LONDON (Reuters) – Scientists are a step closer to finding the first effective treatments for the deadly Ebola hemorrhagic fever after two potential drugs showed survival rate of as much as 90 percent in a clinical trial in Congo. Two experimental drugs – Regeneron s (REGN.O) REGN-EB3 and a monoclonal antibody called mAb114 – were both developed using antibodies harvested from survivors of Ebola infection. The treatments are now going to be offered to all patients in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), according to U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. They showed “clearly better” results in patients in a trial of four potential treatments being conducted during the world s second largest Ebola outbreak in history, now entering its second year in DRC. The drugs improved survival rates from the disease more than two other treatments being tested – ZMapp, made by Mapp Biopharmaceutical, and Remdesivir, made by Gilead Sciences (GILD.O) – and those products will be now dropped, said Anthony Fauci, one of the researchers co-leading the trial. The agency said 49 percent of the patients on ZMapp and 53 percent on remdesivir died in the study. In comparison, 29 percent of the patients on REGN-EB3 and 34 percent on mAb-114 died. Fauci, director of the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told reporters in a telebriefing the results were “very good news” for the fight against Ebola. “What this means is that we do now have what look like (two) treatments for a disease for which not long ago we really had no approach at all,” he said. The agency said of the patients who were brought into treatment centers with low levels of virus detected in their blood, 94 percent who got REGN-EB3 and 89 percent on mAb114 survived. In comparison, two-third of the patients who got remdesivir and nearly three-fourth on ZMapp survived. Ebola has been spreading in eastern Congo since August 2018 in an outbreak that has now become the second largest, killing at least 1,800 people. Efforts to control it have been hampered by militia violence and some local resistance to outside help. A vast Ebola outbreak in West Africa become the world s largest ever when it spread through Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone from 2013 to 2016 and killed more than 11,300 people. The Congo treatment trial, which began in November last year, is being carried out by an international research group coordinated by the World Health Organization (WHO). Mike Ryan, head of the WHO s emergencies program, said the trial s positive findings were encouraging but would not be enough on their own to bring the epidemic to an end. “The news today is fantastic. It gives us a new tool in our toolbox against Ebola, but it will not in itself stop Ebola,” he told reporters. Jeremy Farrar, director of the Wellcome Trust global health charity, also hailed the success of the trial s findings, saying they would “undoubtedly save lives”. “The more we learn about these two treatments, …the closer we can get to turning Ebola from a terrifying disease to one that is preventable and treatable,” he said in a statement. “We won t ever get rid of Ebola but we should be able to stop these outbreaks from turning into major national and regional epidemics.” Some 681 patients at four separate treatment centers in Congo have already been enrolled in the Congo treatment clinical trial, Fauci said. The study aims to enroll a total of 725. The decision to drop two of the trial drugs was based on data from almost 500 patients, he said, which showed that those who got REGN-EB3 or mAb114 “had a greater chance of survival compared to those participants in the other two arms”. Reporting by Kate Kelland, additional reporting by Ankur Banerjee and Manojna Maddipatla ; Editing by Deepa Babington, Mark Heinrich and Arun Koyyur Image: FILE PHOTO: A health worker fills a syringe with Ebola vaccine before injecting it to a patient, in Goma, Democratic Republic of Congo, August 5, 2019. REUTERS/Baz Ratner
The Perseid meteor shower is as regular as clockwork. It peaks August 12, same as last year. This time we can expect to see twice as many shooting stars, perhaps even a "double peak." But there s loads we don t know. You could almost set your watch by it. The Perseid meteor shower is an annual event, about as regular as Christmas. The precise dates can vary depending on the relative positions of the Earth and the sun or if it s a leap year, but it s reliable. So we re as certain as science that the Perseid meteor shower peaks on August 12, and for more than a week we can expect to see spectacular things like bright lights and shooting stars in the northern night sky. These shooting stars, as magical as they may appear to be, are caused when the Earth passes through a stream of dust and rocks - meteoroids - left behind by the comet Swift-Tuttle as it orbits the sun. When you see a shooting star, you re seeing a meteoroid clash with the Earth s atmosphere and then burning up. This causes a short-lived trail of light called a meteor. The lucky ones survive our atmosphere and land to become meteorites. It fascinates us year in, year out. "The Perseids have a large number of bright meteors, many of which leave persistent trains," says Dr John Mason of the British Astronomical Association, "and people like to watch it on a warm summer s evening." This year we may even witness a "double peak." "The Earth is expected to pass through a number of dense filaments from the comet the night before the usual maximum. So we should get a short-lived outburst from late evening on August 11 to dawn on Friday , and then the main maximum the following night, Friday night into Saturday morning," says Mason. It s also predicted we will see twice as many shooting stars as usual during the peak. But Detlef Koschny, a member of the European Space Agency s Meteor Research Group and Near-Earth Objects expert, is not convinced. "I m curious to see whether that really turns out to be true," says Koschny. "If you ask: How many there are in absolute terms?… that s a problem." What we know Comet Swift-Tuttle is known formally as 109P/Swift-Tuttle. It was discovered in 1862 and has an orbital period of around 130 years. The last time it flew past the Earth was in 1992. When the comet passes, it lays down dense filaments of dust on its orbit. Each layer holds a wealth of knowledge about the universe. "We learn about the comet itself, about the evolution of dust in the solar system," says Mason. "The dust from comets is important [as] it s some of the most primitive material in the solar system." We know, for instance, that interplanetary dust particles can be rich in sodium. It is even possible to date the dust using computer models. "[They model] the comet as it evolves over thousands of years and work out the precise position of each dust filament laid down every 130 years. And then they look at how the planets perturb those dust particles, and they can work out when we will pass through those particular dust trails," Mason says. Scientists say the comet created the Perseids meteor shower because it appears to originate from the Perseus constellation of stars in the northern sky. The meteor stream is more than a million kilometers across, and the tiny dust grains that make it travel at about 60 kilometers per second. This is why they produce so much energy - they move so fast - and burn so bright when they hit the Earth s atmosphere. Why we need to know more So we know a fair bit about the Perseids, and yet there is more we need to know. First, it s basic science. Meteoroids come from comets, and comets - and other celestial objects like them - are about the closest we ll ever get to the big bang. "If we find traces of organic material in a meteoroid, then we can understand a bit better how life came on Earth," says Koschny. But we also need to understand more about the distribution of dust in the solar system because these tiny objects pose a threat to our spacecraft. "When one of these particles hits a spacecraft, it can generate an electric charge, a little plasma cloud, and that can shortout a satellite," says Koschny. "[Satellites] are very sensitive and not grounded like all the equipment on Earth. So a change in the electrical potential can do damage." Then there s that matter of absolute numbers. It s only been the past five to 10 years that scientists have tried to predict the numbers of particles, to estimate how many shooting stars we see. But it s still very "relative," says Koschny. "A model may predict [...] 