Brazil National Museum: ‘Little surprises’ salvaged from the ashes

Brazil National Museum: ‘Little surprises’ salvaged from the ashes

Close up of a hand holding a fragment of a stele

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Douglas Engle

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A fragment of a damaged stone slab recording the deceased

Many Brazilians wept after their 200-year-old National Museum was destroyed in a devastating fire last September. Twenty million objects, many of them irreplaceable, were thought to have been lost. But eight months later, staff have salvaged more treasures than they expected, and there are hopes that one of the great museums of the world can be brought back to life.

Suddenly, a shout echoes round the blackened, roofless shell of the once-elegant room.

A tall young man in white helmet and black gloves is standing triumphantly on a pile of smashed tiles and plaster. Cradled in his palm is a small piece of carved stone with ancient hieroglyphics.

Archeologist Pedro Luiz von Seehausen searches through the rubble for Egyptian steles at the National Museum in Rio de Janeiro

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Douglas Engle

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Pedro Luiz von Seehausen searches through the rubble

Pedro Luiz von Seehausen is an archaeologist, an expert on ancient Egyptian funerary monuments, who travels regularly to the Nile Valley to help excavate millennia-old pharaonic tombs.

Ironically – tragically – von Seehausen is wielding his trowel, using his archaeological training, to excavate his own workplace – to re-uncover ancient treasures that had already been uncovered by archaeologists in Egypt two centuries ago, but which were buried again when their new home, the National Museum of Brazil, went up in flames.

And what von Seehausen has just found in the debris is a fragment of a stele, a stone slab recording the deceased. It’s part of a collection brought from Egypt by Brazil’s imperial family, who did much to build up the museum, and who lived in the palace where it is now housed.

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Crossing Continents: Restoring Brazil’s National Treasure

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“Usually we have 52 steles here, and we’ve found 500 pieces,” Pedro says.

“We have a moral obligation to collect the pieces, even if they are broken in a million pieces,” he says. “Some days I am pretty sad and I feel that I am just dragging myself to work here. But then I usually find one piece is in good condition and I am like, ‘Well, it’s worth it.'”

Dinosaur fossil on display inside the National Museum

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The 13m-long (44ft) reconstructed skeleton of a Maxakalisaurus was the biggest dinosaur on display at the museum

The National Museum, founded in 1818 just before Brazil won its independence from Portugal, contained collections not just of archaeology, but of zoology, ethnography, geology and palaeontology – everything from dried beetles and dinosaur bones to meteorites, Pre-Columbian ceramics and recordings of native American languages.

Many items were contributed by the two emperors who ruled Brazil after independence: Pedro I and his son Pedro II, and their consorts Maria Leopoldina of Austria and Teresa Cristina of the Two Sicilies. The imperial family were enthusiastic collectors of antiquities – including valuable ancient Egyptian and Graeco-Roman treasures, and specimens of natural history. They did much to encourage the development of Brazilian science.

After the overthrow of the monarchy in 1889, the museum, formerly housed in another building, moved to its present home in the former imperial palace.

National Museum

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The museum before the fire

On the night of 2 September, flames lit up the sky over Rio, and burnt fragments of paper – many of them pages of irreplaceable historic books and documents – drifted over the city.

“It was a kind of picture of hell,” says ichthyologist (fish expert) Prof Paulo Buckup, who arrived at the museum just as the blaze was taking hold. “There were Greek statues decorating the top of the building, and the fire would come behind them. It was a very horrible thing to see.”

By the light of the fire, Buckup and colleagues broke down a locked door and formed a human chain to rescue thousands of specimens of molluscs – clams, squids, snails – from drawers and cabinets.

The next day, after the fire had finally gone out, staff held hands in a ring around the ruins of the building in a form of symbolic embrace.

“Everybody was crying. It was like a funeral – a funeral for our museum,” says ethnographer Prof Aparecida Vilaça.

A worker rescues items during a fire at the National Museum

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Staff hurried to rescue items on the night of the fire

Aerial view of Rio de Janeiro's National Museum after a fire

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The building, which once served as the residence for the Portuguese royal family, was gutted by the blaze

Nearly eight months on, there’s a new spirit among many staff.

“It’s very hard to know exactly how much we lost, but I believe we have way more than we thought before,” says bio-archaeologist Murilo Bastos.

Bastos, an expert in human bones, made a remarkable rediscovery amid the rubble. He found that the museum’s most famous treasure – the skeletal remains of “Luzia”, a woman who died nearly 12,000 years ago – had survived the fire relatively unscathed.

Fragments of human skeleton

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The human remains were viewed as the jewel of the museum’s collection

When Luzia was first uncovered in a cave in Brazil in 1974, she was the oldest human skeleton found in the Americas.

“Luzia was very fragile. So we thought she would not survive the fire,” Bastos says. “But she was inside an iron cabinet. I don’t know why. That’s amazing for us. Maybe she’s more powerful than we thought.”

Luzia’s skull had shattered into about 30 fragments, and Bastos had to collect them very carefully.

“I was scared,” he says, “because I knew that if anything happened with Luzia, it would be my fault. But then when I finished, I felt: ‘Well, we could save Luzia today.'”

Reconstruction of the head of Luzia

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A clay reconstruction of Luzia, created by forensic artist Dr Richard Neave of the University of Manchester

For the first few months after the fire, a full salvage operation was delayed while the ruins were made safe from possible further collapse. Digging in the roofless shell has also been hampered by the tropical downpours of Rio’s rainy season. But now a metal canopy is being erected over the building, and work can proceed more systematically.

Archaeologists have been gradually working their way through the debris on the three floors of the museum.

A worker guards artefacts found among the debris inside Brazil's National Museum

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Artefacts found among the debris

“We are seeing that a lot survived. There’s hope that we can bring it back from the ashes,” says bio-archaeologist Victor Bittar.

“The geological samples are coming out in batches. Maybe they have the highest rate of recovery. Rocks do well with fire. And we keep getting stuff even from rooms where we thought nothing would come out, such as animals that were preserved in glass jars, in alcohol or formaldehyde. No-one expected that. So we have little surprises all the time.”

Researchers clean artefacts found amid the debris

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Researchers clean newly recovered artefacts

Other collections have not fared so well. Prof Pedro Dias is a young entomologist (insect expert) who was appointed last year as the museum’s first specialist curator of orthoptera – crickets and grasshoppers. He was due to start on 3 September, but when he arrived for his first day, there was nothing left to curate. The entire collection of up to 45,000 specimens had been destroyed. Nearly 300 were type specimens – the examples scientists around the world use to define a species.

“[There was] one of the most important grasshopper collections in the world, the result of 100 years of collecting specimens. Now we have to rebuild,” he says.

Prof Dias is beginning by leading some of his students on collecting expeditions to the Tijuca National Park on the edge of Rio. Near the top of a mountain, there is a cave where he previously found a new species of cricket.

Pedro Dias on a hunt for crickets in the Tijuca National Forest in Rio de Janeiro

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Douglas Engle

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Prof Pedro Dias on an expedition.

On the first expedition – crawling around on his hands and knees on the floor of the cave with a jam jar – he eventually traps two specimens to take back to his laboratory for further examination.

