Joe Tsai, the billionaire co-founder of Chinese ecommerce giant Alibaba, and his wife Clara Wu Tsai, have donated 2.6 million masks, 170,000 goggles and 2000 ventilators to New York — the US epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic. The supplies were split into two shipments. The first arrived on Thursday at Newark Liberty International Airport, while the second arrived on Saturday at John F. Kennedy International Airport. "We kept hearing cries for (personal protective equipment) from our community and wanted to help," Clara Tsai told CNN in an interview. The state will allocate the second shipment but "it s our intention to help the most underserved institutions." She cited Jacobi Medical Center and Lincoln Medical Center in the Bronx, and Elmhurst Hospital in Queens as the institutions she and her husband thought might need the supplies the most. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo referenced the donations during a daily coronavirus briefing. "I want to thank Joe Tsai, and Clara Tsai, and Jack Ma from Alibaba," said Cuomo, during a Saturday briefing. "This is a big deal and it s going to make a significant difference for us." Hospitals in New York and across the country have been scrambling to find enough ventilators, masks and other protective gear needed for healthcare workers to battle the virus, which has killed about 60,000 people worldwide. The Tsais have considerable ties to the New York community. Joe Tsai, a Canadian Taiwanese businessman and philanthropist, owns the Brooklyn Nets basketball team and Brooklyn s Barclays Center arena. His co-founder, Jack Ma, made a separate donation of masks and testing kits in March. Clara Tsai runs a charitable organization, the Joe and Clara Tsai Foundation, which oversees causes including economic mobility in Brooklyn. The Tsais worked with the Greater New York Hospital Association to distribute the items in their first shipment. It contained 300,000 surgical masks that went toward 11 New York City-area nursing homes, 70,000 medical goggles donated to 11 New York City-area nursing homes and Columbia Presbyterian Hospital, and 1000 ventilators that were donated to the Mount Sinai hospital system. The Tsais are letting the state handle the allocation of the second shipment after hearing Governor Cuomo announce that the state would be centralizing resource allocation. The shipment on Saturday contains 1 million surgical masks and 1.3 million KN95 masks, 100,000 medical goggles and 1000 ventilators. KN95 is a mask produced in China that is similar in name as the N95, which is considered the gold standard of respirator masks as it filters out at least 95% of very small particles from the air. The US Food and Drug Administration cleared KN95 masks for use on Friday as long as certain criteria is met, including evidence demonstrating that the mask is authentic.
What does British Prime Minister Boris Johnson have in common with virtual happy hour celebrants and thousands of students around the world? All use the Zoom videoconferencing application to get together while staying apart during the deadly coronavirus pandemic. But amid its newfound fame, the Silicon Valley-based company has come under stepped-up scrutiny over how it handles privacy and security — including allowing uninvited guests to barge in on sessions. Created by engineer Eric Yuan in 2011 and listed on the Nasdaq a year ago, Zoom has seen its market value skyrocket to some $35 billion. Yuan has spoken of a passion for communication technologies that dates back to the 1990s when, as a university student in mainland China, he longed for a way to see his girlfriend without needing to travel hours by train. Zoom hit the market as a tool for people working apart to collaborate on business, competing with offerings from the likes of Microsoft, Facebook, Google and others. – Poker and funerals – As people around the world stay home due to coronavirus risk, Zoom has become a go-to service for remote education, exercise classes, poker games, church services and happy hour celebrations. Couples have gotten married in “zoomed” ceremonies. Birthdays have been celebrated. Funerals have been virtually attended. “It s really easy to use, and free; that s nice,” said US school teacher Justin Minkel, who instructs students remotely using Zoom. “Just click a link.” Home chaos such as dogs barking or outbursts from siblings can be disruptive, but Minkel cures that by “muting” students microphones until he needs to hear them. According to Yuan, the number of people taking part in Zoom meetings daily eclipsed 200 million in March, up from just 10 million at the end of last year. Video calls have surged on all messaging platforms including WhatsApp, Messenger, and Google Hangouts, but Zoom has become a star. It lets as many as 100 people simultaneously attend a video-conference, allowing 40 minutes free and then charging for premium accounts that provide more time and features for $15 monthly. Zoom lifted the 40-minute limit on free accounts for teachers in an array of countries. Among Zoom settings is an option to chose a backdrop image, such as the Golden Gate Bridge or tropical beach, hiding what is really behind a user. – Zoombombing – Digital learning coach Stephanie DeMichele credits the surge in Zoom use to fear of being disconnected from schools, friends, families and others in our lives. “And here comes Zoom saying It s free, available, and you won t feel isolated, ” said DeMichele. “So people grabbed onto it.” A “Zoombombing” phenomenon has sparked warnings about lax security, however. Virtual intruders have interrupted religious ceremonies, remote classes, and other Zoom gatherings. In some cases, pornographic images have been displayed. US media has reported that Zoom shares some data with third parties and questioned how well virtual meeting data is defended. Prosecutors from several US states including Connecticut, New York, and Florida are investigating the company s privacy and security practices. The FBI has warned of Zoom sessions being hijacked. Yuan vowed this week to step up data security, and apologized. “We recognize that we have fallen short of the community s — and our own — privacy and security expectations,” Yuan said in a message posted online. “For that, I am deeply sorry.” Zoom was designed primarily for use by large businesses with their own tech teams to provide support and protection, according to Yuan. “We did not design the product with the foresight that, in a matter of weeks, every person in the world would suddenly be working, studying, and socializing from home,” Yuan said. “These new, mostly consumer use cases have helped us uncover unforeseen issues with our platform.” While encouraged that Zoom is admitting it has security problems, it still has “a ton of work” to do to fix them and restore trust in the platform, according to Electronic Frontier Foundation associate director of research Gennie Gebhart. While tending to its immediate concerns, Zoom would be wise to keep on eye on the future, said Creative Strategies analyst Carolina Milanesi. “Replicating what Zoom has is not too difficult,” Milanesi said. “They need to think about what else they want to be.”
