All Scientific Papers Should Be Free; Here’s Why They’re Not

If science drops in a field but no other researchers are around to hear it, does it further the academic area of study? Howdy researchers, Trace here for DNews. Science is a process, it’s a way of thinking about the world around us. Most of these scientific processes are thought through and then published in a journal, but to read them you have to pay! Shouldn’t all this scientific knowledge be FREE!? Firstly, science is mostly paid for by grants from governments, non-profits, foundations, universities, corporations or others with deep pockets. We did a video about it. But, even though the science was paid for, that’s just the first half of the equation… the other half is the scientific journal. The first journals were published over 350 years ago as a way to organize new scientific knowledge, and that continues today. According to the International Association of Scientific, Technical and Medical Publishers, 2.5 million new scientific papers are published each year in over 28,000 different journals.

A new paper is published every 20 seconds. (and you thought we’d run out of stuff for DNews 😉). Researchers need others to read their paper so it can affect their field. So, they freely send their treasured manuscripts to journals for peer review and publication. When a manuscript comes in, specialists select and send the best manuscripts to volunteer experts in the field who are “carefully selected based on… expertise, research area, and lack of bias” for peer review. After that, the papers are copy-edited, compiled into an issue of the journal, physically printed and then shipped and/or published online! They’re, like, the nerdiest magazines in the world. All this costs money… According to a study in PLOS One this whole process can cost 20 to 40 dollars per page, depending on how many papers the journal receives and how many they have to reject. Someone has to pay for that, and there are three ways this can happen: authors can submit for free and readers/subscribers pay (called the traditional model), or authors pay and readers get it for free (called open-access), or both authors and readers pay!English-language journals alone were worth $10 billion dollars in 2013! I know what you’re thinking, just put them on the internet! Save on shipping, like newspapers and magazines! Well, even though publishers don’t have to print and ship big books of papers anymore, they often still do.

And, even if the journals were only online, servers and bandwidth need to be paid for, and that ain’t cheap. Publishing requires dollah bills, y’all and someone has to pay, and everyone gets their money differently… For example: the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) publishes the Science journals, and the Public Library of Science publishes PLoS One among others; both are nonprofits. But, while PLOS uses an open-access (free to you) model, Triple-A-S publishes six journals: five with a traditional model (you pay) and one open-access. Plus, there are for-profit journals like Macmillan Publishers, who own the journal Nature (and a mix of traditional and open access options). And the giant Reed Elsevier (now called RELX) publishes over 2000 journals some of which are open-access and some are traditional! So, though some are non-profits, they don’t always give it to YOU for free, and those that do still can charge researchers up to 2900 dollars to publish! While others make money off scientific research which makes some people feel icky.

The whole thing is confusing. Asking “what is worse: for-profits charging universities or readers for access, or open-access charging authors?” Shrug. The debate rages. Many scientists argue as the peer review is provided for free by the scientific community, and the papers are provided for free by the scientific community; access to the papers should. be. free. The EU agrees, ordering any publically-funded papers to be made free by 2020; pushing toward open access to science! In the US, where many of the papers originate, some scientists are calling for boycotts on for-profit publishing. In the end, there was a time when practitioners needed a physical reference to the latest scientific achievements. In the days before the internet, getting a journal in the mail must have been both exciting and illuminating, but now, thanks to digital publishing… this whole pay-for-science model is wont to change… People WANT the knowledge to be free, but no one knows how to do it.

As y’all know, more research is always needed, but should that research be behind a paywall? Let us know down in the comments, make sure you subscribe so you get more DNews everyday. You can also come find us on Twitter, @seeker. But for more how much science actually costs, watch this video..

Can We Save Our Cities From Drowning?

The antarctic ice sheet is DEFINITELY MELTING! Here's a crazy idea: let's NOT wait until millions of people are homeless before we do something about it. Eh? Eh? Hello folks, Laci Green here for DNews. When it comes to the rising sea level, one of the key players is our Southern buddy Antarctica. Antarctica is a something of a neglected continent because basically nobody lives there– but it is about twice the size of Australia and contains 90% of the earth's ice. The entire continent is basically a 1 mile thick slab of ice. If the whole thing were to melt, the sea level across the planet would rise 200 feet. And humanity would be TOTALLY screwed. Fortunately, we're only SLIGHTLY screwed. Multiple studies published in the journal Science predict that we're looking at closer to a TEN foot increase in sea level across the planet by the year 2200. So hey! It's not 200 hundred feet…but 10 is still a lot, even across the projected 200 year period.

