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Philly physicist, Allentown saxophonist and Pittsburgh poet among this year's MacArthur 'geniuses'

Danielle S. Bassett, a 32-year-old physicist at the University of Pennsylvania, is the youngest recipient of a 2014 MacArthur Genius Grant. Pennsylvania had a strong showing overall: other winners include Steve Coleman, 57, a composer and alto saxophonist in Allentown, and Terrance Hayes, 42, a poet and professor at University of Pittsburgh who won a National Book Award for his collection Lighthead.

The fellowships, based on achievement and potential, come with a stipend of $625,000 over five years and are among the most prestigious prizes for artists, scholars and professionals...

The oldest fellow this year is Pamela O. Long, 71, a historian of science and technology in Washington, whose work explores connections between the arts and science. The youngest is Danielle S. Bassett, 32, a physicist at the University of Pennsylvania, who analyzes neuron interactions in the brain as people perform various tasks. She seeks to determine how different parts of the brain communicate and how that communication changes with learning or in the aftermath of a brain injury or disease.

When she received the call informing her of the no-strings-attached windfall, Ms. Bassett recalled being stunned into silence.

“Halfway through, I said, ‘Are you absolutely sure you got the right person?’ ” Ms. Bassett said in a telephone interview. “Then they read my bio to me. It’s an unexpected honor and sort of validation.”


Original source: The New York Times
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The reinvention of Conshohocken

The New York Times takes a look at Conshohocken, a steel town turned office hub -- and millennial magnet.

The recent increase in development plans reflects the geographical advantages of Conshohocken, which is near the intersection of Interstates 76 and 476, its accessibility to central Philadelphia by commuter rail and the availability of its land, in contrast to some nearby western suburbs where land for development is scarce.

With its location at the intersection of interstates, Conshohocken could become the region’s new “Main and Main,” said Jeffrey E. Mack, executive managing director at Newmark Grubb Knight Frank, an international real estate firm that provides brokerage and other services.

He argued that the town was poised to take the title from an area at Route 1 and City Line Avenues on Philadelphia’s western outskirts, which has been heavily built. That location, in Lower Merion Township, “ran out of land,” he said.

The prospect of a big addition in local office space also reflects a desire by companies to attract educated employees in their mid-20s to mid-30s who are expected to seek jobs in industries such as technology, finance or health care but who do not want a traditional suburban lifestyle.

“Those folks want to live in new urban-type environments where the amenities and the urban setting and the transit orientation are also important,” said Steve Spaeder, senior vice president for development at Equus Capital Partners, developer of the 400 West Elm project. “Conshohocken has all of those elements.”



Original source: The New York Times
Read the complete story here.
 

Training dogs to detect cancer with their noses

The Penn Vet Working Dog Center trains canines to detect cancer using their remarkable sense of smell.

McBaine, a bouncy black and white springer spaniel, perks up and begins his hunt at the Penn Vet Working Dog Center. His nose skims 12 tiny arms that protrude from the edges of a table-size wheel, each holding samples of blood plasma, only one of which is spiked with a drop of cancerous tissue.

The dog makes one focused revolution around the wheel before halting, steely-eyed and confident, in front of sample No. 11. A trainer tosses him his reward, a tennis ball, which he giddily chases around the room, sliding across the floor and bumping into walls like a clumsy puppy.

McBaine is one of four highly trained cancer detection dogs at the center, which trains purebreds to put their superior sense of smell to work in search of the early signs of ovarian cancer. Now, Penn Vet, part of the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Veterinary Medicine, is teaming with chemists and physicists to isolate cancer chemicals that only dogs can smell. They hope this will lead to the manufacture of nanotechnology sensors that are capable of detecting bits of cancerous tissue 1/100,000th the thickness of a sheet of paper.


Original source: The New York Times
Read the complete story here.

David Lynch, doughnuts and Philadelphia

Honoring the first major retrospective of David Lynch’s work at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts with fried dough.

