5 Things to Know (9th – 13th September)

Happy Friday! Here are 5 news highlights of the week. 🙂

  1. Astronomers discover water for the first time on a ‘potentially habitable planet’

This planet, named K2-18b, is orbiting within the habitable zone of a distant star. falls in a planet category of “super Earth” as it is about twice as big as our planet. The temperature is 0˚C – 40˚C which makes it habitable for various organisms. Scientists are now looking forward to develop technologies that can help us determine the atmospheric composition in K2-18b and whether they have been produced by living organisms.

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2.  Discovery of a comet from outside our Solar System

This would be the second interstellar object after the elongated body known as ‘Oumuamua was identified in 2017. The body, now called Borisov, appears to have a “hyperbolic” orbit, which would appear to indicate its origin in another planetary system. At the time of the discovery, the comet was about three astronomical units (about 450 million km) from the Sun.

(Here’s a cool website that simulates the path taken by Borisov)

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3. Japan tests fake snow machine for 2020 Olympics 

The latest innovation being tested by 2020 Olympics organisers hopes to keep spectators cool and comfortable when the Games take place next summer. Around 300kg (47st) of artificial snow was sprayed over stands at the Sea Forest Waterway venue. Takashi Okamura, head of communication, command and control on the organising committee, told the BBC the result was “not as expected”, but said the snow had other merits. “The advantage of this machine is having a spray device to help the audience feel refreshed – and the amusement factor.”

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4. “Cocktail of pollutants” found in dolphins in English Channel

A study found some of the highest recorded levels of toxic chemicals and mercury in the bodies of bottlenose dolphins off the French coast. According to BBC, Researchers took tissue samples from more than 80 dolphins living in waters off Normandy and Brittany. They found high concentrations of mercury in skin and polychlorinated biphenyls, or PCBs, in blubber. Other industrial chemicals, such as dioxins and pesticides, were also found in blubber samples, which together may act as a “cocktail of pollutants”, they said. The chemicals are passed down from mother to calf which raises concern for the population. The scientists say the bottlenose dolphin’s habitat – an area known as the Normanno-Breton Gulf – should become a special area of conservation to protect the population.

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5. Hong Kong Tennis Open Postponed Due to Protests

It was due to start on 5 October, but has been postponed because of ongoing protests. The organisers said they would be better placed to have a “smooth running tournament…[at a] later time”. Transport to and from Hong Kong International Airport – one of the busiest in the region – has also seen major disruptions in recent weeks and protesters have targeted other major transport hubs. They said they were in “active discussion” to find a later date for the tournament, adding that the event attracted “thousands of local fans and overseas travellers” every year.

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