What happens if you grind your teeth too much

  • Thirty to 40 million Americans grind their teeth at night. Chronic grinding is known as bruxism in the medical community.
  • Every time you grind your teeth, you’re exerting as much as 200 pounds of pressure per square inch.
  • All that pressure isn’t good for your teeth and can eventually lead to damage that requires root canals, implants, or dentures.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Following is a transcript of the video.

Narrator: Thirty to 40 million Americans grind their teeth at night. That’s roughly 10% of the US population, and chronic teeth grinding can lead to painful issues from tooth fractures to changes in facial appearance. But the worst part is you could be a teeth grinder and not even know it.

Every time a grinder gnashes their back molars together, they exert as much as 200 pounds of pressure per square inch. That’s 10 times the force you exert on your teeth when you chew normally. This pressure can crack and fracture teeth and eventually even wear them down to stumps, which can then require root canals, implants, or dentures. But it’s not just your teeth that take a beating.

If you suffer from chronic grinding, also called bruxism in the medical community, you could be grinding your teeth for up to 40 minutes for every hour you’re asleep. That’s enough to cause headaches and a sore jaw in the morning, and if you keep it up night after night, it could permanently damage your jaw. Researchers estimate that 20% of teeth grinders have symptoms of a painful jaw condition called TMD. TMD affects the movement of your temporomandibular joints. These joints connect your jaw to your skull, helping you eat, chew, and talk. But when you grind your teeth incessantly, you can overwork these joints.

One study found that when these muscles work overtime, they become tender and enlarged, making your face look more square and masculine. What’s more, the sound of grinding teeth could be enough to damage your hearing. Researchers who examined 400 university students found a strong correlation between grinding and tinnitus. Tinnitus is a hearing condition that causes ringing in your ears and can lead to hearing loss.

But perhaps the scariest part of all of this, unless your roommate or a partner hears you grinding your teeth at night, you might not even realize you’re doing it until your dentist notices the damage. And chances are, you’ve probably done it yourself. An estimated 85 to 90% of the population will grind or clench their teeth to some degree. And while there’s no simple cure for bruxism, there’s still hope. A mouth guard, for instance, won’t stop you from grinding altogether, but it will stop your molars from wearing your teeth down to stumps. And since grinding is often caused by stress and anxiety, some doctors recommend counseling and meditation. So maybe a solution to your teeth-grinding problem is a nice long vacation. Doesn’t sound too bad, right?

EDITOR’S NOTE: This video was originally published in April 2019.

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Here’s what would happen if all insects on Earth disappeared

  • Although it’s impossible to say exactly what would happen if all insects on Earth suddenly vanished, it’s likely that civilization and ecosystems would be in serious trouble.
  • Nitrogen-rich feces would potentially build up, choking plant life and preventing new growth.
  • Meanwhile, no dermestid beetles and other corpse-eaters would lead to fewer custodians available to clean dead bodies and recycle their nutrients back into the ecosystem.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Following is a transcript of the video.

Narrator: Humans might have built civilizations, but insects own the world. After all, over half of all known species are insects. So if they all suddenly vanished, you’d notice. No more summers of singing cicadas and flickering fireflies. No bees to pollinate apple, cherry, peach, or almond trees. No one to make honey. A world without insects means a world with empty grocery-store shelves. But that would be just the beginning of our problems. Now, it’s impossible to say exactly what would go down, but here’s a worst-case scenario of what could happen if all the insects disappeared.

There are a few insects most people would be happy to see vanish. Like mosquitoes. They kill hundreds of thousands of people every year by transmitting malaria, West Nile virus, and other diseases. But if they disappeared tomorrow, we might actually miss them. There are over 3,000 species of mosquitoes on Earth, all of which are food to birds, bats, frogs, and other animals. No more mosquitoes means these creatures and the animals that eat them could go hungry. The same goes for the dreaded cockroach, a protein-packed meal for birds, rodents, and even humans in some parts of the world. If we lost all 4,400 species of roach, entire ecosystems would struggle to survive. Believe it or not, we’d have even worse troubles ahead since we’d face a serious poop problem without one of the world’s greatest recyclers, the dung beetle.