“My goal is to reach 40,000 specimens – but I don’t know if I can do this in a lifetime,” says Dias. He fears that many of the species in the collection will now be extinct because their habitats will have disappeared since they were originally collected.

“We are losing the history of this country because the forests are being cut down and species are becoming extinct,” he says.

Pedro Dias on a hunt for crickets in the Tijuca National Forest in Rio de Janeiro

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Douglas Engle

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Hunting for crickets to replace lost specimens

Irreplaceable information about the human history of Brazil has been lost, too. Ethnographer Aparecida Vilaça stored all of her field notes and voice recordings – the results of 30 years’ work on the indigenous Warí tribe – at her flat, not at the museum. But colleagues whose material was only in their offices have lost everything.

That includes records of now extinct languages – and the myths and stories of the people who spoke them.

“No-one can have these narratives any more,” Vilaça says.

She says young indigenous people often used to visit the museum to learn about their own native cultures. They called it their “maloca” – the name for an ancestral long-house where several families lived and celebrations were held.

“Now, they say they have lost their maloca,” Vilaça says.

Rubble in the gutted interior of the National Museum in Rio de Janeiro

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Douglas Engle

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Rubble in the gutted interior

Brazil’s national development bank has promised 21.7m reais (US$5.6m) for the reconstruction of the museum, and director Alexander Kellner says rebuilding will start this year.

“I hope in three years from now we will be able to have part of the museum open to the public,” he says. That’s our timescale – and it’s feasible. We will keep the outside façade, but inside we are going to be a new museum, a modern museum.”

But Kellner says replacing the collections will be impossible without the help of other leading museums around the world.

“A lot of institutions, from Brazil and outside of Brazil, are willing to make donations of artefacts and original specimens,” he says.

He specifically hopes there will be donations of mummies and fossils, to replace what was lost.

But isn’t it embarrassing for a large, important country such as Brazil to have to go cap-in-hand to foreign museums to ask for their second- or third-best – material?

“I don’t see it that way,” Kellner replies spiritedly. “I wish I could do the same for another museum; I wish it wasn’t us who had suffered. Believe me, if the British Museum caught fire, we would give them some original material of ours.”

Aerial view of Brazil's National Museum

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Aerial view of the museum

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The Notre-Dame fire’s ashes could be used to 3D-print its new gargoyles

The Notre-Dame fire’s ashes could be used to 3D-print its new gargoyles

By Jesus Diaz2 minute Read

When Notre-Dame was partially destroyed during a fire this month, the world mourned not just the loss of the building, but the ornate stone details that didn’t survive. Architecture firms are already racing to propose plans to rebuild the cathedral’s roof, but one company is proposing a plan to resuscitate its fallen gargoyles and chimeras–by transforming the rubble and ashes into material that can be 3D-printed into exact replicas.

Notre Dame’s gargoyles don’t just spiritually guard the cathedral and the city of Paris. They also serve a real function purpose, as well, protecting the building against water erosion by channeling the rain and spouting it onto the ground. In fact, that–more than the inferno–is the more common reason for their demise. Before the blaze, many of the gargoyles had already been replaced by ugly PVC elements.

Concr3De, a Dutch company that specializes in stone 3D printing for construction, claims it has the perfect recipe to bring all of those broken monsters back to life using their remains. The company says that it can grind the limestone rubble and the fire ashes and combine the mixture with other materials to create a fine powder to feed its stone printers. The printers will then follow highly precise 3D models of the Notre-Dame stonework, captured back in 2000. The models, created by the late Belgian-American art professor Andrew Tallon, are stunningly detailed:

In a 2015 interview, Tallon described how he scanned the building over five days of work using a Leica ScanStation C10, looking for new answers about its nature. With the help of Columbia University’s computer science professor Paul Blaer, he produced a 1-billion-point model that offers millimetric precision. So, at least in theory, Concr3De’s final printed copies could be exactly like the originals–with the added bonus of being made from some of the very same material.

Concr3De’s cofounder, Eric Geboers, told Dezeen that he believes this method of reconstruction could reconcile some of the philosophical problems with reconstruction: “Isn’t a copy just a fake? Simply copying, pretending there never was a fire, would be a historical forgery.”

The French government, however, will reportedly go literally medieval on the cathedral restoration, using sculptors and artisans to make reproductions with the same techniques and materials employed in the 13th century. Of course, that will require a lot more time and money. And there’s an honesty to using the existing material that creating new copies can’t match–gargoyles rising from their ashes even has a poetic significance worthy of a 21st century Victor Hugo novel.

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Apple Debuts New 8-Core MacBook Pro With Updated Keyboard

Apple Debuts New 8-Core MacBook Pro With Updated Keyboard

Apple today announced the surprise launch of new 13 and 15-inch MacBook Pro models, which are the fastest Mac notebooks ever at the top of the line. The updated machines feature Intel’s 8th and 9th-generation processors, with high-end models featuring eight cores for the first time.

According to Apple, the new

MacBook Pro

offers two times faster performance than a quad-core

MacBook Pro

and 40 percent more performance than a 6-core

MacBook Pro

. The new 13-inch machines are using updated quad-core processors, with the 6 and 8-core options limited to the 15-inch models.

Aside from new processors, the updated

MacBook Pro

machines continue to feature the same design, despite rumors that Apple would introduce a 16 to 16.5-inch

MacBook Pro

in 2019. There are some internal updates, though.

Though not mentioned in the press release, The Loop confirms that the new machine has an updated keyboard. The new keyboard uses a new material that Apple says will cut down on the failure problems that users have seen.

Another change in the newest MacBook Pro computers is with the keyboard. While Apple says the vast majority of its customers are happy with the keyboard, they do take customer complaints seriously, and work to fix any issues.

To address the problem, Apple said they changed the material in the keyboard’s butterfly mechanism that should substantially reduce problems that some users have seen.

Apple did not explain what the “new materials” in the butterfly keyboard are, but said that the update will significantly cut down on issues like double key presses and missed key presses.

According to The Verge, some existing MacBook Air and

MacBook Pro

models that experience keyboard failures will have their keyboards replaced with the new 2019 keyboard that Apple has developed. Unfortunately, only MacBooks with the third-generation butterfly keyboard can get the updated 2019 keyboard, which includes the 2018

MacBook Pro

and the 2018

MacBook Air


Apple is speeding up keyboard repair times in its retail stores, and extending its Keyboard Service Program to include the 2018

MacBook Pro

and 2018

MacBook Air

models, along with the new 2019 machines. The repair program lasts for four years after the first retail sale of a Mac machine.


MacBook Pro

continues to feature “the best Mac notebook display ever” with 500 nits of brightness, P3 wide color gamut, and True Tone technology. It is equipped with Apple’s T2 security chip, Thunderbolt 3 ports, and immersive stereo speakers like prior machines.

“Whether it’s college students mastering a course of study, developers building world-class apps or video editors creating feature films, we’re constantly amazed at what our customers do with their MacBook Pro,” said Tom Boger, Apple’s senior director of Mac Product Marketing. “Now with 8-core processors for an incredible performance boost, along with its stunning Retina display, fast storage, all-day battery life and running macOS, MacBook Pro continues to be the world’s best pro notebook and we can’t wait to get it into our customer’s hands to see what they do next.”

