Plaxedes “Gogo” Dilon always walks miles for her job as a clothing saleswoman. Everyday she wakes up before dawn to travel across Zimbabwe to sell clothes.
After hearing about the storm affecting Zimbabwe, Malawi, and Mozambique — she wanted to pursue anything to help those affected.
Immediately, Dillon filled a bag with kitchen supplies and clothes (she initially intended to resell) and gave it all to a disaster relief area.
Penniless and unable to afford bus fare, she walked 10 miles to bring the supplies to Highlands Presbyterian Church in Harare. There, numerous volunteers have been assisting in relief efforts for thousands displaced.
After Dilon brought the supplies, church members took a photo of Dilon with the bag balanced on her head and posted it to social media. The church stated she was not able to afford bus fare and walked a long way.
Once the photo was posted, it caught the attention of Zimbabwean billionaire Strive Masiyiwa, who promised Dilon a home anywhere in Zimbabwe with running water and solar power, as well as $1,000 per month.
“What she did is one of the most remarkable acts of compassion I have ever seen,” wrote Masiyiwa. “When this is over, I’m going to find her, and invite her to come and see me, if possible. Then I will spend time in prayer with her. “
Masiyiwa’s company is helping those affected by the cyclone and continues to be pleased by Dilon’s generous act.
“I admire people who are moved to act in a crisis! God bless you if you are moved to act as she did,” he wrote. “It is not about how much you have.”
Other countries and relief organizations worldwide have been offering support and aid for the cyclone victims in Zimbabwe, Malawi, and Mozambique, where more than 750 were estimated to have been killed by the cyclone.
Dilon, a great-grandmother of nine and a widow of 11 years, has expressed her appreciation of her reward. When asked about her kind act, she said it is the act of being a human being that drew her to help. “Being able to feel each other’s pain and to carry each other’s burden is what makes humanity great and better than other species,” the granny told The Sunday Mail with a smile. “What you give out in the world is what you receive back.”
For the first time in history, the world’s most prestigious mathematics prize is awarded to a woman.
Karen Uhlenbeck, Ph.D., 76, a emeritus professor at the University of Texas, Austin and current visitor at the Institute for Advanced Study was honored with the Abel prize, a.k.a, a Nobel prize for mathematics. The Abel comes with a prize of $700,000 and the King of Norway will present the prize to Uhlenbeck in Oslo in May.
Uhlenbeck was recognized due to her, “pioneering achievements in geometric partial differential equations, gauge theory and integrable systems, and for the fundamental impact of her work on analysis, geometry, and mathematical physics,” according to The New York Times.
She found out about her award after leaving her Unitarian Universalist Church, when she received a message from a colleague telling her to keep an eye out for a call from Norway. She checked her missed calls. “I pressed the button and called the Abel committee back, and they told me I’d won — and I had to sit down,” she told Glamour.
Another notable scientific contribution was Uhlenbeck’s work with predictive mathematics inspired by soap bubbles.
“Her theories have revolutionized our understanding of minimal surfaces, such as those formed by soap bubbles, and more general minimization problems in higher dimensions,” said Hans Munthe-Kaas, the chairman of the Abel Committee.
“The recognition of Uhlenbeck’s achievements should have been far greater, for her work has led to some of the most important advances in mathematics in the last 40 years,” said Jim Al-Khalili, Royal Society Fellow.
In the 1960’s, Uhlenbeck had to work tirelessly to even become a professor. “It was really only at the period of time that I got my degree, that the jobs in academia—and probably elsewhere—were slowly being opened up to women,” she says. “I was right on the edge of that. There were certainly universities that would not consider hiring me. There were universities that said, ‘Oh well, why don’t you go teach at a women’s college?’ I was told things like that, but I guess I have a rebellious streak, so I persevered.”
As a child, she loved reading and wanted to become a scientist, but because there were not a significant amount of women before her time in STEM, she looked to other women for inspiration who had pioneered in other fields. The famous Julia Child was a particular role model for her. “She was 6’2″, a big woman with this immense presence,” she says. Uhlenbeck recalls the story of Child dropping a turkey on her television show and carrying on nonetheless. “She had a presence and wasn’t perfect. The feeling was if Julia Child could do it, maybe you could too,” she says.
Over the years, Uhlenbeck emulated Child’s style of approachability, gentleness, and the ability to be a role model to many women desiring to enter the STEM field. “Since winning the award, I’ve gotten innumerable emails from women telling me how important my being there is, and it’s a great feeling,” she says.