200 per hour and then people go out and see 50 per hour, or the other way around," says Koschny. "So that s what everyone is working on now, what we call the flux density." Koschny is currently working on a paper he hopes will provide new answers. And not just so we know how great the annual spectacle will be. "It s very relevant for this impact threat to satellites," he says. "The spacecraft operators want to know whether there s a chance of being hit once a year or once every 10 years." How space-based observation could help Speaking of satellites raises the question why so much observation is done from Earth. If we need to learn more about meteoroids, shouldn t we get to them before they burn up? "For a long time, we ve been trying to get cameras into space that observe meteors too," says Koschny. "Even better would be a camera permanently recording the sky, looking down, say, from a space station. And if I add a spectrograph, an objective grating in front of my camera, I get a spectrum, and I can ascertain the chemical composition of the object, and that tells us what it is made of." All you would need is a "simple" video camera, recording at 25 frames per second to pick up movement, and a two-dimensional sensor. John Mason agrees there are advantages to space-based observation, but he has reservations. "What we can t do from the ground is collect the dust grains and analyze them before they reach the atmosphere, as opposed to observing the luminous trails in the atmosphere from above," says Mason. "But you wouldn t need a camera to do that. There are lots of dust particle detectors that have flown on many other cometary missions, which would do the job very well."
The only hint that something extraordinary lay inside the plain wooden drawer in an unassuming office behind Nairobi National Museum was a handwritten note stuck to the front: “Pull Carefully”. Inside, a monstrous jawbone with colossal fangs grinned from a bed of tattered foam — the only known remains of a prehistoric mega-carnivore, larger than a polar bear, that researchers only this year declared a new species. “This is one-of-a-kind,” said Kenyan paleontologist Job Kibii, holding up the 23-million-year-old bones of the newly-discovered giant, Simbakubwa kutokaafrika, whose unveiling made headlines around the world. But the remarkable fossils were not unearthed this year, or even this decade. They weren t even found this century. For nearly 40 years, the specimens — proof of the existence of Africa s largest-ever predator, a 1,500 kilogram (3,300-pound) meat eater that dwarfed later hunters like lions — lived in a nondescript drawer in downtown Nairobi. Museum staff knew the bones were something special — they just didn t know what exactly. A source of intrigue, dusted off on occasion for guests, Simbakubwa lay in wait, largely forgotten. How did these fossils, first excavated on a dig in western Kenya in the early 1980s, go unrecognised for so long? Kibii — who presides over the National Museums of Kenya s paleontology department, a collection unrivalled in East Africa and one of the world s great fossil treasuries — has a pretty good idea. “We have tonnes and tonnes of specimens… that haven t been analysed,” he told AFP. “Definitely there are things waiting to be discovered.” Out of space The main wing has changed little since legendary paleoanthropologist Louis Leakey first started stockpiling his finds there in the early 1960s. A card-based filing system is still used to find a specific fossil among the trove, the entries written by hand. But the collection has grown exponentially, faster than Kibii and his team can keep up. “We ve run out of space,” said Kibii, pausing between dusty archival shelves crammed floor to ceiling with finds, dating back more than half a century. “In this section alone, we have more than a million specimens.” Gigantic skulls of ancient crocodiles compete for space with a bygone species of horned giraffe. Nearby, the behemoth tusks of an early African elephant take up valuable real estate. Even the windowsills are littered with the petrified remains of all manner of weird and wonderful creatures. Between 7,000 and 10,000 new fossils arrive at the lab every year, Kibii says, overwhelming his 15 staff who must painstakingly clean and log each specimen. By law, fossils uncovered in Kenya must go to the museum for “accessioning” — the process of labelling, recording and storing for future generations. The backlog is enormous. Chipping away In a dark room, a lone staffer in a protective mask blasts away rock from fossil using an air-powered brush, as Kenyan pop tunes crackle through an old radio. Outside the door, metal chests sent from dig sites filled to the brim await his magic touch — literally years of work stretching before him. If a specific expert is not on hand to identify a specimen, things can get wrongly categorised or waylaid. In some cases, they re sent to the dreaded “waiting area”, where faded cardboard boxes, sagging with unknown and abandoned fossils, gather dust. “We have fossils from the 1980s that have not been accessioned,” said collections manager Francis Muchemi, chipping away at a giant elephant molar. Cradle of humanity Simbakubwa met a similar fate. Thought to be a type of hyena, it was filed away in a backroom and unstudied for decades, until stumbled upon by American researchers. Specific finds unearthed at one of Kenya s many digs by researchers writing academic papers are given priority and fast-tracked for assessment by the museum. Even today though, the museum lacks specialists and resources. Kibii is one of just seven paleontologists in Kenya. He trained in South Africa because there was no course available at home. “It s important because Kenya is the cradle of human evolution,” said Muchemi, who learned his skills on the job. “We have very few Kenyans doing this job. Ninety-nine percent of the people who work here are foreign.” Kibii said paleontology was considered a lower priority than conserving Africa s endangered wildlife. “This one has been in the ground for millions of years. What are you saving it from?” he said, of the prevailing attitude to the science. He hopes to acquire collapsable shelves to create space in the collection. Even better, a micro-CT scanner — a powerful tool driving breakthroughs in the world of paleontology — would allow a fresh look at the museum s most-forgotten corners. “I always wonder what lies in there on some of these shelves,” Kibii said. “Simbakubwa is telling a new story. What if, among these thousands, we have 10, 20, new stories that are lying, waiting to be told? That s always the mystery.”