China has approved the use of bear bile to treat coronavirus patients, angering activists and raising fears it could undermine efforts to stop the illegal animal trade which is blamed for the emergence of the new disease sweeping the globe. The move comes just weeks after China banned the sale of wild animals for food, citing the risk of diseases spreading from animals to humans. But the National Health Commission in March issued guidelines recommending the use of “Tan Re Qing” –- an injection that contains bear bile powder, goat horn and three other medicinal herbs –- to treat critically ill coronavirus patients. It is one of six traditional Chinese medicine products included in the directive. President Xi Jinping has been keen to promote traditional medicine, calling it a “treasure of Chinese civilization” and saying it should be given as much weight as other treatments. The active ingredient in bear bile, ursodeoxycholic acid, is used to dissolve gallstones and treat liver disease but has no proven effectiveness in treating COVID-19. China has used both traditional and Western medicine in its battle against the novel coronavirus, which has killed more than 3,000 and infected more than 82,000. But activists say greenlighting a treatment that uses an animal product is “both tragic and ironic” given that the origin of the deadly coronavirus is linked to the trade and consumption of wild animals. “We shouldn t be relying on wildlife products like bear bile as the solution to combat a deadly virus that appears to have originated from wildlife,” Brian Daly, a spokesman for the Animals Asia Foundation, told AFP. The novel coronavirus is believed to have come from bats, but researchers think it might have spread to humans via an intermediate host mammal species. – Cruel trade – Chinese disease control officials have previously identified wild animals sold in a market in Wuhan market as the source of the coronavirus pandemic. Conservationists have long accused China of tolerating a cruel trade in wild animals as exotic menu items or for use in traditional medicines whose efficacy is not confirmed by science. Scientists say Severe Acute Respiratory System (SARS) — another deadly coronavirus — likely originated in bats, later reaching humans via civet cats. “Promotion of bear bile has the propensity to increase the amount used, affecting not only captive bears, but also those in the wild, potentially compromising an already endangered species in Asia and across the world,” Daly said. There are about 20,000 bears being held in tiny cages under cruel conditions across China to cater to the demand from traditional medicine suppliers, said Kirsty Warren, a spokeswoman for World Animal Protection. “We estimate the entire market value of bear bile pharmaceuticals to be more than $1 billion,” Warren added. Bile farming is legal in China — but exports of the product or treatments made from it are banned under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species, which China is a signatory to. “Across Asia, bear bile trade is widespread, although it is illegal in most countries,” said Richard Thomas from animal rights NGO Traffic. “But the active ingredient in bear bile — ursodeoxycholic acid — is readily synthesised in laboratories, so even if it did prove to be popular, there should be no need for bear bile to be included (in medicines).” China in February declared an immediate and “comprehensive” ban on the trade and consumption of wild animals that was welcomed by environmentalists. Beijing implemented similar measures following the SARS outbreak in the early 2000s, but the trade and consumption of wild animals, including bats and snakes, made a comeback. But in signs that the measures are being taken more seriously this time, the southern city of Shenzhen also passed a law this week banning the consumption of wild animals — including cat and dog meat. The move was welcomed by animal rights activists, with Humane Society International saying the trade kills an estimated 10 million dogs and four million cats in China every year.
Haitham al-Badwihy, an engineer working in electronic gates, has invented a self-sterilizing gate that activates as soon as someone passes beneath. He discussed his project with host Ramy Radwan on the DMC channel, stating that it was designed in cooperation with Mansoura University to sterilize everyone entering the Olympic Village. The first gate was made with wood, and underwent multiple developments. Badwihy explained that it works through sterilizing everyone that passes through it through sensors and disinfectant pumps. The disinfects do not include chlorine, so clothing, skin and breathing are not harmed, he added. He added that some government agencies have even contacted him to praise the project. The investor dedicated the gate to President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, stressing that he would donate any financial returns to the Tahya Misr (Long Live Egypt) Fund.
Some 1,400 3D-printer owners have pledged to use their machines to help make face shields for the NHS. Started by palliative-medicine doctor James Coxon, the 3DCrowd UK group is now looking to recruit more volunteers. It says thousands of its 3D-printed masks have already been made and donated to hospitals, GPs, pharmacies, paramedics and social-care practices. Healthcare workers say they are having to put themselves at risk because of a lack of personal protective equipment. “We are basically asking all the people around the country with 3D printers to join our project to create face shields for hospitals and other health workers,” said Gen Ashley from 3DCrowd UK. “We also need volunteers to help distribute the masks and donations from companies and the public to pay for materials and distribution costs.” Once volunteers have registered on the 3DCrowd UK website, they are sent instructions on how to produce headbands for the masks. These are then bagged up and sent to a hub to be assembled. A clear plastic film is also added at this stage. 3DCrowd UK has launched a GoFundMe crowdfunding campaign to raise £40,000 to help cover the cost of the materials and postage. Donations currently stand at £20,000. Healthcare workers can order the face shields via the 3DCrowd UK website. Some 365 orders have been placed so far, for 110,000 masks. The face shields have not been formally approved by the UK government or the NHS, which have yet to respond to a BBC News request for comment. But Ms Ashley told BBC News 3DCrowd UK they had been approved in the Czech Republic.
What if every window in your house could generate electricity? One Redwood City, California-based startup thinks its technology can achieve that by transforming the way solar power is collected and harnessed. Ubiquitous Energy has developed transparent solar cells to create its ClearView Power windows, a kind of "solar glass" that can turn sunlight into energy without needing the bluish-grey opaque panels those cells are generally associated with. The company, spun out of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 2012, hopes to use that tech to turn practically any everyday glass surface into a solar cell. "It can be applied to windows of skyscrapers; it can be applied to glass in automobiles; it can be applied to the glass on your iPhone," Miles Barr, Ubiquitous Energy s founder and chief technology officer, told CNN Business. The company is looking to capitalize on the United States renewable energy boom, with solar and wind energy projected to surpass coal by 2021, according to the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis. While several companies are working on similar products, the technology is still in the relatively early stages. It s one of several emerging products that harness solar energy, with others including irrigation pumps and a "solar oven" that can be used to make cement and steel. Ubiquitous Energy s home state of California is one of the first to require that every new home incorporate some form of solar technology. "This is great for ClearView Power because homeowners can install windows just like they would anyways, but they actually produce power to meet this requirement," Barr said. The core of the product is an organic dye that can be used to coat glass surfaces. The dye allows visible sunlight to pass through -- just like normal windows do -- but captures the invisible infrared rays from that sunlight. "Light absorbing dyes are found all around us. They re in paints, they re in pigments for clothing, and they re even in electronic devices," Barr said. "What we ve done is we ve engineered those dyes to selectively absorb infrared light and also convert that light into electricity." That does mean some of the energy is lost. "Their basic drawback is their relatively low efficiency," said Anne Grete Hestnes, a professor of architecture at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology who specializes in solar energy. "However, it is all a question of price. If the transparent cells are cheaper, and if the cells are to cover a relatively large area ... it may be the better solution," she added. Barr said Ubiquitous Energy s transparent panels can produce up to two-thirds of the energy that traditional panels do. And he said they cost about 20% more to install than a regular window, a cost he claims is offset by the electricity they generate. The company wants its solar windows to complement traditional rooftop panels rather than replace them. The combination of both methods, according to Barr, could bring the net energy consumption of large buildings to zero — meaning they produce as much electricity as they consume. Ubiquitous Energy has started installing its solar windows on buildings, including at its headquarters in Redwood City where it manufactures the glass panels. "We are already installing and selling ClearView Power windows in limited sizes, and we re in the planning phase for a facility that we ll be able to produce windows at any size," Barr said. However, the coronavirus outbreak has forced much of the company s production planning to be done remotely. But Barr said it is still making "significant progress." "It s still a bit early to tell what the full effects of the global pandemic will be, including for our business," said Barr, adding that he is "still optimistic we ll be able to begin manufacturing activities in the next two years." By that point, he anticipates Ubiquitous Energy will be closer to justifying its name: "We really see the future of this technology as being applied everywhere, all around us, ubiquitous."
