+

Scientists have calculated what it would take to sterilize the planet. No wait, stay with me! It's not as morbid as it sounds!

Three scientists from Oxford and Harvard universities were interested in just what it would take to sterilize the Earth — not just wipe out humanity, but get a really deep scrub in there and completely wipe out life.

What they found is that life could survive pretty much anything the universe is going to throw at us for at least 7.6 billion years.


To figure this out, they looked at the greatest survivors ever.

Not humans. Not sharks. Tardigrades.

Big, impressive life — humans and whales and Tyrannosaurus rexes — are actually kind of fragile. We depend on very specific environments to survive. But there are much tougher creatures out there, wriggling around, like tardigrades.

[rebelmouse-image 19529581 dam="1" original_size="420x237" caption="Tardigrades are basically tiny little Terminators. GIF from "Cosmos."" expand=1]Tardigrades are basically tiny little Terminators. GIF from "Cosmos."

Also known as water bears, these microscopic little guys are tough as nails. Tardigrades can be frozen, irradiated, starved for decades — heck, they've even survived the vacuum of space!

After doing a bunch of math about radiation and pressure and other factors, the scientists determined the only way to wipe out these little buggers would be to boil the entire ocean. Let me repeat that: The only way to get rid of them is to boil the ocean.

And boiling the ocean just isn't likely to happen anytime soon. You'd have to slam the planet with a truly gigantic asteroid, or hit it with a supernova or an ultra-powerful gamma ray burst. The scientists did the math, and they say all of those are just too rare or too far away to matter to a tardigrade.

"Life, once it gets going, is hard to wipe out," study co-author Dr. David Sloan said in a press release.

[rebelmouse-image 19529582 dam="1" original_size="430x257" caption="GIF from "Jurassic Park."" expand=1]GIF from "Jurassic Park."

Basically, life on Earth is probably going to survive as long as the sun does.

Unfortunately, there is an end point. In about 7.6 billion years, the sun's going to evolve into a red giant star. At that point, it'll either devour the Earth or be bright enough to, yes, boil the oceans.

That's a long way away. Life has only been on Earth for about 3.8 billion years — multicellular life even less. In only about 600 million years, we went from worms to dinosaurs to Carl Sagan. Imagine what another 7.6 billion years will get us. Life on Earth hasn't even hit middle age yet.

The researchers say this gives hope to the possibility of finding life on other planets.

Perhaps the deep soils of Mars or the volcanic oceans of Europa or Enceladus have their own little microscopic Terminators too.

"If tardigrades are Earth's most resilient species, who knows what else is out there," said Dr. Rafael Alves Batista, a co-author of the study.

That doesn't mean we humans should take our sturdy little home for granted, though.

Remember that tardigrades are little Terminators. We're not. Humans, it turns out, really like Earth the way it is now.

If we want to last as long as the tardigrades do, we have some work ahead of us — like preparing for climate change, protecting the biosphere, and maybe keeping an eye out for some of those smaller asteroids.

But if these scientists are correct, no matter what, life on Earth is going to survive a long, long time.

So take that, universe, you're stuck with us.

Photo courtesy of Girls at Work

True

Girls are bombarded with messages from a very young age telling them that they can’t, that is too big, this is too heavy, those are too much.

Keep ReadingShow less
Pop Culture

14 things that will remain fun no matter how old you get

Your inner child will thank you for doing at least one of these.

Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

Swings can turn 80-year-olds into 8-year-olds in less that two seconds.

When we’re kids, fun comes so easily. You have coloring books and team sports and daily recess … so many opportunities to laugh, play and explore. As we get older, these activities get replaced by routine and responsibility (and yes, at times, survival). Adulthood, yuck.

Many of us want to have more fun, but making time for it still doesn’t come as easily as it did when we were kids—whether that’s because of guilt, a long list of other priorities or because we don’t feel it’s an age-appropriate thing to long for.

Luckily, we’ve come to realize that fun isn’t just a luxury of childhood, but really a vital aspect of living well—like reducing stress, balancing hormone levels and even improving relationships.

More and more people of all ages are letting their inner kids out to play, and the feelings are delightfully infectious.

You might be wanting to instill a little more childlike wonder into your own life, and not sure where to start. Never fear, the internet is here. Reddit user SetsunaSaigami asked people, “What always remains fun no matter how old you get?” People’s (surprisingly profound) answers were great reminders that no matter how complex our lives become, simple joy will always be important.

