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Only two of San Francisco's 87 public sculptures depict women — its newest will honor Maya Angelou

Jules Arthur
  • San Francisco board has issued a new ordinance that'll ensure 30 percent of all public art portrays female historical figures.
  • Maya Angelou has been chosen as the first historical figure to be recognized.
  • The sculpture concept has come down to three finalists — its completion date is slated for winter of 2020.

Maya Angelou will be commemorated in a new permanent art installation in San Francisco. Poet and novelist, Angelou had a storied relationship with the city. She attended the George Washington High School, and was said to have been one of San Francisco's first African American female streetcar conductors.

The announcement follows an outcry from the community asking for better representation of women in sculptures. In 2018, San Francisco's board of supervisors passed a city ordinance calling for representation of historical women to reach at least 30 percent. After a year of legislation, the ordinance finally went through. As of today, only two of the 87 public statues depict women. Those being, a sculpture of Florence Nightingale and a bust of Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D–CA).

Maya Angelou was chosen because of her life's celebrated and influential career.

The San Francisco Arts commission remarks, "The artwork is intended to honor one of the most significant literary artists and activists of our time, and will be an ever-present role model and inspiration to girls and young women."

Maya Angelou’s sculpture

The city's Art Commission sent out a call for art applications in November of 2018. They received more than 100 qualified submissions. After whittling those down to the best 13 artists, they eventually chose three finalists. The statue will be installed by December 31, 2020 with an estimated cost of around $400,000. The city will supply the majority of the funding with the help of some private donors.

The three proposals come from the following artists: Kenyatta A.C. Hinkle, Jules Arthur, and Lava Thomas. All of which, are strikingly beautiful and well designed.

Kenyatta C. Hinkle’s proposal, “The 3 Mayas”

Kenyatta C. Hinkle, an American artist and assistant professor of painting at UC Berkeley proposed "The 3 Mayas," which is a seven foot tall and three sided. It'll consist of three versions of Maya in different stages of her life. The first, as a little girl holding a book, a teenager in a streetcar uniform, and finally a middle age woman holding her most famous book, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings.

Speaking with the San Francisco Chronicle, Hinkle referenced a speech by the author's son, Guy Johnson. "He said that his mother would not stand for any injustice being carried out in her presence — she would never turn her back to injustice." You will never see the back of this monument. You will always have a version of Maya looking at you."

Jules Arthur’s proposal, “The Gift of Literature”

Jules Arthur, an artist from New York City, proposed "The Gift of Literature," as a granite wall with a quote from Angelou regarding the importance of reading.

When I look back, I am so impressed again with the life-giving power of literature, If I were a young person today, trying to gain a sense of myself in the world, I would do that again by reading, just as I did when I was young. – Maya Angelou

The statue will feature Angelou on one side as a young girl standing with one leg atop a birdcage and stack of books. The other side of the granite will have the older Angelou, looking at the reflection of her younger self. Arthur calls this a work of "metamorphosis."

Lava Thomas’s proposal, “Portrait of a Phenomenal Woman”

Lava Thomas's design is a towering nine-foot sculpture that is shaped like a book, with a portrait on Agelou's face on the front.

Regarding the sculpture, the artist stated, "I want my monument to… convey Dr. Angelou's towering achievements her intelligence, her wisdom, and to emphasize her insistence on our shared humanity."

This iteration of Angelou artwork also includes a quote by the author: "If one has courage, nothing can dim the light which shines from within."

Proposals of San Francisco’s newest sculpture

The artists' designs have been on display at the San Francisco Library, so that the public could provide feedback. The finalist will meet with the Visual Arts Committee on August 21 and then be approved on September 9th.

The Arts commission intends on releasing more plans for future female public art after getting further input.

Hulu's original movie "Palm Springs" is the comedy we needed this summer

Andy Samberg and Cristin Milioti get stuck in an infinite wedding time loop.

Gear
  • Two wedding guests discover they're trapped in an infinite time loop, waking up in Palm Springs over and over and over.
  • As the reality of their situation sets in, Nyles and Sarah decide to enjoy the repetitive awakenings.
  • The film is perfectly timed for a world sheltering at home during a pandemic.
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Two MIT students just solved Richard Feynman’s famed physics puzzle

Richard Feynman once asked a silly question. Two MIT students just answered it.

