Guardians of the Saguaro

from The Wall Street Journal

Secretive Society Keeps Watch Over Arizona’s Holy Grail of Cactus

Members of the Crested Saguaro Society guard the location of rare specimens in the Sonoran Desert, a task made more urgent by population growth

By Eliza Collins

Members of the Crested Saguaro Society checking a crested saguaro cactus in Sahuarita, Ariz. PHOTO: ASH PONDERS FOR THE WALL STREET JOURNAL

PIMA COUNTY, Ariz.—Millions of saguaro cactuses grow in the Sonoran Desert, yet only an estimated one in 200,000 exhibits the spectacular crown of the crested saguaro.

Its rare beauty spawned the needle-in-a-haystack mission of Arizona’s secretive Crested Saguaro Society. With the zeal of birders, the society’s 10 members are out to find as many of the crested saguaro as time and energy allow. They hunt in a desert that stretches across 100,000 or so square miles.

“It becomes a little bit of an obsession,” said Pat Hammes, a 77-year-old retired courtroom clerk from Tucson, Ariz. She estimated that she and her late partner, Bob Cardell, spent eight hours a day, two days a week for more than six years to locate some 2,200 of the rare cactuses.

The saguaro, the largest cactus in the U.S., often grow to 40 feet, according to the National Park Service, and one 78-footer set the record. When they reach the age of 60 to 80 years old, a rare few grow the scalloped crest that sets them apart. Biologists have yet to discover exactly why. The widest crest recorded by the society was 17 feet, though members still argue over whether the measurement was logged accurately.

[ click to continue reading at WSJ ]

Dudamel to NY Phil

from NPR

N.Y. Philharmonic chief looks to Gustavo ‘Dudamel era’ after historic appointment

By Olivia Hampton, Leila Fadel

When the New York Philharmonic‘s current music director, Jaap van Zweden, announced he would be leaving his post next year, president and CEO Deborah Borda had only one new maestro in mind: Gustavo Dudamel.

“There are so many things that are remarkable about Gustavo Dudamel,” Borda tells NPR’s Leila Fadel. “But I think number one is his ability to communicate with both musicians and audiences and to express pure joy in music. And this is something that we simply can’t quite put into words. It’s spontaneous combustion.”

The 42-year-old Venezuelan’s charismatic approach has made him one of the world’s most sought-after conductors. He will officially lead the oldest symphony orchestra in the U.S. starting with the 2026-27 season, for an initial five-year term, beginning as music director designate in the 2025-26 season. Dudamel follows in the footsteps of giants such as Gustav Mahler, Arturo Toscanini and Leonard Bernstein, all former New York Philharmonic music directors.

[ click to continue reading at NPR ]

Broken Sun

from NDTV

Huge Piece Of Sun Breaks Off, Scientists Stunned

Scientists are trying to understand the impact this huge prominence will have on Earth.

Edited by Amit Chaturvedi

Huge Piece Of Sun Breaks Off, Scientists Stunned
The huge solar flare as seen on the North Pole of the Sun.

The Sun has always fascinated astronomers. And now, a new development has baffled scientists. A huge part of the Sun broke off of its surface and created a tornado-like swirl around its North Pole. Though scientists are trying to analyse how this occurred, the video of the development has stunned the space community. The remarkable phenomenon was caught by NASA’s James Webb telescope and shared on Twitter by Dr Tamitha Skov, a space weather forecaster, last week. The Sun keeps emitting solar flares (called prominence) that sometimes affect communications on Earth, hence scientists are more concerned about the latest development.

“Talk about Polar Vortex! Material from a northern prominence just broke away from the main filament & is now circulating in a massive polar vortex around the north pole of our Star. Implications for understanding the Sun’s atmospheric dynamics above 55 degrees here cannot be overstated!” Dr Skov said in a tweet last week.

