Tag: US & World

NASA to Launch Planet-Hunting Probe in 2017

NASA to Launch Planet-Hunting Probe in 2017

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NASA has picked two new low-cost missions for launch in 2017: a planet-hunting satellite and an International Space Station experiment designed to probe the nature of exotic, super-dense neutron stars. The Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) and Neutron Star Interior Composition Explorer (NICER) are the latest missions chosen under NASA's Astrophysics Explorer Program, which caps costs at $200 million for satellites and $55 million for space station experiments, officials announced Friday (April 5). The TESS spacecraft will use an array of wide-field cameras to scan nearby stars for exoplanets, with a focus on Earth-size worlds in their stars' habitable zones — that just-right range of distances where liquid water could exist. "TESS will carry out the first space-borne all-sky tra
Heavy Rains Skip Texas City, Now ‘Poster Child’ of Drought

Heavy Rains Skip Texas City, Now ‘Poster Child’ of Drought

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Texas State Park police officer Thomas Bigham walks across the cracked lake bed of O.C. Fisher Lake, in San Angelo, Texas, in August 2011. Image: Tony Gutierrez/Associated PressAlthough the California drought and related wildfires have attracted most of the media attention over the past few weeks, a creeping drought disaster has continued in other parts of the Southwest and southern Plains states, including New Mexico and Texas. While heavy rains finally brought some relief to these two states, as well as sections of Colorado, Oklahoma and Kansas, during the past week, the rains cruelly skipped some parched towns almost entirely. But first, the good news. The rainfall vaulted several locations out of deep precipitation deficits to running above average for the year — locations such as Lu
Elusive Dark Energy Is Real

Elusive Dark Energy Is Real

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Dark energy, the mysterious substance thought to be accelerating the expansion of the universe, almost certainly exists despite some astronomers' doubts, a new study says. After a two-year study, an international team of researchers concludes that the probability of dark energy being real stands at 99.996%. But the scientists still don't know what the stuff is. "Dark energy is one of the great scientific mysteries of our time, so it isn't surprising that so many researchers question its existence," co-author Bob Nichol, of the University of Portsmouth in Engalnd, said in a statement. "But with our new work we're more confident than ever that this exotic component of the universe is real — even if we still have no idea what it consists of." The Roots of Dark Energy Scientists have known si
House-Size Asteroid Will Pass Earth Today

House-Size Asteroid Will Pass Earth Today

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An asteroid the size of a house will buzz Earth today but poses no risk of hitting our planet, scientists say. The asteroid 2012 TC4 will pass Earth at a range of just 59,000 miles (95,000 kilometers) — about one-fourth the distance to the moon — when it makes its closest point today, NASA scientists said. The asteroid was discovered by astronomers on Oct. 4 and is about 56 feet (17 meters) across. "Small asteroid 2012 TC4 will safely pass Earth Oct 12 at just .25 the distance to our moon's orbit," scientists with NASA's Asteroid Watch program wrote in a Twitter update this week. On average, the moon's orbit is about 238,000 miles (383,000 km). The asteroid is large enough to be seen by backyard astronomers using a small telescope, the night sky events website Spaceweather.com has reported
Curiosity Rover Chemistry Lab Tastes Mars Soil

Curiosity Rover Chemistry Lab Tastes Mars Soil

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NASA's Mars rover Curiosity has delivered the first Martian dirt sample to its onboard chemistry laboratory, testing out gear that forms the scientific heart of the $2.5 billion robot. Curiosity's huge robotic arm dropped a pinch of Red Planet dirt into the rover's Sample Analysis at Mars instrument, or SAM. SAM can detect organic compounds — the carbon-containing building blocks of life as we know it — and is thus key to Curiosity's mission, which seeks to determine if Mars has ever been capable of supporting microbial life. SAM ingested its first soil sample on Nov. 9 at a sandy site the rover team has dubbed Rocknest. The instrument analyzed the dirt over the following two days using mass spectrometry, gas chromatography and laser spectrometry, researchers said. "We received
Compostable Towers Will Grow in New York City This Summer

Compostable Towers Will Grow in New York City This Summer

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New York may be known for awe-inspiring buildings such as the Chrysler and the Empire State Building — but they've got nothing on a new set of towers that’s set to spring up this summer. The complex, known as Hy-Fi, will be built primarily from organic material — a combination of chopped-up corn husks and fungi (specifically mycelium, the vegetative part of fungus) mixed together in brick-like molds. The resulting organic bricks will be used to create three towers. At the top, a smaller set of bricks will be coated in a reflective film will increase the amount of sunlight the fungi receive — thereby expediting the building process. The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) and MoMA PS1 announced that they have selected Hy-Fi, designed by David Benjamin, to be built in MoMA PS1’s outdoor installat
500-Foot Ship Could Eliminate Seasickness With Artificial Waves