You see, history has taught us exactly what happens when these critters can’t do their job. Back in 1788, the British introduced cattle to Australia, and these cows pooped a lot. Each one poops enough to fill five tennis courts every year. But while the dung beetles back in Britain would eat and break down cow poo, the native Australian beetles wouldn’t touch the stuff because they evolved to munch only on dry, fibrous marsupial dung. So the cow poop piled up. By 1960, the cattle had carpeted 500,000 acres of pasture in dung. That’s enough to cover over half of Rhode Island, and while a little bit of poop is great for fertilizer, this ocean of dung would flood plants with nitrogen, making it impossible for anything to grow. So, imagine if all 8,000 species of dung beetle, plus other doo-dining insects, like flies, vanished worldwide. The land would be knee-deep in…you know.

Farmland, forest, and desert would all collapse, and floating throughout would be loads of corpses. You see, most animals won’t eat dead bodies. That’s where flesh-eating beetles, aka dermestids, and other corpse-munching insects come in. Over 500 species of these grisly undertakers live worldwide, devouring dead flesh until nothing but bone remains. Without them, there would be fewer custodians around to clean up the mess. Sure, there would still be hungry vultures and bacteria around to help, but it wouldn’t be enough.

So, that’s where we could end up in an insect-less world. Starving to death while drowning in a sea of poop and corpses.

EDITOR’S NOTE: This video was originally published in August 2019.

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Veterinarians debunk some of the biggest myths about cats

Following is a transcript of the video.

Carly Fox: “Pregnant women can’t live with cats.” This is a huge myth. Please don’t get rid of your cat if you are pregnant. “When cats purr, it means they’re happy.” This is definitely a myth.

Ann Hohenhaus: “Cats think their owner is their mother.”

Fox: Obviously your cat doesn’t think that you’re its mother. I’m Dr. Carly Fox. I’m an emergency and critical-care veterinarian at the Animal Medical Center in New York City.

Hohenhaus: And I’m Dr. Ann Hohenhaus, also at the Animal Medical Center, but I’m an internal medicine and oncology specialist.

Fox: Today we’re going to debunk some cat myths.

Myth #1

Fox: “Cats love milk.” I mean, I think this is sort of an image that has been put forth throughout our childhood, like, in storybooks and in movies and on TV, but unfortunately, cats, as they get older, actually are lactose intolerant. So their bodies actually can’t even digest milk. As kittens, they have an enzyme called lactase, which helps them break down milk, because they are supposed to be drinking their mother’s milk.

But as they get older, that enzyme, which is usually very present, goes away. And then they’re unable to digest milk. So if you feed milk to an older cat, or really any cat after they’ve been weaned from their mother, they really can’t digest it. Even though they seem like they’re really enjoying themselves, it actually can cause gastrointestinal upset.

Hohenhaus: You can go to the pet store, though, and buy cat milk. [laughs] And the cat milk has two things that make it special for cats. One is it’s lactose-free, just like the lactose-free milk you can buy in the grocery store. But it also has extra taurine added to it. And cats require taurine in their diet. So it’s just an extra source of that amino acid special for cats.

Fox: I mean, who knew?

Myth #2

Hohenhaus: “Cats are nocturnal.” How can you be nocturnal when you sleep 23 hours a day? [laughs] The typical cat sleeps 23 hours a day. They wake up long enough to kill some prey, eat that prey, and then go back to sleep until the next time they’re hungry.

Fox: They’re actually crepuscular animals.

Hohenhaus: They’re what?

Fox: Crepuscular. That means that they’re active during dusk and dawn, which goes back to what you just said about them hunting. So, that’s how lions hunt. They hunt in the dusk or the dawn, where they can, you know, see prey better, hunt, and kill, and our domestic cats actually evolved from that. So they’re actually supposed to be most active in the morning and in the evening, but not necessarily in the middle of the night. Though some cats obviously are.

Hohenhaus: Well, and they are most active in the morning. Ask any cat owner. At 4 o’clock in the morning, that cat’s walking on your head and running over the bed, trying to get you up, because they don’t have to hunt for breakfast. They just have to get you up.

Myth #3

Fox: “Cats hate water.” Can’t say that every cat hates water, but, I mean, in my experience, most cats definitely dislike water, as in they don’t like being bathed in water. You’re definitely not gonna see most cats go for a swim. I’d say most cats don’t love water, but when cats are feeling unkempt, perhaps they do like water.

Myth #4

Hohenhaus: “Cats think their owner is their mother.” [laughs] I think that they just see you as a source of food and comfort and cleanliness and a safe place to live.

