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The sun.

Photo by NASA/Flickr.

Bringer of day. Giver of life. Causer of that squinty face you're making in your Christmas card photo.

Just TAKE THE PICTURE! Photo via iStock.


And now, perhaps, also the unlikely savior of our climate and planet.

Thanks largely to a major decline in the cost of equipment, solar power has become the cheapest new energy source on the market.

"Unsubsidized solar is beginning to outcompete coal and natural gas on a larger scale, and notably, new solar projects in emerging markets are costing less to build than wind projects," Bloomberg's Tom Randall reports, summarizing a series of new data released by Bloomberg New Energy Finance, which surveyed 58 emerging economies in Africa, Asia, the Middle East, and South America.

The fact that this is taking place in the developing world is a big deal, as it could potentially allow some countries to skip dirty, costly fossil fuels altogether — or at least mostly.

A gigantic solar farm in Morocco. Photo by Fadel Senna/Getty Images.

Back in the '90s, much of Africa couldn't reliably talk to each other on the phone. Even in 2015, only 2% of African households had landline connections. But the advent of mobile phones allowed many countries to rapidly build communication infrastructure without having to install costly, resource-and-labor-intensive telephone lines. Today, nearly 90% of Nigerian and South African adults own mobile phones — about the same as the United States.

Similarly, falling costs could allow many of these countries to install cheap solar farms without having to first build big expensive coal and natural gas plants, giving them an edge over countries like the United States, which have to weigh the cost of building new, clean energy plants with the cost of tearing down old ones and deal with heavy resistance from the industries that operate them.

Of course, there are still some roadblocks to a full-on, balls-to-the-wall solar building bonanza.

Despite falling costs, installing solar panels across dozens of countries on multiple continents is time consuming.

Also, in areas that are less reliably sunny, fossil fuel sources can still be cheaper and more effective.

Nonetheless, it's an encouraging sign — and not just for those hoping to slow or reverse climate change.

"For populations still relying on expensive kerosene generators," Randall wrote, "or who have no electricity at all, and for those living in the dangerous smog of thickly populated cities, the shift to renewables and increasingly to solar can’t come soon enough."

When that day comes, we Earthlings could owe the sun big time.

Photo by NASA.

At least until it swallows us all whole in a few billion years.

via Pexels

Three people engaged in conversation at a party.

There are some people who live under the illusion that everything they say is deeply interesting and have no problem wasting your time by rambling on and on without a sign of stopping. They’re the relative, neighbor or co-worker who can’t take a hint that the conversation is over.

Of all these people, the co-worker who can’t stop talking may be the most challenging because you see them every day in a professional setting that requires politeness.

There are many reasons that some people talk excessively. Therapist F. Diane Barth writes in Psychology Today that some people talk excessively because they don’t have the ability to process complex auditory signals, so they ramble on without recognizing the subtle cues others are sending.

It may also be a case of someone who thinks they’re the most interesting person in the conversation.

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How to speak to a police officer.

This article originally appeared on 09.12.17

Whether it's a traffic stop that turns into "We smell something in your car" or a "driving while black" situation, you have rights when you're pulled over, and it's for the best if you actually use them. So how does this work, anyway? Well, you have rights when you're pulled over. These have been established via case law, and ultimately, some stem from the Constitution itself. In order, here are the magic phrases, along with some graphics to help you remember.

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One of these things is not like the other.

Sometimes, life can unexpectedly snatch you away from safety and thrust you into imminent danger. Other times, life can just as quickly turn a dire circumstance into a heartwarming miracle.

Such was the case for a baby hawk who went from being dinner to being adopted by a family of bald eagles near the city of Nanaimo in British Columbia, Canada. The amazing moment was captured by a 24-hour livestream webcam run by GROWLS, a nonprofit organization that helps rescue and rehabilitate injured wildlife.

The video shows the seemingly doomed baby hawk being tossed into an eaglet’s nest. Pam McCartney, a GROWLS volunteer who had been watching the livestream at the time, braced herself.

"Usually when I watch, like, David Attenborough and his shows, I can close my eyes or fast forward or whatever, but this was live at the time, and I was just like, oh, my gosh, oh, my gosh," she told CBC.

Much to her surprise, nature seemed to have something else in mind.

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