Shoppers guide to avoiding toxic chemicals 

As you’re poring over the holiday ads from major retailers to make your wish list, environmental activists want you to consider more than price when you shop.

“Use your purchasing power to drive positive change in the marketplace,” said Mike Schade of Safer Chemicals Healthy Families, a group devoted to reducing toxic chemical footprints. “Ask major retailers to get tough on manufacturers and use their influence to rid the marketplace of toxic chemicals.”
 “When out shopping, no one should have to worry that the shampoo, lotions, cleaners, clothing, shoes, or home electronics contain toxic ingredients that could harm their family’s health,” said Mike Belliveau, executive director of the Environmental Health Strategy Center,another group working to reduce toxic chemicals in the marketplace. “Where would you rather shop, at a retailer that scores a B or the retailer with a red F for failure to ensure their safety of their products?”
To help consumers make those decisions, a new report from the coalition grades retailers for the first time on how well they are reducing toxic chemicals in the products they sell. Called “Who’s Minding the Store” the report graded companies on a scale of zero to 130 points by looking at 13 different categories of action retailers could take, including chemical safety screening, ingredient disclosure, efforts to find safer alternatives and reporting the amount of “chemicals of high concern” the company has reduced or eliminated.
Those chemicals include heavy metals such as lead, mercury and arsenic, toxic flame retardants and endocrine disruptors such as parabens, BPA and formaldehyde.
The good news, said Schade, is that two top retailers, Walmart and Target, received a B grade for making “meaningful progress” over the last three years toward safer chemicals in the products they sell. In fact, both companies expanded their list of problematic chemicals to over 2,000.
“This summer Walmart reported that their suppliers had reduced high priority chemicals by 23 million pounds,” said Schade, “and Target added cosmetics to their policy for the first time and improved suppliers’ transparency practices, especially in regard to fragrance.”
Unfortunately, says Schade, the average grade among the 11 retailers was a D+.
“There are some serious laggers,” he said, “showing there is a need for significant improvement in the marketplace to protect consumers.”

F for Amazon, Costco, Albertsons

The online retailer Amazon received the worst score, only 7.5 points out of 130. Costco didn’t fare much better, scoring only 9.5 points. Schade said all of the companies were shown the report in advance, and given the chance to respond.
Dangerous chemicals hiding in everyday products
“Neither Costco or Amazon formally responded to our communications,” said Schade. “We think this is deeply concerning. Amazon, for example, is set to become the largest retailer of apparel and electronics over the next year, and increasingly rolling out new product lines. They need to catch up.”
Albertsons, a supermarket chain, also received an F in the report, scoring only 12.5 points out of 130. The company told CNN that the Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families report “offers an incomplete view of the work we do to offer our customers products and merchandise that put safety first.”
“In fact, in May 2016, we were recognized by the Environmental Protection Agency for our efforts toward labeling our private label products which meet the EPA’s Safer Choice requirements,” said Chris Wilcox, vice president of communications. “We are committed to continuing these efforts across the products we manufacture and those we sell in our stores, and to giving our customers the information they need to make purchasing choices that are right for them.’
Amazon did not respond to CNN’s request for comment. Costco said it was not able to provide a response.

More scores

Kroger received a D- in the ratings, with only 15.5 points. More Ds were assigned to Walgreens with 29.5 points, Lowe’s at 29.5 and Home Depot at 35.5 points of out 130.
Home Depot and Kroger did not respond to a request for comment. Corporate public relations at Lowe’s said: “Safer Chemicals shared a copy of their study with us. We continue to have conversations with this group and others to learn more about their concerns.”
Walgreens told CNN it is working with their English partner Walgreens Boots Alliance, which has “already developed an advanced program in retailing, manufacturing and chemical sustainability. We also are in continuous dialogue with multiple external parties including laboratories, NGO’s and other retailers to improve the transparency of product ingredients and chemicals of concern.”
“It’s not all doom and gloom,” said Schade. “Some companies are making significant progress. For example, CVS Health has signed the Chemical Footprint Project, the first pharmacy to do so, and has pledged to tell the public by 2017 about its list of restricted chemicals. And Best Buy told us they are working on a safer chemicals policy and restricted substance list.”
CVS Health (53 points) and Best Buy (41 points) both fell into the C category.

Why retailers?