By the time your great-great-grandbabies are walking the earth, around 29,000 square miles of US land will be under water — land that is currently inhabited by over 12 million people. Researchers at Climate Central say that New York City, New Orleans, Miami and DC will be the areas that are most heavily flooded. Various coastal cities in Texas, New Jersey, New England, Virginia, California will also be severely affected. In Florida, the highest risk area, ⅓ of all its housing will go under, and because of what are essentially holes in Florida's bedrock, levees and seawalls will be useless. On a global scale, thirteen of the world's largest cities and about 25% of humanity rests in coastal areas that will be affected. Some inhabited islands, like the Maldives, are projected to go underwater completely. Of course, this kind of rise also poses a great threat for severe flooding during storms like Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Sandy.

Plus tsunami zones from earthquakes will extend much further back into the land. BUT! Before you freak, keep in mind that this is something that will happen SLOWLY, over time. It's not an overnight thing. The melt predicted is also not reversible, it's gonna happen, so cities will need to figure out how they will handle the physical and economic impacts — a process that begins by scientists and policymakers working together and asking the right questions to get started. The American Geophysical Union is already asking: alright guys, what's our approach here? Should we build up our seawalls? Should we start to zone future buildings and real estate further up on the land? How will this affect our economy? To prevent even more sea level rising, we should also be seriously thinking about what role humans play in preventing more ice melting. The common response to this kind of news is usually fear (OH MY GOD!) followed by apathy (I DON'T CARE!).

I'd argue that the proper response isn't fear or apathy at all — it's action. Action in the form of prevention and adaptation. Time to roll up those sleeves and get to work. What do you think? Tell me about it down below and I'll see you next time with more science updates..

This Powerful New Technology May Be The Only Way To Explore Venus

Imagine we’ve successfully landed a robot on Venus! Nice job… [pause, checks watch] Annnd now it’s dead. Hello fellow carbon-based lifeforms, Ian here for DNews. I want you to imagine building a robot that can land on the surface of Venus. Actually, imagine building a robot that will land on the surface of HELL and you’ll have a better idea of what to expect. Yes, Venus is a toxic hellhole that’s not only hot enough on the surface to melt lead, but the thick carbon dioxide-rich atmosphere has a pressure about 90 times greater than Earth’s. This isn’t very good news for any robots we want to send there to explore the planet and do science. But there IS hope. NASA engineers at the Glenn Research Center in Cleveland, Ohio, are developing a new kind of integrated circuit that not only survives the rigors of being in space, it could also allow the delicate electronics inside Venus landers to live 100 times longer than previous efforts.

It’s not like we haven’t tried landing on Venus before. From the 1960s to the 1980s, the Soviet Union tried to send a series of 16 spacecraft to Venus as part of the Venera program — which included flybys, atmospheric probes and landers. Of the early landing attempts, Venera 3 to Venera 6 either burned up, crashed or got crushed by Venus’ atmosphere. Even though it got crushed before touchdown, Venera 4 has the historic distinction as being the first probe to transmit data from another planet’s atmosphere in 1967. In 1970, Venera 7 made history as the first ever soft landing on another planet. It sent back 23 minutes of data before dying. After this, the Soviets had more success from Venera 8 — which landed in 1972, returning 50 minutes of data. Venera 9 landed in 1975 and took the first ever black and white photos from another planet’s surface.

Venera 13, in 1981, and 14, in 1982, returned color panoramic views from Venus’ surface, revealing the alien geology and incredibly hazy atmosphere. In 1984, Russia launched the two Vega missions that included landers and atmospheric balloons. The US even gave Venus a go when they parachuted probes to the surface during the 1978 Pioneer Venus mission. One of the probes continued to transmit data an hour after landing on the surface. But all Venus surface missions quickly succumbed to the extreme heat and pressure, most lasting for less than a couple of hours. Venera 13 holds the record, lasting 127 minutes before melting. Although our technology has advanced since this exciting era of Venus exploration, we still don’t have the ability to protect them from the extreme environment for very long. Conventional silicon circuits stop working at high temperatures long before they start to melt. But now, NASA engineers are testing an extremely durable "silicon carbide semiconductor integrated circuit” — it’s a circuit made out of a new silicon mix that continues to function as a circuit should, only at much higher temperatures.