The new

MacBook Pro

models are priced starting at $1,799 and $2,399, respectively, for the 13 and 15-inch models. The new machines are available today through Apple’s online store and will be coming to Apple retail stores later this week. Apple has not updated the non-Touch Bar 13-inch

MacBook Pro


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Listen: MedMen’s Adam Bierman on Building the Apple Store of Weed

Listen: MedMen’s Adam Bierman on Building the Apple Store of Weed


The CEO joins our podcast to talk about how the mega-brand came to be and his tips for budding entrepreneurs.

Listen: MedMen's Adam Bierman on Building the Apple Store of Weed

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15+ min read

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

As co-founder and CEO of marijuana giant MedMen, Adam Bierman’s watched the company grow from a few dinky, medical marijuana dispensaries on the west side of LA to a behemoth, which includes 70 dispensaries and cultivation centers across 12 states and a new product line.

But Bierman won’t stop until a gummy edible is as mainstream as a glass of chardonnay.

On this episode of the Green Entrepreneur Podcast, Berman talks to us about his journey to the dank side, and what he’s learned along the way.

Jonathan:  I’ve had the chance to meet Adam twice. The first time was last year at their 12,000-square-foot sprawling office complex in Culver City. I asked him how he got started.

Adam:  In 2009, Andrew and I had a business that we were running together, branding, design and construction company, out of our apartment. It was a solid, local business for two twenty-somethings, and we got a phone call one day and she’s now affectionately forever known as the Blue Haired Lady. We got a phone call from the Blue Haired Lady, who said that she had a marijuana dispensary on Sunset Boulevard, and she wanted to come talk to us about hiring us to provide services to her.

I knew nothing. I didn’t know marijuana was a business. As I drove the streets of LA, I was naively driving around not understanding that the green crosses meant marijuana, because I wasn’t a marijuana user. Especially back then, there was this kind of commitment that marijuana users wouldn’t tell non-marijuana users that they were marijuana users, even if they were friends with them, so I didn’t have an understanding of the fact there was this entire culture that existed.

I showed up and it was a 600-square-foot dump, and this Blue-Haired Lady with crazy blue hair sticking straight up told me she was doing $300,000 a month in revenue out of her place. I corrected her multiple times and said, “No, no, I’m trying to figure out what is your monthly revenue, monthly customer count, so we can address where it is you’re trying to go with marketing solutions and rebranding and rebuilding this place out of whatever.” She kept going back and said, “No, no, that’s not my annual. I do 300,000 a month. I want to do 600,000 a month.”

I left there dumbfounded and had a conversation with Andrew. I said, “What is going on?” Andrew has been a marijuana user, so Andrew is way smarter than I am. He had been a marijuana user. He knew—because he grew up in LA—he knew what it was all about. I said, “Yeah, that’s going on, but what are we doing?” That was our introduction.

Jonathan:  The next time I met Adam was at the Bellagio Hotel in Vegas, where I was in town for the opening of MedMen’s new store, just off the strip.

Adam, welcome to the podcast.

I had the opportunity to go up to your Mustang factory in Reno, Nevada and I noticed in huge writing on the wall, there was a sign that said, “Mainstreaming marijuana.” I wondered if you could tell me about that. Is that a central premise of your company?

Adam:  It has informed basically every decision we’ve made over the last nine years. You know, we had this vision that we could build this marijuana company through brand, through accessibility, by way of destigmatizing cannabis, knowing that it’s something that people could benefit from accessing and using, but in order to build the business, we had to simultaneously build this industry. When we started this, there was no such thing as a successful marijuana business that was legal, at least. So, if you have to build this industry while simultaneously building this business, the way that we look at that is you have to mainstream marijuana. Marijuana can’t have the stigma that it had when we started nine years ago, and an industry be built, or a business long-term be viable.

I think the latest numbers or projections from Cowen that this is a $75 billion-plus opportunity in the U.S. The best part about that is six months ago they came out and said it was a $50 billion opportunity. Then it was updated and it’s a $75 billion opportunity. Two years ago, it was a $25 billion opportunity. We think it’s $100-plus billion opportunity and we think that it is so big, in large part, because of, you know, as a consequence of it becoming mainstream because of all those new users that aren’t currently being accounted for.

I say it all the time, the chardonnay moms. What is it going to take to get them to replace chardonnay at brunch with a couple hits of this statemade vape pen? Are they really accounted for in that Cowen projection of $75 billion?

What mainstream consumer product does not cater towards the sensibilities of women and that is just any mainstream product that understands, or company behind that CPG product, understands that women are making the majority of household buying decisions. If we see a future where marijuana is mainstream, then marijuana is one of those decisions, or the purchase or marijuana is one of those decisions that will largely be made by women.

Statemade is really about accessibility back to the mainstream concept to the mainstream. I think that there are plenty of, you know, what we call the legacy core users that don’t need attractive packaging, don’t need real straightforward kind of descriptions, don’t need—they don’t need all this stuff. They know what they like, what the strain is called and what it does to them, but that’s not who we’re catering to. We’re catering to the future. We’re catering to the user of tomorrow.

That user of tomorrow, whether it’s a woman or a man, is somebody who is going to be attracted to this product line because of how mainstream it feels.

Jonathan:  So, MedMen stores have been called the Apple Stores of cannabis, which I’m sure you take as a compliment, and it is obvious that you were inspired by the Apple Store. The simple design, lots of glass cases. Talk to me about the thought process behind that design idea.

Adam:  Same consistent answer. I like the theme of this discussion, but it’s good, right? How do you make something accessible? Whether it’s a product or it’s a retail store, we’re not reinventing anything. Nothing we’ve done over the last nine years have reinvented anything. We’re just applying it towards cannabis maybe for the first time.

We take a lot of pride in the stores, my partner and co-founder, Andrew Modlin, the stores are really his vision and he deserves a ton of credit for it. But I think when we use the term vision, it wasn’t like Andrew envisioned an entirely new retail experience. What Andrew has done is he’s envisioned what a cannabis retail experience could look like, if you pretended it wasn’t cannabis. If you forgot for a second that it had somehow to be different because it was cannabis or you needed to apply some type of different thought process, how about if you just applied the same thought processes any retailer would apply towards optimizing an experience for a consumer, and it just happened to be a marijuana store.

I think when you walk into that store, what our hope is, is that but for the product inside the cases, you wouldn’t necessarily know what it is that that store sells. I could tell you that store sells electronics, I could tell you it sells makeup, I could tell you it sells clothing, and it would all work.

All we’re doing is applying best practices from retail. The fact that we’re applying it for the first time to cannabis, I think we get a lot of credit, which we’re really humbled by and flattered by, but it’s really just about the vision to mainstream marijuana.

Jonathan:  How do you attract that chardonnay mom, that canna-curious customer who might have had a horrible experience when they were younger or a terrible experience with an edible?

Adam:  We take a long approach. We’re looking at this, what will this business be in five years? What will this industry be in five years and where will the world be in regard to its perception of cannabis in five years.

I think first and foremost, for us, it’s about retail. The reason that we’re making such a concerted effort around retail is we believe that that is the door or that’s the window through which people will climb or the door through which people will walk into this light. I look at it, it’s like walking from the black and white into a rainbow, right?

