The near-tragic story of one-of-a-kind technology 60 feet beneath the ocean surface

The first time I saw "The Little Mermaid," the song "Under the Sea" left me wanting to take an underwater vacation.

C'mon. You know you want to hear it. GIF via "The Little Mermaid."


This line, y'all: "Just look at the world around you. Right here on the ocean floor. Such wonderful things surround you. What more is you looking for?"

Doesn't it make you want to just grow some gills?

We may not be able to live in the ocean, but scientists have developed a way to spend long stretches of time down there.

It's called the Aquarius Reef Base, and it was built a few decades ago, believe it or not. Today, it sits 60 feet underwater among the coral reefs of the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary.

Nature's paint job. Images via One World One Ocean/YouTube.

The Aquarius Reef Base is the only undersea laboratory and living space in the world.


Base director Thomas Potts describes Aquarius as "a one-of-a-kind saturation diving unit that is dedicated to science, education, and outreach" and "a complete immersive experience that you can find nowhere else on the planet."

Plus, it saves scientific teams time and money.

Saturation diving allows researchers to maximize their bottom time — or, as Sebastian from "The Little Mermaid" might put it, their time "under da sea." The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration says a surface-based scuba mission "would take at least 60-70 days to match the same bottom time as a 10-day saturation mission."

When you consider the questions scientists are trying to answer down there, you realize the reef base isn't just a national treasure, it's a global one.

According to Florida International University:

"At Aquarius, scientists are at the cutting edge of research on coral reefs, ocean acidification, climate change, fisheries and the overall health of the oceans. ... Universities, government agencies and private industry have conducted more than 120 missions to discover, preserve, train and innovate. More than 600 scientific research papers have been published based on Aquarius science."

Stuff's gettin' done on Aquarius. And as if it wasn't already one of the best dollar-for-dollar science structures on the planet, Aquarius is even used to train astronauts before they leave the planet.

Despite its unique and vital role in science, Aquarius has become a victim of politics.

In 2012, funding for the base was slated for elimination when NOAA's national undersea research program was dropped due to budget cuts. The Aquarius budget was less than $4 million, "a drop in the bucket when you compare it to bigger picture items," said Potts. But that was the problem, wrote Ben Hellwarth:

"Ironically, Aquarius's low cost has likely contributed to its low profile. The program can be cut precisely because ordinary citizens haven't heard of it because it isn't expensive enough to be worth cutting. The lab is a perfect example of practical spending."

Suffice it to say, scientists and science lovers across the nation were like, "HOLD UP."

GIF via "The Little Mermaid."

Thankfully, Aquarius was saved by Florida International University, but it was too close for comfort.

We're talking about the future of the planet here, folks, so (1) it shouldn't matter how much it costs to study and protect it, and (2) it's a job that'll have to be done for the entirety of human existence.

So let's not just look at studying the ocean as our duty — which it is, so we have to fund it — but also, it's the ocean. It's huge and awesome and 50% to 80% of all life on Earth lives in it. Why not also view it as one way we celebrate life?

GIF via "The Little Mermaid."

Watch this introduction to the Aquarius Reef Base by One World One Ocean:

Heroes
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Universal Pictures: Everest
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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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