WBEZ | Science http://www.wbez.org/news/science Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Looking out for climate change in Chicago http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/looking-out-climate-change-chicago-109968 <p><p><em>Editor&rsquo;s note: <a href="#event">Key interviews that contributed to this story</a> about climate change and the future of Chicago were first presented during <a href="#event">The Raw Report,</a>&nbsp;a live media event co-produced by WBEZ and <a href="http://www.prairie.org/programs/public-square" target="_blank">The Public Square</a>, a program of the Illinois Humanities Council.&nbsp;</em></p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/FOR%20WEB%20family%20photo.jpg" style="height: 267px; width: 200px; margin: 5px; float: right;" title="Mark Mesle, center, asked his question out of concern for his family, including wife Abby and daughter Parker. (Photo courtesy of Mark Mesle)" />Some people find it hard to get worked up about the fate of future generations. But Mark Mesle, who came to Curious City with a big question about climate change, has no problem putting a face on future environmental anxieties.</p><p>Her name is Parker. She&rsquo;s Mark&rsquo;s 18-month-old daughter. He and his wife Abbey have another kid on the way, and it got him wondering:</p><p style="text-align: center;"><em>How will climate change impact Chicago?</em></p><p>Mark runs a website, <a href="http://www.50yearforecast.org" target="_blank">www.50yearforecast.org</a>, devoted to raising awareness on climate change, so he&rsquo;s no stranger to the topic. What he asked us for was a higher-resolution picture of the problem: a better understanding of how greenhouse gases might change life for his kids here in Chicago.</p><p>&ldquo;You always see 2100 projections,&rdquo; said Mark, who is 33 years old. &ldquo;How about 2045, when my daughter is my age?&rdquo;</p><p>Mark wants to know what kind of world his kids will grow up in, so understandably he asked for a high degree of detail.</p><p>&ldquo;Do the Cubs not play August games anymore?&rdquo; he asked, for example.</p><p>But here&rsquo;s the thing: Mark&rsquo;s asking for something that we don&#39;t have a clear answer for, according to Liz Moyer, an assistant professor of atmospheric chemistry and transport at the University of Chicago.</p><p>&ldquo;We know physically that climate change will happen. We know geologically what&rsquo;s happened to species in the past,&rdquo; Moyer said. &ldquo;How do you turn that into saying, &lsquo;It&rsquo;s going to cost this much, it&rsquo;ll change our economy in this way.&rsquo; That&rsquo;s something we&rsquo;ve had trouble doing, and the economic models are set up to reflect that.&rdquo;</p><p>The basic science is settled. Greenhouse gases (carbon dioxide, most notably) trap heat within the atmosphere, causing a global temperature rise. As it gets warmer, sea level rises due to the physical expansion of heated water and melting ice around the globe.</p><p>What all this means for Chicago is harder to say &mdash; the<a href="http://www.ipcc-data.org/guidelines/pages/gcm_guide.html" target="_blank"> climate models scientist use don&#39;t provide that kind of resolution</a>. But the situation could be improving. <a href="http://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/2014/03/19/climate-data-initiative-launches-strong-public-and-private-sector-commitments" target="_blank">In March the federal government announced</a> it would release data from NOAA, NASA, the U.S. Geological Survey, the Department of Defense, and other Federal agencies on its website, climate.data.gov, <a href="http://resilience.maps.arcgis.com/home/" target="_blank">to help cities and regions plan</a> for climate change. The <a href="http://www.sws.uiuc.edu/warm/cdflist.asp?typ=a" target="_blank">Illinois Climate Network&#39;s data</a> is part of that growing cache of information.</p><p>Globally, though, <a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/chris-bentley/2013-01/climate-change-warnings-sharp-relief-104942" target="_blank">scientists are concerned</a>. A<a href="http://whatweknow.aaas.org/" target="_blank"> report issued March 18</a> by the American Association for the Advancement of Science warns, &ldquo;We are at risk of pushing our climate system toward abrupt, unpredictable, and potentially irreversible changes with highly damaging impacts.&rdquo;</p><p>So, if we won&rsquo;t be able to give a foolproof picture of what Chicago&rsquo;s climate will be like in 2045, is there any insight we could send Mark&rsquo;s way?</p><p>It turns out there is.</p><p>We found scientists, economists, activists and Chicago officials who are on the lookout for local effects of climate change. While none gives a full-blown prediction, each identifies which areas of life &mdash; the local economy, the lake, whatever &mdash; are most vulnerable and why Mark (and the rest of us) should consider them.</p><p><strong>What&rsquo;s on Chicago&rsquo;s radar</strong></p><p>The city <a href="http://www.chicagoclimateaction.org/pages/climate_change_and_chicago/5.php" target="_blank">laid out what it knows</a> in its<a href="http://www.chicagoclimateaction.org/pages/research___reports/8.php" target="_blank"> Climate Action Plan</a>, which was adopted in 2008. City Hall has three main concerns:<a href="http://www.chicagoclimateaction.org/pages/temperature/20.php" target="_blank"> it will get hotter</a>, exacerbating<a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/chris-bentley/2013-05/weary-high-chicago-asthma-rates-some-lobby-washington-107461" target="_blank"> problems with air quality</a> and perhaps making<a href="http://www.wbez.org/story/consecutive-days-warm-temperatures-could-break-1995-record-97332" target="_blank"> deadly heat waves</a> stronger and/or more common;<a href="http://www.chicagoclimateaction.org/pages/precipitation/21.php" target="_blank"> flooding could get worse</a> as intense<a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/chris-bentley/2013-03/climate-change-could-worsen-chicago-floods-106174" target="_blank"> rainstorms become more common</a>, further burdening<a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/chris-bentley/2013-04/heavy-rain-overwhelms-combined-sewer-system-106731" target="_blank"> an already swollen sewer system</a>; and<a href="http://www.chicagoclimateaction.org/pages/ecosystems/22.php" target="_blank"> Chicago&#39;s native ecosystems could change</a>, forcing farmers, gardeners and landscapers to change their habits.</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/THUMB%20flickr%20seth%20anderson%20-%20possible%20thumb.jpg" style="float: right; height: 260px; width: 325px; margin: 5px;" title="The Fisk generating plant in Chicago was closed in 2012. (FLickr/Seth Anderson)" />High school students at Robert Lindblom Math &amp; Science Academy in the West Englewood neighborhood are working on that last problem, studying which tree species are best suited to a warmer climate. So Parker Mesle and her forthcoming sibling will likely plant different saplings than her father, our question asker.</p><p>In the future there might be less Lake Michigan than Mark&rsquo;s used to, if <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/what%E2%80%99s-causing-record-low-levels-lake-michigan-105262" target="_blank">a trend toward low lake levels</a> continues. On average, warmer average temperatures should mean less ice cover during winter, which means the Great Lakes may evaporate faster than they&rsquo;re recharged. That could change coastal ecosystems <a href="http://green.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/09/24/low-waters-and-high-anxiety/?_php=true&amp;_type=blogs&amp;_r=0" target="_blank">and hurt the lucrative shipping industry</a> in the region, which <a href="http://www.marad.dot.gov/documents/US-Flag_Great_Lakes_Water_Transportation_Industry_Final_Report_2013.pdf" target="_top">the U.S. Department of Transportation says</a> supplies $14.1 billion in annual income to U.S. citizens, and $33.6 billion in annual U.S. business revenues.</p><p>The city&rsquo;s thinking through effects of climate change that may not be so dire, however. If Mark&rsquo;s kids choose to live in Chicago, they could have plenty of company. That&rsquo;s because, under some scenarios, transportation (especially forms that involve climate-changing fossil fuels) could become more expensive, making life in the dense, urban core more attractive.</p><p>Chicago is thinking through encouraging or adapting to higher residential density, and strategies include everything from neighborhood walkability to <a href="http://switchboard.nrdc.org/blogs/kbenfield/city_sustainability_is_about_t.html" target="_blank">historic preservation and affordable housing</a>.</p><p>&ldquo;If you think big picture, a lot of this is about creating a really livable, really competitive and really livable city,&rdquo; said Karen Weigert, Chicago&rsquo;s chief sustainability officer. She said urbanites have a lower per capita carbon footprint than those in less densely populated communities, which tend to have higher transportation emissions.</p><p>&ldquo;Living in an urban environment, as a start,&rdquo; she said, &ldquo;is actually a pretty good climate choice.&rdquo; <a href="http://archpaper.com/news/articles.asp?id=6218" target="_blank">Even suburbs are starting to reinvest in transit-oriented development</a> and walkability&mdash;characteristics traditionally associated with inner cities. Reducing the distance people need to travel reduces their fuel use, which can save <a href="http://www.nhc.org/media/documents/pub_heavy_load_10_06.pdf" target="_blank">money as well as greenhouse gas emissions</a>. So it&rsquo;s likely Mark&rsquo;s kids will have more transit options (not to mention <a href="http://www.wbez.org/story/54-mpg-argonne-natl-lab-wins-grant-fuel-efficiency-research-90433" target="_blank">more fuel-efficient vehicles</a>) wherever they decide to live.</p><p><strong>Knocking on Chicago&rsquo;s door?