Fox: Yeah, obviously your cat doesn’t think that you’re its mother, but they definitely think that you’re its caretaker and they need you, but, you know, another person could probably fill in that job just as easily for your cat, honestly, so I don’t think that cats think that you’re their mother. But some people definitely think that.

Myth #5

Fox: “Pregnant women can’t live with cats.” This is a huge myth. Please don’t get rid of your cat if you are pregnant. Cats can sometimes be infected with a parasite called toxoplasmosis, which can be shed in your cat’s feces. If picked up by a pregnant woman, this parasite can sometimes cause birth defects or miscarriage, and that’s obviously something we would want to avoid.

Cleaning the litter box daily will help with this. You definitely don’t want to leave the litter box to go for more than one day because that can increase infection. If you do need to clean the litter box, you should just wear gloves. So the best thing that you can do is have someone clean the litter box for you, which is also just great. Who wants to clean their litter box? It’s a break for nine months.

Hohenhaus: So, if you’re concerned about your health or your cat’s health during your pregnancy, be sure to bring up the topic with both your veterinarian and your obstetrician.

Myth #6

Hohenhaus: “Cats can see in complete darkness.” Cats have great night vision. They have, like, a mirror in the back of their eye. And you know that from taking photos of your cat because you see that yellow-green reflection in the camera, and that’s this mirror that’s in the back of the cat’s eye that helps to reflect light around to improve their night vision. And that reflector area is called the tapetum.

Fox: Cats really can’t see in complete darkness. They still need a little bit of light in their eye for it to bounce back and forth within the eye off the tapetum, so complete darkness they cannot see in, but a lot of darkness with a little bit of light, they actually can see.

Myth #7

Hohenhaus: “Human food is bad for cats.” We don’t recommend feeding a human diet to cats, because it doesn’t meet their nutritional needs. Cats are obligate carnivores, and it means they need to eat meat. So your diet is not appropriate for cats.

Myth #8

Fox: “Black cats are bad luck.” I mean, this is obviously a huge myth.

Hohenhaus: I think that black cats are bad luck for themselves, because they don’t get adopted from a shelter as readily as a pretty gray cat or a flashy tricolor cat. So the bad luck is actually for the cat, not for you.

Myth #9

Hohenhaus: “Cats don’t love people or babies.” My mother was so worried about this when I was having a baby, because I had these cats. And she said, “Those cats are gonna climb in the crib and suffocate my grandson.” Nothing like that happened. Babies are unpredictable, and they smell different than people, and they make different movements than people, and they have stinky diapers. So I think this actually might partly be true. It’s not that they don’t like babies. It’s that they’re different than the people they’re used to.

Myth #10

Fox: “Cats always land on their feet.” Well, cats do have an excellent righting reflex, meaning that a lot of the times they actually do land on their feet, and that has to do with their anatomy and their vestibular system. However, unfortunately, I’m an emergency doctor, I live in New York City. I see many, many, many cats not land on their feet. Definitely don’t think that your cat will just be fine if it unfortunately falls out of your third-story window or even from your top of your refrigerator.

Hohenhaus: And when they fall, they’ll land on their chin, and they often fracture their wrists, and then if they belly flop, as opposed to land on their feet, they’ll also get air in their lungs or around their lungs because their lungs get a little tear in it and start leaking. So these injuries are severe and life-threatening for cats. So the answer is get screens or don’t open your windows.

Myth #11

Hohenhaus: “Cats and dogs don’t get along.” I don’t have any idea where this would have come from. There are plenty of houses and households in the United States where there are both dogs and cats and they’re perfectly fine. Just like some people don’t get along, sometimes a dog and cat don’t get along, but sometimes you have two dogs and they don’t get along or two cats and they don’t get along. So I think this is more about the personality of your dog and your cat than it is that they can’t get along.

Fox: They’re not gonna be the next YouTube sensation, but I guess they maintain a working relationship.

Hohenhaus: Yeah, yeah, that’s good. A working relationship. We have to work together to be good pets.

Fox: Yeah. Let’s do that.

Myth #12

Fox: “When cats purr, it means they’re happy.” This is definitely a myth, and I can tell you I’ve been scratched by many a purring cat. You know, I think purring is oftentimes associated with pleasure in cats; however, sometimes cats can purr for other reasons, like they’re very nervous, or it’s a warning actually, or they’re hungry, not necessarily that they’re happy.

