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'Music Is Our Universal Language': Celebrities Unite on Climate Action at Carnegie Hall Concert

Climate
'Music Is Our Universal Language': Celebrities Unite on Climate Action at Carnegie Hall Concert
Pathway to Paris

Pathway to Paris gave voice to the urgent issue of climate change on Sunday night at Carnegie Hall, celebrating the launch of its 1000 Cities initiative and the organization's three years of environmental advocacy. Founded by Jesse Paris Smith and Rebecca Foon, Pathway to Paris orchestrated the event in partnership with the UN Development Programme and 350.org—bringing together a collection of artists, activists, academics, musicians, politicians and innovators to shine a light on 1000 Cities' imperative mission, supported by a Care2 petition which invites the world's cities to transition off of fossil fuels in a call to action.

The evening opened with powerful speeches and performances by Pathway to Paris founders and curators of the evening, Jesse Paris Smith and Rebecca Foon, encapsulating the essence of Pathway to Paris. "Climate change is our unifying global concern," said Jesse Paris Smith. "It breaks down and defines the geographical borders and walls we have created, it unifies us all and urges us to realize our collective voice."


Flea performs.Pathway to Paris

"Music is our universal language. The power of music brings us together, showing how truly interconnected we all are. The Earth is our home, and our home is in danger. The signs are loud and clear, there is no longer time for borders and walls. Our hope is that by the end of this night, you will all be climate leaders." Foon went on to announce the new 1000 cities initiative. "We believe the solution lies within transforming our cities and communities," said Foon.

"This evening, Pathway to Paris is launching the 1000 Cities initiative, an initiative to unite the world to move above and beyond the targets outlined in the the Paris agreement. Tonight we are inviting 1000 cities around the world to become 100% renewable and transition off of fossil fuels by 2040 in order to make Paris real."

The evening's attendees enjoyed many once-in-a-lifetime moments, including R.E.M frontman Michael Stipe covering "Sunday Morning" by Velvet Underground, Patti Smith's retelling of Cat Stevens' "Where Do the Children Play" and Joan Baez dancing with Talib Kweli, who was backed on the bass guitar by Flea of the Red Hot Chili Peppers.

Concert-goers were also asked to participate in the evening's events, as Bill McKibben paused the show for 60 seconds to allow attendees to write letters to Scott Pruitt, administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Olafur Eliasson used Little Sun solar-energy lights to orchestrate a breathtaking illumination of Carnegie Hall, before revealing that each light used would be sent to Puerto Rico to help those still lacking power following Hurricane Maria. Tenzin Choegyal also invited 10 Himalayan elders to the stage during his set to sing in the beautiful hall.

Jesse Paris Smith and Rebecca Foon meet with Bill McKibben.Pathway to Paris

Heralded by Patti Smith's fierce cries of "it's decreed the people rule," the crowd ascended into a deafening chant as Stipe, Baez, Kweli, Cat Power, Tanya Tagaq, Tenzin Choegyal, Jesse Paris Smith and Rebecca Foon and the 3,000 people in attendance contributed their voices to "People Have the Power;" collectively reminding the world that we have "The power to dream, to rule and to wrestle the world from fools."

The festivities continued late into the night as concert-goers, VIPs and the evening's talent gathered together in celebration. Guests included Maggie Gyllenhall, Peter Sarsgaard, Ed Norton, Mario Batali and Nick Zinner of The Yeah Yeah Yeahs.

A net-casting ogre-faced spider. CBG Photography Group, Centre for Biodiversity Genomics / CC BY-SA 3.0

Just in time for Halloween, scientists at Cornell University have published some frightening research, especially if you're an insect!

The ghoulishly named ogre-faced spider can "hear" with its legs and use that ability to catch insects flying behind it, the study published in Current Biology Thursday concluded.

"Spiders are sensitive to airborne sound," Cornell professor emeritus Dr. Charles Walcott, who was not involved with the study, told the Cornell Chronicle. "That's the big message really."

The net-casting, ogre-faced spider (Deinopis spinosa) has a unique hunting strategy, as study coauthor Cornell University postdoctoral researcher Jay Stafstrom explained in a video.

They hunt only at night using a special kind of web: an A-shaped frame made from non-sticky silk that supports a fuzzy rectangle that they hold with their front forelegs and use to trap prey.

They do this in two ways. In a maneuver called a "forward strike," they pounce down on prey moving beneath them on the ground. This is enabled by their large eyes — the biggest of any spider. These eyes give them 2,000 times the night vision that we have, Science explained.

But the spiders can also perform a move called the "backward strike," Stafstrom explained, in which they reach their legs behind them and catch insects flying through the air.

"So here comes a flying bug and somehow the spider gets information on the sound direction and its distance. The spiders time the 200-millisecond leap if the fly is within its capture zone – much like an over-the-shoulder catch. The spider gets its prey. They're accurate," coauthor Ronald Hoy, the D & D Joslovitz Merksamer Professor in the Department of Neurobiology and Behavior in the College of Arts and Sciences, told the Cornell Chronicle.

What the researchers wanted to understand was how the spiders could tell what was moving behind them when they have no ears.

It isn't a question of peripheral vision. In a 2016 study, the same team blindfolded the spiders and sent them out to hunt, Science explained. This prevented the spiders from making their forward strikes, but they were still able to catch prey using the backwards strike. The researchers thought the spiders were "hearing" their prey with the sensors on the tips of their legs. All spiders have these sensors, but scientists had previously thought they were only able to detect vibrations through surfaces, not sounds in the air.

To test how well the ogre-faced spiders could actually hear, the researchers conducted a two-part experiment.

First, they inserted electrodes into removed spider legs and into the brains of intact spiders. They put the spiders and the legs into a vibration-proof booth and played sounds from two meters (approximately 6.5 feet) away. The spiders and the legs responded to sounds from 100 hertz to 10,000 hertz.

Next, they played the five sounds that had triggered the biggest response to 25 spiders in the wild and 51 spiders in the lab. More than half the spiders did the "backward strike" move when they heard sounds that have a lower frequency similar to insect wing beats. When the higher frequency sounds were played, the spiders did not move. This suggests the higher frequencies may mimic the sounds of predators like birds.

University of Cincinnati spider behavioral ecologist George Uetz told Science that the results were a "surprise" that indicated science has much to learn about spiders as a whole. Because all spiders have these receptors on their legs, it is possible that all spiders can hear. This theory was first put forward by Walcott 60 years ago, but was dismissed at the time, according to the Cornell Chronicle. But studies of other spiders have turned up further evidence since. A 2016 study found that a kind of jumping spider can pick up sonic vibrations in the air.

"We don't know diddly about spiders," Uetz told Science. "They are much more complex than people ever thought they were."

Learning more provides scientists with an opportunity to study their sensory abilities in order to improve technology like bio-sensors, directional microphones and visual processing algorithms, Stafstrom told CNN.

Hoy agreed.

"The point is any understudied, underappreciated group has fascinating lives, even a yucky spider, and we can learn something from it," he told CNN.

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