The countdown to the 2020 Summer Games has begun. On July 23, 2021, about 11,000 athletes from 206 countries will gather at the Olympic Stadium in Tokyo, Japan, for the opening ceremony of the Games of the XXXII Olympiad. Here are a few contestants to keep an eye on at the world's most prestigious sporting event.
On July 8, 2021, Zaila Avant-garde outspelled 11 finalists to clinch the prestigious Scripps National Spelling Bee title. The 14-year-old from Harvey, Louisiana, is the first African American and only the second Black winner in the national competition's 93-year history. The first was Jody-Anne Maxwell from Jamaica, who won in 1998 at the age of 12. Avant-garde is also Louisiana's first spelling bee champion!
Our seemingly calm Sun can have a nasty temper that comes in the form of powerful explosions. The star's unpredictable outbursts can disrupt satellites in orbit and be dangerous for astronauts. Though the flares are well-documented, researchers have never been able to pinpoint the cause of the erratic behavior. Now, the Sun's incredible multi-staged "tantrum" may help scientists get closer to solving the long-standing mystery.
Magawa, an African giant pouched rat trained to sniff out concealed explosive devices, has retired. The rodent, who received British veterinary charity PDSA's gold medal for bravery in 2020, was one of Belgian non-profit APOPO's most successful HeroRATs. During his illustrious five-year career, Magawa discovered more than 71 landmines and helped clear over 2,420,000 sq. feet (225,000 sq. meters) of land in Siem Reap, Cambodia.
Here is some good news for those wilting in the sweltering summer heat — July is National Ice Cream Month! The "cool" holiday can be credited to Proclamation 5219, signed by former US President Ronald Reagan on July 9, 1984. The decree urges citizens to observe the entire month, or at the very least the third Sunday of July — designated National Ice Cream Day — “with appropriate ceremonies and activities."
Some artists seem to excel at impressing the world with artwork that can only be called unusual at best. First, there was Maurizio Cattelan's Comedian, a series of three sculptures — each comprising a single banana affixed to a wall with duct tape — that sold for $120,000 apiece in 2019. Now, contemporary Italian artist Salvatore Garau has managed to sell an immaterial, or imaginary, masterpiece to an anonymous buyer for an astonishing 15,000 euros (about $18,000)!
This year's US Independence Day celebrations promise to be extra special due to the arrival of a second, smaller Statue of Liberty from France. The bronze replica, nicknamed "Little Sister," is expected to reach New York City in time for the Fourth of July festivities. The statue will be displayed on Ellis Island – across the water from the original Statue of Liberty, which sits on Liberty Island — from July 1 through 5, 2021. It will then be moved to the French Embassy in Washington, DC, where it will remain until 2031.
The East African country of Kenya has been at the forefront of the global war on plastic since 2017, when officials outlawed plastic bags. In June 2020, the government upped the ante with a ban on single-use plastics in protected areas. Unfortunately, the preemptive measures have barely made a dent. Hundreds of tons of industrial and consumer polymer waste continue to get dumped into landfills daily. However, if 29-year-old Nzambi Matee has her way, the unsightly plastic heaps will soon be transformed into colorful bricks.