So, where we put these retail stores and the effort that we put into building out those stores and making them inviting and welcoming and accessible—the store that we’re opening is not nine miles from the Las Vegas strip, in a strip center, in the back with a discrete, small green cross. I mean, this store is literally across the street from McCarran Airport, where everybody who exits McCarran will drive past in their car, their Uber, or their taxi and they’re not going to see a small sign. They will see a very proud MedMen sign.

You know what? They may have to drive past that store four visits in a row to Las Vegas over the course of 15 months until they finally say, “Let’s pull over, let’s see what that’s about.” When they walk in for the first time, they may not buy anything. But when they walk in for the first time, we built the store in a way that will make them feel good, will not make them feel anything that has to do with shame.

The training programs and the hours and the investments that we put into our staff, so that the interaction they’re going to have with the people that work there is going to be so positive and so informative that even if they might have to drive by it four times, walk in and out of it twice, and then eventually, you know what? They’re going to go ahead and pick up a statemade vape pen.

One thing I do know, now being in this for as long as I’ve been in this, is that this works. This statemade vape pen, this will work. This will have its desired effect on you and when it does, you know what’s going to happen? You’re coming back. And it’s not just that you’re coming back to MedMen. We feel really great about the fact that we do think that you will come back to MedMen, but you’re going to come back to cannabis, to use it responsibly and substitute other things out of your life that aren’t as healthy, that aren’t as positive. You’re going to substitute them for cannabis.

Your question is, how are you a part of this kind of transition that society is going through right now, and that’s how we see kind of our leadership role in it, is by welcoming. Welcome to the new world. We can touch you and welcome you in in all these different ways. You mentioned it, from a billboard to a wrapped taxi, to just the sign outside of the store, to the open glass windows. Wherever you are around the country, when you see our store, you can see what’s going on inside and it looks normal, right? All those touchpoints welcome you into this new world of legal pot.

Jonathan:  You admittedly started off in the business knowing nothing about pot.

Adam:  I think our naivete is core to the success or the progress we’ve made to date. In all fronts.

I don’t know what would’ve happened if we fell into this industry the way we did, and our background was traditional big box retail. I don’t know what would’ve happened if we fell into this and our background was agriculture. I don’t know if we had fallen into this and our background was anything else. We fell into this and we were young. We didn’t have much experience.

Jonathan:  You’re still young, really.

Adam:  Well, thank you. I’ll take it. We didn’t have much experience other than just living in the world ourselves and being really entrepreneurial from a really young age and kind of looking at the world through an entrepreneur’s lens, but I think that’s been such a benefit. It’s not like we stepped into this and said, “This is how it should be. This is how everybody does it.” We stepped into this and said, “Well, look, if we’re going to do this, we know that we don’t know. Let’s just be pragmatic.”

We’ve looked at everything through this practical lens and as we look at these stores, I remember in California, when we opened our first store we went around, and we saw all the stores that we could go visit and up and down California. They all had these systems where bars on the windows, blacked out, green cross out front. You walk in, a security guard that looks like he’s ready for a full invasion somewhere in the desert buzzes you in, asks for your ID. Then you get buzzed back through another steel door to a room where there are jewelry cases.

When we did that, I guess if we had come from being marijuana people, we’d say, “That’s how it is.” But we didn’t. We said, “Why is that how it is?” As we looked at it and talked to everybody, it was like, “That’s just, ‘That’s just how it is.’” And that was never enough for us.

We said us as consumers, we wouldn’t want that and then we started looking at casinos. We started looking at big box retail. We started looking at restaurants. We looked at all these different industries that we felt like had analogous pieces to what it was that we were trying to create, and we just ripped off, essentially, best practices from all of them. You think about the way a supermarket is laid out. You think about the way that a casino floor is designed. You think about the way that these really mature kinds of industries have figured out how to optimize for a retail footprint or just a footprint where you’re trying to drive consumer behavior and we just applied it.

Jonathan:  Talk to me about the importance of consistency in the marijuana business. You drink a bottle of wine and you pretty much know what you’re going to feel like every time you have that sip of that wine, the same bottle of wine. Are you going for the same kind of consistency in marijuana?

Adam:  Look, it is a crop. It is a plant. No, even though all the Driscoll’s raspberries look the same or all the orchids looks the same, there’s absolutely some very minor deviation in there.

Jonathan:  Yeah.

Adam:  No two living things are necessarily exact-exactly the same. It comes down to the mainstreaming concept. We don’t believe that you can go mainstream marijuana, transition all these people that are using other products and goods and drugs to using cannabis as a substitute unless it’s consistent. Because you know what? That chardonnay mom, she knows that if she has two glasses of a certain chardonnay at brunch, it’ll taste a certain way and it will have a certain effect.

We are creatures of habit and we just don’t believe that unless you can provide that type of consistency in these products, that you can get people, to bring them in and make them habitual, make them part of their routine, “mainstream” them. If we want to take what Cowen thinks is $75 billion and turn it into 100-plus billion of opportunity, we’ve got to have all those people come over. To get them to come over, we have to create consistent products.

What we can’t have, now, look, there can be minor deviation, especially in the raw material, the flower itself, with the tissue culture and all the other measures that we take in these factories to create consistency, it’s going to be very minor deviation. But outside of the raw flower itself, when you get into these vape pens and the tinctures and the rest of it, we’ve got it down. It is consistent. You will have the exact same experience every single time. Furthermore, with us and the statemade concept is, have that exact same experience everywhere in the country.

The one thing—and I know this is a business podcast so we can get a little more business in it—because of the fact that you cannot cross state lines with this product, you realize how unique of a proposition that is as an industry. There is no item and the answer is none other. But what we have to do is we have to create that consistency in that vape pen that you have here that, you know—what is this? Max. So, the Max vape pen, statemade vape pen, has to taste and smell and feel the same, whether you buy it in Vegas, whether you buy it in Chicago, New York City, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Phoenix, Scottsdale. It’s got to taste the same.

Which means that each of the factories in all those states that we have, have to grow it the exact same way from the exact same base material, extract it the same way, manufacture it.

Jonathan:  Interesting, yeah.

Adam:  So that you have the same experience. Until we can do that, it can’t truly be mainstream, and I think with the launch of this product and all the new states that we’ve recently entered, we have the opportunity for the first time in the history of this industry to create that kind of consistency across the country. Which I think will just, will bring this into the mainstream by leaps and bounds in a way that we just haven’t yet experienced.

Jonathan:  Okay. You started in the dispensary business but now you’ve launched a new line of products called statemade. Was that all part of the plan? Was to first open up a bunch of dispensaries and then have products to sell in the dispensaries?

Adam:  Yeah. I mean, the way we look at it is shelf space. When we’re talking about retail, what we’re really talking about is shelf space. We’re now at a place between California, Nevada, New York, Florida, Massachusetts, Arizona, Illinois—that’s as of this taping, so check back in.

Jonathan:  I’ll check back in.

Adam:  Every week there’s something new. But we’ve looked at it as these primary markets, really. Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Manhattan, Southern Florida, those are the places. The shelf space in those places are where brands are built, globally.