The biggest reputational risk Facebook and other social media companies had expected in 2020 was fake news surrounding the US presidential election. Be it foreign or domestic in origin, the misinformation threat seemed familiar, perhaps even manageable. The novel coronavirus, however, has opened up an entirely different problem: the life-endangering consequences of supposed cures, misleading claims, snake-oil sales pitches and conspiracy theories about the outbreak. So far, AFP has debunked almost 200 rumors and myths about the virus, but experts say stronger action from tech companies is needed to stop misinformation and the scale at which it can be spread online. “There’s still a disconnect between what people think is true and what people are willing to share,” Professor David Rand, a specialist in brain and cognitive sciences at the MIT Sloan School of Management, told AFP, explaining how a user’s bias toward content he or she thinks will be liked or shared typically dominates decision-making when online. Part of the reason is that social media algorithms are geared to appeal to someone’s habits and interests: the emphasis is on likability, not accuracy. Changing that would require Facebook, Twitter and other such companies to alter what people see on screen. Prompts urging users to consider the accuracy of content they are spreading on social networks are needed, said Rand, co-author of a study on COVID-19 misinformation that was published earlier this month. – Deadly consequences – Using controlled tests with more than 1,600 participants, the study found that false claims were shared in part simply because people failed to think about whether the content was reliable. In a second test, when people were reminded to consider the accuracy of what they are going to share, their level of truth awareness more than doubled. That approach — known as “accuracy nudge intervention” — from social media companies could limit the spread of misinformation, the report concluded. “These are the kind of things that make the concept of accuracy top of the minds of people,” said Rand, noting that news feeds are instead filled by users’ own content and commercial advertisements. “There probably is a concern from social networking companies about accuracy warnings degrading the user experience, because you’re exposing users to content that they didn’t want to see. But I hope by talking about this more we’ll get them to take this seriously and try it.” What is undoubted is that misinformation about the novel coronavirus has been deadly. Although US, French and other scientists are working to expedite effective treatments, false reports have appeared in numerous countries. In Iran, a fake remedy of ingesting methanol has reportedly led to 300 deaths, and left many more sick. Dr. Jason McKnight, assistant clinical professor in the Department of Primary Care and Population Health at Texas A&M University, said the sharing of false information has an impact beyond the immediate risk of the virus itself. “I have seen posts related to ‘treatments’ that are not proven, techniques to prevent exposure and infection that are either not proven and/or filled with a lot of misleading information, and instruction for individuals to stock up on supplies and food,” he said. McKnight highlighted two types of danger posed by inaccurate information on the virus: that it “could incite fear or panic,” and “the potential for individuals to do harmful things in hope of ‘curing the illness’ or ‘preventing’ the illness.” – ‘Immediate positive impact’ – Facebook took a hammering over Russia’s interference in the 2016 US election. Having been accused on Capitol Hill of ignoring the allegations, Facebook conceded the following year that up to 10 million Americans had seen advertisements purchased by a shadowy Russian agency. As evidence mounted about how Russia had used Facebook to sow division, company CEO Mark Zuckerberg apologized. Facebook has placed authoritative coronavirus information at the top of news feeds and intensified its efforts to remove harmful content, including through the use of third-party fact checkers. Zuckerberg also said earlier this month that a public health crisis is an easier arena than politics to set policies and to take a harder line on questionable content. AFP and other media companies, including Reuters and the Associated Press, work with Facebook’s fact checking program, under which content rated false is downgraded in news feeds so that fewer people see it. If someone tries to share such a post, he or she is presented with an article explaining why the information is not accurate. However, a Facebook spokeswoman declined to comment on the potential for adding accuracy prompts to its platform. A Twitter spokesman, in a statement to AFP, also did not address whether the company might consider using prompts. “Our goal has been to make certain everyone on our service has access to credible, authoritative health information,” he said. “We’ve shifted our focus and priorities, working extensively with organizations like the WHO, ministries of health in a number of countries, and a breadth of public health officials.” The COVID-19 misinformation study mirrored past tests for political fake news, notably in that reminders about accuracy would be a simple way to improve choices about what people share. “Accuracy nudges are straightforward for social media platforms to implement on top of the other approaches they are currently employing, and could have an immediate positive impact on stemming the tide of misinformation about the COVID-19 outbreak,” the authors concluded. Image: AFP/File / Oli SCARFF False information about the novel coronavirus poses a major, life-endangering problem for social media users
Smuggled pangolins have been found to carry viruses closely related to the one sweeping the world. Scientists say the sale of the animals in wildlife markets should be strictly prohibited to minimise the risk of future outbreaks. Pangolins are the most-commonly illegally trafficked mammal, used both as food and in traditional medicine. In research published in the journal Nature, researchers say handling these animals requires "caution". And they say further surveillance of wild pangolins is needed to understand their role in the risk of future transmission to humans. Lead researcher Dr Tommy Lam of The University of Hong Kong said two groups of coronaviruses related to the virus behind the human pandemic have been identified in Malayan pangolins smuggled into China. "Although their role as the intermediate host of the SARS-CoV-2 outbreak remains to be confirmed, sale of these wild animals in wet markets should be strictly prohibited to avoid future zoonotic [animal to human] transmission," he told BBC News. Exactly how the virus jumped from a wild animal, presumably a bat, to another animal and then humans remains a mystery. The horseshoe bat and the pangolin have both been implicated, but the precise sequence of events is unknown. Finding the virus in smuggled Malayan pangolins raised the question of where they contracted the virus, said Dr Lam. Was it from bats along the trafficking route to China or in their native habitats in Southeast Asia? Calls to end illegal wildlife trade Conservationists say it would be devastating if the discovery led to further persecution of the endangered mammal. The animal s scales are in high demand for use in traditional Chinese medicine, while pangolin meat is considered a delicacy. "This is the time for the international community to pressure their governments to end illegal wildlife trade," said Elisa Panjang of Cardiff University, a pangolin conservation officer at the Danau Girang Field Centre in Malaysia. China has moved to ban the consumption of meat from wild animals in the wake of the outbreak. Similar moves are being considered in Vietnam. Prof Andrew Cunningham of Zoological Society of London (ZSL) said it was important not to jump to conclusions from the paper. "The source of the detected coronavirus really is unknown - it might have been a natural pangolin virus or have jumped from another species between capture and death." And Dr Dan Challender, of the University of Oxford, said pangolins are known to host various strains of coronaviruses. "Identifying the source of SARS-CoV-2 is important to understand the emergence of the current pandemic, and in preventing similar events in the future," he said.