</strong></p><p>But what if rising seas in Florida and New York &mdash; let alone Bangladesh &mdash; send &ldquo;climate refugees&rdquo; flocking to Chicago? This is an example of an indirect &ldquo;knock-on&rdquo; effect of climate change that came up during <a href="#event">our panel discussion </a>in February. As University of Chicago Law Professor David Weisbach said, however, the Chicago area might be well-positioned to handle newcomers and other unforeseen impacts.</p><p>&ldquo;We have a temperate environment. We have a highly diversified economy &mdash; it&rsquo;s not dependent on any one sector. We have a stable fresh water supply,&rdquo; Weisbach said. &ldquo;If you think about what the effects of climate change will be in Chicago, it&rsquo;s going to be the knock-on effects. We&rsquo;re connected to the rest of the world, and what matters to the rest of the world matters to us. That will affect us potentially very, very deeply.&rdquo;</p><p>When we try to figure out what those potential impacts will be, we&rsquo;re inevitably speculating about the ability of our city to respond to change. One key problem with that is our ability to cope with challenges isn&rsquo;t uniform. Poorer communities, or those with less political clout, get passed over.</p><p>That&rsquo;s true in Chicago,<a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/chris-bentley/2013-04/qa-kim-wasserman-little-villages-coal-crusader-106742" target="_blank"> according to Kimberly Wasserman Nieto</a>, who is executive director of the Little Village Environmental Justice Organization. During <a href="#event">our event in February</a>, she said sustainability efforts need to address communities all around the city &mdash; not just on the North Side.</p><p>&ldquo;If it&rsquo;s about saving the butterflies and building green streets in Lincoln Park, that&rsquo;s great for them,&rdquo; Wasserman said, &ldquo;but what does that do for the people on the Southwest Side of Chicago?&rdquo;</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/flickr%20rainforest%20action%20network.jpg" style="float: left; height: 222px; width: 335px; margin: 5px;" title="Activists from the Little Village Environmental Justice organization protested in 2011 against the Crawford coal plant, which closed in 2012 (Flickr/Rainforest Action Network)" />She said local efforts to curb greenhouse gas emissions can help marginalized communities take control of their future, possibly creating jobs in turn.</p><p>&ldquo;For us it&rsquo;s about showing how a local economy can help a community and how that in change can also help turn the impacts of climate change,&rdquo; Wasserman said. &ldquo;We&rsquo;re working, breathing, living in our communities, fighting for our environment, and we want to showcase that bringing it local is really one of the only ways that we can save our environment.&rdquo;</p><p>Climate justice is a global issue, too, because the poorest countries also happen to be those that will get hit hardest by the effects of climate change. Countries in the tropics tend to have both fewer resources and far greater biodiversity than countries in temperate zones. Sea-level rise in Bangladesh alone<a href="http://www.reuters.com/article/2008/04/14/us-bangladesh-climate-islands-idUSDHA23447920080414" target="_blank"> is expected to displace tens of millions of people</a>.</p><p>Northwestern University Economist Benjamin Jones recently co-authored <a href="http://economics.mit.edu/files/9138" target="_blank">a study</a> examining the connection between severe weather and economic impacts. He and his colleagues found there&rsquo;s a surprisingly large range of possible economic outcomes.</p><p>&ldquo;For example, it&rsquo;s increasingly clear that when you have extreme heat in the U.S., that you see a large negative impact on agricultural output. It&rsquo;s increasingly clear that very high heat leads to at least temporary large spikes in mortality, especially among the very old and very young,&rdquo; Jones said. And, he said, it can impact economic growth on a large scale. With colleagues at Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Jones <a href="http://economics.mit.edu/files/9138" target="_blank">statistically analyzed the connection between severe weather, climate change and economic impacts</a>. One degree Celsius of warming could curb a country&rsquo;s growth by as much as one percentage point &mdash; a huge effect, considering the U.S. growth rate <a href="http://www.tradingeconomics.com/united-states/gdp-growth" target="_blank">was around 3 percent in recent years</a>.</p><p><strong>Climate of opportunity</strong></p><p>But figuring out how to respond to change &mdash; what experts are calling climate &ldquo;resiliency&rdquo; &mdash; could create huge opportunities, too.</p><p>Jones said if Chicago innovates within the low-carbon tech sector, it can make money and jobs while coping with climate risk.</p><p>Chicago is<a href="http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-10-19/changing-gears-will-advanced-batteries-charge-midwest-economy-93278" target="_blank"> the nation&rsquo;s hub for battery technology</a>. The<a href="about:blank" target="_blank"> wind energy industry is big here</a>, too, as is<a href="about:blank" target="_blank"> energy efficiency</a> and<a href="about:blank" target="_blank"> water technology</a>. Perhaps Mark Mesle&rsquo;s children will be among the scientists and engineers who will help us adapt to climate change.</p><p>&ldquo;Necessity is the mother of invention. We&rsquo;re already seeing a lot of innovation around clean energy, around agriculture,&rdquo; Jones said. &ldquo;If there is a lowest-cost way out, it will be that route.&rdquo;</p><p>Ultimately it&rsquo;s a question of managing short-term shocks and long-term changes. A short-term influx of climate refugees could be a good thing, providing skilled labor and boosting the local tax base. But too much too fast could overburden city services, especially if those services are already strained by severe weather.</p><p>In the six years since Chicago set out on its climate action agenda, the city has implemented a few notable initiatives to curb greenhouse gas emissions. Ratepayers voted to buy power through municipal aggregation,<a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/city%E2%80%99s-power-deal-boosts-wind-energy-108003" target="_blank"> which doubled the share of wind energy in the city&#39;s electricity supply</a>. That followed the<a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/activists-rejoice-coal-fired-plants-shut-down-102129" target="_blank"> closure of two coal-fired power plants on the Southwest Side</a> ahead of schedule. And last year Chicago<a href="http://archpaper.com/news/articles.asp?id=6798" target="_blank"> directed landlords of buildings larger than 50,000 square feet, which account for 15 percent of the city&rsquo;s total energy use, to report their energy consumption</a>. That&rsquo;s expected to improve the rate of energy efficiency improvements already hastened<a href="http://www.cityofchicago.org/city/en/progs/env/retrofit_chicago.html" target="_blank"> by a slimmed-down approval process</a> for retrofits.</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/flickr%20steven%20vance.jpg" style="float: right; height: 289px; width: 385px; margin: 5px;" title="A stretch of Cermak Road in Chicago is meant to serve as a model for sustainable streetscape. (Flickr/Steven Vance) " />And parts of Chicago itself may look different for our question asker&rsquo;s children. Chicago has invested in green infrastructure, including<a href="http://archpaper.com/news/articles.asp?id=6409" target="_blank"> a stretch of Cermak Road meant to serve as a model for sustainable streetscapes</a>. With rain gardens and smog-eating pavement, Sustainability Chief Karen Weigert said &ldquo;It&rsquo;s the kind of infrastructure that will be strong and critically important going forward.&rdquo;</p><p>That project cost less than competing proposals, city officials said when it was announced in 2012, but not all climate resiliency infrastructure projects are easy sells. Potential costs are huge, but so are upfront investments.<a href="http://www.cnt.org/2013/05/14/urban-flooding-is-chronic-and-costly-but-not-correlated-with-floodplains/" target="_blank"> The Center for Neighborhood Technology found</a> floods cost Chicagoans $660 million between 2007 and 2011 (just based on insurance claims paid out), for example. But, as we learned from atmospheric chemist Liz Moyer, cash-strapped governments don&rsquo;t typically make major investments to fend off future pain that is <a href="http://www.cicero.uio.no/media/9411.pdf" target="_blank">inherently uncertain</a>.</p><p><strong>Global citizens</strong></p><p>Absent national movement on a carbon tax or trading scheme that might catalyze development for climate-resilient infrastructure, Chicago will probably continue to lean on its most reliable resource: its people. As Weigert said, the city&rsquo;s motto is <em>Urbs in Horto</em> &mdash; city in a garden.</p><p>And that city is increasingly connected to others around the world. Whether it&rsquo;s in response to business opportunities, climate refugees and other knock-on effects, or carbon emissions from around the globe, Chicago&rsquo;s going to change with the climate. Our question asker Mark Mesle hopes we&rsquo;ll rise to the occasion. So for the sake of his kids, he&rsquo;s urging action.</p><p>&ldquo;I&rsquo;ve sort of always felt there needs to be international cooperation,&rdquo; he said at <a href="#event">our panel event</a> in February. &ldquo;That doesn&rsquo;t happen unless U.S. politicians care about it, and U.S. politicians don&rsquo;t care about it unless you tell them to care about it.&rdquo;</p><p><a href="http://cabentley.com/" target="_blank">Chris Bentley</a> is a reporter for WBEZ&rsquo;s Curious City, and a freelance journalist. <a href="https://twitter.com/Cementley" target="_blank">Follow him on Twitter at @Cementley</a>.