Ever need proof about how we've changed the Earth? Check out what it looks like at night.

If you're ever in doubt that humanity is really, really powerful, you just have to look at the Earth at night.

All images from NASA Earth Observatory. Images by Joshua Stevens, using Suomi NPP VIIRS. Data from Miguel Román, NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center.

Thanks to orbiting NASA satellites, we can see just how much of the Earth we've lit up.


These aren't single images, however. They're each stitched together from thousands of observations. Every couple of years, NASA is able to pull enough together to publicly update the night map.

On April 13, 2017, NASA released their newest set of night maps.

Updated computer programs have made the images clearer than ever. NASA's software is now able to detect things like moonlight and auroras and filter them out of the composites.

Check out that big divide right through the United States.

The United States is the third most heavily populated nation on Earth, but you can clearly see how the West is still dominated by wild, open space.

Night maps are also just dang beautiful. I mean — wow, India.

The nation's become a glowing, beating heart jutting out right in the middle of the ocean. It'll get even brighter as more of its residents get access to electricity.

From above, it's easy to understand how much geography matters. Look at Egypt.

The Nile has been the lifeblood of the region for pretty much all of history, and even today, lights stay tightly wound around that mighty river.

The glow of New York has sprawled out, expanded, and merged with Philly and Boston.

It's almost blinding!

When you zoom out though, you can see there's still plenty of darkness out there.

The oceans make up a huge, dark, swath of the Earth, but you can also clearly see how deserts, jungle, and tundra still keep us at bay.

But the absolute greatest images released this year have to be those of the "Black Marble."

These composite images were stitched together to show a full hemisphere of the Earth. The clouds and breaking sun are a bit of visual flair by the artist.

You can't deny they add something ethereal to the whole thing.

If things go right, we could be able to see a lot more of these images in the near future.

Perhaps every month or maybe even every day. A team of researchers led by Earth scientist Miguel Román of NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center are planning to overhaul the whole system.

Since 2011, Román and his team have been developing new software that could make daily high-definition images available to the scientific community and public.

What's even cooler is these images are useful. For example, they could pinpoint who might need help after a natural disaster.

Imagine FEMA being able to monitor blackouts after a hurricane or earthquake. We could better monitor migrations or deliver aid to people who need it. In fact, a team at the United Nations has already used similar night-light data to monitor the war in Syria.

This technology could help us take better care of the people living on Earth all while appreciating the beauty of this planet we call home too.

In the end, we're still just lights in the dark. So let's take care of each other while we're here.

Heather Cox Richardson didn't set out to build a fan base when she started her daily "Letters from an American." The Harvard-educated political historian and Boston College professor had actually just been stung by a yellow-jacket as she was leaving on a trip from her home in Maine to teach in Boston last fall when she wrote her first post.

Since she's allergic to bees, she decided to stay put and see how badly her body would react. With some extra time on her hands, she decided to write something on her long-neglected Facebook page. It was September of 2019, and Representative Adam Schiff had just sent a letter to the Director of National Intelligence stating that the House knew there was a whistleblower complaint, the DNI wasn't handing it over, and that wasn't legal.

"I recognized, because I'm a political historian, that this was the first time that a member of Congress had found a specific law that they were accusing a specific member of the executive branch of violating," Richardson told Bill Moyers in an interview in July. "So I thought, you know, I oughta put that down, 'cause this is a really important moment. If you knew what you were looking for, it was a big moment. So I wrote it down..."

By the time she got to Boston she has a deluge of questions from people about what she'd written.

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As part of its promise for a brighter world, Dole is partnering with Bye Bye Plastic Bags's efforts to bring sunshine to all.

Visit www.sunshineforall.com to learn more.

When I opened Twitter Saturday morning, I saw "Chris Evans" and "Captain America" trending. Evans is my favorite of the Marvel Chrises, so naturally I clicked to see what was happening with him—then quickly became confused. I saw people talking about "nude leaks," some remarks about (ahem) "size," and something about how he'd accidentally leaked naked photos of himself. But as I scrolled through the feed (not looking for the pics, just trying to figure out what happened) the only photos I saw were of him and his dog, occasionally sprinkled with handsome photos of him fully clothed.

Here's what had happened. Evans apparently had shared a video in his Instagram stories that somehow ended with an image of his camera roll. Among the tiled photos was a picture of a penis. No idea if it was his and really don't care. Clearly, it wasn't intentional and it appears the IG story was quickly taken down.

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Photo by Charl Folscher on Unsplash

Harvard historian Donald Yacovone didn't set out to write the book he's writing. His plan was to write about the legacy of the antislavery movement and the rise of the Civil Rights era, but as he delved into his research, he ran into something that changed the focus of his book completely: Old school history textbooks.

Now the working title of his book is: "Teaching White Supremacy: The Textbook Battle Over Race in American History."

The first book that caught his attention was an 1832 textbook written Noah Webster—as in Merriam-Webster's Dictionary—called "History of the United States." Yacovone, a 2013 recipient of Harvard's W.E.B. Du Bois medal—the university's highest award for African American studies—told the Harvard Gazette about his discovery:

"In Webster's book there was next to nothing about the institution of slavery, despite the fact that it was a central American institution. There were no African Americans ever mentioned. When Webster wrote about Africans, it was extremely derogatory, which was shocking because those comments were in a textbook. What I realized from his book, and from the subsequent ones, was how they defined 'American' as white and only as white. Anything that was less than an Anglo Saxon was not a true American. The further along I got in this process, the more intensely this sentiment came out. I realized that I was looking at, there's no other word for it, white supremacy. I came across one textbook that declared on its first page, 'This is the White Man's History.' At that point, you had to be a dunce not to see what these books were teaching."

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