“I have to say that it struck me at some point that if I were to look around and see no women coming up through mathematics behind me, how would I feel? I would feel terrible. Now I see these lively, enthusiastic, brilliant, wacky young women coming up and doing mathematics. When I was young, I couldn’t afford to be wacky. I had to be careful. I couldn’t dye my hair purple and get up and teach a calculus class, but I love seeing it; it’s wonderful to see.”
Today, she is a contributing scholar at Princeton University as well as the Institute for Advanced Study. She is one of the founders of the Park City Mathematics Institute, which strives to train younger researchers in their interests and in the challenges faced in mathematics.
Uhlenbeck hopes more women will come to work in mathematics. “I don’t know how many young girls are still being told that they don’t have to bother taking advanced-placement math because they’re a girl and they don’t need it—but I know it still happens. However, all I can say is that it’s getting better.”
House Bill 2217, which will effectively legalize euthanasia, is scheduled for a public hearing in the Oregon Legislature’s House Health Care Committee on Tuesday, March 19.
Oregon became the first state to legalize physician-assisted suicide in 1997. Since then, 1,459 patients have taken the lethal medication to end their lives. Currently, there are several reasons patients claim as their reason for requesting assisted suicide. According to deathwithdignity.org, “The most frequently reported end-of-life concerns were loss of autonomy (91.7%), decreasing ability to participate in activities that made life enjoyable (90.5%), and loss of dignity (66.7%). During 2018, the estimated rate of deaths under the law was 45.9 per 10,000 total deaths in the state.”
Under the current law, patients must physically ingest medication by themselves. When requesting life-ending medication, patients must sign a form stating “I expect to die when I take the medication to be prescribed.”
However, Oregon lawmakers are seeking to expand the scope of this bill by changing the definition of “taking” to “self-administer.” As defined by HB 2217, “self-administer” means “a qualified patient’s physical act of ingesting or delivering by another method medication to end his or her life in a humane and dignified manner.”
Lois Anderson, executive director of Oregon Right to Life, stated, “There is no safety mechanism in place to ensure that another person isn’t the one administering the medication. By adding ‘delivering by another method’ they are redefining the law to allow the drugs to be administered through an IV, feeding tube, injection, or even through a gas mask. And, potentially, by a person other than the patient.”
The proposed changes appear to contradict the intention of Oregonians when they narrowly legalized assisted suicide. When voters approved Measure 16 in 1994 it explicitly stated, “This measure does not authorize lethal injection, mercy killing or active euthanasia.”
HB 2217 would effectively legalize euthanasia in Oregon by involving more people in the deaths of vulnerable Oregonians.
Oregonians will be gathering in protest of HB 2217 at the hearing on Tuesday, March 19th. For more details or to contact committee members in opposition, please go to https://www.ortl.org/noeuthanasia/.
This recent Nobel prize winner decided to give away $250,000 in prize money.
George P. Smith, a emeritus professor of biology, won the 2018 Nobel prize for Chemistry in December.
This past week he announced he will donate every cent to launch the Missouri Nobel Scholarship Fund for students in the College of Arts and Sciences.
“This might surprise some people, but my first degree was actually a bachelor of arts, not a bachelor of science,” Smith said at a community event in Columbia with his wife, Margie. “My liberal arts education was the springboard for a lifetime of learning and cultural engagement. Margie and I hope that supporting the liberal arts as a whole will enrich the lives of future Mizzou students, whatever careers they choose.”
In support of Smith’s kindness, the university will also donate an additional $30,000 to the scholarship fund.
MU Chancellor Alexander N. Cartwright also announced a new tradition to set aside $100,000 in scholarships, every time a faculty member wins a Nobel Prize. Smith is the first MU faculty member to win a Nobel prize.
“Time and time again we have been overwhelmed by George’s incredibly humble attitude, and today we are amazed even further by his spirit of generosity,” Cartwright said in a statement. “Gifts such as these make it possible for more students to attend our university and have the experience of being taught by other world-class faculty.”
At this week’s scholarship launching event, Smith spoke of his Nobel prize win and the award ceremony he attended with his wife in Stockholm, Sweden, in December, and discussed his work in phage display, a process that allows researchers to easily screen and harvest molecules for attacking bacteria.
This process is now utilized in laboratories worldwide.
According to Kansas City Star, after Smith won one of the most prestigious awards in the world, the University honored him with his own space on a campus bike rack. He lives less than a mile away and rides his bike to work each day.
To this day, faculty members still congratulate him for his win.
