Life on Earth is tough as nails.From the crushing, soulless depths of the ocean to the highest reaches of the atmosphere, from boiling hot springs to Antarctic wastes — even in the radioactive heart of Chernobyl, life thrives. It finds a way. It laughs in the face of adversity.Turns out, that amazing tenacity is kind of our birthright as Earthlings. To understand why, you’ve got to go back to Snowball Earth. Saturn’s moon Enceladus. 720 million years ago, Earth’s surface might have looked strikingly similar. Photo from NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute. 720 million years ago, the Earth was a pretty different place. For one thing, it was in the icy grips of something called the Cryogenian period. Living on Earth would have been tough. For 85 million years, the planet was locked in a grinding cycle of massive freezing and thawing. This was no mere chill. At its height, the entire planet may have been frozen over with glaciers marching over even the equator. The alternative? Greenhouse conditions caused by massive volcanic eruptions. Sounds like a bad time to be around. And, yet, life didn’t just endure. This period happens to coincide with one of life’s greatest moments — the jump from single-celled bacteria and microbes to multicellular life. Plants, animals, mushrooms, just about everything you can see in your day-to-day life is a descendant of this great leap forward.But this triumph in the face of adversity wasn’t a coincidence. At least, that’s what a new letter published Aug. 16 in the science journal Nature says. Life didn’t just endure this cycle of ice and fire. It may have flourished because of it.The reason, the authors say, has to do with algae. For the three billion years before, single-celled life had scrimped by on whatever energy and nutrients it could grab. There wasn’t much to go around.But things were going to change. As the glaciers marched back and forth across the surface of the planet, they acted like giant belt sanders, grinding mountai
For the first time in 38 years, an eclipse is going to hit the lower 48 states. People. Are. Getting. Hyped.The eclipse will occur on Monday, Aug. 21, and pass over 14 states, from Oregon to South Carolina. Image from NASA/Goddard/SVS/Ernie Wright. Though there’s a solar eclipse every 18 months, a total solar eclipse crossing the continental United States in such a perfect line is rare — in fact, it hasn’t happened since 1918, though we’ll get another chance in 2024. The Atlantic has even pegged this as the greatest human migration to see a natural event in U.S. history.It makes sense that people are making hay while the sun shines — or doesn’t shine, as it were. Such a momentous, gigantic, joyous, literally astronomical event is expected to draw out millions of science-loving humans. Check out a few of the most delightful, surprising, creative, and flat-out fun ways people are preparing to celebrate the occasion.Some are throwing parties. Huge parties. We’re talking religious-festival-with-15,000-people-sized parties. Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images. Hopkinsville, Kentucky, will have one of the best views of the eclipse in the nation — so it’s throwing a three-day festival called Solquest. Dedicated to witnessing “God’s glory and his majesty,” organizers are planning for live music, speakers, and prayer. Meanwhile, Hopkinsville local Griffin Moore is stocking up her studio with plenty of solar-themed merch. Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images. Her shop is one of many in town getting ready to capitalize on a giant influx of tourists.Of course, no eclipse shindig would be complete without some custom, solar-themed hooch. Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images. Married duo A.J. Casey Jones and Peg Hays have cooked up some Total Eclipse Moonshine in commemoration of the event. They forecast that 3,500 people will show up at their business, the Casey Jones Distillery. Meanwhile, the local Singing Fork Baptist Church got some cheeky advertising ideas out of the event. Ph
You may have heard: There’s a total solar eclipse coming!Maybe it’s the pseudo-apocalyptic vibe we’re all getting every time we turn on the news these days, but everyone seems to be especially jazzed for this eclipse, set to take place on Aug. 21.Convenience stores, hardware stories, big box stores, and even online retailers are selling (and selling out) of the special glasses you’ll need to see it.But what about those people who aren’t able to “see” it at all?NASA recently announced a guidebook that helps the visually impaired experience this and other eclipses. Photo by NASA Ames Research Center The tactile book, called “Getting a Feel for Eclipses” uses braille, patterns, and other textured graphics to help people who won’t be able to see the eclipse chart its path, understand the moving parts, and take part in the experience. GIF via NASA/YouTube This isn’t just the “next best thing” to seeing the eclipse; it provides a totally