Three Scientists Awarded Nobel Prizes for Black Hole Research

Three scientists received the 2020 Nobel Prize in Physics for two discoveries made about black holes in our universe.

Roger Penrose received half of the prize for demonstrating how black holes could form. Andrea Ghez and Reinhard Genzel received the other half for their discovery of a supermassive object at the center of our galaxy.

The total prize awards $1.1 million to the recipient. That figure will split with half going to Penrose, one quarter to Ghez, and the remaining to Genzel.

This award makes it only the fourth time a woman has won the Nobel Prize in Physics. The other three are Marie Curie (1903), Marie Goeppert Mayer (1963), and Donna Strickland (2018).

Black Holes Come From Einstein’s General Theory of Relativity

When Einstein announced his general theory of relativity in 1915. It works to explain how we understand gravity. One of the first predictions coming from this scientific approach was the extreme option of black hole creation.

Karl Schwarzschild used Einstein’s work to show that the equations pointed out that putting too much matter and energy inside of a space not capable of managing it would collapse space-time into a singularity. That place would not hold the same physical laws as the rest of the universe.

Einstein saw that the math was correct. He also felt that nature would find ways to avoid such a problematic issue. Those hopes disappeared in 1965 with Penrose’s work on black holes.

The Penrose diagram bypasses general relativity’s mathematical complexity to make it much easier to explore the universe’s foundations. His work shows that black holes are the gateway to the literal end of time.

After making these observations, Penrose collaborated with Stephen Hawking to prove that the universe must also have a beginning event if general relativity is correct.

With these discoveries, most experts believe that Einstein’s theory will require modifications to manage extreme situations.

Despite Border Closures, Many Attend Grand Magal Pilgrimages

The Grand Magal pilgrimages are a West African tradition that takes place in Touba, Senegal’s holy city, each year. Despite the threat of COVID-19 and a potential superspreader event, tens of thousands of people descended on the town to embrace their faith.

Senegal’s land borders are closed. Although fewer people showed up to attend the pilgrimage’s leading events on its first day, long lines of people still arrived for the day; facial coverings and hand sanitizer where requirements to enter.

For many of the people who came, going a year without Magal would be too much. They decided to take the physical risks to gain a potential spiritual reward.

Senegal has recorded over 15,000 cases of COVID-19, including over 300 deaths.

How to Manage COVID-19 Risks While Traveling

You can take several steps to help protect yourself when traveling, with COVID-19 still a prevalent health concern globally.

  1. When you travel, take as much food and miscellaneous supplies as you can to limit interactions with other people.
  2. Keep yourself healthy. If that means taking products from brands like Jarrow Formulas and Nature’s Way, do what it takes to give your immune system a fighting chance.
  3. Wear a mask whenever the possibility exists that you could be around others. You might be asymptomatic with a coronavirus infection, but it won’t stop you from shedding the virus so that others catch it.
  4. Stay six feet apart whenever possible.
  5. Avoid shaking hands, meeting new people, or finding yourself in unfamiliar locations without taking the personal protective gear precautions. 
  6. Many people rely on their faith to get them through challenging situations. Although prayer and fasting are essential spiritual components, they don’t replace something simple, like a face mask.

Senegal fears that a COVID-19 resurgence may occur after the Grand Magal pilgrimages. Only time will tell if enough precautions were taken.

What Does the Middle East Peace Deal Mean for Iran?

When the UAE and Israel reached a peace deal in 2020, many in the American government were quick to spin it as a victory for Middle East peace.

The agreement is rather basic. Israel receives diplomatic relations with a Middle East neighbor in exchange for postponing, not ceasing, its plans for annexing West Bank settlements.

UAE is only the third Arab country to normalize a relationship with Israel since its establishment after World War II. Although it is a step in the right direction, it only formalizes the shared security interests and economic ties the two already had.

What is the actual outcome? Iran expects to see an escalation of the cold war happening with Israel and the United States.

Iran Already Threatened UAE with Consequences

Iran called the deal with Israel a “betrayal of the Palestinian people.” With the Kushner family behind the financing of the West Bank settlements, it’s easy to see Trump’s influence within this dynamic. After backing out of the peace deal and reimposing sanctions, Iran’s government is in a challenging predicament.

UAE can route through Israel to the United States to improve its military armament. Israel already has American weapons it can use to prevent an attack. That leaves a depleted Iran desperately seeking nuclear power to have a potential counter.

Saudi Arabia no longer sees Israel as a potential threat. If anything, Middle East governments are more concerned about domestic protests about discrimination and corruption.

