Try telling a wordless story in five minutes that inspires your audience and distills reality. At the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater (AAADT), this art is perfected by a team of performers as graceful and poetic as they are energetic and assured. Billed as a “ballet”, Alvin Ailey is refreshingly accessible and attracts a more diverse audience than the typical “Nutcracker” or “Swan Lake.” While generally following the forms of classical ballet, the show includes contemporary music and costuming, and small gestures like jazz hands or waving goodbye help turn dancers into relatable people.
It’s generally frowned upon to do a somersault in a research presentation, but this was an exception. As the music started, the students leapt onto the stage and wordlessly described their topic in a series of graceful pirouettes, dipping and weaving around each other while seeming to be propelled by their arms. “Motion of Bacteria through Flagella,” the program said.
It’s a romantic night. A young male bee, just out of his pupa, is looking for adventure. He spies another bee in the bushes, and from her scent, discovers that she is a female. He falls in love, and within a matter of seconds they are having sex. Then, something strange happens: she hits him on the head with a lump of pollen. Confused, he wanders off, and immediately falls for another beautiful bee. They too make love, and his new partner takes the pollen off of his head.
Last weekend the MIT Art Scholars, a group of about 30 students with interests in various artistic disciplines, traveled to New York City. The weekend included an exploration of Indian art, a performance of Rusalka at the Metropolitan Opera, and a tour of a special exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. It was the Art Scholars’ fourth annual trip to NYC, supported by Council for the Arts at MIT.
Poor naked wretches, whereso’er you are,
Apparently, it’s now November, since it is already dark when I get out of class. In the birdwatcher’s calendar, this cold, wet season is the time to go out and search for a dozen species of sparrows and thrushes. These birds are all small and brown and go by the informal name of Little Brown Bird (LBB for short). A typical sighting goes like this: “Look, something moved in the grass! Oops, I scared it, it’s flying away.” “It’s gone. What was it?” “Oh, an LBB.”
Ants are one of the underappreciated wonders that you can find in your own backyard. In many ways, they are like humans: They have complex societies, agriculture, and war, and are powerful enough to shape the environment around them. There are also a lot of them — about ten quadrillion in the world, making ants far more populous than all of mankind. Ants are deceptively diverse. Besides black, they come in vibrant colors, from red to green to glittering blue, and they vary in size so much that the smallest ant species could build its nest inside the head of the largest.
I’m from Vermont. My state has many trees and a few people. When you combine those two things, you get delicious maple syrup. In October, you also get hordes of tourists — the so-called “leaf-peepers.” Vermont calls itself the Green Mountain State, but it is really now, when the mountains are red and orange, that the forest gets the most attention. With winter approaching, trees pump the precious chlorophyll from their leaves and store it safely in their roots, revealing other leaf pigments that were previously obscured by green: the carotenoids (yellow/orange) and anthocyanins (red).
This article is dedicated to my dear friend and mentor Nick Wagerik, who first introduced me to entomology and with whom I spent countless hours roaming New York’s Central Park in pursuit of dragonflies and moths. Nick passed away last week.