• A huge segment of America's population — the Baby Boom generation — is aging and will live longer than any American generation in history.
  • The story we read about in the news? Their drain on social services like Social Security and Medicare.
  • But increased longevity is a cause for celebration, says Ashton Applewhite, not doom and gloom.


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Vikings unwittingly made their swords stronger by trying to imbue them with spirits

They didn't know it, but the rituals of Iron Age Scandinavians turned their iron into steel.

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  • Iron Age Scandinavians only had access to poor quality iron, which put them at a tactical disadvantage against their neighbors.
  • To strengthen their swords, smiths used the bones of their dead ancestors and animals, hoping to transfer the spirit into their blades.
  • They couldn't have known that in so doing, they actually were forging a rudimentary form of steel.
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Culture & Religion

Earth at 2°C hotter will be horrific. Now here’s what 4°C will look like.

This is what the world will be like if we do not act on climate change.

  • The best-case scenario of climate change is that world gets just 2°C hotter, which scientists call the "threshold of catastrophe".
  • Why is that the good news? Because if humans don't change course now, the planet is on a trajectory to reach 4°C at the end of this century, which would bring $600 trillion in global climate damages, double the warfare, and a refugee crisis 100x worse than the Syrian exodus.
  • David Wallace-Wells explains what would happen at an 8°C and even 13°C increase. These predictions are horrifying, but should not scare us into complacency. "It should make us focus on them more intently," he says.
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The U-curve of happiness: Why old age is a time of psychological bliss

Here's why many 80 year olds are probably happier than you.

  • The U-curve of happiness shows that we humans are most content at the beginnings and ends of our lives.
  • The famous midlife crisis is the trough of our happiness because it's a time when we have responsibility for people older and younger than us, and we grow aware that we may not fulfill the dreams of our youth.
  • Children and people in their 80s are uniquely able to live in the moment and be happy because they live at a neurological and psychological sweet spot, respectively.
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The science of expansion: Andromeda, gravity, and the ‘Big Rip’

If the universe is expanding in all directions, why is Andromeda hurtling toward the Milky Way?

  • The Andromeda Galaxy and our Milky Way are on a collision course that will obliterate life on Earth 4.5 billion years from now.
  • The universe is expanding in all directions, all at once – so why are Andromeda and the Milky Way drawing nearer? The gravity between them is a stronger force than expansion.
  • The rate of expansion is accelerating. If it continues to speed up, its force may become strong enough pull things apart that are currently held together by superior forces: Our galaxy, the solar system, and even the atoms in our bodies. That possible ending to the universe is known as the 'Big Rip'.
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