The social network has said it "failed" its users after sharing data with advertisers without permission. The company says it has launched an investigation into who may have been impacted. Twitter said on Tuesday it may have shared user data with advertisers without permission. The social media giant said it found issues "where your settings choices may not have worked as intended." The company said "certain data" of mobile users such as country code may have been shared with advertising partners since May 2018 "even if you didn t give us permission to do so." Twitter also said since September 2018 it may have shown ads "based on inferences" made about users devices, without consent. A statement on the company s website insisted the data in question "stayed within Twitter and did not contain passwords or email accounts." The issues were "fixed on August 5" and Twitter says it is conducting an investigation into who may have been impacted.
Minister of Environment Yasmine Fouad announced that the Ministry is currently implementing a huge project aimed at reducing Egypt s pollution, achieving cleaner production through the use of agricultural and municipal waste as an alternate fuel for industrial purposes or through energy efficiency projects. The Ministry plans to focus on the Nile River and air pollution, she said. The project is funded by the European Investment Bank, the French Agency, the European Union and the KfW, provided that the National Bank of Egypt will bear the burden of repaying all loans, she added. The Minister expects that the project will pay off next year, and benefit large, medium, and small industrial facilities within the private and public sectors. The budget, allocated by donors from international organizations working in Egypt in 2019/2020 in coordination with the United Nations Development Program is expected to reach about US$56.6 million, with an increase of about $23 million from last year equal to about 68 percent. Yasmine pointed out that the expected results for this project are to adjust the conditions of industrial establishments and reduce pollution load by more than 75 percent, besides increasing the size of environmental financing programs, and providing soft financing packages for industries.
The reddish-yellow color observed in the sky on Monday is a phenomenon that occurred in some countries of North Africa (including Egypt) and parts of Saudi Arabia, Chairman of the Egyptian Meteorological Authority Ahmed Abdelaal said. During a telephone call with hosts Ahmed Khairy and Maha Bahansawi on TEN TV channel, Abdelaal explained that the phenomenon occurred because of impurities in the upper atmosphere that led to the reflection of sunlight, causing the sky to appear red. Abdelaal added that the phenomenon rarely occurs, and that this was the first time it occurred in Egypt. It is a natural phenomenon that poses no risks, he pointed out. The remarkable change in the sky color at sunset sparked controversy on social networking websites, with many users taking pictures of the sky at sunset, wondering about an explanation for the unusual color.
The Grand Egyptian Museum was swarmed with 30 local and international channels and 20 video cameras from press correspondents as they filmed the restoration work for the golden-plated coffin of Tutankhamun, the first since its discovery 1922. Archaeologists had transferred the coffin from tomb #62 in Luxor s Valley of the Kings to the museum in July 2018, in preparation to display the coffin and Tutankhamun s treasures in the Grand Egyptian Museum. General Director of Archaeological Affairs at the Grand Egyptian Museum al-Tayeb Abass told state-run Middle East News Agency (MENA) on Sunday that the three golden coffins of Tutankhamun and the treasured collection of Tutankhamun s tomb will be displayed in the Grand Egyptian Museum once it opens in 2020. The Director General of the Preliminary Restoration and Antiquities Transfer at the Grand Egyptian Museum Issa Zidan pointed out that the maintenance and restoration works of the coffin will continue for eight months as the coffin suffered from various types of damage in the layers of gilded plasters, and general weakness in gilding layers. In addition to Tutankhamun s coffin, the Grand Museum received 181 artifacts from the Tahrir Museum on Thursday amid high security measures from the Tourism and Antiquities Police, and under the supervision of the General Supervisor of the Grand Museum Project Atef Muftah. Abbas said that these artifacts contained a sandstone statue of King Akhenaten holding a scepter, which dates back to the New Kingdom and was discovered in Luxor s eastern bank.
A Japanese researcher is set to become the first scientist to develop live animals that contain human organs. Hiromitsu Nakauchi plans to insert human stem cells into rats and then transfer the cells into other animals. Experts at the Science Ministry approved a proposal by University of Tokyo researcher Hiromitsu Nakauchi to grow human stem cells in mouse, rat and pig embryos and then transplant those cells into another animal, according to Nature magazine. Nakauchi hopes to eventually create animals with complete human organs that could be transferred into a human body. In March, Japan lifted a ban on developing human-animal embryos beyond 14 days or bringing them to term. The ban also forbade scientists from transplanting organs developed in animal embryos to other animals. Human cells have been grown in animal embryos in other countries. However, none of those embryos were brought to term. Genetic distance a problem Bioethicists say the research could have unintended consequences if some of the human cells were transferred to the animal s brain. Nakauchi told Nature, however, that the interventions are designed to only affect the organ that he plans to grow. In 2017, the researcher effectively cured a diabetic mouse by growing a healthy mouse pancreas in a rat embryo before transplanting it into the sick mouse. Mice, rats and pigs are not the best hosts for the development of human organs because of the "genetic distance" between their cells and human cells. Nakauchi hopes that his experiments will help scientists better understand the problem. Japan s Science Ministry is expected to give the project its final approval in August.