It is a return to the politics of Henry Kissinger. The Obama Administration wanted to hold allies in the region accountable for their faults. It was part of a non-interventionalist strategy. Trump is more accepting of the idea of being at peace with potential human rights monsters if the decision benefits the U.S. in some way.

The moves the American government is making are thrilling Israel. The choices are also pushing Europe away while Iran blusters. How long this tinderbox can keep simmering is anyone’s guess.

Who Is Japan’s New Prime Minister?

Yoshihide Suga assumed the Office of the Prime Minister in Japan on September 14, 2020. He took over from Shinzo Abe, who stepped down to the surprise of much of the world.

Suga served as the Chief Cabinet Secretary from 2012 to 2020. He was also the Minister of Internal Affairs and Communications in 2006-2007.

Suga’s story is unique. His family were strawberries farmers in the Akita Prefecture. He moved to Tokyo after high school, enrolling in Hosei University to study the law. He became a political aide before running a successful campaign to join the Yokohama Municipal Assembly in 1987.

Suga says that he’ll continue many of the policies started under Abe, who served four terms as Japan’s PM.

Why Did Shinzo Abe Resign as Prime Minister?

Abe announced that he was resigning as Japan’s prime minister because of ongoing health issues. There was still a year left in his current tenure. He apologized during his announcement for being unable to fulfill his job during the pandemic.

Shinzo Abe has colitis, which is an incurable inflammatory bowel disease. It was the reason for his resignation in 2007, when he ended his first term after about a year in office.

Although Abe received criticism for trying to rewrite Japan’s wartime history and party corruption, he also had ambitious economic ideas that could transform the country’s economy. Suga says that he will continue this work, but the markets were unsure of the message. The local markets closed about 1.4% lower.

One of Suga’s immediate challenges is to get the Tokyo Olympics on track for a 2021 competition.

COVID-19 is the other challenge that Japan faces today. With an aging population and an initial lackluster response, the country is further behind others in controlling outbreaks.

Abe may decide to make another comeback one day. As for right now, Yoshihide Suga is leading the charge toward what everyone hopes to be a brighter future for Japan.

Are We Any Closer to a COVID-19 Vaccine?

With millions of people infected and hundreds of thousands dying, COVID-19 is the public health emergency of a lifetime for many people today.

It spreads easily, is highly contagious with exposure, and can cause symptoms to last for months in some people.

Even a mild case of COVID-19 can last for 14+ days.

Everyone wants to get back to a level of normalcy. Taking products from Curamed and Life Extension might help, but it isn’t the same as receiving a vaccine. Here’s where the world stands right now on that work.

Over 200 COVID-19 Vaccines Are in Development

Russia and China have announced they are using a vaccine already. Most governments doubt the safety and efficacy of that work, but they are still watching with hope to see if early breakthroughs could create safe outcomes.

Eight candidate vaccines are currently in clinical trials with human subjects. One of those is presently suspended because of adverse side effects. Most experts believe it will be late 2021 before something is widely available for everyone to use. The World Health Organization is working with scientists, business leaders and global health agencies to speed up the pandemic response.

Most companies are in the Stage II or Stage III testing phase of their vaccine. The FDA has promised to fast-track reviews to ensure anything that offers promising results can reach the market as quickly as possible.

One of the promising candidates comes from a company called Inovio. They were already working on a vaccine for the MERS coronavirus, allowing them to transition to COVID-19 rather quickly.

What to Know About a COVID Vaccine

With multiple competitors producing potentially viable COVID-19 vaccines, distribution networks may not take long to create. That means once one of them gets approved, it will be a slow and steady race toward inoculation for the general public.

The data collected from the Phase III trials will dictate the next steps. FDA rules require a 50% efficacy rate, which puts it in line with the flu shot for effectiveness.

If a vaccine gets approved by the end of 2020, the earliest distribution would be the following spring for essential personnel. It could be Halloween 2021 before everyone can have one.

Until a vaccine becomes available, continue taking your CuraMed supplements, washing your hands, wearing a mask, and adopting social distancing practices. 

What Caused the Explosion in Beirut?

A shocking explosion ripped through Beirut’s streets on August 4, 2020. It killed at least 200 people, caused 5,000 injuries, and leveled several city blocks.

Before the explosion occurred, a large fire developed in Warehouse 12 at the Port of Beirut. White smoke billowed into the sky until the roof caught fire. Once that happened, a massive initial explosion occurred, followed by some smaller ones, until a mushroom cloud sent a blast wave throughout the city.

