for protecting the incredible animal life in the gulf.

Blooming amapa trees near Manzanillo, Mexico, seen on a search for leatherback sea turtles. ©Carl Safina.


Avocets wheel over the Midriff Islands, Gulf of California. ©Luis Bourillon.

In her 24 years of flying with Environmental Flying Services, Sandy Lanham helped us discover critical information about earth's creatures and what we might do to protect them. She's an aeronautical ace and a diplomat, connecting passionate people on both sides of the border and creating a culture of respect and environmental teamwork across the U.S.-Mexico boundary.

Thanks to her work, gorgeous pictures like this one exist for us all to enjoy:

The Pinacate, ancient volcanic mountains in northern Mexico. ©Jack Dykinga.

Hats off to you, Sandy!

Joy

Nurse turns inappropriate things men say in the delivery room into ‘inspirational’ art

"Can you move to the birthing ball so I can sleep in the bed?"

Holly the delivery nurse.

After working six years as a labor and delivery nurse Holly, 30, has heard a lot of inappropriate remarks made by men while their partners are in labor. “Sometimes the moms think it’s funny—and if they think it’s funny, then I’ll laugh with them,” Holly told TODAY Parents. “But if they get upset, I’ll try to be the buffer. I’ll change the subject.”

Some of the comments are so wrong that she did something creative with them by turning them into “inspirational” quotes and setting them to “A Thousand Miles” by Vanessa Carlton on TikTok.

“Some partners are hard to live up to!” she jokingly captioned the video.

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All images provided by Adewole Adamson

It begins with more inclusive conversations at a patient level

True

Adewole Adamson, MD, of the University of Texas, Austin, aims to create more equity in health care by gathering data from more diverse populations by using artificial intelligence (AI), a type of machine learning. Dr. Adamson’s work is funded by the American Cancer Society (ACS), an organization committed to advancing health equity through research priorities, programs and services for groups who have been marginalized.

Melanoma became a particular focus for Dr. Adamson after meeting Avery Smith, who lost his wife—a Black woman—to the deadly disease.

melanoma,  melanoma for dark skin Avery Smith (left) and Adamson (sidenote)

This personal encounter, coupled with multiple conversations with Black dermatology patients, drove Dr. Adamson to a concerning discovery: as advanced as AI is at detecting possible skin cancers, it is heavily biased.

To understand this bias, it helps to first know how AI works in the early detection of skin cancer, which Dr. Adamson explains in his paper for the New England Journal of Medicine (paywall). The process uses computers that rely on sets of accumulated data to learn what healthy or unhealthy skin looks like and then create an algorithm to predict diagnoses based on those data sets.

This process, known as supervised learning, could lead to huge benefits in preventive care.

After all, early detection is key to better outcomes. The problem is that the data sets don’t include enough information about darker skin tones. As Adamson put it, “everything is viewed through a ‘white lens.’”

“If you don’t teach the algorithm with a diverse set of images, then that algorithm won’t work out in the public that is diverse,” writes Adamson in a study he co-wrote with Smith (according to a story in The Atlantic). “So there’s risk, then, for people with skin of color to fall through the cracks.”

Tragically, Smith’s wife was diagnosed with melanoma too late and paid the ultimate price for it. And she was not an anomaly—though the disease is more common for White patients, Black cancer patients are far more likely to be diagnosed at later stages, causing a notable disparity in survival rates between non-Hispanics whites (90%) and non-Hispanic blacks (66%).

As a computer scientist, Smith suspected this racial bias and reached out to Adamson, hoping a Black dermatologist would have more diverse data sets. Though Adamson didn’t have what Smith was initially looking for, this realization ignited a personal mission to investigate and reduce disparities.

Now, Adamson uses the knowledge gained through his years of research to help advance the fight for health equity. To him, that means not only gaining a wider array of data sets, but also having more conversations with patients to understand how socioeconomic status impacts the level and efficiency of care.

“At the end of the day, what matters most is how we help patients at the patient level,” Adamson told Upworthy. “And how can you do that without knowing exactly what barriers they face?”

american cancer society, skin cacner treatment"What matters most is how we help patients at the patient level."https://www.kellydavidsonstudio.com/

The American Cancer Society believes everyone deserves a fair and just opportunity to prevent, find, treat, and survive cancer—regardless of how much money they make, the color of their skin, their sexual orientation, gender identity, their disability status, or where they live. Inclusive tools and resources on the Health Equity section of their website can be found here. For more information about skin cancer, visit cancer.org/skincancer.

The mesmerizing lost art of darning knit fabric.

For most of human history, people had to make their own clothing by hand, and sewing skills were subsequently passed down from generation to generation. Because clothing was so time-consuming and labor-intensive to make, people also had to know how to repair clothing items that got torn or damaged in some way.

The invention of sewing and knitting machines changed the way we acquire clothing, and the skills people used to possess have largely gone by the wayside. If we get a hole in a sock nowadays, we toss it and replace it. Most of us have no idea how to darn a sock or fix a hole in any knit fabric. It's far easier for us to replace than to repair.

But there are still some among us who do have the skills to repair clothing in a way that makes it look like the rip, tear or hole never happened, and to watch them do it is mesmerizing.

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Pop Culture

Artist uses AI to create ultra realistic portraits of celebrities who left us too soon

What would certain icons look like if nothing had happened to them?

Mercury would be 76 today.

Some icons have truly left this world too early. It’s a tragedy when anyone doesn’t make it to see old age, but when it happens to a well-known public figure, it’s like a bit of their art and legacy dies with them. What might Freddie Mercury have created if he were granted the gift of long life? Bruce Lee? Princess Diana?

Their futures might be mere musings of our imagination, but thanks to a lot of creativity (and a little tech) we can now get a glimpse into what these celebrities might have looked like when they were older.

Alper Yesiltas, an Istanbul-based lawyer and photographer, created a photography series titled “As If Nothing Happened,” which features eerily realistic portraits of long gone celebrities in their golden years. To make the images as real looking as possible, Yesiltas incorporated various photo editing programs such as Adobe Lightroom and VSCO, as well as the AI photo-enhancing software Remini.

“The hardest part of the creative process for me is making the image feel ‘real’ to me,” Yesiltas wrote about his passion project. “The moment I like the most is when I think the image in front of me looks as if it was taken by a photographer.”

Yesiltas’ meticulousness paid off, because the results are uncanny.

Along with each photo, Yesiltas writes a bittersweet message “wishing” how things might have gone differently … as if nothing happened.
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