Egypt s Minister of Environment Yasmin Fouad met on Tuesday the Governor of South Sinai Khaled Foda to discuss the ministry s plan to develop South Sinai s nature reserves, especially the Blue Hole and Ras Abu Galoum protectorates. Fouad said that the ministry supports the governorate s initiative to transform Sharm el-Sheikh into a sustainable, green, eco-friendly city in cooperation with the United Nations Development Program (UNDP). She also affirmed the ministry s support for the governorate initiative to transform Gharqana village in Napq Protected area into the eco-friendly village. Back in 2018, the projects spearheaded to make Sharm el-Sheikh a green city included waste recycling, the use of environmentally friendly technology for renewable energies, and the reuse of water. The budget for the project was US$5 million provided by UNDP.
For some it s a joke, for others it s as serious as it gets: 1.9 million people have announced on Facebook that they will storm the US military compound Area 51 in Nevada on September 20, 2019. Many are absolutely convinced that the US government is hiding UFOs or aliens there. It was not until 2013 that the American secret service officially confirmed the existence of the military zone Area 51. Local residents and visitors had reported seeing mysterious flying objects at the site and speculated they were UFOs. The US military has been working on new spy planes on the site for decades, which could have been the reason for the mysterious sightings.
Ethiopia has planted more than 350 million trees in a day, officials say, in what they believe is a world record. Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed is leading the project, which aims to counter the effects of deforestation and climate change in the drought-prone country. Some public offices have been shut down to allow civil servants to take part. The UN says Ethiopia s forest coverage declined from 35% of total land in the early 20th Century to a little above 4% in the 2000s. Mr Abiy launched the tree-planting exercise as part of his Green Legacy Initiative, which is taking place in 1,000 sites across the country. Officials were assigned to count the seedlings being planted by volunteers, reports BBC s Kalkidan Yibeltal in the capital, Addis Ababa. Ethiopia s Minister of Innovation and Technology Getahun Mekuria tweeted that more than 350 million trees were planted in 12 hours: The aim is to plant a total of four billion indigenous trees. Promotional videos have run on state media urging the public to plant and care for trees, our reporter says. Staff from the United Nations, African Union and foreign embassies in Ethiopia have also been taking part in the exercise. The current World Record for planting trees in a single day is held by India, which used 800,000 volunteers to plant more than 50 million trees in 2016. Critics of Mr Abiy say he is using the campaign to distract the public from the challenges his government is facing, including ethnic conflicts which have forced some 2.5 million people from their homes.
Nordic countries are experiencing searing temperatures as Europe s record-breaking heatwave moves north, with Norway on Saturday equaling its 1970 record, and many areas recording “tropical nights”. Laksfors in northern Norway on Saturday recorded a temperature of 35.6 degrees Celsius (96 degrees Fahrenheit), equaling the national record set in Nesbyen in 1970, the country s meteorology service said on Twitter, adding however that the Meteorological Institute needed to “double check” that the measuring station was operating properly. The Norwegian Meteorological Institute also said it had recorded “tropical nights” in 20 different locations in southern Norway, meaning that temperatures stayed above 20 degrees throughout the night. The tropical heat was also felt around other parts of the Nordics and in neighboring Sweden, with most extreme heat in the country s far north. On Friday the small town of Markusvinsa in the far north recorded a temperature of 34.8 degrees Celsius. “That s the hottest temperature in the far north since 1945 and the third highest temperature on record,” Jon Jorpeland, meteorologist at the Swedish Meteorological and Hydrological Institute (SMHI), told AFP. Earlier in the week several places in Sweden also experienced “tropical nights”. According to Jorpeland, temperatures in the south of Sweden haven t been as extreme and it s not unusual that the mercury reaches 30 degrees a few days a year in the country, even though current temperatures are above average. SMHI has also issued warnings of potential water shortages in August in 15 of the country s 21 counties. Heat warnings have been issued in Sweden, Norway and Finland and earlier this week Finnish police even warned motorists to be mindful of moose, who were increasingly crossing roads in search of water to quench their thirst. The World Meteorological Organization on Thursday said forecasts indicated that atmospheric flows would transport the heat from Europe to Greenland “resulting in high temperatures and consequently enhanced melting”. Current predictions indicate the resulting melting of ice could approach the record losses recorded in 2012, the organization said, citing scientists from the Danish Meteorological Institute.
A long time ago, a galaxy not so far away merged with our own in a massive cosmic collision, scientists have discovered. The Milky Way s mass grew by over a quarter after the crash, speeding-up the formation of stars. Around 10 billion years ago, the Milky Way merged with a galaxy one quarter of its mass in a major cosmic crash, according to new research published in the journal Nature Astronomy on Monday. The results help solve a major piece of the puzzle behind the birth of our galaxy. Previous studies had shown that the Milky Way contained two different sets of stars, but the timeline of the collision remained unclear. The crash between the Milky Way and a dwarf galaxy dubbed Gaia-Enceladus not only expanded the size of our galaxy, but also sped up the formation of stars in a period lasting between 2 to 4 billion years. "Yes, indeed it was a pivotal moment," astronomer Carme Gallart, the lead author of the study, told Reuters news agency. Slow-moving crash A team of researchers at the Instituto de Astrofisica de Canarias (IAC) used data gathered by the Gaia space telescope to determine the position, brightness and distance of stars located 6,500 light years away from our sun. The information helped them identify stars that were present before the merger and those that formed afterwards. Although the merger between the galaxies was dramatic and helped shape the Milky Way, researchers said it did not cause massive, star-destroying damage and took place over a long period of time. "This crash was big in cosmic terms, but if it was happening now, we could probably not even notice at a human or solar system level," Gallart said. She explained that the distance between the stars in a galaxy is so large, that they don t often collide with each other or impact the planetary systems attached to them. The spiral-shaped Milky Way includes 100 to 400 billion stars, including our sun which formed 4.5 billion years ago — far after the merger with the smaller galaxy.
