The sky is about to get quieter, thanks to these innovations in air travel.
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United Technologies

If you live near an airport or have driven by one, you may have noticed something: Planes are pretty loud.


That's gotta get old. Image via iStock.


There are 87,000 flights in the sky on any given day in the United States. That's a lot of air travel. What does that mean for the people on the ground looking up?

For the millions of people who live in communities surrounding airports, plane noise from takeoff and landing is part of their everyday life.

It's a constant noise that can be frustrating and take a toll on the mind and body.

According to a study in the NIH's Environmental Health Perspectives journal, the impact of noise exposure goes beyond hearing impairment and can also negatively affect blood pressure, stress levels, and sleep.

Noise isn't the only concern with all the air traffic. The environment feels it, too.

Similar to other transportation vehicles, airplanes release many pollutants into the air. With the industry's growth in size comes more noise and pollution.


Air traffic worldwide. GIF via pinyponsi_cgr/YouTube.

This may seem like it only affects people living near airports, but with air travel demand expected to double in the next 20 years, the demand for flights and airports to host them is only going to increase.

For many people, traveling less isn't an option. So innovators have come up with some more realistic solutions for the environmental and noise pollution problems.

What about a plane that's 100% powered by solar energy?

Solar Impulse 2, changing the aviation game. Image via Steve Jurvetson/Flickr.

There's one out there now! It's called the Solar Impulse 2, and instead of using jet fuel, it generates electricity from the solar panels on its 236-foot wingspan. Incredible.

It's going to be a while before any of us step foot on a plane operated in this capacity, but the fact that clean energy is part of the conversation — and is working — is huge.

Or, for instance, a plane engine that's 75% quieter.

PurePower Geared TurboFan Engine. Image by Pratt & Whitney, used with permission.

The company, Pratt & Whitney, has spent the last two decades developing a new engine for airplanes called the PurePower Geared Turbofan engine, which entered into commercial service January 2016. Their goal was to make an engine that is quieter and more sustainable for the Earth, and so far they’re delivering.

Their new engine reduces the plane's noise footprint by 75%, which means a whopping 500,000 fewer people can hear the aircraft taking off compared to a typical plane without it.

That's a lot of lives no longer interrupted by the sound of a plane overhead. And because of that, airports could potentially extend runway hours to allow for more service.

Technologies for better air traffic control make airplanes way more efficient.

The Federal Aviation Administration has been working on modernizing the nation's air traffic control system through what it calls NextGen. Instead of relying on old-school radar-based tracking for air traffic control, the NextGen technology uses more satellite procedures.

According to The Dallas Morning News:

"This technology promises GPS-based tracking as well as new data sharing and communication tools that will allow for more efficient flight paths, better navigation through inclement weather and quicker taxiing times on takeoff and landing.

That increased efficiency translates to fuel and cost savings for airlines, fewer delays for passengers and less air and noise pollution."

The coalition ASCENT is all about reducing the environmental impact of aviation.

The group, made up of 16 leading U.S. research universities and over 60 private-sector stakeholders, is figuring out how to reduce noise, improve air quality, and reduce the climate impact of aviation today.

Through research, ASCENT (the Aviation Sustainability Center) is rethinking the technology, operations, planning, and sustainability within the industry. It's quite a big job.

There is no one single solution to overcome the noise and environmental impact of the planes in our sky.

But it is encouraging to see how much more we know now, and how companies are realizing that more sustainable and greener operations aren't just good for the world, but good for their bottom line.

Flights are cheaper and more accessible than ever before. We should be able to fly to our destinations without harming the Earth — and the people in our path.

Courtesy of Verizon
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If someone were to say "video games" to you, what are the first words that come to mind? Whatever words you thought of (fun, exciting, etc.), we're willing to guess "healthy" or "mental health tool" didn't pop into your mind.

And yet… it turns out they are. Especially for Veterans.

How? Well, for one thing, video games — and virtual reality more generally — are also more accessible and less stigmatized to veterans than mental health treatment. In fact, some psychiatrists are using virtual reality systems for this reason to treat PTSD.

Secondly, video games allow people to socialize in new ways with people who share common interests and goals. And for Veterans, many of whom leave the military feeling isolated or lonely after they lose the daily camaraderie of their regiment, that socialization is critical to their mental health. It gives them a virtual group of friends to talk with, connect to, and relate to through shared goals and interests.

In addition, according to a 2018 study, since many video games simulate real-life situations they encountered during their service, it makes socialization easier since they can relate to and find common ground with other gamers while playing.

This can help ease symptoms of depression, anxiety, and even PTSD in Veterans, which affects 20% of the Veterans who have served since 9/11.

Watch here as Verizon dives into the stories of three Veteran gamers to learn how video games helped them build community, deal with trauma and have some fun.

Band of Gamers www.youtube.com

Video games have been especially beneficial to Veterans since the beginning of the pandemic when all of us — Veterans included — have been even more isolated than ever before.

And that's why Verizon launched a challenge last year, which saw $30,000 donated to four military charities.

And this year, they're going even bigger by launching a new World of Warships charity tournament in partnership with Wargaming and Wounded Warrior Project called "Verizon Warrior Series." During the tournament, gamers will be able to interact with the game's iconic ships in new and exciting ways, all while giving back.

Together with these nonprofits, the tournament will welcome teams all across the nation in order to raise money for military charities helping Veterans in need. There will be a $100,000 prize pool donated to these charities, as well as donation drives for injured Veterans at every match during the tournament to raise extra funds.

Verizon is also providing special discounts to Those Who Serve communities, including military and first responders, and they're offering a $75 in-game content military promo for World of Warships.

Tournament finals are scheduled for August 8, so be sure to tune in to the tournament and donate if you can in order to give back to Veterans in need.

Courtesy of Verizon

Ready for the weekend? Of course, you are. Here's our weekly dose of good vibes to help you shed the stresses of the workweek and put yourself in a great frame of mind.

These 10 stories made us happy this week because they feature amazing creativity, generosity, and one super-cute fish.

1. Diver befriends a fish with the cutest smile

Hawaiian underwater photographer Yuki Nakano befriended a friendly porcupine fish and now they hang out regularly.

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