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The Most Burning Question About The Bermuda Triangle May Finally Have An Answer

By Ryan Unger

There’s a reason why the Bermuda Triangle is also known as the “Devil’s Triangle.” Over the past 200 years, dozens of ships and planes have disappeared while crossing through this undetermined area of the Atlantic Ocean. And in almost every instance, no one knows precisely what happened to the vessels… Yet there has to be some kind of logical explanation for these mysterious events, right? Well, researchers at the University of Southampton in England think they have the answer.

The area gets its name from the perfect triangle it makes connecting the island chain of Bermuda, Miami, and Puerto Rico. Although geographically speaking there’s nothing unusual about this huge stretch of water, it has earned itself an ominous reputation for a large number of unexplained phenomena.

See, when vessels try to sail through this particular corner of the universe, it seems that something terrifying can happen. And in a lot of cases, ships and planes have completely disappeared. That’s what’s fascinated people about the Bermuda Triangle for so long – and what caused the Southampton researchers to take a closer look.

They likely knew that this mystery actually dates back to Christopher Columbus and his oceanic journeys. In Columbus’ journal, he wrote that his compasses went oddly askew when he was in the area. He also apparently saw strange lights. But Columbus wasn’t the only one affected. Hundreds of years later, a bizarre and inexplicable event happened.

In March of 1918, the USS Cyclops – a ship with 309 people on board – set sail out of Barbados. The trip started off as planned. But, while crossing through the triangle, the ship and crew vanished. And it gets even weirder.

On December 5, 1945, five Avenger torpedo bombers set off on a post-WWII training mission. The 14 airmen onboard the craft flew over the Atlantic Ocean through the Triangle… and were never seen again. And, adding to the mystery, the 13 crewmen who later searched for the missing bombers also disappeared.

These bizarre Bermuda Triangle stories have sparked the imaginations of writers for years, of course. A 1610 Triangle-related shipwreck supposedly even inspired the great William Shakespeare to create The Tempest. But there was one literary piece that really got people into the mystery.

Vincent Gaddis wrote “The Deadly Bermuda Triangle” for a 1964 issue of Argosy magazine. His compelling article linked the disappearance of those Avenger bombers in 1945 with other strange occurrences in the Triangle. The piece proved so popular that he published a book all about it in 1965 called Invisible Horizons. But the craze about the Triangle didn’t stop there.

People suddenly demanded to know more about the three-sided shape that haunted the ocean. And their demand was quickly met by a ton of books on the subject. John Wallace Spencer gave us Limbo of the Lost in 1969. Author Charles Berlitz published The Bermuda Triangle in 1974 – the same year Richard Winer wrote The Devil’s Triangle. And all these works pointed to some kind of supernatural phenomenon.

Tons more theories formed about what could have caused these eerie events, too. One theory stated that a massive sea creature was responsible for everything. But, of course, we know that’s an absurd idea. And we know the researchers from Southampton were soon going to give us the real answer.

But they had their work cut out for them simply dismissing the more outlandish theories. Like the one claiming that alien spacecraft might be responsible for the Triangle disappearances. Why? Because hundreds of feet below the surface of the water, there’s apparently an odd formation that some scuba divers once claimed was an extraterrestrial ship.

Yet another conspiracy theory was that the “lost” city of Atlantis was located underneath the Triangle. But that’s not all. The story goes that the advanced technology the Atlanteans had was still operational and sucked planes and ships into the realm. Sounds crazy, right? And that’s not even the strangest one.

Other conspiracy theorists claim the Triangle was the location of an actual wormhole where the space-time continuum had little relevance and objects were transported to other dimensions. It’s safe to say that the English scholars could dismiss that one out of hand.

And as intriguing as many of these theories are to discuss, the actual truth behind the Triangle isn’t anything to do with aliens or sea beasts. Yup, that team of researchers and scientists from England think they have an actual answer.

The minds at the University of Southampton, England, have studied the events in the Bermuda Triangle extensively. And after much research, they think the issue is all to do with the water itself. How so? Well, the team spoke about their findings in a 2018 documentary called The Bermuda Triangle Enigma.

It turns out that the researchers believe that rogue waves are likely the cause of the disappearing ships over the years. These waves can occur when three huge storms from different directions collide in the water. The resulting waves would be tsunami-like and tower over everything in the ocean, making them impossible to avoid.

So the rogue waves would have toppled the missing ships and sent them directly to the ocean floor in pieces. Some of these rogue waves could have loomed as high as 100 feet. Their sheer power would have crashed down on the vessels and left no remains, according to this research.

“The bigger the boat gets, the more damage is done,” said Dr. Simon Boxall in the documentary. “If you can imagine a rogue wave with peaks at either end, there’s nothing below the boat, so it snaps in two. If it happens, it can sink in two to three minutes.”

Still, the United States Coast Guard says the area known as the Bermuda Triangle is actually completely safe to travel through. And it’s still pretty fun to imagine that paranormal happenings actually do occur! After all, Earth’s waters do hold many strange secrets – such as the Great Blue Hole.

Located some 40 miles off the coast of Belize City, the Great Blue Hole has marveled those who’ve skirted its crystal-blue waters for over the last half-century. At over 1,000 feet across, this massive cavern was long considered the biggest of its kind.

The hole is at the center of the Lighthouse Reef, one of the many small atolls that make up the world’s second-largest coral reef system, the Belize Barrier Reef.

As such, the Great Blue Hole is protected as a World Heritage Site under the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).

But although the hole itself has been known to researchers since the mid 20th century, it wasn’t until a famed marine explorer finally visited the site that anyone fully appreciated it.

When Jacques Cousteau visited the site in 1971, the world finally began to take notice of its magnificence. Using the mobile lab aboard his ship Calypso, Cousteau was the first to measure the depth of the hole — a remarkable 407 feet.

A 1991 expedition led by the Cambrian Foundation sought to confirm Cousteau’s original measurement, and to their surprise, they found that the French adventurer was nearly spot on.

Though the title of the world’s largest marine sinkhole now belongs to China’s Dragon Hole, the Great Blue Hole is still big enough to fit two Boeing 724 airplanes with room to spare.

Following Cousteau’s exploration, the site has since become a popular scuba spot among professional divers, with some citing it as one of the best in the world.

But despite all the attention that the Great Blue Hole has gained over the years, little was truly known about the massive cavern and what it contained… until now.

Fueled by his adventurous spirit and fervent support for marine conservation, English entrepreneur and Virgin Group founder Richard Branson sought to unveil the mysteries of the Great Blue Hole once and for all.

Yet even with years of adventures and discoveries to his credit, Branson needed the help of one important individual to truly make the expedition worthwhile.

That’s right: he enlisted the help of Fabien Cousteau, the grandson of the very same man that had put the Great Blue Hole on the map almost 50 years earlier. Together, the two explorers hoped to pick up right where Jacques had left off.

More specifically, the men wanted to use state-of-the-art 3D imaging technology to create a comprehensive map of the interior of the sinkhole. This would provide never-before-seen insight.

They were also looking to test the water quality and oxygen levels within the Great Blue Hole to get a sense of what kind of aquatic life could survive there.

Additionally, Branson and Cousteau were adamant about exploring what they believed to be an oxygen-depleted area at the base of the hole. Why the interest in this so-called dead zone?

Well, if their hunch was correct, this discovery could hold clues to the fall of the Mayan civilization between 800 and 1,000 AD! Yeah, who saw that one coming?

“We’ve heard that in the Blue Hole there is an anoxic area [or dead zone] near the bottom,” said one of the expedition’s crew members. “This is really interesting because things don’t degrade in anoxic areas so we could find preserved life.”

But even as visions of this vast undersea adventure danced in their heads, the men still had one glaring issue to overcome before they could even think about venturing below the surface: how would they do it?

Being that most humans can’t dive more than 130 feet without being crushed by water pressure, scuba diving was completely out of the question. They needed to think outside the box.

Luckily, they found captain Erika Bergman. Aboard her high-tech STINGRAY 500, the team would be able to dive at depths of up to 500 feet while simultaneously capturing HD recordings of the entire adventure.

And so, on December 2nd, Branson, Cousteau, and Bergman – along with a team of cinematographers from the Discovery Channel – made the journey to Lighthouse Reef to begin their exploration.

With their live stream being broadcast to viewers all over the world, the three adventurers submerged in the waters of the Great Blue Hole.

Though the surface of the massive cavern looked almost clear blue from above, the depths below were anything but. Darkness met the team head on as they dove deeper and deeper into the hole, unaware of what treasures – or horrors – awaited them at its bottom.

Along the way, a variety of fish kept pace alongside the team, ranging from common ocean dwellers to the likes of the exotic Midnight Parrotfish.

But for every unassuming fin or tail that flitted by, they couldn’t help but keep their eyes peeled for the hammerhead and aggressive bull sharks that were known to prowl the area.

When the vessel arrived at the floor of the cavern the team immediately went to work mapping the dimensions of the hole. After only a few minutes of scanning, however, Branson and the others noticed a strange opening…

Curious, the team approached the opening, and inside they found the real treasure of the exploration: stalactites! This discovery would’ve meant little if stumbled upon in a typical cave system, but the fact that the find was made at such a depth underwater was unprecedented.

According to tests run on the rock formations, these stalactites were an astonishing 150,000 years old. Usually, stalactites only form in dry caves!

That means that the Great Blue Hole was once part of a larger cave system that formed on dry land. As remarkable as this was, though, this discovery actually points to a much larger issue.

With the Great Blue Hole now completely submerged under hundreds of feet of water, it’s a clear indication that the gradual warming of the earth is directly responsible for rising sea levels. As global warming continues to affect our planet, could this be a sign of things to come?

