Wirestock/ iStock

The first known lighthouse was constructed around 300 B.C., and the picturesque monuments were used to guide sailors out at sea in the many centuries following. Today, modern navigational technology like GPS has rendered them largely obsolete, creating an advantageous opportunity for any lighthouse lovers or historical restoration enthusiasts out there. 

The U.S. General Services Administration is giving away and selling lighthouses around the country in an effort to preserve them and reduce the financial burden on taxpayers. It’s an annual event the administration dubs “lighthouse season,” and 2023 is a record year with 10 total structures. 

Six of the 10 are being given at no cost to nonprofit organizations, and the remaining four will go on public auction in June so anyone can fulfill their lighthouse dreams. 

The program was established in 2000, when Congress passed the National Historic Lighthouse Preservation Act “to protect the history and heritage of lighthouses.” Since then, the GSA has conveyed more than 150 beacons to new owners, with 81 going to local governments and nonprofit entities for free and 70 sold via auction. 

The auctions have raised over $10 million dollars for the Federal Aids to Navigation mission, which provides navigational positioning signals, buoys, and aids that mark channels and harbors for mariners — accompaniments to higher-tech systems like GPS. 

If you’re eyeing those auctions and need a little encouragement, Sheila Consaul bought the Fairport Harbor West lighthouse on Lake Erie for $71,000 during 2011’s lighthouse season and gives a glowing endorsement of the purchase. 

“It is amazingly calm and serene and pretty much in the middle of the lake with 360 degree views of the water,” she told the BBC. “At night you can see stars everywhere.”

Click through to see each of the lighthouses, starting with the four that are going up for auction. 

Keweenaw Waterway Lower Entrance Light, Chassell, Michigan Daniel Dempster Photography / Alamy Stock Photo
Cleveland Harbor West Pierhead Light, Cleveland, Ohio benkrut/ iStock
Stratford Shoal Light, East Setauket, New York Lighthouses by Allan Wood / Alamy Stock Photo
Penfield Reef Lighthouse, Fairfield, Connecticut Wirestock/ iStock
Lynde Point Lighthouse, Old Saybrook, Connecticut lucky-photographer/ iStock
Little Mark Island and Monument, Harpswell, Maine Edwin Remsberg / Alamy Stock Photo
Nobska Lighthouse, Falmouth (Woods Hole), Massachusetts CarlStoveland/ iStock
Plymouth/Gurnet Lighthouse, Plymouth, Massachusetts KenWiedemann/ iStock
Warwick Neck Light, Warwick, Rhode Island kickstand/ iStock
Erie Harbor North Pier Lighthouse, Erie, Pennsylvania sdominick/ iStock
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Wirestock/ iStock

The Daniel K. Inouye Solar Telescope on Maui, Hawaii, is the largest and most powerful solar telescope on the planet, and the recent images it captured surely live up to those superlatives. The National Science Foundation released a set of eight new pictures last week, showing our sun in “unprecedented detail.” 

The shots provide a close-up look at the fiery solar surface, from massive sunspots and boiling plasma to the more quiet regions. In a press release, the foundation said they “will help solar scientists better understand the sun’s magnetic field and drivers behind solar storms.”

Astronomers also emphasized the Inouye telescope’s importance to gaining a better understanding of solar storms and weather back in January 2020, when its very first images were released. 

“On Earth, we can predict if it is going to rain pretty much anywhere in the world very accurately, and space weather just isn’t there yet,” Matt Mountain, president of the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy, which manages the Inouye Solar Telescope, said in a statement at the time. “Our predictions lag behind terrestrial weather by 50 years, if not more. What we need is to grasp the underlying physics behind space weather, and this starts at the sun, which is what the Inouye Solar Telescope will study over the next decades.”

Three years later, the solar telescope is well on its way to achieving its mission, and this is just the beginning: The eight new images “make up a small fraction of the data obtained from the first cycle” of the telescope’s current operations phase. 