[ click to continue reading at NDTV ]

Killer Watches

from Business Insider via Yahoo! News

A woman said her Apple Watch regularly ‘thinks I’m dead’ during her spin classes, NYT reports

by Sam Tabahriti

Apple's Stan Ng talks about the new Apple Watch series 5 during a special event on September 10, 2019 in the Steve Jobs Theater on Apple's Cupertino, California campus.
Apple’s Stan Ng talks about the new Apple Watch series 5 during a special event on September 10, 2019 in the Steve Jobs Theater on Apple’s Cupertino, California campus. Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

A spin-class teacher said her Apple Watch regularly “thinks I’m dead” as it detects potential accidents during her classes – but failed to react when she had a genuine accident.

“My watch regularly thinks I’ve had an accident,” Stacey Torman, from London, England, told the New York Times, describing whether it be when she is riding the bike, cheering people on, or waving at her students to congratulate them during her spin classes.

Torman added that, at moments “I want to celebrate,” her watch “thinks I’m dead.”

[ click to continue reading at Yahoo! News ]

God Bless Manure

from The Guardian

Brown gold: the great American manure rush begins

by Jessica Fu

Illustration of a cow burping toxic gas and people wearing energy company logos picking up its manure
Hundreds of dairy farms across California have sold the rights to their manure to energy producers. Illustration: Ricardo Cavolo/The Guardian

The energy industry is turning waste from dairy farms into renewable natural gas – but will it actually reduce emissions?

On an early August afternoon at Pinnacle Dairy, a farm located near the middle of California’s long Central Valley, 1,300 Jersey cows idle in the shade of open-air barns. Above them whir fans the size of satellites, circulating a breeze as the temperature pushes 100F (38C). Underfoot, a wet layer of feces emits a thick stench that hangs in the air. Just a tad unpleasant, the smell represents a potential goldmine.

The energy industry is transforming mounds of manure into a lucrative “carbon negative fuel” capable of powering everything from municipal buses to cargo trucks. To do so, it’s turning to dairy farms, which offer a reliable, long-term supply of the material. Pinnacle is just one of hundreds across the state that have recently sold the rights to their manure to energy producers.

[ click to continue reading at The Guardian ]

The Old Man In The Amber

from My Modern Met

30 Million-Year-Old Praying Mantis Is Preserved in Pristine Piece of Amber

By Jessica Stewart

Praying Mantis in Amber
Picture courtesy of Heritage Auctions,

Embedded within a clear piece of amber, a small praying mantis sits at attention, frozen forever in time. The piece, which measures just slightly over one inch tall, was sold via Heritage Auctions for $6,000 in 2016. The pristine piece of amber, which comes from the Dominican Republic, gives a rare view of this incredible mantis.

The amber itself derives from the extinct Hymenaea protera, a prehistoric leguminous tree. Most amber found in Central and South America comes from its resin. Amber from the Dominican Republic is known as Dominican resin, which is noted for its clarity and a high number of inclusions.

Heritage Auctions dates the piece in question to the Oligocene period, placing it anywhere from about 23 million  to 33.9 million years old. It’s an important period of time where the archaic Eocene transitions into more modern ecosystems of the Miocene period, which lasted until 5 million years ago. Incredibly, the mantis itself doesn’t appear so different from what we see today.

[ click to continue reading at My Modern Met ]

Paco Rabanne Gone

from The Hollywood Reporter

Paco Rabanne, Spanish-Born Designer Synonymous With a Space-Age Aesthetic and Best-Selling Perfumes, Dies at 88

His death was confirmed by Spanish group Puig, which controls the Paco Rabanne fashion house and fragrance business.


Paco Rabanne, the Spanish-born designer synonymous with a Space Age aesthetic and best-selling perfumes, has died at age 88 in Portsall, France.

His death was confirmed by Spanish group Puig, which controls the Paco Rabanne fashion house and fragrance business.

“Paco Rabanne made transgression magnetic,” said José Manuel Albesa, president of Puig’s fashion and beauty division. “Who else could induce fashionable Parisian women to clamor for dresses made of plastic and metal? Who but Paco Rabanne could imagine a fragrance called Calandre – the word means ‘automobile grill,’ you know – and turn it into an icon of modern femininity?”