It was originally being developed for use in hot sections of fuel-efficient aircraft. Knowing that they could tolerate temperatures up to 900 degrees Fahrenheit, the NASA engineers placed samples of the circuit into the Glenn Extreme Environments Rig (GEER). This instrument not only replicates the temperatures found on Venus’ surface, it also applies the same pressures. And after 521 hours of extreme testing, the integrated circuits continued to operate as designed. To use conventional electronics in space, heavy shielding is needed to protect delicate components. If this new circuit technology is used for space robots, I’d imagine that this shielding may not be required, reducing weight, boosting electronics longevity in harsh environments, reducing launch weight and ultimately costs. But the thing that makes this kind of tech development REALLY interesting is the very obvious applications a highly durable integrated circuit has on Earth. Robotics are used in a range of industries and are increasingly being used in extremely hazardous environments — building tougher electronics to boost their operational lives would obviously be a bonus.

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What Ever Happened To Acid Rain?

I've finally figured it out. Prince must've been singing about ACID RAIN that was BLUE. Because carbonic acid turns litmus paper red… Blue plus red equals purple. If you know what I'm singing about up here. C'mon, raise your hand. Hello pH-balanced friends, Trace here for DNews. If you were to compare environmental issues to fashion trends—and I mean why wouldn’t you—then acid rain would be the equivalent of bell-bottom jeans. People started talking about it in the 60’s, then it slowly infiltrated media and pop culture, and by the mid-1970s’ seemingly everyone had an opinion on it, but since then, where did it go? To understand acid rain you have to understand "pH" levels. pH means "power of hydrogen," essentially it measure the kind of hydrogen in a solution. It's not super important to understand how it works, but it ranges from zero to 14 with zero (battery acid) being the most acidic and 14 (lye) being super alkaline (or basic): 7 is neutral — water is 7, milk is 6, sea water is 9… A change in even one number is a big deal, because pH is measured logarithmically, one number represents a 10-fold change! Okay, so, acid rain is bad, you guys.

Like really bad. It toxifies lakes and streams, destroys forests and threatens entire plant populations. Acid rain is even harmful to urban environments, where it eats away at limestone and marble buildings. All because its pH is crazy. I say crazy, because normal rain is acidic, just a little bit. As rain falls from they sky, it picks up carbon dioxide in the air, creating carbonic acid. This gives natural rain a pH of about 6, just slightly on the acid side — similar to urine or saliva. Regular rain becomes acid rain when it picks up not only carbon dioxide, but sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide, which contain much stronger acids. These make their way into our atmosphere when we burn fossil fuels to make energy. Once natural rain picks up this acid, its pH can drop as low as 3. That means that rain that goes from pH 6 to pH 3 — it’s 1000 times more acidic!.

Threes are things like citrus, kimchee, or soda! The effects of acid rain entirely depend on where it lands. For instance if it falls on limestone-rich soil, it doesn’t have much of an effect because limestone is naturally alkaline; it has a pH above 7. So mixing acidity with a lower pH just neutralizes it. In fact, to protect cultivated areas from acid rain damage, limestone can be added to soil as a sort-of pH-balancing fertilizer. Though that's pretty much out of the question for huge tracts of land in the wilderness. When acid rain falls on neutral or acidic soil, or on vegetation, that’s when things get bad. Living things have a hard time in acidic environments because the acid basically kills their growth enzymes — fish can't swim in orange juice! What’s more, hydrogen ions in the acid rain replace nutrients in the soil like calcium and magnesium, which are vital for plant growth. This is why we preserve things in vinegar, rather than water because the acid in the vinegar prevents pickles, or kimchi for all you foodies, from growing mold. Keep in mind that we’re talking about ecosystems, so everything is connected. Once acid rain infiltrates soil, it flows into streams and lakes, killing marine life.

Even water-dwelling animals that can live in acidic environments, like frogs, still end up dying, because the acid kills their food sources. This sort of environmental damage stems as far back as the industrial revolution; however the public didn’t really catch wind of it until the 1970’s, after it had already caused massive damage — and that's why you heard about it. Why you don't anymore, is because in the early 1990’s the US government passed a series of regulations that dramatically reduced sulfur dioxide emissions, and acid rain sorta fell off the radar. At least in the U.S…. Acid rain is still an issue in China and Russia, two countries with lots of factories and few environmental regulations. China is particularly bad, as it’s coal contains higher-than-normal-levels of sulfur. Even parts of eastern Europe, Canada and the United States still have rainwater that’s just too acidic.

