20 Scary Moments That Could Have Ended In Tragedy

Whether it’s the adrenaline rush that comes from risking your life for a viral-worthy picture or the shock that comes from finding yourself in an uncompromising scenario, it’s photos like those that get everyone talking the moment they appear online.

Terry Tufferson/YouTube

Some of these photos may even influence you to do things that replicate a similar form of fearlessness which we strongly advise against so just enjoy these crazy, and mostly death-defying photos for what they are, but don’t be getting any ideas!

Here are 20 moments that almost ended in tragedy.

There is a Robot That Learns to Play Jenga with humans

Jenga—that game that needs careful use of agile and deft fingers, as well as careful consideration of which block can be removed without toppling the tower. Yup, that game! A robot can play that game.

Engineers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology developed a self-learning robot with a soft-pronged gripper, a force-sensing wrist cuff, and an external camera, which it uses to see and feel the structure of the Jenga tower and its individual blocks. The details of the Jenga-playing smart machine were published in the journal Science Robotics.

The machine-learning approach of the Jenga-playing robot could help robots in assembling small parts in a manufacturing line like mobile phones

The Jenga-playing Robot

With the information it receives from its camera, the robot can analyze and compare this information to the moves it has previously made. It considers the outcomes of those moves to make a calculation about which individual piece could be moved and how much force is needed to be used to remove the piece successfully. The robot “learns” in real-time about the best moves for different situations in the game.

Alberto Rodriguez, assistant professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at MIT, said the Jenga-playing smart machine achieved something that cannot be done by previous smart systems:

“Unlike in more purely cognitive tasks or games such as chess or Go, playing the game of Jenga also requires mastery of physical skills such as probing, pushing, pulling, placing, and aligning pieces. It requires interactive perception and manipulation, where you have to go and touch the tower to learn how and when to move blocks. This is very difficult to simulate, so the robot has to learn in the real world, by interacting with the real Jenga tower. The key challenge is to learn from a relatively small number of experiments by exploiting common sense about objects and physics.”

How the Jenga-playing Robot learned to Play

For a robot to learn how to play Jenga, it would need at least tens of thousands of block-extraction attempts as initial data. The self-learning robot, however only needed about 300. The researchers used a more data-efficient way to let the robot to learn how to play Jenga. It is inspired by human cognition, the way we ourselves learn and approach the game.

The team used a customized industry-standard ABB IRB 120 robotic arm. It was first trained with 300 random extraction attempts on the Jenga tower. With each attempt, a computer would record the associated visual and force measurements of the move and mark each of them with a success or failure.

It clusters one attempt with many similar measurements and outcomes to represent one behavior to increase efficiency. This is the same way in which humans cluster similar behavior.

“The robot builds clusters and then learns models for each of these clusters, instead of learning a model that captures absolutely everything that could happen,” said Nima Fazeli, MIT graduate student and lead author of the paper.

Beyond Playing Jenga

This robot is not just a playing companion for those who cannot find someone to play Jenga with. The researchers highlighted that its ability to quickly learn the best way to carry out a task, not just from visual cues but from real situations, could be applied to creating robots that can do tasks that need careful physical interaction.

“In a cellphone assembly line, in almost every single step, the feeling of a snap-fit, or a threaded screw, is coming from force and touch rather than vision,” Rodriguez said. “Learning models for those actions is prime real-estate for this kind of technology.”

Experts Found a Cellular Mechanism to Stop Cancer Before it Starts

Cancer is one of the most deadly diseases that leave most people hopeless. According to the National Institutes of Health, for every 100,000 people, there are 439.2 new cases of cancer every year. Meanwhile, for every 100,000 people, there are a total of 163.5 cancer deaths per year.

Researchers at the Salk Institute had a new discovery about the mechanisms of cancer. A cellular recycling process called autophagy—which was generally thought to fuel cancer’s growth—can actually lead to its death, thus preventing cancer before it starts.

The Telomeres

In the paper published in the journal Nature, researchers investigated molecular tips called telomeres to find out how they are linked to cancer. The researchers likened the telomeres to the plastic tips at the ends of shoelaces. Those tips “keep the laces from fraying when we tie them,” similarly the telomeres protect the ends of chromosomes to “keep them from fusing when cells continually divide and duplicate their DNA.”  However, while the loss of the plastic tips may lead to messy laces, losing the telomere may lead to cancer.