Richard Branson and his team seem to think so, and he’s pledged to aid in the effort to protect at least 30% of world oceans by the year 2030. With sea life covering over two-thirds of the Earth’s surface, now seems as good a time as ever to make sure that it stays that way.–

“PREVIEW: Hell Made Of Diamonds About to Be Captured By Nasa”

Venus and Jupiter Conjunction: Planets to almost touch in night sky

Venus and Jupiter have been drawing closer together all week
Image caption, Venus and Jupiter have been drawing closer together all week

By Georgina Rannard
BBC News Climate & Science

Look up in the sky at the right moment this weekend and you could see two of the solar system’s brightest planets almost touching.

Venus and Jupiter will be millions of miles apart, but from Earth they will appear close to colliding.

This planetary conjunction happens annually but this year they will appear much closer than usual.

The same spectacle won’t occur again like this until 2039.

Just the naked eye or binoculars should be enough to see it in a clear sky.

After Saturday, the two planets will go their separate ways as they drift apart in the coming days.

“It’s very exciting for astronomers and it’s a really great opportunity for people to get out and have a look,” explains space scientist and chief stargazer at the Society for Popular Astronomy Prof Lucie Green.

What is a planetary conjunction?

A conjunction is when two planets appear close together or even touching in the Earth’s night sky.

In the days running up to Saturday, Venus and Jupiter have been gradually coming together in the sky.

Planets Jupiter and Venus in conjunction rise before sunrise behind Rocca Calascio castle, Italy, on April 30, 2022.
Image caption, The two planets rise side-by-side over Rocca Calascio castle in Italy early on Saturday

The actual orbit of the planets are about 430 million miles apart but their apparent alignment seen from Earth gives the illusion that they are touching.

How can I see it?

The peak time to see it was Saturday at around 05:00 BST. But it will still be visible on Sunday and in the coming days as the planets slowly move apart.

Pre-dawn is best, looking east before the Sun rises.

The two planets seen side-by-side between the trees in pre-dawn light
Image caption, Social media user @DebraJ54 took this photo in Humboldt, Tennessee, on Saturday morning

The planets will be low down in the sky, close to the horizon, and hills and buildings will block the view. If you can, find a high spot and look for two dazzlingly bright spots very close together.

“The planets will differ in their brightness. Venus is brighter than Jupiter so it will look dazzlingly bright when you see it. Jupiter will be slightly fainter, about one-sixth of the brightness of Venus,” explains Prof Green.

She suggests using an app to help navigate your way around the skies.


And if you have telescope, you might be able to make out some structure in the atmosphere of Jupiter or some of its largest moons.

The conjunction can be seen from both of Earth’s hemispheres at different times of day and night.

Those observing with a telescope may also be treated to a view of Mars and Saturn forming a line of four planets.

Prof Green says she plans to be up and out of bed to watch it from the UK.

“But if I do miss it on Saturday morning, I’m not going to be too worried,” she explains.

“In the coming days the two planets start to get further and further apart – So I will still be able to see them.”

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NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope reaches alignment milestone, shares stunning view of cosmos

While the purpose of this image was to focus on the bright star at the center for alignment evaluation, Webb's optics and NIRCam are so sensitive that the galaxies and stars seen in the background show up.

While the purpose of this image was to focus on the bright star at the center for alignment evaluation, Webb’s optics and NIRCam are so sensitive that the galaxies and stars seen in the background show up. (Credits: NASA/STScI)

Julia Musto

NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope has reached another milestone, with the agency announcing that its main mirror is fully aligned.

NASA said the Webb team completed the stage of alignment known as “fine phasing” on March 11, with every optical parameter for Webb’s Optical Telescope Element performing “at, or above, expectations.” 


The group also found no critical issues or measurable contamination or blockages to Webb’s optical path. 

NASA said the observatory is able to successfully gather light from distant objects and deliver it to its instruments without an issue.

“More than 20 years ago, the Webb team set out to build the most powerful telescope that anyone has ever put in space and came up with an audacious optical design to meet demanding science goals,” Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate, said in a statement. “Today we can say that design is going to deliver.”

Webb – an international venture with the European Space Agency (ESA) and Canadian Space Agency – is the first telescope in space to use segmented primary mirrors, like the primary mirror’s 18 hexagonal, beryllium segments.

The team has also now fully aligned Webb’s primary imager, the Near-Infrared Camera, to the observatory’s mirrors.

Over the course of the next six weeks, the Webb team will further act to align the telescope to include the Near-Infrared Spectrograph, Mid-Infrared Instrument and Near InfraRed Imager and Slitless Spectrograph.


All of this comes before the $10 billion telescope’s final alignment step will begin, in addition to adjustments of any small, residual positioning errors in the mirror segments.

“We have fully aligned and focused the telescope on a star, and the performance is beating specifications. We are excited about what this means for science,” Ritva Keski-Kuha, deputy optical telescope element manager for Webb, said. “We now know we have built the right telescope.”

This new "selfie" was created using a specialized pupil imaging lens inside the NIRCam instrument that was designed to take images of the primary mirror segments instead of images of the sky.

This new “selfie” was created using a specialized pupil imaging lens inside the NIRCam instrument that was designed to take images of the primary mirror segments instead of images of the sky. (Credits: NASA/STScI)

NASA shared additional engineering images from its NIRCam instrument during the “fine phasing,” revealing the star 2MASS J17554042+6551277 and galaxies and stars in the background. The image uses a red filter to optimize visual contrast. 

At the beginning of alignment, NASA released a mosaic image, with 18 individual images of the star HD 84406. 

A new “selfie” was also created using a specialized pupil imaging lens inside the NIRCam instrument that was designed to take images of the primary mirror segments. It shows all of Webb’s 18 primary mirror segments collecting light from the same star in unison.

The Webb team will include all aspects of Optical Telescope Element alignment by early May. 

Webb’s first full-resolution imagery and science data will be released over the summer.

Man Receives Heart Transplant From Genetically Altered Pig: ‘This Has Never Been Done Before’

Charlotte Pence Bond

A 57-year-old man with serious heart disease was given a heart from a genetically modified pig in a new, unprecedented transplant operation

The New York Times reported on the “first successful transplant of a pig’s heart into a human being,” a procedure that lasted eight hours and took place in Baltimore, Maryland, on Friday. The man, David Bennett Sr., received the heart and was in good condition on Monday, per surgeons at the University of Maryland Medical Center. 

“It creates the pulse, it creates the pressure, it is his heart,” said Dr. Bartley Griffith, who carried out the operation. He is the director of the cardiac transplant program at the center. 

Griffith added, “It’s working and it looks normal. We are thrilled, but we don’t know what tomorrow will bring us. This has never been done before.”

“This is a watershed event,” said Dr. David Klassen, the chief medical officer of the United Network for Organ Sharing and a transplant doctor. “Doors are starting to open that will lead, I believe, to major changes in how we treat organ failure.” 

“Events like these can be dramatized in the press, and it’s important to maintain perspective,” Klassen added. “It takes a long time to mature a therapy like this.” He noted that there are lots of challenges to surpass before an operation like this one could be widely done.

Bennett chose to go forward with the procedure because he would not have survived without getting a new heart, had already gone through with other treatments, and was not healthy enough to meet the qualifications for a heart from a human donor, per members of his family and physicians, according to the Times. 

Bennett is still on a heart-lung bypass machine, as he was before the procedure took place, but that is not uncommon for someone who has newly received a heart transplant, according to medical experts.

His physicians stated that he could be brought off the machine on Tuesday. He is also being carefully watched for evidence that his body is fighting the new organ transplant, but he got through the first 48 hours without problems, which is reportedly an important time period. 

“It was either die or do this transplant,” Bennett said before the surgery, according to authorities at the University of Maryland Medical Center. “I want to live. I know it’s a shot in the dark, but it’s my last choice.”

The outlet reported that the heart which was put into Bennett’s body “came from a genetically altered pig provided by Revivicor, a regenerative medicine company based in Blacksburg, Va.”

The animal “had 10 genetic modifications. Four genes were knocked out, or inactivated, including one that encodes a molecule that causes an aggressive human rejection response,” the outlet noted, adding that a growth gene was also deactivated to not allow the pig’s heart to keep growing after implantation. 

“In addition, six human genes were inserted into the genome of the donor pig — modifications designed to make the porcine organs more tolerable to the human immune system,” the Times noted. 

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration gave the transplant doctors an emergency authorization for the procedure on New Year’s Eve. 

Dr. Christine Lau is the chair of the Department of Surgery at the University of Maryland School of Medicine and was in the operating room during the procedure. 

“He’s at more of a risk because we require more immunosuppression, slightly different than we would normally do in a human-to-human transplant. How well the patient does from now is, you know, it’s never been done before so we really don’t know,” she told the BBC. 

“People die all the time on the waiting list, waiting for organs. If we could use genetically engineered pig organs they’d never have to wait, they could basically get an organ as they needed it. …Plus, we wouldn’t have to fly all over the country at night-time to recover organs to put them into recipients,” she added.

The Times noted that there is an organ shortage and around twelve people on the transplant waiting lists die every day. 

The pandemic has impacted the low number of organ donations and transplant operations, as well. 

A May 2020 report from Penn Medicine News noted that by early April 2020 transplant centers in France and the United States were carrying out fewer deceased donor transplants than they had been one month prior. 

The findings, published in The Lancet in May of 2020, noted, “The overall reduction in deceased donor transplantations since the COVID-19 outbreak was 90·6% in France and 51·1% in the USA, respectively.”

Very cool… But turn your volume down the noise hurt my ears 😬

Tom Ford Announces $1.2 Million Plastic Innovation Prize

By Eliza Erskine

Fashion innovator Tom Ford and 52HZ announced that submissions for the Tom Ford Plastic Innovation Prize are open!

