Yes, you read the title right 😉
Scientists have recently discovered microbes in Antarctica that survive on nothing but “atmospheric energy”. Teams of scientists from New Zealand and Australia were conducting experiments in East Antarctica, which is ice-free, to find how organisms survive in that region. That’s when they discovered two new types of bacteria living in the soil; WPS2 and AD3, which were not only living but abundant in that area of the South Pole. After conducting genomics on the two species, these scientists found that the bacteria actually derived all of their energy and carbon (the only nutrient they need) directly from the air in the form of free hydrogen, carbon monoxide, and carbon dioxide molecules. Not only is this discovery revolutionary to understanding how bacteria survive in extreme environments, but it has opened new doors for research into alien life. These life forms, now known as extremophiles, have shown scientists that not only can life exist in harsh conditions — but it can thrive. After analyzing the environments of species of extremophiles, scientists have discovered that these environments are actually quite similar and comparable to some moons and other planets in our solar system. So, finding extraterrestrial life might be just a hop, skip, and a step away.
Until next time 🙂
We’re going digital today to talk about something that a lot of you may not know heavily affects your everyday use of the internet — net neutrality, the principle that internet service providers must treat all data on the internet the same, and not discriminate or charge differently by user, content, website, platform, application, type of attached equipment, or method of communication. In essence, data discrimination — not allowed. So what’s going on with net neutrality? The FCC, or the Federal Communications Commission, is planning to end net neutrality for good. Net neutrality was started under the Obama administration when FCC chairman Tom Wheeler approved the first net neutrality regulations in June of 2014. Soon, however, these rules were expanded, and a new set of net neutrality rules were adopted in early 2015 (still under the Obama administration). However, things started to spiral downward for net neutrality in 2016, when Donald Trump was elected U.S. president. Trump was against net neutrality from the start, calling it a “power grab”, and was quick to appoint an anti-net neutrality FCC chairman, Ajit Pai. Right off the bat, Pai made it clear that his intentions were to repeal net neutrality.
All of these events lead up to what is currently going with net neutrality and the FCC. It is highly likely that the FCC will vote to repeal net neutrality within the next few weeks, and it may have catastrophic repercussions. Internet service providers (ISPs) will be able to provide “fast lanes” for websites that are willing to pay more to these companies and smaller companies will be regulated to the “slow lanes”. Consumer rates will inevitably go up, leaving no one but the internet service providers themselves happy. Some experts who have done studies on net neutrality and what it entails are comparing the repercussions of its end to what cable companies currently do with television channels, “bundling” together channels and demanding more money from consumers for other “bundles”. Of course, internet service providers claim otherwise, but the truth is, we can’t know exactly what to expect. Net neutrality has a big impact on the all of our lives, and once taken away, it leaves us at the mercy of the ISPs.
Until next week 🙂
This week we’re going international again to talk about what’s going on right now in Spain in one of their most prosperous territories, Catalonia. This week, Catalonia was self-proclaimed as a republic, no longer under the Spanish constitution; however, this bid for Catalan independence by ousted leader Carles Puigdemont was blocked by the Spanish government. But before we get ahead of ourselves, let’s look at some background. Catalonia is not a province of Spain — it is a territory, meaning that it has its own parliament, but still must recognize the Spanish constitution. Catalonia is one of Spain’s largest and most popular regions, as Barcelona is part of Catalonia. The citizens of Catalonia have always felt that they should be an independent republic from Spain, and after years of Catalan “ill-feeling”, members of the Catalan parliament voted to transfer legal power from Spain, meaning that Catalonia no longer recognizes the Spanish constitution. In response, the Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy declared the Catalan independence as a “criminal act”, and a warrant was sent out for Catalan president Carles Puigdemont’s arrest. Puigdemont left to Brussels after this week’s events, seeking “freedom and safety”, and has refused to return to Spain unless he is guaranteed a fair trial. However, the paperwork for the arrests have been sent to Belgian prosecutors, who have a maximum of 60 days to return the suspects after the arrest is cleared (if it is cleared at all). Meanwhile, in Catalonia, many separatists are calling for demonstrations to “defend the republic” and hopefully secure its independence.
Until next time 🙂
On October 1st, 2017, the worst mass shooting in the modern history of the United States of America occurred on the Las Vegas strip in Nevada. Between 10:05 pm and 10:15 pm, at least 489 people were injured and 58 killed by Stephen Paddock, who was found dead with 23 firearms in his hotel room on the 32nd floor where he perpetrated the attack. The Route 91 Harvest music festival was going on at the strip, diagonally below the Mandalay Bay Hotel, where Paddock opened fire. Paddock’s motive for the attack has not yet been confirmed, but many analysts are still wondering, how did this happen? How did a 64-year-old man walk into a hotel with 23 semi-automatic weapons, put up a do-not-disturb sign on his door, and fire at a rate of 9 bullets per second completely undetected? From a handwritten note found in Paddock’s room, according to CNN, the attack was completely planned out before, with written out calculations “pertaining to the distance and trajectory from his 32nd-floor window to the crowd of concertgoers he targeted below”. While searching for motives, the police have discovered that Paddock was a retired man, living off real estate investments. He was also a gambler who bet “big money” at casinos, running almost 100,000 dollars an hour through video poker, and was considered a “high roller” by many. According to his brother, Eric Paddock, Stephen took over the entire top floor of the Atlantis casino while gambling in Reno. Whether the police have been able to find a motive through his gambling addiction is unclear, but the police will continue to investigate to find one.
Meanwhile, many are still trying to recover from the events. The concertgoers may have been the ones targeted, but many have been greatly affected. Families are mourning the loss of their loved ones and the entire city of Las Vegas is struggling to get back on its feet after last week’s events. However, we are not helpless during this tragedy. Clark County Commission Chair Steve Sisolak has set up a gofundme campaign to help pay for the healthcare costs of all those affected, and over 10 million dollars have been donated already at https://www.gofundme.com/dr2ks2-las-vegas-victims-fund. Not only that but the United Blood Services and the American Red Cross are in desperate need of blood donations, which can be donated at your local blood donation center. To find more information, head to www.redcrossblood.org. And for the time being, we can all send our prayers to those in Las Vegas.
Until next week,