“As the Inouye Solar Telescope continues to explore the sun, we expect more new and exciting results from the scientific community — including spectacular views of our solar system’s most influential celestial body,” the recent press release reads. 

Scroll through the stunning pictures below and read their descriptions, courtesy of the National Science Foundation.

The lower atmosphere (chromosphere) of the Sun exists above the Sun’s surface (photosphere). In this image, dark, fine threads (fibrils) are visible in the chromosphere emanating from sources in the photosphere – notably, the dark pores/umbral fragments and their fine structure. A pore is a concentration of magnetic field where conditions are not met to form a penumbra. Pores are essentially sunspots that have not had or will never have a penumbra. Penumbra: The brighter, surrounding region of a sunspot’s umbra characterized by bright filamentary structures. NSF/AURA/NSO
In this image, the fibrillar nature of the solar atmosphere is exemplified. Dark, fine threads (fibrils) are ubiquitous in the chromosphere. The outline of bright structures are signature of the presence of magnetic fields in the photosphere below. This image was captured by the Inouye Solar Telescope during a coordinated observation campaign with NASA’s Parker Solar Probe and ESA’s Solar Orbiter. NSF/AURA/NSO
In this image, the fine-structure of the quiet Sun is observed at its surface or photosphere. Heating plasma rises in the bright, convective “bubbles” (granules) then cools and falls into the dark, intergranular lanes. Within these intergranular lanes, bright structures are observed, indicating the manifestations or signatures of magnetic field. The Inouye Solar Telescope helps to detect these “small” magnetic elements in great detail. NSF/AURA/NSO
This image reveals the fine structures of a sunspot in the photosphere. Within the dark, central area of the sunspot’s umbra, small-scale bright dots, known as umbral dots, are seen. The elongated structures surrounding the umbra are visible as bright-headed strands known as penumbral filaments. Umbra: Dark, central region of a sunspot where the magnetic field is strongest. Penumbra: The brighter, surrounding region of a sunspot’s umbra characterized by bright filamentary structures. NSF/AURA/NSO
This image, taken by Inouye Solar Telescope in coordination with the ESA’s Solar Orbiter, reveals the fibrillar nature of the solar atmosphere. In the atmosphere, or chromosphere, fine, dark threads of plasma (fibril) are visible emanating from the magnetic network below. The outline of bright structures are signature of the presence of magnetic fields. NSF/AURA/NSO
A light bridge is seen crossing a sunspot’s umbra from one end of the penumbra to the other. Light bridges are believed to be the signature of the start of a decaying sunspot, which will eventually break apart. Light bridges are very complex, taking different forms and phases. It is unknown how deep these structures form. This image shows one example of a light bridge in remarkable detail. Umbra: Dark, central region of a sunspot where the magnetic field is strongest. Penumbra: The brighter, surrounding region of a sunspot’s umbra characterized by bright filamentary structures. NSF/AURA/NSO
A detailed example of a light bridge crossing a sunspot’s umbra. In this picture, the presence of convection cells surrounding the sunspot is also evident. Hot solar material (plasma) rises in the bright centers of these surrounding “cells,” cools off, and then sinks below the surface in dark lanes in a process known as convection. The detailed image shows complex light bridge and convection cell structures on the Sun’s surface or photosphere. Light bridge: A bright solar feature that spans across an umbra from one penumbra to the other. It is a complex structure, taking different forms and phases, and is believed to be the signature of the start of a decaying sunspot. Umbra: Dark, central region of a sunspot where the magnetic field is strongest. NSF/AURA/NSO
A sunspot is identifiable by its dark, central umbra and surrounding filamentary-structured penumbra. A closer look reveals the presence of nearby umbral fragments – essentially, a sunspot that’s lost its penumbra. These fragments were previously a part of the neighboring sunspot, suggesting that this may be the “end phase” of a sunspot’s evolution. While this image shows the presence of umbral fragments, it is extraordinarily rare to capture the process of a penumbra forming or decaying. Umbra: Dark, central region of a sunspot where the magnetic field is strongest. Penumbra: The brighter, surrounding region of a sunspot’s umbra characterized by bright filamentary structures. NSF/AURA/NSO
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© Henrik Bringsoe via WWF

One mammal, 46 reptiles, 24 amphibians, 19 fishes, and 290 plants make up the massive number of newly discovered species announced by the World Wide Fund for Nature — and they’re all from one remote region of Southeast Asia. 