The prize’s aim is to “accelerate meaningful innovation around a replacement for thin-film plastic.” The two-year competition includes a $1 million prize. Thin-film plastic accounts for 46% of the plastic that leaks into the ocean annually.

“Thin-film plastic enters our lives for a minute, yet continues on as waste, never truly disappearing,” says Dr. Dune Ives, CEO of Lonely Whale. “The origin story of plastic starts with an innovation prize and the solution to the plastic crisis can be found in the tale of its creation. As a campaign organization capable of catalyzing global change on a massive scale, the Tom Ford Plastic Innovation Prize is an opportunity to create another new beginning and promote solutions commensurate with the plastic pollution problem.”

Judges for the panel include Don Cheadle, Tom Ford, Stella McCartney, Livia Firth, Trudie Styler, Susan Rockefeller, and more. The Tom Ford Plastic Innovation Prize is open May 20 through October 24, 2021, and guidelines and prize rules are available at

“Sustainability is a key critical issue in our lives now,” says Tom Ford. “Plastic pollution is taking one of the greatest tolls on our environment and thin-film plastic makes up 46% of all plastic waste entering our ocean. We will continue to advocate for the adoption of the winning innovations and will do whatever we can to turn the tide of plastic pollution and thin-film plastic specifically. We need to work towards finding a solution before it’s too late to save our environment.”

Recently, other environmental prizes have been announced, such as Elon Musk‘s XPRIZE Carbon Removal competition, Prince William’s Earthshot Prize, and the Rockefeller Foundation’s Food System Vision Prize.

Read more about fashion in One Green Planet:

For more Animal, Earth, Life, Vegan Food, Health, and Recipe content published daily, subscribe to the One Green Planet Newsletter! Also, don’t forget to download the Food Monster App on iTunes — with over 15,000 delicious recipes it is the largest meatless, vegan, and allergy-friendly recipe resource to help reduce your environmental footprint, save animals and get healthy! Lastly, being publicly-funded gives us a greater chance to continue providing you with high-quality content. Please consider supporting us by donating!

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Drinking From a Can Has One Major Side Effect, Study Says

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Robots Grooving to Motown Classic

Atlas and Spot robots dancing to Do You Love Me by The Contours

These robots can probably dance better than you.

Before 2020 came to a close, Boston Dynamics shared a fun (or, for some, eerie) video featuring four of its robots dancing to the tune of the 1962 Motown hit “Do You Love Me?” by The Contours.

“Our whole crew got together to celebrate the start of what we hope will be a happier year. Happy New Year from all of us at Boston Dynamics,” the Waltham, Massachusetts, company wrote in the caption.

The clip began with two of the company’s humanoid Atlas models performing various classic dance moves, such as the twist and mashed potato. A doglike robot named Spot joins them a minute into the video. It even mouthed a few lines of the song as it danced!

The trio later does the running man in perfect synchrony.

Handle, a wheeled robot designed to move boxes in warehouses, completes the groovy quartet as it wheels itself in while dancing to the music’s rhythm.

The mobility and coordination of their choreography—put together by dancer Monica Thomas—is impressively smooth that it’s hard to believe they’re merely inanimate objects!

Atlas can jump and do high leg kicks, Spot can mimic a ballerina, and Handle makes the most out of its long and flexible neck.

This isn’t the first time that Boston Dynamics shared a video of their machines in action. In one inevitably viral clip, Spot was seen grooving to a Bruno Mars track. Atlas was seen performing gymnastics and parkour tricks in another video, such as backflips, 360-degree turn-around jumps, and aerial somersaults. This latest one, however, is their most elaborate yet.

Of course, these robots do more than just dance. The MIT spinoff offers them to warehouses, police, utilities, laboratories, and factories to help with various tasks that robots can do better and more safely than humans. YouTube

2020 has been a big year for the robotics company. Spot, its most famous product, made its commercial debut in June. Each unit is being sold for $74,500 each. It can run, climb stairs, and even remind people to practice social distancing. The machine is generally used for inspections on construction sites or similar settings.

Hyundai Motor Group also bought a controlling interest in Boston Dynamics in a $1.1 billion deal in December 2020.

The video spread like wildfire on social media, where it gathered a mix of reactions from viewers. Thousands praised the brilliant technology behind these dancing robots, including Tesla CEO Elon Musk.

“This is not CGI,” he noted in a tweet sharing the dancing video. YouTube

Others seem to be a little bothered by their almost human-like proficiency.

“Slightly creepy, I have to admit. Robots from Boston Dynamics are having a party and seem to be throughly enjoying it. What’s next?” tweeted Swedish diplomat Carl Bildt.

“Do you love me? Not when you come to annihilate us,” wrote photographer Jan Nicholas.

“This is cool and all,” one user said. “But when they rise up and destroy us all, I won’t feel very good knowing there could be a Boston Dynamics robot Default Dancing over my grave.”

Nevertheless, we can’t deny that the creation of these robots is a testament to how far we’ve come in the world of artificial intelligence. Humanity—and robots—are literally changing the future. Let’s just hope with fingers crossed that these machines don’t turn against us and start an uprising!

Watch the jaw-dropping performance of Atlas, Spot, and Handle in the video below.

If you would like to see more videos of the same robots performing various feats and tasks, you may visit the Boston Dynamics YouTube channel.

Young girl wins $20K after creating car seat device that helps prevent hot car deaths

At the young age of 12, a girl from North Carolina already impacted this world. Lydia Denton was named as the winner of CITGO’s Fueling Education Student Challenge. Lydia won $20,000 with her invention called “Beat the Heat Carseat.” The device Lydia invented helps save babies left in cars.


It all started when Lydia saw the news about babies and toddlers being left in hot cars by accident. What the wiz kid saw in the news moved her, inspiring her to act. “I did some research and saw that it happened a lot and that it wasn’t just neglectful parents,” Lydia said. “I got really upset and wanted to try and help.”Facebook


The twelve-year-old initially thought of raising money for the families, but Lydia wanted a long-term solution that prevents tragic hot car deaths from happening in the first place. “My mom has a saying: ‘Stop complaining and do something about it.’ Complaining or being sad doesn’t solve the problem, we have to take action to make a change,” Lydia recalled.

With her mother’s support, and a fiery desire to make a difference, Lydia began researching what the market already has. Some companies issue car seat recalls when they encounter problems in their car seat’s mechanism.

Experts also advise parents never to leave their car at home unlocked. “Kids are very, very curious… Th1-7ey get into the car on their own,” said Janette Fennell, president and founder of Kids and Cars, a non-profit organization on improving child safety around cars.Facebook



Besides car seat recalls, Lydia noticed the lack of safety precaution that can prevent hot car deaths from occurring. Although some car models come with warnings and smart cart seats, not everyone has hundreds of dollars for a new car, much less an expensive car seat.

“What I wanted was a device that had the ability to get 911 there to save the baby if a parent didn’t respond,” Lydia explained. “I also wanted something everyone could afford.”

Nearly every state has experienced at least one casualty from a hot car since 1998. Just last year, the country recorded 52 child heatstroke deaths. This was the statistic the young genius wanted to overcome.

Beat the Heat Car Seat works through a pad under the car seat cover. The device starts to monitor the temperature once it detects pressure weighing more than 5 lbs.Facebook

If the system detects the temperature reaching over 102 degrees, the device will set off an alarm and a warning message on the LCD. The parents will receive a text message, and they have to respond within 60 seconds to reset the device. If they don’t, Beat the Heat Car Seat sends a message to 911 with the car’s location.

The best part is, Lydia’s invention is portable and only costs $40. Almost everyone can afford the Beat the Heat Car Seat. And once a family’s baby grows up, it can still be reused.Facebook

Lydia spent over 100 tries to get her invention working and had to push through failed trials and frustration. But in the end, Lydia was able to finish the device with her mom, Covey, a science teacher, and her older brother. All of them helped Lydia fix and improve Beat the Heat Cart Seat to reach its final form.

Lydia’s younger sister also provided moral support and encouragement during the development phase, giving her tight hugs and bringing her snacks.

“I was so excited. I didn’t think I would win. So many kids invent so many things and I know that my ideas aren’t always the best,” Lydia admitted. “Winning the money is cool, but I really care about saving lives. My first thought was, ‘Maybe no babies will die this summer!’”

After winning the competition, Lydia is now working with a mentor to help her manufacture the device. But for the twelve-year-old, there is still much work needed to be done. She’s still wracking her brain for brilliant ideas to invent.

For kids out there who want to make a difference but don’t know where to start, Lydia has the perfect advice: “Don’t think that you have to accept things in the world.

If there is something that bothers you, think of ways to make it better! Sometimes, that means changing your attitude, but sometimes that means an invention,” she clarified. “You’ve got to push and learn, and you can’t give up!”

Kids like Lydia are exactly what this world needs. Imagine the things she can do when she grows up!

No batteries needed

The Towers of Ladakh – Overheard at National Geographic | Podcast on Spotify

The Towers of Ladakh

Overheard at National Geographic

June 15, 2020 19 MINS

A mechanical engineer teams up with an unlikely band of students who use middle school math and science to create artificial glaciers that irrigate Ladakh, a region in India hit hard by climate change. For more information on this episode, visit 15, 202019 MINS

Podcast Episode

Watch it live at 3/2c

Found a Bug? | Kissing Bugs and Chagas Disease in the U.S. | Texas A&M

Found a kissing bug?

/Precautions and Procedure

Citizen science offers the opportunity for non-scientists and scientists to work together to collect large amounts of data. This project is currently seeking the help of citizens scientist (like you!) To submit carefully collected kissing bugs from Texas and throughout the U.S.

We are interested in learning more about the distribution of different species of kissing bugs, their interactions with host species. If you have come across a suspected kissing bug in or around your home, kennel, yard, or other area, we are interested in hearing about it.

Continue reading here for more information and pictures.