And even though our rain will likely never return to a 1960’s level of acidity, the effects of this environmental disaster will exist for decades. No domain extension will help you tell your story like a DOT COM or DOT NET domain name. And because you watch DNews, you can get 15% off Domain Dot Com’s names and web hosting by using the code DNews when you check out. So acid rain is still a problem, but what about the hole in the ozone layer? What ever happened to that? You can find out in this video here. Should we do a whole video about pH? That's kinda cool right? Do you have science questions? Tell us in the comments, make sure subscribe so you get the answers and thanks for tuning in to DNews..

Is Earth Turning Into A Big Desert?

Desertification, is the degradation of a productive, lush environment into dry, dry desert. Great for MarioKart and alien planets in movies, but terrible for growing food. Planet Earth is a constantly shifting landscape of 8 biomes, ranging from rainforest to grassland, desert to taiga. Twenty-two thousand years ago, the Sahara was pretty much uninhabited, except for the area around the Nile Valley. 10,500 years ago, monsoon rains rolled in to wet it up. Climates change, it happens, and sometimes they change hella dramatically… like when whole deserts completely shift their borders… which is happening RIGHT NOW. Only a few thousands years ago, the Sahara was green and lush, and now we can’t even IMAGINE it… instead, research has found the Sahara’s shifting sands are expanding, causing die-offs of vegetation, failure of agriculture, and increased erosion without plants to hold the soil in place.

But this wasn’t always the case. Scientists had hypotheses that an ancient river ran through the Western Sahara, feeding the land and securing it with vegetation. Clues were left off the coast of Mauritania, where researchers found sediment resembling that of a huge river… but there was no river around, only arid sands. They called this ancient waterway the Tamanrasset and now, according to a recent study by the Japanese Advanced Land Observing Satellite, it’s real! And was confirmed recently using microwave radar. If it were still there, the Tamanrassat river would be the 12th largest on Earth, winding 300 miles inland (500km) to the Mauritanian coast. As the researchers point out, climate change happens fast. In a study in Earth and Planetary Science Letters researchers looked at 30,000 years of dust blown from Africa into the Atlantic.

Over the millennia the amount of blown dust rose and fell in lockstep with the amount of moisture on the continent; less moisture, more dust, more moisture, less dust. Today, because it’s so dry, the majority of the sediment in the Atlantic is from Saharan dust! It can (and does) reach North America! By looking at this dust, they know about 6,000 years ago the African Humid Period ended suddenly, coinciding with an axial change in the Earth’s ORBIT. According to research from NASA and climate scientists, the Sahara exists, in part, because the Earth’s spin changed, decreasing Northern Hemisphere monsoons, and causing the Sahara to grow. Vegetation died very quickly and the third largest desert in the world took over North Africa, all in less than 300 years! In a separate study in the journal Science, one of the jet streams which moves hot dry air across the planet’s Equator, has shifted northward, causing the tropics to expand 140 miles northward in the last 26 years; and with it… the deserts of Earth. Why? They’re not sure, but they know global warming is part of it, as is the ROTATION OF THE EARTH.

In the movies, when a wizard summons a massive storm, the storm dissipates at the moment of his defeat. In reality, when we make huge changes to the Earth’s climate, those changes are not felt, or easily reversed across multiple human lifespans. According to NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, the melting of Greenland ice is changing the way the Earth spins, changing the tilt of Earth’s axis by 2.6 centimeters per year, with an increase in that tilt on the horizon! Why is the ice melting? You need only look in a mirror. We live on a spinning top, and we’re messing with the balance. SO WHAT DOES ALL THIS MEAN? To put it simply, as the distribution of ice and water on the planet changes, the Earth’s axis changes in a process called precession. Thus, the sun will hit different latitudes our planet at different intensities than before — drastically changing the weather systems and our overall climate.

Whether it’s natural or man-made, the jetstream is already shifting causing the tropical deserts to expand into previously lush territory (as we know it has done in the past), but scientists don’t believe this is a natural phenomenon, it is happening WAY too fast, and the rates are increasing… we’re doing this. As desertification hits the American plains, South Asia, and the Mediterranean, humans feel the affects through drought, climate changes, and, eventually, economics. In a 2005 report about desertification from United Nations University, they state 10 to 20 percent of these “drylands” have been negatively impacted through the loss of farmland and biodiversity. That was a decade ago, and at the time, 2.1 billion people lived in the drylands of our planet. It’s clear, the deserts have, and will expand, and as they continue to do so, farmland will dry, vegetation will disappear, and people will either have to move, or completely alter their lifestyles. Now, if you’re thinking, “But Trace! The ocean is FULL of water! Let’s just use that! You can’t.