The 380 new species were found in Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand, and Vietnam, known as the Greater Mekong region, in 2021 and 2022. 

“These remarkable species may be new to science but they have survived and evolved in the Greater Mekong region for millions of years, reminding us humans that they were there a very long time before our species moved into this region,” K. Yoganand, the WWF-Greater Mekong regional wildlife lead, said in a press release. “We have an obligation to do everything to stop their extinction and protect their habitats, and help their recovery.”

The species include a miniature orchid “with brilliant pink and bright yellow coloring,” a gecko that opens its mouth wide when threatened, and the Cambodian blue-crested agama (pictured above), which can change color as a defense mechanism. They make up a diverse ecosystem, one that conservationists say must be protected. 

© Tian-Chuan Hsu
© Thadoe Wai / WWF-Myanmar
© Parinya Pawangkhanant
© Keooudone Souvannakhoummane
© Thai National Parks / Creative Commons
© Ton Smits
© Shuichiro Tagane
© Nguyen Thien TAO
© Richard Baines
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“While the Mekong region is a global biodiversity hotspot, it is also experiencing a vast array of threats,” explained WWF-US Asian Species Manager Nilanga Jayasinghe. “We must continue to invest in the protection and conservation of nature, so these magnificent species don’t disappear before we know of their existence.”

These discoveries were documented in a new report from the organization, released May 22, that highlights the work of the hundreds of scientists from universities, conservation organizations, and research institutes across the globe. 

Truong Q. Nguyen, of the Institute of Ecology and Biological Resources at the Vietnam Academy of Science and Technology, wrote the foreword to the report, echoing his fellow researchers in emphasizing the importance of greater environmental protections in the Mekong region. 

“Discoveries of new species, like the ones highlighted in this report, help to fill the knowledge gap about what exists in the natural world,” Nguyen wrote. “They also fill us, the researchers, with wonder and trepidation. Wonder that there are still countless species yet to be found, and trepidation that there isn’t enough time to find, understand, and conserve them. 

“More concerted, science-based and urgent efforts need to be made to reverse the rapid biodiversity loss in the region,” he continued, adding, “Conservation measures for ecosystems and wildlife species need more attention from government agencies, NGOs, and the general public.”

RELATED: Mating for Life: 17 Animal Species That Are Monogamous in the Wild

SolStock/ iStock

It can sometimes feel like saving our planet is a lost cause — a phenomenon often dubbed “climate doomism.” But experts aren’t giving into that pessimism, and neither should we. 

A new “solutions-focused” report from the United Nations Environment Program says the world could successfully cut plastic pollution by a full 80% by 2040. It outlines some steps to get there, with hopes of informing government and business decisions around the globe. 

“The way we produce, use, and dispose of plastics is polluting ecosystems, creating risks for human health, and destabilizing the climate,” UNEP Executive Director Inger Andersen said in a press release.

She continued: “This UNEP report lays out a roadmap to dramatically reduce these risks through adopting a circular approach that keeps plastics out of ecosystems, out of our bodies, and in the economy. If we follow this roadmap, including in negotiations on the plastic pollution deal, we can deliver major economic, social, and environmental wins.” 

The report, titled “Turning off the Tap: How the world can end plastic pollution and create a circular economy,” lays out exactly how such a reduction could take place in less than two decades. It involves three major market shifts: reuse, recycle, and reorient and diversify products. 

Those shifts toward a more circular economy, meaning one that “keeps materials, products, and services in circulation for as long [as] possible,” could lead to a significant economic upturn, UNEP said. 

