NASA Spacecraft Reaches Neptune on Its Way to Pluto

August 26, 2014 at 10:48 (Uncategorized)

TIME

NASA’s Pluto-bound spacecraft has reached Neptune, officials said Monday.

Passing through Neptune’s orbit is the last major crossing before the spacecraft, New Horizons, reaches its intended destination of Pluto. New Horizons is scheduled to be near Pluto on July 14, 2015. In a coincidence of timing, the spacecraft’s crossing through Neptune’s orbit has occurred on the exact same day NASA’s Voyager 2 encountered Neptune 25 years ago.

“It’s a cosmic coincidence that connects one of NASA’s iconic past outer solar system explorers, with our next outer solar system explorer,” Jim Green, director of NASA’s Planetary Science Division, said in a statement. “Exactly 25 years ago at Neptune, Voyager 2 delivered our ‘first’ look at an unexplored planet. Now it will be New Horizons’ turn to reveal the unexplored Pluto and its moons in stunning detail next summer on its way into the vast outer reaches of the solar system.”

New…

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India’s ‘Untouchables’ Are Still Being Forced to Collect Human Waste by Hand

August 25, 2014 at 13:16 (Uncategorized)

TIME

The practice of forcing low-caste people in Indian communities to remove accumulated human waste from latrines is continuing despite legal prohibitions and must be stopped, says a leading advocacy group.

In a report released Monday, the New York City–based Human Rights Watch (HRW) detailed the practice of “manual scavenging” — the collecting of excrement from latrines by hand. The job is done by those considered to be of the lowest birth. These Dalits, or untouchables, often face threats of violence, eviction and withheld wages if they attempt to leave the trade.

“The first day when I was cleaning the latrines and the drain, my foot slipped and my leg sank in the excrement up to my calf,” Sona, a manual scavenger in Bharatpur, a city in the northwestern state of Rajasthan, told HRW. “I screamed and ran away. Then I came home and cried and cried. I knew there was…

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Beautiful and sad GIFs that show what’s happening to the ocean

August 17, 2014 at 16:22 (Uncategorized)

ideas.ted.com

Scientist Sylvia Earle (TED Talk: My wish: Protect our oceans) has spent the past five decades exploring the seas. During that time, she’s witnessed a steep decline in ocean wildlife numbers — and a sharp incline in the number of ocean deadzones and oil drilling sites. An original documentary about Earle’s life and work premieres today on Netflix. Watch it here.

Below, four ocean infographic gifs from the film.

What happened to the coral reefs?

Between 1950 and 2014, half of the coral reefs across the oceans died.

What happened to tuna, sharks, and cod?

Mission_Blue_gif2_256_99_0_600Between 1950 and 2014, Pacific Bluefin Tuna, sharks, and North Atlantic Cod were all almost fished to extinction. Between 5% and 10% remain.

The number of ocean deadzones then and now:

Ocean deadzones are spots in the sea where life no longer exists. They occur when massive fertilizer runoff (or other ocean crises) set in motion an oxygen-depriving chain of events…

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