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Wil Wheaton is Just Trying to Help

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John Scalzi Wil Wheaton joke

I love everything about this.

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angelchrys
9 hours ago
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Overland Park, KS
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A Gorgeous New Color Is About To Be Released To The World 

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Some of the best inventions the world has ever known exist by chance alone. 

The mighty Post-It Note only exists because a lab engineer at 3M failed to make a strong adhesive. The childhood wonder that is the Slinky was born after a naval engineer dropped a tension spring and watched it snake down the stairs. Even the tiny, crispy potato chip is only here because a chef messed up a simple fried potato

Now, the mad scientists at Oregon State will bring the world its latest happy accident. While experimenting with new materials that “could be used in electronics applications,” chemist Subramanian and his team mixed manganese oxide with other chemicals and heated them in a furnace to nearly 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit. In so doing, Subramanian created a brand new color, according to a press release by Oregon State.

The new, vividly blue pigment, as Oregon State explains, forms because manganese ions absorb red and green wavelengths of light, but only reflect blue. The team named the color “YInMn Blue” after its chemical makeup.

“It was serendipity, actually; a happy, accidental discovery,” Subramanian said in the statement.

The discovery of the color was actually made way back in 2009. Sadly the beautiful hue languished in the annals of random invention history, until recently when OSU reached an exclusive licensing agreement with the Shepherd Color Company. The company took notice of the color not only because of its unique shade, but also for its unique properties. 

Creating the color, Subramanian says, does not require any toxic chemicals.

“We already knew it had advantages of being more durable, safe and fairly easy to produce. Now it also appears to be a new candidate for energy efficiency,” Subramanian adds, referring to the color’s ability to reflect light and potentially keep buildings cool. 

More good news: YInMn Blue could be just the first of many new colors to come. Geoffrey T. Peake, the research and development manager of the Shepherd Color Company, says in the statment, “This new blue pigment is a sign that there are new pigments to be discovered in the inorganic pigments family.”

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angelchrys
11 hours ago
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Overland Park, KS
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June 28th in (Feminist) History

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mitchell_maria_deskOn this day in 1889 was the death of Maria Mitchell, the first American woman to be a professional astronomer, known for discovering a comet later named “Miss Mitchell’s Comet”. She was born in 1818 in Nantucket, Massachusetts, a distant cousin (first cousin, four times removed) of Benjamin Franklin. Her parents were Quakers, and she and her nine brothers and sisters were raised in a community that placed value on education equally for both boys and girls. Living as they did in a whaling port town, women of the area were also far more independent in general, due to the need to run their homes and manage all their family and business affairs while their sailor husbands were at sea for months.

Maria was educated first at a local school where her father was principal, and then at his own school where she was also a teaching assistant. It was her father that taught her to use his telescope; the two of them enjoyed astronomy together, and it was him at the age of 12 ½ that they calculated the exact moment of an annular eclipse. After her father’s school closed, she attended a school for young ladies and then eventually opened her own school in 1835. Unlike the local segregated public school, Maria controversially opened her own school to all children, regardless of race. A year later she took a job as the Nantucket Atheneum’s first librarian, and she worked there for 20 years, until 1856.

King Frederick VI of Denmark had previously established the awarding of gold medals to anyone who discovered a “telescopic comet”, aka a comet too distant and dim to be scene with only the naked eye. On October 1, 1847. Maria spotted a comet that would allow her claim one of those medals for herself; named “Miss Mitchell’s Comet” or C/1847 T1. There was a brief period of unsurity over who had discovered the comet first, however it was soon resolved that though Francesco de Vico had reported it to European authorities first, he had actually seen it two days after Maria. In 1848, the new King Christian VIII awarded Maria her medal, and she became famous worldwide, especially since only two women astronomers (Caroline Hershel and Maria Margarethe Kirch) had discovered comets before her.

