WBEZ | engineering http://www.wbez.org/tags/engineering Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Building skyscrapers on Chicago's swampy soil http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/building-skyscrapers-chicagos-swampy-soil-111658 <p><p><em>Editor&#39;s note: This was piece was produced in collaboration with the <a href="http://www.architecture.org/" target="_blank">Chicago Architecture Foundation,</a> which provided research, expertise and other assistance during its development.</em></p><p>From his office tower in downtown Chicago, Mike Vendel has no reason to doubt the structural stability of the buildings where he and hundreds of thousands of others spend their workdays. Looking back on the Loop from the shores of Lake Michigan, though, it&rsquo;s a different story.</p><p>&ldquo;Outside enjoying the lakefront, beaches, parks,&rdquo; says Vendel, &ldquo;you see the sand and you see these huge skyscrapers in the skyline and you think: How do they stay stable in that structure?&rdquo;</p><p>He asked Curious City how it all came to be:</p><p dir="ltr" style="text-align: center;"><em>What special techniques or extra work is required to construct massive buildings on swampland around Chicago?</em></p><p>He&rsquo;s right to wonder. Steadying skyscrapers in Chicago (and, come to think of it, many cities around the world) is still a staggering feat of structural engineering. If architects and engineers don&rsquo;t do it right, the results could be catastrophic: They could end up with a lopsided building or, worse, a fatal collapse.</p><p>As we found out, in the past 150 plus years, architects have struggled to tame Chicago&rsquo;s swampy soil, with varying degrees of success. In fact, the city&#39;s very identity as a hotbed for architecture and geotechnical engineering might be a product of what reporters once deemed &ldquo;the great layer of jelly in Chicago&rsquo;s cake.&rdquo;</p><p><span style="font-size:22px;">From swamp to city</span></p><p>Offering just a <a href="http://www.encyclopedia.chicagohistory.org/pages/993.html" target="_blank">short portage between the Great Lakes and the Mississippi River basin</a>, the area that would become downtown Chicago was a natural choice for the city&rsquo;s settlers &mdash; and a naturally swampy setting. Ray Wiggers, a geologist with Oakton Community College, says Chicago&rsquo;s bedrock is buried beneath silt, mud and clay.</p><p>&ldquo;If you had been here, for example, in 1820 when Chicago was still a very small settlement, what you would have found first of all was a soil profile that was mostly wetland soil. It would be <a href="http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/267930/Histosol" target="_blank">something we&rsquo;d call a histosol</a> &mdash; it&rsquo;s very peat-rich, very rich in organic matter,&rdquo; he says. &ldquo;Very swampy, marshy.&rdquo;</p><p style="text-align: center;"><a href="http://www.nrcs.usda.gov/Internet/FSE_MANUSCRIPTS/illinois/cookIL2012/Cook_IL.pdf" target="_blank"><em>View the USDA&#39;s Soil Survey of Cook County for&nbsp;a detailed look at Chicago-area soil</em></a></p><p>The soil was so slick that <a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/john-r-schmidt/2013-01/raising-chicago-105064" target="_blank">in 1856, Chicago lifted itself up to 14 feet off the ground</a> to keep from sinking and sliding around in the mosquito-infested marshland.</p><p>Chicago&rsquo;s soil started as sediment drifting around in Lake Chicago &mdash; an ice-age precursor to Lake Michigan. That material settled to the bottom, leaving present-day denizens a thick layer of squishy soil.</p><p>&ldquo;If you can imagine your front yard and the little muddy spot you have after it&rsquo;s rained for a while,&rdquo; says Wiggers, &ldquo;that sediment is really, really saturated and it&rsquo;s very oozy. Imagine trying to build a skyscraper in that.&rdquo;</p><div class="image-insert-image " style="text-align: center;"><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/FOR WEB chicago in 1820.jpg" style="height: 478px; width: 620px;" title="(Image courtesy Library of Congress)" /></div></div><p>By contrast New York City &mdash; whose architects and engineers pioneered the skyscraper along with Chicago&rsquo;s during the late 19th century &mdash; had nearly perfect soil conditions for anchoring tall buildings. Despite being surrounded by water, Manhattan has readily available bedrock.</p><p>The rock outcroppings jutting out of the earth in Central Park are visible proof that New York&rsquo;s bedrock, Manhattan schist, comes all the way up to the surface in some places. Chicago&rsquo;s equivalent, a rock called dolomite, can be as deep as 85 feet underground.</p><p>&ldquo;And yet here in Chicago we persevered through all the muck, literally, and built [skyscrapers] here,&rdquo; Wiggers says.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><a href="http://digicol.lib.depaul.edu/cdm/singleitem/collection/p16106coll1/id/170/rec/25" target="_blank"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/FOR%20WEB%20soil%20map%20crop.jpg" style="height: 274px; width: 620px;" title="Generalized soil map of the region of Chicago, 1927. Click to explore a large version of this map. (Image courtesy DePaul University archives)" /></a></div><p>Reporters in the late 19th century described Chicago&rsquo;s soil as &ldquo;a great jelly-cake&rdquo; with a &ldquo;semi-fluid&rdquo; layer like &ldquo;molasses.