A New Research Vessel Named After Sally Ride Has Hit Waterways

Sally Ride was the first American woman in space, and now, a new research vessel—blazing the trail toward exciting scientific discovery—appropriately bears her name.

The Sally Ride is a cutting-edge, 238-foot ship that aims to usher in a new age of oceanic exploration. It's just completed its maiden voyage from Anacortes, Washington, where it was built, down the west coast to the Scripps Nimitz Marine Facility in Southern California. It will continue to be operated by the Scripps Institution of Oceanography under an agreement with the Office of Naval Research.

Among the many pieces of high-end equipment aboard the craft are high-efficiency diesel generators, which are not only powerful but quiet, thanks to specially designed propellers, reports WIRED, which recently went aboard the ship. That's nice enough on its own, but it also aids the scientists, who often need to listen closely to what's happening deep below the surface. The thrust of the research conducted aboard the Sally Ride is global warming’s impact on the oceans, which involves measuring everything from salinity, to temperature, to the water's composition. 

The ship has accommodations for 24 scientists and will operate with a crew of 20, and oceanographic scientists are invited to hop aboard for Science Verification Cruises beginning this fall.

You can follow R/V Sally Ride on her many adventures via Scripps, Twitter, and Facebook. WIRED spoke with Margaret Leinen, the director of the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, which you can check out here.

[h/t WIRED]

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The Most (and Least) Expensive States for Staying Warm This Winter

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.

Why Are Glaciers Blue?

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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