Trippy dream sequences. Doppelgängers. Laura Dern. One associates them all with the fun-house mirror maze of a David Lynch project. But doughnuts? From Special Agent Dale Cooper’s insatiable sweet tooth on “Twin Peaks” to the metaphor Lynch uses in the 2012 documentary “Meditation, Creativity, Peace” (“Transcendental Meditation gives an experience much sweeter than the sweetness of this doughnut”), sugary fried rings have popped up throughout the filmmaker’s cabalistic canon. And so, Michael Solomonov, the chef and co-owner of Philadelphia’s Federal Donuts, jumped at the invite to make confections in honor of the first major retrospective of Lynch’s work, at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts (where Lynch studied painting in the late ’60s). With names like Blue Velvet and Good Coffee — a “Twin Peaks” reference — Solomonov’s creations are an homage to the master of magical realist cinema.?

Original source: The New York Times
Read the complete story here.

Taney's miracle run ends in Williamsport

Pennsylvania fell in love with the Taney Dragons, and loved them even through defeat in the Little League World Series. We weren't alone.

This was my first Little League World Series, and the two-week event was defined by two great story lines: Mo’ne Davis, a 13-year-old girl from Philadelphia who struck out the boys, and an exciting team from the South Side of Chicago that validated Major League Baseball’s urban initiative and held the promise of a widening pipeline of young players from urban areas.

“We saw teams that we haven’t see around here before,” said Mike Mussina, a former Baltimore Orioles and Yankees pitcher. “To see them come here and succeed and do well — people loved them. People grab a hold of whatever the thing is and this year, they were the thing.”

The Times'
 Frank Bruni also took the time to reflect on Mo'ne and the Dragons:

It was here, at the Little League World Series, that Mo’ne Davis captured the country’s hearts. A 13-year-old wunderkind from Philadelphia, she was believed to be the first black girl to play in the series. She was definitely the first girl ever to pitch a shutout. She landed on the cover of Sports Illustrated, exploded stereotypes about women and sports and did it with a poise and grace that most people twice or even four times her age struggle to muster.

Original source: The New York Times
Read the complete story here.

UPenn specialist talks bringing back the dead

University of Pennsylvania doc David Casarett pens 'Shocked,' an examination of the science of resuscitation. 

The great highway of life is a one-way road, but that never stopped anyone from ignoring the traffic signs and trying to drive back up the offramps.

Efforts to revive the dead began longer ago than you might think, as Dr. David Casarett outlines in “Shocked,” his comprehensive review of the fascinating science of resuscitation. He suggests that the honors for best early performance go to the citizens of Amsterdam, who in 1767 formed a Society in Favor of Drowned Persons to save the many residents of that city pulled in extremis from the canals...

A specialist in end-of-life care at the University of Pennsylvania, Dr. Casarett has produced a travelogue about as comprehensive as possible without actually dying. He visits Amsterdam and London, and explores the heart’s electrical conduction system by climbing around the gigantic walk-through model of a heart in Philadelphia’s Franklin Institute. In a series of labs and zoos, he inspects hibernating squirrels, hypothermic dogs and frogs that can freeze, all possible physiological models for a yet-to-be-perfected state of “suspended animation” for humans.


Original source: The New York Times
Read the complete story here.

Philly Little League star Mo'ne Davis snags the cover of Sports Illustrated

Taney Dragons star Mo'ne Davis continues her global takeover, nabbing the coveted cover of 'Sports Illustrated.' (Check out Keystone Edge's top five reasons to head to Williamsport.)

Original source: Sports Illustrated

Historic property where George Washington camped up for sale

A 9-acre property where George Washington and his troops are said to have camped during the Revolutionary War is available for $14 million.

