Nalini Nadkarni: Life science in prison | Summary and Q&A

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Nalini Nadkarni: Life science in prison


Trees are not as static as they seem, as their twigs and branches constantly move and grow, inspiring the exploration of movement in other static entities like prisons.

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Questions & Answers

Q: How did the speaker measure the distance a single vine maple tree moved in a year?

To measure the distance, the speaker measured and summed the lines created by the tree's movement, multiplied them by the number of twigs per branch and branches per tree, and divided it by the number of minutes in a year. This calculation revealed that a single tree moved around 186,540 miles in a year.

Q: What is the current state of the prison system in the United States?

The prison system in the US has over 2.3 million incarcerated individuals, with that number continuing to rise. Furthermore, 60 out of every 100 released prisoners end up returning to prison due to a lack of funds for education, training, and rehabilitation.

Q: How did the partnership with the Washington State Department of Corrections bring movement and change to prisons?

The partnership introduced science lectures and conservation projects to four state prisons, giving incarcerated individuals the opportunity to engage in educational activities instead of watching TV or exercising. They also worked on growing endangered plants and animals, such as prairie plants and Oregon spotted frogs, in prisons.

Q: How are visual images of nature being brought into Supermax facilities to benefit inmates?

In Supermax facilities where inmates are kept in solitary confinement for long periods, images of nature are placed on the walls of their exercise yards. This contact with visual images of nature aims to promote serenity, calmness, and reduced violence among inmates. Inmates, like Mr. Lopez, are even asked for input on the types of images that would have a positive impact on their mental state.

Summary & Key Takeaways

  • Trees may seem static, but their twigs and branches are constantly in motion, turning them into dynamic entities.

  • By tying paintbrushes to twigs and letting the wind create art, different tree species showcase unique signatures.

  • The movement of trees inspired the exploration of applying this lesson to our static prison system, bringing science, sustainability, and growth to incarcerated individuals.

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