How to Plan a Trip to the Appalachian Mountain Club Huts

Thousands of hikers head to the White Mountains of New Hampshire each year to stay in the high mountain huts of the Appalachian Mountain Club. Accessible only by foot and connected by the Appalachian Trail, the eight huts offer rustic but comfortable hospitality. For families with younger children, or hikers who may not have the time, skills or gear to undertake a more serious backpacking expedition, hiking the huts lower the barriers to entry to the backcountry.

James Wrigley, 34, has held almost every huts-related job for the last 15 years, from hut croo member (“croo” is a derivative of the word “crew”) to hut director, his current role. He first visited Lonesome Lake Hut when he was 3 years old and hiked there with family or friends nearly every year thereafter.

“When I was a kid, the huts allowed me to get out in the outdoors in a way that I wouldn’t have been able to do otherwise,” Mr. Wrigley said. He now hopes his own 3-year-old child will be up for making the trek this summer.

The communities that are forged in the huts is one thing that makes them so special, Mr. Wrigley said.

“It’s pretty rare that you get a bunch of strangers around a table to talk about life,” he said, “When you’re having dinner and playing games together, it’s a really wonderful experience.”

About the huts

The eight huts are connected by more than 50 miles of the Appalachian Trail. Madison Spring Hut was the first, built in 1888. Other huts were added and modernized as their popularity increased over the years. These days around 30,000 hikers stay in the huts every year.

Nightly stays, which include dinner and breakfast, cost between $110 and $175 per person, with cheaper prices on weeknights. Discounts are also available for A.M.C. members and visitors staying three or four nights. An A.M.C. annual membership costs $50 for an individual and $75 for a family. A $25 membership is available for seniors and under 30-years-olds.

During the full-service season (May through October for the lower elevation huts and mid-September for the more exposed, higher elevation huts), hikers are greeted by the croos who pack in supplies and provide hot meals and educational activities for guests. During the off-season, some of the huts remain open but they are staffed by a caretaker only and visitors must bring their own provisions.

Planning your trip

The A.M.C.’s White Mountain Guide, now in its 30th edition, is an invaluable resource for planning your trip. Some of the huts are easier to reach than others, so you’ll want to think about your fitness level and the kind of trip you’d like to have. You can also call the A.M.C. reservation line (603-466-2727) for information.

Reservations for the following summer are usually available as early as August or September. Weekends at the Lakes of the Clouds and other popular huts fill up quickly, but weekend stays are available at other huts if you book in the early spring.

Getting there

The A.M.C.’s Pinkham Notch Visitors center, near Gorham, N.H., is a convenient jumping-off point for hikers, offering hiking maps and knowledgeable guides and selling any small-item gear you may have forgotten in the gift shop. It’s a three-hour drive from Boston and a 6.5-hour drive from New York City. You can park and leave your car in the parking lot there. The Concord Coach Line also offers service from Logan International Airport or Boston’s South Station to Pinkham Notch. Many hikers spend a night at the Joe Dodge Lodge before embarking on a hut-to-hut trip.

During the peak summer months, the A.M.C. offers shuttle service to a number of trailheads. You can also hike directly to Lakes of the Clouds Hut and Madison Spring Hut from Pinkham Notch.

On the Trail

The Appalachian Trail in the White Mountains is one of the toughest stretches of trail in North America. Appalachian Trail “thru hikers” (who are hiking the entirety of the Appalachian Trail) slow to a crawl in the White Mountains. After hiking 15 to 20 miles a day on average on other sections, they often manage just 7 to 8 miles in the Whites.

The slow pace in this region is the result of an incredibly uneven trail bed and trails that drive straight up the mountains (unlike in other mountain ranges, where trail builders use switchbacks to make the climb less steep). Yet for those willing to face the arduous terrain, the rewards are many: sweeping views of the breathtaking Pemigewasset Wilderness, the Presidential peaks, and for the intrepid, the chance to summit Mount Washington, one of the tallest peaks on the Eastern Seaboard.

It is usually safe for an intermediate hiker to plan on hiking at a pace of one mile per hour. The distance to or between huts is generally no greater than eight miles, and often much less. Zealand Falls Hut, Lonesome Lake Hut and Mizpah Spring Hut can all be reached via family-friendly hikes of just a few miles. In fact, one child per adult can stay free at Lonesome Lake Hut during the summer.