A ‘Black Supermoon’ Will Make This Meteor Shower Incredible

This show is set to peak on Sunday July 28,2019

If you’re in need of some wishes, then you’re in luck. From now to the end of August, a wave of shooting stars will be taking over the skies and putting on a show just for us.

These celestial objects are part of the Delta Aquarids meteor shower, which began on July 12th and is ongoing through August 23rd. Coming from the direction of Aquarius — the constellation also known as the Water Bearer — this show is set to peak on Sunday, July 28. The reason it’ll be so good? Why, the moon, of course.

Over the Moon


The next new Moon occurs on Wednesday, July 31 making it the second New Moon this month. This phenomenon even has a catchy name: the Black Supermoon. Though not an official astronomical term, “black moon” is the name given to the second New Moon of the month — an event that only occurs once every 32 months. This one is of the Super variety because it takes place when the earth and moon are at their closest point. You won’t really be able to see it, however the diminished light means you’ll have perfect, unobstructed views of the meteor shower.

Don’t Miss Out

Credit: Belish/Shutterstock

This stargazing event is especially significant given that the Perseids — another regular meteor show that occurs in mid-August and tends to be the year’s easiest-to-see celestial event — is taking place during a full moon this time around. That extra lunar light means the Perseids will be harder to see this year, so you’ll want to take advantage of the next few nights of stargazing.

The Delta Aquarids meteor shower is named after Delta, the third-brightest star in Aquarius, which is best seen by looking south if you’re in the northern hemisphere. There will be as many as 20 shooting stars every hour at the shower’s peak, with each of them moving at speeds of 25 miles per second. Whatever you do, put your phone away — its bright screen will dampen your night vision and distract you from the real show.

Want to make sure you have the best seat for the show? Check out our list of the best places to see the stars in the U.S.

Michael Nordine is the Creative Writer at Inboxlab. A native Angeleno, he recently moved to Denver with his two cats.

An Asteroid with Its Own Moon Will Zip Past Earth | Space

EarthSky reported that during the space rocks’ closest approach, they’ll be most visible in the southern hemisphere, appearing as fast moving shadows again stars in the constellation Puppis. The two remain visible for several days, according to EarthSky. North America asteroid hunters may spot the objects near the constellation Hydra on the evening of May 27.

Continue reading here and watch the amazing video.

What if air conditioners could help save the planet instead of destroying it?
By Matt Simon on May 5, 2019

This story was originally published by Wired and is reproduced here as part of the Climate Desk collaboration.

Earth’s climate is full of terrifying feedback loops: Decreased rainfall raises the risk of wildfires, which release yet more carbon dioxide. A warming Arctic could trigger the release of long-frozen methane, which would heat the planet even faster than carbon. A lesser-known climate feedback loop, though, is likely mere feet from where you’re sitting: the air conditioner. Use of the energy-intensive appliance causes emissions that contribute to higher global temperatures, which means we’re all using AC more, producing more emissions and more warming.

But what if we could weaponize air conditioning units to help pull carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere instead? According to a new paper in Nature, it’s feasible. Using technology currently in development, AC units in skyscrapers and even your home could get turned into machines that not only capture CO2, but transform the stuff into a fuel for powering vehicles that are difficult to electrify, like cargo ships. The concept, called crowd oil, is still theoretical and faces many challenges. But in these desperate times, crowd oil might have a place in the fight to curb climate change.

The problem with air conditioners isn’t just that they suck up lots of energy but that they also emit heat. “When you run an air conditioning system, you don’t get anything for nothing,” says materials chemist Geoffrey Ozin of the University of Toronto, coauthor on the new paper. “If you cool something, you heat something, and that heat goes into the cities.” Their use exacerbates the heat island effect of cities — lots of concrete soaks up lots of heat, which a city releases well after the sun sets.

To retrofit an air conditioner to capture CO2 and turn it into fuel, you’d need a rather extensive overhaul of the components. Meaning, you wouldn’t just be able to ship a universal device for folks to bolt onto their units. First of all, you’d need to incorporate a filter that would absorb CO2 and water from the air. You’d also need to include an electrolyzer to strip the oxygen molecule from H2O to get H2, which you’d then combine with CO2 to get hydrocarbon fuels. “Everyone can have their own oil well, basically,” Ozin says.

The researchers’ analysis found that the Frankfurt Fair Tower in Germany (chosen by lead author Roland Dittmeyer of the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, by the way, because of its landmark status in the city’s skyline), with a total volume of about 200,000 cubic meters, could capture 1.5 metric tons of CO2 per hour and produce up to 4,000 metric tons of fuel a year. By comparison, the first commercial “direct air capture” plant, built by Climeworks in Switzerland, captures 900 metric tons of CO2 per year, about 10 times less, Dittmeyer says. An apartment building with five or six units could capture 0.5 kg of CO2 an hour with this proposed system.

Theoretically, anywhere you have an air conditioner, you have a way to make synthetic fuel. “The important point is that you can convert the CO2 into a liquid product onsite, and there are pilot-scale plants that can do that,” says Dittmeyer, who is working on one with colleagues that is able to produce 10 liters (2.6 gallons) a day. They hope to multiply that output by a factor of 20 in the next two years.

For this process to be carbon neutral, though, all those souped-up air conditioners would need to be powered with renewables, because burning the synthetic fuel would also produce emissions. To address that problem, Dittmeyer proposes turning whole buildings into solar panels — placing them not just on rooftops but potentially coating facades and windows with ultrathin, largely transparent panels. “It’s like a tree — the skyscraper or house you live in produces a chemical reaction,” Dittmeyer says. “It’s like the glucose that a tree is producing.” That kind of building transformation won’t happen overnight, of course, a reminder that installing carbon scrubbers is only ever one piece of the solution.

Scaling up the technology to many buildings and cities poses yet more challenges. Among them, how to store and then collect all that accumulated fuel. The idea is for trucks to gather and transport the stuff to a facility, or in some cases when the output is greater, pipelines would be built. That means both retrofitting a whole lot of AC units (the cost of which isn’t yet clear, since the technology isn’t finalized yet), and building out an infrastructure to ferry that fuel around for use in industry.

“Carbon-neutral hydrocarbon fuels from electricity can help solve two of our biggest energy challenges: managing intermittent renewables and decarbonizing the hard-to-electrify parts of transportation and industry,” says David Keith, acting chief scientist of Carbon Engineering, which is developing much larger stand-alone devices for sucking CO2 out of the air and storing it, known as carbon capture and storage, or CCS. “While I may be biased by my work with Carbon Engineering, I am deeply skeptical about a distributed solution. Economies of scale can’t be wished away. There’s a reason we have huge wind turbines, a reason we don’t feed yard waste into all-in-one nano-scale pulp-and-paper mills.”

Any carbon capture technology also faces the sticky problem of the moral hazard. The concern is that negative emissions technologies, like what Carbon Engineering is working on, and neutral emissions approaches, like this new framework, distract from the most critical objective for fighting climate change: reducing emissions, and fast. Some would argue that all money and time must go toward developing technologies that will allow any industry or vehicle to become carbon neutral or even carbon negative.

This new framework isn’t meant to be a cure-all for climate change. After all, for it to be truly carbon neutral it’d need to run entirely on renewable energy. To that end, it would presumably encourage the development of those energy technologies. (The building-swaddling photovoltaics that Dittmeyer envisions are just becoming commercially available.) “I don’t think it would be ethically wrong to pursue this,” says environmental social scientist Selma L’Orange Seigo of ETH Zurich, who wasn’t involved in this research but has studied public perception of CCS. “It would be ethically wrong to only pursue this.”

One potential charm of this AC carbon-capture scenario, though, is that it attempts to address a common problem faced by CCS systems, which is that someone has to pay for it. That is, a business that captures and locks away its CO2 has nothing to sell. AC units that turn CO2 into fuel, though, would theoretically come with a revenue stream. “There’s definitely a market,” Seigo says. “That’s one of the big issues with CCS.”

Meanwhile, people will continue running their energy-hungry air conditioners. For sensitive populations like the elderly, access to AC during heat waves is a life or death matter: Consider that the crippling heat wave that struck Europe in August 2003 killed 35,000 people, and these sorts of events are growing more frequent and intense as the planet warms as a whole. A desert nation like Saudi Arabia, by the way, devotes a stunning 70 percent of its energy to powering AC units; in the near future, a whole lot of other places on Earth are going to feel a lot more like Saudi Arabia.

So no, carbon-capturing AC units won’t save the world on their own. But they could act as a valuable intermittent renewable as researchers figure out how to get certain industries and vehicles to go green.

Genetically Engineered Salmon May be Coming To A Store Near You

One fish, two fish, strange fish, new fish
By Richard Martin on Mar 9, 2018

This story originally appeared in bioGraphic, an online magazine about nature and sustainability powered by the California Academy of Sciences.

One day in 1992, a technology entrepreneur sat down for a meeting with a pair of biologists who were studying the genes of fish. The scientists, Choy Hew and Garth Fletcher, were working on a method of purifying “antifreeze proteins” that would help Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar) survive so-called superchill events in the North Atlantic. Normally, these salmon migrate out of the subzero ice-laden seawater of the far North Atlantic to overwinter in less frigid waters. Increasingly, though, such fish were being farmed, penned year-round in offshore cages, in near-Arctic waters to which they were not adapted. Fish farmers were looking for a way to keep the fish alive through the winter, and the antifreeze protein seemed like a possible solution.

As the meeting drew to a close, Fletcher and Hew showed Elliot Entis, the entrepreneur, a photo of two fish of equal age. One dwarfed the other. “I sat back down,” Entis recalled recently.