"I don t normally work from my garage," Adam Mosseri said when asked what it s like to run one of the biggest social media platforms in the world from his San Francisco home. For years, Instagram has been synonymous with travel and experiences. Its users fill their feeds with carefully filtered and cropped photos of exotic locations and colorful venues. But now, from his plywood-lined garage, Mosseri, Instagram s CEO, is telling his users to do what he s doing: stay at home. Over the past week the company launched a dedicated "Stay at Home" tab featured prominently in the Stories section at the top of its feed. As the name suggests, the feature offers a way for users to share updates on their stay-at-home life at a time as people in vast parts of America and across the world have essentially been not to go outside except for essentials to limit the spread of the coronavirus. And it might actually help raise awareness of the need to stay in. Mosseri revealed Tuesday that the "Stay at Home" Instagram stories were so popular it almost crashed the site in the hours after it went live. The fact that a well-intentioned new feature nearly took down the entire service is a reminder of just how many fires Instagram and Mosseri are working to put out at once amid the coronavirus outbreak. Among other pressing issues, he and his team must: keep their servers up and running while much of the world is forced to shift their lives online; try to encourage people on the platform to maintain social distancing; combating inaccurate and potentially dangerous misinformation about the coronavirus at a time when there is apparently an unprecedented amount of traffic on the site; and do all this while working outside the office. "Having our workforce, particularly our moderators, work from home, is creating all sort of challenges that we need to work through," Mosseri said in an interview with CNN Business over Skype on Tuesday from inside the garage that is now his de facto command center. "Just generally, the amount of output we should be able to expect on a per person basis is just going to go down," he said. "There is no way around that, which is why it is so important we get creative and make sure that we continue to make sure we keep people stay safe on the platform." Mosseri added that the company still needs to stay on top of a range of challenges like content related to child exploitation and terrorism. For years, Instagram s parent company, Facebook, has been trying to combat the spread of misinformation on its platforms. The coronavirus presents a whole new challenge as people around the globe are desperate for just about any information. Instagram s struggles in dealing with the anti-vaccine movement might not inspire much confidence in the company s ability to get ahead of false information about the coronavirus. But over the past few weeks and months it has brought in new rules and features specifically for the coronavirus crisis. Some of those features — like not recommending accounts that spread medical misinformation when people search terms related to the virus (which the company says will roll out in the coming days) — are steps critics of anti-vaccine accounts have been calling for for some time. Mosseri said the company s focus has been getting users accurate information about the virus — links to official government agencies have appeared at the top of users Instagram feeds around the world. The company, like other social media platforms, has taken other steps to highlight information from the World Health Organization. "I actually think search in general on platforms like ours gets way too much attention because it is not something people do that often. It is more important that people get good information when they come to the app in the first place," he said. Like other companies, Instagram and Facebook instructed employees to work from home before it became mandatory in many states. "We need to take care of our people if we are going to be able to help address the crisis and live up to our responsibility," Mosseri said. But new rules to tackle coronavirus misinformation and other initiatives, like banning ads for the sale of face masks (to help ensure they are available for medical workers in most need of them), require new protocols, staff training and sometimes new systems to implement, all of which is more difficult to do with staff working remotely. As a result, Mosseri said Facebook and Instagram staff that don t normally work on moderation are volunteering to help. Twitter and YouTube also warned that the shift to working from home and reliance on automated content moderation may lead to more mistakes. The heightened anxiety felt by users will likely only amplify errors. For example, last Tuesday there were widespread reports of Facebook suddenly marking posts from users about everything from the coronavirus to their pets as violating the platform s rules. The problem was fixed within a few hours and Facebook said it had nothing to do with the changes in its workforce With false claims about purported cures and preventative steps that can be take against the virus circulating online, ensuring the spread of accurate information is now literally a matter of life or death.
A worm-like creature that burrowed on the seafloor more than 500 million years ago may be key to the evolution of much of the animal kingdom. The organism, about the size of a grain of rice, is described as the earliest example yet found in the fossil record of a bilaterian. These are animals that have a front and back, two symmetrical sides, and openings at either end joined by a gut. The discovery is described in the journal PNAS. The scientists behind it say the development of bilateral symmetry was a critical step in the evolution of animal life. It gave organisms the ability to move purposefully and a common, yet successful way to organise their bodies. A multitude of animals, from worms to insects to dinosaurs to humans, are organised around this same basic bilaterian body plan. Scott Evans, of the University of California at Riverside, and colleagues have called the organism Ikaria wariootia. It lived 555 million years ago during what geologists term as the Ediacaran Period - the time in Earth history when life started to become multi-celled and much more complex. The discovery started with tiny burrows being identified in rocks in Nilpena, South Australia, some 15 years ago. Many who looked at these traces recognised they were likely made by bilaterians, but creatures presence in the ancient deposits was not obvious. It was only recently that Scott Evans and Mary Droser, a professor of geology at UC Riverside, noticed minuscule, oval impressions near some of the burrows. Three-dimensional laser scanning revealed the regular, consistent shape of a cylindrical body with a distinct head and tail and faintly grooved musculature. Ikaria wariootia ranged in size between 2mm and 7mm long, and about 1-2.5mm wide. The largest of the ovals was just the right size and shape to have made the long-recognised burrows. "We thought these animals should have existed during this interval, but always understood they would be difficult to recognise," Scott Evans said. "Once we had the 3D scans, we knew that we had made an important discovery." Ikaria wariootia probably spent its life burrowing through layers of sand on the ocean floor, looking for any organic matter on which it could feed.
