NASA’s Juno Mission Is About to Perform Its Most Dangerous Maneuvers 

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NASA's Juno Mission Is About to Perform Its Most Dangerous Maneuvers 
Image: NASA/JPL/Caltech

NASA’s Juno spacecraft has been spinning through space on its way to Jupiter for five years and 445 million miles, and now it’s less than 10 hours away from entering the gas giant’s orbit—the equivalent of a single rotation of Jupiter. If all goes well, scientists will finally be able to learn what lies beneath Jupiter’s turbulent atmosphere, examine its impressive magnetosphere, and possibly determine the composition of its core.

But first, it’s going to have to execute a tricky 35-minute engine burn under the harshest conditions any NASA spacecraft has yet faced. And that has Juno mission scientists on edge today. They’ve modeled every scenario they can think of, and planned for every contingency. But as Juno project manager Scott Bolton said in this morning’s briefing at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, “This is the highest risk phase.”

“We’ve done everything humanly possible to make this mission a success, but it’s still a cliffhanger,” said Jim Green, director of planetary science at NASA headquarters in Washington, DC.

Thus far, the mission has gone off without a hitch, but plenty could still go wrong. For instance, what if the main engine doesn’t fire on cue to start the burn, so far from the sun? “We’ve fired the main engine twice successfully and the third time should be a charm,” said Rick Nybakken, Juno project manager. “But this is the first time we’ve ever fired the main engine at Jupiter. It’s make or break for us.”

Then there’s the intense radiation from Jupiter’s enormous magnetosphere. According to Heidi Becker, lead investigator for Juno’s radiation monitoring, this translates into millions of high energy electrons moving near the speed of light. “They will go right though the spacecraft,” she said. “It’s the equivalent of 100 million x-rays in less than a year for a human being if we had no protection.”

Juno’s polar orbit will avoid the worst of the radiation belts at the planet’s equator, but other high-intensity regions are unavoidable. This exposure could easily fry Juno’s electronics, which is why they are housed in solid titanium radiation vaults with walls half an inch thick.

NASA's Juno Mission Is About to Perform Its Most Dangerous Maneuvers 
Artist’s concept of Juno sweeping through Jupiter’s powerful magnetic field. Image: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Juno will start to experience that radiation fairly early in the orbital insertion maneuver. Towards the middle of the burn is another dangerous phase, because the gas giant also has a ring of debris around it, similar to the Van Allen Belt that surrounds Earth. At this point Juno will be traveling at very high speeds and its engine doors will be open and vulnerable, according to Bolton. “If Juno gets hit even by a small piece of dust, it can do a great bit of damage,” he said. “We believe probability is incredibly low that Juno will hit dust or debris, but it’s not zero. Even a 10 micron particle could do some damage moving at the speed we’re moving.”

Finally, because Juno is now so far from Earth, there is a 48-minute delay before any signal from the spacecraft can reach Earth, and the burn only lasts 35 minutes. It’s going to be a nail-biting extra 13 minutes. And since the spacecraft’s antenna will not be facing Earth, the team will track its position via Doppler radio signals on a main carrier frequency, and tones on subcarrier frequencies, similar to our emergency broadcast system. Different frequency tones will be sent to mark the different milestones of the maneuver.

Here’s the mission timeline, for those following along:

7:30 PM PT (10:30 PM ET): Juno will reach Jupiter’s north pole and turn away from the sun. The clock starts ticking—will it complete the orbital insertion before the solar-powered batteries run out?

8:18 PM PT (11:18 PM ET): Juno will fire its main engine and commence the 35-minute burn.

8:53 PM PT (11:53 PM ET): Burn complete.

9:30 PM PT (12:30 AM ET): Juno will reorient itself to the sun and recharge its batteries. Then, and only then, Bolton will relax. “I won’t breathe easy until we’re back on sunpoint because we’re solar powered,” he said. “We’ve got to get the blood flowing through Juno’s veins again. That’s the key.”

If all goes well, Juno will complete it first orbit in 53 days, and JPL scientists should get the first data at the end of August.

