In this week's Newsletter: The magic of mycology, dealing with New York's mute swan problem, a once-in-a-century Pi Day, and much more!
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Can Mushrooms Save the World?

Mushrooms may not seem like contenders in the climate fight, but mycologist Paul Stamets, who just patented a mushroom-derived universal biopesticide, would beg to differ. While he's not a typical academic scientist, Stamets studied mycology at Evergreen College in the 1970s and served as an adjunct professor there.

But it was during the 80s on his farm near Olympia, WA that Stamets really started testing the limits of what mycelium- the vegetative fibers that fungi grow and which can develop into mushrooms- can do. So far, in addition to his biopesticide, Stamets has used mycelium for water filtration, which led to a consultancy on oil spill cleanups using mycotechnology, then a project that successfully used mushrooms to prevent silt and pollutant runoff into streams. In 2008, Stamets did a TED talk that has received over 1.5 million views, and he is currently working with disaster experts on using mycotechnology to remediate the Fukushima Daichi disaster. 

Eric Rasmussen, a former Defense Department scientist and one of the experts Stamets is working with in Japan, decribes Stamets as "brilliant" and compares him to other not-exactly-professional scientists like Thomas Edison and John James Audubon. If you'd like to learn more, Stamets' 2005 book Mycelium Running: How Mushrooms Can Help Save the World is available here, and you can read the whole article on Stamets from Discover magazine here.

DEC Releases Revised Plan for Invasive Mute Swans in New York

Mute swans are lovely, graceful birds that evoke thoughts of the ballet Swan Lake and are symbols of purity and romantic love in Europe and Asia. But in the US they are an invasive species, introduced from Europe during the 19th century as ornamental birds for the estates of the rich. Today they have overrun New York State as a feral species that makes survival difficult for native swans and other native aquatic birds.

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation is making it a priority to deal with mute swans within the next decade. While the original plan called for more or less total eradication (mostly by oral contraceptive, banning feeding, and preventing their release into the wild, not by simply going out and slaughtering them), the new plan focuses more on swan management and controlling the areas where they can nest and forage, on private property or in parks where populations can be managed.

Comments on the revised draft mute swan plan may be submitted in writing through April 24 to: NYSDEC Bureau of Wildlife, Swan Management Plan, 625 Broadway, Albany, NY 12233-4754 or by e-mail to (please type "Swan Plan" in the subject line). DEC's summary of and responses to public comments on the earlier draft plan are also available on the DEC website.

Photo of a pair of mute swans in Stuyvesant Cove, taken by Chris Fowler.

Celebrate Pi Day This Saturday

Pi may be the most commonly used, well-known and popular irrational number and mathematical constant, famous for its usefulness in geometry and its infinite series of decimal numbers. In the ancient world, an exact computation of pi went to between 5 and 7 digits, but with the help of supercomputers, pi has currently been computed to over 13 trillion digits. 

Every year March 14 is celebrated as Pi Day, as the first 3 digits are 3.14. But this year's Pi Day is very special, because this Saturday, Pi Day will represent the first four digits, 3.1415! This special Extra-Pi Day happens only once a century, so chew on that while you're chewing on some kind of delicious pie. On your special Pi Day.

Also in honor of this very special occasion, here's pi written out to the 1,000,000th decimal. If you scroll all the way to the end, you'll know exactly how many a million of something really is. 

Spoiler alert!
The 1,000,000th decimal of pi is...the numeral 1. Kind of poetically symmetrical, don't you think?


Upcoming Events at Solar 1

There are currently no upcoming events.
See you in the spring!

Other Events

Women in Sustainability and Energy (WISE) Series: Sticks and Bricks
Building Energy Exchange, 31 Chambers Street, Suite 609, bet Elk & Centre Sts, Manhattan, 8:30-10am, $15 general admission/$10 partner organizations

Urban Permaculture Accelerated Training
The Old Stone House, Fifth Ave & Fourth St, Brooklyn, 9am-4pm, $650 for 40 hours of training

Our City, Our Climate: A Forum on NYC Climate and Environmental Legislation
DC37, AFSCME (entrance on Murray St. between Greenwich and West Streets), 125 Barclay Street, Manhattan, 6-9pm, free

Sustainable Small Farm Summit
Online, 5pm-10pm, free

Paradigm Shifts Enviro Film and Music Festival
Baruch Performing Arts Center - Engelman Recital Hall, 151 East 25th Street bet 3rd & Lexington Aves, Manhattan, various times and ticket prices
Tickets to all events available here.

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