Scientists have captured the first image of a black hole, and the size and scope of it alone will blow your mind.

Scientists have captured the first image of a black hole, and the size and scope of it alone will blow your mind.

It's a hugely historic day for us puny little humans. For the first time ever, astronomers have definitive, visual proof that black holes are actually a real thing in the universe.

A team of 200 scientists captured the image over the course of 10 days, using eight linked telescopes positioned around the globe. Professor Sheperd Doeleman of the Harvard-Smithsonian Centre for Astrophysics, one of the scientists who led the telescope project, has called it "an extraordinary scientific feat."


First image of a black hole seen from Earth. Handout/Getty Images.

"We have achieved something presumed to be impossible just a generation ago," Doeleman told the BBC. Yay, humans.

The numbers are mind-boggling. This black hole is located in a galaxy 500 quadrillion km away from Earth. The black hole itself is 40 million miles across—larger than our entire solar system—and has a mass 6.5 billion times the mass of our sun.

"It is one of the heaviest black holes that we think exists," Professor Heino Falcke, of Radboud University in the Netherlands told the BBC. "It is an absolute monster, the heavyweight champion of black holes in the Universe."

Seeing something so incredibly massive highlights how unbelievably minuscule we humans are in the universe.

Let's try to get a hold of some of these numbers. First of all, 500 quadrillion km (that's 500,000,000,000,000,000, if you want to actually see the crapload of zeroes) is an incomprehensible distance. Even if we could travel at the speed of light—which we can't even come close to—it would take us 50 million years to get there. The fact that we've invented telescopes that can actually see anything that far away is freaking amazing, but it's also a reminder that we are mere flecks upon a speck floating about here in space.

Our planet feels so big to us here on the ground. As an individual, I am one out of approximately 7,000,000,000 humans on Earth. On my feet, I take up about one square foot of the surface area of the Earth, the total of which is 196.9 million square miles. That alone is enough to make me feel pretty small.

But when I think about how a million Earths could fit inside our sun, and the mass of this black hole I'm looking at is 6.5 billion times that?  

Nope. Too big. I just can't.

We could let these numbers spiral us into an existential crisis, or we can use them to gain some much needed perspective.

Trying to ponder the physical expanse of the known universe is enough to make anyone's head explode. And when we add our own individual, physical puniness on top of it? Well, that's a quick and easy way to plunge ourselves into despair over our own insignificance, isn't it?

But one cool thing about being human is that we can choose how we view things. And laying our eyes on a black hole that's 50 million light years away and larger than our solar system offers us an opportunity for some physical and philosophical perspective.

How do our lives appear from that far away? Is that spat with our neighbor or coworker or in-law really that big a deal in the large scheme of things? What does the grudge we're holding onto look like from space? How many things do we blow into huge proportions in our lives that just aren't that important when we get some distance from them? What if we let all of that go?

I know I'm getting all deep-and-feely here, but that's what happens when you start pondering the immensity of space and time and our place in it. An image like this can remind us how tiny our "one wild and precious life" really is. Each of us has one unique shot at our earthly existence, so it only makes sense to focus on what really matters.

Yes, we are small and insignificant compared to the vastness of space. But we are here, and we might as well make the most of our fleeting time, in our teeny tiny spot in the universe, while we have the chance.

Heroes
Youtube

Should a man lose his home because the grass in his yard grew higher than 10 inches? The city of Dunedin, Florida seems to think so.

According to the Institute of Justice, which is representing Jim Ficken, he had a very good reason for not mowing his lawn – and tried to rectify the situation as best he could.

In 2014, Jim's mom became ill and he visited her often in South Carolina to help her out. When he was away, his grass grew too long and he was cited by a code office; he cut the grass and wasn't fined.

France has started forcing supermarkets to donate food instead of throwing it away.

But several years later, this one infraction would come back to haunt him after he left to take care of him's mom's affairs after she died. The arrangements he made to have his grass cut fell through (his friend who he asked to help him out passed away unexpectedly) and that set off a chain reaction that may result in him losing his home.

The 69-year-old retiree now faces a $29,833.50 fine plus interest. Watch the video to find out just what Jim is having to deal with.

Mow Your Lawn or Lose Your House! www.youtube.com

Cities

The world officially loves Michelle Obama.

The former first lady has overtaken the number one spot in a poll of the world's most admired women. Conducted by online research firm YouGov, the study uses international polling tools to survey people in countries around the world about who they most admire.

In the men's category, Bill Gates took the top spot, followed by Barack Obama and Jackie Chan.