Trains were slowed down and holidaymakers flocked to swimming pools, beaches and lakes in western Europe on Wednesday as another heatwave set new temperature records. A host of French cities saw their highest levels since records began on Tuesday, with wine capital Bordeaux recording 41.2 degrees Celsius (106.16 Fahrenheit), beating the previous high of 40.7C registered in August 2003, weather service Meteo-France said. Forecasters predicted new temperature highs in neighboring countries Belgium, Luxembourg, Germany and the Netherlands, where the mercury could beat the previous record of 38.6 degrees Celsius on Wednesday, according to the Dutch weather office. Many Dutch farmers are leaving their cows outside to sleep, rather than bringing them in at night, while some kindergartens have closed their doors because of the risks for young children. Britain s Met Office has said there is a chance that the UK temperature record of 38.5 degrees Celsius, which was recorded in Faversham, Kent, in August 2004, will also be exceeded on Thursday at the peak of the heat. The operator of the British rail network, Network Rail, said it was slowing down trains in response to the extreme weather, which comes only weeks after another record-breaking heatwave in Europe in June. “Extreme heat can cause overhead wires to sag and become damaged by fast trains. We slow down services to keep passengers safe when this happens,” the company said on Twitter. Across the area affected by the unusually high heat, stretching from France up to Norway in the north, people sought out ways to cool off in lakes and rivers, leading to an increase in drowning incidents. In London, police were searching for three people who have gone missing in the River Thames while swimming. Animal ice-cream France s weather office said the scorching conditions “require particular care, notably for vulnerable or exposed people” with almost the entire country under an orange-level weather alert, the second highest level. Local authorities have placed restrictions on water usage in many areas due to drought-like conditions that have seen ground and river water levels fall dramatically. “At the moment, it s tricky but under control, but we need to be very vigilant,” junior environment minister Emmanuelle Wargon said of national water levels on Tuesday, calling on people to show “civic responsibility” to avoid wastage. Water restrictions are in place in 73 out of 96 departments in mainland France, with the worst affected areas in the Loire area of central France, as well as the south west and the south east. While the heat spelt misery for some in sweaty homes and offices, it was a boon for millions of holidaymakers at the beach for their summer holidays, as well as ice-cream makers who are enjoying a stellar summer for sales. Animals in zoos in many countries are being fed food caked in ice or even frozen blood to keep them cool. Lions at the Fitilieu wildlife park in western France have been given chicken sorbet. Climate change The second heatwave in two months has amplified concerns in Europe that human activity is heating the planet at a dangerous rate. The June 26-28 heatwave in France was four degrees Celsius (7.2 Fahrenheit) hotter than an equally rare June heatwave would have been in 1900, the World Weather Attribution (WWA) team said this month. One study by the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology said the deadly, weeks-long heatwave across northern Europe in 2018 would have been statistically impossible without climate change. Swedish teenage climate activist Greta Thunberg, who has highlighted the problem of global warming through school strikes, told MPs at French parliament of dire consequences if “business as usual” continued until 2030. “We will likely be in a position where we may pass a number of tipping points and we will be unable to undo the irreversible breakdown,” she said on Tuesday during a visit to the French parliament. Many conservative figures on the French right have criticized the invitation, dismissing her as a “prophetess in shorts” and the “Justin Bieber of ecology” and refused to attend the speech.
After breakups, many people would consider focusing on their life paths, focus on the things that they want to develop in their personalities, or seek moving on; yet the music remains a main supporting key for the people to keep going, according to a survey by global music streaming service, Deezer. The survey said 78% of participants admitted that songs they listen to help them overcome heartbreaks. It included 2,000 people in Egypt, and 8,000 others across Saudi Arabia, Brazil, Germany, France, and the USA to prove similarities among users across the world.
India s space agency has launched its second lunar mission, a week after an earlier effort had to be called off. Scientists hope to make a soft landing on the moon s unexplored south pole. A rocket carrrying the the Chandrayaan-2 "Moon Vehicle" spacecraft blasted off for the moon at 2.43 p.m. local time (0913 UTC) on Monday. The Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) rescheduled the launch after a "technical snag," believed refer to a helium leak, a week earlier. India s aim is to become the fourth country after the US, Russia and China, to land a spacecraft on the moon. Scientists at mission control center burst into applause as the rocket lifted off into clear skies. Aboard the rocket is an orbiter that will circle the moon for about a year taking surface images, and a landing vessel carrying a lunar rover named Vikram. Blast-off from the island of Sriharikota, some 60 kilometers (37 miles) north of the southern city of Chennai, appeared to go without a hitch this time around. "Every Indian is immensely proud today!," tweeted Prime Minister Narendra Modi. "Special moments that will be etched in the annals of our glorious history!" ISRO chief K. Sivan told The Hindu newspaper on Sunday that there was "no chance for any technical fault to arise now." "When the technical fault happened, we stopped the countdown, identified the issue, and rectified it." India s first lunar mission took place in 2008, when an orbiter scanned the surface with radar looking for signs of water. The country also aims to land a probe on Mars, having already become only the fourth nation to put a satellite into orbit around the planet.
