Cool Stories Earth

If You Missed Mercury’s Journey Across the Sun, You’ll Have to Wait Another 13 Years!

Mercury’s journey across the sun happened on November 11th and if you missed it, you will have to wait another 13 years before this event occurs again.  Mercury’s next journey across the sun will not take place until November 13, 2031.  If you think this is a long wait, consider Venus who will travel 93 years from now!

Phenomenal events like this only happen when there is a set alignment on planet orbits. Just like all the planets in our solar system, Mercury and Venus circle the sun in a plane, similar to a pancake but it’s not perfectly flat because each planet has a tilt in its orbit.

Take Mercury’s path, there is an incline of 7° to the plane in which the planet, on average, orbits in the sky. From the perspective of our planet Earth, Mercury passes above or below the sun almost all the time, only crossing the sun 13 or 14 times in one century.

With Venus, this phenomenon is much rarer. It happens in transit pairs separated by 8 years and each pairing only happens about a century apart from each other.

Also, only Mercury and Venus can cross the sun since they are on the inner side of the solar system, unlike Earth.  Transits of Mercury seem to happen around the same time of year, either in November or May while Venus’ is more scattered.

When Will the Next Transit Be?

According to NASA, if you missed this last transit of Mercury, you will have to wait a really long time.  The next 2 transits will happen in 2032 and 2039 but will not be visible from North America. Skywatchers in the U.S will have to wait until 2049 and from the West Coast in 2052.

Regarding Venus, you should mark it on your calendar and even consider if you will still be around.  According to NASA, from December 10 to 11, 2117 it will be visible in southern and western North America and other locations.

As of December 8, 2125,  it will be visible for half its journey in the U.S.  The next pairing will not occur until 2247 and 2255.

If all of this seems too far in advance for you to even consider, have peace of mind, you will have plenty of chances to watch the moon travel across the sun during a solar eclipse or to watch the moon pass into Earth’s shadow during the lunar eclipse.

Eclipses take place every few months but visibility varies considerably, especially for solar eclipses.

If you were fortunate enough to capture the Mercury event, share it on your social media so the rest of us can enjoy the moment!

Mercury’s journey across the sun happened on November 11th and if you missed it, you will have to wait another 13 years before this event...

Earth Vacation

Is it Safe to Visit Venice Even With Flooding Shutting Everything Down?

At this time, tour companies and those living in Venice are urging travelers to stay away.  The flooding has become quite dangerous and it’s not recommended that anyone making plans to visit.  There are many other Italian destinations that should take advantage of and consider Venice for a future trip.

Many people know that Venice is slowly sinking, but this low-lying city is more than 85% underwater after this severe flooding which has put the city in harm’s way over the past few days.

Acqua alta or high waters are the highest in over 50 years, reaching just over 6-feet or 1.87 meters. The devastation from flooding over this past week is almost as high as their record flood that occurred in 1966.  It’s been reported as the 2nd worst flood in history, according to the Associated Press.

Venice is a very popular destination in part to their incredible landmarks including St. Mark’s Square.  Due to the recent flooding, these landmarks are now underwater!

According to Mindi and Daryl Hirsch from 2foodtrippers.com, even though Venice is still a charming city, the flooding is a totally different story. They told Newsweek there is nothing charming about wading through 3-feet of cold, smelly water.  This kind of water makes galoshes and boots useless.

The couple who has a travel-blogging site walked in wast-high water after dinner and said they felt the situation was very dangerous.  They have strongly suggested that if travelers experience this kind of flooding, they should take all warnings very seriously.

The city sounds an alarm when flooding is imminent and the number of tones will signify the expected level of water.  When this happens, you should take cover until the water recedes.  The couple added they believe they will hear these alarms in their dreams for the next few years.

What Travelers Need To Know

 Marco Amorico, president of Access Italy, which is a luxury tour company, recommends travelers avoid the city until normal water levels are restored.  They should pay close attention to all weather forecasts.

If your plans are set and you are ready to leave for Venice, it’s strongly advised you travel to Milan or Turin instead.  If your travel dates are more than a week in advance, monitor the situation and consider looking into other cities like Rome and/or Florence.

Italy is conveniently connected by trains and travel times are relatively short.

 At this time, Urban Adventures Venice is currently closed.  Cecilia Cambero, manager of the Venice Tours for Urban, told Newsweek that travelers going to Venice need to be aware that the city is in peril at this time.

Travelers will be limited in moving about and many sites including museums are closed or in the process of closing down.

At this time, tour companies and those living in Venice are urging travelers to stay away.  The flooding has become quite dangerous and it’s...

Earth Inspiring Stories

The Half-Earth Project and Its Plausibility

In case you don’t know, biodiversity is the key to life on our planet, providing ecosystem services which all life depends upon. For years biodiversity has been on the decline around the world caused by climate change and the loss of habitats.

Human activities could lead to our extinction along with the extinction of the planet. Losing so much of Earth’s biodiversity is destroying our heritage and the stability of the planet as a whole. Is there anything we can do about it at this stage?

What Is The Half-Earth Project?

