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Thursday, June 30, 2016

Ranking Of Planets That Could Be Colonized One Day By Humans (9 pics)

Scientists at the Planetary Habitability Laboratory ranked the top nine exoplanets that might support human life. They're ranked by their ESI (Earth Similarity Index) where 0.0 being a gas giant, 0.7 being a Mars and 1.0 is a near-copy of our home planet.

9) GJ 667 C e is a super Earth that has a 62-day orbit.
Exoplanets don't have the catchiest of names. They typically get their title based on the star they orbit (in this case Gliese 667C). Each exoplanet that orbits the star gets a letter, which in this case is "e," for the fifth planet scientists discovered there.
ESI: 0.6
Distance from Earth: 22 light-years
8) Kepler-186 f orbits its star every 130 days, and its mass is unknown.
ESI: 0.61
Distance from Earth: 561 light-years
7) Kepler-62 f is a giant rocky world that has a 267-day orbit.
ESI: 0.67
Distance from Earth: 1,200 light-years
6) Kapteyn b is the oldest potentially habitable planet we know about. It's twice as ancient as Earth and about five times as massive.
ESI: 0.67
Distance from Earth: 13 light-years
5) Kepler-1229 b is a super Earth that only takes 87 days to orbit its star.
ESI: 0.73
Distance from Earth: 769 light-years
4) Wolf 1061 c is about four times bigger than Earth, and is probably "tidally locked" — meaning one side always faces its star.
ESI: 0.76
Distance from Earth: 14 light-years
3) GJ 667 C f is another exoplanet that orbits the star Gliese 667C, except that it does so every 39 days.
ESI: 0.77
Distance from Earth: 22 light-years
2) Kepler-442 b is a super Earth that has a 112-day orbit.
ESI: 0.84
Distance from Earth: 1,115 light-years
1) GJ 667 C c is the third habitable planet orbiting Gliese. So far it's the most Earth-like world we know of, though we'd have to travel a very long way to find out.
ESI: 0.84
Distance from Earth: 22 light-years

Teacher Wears Quite An Unusual Dress To The Last Day Of School (5 pics)

A first-grade teacher in Lawton, OK, ShaRee Castlebury wanted to make the last day of school memorable and to do something special to remember each of her students. That’s when she came up with a creative idea. She asked her students to decorate her white dress with their artwork. Here’s the result.





How (and Why) the Benefits of Apple Cider Vinegar Will Transform Your Health

How to Reap the Benefits of Apple Cider Vinegar
As far back as 400 B.C., Hippocrates, known as the father of modern medicine, would prescribe apple cider vinegar (ACV) to treat a range of illnesses. From weight loss to improved insulin levels, the benefits of apple cider vinegar are real. It’s a small addition to your daily diet that can make a big difference.
This age-old home remedy, is derived from squeezing out the liquid from crushed apples, fermenting them, and then adding bacteria and yeast until the sugars turn to alcohol. Its sour taste comes from acetic and malic acid. Apple cider vinegar uses are most commonly found in the kitchen where it’s a food ingredient in salad dressings, sauces, marinades, chutneys, and preservatives, but its medicinal properties may be even more worthy of your attention.

The Medicinal Benefits of Apple Cider Vinegar

Research published in the journal Infection Control and Hospital Epidemiology found that some of the most far-reaching apple cider vinegar benefits come from its antibacterial, antifungal, antiseptic, and antiviral characteristics. Ailments that can be traced from bacteria, viruses, or fungi can likely be treated with the help of apple cider vinegar. Here are just a few of the other conditions that ACV has been used to treat:
  • Allergies
  • Acne
  • Joint pain
  • Sore throat
  • Candida
  • Sinus infections
  • Ear infections
  • Rashes
  • Digestion
  • Stomach ulcers
  • High cholesterol
  • Diabetes
  • Weight gain
  • Dry skin
  • Dry hair
  • Cancer
From a healing perspective, researchers at the Department of Nutrition at Arizona State University found that ACV could also be beneficial in treating those who suffer from type 2 diabetes. According to their findings, vinegar improves the insulin sensitivity of people with type 2 diabetes when they consume a high carbohydrate meal.
A 2004 study published in Biofactors and another 2004 study published in the Journal of Experimental and Clinical Cancer both show that apple cider vinegar also has anti-cancer benefits and can actually kill cancer cells (in clinical studies)