500-Foot Ship Could Eliminate Seasickness With Artificial Waves

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A single-hull hotel ship laid out by Norwegian firm Salt Ship Design is not only the largest of its kind, it might also cure seasickness. The ship, which is 500 feet long, will provide temporary housing to 800 people working on off-shore oil rigs. Thanks to built-in tanks crafted to counteract waves, living there will be almost like living at home. "The ship is designed primarily to have as little motion as possible on the gangway," Johannes Eldøy, a project developer at Salt Ship Design, told Mashable. "These roll reduction tanks have proven very efficient." The tanks are filled with water; air valves on the roof of each blast the water around to create waves of various sizes. The artificial waves balance out the natural ones so the boat doesn't rock. The vessel is also equipped with si
Economic Growth Threatens World Languages

Economic Growth Threatens World Languages

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Ashaninka Indian girls attend a public school in the Kinkibiri village, Pichari district, Peru, which teaches in Spanish.Image: Rodrigo Abd/Associated PressMany world languages may become extinct due to economic growth, a new study suggests. Already today, several of the world's nearly 7,000 languages face a serious risk of extinction. "For example, Ainu, a language in Japan, is now seriously threatened, with only 10 native speakers left," said lead study author Tatsuya Amano at the University of Cambridge in England. The United Nations has noted that half of the languages spoken today will disappear by the end of this century if nothing is done to save them. "I personally think that the diversity of languages is associated with the diversity of human cultures, which are definitely worth p...
Here’s a Huge Dose of Climate Reality From Bipartisan Business Leaders

Here’s a Huge Dose of Climate Reality From Bipartisan Business Leaders

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Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, left, and former Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson Jr. led the climate report.Image: Bebeto Matthews; Pablo Martinez Monsivais/Associated PressLast week, it was former Republican EPA administrators who spoke out on the need to address manmade global warming. This week, it's the turn of business leaders. On Tuesday, a bipartisan group of business leaders and former politicians, including President George W. Bush's treasury secretary, Henry Paulson Jr., issued a sharp warning about disastrous economic consequences if manmade global warming is not addressed in the near future. In a new report, the group found that extreme heat and sea level rise will threaten human health and put up to $3.5 billion in property in jeopardy by 2030, with even more s...
Supernova ‘CSI’ Team Eyes Old Photos for Stellar Blast Victim

Supernova ‘CSI’ Team Eyes Old Photos for Stellar Blast Victim

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In a forensic twist on astronomy, scientists turned sleuths are trying to track down the stellar victim of a supernova explosion that occurred last year. An exploded star was discovered on May 31, 2011, in the famous nearby Whirlpool Galaxy (M51), which lies about 23 million light-years from our own Milky Way. Supernovas are thought to occur when massive stars reach the end of their lives, running out of fuel to power their inner furnaces and collapsing in on themselves to form dense neutron stars or black holes. This supernova, called SN 2011dh, peaked in brightness in June 2011, shining light across the universe that was picked up by telescopes here on Earth. Now, astronomers are going back to photos taken of the galaxy before the supernova to try to find the star that exploded. Astronom...
Scientists Identify When Innocent Bacteria Became Flesh-Eating Horror

Scientists Identify When Innocent Bacteria Became Flesh-Eating Horror

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Streptococcus pyogenes in a petri dish.Image: Flickr, VeeDunnBacterial diseases cause millions of deaths every year. Most of these bacteria were benign at some point in their evolutionary past, and we don't always understand what turned them into disease-causing pathogens. In a new study, researchers have tracked down when this switch happened in a flesh-eating bacteria. They think the knowledge might help predict future epidemics. The flesh-eating culprit in question is called GAS, or Group A β-hemolytic streptococcus, a highly infective bacteria. Apart from causing flesh-eating disease, GAS is also responsible for a range of less harmful infections. It affects more than 600 million people every year, and causes an estimated 500,000 deaths. These bacteria appeared to have affected humans
Thousands flee homes as Australian wildfires rage