The property is located on Lewis Lane in Whitpain Township, about 25 minutes outside of Philadelphia. It includes a six-bedroom, five-bathroom house built in 1913 but extensively renovated and restored, according to owner Steven Korman, founder of Korman Communities, a Pennsylvania-based developer of hotels and apartments. Mr. Korman said he added about 9,000 square feet to the original 5,000-square-foot house, incorporating a century-old stone wall that had been in the garden and adding modern touches like a movie theater, gym, wine cellar, saltwater pool and elevator. Between buying the house and the renovation, he said he spent about $13 million. The house is being sold fully furnished.

Washington's troops camped in the Lewis Lane area in 1777 after the Battle of Germantown, on their way to Valley Forge, according to Marie Goldkamp, president of the Historical Society of Whitpain.

A self-described "history buff," Mr. Korman said the history of the property, which had been owned by the same family from the 1700s until Mr. Korman bought it more than four years ago, was "a huge thing for me." He added that one room in the house displays his collection of letters written by U.S. presidents, including Washington, Lincoln and Jefferson. These aren't included in the sale price.


Original source: The Wall Street Journal
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Philadelphia eatery named No. 2 new restaurant in the country

High Street on Market, in Philadelphia's Old City neighborhood, was named the number two new restaurant on Bon Appetit's highly anticipated national list.

I dare anyone who has jumped on the gluten-free bandwagon (without a doctor’s note) to eat at High Street on Market and still call himself gluten-intolerant. You don’t stand a chance. Know why? Because chef Eli Kulp basically built this restaurant around head baker Alex Bois’s superstar bread program.

Let’s start with the breakfast sandwiches, specifically the Forager: seared king oyster mushrooms, braised kale, fried egg, Swiss cheese, and black trumpet mushroom mayo piled on one of Bois’s cloudlike kaiser rolls. Hell, put a tofu burger and vegan “cheese” on one of those things and I would still—greedily!—order it again. The black squid-ink bialy stuffed with smoked whitefish may sound questionable, but I promise it will be something you crave for weeks afterward.

Abstinence won’t be any easier at lunch. The “Best Grilled Cheese Ever,” served on house-made roasted potato bread, delivers on its inflated claim. And no dinner here would be complete without more of Bois’s signature loaves: levain with vegetable ash, anadama miche (made with molasses and cracked corn), and buckwheat cherry, to name a few. If, at this point, you are wondering if the No. 2 restaurant on this year’s list got here on its dough alone, the answer is -- unequivocally and emphatically -- a very carby yes.


Original source: Bon Appetit
Read the complete story here.

Exercise equipment arrives at Philadelphia International Airport

As Flying Kite witnessed on a recent trip out west, Philadelphia International Airport is now home to exercise equipment for antsy travelers. When we walked through, many of the stationary bikes were occupied.

Sitting on an exercise bike in Terminal D on a recent morning, Ms. Donofree was cycling at a leisurely pace, wearing jeans and checking her phone as jets taxied outside.

Without becoming sweaty, changing her clothes or paying fees to an airport gym, she was able to exercise while remaining near her departure gate, thanks to a set of newly installed workout machines.

In late June, the airport became the first in the United States to provide three types of low-impact stationary bikes for travelers to use in the terminal, free of charge, while waiting for their flights.


Original source: The New York Times
Read the complete story here.

PA's RJ Metrics moves into larger space, extolls lean startup principles in New York Times

Robert J. Moore, founder and CEO of Philadelphia's RJ Metrics, wrote about his company's move to a bigger office on the New York Times' 'You're the Boss' blog, reflecting on lean startup principles. 

We had learned years ago that company culture isn’t about perks. Ping-Pong tables, funny posters, and free lunches are outputs of culture, not inputs to it. If any of our team members ever say they work at RJMetrics because of the chairs, I should be fired.
I admire those bigger companies that have been true to their lean roots during periods of extreme growth. Amazon famously provided employees with desks made of old doors, even as its headcount grew into the hundreds. To this day, Wal-Mart has its traveling executives sleep two to a room at budget hotels.

