MIT Engineers Say There’s a New Blackest Black Color

Vantablack, the world’s “blackest black” pigment since 2016, has been controlled by artist Anish Kapoor.

But as of now, he no longer owns the blackest black out there because engineers at MIT have developed a new material that is 10 times blacker than Vantablack.

The new material, made of carbon nanotubes, absorbs 99.995% of all incoming light.

They created it by vertically aligning the microscopic carbon filaments, which resulted in a sort of fuzzy forest of trees that they them grew on a piece of chlorine-soaked aluminum.

The results were published in a scientific journal, as well as displayed in an exhibition at the New York Stock Exchange.

The artwork on display is called The Redemption of Vanity and was conceived by Diemut Strebe in collaboration with MIT professor Brian Wardle. Together, they covered one of the shiniest objects they could think of – a 16.78-carat natural yellow diamond worth 2 million dollars – with the new black pigment. This made it appear to be a black void in front of another black background.

Wardle talked a bit about the project and why he thinks it’s important”

“There are optical and space science applications for very black materials, and of course, artists have been interested in black, going back well before the Renaissance. Our material is 10 times blacker than anything that’s ever been reported, but I think the blackest black is a constantly moving target. Someone will find a blacker material, and eventually we’ll understand all the underlying mechanisms, and will be able to properly engineer the ultimate black.”

The scientists made the discovery on accident – they were looking for a way to grow carbon nanotubes on materials that would boost electrical conductivity, not a blacker black than Vantablack – but they couldn’t help but notice how black their substance became as it grew.

Now, they’re applying for a patent for the technology. And word on the scientific street is that the artists who were irked about Kapoor’s monopolization of Vantablack will be pretty happy to have an alternative.

I, for one, am new to the ruckus and completely fascinated.

Blackest blacks and their blacker challengers are a thing scientists and artists throw down over. Who knew?

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Studies Show That Having a Dog Helps People Have Longer and Better Lives

I’m sure that this won’t be news to some of you.

Dogs and people go together like peanut butter and jelly. Of course, your dog will eat your peanut butter and jelly when you’re not looking, but I digress.

Dogs make us crazy happy, and a recent study gives us even more reason to bring these fuzz balls into our homes. Turns out, dogs help their owners live longer.

Published in the American Heart Association journal Circulation, the study looked at cardiovascular research from between 1950 and 2019 for evidence that dogs decrease the risk of heart disease in owners.

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Well, they found it in droves. People who had survived heart attacks were less likely to have another heart related event and were also less likely to ultimately die from cardiovascular disease if they owned a dog. In fact, owning a dog was shown to boost heart health.

But researchers found it wasn’t just heart conditions dogs improved. The data from millions of patients over all those years of study also showed owning dogs lowered the rates of death from any cause. The study stated that dogs decreased the risk of dying by anything by 24 percent.

Health aside, according to a different 2019 study published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, dogs can also be credited to improving your overall quality of life.

Which is good, because if you’re going to live longer, you want a high quality life.

Photo Credit: Pxhere

Even participants who suffered from chronic pain reported more socialization and lowered rates of depression and anxiety.

Dogs are also shown to help people manage emotional and mental health, says a 2016 study published in the journal BMC Psychiatry. When participants mapped out their social structures, dogs consistently were placed as most central to their social lives.

Another 2019 study, this one published in the journal Aging and Mental Health, showed that older people received mental health benefits when they owned dogs. Having a pet around gave them purpose and decreased feelings of loneliness.

Photo Credit: Max Pixel

Another segment of society benefitting from dog ownership is youths experiencing homelessness. The animals create a barrier to getting into shelters, but the yong people studied reported feeling more loved than those who didn’t have dogs, according to a 2015 report in Child Psychiatry and Human Development.

What about people who cannot responsibly take care of dogs in their current environment or situation? All is okay. Current Opinion in Psychiatry research from 2015 tells us that even interacting with someone else’s dogs or volunteering to take care of other dogs can be hugely beneficial.