Egyptian-American doctor Heba Mostafa said during an interview with Al-Masry Al-Youm that she completely rejected the idea that coronavirus is man-made, amid unfounded conspiracy theories online claiming COVID-19 was created in a lab in China as a biological weapon or manufactured by the United States. Mostafa, who is currently an assistant professor of pathology at Johns Hopkins University and director of the molecular virology laboratory at The Johns Hopkins Hospital, had her first press interview with Al-Masry Al-Youm, published on Sunday, during which she talked about the latest developments related to the coronavirus test. During the interview, Mostafa said that research has begun on the use of antibodies from patients who have contracted the virus and later recovered, adding that clinic trials from treatments have also started. In response to a question on whether coronavirus could be treated with malaria drugs, she responded that “no treatment for the virus has been approved so far,” adding that the “initial results” of novel antiviral drug Remdesivir were “promising.” While discussing the science behind the virus with Al-Masry Al-Youm, Mostafa also refuted claims that COVID-19 was man-made. “I am against the idea that (the virus) was created,” she said, adding that COVID-19 was in fact similar to the SARS virus. The conspiracy theories surrounding the virus have extended beyond social media, with Iran s supreme leader having refused US aid on Sunday to fight the virus, citing unfounded claims that COVID-19 could have been created by America. Johns Hopkins University announced earlier in March that it had made a breakthrough that would allow testing 1,000 people for the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) per day, reducing pressure on laboratories and allowing governments to better isolate those infected with the respiratory illness and control its spread. Two specialists in microbiology developed the new test, one of whom was Mostafa. “We will be able to diagnose more cases. This will allow the control of exposure,” Mostafa said. The test, which Johns Hopkins used for the first time on March 11, analyzes nasal or oral swabs, and Johns Hopkins hopes it will help to address the need for wider COVID-19 testing. The World Health Organization has stressed that large-scale testing, isolation of confirmed cases, and efforts to trace those who have come in contact with confirmed cases remain the most important methods of containing the coronavirus outbreak. Mostafa commented previously that testing could reach 1,000 people per day in April. Conducting in-house tests reduces the burden on government laboratories, with the test results coming up in about 24 hours. Doctors hope to shorten this period to about three hours. Mostafa graduated from the Faculty of Medicine, Alexandria University, in 2004, and obtained her PhD in Microbiology from the University of Kansas in 2014. There have been over 300,000 confirmed cases of coronavirus worldwide and upwards of 15,000 deaths. Egypt has confirmed 327 cases of COVID-19 and 16 deaths, including two high-ranking military officials.
An Egyptian doctor, Heba Mostafa, was cited as contributing to a test for diagnosing the COVID-19 coronavirus. Mostafa is the director of the molecular virology lab and assistant professor of pathology at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. Al-Masry Al-Youm contacted Mostafa to talk about the latest developments and steps underway regarding the test. The coronavirus test was developed quickly, she said, after the genome had been mapped in January by Chinese researchers. Immediately afterwards the diagnostic and research laboratories began developing the test s components, especially in China. She added that the test s purpose is to find the virus s genome in a patient sample, whether via nose or mouth. Mostafa said that the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have also developed a test, but it wasn t available for all labs. “At Johns Hopkins University, once the government allowed the laboratories to start developing its diagnostic tests to expand the diagnosis of the virus, we were one of the first academic laboratories to develop the test, and thus expanded the scope of diagnosis in Maryland,” Mostafa said. She said that though there is still no approved drug to treat the virus, the initial results of Remdesivir are promising. Experiments for treatment have now begun clinical research, with Remdesivir being the current treatment tried at this stage, alongside research on the use of antibodies from patients who contracted the virus and recovered. The virus has yet to mutate especially as genome examinations of samples from patients in China, Europe and America are all similar, Mostafa noted. She also dismissed claims that the coronavirus was man-made, explaining that the virus is part of the same family of the SARS virus. The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine announced on March 14 that clinical microbiologists Karen Carroll, M.D., and Mostafa have developed an in-house coronavirus screening test that may soon allow the health system to test as many as 1,000 people per day. “We will be able to diagnose more cases. This will allow the control of exposure,” said Mostafa. Johns Hopkins used the test, which analyzes a nasal or oral swab, for the first time on March 11, with roughly 85 tests performed in the first three days. These numbers are expected to ramp up quickly, reaching 180 people per day next week and 500 the week after that, says Mostafa. There could be 1,000 tests per day by early April, Mostafa says. The test returns results in about 24 hours, though doctors say they hope to shorten that time to as little as three hours.
Johns Hopkins University has made a breakthrough that would allow testing 1,000 people for the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) per day, reducing pressure on laboratories and allowing governments to better isolate those infected with the respiratory illness and control its spread. Two specialists in microbiology developed the new test, one of whom is Egyptian-American doctor Heba Mostafa. “We will be able to diagnose more cases. This will allow the control of exposure,” said Mostafa, who is currently an assistant professor of pathology at Johns Hopkins University and director of the molecular virology laboratory at The Johns Hopkins Hospital. “Johns Hopkins clinical microbiologists Karen Carroll, M.D., and Heba Mostafa, M.B.B.Ch., Ph.D., have developed an in-house coronavirus screening test that may soon allow the health system to test as many as 1,000 people per day,” John Hopkins official website read. The test, which Johns Hopkins used for the first time on March 11, analyzes a nasal or oral swabs, and Johns Hopkins hopes it will help to address the need for wider COVID-19 testing. The World Health Organization has stressed that large-scale testing, isolation of confirmed cases, and efforts to trace those who have come in contact with confirmed cases remain the most important methods of containing the coronavirus outbreak. Around 85 tests were conducted in the first three days, according to the university s website. “Capacity is expected to ramp up quickly, reaching 180 people per day next week and 500 the week after that,” Mostafa commented, adding that testing could reach 1,000 people per day in April. Conducting internal tests reduces the burden on government laboratories, with the test results coming up in about 24 hours. Doctors hope to shorten this period to about three hours. On February 29, the US Food and Drug Administration started allowing academic medical centers to develop their own tests for the coronavirus. More than 8,700 cases and around 150 deaths have been confirmed so far in the United States. Worldwide, COVID-19 has infected over 200,000 people, with upwards of 8,700 having died from complications of the virus.
