15 ways to celebrate Earth Day 2020 at home

April 22, 2020 by  
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April 22, 2020 is the 50th anniversary of Earth Day . While every day is the perfect day to honor Mother Earth, Earth Day is an opportunity to implement a new sustainable practice, create something beautiful or protect limited resources. So while you are hunkered down during COVID-19, here are some activities you can do to celebrate Earth Day at home. Establish rain barrels Water conservation is especially important, so why not start in your own yard by collecting rainwater ? In turn, you can use it to water the lawn and garden or provide a drink for pets and wildlife. Systems are easy to set up with a downspout diverter that you can incorporate directly into your gutter system. Related: Earth Day 2020 goes digital Pick up garbage Garbage is not only an eyesore, but it can hurt wildlife and pollute waterways , too. This Earth Day, head out on your own or with your household to pick up the neighborhood on your daily walk or even clean up your own yard. Just be sure to follow health precautions, including social distancing and wearing masks. Make planters For a fun Earth Day project, build your own planters. You can make them out of spare wood or concrete mix, or you can get creative with household items that make excellent planters, such as an old boot, a colander or a teapot. Create flower beds Because Earth Day lands in spring, it’s a great time to plan for planting. If you’re creating flower beds, use repurposed materials instead of buying new. Grab a pallet, upcycle some metal sheeting, stack rocks from around the property or line the space with upside-down bottles. The options for creating flower beds are only limited by your imagination, so get creative! Design an eco-friendly pantry  Earth Day is about giving thought to ways you can reduce consumption and waste and that idea works just as well inside the home as it does outside of it. With that in mind, tackle the pantry by moving food and spices into glass jars. Use a label-maker or attach chalk paint stickers to the front of each jar so you can identify the ingredients. Then, plan to purchase from bulk bins in the future to eliminate packaging waste with each grocery store trip. Plant a tree Few things are more ubiquitous than planting a tree on Earth Day, so join the movement by putting some of your favorites in the yard. Trees offer endless benefits, from providing animal habitats and shade to cleaning the air you breathe. Consider planting a fruit tree , so you can even harvest some sweet rewards. Provide bird feeders and baths Birds are pollinators , plus they are just fun to watch as they fly and sing around the yard. Take care of your feathered friends with clean bird baths and feeders full of fresh seeds for them to enjoy. Build a butterfly house In addition to selecting plants that attract fluttery friends, you can spend your Earth Day building a home specifically made for butterflies . Plans are fairly basic, and if you are inclined, a slight variation in the design can net you a bat house, too. Start an apiary Bees are essential for pollination and a healthy food and flower supply. With that in mind, why not manage your own apiary? There are some upfront costs and planning required, but if beekeeping is on your bucket list, Earth Day is the perfect time to start.  Make your own cleaning products To avoid washing toxic chemicals down the drain and into the water system, make your own natural cleaners. With a little practice, you can make laundry detergent , fabric softener, liquid soap and all-purpose cleaners. Natural cleaners don’t require very many ingredients, and you may already have these ingredients in your home. Spend your Earth Day making the switch from commercial to homemade. Related: DIY natural cleaners for every household chore Replace plastic Eliminating plastic from your house can take your Earth Day campaign from one room to the next. Although you don’t have to hit the internet to order all new containers, make a wish list and replace plastic items as you are able. Common examples include shampoo bottles, water bottles, laundry detergent jugs, grocery bags and food storage containers. Vow to make the switch to no packaging or glass and stainless steel reusable containers for every item on the list. Convert to online billing In today’s world, paper billing is rarely needed. Save mail delivery fuel emissions and reduce paper consumption by moving your bills online instead of receiving them in paper form. This can include mail relating to utilities, banking, credit cards, mortgages and more. Plan or plant a garden Providing fresh, farm-to-table food for your family or roommates is a fabulous way to spend Earth Day. The benefits are endless, from bountiful produce to a smaller carbon footprint. If it’s not quite planting time in your region, at least outline a plan for what plants you hope to grow, where you will locate them and when they will be ready for consumption. Start composting If you don’t have one already, composters are easy to start and maintain. You can buy a commercial composter, put together a basic wood box without a bottom or simply make a pile in the backyard. Position your compost pile in a sunny spot for best results, stir it occasionally and make sure it stays moist during very dry seasons. Layer ingredients with approximately equal amounts of brown materials, green materials and organic food scraps. Watch the Lyrid meteor shower Enjoy an exciting glimpse of our universe by watching the Lyric meteor shower , which is actually visible from about April 16 to April 25, just in time to celebrate Earth Day. You’ll have a chance to see up to 10 to 15 meteors per hour. + EarthDay.org Images via Manfred Antranias Zimmer , Barb Howe , Dieter G , George B2 , Crema Joe and Neon Brand

