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Justin Sullivan // Getty Images
Justin Sullivan // Getty Images

Meet the Man Cloning Ancient Redwood Trees

Justin Sullivan // Getty Images
Justin Sullivan // Getty Images

David Milarch had a near-death experience in the early 1990s. It led him to rethink his life and his work as an arborist. He looked to the oldest trees he could find in the U.S.—the few remaining coastal redwoods in California—and decided to try bringing the biggest ones back to life. How? Cloning.

One stumbling block is that most of the biggest trees, the famous 30-foot-diameter ones, have already been cut down or burned. How can you get a living cutting from a dead tree? Milarch found that many such trees had secondary trunks called basal sprouts growing out of the same root system. These were genetically identical, and provided viable genetic material.

Many plants can be propagated by cloning. In its simplest form, you literally snip off a green bit and put it in water. While this process is substantially more complex for many plants, at its root (pun intended), Milarch is doing the same thing—but adding hormones to divide and multiply a single cutting. Along with his son, Milarch is taking branches from ancient giants and making new trees. He's planting a brand new forest in the coastal town of Port Orford, Oregon.

Coastal redwoods and giant sequoias grow fast. They can shoot up 10 feet in a year. Although it will take many generations for a new forest to rival the giants these clones came from, these new trees will reach mature status quickly. And while they're doing that, they suck carbon dioxide out of the air.

Milarch has spread his efforts around the world, even cloning several dozen of the largest oak trees in Ireland. His Archangel Ancient Tree Archive now operates in nine countries, working to preserve trees and reforest areas with what they call "new old growth."

In this beautiful short film directed by Michael Ramsey, we meet Milarch and see his work grow. Enjoy:

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The Most (and Least) Expensive States for Staying Warm This Winter
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It’s that time of year again: Temperatures outside have plummeted, while your monthly heating bill is on the rise. If you want an idea of how much heat will cost you this winter (perhaps you blocked out last year’s damage to your bank account), one reliable indicator is location.

Average energy expenses vary from state to state due to factors like weather, house size, and local gas prices. Using data from sources including the U.S. Energy Information Administration and the Environmental Protection Agency, WalletHub calculated the average monthly utility bill totals for all 50 states plus Washington D.C. in 2017.

Source: WalletHub

The personal finance website looked at four energy costs: electricity, natural gas, car fuel, and home heating oil. After putting these components together, Connecticut was found to be the state with the highest energy costs in 2017, with an average of $380 in monthly bills, followed by Alaska with $332 and Rhode Island with $329.

That includes data from the summer and winter months. For a better picture of which state’s residents spend the most on heat, we have to look at the individual energy costs. Michigan, which ranks 33rd overall, outdoes every other state in the natural gas department with an average bill of $60 a month. Alaska is close behind with $59, followed by Rhode Island With $58.

People living in Maine prefer oil to heat their homes, spending $84 a month on the fuel source. All six New England states—Maine, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Vermont, New Hampshire, and Massachusetts—occupy the top six spots in this category.

So which state should you move to if you want to see your heating bill disappear? In Florida, the average household spends just $3 a month on natural gas and $0 on heating oil. In Hawaii, on average, the oil bill is $0 as well, and slightly higher for gas at $4. Of course, they make up for it when it comes time to crank up the AC: Both states break the top 10 in highest electricity costs.


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science
Why Are Glaciers Blue?
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The bright azure blue sported by many glaciers is one of nature's most stunning hues. But how does it happen, when the snow we see is usually white? As Joe Hanson of It's Okay to Be Smart explains in the video below, the snow and ice we see mostly looks white, cloudy, or clear because all of the visible light striking its surface is reflected back to us. But glaciers have a totally different structure—their many layers of tightly compressed snow means light has to travel much further, and is scattered many times throughout the depths. As the light bounces around, the light at the red and yellow end of the spectrum gets absorbed thanks to the vibrations of the water molecules inside the ice, leaving only blue and green light behind. For the details of exactly why that happens, check out Hanson's trip to Alaska's beautiful (and endangered) Mendenhall Glacier below.

[h/t The Kid Should See This]

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