Apple Cider Vinegar Weight Loss Benefits

Apple cider vinegar’s most beloved and well known benefit may be that of weight loss. Research published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics found that healthy adult women consumed fewer total calories on days that vinegar was ingested at their morning meal. Researchers think that vinegar may impact hunger by reducing the mealtime glycemic load. This means that your blood glucose doesn’t surge and then plummet back down again. It’s these surges in blood sugar that make you more susceptible to overeating.
Amp up your ACV consumption with this apple cider vinegar detox cocktail. The addition of lemon juice, which contains the antioxidant vitamin C, along with cinnamon, another potent antioxidant, make this an ideal detox concoction. What’s more, cayenne has been shown to increase metabolism, making this apple cider vinegar weight loss cocktail even stronger.

Apple Cider Vinegar Detox Drink Recipe

How to Reap the Benefits of Apple Cider Vinegar Serves 1
Ingredients
12 oz. filtered water
2 Tbsp. raw apple cider vinegar
2 Tbsp. fresh squeezed lemon juice
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 dash cayenne pepper
Stevia to taste
Directions
  1. Combine ingredients in a blender with a few ice cubes. Consume this drink three times daily between meals for two weeks.
 Apple Cider Vinegar for Hair
Apple cider vinegar deserves a place in your beauty cabinet as well as your pantry. It’s been known to remove residue and built up gunk leftover from your various beauty products. It’s also a natural detangler that revitalizes your mane, leaving your hair soft and silky. Enthusiasts love it even more because they contend that it adds shine and reflects light.

How to Use Apple Cider Vinegar for Hair

1.Fill a spray bottle up halfway with water. Fill in the other portion with apple cider vinegar.
2. After shampooing your hair, give it a good spritz with the spray bottle mixture and massage into the scalp. Leave the mixture in your hair and towel dry. Repeat once per week.

Apple Cider Vinegar for Acne and Vibrant Skin

While most of the evidence of ACV’s acne impact is anecdotal, its ascetic nature can be helpful in restoring your skin’s pH balance, reducing oil while maintaining moisture. Not to mention that using apple cider vinegar for acne helps reduce blemishes and red marks all the while softening your skin.
When using it on your skin, remember to dilute it with double as much water as you would for your hair because its ascetic nature can be irritating to the skin if it’s too strong. Diluted ACV can be used as a toner daily, leaving your skin soft and bright while locking in moisture.

DIY Apple Cider Vinegar Toner

1. Combine 2 parts water with 1 part apple cider vinegar in a small bottle or spray bottle.
2. Spray or lightly dab on your skin with a cotton ball after cleansing. Let dry.

Apple Cider Vinegar Uses for Cold and Flu

How to Reap the Benefits of Apple Cider Vinegar Its antibacterial nature cited above means it’s one of those cold and flu remedies that actually works. Adding a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar to a glass of water helps to alkalze the body. When you create a more alkaline environment, it kills bacteria and viruses. Start drinking ACV at the first sign of illness and repeat several times a day until the symptoms subside. If you’re already sick, it’s worth drinking ACV anyway because it can help your body fend off germs and provide some energy. (Always consult with your primary care physician when dealing with an illness, especially if symptoms worsen or do not subside after several days.)

Choosing the Best Apple Cider Vinegar

Before you run out for a bottle of apple cider vinegar, it’s important to know what you’re looking for in the first place. The key is to purchase the most unadulterated vinegar you can find. Raw, unfiltered, unpasteurized, organic apple cider vinegar will have the strongest live enzymatic action and the most potent healthy bacteria.
Unpasteurized ACV products contain the “mother of vinegar”, a natural cobweb-like sediment floating at the bottom of the bottle. One reliable brand is Bragg’s, which is inexpensive and long-lasting, costing you just under $4 for a 16-ounce bottle.

5 Unhealthy Restaurant Salads That Will Ruin Your Diet

It is all too easy to assume that opting for a salad at your favorite chain restaurant is a healthy and responsible choice. Sadly, this is not always the case. In fact, oftentimes the salads served up at these venues are as egregiously unhealthy — sometimes more so — than their meaty, bready counterparts. Although they do offer the benefits of a few leafy greens, restaurant salads are frequently loaded with fried meats, fatty cheeses, and creamy, calorie-packed dressings, so exercise caution when ordering! Take a look at these 5 unhealthy restaurant salads that offer little to no nutritional benefit, and learn what you’d be better off ordering instead.