Authorities believe that welding work was responsible for starting the initial fire. A door at the warehouse was ordered fixed that day. 

About 300,000 people were left homeless immediately. Lebanon blamed the event on 2,750 tons of ammonium nitrate stored in the warehouse.

A similar event happened in Texas in 1947. A ship carrying 2,000 tons of ammonium nitrate exploded, killing almost 600 people.

How Big Was the Explosion?

The explosive event was approximately 10% of the size of the atomic weapon unleashed on Hiroshima. That makes it one of the most gigantic non-nuclear explosions in history.

Once the fires were put out, a crater almost 500 feet wide was discovered. It was eventually filled with seawater.

A ship was blasted out of the water when the shockwave went through the city. Windows at Beirut’s airport broke from the event even though it was five miles away.

People in Cyprus heard the explosion when it happened. Seismologists analyzing the area said that the ground shook at the equivalency of a 3.3-magnitude earthquake.

Among the victims of the explosion was the renowned architect Jean-Marc Bonfils. He was involved in the restoration work happening in the city after the recent civil war. Bonfils was broadcasting on Facebook live after the first explosion, but he was injured in the second one.

Some first responders who were coming to assess the damage after the first massive explosion were caught in the second one, dying instantly. Five nurses who were responding to the scene were killed while helping others.

Most of the government resigned six days later, although no one was willing to take responsibility for the ammonium nitrate’s oversight.

UK Crashes Into Deepest Recession of Any Major Economy

Although the United States saw a significant decrease in economic output during 2020’s second quarter, the UK experienced an even worse outcome.

The economy’s output shrank by over 20%, making it the worst quarterly slump on record in history. Although the COVID-19 pandemic drove the results, it is still the deepest recession of any major economy.

Although the US experienced a 31.4% drop in economic activity, that figure was only a 10.6% drop than the GDP. 

France and Italy both suffered over 15% drops in relation to the second quarter of 2020. The cause for these massive declines involves the dependence on retail and services in those economies.

Why Did the UK’s Economy Decline Steeply?

The issue with the UK’s financial results involves the lockdown length imposed on people. Most businesses were stopped from providing services or selling goods for the entire quarter.

Although the United States had a lengthy lockdown period that started in March, different states took unique approaches. Some of them barely put in any restrictions, while others used significant lockdown measures to restrict movement.

The states that followed the UK’s approach are seeing similar problems with their economy.

Even when comparing Italy to the United Kingdom, restaurants, cafés, and hairdressers were allowed to reopen in May for Italians. It wasn’t until July 4 that those in the UK could do the same.

Germany faired even better because it allowed car dealerships, bike shops, bookstores, and other businesses to reopen as early as April 20.

Since the restrictions were lightened, the UK economy saw an 8.7% increase in activity from the previous month. It’s a start, but more needs to be done to rescue people trapped near the poverty line.
Although the UK economy expects to recover, a fast response is not likely. Another wave of COVID-19 cases, shedding almost one million jobs, and slow Brexit negotiations threaten to make a 10% contraction for 2020.

What to Stock Up on Before a Winter COVID-19 Resurgence

When lockdown orders started getting implemented in March 2020 because of the coronavirus pandemic, shoppers began stocking up on emergency supplies. The first items to leave store shelves involved paper products and toilet paper.

This activity was quickly followed by rice, beans, oatmeal, lentils, and similar pantry staples.

With the world gearing up for a winter resurgence of COVID-19, mixed with a bit of influenza, now is the perfect time to start stocking up on things.

You’ll want to grab those pantry staples now. Having an extra package of toilet paper wouldn’t hurt. Any medications you may need should get restocked, including prescriptions that are necessary for your health.

Once you have those items, considering adding these additional things to your list.

1. Health Supplements

Many people use supplements to get the nutrients they need for good health. Stocking up on items from Desbio, Numeria, and Neuroscience to ensure you have enough for up to three months can get you through potentially challenging times.

2. Diapers

If you have a little one at home, stock up on diapers. Get some wipes while you’re at the store as well, since those disappeared after the toilet paper.

3. Hand Sanitizer

You couldn’t find hand sanitizer on most store shelves for over a month after the pandemic hit. Once the products started coming back, you were paying double or triple the price for the same item pre-pandemic. Stocking up now ensures you won’t get caught in similar circumstances.

4. Frozen Vegetables

Canned goods disappeared quickly when reports of food chain shortages hit the news in April. Grab some frozen veggies now to keep in your freezer. They’ll stay good throughout the winter.