US, Italian and Russian astronauts are set to blast off into space Saturday in a launch coinciding with the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing. Alexander Skvortsov of the Russian space agency Roscosmos, NASA s Andrew Morgan and Luca Parmitano of the European Space Agency will travel to the International Space Station at 1628 GMT from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. The July 20 blast off comes on the same date that NASA s Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin landed on the moon in 1969, marking a defining moment in the so-called “space race” with the Soviet Union. Of the trio launching from the Kazakh steppe, only 53-year-old Skvortsov was alive at the time of the Moon landing. A veteran of two ISS missions, Skvortsov will be the flight commander for the six-hour journey from Baikonur to the ISS. Morgan, 43, is flying for the first time. Parmitano s only previous stint at the ISS lasted 166 days and saw him become the first Italian to carry out a spacewalk. Lucky and privileged Speaking at a pre-launch news conference in Baikonur, Parmitano, 42, said the crew were “lucky and privileged” to have their launch coincide with the Apollo 11 date, and indicated that they were wearing badges honoring the anniversary. Morgan paid tribute to the Apollo 11 landing as a “victory for all of mankind” but ducked a question on whether Russian cosmonauts would ever reach the Moon — the Soviet Union only ever sent unmanned missions there. NASA was “even more capable” of accomplishing great things when it did so “as part of an international cooperation,” Morgan said. Five decades after the 1969 moon landing, Russia and the West are still competing in space, even if the emphasis is on cooperation at the ISS. NASA no longer operates manned flights to the ISS leaving it wholly dependent on Roscosmos Soyuz program. But in recent times private companies like SpaceX and Boeing have bid to end the Russian monopoly on manned launches to the ISS, winning multi-billion contracts with NASA. President Donald Trump, meanwhile, has set an ambitious deadline to return astronauts to the Moon by 2024. The project — named Artemis — would be the first attempt to send humans to the lunar surface since the last Apollo landing in 1972. Some experts doubt if the deadline is realistic, given budgetary constraints and delays in developing the next-generation rockets and equipment needed for the journey. Skvortsov, Morgan and Parmitano all come from military backgrounds and posed together in uniform in the build up to the launch. Skvortsov joked that “two colonels will be taking orders from a colonel” when Parmitano becomes commander of the space station mid-way through his mission — a reference to the military rank the three share. The International Space Station has been orbiting Earth at about 28,000 kilometres per hour (17,000 miles per hour) since 1998.
Twelve astronauts have been on the moon thus far. And yet these lunar landings are often questioned. But who knows, maybe they re right and nothing is as it seems? No American has ever been to the moon. It s all just fake. The moon landings? Staged in TV studios, where the scenes weren t even properly lit. And then there were the amateur mistakes, such as the waving US flag. Pfffff. As if flags "wave" on the moon. Without an atmosphere. Fake. A political conspiracy by the Americans to show the Soviets, "Look, we got it, you don t. Our men are able to land on the moon, not yours." Earthquake machines and lizard people And while we re at it: In the wilderness of Alaska, a mysterious research facility is said to exist that can cause earthquakes. It s called HAARP, and it s also capable of various weather manipulations to terrorize the world. Enter "HAARP" and "earthquakes" into Google and marvel at the number of hits. Want another one? Here you go: Chemtrails, or the white stripes in the sky that we all think are just harmless contrails. In reality, however, airplanes spray chemicals on behalf of evil governments to change the weather, the climate and to poison us humans. And of course, the earth is flat — and hollow inside. And is actually ruled by lizard men. We all love conspiracy theories Are you laughing now? Or are you slowly getting angry? Such nonsense at DW? OK, then, well you re obviously not very prone to fall for conspiracy theories. Just how many people believe in absurd stories of this kind has not been put into numbers. Nor do we know whether today, in 2019, there are more of these people than before. In any case, crude conspiracy theories have become more visible through the internet and social media, psychologists say. Followers of these ideas feel supported, and they no longer feel they re part of a small minority. But scientific experiments also show that conspiracy theorists enjoy believing the most absurd things in order to belong to a supposedly exclusive, elitist circle of knowledge. Though psychological reasons behind why so many people still believe the moon landing was faked still need to be scientifically examined, the trigger was a strange book by the American Bill Kaysing. It was published in 1976 under the title "We never went to the Moon." And it was a success. Many people believed the absurd theses. Kaysing was not a scientist, technician nor an engineer. He was an author who wrote about agriculture, cooking or saving on tax payments. He came up with make-believe evidence to prove that moon landings actually never occurred. These are four of his most popular theses: 1. The waving flag Conspiracy theorists say: In the footage, the US flag that Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin rammed into the moon s regolith blows in the wind. But that is not possible, because there is no atmosphere on the moon. Science says: The flag did not flap. It only moved when the two astronauts touched it and rammed it into the ground. On Earth, the atmosphere quickly slows down such light oscillations. But on the moon — without atmosphere — the oscillations keep going for much longer. In addition, a cross strut was braced in the flag to give the impression it was blowing. 2. No stars in the photos Conspiracy theorists say: On the moon pictures, no stars are to be seen. So they were created in a studio. Science says: It s true that on the moon — without an atmosphere to disturb things — we have a fantastic view of the starry cosmos. But when the astronauts were on the moon, it was always daytime. One explanation is that the moon s surface, the lander and the astronauts were so brightly illuminated by the sun that the weak light of the stars was not to be seen. 3. The photos were too perfect Conspiracy theorists say: The Hasselblad cameras carried by the astronauts at chest height had no viewfinder. How could the astronauts take so many perfect photos with them? Science says: Not all pictures were perfect. There are numerous blurred images in NASA s archives. Only the most beautiful ones have been published. In addition, the astronauts had time to practice with the Hasselblad cameras on Earth. A special wide-angle lens simplified focusing and allowed larger image sections. 4. The shadows run diagonally Conspiracy theorists say: Some photos show shadows that do not run in parallel to each other. With the sun as the only light source, however, all shadows should run in parallel. But they don t. That s why spotlights must have been involved. Science says: Parallelism is always a matter of perspective. Parallel lines on a three-dimensional surface always appear as if they are converging if they are imaged two-dimensionally. Think of railway tracks. They seem to converge towards the horizon, although they are always guaranteed to be parallel. This is true on earth and also on the moon. Not enough yet? There are other points that moon landing deniers make about dust, radiation or shadows. But there is no reliable evidence to suggest a moon landing conspiracy. So the bottom line is: The moon landings took place, and not even the Soviets questioned it back then. And that meant something in the Cold War era. Also, a total of about 400,000 people worked on the Apollo missions. So there were enough witnesses, and one of them would have mentioned something at some point.