In the women's category, Michelle Obama came first, followed by Oprah Winfrey and Angelina Jolie. Obama pushed Jolie out of the number one spot she claimed last year.

Unsurprising, really, because what's not to love about Michelle Obama? She is smart, kind, funny, accomplished, a great dancer, a devoted wife and mother, and an all-around, genuinely good person.

She has remained dignified and strong in the face of rabid masses of so-called Americans who spent eight years and beyond insisting that she's a man disguised as a woman. She's endured non-stop racist memes and terrifying threats to her family. She has received far more than her fair share of cruelty, and always takes the high road. She's the one who coined, "When they go low, we go high," after all.

She came from humble beginnings and remains down to earth despite becoming a familiar face around the world. She's not much older than me, but I still want to be like Michelle Obama when I grow up.

Her memoir, Becoming, may end up being the best-selling memoir of all time, having already sold 10 million copies—a clear sign that people can't get enough Michelle, because there's no such thing as too much Michelle.

Don't like Michelle Obama? Don't care. Those of us who love her will fly our MO flags high and without apology, paying no mind to folks with cold, dead hearts who don't know a gem of a human being when they see one. There is nothing any hater can say or do to make us admire this undeniably admirable woman any less.

When it seems like the world has lost its mind—which is how it feels most days these days—I'm just going to keep coming back to this study as evidence that hope for humanity is not lost.

Here. Enjoy some real-life Michelle on Jimmy Kimmel. (GAH. WHY IS SHE SO CUTE AND AWESOME. I can't even handle it.)

Michelle & Barack Obama are Boring Now www.youtube.com

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via EarthFix / Flickr

What will future generations never believe that we tolerated in 2019?

Dolphin and orca captivity, for sure. They'll probably shake their heads at how people died because they couldn't afford healthcare. And, they'll be completely mystified at the amount of food some people waste while others go starving.

According to Biological Diversity, "An estimated 40 percent of the food produced in the United States is wasted every year, costing households, businesses and farms about $218 billion annually."

There are so many things wrong with this.

First of all it's a waste of money for the households who throw out good food. Second, it's a waste of all of the resources that went into growing the food, including the animals who gave their lives for the meal. Third, there's something very wrong with throwing out food when one in eight Americans struggle with hunger.

Supermarkets are just as guilty of this unnecessary waste as consumers. About 10% of all food waste are supermarket products thrown out before they've reached their expiration date.

Three years ago, France took big steps to combat food waste by making a law that bans grocery stores from throwing away edible food.According to the new ordinance, stores can be fined for up to $4,500 for each infraction.

Previously, the French threw out 7.1 million tons of food. Sixty-seven percent of which was tossed by consumers, 15% by restaurants, and 11% by grocery stores.

This has created a network of over 5,000 charities that accept the food from supermarkets and donate them to charity. The law also struck down agreements between supermarkets and manufacturers that prohibited the stores from donating food to charities.

"There was one food manufacturer that was not authorized to donate the sandwiches it made for a particular supermarket brand. But now, we get 30,000 sandwiches a month from them — sandwiches that used to be thrown away," Jacques Bailet, head of the French network of food banks known as Banques Alimentaires, told NPR.

It's expected that similar laws may spread through Europe, but people are a lot less confident at it happening in the United States. The USDA believes that the biggest barrier to such a program would be cost to the charities and or supermarkets.

"The logistics of getting safe, wholesome, edible food from anywhere to people that can use it is really difficult," the organization said according to Gizmodo. "If you're having to set up a really expensive system to recover marginal amounts of food, that's not good for anybody."

Plus, the idea may seem a little too "socialist" for the average American's appetite.

"The French version is quite socialist, but I would say in a great way because you're providing a way where they [supermarkets] have to do the beneficial things not only for the environment, but from an ethical standpoint of getting healthy food to those who need it and minimizing some of the harmful greenhouse gas emissions that come when food ends up in a landfill," Jonathan Bloom, the author of American Wasteland, told NPR.

However, just because something may be socialist doesn't mean it's wrong. The greater wrong is the insane waste of money, damage to the environment, and devastation caused by hunger that can easily be avoided.

Planet

The world is dark and full of terrors, but every once in a while it graces us with something to warm our icy-cold hearts. And that is what we have today, with a single dad who went viral on Twitter after his daughter posted the photos he sent her when trying to pick out and outfit for his date. You love to see it.




After seeing these heartwarming pics, people on Twitter started suggesting this adorable man date their moms. It was essentially a mom and date matchmaking frenzy.

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