[ click to continue reading at THR ]


from iHeart

High School Basketball Coach Fired For Posing As 13-Year-Old In JV Game

By Jason Hall

A 22-year-old assistant high school girls basketball coach was fired after posing as a 13-year-old player during a recent junior varsity game, WAVY TV 10 Sports Director Craig Loper reports.

A video obtained by the news station shows Arlisha Boykins wearing a jersey for the Churchland High School JV girls basketball team and actively playing in the team’s game against Nanesmond River High School. Boykins was impersonating a 13-year-old player who was out of town for a club basketball tournament at the time of the incident, the teenager’s parents told WAVY TV 10.

[ click to continue reading at iHeart ]

Zevon Rocks

from InsideHook

Warren Zevon Is Finally Nominated for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Thanks to Billy Joel

Joel sent a letter to the nominating committee urging them to consider the late singer-songwriter


On Wednesday morning, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame announced its slate of nominees for the Class of 2023: Kate Bush, Sheryl Crow, Missy Elliott, Iron Maiden, Joy Division/New Order (interestingly, the two groups — the latter of which was formed after Joy Division lead singer Ian Curtis’s suicide — are being nominated as one entity), Cyndi Lauper, George Michael, Willie Nelson, Rage Against the Machine, Soundgarden, The Spinners, A Tribe Called Quest, The White Stripes and Warren Zevon.

Zevon’s nomination in particular was a long time coming; this is the first time the legendary singer-songwriter has been nominated for the Hall of Fame, despite the fact that he has been eligible since 1994. And it turns out Billy Joel may have had something to do with the late musician’s nomination. Joel told the Los Angeles Times recently that he wrote a letter to the Hall’s nominating committee urging them to consider the “Werewolves of London” singer.

[ click to continue reading at InsideHook ]

Whirly Elon

from Metro UK

Mysterious ‘whirlpool’ in the night sky might have been Elon Musk’s fault

by Anugraha Sundaravelu

SpaceX rocket creates eerie blue spiral in night sky over Hawaii
Experts believe the phenomenon was linked to frozen rocket fuel that was ejected during the launch (Picture: National Astronomical Observatory of Japan)

The mystery behind a swirling whirlpool that appeared over Earth’s skies may have been solved.

The flying spiral was pictured in the early hours of January 18 by the Mauna Kea Observatory in Hawaii.

It is now believe that the phenomenon was actually the launch of a new satellite by Elon Musk’s SpaceX.

That day the firm launched a Falcon 9 rocket from Cape Canaveral to deploy a GPS satellite into a medium-earth orbit for the US Space Force.

[ click to continue reading at Metro ]

Brain Jam

from StudyFinds

Sitting in traffic for just 2 hours can lead to brain damage

by Jocelyn Solis-Moreira

VANCOUVER, British Columbia — Breathing in diesel exhaust fumes while sitting in traffic could be disastrous for your brain, a new neuroscience study warns. A team at the University of British Columbia says brain scans show increased impairments in brain function after exposure to traffic pollution. In fact, signs of decreased brain function can start to appear in as little as two hours.

The study focused on a person’s functional connectivity — a measure that tests how well different brain regions interact with one another. According to the study authors, this is the first controlled experiment to show evidence of humans showing altered brain network connectivity as a result of air pollution exposure.

[ click to continue reading at StudyFinds ]

Battle In New Canaan

from Patch

Gates Battle of the Bands Final

by Ms. Tootsie

Gates Battle of the Bands Final

The four finalists from each heat will play against each other for the ticketed final on Saturday, February 4th, 2023, from 8pm. With sudden death for 2 bands, the 2 remaining bands must play the SAME song. It is then that the official judges will decide on the winning band. Guest Judges include renowned author James Frey, Brian Fox, from School of Rock, New Canaan and Andrew Ault, Musician and Art Director. 

The event is held each year to raise money for Meal on Wheels. It is generously sponsored by Karl Chevrolet and produced by Rock Paper Scissors Custom Events. It has become the perfect way to kick off a new year by watching live, talented and local bands.