Why should so much of the responsibility for change rest on the shoulders of giant retailers? Because they are on the front line of consumer discontent and they have a fundamental moral responsibility, argues Schade.
“If you think about it, most people don’t buy products directly from the manufacturer,” he said. “It is retailers that have the relationships. The eleven retailers we evaluated have combined sales of over one trillion dollars, a market power that can transform the toxic chemical economy.”
Schade also pointed to the economic fallout that can affect companies when consumers find out that a company has been selling toxic products. Take for example the case of Lumber Liquidators, whose stock collapsed after CNN’s Anderson Cooper reported, on the CBS News show “60 Minutes,” that the flooring sold by the company contained high levels of the cancer-causing chemical formaldehyde. The company’s CEO later resigned.
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“And there’s a United Nations report that documents the various financial and business risks associated with toxic chemicals — including over $138 million in fines against Walmart, CVS and other retailers,” said Schade.
So what can a consumer do if they believe their favorite retailer doesn’t have a satisfactory grade?
“We have an online action page,” said Schade. “There you can both thank those companies who are doing well, and encourage those who are not to become a leader and not a lagger.”

Source: Shoppers guide to avoiding toxic chemicals 

5 Steps To Finding A Workout You Actually Like 

LAUREN ROSS

1. Make a List of All the Possible Activities You Think You Might Ever Enjoy 

Get a piece of paper and write down every physical activity you enjoy now or think you might enjoy–gardening, hiking, kayaking, learning to salsa dance, training for a 5K, doing the elliptical, weight lifting, taking a Spin class or trying a pole-dancing class.

If you belong to a gym or like the idea of working out in a gym, write down exercises, classes and machines that you know about.

2. Try at Least One New Workout for 20 Minute Every Week
Make it your goal to try at least one new workout every week for one month. Don’t feel pressured to like whatever you try right away–you probably won’t. Your purpose right now is simply to explore and find what you think you might want to try again.

There’s just one rule: You can’t count something as “trying it” if you do a workout for only five minutes–that’s not long enough to give your body time to warm up, let alone adapt to the movements you’re doing. Try to sustain any cardio-based workout for 20 minutes, easing into the exercise at first by going slower than you think you should. If you’re trying new strengthening exercises or lifting weights, warm up your muscles beforehand by walking or riding a bike for at least 5 minutes, then rotate through different sets, or exercises, for 10 to 15 minutes.

3. If You Give Something 5 Stars Out of 10, Try It Again Next Week
If you dislike something, cross it off the list. If something seems even remotely interesting, circle a date on your calendar the following week to try it again. On the other hand, if something made your body hurt or you just weren’t enjoying yourself after 20 minutes, you don’t have to try it again. The goal here is to find one or two exercises that you enjoy–and it’s icing on the cake if you discover more.

4. Four Is the Magic Number
Try any workouts that you think you might like at least four times before deciding if they’re a good fit for you. Four sessions should be enough to determine whether a workout has the potential to positively affect your body and mood.

If nothing excites you, though, that’s okay. Sit down again to make a new list–and this time, get more creative. Think outside the gym to outdoor sports, athletic clubs, adult pickup games and dance classes that you might enjoy. Or if you like the idea of exercising at the gym but still haven’t found something you like to do there, consider looking for a new gym with different class offerings, machines or even atmosphere. I know some people who don’t like to work out at gyms without personal TVs or those that don’t have any windows near the cardio equipment.

5. Keep the Adventure Alive
Keep the spirit of adventure alive because exercise, no matter how much you like it, can get monotonous and boring at times. It’s a lot like food, in fact: If you had to eat the same meal every day, even if it was your favorite meal, wouldn’t you eventually get sick of it and want to try something different? Continually experimenting will keep your workouts fresh, help you stay motivated and challenge your body in new ways so that you continue to get strong and lean without ever getting stuck in a rut.

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Source: 5 Steps To Finding A Workout You Actually Like

Stephen Hawking Puts An Expiry Date On Humanity

By; Suman Varandani,

Source: Stephen Hawking Puts An Expiry Date On Humanity

This is what climate change looks like….

Source: Breathtaking photos show effects of climate change 

Can You Spare A Zeptosecond? Scientists Have Just Measured The Shortest Unit Of Time Ever 

M OSSIANDER TUM M SCHULTZ MPQ
This image shows a photon removing an electron from a helium atom, with the remaining electron most likely near the bright nucleus. 

A millisecond is a thousandth of a second, and a nanosecond is a billionth of a second, but there’s another measurement of time that makes both of them look slow.

Scientists have for the first time been able to measure something in a zeptosecond, or a trillionth of a billionth of a second.

Laser physicists in Munich fired an extreme ultraviolet light pulse onto a helium atom to excite the electrons, causing one to break free ― a process called photoemission. At the same time, they shot an infrared laser pulse to detect the electron as it left the atom.

That’s when it happened.

“Depending on the exact electromagnetic field of this pulse at the time of detection, the electron was accelerated or decelerated,” the Technical University of Munich stated in a news release. “Through this change in speed, the physicists were able to measure photoemission with zeptosecond precision.”

The experiments also allowed scientists to see how energy from the photon was distributed between the two electrons in a helium atom in the moments before one of the electrons jumped out. That snapshot of a tiny moment in time will allow scientists a greater understanding of the quantum behavior of atoms.