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15 ways to celebrate Earth Day 2020 at home

Alien life may not exist due to a lack of this chemical element

April 5, 2018 by  
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Holding out hope for alien life somewhere out there? According to a recent study from Cardiff University , you may have to wait a long, long time – if phosphorus isn’t present, it could be difficult for that life to exist. Phosphorus is one of the six elements Earth’s organisms depend on, and researchers Jane Greaves and Phil Cigan found it in short supply near the Crab Nebula supernova remnant, around 6,500 light years away. In light of these new findings, we may be alone in the universe after all. Greaves said phosphorus “is crucial to the compound adenosine triphosphate (ATP), which cells use to store and transfer energy.” Astronomers have begun paying attention to phosphorus’ cosmic origins, and have discovered it’s created in supernovae. Related: Atacama ‘alien’ skeleton’s identity revealed by genetic testing Cigan and Greaves observed infrared light from phosphorus in the Crab Nebula using the William Herschel Telescope. They compared two “stellar explosions based on how they each ejected phosphorus into the atmosphere,” thanks to other scientists’ research on phosphorus in Cassiopeia A. Preliminary results hint “material blown out into space could vary dramatically in chemical composition.” Greaves said, “The route to carrying phosphorus into new-born planets looks rather precarious…If phosphorus is sourced from supernovae, and then travels across space in meteoritic rocks, it’s possible that a young planet could find itself lacking in reactive phosphorus because of where it was born. That is, it started off near the wrong kind of supernova. In that case, life might really struggle to get started out of phosphorous-poor chemistry , on another world otherwise similar to our own.” At the European Week of Astronomy and Space, Cigan and Greaves presented the preliminary results. They hope to continue to work and discover whether other supernova remnants lack phosphorus too, to discover if the element is rarer than scientists once thought. + Cardiff University Via The Telegraph Images via Depositphotos and Wikimedia Commons

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Alien life may not exist due to a lack of this chemical element

Astronomers are baffled by a newly-discovered galaxy that lacks dark matter

March 29, 2018 by  
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For the first time ever, scientists have identified a galaxy , NGC1052-DF2, that seems to lack the presence of dark matter.  For decades, scientists have believed that dark matter is a major aspect of any galaxy, which makes this discovery completely baffling. In an odd way, the new galaxy’s lack of dark matter may serve as evidence for the existence of it by demonstrating that there is much astronomers do not understand about such vast low-density galaxies. Although scientists have yet to directly observe dark matter, they believe it is out there due to the unusual motion of galaxies, which move as if under a greater gravitational force than that from the presence of regular matter. “These ultra-diffuse galaxies have a huge variety of properties,” study lead author Pieter van Dokkum told Gizmodo . “Some have a lot of dark matter , and some have no dark matter. There’s such an enormous range.” These observations have led scientists to believe that the universe may contain six times as much dark matter as ordinary matter . In a new study published in Nature , astronomers documented their observation that NGC1052-DF2 did not seem to rotate at all, indicating a lack of dark matter. “We could only derive an upper bound to the measured motion because it’s moving so slowly that our instrument couldn’t detect it,” said van Dokkum. Related: Scientists capture first ever image of dark matter web that connects galaxies The team also recently discovered a Dragonfly 44 with a similar structure to NGC1052-DF2, though its rotation suggests that the galaxy is composed of more than 99 percent dark matter. These observations were made possible by the Dragonfly Telephoto Array, a powerful telescope that shines a light on the universe’s secrets. This is exactly the sort of thing the Dragonfly instrument excels at discovering,” astrophysicist Sarah Tuttle told Gizmodo , “and confirming a low-mass galaxy without dark matter is an important step in understanding both galaxy formation and evolution, as well as cosmology.” Via Gizmodo Images via  Pieter van Dokkum and PBS

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Astronomers are baffled by a newly-discovered galaxy that lacks dark matter

