A NASA scientist designed a ship that could theoretically travel at 'Star Trek' speeds.

In 1957, Soviet scientists launched Sputnik — the first man-made satellite to successfully orbit the Earth — inspiring children around the world to grow up and become physicists and astronomers.

Photo by NASA.


In 1969, astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin took humankind's first steps on the moon, again inspiring children around the world to pursue careers in rocket science and engineering in order to follow them to the stars.

Photo by NASA/Wikimedia Commons.

And ... while the U.S. space program has certainly seen some great success getting probes to take pictures of Pluto and stuff, in the 47 years since, we've sorta kinda hit a wall when it comes to sending actual live humans into space. The Challenger and Columbia disasters, the end of the Cold War, and periodic budget futzing have largely closed space off to the explorers and dreamers of America...

....unless they happen to be ridiculously rich adults.

In 2001, investment manager Dennis Tito paid $20 million to have exasperated cosmonauts fly him to space aboard the Soyuz TM-32, inspiring precisely no children anywhere to do anything.

Nyet, sir, please do not touch butto— NYET! NYET! Photo by NASA/Wikimedia Commons.


And a trip to space — which once felt obtainable by any child in America with enough gumption, hard work, and grit — suddenly seemed accessible only under the ever-so-slightly less meritocratic condition of ponying up tens of millions of dollars.

Now that we've transformed space from "the final frontier" of our collective imagination into a playground for eccentric millionaires, how will we ever get the children of the world fired up about manned spaceflight again?

Enter NASA engineer and physicist Harold White with a brilliant, out-of-the-box, and totally sci-fi-worthy idea.

Photo by NASA/Wikimedia Commons.

While Elon Musk and Richard Branson have been working on ways to send more hedge funders into low-Earth orbit, Harold White has been working on plans for an actual faster-than-light warp drive.

White, who's been working on the project for several years in his role as NASA's advanced propulsion team lead, asked artist Mark Rademaker to help design a prototype for a potential real-life warp ship.

And boy did they ever design a prototype:

Photo by Mark Rademaker, used with permission.

The name of the (theoretical) ship? The IXS Enterprise, after the "Star Trek" ship of the same name.

(I know. I didn't think there were any "Star Trek" fans at NASA, either. Who knew?)

If it works, and it's a pretty big if, the ship could send humans to distant solar systems within weeks, rather than the current working timeline of centuries or millennia.

White's proposed warp drive is obviously a total moonshot, but there is a way it could possibly sorta kinda maybe work.

From The Washington Post:

"A warp ship such as the IXS Enterprise could allow travel to interstellar space in a matter of weeks rather than, say, centuries. And the science behind why it might be possible is truly mind-boggling.
An over-simplified explanation is that the concept seeks to exploit a "loophole" in Albert Einstein’s theory of relativity that allows travel faster than the speed of light by expanding space-time behind the object and contracting space-time front of it."

While the research is legit, White told the Post that he and Rademaker released the prototype image primarily to help convince kids that jobs in STEM fields are actually awesome and totally not boring.

Photo by Mark Rademaker, used with permission.

And, well ... mission accomplished. Just look at that thing.

Is it enough to give young people hope that they might yet witness a space travel breakthrough of the kind their parents and grandparents were lucky enough to live through?

Even if the IXS Enterprise is still science fiction, it's grounded in serious math and physics (you can watch White explain it in greater detail here — and he's way better at it than I could ever be).

Perhaps more importantly, it gives us — kids and adults — something to actually legit aspire to — something the U.S. space program hasn't really had since JFK's moon challenge over 40 years ago.

And that aspiration is more than just the dream of one day having slow-motion punch fights with scaly aliens in leopard print togas, though it definitely includes that too.

GIF from "Star Trek."

The IXS Enterprise prototype is a symbol for the hope that one day, in our lifetimes, humankind will travel between the stars at incredible speeds.

And we better hope that day comes to pass! Because the alternative ... is only this guy gets to go to space:

Ach! Who opened the borscht packet in the life support module?! Who ... oh ... No!!! Photo by NASA/Wikimedia Commons.

And space is for all of us! Not just rich guys (though once we get warp drive, the rich guys are invited too).

For the love of God, Harold White, and NASA, science on.

Science. On.

GIF from "Star Trek."

Heroes
Youtube

Should a man lose his home because the grass in his yard grew higher than 10 inches? The city of Dunedin, Florida seems to think so.

According to the Institute of Justice, which is representing Jim Ficken, he had a very good reason for not mowing his lawn – and tried to rectify the situation as best he could.

In 2014, Jim's mom became ill and he visited her often in South Carolina to help her out. When he was away, his grass grew too long and he was cited by a code office; he cut the grass and wasn't fined.

France has started forcing supermarkets to donate food instead of throwing it away.

But several years later, this one infraction would come back to haunt him after he left to take care of him's mom's affairs after she died. The arrangements he made to have his grass cut fell through (his friend who he asked to help him out passed away unexpectedly) and that set off a chain reaction that may result in him losing his home.