Julian explains why we can just turn saltwater to freshwater, here. (soundup) REGULAR DNEWS CTA There are lots of little things that we can all do to curb climate change – check out where you can learn about things like the five day carbon challenge. Challenge your friends, your family, strangers, and most importantly, yourself. There’s a ton of way you can do to make difference out there. Thanks for watching! Have you felt the pinch of climate change? How?.

The Crazy Plan to Capture and Store CO2 Under the Ocean

CO2 is created by every living thing on the planet, but also by burning fossil fuels, which is causing global warming… So, what if we just trapped it all under the ocean? That'd work, right? Howdy oxygenators, Trace here for DNews. Every breath you take, you'll be exhaling CO2. In fact, each exhale contains 100 times more CO2 than was inhaled, totalling about 2 lbs of CO2 per day, per person. Carbon Dioxide is odorless, colorless, highly toxic; and apparently tastes "pungent" and acidic. Because Earth is a relatively closed system, so carbon never leaves. It gets burned and then trapped and then breathed and reused all over the planet again and again. Most of us probably connect CO2 with breathing. While we only release pounds per day, industry releases tons, and if we don't capture it, the CO2 will continue to exacerbate the greenhouse effect.

In 2014 we were projected to release 37 gigatons of carbon dioxide into the air, which is more than the planet can absorb. This is getting serious. So, scientists are working on ways to filter and trap this ubiquitous gas. In the 1930s, researchers figured out if you bubble air through a solution of a derivative of ammonia called amine, the CO2 will be plucked out, "scrubbing" the air clean. We've since developed a bunch of other ways to capture it, but in 2014 MIT developed a super-efficient process using electrochemistry — electricity plus chemistry — it's awesome. The researchers used amines to pick up CO2, just like in the 1930s, but they added a modern twist. When you bubble polluted air through an amine solution those guys naturally want to cling to CO2. They love it. But then, electricity throws copper ions into the mix.

If you're an amine, copper ions are way more enticing than CO2, so they drop the toxic gas like a bad habit and pick up the copper. At that point the lonely CO2 floats out of the system! Yay! Afterward, the copper is pulled away from the amines who have to run through that process again and again. I sort of feel bad for the hard-workin' little guys, you know? But back to the CO2. So now that we've filtered it, then what? Well, because industry faces such strict penalties for releasing CO2 into the atmosphere, they've created Carbon Capture and Storage technologies. Essentially, most companies take the filtered CO2, cool it until the gas becomes a liquid, and then transport it somewhere for storage. There are two major ways to do this, one is straightforward, and one just seems crazy. The straightforward one is called geologic carbon sequestration. In the States, the US Geological Survey has identified 36 regions around the country where the CO2 could be injected into porous areas of rock between 3,000 and 15,000 feet underground (914-4600M).

And hopefully, there it will stay. The second CRAZY one, is similar, but it's oceanic carbon sequestration. In liquid form, CO2 is denser than water. So theoretically, if we just, pumped it under the ocean, the water above it would hold it down there like a weighted blanket. A 2013 study in Geophysical Research Letters looked at the viability of pumping liquid CO2 to the bottom of the ocean, and determined it would form a lake of liquid carbon dioxide. Yep. A lake. The high-pressure, cold world of the deep sea would hold it in stasis for perhaps 1,000 years. I know what you're thinking, and yes, both of the ideas have their dangers. For example in geologic sequestration the pressure of the rock above should keep the CO2 liquid and it should stay there. Should. But if the CO2 finds its way out of the rock… global disaster. In the undersea example, the implications are also dangerous. CO2 is toxic, remember, so it could drastically increase ocean acidity, and deep sea life might not survive. Plus, if it DID leak out… global catastrophe again. Look, there's no real, permanent solution to CO2 problems except maybe venting it into space somehow… or simply stopping the release of so much carbon.

Pollution doesn't just hurt the planet, it can also hurt YOU. Check out how in this video! And if you're down to listen to my weird voice, come subscribe to my podcast! On each episode we take 45 minutes to dig into a topic all the way to the brass tacks. Here's a taste Every time we talk about this stuff, I just want to never use fossil fuels again. What about you? Ever feel guilty about your carbon footprint? Tell me about it….

