On December 1, 2020, the United Kingdom (U.K.) became the first western country to give emergency approval for a COVID-19 vaccine. The Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) officials announced they would begin distributing 800,000 doses of Pfizer’s coronavirus vaccine to 50 British hospitals as early as next week. The initial vaccines will be administered to some of the nation's most vulnerable citizens — nursing home residents, health workers, and the elderly.
Over the years, the caretakers at the Southern Plains Wildlife Rehabilitation Center (SPWRC) in Lubbock, Texas, have sheltered hundreds of species of orphaned and injured animals, ranging from birds to reptiles. However, the hairless baby opossum, dropped off at the center in mid-October by a concerned resident, was unlike any animal they had encountered before.
With much of our world automated, many experts believe that coding should be a core part of modern education. Yet, only 20 US states offer high school students access to computer science courses, and just 8 of those make the subject accessible to kids in lower grades. However, thanks to Seattle-based Code.org's Hour of Code Challenge, learners of all ages and backgrounds can now get exposure to this all-important subject.
Extreme athletes have been using wingsuits — unique jumpsuits with fabric stitched between the arms and body and between the legs — to fly untethered for many years. However, while the "birdman" or "squirrel" suits allow daredevils to soar in the skies, the pull of gravity makes it impossible to accelerate or fly higher. To push past the limitations, Austrian stuntman Peter Salzmann teamed up with German car manufacturer BMW. The result is an electrified wingsuit, which allows flyers to zoom to higher altitudes at speeds of up to 186 miles per hour!
Stars that get too close to black holes usually end up getting sucked in by the strong gravitational forces of the dense space objects, from which no light can escape. Now, for the first time, researchers have been able to observe the cosmic phenomenon — nicknamed "spaghettification" because it pulls apart a star into thin "spaghetti-like" strands — in real-time.
The residents of Florida, which is home to over one million alligators, are no strangers to the apex predators. The massive animals are frequently encountered in swimming pools, ditches, and garages. In 2019, Palm Coast resident Donna Heiss even saw a 7-foot gator peeking through her window! However, the giant reptile recently spotted in Naples, Florida, impressed even the most jaded Floridians.
Soft robots, which can move around the ocean without harming sea life, are ideal for underwater exploration. However, they are rarely deployed because they are extremely slow and have a hard time maneuvering through the water. But that may change soon thanks to an innovative, self-propelling soft robot created by researchers at the University of California, San Diego.
The presence of ice in the permanently shadowed craters around the Moon's poles has been known for some time. However, researchers had been unsure if the hydration detected on the satellite's sunlit areas was "molecular" water (H2O), or hydroxyl (OH), a molecule that's one hydrogen atom shy of becoming water. On October 26, 2020, NASA confirmed that the liquid was indeed water.