1. Chili’s Quesadilla Explosion Salad

unhealthy restaurant salads
 The salad portion of the menu would seem like a safe bet at Chili’s, a restaurant that is a veritable hotbed of greasy, fatty offerings. But the Quesadilla Explosion Salad is a monster in and of itself: grilled chicken breast, shredded cheese, tomatoes, corn, and black bean salsa doesn’t sound too offensive, but add the 3-cheese quesadillas that are served along with it, and you’ve got a problem. According to Chili’s official nutrition information, this salad has 1,440 calories and a whopping 96 grams of fat. Additionally, the Quesadilla Explosion contains 175 milligrams of cholesterol and an unheard-of 2,410 milligrams of sodium.

2. California Pizza Kitchen Moroccan Spiced Chicken Salad

California Pizza Kitchen
 A full-sized Moroccan Spiced Chicken Salad at California Pizza Kitchen consists of butternut squash, dates, avocado, red peppers, chopped egg, and spiced chicken. Doesn’t sound like it’ll be too bad, does it? In reality, however, this salad has 1,500 calories, 99 grams of fat, 295 milligrams cholesterol, and 1,380 milligrams sodium, according to the restaurant’s official nutrition information. You’re still better off with this than the 1,290-calorie Thai Chicken Pizza — but you’re still a long way from making the best nutritional choices.
Sodium-wise, it’s hard to make a positive choice here, even when sticking to the salad menu. Still, you would be much better off with a half-sized Caesar salad with grilled shrimp. This hearty meal has 320 calories, 20 grams of fat, 105 milligrams cholesterol, and 800 milligrams sodium.

3. Applebee’s Oriental Chicken Salad

Applebee's
 Fried chicken on a bed of lettuce is still fried chicken. This 1,240-calorie behemoth is a tornado of nutritional devastation. If the fried chicken didn’t tip you off, then maybe the crispy noodles will. This salad also consists of toasted almonds and an Oriental vinaigrette, weighing in with 77 grams of fat, and 1,340 milligrams sodium,according to Livestrong. At this point, you may as well abandon all pretense and dig into a Fried Chicken Salad, which consists of fried chicken sitting atop some leaves.

4. T.G.I.Friday’s Pecan Crusted Chicken Salad

Salad
 This salad consists of crispy pecan-crusted chicken, cranberries, oranges, glazed pecans, and bleu cheese tossed with a bed of lettuce in balsamic vinaigrette. Aside from the chicken, this salad could even make a solid nutritional case for itself. Including the chicken, however, it packs in 1,080 calories, 71 grams of fat, and 1,650 milligrams of sodium, according to the restaurant’s official nutrition information.
To avoid these nutritional pitfalls, opt for a lunch-sized Grilled Chicken Cobb Salad. In total, this option is 300 calories, 42 grams of fat, and 530 milligrams sodium.

5. Cheesecake Factory Chicken Caesar Salad

Cheesecake Factory
 This option follows the traditional formula for a Caesar Salad, and while it may be delicious, it won’t do your waistline any favors. Even without dressing, this salad has 980 calories with 10 grams of saturated fat and 920 milligrams sodium, according to Cheesecake Factory Nutrition.
Conversely, the Herb-Crusted Salmon Salad at Cheesecake Factory has only 560 calories and 660 milligrams of sodium, making it a much more healthful choice on the nutritional minefield that is the Cheesecake Factory menu.

8 Things Science Says We Can Do To Become A Little Happier

Happiness can be fleeting under the best of circumstances. Even people who are basically happy have periods when they’re not, and for those who are prone to depression, it’s always a struggle. The core issue with depression (or one of them) is that it hijacks your urge to want to fix things, which obviously creates a vicious cycle. One strategy that helps with the hijack is to create a little routine that you stick to, and which can become a habit itself, and into which you build other habits (see below for more on this method). And according to science and psychologists, there are other things to do to improve your happiness level, whether you’re depressed or just dealing with “stuff” right now. Here’s what the science tells us we can do to make ourselves a little happier in an ongoing way.

