Things That Matter

Your Abuela Always Warned You About Eclipses But The One Yesterday In South America Was Truly Special

Yesterday, thousands of people in Chile and Argentina stood outside and gazed at the sky as day turned briefly to night during this year’s only total solar eclipse.

For two minutes, Earth’s moon completely blocked the sun, allowing observers in the path of its shadow to see solar prominences and the sun’s vast corona extending out into space.

Viewers across Chile and Argentina were treated to a particularly special solar eclipse yesterday.

Credit: @CNN / Twitter

Hundreds of thousands of tourists scattered across the north Chilean desert on Tuesday to experience a rare and irresistible combination for astronomy buffs: a total eclipse of the sun viewed from beneath the world’s clearest skies.

A solar eclipse occurs when the moon passes between the Earth and the sun, plunging the planet into darkness. It happens only rarely in any given spot across the globe.

The best views this time were from Chile’s sprawling Atacama desert north of the coastal city of La Serena, where a lack of humidity and city lights combine to create the world’s clearest skies.

The region had not seen an eclipse since 1592, according to the Chilean Astronomy Society. The next one is expected in 2165.

OMG, this is so cool!

Office workers poured from buildings late in the afternoon to catch a glimpse of the phenomenon and a run on special “eclipse-viewing” glasses downtown had led to a shortage in many stores, with street vendors charging as much as $10 for a pair of the disposable, cardboard-framed lenses.Advertisement

Northern Chile is known for clear skies and some of the largest, most powerful telescopes on Earth are being built in the area, turning the South American country into a global astronomy hub.

And you don’t get a chance to see this too often…

Credit: @NWSNorman / Twitter

Weather satellites captured a once in a lifetime shot showing the solar eclipse crossing the South Pacific Ocean together with Hurricane Barbara off the coast of Mexico. Que chido!

And, of course, the solar eclipse that’s taking place over Latin America is special!

Credit: @WIRED / Twitter

So solar eclipses aren’t super rare. In fact, they occur roughly every 18 months. Some of them last just a few seconds; others stretch up to seven minutes.

But today’s eclipse in South America is special for several reasons.

First, it takes place during a low-activity period in the solar cycle, called the minimum, meaning the views for certain researchers will be a little clearer and more nuanced given the lack of “clutter,” or activity such as flares and prominences emanating from the surface.

Also, it will pass directly over an area that is home to major astronomical research observatories, including the Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory, Gemini South, and the European Southern Observatory’s La Silla Observatory.

It’s also taking place across the Atacama Desert – a special place for viewing celestial objects.

Images have been pouring in on social media from across South America.

Credit: @AP_Images / Twitter

Like this amazing shot taken in Argentina.

And this one from the Andes Mountains in Chile.

Credit: @joabaldwin / Twitter

I mean, that’s an other worldly image right there.

And remember, whatever you do, don’t take this Twitter user’s advice.

Credit: @nostalgiabloom / Twitter

Or, you know, don’t follow our president’s lead either. Remember the eclipse of 2017 when he stared directly into the sunlight…? Yea, impossible to forget.

Are you already waiting for the next chance to see a solar eclipse?

Credit: @Forbes / Twitter

Well, depending on where you’re at you may be waiting awhile. Although, South America will have another chance next year as an eclipse will take a similar path in 2020.

For viewers in the US, we’ll have to wait until 2024 for our best shot when an eclipse will be visible from Mexico, across Texas, and up to Chicago, New York, and Maine.

READ: This Is What A Latino Household Is Like On The Day Of A Solar Eclipse

In An Effort To Eliminate Food Waste We Will Soon Have Access To Avocados That Stay Fresh For 30 Days

Culture

In An Effort To Eliminate Food Waste We Will Soon Have Access To Avocados That Stay Fresh For 30 Days

Apeel Sciences / YouTube

American demand for avocados is so great—and the supply so precious—that restaurants have had to cut guacamole corners in recent months. Like it’s seriously getting tough out there. 

