Retirement plans – What you should know about them

 

For most people, the quality of their retirement will depend on how much money they saved over the years. While you might have some retirement income from sources like Social Security or maybe a pension, more often than not, it is just not enough. That means you have to put some money aside for retirement deliberately. If you want to get your retirement on track, here is a list of some things you have to know.

 

Planning ahead

To have the retirement you’ve always dreamed of takes planning. In many cases, you might have thirty or more years to sincerely think about what your plans for retirement are and how to get there. The first advice is to dream and to envision your life at the age of seventy.

Time can either be a great asset or your worst enemy, depending on where you are in life right now. The secret key is to start early so that you can save up a larger sum of money. If you wait until the last moment, you’ll realize that you don’t have the proper amount of cash to fund your dreams.

 

The 401(k) Plan

One of the most attractive benefits that American employers offer is the 401(k) plan. It is a retirement plan which allows you to direct a considerable portion of your paycheck into a so-called investment account.

The general idea is that you save money on taxes by making certain pre-tax contributions while also investing in something that will grow in value over time. Thus, if you play your cards right, you can retire with a nice sum of money in your bank account without having to make any special adjustments.

 

The IRA

If you care about having complete control over your retirement funds, then an IRA is what you need. These types of individual retirement accounts offer some of the same benefits of a 401(k), while also providing you with complete control of where to put the money. Of course, not all people are eligible, and there are also lower contribution limits, so check online to see if you or your partner meets the criteria.

One big downside

There’s an important downside to retirement accounts, not only for elderly people but for youngsters too. The early withdrawal penalty is a thing that displeases many. It means that if you withdraw your money before the age of 59 and a half, you could be subject to an 11% penalty, in addition to ordinary income taxes.

There are eleven separate exceptions that can get you out of paying the rather large penalty, but most people say they are not worth the trouble, as most attempts to avoid paying the penalty end in disappointment. One loophole is that you can pay for college penalty free with funds from an IRA, but you can’t do that from a 401(k).

 

Understanding barometric pressure

 

The air around us has a weight which presses against everything it touches, from every direction. In terms of names, this can be called in many different ways, such as atmospheric or barometric pressure. Moreover, when you hear people talking about air pressure, this is what they are referring to.

It’s defined as the force exerted on a surface by the air above it as gravity pulls it towards Earth. The pressure is usually measured with a barometer which contains a column of mercury in a glass tube.

This column either rises or falls as the weight of the atmosphere changes. Scientists and meteorologists describe the atmospheric pressure by how high the mercury rises.

The unit measure is an atmosphere (atm) which is equal to the average air pressure at sea level at a temperature of 59 degrees Fahrenheit. One atmosphere equals 1,013 millibars or 29.92 inches of mercury, this being the reference point.

As altitude increases, the atmospheric pressure drops, which leads to differences we can perceive. Just to give an example, the atmospheric pressure on Denali, Alaska, is about half that of Honolulu, Hawaii. Honolulu is a city at sea level, while Denali is the highest peak in North America.

Airplane travel

If you’ve traveled by airplane, you probably have experienced pressure in your ears, popping or even severe pain sometimes. This happens because an airplane lifts extremely fast into the air and the pressure in the inner ear and the air pressure outside don’t have time to equalize.

The result is that the tympanic membrane or eardrum swells outward. If you picture a loaf of bread rising while baking, you’ll get the idea.

Solutions include swallowing more often, chewing gum, yawning or the Valsalva maneuver which entails holding a mouthful of air and a pinched nose while you gently force air out until your ears pop. However, this is not recommended if you are sick with a cold or allergies.

 

Lower oxygen levels

As the pressure subsides, so does the amount of oxygen available to breathe. At very high altitudes, both the atmospheric pressure and the available oxygen get so low that there’s a significant risk for people to get sick or even die.

Professional mountain climbers use bottled oxygen when they ascend very high peaks. They also take the time to get used to the altitude. A fast transition from higher pressure to lower pressure can cause decompression sickness.

