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How long it takes 50 common items to decompose

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Stacker looks at how long it takes for the things people throw away to decompose. From a few days to millions of years, find out the decomposition rates of the most commonly trashed household items.


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The coronavirus mutant that is now dominant in the United States spreads faster than its omicron predecessors, is adept at escaping immunity and might possibly cause more serious disease. The new variant is a member of the omicron family, but it carries a mutation called delta that was a feature of the variant that was dominant in the middle of 2021. This appears to allow the virus to escape immunity from vaccines and prior infection, especially if someone was infected in the huge omicron wave that swept the world late last year and early this year.

The Food and Drug Administration's commissioner says a shuttered baby formula factory could be up and running by next week. FDA Commissioner Robert Califf faced congressional anger Thursday for not answering questions about whether his agency should have intervened earlier at the Michigan plant tied to a national formula shortage. Members of a House subcommittee questioned Califf about why the FDA didn’t step in when there were signs of problems at Abbott Nutrition's plant last fall before it was closed. The shortage has rattled parents and become a political headwind for President Joe Biden, who’s invoked the Defense Production Act to ease supply. Califf asked lawmakers for new food safety funding.

Ray Liotta, the actor best known for playing mobster Henry Hill in “Goodfellas” and baseball player Shoeless Joe Jackson in “Field of Dreams,” has died. He was 67. An official at the Dominican Republic’s National Forensic Science Institute who was not authorized to speak to the media confirmed the death of Ray Liotta and said his body was taken to the Cristo Redentor morgue. Liotta’s publicist, Jen Allen, said he was in the Dominican Republic shooting a new movie and didn’t wake up Thursday morning. Liotta's most iconic role, as real life mobster Henry Hill in Martin Scorsese’s “Goodfellas” came in 1990.

A Defense Department-funded “resiliency review” finds Parris Island facing growing threats from climate change. The South Carolina military base has molded recruits into Marines for more than a century. Now experts say three-quarters of the island could be under water during high tides each day by 2099. Military authorities say they can keep the base intact through small-scale changes, like raising roads and equipment during existing projects. Others advocate much more expensive solutions, such as spending millions on seawalls to avoid spending billions to repair hurricane damage. But to date there is no grand overhaul planned.

Boeing's astronaut taxi has returned to Earth from the International Space Station, completing a repeat test flight with a mannequin on board. The Starliner capsule parachuted into the New Mexico desert just four hours after leaving the orbiting lab Wednesday. Aside from a few snags, Starliner appears to have clinched its high-stakes shakedown cruise 2 1/2 years after its botched first attempt. That means NASA test pilots will fly next, perhaps by year's end. NASA wants two competing U.S. companies ferrying astronauts to and from the space station. SpaceX is already the established leader.

U.S. officials have released an environmental study for a proposed nuclear test reactor to be built in eastern Idaho that backers say is needed to revamp the nation’s fading nuclear power industry by developing safer fuel and power plants. The U.S. Department of Energy earlier this month released the environmental impact statement for the Versatile Test Reactor that would be the first new test reactor built in the U.S. in decades. It would give the nation a dedicated “fast-neutron-spectrum” testing capability. Such reactors are called fast reactors. Plans call for building the reactor at the Idaho National Laboratory by the end of 2026.

In the choppy, cold waters of Alaska’s Resurrection Bay, oceanographers from the University of Alaska Fairbanks have been conducting tests this spring with a drone that goes underwater. They believe it's the first ever configured with a large sensor specifically designed to measure carbon dioxide levels. The underwater autonomous vehicle can dive 1,000 meters in remote parts of the ocean and go on missions for weeks. The intent is to provide a baseline to better understand the ocean’s chemistry and use the enormous amount of data collected to study ocean acidification. Oceans have been absorbing carbon dioxide, but as they take on more, it affects the ability of marine organisms to build and maintain their shells.

The sight of fountains, swimming pools, gardens and golf courses in Western cities like Phoenix, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, San Diego and Albuquerque can seem jarring as drought and climate change tightening their grip on the region. But Western water experts say they aren’t necessarily cause for concern. Many Western cities over the past three decades have diversified their water sources, boosted local supplies, and use water more efficiently now than in the past. A look at how Western cities have prepared for a future with less water.

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