</p><p><strong><a name="event"></a>The Raw Report: An experiment in live media-making</strong></p><p><strong><iframe frameborder="0" height="420" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/playlists/29067314&amp;color=ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_artwork=true" width="100%"></iframe></strong></p><p>In February 2014, WBEZ and <a href="http://www.prairie.org/programs/public-square" target="_blank">The Public Square</a> (a program of the Illinois Humanities Council) co-produced &nbsp;&ldquo;The Raw Report,&quot; an experiment in live media-making. The event, held at the Jim &amp; Kay Mabie Studio at Chicago Public Media, included a <a href="#sources">panel of knowledgeable sources</a> that answered Mark Mesle&rsquo;s question in front of a live audience. Teams of young and newly-minted reporters interpreted that answer and created their own original audio presentations in real time, which they reported back to the audience.</p><p>Moderator Laura Washington led a follow-up discussion that explored questions such as: How do the stories generated by the teams of young reporters differ and why? How important is it to realize that each story we consume in media is only one of an infinite number of ways to tell that same story?</p><p style="text-align: center;"><iframe frameborder="0" height="352" scrolling="no" src="http://files.slidemypics.com/app/js/iframe.html?bg_color=1f1f1f&amp;amp;hash=ab3ebd6dc91362591b5843aca1360030&amp;amp;r=0.32371021481230855" width="526"></iframe></p><address style="text-align: center;">(Full set of photos and more info in WBEZ&#39;s Flickr pool:&nbsp;<a href="http://wbez.is/1pXyf5r" target="_blank">http://wbez.is/1pXyf5r</a>)</address><p><strong><a name="sources"></a>Sincere thanks to our panelists:</strong></p><p dir="ltr"><a href="http://geosci.uchicago.edu/~moyer/MoyerWebsite/Home%20Page/HomePage.html" target="_blank">Elisabeth Moyer</a>, Assistant Professor of Atmospheric Chemistry and Transport at the University of Chicago. Moyer&rsquo;s research explores climate modeling and impact assessment. As a researcher with the <a href="http://www.rdcep.org/" target="_blank">Center for Robust Decision-making on Climate &amp; Energy Policy</a> (RDCEP), she&rsquo;s interested in sizing up and dealing with the uncertainty involved with making climate change predictions &mdash; case in point, a recent paper, &ldquo;<a href="http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2312770" target="_blank">Climate Impacts on Economic Growth as Drivers of Uncertainty in the Social Cost of Carbon</a>.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">Kimberly Wasserman Nieto, executive director, <a href="http://lvejo.org/" target="_blank">Little Village Environmental Justice Organization</a>. She&nbsp;<a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/news/activists-rejoice-coal-fired-plants-shut-down-102129" target="_blank">led the charge to close Midwest Generation&rsquo;s Crawford coal plant in her Little Village neighborhood of Chicago, as well as the Fisk power plant in Pilsen</a> &mdash; an effort for which she <a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/news/chicago-activist-wins-goldman-environmental-prize-106645" target="_blank">won the prestigious Goldman Environmental Prize</a> in 2013. LVEJO&rsquo;s success has been recognized worldwide, but Wasserman says the attention has only sharpened her focus on environmental justice in Chicago.</p><p><a href="http://www.law.uchicago.edu/faculty/weisbach" target="_blank">David Weisbach</a>, Walter J. Blum Professor of Law and Senior Fellow, the Computation Institute of the University of Chicago and Argonne National Laboratory. Trained as a mathematician and lawyer, Weisbach is primarily interested in issues relating to federal taxation and to climate change.</p><p><strong>Thanks, too, to our teams of journalists, who represented the following organizations:</strong></p><p><a href="http://www.chicagoreporter.com/" target="_blank">The Chicago Reporter</a>: An investigative news organization that identifies, analyzes, and reports on the social, economic, and political issues of metropolitan Chicago with a focus on race and poverty.</p><p><a href="http://themash.com/" target="_blank">The Mash</a>: A weekly newspaper and website written largely by, for, and about Chicago high school students.</p><p><a href="http://www.freespiritmedia.org/" target="_blank">Free Spirit Media</a>: An organization that provides education, access, and opportunity in media production to underserved urban youth.</p><p><a href="http://www.karilydersen.com/teaching.html" target="_blank">The Social Justice Chicago Reporting Fellowship program</a>&nbsp;at Northwestern University&rsquo;s Medill School of Journalism</p><p><a href="http://www.colum.edu/Academics/Journalism/" target="_blank">Columbia College Journalism Department</a></p><p><strong>Thanks to our partner for the Raw Report:&nbsp;</strong></p><p><a href="http://www.prairie.org/programs/public-square" target="_blank">The Public Square</a>&nbsp;is a program of the Illinois Humanities Council.&nbsp;</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/IHC-Logo_Color_Plain.jpg" style="margin: 5px; height: 89px; width: 400px;" title="" /></div></p> Thu, 03 Apr 2014 19:16:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/looking-out-climate-change-chicago-109968 Secrets from the Tomb: The hunt for Chicago's mummies http://www.wbez.org/blogs/alison-cuddy/2014-03/secrets-tomb-hunt-chicagos-mummies-109934 <p><p>Who would have thought the ancient dead could actually break news? But that&rsquo;s exactly what happened when I embarked on my hunt for Chicago&rsquo;s mummies.</p><p>The Art Institute of Chicago (AIC) invited me to tag along in February as they took their two mummies, Paankhenamun and Wenuhotep, to be scanned at the University of Chicago.</p><p>The video below will give you a good idea of what that trip involved, and why everyone - from radiologists to Egyptologists to ambulance drivers, were fascinated by the process.<a name="video"></a></p><p><strong><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="349" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/gopKCYXkdOg" width="620"></iframe></strong></p><p>The results of the scans are already coming in, and though the mummies are not currently on display, if they do go back to the galleries some relabeling will be in order - listen to the radio story above to find out why.</p><p>It was news to me that the AIC even had mummies. Like The Field Museum and the Oriental Institute (OI) of the University of Chicago, the AIC got theirs toward the end of the 19th century, when people on science expeditions and tourist junkets alike became captivated with ancient Egypt.</p><p>Mummies continue to&mdash;bad pun alert&mdash;walk the line between cultural object and scientific specimen. What sometimes gets lost beneath the bandages and elaborately decorated coffins is the fact that mummies were humans too.</p><p>Until a few decades ago, if someone wanted to verify that fact, they would simply unwrap it - as in this somewhat ghoulish photograph of a researcher undoing the linen wrapping on one of the Oriental Institute&rsquo;s mummies.</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Unwrap%20mummy.jpg" style="height: 422px; width: 620px;" title="Date/individual unknown. Bad mummy tech: An unidentified employee unwraps one of the Oriental Institute’s mummies in approximately 1910 (archival photo courtesy of The Oriental Institute at the University of Chicago) " /></p><p>I&rsquo;m struck by how casual it all seems, this act that we now view as a desecration. The two people conversing in the background, the fact that the researcher&rsquo;s not even wearing gloves!</p><p>But many mummies were unwrapped, some by institutions and others by upper crust tourists, who thought they&rsquo;d have a little fun with the souvenir they picked up on their tour of Europe.</p><p>The mummy in this photograph is still at the Oriental, though it hasn&rsquo;t been displayed since the 1960s or &lsquo;70s. Oriental Institute Egyptologist Emily Teeter took me back to see her and despite being prepared, I was still startled.</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/mummy%20unwrapped.PNG" style="height: 282px; width: 620px;" title="Unwrapped mummified remains. (WBEZ/Alison Cuddy)" /></div><p>But now we can see inside mummies, thanks to images generated by CT scans. Scanning is the cutting edge of mummy research and exhibition, and it&rsquo;s driving a new interest in the ancient dead, among the public and at institutions.</p><p>Here you see the incredibly detailed views these machines allow, from a recent scan of the Field&rsquo;s mummy known only as the Gilded Lady (a woman who died in her early 40s and was entombed in the early Ptolemaic period).</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/mummy_sidebyside.jpg" title="(images courtesy of the Field Museum)" /></div><p>Given Chicago&rsquo;s rather large mummy population, local hospital scanners are sure to be kept busy over the coming years.</p><p>The chart and map below gives you a sense of how many we have, and what the main collections include, from Peruvian mummy &ldquo;bundles&rdquo; at the Field, to mummy parts, including a monkey&rsquo;s paw and other bits of animals at the Oriental.</p><p>I haven&rsquo;t verified this, but Chicago might just be the mummy capital of America.</p><p><strong>What sort of mummies are in the Field Museum&#39;s collection?</strong></p><p><iframe height="360" src="http://s3.amazonaws.com/wbez-assets/WBEZ-Graphics/mummy_graphs/field.html" width="620"></iframe></p><p><strong>What sort of mummies are in the Oriental Institute collection?</strong></p><p><iframe height="460" src="http://s3.amazonaws.com/wbez-assets/WBEZ-Graphics/mummy_graphs/oriential.html" width="620"></iframe></p><p>Bob Martin, emeritus curator at the Field, said they are planning to re-do their permanent Egyptian collection, and include more digital elements (like a touch-screen table top display that allows you to virtually unwrap one of their mummies).</p><p>The Art Institute&rsquo;s mummies aren&rsquo;t currently on display, though curator Mary Greuel hopes any information gleaned from the University of Chicago scans will eventually be part of an exhibition..