On summer weekends the trails are a regular thoroughfare, crowded with day hikers, backpackers, thru-hikers and hut-to-hut hikers, though solitude can still be found on some of the more difficult and remote sections of the trail.

At the huts

After a long day on the trail, the warm light of a high mountain hut are a welcome sight. When you arrive at a hut, you’ll check in with one of the hut croo members and they’ll help you get oriented. Each has a common area and one or more separate bunk rooms. You’ll want to pick out a bunk and stash your gear in the bunk room — there are no private accommodations at the huts so you’ll need to be comfortable with co-ed, communal living. Wool blankets and pillows are provided (but no pillowcases), so if you’re a warm sleeper you’ll do fine in midsummer. Many hikers like to bring a light sheet, sleep sack or sleeping bag as well. In the shoulder months, a warm sleeping bag is essential.

Bathrooms are gender segregated, and feature composting toilets (that actually don’t smell much at all) and sinks for brushing teeth and washing up. Neither showers nor towels are available.

Fresh baked bread, other snacks, tea and coffee are self-serve at the hut. There are also plenty of board games and books if you find yourself with some time on your hands. A hearty dinner is served at 6 p.m., family style, so be prepared to get to know your fellow hikers. After dinner the croo offers educational talks on subjects ranging from alpine vegetation and boreal forests to the hydroelectric system used at one of the huts.

Bedtime comes early with quiet hours and lights out from 9:30 p.m. to 6:30 a.m. If the morning light doesn’t wake you up, the hut croo will by singing a song or reading a poem.

The day’s weather is radioed in from the Mount Washington observatory and announced during breakfast, which is served at 7 a.m. A goofy skit instructing guests in basic Leave No Trace principles, proper hut etiquette and cleanup follows.

What to pack

The A.M.C. is fairly prescriptive online about what you need when hiking in the White Mountains. The 10 essentials, are just that, but the club also lists a more comprehensive list of gear you will want to be comfortable during your trip.

A few items that bear re-emphasizing:

MOLESKIN No this is not a notebook, it’s a kind of blister prevention adhesive. If you are already a seasoned hiker, chances are you never leave home without it.

TREKKING POLES The steep and dramatically uneven terrain of the trails on the White Mountains is tough on even the strongest knees, and it can be challenging to keep your balance and avoid falls without the aid of two poles.

EARPLUGS There are almost always one or two loud snorers in the shared bunk room.

CASH Snacks, hot soup and small gear items can all be purchased for cash in any of the huts. The hut croos also accept cash tips.

HEADLAMP A headlamp is essential for functioning in the hut at night, not to mention staying out of trouble should you find yourself hiking after dark.

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[1] https://www.nytimes.com/2019/05/08/travel/amc-huts-white-mountains-hiking.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

How Euron Greyjoy Was Impaled by Jaime’s Sword but Still Wound Up Smiling

I would have loved to have done that story, to do something closer to the book version, even as a mini-series. I’m so thankful for every single second I got with Euron. Just to do one minute on “Game of Thrones,” actors would die for it. I am so thankful I got to do three seasons — not many scenes, but the scenes that I’ve done, I’ve been the driving force. When I became a part of “Game of Thrones,” I didn’t know which way the character would go. I just knew to do the best work I could possibly do and to enjoy it.

But of course, to build a character, you need more time and space. So I denied dying. David and Dan were super cool with it because they thought it was fun. They were like: “Dude, you get stabbed by a sword through the chest. You’re going to die.” And I was like, “Eh, wait and see.”

Then I had a long discussion with [the episode’s director, Miguel Sapochnik] a couple of days prior to shooting the scene, and he was like: “You know what I feel when I read the script? I feel like he’s the only one who is kind of happy, because he feels like his life has been fulfilled.” So I was like: “You know what, Miguel? I like that. I’m going to go out with a smile.”

Euron seems especially pleased with the idea that he might have killed the Kingslayer. Has he been obsessed with Jaime Lannister all along? Why does he care?

