The Upbeat Everyday Acts
  • Composer makes music with the Eiffel Tower

    Joseph Bertolozzi on the Eiffel Tower (Franc PALAIA)

    To many, the Eiffel Tower is an architectural marvel and a symbol of Paris. But a musical instrument?

    Composer Joseph Bertolozzi believes it is, and he plans to play it.

    As he explains on his website, he will "harvest the Eiffel Tower’s sounds with microphones placed on its surfaces and record a work entitled 'Tower Music' or 'Musique de la Tour,' using only the natural sounds of the Tower itself."

    "I took great care to prove to the [Eiffel Tower] administration that I would not physically damage the surface," he told Yahoo News in an email. "That would be plain wrong."

    The idea was born, he recalled in an interview with The New York Times, when his wife took a “mock swing” at a poster they have of the Eiffel Tower. He put the request in to the Eiffel Tower administration four years ago.

    The New York state resident also looked closer to home. The result was “Bridge Music,” a 2009 composition played on New York’s Mid-Hudson Bridge. The CD climbed to No. 18 on the Billboard Classical

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  • Next stop: Harvard (photo via Thinkstock)Next stop: Harvard (Thinkstock)

    Growing up California, Lloyd Chen and his family had very little money and more than their share of challenges. But the recent high school graduate didn't let his humble beginnings slow him down.

    Chen, 17, was crowned valedictorian of his high school with an astounding 4.79 GPA. And he has received nearly $3 million in scholarship offers from top-tier universities, including Harvard, MIT, Yale, Stanford, Princeton, UCLA and University of California, Berkeley. Chen chose Harvard.

    Chen's difficult childhood makes his story even more amazing. The Daily Mail reports that he was born in South Korea and moved with his family to the United States when he was a young child. A short time later, his father left him, his mother and two older sisters. Even more challenging, his mother suffered from an autoimmune deficiency that left her unable to work.

    The Daily Mail notes that Chen's mother was so concerned about money, she would sometimes stay at her son's school all day after dropping him off

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  • How 1 dad inspires teenagers to make 33,000 burritos for the homeless

    Peanuts creator Charles Schulz once said, “Christmas is doing a little something extra for someone.” That couldn’t be truer for a group of 15-year-olds from the San Diego area.

    It all started during the 2010 holiday season when Alec Johnson, then 12, gave his parents a fairly lavish Christmas wish list. “I asked for an iPad, iPhone and MacBook.” He says his dad was surprised and said, “I would never buy that for you because all the other people on the street could never get that.”

    “I didn’t want to raise a spoiled child,” says Alec’s dad, Michael. “So we decided to take some steps to give him a little bit more of an education about the realities of life.”

    It was then that Michael and his wife Mehrnaz, came up with an idea to help by feeding the homeless. On a December Sunday, in their small kitchen, the Johnsons and Alec’s friend Luke made 54 egg and cheese burritos and went to downtown San Diego to feed the homeless.

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  • Bumblebee on flower (ThinkStock)

    The United Kingdom has a solution to its moldy strawberry problem: bzzzzzzzzzzz.

    Bumblebees have been deployed in strawberry fields to stop the gray gunk from growing.

    The trick: According to the Guardian, the bees pass through trays in their hive, which is filled with harmless fungus spores.

    The bees then visit the flowers and deliver the fungus spores that will stop the mold from taking hold.

    The fungus spores on the backs and legs of bees are harmless to plants and people but are strong enough to kill the mold.

    Bees seem to be more effective than the chemical alternative. Pesticides protect only at the moment the plants are sprayed. But bees know better, visiting the flower at the “perfect moment,” Harriet Roberts of Adas, an agricultural consultant running the test, told the Guardian.

    This is no small problem. The Guardian reports that of 50,000 tons of strawberries sold in the U.K., half are ruined by mold.

    If bees can solve the problem of moldy strawberries, it would make way for other

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  • The ghost village in Alaska. (NOAA Corps, Capt. Budd Christman, File/AP)

    Forty miles off the coast of Alaska lies an uninhabited island, abandoned for the past 50 years.

    For Joan Naviyuk Kane, who launched a crowdsourced Web-funding campaign to visit the island, it's rich with family history and ancestral roots.

    Joan Naviyuk Kane looks at photos of Alaska's King Island. (Rachel D'Oro/AP)

    Now, an anonymous donation has assured the 35-year-old’s travel to King Island this summer, which is a rough ride over the Bering Sea, about six hours by boat or two hours by helicopter.

    Kane wants to visit the place she has only heard about from her mother and grandparents: An isolated spot where the King Island tribe subsisted for thousands of years, until being relocated a half-century ago.

    Her fundraising success “is very surreal but in a very positive way,” Kane told Yahoo News by phone from Anchorage. “All my knowledge of King Island are stories that are told to me, my relatives talking to me about it."

    The island, which once had a population of about 200, was depleted when men were shipped off to fight in World War II, and then further diminished

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