(Note: Meds can be life-changing or life-saving for some people who are depressed, and it’s important to point that out. This article is about other strategies, which you can do with or without meds, and whether you’re depressed or just want to be happier overall.)


Exercise

Unless you’re one of those people who likes to exercise, you won’t want to hear this, but exercise is well known to help with depression and improve well-being. “Cardiovascular exercise has been shown time and time again to be a wonder drug with regard to overall well-being,” says Ben Michaelis, psychologist and author of the book Your Next Big Thing. It’s actually similar to the efficacy of antidepressants for some types of depression, and this seems to be at least in part due to its neurogenic effects–that is, its capacity to “grow” new neurons in area of the brain known to be affected by depression (and dementia): the hippocampus. In fact, a study last week found that exercise helps release a compound in muscles, cathepsin B, which appears to migrate to the brain’s hippocampus and spark the development of new brain cells. So the exercise effect is not necessarily just about the endorphins from the “runner’s high,” as was once thought, but it’s about other types of changes that occur not only in the chemistry of the brain, but maybe even at a structural level, too.


The things you put in your body

“Avoiding processed sugars has been shown to reduce the likelihood for depression, which is another way of saying it promotes happiness,” says Michaelis. Studies have shown that Western diets in general are associated with prevalence of depression. Others have shown that sugar itself may be linked to depression–and while the mechanisms aren’t totally clear, researchers speculate that the oxidative stress that excess sugar can create may take a toll on the brain. There’s another body of evidence that’s lain out the addictive potential for sugar, which itself can contribute to depression, or at least to unstable mood and cycling ups and downs. And a fast-growing body of evidence has found that our gut microbes seem to affect our mental health in significant ways, and the foods we eat can select for or reduce certain strains of bacteria. More work needs to be done here, but eating a plant-based diet, low in sugar and processed foods may well help promote our mental health.

Make a schedule

“Having a structured schedule that you set and follow is proven to help depression,” says psychologist Shannon Kolakowski, author of the book When Depression Hurts Your Relationship. “It’s the basis of behavioral activation for depression, an evidence-based treatment for depression.” She adds that creating a routine kills two birds with one stone. The structure of a daily routine that you can stick to is in itself comforting, even therapeutic, when you’re down or depressed. But it also makes getting in all the single elements that we know help depression more likely. “By planning activities that you do even when you don’t feel like it,” says Kolakowski, “it ensures you will get the exercise and social interactions, for example, that are so well known to help with depression.”

Social interaction

This one is fascinating because the research keeps showing that social connection is perhaps the single best thing we can do for our mental health. And it seems to occur at the level of the brain. (It may also be the single best thing we can do for our physical health, so it’s really a win-win.) “We know that a sense of community significantly adds to our happiness and overall mental health,” says Michaelis. We’re social creatures by nature, no matter how much you want time to yourself–there’s a thin line between being self-sufficient and being lonely.

And the catch-22 is that when we’re unhappy or depressed we tend to want to isolate; so forcing yourself to stay connected, especially during tough times, can be hard. Luckily, the effects are generally pretty immediate–most people have experienced that even a 10-minute conversation with someone can make a huge difference when you’re feeling really down. Or it can at least bring out of our heads enough to put things in perspective; and it reminds us that human interaction is a really powerful thing, even in small doses.

Marriage, says Kolakowski, is an extension of this one–at least, a good marriage. “Research shows that having a strong marriage can no doubt help depression,” she says. “But having a relationship that is struggling, unhealthy or lacking in support can unfortunately make depression worse in a cyclical fashion. So it’s important that your social relationships be good ones.”

Getting it out

A lot of people are familiar with the ongoing conversation in their heads (or monologue), which can exist whether you’re depressed or not. But it’s particularly loud when you’re depressed, and it creates a vicious cycle of over-thinking, internalization, and unhappiness (in fact, rumination is one of the hallmarks of depression). But directing those thoughts outward, by either talking to someone you trust or by writing it out in a journal, is a lot more therapeutic than just cycling it around in your head. There’s something about the act of telling that directs and releases it in a fundamentally different way from thinking it.

Therapy, of course, partially falls into this category, with the added benefit of feedback from someone who’s trained in problem-solving. More on this below.