Every time the cells duplicate their DNA to divide and grow, their telomeres are slowly chipped away. The researchers explained that once the telomeres become too short “that they can no longer effectively protect chromosomes,” the cells stop dividing permanently.

However, due to cancer-causing viruses or other factors, cells may continue to divide. And because the telomeres are either too short or missing, the unprotected chromosomes undergo “crisis.” They can fuse and become dysfunctional, which may result in the initiation of some types of cancer.

The Autophagy

The team dug deeper to understand this “crisis.” The typical response to this crisis is widespread cell death in order to stop the dangerous fused cells to become full-blown cancer.

To investigate this crisis and the resulting cell death, the research team used healthy human cells in experiments to compare the normally growing cells with the cells they forced into crisis. They then investigated the cellular mechanisms which occur during the crisis; such as apoptosis and autophagy.

Results revealed that when they prevented autophagy in the crisis cells, the cells replicated tirelessly. Additionally, they were fused and disfigured. The severe DNA damage in the cells indicates that they have become cancerous cells. This means that autophagy is an important early cancer-suppressing mechanism.

Surprising Reversal

Previously, the so-called autophagy was generally thought of as a survival mechanism of cancer cells; A process that supports the unsanctioned growth of cancerous cells by eating other cells to recycle raw materials.

However, it seems that this understanding was wrong. The researchers claimed autophagy to be a “completely novel tumor-suppressing pathway.” They added the treatment programs that block the autophagy in order to curb cancer may have the opposite effect and unintentionally promote cancer instead.

Even the researchers were taken by surprise by the results of their study. “These results were a complete surprise. There are many checkpoints that prevent cells from dividing out of control and becoming cancerous, but we did not expect autophagy to be one of them,” said Jan Karlseder, a professor in Salk’s Molecular and Cell Biology Laboratory and the senior author of the study.

6 Parenting Tips on How to Connect with Your Children

One of the problems parents might face at one point is difficulty in connecting with their children. This might be brought by various causes like busy work schedule, rebellion in early adolescence, and others. However, it is never too late to repair your connection and relationship with your children. Here are some effective tips:

1 Make Conversations

This is one of the most basic tricks that never get old. Try to talk and listen to them—about anything really. From how their day went to some interesting and unforgettable memories that you both of you can laugh about. This is the easiest way to let your children know that you care. Don’t just impose on your belief and be a good listener. There will come a day that they will voluntarily entrust you with their troubles.

2 Learn About Their Interests

Talking won’t do all the work. Show your care in your actions by learning about their interests. Won’t a basketball fanatic kid find it easier to talk to their parents who know at least the basic rules of the game or the famous basketball teams? If your kids like video games try to watch and ask to play with them sometimes. They might just shut you out and not let you play together but at least they will feel you are not judgmental of their hobbies.

3 Never Use Guilt Trips

Fine, it might work once, twice or a few times but using their guilt to get your kids to obey you will wear them down and only cause them to resent you sooner or later. Guilt trips are not called “relationship killers” for nothing. It can make your children feel that you are forcing them to do what they do not want using negative criticisms. They may feel hurt and frustrated inside and their overall view about you might go down a notch.

4 Let them into Your World

Another way to make a favorable impression to your kids is by making them feel welcome to your life. Let them go to explore your workplace or let them meet your friends and co-workers. You can also pull your kid to your interests. Drag them to the concert of your favorite band or go with them to places with significance to you and share them your story about it. With this, they won’t feel that you are out of reach.

5 Find a Common Hobby

Find a new activity you both haven’t done yet but somehow interest you and do it together. For example, start some sports activity or enter a yoga class. This will give you more time to bond, make happy memories and develop your relationship.

6 Find Time for One-on-one Time

This is easy for those with just one kid but a little challenging to those with many children. Make sure to dedicate even at least even 15 minutes of one-on-one time to have a heart-to-heart talk or pour your love to each of your kids. There some things they may easily blurt out when you’re alone with them. Try visiting their bedroom to have some snuggle and chat time before going to bed.