It’s a fascination. Jaime is one of the male leads, and I’m a supporting role, so my story line is reflected in the main characters’ story line. You need to find ways to connect the characters and fill out those gaps. And I think David and Dan thought it would be fun if Jaime Lannister and Euron Greyjoy had a fight. And maybe they just thought: “You know what? Maybe it’s fun that [the actor playing Euron] is Danish, and 15 years younger, and they know each other. Maybe [Coster-Waldau] will be irritated!” You never know with David and Dan because they’re pranksters. They’re tricksters.

They called it “Dane Bowl” on the behind-the-scenes feature.

Dane Bowl! That’s what it said in the script, too. “Two men enter, one man leaves.” Except one of them doesn’t want to accept that he’s dying! [Laughs] Those scenes were tricky because of the tide, so we couldn’t shoot it chronologically, which is always irritating when you’re doing fight scenes where you’ve rehearsed the choreography for weeks.

[1] https://www.nytimes.com/2019/05/13/arts/television/euron-greyjoy-jaime-lannister-got.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

Waste Not — if You Want to Help Secure the Future of the Planet

At sites in more than 1,500 of Japan’s municipalities and about 2,400 NTT Docomo electronics stores, over 47,000 tons of discarded electronics were collected, including more than five million cellphones, according to Masa Takaya, a spokesman for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.

By June 2018, the organizers had already collected enough bronze; by October 2018, they had more than 93 percent of the gold and 85 percent of the silver, he said, adding that the organizing committee anticipates that it will be able to make all of the medals from the donated items.

Recovering these metals also avoids additional mining, which is environmentally destructive and energy intensive.

The recycling industry, in which people break apart devices and remove copper, gold and other materials, has negative health consequences, according to the Lancet, and toxic chemicals from improper disposal can also get into the environment, causing pollution. And the problem could get worse. About a third of the global population was expected to have an internet-connected phone by 2017, according to a report from eMarketer. In the United States, the typical home has 65 electronic appliances, according to a study from Natural Resources Defense Council.

This initiative will not solve the e-waste crisis — that will likely come from governments and electronic companies, said Vanessa Gray, an official at the International Telecommunication Union, a U.N. agency specializing in information and communications technology. But she said attention to the issue is important, because many people don’t know even what e-waste is and why it matters.

“Just for that, the Olympics story is really good,” she said. “In the end, it shows that the way we do things at the moment has terrible consequences for society, in terms of the negative health impacts and obviously impacts to climate change.

“It’s time for a system update.”

[1] https://www.nytimes.com/2019/05/12/climate/waste-not-if-you-want-to-help-secure-the-future-of-the-planet.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

A New Mom, Her Nannies and the Often Exploitive Labor of Motherhood

WOMEN’S WORK
A Reckoning With Work and Home
By Megan K. Stack

Motherhood is an exercise that both equalizes and divides. It’s an experience shared by women across the world — a lesson in dissolving borders, in love and in sleep deprivation. It is work: a flow of activity that requires organizational thinking and endless labor. It is also an institution that clings to gender stereotypes and casts a harsh light on class and race — the firm boundaries of opportunity and care that privileged parents can draw around their own children, often to the detriment of other people’s. “Some problems we share as women,” Audre Lorde famously observed in a 1980 speech at Amherst College. “Some we do not.”

Megan K. Stack sets out in “Women’s Work” to explore the underside of motherhood — the realities of labor and child care that men ignore and that women of privilege regularly gloss over: leaving the nannies and cleaners out of their books, excluding them from social media posts and rendering their work invisible. “I’m complicit,” Stack writes. “The women I’ve rented are sweeping the floor outside my office even as I type; I hear the swish of their brooms over the boards.”

“And so, reader,” she continues, “are you.”

Stack’s book is a memoir in three parts, tracing her experience of motherhood while living in China and India, and recounting the relationships she forms with the women who work in her home. Stack, a former foreign correspondent for The Los Angeles Times, has covered multiple wars, reported from Egypt and served as the paper’s bureau chief in Moscow. At the start of the book, Stack is still a reporter, still accustomed to jumping on a plane at a moment’s notice or running toward whatever crisis is happening nearby. And then, pregnant with her first child, she decides to quit her job and attempt to write a novel. She envisions motherhood as a kind of writing retreat, a gently napping baby in the corner as sun streams through the window. It’s an idyll that disintegrates nearly as soon as the baby, a boy, arrives home from the hospital.