The evolutionary biologist, E.O. Wilson, came up with his plan for Half-Earth. He proposes that half the planet should be completely set aside as a natural reserve in order to protect and preserve biodiversity. In his book “Half-Earth: Our Planet’s Fight For Life”, he explains that loss of biodiversity is already beyond the stage of recovery and the only solution to prevent mass extinction and destruction is to protect half of the earth from human interference. This will allow the natural reserve to protect and preserve the biodiversity while the other half of the planet is shared by humans.

Why The Concept Of Exactly Half?

The amount of space for suitable habitats for species is a critical factor in survival or not. Wilson developed “The Theory of Island” in the 1960s suggesting that any change in an area of habitat would result in a change in the number of sustainable species by the fourth root. Therefore, if the reserve grows in size so will the surviving species and the same can be said in reverse. In theory, if half of the global surface is protected, the number of species will be around 85% or more which could prevent extinction.

So, Where Is The Half Going To Be?

For the Half-Earth Project to work, there must be specifications in place by using advanced technologies that will comprehensively map the geospatial locations and distribution of species on the planet. The decision would be based on the data output to show where would be the best place to protect most species.

As geospatial is relating to data that is associated with a specific area, there are several locations best for preservation and most of those areas are in South America.

In order for the project to work, it will take scientific research and experienced leadership to form strategies to map the Earth’s species and will require engagement with people from everywhere to participate in the movement.

Once enlisted, people are asked to sign the Half-Earth Pledge in which people promise to support the Half-Earth Project by sharing information, participating locally in conservation efforts, and supporting the protection policies.

While reading through Wilson’s proposal, it might sound great but is it at all practical? What would be the negative fall-out on the human population from implementing this project?

An article called “Half-Earth Or Whole Earth?” was published which analyzed the other side of this Half-Earth Project and the negative impact it might have on humanity. The argument can be examined from the following points:

The problem with the Half-Earth proposal, it ignores the elements that cause the loss of biodiversity across the planet. The plan for future biodiversity does not address the overconsumption of resources and industrial activities that are unrealistic. Even if we divided the earth in half in terms of consumption of resources and our activities, there would still be major consequences for the entire planet.

How about the social impact caused by the half earth project? Restricting areas would cause many challenges from physical and economic displacement and will eventually lead to social conflict. Even to date, many strictly protected areas are in the middle of social conflicts.

Adding to that, who will create and control these protected areas? How can we possibly share these areas globally and equally? Lower-income countries suffer from enormous poverty and lack of infrastructure. Therefore, removing land from non-conservation use will impact those countries and communities the most who, ironically, are the least responsible for our current environmental issues.

Many studies have shown that protected areas work best if they are supported by local communities. One recent study showed that protected areas that have integrated local people as shareholders are more effective in reaching biological conservation, economic, and social development. The Half-Earth Project completely ignores the relationship between biodiversity and local communities.

Lastly, the Half-Earth Project does not offer any guidelines or an agenda on how to manage biodiversity in the human half. What will biodiversity look like and what’s the role of people in the plan? Will there be any restrictions in this plan?

All the above arguments and issues are predictable and expected but the Half-Earth Project does not mention the negative impacts or how these impacts will be addressed.

In a nutshell, the Half-Earth Project is not plausible and cannot be put in place as a sustainable strategy because of the issues it has failed to address. Also, if implemented, it would result in dangerous and counter-effective consequences such as greater injustice and the rise of conflicts.

There would have to be a logical solution in place that would focus on the roots of the biodiversity loss. So much more must be done if we ever expected to address how the global economy works and address how we extract natural resources.

It’s a fact that economic growth is an issue all unto itself. Working toward achieving prosperity without growth could possibly be a part of the solution.

Implemented strategies must support measures to address inequality along with improved health and well being. This is a much more realistic approach and a better way for sustaining biodiversity vs what the Half-Earth Project is suggesting.

Are there steps that can be taken to improve our environment and protect nature? Yes, but it takes more than a pipe dream that would literally throw millions of people out of their homelands and overcrowd other countries leading to further conflicts.

In case you don’t know, biodiversity is the key to life on our planet, providing ecosystem services which all life depends upon. For years...

Category - Earth

Earth Tech News TooCool

The Astronaut Smart Glove Was Field-Tested and It’s a Go!

The NASA Haughton-Mars Project (HMP) has successfully field-tested the astronaut smart glove. It’s deliberately designed for exploration on Mars, the Moon, and other destinations. The Smart Glove is a model for a human-machine interface or HMI, allowing astronauts to wirelessly operate robotic equipment such as drones through simple hand gestures.

Just last month, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration revealed their new Artemis Generation spacesuit, created to keep astronauts comfortable and safe on the Moon’s surface.

That said, SETI Institute claims spacesuits will still remain cumbersome, limiting the ability of astronauts to perform precise tasks. Pascal Lee, a planetary scientist with SETI and the Mars Institute, said a smart glove-equipped spacesuit might just be the solution.

Lee believes astronauts could easily control a number of robotic assets, making science and exploration on Mars, the Moon, and other destinations more effective and productive. The Norwegian University of Science and Technology’s startup Ntention, which is run by students, developed the smart glove that was tested in HMP’s 2019 field campaign.

Intuitive Human-machine Interfaces

Moina Medboe Tamuly, COO at Ntention, said their philosophy is to create technology that will allow human-machine interfacing intuitive and seamless. They are very excited to see their technology has potential applications in space exploration.

