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Training dogs to detect cancer with their noses

The Penn Vet Working Dog Center trains canines to detect cancer using their remarkable sense of smell.

McBaine, a bouncy black and white springer spaniel, perks up and begins his hunt at the Penn Vet Working Dog Center. His nose skims 12 tiny arms that protrude from the edges of a table-size wheel, each holding samples of blood plasma, only one of which is spiked with a drop of cancerous tissue.

The dog makes one focused revolution around the wheel before halting, steely-eyed and confident, in front of sample No. 11. A trainer tosses him his reward, a tennis ball, which he giddily chases around the room, sliding across the floor and bumping into walls like a clumsy puppy.

McBaine is one of four highly trained cancer detection dogs at the center, which trains purebreds to put their superior sense of smell to work in search of the early signs of ovarian cancer. Now, Penn Vet, part of the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Veterinary Medicine, is teaming with chemists and physicists to isolate cancer chemicals that only dogs can smell. They hope this will lead to the manufacture of nanotechnology sensors that are capable of detecting bits of cancerous tissue 1/100,000th the thickness of a sheet of paper.


Original source: The New York Times
Read the complete story here.

Demco Automation named to Inc. Magazine's list of the fastest-growing private companies

Demco Automation, a Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Northeast PA client, has been named to the 2014 Inc. 5000 List of the Fastest-Growing Private Companies in the U.S. 

Demco is a leading supplier of flexible, cost-effective and low-risk automated manufacturing systems for technology-based industry sectors.

Original source: Inc.
Read the complete list here.

Allentown is on the upswing, and the state played a huge role

The Atlantic details big changes in Allentown, and the role of the state in its revitalization.

Allentown has been struggling economically for decades, its problems exacerbated by the demise or exodus of nearby big employers (Bethlehem Steel and Mack Trucks), the collapse of its downtown retail sector (accelerated by the growth of sprawl-malls, and symbolized by the folding of the once-grand Hess department store), and the flight of white residents to neighboring towns as mainly lower-income Latinos arrived from New York and New Jersey. Allentown, in short, got caught in a familiar downward cycle of cumulative deterioration.
 
But, as Jim Fallows previewed here last Thursday, Allentown is starting to find its way along the comeback trail, despite its long-standing problems. There are a lot of people in Allentown—public officials and people in the business community—who have worked hard to engineer a turn-around for the city. But they haven't done it on their own.

The whole state of Pennsylvania is, perhaps unknowingly, lending a hand. How so? Allentown's path of recovery, in the form of its current burst of downtown construction, is being paved in part with money diverted from the general treasury of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. As Jim Fallows noted, all this is happening through an unusual tax-distribution arrangement known as the Neighborhood Improvement Zone (NIZ), passed by the state legislature in 2009. Here's an oversimplified version of what happens: The state as a whole is partly underwriting the re-construction of Allentown's downtown.


Original source: The Atlantic
Read the complete story here.

Should we let the Susquehanna River run wild?

A story in the New York Times questions the damming of the mighty Susquehanna River.

The Susquehanna’s 27,000-square-mile watershed was once home to remarkable runs of migratory fishes — and none more so than the American shad, a type of herring. In 1827, one net hauled in was said to have contained an astounding 15 million shad and river herring. A commercial fishing operation on the river stationed a sentry on a hillside to watch for the moving bulge in the waters that signaled another huge school approaching. Shad were such a mainstay of regional diets that traveling fishmongers would blow horns and shout “shad-o” to announce the availability of this delicacy.

Despite efforts to create “ladders” and “elevators” for fish to travel past them, the dams have devastated shad migrations. The official goal remains the passage of two million shad beyond the fourth dam so they can reach suitable spawning grounds — a modest target, given the original run sizes. In 2014, exactly eight shad made it past the fourth dam. That’s an improvement over 2011, when none did...

With all this in mind, policy makers need to take the only responsible step and remove the dams. True, they produce valuable electricity that would be tough to replace. But there are alternatives. By our calculations, a solar park built on the drained floor of the empty Conowingo Reservoir could allow the river to run beside it and replace the 575 megawatts the dam generates. And low-head hydropower arrays — devices that pull energy from the river without impeding it — could add even more.


Original source: The New York Times
Read the complete story here.

David Lynch, doughnuts and Philadelphia

Honoring the first major retrospective of David Lynch’s work at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts with fried dough.

Trippy dream sequences. Doppelgängers. Laura Dern. One associates them all with the fun-house mirror maze of a David Lynch project. But doughnuts? From Special Agent Dale Cooper’s insatiable sweet tooth on “Twin Peaks” to the metaphor Lynch uses in the 2012 documentary “Meditation, Creativity, Peace” (“Transcendental Meditation gives an experience much sweeter than the sweetness of this doughnut”), sugary fried rings have popped up throughout the filmmaker’s cabalistic canon. And so, Michael Solomonov, the chef and co-owner of Philadelphia’s Federal Donuts, jumped at the invite to make confections in honor of the first major retrospective of Lynch’s work, at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts (where Lynch studied painting in the late ’60s). With names like Blue Velvet and Good Coffee — a “Twin Peaks” reference — Solomonov’s creations are an homage to the master of magical realist cinema.?