&rdquo; Here&rsquo;s a bit from an 1891 article in the New York Times &mdash; back when the word skyscraper was so new that reporters had to put it in quotes:</p><blockquote><p>&ldquo;What shall it profit Chicago to have taken the prairies and the wheat fields and the distant lairs of wolves and bears in its municipal embrace if the proud palaces in the haunts of its Board of Trade must sink in a smother of slimy ooze? Who shall restrain the great layer of jelly in Chicago&rsquo;s cake? Who can say when it will be released, to be mixed with the sluggish sewage of the river, and then to fill the streets and pour in at the windows while the thin upper crust sinks to its ultimate resting place on the lower clay?&rdquo;</p></blockquote><p>That clay actually became the key to some early engineering solutions for tall, heavy buildings. Before then, they fine-tuned a method to float their massive buildings on layers of jelly-like clay called the desiccated crust. But as anyone who has stumbled through the lobby of the Auditorium Building has experienced, early engineers didn&rsquo;t always get it exactly right.</p><p><span style="font-size:22px;">An early experiment</span></p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Library%20of%20Congress%2C%20Prints%20%26%20Photographs%20Division%2C%20HABS%2C%20Reproduction%20number%20HABS%20ILL%2C16-CHIG%2C39--1.jpg" style="height: 450px; width: 620px;" title="The Auditorium Building in 1963, which floats in the soil on a layer of clay instead of bedrock.(Photo courtesy Library of Congress, Prints &amp; Photographs Division, HABS, Reproduction number HABS ILL,16-CHIG,39--1)" /></div><p>The 1889 Auditorium Building is well-known for the important role it played in establishing the artistic and cultural identity of a young, booming city. Roosevelt University now owns the building at the corner of East Congress Parkway and North Michigan Avenue.</p><p>The multi-use building, designed by Dankmar Adler and Louis Sullivan, included an exquisite performance space with stunning acoustics and ornamentation. But the building also sheds light on how these late 19th century architects wrestled with designing increasingly taller and heavier buildings on Chicago&rsquo;s waterlogged clay.</p><p>If you&rsquo;ve ever visited the Auditorium Building or Theatre, you may have noticed that the floors are not quite even. And if you&rsquo;ve come in the Auditorium entrance off the Congress Parkway, located under the building&rsquo;s 17-story tower, you may have noticed that you walk <em>down</em> about four steps to buy your ticket and enter the lobby.</p><p>Those four steps were not part of Adler and Sullivan&rsquo;s original plans &mdash; they were added because that&rsquo;s how far the building has sunk into the earth since it was constructed in 1889. The building weighs more than 110,000 tons.</p><p>All new buildings sink a bit at first &mdash; a fact architects and engineers have tried to account for since they began building big enough to notice. But the Auditorium sunk more than 18 inches in the first year after it opened, leaving it with uneven floors that can make visitors feel drunk as they navigate. The technical term for this is &ldquo;differential settlement,&rdquo; which means that the different parts of the building &mdash; depending on how heavy they are and how much the soil can bear &mdash; settle to different depths.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/FOR WEB Auditorium_bldg_(foundations)_HABS.jpg" style="height: 322px; width: 620px;" title="Adler and Sullivan designed a foundation system of isolated piers to distribute the load at several points across the Auditorium Building's base. (Source: Library of Congress, HABS, National Park Service)" /></div></div><p>In the basement of the Auditorium, there&rsquo;s a large crack on the concrete floor that runs parallel to the exterior wall. While the whole building has settled, this is where it&rsquo;s obvious that the heavier exterior stone walls have sunk almost a foot more than the interior structure, which was made from a lighter iron and steel skeleton.</p><p>The 1880s and 1890s saw several Chicago buildings that used a hybrid structural system of stone and brick on the exterior with iron and steel on the interior. But because architects knew that a continuous foundation around the building&rsquo;s perimeter would likely sink at different rates and to different depths, Adler and Sullivan designed a foundation system of isolated piers to distribute the load at several points across the building&rsquo;s base. These piers under the building resemble giant pyramids measuring more than 12 feet tall. They acted like the legs of a chair, redistributing the heaviest parts of the building&rsquo;s uneven footprint over a larger area. But these giant pyramids &mdash; made with layers of wooden timbers, crisscrossing steel embedded in concrete, and blocks of stone &mdash; took up valuable basement space.