Thousands flee homes as Australian wildfires rage

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Image: Scott James Murphy via FacebookSYDNEY — Thousands of Australians fled their homes, as wildfires raged across the nation's south on Saturday, with firefighters struggling to contain the blazes fanned by strong winds. Six homes were destroyed by the fires in South Australia and Victoria states, officials said, though no serious injuries have been reported. Dry conditions and temperatures in the upper 30s Celsius (around 100 degrees Fahrenheit) were causing headaches for firefighters battling the blazes. Officials said it would likely take days to get the fires under control. 'Fire Cloud' Thankful that the fire hasn't gone in our direction but feeling for all those friends who had to evacuate and for the towns in the firing line. Have spent a lot of time in Kersbrook, Cudlee Creek
U.S. Military Enlists Amateurs to Track Space Junk

U.S. Military Enlists Amateurs to Track Space Junk

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The U.S. military is launching a far-out neighborhood watch. But instead of warding off burglars, these amateur watchdogs are tracking orbital debris and possible satellite collisions in Earth orbit. The sky-monitoring project, called SpaceView, is a Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) program that enrolls the talents of amateur astronomers to help protect American space assets from orbital trash. The vision behind the DARPA SpaceView program is to provide more diverse data to the Space Surveillance Network, a U.S. Air Force program charged with cataloging and observing space junk and debris to identify potential near-term collisions. NASA estimates more than 500,000 pieces of hazardous space debris orbit the Earth, threatening satellites that support peacekeeping and combat ...
‘Abnormality’ Snags China Moon Rover on Lunar Science Mission

‘Abnormality’ Snags China Moon Rover on Lunar Science Mission

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Image: CASC/China Ministry of DefenseChina's Jade Rabbit moon rover may have stubbed its lucky foot. The state-run Xinhua news agency reported Saturday that China's Yutu moon rover (the name means Jade Rabbit) "has experienced a mechanical control abnormality, and scientists are organizing repairs." It is not clear how serious the abnormality, but the news agency said the moon rover's malfunction occurred due to the "complicated lunar surface environment," citing the State Administration of Science, Technology and Industry for National Defense (SASTIND). The issue with the solar-powered rover robot emerged as it entered its second hibernation period on the moon Jan. 25 as the lunar night fell, according to SASTIND officials. Earlier on Jan. 24 the Chang'e 3 lander also went into its ow...
Do All Zoos Euthanize Animals Like Marius, the Copenhagen Giraffe?

Do All Zoos Euthanize Animals Like Marius, the Copenhagen Giraffe?

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People protest outside Copenhagen Zoo where Marius, a male giraffe, was put down on Sunday, Feb. 9, 2014.Image: Rasmus Flindt Pedersen/Polfoto/Associated PressWarning: This post contains imagery that some readers may find disturbing. A well-respected zoo in Copenhagen, Denmark, ignited criticism across the globe when officials there killed a young giraffe on Feb. 9 and performed an autopsy on the animal in front of a crowd full of children. Zoo officials said Marius, the 2-year-old giraffe, had genes too similar to those of other giraffes in European zoos, increasing the likelihood for genetic disease in Marius' offspring, had he been allowed to breed. Other zoos and organizations offered to take him in and an online petition to save the animal generated around 30,000 signatures, but offic...
Fort Hood Shooter Bought Gun at Same Store as Maj. Nidal Hasan, Reports Say

Fort Hood Shooter Bought Gun at Same Store as Maj. Nidal Hasan, Reports Say

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A view of Guns Galore in Killeen, TX from Google Earth.Image: Screenshot Google EarthThe .45 Smith & Wesson semiautomatic pistol used by specialist Ivan A. Lopez in Wednesday's shooting at the Fort Hood military base in Killeen, Tex., was purchased at a store called Guns Galore, military officials say, according to NBC News, ABC, and the Washington Post. It's the same retailer tied to the 2009 Fort Hood rampage — Maj. Nidal Hasan bought his FN 5-7 tactical pistol there — and stands alone on Killeen's South Fort Hood St., with a red-and-white awning out front. Hasan has been sentenced to death for the shooting, which killed 13 people and wounded 32 more. Smith & Wesson models similar to the one used in Wednesday's shooting retail for $500 to $1,300, according to listings on gunbro
Supreme Court’s Angry Email Solution: Justices Only Send Each Other Paper Memos

Supreme Court’s Angry Email Solution: Justices Only Send Each Other Paper Memos

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Here's another one to add to the charming Elena Kagan anecdote file providing a wonderful glimpse into how the least transparent of the three branches of government operates. Speaking during an interview at the Fortune Most Powerful Women Summit at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel in Washington, D.C., Wednesday night, Supreme Court Associate Justice Kagan elaborated on remarks she'd made in August about how Supreme Court justices don't use email. "We don't to each other. I obviously do to my clerks," said Kagan about the decades-old communications technology. "But the justices themselves do not communicate by email." "So how do you communicate?" senior editor at large Pattie Sellers of Fortune asked. "Well, we either talk to each other, which is not a bad thing," said Kagan, to applause from th...
These 16 Aussie ‘Coffices’ Make Working From Home Brilliant