First, it was about the shelf space, which the way that that happens in this industry is the retail. We got the shelf space now. What are you going to do with that shelf space? It’s always been about brands. I think that to our credit, we’ve been patient. We haven’t launched something like this until we had the shelf space until we had critical mass in regard to the shelf space until we had the factories up and running. Because we weren’t going to launch this thing if we couldn’t completely control the entire supply chain. From the input, the actual raw material, to the manufacturing process, to the distribution, down to the actual retail. We control all of that in every market we’re in.

Now that we have what we believe to be the premiere shelf space in the world of marijuana in our possession, what are you going to do with it? You’re going to build amazing brands. You’re going to put them on those shelves and those are going to be the brands that the marijuana consumers of tomorrow are going to become familiar with and they’re going to be the brands that they stick with for the rest of their lives.

Jonathan:  You introduced statemade. What is next?

Adam:  Yeah, the way we see this is we have the shelf space now. This is the first brand we’re launching, statemade. We certainly see additional brands coming on to fill up more shelf space with, that we’re in control of.

Now that we have the footprint in the markets that really matter when it comes to brand building, you’ll see us start going deeper in those markets. For example, on one hand, really excited about Q2 of ’18. It came out and the best analysis anybody could do is that we did about 6% of all of California’s sales. But we did that with like five or six stores or something like that.

Jonathan:  Right.

Adam:  Only in Southern California and really only in LA. Awesome stat, which means, for me, the challenge then is, okay, Adam, how do you get that to own 15% of the California market? Well, you got to be in Northern California. You can’t just be in Southern California.

I think you’ll see us go deeper. Not just be in LA, but have a real strong presence in North Cal, have a much bigger presence in San Diego. We just entered Arizona and we acquired what we believe to be the premiere retail asset in Arizona, in Scottsdale, that will work for MedMen, but adding a couple more dispensaries.

So, going deeper in these markets, I think you’ll see that over time and then that combined with launching these additional brands, really kind of solidifying our place in the hearts and minds of these consumers going forward.

Jonathan:  What are some brands that you guys look at that inspire you? I think of a Red Bull, which started off as one thing, a sports drink, and then became a lifestyle brand. Do you think of MedMen as a lifestyle brand?

Adam:  Yeah, we definitely do. We were talking about it at length in our last board meeting. We happen to have Jay Brown from Roc Nation on our board and he is just a dynamic guy. The way he looks at culture and lifestyle, it’s incredible. It’s fascinating just to be around and listen.

I think for us, we look at Red Bull, we think what they’ve done is awesome from a lifestyle standpoint. We look all the way at Starbucks and the way that Starbucks has ingrained itself into the daily life of the Starbucks consumer. So impressive what they’ve done.

I’m not a “every morning has to be coffee at the same time,” but Andrew definitely is, and he’s got his Starbucks mobile and I mean, it’s just part of his day. To be able to become part of a routine, a daily routine, for people that way is so impressive.

From a business model standpoint, it’s really Luxottica that we look up to. For those that aren’t as familiar, Luxottica owns Sunglass Hut, LensCrafters. Most people don’t recognize that they also own all the sunglass brands on the shelf as well. It’s an incredible business concept. A consumer walks in and goes through Tom Ford and Prada and Gucci glasses and all the rest, but at the end of the day, they’re all being manufactured at the Luxottica plant. Those sunglasses themselves are all owned by Luxottica through licensing deals with those third parties. And they own the retailer itself as well. What a fascinating business model they are and something that we look up to as well.

I mean, look, we’re just trying to pull the best of all this. We’re here in Las Vegas today. Harrah’s Corporation, now Caesar’s Entertainment, the way that Harrah’s—and it’s really, I look like a guy like Gary Loveman, the former CEO, started in the marketing side and became the CEO of that company. We look at Harrah’s, the way that Harrah’s used data to completely fundamentally change the way that the gaming industry worked.

Before Harrah’s, there was no such thing as a loyalty program. There was, “Hey, we have a high roller, we give him a nice suite and give him tickets to a fight.” Harrah’s came in and used real analytics and really broke down data for the first time.

Another really cool thing Harrah’s did, is Harrah’s looked at gaming as if it wasn’t gaming. At the time that Loveman started, you talk about stigma. Nobody wanted to touch casinos and gaming. That was dirty stuff. He said, “Well, let’s pretend it’s not casinos and gaming. Let’s hire a bunch of MIT guys to come in, guys and girls to come in, and let’s really analyze the data here. What do our consumers want? What is important to them? What motivates them? What will get them sticky? What will get them coming back and not going anywhere else?”

They created the loyalty program that they created that I think not only changed gaming, it kind of changed the world.

Jonathan:  Right.

Adam:  When I talk about, you know, we’re hiring people that want to be best in the world, want to be in a history book, I look at Harrah’s for that and the way that they looked at gaming, forgot any of the shame, forgot any of the stigma, and said, “How do we turn this into the best business we can turn this into?” That’s a business that we look up to as well.

Jonathan:  You talked about the importance of asking yourself “why not “as an entrepreneur. Tell me a little bit about that.

Adam:  It’s really just about asking the question, “Why not?” If you can’t get a great answer, then go do it.

If you are a sports team and you’re saying, look, I understand, I’m a baseball team. I understand that the way that the positions are supposed to be played is you have two guys on the left side of the infield and two guys on the right side, but I’m paying attention and these pulled hitters are getting up and 90% of all the balls they hit on the ground are to the pull side of the diamond. Why not put three guys over there? “Well, because that’s not how it’s done.” No, no, that’s not a good enough answer. I’m asking why not? If you can’t give me a great answer, then I’m going to do it.

I think with us, it’s why not? Why can’t you build a $50 billion marijuana company? Why not? Why can’t you make marijuana mainstream and have a store across from McCarran Airport that looks the way this store looks? Why not? Why can’t you have products that look like this, that will have this desired effect for people? Why not?

Everything MedMen does is informed by why not, but I think, yeah, I think that’s the best advice I could give to an entrepreneur.

Jonathan:  Ask yourself why not.

Adam:  At the end of the day, why not? You know what? If you’re too scared to go there and ask that question and actually follow through based on the answer, being an entrepreneur isn’t necessarily like what everybody should be doing. I think in this interview we’ve used the word lunacy a few times.

Jonathan:  Right. Yeah.

Adam:  Yeah, and it’s not like suggested. We all should be doing the things that we are happy and excited to do, but at the core of any entrepreneur should be a why-not attitude.

Jonathan:  Let’s talk about the Green Rush. I mean, these are big heady days for cannabis. Do you foresee what happened to the dot com business in the early 2000s happening to the cannabis business? The dot com boom, the dot com crash?

Adam:  Well, I think half and half. You talk about dot com, so half and half. Will a lot of the businesses that are currently in the marijuana industry fail over the next five or ten years? Absolutely. And you know why? Because this is a real industry.  And if that wasn’t the answer, there would be a problem. So, we will see a lot of failure. There’s so much excitement, so much hype, so many people flocking towards this, so much money that’s going to be attracted into this. Of course, there’s going to be failure and some of it will be epic.

Will there be successes? Absolutely. Some of it will be epic, too, and we very much hope that we’re in that category and we work tirelessly to do everything we can to ensure that.

But as far as the industry goes, when you talk about dot com, first of all, there were failures in businesses, but there was certainly no failure in industry when you’ve got trillion-dollar companies that now exist as a result of it. We sit here interviewing this podcast in a small conference room with all this technology, right?