</p><p>Adler conducted extensive tests of the Auditorium footings, loading them with heavy pig iron to simulate the weight of the building and then measuring how much they sank into the earth. But this is an imperfect science. He based his calculations on exterior walls of brick, not the heavier granite and limestone that would eventually be used. It also became clear that the 17-story tower simply weighed more than the 10-story building surrounding it. And the weight of the exterior stone walls was much greater than the lighter skeleton frame of steel and iron used on the interior.</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/FOR%20WEB%20monadnock%20present%20Eric%20Allix%20Rogers%20flickr.jpg" style="height: 423px; width: 280px; float: right;" title="The Monadnock Building, built in 1891, is one of the heaviest skyscrapers still standing. (Flickr/Eric Allix Rogers)" /><span style="font-size:22px;">A later experiment: The Monadnock Building</span></p><p>As skyscrapers in the late 19th century grew taller, architects and engineers experimented with ways of preventing buildings from sinking too far into the clay, or settling unevenly.</p><p>Burnham and Root&rsquo;s 1891 Monadnock Building, which sits at the southwest corner of Jackson Boulevard and Dearborn Street, is one of the heaviest skyscrapers still standing. Its dark brown brick walls measure six feet wide at the base.</p><p>The building&rsquo;s basement holds clues to how such a heavy building stands without its feet on solid bedrock. Owner Bill Donnell explains that the Monadnock is distinctive because it&rsquo;s one of the tallest buildings with walls that actually do the work of holding it up. During the 1890s, buildings needed to get taller, so architects started shifting away from load-bearing walls; instead, they opted for a sturdy skeleton of steel.</p><p>Construction crews at the time couldn&rsquo;t dig down 80 feet to find bedrock, so they floated the building on the clay.</p><p>They took steel railroad rails and layered them into pyramid-shaped footings that could distribute the building&rsquo;s weight over a larger area. Picture dozens of columns pressing through the basement floor with pyramid-shaped feet, made from railroad rails caked with concrete.</p><div class="image-insert-image " style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/FOR%20WEB%20grillage%20diagram.jpg" title="A diagram of standard grillage foundation of steel rails and concrete. " /></div><p>These so-called &lsquo;grillage&rsquo; foundations were used in several other Burnham and Root buildings throughout Chicago in the 1880s and 1890s, including the Rookery and the now-demolished Montauk Block and Great Northern Hotel. Burnham credits Peter B. Wight, who came to the city from New York after the Great Chicago Fire of 1871, with helping to engineer the first one.</p><p>In fact, if we think back to our question about Chicago&rsquo;s swamp, this type of floating raft foundation actually makes a lot of sense. Imagine a tall tree growing in a water-filled swamp. Just like the Monadnock&rsquo;s foundations, the tree trunk flairs out wide at the base. With only a shallow root system, this is the tree&rsquo;s only way of buttressing itself in the mud.</p><p>The Monadnock is actually a hybrid; its northern and southern halves were completed a few years apart, and feature different structural systems. The north half of the Monadnock was the end of an era in structural design, showing the challenges of this type of floating-raft foundation and thick masonry walls.</p><p>A lot more than swampy soil factored into the desire for new structural systems around this time. As land values climbed, developers and clients required taller buildings to make building profitable. That meant architects and engineers needed to economize while also still strengthening the structure against gravity and wind. And if the walls of the building get thicker, the result is smaller rooms with less rentable space. Thicker walls also meant smaller windows. Long before the widespread use of strong electric lighting, natural daylight was a premium amenity that all tenants wanted.</p><p>Things changed a bit when the owners of the Monadnock Building expanded only a year and a half later. They commissioned architects Holabird &amp; Roche for the southern addition and rather than design another load-bearing brick building, the architects developed a lighter-weight steel skeleton frame building. Although it used a similar foundation, this steel skeleton frame brought benefits beyond simply weighing less; it had thinner walls, used less material and could be constructed faster.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/monadnock grid bentley2.jpg" title="The grillage foundation seen under the basement floor of the Monadnock Building shows how the architects and engineers tried to float the building on clay. (WBEZ/Chris Bentley)" /></div></div><p>Just one year after the Monadnock&rsquo;s southern addition was built, another dramatically different type of foundation system, called caissons, was attempted for the first time in a Chicago skyscraper. At Adler and Sullivan&rsquo;s Stock Exchange Building construction site, crews were finally able to drill down through all the clay and fill the holes with concrete, which anchored the building to the bedrock.