[ click to continue reading at Patch ]

Everything Is Still Everything

from The Daily Beast

Why More Physicists Are Starting to Think Space and Time Are ‘Illusions’

A concept called “quantum entanglement” suggests the fabric of the universe is more interconnected than we think. And it also suggests we have the wrong idea about reality.

by Heinrich Päs

Photo Illustration by Erin O’Flynn/The Daily Beast/Getty Images

This past December, the physics Nobel Prize was awarded for the experimental confirmation of a quantum phenomenon known for more than 80 years: entanglement. As envisioned by Albert Einstein and his collaborators in 1935, quantum objects can be mysteriously correlated even if they are separated by large distances. But as weird as the phenomenon appears, why is such an old idea still worth the most prestigious prize in physics?

Coincidentally, just a few weeks before the new Nobel laureates were honored in Stockholm, a different team of distinguished scientists from Harvard, MIT, Caltech, Fermilab and Google reported that they had run a process on Google’s quantum computer that could be interpreted as a wormhole. Wormholes are tunnels through the universe that can work like a shortcut through space and time and are loved by science fiction fans, and although the tunnel realized in this recent experiment exists only in a 2-dimensional toy universe, it could constitute a breakthrough for future research at the forefront of physics.

But why is entanglement related to space and time? And how can it be important for future physics breakthroughs? Properly understood, entanglement implies that the universe is “monistic”, as philosophers call it, that on the most fundamental level, everything in the universe is part of a single, unified whole. It is a defining property of quantum mechanics that its underlying reality is described in terms of waves, and a monistic universe would require a universal function.

[ click to continue reading at TDB ]

B.E.E. ‘The Shards’

from The Free Press

Bret Easton Ellis’s Great Defense of Gen X

‘The Shards’ parachutes us back into the world before teenagers became so sensitive. ‘We were very, very free to explore things that might hurt us, potentially might damage us.’

By Peter Savodnik

Credit: Pat Martin

You can see the Century Towers—the site of the harrowing climax of The Shards, Bret Easton Ellis’s new novel—from Ellis’s 11th-story condo in West Hollywood. It was designed by I.M. Pei in 1964, and for many years it epitomized mid-century-modern chic, and the juxtaposition Ellis paints in his novel—blood splattered against sleek white walls, chaos enveloping order—feels anticipatory. The crack-up on our horizon. 

When I asked him, over dinner at Matú in Beverly Hills, whether the crack-up had already happened, whether it was all over, or whether there was any cause for hope (in America, the West, the human species), he laughed and said, “I never feel optimistic about the future. I don’t even think about it any more. I just read novels. I answer my emails. I keep The Food Network on.”

It had been almost 13 years since Ellis, the author of Less Than Zero and American Psycho, had published a novel when, in April 2020, he was sitting at his laptop in the condo and The Shards just “announced itself,” he told me.

He had been trying to write it since he was 17. But every time he tried he failed. It wasn’t until 2020 that he realized “the key to unlocking it after all these years was that it needed an older voice, that it was, in fact, a memory.”

[ click to continue reading at The Free Press ]

Neurons Obsolesced

from The Atlantic

How ChatGPT Will Destabilize White-Collar Work

No technology in modern memory has caused mass job loss among highly educated workers. Will generative AI be an exception?

By Annie Lowrey

Illustration of vintage computer monitors with binary code superimposed
Michael Brennan; Getty; The Atlantic

In the next five years, it is likely that AI will begin to reduce employment for college-educated workers. As the technology continues to advance, it will be able to perform tasks that were previously thought to require a high level of education and skill. This could lead to a displacement of workers in certain industries, as companies look to cut costs by automating processes. While it is difficult to predict the exact extent of this trend, it is clear that AI will have a significant impact on the job market for college-educated workers. It will be important for individuals to stay up to date on the latest developments in AI and to consider how their skills and expertise can be leveraged in a world where machines are increasingly able to perform many tasks.

