Pushing the Limits: Nature

Through this program you and your community will consider how we humans constantly push the limits of nature – that might mean the world around us or it may mean our own human nature. You’ll consider together “what is natural?” and “is there such a thing as pushing nature too far?”. 

Scenes from “Pushing the Limits: Nature”

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Interview with T.C. Boyle
Author of numerous highly acclaimed books including his 2011 work, When the Killing’s Done, T.C. Boyle’s fiction often focuses on complex questions at the intersection of culture, ethics, and nature. This novel fictionalizes the National Park Service’s efforts to destroy a population of black rats which landed on the island as the result of an 18th century shipwreck.

Conflict arises when the NPS labels the rodents an invasive species, but radical animal rights activists want to save the rats. Readers will be challenged to consider “what is nature?” and whether technology-assisted migration is as natural as other migrations.

You can watch T.C. Boyle’s interview below. Note that the button on the bottom right of the video will make the video go to “full screen” mode. In full screen mode you will have the control at the bottom of the screen to advance and rewind. After viewing, you can select the esc key to escape full screen.

Alternatively, you can select the video icon at the bottom of the page to download the video to your own computer, which is a better option if you have limited bandwidth. We recommend downloading (now or later) all of the videos and resources to use during your library programs. Downloaded videos are .mp4 files. If your computer does not open and play them automatically, you may need to download a free video player, such as Quicktime or VLC.

T.C. Boyle
Author Interview
Science in Everyday Life
Cameron Clapp is an adrenaline junkie who is trying to meld his risk-taking nature with more useful pursuits. Cameron was born an identical twin, and he and his brother Jesse were the wild boys of their high school. Unfortunately this risk-taking nature led to tragedy.

Cameron’s a triple amputee, with one prosthetic arm and two prosthetic legs. Losing his limbs in a train accident as a teenager, Cameron pushes his own limits to pursue his dream to compete in a triathlon – a feat not easily undertaken when he can’t feel the pedals strapped to his shoes.

Today, Cameron’s risk-taking nature pushes him to bare his past to high school groups as he talks about the dangers of risky behavior. He also “pays it forward” by working with returning soldiers through the Wounded Warrior program.

Watch Cameron’s story here, or select the video icon at the bottom of the page to download it to your computer.

Cameron Clapp
Science in Everyday Life



To support your implementation of Pushing the Limits: Nature, you can download this document, which contains:

  • A list of additional suggested booksarrowsdownload icondownload MS Word icon
  • A set of discussion questions that can be customized to your community’s interests


Marketing your Program
We recommend starting your planning and marketing at least 2-3 months before your program date. Please note that instructions for appropriate credit are included in the Marketing and Communications Plan Template. At minimum, the following program credit line must appear in all published materials relating to Pushing the Limits:

Pushing the Limits is a reading, viewing, and discussion program for adults in communities served by rural libraries, made possible by a grant from the National Science Foundation.”

Program Resources

Download Cameron’s story here. This video is approximately twelve minutes long and may take several minutes to download. We recommend that you download all the files for your public program, rather than stream them from this website.

Download a one-minute video that you can use to promote the program through your own website.

Download a list of short readings related to this topic. You and your science partner may want to use these as additional examples in your program, or they may lead to ideas for customizing the programs for your own community.

* Videos are to be viewed only as part of the Pushing the Limits program,
and copies may be distributed outside of the library only if accompanied by a copy of
this document.

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