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Computer Games and Food Cravings Have More in Common Than Once Thought, Study Shows

Summer is fast approaching, and us moms all know what that means — a season of no school and unhealthy eating. Considering that 90% of U.S. households regularly indulge in frozen desserts, it comes as no surprise that ice cream temptation is exceptionally high in the warmer months.

We all know how hard it can be to say no to our child’s plea for some ice cream because let’s be honest, we always want some ourselves. Despite knowing how important it is to start developing healthy eating habits from a young age, frankly, it is easier said than done.

However, there is a new computer game — I know, I know, but bear with me on this one! — that may make our jobs a little bit easier.

Psychologists at the University of Exeter, England have created an interesting game that helps teach children how to make healthy choices. The game is quite easy to play; the child has to press a button when a healthy food pops up on the screen and do nothing when junk food appears. Then, if the child gets it right, a happy face is shown with healthy food and a sad face with unhealthy food as a way to reinforce positive habits and behaviors.

The goal of the game is to change how the brain works. Lucy Porter, the lead researcher on the project, explains to Science Daily how the brain can be trained to create a healthier association with food:

“The sight of foods like chocolate can activate reward centers in the brain at the same time as reducing activity in self-control areas. Our training encourages people to make a new association — when they see unhealthy food, they stop.”

While this game surely won’t limit the number of ads for sugary food out there, it will give families the opportunity to control their cravings, Porter explains. After all, it is a free game and it may give your child satisfaction when they get rewarded with happy faces for choosing healthier foods — it is the little things that matter, right?

So moms, what do you all think? When released, will you try this out with your family?

Families, Researchers, and Charity Leaders Visiting Africa to Lend a Hand

Cancer is one of the leading causes of mortality across the globe, and this disease was responsible for 8.8 million deaths in 2015. Luckily, researchers have been working tirelessly for decades to come up with better ways to combat cancer in all of its insidious forms. Though a cure is yet to be found, new treatments like proton therapy have been administered to more than 64,000 people with cancer worldwide.

Another debilitating disease that impacts millions of people around the world is malaria. Malaria is much easier to contract than other diseases and has ruined the lives of countless families in struggling African countries for decades. But thanks to technological and medical advancements over the years, efforts to fight malaria across the continent of Africa have cut the rate of infections in half since 2000. Continue reading

Around the United States Shipping Containers Are Being Converted Into Housing

Across the nation, people are converting old shipping containers into low-cost housing. For some, they are an affordable, sustainable way of downsizing; for others, they represent a new tool in the fight against homelessness. But some municipalities and zoning boards are taking steps to limit the number of “tiny homes” made from shipping containers in their districts.
For proponents, the argument for steel shipping container homes is clear. Not only is steel the most recycled product on Earth, with 90% being recycled, but a steel shipping container can last an average of 25 years with almost no maintenance. And since there are an estimated 17 million containers in operation right now, they could serve as a ready-made supply for low-cost housing.
Some design these tiny homes with the very best luxury in mind, like Seattle-based Designer Karen Hirschman, who designed a tiny space as part of a fundraiser for the Washington Chapter of the American Society of Interior Designers.
“We’ve got a full built-in refrigerator with a freezer. We’ve got a full stackable washer and dryer. We’ve got a tankless hot water which takes up about four inches of space underneath a cabinet,” Hirshman said to KVUE. “It comes with all the bedding. It comes with the dishes, the pots, and pans. It’s got towels in the bathroom. We put toilet paper on the holder. It’s ready to go.”
Others, however, see these homes as an invaluable resource in the fight against homelessness. Los Angeles Potter’s Lane is one such example. This innovative housing project was constructed using shipping containers and allows the new residents — mostly homeless veterans — to pay a monthly rent of just $69, with an additional $1,259 being subsidized, according to the Los Angeles Times.
While almost 75% of Americans report living paycheck to paycheck, with 27% reporting no savings at all, the financial struggle of the homeless is often further complicated by either physical or mental disabilities or addiction.
These converted units are a prime example of supportive housing, which assists the homeless population as they transition to a more conventional style of life.
But despite their many benefits, not everyone is on board with these converted units. A Missouri Planning and Zoning Commission in Cape Girardeau has recommended a ban on using shipping containers for homes or businesses, according to the South East Missourian.
But even members of the Commission that voted in favor of recommending the ban seem to understand they are fighting an uphill battle. Kevin Greaser, who voted for the ban, told the South East Missourian: “It is obvious that these types of structures are becoming a little more popular.?

Study Shows Americans Must Use Green Grocery Bags At Least 50 Times to See Any Environmental Benefits

Sadly, Americans continue to damage the environment in both subtle and not-so-subtle ways. One of the more not-so-subtle ways is the fact that, according to The Washington Post, Americans have contributed more to global warming than any other country.
But while many Americans disagree about the extent (and existence) of global warming, some environmental issues are more difficult to deny. Case in point: the millions of plastic bags currently filling up landfills and polluting bodies of water.

Already, plastic bags have contributed to a severe decline in the health of vulnerable ecosystems and increased pollution levels at home and abroad.

That’s because a single plastic bag can take up to 1,000 years to completely degrade inside a landfill. Even then, these plastic items don’t actually biodegrade; rather, they photo-degrade, meaning they break down into small toxic pieces. When these microplastics leak into bodies of water, they end up causing even more damage in the earth’s oceans by resulting in dangerous bioaccumulation in the food chain.