Tune in later today when JPL scientist Glenn Orton will be at Gizmodo, answering all our questions live. We’ll also be streaming the live feed from JPL later tonight. And here’s our Facebook Live interview from Friday with Juno project scientist John (“Jack”) Connerney:

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Internet Access Is Now A Basic Human Right

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Internet Access Is Now A Basic Human Right
Image: Shutterstock

People may joke that others spend too much time on the internet, but this intricate series of tubes has become an important part of everyday life—so much so that it’s become a human rights violation to take it away.

That’s according to the United Nations Human Rights Council, which passed a non-binding resolution in June that condemns countries that intentionally take away or disrupt its citizens’ internet access.

The resolution was passed last Friday, but was opposed by countries including Russia, China, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, and India. The issue was with the passage that “condemns unequivocally measures to intentionally prevent or disrupt access to our dissemination of information online.”More than 70 states supported the resolutions, according to a statement released by Article 19, a British organization that works to promote freedom of expression and information. Thomas Hughes, the executive director of Article 19, wrote:

“We are disappointed that democracies like South Africa, Indonesia, and India voted in favour of these hostile amendments to weaken protections for freedom of expression online…A human rights based approach to providing and expanding Internet access, based on states’ existing international human rights obligations, is essential to achieving the Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development, and no state should be seeking to slow this down.”

The resolution notes what many of us already know: It’s important to increase access to the internet, as it “facilitates vast opportunities for affordable and inclusive education globally,” or provides other resources for education, especially across the digital divide. In accordance with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the organization also recognized that the spread of technology has the “great potential to accelerate human progress.”

It’s all here: your news organizations, your job-hunting resources, and your credit card statements. It’s become impossible to live without basic internet access.

Other countries have already stressed the importance of open access, including President Barack Obama, who in 2015 said that “today, high speed broadband is not a luxury, it’s a necessity.”

The resolution also highlights a number of issues that need to be addressed, including that the issue of freedom of expression on the internet. Also among the points presented were statements:

  • Calling upon all states to address security concerns in “a way that ensures freedom and security on the Internet,”
  • Ensuring accountability for all human rights violations and abuses committed against persons for exercising their human rights,
  • Recognizing that privacy online is important,
  • Stressing the importance of education for women and girls in relevant technology fields.

The UN can’t enforce resolutions legally. Rather, they’re issued to provide guidelines for participating nations and to put pressure on any that may have dissenting views. These are just general statements on how governments should shape laws when it comes to the internet. It’s nice to see, even if it does little beyond filling a few pieces of digital paper.

The next step is for those countries to start actively addressing problems, including laws pertaining to freedom of expression and how those rights can be abused to spread violence, terrorist ideals, and harassment. The more we discuss the problems that come along with the free reign of the internet, the closer we’ll get to Valhalla (or so I’ve heard).

[The Verge]

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Google talks up its self-driving cars’ cyclist-detection algorithms

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Today might be conspicuous in the annals of autonomous vehicles for a more serious reason, but another month is over and Google has issued its self-driving car report for June. In it are some interesting details about the system’s ability to detect and avoid cyclists.

“Cyclists are fast and agile — sometimes moving as quickly as cars — but that also means that it’s hard for others to anticipate their movements,” reads the report. “Our cars recognize cyclists as unique users of the road, and are taught to drive conservatively around them.”

The LIDAR and other sensors on the vehicles can detect bikers in any direction, or even every direction at once, as this illustration shows.

google_bike_vis2

That’s somewhere over a hundred Googlers riding their bikes around a stationary self-driving car. This is what they do all day in Mountain View, apparently. Each bike was tracked individually and its likely path predicted, probably giving the car’s AI an anxiety attack.

When cyclists are detected, they’re given extra room, and the cars won’t attempt to pass if the bike is taking up the whole lane (rarely convenient for drivers, but often necessary, cyclists will surely agree).

Hand signals are also seen, understood, and taken into account when predicting a cyclist’s path later on, after the signalling hand has returned to its grip.

Two fender-benders occurred in June, neither the Google car’s fault and neither causing more than scraped bumpers.