Original source: The New York Times
Read the complete story here.

Is the Keystone State home to 'America's Best Restroom'?

Longwood Gardens is a finalist in Cinta's 'America's Best Restroom' contest -- vote now!

The public restrooms at Longwood Gardens, the most visited public garden in America, deserve a double-take as you walk by. That’s because the 17 restrooms themselves are part of the largest indoor "Green Wall" in North America!

The staff at Longwood worked with artist Kim Wilkie on an unprecedented feat of bathroom architecture. Take a look at the photos, and you’ll understand. Aside from the restrooms’ lush greenery, they also feature domed, naturally lit lavatory cabinets hidden within the "Green Wall." In addition, each restroom contains etched translucent glass at the top of the dome to provide natural light, reduce electricity and minimize the need for light fixtures.

Longwood Gardens traces its roots to the famed du Pont family and has become preeminent for its grand collection of plant life. Now, its restrooms also share in the spotlight.

"The restrooms at Longwood have become a ‘must-see’ for our one million annual visitors, and we even have docents nearby to share the story of their creation," says Patricia Evans, communications manager at Longwood Gardens. "To be named America’s Best Restroom would be a testament to our creativity and environmental stewardship."


Via Curbed Phillycheck out their coverage of this amazing bathroom.

Original source: Cinta

Fandom of PA NFL teams crosses state lines

Take a look at this fascinating mapping of NFL fandom -- and marvel at the long arms of Steelers nation.

Original source: The Atlantic

Taney's miracle run ends in Williamsport

Pennsylvania fell in love with the Taney Dragons, and loved them even through defeat in the Little League World Series. We weren't alone.

This was my first Little League World Series, and the two-week event was defined by two great story lines: Mo’ne Davis, a 13-year-old girl from Philadelphia who struck out the boys, and an exciting team from the South Side of Chicago that validated Major League Baseball’s urban initiative and held the promise of a widening pipeline of young players from urban areas.

“We saw teams that we haven’t see around here before,” said Mike Mussina, a former Baltimore Orioles and Yankees pitcher. “To see them come here and succeed and do well — people loved them. People grab a hold of whatever the thing is and this year, they were the thing.”

The Times'
 Frank Bruni also took the time to reflect on Mo'ne and the Dragons:

It was here, at the Little League World Series, that Mo’ne Davis captured the country’s hearts. A 13-year-old wunderkind from Philadelphia, she was believed to be the first black girl to play in the series. She was definitely the first girl ever to pitch a shutout. She landed on the cover of Sports Illustrated, exploded stereotypes about women and sports and did it with a poise and grace that most people twice or even four times her age struggle to muster.

Original source: The New York Times
Read the complete story here.

UPenn specialist talks bringing back the dead

University of Pennsylvania doc David Casarett pens 'Shocked,' an examination of the science of resuscitation. 

The great highway of life is a one-way road, but that never stopped anyone from ignoring the traffic signs and trying to drive back up the offramps.

Efforts to revive the dead began longer ago than you might think, as Dr. David Casarett outlines in “Shocked,” his comprehensive review of the fascinating science of resuscitation. He suggests that the honors for best early performance go to the citizens of Amsterdam, who in 1767 formed a Society in Favor of Drowned Persons to save the many residents of that city pulled in extremis from the canals...

A specialist in end-of-life care at the University of Pennsylvania, Dr. Casarett has produced a travelogue about as comprehensive as possible without actually dying. He visits Amsterdam and London, and explores the heart’s electrical conduction system by climbing around the gigantic walk-through model of a heart in Philadelphia’s Franklin Institute. In a series of labs and zoos, he inspects hibernating squirrels, hypothermic dogs and frogs that can freeze, all possible physiological models for a yet-to-be-perfected state of “suspended animation” for humans.


Original source: The New York Times
Read the complete story here.

A backlash grows against the Amish TV boom

According to NPR, locals in Lancaster County are fighting back against what they call "Amish exploitation."

It's no secret many "reality" TV shows bear little resemblance to actual reality. Discovery Channel's hit show Amish Mafia is a vivid example. The show portrays Amish youth in rebellion, racing buggies and carrying guns. Amish characters appear on screen and describe for the camera how the "mafia" operates outside of Amish law.

In reality, the Amish don't like to be photographed, and rarely speak out publicly...

Amish Mafia is set and filmed in Lancaster County, in the heart of Pennsylvania Dutch country, where the Amish community plays a big part in agriculture and tourism — two of the region's biggest industries. With the show's success, others followed, including Breaking Amish and Return to Amish.

Earlier this summer, when Lancaster filmmaker Mary Haverstick heard there would be another new show, called Amish Haunting, she got fed up and started a Facebook page called "Respect Amish" to oppose the shows.