</p><p>Caissons were basically subterranean chambers that could keep construction work dry even deep underground. They diminished the need to float the building on top of the squishy soil, which meant that architects and engineers could experiment with new types of structural systems above ground.</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Screen Shot 2015-03-06 at 4.08.43 PM_0.png" style="height: 637px; width: 310px; float: right;" title="Surficial geology map of the Chicago region. Click to enlarge. (Courtesy USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service)" /><span style="font-size:22px;">Reaching new heights</span></p><p>Architects in Chicago have dug enough foundations to know their way around the city&rsquo;s famously swampy soil. But in many cities geotechnical engineers are still searching for solid footing.</p><p>&ldquo;For cities that are established, it&#39;s more a question of refinement,&rdquo; says Bill Baker, a structural engineering partner at architecture firm Skidmore Owings &amp; Merrill. &ldquo;There are still cities where you&#39;re trying to figure it out. [In] Las Vegas you can&#39;t find the rock. There have been some buildings with very large settlements, so how do you deal with that? [In] Houston, believe it or not, you can&#39;t find the rock.&rdquo;</p><p>Baker knows this problem well. In 1957 architects Walter Netsch and Bruce Graham used steel pilings to anchor Chicago&rsquo;s Inland Steel Building to dolomite bedrock buried deep beneath the Loop &mdash; the first time after almost seven decades of skyscraper construction that design teams and engineers had accomplished such a feat.</p><p>Though most of the digging and surveying underground is done remotely these days, Baker recalls looking up from 70 feet beneath the AT&amp;T Corporate Center, which opened in 1989.</p><p>&ldquo;You&rsquo;re looking up at a little patch of light, which is the sky, and it of course has an earthy smell,&rdquo; he says. &ldquo;Somewhere along the way someone discovered there&rsquo;s a tendency to be methane down there, and so we don&rsquo;t go down them any more. We put cameras down there. But I kind of miss going down &hellip; to the bottom of the world there.&rdquo;</p><p>He says even though new technology makes it easier to find solid bedrock beneath 100 feet of wet clay, it doesn&rsquo;t always make sense to drill that deep. Modern engineers still use the same general principle Burnham &amp; Root employed when they floated the foundations of the Monadnock Building on an even flimsier layer of soil known as desiccated crust: They just spread the load. Only, today, they prefer a compacted layer of clay found deeper than the crust, called hardpan.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><a href="https://archive.org/stream/historyconstruct00nich#page/n0/mode/thumb" target="_blank"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/FOR%20WEB%20hardpan%20and%20other%20soil%20tests%20copy.png" style="height: 466px; width: 620px;" title="Hardpan, a soil layer above bedrock, is commonly used to anchor skyscrapers today. (Source: The history, construction and design of caisson foundations in Chicago, 1913) " /></a></div><p>&ldquo;One of the reasons we don&#39;t always sit on the rock is it&#39;s very expensive. Because once you poke through that hardpan you&#39;re fighting against water that&#39;s under pressure,&rdquo; Baker says. &ldquo;That last few feet is very expensive, which is why if at all possible you sit on the hardpan.&rdquo;</p><p>And Baker says Chicago&rsquo;s legacy as an innovation center for geotechnical engineering is very much alive.</p><p>&ldquo;If you were an architect you had to show that you were not just a ballerina, you had to show you could actually speak to the technology,&rdquo; says Baker. &ldquo;One of the things about Chicago is that it was always an architectural engineering town. &hellip; A lot of the serious architects out there are very, very savvy when it comes to technology.&rdquo;</p><p>While Chicago may have been dealt an unlucky geological hand, 19th century Chicagoans did find something useful to do with all the mucky clay: The city became the center of the nation&rsquo;s terra cotta industry. Architects used terra cotta, which is simply baked clay, to <a href="http://interactive.wbez.org/curiouscity/chicagofire/#buildingmaterials" target="_blank">help fireproof buildings after the Great Chicago Fire of 1871</a>.</p><p>So it might just be that Chicago&rsquo;s sloshy soil helped solidify the foundations of modern tall building design, engineering and construction.</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/FOR%20WEB%20vendel.jpg" style="height: 232px; width: 310px; float: left;" title="(Photo courtesy Mike Vendel)" /><span style="font-size:22px;">Mike Vendel, Curious Citizen</span></p><p>Mike Vendel, a computer programmer for Accenture, grew up in Chicago&rsquo;s West Lawn neighborhood and now lives in Edgewater. He says he first wondered about Chicago&rsquo;s swampy soil when volunteering in parks along the North Side lakefront. Looking south one day from Montrose Beach, Vendel noticed that Chicago&rsquo;s mighty skyscrapers were basically sitting on the same soggy footing he was.</p><p>&ldquo;I see these giant buildings on the horizon. And then I look down at the sandy soil I&#39;m standing on and I think, how do those massive and immense buildings stay stable in a soil like this?