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- An exoplanet some 70% the mass of Jupiter and about 1.4 times its size has been discovered by astronomers at India’s Physical Research Laboratory (PRL). The behemoth is 752 light years away from Earth, and has an incredible orbit. The new discovery was revealed by the Indian Space Research Organization on Tuesday in a statement saying the country’s PRL Advanced Radial-velocity Abu-sky Search (PARAS) had measured the movements of the newly-discovered exoplanet between December 2020 and March 2021. The planet, named either HD 82139 or TOI 1789 depending on which cataloguing method is used, is ultra-hot – with a surface temperature up to 2,000 degrees Kelvin. The exoplanet has an unusually quick orbit – a mere 3.2 days. The pace indicates that its distance from its host star is one-tenth the distance between Mercury and the Sun. This makes the exoplanet one of fewer than 10 such solar systems discovered thus far. Given the closeness to its host star – an aging orb 1.5 times the mass of the Sun – the new planet is also one of the lowest density planets yet discovered.
- The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has involved itself in the development of vaccines and virus surveillance, calling for a global response to the Covid-19 pandemic. The foundation has invested hundreds of millions dollars in the development and distribution of shots.
- The British Museum is facing new calls from Greece to return the Elgin marbles to Athens. The dispute highlights the growing demand for artefacts to be returned to their original countries. The British Museum does actually own the marbles, having bought them from Lord Elgin. How did Lord Elgin come into possession of the Parthenon marbles?
- Taiwan’s president unveiled the country’s combat wing of advanced US-made F-16 fighters in a ceremony on Thursday, showing its new Air Force capabilities against mainland China. The event, held at an air base in the southern Taiwanese city of Chiayi, saw the island commission the first combat wing of F-16 fighters, developed with US support. The F-16 upgrades, costing T$110 billion (USD$3.95 billion), have been jointly completed by American manufacturer Lockheed Martin Corp and Taiwan’s Aerospace Industrial Development Corp.
- Instagram is looking to channel the anger of its users by introducing a new feature that allows them to report various problems with the app by shaking their phones. “Have you ever used Instagram and it wasn’t working like it was supposed to? It was just really getting you… really just pissing you off?” Instagram’s head Adam Mosseri asked his followers in a clip uploaded to Twitter on Wednesday. Well, precisely for infuriating situations like that, the platform has developed a feature it’s calling “rage shake,” he announced.
- France’s best-known book of words, Le Petit Robert dictionary, has caused a stir by including the non-binary personal pronoun as an alternative to the existing masculine and feminine terms. The word “iel,” a neologism combining the French words for he and she (“il” and “elle”), is described as the personal pronoun for a person of any gender. “Personal pronoun subject to the third person singular and plural, used to evoke a person of any gender. The use of the pronominal in inclusive communication,” the dictionary’s entry reads.
- A Moscow court has fined Russian newspaper Novaya Gazeta and its editor-in-chief Dmitry Muratov for breaking the country’s foreign agent laws, which require publications to note when a designated foreign agent is referenced. The penalty comes just a month after Muratov was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in Sweden for “efforts to safeguard freedom of expression.” According to Russia’s foreign-agent legislation, passed in 2012, organizations are obliged to mark all their media with a disclosure noting that the statement comes from a foreign agent. Furthermore, whenever any publication refers to a party with the designation, it must also be noted.
- The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has posted a notice on its website, saying the agency suspended implementation and enforcement of the vaccine mandate for employers with 100 or more workers. The OSHA argued that it “remains confident in its authority to protect workers in emergencies” but noted that the US Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit ordered the administration to halt enforcement of Biden’s mandate until a further ruling is made.