Lee suggested that after seeing the demonstration of the glove for space applications, it could be applied to an astronaut’s spacesuit. Lee added when he first saw the smart glove in action, he immediately thought of Arthur C. Clarke’s Third Law, saying any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.

With Tamula as lead designer, the Ntention team accepted his challenge to create a prototype that uses a microcontroller to read subtle motions. These subtle motions are transferred to a mobile device to control a robot. The smart glove was interspersed into an existing Collins Aerospace spacesuit and then put through a series of field tests involving the teleoperation of commercial drones.

When astronauts are on Mars or the Moon, they want to fly drones for a number of reasons, including collecting a sample that is out of reach or must be isolated from contamination. Another reason could be to perform a search and rescue operation. Other purposes might include mapping, sampling, surveying, fetching, scouting, and inspecting.

Further assessment of the Astronaut Smart Glove for Mars and Moon exploration will continue along with applications to control other kinds of robotic equipment including robotic manipulators and rovers.

The NASA Haughton-Mars Project (HMP) has successfully field-tested the astronaut smart glove. It’s deliberately designed for exploration on Mars, the Moon, and other destinations. The Smart Glove is a model for a human-machine interface or HMI, allowing...

Earth Nature & Tech Tech News

US Scientists Develop Sunflower That Can Collect Solar Energy

A new artificial sunflower has been created by US Scientists.

The tiny flower is under 0.04” wide and their ability to turn towards the light source makes them 400% more effective than their stationary counterparts.  This is a development that shows much promise in the sphere of solar power, potentially being used to power spaceships.

Researchers based in the University of California, Los Angeles, led the research which was aiming to raise the amount of energy that could be collected using a similar movement as that used by plants that move towards the sun.  This phenomenon, known as phototropism, enables the plant to optimize the amount of solar energy it gets.

Flower Power

The study has been published in the journal Nature Nanotechnology, and indicated that the team had encountered significant challenges trying to replicate the behavior artificially which they overcame by developing a special type of polymer.

This material is responsive to light and the system has been called the SunBOT, a slightly catchier abbreviation of the full technical name:  sunflower-like bio-mimetic omnidirectional tracker.  The SunBOT works in multiple temperature ranges and does not need a power supply or human intervention.

The ‘stem’ of the plant was created using the polymer and topped with the ‘flower’ which is comprised of solar cells.  As the light shone at the SunBOT, the polymer stem got hotter and shrank.  This is what makes the flower turn towards the light.

These tiny sunflowers were then tested for efficiency and it was found that, compared with materials that remained stationary (non-phototropic materials), they were up to 400% more efficient.

There are likely to be numerous ways that the SunBOTs can be used, however, for it to make commercial sense the technology still has a way to go.  Once it does move forward, the research team are confident that it could be of use across multiple industries.Things like smart windows, solar sails, and intelligent energy generation have been highlighted and the study does show that the concept is sound.  We will likely see a lot more of these tiny flowers in the future.

A new artificial sunflower has been created by US Scientists.

The tiny flower is under 0.04” wide and their ability to turn towards the light source makes them 400% more effective than their stationary counterparts.  This is a development that shows much...

Cool Stories Earth

Rare Photos of Atmospheric Gravity Waves

Life is often full of amazing little treats that, to the untrained eye, would go entirely unseen. Phenomena are commonly found in all walks of life, and this can give us some of the most truly life-changing sights and scenes. However, one phenomenon that has so far been invisible to humans is known as atmospheric gravity waves.

These are ripples that you would not be able to see in the sky, but definitely have taken place. Such waves can take place in various locations but are often most commonly found during thunderstorms.

Indeed, it’s apparently not too dissimilar to what happens when you throw a rock across the water – you see that little ripple, that change. That is also a gravity wave; what is happening in the sky is similar.

Our Atmosphere is Liquid

Any disturbance to fluid can make these waves take place. Given that our atmosphere is a liquid, too, though, it can contribute to the development of similar wave effects later on in time. It’s a big reason why this kind of atmospheric wave has long been sought after by scientists looking to see it happen in real-time.

The person behind making this happen was Adam Morgan, a meteorologist at the Australian Bureau of Meteorology. Speaking to ABC News, Morgan said: “Essentially gravity waves are disturbances in any sort of fluid, so we see them often in water, but the atmosphere is a fluid as well, so any sort of disturbance in there can generate waves.”

Asked why this has taken place to begin with, Morgan said: “There was a big thunderstorm over the northwest of Western Australia and the disturbance, in this case, was the cold air falling out of the thunderstorm and into the warmer air near the surface,” Morgan said.

“The difference in density there causes the disturbance and then the gravity wave can travel out as the cold air spreads out,”

Indeed, he also noted that such waves can travel exceptionally large distances before they begin to dissipate and return to normal. Speaking further about the experience, Morgan said: “The disturbance will exist until everything rebalances itself, that’s why they can travel a long way,

“If you’ve ever been to the swimming pool and someone jumps in and does a dive bomb at one end of the pool, you might get the wave right at the other end of the pool after a bit of time.”