There you have it, I guess: ChatGPT is coming for my job and yours, according to ChatGPT itself. The artificially intelligent content creator, whose name is short for “Chat Generative Pre-trained Transformer,” was released two months ago by OpenAI, one of the country’s most influential artificial-intelligence research laboratories. The technology is, put simply, amazing. It generated that first paragraph instantly, working with this prompt: “Write a five-sentence paragraph in the style of The Atlantic about whether AI will begin to reduce employment for college-educated workers in the next five years.”

[ click to continue reading at The Atlantic ]

Hazed By Waze

from Study Finds

Waze leads to brain haze? Here’s why using real maps instead of GPS could prevent dementia

HAMILTON, Ontario — Turning off Waze or your favorite GPS app and using an old-fashioned map may be the best way to fight Alzheimer’s disease, a new study reveals. Researchers at McMaster University say orienteering, an outdoor sport that exercises the mind and body through navigation puzzles, can train the brain and stave off cognitive decline. The aim of orienteering is to navigate between checkpoints or controls marked on a special map. In competitive orienteering, the challenge is to complete the course in the quickest time.

For older adults, scientists say the sport — which sharpens navigational skills and memory — could become a useful intervention measure to fight off the slow decline related to dementia onset. They believe the physical and cognitive demands of orienteering can stimulate parts of the brain our ancient ancestors used for hunting and gathering.

[ click to continue reading at Study Finds ]


from The Wall Street Journal

They’re Cover Girls. They’re in Their 70s.

Sky-high demand for older models—women in their 60s, 70s, 80s and even 90s—is creating a silver wave in the modeling industry. They even get stopped at the supermarket.

By Rory Satran

Maye Musk, part of a wave of successful older models, appeared on the cover of 2022’s Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue at age 74. PHOTO: YU TSAI/SPORTS ILLUSTRATED/CONTOUR RA BY GETTY IMAGES

Ninety-year-old Frances Dunscombe only began modeling at age 82 after the death of her husband. When her daughter, a model in her 60s, suggested Ms. Dunscombe join her to visit her agency, she scoffed, “You must be joking.” Now, she realizes, “Actually, I think it was quite a good time to start modeling, because it wasn’t going to go to my head.”

A childhood war evacuee in Britain, Ms. Dunscombe left school at 15 and didn’t have a major career until modeling. Now, several years into her modeling career, she’s done lingerie pictures, worn Prada in Hunger magazine and been on the cover of Harper’s Bazaar UK. Ms. Dunscombe, who lives in Surrey, United Kingdom, sees her mission as inspiring and advocating for older women. “I get extremely irritated when fashion editors promote the most frumpy of clothes for the older age groups,” she said. “Aren’t they aware of what is going on at the moment? That we are coming to the fore.”

Ms. Dunscombe is part of the fashion and beauty industry’s new silver wave. In recent years, luxury fashion brands, direct-to-consumer beauty brands and mass clothing lines have begun casting older models—much older models. Some are celebrities, but increasingly, they are unknowns. 

[ click to continue reading at WSJ ]


from Architectural Digest

Inside the Digital Marketplace Where Rare Plants Sell For $9,000

Welcome to MonsteraX, the eBay of rare and variegated plants 🌱

By Rae Witte

The backyard patio of this midcenturymodern LA house features a bustling community of plants.
The backyard patio of this midcentury-modern LA house features a bustling community of plants. Photo: Ye Rin Mok

Since the early days of isolation, the rare plants market has surged, following in the footsteps of the sneaker market with resellers reporting prices jumping from under $100 to hundreds and thousands of dollars, unregulated marketplace scammers, and requiring lots and lots of research. The simple days of bringing a local nursery staple snake plant or ubiquitous fiddle leaf home seem to be over as more people obsess over collecting these scarce breeds.

After losing his mother, Manny Lorras took over the care of her cat and her collection of rare plants. Once a child who begrudgingly tagged along with both parents to flower shows and was given gardening-related chores, Manny found comfort in tending to his newly acquired plant family. “I learned how to rehab these orchids that she had, some snake plants, and more of the traditional houseplants, and I got really into it,” Manny says. 

