UT alumna speaks on climate change at science forum

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Melissa R. Allen of the Oak Ridge National Laboratory spoke for the 2015 UT Science Forum “Climate Variability and Change: What Fundamental Science and Modeling Tell Us.”

Allen opened by talking about a common debate between climate scientists and detractors; whether or not human activity causes the climate variability that has been observed.

“The scientists, in all of the observations they’d seen and all the modeling they had done worldwide, had come to the conclusion that warming was unequivocal,” Allen said.

To expand on her statement, Allen went on to describe what climate change is.

“We have an energy balance between the Earth and space. The sun’s radiation is coming in as light. Light color or bright color, it will just reflect the light back into space,” Allen said. “The darker surfaces will absorb that radiation and then they re-radiate infrared radiation or long-wave radiation, and that gets trapped then by greenhouse gasses in the atmosphere.”

Allen also stated that some greenhouse gasses are good, and that there would not be life on Earth without them.

Her lecture included other topics, such as talking about Sen. James M. Inhofe’s vocal stance against climate change, the infrared absorption spectrum and the polar ice caps.

“Antarctica goes through this cycle every year, that some melts and some melts and some grows back,” Allen said. “The issue, though, is are we losing more ice than we’re gaining?”

She then directed the audience’s attention towards a new study that suggested that the ice caps were gaining more ice than they were losing.

“Turns out, though, that the study that had been done was looking at data from 1992 to 2008, and really all that study said was that increase in ice was constant. What it did not say was that the rate of the decrease in ice was increasing,” Allen said.

Allen closed her lecture by likening the climate change denial to that of an unhealthy individual who refuses to change their lifestyle.

“If we ignore this, we’re kind of like ignoring a doctor that tells us that if we don’t shape up and lose weight and stop smoking, we’re going to have a heart attack,” Allen said. “And we tell the doctor ‘I’m sorry, you’re a heretic because you can’t tell me when I’m going to have a heart attack.'”

Featured image by Benjamin Webb

Edited by Courtney Anderson

Advocate, author argues mental health is for everyone

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Author of “Behind Happy Faces”, Ross Szabo, spoke to UT students on Thursday, Nov. 5 in the Alumni Memorial Building about the importance of mental health and how it affects everyone, especially college students.

On average, 76 percent of students report feeling overwhelmed and 11 percent report actually getting a good night’s sleep. According to Szabo, mental health is not just about being clinically depressed or having a diagnosable problem; it is about how you handle your challenges and struggles. 

“When I say the words mental health tonight, I don’t want you to think ‘oh that’s not for me, I’m good,'” Szabo said. “Mental health is for you. It’s as important as your physical health.”

Szabo displays to the audience that the clear definition of what mental health is can sometimes be blurred. When you google “mental health” the images that come up are mostly celebrity breakdowns and school shootings, which he explains are not what mental health is.

“Our definition of mental health is what is wrong,” he said. “Mental health isn’t having a problem at all. Mental health is how you address all the problems in your lives. Its how you deal with stress and lack of sleep. Its how you deal with dating. Its how you deal with breakups.”

So, what does all this have to do with college students? Szabo says that it has everything to do with college students. When asked how many hours of sleep they received every night, few people were close to the eight hour mark.

“One of the most effective ways to break a human being down is to only allow them to sleep three to five hours a day,” Szabo said. “The average college student in this country sleeps four to six.”

He reiterates in his lecture that college students are living on the same amount of sleep that the military uses as a torture method.

The whole lecture wasn’t just about sleep as Szabo reminds audience members that just because you are sleep deprived or your sleep schedule is messed up, does not mean you have insomnia. Just because you are nervous or anxious, does not mean you have anxiety. Just because you are sad, does not mean you have depression.

Sophomore Meredith Maroney found the lecture very helpful.

“I think it’s really relevant to talk about it and to talk about the resources that we have and that we probably need to add,” she said.