The Trump administration is in discussions with the tech industry, including Facebook and Google, about how to use Americans cellphone location data to track the spread of the novel coronavirus. Facebook (FB) and Google (GOOGL) confirmed to CNN that they are exploring ways to use aggregated, anonymized data to help in the coronavirus effort, after the Washington Post first reported the matter on Tuesday. In response to CNN s questions, Apple (AAPL) said it has not been a part of the location data discussions. The location data conversations are part of a series of interactions between the White House and the tech industry about how Silicon Valley can contribute to the coronavirus response, according to multiple people familiar with the matter. Several informal working groups have been created under that initiative, including one focusing on expanding virtual education, another dealing with telehealth, a third examining how to limit the spread of coronavirus misinformation, and a fourth to explore the use of geolocation data for disease tracking. The State Department is also engaged on the issue after receiving requests from multiple foreign governments about tapping into tech companies knowledge of the movements of billions of people worldwide, according to one of the people familiar with the matter. So far, the government has merely asked for generalized location insights that could, for example, show changes in highway traffic patterns or grocery store visits, said another of the people familiar. But, two of the people said, it raises the prospect of the government asking for further, more granular information that could pose privacy risks. "I wish people would slow it down a bit, because I don t think people have fully thought it through," said one of the people, speaking on condition of anonymity to preserve professional relationships. Even inadvertent disclosure of the identity of an infected individual as a result of a detailed location tracking program could lead to social shaming, violence or worse, the person said. Tech companies aren t alone in maintaining vast troves of customer location data. Telecom carriers that handle the smartphone communications of millions of Americans also have access to detailed location information. But it is unclear whether the Trump administration has asked them to provide that data, and if so, how granular it might be. Spokespeople for Verizon (VZ), T-Mobile (TMUS) and Sprint (S) didn t immediately respond to a request for comment. Asked whether it has participated in the US government discussions about using location data, AT&T (T) spokesman Michael Balmoris responded with a one-word answer: "No." (CNN s parent company, WarnerMedia, is owned by AT&T.) The US is not the only country to consider technology-based tracking. Israel this week passed a proposal to track coronavirus patients on a far more detailed, individual level, using location tools that had previously been used only for counterterrorism purposes. Meanwhile, Hong Kong has used electronic wristbands to keep tabs on at-risk individuals. While the pandemic may provide more reasons to put privacy on the back burner, there need to be strong rules and safeguards regulating how data can be used in the current crisis, said Dipayan Ghosh, a former Facebook and Obama administration official who is now a fellow at Harvard University s Kennedy School of Government. "There is a tremendous risk that governments could use technological capacities to monitor the spread of the virus to actually surveil their citizens," he said. "Should governments decide to track their citizens, they should establish clear guidelines as to what powers they do have, how they will conduct any monitoring, and what steps they are taking to protect privacy." In a statement, Google said anonymized location data could help health officials "determine the impact of social distancing, similar to the way we show popular restaurant times and traffic patterns in Google Maps." The company added: "This work would follow our stringent privacy protocols and would not involve sharing data about any individual s location, movement, or contacts. We will provide more details when available." Google said it has not yet shared any such data, and that if it did, it would not be combined with that of other companies. Google also said that because users must opt in to location history tracking, the data will not be granular enough to support complex "contact tracing" to trace an infection back to its source. On a conference call with reporters Wednesday, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg drew a distinction between sharing aggregate data in an anonymized fashion and raw, granular data about specific individuals. "I don t think that there are direct asks for access to people s data," he said. "It s kind of hypothetical, because nobody is asking for this." He added that some of the media reporting surrounding the issue has been "largely overstated." In a separate statement, Facebook told CNN that the company has published disaster maps populated with aggregated user location data since 2017. For example, Facebook has published maps tracking the movements of its users in response to California wildfires. As with Google, the location data Facebook collects comes from users who have opted into location sharing, Facebook said. The company has already provided mapping and location information to researchers in Taiwan and at Harvard University, and it is considering expanding the program. "In the coronavirus context, researchers and nonprofits can use the maps ... to understand and help combat the spread of the virus," Facebook s statement said.
Amazon says the coronavirus outbreak has caused a surge in online shopping, and now the online giant is adding 100,000 new full-time and part-time positions across the United States to keep up with the demand. The jobs will be Amazon s fulfillment centers and its delivery network. "We are seeing a significant increase in demand, which means our labor needs are unprecedented for this time of year," Amazon (AMZN) said in a blog post Monday. On Saturday, the company said customers could experience more extended delivery times than usual because of the high volume of orders as coronavirus spreads. The number of cases in the United States surpassed 4,000 on Monday. That announcement comes after Amazon has made speeding up shipments a key part of its business strategy over the past year. The company also said Saturday that it is out of stock on "some popular brands and items, especially in household staples categories." A search by CNN Business Monday showed that among the things Amazon appears to be out of are brand-name toilet paper and several types of brand-name disinfectant wipes. "We believe our role serving customers and the community during this time is a critical one, and we want to make sure people can get the items they need, when they need them," the company said in the post Saturday. "We are working around the clock with our selling partners to ensure availability on all of our products, and bring on additional capacity to deliver all of your orders." In addition to hiring thousands of new workers, Amazon said it is investing more than $350 million to raise pay for hourly employees in warehouse and distribution roles through April. It will pay an additional $2 USD per hour above the base hourly rate of $15 or more, depending on the region, in the United States, £2 more per hour in the United Kingdom and €2 more per hour in many European countries. The company said it is consulting with medical and health experts on recommended safety precautions within its facilities, and has implemented "social distancing in the workplace" and enhanced cleaning. During the outbreak, Amazon has also had to grapple with sellers on its site trying to capitalize on coronavirus inappropriately. Earlier this month, Amazon said it pulled more than 1 million products for price gouging or falsely advertising effectiveness against the coronavirus. "We actively monitor our store and remove offers that violate our policy," the company said in its blog post this weekend.
During a phone-in on Sunday with the Sada al-Balad TV channel, Minister of Communication and Information Technology Amr Talaat said that internet bundle download quotas have increased by 20 percent for free this month for all subscribers with the four companies operating in Egypt. The National Telecom Regulatory Authority will pay for the cost of this increase, he said, which is LE200 million. This increase aims to encourage people to stay at home longer, he explained. Talaat on Sunday also met with leaders of telecom companies and leaders of information technology companies. During the two meetings, several initiatives were agreed upon in support of the governmental decision to suspend schools and universities as an anti-coronavirus measure, with initiatives to support continued education during this period. Talaat said that the websites for the ministries of education and higher education are now freely accessible and will not be counted towards home internet package consumption. Educational content will be uploaded onto the sites, he explained, as platforms will be provided through which the ministries will host content that students can watch interactively with a teacher.
Egypt s Ministry of Health and Population announced Friday that it is cooperating with Facebook to push an initiative to raise awareness on coronavirus throughout Egypt. Health Ministry spokesperson Khaled Megahed said that the ministry, in cooperation with the World Health Organization (WHO), will provide the necessary information to Facebook which in turn will reach large swathes of people in the country. The initiative s purpose is to counter inaccurate information being spread about the disease, Megahed said. The Egyptian Ministry of Health and the WHO will therefore become the only sources of information on coronavirus in Egypt, he added. Megahed referred to an official website set to become the only source for user results on Facebook regarding the virus. The site will update periodically to ensure that only the most up-to-date and correct information reaches the public. The Ministry of Health announced Thursday the death of a 60-year-old woman from Daqahlia Governorate from the coronavirus, with the country having confirmed over 80 cases of the virus so far.