It was a trip to a local plant store near his home in Brooklyn that really threw his interest into overdrive though. “There was this massive plant that was almost five feet tall, had these really bright pink leaves, and I thought it was super cool. I was like, ‘What is this? This is so strange,’” he recalls. “There wasn’t a lot going on, given it was the early days of COVID. I bought it and spent what I thought was a lot of money for a plant at the time: $500.” This turned out to be a variegated plant, which presents multicolored (thus, pink) due to a mutation that results in the absence of chlorophyll. 

[ click to continue reading at AD ]

From Kites to Flying Clubs

from InsideHook

Return to the Early Days of Aviation in This Excerpt From John Lancaster’s “The Great Air Race”

In 1919, the nation’s best aviators embarked on a daring competition


"The Great Air Race"

Liveright/Getty Images

Consider the speed at which airplanes advanced in the early years of the 20th century. The Wright brothers first took flight in 1903, and by the First World War planes had become an essential part of the conflict. Once the war had ended, a different aspect of this technology came to the foreground: the ability of planes to travel long distances — and, in the process, captivate audiences on the ground. not for In his new book The Great Air Race: Glory, Tragedy, and the Dawn of American Aviation, journalist John Lancaster chronicles a race across the continent that took place in 1919. And if you think that some of the planes that existed at the time weren’t necessarily up for the task — well, you’re not wrong. Lancaster’s book chronicles the bravado, triumphs and tragedies of the aviators who took part in the competition, and we’re pleased to present an excerpt from it.

[ click to continue reading at InsideHook ]

Toy Story plays at a disturbingly high frame rate on a screen above one of the booths…

from RealClear Books & Culture

Meerkats and Warthogs

At Austin’s Best Dive Bar

By Stephanie Yue Duhem

A text: “I’m here.”

A volley of additional texts. Finally, my friend and I figured out why we couldn’t find one another. He was idling in the parking lot of my apartment complex, having misinterpreted my original injunction to “meet at back lot,” while I had gone on directly to the aforenamed dive bar.

It’s true. The decidedly unglamorous drinking hole, plopped next to an auto body shop and a feminist witch-themed pole dance studio, is exactly the type of establishment one might mix up with a parking area. Cornered by an expanse of gravel, its faded yellow paint recalls the “millennial mustard” of Buttigieg’s campaign website—and is just as likely overlooked.

But woe to anyone who overlooks it. Back Lot is the best dive bar in Austin, and it’s not even close.

[ click to continue reading at RealClear ]

Art on Saturn

from artnet

Sun Ra’s Legendary Album Art—Sometimes Handcrafted, Always Otherworldly—Has Been Compiled Into a Book for the First Time

“Sun Ra: Art on Saturn” features a vast quantity of album covers that were handcrafted by Ra and his bandmates.

by Min Chen

A handmade Sun Ra album cover, from Sun Ra: Art on Saturn. Photo: Courtesy of Fantagraphics.
A handmade Sun Ra album cover, from Sun Ra: Art on Saturn. Photo: Courtesy of Fantagraphics.

As an artist, Sun Ra was prone to restlessness. Never content with simply being a jazzman, Ra would, from the late 1950s, unleash a stream of records with his group Arkestra that edged the genre into the realm of the avant-garde. 

And he didn’t stop there: Ra’s groundbreaking music came packaged in similarly alluring album covers, which psychedelically melded his multitude of preoccupations from ancient Egyptian iconography to emerging sci-fi tropes. They were otherworldly designs, forging a visually distinctive path where there was none before. “These covers,” in the estimation of Irwin Chusid, “belonged between covers.”

It’s why Chusid, the exclusive administrator of Ra’s catalog, has edited and released Sun Ra: Art on Saturn, the first publication to focus on the artist’s cover art. Chiefly, it features the sleeves of the 70 albums that Ra released on his independent record label, Saturn, from 1957 to 1988. They were designed by artists such as Chris Hall and Claude Dangerfield, whose creative processes are documented in the book.