Mental health is an important part of overall health and when in a stressful environment like college it is important to know what resources are available to you and how to manage and care for your health.

For more information on how to handle and manage mental health you can visit UT’s counseling center which is free to all students.

Featured Image by Sam Maneri

Edited by Jessica Carr

‘The science guy’ draws large crowd at Mossman lecture

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Bill Nye, scientist, educator and television host, delivered the inaugural Ken and Blaire Mossman Distinguished Lecture at the University of Tennessee on Oct. 29 in the Thompson-Boling Arena.

The theme of the lecture given by Nye encouraged students to change the world through science. To deliver this message, Nye talked about a multitude of issues the world is facing today, such as renewable energy.

“It turns out there’s enough energy in the United States in wind, solar and tides, and to a limited extent geothermal energy, to power North America: Canada, Mexico, US, many times over, some estimates are five times over…,” Nye said.

He also focused on two of his more recent media appearances in regards to his stance against creationism: his controversial video for Big Think, and his debate with creationist Ken Ham.

“If you’re out there and you think that the Earth is 6,000 years old, knock yourself out,” Nye said. “But don’t make students believe that because it’s obviously wrong, and we need students to change the world.”

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Students wait in line to hear Bill Nye’s lecture.//Photo by Thomas Delgado

He made the claim that it is inconceivable that millions of people can watch those videos and believe that creationism is real opposed to evolution.

Nye also made statements regarding the denial of climate change.

“The deniers have to be skated off the play. In football, we would block them. In baseball, we would tag them out. In politics, we would not vote for them.”

Nye stated that he does not care peoples’ political affiliations nor their political philosophies, but urged that voters consider climate change when elections come around.

“When it’s time for you to vote, I’m asking you to take climate change into account,” he said.

What seemed to get the biggest reaction from the audience came at the end where Nye shifted the direction of the lecture towards space exploration, the New Horizons mission to Pluto, water on Mars and what Nye referred to as “…our place in space.”

“Everywhere we look on Earth and we find water, there are living things,” Nye said. “Everywhere on Earth. It’s not crazy to suggest — it’s extraordinary — but it’s not crazy to suggest there once were living things on Mars.”

On the topic of the possibility of life being on Mars, Nye remarked that he did not want to wait for people to find out, he wanted for us all to know about it now.

At the end of the lecture, Nye reiterated the key point of the lecture that he kept referencing throughout it; “With your brains, you can, dare I say it, change the world!”

Nye’s new book “Unstoppable: Harnessing Science to Change the World” will be available on Nov. 10.

Featured image by Thomas Delgado

Edited by Jessica Carr

Gideons’ Bible distribution returns to campus

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Members of The Gideons International dotted the street corners Monday and Tuesday on the University of Tennessee’s campus for their annual Bible distribution.

For two days in October, the university allows the suit and tie clad men to set up anywhere on campus to hand out copies of the New Testament.

University administration plans when the Gideons are allowed to have their distribution period. Until recently, they were allowed one day on campus, but they are now allotted two.

“Over the last several years, the university has been kind to give us two days, Monday and Tuesday, usually in October,” said Gideons member Bobby Russell. “We get here about 7:30 a.m. and we stay until about 11 a.m.”

The university also requires the group to have an on-campus sponsor to perform their distribution. This year, the Baptist Collegiate Ministry is sponsoring the group. Although the BCM is a ministry of the Southern Baptist and Tennessee Baptist Conventions, the Gideons do not affiliate with a particular Christian denomination.

Other than their prearranged time periods and the requirement for an on-campus sponsor, the group has no other restrictions or guidelines from campus administration.

“Really we’re not restricted to anything,” Russell said.

While the group doesn’t encounter adversity from the university, the Gideons do meet some opposition from those they approach on the streets.

“You do get some who say ‘I’m a Muslim” or ‘I’m atheist.’ Some people just say they don’t want anything to do with organized religion,” Russell said. “[The Gideons] don’t let that be a seed for confrontation. We don’t necessarily push our beliefs on anybody. Anybody who wants to take a copy, we give it to them. We don’t force it upon them.”