Greenland and Antarctica are shedding six times more ice than during the 1990s, driving sea level rise that could see annual flooding by 2100 in regions home today to some 400 million people, scientists have warned. The kilometres-thick ice sheets atop land masses at the planet s extremities sloughed off 6.4 trillion tonnes of mass from 1992 through 2017, adding nearly two centimetres (an inch) to the global watermark, according to an assessment by 89 researchers, the most comprehensive to date. Last summer s Arctic heatwave will likely top the 2011 record for polar ice sheet loss of 552 billion tonnes, they reported in a pair of studies, published Wednesday in Nature. That is roughly the equivalent of eight Olympic pools draining into the ocean every second. While less visible than climate-enhanced hurricanes, sea level rise may ultimately prove the most devastating of global warming impacts. Indeed, it is the added centimeters — perhaps added meters by the 22nd century — that make storm surges from climate-enhanced tropical cyclones so much more deadly and destructive, experts say. “Every centimetre of sea level rise leads to coastal flooding and coastal erosion, disrupting lives around the planet,” said University of Leeds professor Andrew Shepherd, who led the analysis along with Erik Ivins from NASA s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. “If Antarctica and Greenland continue to track worst-case climate warming scenarios, they will cause an extra 17 centimeters of sea level rise by the end of the century,” he said in a statement. Irrefutable evidence That s about a third of the rise forecast for 2100 by the UN s climate science advisory panel (IPCC) under a scenario midway between a rapid drawdown of global greenhouse gases — seen by many as overly optimistic — and the unbridled expansion of fossil fuel use, also seen as unlikely. Melting glaciers and the expansion of ocean water as it warms accounted for most sea level rise through the 20th century, but ice sheet melt-off has become a major driver over the last decade. Almost all of the ice lost from Antarctica, and half of that from Greenland, has been triggered by warming ocean water speeding the movement of glaciers toward the sea. Oceans help humanity by absorbing more than 90 percent of the excess heat from global warming. The remainder of Greenland s ice losses is due to rising air temperature, which creates roaring rivers of ocean-bound melt-water in summer. The combined rate of mass loss from both ice sheets rose six-fold from 81 to 475 billion tonnes per year over less than three decades, the studies reported. The findings are grounded in decades of satellite data, in situ measurements, and computer modelling. “Satellite measurements provide prima facie, irrefutable evidence,” said Ivins. Point of no return The IPCC forecasts about half-a-metre of sea level rise by 2100 under the middle-of-the-road emissions scenario known as RCP4.5. If humanity defies the odds and achieves “carbon neutrality” by mid-century — which means any remaining emissions are somehow offset — sea level will likely be capped at 43 cm. The “worst case” pathway — which assumes carbon emissions continue unabated, or that Earth itself will begin to boost greenhouse gas concentrations — would see an 84 cm increase, according to an IPCC special report on oceans released in September. Over the last decade, sea level has risen about four millimetres per year. But moving into the 22nd century, the waterline is likely to go up ten times faster, even under an optimistic emissions scenario. Earth s average surface temperature has warmed one degree Celsius over preindustrial levels, but polar regions have heated up twice as much. Greenland and West Antarctica — which many scientists say has already passed a point-of-no-return and will shed all its ice eventually — together support enough frozen water to lift oceans about 13 meters. The rest of Antarctica, which is more stable, sits underneath more than 50 metres-worth of sea level rise.
Astronomers have observed a distant planet where it probably rains iron. It sounds like a science fiction movie, but this is the nature of some of the extreme worlds we re now discovering. Wasp-76b, as it s known, orbits so close in to its host star, its dayside temperatures exceed 2,400C - hot enough to vaporise metals. The planet s nightside, on the other hand, is 1,000 degrees cooler, allowing those metals to condense and rain out. It s a bizarre environment, according to Dr David Ehrenreich from the University of Geneva. "Imagine instead of a drizzle of water droplets, you have iron droplets splashing down," he told BBC News. The Swiss researcher and colleagues have just published their findings on this strange place in the journal Nature. The team describes how it used the new Espresso instrument at the Very Large Telescope in Chile to study the chemistry of Wasp-76b in fine detail. The planet, which is 390 light-years from us, is so close to its star it takes just 43 hours to complete one revolution. Another of the planet s interesting features is that it always presents the same face to the star - a behaviour scientists call being "tidally locked". Earth s Moon does exactly the same thing; we only ever see one side. This means, of course, the permanent dayside of Wasp-76b is being roasted. In fact, this hemisphere must be so hot that all clouds are dispersed, and all molecules in the atmosphere are broken apart into individual atoms. What s more, the extreme temperature difference this produces between the lit and unlit portions of the planet will be driving ferocious winds, up to 18,000km/h says Dr Ehrenreich s team. Using the Espresso spectrometer, the scientists detected a strong iron vapour signature at the evening frontier, or terminator, where the day on Wasp-76b transitions to night. But when the group observed the morning transition, the iron signal was gone. "What we surmise is that the iron is condensing on the nightside, which, although still hot at 1,400C, is cold enough that iron can condense as clouds, as rain, possibly as droplets. These could then fall into the deeper layers of the atmosphere which we can t access with our instrument," Dr Ehrenreich explained. Wasp-76b is a monster gas planet that s twice the width of our Jupiter. Its unusual name comes from the UK-led Wasp telescope system that detected the world four years ago. One of the scientists on the discovery team, Prof Don Pollacco from Warwick University, said it was hard to envisage such exotic worlds. "This thing orbits so close to its star, it s essentially dancing in the outer atmosphere of that star and being subjected to all kinds of physics that, to put it bluntly, we don t really understand," he told BBC News. "It will either end up in the star or the radiation field from the star will blow away the planet s atmosphere to leave just a hot, rocky core." Dr Ehrenreich is a fan of graphic novels and asked the Swiss illustrator Frederik Peeters to produce an interpretation of Wasp-76b. "Often with these discoveries, we see detailed 3D compositions where it s difficult for people to tell whether it s a real picture or just a computer-generated image. By putting some fun into it, we re not fooling anyone," he said.