&rdquo; he wrote at the start of our reporting.</p><p>He wondered about the geology of our region and how early settlers overcame Chicago&rsquo;s swampy conditions to lay the foundations of a 20th century skyscraper boom.</p><p>&ldquo;Any architect probably knows how massive buildings can remain stable in any type of soil,&rdquo; he wrote. &ldquo;But to me, it&rsquo;s a mystery and fairly amazing.&rdquo;</p><p><em>Chris Bentley reports for WBEZ&rsquo;s Curious City and is the Midwest Editor of <a href="http://www.archpaper.com/" target="_blank">The Architect&rsquo;s Newspaper</a>. Follow him at <a href="http://cabentley.com/" target="_blank">cabentley.com</a> and on Twitter at <a href="https://twitter.com/cementley" target="_blank">@Cementley</a>.</em></p><p><em>Jen Masengarb is Director of Interpretation and Research at the <a href="http://www.architecture.org" target="_blank">Chicago Architecture Foundation</a>. Follow her on Twitter at <a href="https://twitter.com/jmasengarb" target="_blank">@jmasengarb</a>.</em></p></p> Wed, 04 Mar 2015 17:52:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/building-skyscrapers-chicagos-swampy-soil-111658 U of I breaks ground on new engineering building http://www.wbez.org/story/u-i-breaks-ground-new-engineering-building-92970 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//archives/images/cityroom/cityroom_20090910_scrawford_718502_New _large.png" alt="" /><p><p>Officials have broken ground for a new $95 million engineering building at the University of Illinois that the school says will be the world's largest to produce as much energy as it uses.</p><p>Gov. Pat Quinn, university President Michael Hogan and others attended a ceremony at the Urbana-Champaign campus Friday at the site of the new Electrical and Computer Engineering Building. Construction is expected to start in November and be finished in 2014.</p><p>The state is providing $47.5 million of the cost while the university will cover the rest. Illinois Chancellor Phyllis Wise said the university needs about $10 million more to cover its half of the cost.</p><p>The 230,000 square-foot building will include a 400-seat auditorium.</p></p> Sat, 08 Oct 2011 13:29:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/u-i-breaks-ground-new-engineering-building-92970 Biologists battle killer in the Great Lakes http://www.wbez.org/content/biologists-battle-killer-great-lakes-0 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//frontandcenter/photo/2011-07-06/88734/Lamprey eel_Front and Center.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>A lot of people are worried about Asian carp swimming into the Great Lakes. We know from experience how bad an invasive species can be. Sea lamprey devastated the Great Lakes fishery in the 1940s and 50s, and they still kill a lot of fish.</p><p>Sea lamprey are native to the Atlantic Ocean. They swam into the upper Great Lakes through ship canals. Now that they’re here, they can’t be eradicated; they can only be reduced in number, and that’s a constant battle.</p><div class="daylife_smartgalleries_container" style="border: medium none; margin: 0pt; padding: 0pt; overflow: hidden; height: 375px; width: 550px; text-align: center;"><iframe class="daylife_smartgalleries_frame" src="http://galleries.wbez.org/gallery_slideshow/1309889044740?width=550&amp;disable_link_to_hosted_page=0&amp;height=375&amp;show_related=0" style="border: medium none; margin: 0pt; padding: 0pt; overflow: hidden; height: 100%; width: 100%;" frameborder="0" scrolling="no"></iframe></div><p><br> <style type="text/css"> div .inline { width: 290px; float: left; margin-right: 19px; margin-left: 3px; clear: left; } div .inlineContent { border-top: 1px dotted #aa211d; border-top-width: 1px; border-top-style: dotted; border-top-color: #aa211d; margin-bottom: 5px; margin-top: 2px; } ul { margin-left: 15px; } li { font-family: Arial,Helvetica,sans-serif; font-size: 12px; line-height: 1em; background-repeat: no-repeat; background-repeat-x: no-repeat; background-repeat-y: no-repeat; background-position: 0 5px; background-position-x: 0px; background-position-y: 5px; padding-left: 3px; margin-bottom: 0.5em; }</style> </p><div class="inline"><div class="inlineContent"><a href="http://www.wbez.org/frontandcenter"><img alt="" src="http://www.wbez.org/sites/default/files/story/insert-image/2011-June/2011-06-28/FNC-inset-promo.jpg" style="width: 280px; height: 50px;" title=""></a><ul><li><strong><a href="http://www.wbez.org/story/about-front-and-center-%E2%80%93-depth-reporting-great-lakes-87655">About Front and Center</a></strong></li><li><strong><a href="http://www.wbez.org/frontandcenter/2011-07-05/big-ship-diary-88726">Big ship diary: nine days on a freighter </a></strong></li><li><a href="http://www.wbez.org/frontandcenter/2011-07-04/dredging-shipping-industry-declares-state-emergency-88579"><strong>Dredging: Great Lakes shipping emergency</strong></a></li></ul><p><strong>BLOG POST</strong></p><p><a href="http://www.wbez.org/blog/city-room-blog/2011-07-06/great-lakes-least-loved-creature-video-88538"><img alt="" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2011-July/2011-07-05/Bloody Sealamp_.jpg" style="width: 84px; height: 64px; float: left;" title=""></a><span style="font-size: 11px;"><a href="http://www.wbez.org/blog/city-room-blog/2011-07-06/great-lakes-least-loved-creature-video-88538"><strong>The Great Lakes<br> least loved<br> creature (VIDEO)</strong></a></span></p><p>&nbsp;</p></div></div><p>“It’s kind of a whack-a-mole situation,” says Don Schreiner, area fisheries supervisor for Lake Superior for the Minnesota DNR.Federal, state, and Canadian government agencies cooperate on sea lamprey control. Schreiner says they’ve tried cutting back efforts on some lakes.