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Heroes

Eco-friendly concrete could make your morning commute a lot smoother.

Imagine a world with no more spilled coffee because of bumpy roads.

Road salt — nearly 1 million tons of it just in the state of Pennsylvania — is used to keep cars safe on the road.

In the aftermath, however, it means thousands of cracks, potholes, and other damages in roads that need to be repaired each year because the chemicals in the salt "dice up" asphalt and concrete when the salt causes the water in snow to stick around, freeze, and do some damage.

All images via iStock.


Fortunately, there may be a new type of concrete coming to town.

It's made from coal furnace leftovers and uses less calcium hydroxide — the ingredient that reacts with road salt and causes that frustratingly pore-like reaction in concrete — which means you'd be riding a bit smoother on it.

The concrete is even more durable than what we use now because it doesn’t react with road salt and is made from recycled materials.

"Many departments of transportation have reduced the amount of calcium chloride they use to melt ice and snow, even though it is very efficient at doing so — because it has also been found to be very destructive," said Dr. Yaghoob Farnam, assistant professor at Drexel University in Philadelphia and lead researcher on the team behind the new mixture.

By recycling power industry byproducts such as fly ash, silica fume, and slag that would normally get tossed and become harmful to the environment to make the concrete, Farnam's team came up with a solution to the thousands of road-related repairs caused by salt damage that is also environmentally friendly.

Not all roads are made of concrete, but many sidewalks and parking lots are.

This new concrete could be a relief to anyone who's ever broken a carton of eggs after guiding a shopping cart over a cracked parking lot or ended up with a lap full of joe while drinking a cup of coffee on a morning commute.

(Since so many people drink java and drive, this could be a major game changer when it comes to safety as well — although, you may want to rethink that when so many accidents are caused by distracted coffee-sippers behind the wheel.)

This may not be in your city tomorrow, but you can help move things along.

Safe, healthy, durable infrastructure takes time to build the right way, Farnam cautions, but it’s important for government leaders and local municipalities to consider infrastructure decisions as long-term plans and spend the time to come up with intelligent, sustainable solutions. That may include the need for this type of research to be done for other road-building materials like asphalt.

Try attending local municipal meetings and talking to decision-makers about how they gather information about infrastructure choices. You may also want write in to state legislators to suggest sustainable solutions like this one.

If you want to start at the source, you might even try asking those legislators to support funding for research on projects like this with your own local department of transportation.

"This would help scientists understand what are real challenges in our society, and it will also help the leadership and contractors to learn about the new technologies that they can use on a daily basis," Farnam says.

Nature

Pennsylvania home is the entrance to a cave that’s been closed for 70 years

You can only access the cave from the basement of the home and it’s open for business.

This Pennsylvania home is the entrance to a cave.

Have you ever seen something in a movie or online and thought, "That's totally fake," only to find out it's absolutely a real thing? That's sort of how this house in Pennsylvania comes across. It just seems too fantastical to be real, and yet somehow it actually exists.

The home sits between Greencastle and Mercersburg, Pennsylvania, and houses a pretty unique public secret. There's a cave in the basement. Not a man cave or a basement that makes you feel like you're in a cave, but an actual cave that you can't get to unless you go through the house.

Turns out the cave was discovered in the 1830s on the land of John Coffey, according to Uncovering PA, but the story of how it was found is unclear. People would climb down into the cave to explore occasionally until the land was leased about 100 years later and a small structure was built over the cave opening.

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via Pexels

A couple celebrates while packing their home.

One of the topics that we like to highlight on Upworthy is people who are redefining what it means to be in a relationship. Recently, we’ve shared the stories of platonic life partners, moms who work together as part of a “mommune” and a polyamorous family with four equally-committed parents.

A growing number of people are reevaluating traditional relationships and entering lifestyles that work for them instead of trying to fit into preexisting roles. It makes sense because the more lifestyle options that are available, the greater chance we have to be happy.