The UK cannot go climate neutral much before 2050 unless people stop flying and eating red meat almost completely, a report says. But it warns that the British public do not look ready to take such steps and substantially change their lifestyle. The report challenges the views of campaign group Extinction Rebellion. It believes the UK target of climate neutrality by 2050 will result in harm to the climate. The claim comes from the government-funded research group Energy Systems Catapult, whose computer models are used by the Committee on Climate Change, which advises government. Its report says: "A number of groups have called for net zero to be accelerated to 2025, 2030 or 2040. "Achieving net zero significantly earlier than 2050 in our modelling exceeds even our most speculative measures, with rates of change for power, heat and road transport that push against the bounds of plausibility." Glimmer of good news But the authors offer some optimism too. They calculate that the UK can cut emissions fast enough to be climate neutral by 2050 – but only if ministers act much more quickly. They say the government urgently needs to invest in three key technologies: carbon capture and storage with bioenergy crops; hydrogen for a wide variety of uses; and advanced nuclear power. The report modelled options for society to 2050. It concluded that if decisions are made early, the cost of climate neutrality can be held down to 1-2% of national wealth - GDP. Scenarios rely on some technologies still in their infancy, which will be controversial. For instance, it draws heavily on burning energy crops, capturing the carbon emissions and burying them underground. It says hydrogen use will need to grow to supply industry, heat and heavy transport. Electricity generation will need to double with heavy reliance on solar power and offshore wind. Controversially, it calls for small, modular nuclear reactors to support three-quarters of heating in cities through district heating systems. Modular reactors are much smaller than conventional reactors, and brought to a site in a kit of parts to be assembled. It warns that livestock production for dairy and meat may need to be cut by 50% rather than the 20% currently envisaged by the Committee on Climate Change. And people will need to eat less meat and dairy by the same amount. The report s author, Scott Milne, said: “Whichever pathway the UK takes, innovation, investment and inducements across low-carbon technology, land use and lifestyle are essential to achieve net zero. Image copyrightSCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARYImage captionAdopting new technologies, such as hydrogen energy, will be crucial "And there are massive economic opportunities for the UK to lead the world in these areas." However, the report warns that the public do not appear ready for substantial lifestyle changes. It warns, for instance, that if people s homes are better insulated, they may choose to spend the same amount on heating to deliver a warmer home. It says: “Early evidence suggests a general willingness to adopt new technologies (such as new heating or mobility) as long as these can deliver the same experiences as before. “Conversely, approaching the subject of dietary change or aviation often elicits a more resistant and emotional response.” Some experts will be critical of the report s expectation that new technologies such as carbon capture and storage will be rapidly adopted. A recent report said it was unrealistic to expect that carbon capture and hydrogen will develop fast enough to achieve the net zero target. A spokesperson for Extinction Rebellion told BBC News: "The global response to coronavirus shows we can radically address crises if we put our minds to it. Meanwhile, the net zero date has not been put to the people of the UK. "The science tells us that net zero by 2050 means a hell of a lot worse than giving up flying and red meat - people are dying now around the world as you read this due to governmental inaction." The report was not welcomed by the National Beef Association. Its spokesman Neil Shand told BBC News that scientific studies typically underestimate the role of livestock in capturing carbon in the soil. He said: “It does seem rather unfortunate that the report links beef production and aviation in this way. “The timing is more than a little ironic; the shops are full of people panic-buying and it seems clear that the nation s food sector relies very heavily on imports, and the associated transport that brings them into the UK. "Food produced on their own doorstep, using a system where animal and non-animal foods are symbiotic requires very little air travel, and makes excellent use of the resources our beautiful country provides. Foreign travel does not have the same necessity." In addition, a report from a group of environmentally-minded business leaders has called on the government to show increased ambition and delivery of carbon-cutting policies to get the UK on track to meet climate goals. It said there was an urgent need especially for policies to bring low-carbon heating to people s homes.
The American space agency has a new name for the rover it will be sending to the Red Planet this summer. To date, the project has been known only by its code name - Mars 2020. From now on, it will be referred to as the Perseverance rover. The name came out of a schools competition that drew 28,000 entries. The Perseverance rover will begin the process of trying to bring rocks back to Earth for study. It will trundle through an equatorial crater, looking for the best samples it can cache for retrieval by a later mission. Scientists think this will be the best approach to establishing whether or not life has ever existed on Mars. Can we finally answer the big question about Mars? Europe s Mars rover to make pit stop for repair Nasa s naming competition asked children to submit their favoured name along with a supporting 150-word essay. An army of volunteers — educators, professionals and space enthusiasts — was employed to whittle down the avalanche of ideas into a more manageable shortlist of nine on which the public was then asked to vote. Nasa s director of science, Thomas Zurbuchen, announced the winner on Thursday. The name Perseverance was suggested by Alexander Mather, a 13-year-old student from Virginia. The competition follows in the tradition of previous Mars rover missions. Nasa s first wheeled robot, which landed on the planet in 1997, was called the Microrover Flight Experiment until a 12-year-old student from Connecticut suggested the name Sojourner, in honour of abolitionist and women s rights activist Sojourner Truth. The 2004 rovers Spirit and Opportunity got their names from an Arizona student, and the agency s most recent vehicle, Curiosity, received its moniker from an 11-year-old Kansas pupil. Alexander Mather, who wants to be a Nasa engineer when he grows up, had referenced some of these missions in his winning essay. He wrote: "Curiosity, Insight, Spirit, Opportunity. If you think about it, all of these names of past Mars rovers are qualities we possess as humans. "We re always curious and seek opportunity. We have the spirit and insight to explore the Moon, Mars and beyond. "But if rovers are to be the qualities of us as a race, we missed the most important thing: Perseverance. "We as humans evolved as creatures who could learn to adapt to any situation, no matter how harsh. We are a species of explorers, and we will meet many setbacks on the way to Mars. However, we can persevere. We, not as a nation, but as humans will not give up. The human race will always persevere into the future." Media captionDeputy project scientist Katie Stack Morgan describes the new rover s mission The Perseverance rover has recently arrived at Nasa s Kennedy Space Center in Florida to begin its final preparations for launch. This will take place between 17 July and 5 August. It s a seven-month cruise to the Red Planet. Engineers have targeted a touchdown for shortly after 20:30 GMT on Thursday, 18 February, 2021. Lori Glaze, director of the agency s planetary science division, said: "The Perseverance rover is going to be collecting samples. It s the first leg of the first round trip from Earth to Mars and back. We re hoping in the 2030s that we will be bringing those samples back here to Earth. That ll be incredibly cool." Three other missions are due to leave for Mars this year, including a rover from China and an orbiter from the United Arab Emirates. Europe is also supposed to be sending a rover called Rosalind Franklin but there is currently significant uncertainty over whether it will be ready in time.
I wonder how could a group of businessmen demand the sacrifice of thousands of individuals in order to save the country from bankruptcy? The Corona catastrophe came to reveal the reality of human selfishness, and the survival instinct that don’t mind sacrificing others in order to save oneself. Our planet is full of hopes, aspirations, contradictions, tragedies, love and hatred, or simply good and bad. It has so