Cognitive behavior therapy

This form of therapy is considered the gold standard for a number of different issues–anxiety, addiction and depression, to name a few. In CBT, the general idea is that you first learn to identify various thought processes as they arise, and just note them. Then for the negative ones (which are often fear-based, and kind of ridiculous–“I can’t do anything right”) you learn to replace them with more positive, and perhaps more logical, ones. Over time and with practice, this process becomes less clunky, and more natural and reflexive. Essentially you’re laying down new tracks of connections in your brain, which can be a lengthy process. But it’s very possible over time. Though CTB has been shown to have significant effects on depression, there are certainly others that can be just as valuable.

Meditation

This is a fascinating practice that, in various iterations, has been around for thousands of years, and the science is just starting to show how it changes the brain over time. Meditation wasn’t exactly developed to improve mental health, but this does seem to be one of its benefits. Studies have shown that eight weeks of meditation training seems to help improve a number of aspects of mental health: One study a couple of years ago from Johns Hopkins found that meditation addressed symptoms of depression and anxiety on the level of antidepressants. Another, out of University of Oxford, found that mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT) is as effective as antidepressants at preventing relapse in people with depression. One of the ways in which meditation seems to work for depression is that it reduces activity in the default mode network (DMN), the group of areas that are active when our minds are wandering, and generally associated with negative or stressful thoughts.

A central component of meditation is mindfulness, which is the act of paying attention without judgment to what’s going on at the present time–this trait itself has been linked to mental health. This is because just noting your present experience, rather than editorializing it, helps release some of the charge of those negative thoughts and feelings. Then they lose a little of their power. (You can see the natural overlaps between mindfulness meditation and CBT, which is why MBCT was developed.)

Be easier on yourself

This one is very hard to do without feeling self-indulgent, but self-compassion is actually a really important element to being happier. And it actually affects your connection to yourself and other areas of your life.

“This is a big one that’s counterintuitive when you’re depressed,” says Kolakowski. “Depression makes you beat up on yourself and feel down about three main components, what’s called the Cognitive Triad of Depression: your self, your future and others. Self-compassion helps you approach your self and your future with compassion as opposed to self-criticism. It also helps you to have compassion for others, which in turn helps you feel more connected and hopeful.”

Self-compassion has been shown to be an even better predictor of the severity of one’s symptoms of anxiety and depression (or lack thereof) than being mindful, which is a fairly good predictor in itself. And having compassion for yourself is actually an offshoot of mindfulness: If acceptance without judgment is a cornerstone of mindfulness, then not judging and being compassionate about you’re going through, and about yourself in general, is a stone’s throw away. In depression, or even in general down-ness or disillusionment, people tend to, at best, abandon themselves, and at worst, criticize themselves extensively and harshly. Here’s a nice rundown, if you need some ideas for how to be more compassionate with yourself.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Whale Bone Alley of Yttygran Island

Along the northern shore of the remote Siberian island of Yttygran, in the Bering Sea, is an area known as the “Whale Bone Alley”. Forty years ago, Soviet archaeologists here discovered dozens of bowhead whale bones, and skulls carefully arranged in the ground stretching for 550 meters and running parallel to the shore. The rib bones are either stuck into the ground or propped up by rocks in a double line to form a sort of alley. Down the middle of the alley were huge skulls and square pits once thought to have contained tons of meat. Archaeologists believe that the Whale Bone Alley was built as a shrine and sacred meeting place by the Eskimos in the 14th century. At that time there was a temporary ice age, that resulted in prolonged winter and food shortages which could have led to conflicts between Inuit tribes. Whale Bone Alley may have been the neutral place where they could come together to discuss their problems, take part in sacrificial offerings and store their meat in the square pits that once existed between the bone walls.






Da Shuhua: Molten Iron Throwing Festival

On the 15th and final day of the Chinese Lunar New Year festivities, while the rest of the country celebrates with traditional fireworks, the small town of NuanQuan, about four hours' drive west of Beijing, puts up a unique pyrotechnic show. A small team of blacksmiths scoop hot molten iron from buckets and throw it against a brick wall. On impact, the molten metal explodes into a thousand brightly glowing shards like sparks shooting from exploding fireworks. The locals call it Da Shuhua, which translates as “tree flower”, so called because the blobs of metal, after they have been smacked against the wall, form floral pattern once they cool.