“The cold reality of my gender was dawning on me,” Stack writes. “Somebody, after all, must wash and feed and train the kids and get the food and clean the house and care for the sick and elderly.” Early on, she describes this work not as a job, but as a “constant gaping demand for labor.” (This is a characterization I disagree with — child care requires labor, yes, but also skill and a body of knowledge, whether earned by experience, passed down from family members or found in books.) Stack is overwhelmed by her domestic responsibilities; she is exhausted and anxious: “Just thinking about getting any more tired was like sliding slowly and nauseously down the walls of a carnival Gravitron that has just stopped spinning.” Her loss of identity is so profound that early in the book she arrives home from a dinner out and starts writing an essay titled “How to Disappear.”

[1] https://www.nytimes.com/2019/05/11/books/review/megan-stack-womens-work.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

‘The Big Bang Theory’ and the Long Goodbye: How Swan Songs Are Changing TV

Two of the biggest shows on TV are ending this week: “The Big Bang Theory” finishes its 12th season on Thursday, and “Game of Thrones” ends its eighth season Sunday night. One’s a multicamera comedy that fits squarely within network traditions, the other’s a flashy fantasy epic chockablock with violent murder. One is symbolic — perhaps unfairly — of cultural uncoolness, while the other spawns viewing parties and obsessive podcasts from legacy media companies.

And yet both are getting the same kind of finale rollout, the kind a lot of shows get these days, like “Veep” just had: an announcement well in advance of the premiere that the coming season would be the show’s last, a full-court media press of oral histories and it’s-hard-but-it’s-time talk show appearances, well-placed tributes from high-profile fans. Clip shows and after-shows. Photos from the final table read on the cast’s Instagram accounts, and then maybe a photo essay of the final days in a magazine.

We’ve had months and months to gird ourselves. Which isn’t to say those finales will necessarily be good or beloved, just that fans of the shows have been well shepherded into the ideas that these shows are indeed ending.

Big shows have always gotten fanfare finale rollouts, but in recent years, and especially for the 2018-19 season, network, cable and streaming outlets have been big on farewell seasons for smaller shows too. Netflix gave viewers ample warning about the end of “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt.” The final season of “Broad City” was one big goodbye, an almost therapeutic guide through the main characters’ maturation process and thus the end of the freewheeling-young-adult premise of the show.

“Crazy Ex-Girlfriend” walked its audience and its protagonist through all the show’s what-ifs. The series finale of “Catastrophe” achieved a kind of ecstatic perfection that gave me spiritual resolution in ways I cannot attain in regular life. I will be crushed when “Jane the Virgin” ends this summer, but I will be as prepared as possible. Every living person who watched FXX’s “You’re the Worst” wrote a loving eulogy to it on a website, or ranked its episodes, or praised its depictions of PTSD and depression one last time.

Transitions, man. Anyone who’s ever torn a toddler from a playground or nudged a crowd from cocktail hour to the reception hall knows people need warning. We need structure. We need guidance. We need a dang minute to collect ourselves. We need closure.

[Read two of our movie and TV critics on “Game of Thrones,” “Avengers” and the power of endings.]

And we’ve been getting it more and more. The “Lost” finale was on the calendar for years, and now it feels standard for shows to get a chance to wrap themselves up and for fans to be aware of that process. The vigil for next year’s “Supernatural” series finale began before its current season even ended.

To be clear, this isn’t a complaint. I love a warning period, and I love a mourning ritual. Even as ratings for any given show drop and drop, connecting with fellow fans has never been easier, and there’s something to be said for being able to dry one’s tears on infinity blog posts. “Goodbye” is better than “get lost,” even if the outcome is ultimately the same.

But this kind of finale ramp has made the regular old cancellation model seem jarring and downright cruel. Not that it was ever comfy-cozy, but now a cancellation feels like “.” in a text message instead of a “!!!” or something more genteel. A cancellation without a true finale feels hostile, even though it was once completely normal.