Why Do We Waste $1 Trillion Of Food A Year?

Food grows in nature. Bugs crawl on it. Fish poop all the time. Cows lick things you wouldn't want to touch. And fruits and vegetables literally grow in dirt — DIRT YOU GUYS. Hey flavonoids, Trace regurgitating some food science for DNews today. We all know food comes from the earth, so why do we expect it to look perfect? Ugly food, or food that doesn't "look right," doesn't get sold, and it makes up a ton of our food supply. According to the USDA 133 billion pounds and 161 billion dollars worth of food was wasted in 2010 by retailers and consumers. That's about 30 percent of all food production! Ugly food is part of that waste. Reducing food waste could help us feed more of our population, without increasing food production, and ugly food is a first step on that path, but it has a big climb to be accepted, because some humans have cognitive bias; we don't roll with the uggos. Humans assume attractive people are smarter, and have fewer diseases, so it would make sense that we'd also assume attractive food is better. There's a principle restauranteurs and chefs use called plating or presentation — chefs place the food on our plates to make it look good. And it works.

A study in the journal Appetite and another in Flavour looked at the importance of the aesthetics of food. They found not only does good looking food positively affect the flavor, but the actual plate it's on also affects how people feel about it. Unfortunately our cognitive bias for attraction likely goes far deeper than people, plating or the plates themselves. Even potatoes have to look good. Since it's founding in 1862 the U.S. Department of Agriculture has been a source of regulation, standardization and knowledge for how we grow and consume food. Today, it fights to comprehend and regulate the U.S. food systems, but some of its original regulations don't make sense anymore." The USDA ranks food by freshness, appearance, color, and size — among other things. Grade A milk, for example, can be used for… well, milk.

While Grade B milk and lower is used for butter, cheese and so on. The idea being to protect the consumer. Milk in liquid form is more susceptible to bacterial infection. But some of these regs don't make sense. Take cauliflower color, for example. Color 1 cauliflower should be "bright white to creamy white," according to USDA standards. But not for a specific reason! The silly thing about USDA recommendations is that cauliflower left in a farmer's field doesn't stay white, it has to be harvested early to meet this standard, because the sun turns it a dull yellow! Yet, "yellow or other abnormal color [that] materially detracts from the appearance" is unacceptable, says the USDA. Our bias against ugly food goes all the way back to regulation. The USDA says this is so we can share a "common language" for our food. But, yellow cauliflower is just as nutritious as white.

Another regulation states that green peppers have to be 90 percent green. Again, same nutrition, just regulated this way for common language. So, because it can affect the grade, and thus the price, this ugly, perfectly nutritious food stays in the field to rot. Any number of things can cause this, from the wrong color, the wrong shape, not enough leaves or too many. On top of that bushels of fruits and vegetables never leave warehouses due to blemishes, bruising, or discoloration. Wasted food has a value of 1 trillion dollars worldwide, and could feed billions more people. Now, the “ugly food movement” to get these weirdo plants harvested and on the dinner table is gaining ground. More grocery stores, farmers markets, and even restaurants are buying and serving "substandard" food. Which is great, because c'mon, it's exactly the same, it just looks weird. And hey, I look weird, but y'all still like me, so why not a green pepper that's like… 85 percent green? Or a potato with an extra bump? Or a double carrot! All the way across the sky. The ugly food movement is making it big lately, and our friends at seeker stories followed a chef who transformed “ugly food” and turned it into an amazing six course meal which was served out of a dumpster.

Seriously, it's weird. But super interesting. Watch it here. Do you care what your food looks like or are you just a human trash compactor? Tell me..

Why You Should ALWAYS Unplug Your Electronics

Are you watching a web-enabled TV while browsing on your smartphone with your laptop nearby? Think about unplugging! Because you’re wasting energy, money AND heating up the planet. Hello everyone, tech addict Amy with you today on DNews. Odds are you’re watching this on a computer or phone that you plug in but rarely, if ever, powerdown. Well, listen up, because perpetual “stand-by” mode is really not a good thing! As we become more connected and more dependent on all the latest gadgets and appliances, we’re inadvertently using electricity when we don’t need to. This includes computers that have a “sleep” mode, DVRs that sit idle waiting to record the next “Game of Thrones,” that silly clock on your microwave and your plugged-in, fully-charged laptop. For most of these appliances, they draw power from the mains simply because they’re plugged-in and not because they’re doing anything useful.

