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August 03, 2007


two scientists looking intently at the water
Observations of tide pools were an important point of comparison between the 1940 and 2004 expeditions. In this photo, Stanford lecturer Chuck Baxter and photographer Nancy Burnett peer into one.

Reading The Sea Of Cortez

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Reading the Sea of Cortez

The Sea of Cortez, also known as the Gulf of California, lies between the Baja Peninsula and mainland Mexico.

Rafe Sagarin first moved to the California coast as a college student at Stanford. He bought all the John Steinbeck novels he could find and began exploring his new home through the salty characters of "Cannery Row" and "Tortilla Flat."

One of Steinbeck's most memorable characters is Doc: "Doc is rather small, deceptively small, for he is wiry and very strong and when passionate anger comes on him he can be very fierce. He wears a beard and his face is half Christ and half satyr and his face tells the truth."

It did not take long for Rafe to realize Doc was the fictional version of Ed Ricketts, a biologist and one of John Steinbeck's closest friends. When Rafe learned Steinbeck and Ricketts had once gone on an expedition in the Mexican Sea of Cortez, his imagination lit up with the idea of one day recreating that journey.

In 2004, Rafe Sagarin did just that - he joined a group of scientists who returned to the Sea of Cortez.  Dick Gordon spoke with Rafe earlier this year about the changes they saw on that trip. Rafe argues that the kinds of observations Steinbeck and Ricketts recorded 70 years ago now provide critical data in understanding environmental changes like global warming. His conversation with Dick also shows that science and literature may have something to offer one another.

Stand Up Man

A couple of years ago, Tom Gimbel's back started hurting when he sat at his desk at work. So he came up with a solution - he had a 4 foot, 8 inch tall desk installed in his office, so he could work standing up. His wife predicted it would last 6 months. More than 2 years later, Tom still stands at his desk. He talks with guest host Aaron Henkin about the major benefits: his back feels better, and he spends a lot less time in meetings with his colleagues.


Madame Butterfly, Act II Un Bel Di Vedremo, Maria Callas Philharmonia Orchestra & Tullio Serafin

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