RELATED: Cut Back Your Carbon Footprint With These 15 Eco-Friendly Products

The circular economy the organization proposes would result in $1.27 trillion in savings for the world’s nations. And lower costs in health care, climate, air pollution, marine ecosystem degradation, and litigation would result in an additional $3.25 trillion saved. The shifts could also create an increase of 700,000 jobs by 2040, primarily in low-income countries. 

Read below for more on each of the suggested market shifts. 


The first 30% of the total reduction figure would come from promoting plastic reuse, via reusable water bottles and food containers, buying in bulk, deposit-return-schemes, and other similar initiatives. “To realize its potential, governments must help build a stronger business case for reusables,” the press release said. 


Next is recycling, responsible for 20% of the 80%. Though recycling has long been touted as a way to stave off climate change, UNEP proposes making it “a more stable and profitable venture.”

“Removing fossil fuels subsidies, enforcing design guidelines to enhance recyclability, and other measures would increase the share of economically recyclable plastics from 21% to 50%,” the organization said. 

Reorient and Diversify

Finally, reorienting and diversifying consumer products means “shifting the market towards sustainable plastic alternatives, which will require a shift in consumer demand, regulatory frameworks, and costs.” That could involve providing incentives for companies to swap out plastic wrappers, takeout containers, and other pollutants for compostable alternatives like paper. 

Heyn/Library of Congress/Corbis/VCG via Getty Images

The U.S. Postal Service is honoring Chief Standing Bear, a 19th century Native American leader, with its latest stamp. 

The civil rights activist, who served as a chief in the Ponca tribe, filed a lawsuit in 1879 that ultimately established that Native Americans are people under U.S. law, and as such, entitled to the same rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. 

“It’s remarkable, that the story of Nebraska Native American civil rights leader Chief Standing Bear has progressed from a native man being considered a non-person by the U.S. Government in 1879, to today, being recognized by the Postal Service with a stamp honoring him as an American icon,” Judi M. gaiashkibos, executive director of the Nebraska Commission on Indian Affairs, said in a press release from the Postal Service.

His court case came about after the Ponca were kicked off their land in Nebraska and forced by the Army to walk to Oklahoma. The journey killed many, including Chief Standing Bear’s son, but when he attempted to return home to bury him, the patriarch was arrested and imprisoned. He subsequently sued the federal government for violating his constitutional rights. 

RELATED: Three Boys Discover a Nearly 1,000-Year-Old Native American Canoe in Lake: Watch the Excavation

The government argued that Chief Standing Bear “was neither a citizen, nor a person, so he could not sue the government,” per the Library of Congress, but his legal team fought back by citing the Fourteenth Amendment and the rights it affords to all citizens. 

“This hand is not the color of yours, but if I pierce it, I shall feel pain. If you pierce your hand, you also feel pain,” Chief Standing Bear said during the case. “The blood that will flow from mine will be of the same color as yours. I am a man. The same God made us both.”

The judge subsequently ruled in his favor, writing, “an Indian is a person within the meaning of the laws of the United States.” 

“For so long people didn’t know his story or the Ponca story — our own trail of tears,” Candace Schmidt, chairwoman of the Ponca Tribe of Nebraska, told the Associated Press in a statement. “We are finally able to tell his story of perseverance and how we as a tribe are resilient.”

“This story of an indigenous rights hero is truly and necessarily an American story,” gaiashkibos added in the press release. “This stamp further etches his legacy in our national consciousness and provokes necessary conversations about race, sovereignty and equality in the United States.” 

Terry Robinson/Flickr

Since 1988, the National Trust for Historic Preservation has generated a list of the “most endangered historic places” in the United States, and the 2023 iteration, containing 11 culturally significant spots, is out. 

From the Chinatown districts in both Seattle and Philadelphia to a gas station in Arizona that dates back to 1929, these sites are at risk of being torn down by real estate developers or falling into permanent disrepair. But the National Trust’s annual list was created for the very purpose of saving them, and it has a solid track record. 