Just like the perks, however, these lean-minded policies are only healthy if they are the outputs of culture, not inputs meant to shape it. A team that is aligned on a core mission and values will wear them as a badge of honor. A team that isn’t will go work somewhere else.

As we grow, the balancing act of “lean success” will only get more complex. After all, being lean is not the same as being cheap, and separating these two can be hard when you’re in uncharted territory. We will invest heavily in building an inspired and empowered team – but we will check our egos at the door. Easier said than done? Definitely.


Original source: The New York Times
Read the complete story here.

Pennsylvania team cruises into Little League World Series

Behind the arm of phenom Mo'Ne Davis, Philadelphia's Little League team triumphed; they're heading to the Little League World Series in Williamsport.

It’s a truism in baseball that, in the postseason, the team with the best pitching usually wins. So it was on Sunday in Bristol, Conn., when Mo’Ne Davis hurled a three-hitter to lead Taney Youth Baseball Association Little League of Philadelphia past Newark National Little League of Delaware, 8-0. The win secured a spot for Davis’s squad, representing the Mid-Atlantic Region, in the Little League World series. That tournament starts Thursday, and Davis will have a chance to win it all in her home state, as it will be played in Williamsport, Pa.?..

She became the 18th girl to appear in the LLWS, joining Emma March, whose South Vancouver squad won the right to represent Canada on the same day.

Davis and March will become the third pair of girls in the same LLWS since the tournament began admitting girls in 1974. In addition to being the 40th anniversary of that change in policy, it is also the 75th anniversary of the tournament.


Original source: The Washington Post
Read the complete story here.

T Magazine shines a light on food halls, including Philly's legendary Reading Terminal Market

Food halls -- like the wildly-popular Eataly in New York -- are a growing trend. Philadelphia's own Reading Terminal is undergoing a renaissance.

After a $3.6 million renovation to this historic indoor market in a former train station last year, its longtime merchants, including Pennsylvania Dutch farmers, have returned. The 80 vendors include 34 restaurants. Post-renovation newcomers include Wursthaus Schmitz, a German grocery and sausage stand that serves sandwiches ($9-11); the Head Nut, which offers spices, teas, nuts and candy; and the Tubby Olive, a gourmet olive oil ($16-31 a bottle) and vinegar shop.?

Original source: T Magazine
Read the complete story here.

Eat Philadelphia's best "secret menu items"

Zagat has put together a list of Philadelphia's best off-menu items. We're especially drooling over the pork pastrami sandwich at Fitler Dining Room:

Chef Rob Marzinsky has been doing intense sandwich research for the just-introduced daily 5-7 p.m. happy hour at this Fitler Square American bistro, and this dish is one of the happy consequences. After a four-day brine, pork shoulder is rubbed with pastrami spice, dried and cold-smoked for eight hours. Slices are served on a house-baked semolina roll with bread and butter pickles, spicy cabbage slaw, Gulden’s mustard and melted Birchrun Hills Fat Cat cheese.?

Original source: Zagat
Read the complete list here.

University of Pennsylvania wins contract to treat memory deficits

The University of Pennsylvania was one of two institutions to win a Department of Defense contract to develop brain implants for memory deficits.

Their aim is to develop new treatments for traumatic brain injury, the signature wound of the wars in Iraq and in Afghanistan. Its most devastating symptom is the blunting of memory and reasoning. Scientists have found in preliminary studies that they can sharpen some kinds of memory by directly recording, and stimulating, circuits deep in the brain...

“A decade ago, only a handful of centers had the expertise to perform such real-time experiments in the context of first-rate surgery,” said Michael Kahana, a neuroscientist at the University of Pennsylvania and the recipient of one of the new contracts granted by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, or Darpa. “Today, there are dozens of them, and more on the way; this area is suddenly hot.”


Original source: The New York Times
Read the complete story here.
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