Myth #13

Fox: “One human year equals seven cat years.” This is definitely, definitely a myth. I think this is something we more associate with dogs, but if you apply it to cats, I think it’s even more of a myth.

Hohenhaus: Well, and if you look at it on the reverse end of the lifespan, a cat can have kittens when it’s 6 months old. 6-month-old cat would be 3.5 years in human age, and clearly no 3.5-year-old children are having babies of their own.

Fox: I hope not.

Hohenhaus: So, it doesn’t work in cats, no.

Fox: Today we debunked some cat myths. There is a little bit of truth to some of these myths that we talked about today, and I think that’s very fitting, since cats are these very particular, special animals that are a bit of, like, a mixed bag, just like these myths.

Hohenhaus: My son’s first words were “meow.” [laughing]

Producer: That’s crazy.

Hohenhaus: He would look at the cat and go “meow.”

Fox: That’s cute, really? [laughing]

EDITOR’S NOTE: This video was originally published in March 2020.

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A biotech company is making vegan bacon, leather, and a Styrofoam-like packaging out of lab-grown mushrooms

  • Ecovative Design is making eco-friendly products like plant-based meat and imitation leather out of mycelium, the root structures of mushrooms.
  • It also makes packaging material that could replace Styrofoam, which takes up one-third of all landfill space.
  • The company has raised $100 million in capital and is part of a $4 billion meat-alternative market.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.
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What’s inside a wasp’s nest?

    • Wasp’s nests are nurseries.
    • The queen wasp builds the first structure alone, then males add on to it.
    • The nest has special adaptations for maintaining temperature and cells for larvae.
    • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Following is a transcript of the video.

Michael Mills: This is a wasp nest. In the wild, some of these nests are built underground using clay or mud. But you might be most familiar with the paper nests — the ones built out of saliva and pulp, typically found attached to buildings or trees. And these guys can get big. According to the Guinness Book of World Records, the largest wasp nest was 12 feet long and 18 feet all around. Now, we’re all accustomed to avoiding these nests, because, obviously, wasps are scary, but today we’re going to go inside one, because there are a lot of fascinating factors that make these nests work for wasps and their babies. So, let’s cut into one. Pretty easy to cut through this. The hardest part was definitely here at the top, where you can tell the cells are more dense and wider. If I can give you a scale for how big this is, I mean, like, look at it next to my head. This is like a brick cellphone from the ’90s. The key to this type of nest is the pedicel, or the root. It’s the foundation that the entire nest is built off of. These are the cells. Wasps are like butterflies. They’re what’s called holometabolous insects, meaning they go through a metamorphosis before they become adults, and these cells are basically their cribs.

Petrovicheva: The cells are open when they first are produced. The queen will lay their egg in there, and then it’ll get sealed off.

Mills: They’re shaped similar to a hollow cylinder, or like a regular lead school pencil, and there’s a reason why.

Petrovicheva: The walls of the hexagon hold the other cells. Also, they’re a compact space, so you can get a lot of these cells in very, very small space while still having a very strong structure.

Mills: They’re also perfectly sized to fit both the larva and its roommates.

Petrovicheva: Oftentimes there’s some food laid in with the egg, so when it hatches it has the food in there already. The drones move from cell to cell in a circular motion, making sure that each larva has food. Some wasp species tear up insects for the babies, but other wasps take things further. Mason wasps drop off whole caterpillars for their children to eat alive, while tarantula hawk wasps lay their eggs on tarantulas they sting and paralyze as a birthday feast. Other species lay their eggs inside their prey, and once the larvae hatch, they have a meal waiting for them to chew their way out of.

Petrovicheva: Once the larva is ready to metamorphose, it’ll become a pupa inside the cell still, and then it’ll hatch as an adult.

Mills: Since the cells are both the crib and the cocoon for these wasp babies, the nest must maintain a stable temperature with high humidity. This means as much insulation as possible. For these types of nests, the domes are almost always made of salivary secretions, plant material, or paper or cardboard.

Petrovicheva: So, they take wood, they chew it up, and they mix it with saliva to make a glue, and then they lay it in thin layers. The denser the layers, the stronger and more sturdy the structure. After building the core structure, the queen wraps the entire nest in an envelope — these thin sheets of macerated pulp.

