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Tom Travels- Science Above Chicago

January 14, 2011

#Tomstravels returned on a cold, winter day where I met with one of my Twitter friends, @JLVernonPhD, in the Signature Room at the top of the John Hancock Building. After 21 years in Chicago suburbs followed by 9 years directly in Chicago, this adventure was my first into one of the most beautiful and famous examples of ‘structural expressionism.’ I can only imagine a building such as this would impress global architect expert @dannyforster, of whom I’m a big fan (seen on @sciencechannel on Build It Bigger). Have you studied this building before, Danny?

science above chicago

The tall, dark building in the center

The innovative building design eliminated the need for inner support beams, greatly increasing the amount of available floor space for commercial and residential uses. Here’s some fun facts:

1. Wiring to carry enough power to supply a city of 30,000 people

2. Enough steel to make 33,000 cars

3. 5,000,000 man-hours went into making this happen

4. The design allows only 5-8 inches of sway in a 60mph wind

5. #thankyou to engineer Fazlur Kahn for his idea on the X-shaped bracing which eliminated the need for interior columns, therefore providing more floor space

As @JLVernonPhD and I sat on the 96th floor, about 1,120 feet above the bustling Magnificent Mile below, we chatted about our motivations, ideas, and plans that brought us to this meeting. It seemed fitting that we could see for miles and view millions of the people, the ecology, and society we intend to work for. We both love to promote, communicate, and defend the advancement of science in the name of benefiting the human race, keeping in mind the natural right of all organisms to exist on Earth.

I’ll provide a brief synopsis of our meeting, from my point of view. @JLVernonPhD, working out of Washington D.C., is focused on policy and the government’s role in science advancement, education, and funding. For more about his views, follow his blog, American SciCo. My interests are based from experience in the business side of science. After 4 years working in a lab, 2 years were spent selling & marketing products to Life Science researchers at major universities across Illinois. It didn’t take long for me to notice an overwhelming number of laboratories misusing and misspending the funds provided to them by the government, charities, and other philanthropic sources. Taking into account the state of the economy, I cringed at the sight of our tax dollars being spent with such negligence.

My motivation stems from the rare disease I was diagnosed with and its inherent lack of research funding. I can only imagine how many people on this Earth suffer from similar situations. If I can create a system to help scientists more efficiently spend their money, then it seems logical that research would advance further on fewer dollars; smaller diseases with limited research funding would have a better chance for a cure, or at least a new drug or therapy, and ultimately, more smiles on people’s faces. So, that’s my idea. My plan for future decades is to work with other altruistic individuals each providing a unique piece to the puzzle. @JLVernonPhD is working on increasing funding and I’m making sure the money is spent efficiently. Who else wants to contribute a piece to this puzzle?

Back to the Hancock…Here are some views from the Signature Room atop the John Hancock Building at 875 N. Michigan Avenue. If you haven’t been fortunate enough to take advantage of this viewpoint, I hope these pictures provide you with some  idea of what you have to look forward to on your next visit to #Chicago. For a multitude of reasons, the $7 Amstel and $13 Glenlivet were well worth it. I posted some of these pictures on Facebook and Twitter (@letubeu) recently, but here they are all in one place:

science above chicago

Glenlivet, Trump Tower, and Willis/Sears Tower

efficient solutions nature

Looking straight south you can see the 3 tallest buildings in Chicago (lt to rt: Aon Building, Trump Tower, Willis/Sears Tower)

efficient solutions

Looking Southeast, including Navy Pier

efficient solutions chicago

Out into the west suburbs

chicago lakeshore

Looking straight north

chicago skyline

Looking northeast. Thank you sun for the cool pic. The Hancock is 2nd shadow on the right

My source for the fun facts: http://www.hancockobservatory.com/en/

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