“George Smith has been a star of the College of Arts and Science for more than 40 years,” said Pat Okker, the college’s dean. “He is a fabulous researcher, an exceptional teacher and an awesome human being. This gift continues to prove how completely committed George and Margie are to student success.”
16-year-old Greta Thunberg has been nominated for the 2019 Nobel Peace prize in recognition of her international campaign to protect the environment.
Thunberg launched the Youth Strike for climate movement in Sweden, in August, but has since inspired students worldwide to protest.
Today, on March 15, young people and environmentalists are expected to strike in 1,659 towns and 105 countries.
“We have proposed Greta Thunberg because if we do nothing to halt climate change, it will be the cause of wars, conflict and refugees,” said Norwegian Socialist MP Freddy André Øvstegård. “Greta Thunberg has launched a mass movement which I see as a major contribution to peace.”
If Thunberg wins the prize, she will be the youngest person to ever become a Nobel Laureate. Currently, Malala Yousafzai holds the title for the youngest Nobel Laureate after winning the Nobel Peace prize at age 17 in 2014.
“I am honored and very grateful for this nomination,” said Thunberg on Twitter. “We #schoolstrike for our future. And we will continue to do so for as long as it takes.”
The 16-year-old has already challenged leaders in person at the 2018 UN Climate Summit and at Davos in January. “Change is coming whether they like it or not,” she said.
Although some politicians have opposed the school strikes, many have supported them, including Germany’s Angela Merkel and Ireland’s Leo Varadkar. The mayors of Paris, Milan, Sydney, Austin, Philadelphia, Portland, Oslo, Barcelona and Montreal also support the strikes.
“It is truly inspiring to see young people, led by brilliant young women, making their voices heard and demanding urgent climate action. They are absolutely correct that our actions today will determine their futures,” said Anne Hidalgo, the mayor of Paris and chair of the C40 group of cities. “My message to young citizens is clear: it is our responsibility as adults and political leaders to learn from you and deliver the future you want.”
The strikes have also been supported by the former head of the Anglican church Rowan Williams and the head of Amnesty International, Kumi Naidoo. “Children are often told they are ‘tomorrow’s leaders’. But if they wait until ‘tomorrow’ there may not be a future in which to lead,” said Naidoo. “Young people are putting their leaders to shame with the passion and determination they are showing to fight this crucial battle now.”
Christmas kindness and bliss immersed from 86-year-old Ken Watson. Watson bought 14 years worth of Christmas presents for his two-year-old neighbor Cadi Williams.
Watson connected with the Williams family after they moved into their first home three years ago. The Williams’ and Watson formed an instant friendship and continued to foster close relationships after Cadi came into the world.
After Watson’s recent passing, the family was left heartbroken. Then suddenly, their melancholy dissipated when 14 Christmas presents were delivered by Mr.Watson’s daughter to their home in Barry, Wales.
“He’d always told us he’d live till he was 100-years-old,” Owen Williams wrote on Twitter after the presents were delivered. “So these gifts would have taken him up to our little girl’s 16th Christmas.”
“I kept reaching into the bag and pulling out more presents,” Williams told The Washington Post. “It was quite something.”
After the presents were delivered, the Williams thought of beginning a new Christmas tradition called, “A present from Ken,” but they could not decide which presents to unwrap first in order to figure out each age-appropriate gift.
A Twitter poll helped the Williams decide on what to do with each gift. 69% of Williams’s followers believed he should leave the presents unwrapped and let Cadi decide which gift would be unwrapped.
“Message received loud and clear, Twitter!” wrote the excited father. “We’re definitely going to open one every year till 2032… It’ll be our way of remembering an immensely generous gentleman — our new Christmas tradition.”
Williams assured his new followers of regular updates on the unraveling of gifts.
Numerous followers praised the compassionate gesture, with one writing: “What a thoughtful man who clearly thought so much of you all as a family, made me cry this morning.”
“You have to give her one a year,” another wrote on Twitter. “It doesn’t matter in the slightest if they are too old or too young. Presents are all about the giving, not the receiving.”
Another wrote: “That is just the loveliest, most thoughtful thing to do. I would save them each year and remind her what a lovely man you lived next door to.”
Others deemed it a “truly beautiful gesture” and others said it was “the true meaning of Christmas.”
At the end of the decisions and gratitude Williams advised his Twitter followers to build and foster relationships with their neighbors.
“Give your neighbors a small gift, a token. Just say, ‘Hi.’ You can open a new world just like we did.”