A recent trend in unconventional relationships is married couples "living apart together," or LATs as they are known among mental health professionals.

Actress Helena Bonham Carter and director Tim Burton, actress Gwyneth Paltrow and producer Brad Falchuk, and photographer Annie Leibovitz and activist Susan Sontag are all high-profile couples who’ve embraced the LAT lifestyle.

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Family

Professional tidier Marie Kondo says she's 'kind of given up' after having three kids

Hearing Kondo say, 'My home is messy,' is sparking joy for moms everywhere.

Marie Kondo playing with her daughters.

Marie Kondo's book, "The Life-Changing Art of Tidying Up," has repeatedly made huge waves around the world since it came out in 2010. From eliminating anything that didn't "spark joy" from your house to folding clothes into tiny rectangles and storing them vertically, the KonMari method of maintaining an organized home hit the mark for millions of people. The success of her book even led to two Netflix series.

It also sparked backlash from parents who insisted that keeping a tidy home with children was not so simple. It's one thing to get rid of an old sweater that no longer brings you joy. It's entirely another to toss an old, empty cereal box that sparks zero joy for you, but that your 2-year-old is inexplicably attached to.

To be fair, Kondo never forced her way into anyone's home and made them organize it her way. But also to be fair, she didn't have kids when she wrote her best-selling book on keeping a tidy home. The reality is that keeping a home organized and tidy with children living in it is a whole other ballgame, as Kondo has discovered now that she has three kids of her own.

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Pop Culture

YouTube star MrBeast sponsors 1,000 people's cataract surgery to help them see again

"I had never heard of MrBeast so I almost hung up. But gratefully did not hang up."

YouTube star sponsors 1,000 people's cataract surgery

Blindness touches people's lives around the world and YouTube star Jimmy Donaldson, more popularly known as MrBeast, is trying to do something about it. Donaldson made it his mission to help 1,000 people regain their eyesight with the help of Dr. Jeff Levenson, an ophthalmologist and surgeon in Jacksonville, Florida.

Levenson has been operating a program called "Gift of Sight" for over 20 years. The program provides free cataract surgery to uninsured people who are legally blind for free, so long as they meet certain criteria. Levenson had never heard of Donaldson, and he almost hung up on him when the YouTube star called to ask about a partnership.

"I had never heard of MrBeast so I almost hung up. But gratefully did not hang up," Levenson told CNN.

After figuring out that Donaldson was indeed a real person who wanted to help others, the duo called around the Jacksonville area to determine the people who needed help the most. They got their list of clients from free clinics and homeless shelters, which covered the United States portion of the surgeries.

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A mom makes sensory sand by putting Cheerios in a blender.

A parenting influencer who goes by the name @ellethevirgo on TikTok has shared a brilliant hack that can turn a simple box of Cheerios into a fun sensory sand experience. The great part is that the sand is edible, so you don’t have to worry if your child puts some in their mouth, which they will inevitably do.

The recipe for Cheerios sensory sand is pretty simple:

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Gaël Monfils makes tennis a must-see.

Tennis isn't always the most entertaining sport to watch, especially if you're not particularly interested in seeing a ball get slapped across a net at 1,000,000 mph approximately 17,000 times. You could probably get whiplash or eye strain if you focused too hard on it. While some people love the sport, others need a little more than grunts and sneaker sounds to capture their attention.

If you're in the group of people who need to be entertained, look no further than Gaël Monfils, a professional French tennis player that has earned the nickname, "The Entertainer." Monfils turned pro in 2004 and has multiple championship matches under his belt, and yet he still takes the time to be...extra while playing.

In a compilation video uploaded to TikTok, we see the 36-year-old tennis player dancing after hitting the ball across the net just out of his opponent's reach. But of course, he also doesn't hit the ball like your average player, either. In one part of the video, Monfils jumps up extremely high and bicycle kicks as he hits the ball with his tongue hanging out of his mouth.

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