6 Amazing Uses of Banana Peels Will Make You Regret for Throwing Them

When someone slipped, there might be a banana peel. That’s what we commonly see in most television shows especially in animations for children. Oh, how many cartoon characters have once had mishaps due to the ever-powerful banana peels… But aside from that, how much do you know about banana peels?

Here are 6 uses of banana peels which will make you regret ever throwing them in the trash cans:

1 Make Your Teeth Sparkling White

Dental care products are so pricey, so why not use cheap banana peels? Just rub your newly brushed teeth with the inner white side of the banana peel for about 2 minutes every day. The citric acid in banana peels can effectively lighten surface stains on your teeth in just one week. However, remember to only use fresh banana peels. Putting your banana peels in the refrigerator to be preserved is no good.

2 Add to Your Beauty Regimen

There are many beauty benefits of banana peels. To cure pimples and remove acne, massage fresh banana peels on the affected area on your face and body for 5 minutes every day. You will notice the results within a week. Keep repeating until it disappears completely. You can also make your own banana peel face moisturizer to reduce wrinkles. Simply add an egg yolk to mashed banana peels, apply and leave on your face for up to five minutes and wash off

3 Polish Shoes, Leather and Silverware

Do you know that the potassium in bananas is a key ingredient in making shoe polish? So why do you need to buy a manufactured-with-chemicals version if you have the natural one at your home? Rub the inside of the banana peel on shoes or leather to make them shine instantly. You can also make a paste with blended banana peels and a little water to polish your silver or iron pieces. Just scrub it with the paste with a soft cloth or brush, submerge in water to wash off the remaining paste and dry with a cloth.

4 Remove Ink Stains from Your Skin

Most people remove ink stains on the skin by rubbing it with alcohol until it is all red and irritated. But there is an easier solution for that. Just rub the inside of the banana peels on the affected skin and the natural oils in the peel will weaken the pigment bond on the surface of the skin.

5 Wonder Cure for Skin Ailments

Are you looking for a cheap and quick cure for psoriasis or warts? Banana peels are perfect for various skin ailments as it can naturally moisturize skin and remove itchiness and inflammation. Just rub the banana peel on the affected area and leave it overnight (you can tie it to make sure it sticks to your skin). Banana peels can help heal psoriasis and remove warts on the skin. It is also useful in itchy bug bites.

6 Revitalize Your Garden

All vegetable and fruit wastes have nutrients that can make the soil more fertile to help your plants grow healthy. However, that’s not all there is to banana peels. The high potassium concentrations in banana peels are dreaded by some insects which destroy your garden like aphids and ants.

Exercise Benefits Brain Function in Older Adults According to Study

We’ve learned about the widely known benefits of exercise. It enhances and maintains your overall health and wellness as well as physical fitness. It can also help in increasing body growth and development, strengthening muscles, weight loss, preventing cardiovascular diseases and aging.

But if you think that’s all there is to exercise, you are largely mistaken. A new study reveals it may benefit the brain function in older adults, and prevent or delay the onset of dementia.

Brain Effects of Exercise

In a paper published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Diseases, researchers revealed that exercise was associated with a change in the blood flow in key regions in the brain. This, in turn, resulted in an improved cognitive performance in a group of healthy older adults and a group diagnosed with mild cognitive impairment (MCI).

The researchers had two groups of older adults go through an exercise training program. The program consists of 30-minute sessions of moderate-intensity treadmill walking or aerobic exercises, four days per week for a total of 12 weeks.

One group was composed of those with mild cognitive impairment while another was composed of healthy older adults without MCI. Before and after the program, the participants underwent aerobic fitness testing, neuropsychological assessment, and an MRI scan.

Both groups yielded positive results. The healthy group had increased cerebral blood flow in the frontal cortex after 12 weeks, which significantly improved their performance on cognitive tests.

On the other hand, the MCI group had decreased cerebral blood flow in the left anterior cingulate cortex and left insula after 12 weeks. This resulted in their improved performance on a test used to measure memory and cognitive health.

How Reduced Blood Flow Increases Brain Function

According to Dr. J. Carson Smith, associate professor in the Department of Kinesiology in the University Of Maryland and one of the authors of the study, when we begin to experience subtle memory loss, the brain responds to the crisis by trying to “compensate” the inadequate brain function by increasing the blood flow.