</p><p>I also found some stray mummies. There is one in the Social Studies department at Naperville Central High School.</p><p>And if you pay a visit to the Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary library you can view the mummy of a young girl, known as Hawara Portrait Mummy #4.</p><p><strong>Map: Where are Chicago&#39;s mummies?<a name="map"></a></strong></p><p><strong><iframe frameborder="no" height="300" scrolling="no" src="https://www.google.com/fusiontables/embedviz?q=select+col1+from+1O8JcaqBRIzHJbqYxbjLyLBBTiZXqw7z4Pg9T6oV6&amp;viz=MAP&amp;h=false&amp;lat=41.88994363687098&amp;lng=-87.93986547851563&amp;t=1&amp;z=9&amp;l=col1&amp;y=2&amp;tmplt=2&amp;hml=ONE_COL_LAT_LNG" width="620"></iframe></strong><br /><br />Do you know of any local mummies we may have missed? Let us know - we&rsquo;d love to add them to our inventory!</p></p> Fri, 28 Mar 2014 11:41:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/alison-cuddy/2014-03/secrets-tomb-hunt-chicagos-mummies-109934 Emanuel wants answers on BP oil spill http://www.wbez.org/news/emanuel-wants-answers-bp-oil-spill-109925 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/Whiting-spill.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Although BP&rsquo;s Whiting refinery is a short distance from the city of Chicago, it is firmly in the state of Indiana and answers to that state and its agencies. But that&rsquo;s not stopping Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel from asking for a full report on this week&rsquo;s oil spill to be given to the city and the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency.</p><p>&ldquo;I&rsquo;ll expect a full accounting to the public and the city of Chicago of the damage that was done, how much, what the clean up efforts were, how comprehensive they have been and what actions the company will take to ensure this doesn&rsquo;t happen again,&rdquo; Emanuel said Wednesday while announcing a plan to invest $671 million to upgrade the city&rsquo;s water infrastructure.</p><p>A BP spokesman said this week it appears crude oil somehow seeped into the refinery&#39;s water filtration plant that&rsquo;s adjacent to the lake. Indiana Department of Environmental Management spokesman Dan Goldblatt told WBEZ Wednesday that unconfirmed reports put the amount of spillage at about a dozen barrels of crude oil.</p><p>BP has raised its estimate of how much oil spilled into Lake Michigan. The company said Thursday a preliminary estimate shows between 15 and 39 barrels of oil have been recovered from the lake at its Whiting refinery.</p><p>A barrel of oil can produce about 42 gallons of gasoline, so potentially 1,638 gallons of oil spilled into Lake Michigan. Earlier estimates had pegged the amount at 10 to 12 barrels of oil.</p><p>The spill was detected around 4:30 p.m. Monday. By 9 p.m. a representative with the U.S. EPA said it appeared the leak had been stopped. Cleanup continued Wednesday along the shore of a small private beach between the refinery and its neighbor ArcelorMittal Steel Company.</p><p>&ldquo;BP continues to make progress in responding to an incident Monday at the Whiting Refinery. Crews have recovered the vast majority of oil that had been visible on the surface of a cove-like area of Lake Michigan and on the shoreline between the refinery and a nearby steel mill,&rdquo; BP announced Wednesday from its US Press Office based in Houston. &ldquo;They have used vacuum trucks and absorbent boom to contain and clean up the surface oil. Responders also manually collected oil that had reached the shore.&rdquo;</p><p>BP said monitoring continues with the U.S. Coast Guard, U.S. EPA and the Indiana Department of Environmental Management.</p><p>&ldquo;BP and federal agencies are assessing the shoreline to determine what, if any, next steps are required in the response,&rdquo; a company statement said. &ldquo;BP continues to work to calculate the amount of oil discharged into the lake. This work involves estimating how much oil was released into the refinery&rsquo;s cooling water system, water treatment plant and ultimately into the lake.&rdquo;</p><p>According to the U.S. EPA, its Shoreline Cleanup Assessment Team inspected the shoreline today for three hours to assess the presence of oil and to recommend cleanup techniques as required.</p><p>&ldquo;The team saw minimal oiling of the shoreline and recommended a small manual removal crew conduct maintenance along the shoreline,&rdquo; the U.S. EPA said in a news release. &ldquo;Weather and wind conditions improved overnight allowing teams to once again secure boom.&rdquo;</p><p>Sources involved in the cleanup say the crude oil that spilled into the lake was a combination of so-called sweet crude (from domestic sources) and crude from Canada&rsquo;s Tar Sands region, which is considered heavier and dirtier. The tar sands oil is a source of contention among environmentalists.</p><p>&ldquo;A spill like this one, whether big or small, will continue to garner national headlines. And that is the sort of behavior that will keep BP Whiting the refinery Chicagoans love to hate,&rdquo; Henry Henderson, Midwest program director of the Chicago office for the Natural Resources Defense Council, wrote in a blog post.</p><p>So far, no Indiana or Northwest Indiana public official have made statements regarding the spill. BP represents a major source of jobs and property taxes for Northwest Indiana, and the company just recently completed a $4 billion modernization of the more than 100 year old Whiting refinery.<br /><br />But BP often has been on the receiving end of scathing comments by Illinois officials.</p><p>Lately, Mayor Emanuel, Gov. Pat Quinn and U.S. Senator Dick Durbin have taken the company to task for transporting thousands of tons of pet coke, short for petroleum coke, to a site on Chicago&rsquo;s Southeast side. Residents there have complained about the dust-like substance making them sick when it becomes airborne.<br /><br />Some city officials want the substance completely banned though so far Emanuel is only pushing an ordinance that would severely restrict the use and storage of pet coke. But with the new oil spill BP is under the microscope again.</p><p>&ldquo;I want to make sure that BP is a good corporate citizen next door in Indiana,&rdquo; Emanuel said.</p><p>And, at least for now, BP is responding.</p><p>&ldquo;We&rsquo;ve been engaged with the mayor&rsquo;s office since the onset of this incident and are providing his office with regular updates, &ldquo; BP spokesman Scott Dean told WBEZ Wednesday night. &ldquo;We will also continue to keep the public and relevant authorities informed as we investigate this matter.&rdquo;</p><p><em>This post was updated on March 28, 2014.</em></p></p> Thu, 27 Mar 2014 08:05:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/emanuel-wants-answers-bp-oil-spill-109925 Museum helps build better science teachers http://www.wbez.org/news/museum-helps-build-better-science-teachers-109924 <p><p>In a science classroom across from the coal mine exhibit at the Museum of Science and Industry, the students are sitting at high lab tables, studying Petri dishes full of bacteria.</p><p>At the front of the room, the teacher explains the lesson&rsquo;s objectives&mdash;compare animal and bacterial cells, review pathological and non-pathological bacteria. But there is a broader goal here, one the Museum of Science and Industry wants to help achieve: improve science teaching in Chicago and its suburbs.</p><p>The students here are all teachers, all responsible for imparting science to upper-elementary or middle-school students. It&rsquo;s a job that many in this class&mdash;and many teachers in many grammar schools--feel decidedly unprepared for.</p><p>&ldquo;Definitely, that&rsquo;s why I&rsquo;m here,&rdquo; says Chicago Public Schools teacher Joel Spears. &ldquo;I teach 5th grade, and it&rsquo;s self-contained, so I teach all the subjects&mdash;math, science, language arts, social science. I went in not knowing how to teach science, really. I didn&rsquo;t have the materials or the know-how to even teach it properly.&rdquo;</p><p>Once a month. Spears and dozens other teachers enrolled in this professional development course come to the museum for a day of lessons, curricula, and materials they can then take back to their classrooms across the Chicago metro region. Since the teacher training courses were first offered in 2006, 804 teachers from 320 schools have participated. About two-thirds of teachers are from Chicago public schools.</p><p>Many of the teachers say they&rsquo;re trying to tap into the natural enthusiasm kids have for science&mdash;when it&rsquo;s taught right.</p><p>&ldquo;We did some previous lessons that I learned here, and they love it. They always want to do science,&rdquo; says Spears. &ldquo;&rsquo;Cause it&rsquo;s hands on&mdash;they&rsquo;re not just reading. They&rsquo;re constructing, they&rsquo;re doing.&rdquo;</p><p>On a recent morning, the Museum of Science and Industry instructor runs a lesson exactly as if she&#39;s teaching middle schoolers. The teachers put themselves in their students&rsquo; shoes. They work activities, make Venn diagrams, and then get to the fun part: an experiment with black light and Glo Germ that exposed bacteria still present on their hands, even after washing.</p><p>Near the back of the class, teacher Jonathan Fisher looks at a cell diagram before him and admits this is the first time he has seen flagella since high school. The philosophy major avoided the life sciences in college. Now&mdash;ironically, he says&mdash;he&rsquo;s teaching the subject to fourth graders. He says he can implement certain techniques and lessons almost as soon as he learns them. Others, like a genetics lesson his students loved, take more planning.</p><p>&ldquo;We had an experiment where the students used Styrofoam blocks and different body parts&mdash;so limbs and dowel rods and different-sized eyes,&rdquo; says Fisher, who teaches at Murphy Elementary on the Northwest Side. &ldquo;That was a hands-on way for them to understand how genetics are passed down from one generation to the next. And the classroom couldn&rsquo;t have been more excited, flipping the coins to figure out which genes would be passed on to their kids.