That for the most part emanated from that. But as an industry, the marijuana industry, we’re way past the potential of failure. You talk about red states, you also want to talk about a presidential election a few years ago where the State of Arkansas cast their vote for Donald Trump and concurrently cast their vote for legalized medical marijuana, you realize on the same ballot.

How crazy that is! You’ve got over 90% of the United States in favor of medical marijuana. You’ve got the majority of the U.S. in favor of recreational marijuana. You have the country of Canada legalize marijuana recreationally at the federal level. Marijuana will be legal, fully legal. Whether it’s in two years or three years or five years, like prohibition is ending in marijuana.

The industry itself, when you said like what’s the doomsday scenario, we’re past that. Now it’s really a question of how big—let’s go back to the beginning—the question is how mainstream does it get, how quickly.

Jonathan:  What would you like to tell the 23-year-old, naïve, entrepreneurial you now? If you could go back and talk to that person?

Adam:  You know, I’d say the biggest shift—and it’s hard when you say 21. I mean, I’ve been in business essentially since I was 14.

Jonathan:  Okay. Maybe the 14-year-old self, yeah, I don’t know.

Adam:  For the next time I’m on your podcast, ask me about my Black Eyed Peas story when I was 17 years old.

Jonathan:  Is it a long story, because I kind of want to hear it.

Adam:  It’s a good one. The 17-year-old, again, naïve self of mine, somehow figured out how to convince the Black Eyed Peas to come perform at a show I put on in a roller rink in Oceanside, California.

Jonathan:  Wow!

Adam:  Keep in mind, I had no money and no means to do this, but I put this crazy deal together where I rented out a roller rink in Oceanside. I signed a contract with the Black Eyed Peas to come play the roller rink, along with other people, and then when out and sold tickets to high schools for an all-ages dance party.

I didn’t do very well on the deal and the Black Eyed Peas ended up not being paid and left pretty upset. But hey, you know?

Jonathan:  Why not?

Adam:  Why not? Yeah! That was 19 years ago.

Jonathan:  Okay.

Adam:  And we’ve come a long way since then.

Jonathan:  So have they.

Adam:  But I think the biggest thing that I’ve learned since I started trying to make deals happen and be an entrepreneur, is how to lose. I’ll tell you, the Black Eyed Peas, the 17-year-old me did not know how to lose. The 21-year-old me didn’t know how to lose.

Learning how to lose is something that’s way more recent for me and I can’t give some kind of generic advice to all entrepreneurs out there. This is how you lose.

 But I would give this generic advice:  Learning how to lose is such an amazing skill when you are an entrepreneur. Whatever it is for you, how do you embrace loss? How do you embrace failure? Not just that you’re good with it and you get back up off the mat. Like that whole stuff, like that’s not the answer. That was me. Get punched in the face, get right back up. Turn a no into a yes! You know, whatever it is.

That’s not the answer. I think that for those seeking real, true, sustainable success, whatever that means, is you’ve got to know how to lose. How do you lose? How do you compliment the other side? Because when you lose, that means there’s another side that wins most of the time, right? Or prevails. Even if it’s them telling you no, they don’t want to invest in your business, they have prevailed in that debate or conversation for the day. How do you give them credit and say, “You know what? You came to that conclusion. I respect that. Good game, good job, good day.”

And then how do you go back and reflect on that? Not from a place of being vindictive. “I’m going to go get them! They were wrong! I’m going to prove them wrong!” How do you react to that and say, “What is there to learn from me losing? I’m not going to win all the time, but I can see why they did that, why they said that, why they chose that. I can see that. How do I learn and grow from that?”

Jonathan:  Adam, thank you so much for your time.

Adam:  Thanks for having me.

Jonathan:  And that’s our show! Thanks so much for joining us. If you like what you heard, don’t forget to subscribe to Green Entrepreneur Podcast on Apple Podcast, Google Play or any other place that you may find podcasts.

I’m your host, Jonathan Small. If you want to reach out to me directly, hit me up at [email protected]

Until we meet again, always remember, yes, you cann-abis.

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New Sesame Street-themed PSA encourages kids to reduce mobile device use

New Sesame Street-themed PSA encourages kids to reduce mobile device use

Device addiction plagues us all — even Apple CEO Tim Cook. But children with phones and tablets are even more susceptible to the lures of apps and games, which often use psychological tricks to keep users logging in and regularly returning. A new PSA from Sesame Workshop and advocacy organization Common Sense aims to address kids’ unhealthy use of mobile devices by focusing on one particular problem: devices at the dinner table.

This is not the first time the #DeviceFreeDinner campaign has run — previous years’ spots featured Will Ferrell as a “distracted dad” on his phone at the table, ignoring his family’s conversations.

But this time around, the organization is teaming up with Sesame Workshop, which is lending its characters to a new PSA. The spot will feature the “Sesame Street” muppets modeling healthy mobile phone behavior by putting their devices away.

Phones are shut up in drawers, tablets placed on shelves, other devices are put in handbags — and, you know, thrown into garbage cans and stashed in pumpkins, as the case may be.

The muppets then gather around a table and happily chatter until they notice Cookie Monster is still on his phone, texting. (Don’t worry, their disapproval sees him eating the device in the end.)

The idea, explains kids advocacy organization Common Sense, is to raise awareness around media balance and encourage families to make the most of their time together.

It comes at a time when now one-third of kids ages 0 to 8 “frequently” use mobile devices, the nonprofit explains. But taking a break from devices is shown to have positive benefits, ranging from better nutrition and focus at home to fewer problems at school, Common Sense says.

Plus, it notes, simply putting the phone down is not enough — it shouldn’t be at the table at all, as research has shown that even the presence of a phone on the table can hurt the quality of conversations.

While Common Sense puts out a lot of material for children and families like this, Sesame Workshop’s involvement on the new PSA is particularly interesting given the company’s recent connection with Apple.

A new Sesame Workshop-produced show set to air on Apple’s soon-to-launch streaming service will teach kids coding basics — an agenda Apple regularly pushes to get its programming language, Swift, into the hands of the next generation of coders. 

In the show, the same “Sesame Street” characters who today are telling kids to put down their phones will instead tout the joys of coding to the preschool set.

The juxtaposition of a programming-focused Apple kids’ show and the new PSA are a perfect example of how complicated the issues around kids on devices have become. On the one hand, parents want to encourage their children to pursue STEM subjects — which often requires kids to regularly use computers and other devices to practice new skills, like coding with MIT’s Scratch or building for Minecraft. But on the other hand, parents see that when kids are given devices, addiction soon follows.

The real question for parents may be, instead, whether kids should have devices at all — or whether they should take their cues from tech billionaires and Silicon Valley parents who are ripping devices from their own children’s hands like they’re the modern-day equivalent of sugary breakfast cereal.

Perhaps Sesame Workshop should have chosen a side on this issue, rather than teaming with the billion-dollar company that’s now trying to distance itself from fault with regard to the device addiction problem at the same time it runs PSAs about kids’ device addiction.

Or maybe it’s just as confused at the rest of us are over where to draw the line.