Many things are rooted in the interactions of individual electrons, but we handle them as a collective thing,” laser physicist Martin Schultze of Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich, who led the experiments at the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics, told New Scientist. “If you really want to develop a microscopic understanding of atoms, on the most basic level, you need to understand how electrons deal with each other.”

Source: Can You Spare A Zeptosecond? Scientists Have Just Measured The Shortest Unit Of Time Ever\

Taylor Swift sealed photo hits the Internet

Taylor Swift’s Photo Of Alleged Groping Incident Revealed

 

The photo possibly showing Taylor Swift being grabbed inappropriately by a Denver DJ has been leaked online, despite a judge’s order that it remained sealed, according to Fox News.

Swift is being sued by, and has countersued, David Mueller, whom Swift says touched her during a 2013 concert meet-and-greet. The singer asked the judge to seal the photo.

Taylor Swift performs on the eve of the Formula One U.S. Grand Prix auto race at Circuit of the Americas, Saturday, Oct. 22, 2016, in Austin, Texas. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)
Taylor Swift performs on the eve of the Formula One U.S. Grand Prix auto race at Circuit of the Americas, Saturday, Oct. 22, 2016, in Austin, Texas. 

TMZ published the photo, in which Swift stands between Mueller and another woman. Swift’s arms are around the person on either side of her, while Mueller’s right hand appears to be behind her lower back.

The singer says that’s when Mueller grabbed her rear end.

“Right as the moment came for us to pose for the photo, he took his hand and put it up my dress and grabbed onto my ass cheek and no matter how much I scooted over it was still there,” Swift said, in a deposition. “It was completely intentional, I’ve never been so sure of anything in my life.”

Swift said she felt “violated in a way I had never experienced before.”

Mueller denies the accusations.

Source: Taylor Swift sealed photo hits the Internet

Project Blue on Kickstarter may photograph the first Earth-like planet 

The first telescope to photograph a “pale blue dot” of another Earth in a distant solar system may not be funded by NASA, the European Space Agency, or some other government agency.

It might come from Kickstarter.

Dubbed Project Blue, the effort isn’t run by hucksters out to peddle unrealistic technologies. A consortium of professional scientists and engineers, some of whom work at NASA, is running the show as a nonprofit called Mission Centaur.

“We’re looking for a place that could support life,” Supriya Chakrabarti, an optical and space scientist at the University of Massachusetts Lowell who’s part of Project Blue, told Business Insider.

project blue telescope logo kickstarterProject Blue/Kickstarter

Mission Centaur hopes its six-week panhandle on Kickstarter, which starts November 15, nets them at least $1 million — enough cash to pick up the work that a group of the researchers started at NASA but couldn’t get more funding to support.

It says the money will go toward further design and research of the project.

The group ultimately expects the mission to cost between $25 million and $50 million to get into orbit around Earth within the next four to six years. That price tag includes sharing a ride on a rocket like SpaceX’s Falcon 9, and it’s nothing compared with the billions NASA has spent on space observatories.

Once in orbit, an epic two-year stare-down would begin.

Chakrabarti said he’s confident that crowdfunding the first stage of Project Blue will work out, buying time to attract a big following — and bigger funders later on.

“After ghosts and dinosaurs, space comes a close third, in terms of people’s interest,” he said.

Shooting in the dark

alpha proxima centauri stars esoEuropean Southern Observatory

Project Blue’s target is Alpha Centauri, a system that contains two of the closest stars to our own solar system at just 4.4 light-years away.

One of the stars, called Alpha Centauri A, is even sunlike.

However, nobody actually knows if a blue marble like Earth — a world with liquid-water oceans, a cozy atmosphere, and other conditions necessary for life — might lurk in the double-star system. Not even the Hubble Space Telescope, the planet-hunting Kepler space telescope or other advanced observatories could tell an astronomer.

So it’s a bit of a gamble to make even a small telescope that’s purpose-built to stare down one star system.

But Chakrabarti and the other Mission Centaur scientists think it’s a good bet. They cite the most recent planet-hunting data from Kepler that pegs the odds of a rocky planet orbiting a star’s “habitable zone,” or close enough to create liquid water, near 85%.

“Roughly one out of every two stars has a potentially habitable planet,” Ruslan Belikov, an astrophysicist at NASA Ames Research Center, said in “The Search for Earth Proxima” — a short documentary about the project. “The number of potentially habitable planets in our galaxy alone is greater than the number of people alive on Earth.”

According to Lee Billings at Scientific American, Belikov and another scientist in 2014 pitched NASA a telescope similar to Project Blue, “but the agency passed over the speculative, narrowly focused project.”

