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Tuesday, May 21st

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Not just balloons. Helium shortage may deflate MRIs, airbags and research

Helium shortage

A global helium shortage could burst the bubble for all the businesses that rely on the gas to lift weather balloons, large blimps, and, yes, the balloons at your kid’s birthday bash that make your voice sound like a chipmunk.

But the shortage is potentially deflating for a whole range of other purposes.

Helium is used in deep sea diving, airbags, cryogenics, rocket fuel, MRI machines and in areas of tech that include fiber optics and semiconductors.

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Celebrate Earth Day With The Greatest Images Of Our Planet From Space

Photos from outer space at Forbes

The Earth remains humanity's only home in all the Universe, and the only planet that we know of capable of supporting human beings. Today, Earth Day, it's more important than ever to appreciate it.

With the advent of rocketry and spaceflight, our cosmic perspective changed forever.

More of Forbes' wonderful display....

Jerrie Cobb, member of NASA's secret 'Mercury 13', dies at 88

Jerrie Cobb dies at 88Jerrie Cobb, the first woman in the world to complete U.S. astronaut training in the early 1960s, has died at the age of 88, her family said.

Cobb -- a record-setting pilot before she joined NASA for an astronaut training program with 12 other women, dubbed the "Mercury 13" -- died March 18, but it wasn't announced by a family spokesman until Thursday.

NASA ultimately ended the First Lady Astronaut Training program, choosing instead to send only men into space. Cobb remained an advocate for female pilots and astronauts to the point she once argued for opportunities for women in space program with famed astronaut John Glenn during a 1962 Senate committee hearing. Glenn said at the time, "the fact that women are not in this field is a fact of our social order."

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'We've now seen the unseeable' First-ever photo of a black hole revealed

black hole photo

It's our first glimpse of one of the weirdest spectacles in the universe. Astronomers on Wednesday released humanity's first-ever image of a black hole.

The picture reveals the black hole at the center of Messier 87, a massive galaxy in the "nearby" Virgo galaxy cluster. It looked like a flaming orange, yellow and black ring.

“We have seen what we thought was unseeable. We have seen and taken a picture of a black hole," said Sheperd Doeleman, Event Project Horizon project director from Harvard University. “This is an extraordinary scientific feat accomplished by a team of more than 200 researchers.”

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Raging rivers wider than the Mississippi roared across Mars eons ago

Mars had a river larger tha the Mississippi

Mars wasn't always the frigid red dust ball that it is today.

Billions of years ago, hundreds of huge rivers of water flowed across the planet. In a new study, scientists said that those rivers – many wider than Earth's rivers today – continued to flow around the Red Planet much later than previously thought.

The rivers likely flowed on Mars as far back as 3 billion years ago, just as the planet began to slowly dry out to its current arid climate. But the surprise from the new study was that the rivers only vanished for good relatively recently, less than 1 billion years ago.

In fact the rivers appeared to flow right up to the last geological minute before the wet climate dried up for good, said study lead author Edwin Kite, a University of Chicago geophysicist.

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Trump picks climate change skeptic for EPA science board

Trump picks climate change skeptic for EPA science board

A well-known skeptic of the seriousness of climate change will join the Environmental Protection Agency’s science advisory board. Alabama climatologist John Christy has been a favorite of Republican lawmakers who disagree with the science that shows humans are heating the planet and causing an environmental crisis.

Christy was a lead author of a section of a 2011 report by the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. But that year he testified to a House panel that “it has become popular to try and attribute certain extreme events to human causation.”

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Climate scientists close to forecasting near-term global warming impacts

Scientists close to forecasting climate change warningsOne of the biggest challenges of modeling climate change is making near-term and localized predictions.

But according to a new study, published this week in the journal Nature Climate Change, scientists are finally starting to accurately simulate the influence of long-term climate change on short-term seasonal forecasts.

"There is a lot of work still to do, but just as weather forecasts became a regular operational activity in the 20th century, we are now approaching a similar point for near term climate predictions and these are now being made at a number of scientific institutes worldwide," Adam Scaife, professor at the University of Exeter and a climate scientist with the Met Office, said in a news release.

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