Featured Image: Google

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The crazy life of former fugitive and cybersecurity legend John McAfee

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John McAfee is an enigma.

He built one of the biggest antivirus companies to date, and yet it’s what happened after this chapter of his life that made him a legend.

McAfee once lived in Belize and allegedly got caught up with drugs and other illegal activities.

Since then, he’s made a bid to run for president, founded his own political party, and was recently named the chairman and CEO of a mysterious new company.

Here’s a look into who the man once was, what he became, and where he is now.

Trust us — it’s a wild ride.

SEE ALSO: A look inside the insanely successful life of Russian mathematician and shrewd businessman Eugene Kaspersky

John McAfee was born in the UK in the mid-1940s. His parents moved to Roanoke, Virginia, when he was young.

His early life was likely tough for the young man. His father, who worked as a road surveyor, was an alcoholic. When McAfee was 15, his father committed suicide, a fact McAfee says he wakes up with every day.

Source: Wired

McAfee went to Roanoke College, where he also took up drinking. But the younger McAfee was a shrewd entrepreneur at a young age. His first business sold magazines door to door, which he says made him a small fortune.

Source: Wired

See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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The 7 Most Powerful Thoughts on Happiness

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We’re all in the pursuit of happiness. Some of us find it early, but others unfortunately search for their entire lives. We can reverse-engineer happiness by studying the thoughts of the people who have found the well of happiness and tap into it everyday. Here are 10 unconventional thoughts they have that allow them to experience happiness and contentment effortlessly.

1. “I am adequate as I am.”

People sometimes feel that their vulnerabilities hold them back, that they weaken themselves. In reality, vulnerabilities can be the your greatest strengthsSociety is good at cutting us down to the lowest common denominator, so that we’re all square pegs that fit through the same, uniform hole.

In reality, we couldn’t any more different from one another. Some of us give in and let society do what it wants with us. Others fight to the very end. While the latter does involve struggle, it allows you to feel blissfully happy to be yourself and not have to conform to terms and conditions you had no choice but to agree to.

2. “The thing that hurts me the most is actually my greatest strength.”

Everyone has a weakness — something that throws them right into the gutter when people attack it, or point it out. “Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me,” or so they say. This saying was based on the premise that you ignore people who try to rile you up. Secretly, it still hurts you.

What truly happy people feel is that their weakness can potentially be their greatest source of strength. They acknowledge that it makes them feel weak, but it could also help them become immensely happy — if they are to see it in a new light. Someone who’s overweight can choose to hate their weight and try yo-yo dieting. It’s destructive behavior that actually makes the situation worse.

If they realize that they’re not failures just because they are a bit heavier than other people, they stop caring as much, love themselves more, and might even lose weight due to not having to rely on food as emotional crutches.

3. “Being angry at someone hurts me more than it hurts the other person.”

There is a beautiful, Buddhist story that explains anger as akin to holding a stone that gradually gets hotter and hotter. You somehow want the person you’re angry at to feel the burn and the pain you’re feeling, but as long as they’re not holding onto the stone, they won’t get hurt.

The only person who’s getting hurt is yourself, which is why you should let go of the hot stone before it causes you too much pain. Happy people don’t hold grudges. They know that it not only uses up a lot of their energy, it also hurts them in the long run.

4. “I have less control in life than I think I do.”

We all live our lives and try to make sense of everything. We see the events that occur in day-to-day not as discrete events, but as a flowing, logical narrative. People write biographies connecting these events together, even if they don’t seem to have any logical connection.

That’s the flaw of us humans. We need meaning in everything. In reality, our very existence is by chance. Every single one of us was brought into this world with no say in where or to who our parents would be. Acknowledging this is immensely emancipating. You feel free from the expectations of your birthright and are free to do whatever you want with your life that makes you happy.

5. “Worrying is literally putting a bet against myself.”

Some people are chronic worriers. They find a way to worry about everything that comes across their mind. They lose sleep over things that, nine times out of 10, either go away themselves or have such a tiny impact in the scheme of things that you wonder what the point of thinking about it is.