Following her discovery, Maria became the first woman elected Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences (1848), Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (1850), and one of the first women elected to the American Philosophical Society (1869, along with Mary Somerville and Elizabeth Cabot Agassiz). She went on to work for some time at the U.S. Nautical Almanac Office (calculating tables of positions of Venus), and became professor of astronomy and later Director of the Observatory at Vassar College. It was after several years of teaching there that Maria realized her salary was lower that numerous male professors who were younger and less experienced than her. She protested, insisted on a salary increase… and got it.

Maria was also friends with several well-known suffragists (like Elizabeth Cady Stanton), and was an abolitionist who stopped wearing cotton clothing in protest of slavery and plantations. She also co-founded the American Association for the Advancement of Women. She never married, and eventually retired from Vassar in 1888 to live with her sister Kate and family in Lynn, Massachusetts. She died there in 1889 at the age of 70, but was honored in numerous ways, including the naming of the Maria Mitchell Observatory in Nantucket, the SS Maria Mitchell (a WW2 Liberty ship), and a train on the NY Metro North railroad named The Maria Mitchell Comet. She was also posthumously inducted into the U.S. National Women’s Hall of Fame.


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angelchrys
13 hours ago
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It’s Not Just Flint: 3.9 Million People Are Served By A Water System With High Lead Levels

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A new report uncovers widespread lead violations in drinking water and little accountability.

The post It’s Not Just Flint: 3.9 Million People Are Served By A Water System With High Lead Levels appeared first on ThinkProgress.

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angelchrys
13 hours ago
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Mr. Potato Head Gets ‘Ugly’ Makeover For A Lovely Reason

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Mr. Potato Head is getting a reverse makeover, for a good cause.


Hasbro has created a “Wonky Mr. Potato Head” -- an ugly-vegetable version of the iconic toy -- to raise awareness about food waste, according to Toy News. The company partnered with U.K.-based grocery store chain Asda to auction off a single, limited-edition toy, and all proceeds will go to nonprofit FareShare, which is dedicated to redistributing surplus food to people in need.


A significant contributor to food waste is the high cosmetic standard for placing produce on grocery store shelves. An estimated 6 billion pounds of “ugly” but perfectly edible fruits and vegetables are tossed every year in the U.S., for being too knotty, small or otherwise misshapen to be sold in stores.


“It’s the taste, not the shape that counts,” Nicholls told Toy News. “We are always happy to give surplus wonky veg a home [...] and the charities can turn them into delicious meals for people in need.”



Take action now: Sign this petition urging Walmart to sell “ugly” fruit and vegetables to reduce food waste. 


Food waste is a major challenge worldwide. In the United States alone, up to 40 percent of food goes uneaten, according to Natural Resources Defense Council. And almost 50 million Americans — or one in six people — live in households that struggle to afford food, according to Feeding America.


"Every [British pound] we raise will mean we can provide enough food to make four meals for vulnerable and hungry men, women and children here in the U.K.," Daniel Nicholls of FareShare told Toy News.


So far the eBay auction has raised 210 British pounds (about $280), and the bidding continues until July 3.



The “Wonky Mr. Potato Head” is part of Asda’s ongoing efforts to combat food waste. The grocery chain began selling boxes of imperfect vegetables earlier this year, according to the Guardian, offering a 30 percent discount for misshapen produce.


Though Asda is owned by Walmart, the American superstore has yet to bring the same ugly vegetable-saving project to its 5,000 retail locations in the U.S.  


To bid on “Wonky Mr. Potato Head” and help get surplus food to people in need, click here.

Sign the petition below and join thousands of Americans calling on Walmart to sell “ugly” fruit and vegetables to help reduce food waste. 





-- This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.



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angelchrys
14 hours ago
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This Walmart Worker Threw Away Food On The Job, Then Went Home Hungry

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When David Alvarez worked at a Walmart in Tampa, Florida, he regularly chucked unsold tomatoes, potatoes and bananas into compost bins behind the store. Meanwhile, the food on his own table was much less fulfilling -- sandwiches, ramen noodles, milk. It was all he could afford, he said.


Alvarez felt like he was "starving to death,” he told The Huffington Post. “I’d been on food stamps the whole time I’d been out there at Walmart, because you just cannot make it on what they pay.”