&nbsp; (The lesson) took something very abstract like genes and genetics and turned it into something the students could relate to.&rdquo;</p><p>Fisher is one of eight teachers from Murphy who&rsquo;ve been involved in the museum&rsquo;s teacher courses. He said his school is serious about becoming better at teaching science, but he also says it&rsquo;s not hard to figure out what the priorities are in education right now. &ldquo;If it&rsquo;s not reading or math, then it&rsquo;s not an emphasis. Learning to be a teacher, all the other subjects could be cool, but if it&rsquo;s not reading or math, that won&rsquo;t be a focus.&rdquo;</p><p><strong>The role of museums in science education</strong></p><p>There&rsquo;s been a big push lately to improve the teaching of science in American schools, with more focus on STEM education&mdash; Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics. Andrea Ingram, the Museum of Science and Industry&rsquo;s vice president of education and guest services, says museums can play a role in that.</p><p>&ldquo;One of the challenges in the U.S. in getting kids engaged in science is that we don&rsquo;t have enough really high-quality science teachers in the middle grades&mdash;and that&rsquo;s kind of like the early childhood of science,&rdquo; says Ingram. &ldquo;We either capture kids&rsquo; enthusiasm there, get them committed to science&mdash;or we don&rsquo;t.&rdquo;</p><p>Ingram says museums across the nation are important partners in improving science instruction, especially given tight school budgets. They are popular with philanthropic, business and civic leaders. They can fill specific needs that may vary community by community. And where else can you find tornados, lightning, and real cow eyeballs to dissect?</p><p>Programs like the teacher training courses at the Museum of Science and Industry build important bridges between schools and museums, says Nathan Richie, who chairs the education committee of the American Alliance of Museums: &ldquo;Museums can use the resources at their disposal&mdash;be it the location that they have, the content, the artifacts, the experts&mdash;and help train the practitioners in the classroom to use those to engage students.&rdquo;</p><p>Richie says the role museums are playing in science education has increased with a new national emphasis on STEM education. Ironically, in an age of shrinking budgets and more dictates over how much time students must be in the classroom, Richie says schools take fewer field trips. This is a way of getting the museum into schools.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" height="487" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/IMG_3538web.jpg" title="Teacher Graciela Olmos helps students with a hands-on lesson she learned through the Museum of Science and Industry's courses for teachers. (WBEZ/Linda Lutton)" width="650" /></div><p><strong>Marbles and mechanical energy</strong></p><p>In Graciela Olmos&rsquo; eighth grade classroom at Sawyer Elementary on Chicago&rsquo;s Southwest Side, kids are rolling marbles down incline planes, measuring how far the marbles push a little Styrofoam cup. Olmos first saw this lesson about mechanical energy at the museum.</p><p>Olmos says she&rsquo;s used to being told to teach to higher standards. The museum has shown her<em> how</em>.</p><p>&ldquo;They model for us. This is how it&rsquo;s going to look. And that&rsquo;s something we lack.&rdquo;</p><p>Though she won&rsquo;t say that&rsquo;s the only thing she lacks. &ldquo;We need so many things,&quot; Olmos says. &quot;We need to have science labs with gas lines and sinks. If my specialty is science, then let it be science. Don&rsquo;t give me so many other things to do aside of that.&rdquo;</p><p>Science education professor Joanne Olson says getting dedicated, well-trained science teahcers has been &ldquo;a perpetual challenge for us in science education, particularly at the elementary grades.&rdquo;</p><p>Olson, who is also president of the Association for Science Teacher Education, says she&rsquo;s been advocating for years for schools to have science specialists.</p><p>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s like the PE teacher,&rdquo; says Olson. &ldquo;You have one teacher who&rsquo;s dedicated to that particular subject area, and that way the teacher can be very well prepared in that area and doesn&rsquo;t have to take on literacy instruction, math, in these other areas.&quot;</p><p>Olson says research shows that 65 percent of elementary teachers have gotten fewer than six total hours of science training in the last three years. &ldquo;And we know that teachers need about 100 hours,&rdquo; she says. &quot;So we&rsquo;re far under. Anything that can be done to help is a good thing.&rdquo;</p><p>A study of the Museum of Science and Industry&rsquo;s teacher training program is being released today by well-known science curriculum expert William Schmidt, of the Education Policy Center at Michigan State University.<br /><br />It finds the teachers trained by the museum know more science&mdash;and, significantly, so do their students.</p><p>The Museum is marking the news of its success with an announcement&mdash;it&rsquo;s committing to train 1,000 middle-grade teachers in science over the next five years.<br />&nbsp;</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/IMG_3521web.jpg" style="height: 488px; width: 650px;" title="Students in Graciela Olmos' science class at Sawyer Elemetary run experiments to help them learn about potential, kinetic and mechanical energy. (WBEZ/Linda Lutton)" /></div></p> Thu, 27 Mar 2014 05:46:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/museum-helps-build-better-science-teachers-109924 BP contains oil spill in Lake Michigan, begins cleanup http://www.wbez.org/news/bp-contains-oil-spill-lake-michigan-begins-cleanup-109914 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/puente whiting.PNG" alt="" /><p><p>WHITING, Ind. &mdash; BP says it has contained and is now cleaning up crude oil that spilled into Lake Michigan&nbsp; from its Whiting, Indiana refinery near Chicago.</p><p>The spill was detected about 4:30 Monday afternoon.</p><p>Reminiscent of the tar balls collected off the Gulf Coast after a different BP spill a few years ago, this one was confined to a shallow cove between the massive refinery and a steel mill.</p><p>BP spokesman Scott Dean said it appears the crude oil somehow seeped into the refinery&#39;s water filtration plant adjacent to the lake.</p><p>&ldquo;We were able to quickly deploy our oil spill response contractor and we&rsquo;ve seen the leak stopped yesterday and we&rsquo;ve got a containment boom in place that&rsquo;s holding the amount of oil that was released from the discharge into this cove,&rdquo; Dean said.</p><p>Dean said there have been no injuries, and cleanup activities along the 2,700 feet of affected shore line are still going on.</p><p>&ldquo;The good news is the leak stopped and we&rsquo;ve got it contained,&rdquo; Dean said.</p><p>Dean said the cold temperature of the lake and air may have actually aided in containing the oil, turning the crude oil into like a gel-like substance.</p><p>But questions remain about how the crude oil got into the lake in the first place.</p><p>BP just completed a $4 billion modernization to the 100-year-old Whiting Refinery, the largest inland refinery in the United States.</p><p>Sources helping with the cleanup estimate about a dozen barrels of crude spilled into the lake, with some containing what&rsquo;s considered sweet crude oil and some containing oil from Canada&rsquo;s tar sands region.</p><p>After discovering the discharge, BP notified the U.S. Coast Guard, U.S. EPA and the Indiana Department of Environmental Management. Representatives from the agencies were at the refinery Monday evening.</p><p>BP says it will continue to work in full cooperation with the agencies to ensure the protection of personnel, the environment and surrounding communities.</p><p>The U.S. EPA says is unaware of any other spills from the refinery.</p><p>Mike Beslow, the onsite coordinator for the EPA at the scene, said the oil spill should not affect the quality of Lake Michigan&rsquo;s drinking water.</p><p>He says it appears the oil was released from one of BP&rsquo;s separators into the lake.</p><p>Beslow says the separator is like a holding pond and normally does not have oil in it.<br />He adds that BP&rsquo;s own systems immediately detected oil that got into the water filtration plant and into the lake.</p><p>Beslow says it&rsquo;s too early to determine if any fines will be assessed against BP for the spill.</p></p> Tue, 25 Mar 2014 13:38:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/bp-contains-oil-spill-lake-michigan-begins-cleanup-109914 USDA to crack down on convenience stores that accept food stamps http://www.wbez.org/news/usda-crack-down-convenience-stores-accept-food-stamps-109895 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/corner store_140320_nm.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>The recently enacted federal farm bill has a new provision requiring that convenience stores sell healthier food.</p><p>It requires &ldquo;depth of stock&rdquo; on the shelves of convenience stores that are in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, commonly known as food stamps.</p><p>Depth of stock means more varieties of fruits, vegetables, grains and meats.</p><p>&ldquo;Our goal is really primarily to make sure SNAP households or low-income households or people with limited income have access to healthy foods,&rdquo; said Kevin Concannon, Under Secretary for Food, Nutrition, and Consumer Services for the U.S. Department of Agriculture.</p><p>Concannon said 82 percent of SNAP benefits are redeemed at supermarkets or big-box stores. The challenges are the small stores often in low-income neighborhoods. Last year USDA held <a href="http://www.google.com/url?q=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wbez.org%2Fnews%2Fculture%2Fusda-seeks-input-food-stamp-program-108659&amp;sa=D&amp;sntz=1&amp;usg=AFQjCNGOlQP568wSsZPHjrqVQgY-yFPpgA">hearings</a> around the nation about policy changes at convenience stores.