Worrying means that you’re believing that something bad could happen. In other words, you’re putting a bet against yourself being happier, healthier, and well off. You think there’s a chance that it’s something that could affect your overall well-being. Think about the last thing you worried about. It’s actually not easy to remember because we all do it so much!

Worry less, think more good thoughts and watch as your happiness suddenly becomes that much better.

6. “The greater the magnitude of the tragedy, the more I can potentially gain from it.”

This is a particularly powerful thought that only the most zen and emotionally intelligent people can understand and accept. If you take the time to truly process this thought, nothing will make you unhappy ever again.

Bad things happen — let’s not hide from the truth. We get fired; a loved one passes away unexpectedly; we have an unfaithful spouse. Society tells us that it’s normal to overreact and let negativity flood our beings.

How would very happy people react to this? They would be still. They would be calm. They would feel sadness, anger, disgust, yes. But they would take the time to see what good can come out of it. Imagine, taking good from something that’s aimed at hurting you. How empowering would that be? People do it, day in, day out. You can do it too.

7. “To make ourselves unhappy is where all the crime starts.”

This is a powerful quote from the legendary Roger Ebert, one of the best film critiques in America. For decades, he analyzed films and shared his opinion on what made them works of art. He had cancer toward the end of his career that left him without the ability to speak. Still, he didn’t let this stop him from critiquing.

This quote, I think, is the ultimate truth on happiness. The moment we’re born, society shoves its expectations on us. We’re told that we’re not good enough, that we have to work harder and try harder to succeed. Sometimes, the best thing is to accept that you’re good enough.

The truth is, we all have a well of happiness inside us. We just have to realize that it’s there. It will never go away and will always let us draw inspiration and happiness from it. Simply stop making yourself unhappy, and you’ll see where it is.

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The PocketCHIP Is An Excellent Intro To Absurdly Cheap Computing

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If you’ve been intrigued by the idea of messing about with a $9 PC but had no idea what you’d do with it, Next Thing Co.’s PocketCHIP turns its tiny computer into a portable gaming machine, music editor and learning tool. It’s just full of ideas.

I’ve been enamored with miniature computers for quite a while now. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve gone to the Raspberry Pi website and filled my cart with things I didn’t quite understand, before wandering off, leaving the hobby computing to the people with time for hobby computing.

Next Thing Co.’s CHIP was an even greater temptation. The two million dollar Kickstarter success promised an entire computer on a board smaller than a credit card for a ridiculously low price.

Unlike the $5 Raspberry Pi Zero, which lacks storage, built-in wifi or low-power Bluetooth, the $9 CHIP comes is ready to be plugged into an older monitor using the included composite video cable out of the box (an HDMI adapter is sold separately.) It’s got a 1GHz Allwinner R* Cortek A8 processor, 512MB of RAM and 4GB of built-in storage with a Linux-based operating system installed.

I wanted to buy one, but I know myself. It would sit on my desk, doing absolutely nothing. Other people, more tech-savvy people, would be creating robots and emulator boxes and Pipboys with this thing. I would eventually put it in a drawer and forget I had it.

I’m pretty sure people like me were why Next Thing Co. created the PocketCHIP. Shipping this month from the company’s website for $49, it’s the CHIP computer with extra-added purpose.

The duel holes for using a pencil or pen as a stand are a cute design touch.

The PocketCHIP takes that same $9 computer and places it in a plastic housing with a poppy little keyboard, a 480 x 272 backlit touch screen display, a battery and several cool applications to get people playing with it. If you want to take the CHIP out and play with it on its lonesome, it’s just a matter of removing it from its housing.

I will leave the CHIP inside this rugged plastic shell forever.

Mine will probably stay where it is. If I get to feel adventurous I might fiddle with using the row of GPIO (general purpose input output) connectors along the top of the unit, but otherwise I am good.

What drew me to PocketCHIP was the included gaming program, PICO-8. Created by Lexaloffle Games, PICO-8 is a “fantasy console.” It presents a set of programming restrictions as if they were tied to a game console, challenging Lua programmers to create games to run within those restrictions. Here’s what creators have to work with:

Display 128×128 16 colours
Cartridge Size 32k
Sound 4 channel chip blerps
Code Lua
Sprites 128 8×8 sprites
Map 128×32 cels
Controls 2 6-button joysticks

Harsh restrictions, but that hasn’t stopped creators from creating some amazing “cartridges” with PICO-8, like Matt Thorson and Noel Berry’s Celeste.