Mills: This layer basically protects the comb, or each layer of cells, limiting the entrance to one tiny little hole. Scientists think this helps to maintain the internal temperature and humidity of the structure. And more cones can be added on with more pedicels, sort of like expanding a mansion with tiny little staircases that the wasps can use to get from one area to another. So, now I know the question on some of your minds is, “Is there honey in a wasp nest?” And the answer is no. While both bees and wasps pollinate flowers, bees actually farm nectar to turn it into honey, the food source for their larvae. Most wasps, on the other hand, are meat eaters and prefer a diet of freshly chewed insects, meaning you won’t find honey in their nests, but you might find a lot of dead bugs. So, the next time you see one of these nests and you’re tempted to knock it down, maybe back off. Those wasps put a lot of effort into building this crib for their babies. We don’t want to tick them off.

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What people get wrong about superfoods

Following is a transcript of the video.

Nina Shapiro: There is no such thing as a superfood. There are a lot of foods that are super good for you, and that’s fine, but this title of superfood is completely made up.

The notion of a superfood is that is so good for you, it will prevent cancer and even treat cancer or stave off evil illnesses, but food alone cannot do that. When we talk about superfoods, primarily we think of berries, foods with high antioxidants. And it’s really a misnomer. There is no such thing. There are foods that are good for you and foods that are not so good for you, but the idea of a superfood treating or preventing an illness is false.

Superfoods have evolved, and they may not have been called superfoods, but even back in the 1970s there were the quote-unquote health foods which were really the superfoods of their day, which included pasta.

New Catelli pasta. It’s made with a nutritious blend of unbleached flour. Catelli adds vitamins too.

Which is now considered this horrible gluten-filled, carb-filled evil with sugar in it. Bran muffins, which are really just like small cakes, were considered superfoods. Other things, such as frozen yogurt, was considered a superfood in the ’80s and ’90s because it was healthier than ice cream.

Delicious TCBY nonfat frozen yogurt. What a great tasting way to help you lose weight.

Although it does have pretty much as many calories, as much fat, and as much sugar. So superfoods of one day are gonna be different from superfoods down the line, but they’re not necessarily much healthier.

I think a lot of the superfoods of today are the things that are hard to pronounce. So the harder it is to pronounce, the better it is. so something like turmeric or quinoa, a lot of the berries, goji berries are a new one. We talked about blueberries and raspberries a few years ago being superfoods. Now we have acai as another superfood. Again, these are harder to pronounce. Those are sorta the newer superfoods.

I think as far as should we be eating a certain superfood, are we missing out? Not necessarily. I think, again, if you wanna eat healthy, eat berries, eat healthy grains, eat a balanced diet, and that will give you enough nutrition, antioxidants, vitamins as any superfood would give you.

People have the false notion that if they’re eating a lot of superfoods in high quantities that that will keep them healthy and they don’t need to do other things to take care of their health. So if you’re eating a lot of superfoods but you don’t get a flu vaccine, that doesn’t mean you’re not going to get the flu. If you’re eating a lot of superfoods and you don’t get basic cancer screening based on your age, that will not prevent cancer. So I think there’s some danger in eating superfoods in that you think that that’s going to be the be-all, end-all of your healthcare.

EDITOR’S NOTE: This video was originally published in June 2018.

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Inside the US government’s top-secret bioweapons lab

  • Dugway Proving Ground tests and stores some of the deadliest chemical and biological agents on Earth.
  • The facility, which opened in 1942, covers about 800,000 acres – larger than the state of Rhode Island.
  • Past experiments include weaponized mosquitoes and fleas, as well as tests with deadly diseases such as anthrax.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Following is a transcript of the video.

Narrator: In 1968, about 6,000 sheep died near this government facility. They were poisoned by a chemical weapon named VX.

The US hasn’t been known to actively use VX in combat. In fact, it’s begun destroying its stockpile of chemical munitions as part of a UN treaty. But it’s just one of many strange and secretive experiments that happened within these walls. Experiments on sheep, mosquitoes, and even civilians.

About 85 miles southwest of Salt Lake City is the US government’s top-secret bioweapons lab. It’s called the Dugway Proving Ground. The 77-year-old facility covers about 800,000 acres. That’s just a little larger than the entire state of Rhode Island. And it tests some of the deadliest chemical, biological, radiological, and explosive hazards on Earth.

Less famous than Area 51, Dugway dates all the way back to 1942. Right in the middle of World War II.

Clip: The decisive battle of war has begun.

Narrator: The government needed a large area to test powerful weapons, eventually settling on this stretch of land in the Utah desert. Back then, the site was used to test everything from chemical sprays and flamethrowers to various antidotes and protective equipment, and even fire-bombing.