After the century-old Camp Naco in Bisbee, Arizona, was listed last year, it received over $8 million in grant funding and “is now being restored and programmed for community use,” the trust’s chief preservation officer, Katherine Malone-France, told NPR

“The most endangered historic places list looks like America,” Malone-France said. “It tells our layered and interconnected stories. Each site on it, of course, is a powerful place in its own right. But I think there are also common themes, like creativity and entrepreneurship, perseverance, cultural exchange.” 

She continued: “There are sites that are deeply sacred. All of the sites have multi-generational narratives, and there are sites where descendants are stewarding the legacies of their ancestors. There are sites that include tiny villages in rural areas, and there are sites that include neighborhoods and buildings in large cities and everything in between.” 

Check out each of the sites and read their descriptions (courtesy of the National Trust for Historic Preservation) below. 

Osterman Gas Station | Peach Springs, Arizona

Rayc/Wikimedia Commons

“Built in 1929, the Osterman Gas Station along Route 66 has been a focal point of the Hualapai Tribal community for generations. Extreme weather has damaged the already deteriorated building, and it needs stabilization and rehabilitation in order to continue to serve its community and the next generation of travelers. In consultation with experts, the Tribe is developing a preservation and reuse plan and raising funds to save the Hualapai-owned gas station.”

RELATED: Archeologists Discover Roman Fortlet Dating Back to A.D. 142 Near a Scottish Elementary School

Little Santo Domingo | Miami, Florida

Allapattah Collaborative CDC

“Little Santo Domingo, the cultural heart of Allapattah, is a key commercial corridor in one of Miami’s oldest neighborhoods. Growing development interest in Little Santo Domingo is leading to displacement, demolition, and rising rents. The Allapattah Collaborative hopes to encourage a more balanced approach to development and preservation while protecting the neighborhood’s heritage and culture.”

Pierce Chapel African Cemetery | Midland, Georgia

Hamilton Hood Foundation

“Pierce Chapel African Cemetery, established circa 1828, is one of the oldest burial grounds for Africans enslaved at several plantations in Harris County, Georgia, and their descendants. However, the cemetery has deteriorated over time and suffered damage due to recent use of heavy construction equipment. The descendant-led Hamilton Hood Foundation is leading efforts to raise awareness about this significant place and preserve Pierce Chapel and its stories for future generations.”

Century and Consumers Buildings | Chicago, Illinois

Landmarks Illinois

“As two iconic early skyscrapers along Chicago’s historic State Street, the Century and Consumers Buildings contribute to the architectural significance of the area known as ‘the Loop.’ Yet they have sat vacant since the General Services Administration bought them in 2005 and are now being considered for demolition. Advocates are urging reuse options that could meet security needs of the adjacent federal courthouse while avoiding the buildings’ wasteful demolition.”

West Bank of St. John the Baptist Parish | Louisiana

Williams Research Center of the Historic New Orleans Collection

“This 11-mile stretch along the Mississippi River in St. John the Baptist Parish includes historic villages, agricultural fields, and two plantations where the lives of enslaved people are studied and interpreted. But now port facility Greenfield Louisiana LLC has applied to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for a permit to build one of the largest grain elevators in the world amid the area’s nationally significant cultural resources. A coalition of local and national advocates, including many descendants of people enslaved in the area, is advocating for the Army Corps to deny the permit or for the developer not to build the terminal.”

Holy Aid and Comfort Spiritual Church | New Orleans, Louisiana

Preservation Resource Center of New Orleans

“Built circa 1880 in New Orleans’ 7th Ward, this building was first home to the Perseverance Benevolent and Mutual Aid Society, with its main hall doubling as a jazz venue, and later, the Holy Aid and Comfort Spiritual Church of Eternal Life. Impacted by repeated hurricane damage, the remaining portions of the building are threatened with collapse. Working in partnership, the pastor and congregation of Holy Aid and Comfort and the Preservation Resource Center of New Orleans are seeking funding and support to stabilize the remaining historic fabric and reconstruct the rest of the building for congregational and community use.”