</p><p>“We thought we had them under control,” he says. “We moved that control to another lake that needed more help, and sea lamprey just blossomed where we moved the control away from.”</p><p>Sea lamprey swim up rivers to reproduce, so many of the tributaries into the Great Lakes have lamprey barriers now. Fish ladders allow other fish to pass, but sea lamprey can’t get over them.</p><p>On a June morning, Tom Davies visited the barrier on the Brule River in northern Wisconsin. Davies is a seasonal worker for the US Fish and Wildlife Service. One of his jobs is to climb down into a trap on the side of the barrier in hip waders and use a net to scoop out the sea lamprey that have been trapped that day.&nbsp; Davies says some days, there are as many as 600 sea lamprey in the trap.</p><p>“You come down off the ladder and you’re literally stepping on them, and they’re swimming all around you, hitting you in the waders,” he says.</p><p>Davies says he and his coworkers have joked that the TV show “Fear Factor” should have had people in swimming suits climb into the trap. It would have been horrifying. Adult sea lamprey are a foot or more long, gray and slimy looking. They look like eels, but a sea lamprey’s head ends in a big, round suction cup mouth, filled with rows of teeth. They kill fish by latching onto them, rasping a hole, and sucking out the fluids.</p><p>Davies grabs a sea lamprey and lets it latch onto his bare arm. He has to pry it off.</p><p>“See the mark they leave so quick?” he asks. There’s a red ring on his skin.</p><p>Workers at the barriers measure and sex the lampreys. The males are saved for one of the control projects. They’re sterilized and released in the St. Mary’s River, between Lake Superior and Lake Huron, where they compete with fertile males and reduce the number of fertilized eggs.</p><p>Workers also apply a chemical to streams where sea lamprey spawn to kill the young.</p><p>The Minnesota DNR’s Don Schreiner says these control efforts cost $20 million a year, “and that’s funding we continually fight for in Congress.” It’s on the books to be reduced by 20 percent in 2012.</p><p>Schreiner says the Great Lakes’ fishery depends on sea lamprey control. Estimates of the worth of that fishery range as high as $7 billion. Most of that economic return comes from sport fishing, but commercial fishing is important to the Great Lakes region, too.</p><p>Even on Lake Superior’s north shore, where the water is cold and deep and doesn’t produce a lot of fish, a small commercial fishery has made a comeback.</p><p>In the early 20<sup>th</sup> century, there were more than 400 commercial fishermen on the Minnesota shore of Lake Superior. But overfishing, pollution, and sea lamprey devastated the fish population. Today, some of that pollution has been cleaned up, fishing has been restricted, and some fish are stocked. Fish such as lake trout and cisco have rebounded. But the state is being conservative, and will only license 25 commercial fishermen.</p><p>Most of those fishermen also do something else for a living. But fisherman Stephen Dahl says he’s not part of a vanishing breed.</p><p>“There’s definitely a perception that we’re the last of the Mohicans, we’re dying out,” Dahl says. “And it’s like, no, it’s changed. It’s a changed world.”</p><p>Dahl heads out into the big lake in a small, open boat every morning, unless there’s too much ice in the harbor for him to break through. He hauls nets from the depths by hand. It’s hard work. Some days the lake is rough and the wind howls. He laughs when he’s asked about being wet and cold.</p><p>“I think I was born wet and cold,” he says.</p><p>Dahl is only allowed to catch cisco, which North Shore fishermen refer to as lake herring. In other parts of the lake, it’s legal for commercial fishermen to take trout and whitefish. They’ve got a ready market. Restaurants and delis on the shore snap up the fish when they’re available. Sometimes, when people know the fish are running, they’ll come to the dock and buy the fish right from the fishermen.</p><p>“This whole local food movement is really good,” Dahl says. It’s increased demand. “Most of the time I can’t keep up.”</p><p>The local food movement helps support an apprentice Dahl recently trained. Dahl’s apprentice, Jason Bradley, now has his own master’s license and his own boat. He’s also co-owner of a community supported agriculture (CSA) farm. His customers get the usual box of vegetables, but they can also get a herring share.</p><p>Customer Mark Gordon co-owns a charter sailing business, and likes to serve his customers local food. He’s a big fan of Jason Bradley’s herring.</p><p>“You just feel good eating the fish when you know it’s come right out of the lake,” Gordon says. “There’s no question about where it’s come from and how it was processed.”