We’ve got taquerias from LA to Mexico City spreading fake guac (aka mock guac) on our tacos and burritos. While white folk from Australia to the UK are suffering from an epidemic of so-called ‘avocado hand.’ And cartels are killing farmers for their agricultural lands hoping to get in on the avocado boom. 

Avocados have long been a favorite of people around the world but all of us have often shared one common complaint – our lovely avocados spoil way too damn fast. Well, finally, one company is trying to fix that issue and it looks like 30 day avocados could be here in the very near future.

Because every last avocado counts, grocery store chain Kroger has debuted avocados sprayed with a new, plant-based coating designed to keep produce fresh longer.

Credit: Apeel Sciences

Kroger announced this week that the powdered coating comes from a company called Apeel, and when mixed with water and sprayed onto produce, it keeps oxygen out, prolonging the time before the fruit or vegetable spoils. It’s also being applied to asparagus and limes in a small percentage of Kroger stores. The company hopes the longer-lasting produce will eliminate food waste not only in people’s kitchens, but in the stores themselves.

Apeel Sciences has figured out how to extend the salad days of fruits and vegetables — and it’s bringing the technology to the avocado aisle of 1,100 Kroger grocery stores in the US, starting this month. 

Credit: omgitsjustintime / Instagram

The extra longevity comes from Apeel‘s special, plant-derived formulation that’s applied — like a second skin — to a variety of produce. The process can double or, in some cases, triple shelf life. The companies expect the partnership to prevent millions of avocados annually from ending up in landfills.

Kroger, the largest grocery retailer in the US, began selling Apeel avocados exclusively in 109 of its stores earlier this year. Because of the resulting reduction in waste, Apeel says its avocados cost the same or less than other avocados. 

A video posted in March compares the lifespans of Apeel fruits and vegetables — including asparagus, tomatoes, strawberries, apples, bananas and limes — with that of their untreated counterparts.

So far, Apeel has developed formulations for about 50 different kinds of produce including apples, artichokes, bananas, beans, blueberries and tomatoes. The company also announced today that it would begin selling limes and asparagus in Kroger’s stores around Cincinnati, Ohio, later this fall. 

Kroger and Apeel both cite lofty aims with their collaboration. Kroger has promoted the initiative under its “Zero Hunger/Zero Waste” program that raises money to mitigate hunger and reduce food waste. In the US, roughly one in eight people struggle with hunger and between 30% and 40% of the food produced is thrown away

There are also environmental benefits.

Credit: Unsplash

Apeel and Kroger expect the partnership to help prevent millions of avocados from ending up in landfills, which should help reduce the greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to climate change. They also predict that the deal will save over one billion gallons of water and help preserve dozens of acres of farmland.

Although not everyone is happy about the idea.

Credit: Fruitnet.com / Screenshot

One Twitter user said: “My issue isn’t that grocery store avocados go bad, it’s that they never ripen at all. I bought a bunch of avocados yesterday and I’m hoping I’ll have ripe ones by Spring.” 

Ok, by Spring? That might be a little dramatic but I think we can all relate. You get to the market and they either have mushy, brown, already spoiled avocados covered in flies or they’re hard as a rock and that delicious guacamole you planned on making tonight to go with those tacos just isn’t happening. 

In Amazing Science News, We’ve Mapped The DNA Of Avocados And This Is Why That’s A Big Deal

Things That Matter

In Amazing Science News, We’ve Mapped The DNA Of Avocados And This Is Why That’s A Big Deal

theseforeignroads.com

In recent news of science doing what science does best, a team of researchers have just successfully sequenced the avocado genome. 

And, yes, it’s a big deal. Like life will never be the same for us kind of big deal. The joint study was published earlier this week and used genomics to uncover the ancient origins of avocados. It also investigated how we mere mortals can improve our avocado farming to increase output of this delicious fruit. 

The heroes of the hour are researchers at the National Laboratory of Genomics for Biodiversity (LANGEBIO) in Mexico, Texas Tech University, and the University at Buffalo. 

Aside from being an incredible cool endeavour, here’s a taste of why this study has us so excited. 

This data provides vital clues that will help us optimise avocado production. AKA, GROW MORE AVOS FOR CHEAP. 

