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Talented Elephants Begin New Life in Retirement!

Click here for Dave’s profile.

A neuroscientist by day, Dave Sulzer explores synapses formed by the midbrain dopamine projections that underlie reward, learning and voluntary motor control. But by night, as Dave Soldier, he’s an avant-garde musician.

Should we be surprised, then, that he has such an appreciation for the artistic accomplishments of elephants? Or that he conducts an orchestra of multi-ton retirees from the logging industry? An orchestra that, boasts his partner in the enterprise, Richard “Professor Elephant” Lair, is “three-times the weight of the Berlin Philharmonic”?

Getting a second wind in retirement (Jonathan Michael Peel)

Without a score or elaborate cueing and with few limitations beyond Dave’s deliberate gestures to start and stop them, these lucky instrumentalists play pretty much what they want and have a ball improvising on cymbals, gongs, renaats and harmonicas. Dave says some of the players don’t stop when he tells them to do so—even when they KNOW that’s what they should do—just for the fun of it! What teases!

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Sherry Austin

    Sherry Austin was nine years old when she admitted, during a class discussion, that evolution was possible. After school a bunch of bullies arrived on bikes at her house to beat her up if she didn’t recant. She didn’t. Forty years later, she had published three books of fiction and was traveling regionally giving a talk for the North Carolina Humanities Council on literary nonfiction about science when a neurodegenerative illness put a stop to that. These days, along with (and sometimes in spite of!) her comic alter-ego Trixie Goforth, she works what’s left of her brain to share her wonder about the natural world revealed to us by science. She values the work of scientists more than she can say. And you can find out more about Sherry at her website.