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The Sylvain Labs 2016 Mid-Year Retrospective: Biggest DiscoverY

As we come to the halfway point of 2016, a wild year of unpredictable politics, revolving Snapchat lenses, celebrities gone too soon and Lemonade, we thought it was as good a time as any to take stock of the things we’ve seen so far and share them with the world.

What follows are the individual Aha! moments that lead to our biggest personal discoveries from the past six months. Click the images to learn something new, or send a mental “No Doi” our way. Even if you leave this post with an approving “Hmm,” we’ll chalk it up as a W. 


Joey Camire
The most interesting and surprising thing that I’ve learned so far this year is that there is more human genetic diversity within the continent of Africa than everywhere else on earth. As in, all the populations outside of Africa are more similar to each other (i.e. Asian, Middle Eastern, Latin, European, etc.) than populations in one part of Africa are to populations in another part. We so often reduce diversity to morphology, but it’s so much bigger than that. It’s also scientific proof that we are a lot more similar than we think— in fact, in one study, people tested of European decent were more similar to Asian individuals tested than other Europeans 38% of the time.

Daniel Griffin
A few things come to mind…cougars aren’t loyal. It’s expensive to live in NYC. Jay Z never cheated on Beyonce. Dreams can come true when you work hard.


Martese Johnson
I learned about the prevalence of hyperandrogegism and PCOS (Polycystic Ovary Syndrome) — a subsidiary of hyperandrogegism — in women and how in the past, some women who were medically diagnosed with this disorder were discriminated against and not given equal treatment to other women. Particularly for female athletes, many were not allowed to compete in their sport professionally after failing gender tests that were given years ago as prerequisites to professional sport competitions like the Olympics. While a disorder like this may be commonly known to women, I don’t believe that men have the same in-depth knowledge on the topic (sadly :/).

Allison Solomson
That Donald Trump will likely be the Republic candidate for this year’s presidential election…


Chia Schmitz
I don’t have a wow answer for this one. But I do have an enjoyable video, from the GE Advanced Materials Lab, that is awesome if you like watching things be destroyed in the name of science… I think it qualifies as both ‘discovery’ and ‘surprising’.

Ben Cheney
I discovered that Facebook gives me the exact tool I need to systematically erase my presence from its platform, one day at a time. Using the Memories feature, I can simply delete each day’s historic posts. It’s like slowly slipping an invisibility cloak over my digital self, allowing me to stand in the middle of the crowd and see what everyone is eating, who they are voting for, and what their babies are up to (#socute) without the pressure to like, comment, or post about my own adorbs babes. This is freedom and it feels so good.

Merideth Bogard
Family Feud is an amazing TV show. It’s hilarious, heartwarming and enlightening. Who knew?



Jon Meyer
“Kueens” by Ignacio Gonzalez-Lang, at PS1’s Greater New York show: A Klux Klux Klan robe, embroidered by an undocumented Latina in Queens, and retrofitted with polarized sunglasses. I think the piece pretty much speaks for itself.


Gretchen Devero
That I am one of the lucky few obsessed with the Netflix show, Grace and Frankie. I’ve always admired Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin, but through this show I have developed a huge lady crush that would petrify me into stone if I saw them in person. They seem so natural in this show that it makes me think most of the scenes are improv. Perhaps that’s why this fictitious (and sometimes exaggerative) story feels extremely real to me. Whether it’s the acting, writing, or directing, I can somehow empathize with all of the characters even if they’re dealing with something I haven’t before (e.g. aging, divorce). Everyone should watch this show because it’s chock full of talent and it’s the perfect balance of silly, sweet, and serious. 

Anna Bedineishvili
That Greenland is almost impossible to get to…like 2 flights a month from NYC, no direct flights and about $2000 per ticket.


Camille Drucker
Gretchen told me a few months ago that there’s an overabundance of male trees in NYC. They’re planted to avoid clean up of seeds that drop from female trees; they’re also the main reason allergies are worse here than in most places. Both trees and allergies are quite pervasive in the city, yet you (or at least I) never give much thought to either.

Aaron Powers 
The true identity of Becky with the Good Hair. I know, not exactly intellectually explosive, but a thrilling 2016 moment nonetheless.


Stephan Hein
Planning a wedding and a life with someone requires LOADS of communication and self-sacrifice. Probably obvious to anyone who’s done these before, but it was still a hugely important discovery for me. It’s counter-intuitive to us as ego-centric humans, but putting someone else’s (spouse, partner, child, etc.) needs/wants ahead of your’s is something you have to learn to do and practice to have a successful partnership with someone else.

Xahra Gilbert
Hippos are super aggressive and they kill an average of 8 people a day worldwide. What. The. F&%$!


Kennedy Whittington-Cooper
My biggest discovery from this year is the rapid rate in which climate change is increasing and damaging our environment. I learned that our planet’s core temperature has risen 1 degree celsius which is a huge increase that is causing the exacerbated weather events that we have been experiencing. Environmental scientists claim that we may even be at 1.5 degrees celsius in a few years– if it has not occurred already. Once we reach 2 degrees Celsius we are going to experience record-breaking weather patterns, melted ice caps, and the extinction of 50 animals due to unstable living conditions for them to survive. Learning this has opened my eyes to the seriousness of climate change and I have become much more environmentally conscious by changing my habits and actions.


Debi Blizard
When I posted a picture of my #toethumb on IG and stumbled across an entire community of digit-ally challenged people like me. I’m not sure why it hadn’t occurred to me to do this before, but I’m both happy and somewhat disappointed to know there are “others” out there.


Joanne Bolens
That NYC is actually at the same latitude than Istanbul, Turkey. I had the perception of NYC being much further north.

Alex Aloise
I’ll just relay a bit of parenting advice that has burrowed itself deep into my everyday life since I read it in Jim Henson: The Biography. During a conversation about his kids, he once told a colleague, “No matter how much you try to teach them, they won’t remember the things you say or do. They remember what you are.” So yeah. That’s that. Just be good. I don’t know if that properly answers the question so in the interest of this survey, here are 13 things you didn’t know about Guy Fieri.

Krystal Plomatos
My honest answer to this is personal stuff.

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