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Photo: Wikimedia Commons

National Parks Poised to Close During Government Shutdown

Visitors will be forced to leave

As a federal government shutdown increasingly likely, don’t plan any trips to national parks tomorrow—they’ll be closed.

Unless a government funding bill passes both chambers of Congress before midnight tonight, sites operated by the National Parks Service from Acadia National Park in Maine to Yosemite in California will lock their gates and turn away visitors on Tuesday morning. Those already inside the parks will be asked to leave immediately, while overnight campers and guests at hotels in national parks will have 48 hours to depart. Parks will be completely empty of tourists by Friday and will remain closed indefinitely.

"Staffing will be held to the very minimum to perform essential functions," the service’s contingency plan said. Eighty-six percent of NPS employees would be furloughed—more than 21,000 people. A skeleton crew will maintain most offices, but fire-fighting crews engaged with active fires and those for monitoring areas currently under a fire watch will remain on duty.

The loss of these visitors will cost millions for the tourism industry. The nonprofit National Parks Conservation Association estimates that economic loss around $30 million each day. According to the Arizona Daily Star, visitors spent approximately $2.7 million a day in Arizona’s national parks, which includes the Grand Canyon.

During the government shutdown in the mid-1990s, 368 National Park Service sites were closed, and millions of visitors were turned away. It cost park-dependent communities approximately $14 million daily.


NASA tests an EBF3 3-D printer

NASA tests an EBF3 3-D printer     Photo: NASA/Johnson Space Center/Wikimedia Commons

NASA to Launch 3-D Printer Into Space

Will allow astronauts to manufacture tools

NASA plans to send a 3-D printer into space next year, a tool that could dramatically improve the self-sufficiency of space missions. Designed by tech start-up Made in Space, the printer will be the size of a microwave and built to withstand the vibrations of take-off and landing.

As BBC News reports, 3-D printing in space could be a life-saving development. “Imagine an astronaut needing to make a life-or-death repair on the International Space Station,” said Aaron Kemmer, Made in Space’s chief executive. As opposed to having to wait months or years for replacement parts, 3-D printing will allow astronauts to create specific tools for repairs in just minutes.

3-D printing could solve countless problems in space exploration, including the difficulty of meeting human’s nutritional needs. NASA is in the early stages of testing 3-D printed foods for their nutritional value and shelf stability. While a 3-D printed space donut may have to wait, NASA has put up some cash for the development of a 3-D pizza printer, which they hope will pair well with freeze-dried ice cream.  

Made In Space engineers test 3-D printers in microgravity.


Wilson Kipsang at the 2012 Lond

Wilson Kipsang at the 2012 London Marathon.     Photo: Tom Page/Flickr

New Record Marathon Time Set

15 seconds faster

The world record marathon time fell by 15 seconds Sunday when Wilson Kipsang of Kenya set a new record of 2 hours, 3 minutes, and 23 seconds at the Berlin Marathon.

The previous record was held by fellow Kenyan Patrick Makau and set in 2011. Both records were set on the flat and cool Berlin course, which has seen eight world records in the last 15 years, the Associated Press reports.

Kipsang's finish was spoiled by a man who began running next to him toward the end of the race. He was, as the New York Times reports, an "ambush marketer."

Although security in Berlin had been increased after the bombings at the Boston Marathon in April, a man wearing a yellow T-shirt stepped out of the crowd near the finish line and raised his arms, breaking the tape just ahead of Kipsang in an apparent stunt of ambush marketing.

According to Agence France-Presse, the man was promoting a Web site for an escort service. He was intercepted by race staff, handed over to the police and charged with trespassing, the news agency reported.


The fourth season premiere of "Duck Dynasty" set a record last month for most-watched non-fiction series telecast with 11.8 million viewers.     Photo: GUIDO BISSATTINI/Shutterstock

3 New Duck Dynasty Books Coming Out

The Robertson family pens autobiographies.

The Robertson family, of Duck Dynasty fame, will publish three new books next year, bringing their total volumes to eight, the Associated Press reports.

The new titles—Faith in the Duck BlindPhil-Osophy and The Women of Duck Commander—will offer a closer look at brothers Jase and Phil, as well as the women of the Dynasty.

Faith in the Duck Blind will include Jase's arrival at his religious faith and his experience growing up with a drunken father, according to Simon & Schuster. The Women of Duck Commander promises to reveal the "real character and spunk of the women who love these bearded men" while exploring the family's core values.

Phil's book, Phil-Osophy, will be his second after the bestselling Happy, Happy, Happy, which came out in May.

"Duck Dynasty" first aired in 2012 and follows a family of duck-call manufacturers living in the Louisiana bayou. The show remains the highest-rated reality show ever on A&E.

give readers a look into what goes on behind the scenes and the real character and spunk of the women who love these bearded men. - See more at:


Smithsonian's Panda Cam Will Go Dark With Shutdown

As will the zoo itself

As if the threat of widespread furloughs and closures wasn't enough, the Smithsonian just confirmed via tweet that the imminent government shutdown will make the extremely popular National Zoo Panda Cam go dark.

The Panda Cam broadcast Giant Panda Mei Xiang giving birth last month.

The National Zoo will close to visitors on Tuesday morning, and the furloughed staff will prepare to take care of the animals on a restricted budget.