unique perspective on it.”We’ve been finding that it’s extremely helpful for those who are sighted as well, to grasp the concept,” said Cassandra Runyon, director of the South Carolina Space Grant Consortium in a video released by NASA. Photo by NASA Ames Research Center NASA created the guide on the heels of other braille space books about craters and Mars. Making space and exploration more accessible has been a big push for the agency lately.”It’s the perfect opportunity for NASA to engage the public, including the visually impaired, in our missions, in our understanding of the natural world around us,” said Joe Minafra, innovation and tech partnerships lead at NASA. “It’s their space agency. We want to include them as well.”Over 5,000 copies of the book have been sent around the country, to schools, libraries, museums, and science centers.Runyon told The College Today that thank-you letters have been pouring in from organizations who’ve received the book.Call your local science center or library for the visually impaired to find out i
In fall 2016, Kyli Penner was focused on school, standardized tests, her friends, and her dance team. All photos courtesy of Kyli Penner, used with permission. In the fall of 2016, her mom signed her up for a free heart screening through a local program called Play for Patrick. “It was Halloween,” Kyli remembers. “I had a party that night, and I didn’t really want to take time out of my day to go do it. I didn’t think it was necessary.” But Kyli’s mom was insistent — and it’s a good thing she was. The screening would ultimately end up saving Kyli’s life.Though she was just 15, Kyli had an atrial septal defect — basically, a hole in her heart. At the Play for Patric screening, doctors discovered Kyli’s heart was allowing oxygenated and deoxygenated blood to mix. If allowed to continue, it could become life-threatening. She would need surgery to close up the hole in her heart.Thankfully, Kyli’s condition was minor enough that it could be handled with a minimally invasive surgery. Doctors placed a small metal covering over the defect, and within weeks, Kyli was back to life as usual — dance team and all.Though the process of finding and treating her condition was scary, Kyli is hugely grateful that she found out about it when she did.“It’s crazy,” she says. “I didn’t want to go, and then going to this one thing that my mom dragged me to not only changed, but saved my life.”Sometimes it can seem less overwhelming to ignore problems rather than face them — but for Kyli, getting her surgery when she did may have saved her life. “You don’t just plan to have heart surgery,” she says. “But it’s better to figure that out earlier and to do something about it.”That’s the exactly the point of Play for Patrick, which is the organization that provided the free screening drive that Kyli attended. Patrick Schoonover was 14 when he passed away suddenly from an undetected heart condition. Though his parents couldn’t save him, they’ve dedicated their lives to making sure kids in the
Remember James Damore, the (now former) Google employee who created a firestorm for that controversial memo he sent to colleagues? #NewProfilePic pic.twitter.com/EaD4tKoH21— James Damore (@Fired4Truth) August 10, 2017 Well, he’s up a creek again.In early August, Damore was fired after a sexist memo he wrote — in which he falsely claimed biological differences between the genders were a reason why fewer women work in tech — leaked to the press. Damore has since defended (and even doubled down) on his debunked assertions. And now, that’s led him into yet another self-inflicted controversy.In an interview with Business Insider, Damore suggested being a conservative employee at Google is like “being gay in the 1950s.”After being asked about how he’d respond to women at Google who were offended by his remarks, Damore segued into the allegedly oppressive work environments keeping conservatives quiet in Silicon Valley:”Really, it’s like being gay in the 1950s. These conservatives have to stay in the closet and have to mask who they really are. And that’s a huge problem because there’s open discrimination against anyone who comes out of [the] closet as a conservative.”The internet wasn’t having it.After the interview published, Twitter users piled on, pointing out how asinine Damore’s remarks truly were. Yes. Mmm. Uh hunh. Sure. pic.twitter.com/q41P5GC9X4— sree kotay (@sreekotay) August 17, 2017 Damore was fired for sending out a sexist memo — not for being conservative — which sort of nulled his point from the get-go. I’m sure writing a manifesto alleging female coworkers are biologically inferior might’ve had more to do with it.— Robert Hallock (@Thracks) August 18, 2017 It’s absurd for someone like Damore to try and play the victim card in the first place, though. Poor Cons. They think white males have it so hard in today’s society.— eudaimonia (@ainomiadue) August 17, 2017 Because it’s difficult to be part of the largest political ideology base in the U.S.
