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Meredith Dobes

Maria Sibylla Merian receives recognition through Google doodle

Maria Sibylla Merian’s 366th birthday was celebrated yesterday with a Google doodle. Merian was a botanical artist who documented the metamorphosis of the butterfly and made contributions to the field of entomology. The doodle had an earthy theme and featured a lizard, leaves, caterpillars and butterflies.

Merian was born April 2, 1647 in Frankfurt, and when she was 13, she began painting insects and plants at the suggestion of her stepfather, Jacob Marrel.

Merian documented her childhood experiences in a book, expressing how interested she was in insects. She collected silk worms, caterpillars, butterflies and moths. Her interest eventually stuck with caterpillars after she realized how they transformed.

Merian published “Neues Blumenbuch” or “New Book of Flowers” across three volumes from 1675-80 and “The Caterpillar’s Marvelous Transformation and Strange Floral Food” in 1679.

Her books were popular in high society and not popular in the scientific community because she published them in vernacular language instead of Latin, which was the accepted scientific language of the time.

Merian traveled to South America to study local animals and plants there, which was unusual for a woman of her time to do. When she returned to Amsterdam, she wrote “The Metamorphoses of the Insects of Suriname,” which was published in 1705.

Merian compiled evidence that worked to debunk the common belief that insects were born from spontaneous generation.

Merian married her stepfather’s apprentice, Johann Andreas Graff, and the couple had a child together.

On January 13, 1717, Merian died at age 69.

This was the first Google doodle dedicated to Merian.

Shain Gandee's death ruled accidental carbon monoxide poisioning

Shain Gandee, a star of MTV show “Buckwild,” was found dead in his truck with two other passengers Monday. Their deaths were declared to be the result of carbon monoxide poisoning.

Gandee’s truck was stuck in a mud pit with its tailpipe clogged. Gandee, his uncle, David Gandee, and another man, Donald Robert Myers, were in the truck. Their autopsies were completed Tuesday, and the deaths were ruled accidental.

According to WBOY-TV, Gandee and the other men left a bar around 3 a.m. Sunday and told others they were going four wheeling. The ditch the men were found in was on Wolf Pen Road, which is near Gandee’s home.

Filming for the second season of “Buckwild” has been suspended after the death.

Authorities speculate that because the tailpipe of the truck was submerged underneath the mud, and the engine was on, the truck filled with carbon monoxide from the exhaust.

Gandee’s nickname on the show was “Gandee Candy,” and the show focused on the lifestyles of young people living in the country.

After the men had been missing for a while, authorities were going to send out an aviation search unit but received a call from one of Gandee’s friends, who discovered the vehicle.

“Buckwild” played in “Jersey Shore’s” old timeslot, and according to MTV, received an average of 3 million viewers per episode.

Though no official statements have been made, cast mates expressed their feelings about Gandee and his death on Twitter, calling him an amazing person.

MTV released a statement saying, “Shain had a magnetic personality, with a passion for life that touched everyone he met, and we will miss him dearly.”

Mike Rice fired for treatment of Rutgers players in video footage

Mike Rice, Rutgers men’s basketball coach, was fired today after undergoing public scrutiny for his actions in a video compiled with footage from 2010-2012 in which he kicks, grabs, shoves, throws basketballs at and yells expletives at his players.

The video footage of Rice was released to the world on ESPN Tuesday, but the compiled footage is not new. Rutgers Athletic Director Tim Pernetti saw the video in December and fined Rice $50,000 and suspended him for three games.

Pernetti was interviewed by WFAN radio Tuesday, and he said only he was accountable for the decisions he made in the discipline of Rice in December.

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie released a statement responding to the video and condemning the behavior Rice exemplified.

“It’s not the type of leadership we should be showing our young people, and clearly there are questions about this behavior that need to be answered by the leaders at Rutgers University,” the statement said.

So where did this video footage come from?