So, the science is in: dog love is a health tonic.

Take a dog for a walk, scratch his ears, rub her tummy and soak up all the healthy goodness for a longer and happier fur-filled life.

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Here’s the Truth Behind Why You Stop Feeling Tired the Moment You Crawl into Bed

Does this sound familiar?

You’re exhausted all day long. There’s isn’t enough coffee in the world to prop your eyelids up during your commute, at your desk, your kid’s soccer game, but suddenly, when you’re in your pajamas, teeth brushed, and between your nice, clean sheets, you can’t sleep.

According to TIME, you’re not alone – many people have trouble falling asleep in their own beds, thanks to a phenomenon called conditional arousal.

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Basically, it happens because you’ve inadvertently trained your body to associate your bed with being awake, as opposed to being used for sleep. We don’t get in bed when we’re tired, we get in bed an hour before we want to be asleep and then binge a couple of Netflix episodes, scroll through our social media, read a few chapters, have a snack, etc – and that tells our brain that the next time we get into bed, we won’t be going to sleep right away.

So, it holds off on the good chemicals.

Conditional arousal is a cycle, something you’ve made a habit, which means you can’t really break it in one night. To fix it, you basically have to stop doing anything that isn’t sleeping in your bed, and you’ll need to give it time.

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This is also the reason that sleep experts advise you get up and go into another room if you’re struggling with a bout of anxiety and/or insomnia that keeps you tossing and turning. If you stay in bed, your brain will begin to associate your mattress and pillows with flopping and frustration as opposed to a peaceful night’s sleep.

Like any habit, you’ll need to establish a new routine, and then stick to it for as long as it takes to erase the previous one from your brain.

If it doesn’t work, or you suffer from clinical insomnia or anxiety or other conditions that can make falling asleep difficult, you might want to consult a medical professional in order to get the sleep you need.

But if you’re just guilty of climbing into bed to wind down, try doing that part of your routine in another room and saving your mattress for when you’re actually ready to catch some zzz’s.

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Ex-NFL Player Deangelo Williams Paid for 500 Mammograms to Honor His Mother Who Died from Breast Cancer

DeAngelo Williams retired from professional football a few years ago, but, by the looks of it, his work might just be getting started. The former running back for the Carolina Panthers and the Pittsburgh Steelers made news recently when he paid for 500 mammograms for women through his non-profit organization, the DeAngelo Williams Foundation.

Williams’ mother passed away five years ago from breast cancer, and since then the ex-NFL player has made it his mission to help women with mammogram screenings and other tests so they can hopefully catch any potential issues as early as possible.

Sandra Hill, Williams’ mother, was only 53 years old when she passed away in 2014. Williams also lost four of his aunts to breast cancer, all before they had reached 50 years of age. So for him, this work if incredibly important.

So far, Williams’ foundation has paid for 500 mammograms for women in Pittsburgh, Charlotte, Memphis, and Jonesboro, Arkansas. He said, “To be able to help all these women is amazing. This can be life-changing for these women. We are enabling them to get this care that no one should ever be denied or not have access to.”

Even though Williams has already done an amazing amount of work, he’s aiming much higher. He wants to host free mammogram screenings in all 50 states and expand the reach of his organization as far as is humanly possible.

Risalyn Williams, his wife and executive director of the foundation, said, “DeAngelo wants to ensure that no woman (or man) fights breast cancer alone.”

Keep up the excellent work, Mr. Williams!

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A New Study Finds That Lop-Eared Rabbits Are Mostly Deaf and in Pain

I hate to read this news about those adorable, floppy-eared rabbits. I had one as a kid, and it was one of my favorite pets ever – he was funny and sweet and loved to snuggle as much as he enjoyed a well-timed nip.

The sad truth, though, is that lop-eared rabbits aren’t natural – they only exist because of intentional human breeding, and they suffer multiple health problems and not-insignificant discomfort because of it.