</p><p>Lake Superior fish is also sold around the country, and even overseas. Some of it goes to Iowa and is made into gefilte fish. Some of the roe goes to Scandinavia.</p><p>Native fish have bounced back in Lake Superior, but the DNR’s Don Schreiner says it’s still a “precarious situation.”</p><p>Schreiner says control measures keep sea lamprey numbers down to about 5 to 10 percent of what they were at their height.</p><p>“It sounds like we’ve done a good job, and we have,” Schreiner says. “Except that sea lamprey are very efficient.”He says biologists estimate that sea lamprey still kill as many fish in Lake Superior as sport and commercial fishing combined.</p></p> Wed, 06 Jul 2011 16:22:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/content/biologists-battle-killer-great-lakes-0 Undocumented youths try to derail Senate hopeful Mark Kirk http://www.wbez.org/story/19th-ward/undocumented-youths-try-derail-senate-hopeful-mark-kirk <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//story/photo/2010-October/2010-10-29/Rogelio_0.JPG" alt="" /><p><p>A requirement to vote in the United States is citizenship. But voting isn&rsquo;t the only way to affect a race&rsquo;s outcome. Some undocumented young people in the Chicago area are going all out against the Republican in Illinois&rsquo;s U.S. Senate election Tuesday.<br /><br />Their motivation is a federal bill called the Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors Act. The DREAM Act, as it&rsquo;s known, would provide legal status to many college students and service members who&rsquo;ve grown up in the United States.<br /><br />The undocumented youths are upset that Rep. Mark Kirk (R-IL) isn&rsquo;t supporting the legislation. They&rsquo;re trying to derail his U.S. Senate campaign and get in his face.<br /><br />Ambi: DREAM Act? Yeah, yeah, yeah! Mark Kirk? No, no, no!<br /><br />About a dozen undocumented students have donned graduation gowns and caps outside a Republican office on Chicago&rsquo;s North Side. Three others are staging a sit-in inside. They include this 23-year-old.<br /><br />UNZUETA: My name is Irere Unzueta.<br /><br />Unzueta says her parents brought her to Chicago from Mexico at age 6. She&rsquo;s graduated from the University of Illinois at Chicago. Now she wants a master&rsquo;s in engineering. But she&rsquo;s not a legal resident so doesn&rsquo;t qualify for most financial aid.<br /><br />Unzueta says she and the others aren&rsquo;t leaving the Republican office until Kirk agrees to meet with them.<br /><br />UNZUETA: Him saying that he is going to want to push for a lot more border security -- border enforcement -- before anything positive is really passed, I just think, is a really bad idea.<br /><br />Unzueta says her group isn&rsquo;t endorsing the race&rsquo;s Democrat, Alexi Giannoulias. She says they just want Kirk defeated.<br /><br />After four hours inside the office, police show up and the students leave. But about 10 miles away, some other undocumented youths keep at it.<br /><br />Ambi: Walking through fallen leaves.<br /><br />MITCHELL: I&rsquo;m going door to door through a Latino neighborhood of west-suburban Melrose Park. A 22-year-old named Rogelio is leading a crew of volunteer canvassers that&rsquo;s reminding folks to vote on Tuesday.<br />Ambi: Knocking.<br />ROGELIO: Here we come. (Door opens.) Hola buenas noches. Cómo estás? Se encuentra el señor... <br />MITCHELL: He asked us not to broadcast his last name because he&rsquo;s undocumented. Rogelio says he&rsquo;s lived in the area since his parents brought him from Mexico City at age 6. After graduating from a high school in Northlake, he says he fell into a depression as he realized how hard it would be to go to college or find a decent job without papers.<br />ROGELIO: This is crazy because I&rsquo;m undocumented and I&rsquo;m doing this. And people are thanking me. Even though I can&rsquo;t vote, the people are thanking us for doing this.<br />MITCHELL: Rogelio&rsquo;s not telling anyone how to vote. But he is handing out some yellow fliers comparing the immigration stands of the U.S. Senate candidates. That flier suggests a big difference between Mark Kirk and Alexi Giannoulias on the DREAM Act.<br />ROGELIO: I really enjoy doing this. It gets me out of my depression. It gets me out from where I was at two years ago, just there home doing nothing, like a loser. And I&rsquo;m not a loser. We&rsquo;re not losers, we&rsquo;re winners. And I feel like a winner right now, doing this, just getting out there and just informing the community.<br /><br />We left messages this morning to see what the Kirk campaign and the Illinois Republican Party think about undocumented youths working against the Senate candidate. They didn&rsquo;t get back to us.<br /><br />But a local Tea Party activist says the young people are hurting their own cause.<br /><br />WOJTOWICZ: They&rsquo;re helping Mark Kirk with this.<br /><br />Catherina Wojtowicz lives on Chicago&rsquo;s Southwest Side.<br /><br />WOJTOWICZ: They&rsquo;re strategy is completely skewed. Mark Kirk&rsquo;s weak base is with the conservative movement. If they want to come to the Southwest Side, I&rsquo;ll give them a donation.<br />MITCHELL: Why?<br />WOJTOWICZ: It&rsquo;ll help me. And Worth Township and the 19th Ward are Democratic bastions.