A look at the hidden art in Portland’s Masonic temple


Here’s one thing you probably never thought to cover your body with: Salmon sperm.

And yet, as scientists sometimes do, they’ve taken a random substance and have found a totally new use for it. Fascinating.

The latest research has found that DNA extracted from salmon sperm can be used to make a tremendously effective sunscreen. I don’t want to know how someone discovered this.

I’m also not sure I’m convinced yet that this is better than getting a sunburn.

But as we head into the weekend and the dog days of summer here in Maine, be aware this exciting new product is in development.

Here are some other things to read about as the weekend approaches.

What we’re talking about

Good news: There’s a gorgeous autumn forecast, for those who aren’t into salmon sperm and sunburn. With reasonable rainfall and no attacks from marauding gypsy moth caterpillars New England is set to have some glorious foliage this autumn, the Associated Press reports. The colors will be “strong and vibrant,” according to Yankee Magazine’s annual forecast.

For decades, only members of a secret fraternity could see these massive works of art. But BDN’s Troy R. Bennett recently got a look at two 17-foot oil paintings that have hung largely forgotten in the Masonic temple on Congress Street. They are among the last works of Harry Cochrane and are now being restored, inch by careful inch, by workers from the Maine Project for Fine Art Conservation.  

The southern Maine “guru of barbecue” is back. Jonathan St. Laurent and his wife plan to open a new restaurant in Portland’s East End in November or December, the Press Herald reports. Pending approval from the city, the new Uncle Billy’s Bar-B-Que will be at 166 Cumberland, at the base of Munjoy Hill. A sample menu submitted to the city includes smoked meat sandwiches and “Squealin’ Shack Plates.”

This beach house could come cheap, but with a catch. Old Orchard Beach will be selling a single-family house just minutes from the beach to the highest bidder on the condition that they tear it down. The town seized the ranch house at 19 Fern Ave. — which was declared uninhabitable years ago —  for unpaid taxes and is now looking to sell it to a motivated buyer with access to an wrecking ball.

Members of Maine’s congressional delegation think that maybe Confederate statues should be taken down in the U.S. Capitol building too. Following last weekend’s deadly violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree, a Democrat from Maine’s 1st District, and U.S. Sen. Angus King, an independent who caucuses with Democrats, said that the way the Civil War is memorialized warrants reconsideration.The two Republicans in Maine’s congressional delegation were more cautious on the subject.

A Saturday rally in Boston is billed as being about free speech but there are worries that it might attract some of the same white hate groups that came out in a show of force in Charlottesville last week. Reporter Jake Bleiberg will be covering it and wants to hear from any Mainers going. Reach him at jbleiberg@bangordailynews.com.  

Tweet of the day

From the Washington Post’s Philip Bump, who made a bot that let’s you see what President Trump sees on Twitter.

The Big Idea

Paleobotanists have released images of what they believe Earth’s first flower looked like. It’s white and kind of looks like a water lily, if you’re curious. Despite — or perhaps because of — the fact that nine out of every 10 plants on the planet are flowering plants, researchers for years struggled to pin down an ancestral mother of all flowers, a plant they believed evolved between 140 million and 250 million years ago. The breakthrough was a triumph of data mining. According to Discover magazine, “they number-crunched a family tree, based on differences between species, which arose through mutations. These mutations occur at a fairly steady rate, so the more differences there are between two species, the further back you’ll find their last common ancestor.”

Got any interesting story ideas, suggestions or links to share? Email Jake Bleiberg at jbleiberg@bangordailynews.com, or tweet @JZBleiberg.

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