Fletcher and Hew, it turned out, had not just been putting antifreeze proteins into Atlantic salmon. They had also figured out a way to add a growth hormone from Chinook salmon (Oncorhynchus tshawytscha), plus a fragment of DNA from the ocean pout (Zoarces americanus), an eel-like creature that inhabits the chilly depths off the coast of New England and eastern Canada. This genetic code acts like an “on” switch to activate the growth hormone. The result was a genetically engineered superfish that grew nearly twice as fast, on less food, than conventional salmon.

Those salmon, grown and marketed by a company called AquaBounty Technologies that was founded by Entis, could be coming to U.S. grocery stores next year. And they could offer a way out of the deadly spiral of overfishing that is decimating wild fish stocks.

Open-ocean fishing for wild species is no longer sustainable; it hasn’t been for a long time. While some of the most damaging forms of industrial fishing have been outlawed over the years, a combination of continued overfishing, habitat destruction, and warming oceans has dramatically reduced salmon populations. According to the Northwest Fisheries Science Center, of the 17 distinct populations of Pacific salmon, all are considered either “in danger of extinction” or “likely to become endangered.” Atlantic salmon, too, have been battered by commercial overfishing, climate change, and cross-contamination by farmed salmon and the resulting spread of disease; according to a 2001 World Wildlife Fund report, their population fell by more than 75 percent between 1984 and 2001.

At current rates, according to a 2006 article in the journal Science, the world will run out of all wild-caught fish by mid-century.

Genetically engineered fish could provide a solution, taking the pressure off wild stocks and reducing the energy and carbon emissions required to feed the world’s seafood appetite. Because AquaBounty’s salmon are sterile and raised in land-based tanks, they can’t breed with wild populations. And because they efficiently convert fish feed into edible protein, they offer a potential low-cost solution for nourishing not only affluent consumers in North America but hungry people in the developing world with little access to meat.
The eyespots of developing embryos are clearly visible inside these fertilized salmon eggs. AquaBounty

But there is something about genetically engineered fish that many find uniquely disturbing. In a 2013 poll by The New York Times, 75 percent of respondents said they wouldn’t eat genetically modified fish. (That number dropped to two-thirds for other forms of GE meat.) The nation’s largest grocery chains, including Safeway and Kroger as well as Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s, have signed a statement saying they will not sell genetically modified fish.

There’s also a tangle of bureaucratic red tape to get through before GE fish finds its way into U.S. grocery stores. The U.S. Food & Drug Administration approved AquaBounty salmon for sale in this country more than two years ago, in November 2015. But an obscure rider attached to a budget bill by Alaska Senator Lisa Murkowski in December of that same year effectively blocked the FDA from allowing GE salmon into the U.S. That import ban still stands.

It’s a strange paradox: If you could get the fish here, you could sell them; but you can’t legally bring GE salmon into the country.

Undeterred, in June 2017, AquaBounty, which is headquartered in Maynard, Massachusetts, purchased a land-based fish farm near Albany, Indiana. If the import ban can be overturned, enabling the company to bring in transgenic eggs produced in Canada, AquaBounty could begin raising fish there sometime this year. That means the company’s salmon could be on sale in the U.S. by 2019, which would make it the first genetically modified animal food ever sold and eaten in this country.

Opposition, naturally, is fierce. But to AquaBounty CEO Ron Stotish, bringing superfish to global markets is not just a promising business opportunity; it also has the potential to change an industry.

“We are providing technology to improve food production and make it sustainable,” Stotish says. This, he says, will put society in a better position “to address the global food security issues we’ll face as the world’s population approaches 10 billion.”

Great Bear Rainforest, British Columbia, Canada Ian Mcallister/Getty

Eager to see how AquaBounty got to this point and what the future of fish farming might look like, I traveled to the company’s hatchery at Bay Fortune, on Prince Edward Island. The island — known as PEI — forms an arc in the southern Gulf of St. Lawrence, just off the coasts of New Brunswick and Nova Scotia. Driving out from Charlottetown to the far eastern peninsula, we pass small, picturesque fishing villages and tidy farms flying Canadian flags. AquaBounty’s lab and hatchery is a metal-sided, two-story building, painted the cheery shade of ocean blue that has become the company’s trademark color. Belying the research and engineering underway inside, the exterior looks more like a roadside warehouse than a lab for mad fish science.

Inside, in big green fiberglass tanks, swim the salmon: conventional and transgenic in separate tanks, each fish individually microchipped. Called “AquAdvantage Salmon” in the company’s marketing materials, the genetically engineered fish are more than twice the size of conventional fish at 12 months of age — around 1 kilogram (2.2 pounds) compared to 300 to 400 grams (0.7 to 0.9 pounds) for the regular salmon.

This is Fletcher and Hew’s innovation, pictured in the photo they showed to Entis 25 years earlier. Entis, whose father ran one of the first companies to import farm-raised salmon from Norway, had seen a revolution in the making. “The first thing I thought was, ‘My God, these guys don’t know what they’re sitting on.’ To raise fish in half the time, that has enormous implications. I pretty quickly realized that this is the kind of massive breakthrough that could be critically important to an entire industry.”

What Entis didn’t realize at the time was just how long it would take to bring that breakthrough to market — nor that he would no longer be there to see it through. Along the way, both Entis and Fletcher — who joined the company in 1994 — were ousted.

In 2012, the company’s primary investor, Kakha Bendukidze, a biologist and entrepreneur who’d served as Minister of Economy in the former Soviet Socialist Republic of Georgia, lost patience and pulled out. AquaBounty was close to collapse before receiving a $6 million investment in 2012 from Intrexon Corp., a synthetic biology company.

Today, AquaBounty’s fish are available in Canadian grocery stores. Five tons were sold there in 2017 without being labeled as such. Canada has no law that requires labeling of genetically modified seafood.

Back in the Bay Fortune hatchery, the transgenic fish patrol the tanks ceaselessly, the only sound the occasional splash as a fish breaks the surface, thinking we might have food. The salmon are stippled and banded in endless shades of gray, silver, and black, with occasional flashes of green. Evolved to travel hundreds of miles from their freshwater spawning grounds to the open ocean and back, these fish will live out their lives in these tanks, fed by constantly circulating filtered freshwater, never leaving this building.
Market-sized, genetically modified salmon patrol the indoor tanks inside AquaBounty’s Prince Edward Island facility. Stephen DesRoches

Dawn Runighan, the facility manager, shows me the miniature tanks where the baby fish are raised, and the grow-out area where they reach maturity. There are big bags of fish feed, and canisters of sperm lined up like old-fashioned milk tanks. In another room are tubular incubators containing the eggs that will become superfish. If I was expecting a high-tech sanctum where Faustian scientists use supercomputers to meddle with the building blocks of nature, what I found was more quotidian: a few technicians in rubber boots moving equipment around and checking water levels. Much of the space in an adjoining room is taken up by an elaborate, three-phase filtration system that includes settling tanks, “bio-beads” impregnated with organisms that remove ammonia and organic matter from the water, and finally a UV-light filter to finish the cleansing process. “It’s basically a wastewater treatment plant, with fish,” cracks Runighan.

Upstairs there is a lab where quality control and R&D on the company’s proprietary gene technology takes place. A white-coated technician dips a pipette and fills tiny tubes in a rack. These will go into a machine that multiplies copies of a specific sequence of DNA for later analysis. No actual gene-splicing goes on at Bay Fortune. In fact, none has gone on for 13 generations of AquaBounty salmon, dating back to a single ancestor fish that reproduced and died in 1992. Each descendant carries a copy of the genetic construct that combines the Chinook growth hormone gene with the promoter gene from the ocean pout.

“Today,” says company spokesman Dave Conley, “we are in the business of breeding fish.”

It’s a messy business. At spawning time, conventional females are milked of their eggs by hand, a method that requires two fish wranglers per female — one to handle the fish and another to hold the container that collects the eggs. The technicians use the same squeeze technique to extract semen, or “milt,” from the males.

To prevent uncontrolled reproduction of genetically engineered fish, AquaBounty produces only transgenic females for market. To avoid the possibility of male eggs being produced, the male fish that produce the milt are actually “neomales”: female fish that have undergone a sort of piscine sex change. Exposed to testosterone when they’re juveniles, they produce milt that contains only female sex chromosomes. This is a common technique in aquaculture. When the sperm from neomales is used to fertilize the eggs (also with female sex chromosomes), only female fish can result.

When combined, the eggs and milt produce fertilized eggs. The technicians place the developing embryos in a stainless-steel tube where they’re subjected to high pressure. This renders all the embryos’ cells triploid — meaning they have three sets of chromosomes instead of two, which makes the fish incapable of reproducing — another biological barrier to the spread of transgenic salmon in the wild.

After a period of incubation at the Bay Fortune hatchery, the sterile, all-female transgenic embryos are then flown to a rearing facility in the highlands of Panama, where the resulting salmon are grown to maturity before being re-imported into Canada. (According to Conley, Panama was selected because the president of the company at the time had contacts there and the cost of building a facility was far less than it would have been in North America.) Eventually, AquaBounty plans to produce market-ready fish at a new facility now under construction at Rollo Bay, on Prince Edward Island, and at the Indiana facility — an existing fish production factory that belonged to a now-defunct aquaculture company.

Aerial view of workers in boats feeding salmon in off-shore enclosures near Seal Cove, Grand Manan, New Brunswick, Canada. Marc Guitard/Getty

The key fact about all of these places, existing and under construction, is their location: They’re on land. Nearly all other aquaculture takes place in ponds, lakes, or the sea — in pens designed to keep farmed fish in and wild fish out. Unlike fish produced using this conventional approach, AquaBounty salmon have no chance of escaping into wild habitats. That was key to the company’s application for approval by the FDA. But land-based aquaculture is expensive, and many previous attempts have failed. Finding cost-efficient ways to maintain water temperature and quality at levels needed to grow healthy fish — things nature does for free — is critical to AquaBounty’s business success.