- For the past four years, a group of batik makers have shifted from using chemical materials for colouring to mangrove-based products, cutting costs and helping the environment. “We use natural materials so as to preserve the mangrove forest at the same time. We do not cut down the trees and we only take fruits or leaves that have fallen.” Batik is a traditional Indonesian dying used in patterns and drawings, typically on fabric and finished textiles. Mangroves play an important role for Indonesia’s natural environment, serving as barriers against tsunamis and providing important ecosystems for fish and crabs. They are also a more effective absorber of carbon dioxide emissions compared with rainforests or peatlands.
- Kathmandu – Chhath is a four-day-long festival starting formally on the fourth day of the new moon until the sunrise on the seventh day. In preparations for the festival, ponds, riverbanks and temples are being cleaned and decorated with lights and colours in Siddharthnagar, Rohini, Dhakdhai, Om Satiya, Marchwari, Mayadevi and other local levels of Rupandehi district. Chhath Puja is the main festival of Bhojpuri and Maithili speaking Hindus living in the Tarai-Madhesh region of the country. The first day of the festival is called nahakhay when devotees take a holy bath in rivers and ponds and eat vegetarian food to purify themselves. On the second day, known as kharna, devotees eat rasiyaoroti–a type of wheat-based bread and rice pudding cooked with jaggery. On the third day, known as Sanjhiya Ghat, devotees fast throughout the day and go to the nearest Chhath Ghat to worship the setting sun. The festival ends with the next morning’s sunrise on the fourth day known as Saberiya Ghat. Chhathi Mai, the deity of the festival, is worshipped with fruits, vegetables and confectionery especially thekuwa, wheat flour biscuits.
- On October 19, 2017, astronomers made the first-ever detection of an interstellar object (ISO) passing through our solar system. Designated 1I/2017 U1 ′Oumuamua, this object confounded astronomers who could not determine if it was an interstellar comet or an asteroid. After four years and many theories (including the controversial “ET solar sail” hypothesis), the astronomical community appeared to land on an explanation that satisfied all the observations. The “nitrogen iceberg” theory stated that “Oumuamua was likely debris from a Pluto-like planet in another stellar system. In their latest study, titled “The Mass Budget Necessary to Explain “Oumuamua as a Nitrogen Iceberg,” Amir Siraj and Prof. Avi Loeb (who proposed the ET solar sail hypothesis) offered an official counter-argument to this theory. According to their new paper, there is an extreme shortage of exo-Plutos in the galaxy to explain the detection of a nitrogen iceberg. In the paper where he broached the possibility, Loeb indicated that “Oumuamua’s unusual character and behavior were consistent with a solar sail. This included the highly-reflective nature of the object and its profile, which appeared to be either cigar-shaped or pancake-like. More importantly, its sudden acceleration and deviation from its expected orbit appeared to be the result of radiation pressure, which is precisely how solar sails achieve propulsion.
- The FDA has asked a federal judge to make the public wait until the year 2076 to disclose all of the data and information it relied upon to license Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine. That is not a typo. It wants 55 years to produce this information to the public. The FDA asked the judge to let it produce the 329,000+ pages of documents Pfizer provided to the FDA to license its vaccine at the rate of 500 pages per month, which means its production would not be completed earlier than 2076. So, let’s get this straight. The federal government shields Pfizer from liability. Gives it billions of dollars. Makes Americans take its product. But won’t let you see the data supporting its product’s safety and efficacy. Who does the government work for?
- Lava continues to erupt from a single vent in the western wall of Halemaʻumaʻu crater, while the eastern edge of the lake continues to advance onto the lowest of the exposed down-dropped caldera floor blocks. The western end of the lake showed a maximum elevation of approximately 803.5 meters (2637 ft) above sea level by HVO’s permanent laser rangefinder this morning, and a total increase of about 60 meters (197 ft) since lava emerged on September 29. Webcams show spatter and ponded lava within the west vent, an area of active lava at the surface of the lava lake, and sporadic oozes of lava along the cooler outer lake margins. The total erupted volume since the beginning of the eruption was estimated to be about 30 million cubic meters (7.8 billion gallons) on November 16.
News Burst 19 November 2021