5. Canned Fruit

Fresh produce disruptions made it challenging to find some fruit items in some stores. Stocking up on canned varieties ensures you have a long-term food solution to maintain.
What you don’t need to grab is bottled water. You can get everything you need from your well or municipal supply. If shortages do occur, shop local to support farmers and growers in your community – or plant a garden to get what you need!

Quick Review of 2020 Most Notable Moments

When we think about 2020, it will be a year that none of us forget. Future generations will talk about the months that we spent alone, working and learning remotely, while everything seemed like it could fall apart at any moment.

The year started with news that a disease was spreading throughout China. It didn’t seem like a problem in January, but it became concerning in February when it began to spread. Italy saw record casualties, followed by the U.S., while the rest of the world tried to maintain its status quo.

China locked down Wuhan first. Italy did the same, followed by the United States and the rest of the world.

We’re still dealing with the coronavirus today. It was once considered a respiratory illness with new mandates requiring people to wear masks, but now scientists see it as a cardiovascular issue. At least every day gets us a little closer to normalcy again.

That’s one issue from 2020. Here is a review of the other notable events, in no particular order.

1. Murder Hornets

These massive hornets are the size of a finger. They feed on bee colonies, disrupting pollination chains wherever they go. For the past few years, some had been spotted in Canada. Now, they’re moving into Washington State.

2. Assassination of Qasem Soleimani

The U.S. authorized the death of an Iranian general in a drone strike. This event led to several days of tension between the two countries, with threats of war traded. Iran would issue a retaliatory attack on Iraqi bases with American troops in response. That happened three days into the year.

3. Trump’s Impeachment

Donald Trump became the first President in his first term to get impeached by the House of Representatives.

4. Death of Kobe Bryant

Basketball star and philanthropist Kobe Bryant was killed in a helicopter crash with his teen daughter and seven others while flying to a game. The entire world found itself mourning the loss, with murals appearing from Africa to the Philippines.

5. Beirut Explosion

Over 2,700 pounds of ammonium nitrate exploded in Lebanon, killing over 150 people and injuring about 6,000. Hundreds of thousands of people were displaced as entire neighborhoods got leveled.

6. George Floyd

Protests in Portland, OR, over the death of George Floyd have persisted for over 100 days. The Black Lives Matter movement surged again, with mostly peaceful protests happening in dozens of cities.

We’re in the final stretch of 2020. What else do you think this year has in store for us all?

Discarded Masks Becoming a Health and Environmental Hazard

When the coronavirus pandemic made its first wave around the planet in March, health experts didn’t want people to wear masks because of the emergency need for them at hospitals and care facilities.

As we have learned more about how COVID transmits between people, most governments have mandated mask-wearing to prevent its spread.

These rules may be limiting the number of infections, but it also comes with a detrimental side effect. People are littering by discarding their used masks improperly. This problem has become so widespread that it is becoming a health and environmental hazard.

Why Is PPE Problematic for the Environment?

If you take a walk around the average city, you’ll find discarded masks and gloves everywhere. Whether in the street, a parking lot, or your front yard, these plastics can adversely impact the environment.

These products break down into microplastics that attract harmful chemicals and pesticides. They enter sewer systems and bodies of water. When animals eat these products, the contaminants enter their tissues.

If we eat those animals, the litter we created with our PPE enters our bodies.

What makes the problem even worse is that some people think that these items can be recycled, creating breakdowns in the recovery chain. 

The problem has become so great that some communities, such as Swampscott, Mass., are instituting fines of $5,500 or more to stop the littering.

How to Manage the COVID PPE Problem

It only takes having all of us to follow a few simple steps to stop PPE littering in our communities.

1. Don’t Litter

If you have masks or gloves that must get discarded, throw the PPE in the nearest trash. Although the risk of catching the coronavirus is remote, having healthy children or adults coming into contact with a contaminated item is not something we’d wish on anyone.

2. Put Clean Materials in Recycling

You cannot leave food or organic materials in recycling products. Try to clean each item before placing it in the correct receptacle.

3. Put PPE in the Trash

Used masks and gloves should get put out with the weekly trash. It helps to put the PPE in a tight, secure bag to prevent any contamination from reaching the regular waste stream. If you travel and need to discard items, carry a container that lets you properly store the items until they can be disposed of correctly.
When we all do our part, we can stop the litter and the COVID pandemic. Take care of yourself with products from Argentyn23, LivOn Labs, and Quicksilver Scientific while protecting you and your loved ones from infection.