(CNN Student News) -- April 21, 2010
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CARL AZUZ, CNN STUDENT NEWS ANCHOR: When it comes to the U.S. space program, what's important and what's not? You're talking about it on our blog. We're gonna share some of your thoughts today. I'm Carl Azuz. It's CNN Student News.
AZUZ: First up, the weather conditions over most of Europe aren't set to change until the end of this week. You might be thinking, "So what?" Well, it means that the volcanic ash that's been hanging out over the continent might stick around until then, too. One scientist says the volcano's eruptions have been getting weaker, but he also pointed out there are just no guarantees when it comes to volcanoes. Gary Tuchman looks at the impact that all this ash is having on Iceland; that's the country where the volcano is located.
GARY TUCHMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: At the base of the Iceland volcano, the day is cold and very clear. But up the road a short distance, what looks like a big gray curtain that very quickly closes on us. There is nothing gradual about it. Visibility drops to near zero as we drive through the volcano's giant ash plume. The view out the side window looks like something you might see from a window of a submarine. You can see virtually nothing.
Only ten minutes away from here it's sunny. There are almost no clouds in the sky, but now it feels like night time. It's literally raining ash. The ash is going into my eyes. It's on the streets. We're south of the volcano. This is the way the wind is blowing. In the western part of Iceland, Reykjavik, the capital, where most of the people live, life is completely normal. The wind's haven't headed west. But south of the volcano, east of the volcano, the farm owners, the landowners, the people who live here are suffering. Their properties are getting destroyed because of these ash storms. And we don't know yet how bad the health effects are. And this is what happens after the ash lands. Olafur Eggertson is a farmer who is now dealing with a 2,500-acre farm consumed by ash that has turned into muck and mud. He tells us...
OLAFUR EGGERTSON, FARMER: This has been in my family for three generations; me, my father and my grandfather. That's why it hurts so much.
TUCHMAN: His family has owned the farm near the volcano for 104 years. But the volcano had been quiet for about 190 years.
EGGERTSON: Why would this happen to such a beautiful place? What are we being punished for?
TUCHMAN: Our visit with Olafur was on Sunday. We thought we would see how he was doing on Monday. But the visibility made it difficult to find his farm because, for the second time in three days, it was getting pummeled by ash from the eruption up above. Gary Tuchman, CNN, Hvolsvollur, Iceland.
Is this Legit?
TOMEKA JONES, CNN STUDENT NEWS: Is this legit? NASA stands for the National Air and Space Agency. Close one, but it's not true! It's the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, and it was created in 1958.
AZUZ: Well, ever since then, NASA has been working around the world -- and off of it -- to make advances in science and space exploration. The agency's latest mission off-planet is now back on the ground, the space shuttle Discovery touching down yesterday morning in Florida. That's after it traveled 6.2 million miles during its mission to the international space station. The shuttle went around the Earth nearly 240 times. This was one of the last missions for the space shuttle program, though. Just three more of those to go before the fleet is retired.
AZUZ: So, what should come next for the space program? President Obama wants NASA to stop its plan to return to the moon and start planning a mission to Mars, among other things. Here are your thoughts on this, from A to Z: Brian asks why we'd stop the moon mission at this point in time. "All the gains that we have made will be lost." Kyle's argument: "Mars is months away from the Earth. The moon is only a few days. The president would be wise to go for the low-hanging fruit first." Jacob likes the Mars idea, saying "no human has ever been to Mars. Therefore, we'd learn more about our solar system." Several people agreed with Jacob. Dylan says "space exploration equals awesome. More debt equals 'bad.'" Kwon asks, "Do we really need to put people on the moon or Mars? I don't think we need to put humans any place they don't naturally occur." And Karina wondered, "What's the point of going to space when we've never seen the very bottom of the ocean or all of the rain forest?"
BILL CAIACCIO, CNN STUDENT NEWS: Today's Shoutout goes out to Mrs. Huisingh's class at George H. Gilson Junior High School in Valdez, Alaska! Where would you find the Badlands National Park? If you think you know, shout it out! Is it in: A) New Mexico, B) Maine, C) South Dakota or D) Montana? You've got three seconds -- GO! You'll find the Badlands Park in South Dakota. That's your answer and that's your Shoutout!