The main reason why we cannot normally see these, though, is due to the fact that they must produce some kind of cloud. Otherwise, there is not enough moisture in the air to try and give us an insight into what is going on in the background.

Still, we can now finally say that we have visual proof of an atmospheric gravity wave taking place. For many in the science community, this will be seen as a hugely impressive level of progress.

Life is often full of amazing little treats that, to the untrained eye, would go entirely unseen. Phenomena are commonly found in all walks of life, and this can give us some of the most truly life-changing sights and scenes. However, one phenomenon that has...

Earth Humans Are Awesome Inspiring Stories

Swedish Teen Sailed Across The Atlantic to Defend Mother Earth

Sailing across the Atlantic Ocean in her carbon-free yacht, 16-year-old Greta Thunberg has already received recognition for her stance on protecting our planet from climate change.

Greta Thunberg

She sailed from England to New York to join a climate-change conference which took her 13 days to complete. She chose a solar-powered, carbon-free yacht to avoid potential damage from carbon-emissions that have already damaged our planet through air travel.

Her 13-day voyage has drawn the attention of skeptics and supporters alike. She strongly feels it’s her duty to be an activist to guarantee that our planet will be taken care of.

Even though she is only 16, Greta knows it’s critical that people understand how their actions are harming Earth. Nothing can stop her from finding new ways to take care of our planet while encouraging others to realize how they are impacting our environment and climate.

Even though she is not a scientist, she believes her vessel is a scientific testimonial to raise awareness about the long-term issues that are affecting the Earth.

Thunberg’s passion for climate-change is nothing new. When she was 15, she organized an environmentally-friendly strike outside the Swedish Parliament building during school hours to encourage others to take action to save the planet.

Although most adults did not condone her actions, she held firmly to her convictions for three solid weeks! She handed out information and encouragement to others who passed by her. Eventually, her strike was published online and her efforts touched many people across the world.

Her plea for help went absolutely viral. Since then, her face has become the symbol of advocacy surrounding climate change.

Science in Action:

Her actions have caught the attention of people across the world. She has decided to throw herself into her cause as a full-time activist. She has taken time off from school to make activism her life’s goal. She has attended universities, conferences, events about climate-change, scientific events, and various political assemblies to spread the word.

Greta Thunberg UN

To travel from one event to another, she has chosen to use transportation that reduces CO2 emissions including by train even though it takes longer to get to her destination.

Greta has made many sacrifices to get the word out about the impending doom facing us in the future if climate change is not taken seriously. She said that we live in a strange world where children are literally sacrificing their own education to protect the planet against ruination.

Her outspoken attitude has drawn criticism from many, mostly due to her age, who do not believe the planet is in harm’s way. Meanwhile, others have come to her defense claiming that those who are against her are just ignorant.

Thunberg has remained focused and motivated to keep her climate change actions before the entire world. She planned on attending the climate-change conference held in the United States on September 2019. She decided to sail across the Atlantic Ocean from Britain to New York in her yacht that left no carbon footprints.

Greta’s Latest Missions:

On August 14, 2019, Greta sailed from Plymouth on the first-of-its-kind carbon-free yacht named Malizia 2. She sailed with her father who is an experienced sailor along with two other people. The 6-foot solar-powered yacht has technology on board that measures carbon emissions.

During the trip, she was able to observe how beautiful the ocean is with its many inhabitants including dolphins. As she traveled, she came to realize the importance of a pollutant-free ocean.

Although her journey was admired, many people who are in denial of climate change took to Twitter to leave negative comments about the young activist. One Twitter user, Julia Hartley-Brewer, left a message “Hi Greta, I’ve just booked some flights for my family to enjoy the winter sun on a beach over Christmas. Level Of Guilt – Zero!”

While there were negative remarks left behind, there were many others who came to her defense. Paraphrasing author Philip Pullman who said that most people have never done nor ever will one-hundredth as valuable and important as what Greta has accomplished.

Many others stressed their concerns about people who have nothing better to say about this young women’s passion to address climate change.

There is no doubt that planes do take their toll on the environment causing those who are conscientious to choose alternative forms of transportation. Her supporters definitely outweigh her critics. She said that even though there are people who will remain in denial and not accept what’s going on, she will remain focused on the crisis of climate change and do what she has to do.

There will probably be a line drawn in the sand, separating believers and non-believers regarding climate change. Each individual will have to make their own decision about the health and well-being of our planet. In the meantime, there are countless wild animals being slaughtered for game or to sell their ivory or fur.

These animals are becoming extinct and, believe it or not, they play an important role in the protection of our climate. I wonder if anyone thinks about them?

Sailing across the Atlantic Ocean in her carbon-free yacht, 16-year-old Greta Thunberg has already received recognition for her stance on protecting our planet from climate change.

She sailed from England to New York to join a climate-change conference which...

Cool Stories Earth Humans Are Awesome Nature & Tech

Amazing Footage of Hurricane Dorian’s 40 Mile-Wide Eye

Footage by the hurricane hunters flying directly into the eye of hurricane Dorian was released by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Hurricane Dorian was 50 to 60 miles off the coast of South Carolina and footage of the storm was shot by Lt. Kevin Doremus from the cockpit of the NOAA aircraft, named Kermit. This aircraft is a four-engine Lockheed WP-3D Orion.