Surprising Science

Here's a fun experiment to try. Go to your pantry and see if you have a box of spaghetti. If you do, take out a noodle. Grab both ends of it and bend it until it breaks in half. How many pieces did it break into? If you got two large pieces and at least one small piece you're not alone.

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Our ‘little brain’ turns out to be pretty big

The multifaceted cerebellum is large — it's just tightly folded.

Image source: Sereno, et al
Mind & Brain
  • A powerful MRI combined with modeling software results in a totally new view of the human cerebellum.
  • The so-called 'little brain' is nearly 80% the size of the cerebral cortex when it's unfolded.
  • This part of the brain is associated with a lot of things, and a new virtual map is suitably chaotic and complex.

Just under our brain's cortex and close to our brain stem sits the cerebellum, also known as the "little brain." It's an organ many animals have, and we're still learning what it does in humans. It's long been thought to be involved in sensory input and motor control, but recent studies suggests it also plays a role in a lot of other things, including emotion, thought, and pain. After all, about half of the brain's neurons reside there. But it's so small. Except it's not, according to a new study from San Diego State University (SDSU) published in PNAS (Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences).

A neural crêpe

A new imaging study led by psychology professor and cognitive neuroscientist Martin Sereno of the SDSU MRI Imaging Center reveals that the cerebellum is actually an intricately folded organ that has a surface area equal in size to 78 percent of the cerebral cortex. Sereno, a pioneer in MRI brain imaging, collaborated with other experts from the U.K., Canada, and the Netherlands.

So what does it look like? Unfolded, the cerebellum is reminiscent of a crêpe, according to Sereno, about four inches wide and three feet long.

The team didn't physically unfold a cerebellum in their research. Instead, they worked with brain scans from a 9.4 Tesla MRI machine, and virtually unfolded and mapped the organ. Custom software was developed for the project, based on the open-source FreeSurfer app developed by Sereno and others. Their model allowed the scientists to unpack the virtual cerebellum down to each individual fold, or "folia."

Study's cross-sections of a folded cerebellum

Image source: Sereno, et al.

A complicated map

Sereno tells SDSU NewsCenter that "Until now we only had crude models of what it looked like. We now have a complete map or surface representation of the cerebellum, much like cities, counties, and states."

That map is a bit surprising, too, in that regions associated with different functions are scattered across the organ in peculiar ways, unlike the cortex where it's all pretty orderly. "You get a little chunk of the lip, next to a chunk of the shoulder or face, like jumbled puzzle pieces," says Sereno. This may have to do with the fact that when the cerebellum is folded, its elements line up differently than they do when the organ is unfolded.

It seems the folded structure of the cerebellum is a configuration that facilitates access to information coming from places all over the body. Sereno says, "Now that we have the first high resolution base map of the human cerebellum, there are many possibilities for researchers to start filling in what is certain to be a complex quilt of inputs, from many different parts of the cerebral cortex in more detail than ever before."

This makes sense if the cerebellum is involved in highly complex, advanced cognitive functions, such as handling language or performing abstract reasoning as scientists suspect. "When you think of the cognition required to write a scientific paper or explain a concept," says Sereno, "you have to pull in information from many different sources. And that's just how the cerebellum is set up."

Bigger and bigger

The study also suggests that the large size of their virtual human cerebellum is likely to be related to the sheer number of tasks with which the organ is involved in the complex human brain. The macaque cerebellum that the team analyzed, for example, amounts to just 30 percent the size of the animal's cortex.

"The fact that [the cerebellum] has such a large surface area speaks to the evolution of distinctively human behaviors and cognition," says Sereno. "It has expanded so much that the folding patterns are very complex."

As the study says, "Rather than coordinating sensory signals to execute expert physical movements, parts of the cerebellum may have been extended in humans to help coordinate fictive 'conceptual movements,' such as rapidly mentally rearranging a movement plan — or, in the fullness of time, perhaps even a mathematical equation."

Sereno concludes, "The 'little brain' is quite the jack of all trades. Mapping the cerebellum will be an interesting new frontier for the next decade."

Economists show how welfare programs can turn a "profit"

What happens if we consider welfare programs as investments?

A homeless man faces Wall Street

Spencer Platt/Getty Images
Politics & Current Affairs
  • A recently published study suggests that some welfare programs more than pay for themselves.
  • It is one of the first major reviews of welfare programs to measure so many by a single metric.
  • The findings will likely inform future welfare reform and encourage debate on how to grade success.
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