Fifty years after a mighty rocket set off from Florida carrying the first humans to the Moon, a veteran of the Apollo 11 crew returned to its fabled launch pad Tuesday to commemorate “one giant leap” that became a defining moment in human history. “We crew felt the weight of the world on our shoulders, we knew that everyone would be looking at us, friend or foe,” command module pilot Michael Collins said from the Kennedy Space Center. He and lunar module pilot Buzz Aldrin are the two surviving members from the mission that would change the way humanity saw its place in the universe. Their commander Neil Armstrong, the first man on the Moon, died in 2012 aged 82. The spacecraft took four days to reach the Moon, before the module known as the “Eagle” — whence the iconic phrase “the Eagle has landed” — touched the lunar surface on July 20, 1969. Armstrong emerged a few hours later, descending to the foot of the ladder, as he uttered the immortal line: “That s one small step for man; one giant leap for mankind.” Collins remained in lunar orbit in the command module Columbia, their only means of returning to Earth. “I always think of a flight to the Moon as being a long and fragile daisy chain of events,” the 88-year-old said at launch pad 39A, at the first of many events planned across the week. These include the return of Armstrong s suit to the Air and Space Museum in Washington after more than a decade of restoration work. The Washington Monument will be lit up between July 16 and 18 with a life-size, 363-foot (111-meter) projection of the colossal Saturn V rocket built by ex-Nazi Wernher Von Braun. Collins described how the mission was broken into discrete goals such as breaking free of the Earth s gravity or slowing down for lunar orbit. “The flight was a question of being under tension, worrying about what s coming next. What do I have to do now to keep this daisy chain intact?” Unlike Collins, Aldrin has remained relatively elusive and did not participate at Tuesday s launchpad event. Aging but active on Twitter, and often seen in stars-and-stripes socks or ties, the 89-year-old has faced health scares and family feuds, culminating in a court case over finances, which was settled in March. He is the second of 12 men to have set foot on the Moon, only four of whom are still alive. Coffee and music Collins has been fielding questions for half a century about whether he felt lonely or left out. “I was always asked, wasn t I the loneliest person in the whole lonely history of the whole lonely solar system when I was by myself in that lonely orbit?” he said. “And the answer was, No, I felt fine! “I would enjoy a perfectly enjoyable hot coffee, I had music if I wanted to. Good old Command Module Columbia had every facility that I needed, and it was plenty big and I really enjoyed my time by myself instead of being terribly lonely.” The Apollo 11 crew traveled with white mice that would presumably serve as a warning signal if the crew had been infected by a mysterious space illnesses. “Whether we had a wonderful successful flight or something that was a total disaster for humanity depended on the health of those white mice,” Collins said. After returning to Earth, the astronauts spent weeks in quarantine before embarking on a global tour. Collins said he was later offered command of the Apollo 17 mission, but turned it down to spend more time with his wife and children. First man, best spokesman? Despite being an introvert, Armstrong was the best spokesman among the crew, Collins said, making audiences feel like they had been along for the ride. “He was very intelligent, he had an extremely wide background of knowledge, scientific knowledge, historical knowledge.” No humans have returned to the Moon since 1972, the year of the final Apollo mission. President George H.W. Bush promised to do so in 1989, as did his son president George W. Bush in 2004, while pledging to also march forward to Mars. But they both ran up against a Congress that wasn t inclined to fund the adventures, while the tide of public opinion had also turned since president John F. Kennedy roused the nation to action in the 1960s. President Donald Trump has relaunched the race to re-conquer the Moon — this time with the first woman — and to journey onwards to Mars. But the deadlines (2024 and 2033 respectively) appear unrealistic and have caused turbulence within the space agency. Last week, NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine fired his head of human space exploration, likely due to disagreements over the Moon ultimatum. Separately, celebrations were held in Huntsville, Alabama, the birthplace of the Saturn V. The giant rocket was developed by von Braun, who came to the United States at the end of World War II with his team of ex-Nazi engineers and scientists. Under a giant Saturn V replica, 900 people dined with former astronauts and von Braun s children. Image: AFP / Brendan Smialowski A projection of a Saturn V rocket on the Washington Monument on the National Mall to commemorate the 50th anniversary of NASA s Apollo 11 mission to the moon
REHOVOT, Israel (Reuters) – Diners in some upmarket restaurants will soon be able to tuck into laboratory-grown steak, thanks to an Israeli startup that seeks to tap into consumer concerns about health, the environment and animal welfare. While lab-grown hamburgers and chicken are already in development around the world, Israel s Aleph Farms claims to be the first company to have developed steak in a laboratory and is in talks with some high-end restaurants in the United States, Europe and Asia to have it on the market in 2021. It plans initially to offer minute steak developed from a small number of cells taken from a cow, avoiding the need to slaughter the animal in the process or use antibiotics which can be harmful to meat eaters. Aleph Farms hopes to have its product on a limited number of restaurant menus from 2021 in a trial phase, aiming for an official launch in 2023, first in restaurants and then in stores. Its next product will be a thick steak with “the properties that we like and we all know,” said Neta Lavon, vice president for research and development. A serving of its minute steak – a thin slice of meat that cooks very fast – currently costs around $50 but Aleph Farms says it hopes to bring that down by 2021 to only a slight premium to current prices of steak offered in restaurants. Eventually it aims for mass production, bringing the price down further and making its steaks viable for sale in lower-priced steak houses. Didier Toubia, co-founder and CEO of Aleph Farms, said the company has ambitions to be one of the world s top three meat producers within 20 years, challenging market leaders like Tyson Foods, which has invested in another Israeli start-up developing cultured meat, Future Meat Technologies. Toubia, however, did not give a revenue target for its product. He set up the company in 2017 in partnership with Technion – the Israel Institute of Technology and foodmaker Strauss Group s incubator The Kitchen. In May it raised $12 million from investors including Cargill [CARG.UL], and has now raised $14 million to date. Demand for traditional meat substitutes is growing and analysts estimate the U.S. plant-based meat market, for example, could be worth $100 billion by 2035. The number of start-ups producing laboratory-developed meat has risen from four at the end of 2016 to more than two dozen by last year, according to market researcher the Good Food Institute. Dutch start-up Mosa Meat projects the cost of producing a hamburger will be about 9 euros ($10) once production scales up.
