Friday, September 30, 2022

BIG Wrap

Russia to formally annex four more areas of Ukraine

Russia's Vladimir Putin will hold a signing ceremony on Friday to annex four more areas of Ukraine after referendums condemned by Ukraine and the West as a sham, the BBC reports. Russian-backed officials had earlier claimed the five-day exercise secured almost total popular support. So-called votes were held in Luhansk and Donetsk in the east, and in Zaporizhzhia and Kherson in the south. The Russian president will make a major speech at the Kremlin. A stage has already...

Ian approaches Florida as strong Category 4 hurricane

Hurricane Ian is gaining strength as it nears the Florida coast in the United States' southeast, with sustained winds approaching 250 km/h, the BBC reports. Millions are bracing for life-threatening storm surges, catastrophic winds, and flooding. The Category 4 storm is due to hit near the Tampa Bay region – one of the most vulnerable places in the U.S. for flooding. Theme parks including Disney World, SeaWorld and Busch Gardens in Tampa are closing, while NASA has postponed...

Sabotage to blame for Baltic pipeline leaks, says EU

The EU has said leaks in two major gas pipelines from Russia to Europe were caused by sabotage – but stopped short of directly accusing Russia. European Commission head Ursula von der Leyen said deliberate disruption would meet the "strongest possible response," the BBC reports. The EU has previously accused Russia of using gas supplies as a weapon against the West over its support for Ukraine. But Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov dismissed accusations of sabotage as "predictable,...

Astronomers celebrate images of asteroid impact

The asteroid is flying through space in the grainy black and white video, when suddenly a massive cloud of debris sprays out in front of it, meaning only one thing – impact. Astronomers have hailed this early footage of the first time humanity deliberately smashed a spacecraft into an asteroid, saying it looks like it did a "lot of damage," reports Phys.org. That would be good news, because NASA's Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) impactor struck the...

COVID vaccination affects menstrual cycle, international study indicates

An international study finds some people may experience a slight, temporary change in the length of their monthly menstrual cycle following COVID-19 vaccination. The study, led by Oregon Health & Science University clinician-scientist Alison Edelman, MD, and published today in the journal BMJ Medicine, builds on prior work from the same research team that first identified an association between COVID-19 vaccines and menstrual cycle changes. Their initial research included data from individuals within the United States; this recent study...

Netflix plans to launch video game studio

Netflix is setting up its own video game studio, as it intensifies its efforts to establish itself in the gaming industry. Based in Helsinki, Finland, it will be led by former Zynga and Electronic Arts executive Marko Lastikka, the BBC reports. Netflix has previously purchased small gaming companies, such as Oxenfree developer Night School Studio. But the streaming giant is now going further and creating a studio from scratch. Lastikka is an established figure in gaming, having co-founded...

Smartphones fail to deliver on promise of satisfaction and meaning, study indicates

Smartphone users will be disappointed if they expect their devices and social media to fill their need for purpose and meaning. In fact, it will probably do the opposite, researchers at Baylor and Campbell Universities have found in a recently published study. Christopher M. Pieper, PhD, senior lecturer of sociology at Baylor University, and lead author Justin Nelson, PhD, assistant professor of sociology at Campbell University, partnered to understand the complex relationship between meaning-seeking and...

Super typhoon Noru pummels Philippines

Thousands of people have been evacuated and government offices have been closed as a super typhoon bashes the eastern islands of the Philippines. Typhoon Noru has caused gusts of up to 240 km/h on the main island Luzon, where more than half of the country's 110 million population lives. Forecasters say the storm experienced an "explosive intensification" as it made landfall west of Luzon. The storm could cause landslides, flash flooding, and dangerous storm surges. More than 8,400...

Assessing the threat of Russia using tactical nuclear weapons

Russian President Vladimir Putin has said he is ready to use nuclear weapons to defend Russian territory, raising the fear he might use a small, or "tactical" nuclear weapon in Ukraine. U.S. President Joe Biden has warned that doing so would be the most serious military escalation since World War II, the BBC reports. Tactical nuclear weapons are small nuclear warheads and delivery systems intended for use on the battlefield, or for a limited strike. They are designed...

Jupiter’s cyclones continue to baffle space scientists

A team of space scientists affiliated with multiple institutions in the U.S., working with a colleague from Italy and another from France has used modeling to partially explain the resilience of cyclones circling Jupiter's poles. In their paper published in the journal Nature Astronomy, the group describes how they analyzed images captured by the Juno space probe and used what they learned to create shallow water models that might at least partly explain how the...