Eric Murdock, former Rutgers director of player personnel, compiled it and released the video to Pernetti last November. The video is about 30 minutes long.

Murdock’s lawyer, Raj Gadhok, said Murdock had been told his contract would be renewed before he released the video to Pernetti. Afterward, his contract was not renewed. Murdock plans to sue Rutgers for wrongful termination.

In the video footage, Rice uses a homophobic slur when talking to his players, and according to Pernetti, this slur was the main reason for Rice’s suspension in December.

Rutgers revealed that the reasons for Rice’s termination were new information and a review of the information that surfaced last year.

Prior to public release of the video and backlash, Pernetti had continued to maintain that Rice would remain in his coaching position.

Today, Pernetti said, “Dismissal and corrective action were debated in December, and I thought it was in the best interest of everyone to rehabilitate, but I was wrong. Moving forward, I will work to regain the trust of the Rutgers community.”

Elena Delle Donne helps the Blue Hens to the Sweet 16

Elena Delle Donne ended her final home game at Delaware by scoring 33 points. The Delaware Blue Hens played the North Carolina Tar Heels and ended with a score of 78-69 Tuesday night.

Delle Donne helped the team advance to the Sweet 16 of the NCAA women’s tournament for the first time, making school history. She has a total of 3,006 points under her belt through her career with the Blue Hens.

Aiding Delle Donne were Trumae Lucas, scoring 20 points, and Danielle Parker, scoring 14 points and 13 rebounds, according to the Associated Press.

The Tar Heels accumulated 24 fouls compared to 13 fouls for the Blue Hens. The Tar Heels were sixth-seeded, and the Blue Hens were third-seeded.

“I wish Delaware good luck when they get on a neutral court,” North Carolina coach Sylvia Hatchell said.

The Blue Hens will go on to play second-seeded Kentucky in the Bridgeport Regional semifinals Saturday.

“I don’t think I’ve wanted anything more than this win, and that’s saying a lot,” Delle Donne said of the game against North Carolina.

“This is without question the greatest victory in Delaware sports history,” Coach Tina Martin said.

North Carolina’s two leading scorers were on the bench due to fouls.

According to ESPN, Delle Donne was diagnosed with Lyme disease during her second season with Delaware. She came back from the disease and started playing again.

At the North Carolina game, Delle Donne scored a three-pointer at the buzzer.

“I honestly think that three-pointer was one of Elena’s biggest shots of her career,” Gene Delle Donne, her older brother, said.

Harmony Korine gets his David Letterman ban lifted

Harmony Korine, director of the recently released movie “Spring Breakers,” was banned from David Letterman’s late night talk show.

Supposedly, Letterman found Korine looking through Meryl Streep’s purse backstage. Letterman revealed this information on his show during an interview with actor James Franco. Franco defended Korine, saying he is a friend and a “good guy, now.”

Letterman said upon finding Korine looking through the bag, he ordered him to put Streep’s belongings back inside of it and leave, immediately.

“He’s a very sane guy, now,” Franco said. “I think he had a period when he was going a little off the rails and that maybe he was on something that night.”

Korine’s new movie is touted by critics as being both the worst movie ever and a complex, interesting commentary on life. He cast Ashley Benson, Selena Gomez and Vanessa Hudgens as the female leads in the film and turned their good-girl Disney personas into something completely different.

Franco commented on the film’s complexity in an interview with the LA Times, saying that Korine’s ability to create “different levels of significance” in the movie using the characters and the real-life personas of the actors makes the movie so different and interesting, makes it a different kind of cultural commentary.

Since Franco vouched for Korine, Letterman lifted his ban from the talk show. There is no word if he will appear on the show anytime soon, but he made three appearances on the show during 1997-98.

Jenna Wolfe and Stephanie Gosk announce relationship and pregnancy

Jenna Wolfe, NBC newscaster, and Stephanie Gosk, NBC foreign correspondent, announced today that they are having a baby.