“This is a defining moment for President Trump. But much more than that, it is a moment that will define America in the hearts of our children.” Mitt Romney and President Donald Trump have always had a somewhat peculiar relationship.When Romney ran for president in 2012, Trump alternated between insulting the former Massachusetts governor and ultimately offering his endorsement. Similarly, when Trump campaigned in 2016, Romney slammed Trump’s policies and unwillingness to release his tax returns, but cozied up to him after the election. “Frenemies” is probably the most accurate way to describe their relationship. Trump and Romney met for dinner in November 2016. The awkward look sums up the relationship pretty well. Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images. After managing to (mostly) bite his tongue over Trump’s tumultuous first months in office, Romney laid into him with a fiery Facebook post.At issue was Trump’s moral character and the signal he sent to white supremacists and neo-Nazis in the wake of the Charlottesville protests. I will dispense for now from discussion of the moral character of the president’s Charlottesville statements. Whether he…Posted by Mitt Romney on Friday, August 18, 2017 There are some key takeaways from Romney’s post.1. “Whether he intended to or not, what he communicated caused racists to rejoice, minorities to weep, and the vast heart of America to mourn.”Getting right to the heart of the matter, Romney directly called out Trump on the message sent to the white supremacist community. Groups picked up on Trump’s dog-whistle signals and reacted accordingly.”His apologists strain to explain that he didn’t mean what we heard. But what we heard is now the reality, and unless it is addressed by the president as such, with unprecedented candor and strength, there may commence an unraveling of our national fabric.” Trump during his now-infamous press conference on Aug. 15. Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images. 2. “The leaders of our branches of mi
Peanuts: Delicious for some of us. Deadly for others.Peanut allergies, one of the most common food allergies in the world, are extremely dangerous — especially for kids, who are more likely to suffer serious reactions than adults. Even exposure to trace amounts of peanut or peanut oil can pose a major risk, which means a lot of kids have to steer clear of more than just PB&J — even foods like icing, potato chips, and some fried foods can contain elements of peanuts. It can be hard for people with these severe allergies to live a normal life.In fact, peanut allergies have been on the rise for years. That’s why a lot of schools in the United States don’t even allow things like peanuts or peanut butter inside the school anymore, let alone at a shared lunch table.While a lot of us have been arguing over whether that’s fair (or helpful), scientists have been working hard to figure out how to better treat this and other food allergies or how to stop them completely.The good news? Scientists Down Under just had a major breakthrough in treating peanut allergies. Photo by Renee Comet/Wikimedia Commons. Researchers at Australia’s Murdoch Children’s Research Institute used something called immunotherapy on a small group of kids with peanut allergies.In immunotherapy, patients can be intentionally exposed in deliberate, controlled doses of something (in this case, peanuts) that creates an autoimmune response. Over time and with the right treatment, the body can sometimes learn to adjust the way it reacts to the allergen.In other words, these researchers fought peanuts with peanuts.At the end of the 18-month trial, which originally took place in 2013, over 80% of the kids who received the treatment had become tolerant to peanuts. Four years later, most of them are still tolerant and even eating peanuts regularly.“The way I see it is that we had children who came into the study allergic to peanuts, having to avoid peanuts in their diet, being very vigilant around that, carrying
On Aug. 16, 2017, author and activist Cleve Jones tweeted about a small community that figured out exactly how to handle its neo-Nazi problem.”In a small town in Germany where the Nazi leader Rudolf Hess was born, every year right wing [activists] have been showing up to commemorate his birthday,” the complementing copy to his viral tweet began. Neo-Nazi marchers carry a sign that reads, “Rudolf Hess — Unforgotten” in 2003. Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images. Local counter-protesters, the tweet goes on to explain, failed to do much in stopping the bigotry that gathered in Wunsiedel every November. But back in 2014, the town came up with an interesting strategy to deal with the marchers: Instead of trying to stop neo-Nazis from coming to town, why not use their presence for good?So Wunsiedel decided to turn its unwelcome neo-Nazi event into a walkathon, of sorts.Except they didn’t actually tell the neo-Nazis about their plan. Neo-Nazis marching in Wunsiedel in 2003. Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images. Under the guidance of advocacy group Rechts gegen Rechts (Right Against Right), businesses and locals came together to sponsor Germany’s “most involuntary walkathon,” The Guardian reported. For every meter the neo-Nazis walked in their annual march, 10 Euros went to Exit Deutschland — a European organization that fights extremism. So, in essence, neo-Nazis showed up to march against their own cause.That wasn’t the end of it, though. Walkathon organizations epically trolled the neo-Nazis while they marched, too.Wunsiedel locals placed encouraging signs along the march route — like this one, which reads, “If only the führer knew!” Image via Rechts gegen Rechts/YouTube. They marked the pavement with reminders of how much money the neo-Nazis were raising against their own cause. Image via Rechts gegen Rechts/YouTube. They even provided food to the marchers for all their hard work walking for a good cause. Image via Rechts gegen Rechts/YouTube. Of course, when all was said a
The year was 1997. You woke up to an actual alarm clock, which was entirely different from your camera, your telephone, and your computer — that is, if you had a computer. The crowning achievement of the technology world was Tickle Me Elmo. It was a different time.And somewhere in central Vermont, a group of “flannel-wearing, sandal-footed, long-haired tree-huggers” were quietly bringing about the nativity of the green energy industry.Nearly 20 years ago, renewable energy awareness was near zero. In 1997, renewable energy wasn’t a global phenomenon waiting to happen. Though it had potential, it was so far only important to a select few. All images via iStock. It took pioneering minds to identify and commit to renewability as the future of power and energy. Green Mountain Energy Company’s founders didn’t think they’d be starting a movement. Like Henry Ford and his Model T or the people who put peanut butter and jelly in the same jar, Green Mountain simply realized that they could bring people something that was needed. Then they got to work. “There was an opportunity to be a green energy pioneer,” says general manager Mark Parsons. The company’s founders knew there were reliable ways to power peoples’ homes that were also gentle on the Earth. “It became our mission to change the way power is made.” In its first year, Green Mountain started bringing people residential electricity powered by wind and solar — both renewable sources.They were facing a tough crowd: It wasn’t easy to convince the people of the ’90s that renewable energy was necessary or reliable.“People were skeptical,” says Parsons. “Traditional fossil fuels were widely accepted, and the future of those resources wasn’t questioned like it is today.”Their burgeoning movement lacked public support. Still, Green Mountain put its trust in the basic idea that if they could create a better, more environmentally responsible product, people would choose it. And while traditional fossil fuel resources are limit
Warning: Acting on these tips may be incredibly fun and result in a cleaner conscience. By now, even your grandma knows that solar panels can save you money and a bike ride to work is a greener option than a Hummer. If you really want to help save the planet, then you’re probably hungry for new and creative tips you can actually do to make a real difference. While many of us may not be ready to turn your home into a zero-waste household that only does laundry once a year, most of us are looking for some pretty awesome life-hacks to do good, all while reducing clutter, saving money, and pushing our families to get a bit more creative. Sustainability feels more important now than it’s ever been, so we’re getting you these tips with no time to waste. Image via iStock. We spoke with Jeff Becerra of Stop Waste, an Oakland-based public agency that makes sustainability easier for residents and businesses and came up with 17 ways you can totally nail going green: The first five are food-based because that’s one of the largest contributors to waste in the U.S. — over 60 million tons of produce per year — and the rest … well, you’ll see.1. Organize your refrigerator to ensure perishables get eaten first. And feel free to use freeze-dried foods for trail snacks, flavor powders, and more. They have a longer shelf-life. If you’ve got the funds to drop a few thousand dollars on a freeze-dryer yourself, go nuts. In the meantime, this option is becoming mainstream enough to be able to pick up at your local grocery store.2. Freeze overripe fruits and vegetables, leftover meats, and discarded bones for simple, tasty, and nutritious snacks and staples.Think smoothies, bone and veggie stocks, and frozen veggies as healthy additions to hot meals.3. Buy fresh ingredients in smaller quantities more often. Image via iStock. This way, you waste less and enjoy fresher ingredients.“A lot of people are shocked when they learn how much food ends up in landfills every year,” says Becerra.