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pollution

80% of North Americans Can’t See the Milky Way Because of Light Pollution

That's sad, because it's beautiful.

We can see a few distant galaxies in the night sky with our own eyes, but one that's increasingly difficult to see is, sadly, our own. The Milky Way is an awe-inspiring sight on a dark night, but due to humans and our artificial light, almost no one in North America gets to experience a dark enough night to see it anymore.

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Things We Saw Today: Little Girl Freaks the Heck Out for The Force Awakens

It us.

She's so flipping happy. I can't handle it.

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Your Downloadable Games May Be Worse for the Environment Than Game Discs

No wonder those birds are so angry.

All those darn vidya games that you kids are downloading over the online are clogging up the air! There's just too much data flying around up there, and it's polluting everything! In my day, we used a series of tubes!

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Study Shows Arizona Desert is Literally Trashy, Verdict Still Out on Rest of Arizona

Oscar the Grouch may want to consider leaving his smelly trashcan hovel on Sesame Street behind in favor of the arid landscape of Arizona's Saguaro National Park. A recent study conducted by the University of Arizona and biologist Erin Zylstra shows that windswept trash -- consisting mostly of plastic bags and latex balloons -- has ended up in the desert. Even more alarming is that the amount of trash in the area actually outnumbers the population of indigenous desert tortoises and western diamondback rattlesnakes, with the very life of these little critters on the line.

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Flowers Could Clean Up Polluted Land, Act As Nanoparticle Factories

The alyssum flowers pictured above aren't just pretty -- they're good for the planet, too. A recent study from the University of Warwick suggests that the common flowers and their relatives could help restore chemically poisoned land to a more livable state by leeching toxins from the ground. As an added bonus, researchers think they could one day harvest those same toxic chemicals  -- now broken down to tiny nanoparticles -- for use in new technologies.

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Detectable Levels of Artificial Sweetener Found In Lake Erie

The bad news: The water at a Pennsylvania beach on Lake Erie is full of artificial sweetener and no one really knows what that means. The good news? If you could figure out a way to combine it with the slightly caffeinated water of the Puget Sound, you would have Lake Diet Coke. If you did that, we have to assume that would win you all of the Nobel Prizes.

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Data Centers Waste Most of the Energy They Consume

Cloud storage is the future, that's what every tech company, media outlet, and anyone who generally cares about technology has been saying for the last couple of years now. From Netflix to Amazon, from Microsoft to Google, every company's falling over themselves to provide users access to as much data as they possibly can online. Cloud storage is by far the most convenient way to get access to any type of file you could every want, but that amount of freedom doesn't come without a cost. According to The New York Times, most data centers waste a whopping 90 percent of the energy they pull from the power grid.

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New Hybrid Energy Device Could Clean Water While Generating Power

A couple of rules that most people can agree on: Humans need water to survive, and that while living in groups humans will produce waste water of some kind. How to keep that water clean and divest ourselves of that waste has been an ongoing problem, especially in large scale urban living environments. However, new technology from Pennsylvania State University might not only clean water, but produce enough electrical power to be self-sustaining.

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Your Prozac-Laden Pee is Killing Lake Bacteria

Pollution in Lake Erie is nothing new, but a surprising threat may be attacking this great lake: Prozac run off. Microbiologist Steve Mauro says that his team has found traces of fluoxetine, the active ingredient in Prozac, that while harmless to humans seems to be killing off bacterial colonies of E. Coli in the lake. The concentrations Mauro found are around one nanogram per liter of lake water. At this dosage, even invertebrates are safe. However, other studies have shown that the chemicals in higher concentrations can have serious affects on aquatic life. So far, the research shows that it is only affecting bacteria like E. Coli, which may sound like a good thing, but it's very difficult to predict the impact such changes can have on a complex lake ecosystem. Mauro posed the question to National Geographic: "But what about all the other bacteria that are supposed to be there and part of that ecosystem?" More distressing than the presence of fluoxetine, which like other antidepressant ingredients has been found in water supplies the world over, is how it got there in the first place. Most of these chemicals are thought to come from pills dumped down the toilet, or from the urine of humans using the drugs. But Presque Isle State Park, where Mauro took the samples, is free from sewage. Mauro says that this opens a chilling possibility: That fluoxetine might be spread throughout the entire lake. (National Geographic via BoingBoging, image via farrellink)

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