We're plunging this forest into a deep freeze to get a look into the future.

A bit chilly? At least you're not a tree.

Well, at least you're not one of these trees at the Hubbard Brooke Experimental Forest in New Hampshire. These trees are pretty cold.

That's because, since 2015, scientists have been putting these particular trees on ice.

All right, everyone, chill! Image from National Science Foundation/YouTube.


Charles Driscoll from Syracuse University and his colleagues are interested in how severe ice storms affect forests. There haven't actually been a lot of studies about this. But the scientists had a problem: Ice storms aren't exactly the most predictable or consistent things in nature. You can't schedule it ahead of time, after all.

So rather than wait for nature to provide a convenient ice storm, they decided to create their own.

Let's kick some ice! Image from National Science Foundation/YouTube.

Turns out there isn't an off-the-shelf forest-freezer though, so the scientists had to invent one. It looks a bit like a cross between a snowmobile and a firetruck. It uses hoses and pumps to suck up water from a nearby brook and blasts it 100 feet into the air, where the water turns into a fine freezing mist.

Of course, it only works if the air temperature is already below freezing, but overall, the effect is like putting the forest in a big wet freezer says Driscoll. "Experimentally, it worked out quite well."

The scientists have 10 roughly basketball-court-sized forest plots. Some are left alone. Others get a quarter, half, or three-quarters of an inch of ice, which allows the scientists to test different sizes of storm. For reference, half-an-inch of ice would be a pretty big storm. Three-quarters would be an epic one.

The team did a first round of freezing in early 2016. If all goes as expected, they'll do another round in January or February of 2017 and one in 2018.

"Thats the plan, assuming Mother Nature cooperates," says Driscoll.

This could help Driscoll and his team predict what the future holds for forests like this one.

What killed the dinosaurs? The ice age! Image from National Science Foundation/YouTube.

The scientists hope to get a holistic view of how a forest responds to big ice storms. They're looking at a ton of variables — how many branches are snapped off by the ice, for instance, and does all that dead wood makes wildfires more likely during other parts of the year? Are the trees growing differently? What about the birds? What about the insects? The scientists are studying all of that, both during the winter as well as the following seasons too.

"We make those measurements throughout the year," says Driscoll.

They're going to watch for both short- and long-term effects and use that information to build scientific models that can help predict how forests will respond to future storms.

My editor says I have to apologize for the Mr. Freeze puns. Image from National Science Foundation/YouTube.

This information might be good to know, since big ice storms might actually become more common in the future. We know climate change is already affecting weather patterns, and it may even be causing more of those polar vortexes that keep hitting Europe and the Northeast U.S.

It's pretty neat to see such an ambitious experiment.

"I think it's a good example of exciting experimental science," says Driscoll. They've got a lot of work ahead of them, but the results will hopefully be illuminating. "We're looking forward to seeing how the forest responds."

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

via @Todd_Spence / Twitter

Seven years ago, Bill Murray shared a powerful story about the importance of art. The revelation came during a discussion at the National Gallery in London for the release of 2014's "The Monuments Men." The film is about a troop of soldiers on a mission to recover art stolen by the Nazis.

After his first time performing on stage in Chicago, Murray was so upset with himself that he contemplated taking his own life.

"I wasn't very good, and I remember my first experience, I was so bad I just walked out — out onto the street and just started walking," he said.

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