Large Hadron Collider

This $6 billion, 16-mile-long particle accelerator might help us understand the fabric of reality. Plus other Literally Big Ideas.

Do the words "Higgs boson," "grand unified theory," or "strong force" mean anything to you? Probably not. Here's what you need to know: Buried underneath parts of Switzerland and France is 16-mile-long circular tunnel called the Large Hadron Collider, which cost nearly $6 billion to build. When the LHC opens this spring, protons inside it will be accelerated to nearly the speed of light before crashing into each other in a subatomic head-on collision. The studies of the resulting explosions may help physicists dramatically increase their understanding of the most basic levels of the universe, including the possible observation of "the God particle," the thing that gives all other particles mass, and which physicists theoretically know exists but have never seen. The findings at the LHC probably wont result in a new line of computers or change your life (at least not right away). But that's missing the point-this is discovery for discovery's sake.

Literally Big Ideas

These ideas aren't just big, they're huge-literally.Breeze Avenue, by Richard GrossmanThe experimental novelist Richard Grossman's new book is 3 million pages long. That's 4,000 750-page volumes, loosely based on Dante's Divine Comedy, translated back and forth between multiple languages, including Yiddish and Latin. Get ready for the world's longest CliffsNotes.New Safe ConfinementThe Ukrainian government has commissioned a $505-million, 500-foot-tall, 350-foot-wide steel hangar on wheels, called the New Safe Confinement, to encase the site of the Chernobyl power plant. It will be built a safe distance from the decaying reactor, and rolled into place once complete. Inside, automated cranes will disassemble the contaminated Reactor Four, restricting human contact to almost nil.Glacier WrappingSince the Swiss can't stop global warming by themselves, the government has decided to do what it can in the meantime to stop its Gurschen glacier from melting any more than it already has. To ward off the sun they've covered Gurschen in 43,000 square feet of reflective foil. Christo it ain't, but it seems to be getting the job done.Earth SandwichAccording to video blogger Ze Frank, what the Earth really needs is to be made into a sandwich. His logic? If two people put slices of bread on the ground on opposite sides of the Earth, the resulting sandwich will remind us that we're all in this together. His site facilitates this geo-culinary endeavor, with a user gallery of uploaded pictures of slices and their corresponding global completion points. So far the planet has only been served open-faced, and those of us in the lower 48 are out of luck: Our sandwiches would have to be closed somewhere in the Indian Ocean.

via The Howard Stern Show / YouTube

Former Secretary of State, first lady, and winner of the popular vote in the 2016 presidential election, Hillary Clinton, sat own for an epic, two-and-a--half hour interview with Howard Stern on his SiriusXM show Wednesday.

She was there to promote "The Book of Gutsy Women," a book about heroic women co-written with her daughter, Chelsea Clinton.

In the far-reaching conversation, Clinton and the self-proclaimed "King of All Media" and, without a doubt, the best interviewer in America discussed everything from Donald Trump's inauguration to her sexuality.

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Offering parental leave for new fathers could help close the gender gap, removing the unfair "motherhood penalty" women receive for taking time off after giving birth. However, a new study finds that parental leave also has a pay gap. Men are less likely to take time off, however, when they do, they're more likely to get paid for it.

A survey of 2,966 men and women conducted by New America found that men are more likely to receive paid parental leave. Over half (52%) of fathers had fully paid parental leave, and 14% of fathers had partially paid parental leave. In comparison, 33% of mothers had fully paid parental leave and 19% had partially paid parental leave.

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Bans on plastic bags and straws can only go so far. Using disposable products, like grabbing a plastic fork when you're on the go, can be incredibly convenient. But these items also contribute to our growing plastic problem.

Fortunately, you can cut down on the amount of waste you produce by cutting down on disposable products. And even more fortunately, there are sustainable (and cute) replacements that won't damage the environment.

Coconut bowls


Who says sustainable can't also be stylish? These cute coconut bowls were handmade using reclaimed coconuts, making each piece one of a kind. Not only are they organic and biodegradable, but they're also durable, in case your dinner parties tend to get out of hand. The matching ebony wood spoons were polished with the same coconut oil as the bowls.

Cocostation Set of 2 Vietnamese Coconut Bowls and Spoons, $14.99; at Amazon

Solar powered phone charger


Why spend time looking around for an outlet when you can just harness the power of the sun? This solar powered phone charger will make sure your phone never dies as long as you can bask in the sun's rays. As an added bonus, this charger was made using eco-friendly silicone rubber. It's win-win all around.

Dizaul Solar Charger, 5000mAh Portable Solar Power Bank, $19.95; at Amazon, $19.95; at Amazon

Herb garden kit

Planter Pro

Put some green in your life with this herb planter. The kit comes with everything you need to get a garden growing, including a moisture meter that helps you determine if your herbs are getting the right amount of food to flourish. All the seeds included are certified to be non-GMO and non-hybrids, meaning you can have fresh, organic herbs right at your fingertips.

Planter Pro's Herb Garden Cedar Planter, $39.00; at Amazonedar Planter, $39.00; at Amazon

Reusable Keurig cups

K & J

Keurig cups are convenient, but they also create a ton of plastic waste. These Keurig-compatible plastic cups are an easy way to cut down on the amount of trash you create without cutting down on your caffeine. Additionally, you won't have to keep on buying K Cups, which means you'll be saving money and the environment.

K&J Reusable Filter Cups, $8.95 for a set of 4,; at Amazon

Low-flow shower head


Low-flow water fixtures can cut down your water consumption, which saves you money while also saving one of the Earth's resources. This shower head was designed with a lighter flow in mind, which means you'll be able to cut down on water usage without feeling like you're cutting down on your shower.

Speakman Low Flow Shower Head, $14.58; at Amazon

Bamboo safety razor


Instead of throwing away a disposable razor every time you shave, invest in an eco-friendly, reusable one. This unisex shaver isn't just sustainable, it's also sharp-looking, which means it would make a great gift for the holidays.

Zomchi Safety Razor, $16.99; at Amazon

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