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UK has first coal-free power day since the Industrial Revolution

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In 1882, the world's first coal-fired public-use power station opened in London at 57 Holborn Viaduct—today a fairly nondescript location in the centre of London close to Blackfriars. On Friday, some 135 years, a few monarchs, and an entire Industrial Revolution later, the UK power grid had its first ever day without coal energy.

The National Grid control room announced on April 21 that from 11pm on Thursday to 11pm on Friday the UK's electricity demand was supplied without firing up some coal power plants. The UK's power mix for the day was: 50.3% natural gas, 21.2% nuclear, 12.2% wind, 8.3% imported from France, the Netherlands, and Ireland, 6.7% biomass, and 3.6% solar. (That appears to come to 102.3%... better to supply too much power than not enough, perhaps?)

As you can see from the graph above, coal-free Friday was more of an eventual inevitability than a surprise. The UK has been rapidly scaling back its coal use—it accounted for 23 percent of our power use in 2015, then 9 percent in 2016—and the government says it wants to close down all remaining coal power plants by 2025.

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11 hours ago
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Study claims a link between diet sodas and stroke and dementia

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(credit: Phera Laster / Flickr)

Excessive intake of sugar has been linked to a huge variety of health problems, many of them a consequence of the obesity that's also linked to excessive sugar. That's led many people to switch to drinks with artificial sweeteners that aren't metabolized by the body. A new study is now suggesting that these sweeteners are associated with their own health risks, namely stroke and dementia. But the study doesn't get into causality, and there's enough oddities in the data to suggest that it's not time to purge your fridge just yet.

The study, run by a collaboration of Boston-based researchers, relied on a cohort of individuals that had been recruited starting in 1971. On average, every four years since, the participants have completed follow-up surveys and had their health checked out. Over 5,000 people are in this cohort, and they provide a rich source of epidemiological data.

The authors started out intending to look at whether sugar-rich drinks increased the risk of strokes and dementia. So they eliminated a lot of people from this cohort because they'd previously experienced these or related issues. That reduced the study population considerably: under 3,000 for stroke, and under 1,500 for dementia.

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1 day ago
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If you live inland, don’t think sea level rise won’t affect you

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There has been a lot of talk about the millions of people worldwide whose homes will be at the mercy of rising sea levels. Within the US, a 1.8-meter rise in the oceans by 2100 could displace as many as 13.1 million people. Worldwide, up to 180 million people could be at risk.

There has been less talk about where exactly those people will go when they leave their homes. Research on climate migration has painted sea level rise as “primarily a coastal issue,” writes Mathew E. Hauer in Nature Climate Change this week. But the inland regions that absorb climate change migrants will need to have sufficient transport, housing, and infrastructure to absorb the migrants.

To get a picture of what this might look like within the US, Hauer combined two different sets of data in a predictive model. This kind of model relies on a lot of different assumptions, but it provides a starting sketch of what the impact on inland areas might be.

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2 days ago
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Orlando promises the future of self-driving cars... at Disney World

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When Walt Disney started building what would become Epcot, he envisioned the city of tomorrow. 

Orlando has taken that founding principle quite seriously. The city is launching an ambitious plan to embrace the future of autonomous vehicles — in part by testing them at Disney World and Universal Studios. 

"We are trying to push the edge in terms of innovation and technology," Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer said. "The advantages in Central Florida are our 66 million visitors. Trying to have people be aware of advances in technology — Orlando is a very good place to have people learn about your product."  Read more...

More about Business, Disney, Autonomous Cars, Self Driving Cars, and Business
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2 days ago
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Target is turning shopping carts into Mario karts and there's no way this ends well

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With the release of Mario Kart 8 Deluxe for the Nintendo Switch just around the corner, Target is getting in the Mario Kart spirit with tricked-out shopping carts.

There's no way this could go wrong, right?

Over 650 Target stores in the U.S. are getting decked out with Mario Kart-inspired shopping carts (also known as Super Target Karts), decorations, and a starting line-like entrance complete with black-and-white checkers, a lakitu, flashing lights, and music. The promotion starts today.

Target is basically giving you the green light to take shopping carts and race through the store as quickly as possibly. People will definitely be throwing things at each other. Read more...

More about Gaming, Nintendo, Mario Kart, Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, and Shopping Carts
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2 days ago
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William and Harry tell Kate what it was like losing their mom in a special Facebook live stream

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The young royals are continuing their work to promote mental health awareness. Their latest move was a special Facebook Live on the royal family's social page. 

During the discussion Will and Harry open up to Kate about what it was like losing their mom at such a young age. 

Most recently Prince William and Lady Gaga FaceTimed to talk about mental health.  Read more...

More about Real Time Video, Real Time Video, Real Time, Mental Health, and Facebook Live
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2 days ago
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