</p><p>Food access is a big issue in Chicago food deserts. Gas stations, liquor stores, dollar stores and corner stores are the most common grocers. They accept food stamps, but these retailers are typically repositories for junk food.&nbsp; And a common complaint has been that the USDA food stamp standards are too low and those low standards aren&rsquo;t enforced.</p><p>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s too minimal, frankly,&rdquo; Concannon said.</p><p>The USDA has to iron out the regulations but officials want the new rules to be in place by the end of the year. Once they are released, there will be a comment period before the changes take effect.</p><p>Concannon said USDA won&rsquo;t object if stores drop out of the program once the stricter regulations are in place. But food stamps are a boon for retailers. Across the country SNAP provides $80 billion in food stamp benefits. In Chicago, researcher Mari Gallagher said the Roseland community, a food desert, has 87 stores that take food stamps, earning on average $5,000 a week.</p><p>Only two of those Roseland stores are &ldquo;mainstream,&rdquo; which means they stock enough options to support a healthy diet on a regular basis. The rest were &ldquo;fringe&rdquo; stores that had limited food choices and specialized in high-fat and high-salt junk food.</p><p>Gallagher said the federal changes are necessary.<br /><br />&ldquo;I&rsquo;m super excited about how fringe stores could improve and serve the community in the future and help their own bottom line,&rdquo; Gallagher said. &ldquo;Being in SNAP is not an inherent right. It&rsquo;s a privilege they need to learn.&rdquo;</p><p>But she wants the USDA to put in safeguards for enforcement.</p><p>&ldquo;People might not be worried about tougher rules because who&rsquo;s going to enforce them?&rdquo; Gallagher suggests that the federal government partner with local public health authorities to ensure compliance.</p><p>Shamar Hemphill, an organizer with Inner-City Muslim Action Network, agrees about accountability. IMAN&rsquo;s approach to help eliminate food deserts is to not wait for a big-box store to come, but to improve existing corner stores where many people shop.</p><p><a href="http://www.google.com/url?q=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wbez.org%2Fstory%2Fnews%2Flocal%2Fmuslim-coalition-targets-arab-run-stores-food-deserts&amp;sa=D&amp;sntz=1&amp;usg=AFQjCNEFUj4BlBCWMPPNR3H1dQxlIrIKnQ">Muslim Run</a> is the name of the campaign and it has expanded to four stores. Organizers have had <a href="http://www.google.com/url?q=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wbez.org%2Fstory%2Fcorner-stores-become-oases-food-deserts-96575&amp;sa=D&amp;sntz=1&amp;usg=AFQjCNHFqby93zdO0vrrMuZT0hfidwKFeA">success</a> in getting fresh produce not only stocked but sold.</p><p>Hemphill said he looks forward to the new federal regulations but change &ldquo;won&rsquo;t happen unless the residents push and demand that these stores operate and carry these staple foods.&rdquo;</p><p>Frank Hafeez manages Halsted Grocery on 71st Street. The liquor-convenience store in Englewood has a tray of lemons, oranges, grapes and wilted green bell peppers. Boxes of potatoes and onions are stacked by the door.</p><p>&ldquo;I would like to know more,&rdquo; Hafeez said of the federal regulations. &ldquo;We carry what customers request.&rdquo;</p><p>Meanwhile, the Illinois Advisory Committee to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights met about Chicago food deserts at Kennedy-King College on Thursday. The committee will make recommendations on how to eradicate food deserts in the next couple of months.</p><p><em><a href="http://www.wbez.org/users/nmoore-0" rel="author">Natalie Moore</a> is a WBEZ reporter. <a href="mailto:nmoore@wbez.org">nmoore@wbez.org</a><u>&nbsp;</u></em></p><p><em>Follow Natalie on <a href="https://plus.google.com//104033432051539426343" rel="me">Google+</a>, &nbsp;<a href="https://twitter.com/natalieymoore">Twitter</a></em></p></p> Thu, 20 Mar 2014 15:08:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/usda-crack-down-convenience-stores-accept-food-stamps-109895 Field Museum show examines the body as a machine http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/field-museum-show-examines-body-machine-109836 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/mantis shrimp.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>A new exhibit opening Wednesday at Chicago&rsquo;s Field Museum looks at how animal and human bodies alike function using nature&#39;s equivalent of pumps and springs.</p><p>Visitors to the show will learn how a tiny fox&rsquo;s ears work like air conditioning, why a mantis shrimp&rsquo;s spring mechanism makes it the &ldquo;hardest puncher in the animal kingdom,&rdquo; and how a giraffe&rsquo;s heart pumps blood all the way up its long neck to its brain&nbsp; (The short answer? Apparently giraffes have astonishingly high blood pressure.)</p><p>Scientists who study insects, birds and other creatures to understand these mechanisms, are finding human applications such as Velcro and artificial legs for runners.</p><p>For a sneak peek at the exhibit, listen above to my audio tour with the Field Museum&rsquo;s Marie Georg.</p><p><em>Lynette Kalsnes is a WBEZ producer/reporter covering religion, culture and science. Follow her <a href="http://twitter.com/LynetteKalsnes" target="_blank">@LynetteKalsnes</a></em></p></p> Tue, 11 Mar 2014 17:09:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/field-museum-show-examines-body-machine-109836 Are Chicagoans the toughest big city dwellers in the nation? http://www.wbez.org/news/are-chicagoans-toughest-big-city-dwellers-nation-109816 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/EXTREME WEATHER.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>During this season of multiple polar vortices, we Chicagoans have been told more than once to suck it up. My Canadian and Minnesotan colleagues claim this is &ldquo;no big deal&rdquo; where they come from.</p><p>&ldquo;Welcome to my winter,&rdquo; they scoff, pulling on industrial-sized parkas and marching into the snow.&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;</p><p>I silently endured their scoffing while secretly plotting to prove that we native Chicagoans are not weather wimps at all -- but just the opposite. It&#39;s my contention that while we may not embrace the Inuit lifestyles, Chicagoans have to work and live through more weather extremes than probably anybody.</p><p>And we have the potholes to prove it.</p><p>After surviving this wretched winter, for example, we may face summer temps that exceed 100 degrees for days in a row.</p><p>Certainly, we must get the worst of it on both ends, making us the toughest people in the nation. Right? Probably.</p><p>This would require some reporting.</p><p>Barbara Mayes Bousted, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service office in Omaha, Neb., recently created the <a href="https://ams.confex.com/ams/93Annual/webprogram/Paper218513.html" target="_blank">Accumulated Winter Season Severity Index</a>. Using factors such as temperature and precipitation, it basically measures how miserable winter has been for communities across the country this year and beyond.</p><p>Unfortunately, it is not exactly what is needed, because I am looking for misery on both ends of the temperature spectrum.<br /><br />&ldquo;That&rsquo;s an interesting puzzle to piece together, to figure out the range of extremes all the way from the heat to the cold,&rdquo; she said. &ldquo;But the index that I&rsquo;m using doesn&rsquo;t account for how far we go to the other end, the warm side.&rdquo;</p><p>She and colleagues pointed to everyone from scientists at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to scholars to WGN meteorologist Tom Skilling. All were super nice, but none could answer this question of overall toughness.&nbsp;</p><p>Just when the search seemed like it hit a dead end, I stumbled on<a href="http://www.city-data.com/top2/toplists2.html"> Citydata.com.</a> It cranks out all sorts of Top 101 city lists by crunching statistics in a variety of categories. These include lowest average temperature, highest average snowfall, coldest winters and -- YES! -- largest annual temperature differences in cities with populations above 50,000.</p><p>Certainly, Chicago would top this this, right?</p><p>Well, not on the face of it.<br /><br />The list led with Grand Forks in North Dakota, followed by a bunch of towns in that state, Minnesota, Nebraska, Iowa, Wisconsin. Then finally Illinois, whose most extreme weather town (with over 50,000 people) is Rockford (No. 41), followed by Hoffman Estates (No. 43). Chicago didn&rsquo;t show up til No. 66.</p><p>Why is Hoffman Estates, in the northwest suburbs, so much colder than Chicago? That&rsquo;s a story for another day.</p><p>I decided that this list was crowded up with too many small towns. The target was metropolitan cities whose residents have to venture miles to work or school each day -- no matter what cruel joke Mother Nature served up.</p><p>So I narrowed it to cities with more than 250,000 residents. On this list, Chicago soars to sixth place. Only Minneapolis and its twin city St. Paul, Omaha, Milwaukee, and Kansas City beat us in temperature differences in an average year.</p><p>But how much time do these other urbanites really expose themselves to frosty or broiling transit platforms or street corners to get where they need to go each day?</p><p>The data on public transportation usage showed that only pesky Minneapolis bested us here. It seems that 14.4 percent of them take the bus or trolley to work, while we check in at 13 percent.&nbsp;</p><p>But when we added in the share of people who take the subway or elevated train to work each day, Chicago (at 9.7 percent) pulled ahead.