Fans treasured “One Day at a Time” because it was a funny, sweetheart show that represented marginalized people in humanizing, significant ways. And we could have accepted an ending — because all shows will end except the local news and “Wheel of Fortune.” (Take comfort, Constance Wu.) What was harder to accept was the abruptness of it all, the shock. Give us a six-episode farewell season like we’re human beings, for God’s sake. And the CW renewed every show on its roster, but ABC can’t figure out a way to give us even 13 more episodes of “Speechless”?

I’m not saying any of those would be good business decisions. But I’m not a business. I’m a flabby human with a working heart, and I want a one-hour “Detroiters” special, and I’m mad that Comedy Central canceled the show in December instead. I could have loved you better, “Counterpart.” “Santa Clarita Diet” could have gone full-bonkers. The “Murphy Brown” reboot never got to have a crossover with “The Good Fight.”

Finales have taken on a strange significance of their own as “sticking the landing” has become a meme unto itself — but also as reboots and revivals have meant the end of endings. They are now a precious spectacle, an impossible beauty, a relic. So having time to prepare the shrine doesn’t feel like so much to ask.

[1] https://www.nytimes.com/2019/05/14/arts/television/game-of-thrones-big-bang-theory.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

Firing Up the Neural Symphony

The crudest form of electrical intervention is electroconvulsive therapy, or E.C.T., which sends a seizure-inducing current through the brain, providing at least temporary relief to some people with severe depression. Doctors have used E.C.T. for nearly a century, although the treatment remains controversial for many patients. Metaphorically speaking, E.C.T. is akin to halting the orchestra’s performance and sending the musicians , from oboe to timpani, home to get some rest and come back tomorrow refreshed.

A more targeted form of electrical therapy, called deep brain stimulation, or D.B.S., has been used to manage conditions such as Parkinson’s disease and epilepsy. In D.B.S., an electrode is threaded into a specific area of the brain that is being disruptive; stimulating it, paradoxically, knocks out activity in that specific region.

If a particularly strong section is off-key, “it can affect the entire system, and the whole orchestra sounds off,” said Dr. Helen Mayberg, director of the Center for Advanced Circuit Therapeutics at Mt. Sinai’s medical school; she has developed D.B.S. strategies for severe depression. “You can think of it as firing everyone in that section” — sending the percussion home permanently — Dr. Mayberg said. “Precision is absolutely critical.”.

The recent brain-stimulation studies employ a technique distinct from either E.C.T. or D.B.S., but which still can be understood in terms of an orchestra. In one of the studies, scientists at Boston University found that they could improve working memory in older adults by optimizing what’s called rhythmic “coupling” between frontal and temporal cortex areas in a person’s brain.

In the brain, the activities of distant regions coordinate by means of low-frequency theta waves. The researchers used electric stimulation, delivered through a skullcap, to amplify these waves, enhancing coordination between the two brain regions and, in older adults, improving working memory.

“We think what we’re doing is essentially synchronizing these two separated areas,” said Robert M.G. Reinhart, a neuroscientist at Boston University and one of the authors of that study. In effect, the stimulation acts as an orchestra conductor, listening, synthesizing and leading.

In another recent study, a team of brain scientists found that they could blunt or reverse symptoms of fatigue, poor concentration and mental fogginess in a woman who had suffered a severe brain injury in a car accident 18 years earlier. They did so by providing steady current, during waking hours, through two electrodes implanted on either side of the thalamus, a deep brain region often described as a central switching center of the brain. Metaphorically, they turned up the volume — or, perhaps, they had the conductor clap her hands and fix a hard stare on the musicians.

[1] https://www.nytimes.com/2019/05/14/health/brain-memory-stimulation.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

How to Revisit the Ghosts of Your Past

It’s never too late to say the thing you’ve been meaning to say

The moments we address on the show are often decades old. A lot of times that’s for the best, because the people involved have grown up and have had the space and time to clarify their feelings. For example, when Christina was in 11th grade, her foster mother made her quit playing basketball. After that, she felt like her life never got back on course. And so she always wanted to ask her foster mother why she made her quit. By the time Christina actually asks this question, she’s 42. The intervening decades have allowed her to understand her feelings in a way that she couldn’t at 16. She’s able to hear her foster mother’s response and take it in without shutting down.

