Weekend Thoughts - 11.12.16

Image  by  buck82 , courtesy of  Creative Commons  licensing.

Image by buck82, courtesy of Creative Commons licensing.

Happy Saturday y'all! Below, I have rounded up some things for you to think about this weekend:

1. In a few nights (Sunday and Monday—the 13th and 14th of November) we will have the opportunity to see the largest supermoon since 1948. It has been 68 years since the moon has come this close to the Earth, and it won't be this close again for another 18 years. The supermoon, also known as a "perigee moon", will be roughly 30,000 miles closer to Earth and will appear to be up to 14% bigger and 30% brighter than normal. If you're on the East Coast of the United States, the best times to view the moon will be toward the end of the night—right before dawn. But if Sunday night is cloudy, you can try again on Monday. And you won't need a telescope (although it would come in handy) because you'll be able to see the supermoon with your bare eyes.

2. Although we've known for a while that smoking cigarettes is harmful to human health, a new study has been released that found that a pack-a-day smoker typically produces about 333 DNA mutations per year, and only about half of them are in the lungs. Other mutations have been found in the larynx, pharynx, mouth, bladder, and liver. Although many of these mutations are harmless, each year of smoking initiates new gene damage that could lead to cancer. Even though the study does not explain exactly how cancer is developed from smoking, it does shed some light on why smokers often develop cancer in areas of the body that don't come in direct contact with smoke, like the bladder. If you haven't started smoking, please don't. And if you are a current smoker, please consider quitting for your health and the health of others.

3. Driving cross-country in an electric vehicle comes with a unique challenge—finding a place that has a charging station to charge the car. The Department of Transportation announced plans to create 48 electric vehicle charger "corridors" in U.S. highways in 35 states, covering approximately 25,000 miles. Stations will be installed every 50 miles and states will use uniform signage to let drivers know when a station is located off of the next exit. However, one thing missing from the plan is a defined timetable, which means it could be years before these stations exist—if they are built at all. Still, the fact that the government is aware of and considering possible solutions to this problem is hopeful.

4. Humans have become increasingly distanced from the food that they consume. According to a map recently released by the International Center for Tropical Agriculture, many of the origins of foods that we believe to be true turn out to be incorrect. For example, apples are often thought of as an American food, but they actually originated in Europe and Asia. And while today's coffee beans may be grown in Central and South America, the crop originated in Africa. Today's global food system is more interdependent than it ever has been, which will be a strength against future threats like climate change, pests, and diseases. If you'd like to get closer to your food, I would suggest visiting a local farm, shopping at farmers' markets, or growing your own garden.

That's all for this week's edition of Weekend Thoughts. Until next week, keep thinking wilder.