AZUZ: And that is where we're headed for the next stop on our tour of some of the country's national parks. It's all part of National Park Week. The Badlands. The name sounds cool. Comes from what the area looks like: barren, extremely rugged, and very little plant life. French-Canadian trappers described it as "bad lands to cross." The Badlands National Park takes up 379 square miles in South Dakota. It was established as a national monument in 1939, as a national park in 1978. The climate there can be extreme, from -40 degrees Fahrenheit to 116 degrees. It's also home to incredible collections of fossils, some of which are tens of millions of years old.
AZUZ: Take a moment and think about your cell phone. What was the last thing you used it for? Was it to make a call? Maybe. Was it to send a text? Much more likely. According to a new survey, teenagers -- people exactly around your age -- make or get about five phone calls a day. But half of you send at least 50 texts a day. And as Deborah Feyerick explains, it's a trend that some experts say could become an addiction.
DEBORAH FEYERICK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: For tenth grader Sara Matzkin on the right, Sarah Marshall in the middle, and April Polubiec, texting may be as important as talking.
How many texts do you send and receive every day?
SARA MATZKIN, TEEN TEXTER: Probably around 200.
SARAH MARSHALL, TEEN TEXTER: Definitely a lot. A couple hundred.
APRIL POLUBIEC, TEEN TEXTER: It varies.
FEYERICK: Varies, studies show, to the tune of well over 3,000 texts a month for the average teenager. The question now, are teens texting too much?
MARSHALL: It's right by my bed when I go to sleep and right by my bed when I wake up. It's the first thing I go to.
FEYERICK: Eighty percent of all kids own a cell phone, and the rate of texting has skyrocketed 600 percent in three years.
But why is it so important for you to know when somebody is trying to reach you?
POLUBIEC: You feel like you're missing something if someone, like, texts me and I missed out on the moment.
FEYERICK: Do you sometimes feel your mood is changing depending on how often you're receiving the texts or the speed?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.
FEYERICK: Like what? Give me some examples.
MATZKIN: Well, I mean, if, like, someone responds right away, you're like yah, they responded. If they responded like two to three hours later, you're like, what's going on?
FEYERICK: Sounds addictive? Could be. Doctors say texting and the instant gratification of getting a text back floods the brain's pleasure center with the mood-enhancing dopamine.
DR. MICHAEL SEYFFERT, CHILD NEUROLOGIST: Neural imaging studies have shown that those kids who are texting have that area light up. They will actually describe, "When I don't have it, I feel bad. I feel anxious or I feel sad."
FEYERICK: Brain doctor Michael Seyffert treats teens with sleeping disorders at this New Jersey sleep clinic and has discovered that one out of five of them are interrupting their sleep to text, triggering problems.
SEYFFERT: With the lack of sleep, they are having a problem performing. They are going from honor roll students to, you know, barely passing.
FEYERICK: That's the worst case. These teens, on the other hand, get good grades and take part in after-school activities, though texting does sometimes get them in trouble.
When was the last time you had your phones taken away?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yesterday.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Today.
FEYERICK: Today. OK. So basically, within the last 24 hours you each had your phone taken away from you?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.
FEYERICK: And while the behavior can be addictive, teens like Sarah Marshall say they are confident they can quit cold turkey.
MARSHALL: Maybe I'll have withdrawal symptoms, get anxious and, like, wonder what's going on. But once I realized nothing bad is happening, it's fine without my phone.
AZUZ: Who would've thought texting could be addictive? And where do you draw the line? I mean, how many texts do you think are too many? This is the subject we're talking about on our blog today; you can find that at CNNStudentNews.com. We'd like for you to talk to us about texting by writing in text. Log on, tell us what you're thinking.
Before We Go
AZUZ: Before we go today, a face only a mother could love. And it's easy to see why. Oh my goodness. This is the most beautiful bulldog in Des Moines. Beautiful bulldog: two words you thought you'd never hear together. Drake University hosts the annual contest to crown the most fetching canine. Last year's winner was a dog named Porterhouse. This year, the title went to a little guy named Meatball.
AZUZ: We can only assume next year's winner will be Hotdog. Easy to butcher a joke at the end of the show, especially when it's a pun. Hope you enjoyed it. For CNN Student News, I'm Carl Azuz. We're coming back tomorrow. Have a brand new, beautiful show for you then. Take care.