Starting today, the new “Sesame Street”-themed PSAs will be distributed across networks and platforms, including NBC, Fox, Xfinity, Comcast, Charter, Cox, National Geographic, NCM, PBS, Univision, Telemundo, HITN and Xfinity Latino.

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HTC introduces a cheaper blockchain phone, opens Zion Vault SDK

HTC introduces a cheaper blockchain phone, opens Zion Vault SDK

Happy Blockchain Week to you and yours. HTC helped kick off this important national holiday by announcing the upcoming release of the HTC Exodus 1s. The latest version of the company’s intriguing blockchain phone shaves some of price off the Exodus 1 — which eventually sold for $699 when the company made it available in more traditional currency.

HTC’s being predictably cagey about exact pricing here, instead simply calling it “a more value-oriented version” of the original. Nor is the company discussing the actions it’s taking to reduce the cost here — though I’d expect much of them to be similar to those undergone by Google for the Pixel 3a, which was built by the former HTC team. There, most of the hits were to processing power and building material. Certainly the delightfully gimmicky transparent rear was a nice touch on the Exodus 1.

Most interesting here is the motivation behind the price drop. Here’s HTC in the press release:

It will allow users in emerging economies, or those wanting to dip their toes into the crypto world for the first time, easier access to the technology with a more accessible price point. This will democratize access to crypto and blockchain technology and help its global proliferation and adoption. HTC will release further details on exact specification and cost over the coming months.

A grandiose vision, obviously, but I think there’s something to be said for the idea. Access to some blockchain technology is somewhat price-prohibitive. Even so. Many experts in the space agree that blockchain will be an important foundation for microtransactions going forward. The Exodus 1 wasn’t exactly a smash from the look of things, but this could be an interesting first step.

Another interesting bit in all of this is the opening of the SDK for Zion Vault, the Trusted Execution Environment (TEE) product vault the company introduced with the Exodus 1. HTC will be tossing it up on GitHub for developers. “We understand it takes a community to ensure strength and security,” the company says, “so it’s important to the Exodus team that our community has the best tools available to them.”

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Beach Sands Near Hiroshima Are Still Packed With 1945 Nuclear Fallout Debris

Beach Sands Near Hiroshima Are Still Packed With 1945 Nuclear Fallout Debris

Some examples of the diverse range of particles collected from beach sands in Japan’s Motoujima Peninsula.

Some examples of the diverse range of particles collected from beach sands in Japan’s Motoujima Peninsula.
Image: M. M. A. Wannier et al., 2019/Anthropocene

Unusual and abundant glassy spheres found packed within the beach sands near the Japanese city of Hiroshima are remnants of the 1945 atomic bomb explosion, according to new research.

On August 6, 1945, a U.S. B-29 bomber dropped an atomic bomb over Hiroshima. In an instant, some 80,000 people were killed. The explosion and ensuing firestorms razed an area measuring more than 4 square miles (10 square kilometers), damaging upwards of 90 percent of all the structures in the city.

But what goes up must eventually come down. New research published today in the science journal Anthropocene is “the first published record and description of fallout resulting from the destruction of an urban environment by atomic bombing,” according to the authors of the new paper. The works shows that the nearby beaches on the Motoujina Peninsula in Hiroshima Bay are surprisingly littered with this fallout debris up to a depth of around 4 inches (10 centimeters).

Hiroshima city and bay area with location of the A-bomb hypocenter.

Hiroshima city and bay area with location of the A-bomb hypocenter.
Image: M. M. A. Wannier et al., 2019/Anthropocene

Described as “millimeter-sized, aerodynamically-shaped debris,” these particles included glass spheroids, glass filaments, and melted composite compounds. The debris is reminiscent of the spherical particles found in the ground layer associated with the meteor impact that triggered a mass extinction 66 million years ago, and also the particles found in the area where the U.S. first tested the atomic bomb, according to the paper’s lead author, geologist Mario Wannier. Unlike these particles, however, the ones found near Hiroshima were packed with materials such as iron, steel, and rubber.

“In the surprise of finding these particles, the big question for me was: You have a city, and a minute later you have no city. There was the question of: ‘Where is the city—where is the material?’ It is a trove to have discovered these particles. It is an incredible story,” Wannier said in a Berkeley Lab statement.

Back in 2015, Wannier was sifting through particles of sand he had pulled from a beach just outside the city of Hiroshima. He was looking for marine life, but the weird glassy spheres in the mixture reminded him of the particles found in sediment samples from the 66-million-year-old Cretaceous-Paleogene (K-Pg) time period. The glassy spheres were between 0.5 millimeters to 1 millimeter in diameter. Some were fused together, and others were shaped like a teardrop. But unlike the spheroids pulled from the K-Pg sediment, these particles contained a surprising diversity of materials coated in multiple layers of silica. Intrigued, Wannier returned to the area to collect more beach samples.

In each kilogram of sand taken from Motoujina Peninsula beach, Wannier and his University of California, Berkeley colleagues found that spheroids and other unusual glass particles made up 0.6 to 2.5 percent of the total sample. Extrapolating from this, that means each square kilometer of beach down to a depth of around 10 centimeters contains 2,300 to 3,100 tons of these particles. That is, the stuff that once made up the city of Hiroshima.

Using both conventional and scanning electron microscopes, and with the help of UC Berkeley mineralogist Rudy Wenk, the researchers detected six distinct morphological types of particles, ranging from clear glass to rubber-like substances. The team found evidence of aluminum, silicon, calcium, carbon, and oxygen, and also traces of building materials, such as pure iron and steel. The composition of this debris is consistent with materials that were common in Hiroshima at the time, including concrete, marble, stainless steel, and rubber.

These particles formed in extreme conditions, in which temperatures reached 3,330 degrees Fahrenheit (1,830 degrees Celsius), according to the research. The tremendous explosion turned ground materials into liquid, blasting the melted material into the sky. Once at a high elevation, the various particles smashed into each other, resulting in the complex agglomerations observed by the researchers.

The authors of the new study admitted that some of this debris could have been caused by other processes, such as a fire at a nearby Mazda plant in 2004 and a local site where fireworks are displayed annually. That said, “no alternative scenario to the A-bomb explosion can provide a coherent explanation for all our observations,” the authors noted in the new study, concluding that:

This study interprets the large volumes of fallout debris generated under extreme temperature conditions as products of the Hiroshima August 6th, 1945 atomic bomb aerial detonation. The chemical composition of the melt debris provides clues to their origin, particularly with regard to city building materials. This study is the first published record and description of fallout resulting from the destruction of an urban environment by atomic bombing.

As noted, similar spheroids were found at the Trinity test site in New Mexico. But these glasses, dubbed trinitite, lacked the chemical compounds found in the samples taken near Hiroshima. Accordingly, the authors of the new study have dubbed the new material “Hiroshimaites” on account of its distinctive and diverse chemical composition.

Looking ahead, the researchers would like to explore the soils near Nagasaki to determine if similar particles exist there.

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How to Donate or Dispose of Your Old Paint

How to Donate or Dispose of Your Old Paint

You’re not a proper homeowner until you’ve got a few stacks of half-used paint cans stashed in a dark corner of your basement, attic or shed. A few were leftover from when you threw a fresh coat on the walls before you moved in, maybe one from that time you remodeled the bathroom, even a few hand-me-downs from the previous owner.