In a study of Northern Californian households carried out by the Natural Resources Defense Council, researchers found that 23 percent of residential energy consumption was coming from idle devices. On average in these homes, there were 65 such devices. Roughly a quarter of all energy use comes from appliances and devices that aren’t currently doing a thing. This may not sound like a lot, but the study crunched some numbers. Assuming that the whole of the United States has a similar addiction to useless machines plugged into the wall, we, as a nation, consume an extra 64 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity per year — that’s the equivalent power consumption of Alabama and Arizona for 12 months! If there were powerplants dedicated to keeping idle devices on standby mode, we’d need 50 large (500-megawatt) stations to make that happen.

Obviously, there’s a cost. This excess energy use translates to approximately 19 billion dollars per year, which averages out to about 165 dollars per US household per year. But the cost isn’t just financial, it’s environmental. Idle electronics account for 44 million metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions per year — that’s nearly 5 percent of carbon dioxide generated by the US residential sector per year. Carbon dioxide is a powerful greenhouse gas, so it stands to reason that if households would just unplug their electronics while they’re not being used, another source of the greenhouse gas can be limited. So unplug your devices! Turn off your power bars! And be be aware of how much you actually need your computers. Odds are, you shut a lot of things down, save yourself some money, and help the planet. And if you’re super keen, why not get in on the ground floor and help develop the tech that will help save our environment! Tech innovations are constantly changing our lives.

Full Sail’s Simulation & Visualization degree program was designed to create future engineers who will develop systems for the twenty-first century. All of Full Sail’s Web & Tech programs are designed specifically to flex as new methods and applications unfold, allowing students to remain relevant and informed throughout their entire academy journey. To learn more about these programs, and all of Full Sail’s technology degree programs, visit So electronics are a culprit, but what else in our houses are damaging the environment? Trace has the rundown in this video right here. So with some new knowledge, will you be changing your device habits? Let us know in the comments below, don’t forget to like this video and subscribe for a new episode of DNews every day of the week..

The Crazy Tech Behind America’s Arctic Missile Defense

So, we found a bunch of huge sci-fi satellite dish things…on the top of a mountain…in Alaska…and they look like this! And we just figured out why they’re there and what they do…and it’s really weird! Hey everyone, Amy here. Our friends at Seeker went on a shoot to Alaska recently, and they came back with a story that we just had to tell on DNews. It’s about a huge, ambitious military project called White Alice. By now the whole thing is barely a footnote in the history of the Cold War…but 60 years ago, it was revolutionary for the military, and for Alaska. In order to get why White Alice was so important, you have to understand a few things about Alaska. First: it’s huge, it’s empty, and it’s wild. In the mid 1950’s, it was home to just 215,000 people, spread across an area that’s twice the size of Texas. That made modern communication a pretty big hassle. Stringing telegraph or phone lines between cities meant crossing hundreds of miles of rugged, usually frozen terrain. The huge distances made radio communication flaky; even high-frequency signals fritzed out when the Northern Lights appeared! This was all a big problem because, during the Cold War, the US military needed good comm networks in Alaska.

Pearl Harbor was still fresh in everyone’s mind, and the government feared a far-North sneak attack from the Soviets…remember, Alaska and Russia are 53 miles apart at the Bering Strait. It’s such a narrow divide that the region became known as the “ice curtain”. The US and Canadian air forces set up a series of radar listening posts along the Arctic Ocean, but they needed a way to relay information across the state, and fast. And that is where White Alice came in. Beginning in 1955, the Air Force and Army built a network of communications hubs that used a very new technology to connect with one another. Phone calls and other data were transmitted via microwaves, beamed into the air, bounced off the Earth’s upper atmosphere, and back down to a receiving site. Each hub had two sets of dishes: one set for receiving a signal, and another for broadcasting it back out to the next hub. The process, called “tropospheric scattering”, had (and still has) a lot of advantages over other technologies.

First, bouncing signals off the upper atmosphere means that hubs don’t need a clear line of site to communicate…which is a useful thing in a mountainous place like Alaska. This way, White Alice sites could be 200 miles apart. The signal could also support multiple phone calls at the same time, something few other systems could manage. And, crucially for the military, it was secure. Once a signal is beamed out, it can only be received at one exact spot – making it next to impossible to intercept the signal along the way. All in all, the military built 22 tropospheric scattering sites across Alaska, eventually spending around $300 million dollars. And it wasn’t alone. Similar networks sprung up around the world – the US even connected Hawaii to the Philippines through the Pacific Scatter System. But it might have had the biggest impact on Alaska, uniting the new state in ways that no other technology could have.