A new study compared the aural and dental health of lop-eared rabbits with that of erect-eared rabbits and found that floppy-eared bunnies are more than 15 times more likely to show signs of being in pain during examinations.

15 times!

Researchers discovered that their discomfort is likely due to their warped skull shape, a narrowing of the ear canal, and the resulting build-up of ear wax. It leads to a condition called otitis externa, an inflammation of the ear canal.

Most lop-eared rabbits examined were also hard of hearing, if not completely deaf.

None of the erect-eared rabbits had any of these issues.

The alterations that allow for their ears to flop also affects the rabbits’ teeth, making them 12 times more likely to have oversized molars, and 23 times more likely to suffer from diseased incisors.

Study author Charlotte Burn hopes the findings from this study will be supported by more like it in the future, and that people looking to own rabbits will take note.

“People now need to weigh up whether those cute floppy ears are worth the risk of pain, deafness, and difficulty eating for the rabbit, not to mention the extra vet bills.”

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Linus is j ust a sweetie #miniloprabbit #lopearedbunny

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I hope that people care more about the health of their pets than the way they look, but the fact that pugs and French bulldogs are still so popular don’t give me much hope.

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Scientists Captured Rare Video of Deepstaria, a Bizarre Jellyfish That Changes Shape

Even among all of the strange and mysterious group of ancient animals known as the jellyfish, the Deepstaria jellyfish is unique. A fact that has now been recorded on video by the Nautilus, a Pacific Ocean research vessel.

Fun fact: the Nautilus has also captured footage of a googly-eyed stubby squid and a weird purple orb.

Live Science reports that, halfway between the U.S. and Australia, the Nautilus spotted a jellyfish that appeared as a ghost….at first.

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#Repost from @mbari_news with @regram.app … The scyphomedusa Deepstaria is certainly odd, with its bag-like appearance, and bell that can open more than a meter wide. Speculation on the identity of a mystery blob has become a sensation online, sparking heated and entertaining debates over its identity. We've seen this unusual jellyfish with MBARI's ROVs around 30 times in 30 years from depths of a few hundred meters to about 2,000 meters deep! Surprisingly, according to morphological and genetic studies, its closest relative is one of the most commonly observed jellies in our area — the moon jelly, Aurelia aurita.⠀ ⠀ #deepstaria #jellyfish #jellies #pelagic #midwater #ROV #scyphomedusa⠀ #deepsealife #deepsea #ocean #oceanlife #sealife #plankton #mesopelagic #MBARI #underwaterphotography #marinebiology

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Then, it unfurled and they got a glimpse of the geometric mesh membrane that revealed its identity: Deepstaria. That, along with its distinctively flowing bell and lack of tentacles, are its most distinguishing features.

The rest of the video is the jellyfish changing shape, from what looks like a crumpled plastic bag to a blanket.

The jellyfish was first discovered by a submersible called the Deepstar 4000 (designed by Jacques Cousteau) in the 1960s, and since then it has only been spotted about a dozen times. Most of the details of its existence remain a mystery to researchers.

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Deepstaria enigmatica. This jellyfish was named after the research submersible Deepstar 4000, which collected the first specimens of this genus in 1966. This species is the home to another species, namely an isopod called Anuropus, which can be seen through the mantle of the jellyfish (on the upper right side of the bell). These animals probably form a symbiotic relationship, perhaps eating food captured by the jellyfish. ⠀ ⠀ Watch a video about this unusual jelly on MBARI's YouTube channel: http://ow.ly/JTf6u⠀ ⠀ #jellyfish #stragethings #deepstaria #MysteriesoftheDeep #MBARI #expedition #midwater #MontereyBay #deepsea #deepsealife #ROV #MarineTechnology #Technology #Robot #MarineBiology #Ocean #oceanlife #oceanscience #sealife #underwaterphotography #Nature #wildlife⠀⠀

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That’s not likely to change anytime soon, which makes this video all the more spectacular.

Science is so cool, y’all. Images like these make it pretty darn hard to disagree.

