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Behind the Designer, There’s a Stylist’s Invisible Hand

September 10, 2011 Leave a comment

ADRIENNE GAFFNEY/WSJ
2011 Sep 08
On Saturday, when designer Prabal Gurung acknowledges the crowd after showing his Spring 2012 collection, he’ll be accepting applause for someone else as well—the stylist, the invisible hand that helps execute his vision down to the tiniest detail and an indispensable force behind the modern runway show.
Once clubby events for media, retailers and celebrities, fashion shows now are global branding occasions, especially for young labels like Prabal Gurung that do practically no formal advertising.
Runway images now flash around the world to almost-instantaneous scrutiny, and it’s not just the clothes that go under the magnifying glass. Accessories, makeup, hair, nails—not to mention models, music and special effects—all must work together to convey the brand’s message to retailers and consumers, whether they’re watching from the front row or peering into a computer screen.
“No matter what happens with social media and everything, it’s still runway shows twice a year,” Mr. Gurung says. “It’s still the strongest possible way of telling your story and putting across your brand message entirely.”

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How an undergrad spotted possible water on Mars

CNN/Light years
2011 Aug 5
In high school, Lujendra Ojha hoped he might one day invent a time machine. A science-fiction fan, he was fascinated with ideas about string theory, multiple universes and time travel.
Ojha hasn’t cracked those mysteries yet, but he did discover something else otherworldly: possible flows of saltwater on Mars.
The 21-year-old is a co-author of a new study in the journal Science suggesting that there is liquid water during warmer seasons on Mars. If it’s there, this water probably would be briny, because studies have shown that Mars’ surface is salty.
A native of Kathmandu, Nepal, Ojha has always been fascinated by mountains, especially since several of the world’s tallest are in his country. He combined his interest in physics and geology by majoring in geosciences at the University of Arizona.
The Mars discovery came out of an independent project he was doing with professor Alfred McEwen, lead author of the new study published in Science. Their collaborator, University of Arizona researcher Colin Dundas, was interested in gullies on Mars, which may be remnants of past water activity. The researchers were looking for seasonal changes in those gullies.
Using a computer algorithm to examine images taken in the same crater as the gullies Dundas had examined, Ojha removed visual distortions, such as shadows, from images of a crater taken at different points in time. With that technique, he compared the images to identify the changes over time.
That’s how Ojha noticed irregular features in the crater that weren’t related to the gullies.
“When I first saw them, I had no idea what it was. I just thought it was a streak made by dust or something similar,” he told CNN on Thursday after a NASA news conference. “It was a lucky accident.”
It took McEwen’s team months of research to figure out what it could be. In fact, scientists say, Ojha had found the first evidence of finger-like features on the slope of the crater that could be liquid briny water on Mars, although scientists do not know for sure. The source of this water could be below the surface, but that has yet to be determined, Ojha said.

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Conservation projects in Guatemala & Nepal win UN environment prize

United Nations
2011 Feb 23
A forest conservation initiative in Guatemala and a sustainable development project in Nepal are the recipients of this year’s Sasakawa Prize, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) announced today.
The UNEP Sasakawa Prize, worth $200,000, recognizes the most innovative, groundbreaking and sustainable grassroots environmental initiatives in developing countries.
The Asociación Forestal Integral San Andrés, Petén (AFISAP) in Guatemala and the Manahari Development Institute in Nepal (MDI-Nepal) won the award, whose theme this year is “Forests for People, Forests for Green Growth” in support of the 2011 International Year of Forests.
The theme highlights the central role of forests in the pursuit of a global ‘green economy’ as key economic resources whose real value has all too often been excluded in national accounts of profit and loss, according to UNEP press release.
Estimates from The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity (TEEB) indicate that deforestation and forest degradation are likely costing the global economy between $2.5 and $4.5 trillion a year, more than the losses of the recent and ongoing financial crisis.
AFISAP, which was founded in 1999, is focused on preserving the forests on a 52,000-hectare concession within the Mayan Biosphere Reserve in the San Andres area in Guatemala, which plays a critical role in regional conservation. According to an AFISAP study that used remote cameras, the Mayan Reserve has the highest-density of jaguars ever reported in the world.
The organization, which has distinguished itself as one of the most successful community groups in Guatemala, has also introduced projects to extract the lucrative xate, the popular foliage used for floral arrangements worldwide. Xate, which has been used for 40 years and is exported, has brought enormous economic benefits for the rural communities in the area.
MDI-Nepal, a non-governmental organization founded in 2001, has introduced agroforestry to help improve crop productivity and water irrigation systems as well as reduce soil erosion on the forested hills and mountainous areas.
Apart from making up most of the country’s land mass, the slopes are also home to 18 million people. The agroforestry measures have significantly improved food security and living standards of the rural communities living on the steep slopes of Nepal, said UNEP.
In a related development, a forest conservation scheme in Kenya is one of the projects to benefit from a new partnership between UNEP and the European Union (EU).
The partnership, announced today at the UNEP headquarters in the Kenyan capital, Nairobi, by UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner and the EU Commissioner for the Environment, Janez Potocnik, covers funding from the European Commission (EC) to UNEP up to 2013 and identifies key areas of joint activities.

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