I know, trim the damn nails.

Celeste is a challenging little platforming game in which the title character jumps and dashes across various screens, avoiding obstacles and collecting fruit. I was horrible at it, at least until I changed it.

The joy of PICO-8 running on the PocketCHIP is that, at any time during gameplay, I can escape out and start editing the code. I couldn’t make the first long jump in the game, so instead of trying again and again until I got it right, I went into the code and tweaked gravity.

Now I’ve not mucked about in game coding since since when I was a young teen working out my angst by programming my classmates into horrible text adventures. Thanks to the relative simplicity of the Lua language, finding the bits I wanted to change was simple.

And if I wanted to change more? There’s a visual sprite editor. There’s a sound editor. There’s a map editor. Each of these just a screen tap away, easy-peasy.

Celeste’s creators didn’t ask for this.

It’s not only an entertaining way to play tiny indie games, it lays down the basic fundamentals of coding in an easy-to-understand manner as well. Players are encourage to tweak these games and make them their own.

Or change gravity and cheat.

There are hundreds of games out there for PICO-8, all ready to be torn apart by curious fingers on the pop-button keyboard.

You’ll want a pair of headphones or a tiny external speaker for the PocketCHIP, as it has no external sound built-in (though I’ve seen folks modding internal speakers into it. Once your sound situation is figured out you can fire up the SunVox tracker program and start creating your own electronic music.

Let’s see, what else. The PocketCHIP launches into a desktop screen giving the hopeful tiny PC hobbyist things to do instead of simply staring at it and nodding appreciatively.

Write documents, muck about in terminal. Install a media player and listen to music. Go back in time and connect to a Telnet BBS to play some Legend of the Red Dragon. Man, if I’d had one of these during my BBS days I would have had even less of a social life than I did, and that’s saying something.

The PocketCHIP is a lovely little device that showcases the potential of the $9 computer in ways that folks like me can understand and build upon. Here are some of the cool things people can do. It’s an easier-to-reach starting point. From here you can learn and fiddle until you’re ready to yank the CHIP out and go to town.

Or you could just hang out with me at the starting point. It’s quite lovely here.

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This Is How A Formula One Driver Sees The Track

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This Is How A Formula One Driver Sees The Track
GIF via YouTube

Everyone knows Formula One drivers have some of the fastest reaction times on the planet, but how does that affect how they see the track? To find out, Sky Sports put a pair of Tobii eye-tracking glasses on Force India driver Nico Hülkenberg to see what he focuses on, and for how long.

While the eyes have a very narrow point of focus, the brain is very good about processing everything around that point of focus and filling in the gaps. It’s the same reason why the rev counter is a big set of lights on the steering wheel, right in front of the driver’s face. Being in the driver’s peripheral vision makes it easy for them to see without having to really look for it and avert their focus from the road.

It’s unreal just how fast some of Hülkenberg’s eye reactions are, with some reactions under 100 milliseconds. Some items, such as apexes, demand a bit more of Nico’s focus. It’s a fascinating look into the eye motions F1 drivers make without even thinking.

[H/T Autoblog]

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Regenerative tooth fillings could put an end to root canals

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You really don’t want a root canal, and not just because it’s potentially painful. Emptying the tooth of the infected tissue at its heart potentially weakens it, since you can’t grow that organic material back or put toxic fillings in its place. Researchers may have a solution, though. They’ve crafted fillings that get the tooth’s own stem cells to regenerate and repair tissue. This doesn’t mean that your pearly whites would return to normal, but the substance could heal the tooth enough to spare you a root canal or prevent fillings from going south.

You’re not going to have this option for a while, but it’s designed to be practical. You can cure the filling with light, so your dentist wouldn’t have to resort to exotic techniques to rescue your teeth. And importantly, it might be less expensive overall — you might not need a cap or crown to reduce the chances that the tooth will break after the surgery.