RELATED: Remnants of WWII: The History Behind Britain’s “Ghost Villages” That Have Become “an Accidental Tourist Attraction”

L.V. Hull Home and Studio | Kosciusko, Mississippi

Bruce West

“African American artist L.V. Hull transformed her Kosciusko, Mississippi, home into a creative wonderland that attracted visitors from around the world. Though her artwork was relocated after her death in 2008 and recently conserved by the Kohler Foundation, her unoccupied house suffers from neglect, vandalism, and weather exposure. Filmmaker and Hull’s friend Yaphet Smith has purchased the house and is partnering with other advocates with a vision to create an arts campus celebrating Hull’s legacy. However, they need partners and funding to restore and revive the home as the heart of this broader project, where it will tell a unique, overlooked story of a Black woman in the South who claimed a space to pursue her full artistic vision.”

Henry Ossawa Tanner House | Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Justin Spivey/WJEAssociates

“Built in 1871, this North Philadelphia rowhouse was home to Henry Ossawa Tanner, an internationally recognized African American painter, along with many other Tanner family members with significant achievements. But gentrification is putting the neighborhood’s Black cultural legacy and heritage landmarks such as the Tanner House — already seriously deteriorated — at risk of demolition or erasure. The Friends of the Tanner House and its partners are creating a long-term stewardship plan to reimagine the house’s future.” 

Philadelphia Chinatown | Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Terry Robinson/Flickr

“As one of the oldest remaining active Chinatowns in the United States, Philadelphia Chinatown has been a vibrant community since 1871. But with the 76ers basketball team proposing to build an arena abutting Chinatown, advocates — including the Philadelphia Chinatown Development Corporation — are concerned that the development could further disconnect the neighborhood, discourage visitors, impact the local economy, displace residents and businesses, and ultimately contribute to the erasure of the area’s cultural heritage. Neighborhood residents and leaders are encouraging arena supporters to listen to and invest in protecting the Chinatown community as they consider their options.”

Charleston’s Historic Neighborhoods | Charleston, South Carolina

Vanessa Kauffmann

“Union Pier, a 65-acre waterfront site along the Cooper River in downtown Charleston, is former marshland that has been used for maritime shipping, industrial production, and port operations since the early 18th century. The pier’s current owner, South Carolina Ports Authority, has proposed selling the land to a private developer for a new mixed-use district that could threaten the area’s historic character, viewsheds, and climate resilience. Advocates and residents are encouraging the city government to start with a community-led vision for the site before the formal review of a specific development plan.”

Seattle Chinatown-International District | Seattle, Washington

Washington Trust for Historic Preservation

“As one of the oldest Asian American neighborhoods on the West Coast, the Seattle Chinatown-International District (CID) has been a center of the city’s Asian American life for more than a century. However, Seattle’s Sound Transit is considering several transit expansion options that could impact transportation access and cultural preservation in the CID. Transit Equity for All, the Washington Trust for Historic Preservation, and the Wing Luke Museum are part of a coalition advocating for a more transparent, equitable process that reflects careful decision-making, centers the voices of the CID, keeps the community connected to transit, and protects the neighborhood’s vitality and cultural heritage for future generations.”

RELATED: Australia’s Newest National Park Is Home to 550 Million-Year-Old Fossils: Take a Look

K. Miller/R. Hurt (Caltech/IPAC)

In a scientific first, astronomers observed a star swallowing a planet as part of its dying process.

The researchers first spotted the outburst, which took place about 12,000 light-years away from Earth, in 2020, but it took several years for them to figure out what it was: a star running out of fuel, swelling to “a million times its original size,” and engulfing everything around it, including a nearby planet, per a press release from MIT. 