That’s not too much of a surprise, since NASA likes its space telescopes more like Swiss Army knives and able to view multiple targets with ease. The equipment and techniques also weren’t quite there at the time — hurdles that Mission Centaur no longer foresees.

“The technology required to do this is only very recent. It hasn’t been ready until now,” said Brett Marty, the documentary’s filmmaker and the executive director of Mission Centaur.

How to photograph an ‘Earth Proxima’

At roughly the size of a modest washing machine, Project Blue would be a pretty dinky space telescope if built — certainly compared with the school-bus-size Hubble.

But it doesn’t need to be large. It’s focused on only one part of the sky and needs minimal electronics — whereas Hubble needs large gyroscopes and multiple cameras to move and take aim at different objects in space.

Project Blue’s ultimate task is resolving any very dim objects next to ones 1 billion to 10 billion times brighter.

“Imagine there’s a marble next to a lighthouse in Cape Cod,” Chakrabarti said. “Now try to image that marble from San Francisco. That is what we’re dealing with.”

He said that “three key technologies matured enough that we can tell people with a straight face that we’re now actually ready to go and do this thing.”

One is a miniaturized version of a coronagraph, a complex instrument that can blocks each star’s blinding light and can reveal planets hiding in the glare.

“It’s kind of like playing tennis and the sun is in your eyes,” Marty said. “When you put your hand up to block it, you can see the ball coming. Here we’re suppressing both stars at once” and catching the balls.

Keeping the precision while shrinking what’s normally a very large instrument wasn’t easy, they said.

The next challenge was that “it’s near impossible to make a perfect mirror,” or at least a large one, Chakrabarti said.

deformable mirror patterns nasaNASA’s logo reproduced by a computer-powered deformable mirror, which is roughly the size of a postage stamp.NASA

The solution? A “deformable” mirror, which is a computer-chip-like array of about 1,000 ultra-tiny (and very perfect) mirrors that can be programmed to move with microscopic precision thousands of times a second, helping cancel out any optical imperfections in the telescope.

The third and final technical hurdle to making Project Blue possible was image stabilization.

“A crisp image is what is needed because the planet would be so close to the star,” Chakrabarti said. “We have built such a system and proven it works to the level Hubble can point.”

Marty said it’s similar to the gyros in consumer cameras that stabilize an image — though far more exacting.

“This is really the reason we’re able to do this mission at such a low cost,” he said.

To prove the stabilizers worked well enough to keep Project Blue gazing endlessly at Alpha Centauri, Chakrabarti’s team launched experimental prototypes toward the edge of space, some 60 miles up. For the few minutes they floated in the thin air before falling back to Earth, they perfectly stabilized the experimental rig.

If all goes according to plan, Project Blue will take hundreds or even thousands of pictures of the star system in three colors (including blue), merge the giant pile of images, and lift a pale blue dot out from the noise of pixels.

“We have to take care of every single possible event that could contribute to this noise,” Chakrabarti said. “This is why we’ve decided we need at least two years of measurement to convince ourselves we’re seeing a true, Earth-like planet.”

What if it works?

proximaAn artist’s impression of a view of the surface of the planet Proxima b orbiting the red dwarf star Proxima Centauri, the closest star to the solar system.ESO/M. Kornmesser

It’s important to note this isn’t the closest star system, which we heard a lot about earlier this year: a red dwarf star called Proxima Centauri.

Although a dogged team of astronomers strongly believes a rocky, Earth-size planet called Proxima b is circling that star in its habitable zone, Chakrabarti and Marty said it’s not a great target for their ragtag operation.

At about 4 million miles away from its star, Marty said, “There’s a lot of radiation. It’s also a tricky target and hard to resolve, and it might not be anything like our planet.”

An observatory like the behemoth James Webb Space Telescope might be the first to study that world, though it wouldn’t be a “pale blue dot” photo — more like a fuzzy heat signature that could indicate “this is an incinerated hellhole” or “a useful atmosphere and potentially water lurk here.”

Project Blue, of course, actually intends to return images of a habitable planets, like this:

project blue pale blue dot simulationJared Males; Project Blue

If Project Blue works, Mission Centaur said it could launch a new era of planet-hunting telescopes.

Also, Russian billionaire Yuri Milner and his Breakthrough Starshot project — an effort to laser-propel tiny spacecraft to the Alpha Centauri or Proxima Centauri systems — would have a solid and intriguing target.

But even if that pie-in-the-sky idea falls down and all we’re left with is a crummy image of a pale blue dot, it would still be Earth-shattering.

“Finding an Earth Proxima would be a transformative event in the history of mankind,” Bill Diamond, president and CEO of the SETI Institute, said in the documentary. “I would love to think that is something that helps bring us together. It’s a very unifying thing.”

And in divisive times like these, unity is something the human race could use a lot more of.

 

Source: Project Blue on Kickstarter may photograph the first Earth-like planet 

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