“We saw the convergence of these two technologies: the improved biology of the fish, and the improved technology of contained aquaculture systems,” says Stotish, a former pharmaceutical executive. He says the company has “altered the economics of growth and production.”

Producing salmon in Indiana, Stotish points out, would eliminate the need for long-distance flights that now carry frozen fish from overseas fish farms to the U.S. market. Producing fast-growing fish on land reduces the amount of food and energy required to grow a given volume of food, while also reducing the use of fungicides, antibiotics, and pesticides that are prevalent in conventional aquaculture. AquaBounty’s scientists say they have devised a sustainable, environmentally friendly and economical way of producing high volumes of healthy seafood, without the environmental risks of conventional aquaculture.

Most scientists who have studied the matter concur — and believe that the significance of AquaBounty salmon extends far beyond the fishing industry. A 1992 article in Nature Biotechnology by Fletcher, Hew, and five other scientists laid out the evidence behind the company’s claims, and since then those claims have been validated by a number of other studies. An article published in the journal Aquaculture in 2013 (by seven scientists independent of the company) concluded that transgenic AquAdvantage salmon had higher feed-conversion ratios, retained nitrogen more efficiently, and achieved their target weight 40 percent faster than conventional Atlantic salmon fed the same diet.

“In 20 or 25 years we’re all going to be eating genetically modified animal products,” says Eric Hallerman, a professor of marine biology at Virginia Tech who served on an expert panel that reviewed AquaBounty’s technology for the FDA application. “What’ll make it attractive to producers is the benefit to consumers.”

That potential benefit has not allayed the concerns of the vocal movement opposed to GMOs in general and to genetically engineered “Frankenfish” in particular.
Nick Norman/Getty

Humans have been consuming salmon virtually since we first arrived in North America, and salmon have become deeply intertwined with both the cultures and the ecosystems of the places where they thrived. Indeed, salmon in many ways shaped both the civilization and the environment of those places. And salmon have been an intensely managed food source all along.

“The anadromous fish resource was perhaps the most intensely managed and ecologically manipulated food resource among these aboriginal societies,” wrote the anthropologists Sean Swezey and Robert Heizer in a 1977 study.

“Ecological manipulation” is a good description of today’s salmon market. Even the wild salmon fishery of Alaska is helped along by human intervention: Each year the Alaska Department of Fish and Game releases nearly 2 billion juvenile salmon spawned in hatcheries into the waters of Prince William Sound and Southeast Alaska. In 2015 Alaskan fishermen caught 93 million hatchery-born salmon, more than one-third of the total harvest of 263 million. Salmon stocks in the northern Pacific have recovered since bottoming out in the 1970s; that would not have happened without the coastal hatcheries.

U.S. imports of salmon totaled 339,000 metric tons in 2016, worth more than $3 billion. The vast majority of that came from farmed Atlantic salmon raised in floating cages off the coasts of Canada, Chile, Norway, and Scotland, and flown into the U.S. According to SINTEF, an independent research institute in Norway, accounting for feed, aquaculture, and energy to freeze and transport the fish, 1 kilogram of farmed salmon eaten in Paris or New York produces the equivalent of 2.9 kilograms of CO2 emitted into the atmosphere. A 2016 paper in Aquaculture Engineering found that the carbon footprint of salmon produced in land-based closed systems, like AquaBounty’s, is less than half of that from salmon produced in conventional fish farms in Norway and delivered to the U.S. by air.

But carbon footprints don’t pack the emotional punch of cultural legacy. “The Coast Salish people have organized their lives around salmon for thousands of years,” Valerie Segrest, the project coordinator for the Muckleshoot Food Sovereignty Project, said in a 2017 statement. The group is based at the Northwest Indian College in Bellingham and works to preserve access to traditional foods.The Salish fear that GE salmon could wreak environmental havoc with native species, and that the combination of genetic engineering and aquaculture could finally overwhelm the traditional fishing methods that they still carry out. “Corporate ownership of such a cultural keystone is a direct attack on our identity and the legacy our ancestors have left us.”

In July 2016, the Quinault Indian Nation joined a lawsuit put forth by environmental groups and recreational fishermen in March of that same year. It challenged the FDA approval, saying the agency “has not adequately assessed the full range of potentially significant environmental and ecological effects presented by the AquaBounty application.” That lawsuit is still pending. Led by the Center for Food Safety, anti-GMO activists are concerned that GE salmon could threaten native species if some fish Houdini escaped and spread its transgenic kind in the wild.

But scientists who have followed AquaBounty’s long road to regulatory approval believe that the quarter-century process signals a flawed and politicized approval mechanism. The delay “sends the message to the rest of the world that the science-based regulatory oversight as embodied in the FDA review process is subject to political intervention,” testified the late Calestous Juma, of Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, in a 2011 hearing before House Agriculture Committee’s Subcommittee on Rural Development, Research, Biotechnology, and Foreign Agriculture. “Furthermore, it signals to the world that the United States may cede its leadership position in the agricultural use of biotechnology.”

According to the scientific panel that reviewed the evidence submitted by AquaBounty to the FDA, the genetically engineered salmon “is as safe as food from conventional Atlantic salmon, and … there is a reasonable certainty of no harm from the consumption of food from this animal.”

The agency concluded that because AquaBounty salmon is “not materially different from other Atlantic salmon” — meaning it is nutritionally and chemically indistinguishable — no additional labeling was required.

In the early 2000s, William Muir, a professor of genetics at Purdue University and a pioneer in the risk analysis for GE fish, and his colleague Richard Howard developed a quantitative model to assess risks associated with the other major fear about GE salmon: escape. In simple terms, Muir’s method quantifies the probability of an escaped transgenic fish interbreeding in the wild, and the level of harm it would cause if that should happen. The first part is itself the product of two factors: “the probability of the organism escaping into the wild, dispersing and becoming feral” and the ability of the new gene to spread.

If either of those terms is zero, according to the model, the risk of environmental damage from transgenic fish farming is zero. It’s a simple matter of multiplication. “If it can’t escape, then don’t worry about it,” Muir says. “Or if it escapes and then can’t proliferate, don’t worry about it.”

By raising the fish on land, in contained tanks, far from cold-water environments, AquaBounty has reduced the risk of escape to near zero (unlike conventional aquaculture, where the farmed fish can and often do escape into the wild). The second factor — the risk of an escaped fish spreading its genetic material — should also be zero, because AquaBounty produces sterile, triploid females. Even if these fish did escape, wild salmon couldn’t successfully breed with them, so they wouldn’t be able to reproduce and persist in the environment. In contrast, when a net pen containing conventional farmed salmon breaks, the escapees can overwhelm an environment with their sheer numbers, and since they’re fertile, they can interbreed and bring down the fitness of native salmon.

“In my view the risk of harm from GE salmon as developed and managed by AquaBounty is less than that of farmed salmon,” says Muir, who is now retired.

Alison Van Eenennaam, an animal genomics and biotechnology specialist at the University of California, Davis, who served as a subject matter expert for the scientific panel that evaluated AquaBounty’s FDA application, says that conventional farmed fish carry different, and arguably higher, risks. “Conventionally bred Atlantic salmon undergo no food safety tests, grow faster as a result of selective breeding, are fertile, and are raised in ocean net pens where they can escape to the ocean and transmit/acquire diseases and parasites,” she says.

Like most scientists who have examined the matter, Hallerman dismisses the claim that GE salmon pose a threat to existing fisheries. “This technology has been sitting on the shelf for way too long. People want more meat and this is a way to get it to them.”

Stephen DesRoches

But not all scientists agree with this consensus. In 2013, after the FDA issued its draft environmental assessment of the AquaBounty breeding program, Anne Kapuscinski, a professor of sustainability science at Dartmouth College, and Fredrik Sundström, an assistant professor of ecology and genetics at Uppsala University in Sweden, submitted comments criticizing the agency’s finding of “no significant impact.”

The two scientists wrote that they “found major scientific inadequacies” in the assessment. Among their many concerns was that while the risk of exposure to the open sea and harm to the marine environment from GE salmon is probably low at the existing PEI and Panama sites, those facilities are only the first of many probable hatcheries and production farms — and there is no guarantee that other locations will maintain the same standards.

“The future of GE fish farming will surely involve larger fish farms, with less confinement, in many different environments,” wrote Kapuscinski and George Leonard, the chief scientist at the Ocean Conservancy, in a 2015 opinion piece. The risks posed by those hypothetical future farms are harder to determine.

Meanwhile, Murkowski, whose legislation is at this point the only remaining legal obstacle for AquaBounty in the U.S., has said allowing GE salmon would amount to “messing with nature’s perfect brain food.” In July 2017, vowing to continue her “years-long fight against ‘Frankenfish,’” Murkowski introduced the Genetically Engineered Salmon Labeling Act, which would not only require plain-English labels for GE salmon but would mandate a review of the FDA’s procedures for approving AquaBounty’s fish. AquaBounty officials say they have no problem with labeling their fish, if regulations require it; but Murkowski’s bill, cosponsored by senators from Washington and Oregon, would effectively maintain the ban on AquaBounty salmon in the U.S. market.

Ultimately, the future of AquaBounty’s superfish will most likely hinge more on marketing than on legal challenges. Will grocers carry the fish, and will consumers buy it? If the answers to those questions are yes, the sustained outcry over GE salmon will ultimately matter little. Muir points out that research on transgenic fish is proceeding worldwide, regardless of what happens with AquaBounty salmon in the U.S. market. Scientists in Cuba and the UK have engineered tilapia to add weight three times faster than normal fish. A mud loach developed in South Korea can grow up to 35 times faster than conventional varieties.