<br /><br />The undocumented youths may not have a good shot at winning over Wojtowicz&rsquo;s part of town. But they still think can defeat Kirk.</p></p> Fri, 29 Oct 2010 22:52:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/19th-ward/undocumented-youths-try-derail-senate-hopeful-mark-kirk Mutants, androids, cyborgs and pop culture films http://www.wbez.org/story/scitech/mutants-androids-and-cyborgs-science-pop-culture-films <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//story/photo/2010-October/2010-10-26/Off-Air_Oct-scientists.jpg" alt="" /><p><p><span id="ctl00_content1_lblDescription">Ever wonder about the line between science and science fiction? Could we ever selectively erase experiences from our memories?&nbsp; Upload information to our brains like a hard drive? Control robotic limbs with our minds? <br /><br />Throughout history, fiction has made some bold predictions about future technology. In 1870, Jules Verne imagined the now-commonplace fax machine, but H. G. Wells&rsquo; 1895 visions of time travel have yet to pan out. What science of tomorrow can we look forward to by viewing the films of today?<br /><br />On October 20th, WBEZ's <strong>Gabriel Spitzer</strong> was joined on stage by four of Northwestern's leading scientists to discuss their fields as seen on the big screen and learn how closely futuristic depictions of science match what's really possible. The audience was treated to some of our favorite science fiction movie moments and then heard what researchers are working on now in exciting areas like prosthetics, robotics, nanotechnology, and neuroscience.</span></p><p><span id="ctl00_content1_lblDescription">On Stage:<br /><strong>Todd Kuiken, MD, PhD</strong>, is director of the&nbsp;<a target="_blank" href="http://www.ric.org/research/centers/necal/index.aspx">Neural Engineering Center for Artificial Limbs</a> (NECAL) and director of amputee services at the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago. He is also a professor of physical medicine and rehabilitation as well as biomedical engineering at Northwestern University.&nbsp; Research in NECAL focuses on improving control of prostheses using targeted reinnervation, a procedure that reroutes brain signals from nerves severed during amputation to intact muscles, allowing patients to control their prostheses intuitively.</span></p><p><span id="ctl00_content1_lblDescription"><strong>Malcolm MacIver, PhD</strong>, is an associate professor of biomedical engineering, mechanical engineering and neurobiology and physiology at Northwestern University. He studies how the brain and body work together to obtain information about the world through sensory systems, using a combination of biological experiments, large-scale simulations, and robotics. He is also interested in bringing research to the broader community through interactive art installations and through involvement with the Science Entertainment Exchange, a program sponsored by the National Academy of Sciences that connects members of the entertainment industry with scientists. He recently served as a scientific consultant for the Disney film TRON: Legacy, and is the science advisor for the television series Caprica.</span></p><p><span id="ctl00_content1_lblDescription"><strong>Tom Meade, PhD</strong>, is the Elieen M. Foell professor of chemistry, biochemistry and molecular and cell biology, neurobiology and physiology, and radiology at Northwestern University. He is the founder of four biotechnology companies, and he holds more than 60 issued patents with 40 others pending. Meade's research covers a wide range of disciplines, including the emerging field of nanotechnology. Using nanotechnology, he and his collaborators are developing ultra-sensitive hand-held diagnostic tools and genetic tests, as well as improving current imaging techniques such as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).</span></p><p><span id="ctl00_content1_lblDescription"><strong>Catherine Woolley, PhD</strong>, is a professor of neurobiology and physiology and also directs the Biological Imaging Facility at Northwestern.&nbsp;&nbsp; She studies plasticity, or the capacity for structural and functional change, of neural circuits in the brain, focusing on brain areas important in learning and memory, addiction, and epilepsy. Her research uses cellular and subcelluar imaging, electrophysiology, and biochemistry to understand how internal factors, such as hormones, and external factors, such as drugs of abuse, drive plastic changes in these brain areas and alter neural function.</span></p><p><span id="ctl00_content1_lblDescription"><strong><a target="_self" href="http://blogs.vocalo.org/blog/clever-apes"><strong>WBEZ's Clever Apes</strong></a></strong> is a nano-sized show with a cosmic scope, reflecting this take on science. It tells the stories of the Chicago-area&rsquo;s rich scientific community, its quirky characters and the fascinating, often mind-bending questions they&rsquo;re out to answer.&nbsp; </span></p><p><span><a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/31646672@N06/sets/72157625111154391/">Click here</a> to see more photos from this event.</span></p></p> Wed, 27 Oct 2010 13:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/scitech/mutants-androids-and-cyborgs-science-pop-culture-films