However, while increased cerebral blood flow can be beneficial in normal brain situations, in those diagnosed with MCI, it gives the opposite effect. Dr. Smith states that there is evidence that it may bring further memory loss to those in the very early stages of Alzheimer’s Disease.

Dr. Smith explains the result of the study:

“A reduction in blood flow may seem a little contrary to what you would assume happens after going on an exercise program. But after 12-weeks of exercise, adults with MCI experienced decreases in cerebral blood flow. They simultaneously improved significantly in their scores on cognitive tests.”

These findings provide evidence that exercise can improve brain function in older adults—whether or not their cognitive abilities are already in decline.

Dr. Smith added that that exercise can positively affect “biomarkers of brain function in a way that might protect people by preventing or postponing the onset of dementia.” He highlighted how exercise influences the brain’s neural networks which are linked to memory loss and amyloid accumulation—both signs of MCI and Alzheimer’s.


Experts Design a New Electricity System to Reduce Electricity Prices

Have you ever found yourself asking why your electricity bills seem to be increasing even as your consumption remains the same? You are not alone. That is a problem that brings headaches to many homeowners. While there are many ways to save on electricity to lower the bills, there as just as many outside factors that spike electricity costs that you cannot control.

In the US, the price of electricity has increased for an average of 33 percent over the last 10 years. Factors that may affect electricity rates include the cost of generating fuel, utility expenses of the company, weather conditions, as well as the distribution cost through power lines.

But here’s a piece of good news! Researchers at the University of Waterloo have designed a new hybrid distribution system that could cut the prices of electricity by more than five percent, while also improving service reliability.

Two Kinds of Electric Current

The researchers explained their design in a paper published in the International Journal of Electrical Power & Energy Systems. Instead of just one type of electric current, it involves the integration of both kinds of electric current—alternating current (AC) and direct current (DC).

Currently, the world uses AC-only distribution systems to power homes around the world.  The researchers explained that this is because the power transformers can only accommodate AC in order to reduce voltage for more efficient distribution and increase voltage for greater long-distance transmission efficiency.

However, not all electronics are powered by AC. Your televisions, computers, and mobile phones, for example, require DC current which must be converted from the AC power that arrived at your home.  This conversion results to system loss which further burdens the electricity consumption.

New Hybrid System

In the new AC-DC hybrid system, the AC to DC converters were located at strategic points in the distribution system itself. This new system could increase efficiency by minimizing the conversions from one kind of current to the other.

“Minimizing power conversion requirements creates a simpler system with greater efficiency and less loss. As you reduce the number of converters, you also reduce the chances of service interruptions due to breakdowns,” said Haytham Ahmed, a postdoctoral fellow who led the research with electrical engineering colleagues at Waterloo.

The AC-DC hybrid system is created through a sophisticated computer modeling and optimization. The researchers highlighted that it has a good potential to be adopted on existing systems that need expansion or in new residential and commercial areas where there is a need to build a new system.

Projected Savings

Researchers compared the new AC-DC system with the current AC-only distribution system. It resulted in an estimated savings of about five percent.

This is not just due to less energy loss but also the lower infrastructure and production costs of electronic gadgets. The researchers explained that if DC-powered electronics no longer needed converters. Their prices would also be cheaper on top of the lesser electricity consumption.

“When you feel heat coming off the charger for your laptop, that is lost energy. We can eliminate those losses so we consume less power,” Ahmed explained.

Air Pollution Linked with Overweight and Obesity in Childhood

When we breathe in polluted air, it irritates our respiratory system and we may experience breathing difficulties. In the long run, exposure contaminated air and smoke produced by industries and vehicles can lead to decreased lung function, diseases such as asthma, bronchitis, emphysema, and possibly other cardiovascular and respiratory diseases, as well as cancer. Now another health problem might be added to the list—childhood obesity.

Impacts of Obesity in Children

Looking at the many severe diseases linked to air pollution, obesity seems a little insignificant. However, this condition should not be overlooked.