These 16 Aussie ‘Coffices’ Make Working From Home Brilliant

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The coffice movement.Image: Michael Taylor, Getty ImagesSYDNEY — So you've scored the dream. A sweet little gig from the comforts of your living room. This is all fantastic, until you start talking to the chair. Human interaction is a life necessity and you don't get it when you are holed up in your house working from your inappropriate couch. With almost half a million Australians working from home, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, coffices (cafe-offices) are becoming a melting pot of activity, ideas and much-needed social interaction. Review website Yelp Australia helped Mashable compile a list of the places to go across the country to shoot the breeze over a flat white while still getting your work done. SYDNEY Mr Falcon's in Sydney.Ampersand (Paddington)There’s not
3 Dead After U.N. Helicopter Reportedly Shot Down in South Sudan

3 Dead After U.N. Helicopter Reportedly Shot Down in South Sudan

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People who fled ethnic violence in South Sudan lined up for food aid from a U.N. helicopter in 2012. The U.N. said a helicopter crashed Tuesday in South Sudan.Image: HANNAH MCNEISH/AFP/Getty ImagesThis story was updated at 1:45 p.m. ET with new information. A United Nations helicopter on a routine cargo flight crashed in South Sudan, the U.N. Mission in South Sudan said on Tuesday. A South Sudan government spokesman told The Associated Press that it appears the aircraft was shot down. Three crew members died in the incident, the UN Mission said. “I wish to convey my heartfelt condolences to the families of the deceased and wish a full and speedy recovery to the injured crew member,” said Toby Lanzer, the officer-in-charge of the mission. "Three crew dead, one injured in UNMISS helicopter
Space Program Should Aim for Mars, Says New Report

Space Program Should Aim for Mars, Says New Report

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Expedition 35 Flight Engineer Chris Cassidy completed a five and a half hour spacewalk on May 11, 2013 to inspect and replace a pump controller box on the International Space Station, which was leaking ammonia coolant. Image: NASA Goddard Space Flight CenterAfter weighing the costs and dangers of human spaceflight against concerns such as national security and "the eventual survival of the human species through off-Earth settlement," a congressionally mandated report concludes the United States should go for it — but only under certain conditions. NASA's human spaceflight program must take a disciplined and incremental approach toward the "horizon goal" of putting humans on Mars, the National Research Council's Human Space Flight Committee said in a congressionally mandated report released
Why Threats Like Ebola Make Conservatives More Conservative

Why Threats Like Ebola Make Conservatives More Conservative

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U.S. Senate candidate Scott Brown at the Northeast Republican Leadership Conference in Nashua, N.H. March 14, 2014.Image: REUTERS/GRETCHEN ERTLThomas Eric Duncan, the first person to die of Ebola in the United States, came to this country by air. He did not cross the U.S.-Mexico border. And yet, for some conservative politicians, the arrival of Ebola here has piqued concerns about the security of the southern border. "If people are coming through normal channels [with Ebola]," U.S. Senate candidate Scott Brown said recently in a radio interview, "can you imagine what they can do through our porous borders?" Other politicians are like-minded, calling for the outright closure of the border. The scenario that Ebola enters the U.S. through Mexico is not outright impossible. It's just unlikel...
Ebola patient zero may have been infected by a bat

Ebola patient zero may have been infected by a bat

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Mexican free-tail bats flying at night in Texas. Image: USFWS/Ann FroschauerIn the small village of Meliandou, in Guinea, stood a tall, hollowed-out tree where children loved to play. But thousands of bats lived in the tree, and one toddler — a 2-year-old named Emile Ouamouno — may have contracted Ebola from playing there. Emile, who died in December 2013, was "patient zero," or the first person known to have contracted Ebola in the current outbreak that has now claimed at least 7,600 lives in the region. In a new study, researchers looking for the source of the outbreak found that free-tailed bats (Mops condylurus) lived in the tree. These bats are likely a reservoir of the disease, the researchers concluded. The tree was about 165 feet away from Emile's house, in the village of 31 house
Glowing Sharks Evolved Special Eyes to See Light in the Deep Ocean