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Being Forgetful Might Be a Good Thing for Your Brain

I forget a whole lot of stuff. It’s gotten much worse as I age (and since my pregnancies and having kids – sleep deprivation is no joke!), so I’m quite happy to hear that maybe I haven’t become addled by middle age after all.

Now, let’s just say this: the science says that forgetting small details might mean your brain is functioning well, separating important things from the noise, but forgetting large things should still be considered a major problem.

Onward.

Recent research from the University of Toronto, published in Neuron, finds that the growth of new neurons in the hippocampus (where we think memories are stored) is formatted to make room for new and important information. In the process, that growth allows you to jettison useless knowledge.

Professor Blake Richards, lead author on the study, explains further.

“We always idealize the person who can smash a trivia game, but the point of memory is not being able to remember who won the Stanley Cup in 1972.”

The point of memory, of course, is to increase your intelligence and your ability to assess your circumstances and make educated decisions – and in order to do that, some things need to be forgotten.

The study is supported by 2007 research that used MRI scans to monitor the brains of 20 healthy adults taking a memory test. The results claimed people were better at remembering conflicting information, as opposed to easy or repetitive knowledge.

“The process of forgetting serves a functional purpose,” verified Michael Anderson, one of the researchers on the 2007 study. “What these guys have done is clearly establish the neurobiological basis for this process.”

Researchers agree that there are several benefits to being able to forget some things. First, certain information, like old phone numbers and passwords, is worthless. Second, we can generalize or combine certain memories to no detriment.

In one super interesting experiment with mice, scientists had the rodents find the exit to a maze, then on a future try, changed its location.

The mice who were drugged to forget the former location of the exit found the new one much faster.

Huh.

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Toby? Tom? Tim? Oooh, Andrew. Sorry.

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I’m not sure if this is why I can never remember the names of people I’ve just met (or met long ago), but hey. I’m going to go ahead and blame it on my brain trying to be smarter and stronger, and not on my general lack of interest.

Don’t try to stop me.

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Japanese researchers have created…

Japanese researchers have created a chair that can read a person’s “butt fingerprint” by registering an individual’s unique contour and pressure distribution. It might one day be used in cars as an anti-theft mechanism.

These Dresses Record Groping Events so People Will Believe the Women Wearing Them

Some people think that the world has gotten less assault-y with the rise of the #MeToo era, and perhaps, on a large scale, that’s true.

In the day-to-day trenches, women still deal with micro-aggressions like being catcalled and denigrated for how they look, while also suffering larger transgressions like being stalked, touched without consent, and discriminated against due to their gender.

It is still also way too common for the men in our lives to assume that women either exaggerate the frequency or seriousness of these events, or that women are altogether making things up, because it just can’t be as common as females try to pretend.

Well, Ohio advertising agency Ogilvy decided to see whether men would be more inclined to believe so-called “smart clothing” than real women, so they started Dress for Respect in partnership with (weirdly) Schweppes.

Under the project’s aegis, they created a dress that uses heat and pressure sensors to record a heat map, location, and time of contacts.

Three women wore the dresses to a party in Brazil, and by the end of the night, the sensors had logged 157 non-consensual touches in under four hours – more than one every five minutes per woman. The accompanying video provided proof that all of the women repeatedly asked the men touching them to stop.

Lighter, cheaper, and more powerful batteries are inspiring all kinds of interesting ideas for smart clothing. Things like shoe insoles that generate energy and suits that double as air purifiers, along with many products meant to mitigate some of the challenges disabled people face day-to-day.

These dresses go a step further, to the root of a major social problem, addressing illegal behaviors at the source.

Costs still make mass production unlikely, but the Dress for Respect idea is showing that you don’t need to mass market a product in order for it to make a positive impact on the world.

The people behind the concept and the marketing video hope that it will change people’s minds – that those who are disinclined to believe real women might believe their clothing, and in the end, make it to the same conclusion.

