A trip to Mars will require people to use these 8 bizarre inventions.

Scientists are working on some really cool technology to get us to Mars.

Sure, visiting other countries is great. Trying new cuisines, seeing the sites, good times all around.

But what about traveling to a place far beyond our own lonely planet? You know what I'm talking about: Mars.


But surely we are still hundreds, if not thousands of years away from actually being able to live on the Red Planet?

Before you jump to any conclusions, check out these eight groundbreaking astronomic advances that could mean life on Mars might not be too far away.

1. First of all, you need a way to get there. Let me show you an ion thruster that goes 90,000 mph.

GIF from "Spaceballs."

NASA's Evolutionary Xenon Thruster (NEXT) is a powerful new ion thruster, which is the fastest, most fuel-efficient propulsion engine ever built.

The thruster is lightweight, which means more room on spaceships for storing equipment. In addition, it can propel a spacecraft at speeds of up to 90,000 mph, which means getting to Mars (or beyond) a heck of a lot faster.

Oh yeah, it's also capable of running for five and a half years nonstop. We're getting into "Star Trek" territory here!

2. Of course, if your ship gets jacked up, you're out of luck. So bring along this crazy "Terminator"-style material that can repair itself when damaged.

GIF from "Terminator Genisys."

In addition to developing newer, more mobile, and highly efficient spacesuits last year, NASA-funded research has also led to the creation of a "Terminator"-style self-healing material.

NASA combined two layers of polymer with a reactive liquid called thiol-ene-trialkylborane, which solidifies upon contact with the air to form a sort of next-level Silly Putty.

This technology could be used to defend astronauts (and their ships) from hurtling debris, but it has practical applications back here on Earth as well — it could be used for everything from bulletproof armor to exhaust pipes on cars.

3. Fuel — you need a lot of it. So this company wants to create a space elevator to save on consumption.

GIF from "Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory."

The Canadian tech company Thoth Technology was recently awarded a U.S. patent to begin developing a 12.4-mile-high, inflatable “space elevator" to transport astronauts and materials much closer to orbit to launch and refuel ships. If completed, the elevator would save roughly 30% of the rocket fuel that is usually burned up exiting our atmosphere — not to mention provide one heck of a view.

4. We can now grow lettuce in space, which could be a step toward farming on Mars.

GIF from "Parks and Recreation."

Say goodbye to astronaut ice cream and powdered orange juice because NASA scientists have now successfully grown the first fresh greens in zero gravity.

Astronauts aboard the International Space Station used tightly packed pouches of soil, seeds, and slow-release fertilizer called “plant pillows" to grow nearly four dozen red romaine lettuce heads over 33 days.

Three astronauts on the space station shared the snack on Aug. 10, and NASA's Scott Kelly said, "It tastes like arugula." Add some croutons and you're good to go.


5. Farming with artificial intelligence is a real thing.

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Speaking of space farming, I give you AstroGro. Presented at this year's NASA-sponsored International Space Apps Challenge, AstroGro is essentially a self-contained pot for growing plants both in and outside of a spaceship.

Here's how it works: A network of sensors monitor and optimize plant growth within the pot by mimicking Earth's environment in unearthly conditions — recycling water, replenishing air, and automatically adjusting to gravitational differences. This means fresh, organic produce that can be grown using far less water than in traditional methods here on Earth.

The best part? The AstroGro could be built from existing 3D printers onboard the ISS.

6. Another culinary advance: We can possibly create food out of urine. (Let me explain.)

"Man vs. Wild" star Bear Grylls has long extolled the replenishing power of one's own urine in survival situations, and it appears that NASA feels the same way.

Mark Blenner, an assistant professor at Clemson University, and his team are attempting to prove that too. They were just awarded a $200,000 yearly grant by NASA to engineer a strain of yeast capable of growing from human waste products. (Yep, food made from urine. Mmmmmm.)

The yeast would not only produce much-needed food for lengthy missions, but it could also be used to generate omega-3 fatty acids and even polyester plastics capable of being used as a resource for 3D printing. Talk about whizardry, amiright?

7. Of course, you'll need somewhere to live. That's where these pre-packaged living quarters come into play.

The Paragon Space Development Corporation is in the early stages of building an “environmental control and life support system" that could provide astronauts with ready-made, breathable living quarters on planets that are currently uninhabitable.

"If the will and the means are provided, we will see humans begin to explore and even colonize other planets in our lifetime," Grant Anderson, Paragon CEO and president, said in July. Sounds crazy, I know, but you have to credit the guy for being ambitious.

8. And finally, you're going to need some booze to toast once you get there. Grab some space-aged whiskey.

GIF from "Breaking Bad."

Because what good is traveling to Mars if we can't have a drink or 10 to celebrate our incredible accomplishments?