</p><p>It is true that Minneapolis doesn&#39;t really have a subway or el system to help them on that list. &nbsp;But I think we win fair and square.</p><p>Still, some folks from the Twin Cities disagree.</p><p>To Lynette Kalsnes, my fellow WBEZ producer, our winters hardly compare to the those of her Twin Cities youth. &ldquo;I laugh at the very idea,&rdquo; she said. &ldquo;I&rsquo;ve been in Chicago for 12 or 13 years and this is the first winter that has approximated anything like Minnesota.&rdquo;&nbsp;</p><p>Still, she acknowledges that our summers are&nbsp; pretty brutal, even though folks in Minneapolis also get hit with high temperatures, copious mosquitoes, and humidity.</p><p>But how can they say they&rsquo;re tough when they have those skyways between buildings.</p><p>&ldquo;You&rsquo;re only using that if you work in downtown Minneapolis to get from your job to get your lunch,&rdquo; Kalsnes parried. &ldquo;But you&rsquo;re outside the rest of the time. It&rsquo;s not like the whole state is a pedestrian mall.&rdquo;&nbsp;</p><p>It&rsquo;s clear that these arguments could go on forever. But as one colleague pointed out, it is a little weird that we would engage in a debate over whose city serves up the most misery.</p><p>And yes, you could look at it that way. Or you could say that these debates really reflect how much we must love our cities in order to endure such extremes.</p><p>You could also say that these extremes make us all the more grateful for good weather.&nbsp;</p><p>As Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges said, &ldquo;I think that no one appreciates a perfect, beautiful, summer, spring, fall, or even winter day more than a Minnesotan.&rdquo;</p><p>Well, we could offer a debate on that, but I think we should &nbsp;just call it a draw. That is because, even though Chicagoans are tough, we&rsquo;re also a very generous people.&nbsp;</p><p><em>Monica Eng is a WBEZ producer and co-host of the&nbsp;</em><em><strong><a href="http://www.wbez.org/content/chewing-fat-podcast-louisa-chu-and-monica-eng">Chewing the Fat</a></strong></em><em> podcast. Follow her at&nbsp;<a href="https://twitter.com/monicaeng">@monicaeng</a> or write to her at&nbsp;</em><em><a href="mailto:meng@wbez.org">meng@wbez.org</a></em></p></p> Wed, 05 Mar 2014 16:11:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/are-chicagoans-toughest-big-city-dwellers-nation-109816 Pet coke only the latest pollution threat on the Southeast side http://www.wbez.org/news/pet-coke-only-latest-pollution-threat-southeast-side-109811 <p><p>Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel is expected to introduce an ordinance Wednesday calling for stricter controls over petroleum coke, aka pet coke. It comes a day after Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan filed a new lawsuit against KCBX, a company that stores pet coke on Chicago&rsquo;s Southeast Side.</p><p>Many residents there believe the giant piles of pet coke along the Calumet River have had an adverse effect on their health. But some officials say pet coke is only the tip of the ash heap when it comes to industrial pollution in the area and the respiratory problems it may cause.</p><p>Problems such as asthma, which can be a nagging health issue for some, but is a life-threatening condition for Liz Martin.</p><p>&ldquo;I take medication every day to help control it but when it gets really bad then there&rsquo;s different medications and machines that I have to take for like immediate care but there&rsquo;s like controller medications that I have to take everyday for who knows how long,&rdquo; says the 21-year-old Martin, who&rsquo;s studying computer science at Saint Xavier University Chicago.</p><p>And while most Chicagoans can&rsquo;t wait for winter to be over, Liz knows warmer temps could make things worse.<br /><br />&ldquo;When the weather starts getting better and the winds start picking up, I get flu, colds, pneumonia, everything. My allergies just go crazy and I don&rsquo;t know how to handle it. It&rsquo;s not something that medication can really handle,&rdquo; she says.</p><p>Beyond the weather, there&rsquo;s another problem. Liz and her mother Lilly live just a few blocks from KCBX&rsquo;s pet coke storage site along the Calumet River.</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Beyond%20Pet%20coke%203.jpg" style="margin: 5px; float: left; width: 233px; height: 310px;" title="Liz and Lilly Martin at their Southeast Chicago home. (WBEZ/Michael Puente)" />That&rsquo;s where this whole controversy started last August when high winds caused the pet coke to blow all over the neighborhood. Caught on video, the black dust-like substance looked like a swarm of locusts.</p><p>Pet coke isn&rsquo;t new to this area. It&rsquo;s been used for decades by local steel mills. In fact, Lilly Martin remembers gathering it in buckets for her parents who used it as dirt.</p><p>&ldquo;At that time, we used to walk by the bridge and we would get it but we never knew that pet coke was bad, and we would get it,&rdquo; Lilly Martin said. &ldquo;Maybe that&rsquo;s why my mom and dad, they were young, they died 65, 60.&rdquo;</p><p>Martin is one of several Southeast Side residents suing KCBX for creating a health hazard and diminishing property values. Meanwhile, politicians are tripping over themselves to show support for the residents of this often neglected corner of the city.</p><p>Those who have paid a visit in recent weeks include Illinois U.S. Sen. Richard Durbin, Gov. Pat Quinn and Attorney General Lisa Madigan.</p><p>Mayor Emanuel also visited in January.</p><p>Today, he&rsquo;s expected to formally introduce an ordinance to prevent any new or expanded pet coke operations in the city.&nbsp;</p><p>That could directly affect KCBX, which has been in the city for 20 years although it only acquired its facility near the 106th Street Bridge in December 2012. The company has a contract with oil giant BP&rsquo;s nearby Whiting, Indiana refinery to store the pet coke before it is transported overseas.</p><p>Facing litigation and pressure, KCBX says it has increased its dust control systems. It points to a new multi-million dollar sprinkler system that prevents pet coke from blowing away.</p><p>KCBX spokesman Jake Reint says the company may go even further.</p><p>&ldquo;We&rsquo;re willing to even cover the facility. The bottom line is we respect and understand the community&rsquo;s concerns,&rdquo; Reint said. &ldquo;We&rsquo;re going to make every effort to address those concerns.&rdquo;</p><p>But even if the mayor&rsquo;s pet coke ordinance is adopted, some say this area will still be plagued by pollution.</p><p>&ldquo;Eliminating one thing, isn&rsquo;t going to solve the problem. It&rsquo;s not going to go away,&rdquo; says Brian Urbaszewski, director of environmental health programs with the Respiratory Health Association of Chicago. &ldquo;Getting rid of the pet coke piles would obviously benefit the area, but there&rsquo;s a lot more work to do other than just trying to clean up the KCBX situation.&rdquo;</p><p>The RHA tracks pollution sources in the city and its effects on people&rsquo;s health.</p><p>Urbaszewski says its worth remembering that the South East Side has been the city&rsquo;s industrial corridor for more than a century. And its probably no coincidence that it has some of the highest asthma rates in Illinois.</p><p>&ldquo;There&rsquo;s just a lot of train traffic, there&rsquo;s a lot of truck traffic that goes through here and it&rsquo;s one of the few places in Chicago that actually gets ship traffic,&rdquo; Urbaszeweski said. &ldquo;And then you have a huge powerhouse of industrial emissions coming from just over the border in Indiana. All that contributes to what you see here on the Southeast side.&rdquo;</p><p>While pollution is a prime suspect for the area&rsquo;s high asthma and cancer rates, no one knows for sure.&nbsp;</p><p>&ldquo;Triggers can be the weather, the environment, certainly genetics plays a role, environmental issues, allergens, toxins, the common cold,&rdquo; Dr. Max Gilles, head of the emergency department at nearby Advocate Trinity Hospital.</p><p>Advocate&rsquo;s Emergency Department. sees about 40,000 patients a year &mdash; nearly 1 in 10 come in due to asthma.</p><p>But that&rsquo;s not all.</p><p>&ldquo;We see a 17 percent higher rate of heart disease than in the Chicago rate area itself; greater than 50 percent higher cancer rate, which can include breast cancer, lung cancer and prostate than the Chicago rate. And, greater 53 percent high stroke rate,&rdquo; Gilles says. &ldquo;So we see a lot of sick patients.&rdquo;</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/Beyond%20Pet%20coke%202.jpg" style="margin-top: 5px; margin-bottom: 5px;" title="Dr. Max Gilles of Advocate Trinity Hospital handling an asthma breathing device with respiratory therapist Belinda Brown. (WBEZ/Michael Puente)" /></div><p>Dr. Gilles is quick to point out that it&rsquo;s hard to prove a direct correlation between industry and illness, but he says it wouldn&rsquo;t hurt to eliminate some possible contributors.&nbsp;</p><p>&ldquo;Certainly when I do drive in - whether it&rsquo;s to work or other places - you do see smoke stacks, exhausts fumes from cars and it&rsquo;s certainly a concern,&rdquo; Gilles says. &ldquo;If you eliminate that source, I don&rsquo;t think it would eliminate all asthma or chronic disease related to that possibility but it would certainly point it in the right direction.&rdquo;</p><p>Back at the Martins&rsquo; home, Lilly shows me some breathing contraptions that Liz uses for her asthma.</p><p>Even if there&rsquo;s no direct link, she&rsquo;s convinced eliminating the nearby pet coke would help. As proof, she points to the expensive air filters that keeps the inside air clean for her daughter.</p><p>&ldquo;You shouldn&rsquo;t have to change these filters in less than six months, and we were changing it every two to three weeks. That&rsquo;s how black those filters are,&rdquo; she says.</p><p>Meanwhile Liz Martin doesn&rsquo;t go outside much. She often sits at her front window watching the world go by, and waiting for things to change.