Wolfe and Gosk have been together for three years, and they decided to have a baby in December.

Wolfe told People magazine she was artificially inseminated via an anonymous donor and that she and Gosk decided they wanted to share their lives with a child.

“This is the most exciting thing that has ever happened to us,” Wolfe told People magazine. “But I don’t want to bring my daughter into a world where I’m not comfortable telling everyone who I am and who her mother is.”

The pregnancy announcement was also the first time that Gosk and Wolfe announced their sexual orientation and that they are a couple. Wolfe made the announcement on the “Today” show, and the article in People coordinated with it.

Wolfe centered her announcement around the pregnancy, focusing on topics that all pregnant women could relate to, like using strollers and breast pumps. She blogged that she never really considered having a baby before, but she fell in love and wanted one. She was concerned that she would never get to have one.

Gosk commented on the pregnancy, saying that the announcement is a great moment for the couple.

“The beauty is that we live in a time where there’s no need for secrecy,” she told People.

The couple announced that the baby is a girl and is due at the end of August.

Gosk and Wolfe are viewed by many fans as thrill-seekers because of the types of assignments they have accepted and the adventurous activities they have done in their lives. However, both women said that having a baby is the biggest adventure of all for them. The couple intends to marry at a later date.

BioShock Infinite receives rave reviews

Was the six-year wait worth it?

BioShock Infinite went on sale yesterday, the first release by Irrational Games since the original BioShock was released in 2007. The videogame is for PS3, Xbox 360 and Windows PCs. Its release was delayed twice, but some videogame journalists say it was worth the wait.

BioShock Infinite takes place in an alternate-history, 1912 United States. Players take the role of Booker Dewitt, a war veteran who must travel to Columbia, a floating city, to rescue a woman named Elizabeth to settle a debt.

The original BioShock of 2007 is one of the highest-rated games ever, according to USA Today. It took place in an underwater city named Rapture, and the videogame developers sought out a new city, deciding that the story in Rapture was done.

The game examines political, religious and social issues. Studio founder and creative director Ken Levine said civil rights’ movements and nationalism are examined in the game among innovations in technology. BioShock Infinite even delves into quantum mechanics.

Some praise BioShock Infinite for attempting to give a realistic portrayal of history, aside from fictional elements, like a religious community seceded from the American union. Also, Elizabeth is able to see into other worlds, which is where the game’s modern soundtrack derives from.

BioShock Infinite is a first-person shooter game, and Elizabeth is able to help Booker’s character by pulling useful objects out of other worlds for his use in fighting his enemies. Booker also has the ability to use magical powers for special weapons.

Some walkthroughs are already available for the game on IGN.com, and reviews by videogame journalists are already out, most of them positive.

Amanda Knox called for a retrial for murder of Meredith Kercher

Amanda Knox was ordered to a retrial yesterday by Italian Supreme Court judges for the 2007 murder of Meredith Kercher in Perugia.

Knox was convicted of the murder in 2007 and served four years of her sentence before the decision was overturned due to a lack of evidence. Knox returned to the United States in 2011.

Knox’s former boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito was also ordered to a retrial. He was acquitted with her in 2011. As an Italian citizen, he will have to go to trial.

Another man, Rudy Guede, was convicted separately from the murder. He admitted to having sexual relations with Kercher.

The Kerchers’ family laywer, Francesco Maresca, said that the family wants a retrial because the acquittal was “superficial and unbalanced.”

Knox cannot be forced to return to Italy for the retrial, but the Italian government could appeal to the U.S. government to get her there, according to CNN. However, U.S. laws state that a defendant cannot be tried twice for the same allegation, so officials may deny the request, should it be placed.

Kercher’s body was found half-naked with her throat slashed in the home she shared with Knox. Both were studying at the University for Foreigners of Perugia.