For most of his time as a “produce associate,” Alvarez, 56, made $9.15 an hour -- about a buck more than the Florida minimum wage, but not enough to eat well, he noted. Alvarez was fired in March, he said, for speaking at a rally in support of a $15-an-hour minimum wage. Kevin Gardner, a Walmart spokesperson, told HuffPost that Alvarez was laid off for violating company policies, though he declined to specify which ones.


But Alvarez’s time working for Walmart revealed a disappointing truth: Stores regularly toss food that is better than what many of their employees can afford. And while Walmart donates a lot of unsold food to charity, company policy bars employees from taking unsold food home, Gardner said.


Alvarez's story is startlingly common. One in seven American households don’t have steady access to healthy meals, yet roughly 40 percent of all the food in the U.S. goes uneaten. Some of this food is composted or turned into animal feed, but most of it winds up in landfills, according to an analysis from the Natural Resources Defense Council.


The causes of food waste are varied, ranging from inefficient supply chains to confusing food labels to widespread contempt for foods that aren't aesthetically perfect. But experts say the problem is clear: The food system as it exists today is deeply flawed.


Lots of people and businesses are coming up with clever ways to conserve, reuse and redistribute uneaten food, and Walmart actually is considered a success story on this front. In its most recent fiscal year, the company donated 611 million pounds of food to food pantries. Since 2009, it has turned more than 25,000 tractor-trailers worth of food into compost, animal feed and biofuel, according to Gardner. Its Tampa stores did not send any food to landfills in 2015. 


However, the company still refuses to stock imperfect fruits and vegetables on its shelves, a policy experts say causes a tremendous amount of food to go to waste and should be changed. 


Take action now: Sign this petition urging Walmart to sell “ugly” fruit and vegetables to reduce food waste. 

Furthermore, Alvarez’s experience highlights what anti-waste advocates say is an urgent need for better, longer-lasting solutions to the twin problems of hunger and food waste -- problems that inspired HuffPost to launch an editorial campaign targeting waste.


For the next few months, our reporters and editors will probe the challenges and potential solutions to the country’s waste problem, an issue that has devastating social and environmental consequences, yet is often undercovered in the media. We’re calling it the Reclaim campaign. The initial part of the effort focuses on food, though we'll also be covering other types of waste such as packaging and electronics waste.



Food waste is a collective problem in the U.S. It starts on farms and creeps into factories, warehouses, supermarkets and our own kitchens. And it’s expensive: The country shells out a whopping $218 billion growing, shipping and disposing of food that’s never eaten, according to the nonprofit research consortium ReFED.


When it comes to food waste in people’s homes, one of the biggest issues is confusion over expiration dates, experts say. Date labels can say a lot of different things -- "sell by," "use by," "expires on" --  and none of them is particularly useful for communicating when the food will become unsafe to eat. Rather than inform, these perplexing date labels more often cause people to toss perfectly edible fare, according to the National Resources Defense Council.


This tendency to waste might be an inevitable consequence of the country’s industrialized food system, according to anti-waste advocates. Many Americans no longer know where their food comes from or how much work it takes to get food onto their plates -- and because they are estranged from the sources of their food, it’s easy for people to waste, said Niki Charalampopoulou, the managing director of the environmental nonprofit Feedback.


“People have lost the connection they used to have with how food is produced,” Charalampopoulou told HuffPost. “Now, food just kind of appears.”



But clueless consumers aren’t the only ones who throw out what was once perfectly good food. There’s waste at every point in the food supply chain. In some cases, shoddy infrastructure, poor storage facilities and a lack of adequate refrigeration cause food to spoil on the way from the farm to grocery stores. In other cases, grocers order too much food from farmers or change their orders on the fly, leaving crates of fruits, vegetables and other goods sitting uneaten in warehouses, according to ReFED.