Along with cleverly naming one aircraft “Kermit” the other WP-3D aircraft that was involved was named “Miss Piggy”. The 2 NOAA aircraft have performed regular flights into Dorian to collect valuable data which helps forecasters to make better predictions and clearer understanding of the storm.

These planes are designed to measure pressure changes, wind speed, humidity, and other factors during this very long mission which lasted for more than 12 hours.

There is a shot of the planes going through the powerful winds and driving rain of the eyewall before entering into the eye of the storm which was very calm with amazing clear blue skies.

The eye of the storm varied in size from approximately 50 to 60 miles wide. Doremus told Newsweek the eye was a lot smaller than the previous fights into the storm, and in some cases was only 5 miles wide!

After that, the storm grew to more than 60 miles wide. The Washington Post reported the storm increased in size with hurricane-force winds and tropical storms that extended outward by 25 to 220 miles from the center.

During the following Thursday, Nick Underwood, hurricane hunter, posted a video of an NOAA plane flying into Dorian’s eye that showed an enormous “stadium” effect that can be clearly seen.

The eyes of hurricanes, as well as cyclones, usually have traits of “stadium” effects because the clouds of the eyewall are curved in a way that actually resembles an arena or stadium appearance.

Flying through the eyewall of a hurricane where the winds are at their strongest can be very dangerous. The NOAA planes are not normally harmed by the strong winds, which is absolutely incredible.

Flying Kermit and Miss Piggy

It’s quite common that airliners fly in jet streams with winds exceeding 150 miles an hour over the US during the winter months. It’s the shear or sudden change in horizontal or vertical winds that can harm an aircraft, causing the planes to lose control.

NOAA pilots and crew routinely, but never casually, fly in high-wind environments of hurricanes and are not worried about their planes being torn apart. NOAA aircraft do not fly through tornadoes. However, pilots and crews are constantly monitoring for any hot spots of severe weather and shear which they can pick up on with radar, especially to avoid really serious situations.

Lt. Kevin Doremus, referring to Dorian, said the storm was actually pretty easy to fly through when he captured his video. The storm was slowly deteriorating from a Category 3 to a Category 2 and there were very little up and downdrafts that are normally found in a Category 4 and 5 or rapidly intensifying storms.

They had been watching Dorian from a tropical depression up to a Category 5 and said this was, without a doubt, the smoothest flight they had been on since previous flights that entered the storm a few days before.

On Friday, at 5 AM EDT, Dorian was 25 miles east of Cape Lookout in North Carolina with sustainable wind speeds of 90 miles per hour. It was moving northeast around 14 miles per hour and was expected to remain in motion through Saturday, according to the National Hurricane Center.

According to a statement, Dorian remained a powerful hurricane while it moved along the North Carolina coast over the next several hours. It was forecasted to become a tropical cyclone with hurricane-force winds through Saturday night as it headed to Nova Scotia.

Footage by the hurricane hunters flying directly into the eye of hurricane Dorian was released by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Hurricane Dorian was 50 to 60 miles off the coast of South Carolina and footage of the storm was shot by Lt...

Earth Tech News

Arch Rao is Back With a New Company for Energy Management

If you don’t know who Arch Rao is, he was the former head of products, applications, and sales engineering at Tesla Energy.  He was behind the company’s successful Powerwall home energy system.  He is now back as founder and CEO of a new company, Span IO, promoting energy management and efficiency for homes.

Span IO is working to upgrade the electrical fuse box for homes with a digital system that integrates into the existing circuit breaker technology that has been the foundation of home energy over the last century.

Arch Rao and his team are focusing on integrating renewable power energy storage, and electric vehicles making it easier for people by redesigning the electric panel for modern energy requirements.

They packaged the metering controls that travel between the bus bar and the breaker.

Rao said energy flows through the panel through a breaker bar and the breaker bar has tabs that you slot your breakers into, the tab is normally a conductor.  They have designed a digital sub-assembly that packages current metering voltage measurement, and the ability to turn each circuit on and off.

The technology will be sold through various avenues such as solar energy or battery installers. They already have plans to integrate their power management devices with energy storage systems similar to those available from LG.

Span plans on selling their products in states like California and Hawaii where the demand for solar installation is very strong and homeowners understand the significant benefits from installing renewable energy and energy efficiency systems.

What Happens When There’s an Outage?

One of the great advantages, homeowners having this new power management system will give them control over what areas of their homes will be powered in case there is an outage.  The technology hooks up the entire home to a renewable system.

Rao said using existing technologies, installers can set up a separate breaker and just rewire certain areas of the home to receive the power generated by a renewable energy system.

The control is handled through a consumer app which is available for downloading on mobile devices.

Span IO is backed by many investors including Wireframe Ventures, Wells Fargo Strategic Capital, Ulu Ventures, Hardware Club, Consignment Ventures, I/O Capital, and Energy foundry.  They plan on raising new cash before the end of this year to push forward.

If you don’t know who Arch Rao is, he was the former head of products, applications, and sales engineering at Tesla Energy.  He was behind the company’s successful Powerwall home energy system.  He is now back as founder and CEO of a new...