The same problem goes for scuba divers. If they come to the surface too quickly, there’s not enough time to adapt to the change in pressure and this might lead to sickness.

Atmospheric pressure is also an indicator of weather. A low-pressure indicator usually means that there will be cloudiness, wind, and precipitation, while a high-pressure one indicates a fair and calm weather.

 

Cool facts about Albert Einstein

 

Einstein was undeniably a genius. He won the Nobel Prize due to his radical discoveries, and he has also won the hearts of millions with his humor and wit. It is time to celebrate the minds who have transformed the world we live in, and to remind people that they have added a new layer of detail to the lens through which we see life. So to honor Albert Einstein, here are some of the lesser known facts about this amazing human.

As a proof of how much people have cared about him, Einstein was offered the presidency of Israel. After the death of the country’s first president, Ben-Gurion, the founder of the modern state asked the genius to rule the country. But he declined, stating that his old age prevented him from having the patience to deal with people. He was 73 at that time.

 

 

Another rather weird thing about the guy is that he never actually spent his money that he got from winning the prestigious award. All the cash went into a trust created for his sons, soon after he divorced his first wife. They had a troubled relationship, and this was his guarantee that his children will be looked after, even if something happened to him.

When we think about his discovery of the Theory of Relativity, we think that his memory must be incredible in order to remember and to solve all of those complicated physics problems. But the truth is, Einstein had issues remembering things. Which makes us gasp with wonder even more at his genius. His memory was so terrible that he couldn’t remember his own phone number, a thing which makes him even more relatable and lovable.

Speaking of the Nobel Prize, most people assume that he won the prize for his theories over general and special relativity. But things are a bit different. He won the award in 1921 for all of his discoveries and career, rather than for one thing as most laureates do. He wasn’t offered the Noble for his advances in relativity because they can’t be a hundred percent proven as of today, but they still wanted to honor his amazing mind.

He was a quirky figure. At some point, he even made a list of rules for his second wife, that she had to follow to the letter. And when he was young, it took him a long time to learn how to speak. This made his family worried that he might have been mentally damaged.

There are not many people who can say have changed the world. But Albert Einstein did that, and he deserves to be cherished and remembered by all generations. People even say that his discoveries will allow us at some point travel through space and time, a thing which is very exciting for the future of humankind.

 

NASA just discovered 10 rocky planets like Earth

 

In what is lauded by NASA to provide significant implications for the search for life, the space agency has revealed its latest discoveries in other parts of the universe by way of ten rocky planets similar to Earth.

This means there are now 219 new suspected planets beyond our own solar system. Those additional 10 are located in the ‘Goldilocks zone’ of their solar system. This simply indicates they are neither overly proximate to their star nor too distant. From this, it can be surmised that the 10 rocky planets are neither too hot or too cold for liquid water to be available.

 

 

It is the presence of water that plays a key role in a planet’s ability to sustain life.

Finding exoplanets, or simply planets outside our solar system could pave the way for scientists to discover whether there is life in other parts of the universe. NASA announced in a tweet that scientists using @NASAKepler have found and identified 219 potential new worlds.

With those new discoveries, there are now over 4,000 suspected exoplanets found by the Kepler space telescope.

Susan Thompson, a research scientist at the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI) Institute, says this meticulously defined catalog of discoveries forms the foundation to find a direct answer to one of the most compelling questions in astronomy regarding the number of Earth-like planets in the galaxy.

The SETI Institute has been searching for signs of intelligent life elsewhere in the universe. The SETI scientists do their work by attempting to find radio signals that exhibit some form of intelligence.

To date, there is now a total number of 4,034 potential planets that Kepler has identified. Of that total, 2,335 have been identified as exoplanets. Interestingly enough, around 50 have been verified to be roughly the size of Earth and are candidates for being habitable zones that Kepler has detected. More than 30 of the 50 have been defined.

 

 

Why is the discovery critical?

In light of the discovery of the ten Earth-like planets, it should enable man to find habitable zones. This is considering how the great Stephen Hawking himself has warned that we are running out of space on our own planet so we need to break through the technical limitations that have prevented us from establishing habitats in other areas of the universe.