And when you consider the sheer number of plastic bags used today, it’s easy to see why plastic pollution poses such a great threat. For instance, the Galleria Shopping Center in Houston, Texas is one of the most popular shopping establishments in the entire world, with 35 million visitors annually, but that’s just a single site. If all 35 million annual visitors took just one plastic bag, that’s 35 million bags sitting in landfills for the next 1,000 years.
Fortunately, there are non-profit groups that are doing all they can to reverse this global pollution epidemic. Certain volunteer groups and companies spend hours every day cleaning up landfills and teaching people how to properly dispose of various harmful items like plastic bags.

In addition to these programs, some shoppers are doing their part as well.

According to a report from 2011, but which still holds true today, roughly 86% of consumers will spend more money for a better experience. To inspire eco-conscious shoppers, many stores are now encouraging shoppers to use reusable green grocery bags to help prevent further landfill buildup.

However, as ABC News reports, although these reusable bags are a much better option than plastic bags, they need to be used at least 50 times in order for any environmental benefit to be gained.

“If you’re able to do that over a long time frame, then you’re going to have an environmental advantage,” said Associate Professor Dr. Karli Verghese of the School of Architecture and Design at RMIT.

Grocery stores are perhaps the main culprits in the increased buildup of plastic bags, but clothing stores at malls like the Galleria also play a major role.

“If you have a look at some of the plastic bags that are given out by fashion companies, they’re pretty thick plastics,” Dr. Verghese added. “There’s a lot of focus on the supermarket shopping bag but there’s lots of plastic bags that are given out at lots of other shops.”
Ultimately, to permanently reverse the harm done by plastics, shoppers will have to learn to break their addiction to single-serving shopping bags.

Department of Defense Plans to Use Technology and Brain Implants to Figure Out How Humans Learn

The U.S. Department of Defense is trying to figure out how the human brain works.

As a field agent, it is crucial to learn languages fast. This takes a lot of time and training, and the DoD wants to create a way to make it easier for their agents to do their job.

So, as a means to figure out how the human brain learns foreign languages, the Defense Advance Research Project Agency (DARPA) has just given eight elite teams a combined sum of $50 million to discover how the nervous system can facilitate learning.

Scientists and researchers believe that humans learn through all their senses. Studies show that 83% of human learning occurs visually, 11% through hearing, 3.5% via smell, 1.5% with touch, and 1% through taste. With this in mind, DARPA researchers are looking directly to neurotransmitters to see if they hold the answer to all their questions.

All eight teams will work together on a four-year program known as the Targeted Neuroplasticity Training (TNT) to search and hone in on the optimal levels of neurostimulation methods that will activate synaptic plasticity. Synaptic plasticity is how the brain synapses strengthen or weaken, and how these patterns create memories and learn new things.

DARPA’s target is pretty optimistic, as they are looking to see a 30% improvement in learning rates compared to their existing training methods. They believe that the expertise of their engineers has the potential to even surpass this goal.

“The Defence Department operates in a complex, interconnected world in which human skills such as communication and analysis are vital, and the Department has long pushed the frontiers of training to maximize those skills. DARPA’s goal with TNT is to further enhance the most effective existing training methods so the men and women of our Armed Forces can operate at their full potential,” says bioengineer and manager of the TNT program Doug Weber, to Science Alert.

DARPA’s electronic device will work in three stages. Their neurostimulation device will activate the peripheral nerves, which then stimulates synaptic plasticity, then neuronal connections are refined as a method to improve a person’s communication skills.

According to Slash Gear, the eight different teams will utilize non-invasive techniques, along with an invasive brain implant, on animals and human volunteers. All side effects will be monitored, including the viewpoint on the ethics of artificial learning.

This impressive innovation may be in part due to the numerous advancements within the circuit board industry. Circuit boards are responsible for connecting electrical signals to the component, and due to recent breakthroughs in the industry, these complex boards can now be made in five days or less, at a 75% faster time than the industry average.

DARPA is quick to point out that despite other similar brain research in the area, they are hoping that they can find out how to naturally advance people’s natural capacities of learning.

Why Are So Many Women Suddenly Becoming Plumbers?

Plumbing Components Arranged On House Plans

Plumbing has been a male dominated profession since its inception all the way back in 2500 B.C., but lately, more and more women are eagerly joining this trade.

From an all girls plumbing and construction class in Poway, California to the Middle East, where Jordanian and Syrian women are starting plumbing companies, women plumbers are suddenly everywhere.

This May, Master Plumber Erin Swetland is speaking out about the importance of bringing more women into technical trades. And with a shortage of plumbers here in the United States, it’s an idea that’s gaining traction.
Continue reading

Wine, Sun, and Denim: How H&M is Slowly But Surely Making the Fashion World More Sustainable

HM-Share-ImageThe world of fashion is changing. Gone are the days where shoppers visit high-end boutiques in order to get custom fitted garments, and in are the days where fast fashion reigns supreme. While the luxury markets and top name brands of Dior, Gucci, Prada, and Hermes, are still going strong for their niche market, more and more Americans are turning to shops that offer fashionable items at a low cost that are meant to be replaced year after year.

Retailer HandM is just one of these fast fashion outlets. However, in an effort to stick out among their cutthroat competitors, HandM has released a new marketing plan for the next 10 plus years.


Their idea? To go completely sustainable. Continue reading