The 69-year-old retiree now faces a $29,833.50 fine plus interest. Watch the video to find out just what Jim is having to deal with.

Mow Your Lawn or Lose Your House! www.youtube.com

Cities

The world officially loves Michelle Obama.

The former first lady has overtaken the number one spot in a poll of the world's most admired women. Conducted by online research firm YouGov, the study uses international polling tools to survey people in countries around the world about who they most admire.

In the men's category, Bill Gates took the top spot, followed by Barack Obama and Jackie Chan.

In the women's category, Michelle Obama came first, followed by Oprah Winfrey and Angelina Jolie. Obama pushed Jolie out of the number one spot she claimed last year.

Unsurprising, really, because what's not to love about Michelle Obama? She is smart, kind, funny, accomplished, a great dancer, a devoted wife and mother, and an all-around, genuinely good person.

She has remained dignified and strong in the face of rabid masses of so-called Americans who spent eight years and beyond insisting that she's a man disguised as a woman. She's endured non-stop racist memes and terrifying threats to her family. She has received far more than her fair share of cruelty, and always takes the high road. She's the one who coined, "When they go low, we go high," after all.

She came from humble beginnings and remains down to earth despite becoming a familiar face around the world. She's not much older than me, but I still want to be like Michelle Obama when I grow up.

Her memoir, Becoming, may end up being the best-selling memoir of all time, having already sold 10 million copies—a clear sign that people can't get enough Michelle, because there's no such thing as too much Michelle.

Don't like Michelle Obama? Don't care. Those of us who love her will fly our MO flags high and without apology, paying no mind to folks with cold, dead hearts who don't know a gem of a human being when they see one. There is nothing any hater can say or do to make us admire this undeniably admirable woman any less.

When it seems like the world has lost its mind—which is how it feels most days these days—I'm just going to keep coming back to this study as evidence that hope for humanity is not lost.

Here. Enjoy some real-life Michelle on Jimmy Kimmel. (GAH. WHY IS SHE SO CUTE AND AWESOME. I can't even handle it.)

Michelle & Barack Obama are Boring Now www.youtube.com

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via EarthFix / Flickr

What will future generations never believe that we tolerated in 2019?

Dolphin and orca captivity, for sure. They'll probably shake their heads at how people died because they couldn't afford healthcare. And, they'll be completely mystified at the amount of food some people waste while others go starving.

According to Biological Diversity, "An estimated 40 percent of the food produced in the United States is wasted every year, costing households, businesses and farms about $218 billion annually."

There are so many things wrong with this.

First of all it's a waste of money for the households who throw out good food. Second, it's a waste of all of the resources that went into growing the food, including the animals who gave their lives for the meal. Third, there's something very wrong with throwing out food when one in eight Americans struggle with hunger.

Supermarkets are just as guilty of this unnecessary waste as consumers. About 10% of all food waste are supermarket products thrown out before they've reached their expiration date.

Three years ago, France took big steps to combat food waste by making a law that bans grocery stores from throwing away edible food.According to the new ordinance, stores can be fined for up to $4,500 for each infraction.

Previously, the French threw out 7.1 million tons of food. Sixty-seven percent of which was tossed by consumers, 15% by restaurants, and 11% by grocery stores.

This has created a network of over 5,000 charities that accept the food from supermarkets and donate them to charity. The law also struck down agreements between supermarkets and manufacturers that prohibited the stores from donating food to charities.

"There was one food manufacturer that was not authorized to donate the sandwiches it made for a particular supermarket brand. But now, we get 30,000 sandwiches a month from them — sandwiches that used to be thrown away," Jacques Bailet, head of the French network of food banks known as Banques Alimentaires, told NPR.

It's expected that similar laws may spread through Europe, but people are a lot less confident at it happening in the United States. The USDA believes that the biggest barrier to such a program would be cost to the charities and or supermarkets.

"The logistics of getting safe, wholesome, edible food from anywhere to people that can use it is really difficult," the organization said according to Gizmodo. "If you're having to set up a really expensive system to recover marginal amounts of food, that's not good for anybody."

Plus, the idea may seem a little too "socialist" for the average American's appetite.

"The French version is quite socialist, but I would say in a great way because you're providing a way where they [supermarkets] have to do the beneficial things not only for the environment, but from an ethical standpoint of getting healthy food to those who need it and minimizing some of the harmful greenhouse gas emissions that come when food ends up in a landfill," Jonathan Bloom, the author of American Wasteland, told NPR.

However, just because something may be socialist doesn't mean it's wrong. The greater wrong is the insane waste of money, damage to the environment, and devastation caused by hunger that can easily be avoided.

Planet

The world is dark and full of terrors, but every once in a while it graces us with something to warm our icy-cold hearts. And that is what we have today, with a single dad who went viral on Twitter after his daughter posted the photos he sent her when trying to pick out and outfit for his date. You love to see it.




After seeing these heartwarming pics, people on Twitter started suggesting this adorable man date their moms. It was essentially a mom and date matchmaking frenzy.

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