Glowing Sharks Evolved Special Eyes to See Light in the Deep Ocean

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Bioluminescent sharks have evolved eyes (like this lantern shark one) that can detect the subtle light patterns produced by fellow sharks in the dimly lit twilight zone of the ocean.Image: Dr. Jérôme Mallefet (FNRS/UCL)In the "twilight zone" of the deep ocean, strange glowing sharks have evolved eyes that are adapted to see complex patterns of light in the dark, new research reveals. These bioluminescent sharks have a higher density of light-sensitive cells in their retinas, and some species have even developed other visual adaptations that help them see the glimmering lights they use to signal to each other, find prey and camouflage themselves in this region where little light penetrates, according to a study published Aug. 6 in the journal PLOS ONE. "There are about 50 different shark s
The 14 Most Inspirational Kids of 2012

The 14 Most Inspirational Kids of 2012

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The 14 Most Inspirational Kids of 2012 1. Nine-Year-Old Caine Monroy Caine Monroy, 9, spent a summer building an awe-inspiring cardboard game arcade at his father's East Los Angeles used car parts store. Filmmaker Nirvan Mullick was one of Caine's first and only customers — that is, before Mullick orchestrated a flashmob of supporters to play with Caine's creative cardboard games. Each time a player scored, Caine would crawl under the box to dispense a thread of arcade tickets through a small slice in the box. Mullick's 11-minute film about Caine's Arcade has been viewed more than 7 million times since it was uploaded in April. Caine's story sparked the imagination of kids around the world who have seen his project. The Imagination Foundation was founded this year, in honor o
Student Mauled to Death by White Tiger in Indian Zoo

Student Mauled to Death by White Tiger in Indian Zoo

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Police officers cover up the body of the deceased man.Image: AP Images/Associated PressA white tiger killed a young man who climbed over a fence at the New Delhi zoo. The 20-year-old student jumped into the animal's enclosure Tuesday, a spokesman said. Despite repeated warnings that he shouldn't get too close to the outdoor enclosure, the man eventually climbed over a knee-high fence, through some small hedges, then jumped down 18 feet into a protective moat, said National Zoological Park spokesman Riyaz Ahmed Khan. The male tiger, which lives on a grassy tree-filled island, grabbed the man from the moat. Footage broadcast on NDTV showed the tiger carrying the man around the island. A white tiger, not identified as the animal that killed the man, seen at New Delhi Zoo.Image: AP Images/As...
Astronauts Auction Artifacts to Support Asteroid-Hunting Telescope

Astronauts Auction Artifacts to Support Asteroid-Hunting Telescope

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Two astronauts are now auctioning their personal space artifacts in a bid to help protect the Earth from asteroids. Apollo 9 spacewalker Rusty Schweickart and International Space Station flight engineer Ed Lu have put up for sale flown-in-space mission patches, flags, medals and pins to support the launch of the private Sentinel space telescope designed to discover, map and track asteroids with orbits that approach Earth and therefore are a risk to humanity. "We want to literally save the world," said Lu, who as CEO leads the B612 Foundation, a non-profit organization that is dedicated to opening up the frontier of space exploration and protecting humanity from asteroid impacts. "Not only will the money raised by this auction go to supporting the Sentinel mission, but also we hope the incr...
5 Alien Planets That We Could Call Home

5 Alien Planets That We Could Call Home

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The controversial exoplanet Gliese 581g is the best candidate to host life beyond our own solar system, according to a new ranking of potentially habitable alien worlds. Gliese 581g shot to the top of the list — which researchers at the University of Puerto Rico at Arecibo's Planetary Habitability Laboratory (PHL) published last week — after a new study marshaled support for its long-debated existence. The exoplanet was discovered in September 2010, but other astronomers began casting doubt on its existence just weeks later. Now Gliese 581g's discoverers have rebutted their critics' charges in a new paper, and have done so effectively enough to get the PHL onboard. Here's a brief rundown of the PHL's top five habitable alien planets: 1. Gliese 581g This rocky world — if it does indeed exis
In Drought Response, Home Depot Holds Nationwide Conservation Workshops

In Drought Response, Home Depot Holds Nationwide Conservation Workshops

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In this photo taken Aug. 15, 2011, a customer enters a North Little Rock, Ark., Home Depot store. Image: Danny Johnston/Associated PressThe Home Depot is taking its "more saving, more doing" slogan an environmental level. This weekend, it's hosting nationwide water conservation workshops to encourage homeowners to start conserving more water. Drought conditions across the Southwest are not expected to improve or end anytime soon and homeowners are being forced to restrict their water usage. In response, Home Depot is holding a series of 10 water conservation workshops on Saturday, April 26, in each of its 1,977 stores. The total conservation effort by Home Depot includes the workshops, as well as remodeling its in-store layout to direct customers to actions they can take to conserve wate...