Often the solution to a problem — past or present — is simply to say what you’re feeling. It’s something I’ve been trying to do more frequently. But saying what you’re feeling is often slippery and terrifying; mostly I’ve gotten into the habit of saying what I felt at one time, a while ago, and explaining what I want to clear up now, years later. For example, after I started working on “Heavyweight,” I called my mom to apologize for a time that I was a brat in high school. I also texted my childhood best friend to thank her for consoling me when I didn’t get into the school play. I can see how such a thing would seem insane, but so far, everyone has reacted positively.

Even if it feels odd — or maybe especially if it feels odd — remember: It’s never too late to say something, once you figure out what that something is. And if you’re waiting for the perfect moment to fix things, that moment might never come, so you might as well pick an imperfect moment. Like, say, right now.

You don’t know why someone isn’t responding to you

Here is a thing that happens to us often on “Heavyweight”: Someone sends a message saying something like, “Hey, I’d love to talk to you about that thing that happened 20 years ago that was very emotional for me,” and the recipient does not respond. Here are the top three reasons the message writers think they haven’t received a response:

1. This person hates them.

2. This person doesn’t want to talk about that thing from 20 years ago.

3. This person is creeped out by being contacted after so long.

Sometimes those things are true! But unless the person you’re writing says that outright, you have no way of knowing for sure. Here are three other reasons people don’t respond:

1. They are busy and this thing from 20 years ago is not as emotional for them, so they just haven’t gotten around to answering.

[1] https://www.nytimes.com/2019/05/13/smarter-living/how-to-revisit-the-ghosts-of-your-past.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

What Merce Cunningham Taught the Judson Dance Rebels

In an email, she wrote: “Merce always said that we were John’s children” — John being the composer John Cage — “and not his, but of course, since we all studied with Merce, his work inevitably rubbed off in some way, on some of us more than others, especially me, I think.

“Technically, I was using everything I learned in Cunningham and ballet classes, especially Merce’s idea of pitting one part of the body against another, while others were abandoning or temporarily putting aside their training and going in the opposite direction of pedestrian movement,” she said in the email. “So I would say that Merce’s work was at once inspirational, energizing and something to bang your head against.”

David Gordon

Mr. Gordon had begun watching Cunningham in New York in the mid-1950s, before others of his Judson generation. He recalled being introduced to Cunningham’s work by the less renowned but also influential choreographer James Waring, for whom he danced, as part of a wide artistic education. He also recalled watching the movie “Sunset Boulevard” and discovering the to-him unknown generation of the renowned silent film actors Gloria Swanson, Erich von Stroheim and Buster Keaton. “Well, Merce was like that to me,” he said. “From the beginning, I behaved with Merce as if he were some mysterious traveler from another planet.”

“The thing I was most interested in — and I wouldn’t have been able to talk about philosophically — was that Merce rearranged the focal point of visual presentation,” he added. “I was looking at the way Renaissance art arranged space. But with Merce you could not guess where he intended you to look at it. And it was an adventure.”

Steve Paxton

Mr. Paxton recalled his discovery of Cunningham in the late ’50s, at the American Dance Festival: “I took Merce’s classes, and brilliant classes they were — in an enormous gymnasium. There was a feeling of tremendous respect and awe for him and the company.”

Mr. Paxton continued: “So I came to New York, and I thought about Cunningham a lot. I finally decided that, first of all, his technical approach and his choreographic approach didn’t have to be the same thing. About six months later, I accepted his choreographic. I was drawn to the company — I did fall for them — and the work. And that’s what pulled me through to finally accepting the chance procedures. They seemed so inhuman, so un-what I thought of as artistic at that time.”

[1] https://www.nytimes.com/2019/05/10/arts/dance/merce-cunningham-judson-dance-theater.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

How A.I. Can Help Handle Severe Weather

Maria Uriarte, a professor in the department of ecology, evolution and environmental biology at Columbia University, is trying to understand how Hurricane Maria in 2017 altered plant life in Puerto Rico.

But trying to identify which species of tree survived and which was destroyed over acres of rain forests by looking at aerial photographs is a near-impossible task for the human eye.

“The challenge with ecology as a field and climate change as an area is that the world is highly variable,” Dr. Uriarte said. “You can learn something about what happens in one place, but then the question is: How applicable is this in other areas that I haven’t worked at?”