At the end of my visit to Bay Fortune, I sat in the small company kitchen with Stotish and the AquaBounty staff and enjoyed some smoked salmon, grown in AquaBounty’s indoor fish farm and prepared by a local chef. It was delicious. I could not have told it from conventional salmon.

Stotish hopes that Murkowski’s import ban will be dropped in an upcoming appropriations bill, should Congress ever manage to agree on a budget. He won’t say much about AquaBounty’s future plans for worldwide production, other than to mention that he’s talked to more than one Asian fish supplier who’s interested in growing and marketing AquaBounty salmon. The U.S. market may be important to AquaBounty’s success as a company, but Stotish is working in other places where the opposition to GE seafood is less pitched, and less political. In other words, whether AquaBounty ever gets to sell its fish in the United States may ultimately be moot, in terms of the future of GE aquaculture.

Meanwhile, AquaBounty’s new indoor aquaculture facility at Rollo Bay, on PEI — two warehouse-sized buildings with enough space for more than 2,500 cubic meters of fish tanks — is nearing completion. It will supply 13 to 15 million eggs a year when it reaches full capacity. The company expects to be producing eggs there by the second quarter of 2018.

A Beacon in the Smog®

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How an Engineer Took on the Mystery of the Hunley | Science | Smithsonian

One Scientist May Have Finally Figured Out the Mystery of Why a Civil War Submarine Sank
A Navy engineer used creative modeling and her knowledge of underwater explosions to tackle the century-old Hunley conundrum


The H.L. Hunley, a confederate Civil War era submarine, sits in its water tank at the Hunley Lab in North Charleston, SC. (Mic Smith Photography LLC / Alamy)
By Evan Lubofsky, Hakai Magazine
August 23, 2017

This article is from Hakai Magazine, an online publication about science and society in coastal ecosystems. Read more stories like this at

Around 6:30 p.m. on February 17, 1864, eight men crammed into the Confederate submarine H. L. Hunley, a self-propelled metal tube attached to a bomb, and slipped quietly into the freezing black water off the coast of Charleston, South Carolina. The crew hand-cranked the sub more than six kilometers toward its target—the Union blockader USS Housatonic—and surfaced like a leviathan for the charge. By 9:00 p.m., it was over: The Hunley had thrust its spar-mounted torpedo into the Housatonic’s hull and within seconds, 60 kilograms of black powder had caved in the ship.

Just after the brief moment of glory, the Hunley, which had just become the world’s first successful combat submarine, mysteriously sank.

Its demise has baffled scores of researchers and Civil War buffs for more than a century. Now, one maverick scientist is making the bold claim that she has cracked the case. After three years of sleuthing, Rachel Lance, a U.S. Navy biomedical engineer who holds a PhD from Duke University’s Pratt School of Engineering in North Carolina, concludes that the blast from the sub’s own torpedo sent blast waves through its iron hull and caused instant death for the eight men inside.

If she’s right, the mystery of the Hunley may finally be put to rest. But how she made the discovery is almost as surprising as the discovery itself: She did it without access to the physical sub, which was excavated in 2000; without prior experience in archaeology or forensics; and without help from the Hunley Project, a team of researchers and scientists at Clemson University in South Carolina that has been on the case full time for the past 17 years.

Without collaboration or key pieces of data, could Lance’s account of the final moments of the Hunley and its crew be right?

On a warm September Saturday, I’m standing outside the student center at Duke, a low-rise contemporary building accented with the university’s signature neo-Gothic stone, when Lance swings around the bend in a blue Pontiac Grand Prix straight out of Motor City where she grew up. As I open the passenger door to introduce myself, I’m hit by a wall of thumping workout music. Lance just came from the gym, and her brown, shoulder-length hair is thrown up in an elastic. A blue, stonewashed T-shirt that reads Detroit rides up her pale, lanky arms.

As we make our way off campus, the music keeps pumping.

“Where are we headed?” I yell.

“I’m taking you to the campus pond to see where we ran some of our experiments,” she thunders back. “It’s quiet there so we can talk.”.


An oil painting by Conrad Wise Chapman, circa 1898, depicts the inventor of the ill-fated H. L. Hunley, along with a sentinel.
An oil painting by Conrad Wise Chapman, circa 1898, depicts the inventor of the ill-fated H. L. Hunley, along with a sentinel. (Wikimedia Commons)

Lance was modeling an underwater explosion at a computer in Duke’s Injury Biomechanics Lab, where she studied blast injuries, when her adviser had the epiphany that set her Hunley obsession in motion. What if, biomechanical engineer Dale Bass suggested, the modeling software could virtually reconstruct the attack on the Housatonic and reveal insights into the fate of the Hunley? Lance, a history buff, was hooked: a historical mystery with a tantalizing lead to follow. Eventually she’d abandon the software for a more hands-on experimental approach, but lass’s idea was the catalyst she needed.

She began reading theories about why the Hunley went down. One prevailing idea was that the crew ran out of oxygen and suffocated. It was exactly the type of theory she was poised to tackle: she’s been a civil service engineer with the U.S. Navy since 2009 and has expertise in breathing system dynamics and, more specifically, rebreathers—the closed-circuit breathing systems divers use to recycle breathing gas underwater.

As her investigation got underway, Lance noticed there was very little, if any, published research on the crew’s oxygen consumption during the mission. With the navy, she had researched the phenomenon of how much oxygen people used while operating hand-pedal ergometers requiring the same type of motion as the Hunley’s hand-cranked propulsion system. So, she dug up the data and used it to calculate how much oxygen the crew would have used while cranking their way toward the Housatonic.

It wasn’t clear how much oxygen there was to begin with, though. After hauling up the sub, the Hunley Project conservators calculated how much air was likely available. Their data suggests the crew had enough air for little more than two hours. Lance, however, didn’t have access to the actual data. She had met with project members to discuss collaboration, but they wouldn’t share their calculations with her (and, later on, would ask Lance to sign a non-disclosure agreement, which she’d decline). She’d have to go her own way.

She mulled over the problem for days. Then, she remembered thumbing through a newsletter published by Friends of the Hunley, a nonprofit in Charleston that handles outreach, fundraising, and development for the Hunley Project and runs tours at Clemson’s Warren Lasch Conservation Center where the Hunley is being restored. It was filled with interior and exterior photos of the sub, most of which had measurement notations below them. That gave her an idea.

Rachel Lance and her assistants
Rachel Lance and her assistants test the CSS Tiny’s gauges with shock tubes at the Duke University reclamation pond in North Carolina. (Courtesy of Rachel Lance/Duke University)

For the next month, Lance sat hunched over her desk printing out photos of the sub, measuring each demarcated point with a ruler. After weeks of painstaking work, she finally had all the measurements necessary to calculate oxygen consumption versus supply. The results leapt off the page. Suffocation was not a plausible explanation for why the Hunley sank.

“Even with conservative calculations, the crew would have been experiencing noticeable hyperventilation, gasping for breath, choking, symptoms of panic, and likely physical pain from high levels of CO2 in the blood,” she says. “But we also know from records that they were seated peacefully at their stations without any signs of struggle. So, from my perspective, this tossed the suffocation theory out the window.” The findings were published in the March 2016 issue of the journal Forensic Science International.

Richard Moon, the medical director of the Duke Center for Hyperbaric Medicine and Environmental Physiology, agrees. He helped Lance run the calculations and says, “You have a bunch of submariners who were working moderately hard in an enclosed space. There’s no way they would be working away at the crank in a 10 percent oxygen environment with high levels of CO2 and say, ‘Oh well, things are fine; we’ll just keep on going.’”

The folks at Clemson weren’t convinced. Kellen Correia, president and executive director of the Friends of the Hunley, stated in an email that, “It’s premature to draw any final conclusions about the causes of the loss of the submarine or death of the crew, especially when looking at only one aspect of the situation.” She didn’t, however, reference any specific issues with Lance’s findings.

Debunking the suffocation theory offered Lance some short-term satisfaction, but by this point, she was in deep. She began thinking about the Hunley around the clock, obsessing over it to the point where she’d zone out and stare into her plate of food during dinner with her fiancé. “There was something viscerally terrifying about the fact that eight people died that night, and we had no idea how or why,” she says.

In the meantime, Hunley Project conservators at the Warren Lasch Conservation Center were chiseling—and continue to chisel—their way through the stubborn, concrete-like layer of sand and silt that formed around the Hunley as it sat on the seafloor for more than 100 years.

“The de-concretion has the opportunity to give us more information,” says Clemson archeologist Michael Scafuri, “but we haven’t uncovered any definitive evidence to completely explain the loss of the Hunley. Nothing in and of itself explains what happened.”

There hasn’t been any case-cracking evidence on the human remains side, either. Linda Abrams, a forensic genealogist who has been working on and off with the Hunley Project since 2006, says all of the crew member skeletons were in good shape when they were excavated from the Hunley’s interior. The sub was completely filled with sediment when it was salvaged, so layer upon layer of muck had to be carefully removed before the bones were exposed. “There were no bullet wounds in any of these guys,” she says. And no signs of desperation.

While the scientists haven’t come up with a smoking gun, there is a small area of damage to the sub’s exterior that has stumped them. The forward conning tower has a softball-sized chunk of iron missing where a viewport had been.

Popular Science Monthly
A 1900 edition of Popular Science Monthly included this depiction of the cramped quarters within the H. L. Hunley, which we have animated. While nine men are shown here, the Hunley is believed to have had an eight-man crew the night it sank in 1864. (Popular Science Monthly)

Through her research, Lance learned of the damage to the conning tower and the so-called lucky shot theory: a stray bullet fired by Housatonic sailors during the attack punctured the tower, causing the sub to fill with water and sink.

From Scafuri’s perspective, it is a possibility. “The gunfire from the Housatonic may have played a role in this,” he says, “but we cannot confirm that at this point.”

