Edward Snowden and Neil deGrasse Tyson Discuss Water on Mars

Edward Snowden engages with the host of Startalk on his first day of Twitter

With the simple tweet “Can you hear me now?” infamous NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden joined the ranks of Twitter today. Rather hilariously, Snowden is following just one other account—the National Security Agency. Almost immediately Snowden was welcomed by prolific Twitter user and popularizer of science, Neil deGrasse Tyson.

Any cultural mashup like this was bound to send shockwaves across the internet. But what’s really remarkable here is how ordinary, how truly geeky (and complimentary) the back-and-forth was.

DeGrasse Tyson, who recently interviewed Snowden for his Star Talk Radio, queried Snowden about whether he sees himself as a geek, a traitor, or a hero. Snowden thanked deGrasse Tyson for the warm welcome, but quickly changed the subject to NASA’s discovery of flowing water on Mars.

“And now we've got water on Mars!” Snowden tweeted. “Do you think they check passports at the border? Asking for a friend.” To which deGrasse Tyson replied: “If you visit Mars, I'd bet any life forms there will greet you with a sip of that water—and a tourist visa.”

The two then discussed how Snowden is keeping busy, which includes Snowden’s “secret projects” as director at the Freedom of the Press Foundation and “finding time for cat pictures.” But, before saying their goodbyes, Snowden finally responded to deGrasse Tyson’s original query.

Apart from the conversation’s ordinariness, what else are we to make of this online collision of a popular astrophysicist and the most famous and controversial whistleblower of all time? Perhaps Snowden, who is either vilified as a traitor or hailed as a hero and icon, will now be able to show a bit more of his real self, geek and all. And if the NSA wasn’t already surveilling Neil deGrasse Tyson, then they probably are now. Welcome to the machine, Neil.

via Honor Africans / Twitter

The problem with American Sign Language (ASL) is that over 500,000 people in the U.S. use it, but the country has over 330 million people.

So for those with hearing loss, the chances of coming into contact with someone who uses the language are rare. Especially outside of the deaf community.

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Looking back, the year 1995 seems like such an innocent time. America was in the midst of its longest streak of peace and prosperity. September 11, 2001 was six years away, and the internet didn't seem like much more than a passing fad.

Twenty-four years ago, 18 million U.S. homes had modem-equipped computers, 7 million more than the year before. Most logged in through America Online where they got their email or communicated with random strangers in chat rooms.

According to a Pew Research study that year, only 32% of those who go online say they would miss it "a lot" if no longer available.

Imagine what those poll numbers would look like if the question was asked today.

RELATED: Bill and Melinda Gates had a surprising answer when asked about a 70 percent tax on the wealthiest Americans

"Few see online activities as essential to them, and no single online feature, with the exception of E-Mail, is used with any regularity," the Pew article said. "Consumers have yet to begin purchasing goods and services online, and there is little indication that online news features are changing traditional news consumption patterns."

"Late Night" host David Letterman had Microsoft founder and, at that time the richest man in the world, on his show for an interview in '95 to discuss the "the big new thing."

During the interview Letterman chided Gates about the usefulness of the new technology, comparing it to radio and tape recorders.

Gates seems excited by the internet because it will soon allow people to listen to a baseball game on their computer. To which Letterman smugly replies, "Does radio ring a bell?" to laughter from the crowd.

But Gates presses Letterman saying that the new technology allows you to listen to the game "whenever you want," to which Letterman responds, "Do tape recorders ring a bell?"

Gates then tells Letterman he can keep up with the latest in his favorite hobbies such as cigar smoking or race cars through the internet. Letterman shuts him down saying that he reads about his interests in magazines.

RELATED: Bill Gates has five books he thinks you should read this summer.

The discussion ends with the two laughing over meeting like-minded people in "troubled loner chat room on the internet."

The clip brings to mind a 1994 segment on "The Today Show" where host Bryant Gumbel and Katie Couric have a similar discussion.

"What is internet anyway?" an exasperated Gumball asks. "What do you write to it like mail?"

"It's a computer billboard but it's nationwide and it's several universities all joined together and it's getting bigger and bigger all the time," a producer explains from off-stage.

Photo by Li-An Lim on Unsplash

The future generations will have to live on this Earth for years to come, and, not surprisingly, they're very concerned about the fate of our planet. We've seen a rise in youth activists, such as Greta Thunberg, who are raising awareness for climate change. A recent survey indicates that those efforts are working, as more and more Americans (especially young Americans) feel concerned about climate change.

A new CBS News poll found that 70% of Americans between 18 and 29 feel climate change is a crisis or a serious problem, while 58% of Americans over the age of 65 share those beliefs. Additionally, younger generations are more likely to feel like it's their personal responsibility to address climate change, as well as think that transitioning to 100% renewable energy is viable. Overall, 25% of Americans feel that climate change is a "crisis," and 35% feel it is a "serious problem." 10% of Americans said they think climate change is a minor problem, and 16% of Americans feel it is not a problem that worries them.

The poll found that concern for the environment isn't a partisan issue – or at least when it comes to younger generations. Two-thirds of Republicans under the age of 45 feel that addressing climate change is their duty, sentiments shared by only 38% of Republicans over the age of 45.

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