Here are 14 timeless pleasures to make you feel like a kid again:

Keep ReadingShow less
All images provided by Adewole Adamson

It begins with more inclusive conversations at a patient level

True

Adewole Adamson, MD, of the University of Texas, Austin, aims to create more equity in health care by gathering data from more diverse populations by using artificial intelligence (AI), a type of machine learning. Dr. Adamson’s work is funded by the American Cancer Society (ACS), an organization committed to advancing health equity through research priorities, programs and services for groups who have been marginalized.

Melanoma became a particular focus for Dr. Adamson after meeting Avery Smith, who lost his wife—a Black woman—to the deadly disease.

melanoma,  melanoma for dark skin Avery Smith (left) and Adamson (sidenote)

This personal encounter, coupled with multiple conversations with Black dermatology patients, drove Dr. Adamson to a concerning discovery: as advanced as AI is at detecting possible skin cancers, it is heavily biased.

To understand this bias, it helps to first know how AI works in the early detection of skin cancer, which Dr. Adamson explains in his paper for the New England Journal of Medicine (paywall). The process uses computers that rely on sets of accumulated data to learn what healthy or unhealthy skin looks like and then create an algorithm to predict diagnoses based on those data sets.

This process, known as supervised learning, could lead to huge benefits in preventive care.

After all, early detection is key to better outcomes. The problem is that the data sets don’t include enough information about darker skin tones. As Adamson put it, “everything is viewed through a ‘white lens.’”

“If you don’t teach the algorithm with a diverse set of images, then that algorithm won’t work out in the public that is diverse,” writes Adamson in a study he co-wrote with Smith (according to a story in The Atlantic). “So there’s risk, then, for people with skin of color to fall through the cracks.”

Tragically, Smith’s wife was diagnosed with melanoma too late and paid the ultimate price for it. And she was not an anomaly—though the disease is more common for White patients, Black cancer patients are far more likely to be diagnosed at later stages, causing a notable disparity in survival rates between non-Hispanics whites (90%) and non-Hispanic blacks (66%).

As a computer scientist, Smith suspected this racial bias and reached out to Adamson, hoping a Black dermatologist would have more diverse data sets. Though Adamson didn’t have what Smith was initially looking for, this realization ignited a personal mission to investigate and reduce disparities.

Now, Adamson uses the knowledge gained through his years of research to help advance the fight for health equity. To him, that means not only gaining a wider array of data sets, but also having more conversations with patients to understand how socioeconomic status impacts the level and efficiency of care.

“At the end of the day, what matters most is how we help patients at the patient level,” Adamson told Upworthy. “And how can you do that without knowing exactly what barriers they face?”

american cancer society, skin cacner treatment"What matters most is how we help patients at the patient level."https://www.kellydavidsonstudio.com/

The American Cancer Society believes everyone deserves a fair and just opportunity to prevent, find, treat, and survive cancer—regardless of how much money they make, the color of their skin, their sexual orientation, gender identity, their disability status, or where they live. Inclusive tools and resources on the Health Equity section of their website can be found here. For more information about skin cancer, visit cancer.org/skincancer.

Pop Culture

John Cena sets new world record with 650 wishes granted with the Make-A-Wish Foundation

He’s become the foundation’s most requested celebrity—and he never turns anyone down.

"I'll drop everything."

The multitalented, mega famous John Cena might hold many titles, but this might be the coolest one yet—and it has nothing to do with wrestling.

The actor and WWE performer just broke the Guinness World Records for most wishes granted through the Make-A-Wish Foundation. As of July 19, Guinness World Records reports, Cena has granted a whopping 650 wishes. The highest amount any other celebrity granted was 200.

The 16-time world champion first became a wish-granter back in 2002. Since then, he’s become the foundation’s most requested celebrity—and he never turns anyone down.

"I just drop everything. I don't care what I'm doing," he said in a WWE produced video after granting his 500th wish. “I can't say enough how cool it is to see the kids so happy, and their families so happy, I truly want to show them that it's their day.”
Keep ReadingShow less
via Lewis Speaks Sr. / Facebook

This article originally appeared on 02.25.21


Middle school has to be the most insecure time in a person's life. Kids in their early teens are incredibly cruel and will make fun of each other for not having the right shoes, listening to the right music, or having the right hairstyle.

As if the social pressure wasn't enough, a child that age has to deal with the intensely awkward psychological and biological changes of puberty at the same time.

Jason Smith, the principal of Stonybrook Intermediate and Middle School in Warren Township, Indiana, had a young student sent to his office recently, and his ability to understand his feelings made all the difference.

Keep ReadingShow less