Lance tested the theory by shooting Civil War-era firearms at cast iron samples—the damage to the sub was inconsistent with damage from her rifle fire. Plus, she says, a bullet hole would have allowed water to rush into the sub quickly and caused it to sink much closer to the attack site than where it was found.

Based on her results, Lance crossed the lucky shot theory off her list and documented the findings in a second paper in Forensic Science International.

The Friends of the Hunley declined to comment on the specific findings, but Correia wrote, “Again, Ms. Lance doesn’t have any primary knowledge or data of the Hunley Project.”

Lance pressed on. If the crew hadn’t suffocated, and a bullet hole didn’t sink the sub, what did happen?

When the Hunley took down the towering Housatonic, it was less than five meters away from the blast. And, it was still attached to the torpedo; inspired by Confederate steam-powered torpedo boats known as Davids during the Civil War, the Hunley’s crew had bolted the sub’s torpedo onto the end of its spar. This meant the same explosion that rocked the Housatonic could just as well have meant lights out for the Hunley crew.

Lance had spent the better part of two years investigating the suffocation and lucky shot theories, published twice, and still hadn’t solved the mystery. For her, this explosion theory was the next obvious avenue to explore, and one that meshed well with her injury biomechanics focus at Duke. If a blast wave from the explosion propagated into the interior of the sub, she reasoned, it could have immediately killed the crew or at least injured them sufficiently that they would have been unable to pilot the boat to safety. “When blast waves hit an air space, they slow down like a car hitting a wall,” she explains. “Except in this case, the wall is the surface of the lungs.” The sailors’ lungs could have ruptured and filled with blood.

To test the theory, Lance needed a physical model of the sub. Enter the CSS Tiny, a scale model a sixth the size of the tour bus-length Hunley. Made out of sheet metal, it was a Hunley mini-me right down to ballast tanks filled with water and a steel spar mounted to the bow.

Engineering a miniature submarine wasn’t a stretch for Lance, who grew up working on old cars with her father, a now-retired GM autoworker. As a kid, she was small enough to slide under their 1966 Mustang to change the oil without jacking up the car. “Growing up around car culture makes it easy to fall in love with machinery and engineering,” she says.

North Carolina
At a farm in rural North Carolina, Rachel Lance and one of her assistants, Luke Stalcup, prepare the CSS Tiny to receive explosions to test her blast wave theory. (Photo by Denise Lance)

A few minutes after peeling away from campus in Lance’s Pontiac, we pull into a dusty lot at the Duke University reclamation pond. The thumping bass line cuts out abruptly and the soundtrack is replaced with the ratchet-like chorus of crickets. At the pond’s edge, she gestures to the water, thick with algae: this is where the Tiny took a test run. Lance and a few members from her lab used blast simulation devices known as shock tubes to test the Tiny’s pressure gauges and other equipment in advance of the live explosives phase of the experiment. As she stood in the water, raising and lowering the shock tubes, fish chomped at her legs. It was as if she was being repeatedly stabbed with tiny knives—but by the end of it, Lance and the Tiny were ready for the big event.

The campus pond was off limits to real explosives, so, two weeks later, Lance and her research team trekked out to a three-hectare pond on a rural North Carolina farm for the live ammo tests. They parked the Tiny in the middle of the pond, and with an explosives agent standing guard, the stage was set. Lance began the countdown: “Five! Four! Three! …” The culmination of months of hard work all came down to the next few seconds, and her nerves were frayed as she frantically clicked between sensor readout screens on her laptop.

From a safe distance, farmer Bert Pitt and his grandchildren were ready for the show. Lance had sweet-talked him into volunteering his pond for the project. “When Rachel came out to the farm,” says Pitt in a thick southern drawl, “she tried to butter me up with red velvet cake and explained that it would only be a one-sixth-scale explosion.”

“Two! One!” Pfffsssssttt! The black powder charge exploded on the Tiny’s spar, and a small geyser of pond water erupted. Pressure gauges hung inside and outside the vessel to measure the underwater blast waves. Below the surface, the explosion jetted a blast wave into the Tiny’s hull with so much force that it caused the metal to flex. That motion, in turn, generated a second blast wave that transmitted straight through the hull into the cabin.

“The secondary blast wave from this would have easily caused pulmonary blast trauma that killed the whole crew instantly,” Lance says. “This is what sank the Hunley.”

Moon supports the conclusion. He says most people would assume that the cabin walls would have protected the crew from the blast waves—but few people know much about underwater explosions. “Speculation up to this point has been fine,” he says, “but when you hold it up to hard science, I think the blast wave theory is the most plausible explanation.”

Rachel Lance
Rachel Lance stands with her model of the H. L. Hunley—the CSS Tiny—at the Duke University reclamation pond. (Photo by Eric Wei)

While Lance believes the mystery of the Hunley can finally be put to rest, the Hunley Project scientists aren’t ready to jump to conclusions. They’ve acknowledged the explosion theory as a possibility in the past, but began to doubt it prior to Lance’s experiment based on results from a computer modeling study conducted by the US Navy in 2013. The study suggests the blast wave would not have harmed the crew, yet further studies continue to second-guess any previous study conclusions.

“The problem is, it’s a complicated scenario,” says Scafuri. “It’s sort of like trying to reconstruct the causes of a car accident with limited information. Would you be able to find evidence of an accident that happened because a bee flew in through the window and distracted the driver, who happened to be texting, on a stretch of road that was slick?”

“Oh, I have something for you,” says Lance at Duke’s reclamation pond. She reaches into her backpack and hands me a cigar-sized, 3D-printed replica of the Hunley—a souvenir of sorts. It offers a micro, yet detailed, view of the sub’s interior that makes me realize how confining the crew compartment—which at full-scale was only one meter wide and 1.2 meters high—must have been for eight grown men. It was a death trap. The fact they crammed themselves into the tube anyway was a sacrifice Lance seems to have unwavering respect for. It’s part of what drove her to press on to the finish line, despite the odds being stacked against her.

But how could it be that Lance was able to unravel a century-old mystery in such a relatively short period of time, particularly given the Hunley Project’s 14-year head start? Was it beginner’s luck, or her ability to approach the problem from a different scientific vantage? Maybe it simply came down to old-fashioned determination. “You have to deal with a lot when doing this kind of research, especially when you’re doing things on your own, which can be difficult and lonely,” she says. “You need to have a lot of perseverance, because that’s where the good stuff is—past that limit where nobody’s been able to push through the problem before.”

In the end, maybe it had more to do with the fact that the Hunley Project is intent on both carrying out the painstakingly slow process of conserving the sub and explaining its disappearance. Although, from a revenue perspective, the mystery in and of itself may be a real positive for the Hunley Project and Friends of the Hunley, considering the sales of T-shirts, shot glasses, and lab tours it helps generate.

Regardless, when Lance’s findings from her blast wave experiment are published (a research paper will be released imminently), the Hunley Project team will be watching.

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Radiation and Cataracts in Birds at Chernobyl

Mining Awareness +

Rouge gorge familier - crop (WB correction)
European Robin (Erithacus rubecula) by Pierre Selim via wikimedia
Very sad. Bird eyes with cataracts:
Bird Cataracts Chernobyl in Mousseau and Moeller, 2013
(k) robin (Erithacus rubecula), significant haze on cornea
Photographs of selected eyes from Chernobyl birds
From: Mousseau TA, Møller AP (2013) “Elevated Frequency of Cataracts in Birds from Chernobyl”

Lucky for us some few are still doing serious academic research. If animals can’t see well, with some exceptions, they can’t find food and die, or can more easily be killed by predators. The frequency and severity of cataracts increases with background radiation. In the abstract below “reduced fitness” means they are unfit for survival! Overall, increasing radiation was related to fewer birds, suggesting “effects of radiation on other diseases, food abundance and interactions with other species. There was no increase in incidence of cataracts with increasing age…”. Cataracts in humans at Chernobyl and elsewhere are also discussed:

Mousseau TA, Møller AP (2013) “

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Fracking Industry Distorts Science To Deceive Public And Policymakers, Says Watchdog Group

Emilio Cogliani

The oil and gas industry sponsors and spins research to shape the scientific debate over horizontal hydraulic fracturing, or fracking. That’s the conclusion of a watchdog group’s analysis of more than 130 documents distributed to policymakers by industry representatives.

“Research and statistics can be manipulated to say whatever the person using them wants to say,” said Robert Galbraith, an analyst with the nonprofit Public Accountability Initiative and co-author of the report released on Wednesday. Public Accountability Initiative, which describes itself as a non-partisan advocate of corporate and government transparency, receives some financial support from groups opposed to fracking.

Energy in Depth, the oil and gas industry’s education and public outreach arm, presents its list of documents as evidence of the safety of a process that has been “closely regulated and extensively studied.” The industry used the documents to persuade the Allegheny County Council in Pittsburgh in May to lease mineral…

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You Can Now Video Chat Your Dog Thanks To This Brilliant Teen’s Invention

Emilio Cogliani

At age 12, Brooke Martin of Spokane, Washington came up with a new way to stay in touch with her golden retriever. Now-14-year-old Brooke, armed with her resulting invention, iCPooch, just competed against some of the most renowned entrepreneurs in today’s tech world — and won.

Last Thursday, Brooke was named the victor of GeekWire’s first-ever “Inventions We Love” challenge for iCPooch, an automated dog-treat dispensing device and app that lets owners two-way video chat with their pets via any Android, Apple or Kindle device.

The app automatically connects your two devices, so your pet doesn’t have to “pick up the phone.” iCPooch also lets you automatically deliver a treat to your furry buddy through a device similar to a Pez dispenser.

As one of five finalists in the competition, Brooke presented her invention onstage at the 2014 GeekWire Summit. Brooke’s savvy idea and impressive stage presence won…

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Amazing Water and Sound Experiment