"And I kind of put out there the opinion that I think so many Lancastrians are thinking," she says, "which is, 'What in the world are these shows doing?' "


Original source: NPR
Read the complete story here.

PA ranked among top beer states in the nation

Thrillist ranked all 50 states by their beer -- PA came in at number eight:

Tröegs, Stoudt’s, Yards, Victory, Voodoo, Sly Fox, Weyerbacher: all always fantastic. Iron City: one of the world’s most lovable crappy beers. Yuengling: maybe not what craft-heads crave, but it’s the country’s oldest brewery (wait, you haven’t had someone drinking Yuengling tell you that?!?), and the very stuff that splashed out of dance-floor Solo cups all night at my cousin’s wedding in a barn on a PA sheep farm. Part of William Penn’s ‘’Great Treaty” to secure his land involved giving up a barrel of beer; we all got plenty back in return.

Original source: Thrillist
Read the complete list here.

Philly Little League star Mo'ne Davis snags the cover of Sports Illustrated

Taney Dragons star Mo'ne Davis continues her global takeover, nabbing the coveted cover of 'Sports Illustrated.' (Check out Keystone Edge's top five reasons to head to Williamsport.)

Original source: Sports Illustrated

Uber presents testimony in front of Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission judges

Uber continues to make its case in Pennsylvania, arguing for a permanent place on the transportation landscape.

During a hearing in Pittsburgh on Monday, the local attorney for Uber instructed a witness not to answer questions about the number of rides the company has provided while under a cease-and-desist order, despite a court order compelling the company to reveal the information.

It was the most contentious point of the daylong hearing, which allowed Uber to present testimony before Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission administrative law judges. Under consideration is Uber’s application to begin permanent, experimental service in Allegheny County and other points in Pennsylvania. The application was met with protests by several dozen taxi companies, including Ambridge-based JB Taxi...

To comply with the emergency temporary authority, the ride-sharing companies were required to show their insurance policies provide primary coverage when drivers are conducting ride-sharing business, and that the policies meet PUC standards. The PUC issued a certificate of public convenience good for 60 days to Lyft last week. Uber’s temporary application is pending review of documents submitted, according to a PUC spokeswoman
.

Original source: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Read the complete story here.

Historic property where George Washington camped up for sale

A 9-acre property where George Washington and his troops are said to have camped during the Revolutionary War is available for $14 million.

The property is located on Lewis Lane in Whitpain Township, about 25 minutes outside of Philadelphia. It includes a six-bedroom, five-bathroom house built in 1913 but extensively renovated and restored, according to owner Steven Korman, founder of Korman Communities, a Pennsylvania-based developer of hotels and apartments. Mr. Korman said he added about 9,000 square feet to the original 5,000-square-foot house, incorporating a century-old stone wall that had been in the garden and adding modern touches like a movie theater, gym, wine cellar, saltwater pool and elevator. Between buying the house and the renovation, he said he spent about $13 million. The house is being sold fully furnished.

Washington's troops camped in the Lewis Lane area in 1777 after the Battle of Germantown, on their way to Valley Forge, according to Marie Goldkamp, president of the Historical Society of Whitpain.

A self-described "history buff," Mr. Korman said the history of the property, which had been owned by the same family from the 1700s until Mr. Korman bought it more than four years ago, was "a huge thing for me." He added that one room in the house displays his collection of letters written by U.S. presidents, including Washington, Lincoln and Jefferson. These aren't included in the sale price.


Original source: The Wall Street Journal
Read the complete story here.

Philadelphia eatery named No. 2 new restaurant in the country

High Street on Market, in Philadelphia's Old City neighborhood, was named the number two new restaurant on Bon Appetit's highly anticipated national list.

I dare anyone who has jumped on the gluten-free bandwagon (without a doctor’s note) to eat at High Street on Market and still call himself gluten-intolerant. You don’t stand a chance. Know why? Because chef Eli Kulp basically built this restaurant around head baker Alex Bois’s superstar bread program.

Let’s start with the breakfast sandwiches, specifically the Forager: seared king oyster mushrooms, braised kale, fried egg, Swiss cheese, and black trumpet mushroom mayo piled on one of Bois’s cloudlike kaiser rolls. Hell, put a tofu burger and vegan “cheese” on one of those things and I would still—greedily!—order it again. The black squid-ink bialy stuffed with smoked whitefish may sound questionable, but I promise it will be something you crave for weeks afterward.

Abstinence won’t be any easier at lunch. The “Best Grilled Cheese Ever,” served on house-made roasted potato bread, delivers on its inflated claim. And no dinner here would be complete without more of Bois’s signature loaves: levain with vegetable ash, anadama miche (made with molasses and cracked corn), and buckwheat cherry, to name a few. If, at this point, you are wondering if the No. 2 restaurant on this year’s list got here on its dough alone, the answer is -- unequivocally and emphatically -- a very carby yes.


Original source: Bon Appetit
Read the complete story here.
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