This result is of cosmic significance, says scientist of new form of matter

December 11, 2017 by  
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Physicists at the University of Illinois have announced they have discovered a new form of matter known as excitonium. Although theorized more than half a century ago, excitonium was only recently confirmed in experiments by the research team, which also included scientists from University of California at Berkeley, and University of Amsterdam. Excitonium is composed of a type of boson, a composite particle whose unique qualities enable the new form of matter to serve as a superconductor, superfluid, or an insulating electronic crystal. In this regard, it could be used to bolster existing technologies, aid the development of new ones, or help to bring clarity to some of the most vexing mysteries of quantum mechanics. Excitonium is composed of excitons, a combination of electrons and the empty “holes” left by empty electron states. When in an excited state, electrons on the edge of an energy level in an atom can jump to a different energy level , leaving a “hole” behind. This hole then acts with a positive force, trying to pull the negatively charged electron back to its original space. While scientists had envisioned such a state of matter , they were only recently able to identify it through a novel technique. Their work was documented in a study published in the journal Science . Related: Scientists locate half of the universe’s missing ordinary matter Although further study is needed, the implications of excitonium’s demonstrated existence is substantial. “This result is of cosmic significance,” said study co-author and University of Illinois Professor Peter Abbamonte in a press release. “Ever since the term ‘excitonium’ was coined in the 1960s by Harvard theoretical physicist Bert Halperin, physicists have sought to demonstrate its existence… Since the 1970s, many experimentalists have published evidence of the existence of excitonium, but their findings weren’t definitive proof and could equally have been explained by a conventional structural phase transition.” Via Futurism Images via  Peter Abbamonte/U. of I. Department of Physics and Frederick Seitz Materials Research Laboratory and  L. Brian Stauffer/University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

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This result is of cosmic significance, says scientist of new form of matter

Scientists find a massive black hole swirling in the Milky Way

September 6, 2017 by  
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Scientists from Keio University in Japan have unveiled the best evidence we have for an intermediate-mass black hole – and it’s right in our Milky Way . Intermediate-mass black holes have eluded astronomers , who have found hints of both star-sized black holes and supermassive black holes . But the discovery of the mid-sized black hole could help scientists understand why supermassive black holes grow so immense. The formation of supermassive black holes has been a mystery for astronomers, but this new study might provide an explanation for how they form. The researchers from Japan said in their research that mid-sized black holes could merge to form supermassive black holes, but there’s been little evidence for the existence of intermediate-mass black holes – until now. Related: Supermassive black holes offer hint at structure of the universe Last year, a team led by Tomoharu Oka of Keio University reported a strange cloud of molecular gas, dubbed CO-0.40-0.22, in our Milky Way. A team also led by Oka then scrutinized the cloud with instruments such as the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) and found a dense clump of gas near the cloud’s center, and a nearby radio wave source, CO-0.40-0.22*, that has similarities to the supermassive black hole Sagittarius A*. According to Oka, the similarity “supports the notion that CO-0.40-0.22* is an intermediate-mass black hole.” Scientists have expressed excitement about the discovery; Swiss Federal Institute of Technology astronomer Kevin Schawinski told Science Magazine, “It’s a very careful paper and they have gorgeous data. It’s the most promising evidence so far.” If CO-0.40-0.22* is verified as a black hole, its presence could offer support to the idea our galaxy has gotten bigger by cannibalizing smaller neighboring galaxies. The Japanese scientists think CO-0.40-0.22* could be a former dwarf galaxy core that could have been absorbed into the Milky Way, and could one day be subsumed by Sagittarius A*. The journal Nature Astronomy published the study online this week. Via Keio University , Science Magazine , and ScienceAlert Images via Keio University and NASA/JPL-Caltech

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Physicists announce the "possible discovery" of a fifth force of nature

August 17, 2016 by  
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Researchers at the University of California, Irvine (UCI) have announced the ‘possible discovery’ of a previously unknown subatomic particle that, if confirmed, could unlock the secrets of dark matter. The discovery would represent a fifth force of nature in the form of a mysterious new particle. Theoretical physicists at UCI now believe the particle, initially theorized by a team of Hungarian researchers last year, could be a newly discovered light particle that adds a fifth component to the four known forces of nature, or even a “grander, more fundamental force” when combined with one of the existing forces. A previous study by experimental nuclear physicists at the Hungarian Academy of Sciences identified an “excess of events” suggesting the existence of a new light particle 30 times heavier than an electron. At the time, there wasn’t enough evidence to explain whether it was a particle capable of transferring force, or simply a matter particle. It wasn’t until the UCI team of theoretical physicists got ahold of the study that discussions about a possible fifth force of nature began to surface. Related: Newly discovered form of spiralized light breaks everything quantum physics says about photons “If true, it’s revolutionary,” said Jonathan Feng, UCI professor of physics & astronomy. “For decades, we’ve known of four fundamental forces: gravitation , electromagnetism, and the strong and weak nuclear forces. If confirmed by further experiments, this discovery of a possible fifth force would completely change our understanding of the universe, with consequences for the unification of forces and dark matter.” Instead of being a dark photon , like the Hungarian experimentalists theorized, UCI physicists suggest the particle may be a “protophobic X boson.” Analysis co-author Timothy Tait, professor of physics & astronomy, said, “There’s no other boson that we’ve observed that has this same characteristic. Sometimes we also just call it the ‘X boson,’ where ‘X’ means unknown.” The findings were recently published in the journal Physical Review Letters. + Physical Review Letters Via Phys.org Images via ESA/Hubble & NASA and MTA-Atomki