Obesity affects up to 15-20 percent of children worldwide. Aside from the various health hazards linked to obesity such as diabetes, high cholesterol, asthma, sleep apnea, gallstones, and cardiovascular diseases. Overweight and obesity also affect the psychological being of children.

Several studies reveal that childhood obesity can lead to low self-esteem, anxiety, and depression. This is commonly due to social exclusion, negative stereotypes, and bullying. In fact, some experts described being overweight as “one of the most stigmatizing and least socially acceptable conditions in childhood.”

Obesity and Air Pollution

Researchers at the Barcelona Institute for Global Health (ISGlobal) claimed that exposure to air pollution, especially at school, might be liked with a higher risk of overweight and obesity during childhood. In a study published in Environment International, researchers investigated 2,660 children ages 7-10 years old from 39 schools in Barcelona under the BREATHE project.

The team collected data on the children’s height and weight to calculate their body mass index (BMI). They also assessed the levels of pollution in the school areas. Among the pollutants they measured are nitrogen dioxide, elemental carbon, particle matter, and ultrafine particles. They examined the pollutants twice; during a week in summer and another week in winter.

Jeroen de Bont, a researcher at ISGlobal and first author of the study concluded that children exposed with medium to high levels of the measured air pollutants had “a higher risk of obesity and overweight as compared to those exposed to lower levels.”

It was also revealed that many children were exposed to air pollution levels above the World Health Organisation (WHO) recommended levels. To be specific, more than 75 percent were exposed to unsafe levels of particle matter. While more than 50 percent were exposed to the above-recommended level of nitrogen dioxide.

Study Limitations

The researchers, however, highlighted that their study has limitations. One of the reasons is because their analysis was done with only estimates of exposure levels. Martine Vrijheid, ISGlobal researcher and study coordinator explained:

“The study has however some limitations, which means that the results are to be cautiously interpreted. Being a cross-sectional study, we only have data at one time-point, and we do not have enough data to establish the nature of the association. To draw more solid conclusions, we need new longitudinal studies that follow the study participants over time.”

But how can air pollution possibly affect obesity? Researchers explained the underlying mechanisms on the idea. Previous animal studies reveal that air pollution can induce insulin resistance, oxidative stress, and systemic inflammation. These are known factors that contribute to obesity.

In the study in particular researchers identified that ultrafine particles were the pollutants that had the most effect in increasing the risk of overweight or obesity. “This may be explained by the fact that the ultrafine fraction of the particles deposit in greater number and deeper into the lungs than do large-size particles, having more capacity to reach the circulation and induce oxidative stress and inflammation,” the researchers wrote.

9 Car-Free Places You Should Definitely Visit For A Breath Of Fresh Air

With the non-stop technological advancements and industrialization, it is getting more and more difficult to find a breath of fresh air especially in busy cities filled with bustling traffic and pollution. But did you know that there are several places in the world that are completely car-free? Here are some cities and villages which are completely free of honking horns and exhaust gas for your next travel:

1 Bald Head Island, North Carolina, USA

Located at the east side of the Cape Free River in Brunswick County, Bald Head Island, or formerly Smith Island, is a remote area with a population of 158 in 2010. It is known for its picturesque sceneries, old-fashioned cottages built upon golf courses and sea turtles. It is also a nationally recognized barrier island which actively monitors the environment.

2 Mackinac Island, Michigan, USA

Mackinac Island is probably among the earliest cities which banned cars. It is officially free of cars since 1898, on a decree to guarantee the safety of residents and horses. Residents and tourists can only travel by foot, bicycle, and horse-drawn carriage. But that’s not the main attraction of Mackinac Island but its vintage American architecture which is preserved from the classical American era.

3 Lamu, Kenya

Lamu’s narrow streets only have pedestrians, bicycles, and donkey carts. Lamu is one of the oldest and best-preserved Swahili settlements in East Africa. It is also listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site and a melting pot of architecture. The astonishing building of the Old Town Lamu mixes the styles of Swahili, European, Indian, Arabic and Persian styles

4 Ghent, Belgium

Known for its medieval architecture such as the Gravensteen castle of the 12th century, Ghent is a prominent city-state during the Middle Ages. Currently, the city is known as a cultural hub and university town. The city center of Ghent got rid of cars in 1996 to counter the declining air quality and heavy traffic.

