North Brother Island, NYC


Collapsing roof of the boiler plant, which provided heat to the island

Photographer Christopher Payne visited North Brother Island, a 13-acre island between the Bronx and Riker’s Island that’s been abandoned since 1963. After it became inhabited in 1885, North Brother housed a hospital to quarantine victims of contagious disease and later provided housing to World War II veterans. It also held a treatment center for teenage drug addicts.

Now, nature reclaims the island.

Here’s the link to more photos.

Thanks, Mike

Our planet may have an underground ocean three times that on the surface


Is this where mermaids come from?

After decades of searching scientists have discovered that a vast reservoir of water, enough to fill the Earth’s oceans three times over, may be trapped hundreds of miles beneath the surface, potentially transforming our understanding of how the planet was formed.

The water is locked up in a mineral called ringwoodite about 660km beneath the crust of the Earth, researchers say. Geophysicist Steve Jacobsen from Northwestern University in the US co-authored the study published in the journal Science and said the discovery suggested Earth’s water may have come from within, driven to the surface by geological activity, rather than being deposited by icy comets hitting the forming planet as held by the prevailing theories…

Jacobsen and his colleagues are the first to provide direct evidence that there may be water in an area of the Earth’s mantle known as the transition zone. They based their findings on a study of a vast underground region extending across most of the interior of the US.

Ringwoodite acts like a sponge due to a crystal structure that makes it attract hydrogen and trap water.

If just 1% of the weight of mantle rock located in the transition zone was water it would be equivalent to nearly three times the amount of water in our oceans, Jacobsen said.

The study used data from the USArray, a network of seismometers across the US that measure the vibrations of earthquakes, combined with Jacobsen’s lab experiments on rocks simulating the high pressures found more than 600km underground.

It produced evidence that melting and movement of rock in the transition zone – hundreds of kilometres down, between the upper and lower mantles – led to a process where water could become fused and trapped in the rock.

The discovery is remarkable because most melting in the mantle was previously thought to occur at a much shallower distance, about 80km below the Earth’s surface.

…The hidden water might also act as a buffer for the oceans on the surface, explaining why they have stayed the same size for millions of years. “If [the stored water] wasn’t there, it would be on the surface of the Earth, and mountaintops would be the only land poking out,” he said.

We might have gills instead of assorted noses. Rather than a Tea Party, Congress might be held hostage by a school of poisonous jellyfish.

1 in 4 Americans with diabetes don’t know they have it

Three million more people have been diagnosed with diabetes since the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention last took count in 2010. That brings the total number of Americans with diabetes to a whopping 29 million…Though large, the numbers aren’t all that surprising; the rates of diabetes 1 and 2 have been rising for several years now.

But the 29 million figure, featured in a CDC report published this week, is just the people who have been diagnosed. Many more likely have the disease but are unaware — and undiagnosed.

The CDC estimates that of the estimated 12.3 percent of the adult population with diabetes, one in four don’t know they have it. That’s not to mention some 86 million people who have prediabetes, 15 to 30 percent of whom the CDC says will develop type 2 diabetes within five years…

The resulting medical complications from diabetes and prediabetes total more than $245 billion in healthcare costs each year.

The CDC’s Ann Albright says one of the only ways Americans can chip away at these worrisome trends is to improve dietary habits. Even those with prediabetes can avoid the fate of an official diabetes diagnosis by making simple changes, like losing weight and eating healthier.

“Some of the strongest evidence suggests that small changes — like losing 5 to 7 percent of your body weight if you’re overweight — can make the biggest difference,” Albright explained.

“Invest in foods that are nutritious,” Albright added, “like fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.”

I probably qualify as prediabetic – though much less so than I used to. A couple of sedentary gigs last few years before retirement left me a lot heavier and getting less exercise than was customary most of my life. Fortunately, my better half does a serious job of encouraging not only sounder nutrition; but, more exercise. I grew new habits as simple as portion control, deriving self-satisfaction from managing a small and useful part of diet oversight.

Steadily, consistently, I lose about 6 pounds a year. Have been for about a decade.

I don’t understand people who whine that a healthy diet is twice as expensive as fast food. Yes, it’s difficult if you’re living on the road as I did for a number of years. But, if you’re home for breakfast and supper, you’re sensible enough to brown bag it for lunch – we ain’t all organic; but, we also spend less on food than we did even a few years ago. And, nowadays, I’m home at lunchtime which allows for a hot meal prepared by me.

Here’s a link to the CDC’s report [.pdf]. Graphic, simple, useful.