Credit: Eater.LA.com

Avocados naturally have a long life cycle, which can make breeding programs difficult. Now that we can better understand avocado DNA, it should help scientists come up with breeding methods that are way more efficient. They also hope that DNA sequencing will also help them improve the disease resistance of avocado plants – in turn making them easier to grow. 

In a world where avocados are getting more and more unaffordable, this sort of good news is music to our ears. 

Because no, it’s not just you – the price of avocados has skyrocketed in recent months, and are at their highest in at least a decade. It’s come to the point where some restaurants in the US are increasing the prices of any menu items containing avocado, or just taking out the ingredient altogether. It’s a travesty.  

Thankfully, there’s now hope that avocados will be more affordable in future.

The global market for avocados was worth $13 billion in 2017.

Credit: madeinhonduras.net

The slippery, glorious avocado skyrocketed to international adoration in the 20th century. Today, it’s smeared on tortillas, smashed on toast, blended in smoothies and added to soups.

A Mexican eats, on average, more than seven kilos of avocado a year. So it’s no surprise they’re also the world’s greatest producer – exporting $2.5 billion to the US last year alone. As demand continues to rise in the United States, so prices are continuing to rise.

So, finding a way to increase and optimise avocado crop is kind of a big deal. 

It could mean the atrocity of avocado-less “mock guacamole” is canceled. 

Chilango recently wrote up an exposure of the sneaky mock-guac that some taquerias in Mexico have begun to serve in an attempt to overcome rising avocado prices. 

It could mean more that the aguacate in your torta is actually visible to the naked eye. 

Credit: recetapordia.es

What’s also exciting is that there’s a chance that scientists will now be able to create avocados fruit with new tastes and textures. 

That means potentially NEW and improved ways to explore your undying love for avocado. 

It could mean that the days of pit-slip knife cuts are over. Seeds are so 2019.

Credit: BetterLiving / YouTube

Okay, we have no idea if this is true but how great would that be? Because ‘avocado hand’ is a real, medical term. One can dream. 

What else did we learn from the study? 

We now know the origins of the Hass avocado.

Credit: fourwindsgrowers.com

Oh, you know Hass – everyone does. 

While avocados come in many shapes and sizes, Hass avocados are by far the most common variant grown and exported around the world. 

Scientists have always suspected the Hass avocado was a hybrid, though the genetic ratios were previously unknown. Through DNA sequencing, researchers now know that the Hass is a mix of 61% Mexican avocado and 39% Guatemalan avocado genes. 

They’re also genetically identical to the first Hass avocados planted in the 1920s, grown by grafting branches of existing trees onto new rootstocks. Cool eh?

And we now understand more about the avocado’s humble beginnings.

Credit: these foreign roads.com

Although now something of a trending food, avocados have been important to Central and South American sustenance for a long, long time. The Aztecs changed the course of history when they mashed up avocados to make a sauce called āhuacamolli (say that aloud – sound familiar?)

The oldest found avocado pit was discovered in Coxcatlan Cave some 9,000 – 10,000 years ago. In fact, scientists speculate that in prehistoric times, avocados (in a different form) may have been eaten by megafauna like giant sloths, who helped the avocado plants spread by pooping out seeds across the land. 

Now, is there really a better image than giant sloths munching on ancient avos?

In regards to family history, the avocado fits into a plant group called magnoliids, which split  from other flowering plant species about 150 million years ago. Scientists now have a much greater understanding of their relationship to these plants, and how their genes have developed through the course of time. 

Can we now protect our precious avocados from climate change?

Lastly, the study is especially important since avocados are expected to be heavily impacted by climate change.

A report released last month by the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) predicted that, at the rate we were going, California could lose 40 percent of its avocado supply by 2050.

One of the biggest reasons understanding avocado DNA is so important, so we can make sure we carry this glorious fruit with us deep into the future. 

Said Luis Herrera-Estrella, who helped conceive the study: “We hope that the Mexican Government keeps supporting these types of ambitious projects that use state-of-the-art technology to provide a deep understanding of the genetics and genomics of native Mexican plants.”