Via: Popular Science, Gizmodo

Source: University of Nottingham

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Drink Honey Lemon Water Every Morning – Amazing Benefits For A Whole Life

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honey lemon water

If you’re like most people, you probably want to take better care of yourself but can’t always find the time. With long working hours, a busy commute and taking care of a house and kids, taking care of yourself often takes a back seat to other business. The good news is, though, that there are quick and easy ways to improve your health even if you don’t have a lot of time to do it.

Drinking honey lemon water every day can provide the following health benefits:

1. It is Great for the Skin

Looking for a flawless complexion? The honey lemon water beverage is one of the best available to help achieve this naturally – without any cosmetics! The Vitamin C in the lemons is needed by the body to build collagen, an important connective tissue which keeps the skin firm and young-looking. Honey has many compounds that help to moisturize the skin from within. The result is a healthy, youthful complexion.

2. It Helps with Digestion

Digestive problems like bloating, gas, heartburn and constipation are a chronic problem for many people and can seriously alter your quality of life. One of the simplest ways to help improve these digestive complaints is to simply drink the honey-lemon water every day: the lemons are rich in pectin and act as a sort of scrubber in the intestines, encouraging bowel movements to help rid the body of wastes and making the whole digestion process more efficient.

3. It Boosts Your Heart Health

Heart disease is a leading killer worldwide – and a major threat to human health. But the honey lemon water can also help to reduce your chances of developing this serious condition. Lemons and honey are both rich in potassium, which has been shown to lower blood pressure levels, a major risk factor for heart attacks. Also, its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties help to protect the heart muscles from inflammation and other forms of stress.

4. It Aids in Weight Loss

Extra pounds can be hard to shed once you’ve put them on. If you are looking for a natural way to lose weight, this drink just might be the best drink for you. The water and the fiber-rich lemons will put a damper on your appetite, making it easier to eat less without feeling hungry. Also, the citric acid in lemons is an important part of the Krebs cycle, the means by which the body converts food into energy, and make the process more efficient.

5. It Reduces the Risk of Chronic Disease

A lot of research has been done in recent years on the link between acidity in the body and the development of chronic diseases, including not only heart disease but diabetes, joint problems and even some forms of cancer. Lemons can help to lower the body’s pH and make it more alkaline: even though they are acidic themselves, their high mineral content helps them to counter-act acidity in the body itself.

6. It Strengthens the Immune System

Lack of sleep, stress, a bad dietary choices can easily wreak havoc on your immune system, causing you to go from one cold and flu to another.  The good news is that you can help repair this damage by choosing this beverage daily. The vitamin C in the lemons and the wealth of minerals in the honey can help to strengthen immunity and make it easier for your body to fight off the bacteria, viruses and other germs that can make you sick. Honey also has natural antimicrobial properties to keep you healthy.

7. It Reduces the Risk of Urinary Tract Infections

Urinary tract infections are painful and can even be very dangerous if they are severe. For women especially, the problem can become a chronic one and some unlucky gals will have to go through one round of antibiotics after another to get the problem cleared up. Lemon honey water offers a natural solution to this if it is used regularly: honey has natural antibacterial properties, while the lemon juice can acidify the urine slightly and make it more difficult for bacteria to grow in the urinary tract.

8. It Detoxifies the Body

In the air we breathe, the beverages we drink and the food we eat, we are exposed to a wide variety of chemicals and toxins. While our body has its own natural defenses against these threats, it is also a good idea to give those defenses a natural boost. Lemon and honey can help to do this since lemon increases liver function to help detoxify the body and honey, again, has natural antimicrobial and antiseptic properties.

How to Make Honey Lemon Water Right at Home

One of the most attractive things about honey lemon water is that it is really simple to make! Simply add the juice from one-half of a lemon and 1 teaspoon of honey to a glass of warm water, stir it together and drink. It is most effective if drunk in morning before breakfast.

In short, there are simple things you can do to improve your health even on a busy schedule. One of these is drinking a glass of lemon honey water on a regular basis to begin reaping the many benefits listed above.

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