That is why she has turned to artificial intelligence, and machine learning in particular, which is especially good at taking in large amounts of information, then sorting through it, classifying it and “learning” to detect — and predict — patterns with minimal human intervention.

Dr. Uriarte has mapped and identified the trees in certain areas. Using that data, as well as pre-hurricane photos, A.I. can then identify the species and show how it spread over the entire forest.

“We know in severe storms, there are clear winners and losers,” Dr. Uriarte said. “Some species suffer a lot of damage and some don’t. Over the long term, the winners would become more dominant.”

One winner is a certain palm tree, the Sierra, that is very resistant to hurricanes, and Dr. Uriarte is trying to determine where and how it spread over 28,000 acres of El Yunque National Forest as a result of past storms.

There are numerous consequences of the rise of this particular palm, including how much carbon is stored (and then emitted) and how water and wildlife are affected.

“What A.I. allows us to do is address this question at a scale that is not feasible using the traditional approaches,” Dr. Uriarte said. “It has tremendous potential.”

That is why researchers from industry, academia and government agencies are using artificial intelligence to help repair the problems of extreme weather events such as hurricanes, flooding, drought and wildfires.

Take the problem of more and longer-lasting power failures, caused in part by the increase in severe weather and more variable use of electricity because of new technology such as electric cars. Erratic energy use puts more strain on electrical grids and makes it more difficult to put utility crews in the right places at the right time.

While utilities have software available to help plan for daily and future operations, they are not as “smart” and dynamic as are needed.

Enter the Grid Resilience & Intelligence Platform project, known as GRIP. Its goal is to apply machine learning to the power grid by using large amounts of satellite imagery, weather data, smart meter data and other information about utility operations to find and fix problems, such as trees’ growing over power lines, that could cause trouble in storms.

The idea is to “anticipate, absorb and recover from events that cause grid outages, such as extreme weather or a cyberattack,” said Ashley Pilipiszyn, GRIP project lead and a Ph.D. student at Stanford University.

The project is co-led by the SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory, which is operated by Stanford University, and the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, managed by the University of California. Like many such initiatives focused on artificial intelligence and climate change, the public and private sectors are involved in supplying research and funds.

In the case of a failure caused by a winter storm, for example, Ms. Pilipiszyn said that a smart grid could prioritize different electrical loads into islands and isolate faults, ensuring, say, that a nursing home or hospital receives top priority.

GRIP is a three-year project, and field demonstrations are expecting to be up and running by the end of 2020, Ms. Pilipiszyn said.

But as much as artificial intelligence holds great promise in understanding and combating the effects of climate change, it should be seen as only one tool of many, said James Hodson, chief executive officer of A.I. for Good, a nonprofit based in Europe and North America.

“When we get more people involved in machine learning to tackle these problems, it’s more likely we’ll find solutions,” he said. “But the reality of climate change is that we need social solutions — the ways we lead our lives, spend government money and the ways we force corporations to act better.”

Artificial intelligence is also playing a crucial role in agriculture.

In Australia, for example, warmer weather and a decline in rainfall because of climate change has caused a significant drop in the production of wheat and other crops such as canola and sugar cane; the country contributes about 12 percent of the total wheat traded globally, according to its federal scientific research agency, the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization. And the decline is coming at a time when more food, not less, is needed to feed a growing world population.

One of the ways to attack this problem is to genetically modify the crops to increase genes that are stronger in yield, quality and disease resistance.

Artificial intelligence and machine learning come into play here as a way to do this much more rapidly and effectively than humans. While an enormous amount of agriculture information is already available, the trouble is in analyzing it.

“Ten years ago, I would have been crying in the corner at the thought of how to analyze all the data that is coming online,” said Ben Trevaskis, who works for the research agency. “There is no way we can ever do this manually.”

Using data such as the genetic history of Australian wheat varieties, artificial intelligence can decipher the relationships between genes, growing conditions and crop performance. It can then rapidly combine thousands of genes into different varieties. For example, there is a 12-year lag between the discovery of new genes and traits and their use. The hope is to reduce that to two or three years.

One Concern, a company based in Menlo Park, Calif., uses artificial intelligence to model and forecast the impact of hazards. It started up in 2015 and has two products on the market: software platforms focused on earthquakes and flooding that are tailored to specific geographic areas to predict hyperlocal damage.