Nie Feng used to toss his rubbish outside his Shanghai flat without a thought while rushing to work, but saving China from a garbage crisis now requires him to consult a complex diagram each morning. On July 1, Shanghai launched China s most ambitious garbage separation and recycling programme ever, as the country confronts a rising tide of trash created by increasing consumption. But the programme is the talk of China s biggest city for other reasons as well: confusion over rules and fines for infractions, and thousands of volunteers inspecting citizens private garbage each day. Nie examines a wall-sized diagram saying fish and pork bones must be separated from each other, and from the plastic bag he carries them in. “It s for the good of our homeland, but we keep making mistakes,” said Nie, a trading company staffer, laughing as he struggled to separate the bag s contents into various bins. “We have to get this right before the fines really start.” Shanghai is piloting a programme set for eventual nationwide adoption in what would likely be the world s largest waste separation and recycling scheme — and it is desperately needed. With its 1.4 billion consumers, China is becoming swamped by trash. Every day, Shanghai s 25 million people alone produce around 26,000 tonnes –- equal in weight to the Statue of Liberty. The issue is straining municipal services nationwide and prompting unrest. Growing anger Last week authorities in the central city of Wuhan sent riot police to quell protests by thousands of citizens against construction of a waste incinerator. China is spending billions of dollars on waste-to-energy incineration plants across the country, but repeated protests have flared over fears they will emit toxins. Wuhan has shelved its plan, for now. China produced just 30 million tonnes of trash in 1980, but that soared to 210 million in 2017, according to World Bank figures. That is still less than the world s trash titan, the United States, which produced 258 million tonnes. But China is gaining fast and the World Bank predicts Chinese garbage could reach a staggering 500 million tonnes annually by 2030. Several factors are blamed, including rapid growth and the Communist Party s ongoing push to develop a domestic consumer economy to lessen reliance on the outside world. Led by the likes of Alibaba, Chinese e-commerce has exploded, producing billions of parcel deliveries annually with their associated packaging. The government indicated its alarm last year by banning certain imports of foreign waste that it used to accept for years for recycling, a move that has up-ended global garbage flows. “We need a really big push and I think the government realised that. There is really a sense of urgency,” said Alizee Buysschaert, founder and director of environmental consultancy Zero Waste Shanghai. With a phased national roll-out set to gain pace next year, Shanghai s experience has become one of the most talked-about topics in the country, though sometimes for the wrong reasons. Critics have taken aim at seemingly contradictory sorting guidelines and the limited daily hours during which dumping is allowed, which causes problems for those with irregular schedules. Chinese media reports also have indicated that a lot of garbage was still entering bins unsorted. Government officials declined AFP interview requests. So much rubbish Previous city-level sorting schemes have fizzled, but Buysschaert sees a difference this time. “The big shift is that it is much more centralized and it s incentivized now. That s really a game-changer because now everyone is talking about it and everyone is involved and on their toes,” she said. Authorities say strict sorting is crucial, making it far easier to separately process recycled items, hazardous waste, compost and biomass. But tempers have flared. Chinese media said a 33-year-old woman was detained last week for choking a volunteer sorting inspector unconscious during a rules dispute. Fines range from 200 yuan ($29) for household infractions to 50,000 yuan for businesses, though authorities are going easy on imposing them for now. The scheme is a business opportunity for others, with start-ups offering app-based garbage collection and sorting services. True to form, the Communist Party is pushing obeisance via a public campaign larded with red banners emblazoned with revolutionary exhortations such as “storm the citadel of trash sorting.” “We weren t used to it at first. It was really inconvenient,” said 67-year-old pensioner Zhou Shenzhu. But she has been won over by a noticeable reduction in flies and odor since sorting started, she says. “The propaganda on television says we face great harm if we don t separate.” “Shanghai has lots of people, and so much rubbish. So much!” Image: AFP / HECTOR RETAMAL Every day, Shanghai produces around 26,000 tonnes of garbage –- equal in weight to the Statue of Liberty
Mina M. Azer
Fan Jameel (beautiful art) Foundation, which supports heritage, education and arts, announced the implementation of a one-month summer program for the revival of traditional crafts in the tourist village of Tunis, Fayoum Governorate. Over the course of four weeks, the youngsters engage in a program of workshops focusing on the unique heritage of Fayoum Governorate. These workshops include Islamic arts, copper work