The concept of consent is still hard for way too many men to grasp, so we need to teach it young, teach it often, and really make sure the men and boys in our lives understand what it means when a female says no.

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Bad News. Your Houseplants Probably Aren’t Going to Purify the Air in Your Home.

There’s a lot of talk lately about the idea that certain plants you welcome into your home could help purify the indoor air. Unfortunately, while the science behind the notion is completely sound, in practice it’s pretty unlikely to work.

At least, the plants in your house are unlikely to clean all your air on their own.

And that, my friends, is because (among other reasons) you’d need to own and tend around 1,000 of said plants in order to rely on them to completely purify the oxygen you breathe.

The science comes from a 1989 NASA study that found that ficus, daisies, mums, and other plants could pull all of the cancer-causing volatile organic compounds, like benzene and formaldehyde, from airtight environments like the ones in the space stations.

Their potential effect, though, never really lived up to the hype, says Dr. Michael Waring of Drexler University.

“The main issue with the NASA study – and other chamber studies of potted plants and VOCs – isn’t that the data are incorrect. Rather, the interpretation of the data and its application to indoor air cleaning are flawed.”

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Terms for Plant Care Part II Turgor Pressure – Plants are often stiff and hardy, but when they are watered incorrectly, the plant becomes limp because of a decrease in pressure at the cellular level. Propagation – plants can be cut up in certain ways and then placed in water or soil to regenerate from a cutting. Mother – a plant that regularly shoots out “babies” at the base. They don’t have to be your largest plant to be a mother. Separating Shoots – various plants will grow with multiple shoots and their roots become interlaced. You can separate them by carefully patting the soil and dirt from between the roots and then pulling apart. Even an expert will lose 30% of the roots. Hybrid – many plants, especially when they sell for a good price and have special characteristics, are hybrid. They grow differently than natural breeds. Drainage/Hydroponics – plants want a constant water source. That’s how hydroponics work. But with pots you need drainage, or a layer of sand, rock, and/or charcoal at the bottom. ~ Let me know if I’m missing anything important about plant care! ~ #verastruct #plantsforall #freeplants #houseplants #majestypalm #monsteramonday #goldenpothos #croton #snakeplant #bostonfern #fiddleleaffig #monstera #rubberplant #nerveplant #indoorjungle #urbanjungle #indoorplants #plantshelfie #houseplantsofinstagram #plantsmakepeoplehappy #plantsofinstagram

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Also, it’s important to mention that chamber studies like the ones conducted by NASA are not simulating real-world environments, so the data doesn’t exactly translate. The buildings we work and live in are well-ventilated, have continuous indoor-outdoor air exchange, and are generally full of decent quality breathing air to begin with, reminds Warring.

“Chamber studies have shown weak removal of VOCs by potted plants, just not at high enough rates to clean indoor air effectively compared to air exchange.”

Chemicals, too, are more regulated and specific in an environment like a space station.

“…in a home or office, there are mixtures of many different chemicals at different concentrations, which change all the time depending on exchange with outdoor and objects in the home or office that emit these chemicals.”

Other studies have been done that examine the effects of potted plants on real-world environments, and they have been found to have positive effects. That said, Warring says they remain flawed.

“The field studies typically did not measure the air exchange rate – the frequency with which indoor air is replaced by outdoor air, because that parameter wasn’t measured, changes in VOC concentrations can’t be ascribed to any particular removal mechanism.”

Basically, we’ve never proven that it’s actually the plants that are responsible for improving the air.

As far as the numbers? Warring says that, in a 10×10 foot bedroom or an office with an 8-foot ceiling, you’d need around 1,000 plants to match the air-cleaning capacity of a standard ventilation system.

Here’s the thing: if you enjoy having houseplants, you definitely should keep some around. They are shown to have other benefits to both mood and productivity, and they’re certainly not going to harm the air quality.

If the air quality is your main concern, open a window or two, and let in as much sunlight as possible.

A little fresh air and sunlight never hurt anyone.

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