[ click to continue reading at artnet ]

Happy Sad Day

from The U.S. Sun

What is Blue Monday and why is it ‘the most depressing day’ of the year?

by Sam Webb / Amelia Beltrao

    AS the new year begins, the holiday excitement dies down and we return to normality, many experience the winter blues.

    However, one particular day in January is dubbed ”the most depressing day of the year” – and here’s why.

    What is Blue Monday?

    Blue Monday is calculated using a series of factors in a formula, although it is not particularly scientific.

    The factors used to base the date of Blue Monday include weather conditions and debt level. Other factors include the amount of time since Christmas, and the time it typically takes for people to begin failing their New Year resolutions, and generally lose motivation.

    The first date declared was January 24, 2005, after Dr. Cliff Arnall, a tutor at Cardiff University’s Centre for Lifelong Learning, was asked to work out the most depressing day of the year.

    [ click to continue reading at The U.S. Sun ]


    from National Geopgraphic

    The deceptively simple plan to replenish California’s groundwater

    The state pumps too much groundwater, especially during droughts. Now, it’s learning to refill the overdrawn bucket.  “It’s the simplest math in the world,” says one scientist.



    PARLIER, CALIFORNIAFrom afar, the rows of knobby grapevines blend into the landscape of pink-blossomed almond trees and fragrant citrus. But get up close and you’ll see something strange: The trunks of the vines are standing in several inches of glistening, precious water.

    These grapes, at the Kearney Agricultural Research Center in California’s San Joaquin Valley, are part of a grand experiment that many hope will help solve the state’s deepening water crisis. Here, in the state that provides some 40 percent of all the fresh produce grown in the United States, a 20-year-long drought has left growers and communities desperately short of water. To make up the persistent shortfall from rain and snow, they are pumping groundwater—and doing so far faster than water can trickle down from the surface to replenish underground aquifers.

    The drought has only amplified an old problem: Californians have been overusing groundwater for a century, in part because it was unregulated. That changed in 2014 with the passage of a landmark state law requiring local water agencies to control the overdraft by 2040. They’re now scrounging for solutions.

    [ click to continue reading at Nat Geo ]

    Just Be Nice

    from Study Finds

    Best medicine for curing depression and anxiety? Kindness, study suggests

    by John Anderer

    COLUMBUS, Ohio — A little bit of kindness shown toward others can help beat feelings of depression and anxiety, according to a new study from The Ohio State University. Scientists report that performing good deeds leads to notable mental health improvements not seen in two other therapeutic techniques commonly used to treat the conditions.

    Perhaps just as importantly, study co-author David Cregg, who led the work as part of his PhD dissertation in psychology at OSU, adds that acts of kindness toward others was the only studied mental health intervention that resulted in subjects feeling more connected with other people.

    [ click to continue reading at Study Finds ]

    We’ve Been There Before

    from The Washington Post via MSN

    The moon beckons once again, and this time NASA wants to stay

    by Christian Davenport

    The moon beckons once again, and this time NASA wants to stay
    The moon beckons once again, and this time NASA wants to stay © Mario Tama/Pool/AFP/Getty Images

    In 2010, during a speech at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, President Barack Obama directed NASA away from its primary target, the moon, to focus its human exploration missions beyond the lunar surface to an asteroid and Mars.

    “I just have to say pretty bluntly here: We’ve been there before,” he said. “There’s a lot more of space to explore, and a lot more to learn when we do.”

    The United States has since reversed course, with the moon once again the centerpiece of NASA’s exploration goals. Under its Artemis program — born during President Donald Trump’s tenure and embraced by the Biden administration — NASA has real momentum and bipartisan political support for one of the most ambitious human space flight efforts in decades. It began with the launch of its massive SLS moon rocket and Orion spacecraft on Nov. 16, a mission without any people on board. The Artemis I mission will be followed by subsequent flights with astronauts — first orbiting the moon and then eventually landing on the surface.

    But despite the progress, the concern raised by Obama still hovers over the space program: We’ve been there, done that. Why return to the moon?