Some of these you’ll want hang on to. It’s always good to keep a little extra wall and door paint around for when you inevitably need to do a some touching-up. But some is probably already expired and others (what were you thinking with that dark purple??) are just gathering dust until their ultimate demise.

How to tell if paint has expired

Paint doesn’t last forever (properly stored oil-based paints last up to 15 years; 10 years for latex). You can first check whether your paint is still good with the sniff test: Paint that has expired will have a strong rancid smell to it.

You’ll also need to determine whether the paint particles have permanently separated from the solvent by giving it a good mix (if a thin skin of hardened paint has formed over the top, remove that before you start mixing). If the paint blends back together smoothly into one consistent color, you should be good-to-go. If you’re still not sure, brush a bit of it onto a piece of newspaper or cardboard to see whether it goes on smoothly.

If your paint is expired, you’ll want to dispose of it, so skip ahead to that section below. But if the paint is still usable—you just simply have no use for it—consider donating it to someone who does.

Where to donate it

If you are looking to donate (non-expired) paint, make sure to first check whether an organization wants or needs it before you start lugging cans around town. Many non-profits, including Goodwill, do not accept leftover paint for donation. But there are a few options you can look into if you’d rather donate than dispose:

  • Your local Habitat for Humanity ReStore may offer latex paint recycling. The paint is collected by the crew, mixed and resold at the ReStore, which sells new and used building supplies to benefit the organization. Check first to see whether your local branch offers this program; paint donations may be accepted by appointment only.
  • A local scouts troop or community organization that works with kids may have a use for excess paint, depending on the types of projects they have coming up. High school drama clubs, in particular, often need paint for sets and scenery.
  • Any organization that is looking to remodel their facilities on the cheap, such as a shelter, church, animal rescue facility or local Boys & Girls Club maybe have a use for your excess paint. A little bit left in the bottom of the can won’t go far for a job like this, but if you’ve got a substantial amount, they might be able to use it to spruce up a room.

How to dispose of latex paint

If no one wants your paint (or it’s expired), it’s time to dispose of it properly. Before you do anything, check your local municipality’s regulations regarding paint disposal. In some areas, you will need to take latex paint to an approved drop-off location; in other areas, you are permitted to dry it out and dispose of it yourself. You might be able to find a local paint recycler, such as PaintCare, or you can search Earth911 for a hazardous waste drop-off facility in your area.

If you’re drying it out yourself and there is only a small amount of paint left in the can, popping off the lid and leaving it open in the sun for a while might do the trick. If there’s too much for the sun to handle, add cat litter, newspaper, sand or sawdust to absorb and dry out the paint.

For a larger quantity, line a cardboard box with a garbage bag, dump the paint inside and mix with the absorbent material.

To test whether the paint is dry, try plunging a tool, such as a screwdriver, into the paint. If it doesn’t penetrate the surface, your paint is dry. You can now safely throw it away in the trash.

How to dispose of oil-based paint

Oil-based paint is considered hazardous household material and must be disposed of either through a government program or a hazardous waste vendor. Your county might host hazardous household waste collection events sporadically throughout the year, and your state’s Department of Environmental Conservation website likely has a list of upcoming collection programs.

Whatever you do: Do not, do not, DO NOT pour any liquid paint down drains or into the trash.

For more from Lifehacker, be sure to follow us on Instagram @lifehackerdotcom.

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A new breakthrough lowers the footprint of making both concrete and fresh water

A new breakthrough lowers the footprint of making both concrete and fresh water

Concrete is the most widely used material in the world: You see it in the streets you move through, and it might line your home or apartment. Globally, around 27 billion metric tons of concrete are produced each year.

But making cement–the mineral compound that constitutes the most crucial ingredient of concrete–is an extremely carbon-intensive process. It’s produced in factories with massive kilns where raw materials, like limestone, clay, and shale, are heated to temperatures up to 1550 degrees Celsius, then ground into a powder. Heating the cement minerals to such high temperatures poses a sustainability concern, says Kemal Celik, professor of civil engineering at New York University Abu Dhabi and the director of the Advanced Materials and Building Efficiency Research (AMBER) Laboratory. Producing cement accounts for around 7% of global CO2 emissions.

This fact, Celik says, got him interested in finding a better way to make the material. He and his team already knew that magnesium oxide, a mineral found in salt deposits like lakes and salt flats, could be converted into a type of cement. In the United Arab Emirates, where Celik and his team work, they realized they could tap the over 70 operating desalination plants for access to brine left over from the process of purifying seawater, which would otherwise just be dumped back into the Gulf. Synthesizing the magnesium oxide in brine into a cement-like substance requires much less heat than making ordinary cement. And, Celik says, as magnesium oxide cement hardens over its lifetime, it absorbs carbon dioxide over time to gain strength, potentially making it a carbon-negative building material.

Celik and his team at AMBER have already conducted tests showing that it’s just as strong and adaptable as ordinary concrete. And, Celik says, this method of making cement from leftover brine provides a crucial outlet for the desalination industry, which is quickly expanding in places that struggle with access to potable water, but struggling to dispose of its briny waste in a way that doesn’t alter the salinity levels in nearby bodies of water, which can hurt the surrounding ecosystems. Ultimately, the briny cement Celik and his team are advancing could be a way for the building industry to lower its associated emissions, both by reducing the amount of carbon needed to produce the material, and by the material over time pulling excess carbon from the atmosphere.

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At least 3 people were injured after an F-16 fighter jet carrying munitions crashes into a Southern California warehouse

At least 3 people were injured after an F-16 fighter jet carrying munitions crashes into a Southern California warehouse

F 16 crash southern california

A view of the wreckage from an F-16 crash at a warehouse near the March Air Reserve Base in Southern California on May 16, 2019.

Screenshot via Facebook

  • An F-16 aircraft taking off from March Air Reserve Base in Southern California crashed into the roof of a warehouse at around 3:15 p.m. on Thursday.
  • Several people were injured and some had to be treated for exposure to debris from the crash before they were taken to a local hospital.
  • The pilot, who was the only one on board, reportedly ejected safely on base and deployed a parachute.
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An F-16 fighter jet that took off from March Air Reserve Base in California crashed into the roof of a warehouse building and injured several people on Thursday afternoon.

Capt. Fernando Herrera at Cal Fire told KABC-TV that 12 people at the warehouse had to be treated on the scene because of exposure to the debris after the crash.

The aircraft originally took off from March Air Reserve Base for a training exercise and crashed at the end of a runway. The pilot, who was the only person board, ejected safely on base and deployed a parachute, according to KABC. The pilot is a member of the 144th Fighter Wing based in Fresno, California, reportedly had little to no injuries.

The warehouse’s sprinkler system was activated and poured water at the scene of the crash.

“It was almost to the point where I had to cover my ears, and next thing you know I just hear this explosion,” Daniel Gallegos, a witness at the scene, said to KABC. “I turn around to the back of the building and I just seen a burst of flames and just the ceiling start falling through every part of the building.”

A video from one witnesses showed the damage in the warehouse:

Riverside Deputy Fire Chief Timothy Holliday said the aircraft was carrying ordnance. A hazardous-material crew was deployed to the scene. Fire department officials remained on scene Thursday evening.


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