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Instead of arguing about guns on Twitter, Neil deGrasse Tyson just laid out the numbers.

This article originally appeared on 11.10.15


As a world-famous scientist, Neil deGrasse Tyson is known for his dispassionate embrace of cold, hard facts...

And the occasional beach ball game with a late-night comedian. Photo by Cindy Ord/Getty Images.


...which makes him the right person to address a controversial topic: the abnormally high number of Americans who die from gun violence.

Umpqua Community College in Oregon, the site of a mass shooting earlier this year. Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images.

In November 2015, he composed three tweets where he laid out the numbers.

And they're sobering.


According to PolitiFact, this actually slightly understates the case (American war deaths were closer to 1.2 million as of 2013).


This, sadly, is also true.


Estimates vary — and Tyson's is on the high end — but 2015 is expected to see approximately 33,000 total gun deaths, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which is nearly 3,200 every five weeks (comparable to the nearly 3,400 Americans who have died in terrorist attacks since 2001).

Tyson's tweets are a stark reminder that we have a problem. And it isn't going to go away on its own.

The father of a Sandy Hook shooting victim holds his son's picture. Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images.

The uncomfortable statistics don't end there. For every time a household gun is used legally in self-defense, there are four unintentional shootings, seven assaults or murders, and 11 attempted or completed suicides-by-firearm.

Yes, people do occasionally use other weapons to kill people (though firearms are far and away the most popular). Yes, people do attempt suicide by other means (though when they do, they're far less likely to succeed). Yes, car deaths are comparable (not nearly enough attention is paid to figuring out how to reduce automobile deaths, and, as with firearm deaths, it's ridiculous that we accept the amount we do).

But none of that is a reason to sit back and do nothing.

A gun safe. Photo by BrokenSphere/Wikimedia Commons.

On a personal level, that means making sure that, if you do own guns, they stay locked up and unloaded when they're in storage to help prevent accidents.

On a political level, that means supporting laws that keep guns out of the hands of dangerous people and opposing laws that make it easier for them to access guns and carry them around wherever they please.

It's true: We have a problem.

But it's only by admitting it that we can hope to find a solution.

via FIRST

FIRST students compete in a robotics challenge.

True

Societies all over the world face an ever-growing list of complex issues that require informed solutions. Whether it’s addressing infectious diseases, the effects of climate change, supply chain issues or resource scarcity, the world has an immediate need for problem-solvers with science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) skills.

Here in the United States, we’re experiencing a shortage of much-needed STEM workers, and forward-thinking organizations are stepping up to tap into America’s youth to fill the void. As the leading youth-serving nonprofit advancing STEM education, FIRST is an important player in this arena, and its mission is to inspire young people aged 4 to 18 to become technology leaders and innovators capable of addressing the world’s pressing needs.

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Joy

1991 blooper clip of Robin Williams and Elmo is a wholesome nugget of comedic genius

Robin Williams is still bringing smiles to faces after all these years.

Robin Williams and Elmo (Kevin Clash) bloopers.

The late Robin Williams could make picking out socks funny, so pairing him with the fuzzy red monster Elmo was bound to be pure wholesome gold. Honestly, how the puppeteer, Kevin Clash, didn’t completely break character and bust out laughing is a miracle. In this short outtake clip, you get to see Williams crack a few jokes in his signature style while Elmo tries desperately to keep it together.

Williams has been a household name since what seems like the beginning of time, and before his death in 2014, he would make frequent appearances on "Sesame Street." The late actor played so many roles that if you were ask 10 different people what their favorite was, you’d likely get 10 different answers. But for the kids who spent their childhoods watching PBS, they got to see him being silly with his favorite monsters and a giant yellow canary. At least I think Big Bird is a canary.

When he stopped by "Sesame Street" for the special “Big Bird's Birthday or Let Me Eat Cake” in 1991, he was there to show Elmo all of the wonderful things you could do with a stick. Williams turns the stick into a hockey stick and a baton before losing his composure and walking off camera. The entire time, Elmo looks enthralled … if puppets can look enthralled. He’s definitely paying attention before slumping over at the realization that Williams goofed a line. But the actor comes back to continue the scene before Elmo slinks down inside his box after getting Williams’ name wrong, which causes his human co-star to take his stick and leave.

The little blooper reel is so cute and pure that it makes you feel good for a few minutes. For an additional boost of serotonin, check out this other (perfectly executed) clip about conflict that Williams did with the two-headed monster. He certainly had a way of engaging his audience, so it makes sense that even after all of these years, he's still greatly missed.

Joy

10 things that made us smile this week

Something joyful for everyone.

From sleepy pups to smooth skate moves, there's plenty of reasons to smile.

When the internet is full of dreary headlines, it’s even more important to balance it all out with things that spark joy.

Whether it comes from cute kids and animals, amazing art or wholesome acts of kindness, things that make us smile help remind our hearts that the world is indeed a big place, containing both the bad and the good. Sometimes it might take a little extra scouring to find what makes us smile, but Upworthy is here to make the search a little bit easier.

Without further ado, let’s get uplifted:

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Co-sleeping isn't for everyone.

The marital bed is a symbol of the intimacy shared between people who’ve decided to be together 'til death they do part. When couples sleep together it’s an expression of their closeness and how they care for one another when they are most vulnerable.

However, for some couples, the marital bed can be a warzone. Throughout the night couples can endure snoring, sleep apnea, the ongoing battle for sheets or circadian rhythms that never seem to sync. If one person likes to fall asleep with the TV on while the other reads a book, it can be impossible to come to an agreement on a good-night routine.

Last week on TODAY, host Carson Daly reminded viewers that he and his wife Siri, a TODAY Food contributor, had a sleep divorce while she was pregnant with their fourth child.

“I was served my sleep-divorce papers a few years ago,” he explained on TODAY. “It’s the best thing that ever happened to us. We both, admittedly, slept better apart.”

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