A thriving piece of coral the size of the Empire State Building was discovered in Australia
Great Barrier Reef Coral Australia - Free photo on Pixabay

The Great Barrier Reef in Australia is home to more than 1,500 species of fish, 411 species of coral, along with dozens of other species. But since 1995, it's lost more than half of its corals due to warmer waters and climate change. Recently, one of those pieces of coral has been found. And it's big. It's 1,600 feet tall, to be exact, making it taller than the Empire State Building.

Not only that, but the coral is healthy and thriving. The coral has a healthy ecosystem and a "blizzard of fish," lead scientist Dr. Robin Beaman said per Reuters. "We are surprised and elated by what we have found."

Even better, the coral didn't show any evidence of damage, even though the section of the Great Barrier Reef it was found in experienced bleaching in 2016. Bleaching happens when the water gets too warm, which causes the coral to expel living algae then calcify and turn white.


The coral was found off the coast of North Queensland. Since the late 1800s, seven other detached reefs have been discovered in this area, however this is the first time a discovery of this size has been made in 120 years.

ROV Dive 401 (Pt B) - Newly Discovered 500m Tall Reef youtu.be

The coral was found when a team of scientists from James Cook University were mapping the northern seafloor of the Great Barrier Reef using an underwater robot called SuBastian. The scientists also collected samples, which will be archived and placed in the Queensland Museum and the Museum of Tropical Queensland.

"To find a new half-a-kilometer tall reef in the offshore Cape York area of the well-recognized Great Barrier Reef shows how mysterious the world is just beyond our coastline," Jyotika Virmani, the executive director of Schmidt Ocean Institute, said in a statement. The Schmidt Ocean Institute was behind the expedition, and is a nonprofit that supports ocean research founded by ex-Google CEO Eric Schmidt and his wife Wendy.

The Great Barrier Reef, which stretches over 1,400 miles, and was designated as a World Heritage site in 1981. Unfortunately, the Great Barrier Reef experienced bleaching events in 2016 and 2017. Afterward, the number of newly born corals fell 89% below the historically average amount. On top of that, the replacement corals weren't as big and branching as they used to be, leading some to believe the ocean habitat will never be the same again. The Great Barrier Reef has experienced bleaching before, and has normally rebounded, however the size of the bleaching in 2016 and 2017 is what's worrisome.

While climate change is changing more than just the climate, it's great to know there is marine life that is, in some ways, still thriving.

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In the last 20 years, the internet has become almost as essential as water or air. Every day, many of us wake up and check it for the news, sports, work, and social media. We log on from our phones, our computers, even our watches. It's a luxury so often taken for granted. With the COVID-19 pandemic, as many now work from home and children are going to school online, home access is a more critical service than ever before.

On the flip side, some 3.6 billion people live without affordable access to the internet. This digital divide — which has only widened over the past 20 years — has worsened wealth inequality within countries, divided developed and developing economies and intensified the global gender gap. It has allowed new billionaires to rise, and contributed to keeping billions of others in poverty.

In the US, lack of internet access at home prevents nearly one in five teens from finishing their homework. One third of households with school-age children and income below $30,000 don't have internet in their homes, with Black and Hispanic households particularly affected.

The United Nations is working to highlight the costs of the digital divide and to rapidly close it. In September 2019, for example, the UN's International Telecommunication Union and UNICEF launched Giga, an initiative aimed at connecting every school and every child to the internet by 2030.

Closing digital inequity gaps also remains a top priority for the UN Secretary-General. His office recently released a new Roadmap for Digital Cooperation. The UN Foundation has been supporting both this work, and the High Level Panel on Digital Cooperation co-chaired by Melinda Gates and Jack Ma, which made a series of recommendations to ensure all people are connected, respected, and protected in the digital age. Civil society, technologists and communications companies, such as Verizon, played a critical role in informing those consultations. In addition, the UN Foundation houses the Digital Impact Alliance (DIAL), which advances digital inclusion through streamlining technology, unlocking markets and accelerating digitally enabled services as it works to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.

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We're more than nine months into the COVID-19 pandemic and things are only getting worse. On Wednesday, December 2, America had its deadliest day yet with nearly 3,000 people succumbing to the virus.

America is experiencing its greatest public health crisis in generations and the only way we're getting out of it is by widespread administration of a vaccine.

However, if people don't take the vaccine, there will be no end to this horror story.

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This year, we've all experienced a little more stress and anxiety. This is especially true for youth facing homelessness, like Megan and Lionel. Enter Covenant House, an international organization that helps transform and save the lives of more than a million homeless, runaway, and trafficked young people.

Watch the full story:

Amazon is Delivering Smiles this holiday season by donating essential items and fulfilling AmazonSmile Charity Lists for organizations, like Covenant House, that have been impacted this year more than ever. Visit AmazonSmile Charity Lists to donate directly to a charity of your choice or simply shop smile.amazon.com and Amazon will donate a portion of the purchase price of eligible products to your selected charity.

Sometimes it seems like social media is too full of trolls and misinformation to justify its continued existence, but then something comes along that makes it all worth it.

Apparently, a song many of us have never heard of shot to the top of the charts in Italy in 1972 for the most intriguing reason. The song, written and performed by Adriano Celentano and is called "Prisencolinensinainciusol" which means...well, nothing. It's gibberish. In fact, the entire song is nonsense lyrics made to sound like English, and oddly, it does.

Occasionally, you can hear what sounds like a real word or phrase here and there—"eyes" and "color balls died" and "alright" a few times, for example—but it mostly just sounds like English without actually being English. It's like an auditory illusion and it does some super trippy things to your brain to listen to it.

Plus the video someone shared to go with it is fantastic. It's gone crazy viral because how could it not.

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With vaccine rollouts for the novel coronavirus on the horizon, humanity is getting its first ray of hope for a return to normalcy in 2021. That normalcy, however, will depend on enough people's willingness to get the vaccine to achieve some level of herd immunity. While some people are ready to jump in line immediately for the vaccine, others are reticent to get the shots.

Hesitancy runs the gamut from outright anti-vaxxers to people who trust the time-tested vaccines we already have but are unsure about these new ones. Scientists have tried to educate the public about the development of the new mRNA vaccines and why they feel confident in their safety, but getting that information through the noise of hot takes and misinformation is tricky.

To help increase the public's confidence in taking the vaccine, three former presidents have volunteered to get their shots on camera. President George W. Bush initially reached out to Dr. Fauci and Dr. Birx to ask how he could help promote a vaccine once it's approved. Presidents Obama and Bill Clinton have both stated that they will take the vaccine if it is approved and will do so publicly if it will help more people feel comfortable taking it. CNN says it has also reached out to President Jimmy Carter to see if he is on board with the idea as well.

A big part of responsible leadership is setting an example. Though these presidents are no longer in the position of power they once held, they are in a position of influence and have offered to use that influence for the greater good.

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