Earth Inspiring Stories

Amazon Rainforest Fire:

How to spot the FAKE photos as Twitter reacts to the devastation

In the past year, Brazil has been hit over and over again with devastating forest fires, especially in the Amazon region, so Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook accounts have been blowing up with posts and pictures with the hashtag #AmazonRainforest being the most popular among them.

According to satellite data from the National Institute for Space Research (INPE), in Brazil alone, there are 80 percent more fires in 2019 than there were last year. However, it seems like some of the pictures being shared in relation to the devastation are inaccurate.

More than half of the fires in Brazil are in its Amazon region, and staggering satellite images show just how many fires there are.

Satellite images from NASA and NOAA are giving an accurate portrayal of how far the destructive fire and smoke has spread across the country, but many photos being shared on social media are quite misleading, even if they were meant to be supportive. As a result, users are being asked to stop sharing inaccurate photos, most of which are from fires that happened 30 years ago.

One of these pictures was retweeted over 15,000 times with the caption: “For three weeks, the Amazon RAINFOREST has been burning.

“Fire frequency in Brazil has increased +82% due to droughts, increased heat, and land-use change (logging, industry, & agriculture).”

The following image is actually an Alamy Stock Photo from a climate website called ALERT back in February of this year.

Amazon rainforest fires: All four of these are inaccurate, the top left being California in 2013 (Image: TWITTER)

This second post that included four photos was uploaded to Twitter with a caption bemoaning Brazil’s tragedy, but actually none of the photos have anything to do with the August 2019 Amazonian fires.

The top left photo was liked on Twitter over 4,500 times but was taken during a forest fire in California and uploaded to the US Department of Agriculture’s Flickr account back in 2013. The second is from a 1989 Amazon forest fire, according to The Guardian.

The third picture is from the same 1989 fire, and the fourth image is a heat map from InfoAmazonia showing the extent of forest fires in the Amazon from 2000-2014.

Kendell Jenner retweeted another viral post to her more than 28 million followers, but neither of the two photos are actually related to the recent forest fires.

The image on the right is a picture of fire in Serbia, while the left was taken by photographer Daniel Beltrá in 2014 for articles on fires in Sweden.

Yet another image captured for Getty by Lauro Alves posted on Wednesday shows a fire at Brazil’s Taim Ecological Station in 2013.

Lastly, Hollywood star Leonardo DiCaprio shared an image of fires burning against a wall of green forest, but this photo is originally from February 2018 in the article, “Carbon emissions from Amazon wildfires could ‘counteract’ deforestation decline”.

So, beware of the misleading pictures and check the sources before you believe what you see!

How to spot the FAKE photos as Twitter reacts to the devastation
In the past year, Brazil has been hit over and over again with devastating forest fires, especially in the Amazon region, so Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook accounts have been blowing up with...

Earth Vacation

Nature Lovers Now Have 270,000 Acres of Land Open in California

Many people looking to get back into nature have a hard time finding places that are pristine, open, and ever so natural to unwind and just have a great time.

Nature lovers now have a new area in California to view breathtaking mountains, an abundance of wildlife, ancient old oak trees, fields and streams, along with so many hiking trails.  You might just discover your next excellent vacation spot without ever having to leave the country!

Tejon Ranch has donated a great deal of land so visitors can enjoy nature in the most wonderful way.  Tejon Ranch has been around since 1843 and the owner, Fitzgerald Beale, has partnered with an online travel company, Explore Ranches, to allow their members access to 270,000 acres of private land.

About Tejon Ranch:

The ranch is located 60 miles north of Los Angeles and 30 south of Bakersfield.  It is the largest, continual expansion in California offering 422 square miles of land. Tejon Ranch has joined other natural environments in the state, Mojave Desert, Sierra Nevada, San Joaquin Valley, and Coastal Range.  The spans of land is larger than New York City.

There are hundreds of miles of trails and roads to hike along, fields of grass, coniferous forests, ancient oak and Joshua trees, a huge diversity of wildlife, and many reservoirs and streams.

Their partnership with Explore Ranches allows visitors to choose their accommodation from 4 separate lodges that will hold 4 to 12 people at three different locations, including the Venado Cabin.

Located at the foot of the mountains, Venado Cabin offers incredible, endless views from the porch of the cabin.  You can see red-tailed hawks, an occasional condor, eagles, and deer roaming freely along the hillsides.

You can also enjoy a game of horseshoes with their private horseshoe pit.  For those who want to explore the ranch, there are miles of trails for hiking, going on driving tours, or biking.  Just below the cabin, there is an incredible fishing pond loaded with bass and bluegill and a massive meadow with huge oak trees.

If you want a really wonderful vacation away from your hectic lifestyle, visiting this property will give you access to so many activities including mountain biking, hiking, fishing, picnicking, and the incredible opportunity to take photos of wildlife and breathtaking landscapes. What an idyllic way to totally unwind!

Many people looking to get back into nature have a hard time finding places that are pristine, open, and ever so natural to unwind and just have a great time.

Nature lovers now have a new area in California to view breathtaking mountains, an abundance of...

Earth Nature & Tech Science

Giant Telescope the Focus of Hawaii Protest

Hawaiian activists led by native elders are protesting against the construction of a giant telescope atop the summit of Mauna Kea, Hawaii’s tallest mountain, which they say is sacred ground.