The team used an infrared camera to look at the star, finding that the amount of energy expelled during the outburst indicated a planet, about the size of Jupiter, crashing into its star.

“That infrared data made me fall off my chair,” said Kishalay De, the lead author of the study outlining the findings.

RELATED: May 2023 Night Sky Guide: A Penumbral Lunar Eclipse, Dazzling Venus, and This Month’s Flower Moon

They thought the outburst could have been from the star merging with another one, but reached their eventual star swallow conclusion by comparing their infrared data to that of NASA’s infrared space telescope. The compiled data helped determine the energy output of the star, which was “surprisingly small — about 1/1,000 the magnitude of any stellar merger observed in the past.“

“That means that whatever merged with the star has to be 1,000 times smaller than any other star we’ve seen,” De said. “And it’s a happy coincidence that the mass of Jupiter is about 1/1,000 the mass of the sun. That’s when we realized: This was a planet, crashing into its star.”

The findings do carry a bit of an ominous connotation: Many astronomers believe planet Earth will likely meet its end in the same way — getting swallowed by our star, the sun — but not for another 5 billion years, so there’s no need to fret. De likes to think of that faraway prospect as “poetic,“ he told The Washington Post.

“It’s somewhat poetic in that all of that we see around us, all the stuff that we’ve built around us, this will all be burned in a flash when the Sun decides to evolve and become puffy in 5 billion years,” he explained.

For now, though, scientists and astronomers are celebrating the historic observation. “For decades, we’ve been able to see the before and after,” De added in the press release. “Before, when the planets are still orbiting very close to their star, and after, when a planet has already been engulfed, and the star is giant. What we were missing was catching the star in the act, where you have a planet undergoing this fate in real-time. That’s what makes this discovery really exciting.”

utah778/ iStock

Artificial intelligence is at the forefront of medical innovations at the moment, and some scientists are testing out the use of the technology to help with early cancer detection. 

A team of U.K.-based researchers from The Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust, The Institute of Cancer Research, London, and Imperial College London published a study late last year on how AI can spot lung cancer, finding their algorithm to be more accurate than the current tests doctors use. 

The algorithm was made using data from the CT scans of nearly 500 patients, all of which had large lung nodules. Nodules are usually benign, but can sometimes be cancerous, and the largest ones carry the highest risk of disease. Researchers analyzed the scans via radiomics, “which can extract information about the patient’s disease from medical images that can’t be easily seen by the human eye,” a press release explained. 

RELATED: New AI Could Help Predict and Prevent Heart Attacks

They used AUC (“area under the curve”) to measure accuracy. Per the release, an AUC of 1 indicates perfection and 0.5 indicates random guessing. The AI tool the researchers developed had an AUC of 0.87 when it came to identifying cancerous lung nodules — higher than the Brock score, which clinics currently use and has an AUC of 0.67. 

“According to these initial results, our model appears to identify cancerous large lung nodules accurately,” lead author Benjamin Hunter said in a statement. He added: “Next, we plan to test the technology on patients with large lung nodules in clinic to see if it can accurately predict their risk of lung cancer.”

Though the AI research is still in early stages, it has big potential. “In the future, we hope it will improve early detection and potentially make cancer treatment more successful by highlighting high-risk patients and fast-tracking them to earlier intervention,” Hunter said.

Lung cancer is among the most common types, with 2.21 million new cases each year worldwide. It’s also the most common cause of cancer death, according to the World Health Organization. Preventing more deaths largely comes down to early diagnosis — symptoms don’t usually appear until the later stages of lung cancer, at which point it’s more difficult to treat successfully.  

“People diagnosed with lung cancer at the earliest stage are much more likely to survive for five years, when compared with those whose cancer is caught late,” said study co-author Richard Lee. “This means it is a priority we find ways to speed up the detection of the disease, and this study — which is the first to develop a radiomics model specifically focused on large lung nodules — could one day support clinicians in identifying high-risk patients.”