</p><p>When asked if it makes her feel better knowing the city is trying to do something, Liz says, &ldquo;Yea it does cause I mean it&rsquo;s better for everyone. The little kids that have to grow up here. Everyday I look outside, there&rsquo;s like 4 or 5 year olds hanging out. They don&rsquo;t have an immune system to work up to it. It just makes me feel better that they might get some help.&rdquo;</p></p> Wed, 05 Mar 2014 07:56:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/pet-coke-only-latest-pollution-threat-southeast-side-109811 Can you hear us now? No? Well, here's why http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/can-you-hear-us-now-no-well-heres-why-109727 <p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/135672786&amp;color=00aabb&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_artwork=true" width="100%"></iframe></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/Doug1.JPG" style="height: 300px; width: 300px; float: right;" title="Doug Schenkelberg: Astute radio listener (Courtesy of Schenkelberg)" />Doug Schenkelberg listens to radio all the time, but he recently noticed that he gets static at a particular intersection in downtown Chicago. This prompted him to ask Curious City:</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image "><em style="text-align: center;">&ldquo;Why does radio reception always go bad at the intersection of Canal and Van Buren Street?&rdquo;</em></div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">Embarrassingly, the signal Doug has been having trouble with at that corner is none other than WBEZ&rsquo;s and, it turns out, he&rsquo;s not the only <a href="http://curiouscity.wbez.org/questions/1641">listener experiencing trouble near that area</a>. &nbsp;</div><p>For the record, we didn&rsquo;t know the signal in question was ours until we started finding an answer for Doug, but it turns out that the physics that keep FM radio humming &mdash; and create problems &mdash; are shared by public, commercial, and educational broadcasters alike. And, the exercise of tracking down a cause is a reminder that the technology we care about is not always associated with the Internet.</p><p><strong>Some likely suspects</strong></p><p>WBEZ engineer Peter Femal points out that if radio broadcasting technology never existed today and people heard it was possible to &ldquo;build a signal that covers millions of people 50 to 100 miles from one single point,&rdquo; the response would likely be exuberant.</p><p>But maybe radio&rsquo;s overall reliability is partly responsible for its mystery. To straighten things out for Doug, we spoke with broadcast engineers about the obstacles radio signals encounter in cities. Here, we showcase a few common culprits.</p><p><strong>Distance</strong></p><p>Because radio is usually so reliable, the causes of bad reception can seem mysterious. The only exception, maybe, is distance, which is the most common cause.</p><p>Unlike the Internet, which is connected world-wide, radio broadcasts are limited to the signal coverage of their local transmitters and antennas. You probably know this from road trips, which add miles between your car&rsquo;s receiver and your favorite hometown radio station; the farther you travel, the weaker the signal gets and the more static you hear<a name="distance"></a>.</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p style="text-align: center;"><iframe frameborder="0" height="383" scrolling="no" src="https://s3.amazonaws.com/wbez-assets/curiouscity/radio/distanceSmall/index.html" width="600"></iframe></p><p><em>Turn up your volume and drag in the graphic above (or <a href="https://s3.amazonaws.com/wbez-assets/curiouscity/radio/distance/index.html" target="_blank">open a full-size window</a>) to experience the effect of distance on radio reception. As you get further from a station&rsquo;s broadcast location, the signal will weaken, and you will hear static. If another station is broadcasting on the same frequency in another city, you might begin to pick up their signal as you get close to that city. Note: Interactive graphic works best with <a href="http://https://www.google.com/intl/en/chrome/browser/" target="_blank">Google Chrome</a> or <a href="http://http://www.apple.com/safari/">Safari</a>.</em></p><p>However Doug&rsquo;s problem area at Van Buren and Canal Street is less than two miles away from WBEZ&rsquo;s broadcast tower at the John Hancock Center. In Doug&rsquo;s case, there are more complex issues than distance at work.</p><p><strong>Shadowing</strong></p><p>The simplest, city-based radio problem is called shadowing, which is basically a fancy term for a big building getting in the way.</p><p>&ldquo;If you&rsquo;re in the right shadow of a certain building, our signal might have a hard time coming down into that valley,&rdquo; WBEZ engineer Peter Femal says.</p><p>In Doug&rsquo;s case, there&rsquo;s a mass of skyscrapers between his particular downtown corner and the transmitter at the John Hancock Center. With so many buildings between the Hancock Center and Van Buren &amp; Canal, the shadowing phenomenon means that WBEZ&rsquo;s signal is off to a rough start, and that&rsquo;s before we factor in multipath interference.</p><p><strong>Multipath</strong></p><p>Multipath interference is a bizarre phenomenon, in that it occurs when a radio signal interferes with itself. When a radio station broadcasts a signal, that signal propagates throughout the city, reflecting off of many of the buildings. Even if a signal has a direct path from your radio to the broadcast tower, that signal is also bouncing off the buildings around you. Sometimes a bounced signal and the direct signal hit your antenna together, but the reflected signal travels farther and is a bit delayed.</p><p>John Boehm, a broadcast engineer for Clear Channel, says that sometimes, the delayed signal will be stronger than the direct one. The delay between signal paths results in interference.</p><p>Doug&rsquo;s trouble spot lies in what you might consider an urban canyon; the corner&rsquo;s next to the Chicago River, which is lined with skyscrapers on either side. Radio signals can bounce back and forth from building to building in this canyon, creating prime conditions for multipath interference.<a name="multipath"></a></p><p style="text-align: center;"><iframe frameborder="0" height="383" scrolling="no" src="https://s3.amazonaws.com/wbez-assets/curiouscity/radio/shadowSmall/index.html" width="600"></iframe></p><p><em>Turn up your volume and d</em><em>rag around the graphic above (or <a href="https://s3.amazonaws.com/wbez-assets/curiouscity/radio/shadow/index.html" target="_blank">open a full-size window</a>) to experience the effect of shadowing and multipath on radio reception. Shadowing occurs when a building or other obstruction gets between your radio and the signal source. Multipath results when signals reflected off of buildings interfere with the direct signal. Note: Interactive graphic works best with <a href="https://www.google.com/intl/en/chrome/browser/" target="_blank">Google Chrome</a> or <a href="http://www.apple.com/safari/" target="_blank">Safari</a>.</em></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/WBEZCuriousCityRadio-14.jpg" style="height: 200px; width: 300px; float: left;" title="We listen carefully at the problematic corner. (WBEZ/Shawn Allee)" /><strong>Other radio stations</strong></div><p>The last radio problem that&rsquo;s relevant for Doug and other urban radio fans</p><p>comes from all the other high-powered radio stations in the city. Peter Femal says that radio stations on other frequencies can make things difficult for listeners if &ldquo;they&rsquo;re near another very high power RF [radio frequency] installation. &hellip; Swamping their radio full of other stuff.&rdquo;</p><p>Under these circumstances, Femal says, car radios can get confused. If the radio station that you&rsquo;re trying to listen to has weak reception, some radios will look for the next most powerful signal, even if it is from a completely different radio station on another frequency. The resulting effect can sound like the ghost of another radio station haunting the one you are tuned to.</p><p>Many high-powered radio stations broadcast from the Willis Tower&rsquo;s antennas, which is right next to Doug&rsquo;s corner. The tower&rsquo;s radio signals give a confused car radio lots of other options. During a test conducted in a car parked at Doug&rsquo;s corner, a WBEZ engineer and I could hear Queen&rsquo;s &ldquo;Crazy Little Thing Called Love&rdquo; coming in from a music station &mdash; even when the radio was clearly tuned for WBEZ&rsquo;s signal.</p><div class="image-insert-image " style="text-align: center;"><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/path%20alternate%20%281%29.jpg" title="The WBEZ signal travels a treacherous path to get to Doug’s corner. Shadowing from downtown’s skyscrapers, multipath from the Chicago river, and other radio stations from the Willis tower, all contribute to bad reception at Van Buren &amp; Canal. (Google Earth)" /></div></div><p>So unfortunately, at the corner of Van Buren and Canal street, it seems like static is coming from all of the above: shadowing from downtown skyscrapers, multipath interference occurring within an urban canyon along the Chicago River, and other radio stations from the Willis Tower&rsquo;s broadcast antennas. With all those issues, unfortunately, there&rsquo;s not much that can be done to improve reception at that corner.&nbsp;</p><p>But, in this day and age, many of us have the option of enjoying our favorite radio programs delivered static free, via podcast. Curious City, ahem, is just one of many available in <a href="https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/curious-city/id568409161" target="_blank">iTunes </a>and <a href="http://feeds.feedburner.com/CuriousCityPodcast">Feedburner</a>. &nbsp;</p><p><em>Mickey Capper is a Curious City Intern. Follow him <a href="https://twitter.com/fmcapper">@fmcapper</a>.</em></p></p> Tue, 18 Feb 2014 12:17:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/can-you-hear-us-now-no-well-heres-why-109727