Colette has more:

Hawaiian activists led by native elders are protesting against the construction of a giant telescope atop the summit of Mauna Kea, Hawaii’s tallest mountain, which they say is sacred ground.
Colette has more:

Earth Nature & Tech Science

Weird ‘Praying Monk’ Ice Daggers Host Life in an Extreme Environment

We first heard of nieves penitentes in scientific literature written by Charles Darwin back in the 1800s, but most of us have never heard of this strange term.

This is because nieves penitentes, strange blades of ice found in remote places, were discovered first in the Andes which are difficult and extreme and therefore, extremely hard to venture into, especially for an extended period of time for study.

However, a group of brave scientists made the trip into Chile’s Volcán Llullaillaco, recording their findings in the journal Arctic, Antarctic, and Alpine Research. “This is a very remote area that’s difficult to access,” study co-author Steve Schmidt, from the University of Colorado Boulder, said in a statement.

“The entire back of one of our pickup trucks had to be filled with barrels of drinking water. It’s no trivial thing to go out there, and that’s one of the reasons these formations haven’t been studied much.”

Nieves penitentes are long blades of hardened snow and ice ranging anywhere from a few inches to 16 feet long. They are found in cold, dry regions about 13,000 feet, the most extreme, high-altitude environments on Earth.

Since UV radiation is high and humidity is low, the temperature changes drastically and the winds are extreme, making it difficult for life to exist.

These snow formations usually form pointed toward our sun, and they were named nieves penitentes – meaning “penitent snow” – because of their resemblance to praying monks wearing white robes.

Red Ice?

What the scientists found was astounding: the penitente fields, found at a height of over 16,000 feet, had red ice patches. This means that microscopic life exists! Further analysis showed that the patches held a community of snow algae closely related to that which has been found in other alpine and polar environments.

“In this environment penitentes provide both water and shelter from harsh winds, high UV radiation and thermal fluctuations, creating an oasis in an otherwise extreme landscape,” the team wrote.

This is the first time life has been recorded in these formations. Since they are believed to exist on other bodies within the solar system, including Pluto and Jupiter’s moon Europa, this could provide insight into extra-terrestrial life.

The scientists say its meaning is significant when we consider the search for alien life.”Intriguingly, recent planetary investigations have suggested the existence of penitente-like structures on other planetary bodies of our solar system,” the team concludes.

“Therefore, penitentes and the harsh environment that surrounds them provide a new terrestrial analog for astrobiological studies of life beyond Earth.”Lara Vimercati, lead author of the study, said in a statement:

“Snow algae have been commonly found throughout the cryosphere on both ice and snow patches, but our finding demonstrated their presence for the first time at the extreme elevation of a hyper-arid site.” They found nieves penitentes near the Atacama Desert, one of the driest places on Earth; moreover, it’s landscape is thought to be most similar to Mars.

These discoveries giving insight into life existing on such harsh environments help scientists understand what types of places it could show up in the rest of the solar system. Currently, researchers strongly believe that Jupiter’s moon could be harboring microscopic lifeforms in its subsurface, saline ocean since they’ve found thousands of species beneath Antarctica’s surface.”

Our study shows how no matter how challenging the environmental conditions, life finds a way when there is availability of liquid water,” Vimercati said. Schmidt added: “We’re generally interested in the adaptations of organisms to extreme environments. This could be a good place to look for upper limits of life.”

We first heard of nieves penitentes in scientific literature written by Charles Darwin back in the 1800s, but most of us have never heard of this strange term.

This is because nieves penitentes, strange blades of ice found in remote places, were discovered...

Earth

Why Manufacturers Need to Be More Responsible About Plastic Pollution

One of the world’s harshest truths is that recycling won’t solve waste problems on its own.

Recycling is a band-aid at best, when you take into account contamination created by incorrect recycling and the degradation of plastic. Not to mention millions of pounds of recyclable materials never actually get recycled.

However, this doesn’t mean plastic pollution is something we should either accept as a fact of life or ignore. What it means is that we need to make adjustments to the way we approach the issue of waste.

Recyclability Is No Longer Important

The most recent EPA statistics from 2015 show that the amount of plastic waste generated in the US is increasing.

As much as 70% of the plastic that enters recycling facilities all over the world is actually unusable, and some of it even impairs machines and ruins loads of potentially recyclable materials.

But what happens with the plastic that doesn’t get recycled? Well, according to a report from the Guardian, hundreds of thousands of unrecycled plastic are shipped each year to impoverished countries such as Senegal, Laos, Ethiopia and Bangladesh.

Because there are no ways to handle that much plastic, the current solution is to ship it away and make it someone else’s problem.

This is of course a lot more harmful to the environment because all this plastic is most likely burned, which releases toxic fumes containing heavy metals, dioxins, and hydrochloric acid.

This could be easily blamed in people who don’t care about properly sorting their recyclables at home, but plastic recyclability is actually complex.

Even people who know their recycling very well understand how arcane the process is because there’s no way to know whether or not a type of plastic will be accepted by local waste processors.

This makes the recycling process less than effective, no matter how well you categorize and separate your waste.