5 Fire Island, New York

A paradise on the outer barrier of Atlantic Ocean that parallels Long Island, New York. It is known for its protected beaches, resorts, picnic spots and golf courses. It is also famous for its magnificent architecture which can be toured by foot, bike, or golf cart.

6 Venice, Italy

We can’t forget canal cities where boats are the protagonists instead of wheels. Venice, which is ranked among the most famous tourist destinations of the world, is also completely car-free. The city is built on 118 islands in a lagoon in the Adriatic Sea. It has no roads, just canals, beautiful and delicate bridges, and gorgeous architecture.

7 Giethoorn, Netherlands

Known as the “Dutch Venice,” Giethoorn is another car-free village which only has narrow pathways, bicycle trails, small bridges, and waterways. It is a peaceful, somewhat distant area in the Dutch province of Overijssel known for its thatched-roof, 18th-century farmhouses.

8 Hydra Island, Greece

One of the Saronic Islands in Greece, located in the Aegean Sea, Hydra Island is a tourism hub known for its natural springs and sea views. It is free of motorized vehicles, except for trash trucks. The island can be accessed from the mainland via high-speed hydrofoil or boat.  Transportation on the island is via horses, mules, donkeys and water taxis. The inhabited area, however, is so compact that most people just travel on foot.

9 Fes el Bali, Morocco

If you’re looking for a large, bustling, urban area without free of smoke and gasoline, you need to visit Fes-al-Bali, Morocco. It has thousands of medieval streets and alleyways which are too narrow for cars. People can only travel by foot, donkey or cart.



8 Surprising Ways You Can Use Potatoes, Aside From Eating Them

Potatoes are considered staple food in almost every country. They can be added to many recipes or they can be simply boiled, mashed, baked, roasted, or fried by themselves. They are very delicious and contain a lot of vitamins and minerals, however, the uses of potatoes to do not stop at your plate. Here

1 Polish Silverware

You just noticed that the necklace you would be wearing in the evening party is discolored. No need to rush to the hardware store. The answer is just seating in your kitchen. Just boil some potatoes and after they are cooked, remove them and keep the water. Soak them in the water for 20-30 minutes, wipe properly, and voila!—you have a sparkling new necklace. And oh! You can just eat those boiled potatoes.

2 Remove Rust

The acid in potato is very effective in dissolving the rust from cast iron or old metallic tools and items. Just cut a slice and rub it to the rusty area. Leave it for about 30 minutes and use an abrasive to scrub. You can add salt or soap for better effects.

3 Polish Leather

The cleaning power of the oh so great potato does not stop with just cleaning metal and silverware, you can also use it on those made with leather materials such as bags and shoes. Just rub a slice directly to the leather. Leave for about five minutes, and wipe gently with a clean cloth and or brush.

4 Make Hot or Cold Compress

On cold winter days, it’s such a bliss to keep your hand warm with hot baked potatoes and slowly peel them to eat as they slowly get warm. Potatoes can hold temperatures, either hot or cold, for a long time. They are simply good hot or cold compress alternatives.

5 Skin Care

Time to update your beauty regimen with potatoes! Potatoes are useful in getting rid of oily skin, pimples, blackheads, and improve skin conditions. Make your own potato face mask by blending potatoes to form a paste. Or simply rub a slice in the affected area and leave for a few minutes for smoother, tighter skin.

6 Remove Eye Bags

Cucumbers are always the protagonists in removing eye bags and puffiness around the eyes but don’t you know that potatoes are a better solution. They work faster than any other vegetables in lightening dark circles.

7 An All-Around Cure for Minor Ailments

Our humble potato is so magical that it can be used to ease minor ailments such as spasms, joint pain, arthritis, body pain, heartburn, ulcers, migraine, constipation, and speeds up bruise healing. There are also studies which link potato juice to reduced risks of other diseases such as cancer.

8 Power Source

Potato batteries are common school projects of grade school kids as they possess energy which can easily be harnessed with wire. Although you cannot use them in high-voltage appliances, they can be used to power simpler electronics. You might find it too troublesome to save just a little amount in electricity bills but it would be very useful during unprepared power outages.