One Concern’s flooding platform, released last year, allows customers — which include cities and the private sector — to predict the depth and flow of flooding on a block-by-block basis up to five days before a potential flood.

But “this model without action doesn’t do anything,” said W. Craig Fugate, chief emergency management officer at One Concern and former administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency from 2009 to 2017.

So, the company is also focused on helping to mitigate the destruction wrought by such floods. That means looking not only at specific structures, but also everything that supports them. For example, a hospital may withstand flooding or an earthquake, but if the water system that serves it or the roads that lead to it are unusable, the hospital can’t function. That is what happened with Hurricane Harvey in Texas in 2017, Mr. Fugate said: Hospitals survived the flooding, but the roads were impassable.

“Historically, we’ve always looked at last 100 years’ worth of data to make decisions about going forward,” he said. “But if you’re having record-setting events practically monthly, how do you start projecting the future?”

[1] https://www.nytimes.com/2019/05/12/climate/artificial-intelligence-climate-change.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

22 Movies? This Marvel Universe Has 1,000 Chapters

Marvel Comics turns 80 in August. To celebrate, the company is releasing Marvel Comics No. 1000, which follows its heroes from Day 1 in 1939, long before they became the global entertainment phenomenon they are today.

Each page of the comic will correlate to one year in Marvel history. Along the way, readers will see many of the marquee characters from the mighty Marvel universe like Captain America, Thor and Iron Man, and some less familiar ones, like Blue Marvel, Night Thrasher and the Three X’s.

“This is by far the most complex and complicated and difficult book I’ve ever had to assemble,” Tom Brevoort, Marvel’s executive editor and senior vice president of publishing, said in a conference call with C.B. Cebulski, Marvel’s editor in chief. While most comic books are created by one writer and one art team, Issue No. 1000 will have 80 — one team for each of its 80 pages.

The company began teasing the project in issues that arrived in stores this week: Comics on Wednesday featured advertisements with one, two or three names, along with the words “August 2019” against a background collage of historic Marvel covers. There was a lot of buzz among fans.

Those named in the ads are contributors to the anniversary anthology, a group that includes both industry veterans and some new to comic books, like the filmmakers Phil Lord and Christopher Miller and the rapper Taboo of the Black Eyed Peas.

Cebulski said the newcomers were recruited based on the fact that they made Marvel references over the years that were noted in-house. “Our characters are mentioned in so many different ways and in so many different mediums and we always keep track,” Cebulski said. “Now these distinguished individuals are able to contribute back to the comics they grew up on.”

Marvel’s publishing history started on Aug. 31, 1939, with the arrival on newsstands of Marvel Comics No. 1. It was published by Timely Comics, a forerunner of Marvel. Namor, the Sub-Mariner, the android Human Torch (not to be confused with the 1961 Fantastic Four character with the same name) appeared for the first time — along with other characters, including a costumed detective named the Angel.

The first panel of the story in No. 1000, which has a painted cover by Alex Ross, comes from that 1939 issue. It’s fitting, because the story reveals the mystery that propelled the Marvel universe from its inception and involves an artifact known as the Eternity Mask.

Al Ewing, who is currently the writer of The Immortal Hulk, helped conceive the creative jigsaw puzzle that is Marvel 1000. His gift for intricacies can be seen in his You Are Deadpool comic, drawn by Salva Espin and Paco Diaz, which combined choose-your-own-adventure options and dice rolls to move readers through the story. He jumped at the chance to participate in the project. “This is the kind of honor that doesn’t really come that often,” Ewing said by phone.

Comic-book historians may wonder how this is No. 1000 of Marvel Comics, given the history of the title. It was called Marvel Comics for the first issue and then became Marvel Mystery Comics and later Marvel Tales, until it reached issue No. 159, when it was canceled in 1957.

While the industry sometimes engages in numerical gymnastics — with issues numbered zero or using decimal points — in this case, it is much simpler. Marvel wanted to give fans a tangible touch point for the 80th anniversary, Brevoort said. “More than anything, it was a symbolic thing.”

[1] https://www.nytimes.com/2019/05/10/arts/design/marvel-comics-1000.html?partner=rss&emc=rss