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China completes world’s largest radio telescope to search for alien life

July 4, 2016 by  
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China just completed the world’s largest radio telescope . As big as ” 30 football fields ,” the Five-hundred-meter Aperture Spherical Telescope (FAST) will reportedly hunt for alien life . President Xi Jinping aims to make China a space superpower, and the country is poised to take a leading role in space exploration with the completion of FAST. The massive telescope took five years to build, and the project is managed by China’s space agency – the National Astronomical Observatory (NAOC) of the Chinese Academy of Sciences. Deputy head of the agency Zheng Xiaonian said , “The project has the potential to search for more strange objects to better understand the origin of the universe and boost the global hunt for extraterrestrial life.” FAST will search for aliens by detecting amino acids on far away planets. Related: China is displacing 9,000 residents so a huge telescope can look for aliens At 500 meters wide, FAST beats out the previous record holder in Puerto Rico, the 300-meter-wide Arecibo Observatory. FAST is comprised of 4,450 panels, according to The Telegraph . The $180-million telescope displaced 9,000 people . Those who lived within three miles of FAST’s location in the poverty-stricken Guizhou province had to leave because the agency wanted to make sure nothing interfered with the telescope’s operations. Chinese officials said each person would be provided with roughly $1,800 to relocate. Scientists will begin testing the telescope now, and FAST will be fully operational in September. China also hopes to construct a space station and send a person up to the moon by 2036 . Reuters notes that while China has said their goals are peaceful in nature, the U.S. Defense Department is laying plans to ensure China won’t use their space technology in a “crisis.” National Astronomical Observatory Via Reuters Images via the National Astronomical Observation, Chinese Academy of Sciences

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Paris’ first floating hotel opens on the River Seine

July 4, 2016 by  
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OFF is moored at the foot of Austerlitz station in an up-and-coming location for modern design. The blissful floating inn is located within walking distance of the Notre Dame cathedral and Hôtel de Ville. The hotel has 54 rooms and 4 suites, costing between €160-450 ($171-483 USD) per night. Related: Aqua Mekong is a floating hotel that travels the rivers of Vietnam The lodgings are decked out with bright colors that mimic the sun’s reflection off the Parisian waters. Guests can enjoy sunbathing at the plunge pool or dining at the bar with a panoramic view of the river. OFF is perfect for recuperating after a day of city exploration or a day of lounging riverside in modern luxury. + OFF Via urdesign Images via OFF

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Paris’ first floating hotel opens on the River Seine

Bill Nye launches crowdfunding campaign to back Carl Sagan’s dream LightSail

May 15, 2015 by  
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You can become a backer of one of the coolest space programs in this universe. Bill Nye—yep, The Science Guy —has launched a Kickstarter campaign  to fuel The Planetary Society , which will help make Carl Sagan’s space dreams come true. We recently reported on the project to build Sagan’s solar-powered lightsail spaceship , and the launch of this crowdfunding effort means that average, ordinary science-loving citizens can contribute to the next great wave of space exploration. Nye is looking to raise at least $200,000 and a maximum of $1 million to help fund the LightSail , which we imagine is a pretty expensive venture. Contributor levels start at just $1, so it’s time to skip that second cuppa and fork over some spare change—for science. Larger donations will get you honors like autographs of the engineering team, a LightSail team flight jacket, and sending your name into space. How cool is that? + Bill Nye’s Kickstarter campaign Via Mashable  Image via The Planetary Society Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: bill nye , carl sagan , citizen science , kickstarter campaigns , lightsail , solar powered lightsail , solar-powered spacecraft , the planetary society

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Bill Nye launches crowdfunding campaign to back Carl Sagan’s dream LightSail

Astronomers capture 13-billion-year-old galaxy on camera

May 7, 2015 by  
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Scientists recently went where no one has gone before, at least in a metaphorical sense, when they discovered what they believe is the farthest galaxy from our own, and also the oldest known galaxy ever found. An international team of astronomers led by Yale and the University of California SC recently captured a photograph of an “exceptionally luminous galaxy” located roughly 13 billion years in the past , dating back to when the universe was only about five percent of its present age. They made the discovery using the MOSFIRE instrument at the W.M. Keck Observatory telescope, a powerful device about 10 meters across. Via Phys.org Image via NASA, ESA, P. Oesch and I. Momcheva (Yale University), and the 3D-HST and HUDF09/XDF teams Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: 13 billion year old galaxy , nasa finds oldest galaxy , oldest galaxy every found , scientists uncover oldest galaxy

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