Retailers also want their food to look appetizing, which means fruits and veggies that don’t meet exacting and sometimes bizarre cosmetic standards wind up in the trash. In some cases, beauty standards force farmers to throw away blemished, but perfectly edible, produce before it ever reaches the supermarket.


When farmers raise tomatoes or spinach or chicken no one eats, the fuel, fertilizer, water and sweat that go into making that food are wasted as well. And all this waste gobbles up huge amounts of money, resources and land, both in the U.S. and abroad. Globally, more land than the entire area of Canada is used to produce food that is never eaten.


This waste also means less food to go around. And when 795 million people worldwide, like David Alvarez, don’t have enough good food to eat, there’s little excuse for throwing away food, Charalampopoulou said.


“It goes without saying that it is immoral to waste food, particularly at the industry level, when there are people who need that food,” Charalampopoulou said. “There’s a lot of food that could be given to people who need it at every step of the supply chain.”



Advocates see 2016 as a crucial moment in the battle against wastefulness. There’s growing awareness among consumers that waste can and should be reduced, and more and more businesses are trying to cut waste in their supply chains.


“What is really exciting to me at the moment is the speed with which this issue is being picked up in the U.S.,” Tristram Stuart, an anti-waste campaigner and founder of Feedback told HuffPost. “It just feels like the whole country is getting behind the idea that waste on this scale is totally absurd.”


Indeed, the country seems to be teeming with diligent composters, dumpster divers and folks who get a thrill out of cooking with old food. Major retailers -- including Walmart, Kroger and Whole Foods -- are donating unsold goods to food banks. Meanwhile, startups like Imperfect Produce are finding buyers for the ugly fruits and vegetables that don’t make it to supermarket shelves.


Despite a rancorous political climate, lawmakers are even reaching across the aisle to find ways to cut down on waste. In September 2015, President Barack Obama committed to reducing food waste in the U.S. by 50 percent by 2030. And a new bill introduced in the House and Senate in May 2016 seeks to make expiration dates easier to understand, which would help to avoid an estimated 398,000 tons of wasted food each year, according to a report from Harvard University’s Food Law and Policy Clinic.


Americans are hungry for these sorts of policy changes, according to Emily Broad Leib, director of the Harvard clinic.


Broad Leib told HuffPost that there "seems to be strong bipartisan support” for the food waste bill. “I think there’s really an awareness that food waste is an issue, and this is one of the best ways to start addressing it," she said.



But there’s more the U.S. can do, according to anti-waste advocates. ReFED has found that relatively simple fixes -- like educating consumers on food waste -- could significantly curb the amount of food thrown out each year.


There are also other policy measures that could make a difference, like laws that tax people and businesses based on how much trash they throw out. Such laws would discourage waste and reward people who waste less, according to Annie Leonard, executive director of Greenpeace USA and creator of the "Story of Stuff," a popular film about how the economy produces cycles of consumption and waste.


Even simpler measures, like starting composting programs in every city, could immediately put a huge dent in the amount of uneaten food that ends up in landfills, Leonard said.


“If I could do one thing to reduce [landfill] waste in this country overnight, I would make mandatory national curbside composting,” Leonard told HuffPost. “It is crazy that we don’t compost,” she added, estimating that a nationwide composting program could cut the amount of food waste in landfills by a third.


It would also cut down on planet-warming greenhouse gas emissions, she added. In landfills, rotting food releases methane, a powerful greenhouse gas. Globally, food waste is the world’s third largest contributor to greenhouse gas emissions -- just after the U.S. and China. Properly tended compost doesn't release methane, and while it does release carbon dioxide, that's a much less potent pollutant.


But eliminating food waste entirely may eventually require us to completely rethink the food system, according to Feedback’s Stuart.


“We need a food system that can contribute to protecting the world’s environment and is actually designed to feed people,” Stuart said. Making that sort of sweeping change, he added, will first require convincing people everywhere of a truth as powerful as it is simple: “Food is too good to waste.”



Sign the petition below and join thousands of Americans calling on Walmart to sell “ugly” fruit and vegetables to help reduce food waste. 





-- This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.



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angelchrys
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