According to Kercher’s family, there are still many questions about the murder that remain unanswered, so they are happy about the retrial. Knox released a statement blaming the prosecutors for discrepancies in the case.

Knox wrote a book about the case that is set to be published in April. The retrial is not definite until the court rules whether the “not guilty” verdict is truly inaccurate.

Lollapalooza sells out three-day passes in record time, will release lineup April 9

Lollapalooza is set to release its 2013 lineup April 9, but until then, speculation on the lineup continues to grow, and three-day passes have already sold out.

The Lollapalooza lineup is a puzzle that some fans have been trying to put together for the past couple of months. Since Nine Inch Nails reunited for summer performances, Billboard has reported one of the performances to be Lollapalooza. Their tour schedule remains open for the weekend.

Because of Ontario’s Grove Music Festival’s time and space proximity to Lollapalooza, acts booked for the festival, like Phoenix, Hot Chip, Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, Pretty Lights, Earl Sweatshirt, Wavves, and Bob Mould, are rumored to stop by the Chicago festival, too.

Acts booked for the Squamish Valley Music Festival in British Columbia, like Vampire Weekend, Queens of the Stone Age, Jurassic 5, Gogol Bordello, Fitz and the Tantrums, and Divine Fits, are also speculated to play Lollapalooza because of proximity.

The Postal Service, which recently reunited, has yet to announce a Chicago date for its tour, so fans have been hoping they will be part of Lollapalooza, as well. Disclosure and Reignwolf have mentioned the festival on their websites. The festivals Bonnaroo and Coachella booked the Wu-Tang Clan, so some fans hope Lollapalooza can get them, as well.

Since the early speculation, more reputable reports have said that Nine Inch Nails, The Killers, Mumford and Sons, Phoenix, Vampire Weekend, The National, and The Postal Service will definitely play Lollapalooza.

Yesterday morning, $200 early bird three-day passes sold out within 20 minutes, and the $235 regular price three-day passes sold out in record time, as well.

Single-day tickets and VIP tickets are still available, the VIPs starting at $1,000.

Lollapalooza is Aug. 2-4 at Chicago’s Grant Park.

Red equal sign overtakes social media feeds

What does it mean?

Red equal signs may be appearing in your Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc. streams lately. You might even be taking part in it. But what does it all mean?

The red background with a pink equal sign stands for marriage equality, and it has gone viral with people changing their profile pictures to variations of the image or posting it to their profiles.

The red equal sign overtaking is happening now because of the United State Supreme Court hearing the case Hollingsworth v. Perry, which will determine whether California’s Proposition 8 law is constitutional. Proposition 8 states that marriage is solely between a man and a woman. If the law is deemed unconstitutional, a victory will be achieved for those in favor of marriage equality, the idea that marriage can be between any two people, regardless of their gender.

The Supreme Court will also hear the case United States v. Windsor which will determine if the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) is constitutional. DOMA was enacted in 1996 and restricts federal benefits and inter-state recognition of marriage to marriages solely between men and women.

Prior to the start of the cases, the Human Rights Campaign, an organization advocating LGBT rights, used the symbol of a yellow equal sign on a blue background. It changed its symbol to the red equal sign yesterday to draw greater attention to the importance of the cases and this period in time for marriage equality.

The Human Rights Campaign has a large following on social media sites, and it was able to get thousands of people to share its original red equal sign post. From there, the message spread. Celebrities posted the sign on their pages. President Barack Obama linked to a picture of the red equal sign on his official Twitter account.

“Every single American deserves to be treated equally in the eyes of the law. #MarriageEquality,” he tweeted.

To combat those using the red equal sign to campaign for marriage equality via social media, some people who do not support the movement have posted red signs with a man and a woman on them, making the statement that the old view of marriage is the one they support.

Some speculate that the people posting red equal signs for marriage equality on social media sites are in the minority, in terms of national political opinion. However, most social media users have been proven to be younger, which may shape the way this issue is handled in the future.