After World War II, Dugway mostly shut down. Until the Korean War began in 1950. That’s when the proving ground turned into what it is today: a permanent military base. In Dugway’s first few decades, the base worked mostly on offensive weaponry: biological and chemical munitions designed to directly attack enemies.

Clip: Sampling devices, positioned throughout the test area, yield valuable information to chemical core researchers.

Narrator: The 1950s, for example, saw the launch of Operation Big Itch, an experiment that was testing weaponized fleas. The fleas weren’t infected with any type of disease or agent, but experimenters were working with thousands of them. And the fleas were dropped in cluster bombs, to gauge if they would survive the fall from an airplane. And this was only part one. Dugway launched a second experiment, called Project Bellwether, in the 1960s. Only this time, mosquitoes were injected with inert diseases, inert bacteria, and inert viruses. But get this: Those mosquitoes were released upon several groups of human volunteers, who were bitten again and again during the trials.

And there are records dating back to the late 1950s, which describe experiments that used infected mosquitoes. And those are just two experiments known to the public. Exactly what goes on at Dugway is, well, pretty unclear. And that’s not by accident.

The area is intensely guarded. Everything that comes in and out is carefully monitored, guards are on constant patrol and actively armed, and the perimeter is lined with tall, barbed-wire fencing. There are even signs that authorize “deadly force” when necessary.

Since the 1940s, officials say operations have shifted from offensive to defensive tactics. Case in point, most of the current known work prepares agents to defend against potential biological and chemical attacks. For example, a multitude of training programs are held on-site for the armed forces.

Here’s one in which Army Reserve soldiers are tasked with checking the radiation levels of artillery rounds. And here’s another where soldiers were tasked with identifying substances in a simulated chemical lab.

Dugway’s main operations include the “BRAUCH” training facility, constructed from various shipping containers. It simulates underground environments for military training. There are also various buildings and rooms that serve specific purposes. Like the decontamination testing chamber, the wind-tunnel testing room, and the material test facility.

But perhaps the most interesting room of all is this: the Smartman Laboratory facility, which houses the Smartman dummy, a model that’s used to simulate human contact with chemical agents, including the infamous VX nerve agent. Specifically, the Smartman helps the lab develop more effective individual protection respiratory equipment,- essentially, gas masks and the like.

A variety of chemists, chemical analysts, and technicians work on-site. And the use of airtight chambers and gas masks is not only common, but mandatory. Despite all of this dangerous experimentation, the work done at Dugway hasn’t always been properly contained.

Remember that sheep incident? That marked the start of a worrisome track record. It happened when overhead planes spewed out the nerve agent into the wind, accidentally sending it into nearby farmland in Skull Valley. Within the next couple of days, farmers found thousands of sheep dead in their fields. The Army compensated the farmers and lent them bulldozers to bury the sheep. But the accident sparked a whole debate on the use of chemical weapons in warfare.

Adding on to these questionable practices, a 1994 Senate hearing on veterans’ health focused specifically on Dugway veterans and civilians. A report found that people at Dugway were exposed to biological and chemical simulants believed to be safe at the time, but that the Army had later stopped using many of them because “they realized they were not as safe as previously believed.”

One veteran, who was accidentally sprayed in the face with the chemical DMMP in 1984, found himself wheezing and coughing the next day – symptoms that ended up lasting several weeks. Despite this, he was given only cough medicine and antibiotics by the Dugway Army Hospital. The Dugway Safety Office assured him that the chemical was safe. But by 1988, officials at Dugway had reevaluated the simulant’s danger and were concerned it could cause cancer and kidney damage.

In 2011, the facility slipped up again: It went on lockdown after workers lost a vial containing the VX nerve agent. Nobody was permitted to enter or exit the facility, not even the employees.

And in 2016, the CDC and the Department of Defense launched a major investigation when a review team found that Dugway had been operating dangerously for several years without the government’s knowledge. USA Today reported “egregious failures” by the facility’s leadership and staff. The reports singled out the head colonel in command at Dugway, Brig. Gen. William King.

The Army’s accountability investigation recognized King as unqualified, lacking the education and training to effectively oversee biosafety procedures crucial to Dugway’s operation. The report admonished him, saying he “repeatedly deflected blame” and “minimized the severity of incidents.” It even says King “fails to recognize” how serious the incidents truly were. And how serious were the incidents, exactly? Well, under King’s command, the facility mistakenly shipped live anthrax to other labs. And not just once, but multiple times. For over a decade.