That's not the only reason Suntory — Japan's oldest and most highly awarded distillery — recently said it would send six samples of its whiskies to the International Space Station. The goal here, according to a Suntory spokesperson, is to learn what effect zero-gravity will have on the aging process of whiskey.

Previous research seems to imply that whiskey aged in environments with little change in temperature or convection tends to have a distinctly smoother taste than those aged the traditional way. So the next time you find yourself raising a glass of the good stuff with your family and friends, maybe take a moment to thank the scientists who made it go down so easy.

Heroes

On an old episode of "The Oprah Winfrey Show" in July 1992, Oprah put her audience through a social experiment that puts racism in a new light. Despite being nearly two decades old, it's as relevant today as ever.

She split the audience members into two groups based on their eye color. Those with brown eyes were given preferential treatment by getting to cut the line and given refreshments while they waited to be seated. Those with blue eyes were made to put on a green collar and wait in a crowd for two hours.

Staff were instructed to be extra polite to brown-eyed people and to discriminate against blue-eyed people. Her guest for that day's show was diversity expert Jane Elliott, who helped set up the experiment and played along, explaining that brown-eyed people were smarter than blue-eyed people.

Watch the video to see how this experiment plays out.

Oprah's Social Experiment on Her Audience www.youtube.com

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Cadbury has removed the words from its Dairy Milk chocolate bars in the U.K. to draw attention to a serious issue, senior loneliness.

On September 4, Cadbury released the limited-edition candy bars in supermarkets and for every one sold, the candy giant will donate 30p (37 cents) to Age UK, an organization dedicated to improving the quality of life for the elderly.

Cadbury was prompted to help the organization after it was revealed that 225,000 elderly people in the UK often go an entire week without speaking to another person.

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Well Being

Young people today are facing what seems to be greater exposure to complex issues like mental health, bullying, and youth violence. As a result, teachers are required to be well-versed in far more than school curriculum to ensure students are prepared to face the world inside and outside of the classroom. Acting as more than teachers, but also mentors, counselors, and cheerleaders, they must be equipped with practical and relevant resources to help their students navigate some of the more complicated social issues – though access to such tools isn't always guaranteed.

Take Dr. Jackie Sanderlin, for example, who's worked in the education system for over 25 years, and as a teacher for seven. Entering the profession, she didn't anticipate how much influence a student's home life could affect her classroom, including "students who lived in foster homes" and "lacked parental support."

Dr. Jackie Sanderlin, who's worked in the education system for over 25 years.

Valerie Anglemyer, a middle school teacher with more than 13 years of experience, says it can be difficult to create engaging course work that's applicable to the challenges students face. "I think that sometimes, teachers don't know where to begin. Teachers are always looking for ways to make learning in their classrooms more relevant."

So what resources do teachers turn to in an increasingly fractured world? "Joining a professional learning network that supports and challenges thinking is one of the most impactful things that a teacher can do to support their own learning," Anglemyer says.

Valerie Anglemyer, a middle school teacher with more than 13 years of experience.

A new program for teachers that offers this network along with other resources is the WE Teachers Program, an initiative developed by Walgreens in partnership with ME to WE and Mental Health America. WE Teachers provides tools and resources, at no cost to teachers, looking for guidance around the social issues related to poverty, youth violence, mental health, bullying, and diversity and inclusion. Through online modules and trainings as well as a digital community, these resources help them address the critical issues their students face.

Jessica Mauritzen, a high school Spanish teacher, credits a network of support for providing her with new opportunities to enrich the learning experience for her students. "This past year was a year of awakening for me and through support… I realized that I was able to teach in a way that built up our community, our school, and our students, and supported them to become young leaders," she says.

With the new WE Teachers program, teachers can learn to identify the tough issues affecting their students, secure the tools needed to address them in a supportive manner, and help students become more socially-conscious, compassionate, and engaged citizens.

It's a potentially life-saving experience for students, and in turn, "a great gift for teachers," says Dr. Sanderlin.

"I wish I had the WE Teachers program when I was a teacher because it provides the online training and resources teachers need to begin to grapple with these critical social issues that plague our students every day," she adds.

In addition to the WE Teachers curriculum, the program features a WE Teachers Award to honor educators who go above and beyond in their classrooms. At least 500 teachers will be recognized and each will receive a $500 Walgreens gift card, which is the average amount teachers spend out-of-pocket on supplies annually. Teachers can be nominated or apply themselves. To learn more about the awards and how to nominate an amazing teacher, or sign up for access to the teacher resources available through WE Teachers, visit walgreens.com/metowe.

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One of the major differences between women and men is that women are often judged based on their looks rather than their character or abilities.

"Men as well as women tend to establish the worth of individual women primarily by the way their body looks, research shows. We do not do this when we evaluate men," Naomi Ellemers Ph.D. wrote in Psychology Today.

Dr. Ellers believes that this tendency to judge a woman solely on her looks causes them to be seen as an object rather than a person.

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