Be My Eyes

The World Health Organization estimates that 2.2 billion people around the globe are visually impaired. Since 2015, the popular Be My Eyes app has been working to help that population — and it’s now getting a major AI boost. 

Be My Eyes was founded by Danish furniture craftsman Hans Jørgen Wiberg, who is visually impaired himself. It has a network of more than 6 million volunteers who serve as “the eyes,” via video calls, for blind and low-vision users who need help with everyday tasks, like choosing a tie or catching the right train.  

“It’s my hope that by helping each other as an online community, Be My Eyes will make a big difference in the everyday lives of blind people all over the world,” Wiberg previously said, per the company’s website. 

Be My Eyes

RELATED: “Last Piece of the Puzzle”: Lab-Grown Retinal Cells for Blindness Move Closer to Trial Stage

Recently, though, the app has been beta testing a new feature that utilizes artificial intelligence in addition to the human volunteers. 

“It’s very empowering,” Brian Fischler, who is blind and among the 100 beta testers, told NBC News.

He has used the app for everything from reading restaurant menus to finding where the shampoo is on a convenience store shelf. He simply takes a photo and asks a question — something like, “What ingredients are in my fridge?” — and the AI bot will describe what it sees. 

He noted privacy as a key upside to the AI tool, when compared to calling a loved one or video chatting a volunteer. 

“Having this kind of information in the palm of my hand, it’s just going to change so many things,” Fischler said, describing the technology as “life-altering.” 

Be My Eyes

Though the updated Be My Eyes isn’t quite ready yet, CEO Mike Buckley told the outlet it will be soon. “I hope we can launch this into the world in a couple of months, but we’re going to make sure that it’s working really well and that it’s safe and effective,” he said. 

In an interview with NPR, Buckley further clarified that AI won’t be replacing Be My Eyes’ volunteers, but rather used in tandem with them. 

“I hope it ends up being 50-50 because I do think that there is going to be a desire for continued human connection,” he said. “There’s some volunteer feedback we’ve gotten [that] when they actually get a call they talk about it as the best day of their week.”

Oklahoma State Department of Education

High school math teacher Rebecka Peterson focuses on the good in her Oklahoma classroom, and it’s paying off. Peterson has been named the 2023 National Teacher of the Year, an annual honor awarded by the Council of Chief State School Officers. 

“Rebecka is a caring and passionate educator who understands the importance of connections and providing individual supports for students, both in her math classes and beyond,” the Selection Committee said in a press release. “She has a deep knowledge of both education policy and teaching practices and understands that sustained change at a small scale can make a big difference for students.” 

RELATED: How One Teacher Uses an Empty Chair as an Inspiring Lesson of Inclusion

Peterson has worked at Tulsa’s Union High School for 11 years, but it hasn’t always been a smooth ride. She had a “difficult first year,” per the release, and decided to work through it by posting on a collaborative blog for educators. 

Called “One Good Thing,” the blog focuses on positive achievements happening in the classroom, and Peterson has submitted 1,400 posts to date. “I credit this blog to saving my career,” she wrote in October. 

“One day, I decided to post. Then the next day I did the same. And then again on the third day. And eventually, I got to 1,400 days of posting good things,” she continued. “More importantly, eventually my brain started shifting to notice the good all around me — to celebrate the beauty even in the middle of pain.” 

Lily Chris Photography

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In addition to uplifting fellow teachers, Peterson tries to cultivate a supportive environment for her students. 

“Now more than ever, we as educators have to create these spaces where we’re able to hold their stories and to sit with them and lean into what they’re telling us,” she told Good Morning America. “They’re counting on us. They’re counting on us to create these safe and open places.”

Naturally, Peterson cites her own former math teacher, Mrs. West, with nurturing her interest in STEM, which stands for science, technology, engineering, and math.

“With her making a space for me, I was able to see it so I did it,” she said. “I grew up in a time where history told us [that] girls don’t have a place in STEM, but because of Mrs. West, I get to be part of the narrative that says history was wrong.”