That same report revealed that workers had been regularly and deliberately manipulating data in important records. Records meant to verify that pathogens being transported elsewhere were killed and safe for researchers to handle without protective gear. Still, the facility’s shady past, secretive operations, and intense surveillance have captured the attention, and skepticism, of some closer observers, including several conspiracy-theorist groups.

There are suggestions that the facility is the “new Area 51.” And the local community has raised their own questions about the facility’s operations. Dugway was even featured in an episode of The History Channel’s “UFO Hunters,” in which local residents and UFO watchers were interviewed and footage from the area was examined. It’s hard not to wonder, when you live in close proximity to such a restricted landscape.

Despite these theories, Dugway has expressed a desire to be “more transparent.” And representatives have said the facility wants to be “more a part of the local community” by better informing citizens about what exactly goes on there. So far, they’ve delivered some on that. The facility has its own events page, which lists several events open to the general public and the local Utah community. This year, they’re hosting a trail race on the facility grounds.

Certainly, today’s Dugway is a far cry from the 1940s Dugway, which was entirely closed off to the public. But despite the shift in the level of secrecy, much of Dugway’s testing remains classified, preserving the skepticism and mysteriousness surrounding the facility.

EDITOR’S NOTE: This video was originally published in October 2019.

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What if the Earth spun sideways on its axis

Following is a transcript of the video.

Early in the history of our solar system, something mysteriously knocked Earth slightly off its axis. So today we tilt at 23.5 degrees. But what would happen if we tilted even more? What if Earth spun sideways on its axis? Well, it wouldn’t take long before utter chaos ensued.

One of the most important consequences of Earth’s axial tilt is the seasons. Seasons happen because the tilt points different parts of the planet toward the sun at different times of the year. But the tilt also means that different parts of the globe receive different amounts of sunlight during each season. And that’s where a more extreme tilt starts to cause problems. Right now, during the summer in the Northern Hemisphere, places far north, like Utqiagvik, Alaska, receive 24 hours of sunlight for 82 days straight. Because Earth is tilted far enough on its axis that as the planet rotates, Utqiagvik never leaves direct sunlight. On the other hand, the contiguous US receives a max of 17 hours a day, because after that it rotates out of daytime sunlight and into night. But if we tilted Earth’s axis even more, to 90 degrees, the US would get sunlight 24/7, around the clock, for months on end. And it’s not just the US; the entire Northern Hemisphere would be like this.

At first, animals would take advantage of the extra light to find and eat more food, just like Alaskan birds, which feed their chicks extra nutrition in the summer, resulting in faster-growing babies than their southern counterparts. And plant growth would explode since they get their energy directly from sunlight. Farms in northern Alaska, for example, grow cabbages the size of rottweilers in the summer.

But while animals and plants would thrive, humans wouldn’t. We evolved to be active during the day and sleep at night. But if we were exposed to unending sunlight, our brains would stop producing the hormone melatonin, which we need to sleep at night. And that could lead to sleep deprivation, depression, and, ultimately, a more severe, chronic version of these symptoms called seasonal affective disorder, which already affects 9% of Alaskans, compared to just 6% of the entire United States.

But that’s less of a worry than the floods. Temperatures at the North Pole would more than double, to 38 degrees Celsius from 15.5 degrees Celsius. That’s hotter than temperatures at the equator today. As a result, Greenland’s ice cap would melt, causing sea levels to rise by 7 meters, and flood nearly every coastal city on Earth. Say goodbye to New York, Copenhagen, and Tokyo. To make matters worse, the warmer seas would trigger stronger and more frequent hurricanes, which form when seawater evaporates at the surface.

And the weather wouldn’t get better when winter comes six months later. Out of reach of the sun’s direct beams for months at a time, the hemisphere would get colder than any winter on record. Swirls of frigid air, called a polar vortex, which are normally dissipated by warm air in the tropics, could travel all the way down to the equator. Imagine blizzards in Florida, Brazil, Kenya! And all those thriving plants, they’d die from a lack of sunlight. Agriculture would collapse as ecosystems crumble and mass extinctions pile up.