Levi Inman,a student at UT, has encountered The Gideons bible distribution multiple times.

“They keep to themselves but they’re very outgoing,” Inman said. “If you make eye contact, they’re going to strike up a conversation, but I don’t think it’s disruptive. When I talk to those guys they’re very kind, it warms my heart to know that there are people out there that have passion in their faith.”

The Gideons’ last day on campus was Tuesday, but they are expected to be back on campus next October.

Edited by Jessica Carr

Buddhist monks teach, create traditional paintings

The McClung Museum of Natural History and Culture welcomed Tibetan Buddhist monks to paint a sand mandala in the Native Peoples of Tennessee gallery. The event ran from Sept. 22 to Sept. 25 and was part of the Buddhist Art of the Himalayas exhibit.

Sand mandala paintings are one of the most unique, artistic traditions of Tantric Buddhism because they can take days or weeks to complete. The process includes placing millions of grains of colored sand onto a sketched drawing.

Monks worked on the painting from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. through Thursday, and concluded on Friday at 11:30 a.m.

Lindsey Wainwright, coordinator of academic programs at UT, said the museum contacted the Buddhist monk group called the Mystical Arts of Tibet, and arranged a time for the group to visit the museum.

“We were looking for programming for an exhibit this fall of Tibetan Buddhist art that connected with the (Buddhist Art of the Himalayas) exhibit itself that would engage students,” she said.

Michael Ferguson, a freshman majoring in mathematics at UT, visited the exhibit because he could hear the sound of the opening ceremony during class.

He was interested in the opening ceremony because of the way the group incorporated traditions and modern techniques.

“It’s amazing to be able to see something like this on campus. I don’t know of what level of religious meaning this has to them, so for them to do this is amazing and I hope we can see more things like this on campus,” he said.

McClung Museum joins a list of more than 100 museums, art centers and universities in the United States and Europe that Buddhist monks have created mandalas for.

“I think the opportunity for students to have this first hand experience is really special,” said Wainwright.

A community painting is also being held, where any student or resident can learn how the painting is made and help paint the piece.

To learn more about the exhibit’s upcoming events, click here.

Featured image by Brianna Bivens

Featured video by Thomas Delgado

Edited by Hannah Hunnicutt

TABC suspends Soccer Taco alcohol license

The Tennessee Alcohol and Beverage Commission (TABC) has suspended Soccer Taco’s alcohol license for 20 days.

Soccer Taco is a Mexican style restaurant located at 9 Market Square, suite 101. The restaurant was founded in 2005 on Bearden Hill and expanded to Market Square in 2009. The well-known restaurant has been awarded “Best Mexican restaurant” as well as “Best nachos and margaritas.”

Soccer Taco is charged with serving minors on two separate occasions. The first in Jan. 2013 and the second July 23, 2015. On both occasions the minors were carded, but still served.

Representatives from the local restaurant had appeared at the Beer Board meeting in hopes that the council would approve their late submission of a remedial plan and fee. The restaurant’s attorney, Arthur Seymour, said the reason for their late submission is that they were unaware of the dual filing process.

Seymour told the head of Knoxville’s Beer Board, city councilwoman Brenda Palmer, that their remedial plan is a “sound resolution to serving minors.” The plan states every customer buying an alcoholic beverage will be carded. Also, scanners will be installed at all cash registers.

Seymour told the board that the scanners will be installed later in September, but until then waiters and bartenders will scan IDs with a phone app.

TABC’s website states that licensed establishments are checked on a regular basis for compliance with laws regarding serving alcohol to minors.

The meeting adjourned with Palmer saying she hoped not to hear any alcohol related issues with the restaurant again.

“That is unless the scanner malfunctions!” Seymour said in return.

Featured Image by Ryan McGill

Edited by Courtney Anderson