Circular Economy: A Solution

The solution to all these issues is quite simple. For one, manufacturers who produce products and packaging should plan and have systems in place to take these things back once they’re no longer useful to consumers.

The move toward a circular economy that features a closed-loop system would make manufacturers responsible for the waste their products produce.

This would, in turn, motivate manufacturers to be less wasteful with their products and packaging from the start, because they’re aware they have to take care of it in the end.

Thankfully, plastic alternatives are not in shortage. They’re innovative and they’re not made of fossil fuels, so they’re a win/win for everyone.

Among the alternatives that are already proposed, you’ll find bioplastics made of arthropod shells, seaweed-based materials, biodegradable combinations of natural resins and cellulose, and mushroom0based foam, just to mention a few.

If companies wanted to take that step, there are some alternatives, such as Sulapac, that can be produced on existing production lines. That means companies could switch from their current materials to a greener version.

However, biodegradable plastics still have issues.

Even though we may think disposable products marked as “compostable” are better than plastic or other materials, they can still end up in the ocean, it still takes years for the material to break down, and it can still endanger wildlife exposed to it.

This kind of material also needs to be sent to specific industrial composting facilities, which are not available everywhere.

The fact is that most biodegradable alternatives, with the exception of plant-based and edible options, don’t actually help if they’re still used to create disposable items you can only use once.

Importance of Individual Actions

Individual actions are key to making a true change in this situation.

A big part of helping the issue is changing the way we think about convenience and the value we place on durability. Even though it’s true that what we do matters, corporations are not be let off the hook.

If you take only 100 companies, you’ll find that they’re responsible for 71% of local emissions since 1988. This means that companies are the world’s biggest plastic polluters, including companies in the energy industry, beverage, meat and dairy as well.

Why can’t they be let off the hook? Because they have the resources and the power to reduce the amount of pollution they produce. Whether that’s plastic pollution or another kind.

In spite of this, few companies actually make the move, which is why consumer demand needs to rise. Putting pressure on these companies to take responsibility is key and even though that’s a challenge on its own, it’s the only way we can make a palpable change.

One of the world’s harshest truths is that recycling won’t solve waste problems on its own.

Recycling is a band-aid at best, when you take into account contamination created by incorrect recycling and the degradation of plastic. Not to mention millions...

Earth Funny Stories

Blue Java Bananas Are A ‘Sweet Treat’ You Can Grow Yourself

Out with the old, in with the new – the new being Blue Java bananas; they have the color of turquoise and the flavor of vanilla ice cream.

With Cavendish bananas heading toward extinction, people are thrilled to discover the creamy texture and unique, sweet flavour of the Blue Java banana – and who wants boring, old yellow bananas anyway?

These bananas were first discovered and grown in Southeast Asia, but they thrive in all tropical climates, such as Hawaii or even Northern Australia.

A Banana, By Any Other Name

The Blue Java banana goes by multiple names; the ‘Ice Cream’ banana, the ‘Hawaiian’ banana, and Cenizo bananas are just a few of them. These trees are great because in addition to the delicious, unique fruit they produce, they also produce it quickly with lots of shade, as well.

The fruit is a silvery or bright blue color when it isn’t ripe, but turns to a yellow similar to Cavendish bananas when it’s ripe and ready to be devoured. Fun to eat both raw or cooked, they’re exceptionally delicious served with ice cream or frozen custard.

The Blue Java variety of bananas is tough, unlike the Cavendish which is facing the risk of extinction due to problems with cloning and rampant disease.

The Blue Java thrives most in places like Fiji, the Philippines, Hawaii, and even some of the southern states in America – all places with warmer climates.

Attempting to grow them in the midwestern United States probably wouldn’t work though the plant has a strong root system and is hardy, wind-resistant, and cold tolerant up to 20 degrees Fahrenheit.

On average, you’ll find Blue Java bananas at a length between seven and nine inches, and the trees themselves typically reach 15 to 20 feet and bloom anywhere from 15 to 24 months following planting.

Where Can They Grow?

The bananas have a pleasant aroma and flavor. Check your geographical zone, and see if you can grow them in your own climate; they do best in zones eight through ten, but they also grow in greenhouses.

A potted plant may produce bananas as soon as nine months, and if you can’t find a local specialty grocer near you that carries blue bananas, you can find them on Amazon!

The thought of Blue Java banana’s creamy, fluffy texture combined with a vanilla ice cream flavour is tempting foodies everywhere with the possibilities they offer. Those on a diet can indulge in one without even cheating!

Commenters on Reddit had a lot to say about this phenomenal fruit. User 4ftFury commented, “Totally! Bananas are actually super tough, resilient plants – I believe in you!” Nate1899 responded, “I live in Florida, just north enough that our banana trees get burnt by the freezes.

Very disappointing. This would be perfect!” User GoHomeWithBonnieJean wrote, “It’s only a matter of time before the Cavendish banana is wiped out.

The reason why bananas are the cheapest fruit in the market is that the current banana sold is based on a monoculture.” It looks like blue bananas couldn’t have arrived on the market soon enough!

Out with the old, in with the new – the new being Blue Java bananas; they have the color of turquoise and the flavor of vanilla ice cream.

With Cavendish bananas heading toward extinction, people are thrilled to discover the creamy texture and unique...