And there would be even more floods, because meanwhile, the Southern Hemisphere is getting toasty and the South Pole is home to 90% of the world’s ice. The constant sunlight would raise its temperature to 38 degrees Celsius from -28 degrees Celsius, melting the ice and raising sea levels by a whopping 61 meters. That’s almost as tall as the Leaning Tower of Pisa. Greenland’s flood would look like a puddle in comparison.

So all in all, while a few extra hours in the summer sun would be nice, let’s leave the extra seasons to Alaska and be glad the Earth is tilted exactly as it is.

EDITOR’S NOTE: This video was originally published in July 2019.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Why pollen makes you sneeze

Following is the transcript of the video.

Narrator: When trees, weeds, and grasses mate, they make a mess. Thousands of pollen grains – their reproductive material – fly into the air. And anyone with allergies knows not to get too close, or else. But what is it about that fluffy stuff that sets off the summer sneezes, anyway?

Each year, 26 million Americans experience an allergic reaction sometimes nicknamed hay fever. The culprit? Pollen. And to help them get to where they need to go, the pollen grains are extremely light and sticky. The wind can carry them for thousands of kilometers across state lines and over mountains.

You can even find pollen over 600 kilometers out to sea, with no trees in sight. In other words, this sticky stuff gets everywhere. And sometimes it sticks to places it shouldn’t. Like your clothes, car, and especially your eyes, nose, and lungs. That’s when the trouble starts.

But here’s the odd thing about pollen. On its own, it’s harmless. It’s not a virus or parasite that can give you a disease or damage your organs. It only becomes a problem when your body sees it as one.

Dr. Todd Mahr: “Our body reacts to that antigen-basically the protein in the pollen, and for some reason our body recognizes it as foreign.”

Your immune system has a merciless procedure for dealing with intruders. The first line of defense are Y-shaped proteins called antibodies. They’re like a built-in security system that guards your nose, eyes, and mouth, along with other tissues. When they bump into a grain of pollen, they sound the alarm.

Now, their main goal is to get that pollen out of your system. Which they do by sending a rush of white blood cells to the scene which then produce a chemical called histamine. Histamine has a few ways to get the job done: First, it irritates your nose, forcing you to sneeze.

Which blasts some of the pollen away! Second, it expands your blood vessels, opening tiny gaps between the cells that make up the wall. Opening the path for a squadron of immune cells to squeeze out and attack the pollen grains.

Finally, it tells your nose to make more mucus! Which traps the invader and flushes it out of your nasal passages. Mission accomplished. Histamine also flushes out your eyes in a similar way. It irritates your eyes, causing them to swell and tear up. And if pollen reaches your lungs, histamine irritates the lining, causing you to cough it out.

The end result? You’re a snotty, miserable mess. And since different plants reproduce at different times in the spring and summer, the assault can last for months. But, hey, at least your system is pollen-free. Now, pollen isn’t the only irritant that can cause this type of reaction.

Dr. Todd Mahr: “People react to foods, they react to pollens, they react to chemicals, they react to antibiotics, they react to bee stings. All of those are the same type of immune reaction.”

However, pollen is one of the most common allergies, but scientists aren’t entirely sure why. What they do know is that some people have more sensitive immune systems than others. And that’s based on a bunch of factors, like genetics, when you were first exposed to pollen, and how much of it you were exposed to.

Dr. Todd Mahr: “All of that influences what your body’s going to do and what kind of reaction it’s going to have.”

Regardless of how you ended up with allergies, one thing’s clear: THEY SUCK.

Dr. Todd Mahr: “You’re going to be really miserable. And some people are very, very uncomfortable, and it leads to lost work, to lost school.”

Seasonal allergies cost the US $18 billion a year in lost work hours and medical bills. And there’s bad news: Climate change is making them even worse. A recent series of studies showed that over the past 20 years as global temperatures have climbed, pollen counts have risen with them.

Plus, the earlier and longer periods of warm weather have stretched prime pollen season longer than ever.

Dr. Todd Mahr: “If it’s warmer, which is what climate change is doing, you’re going to have more of those pollinating species thriving.”

The good news is, there are ways to keep the summer sneezes at bay. Like antihistamines. These meds grab on to those irritating histamine molecules, preventing them from working. Hence the name ANTI-histamine.

So as the skies cloud with yellow horror dust, and pollen counts skyrocket, grab a tissue, pop an antihistamine, and hope that winter returns soon.

EDITOR’S NOTE: This video was originally published in August 2019.

Read the original article on Business Insider