Professor Stephen Hawking spoke at a press conference in London, which served as a sneak peek for the Starmus science and arts festival that took place in Norway in June 2017. During his speech, the renowned English cosmologist, theoretical physicist, author and Director of Research at the Centre for Theoretical Cosmology within the University of Cambridge, reiterated his warning that finding new or alternative habitation beyond Earth is the key to human survival. If mankind is to colonize other planets, there is no better time to start than now.

 

Getting a telescope for your kid

 

 

As the title of this post might have already suggested, I’m going to tackle the matter of shopping for telescopes for children. I’ll start by saying that, in my opinion, the first and most important question that parents have to ask themselves when they’re in the market for such a product is what they’re trying to achieve with it. Why are they getting it, in the first place?

Obviously, it’s very likely that the kid, just like my own, has expressed an eager interest in science, in general, and in looking at the stars, in particular. The issue is that you never can know when a child will get bored with something or the other. Hobbies are good for them and I won’t be the one who will deny this. But, sometimes, you need to take a step back and try to realize whether the child is genuinely passionate about astronomy or not.

The age of the child also needs to be given some thought to. Do you need a toy telescope or a real one? It goes without saying that the first is far cheaper than the second, so you also have to consider your budget. If the kid wants a real telescope, you may have to make an agreement and tell him or her that any advances made to the telescope such as new lenses and any other additions have to come out of his or her little piggy bank. Of course, you’ll be offering some of the financial support but he or she doesn’t need to know all that.

As for the actual shopping process, one of the advice I can give you is to call some magazines and order several catalogs. Start by going through every telescope model available at every online retailer and see what ratings it has received. Some owners who might have a bit more experience compared to you can let you know what to expect in terms of all sorts of mishaps. I had little to no idea as to what features I was supposed to focus on. This article was really helpful, so maybe it might be of assistance to you, too.

Another thing that I would like to point out is that if you just buy the telescope, put it in your living room or backyard and expect the kid to learn how to use it all by him or herself, you’re in the wrong. You need to spend quality time with the child and try to learn as much as you can about telescopes, as well, and that’s because you’re trying to be understanding. Even if you have little to no interest in science, you do in your child.

 

 

 

We’re not alone in the universe

 

When I was a kid, I got into space and celestial objects, so I bought my first telescope when I was about fifteen years old. But the mystery that’s always been on my mind is whether or not we’re alone in the universe. I still remember how my parents used to watch The X Files every week, so I quickly became passionate about the topic.

Every now and then, I take the time to check out recent news and developments that might somehow be connected to extraterrestrial life. Earlier this week, I came across an article published by CBS News according to which some scientists claim that life might have existed on Mars. There are many people who believe this already, although there hasn’t been any scientific data backing this theory, at least not from what I have learned about the topic over the years.

Some say that life might have appeared on Mars and that, through a meteorite or are other celestial objects, it ended up on what we now called Earth. Fortunately, we might be able to find out how things happened as Curiosity has been collecting information on Mars for the past four years. It took some time to repair the robot once it was affected by a sand storm, but the people at NASA have managed to program it in such a way so as to resume its trip. Curiosity is, therefore, perfectly capable of collecting info regarding the surface of the planet, and can even do some drilling and analytical analysis of rocks and other particles.

There are many magazines and other online publications that have started analyzing the topic of whether or not we are alone out there, so in a sense, it’s a good thing for people who are passionate about it. However, I couldn’t help noticing that in the last several years, there has been a tendency to claim that humans are in fact, the only smart life in the universe.

Since there isn’t any proof as to whether or not one theory is true and the other is false, I don’t understand why there have to be people who live by a particular one. Actually, I think that many folks would completely freak out if they found out that the likelihood of aliens coming to visit our planet is a reality.

For some, it would be an entirely horrifying scenario, while for others like myself, it would be something worth experiencing. Of course, I’m not saying that the demise of our civilization is anything I would want to witness in this lifetime, but finding out that there are aliens out there would definitely be exciting for me.