    The answer, said Thomas Zurbuchen, the recently retired head of NASA’s science mission directorate, begins with the presence of water.

    [ click to continue reading at MSN ]

    Jeff Beck Gone

    from LOUDER

    Jeff Beck dead at 78

    By Merlin Alderslade

    Legendary guitarist Jeff Beck has died aged 78, it has been confirmed. According to a statement shared across Beck’s social media channels by representatives of his family, his death comes after a short battle with bacterial meningitis.

    Beck was widely recognised as one of the single most important guitarists of his generation. He first became known as the lead guitar player for highly influential English blues rockers The Yardbirds, replacing Eric Clapton in the band in 1965 before leaving a year later. He has since fronted The Jeff Beck Group and Beck, Bogert & Appice, but became most prolific as a solo artist, going onto release albums under his own name across the 70s, 80s, 90s, 00s and 10s.

    [ click to continue reading at LOUDER ]

    Frank Fulfilled

    from Architectural Digest

    9 Unbuilt Frank Lloyd Wright Project Are Finally Brought to Life

    Spanish architect David Romero uses computer-generated models to show how Frank Lloyd Wright’s structures would’ve appeared

    By Laura Ratliff and Katherine McLaughlin Photography by David Romero

    A rendering showing a milehigh skyscraper along the lake front in Chicago
    The Illinois (Chicago, Illinois)

    Of the more than 1,100 structures that Frank Lloyd Wright designed throughout his lifetime, more than half—a whopping 660 buildings—remained unbuilt and mostly unknown. And this figure doesn’t even consider some of the architect’s work that was tragically demolished. However, thanks to a collaboration between Spanish architect David Romero and the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation, fans of the prolific architect can now see what Wright’s unbuilt or demolished projects look like in 3D renderings, as if they had been built or rebuilt. Romero and the foundation first partnered in 2018 to bring six of the visionary’s unbuilt work to life and recently came together again to produce three more renderings for the most recent issue of The Frank Lloyd Wright Quarterly, a print magazine from The Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation.

    “While we will never know the true experience of visiting an unbuilt Wright design, these renderings can convey a bit more sense of space and light than the drawings alone,” Stuart Graff, president and CEO of the foundation, told AD in 2018. In the latest iterations of renderings, Romero focused specifically on Wright’s unbuilt skyscrapers, including his vision for a mile-high tower in Chicago. Here, AD looks at these nine structures designed by the genius architect, offering a glimpse into a world of architecture never materialized.

    [ click to continue reading at AD ]

    Self-healing Cracks

    from Study Finds

    How has ancient Roman cement stood test of time so well? Scientists finally have an answer after 2,000 years!

    Trajan's Column in Rome
    Trajan’s Column in Rome. (Photo by Briana Tozour on Unsplash)

    CAMBRIDGE, Mass. — The secret to the durability of Roman concrete — which has stood the test of time for over 2,000 years — has finally been unearthed.

    Scientists from MIT have isolated the ingredient that allows Roman concrete to “self-heal,” making it stronger than its modern equivalent. Their “back to the future” findings could help reduce the environmental impact of cement production in today’s society.

    The ancient Romans were masters of engineering, building a huge network of roads, aqueducts, ports, and temples — many of which still stand to this very day! Many of these structures were built with concrete, including Rome’s Pantheon, which has the world’s largest unreinforced concrete dome and is still intact despite being dedicated in the year 128 AD. Some ancient Roman aqueducts still deliver water to the Eternal City today, while many modern concrete structures crumble after just a few decades.

    Scientists have spent decades trying to figure out the secret of the “ultra-durable” construction material, particularly in structures that endured especially harsh conditions — such as docks, sewers, and seawalls.

    Now, an international team has discovered ancient concrete-manufacturing techniques that incorporated several key “self-healing” properties. For years, researchers believed the key to the ancient concrete’s durability was one ingredient: pozzolanic material, such as volcanic ash from the area of Pozzuoli, on the Bay of Naples.

    [ click to continue reading at Study Finds ]