But…before White Alice was even complete, a new technology arrived to replace it. In 1957 the Soviets launched Sputnik 1, the world’s first artificial satellite. US development of satellite communications ramped up, and by 1967, just 8 years after the network’s completion, the government began to divest from the very system it built. Interestingly, White Alice remained in use until the late ‘70s as a civilian phone network. And today, the military still uses tropo scattering networks here and there…because they’re still really secure. But this remains the era of satellites. Now, the reason we have all this footage is that the White Alice hub outside of Nome still stands today…it’s one of the last tropo scattering sites in Alaska to escape demolition.

The electronics there are long dead, but the structures themselves still serve a final purpose: they’re unmistakable landmarks, visible for miles. And they still help hunters and travelers out on the tundra find their way home to Nome. Like I mentioned earlier, this story came out of a much larger trip to the Bering Strait – and the Seeker Daily team has a great video about how the whole world might need the Strait soon. To watch that video now, click here. And as always, thanks for watching..

The Air On Mars Has A Mysterious Glow. Here’s Why

With a rarified (or super thin) atmosphere looking at the stars from Mars must be incredible! But at night on Mars, there's also another source of light … the atmosphere of the Red Planet is literally glowing! Howdy glow worms, this is DNews, and I'm Trace. Nightglow is the tendency for the atmosphere of a planet to glow in complete absence of external light. This bizarre effect was spotted in mid-2016 by MAVEN. The Mars Atmosphere and Volatile EvolutioN mission was sent to orbit Mars to ascertain how Mars was stripped of its ancient atmosphere. But, while analyzing ultraviolet pictures scientists spotted this nightglow in the swirling high-altitude air of our rust-colored neighbor… Okay first, MAVEN has found that the sun's constant barrage of energy from it's nuclear reactions have slowly stripped the atmosphere of the planet to it's current level, 100 to 150 times thinner than our on Earth.

That same stripping of the atmosphere is causing the nightglow that MAVEN spotted! When ultraviolet light from the sun hits the "leading edge" of the planet the energy in the particles break down carbon dioxide, nitrogen and oxygen which are all floating around in the Martian sky. This is called photodissociation. The now-broken-up particles, are then carried on high altitude winds all around the planet. Once they reach the nightside of Mars (away from UV light), those free nitrogen and oxygen atoms interact — combining to form nitric oxide between 60 and 100 kilometers above the dusty surface [. When they do that, they release energy, causing this nightglow! It's basically the same idea used for glow-in-the-dark toys or glowsticks! Scientists are excited because it's very difficult to map the movement of the Martian atmosphere! Taking "pictures" of this glow can help scientists determine what's happening down there throughout the Mars year.

They can see how air moves in different Mars seasons, better understand the planet's cloud formations, and thanks to ozone formation, find water molecules. To be honest, nightglow is completely normal, and Mars isn't the only planet that has it… it's been seen on Venus, and a little planet you may have heard of, Eeeahhrth?! Just like on Mars, Earth's nightglow is caused by chemical reactions in the upper atmosphere, between 85 and 95 kilometers up. And just like on Mars this glow is very faint; NASA's Earth Observatory says the glow on our planet is about a billionth as bright as sunlight. So, it's very hard to see, but it's not invisible. A 2005 study in Astroparticle Physics found about 564 photons per meter squared, per second, over the Mediterranean Sea. And, if you were on the International Space Station looking sideways at the atmosphere you can see a faint glow… that's Earth's nightglow! We know a bit more about our own nightglow — for example, just like on Mars, the solar wind photo dissociates molecules in our upper atmosphere, and when they recombine they release energy as green, blue, yellow, and red light: oxygen glows green or blue, sodium yellowish, and hydroxls, or OH molecules glow red.

Science is beautiful, ain't it? Nightglow is just another byproduct of the sun's neverending assault on our atmosphere, and the atmosphere of other planets in our solar system. What a warm nuclear ball of awesome. Worried that the constant barrage of solar energy is actually going to steal our atmosphere? Can we run out of oxygen!? Check out this video with my girl Julia for more on that. And what is your favorite science topic? Space? Environment? Animals? Physics?! Tell us in the comments. Thanks for watching! Please subscribe so you get more DNews..