Articles Tagged with science

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Venn Crawford

How many things went into your trash can last night? How many of them were plastic?

On average, Americans throw away 4.4 lbs of trash a day. That ends up being about 1600 lbs a year. Now, think about what’s in that trash: packaging for food, empty bottles, napkins, clothing tags, broken toys, and so on. Most of that stuff is made of plastic.

Plastic is forever.

Published on:

Venn Crawford

It’s hard not to appreciate spring in North Carolina –  the air is just the right temperature, birds sing good mornings and lullabies, and sunlight feels like warm caresses. Though much of the country is still feeling the cold of winter, my corner of the world is getting ready to bloom.

I’ve written a lot about spring lately because I feel that it’s such a positive time of the year. Like all animals, we humans follow the cycles of nature. And while we can hide from the summer heat with air conditioning and grow indoor plants out of season, the emotional effects of the seasons are not so easily mitigated. Winter is a period of waiting and hibernation, a time of sharing food and enduring. It’s only natural that our bodies long for spring.

The energy of spring isn’t just a vague phrase either – studies have shown that the first few warm days of spring boost our mood and make us more openminded. Spending time outside during spring improves mood and memory, and makes us more flexible in our thinking.

Published on:

Venn Crawford

In the cradle of civilization, Babylonian scholars studied the stars and made predictions based on their movements, recording knowledge that would serve as the foundation for the astronomical sciences. After three thousand years of scientific advancement, scientists made a new discovery on October 16, when they observed two stars merge.

The phenomenon, called a neutron merger, occurs when two neutron stars in a binary system come into contact and merge, emitting gravitational waves and visible light. Neutron stars are one of the densest objects in the universe, typically measuring around 10 miles in diameter yet possessing the same mass as our sun. Due to this density, they move very quickly, and only 5% are in binary systems.

This discovery begins to answer long-held questions about where the elements in our universe originated. Scientists observed that the explosions in neutron mergers release radioactive waste and propel heavy, opaque elements into surrounding space, creating a telltale red hue. The heavy elements produced by these mergers include gold and platinum. In fact, scientists estimated that the merger produced 200 Earth masses worth of gold – Earth’s mass is 5.972 × 10^24 kg. Written out, that’s 5,972,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 kg. According to scientists, this data indicates that neutron mergers could account for all the gold in the universe, as well as half of elements such as silver and platinum.