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.
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)!
Since being introduced to chess at the tender age of six, Tanitoluwa "Tani" Adewumi has had one goal. He wants to become the world's youngest-ever Grandmaster — the highest title a chess player can achieve. The record is currently held by Russian chess player Sergey Alexandrovich Karjakin, who qualified for the title in 2002 at the age of 12 years and seven months.
In the early hours of June 5, 2021, astronauts aboard the International Space Station (ISS) welcomed some unusual visitors: 128 baby bobtail squids and 5,000 tardigrades. The micro-animals were part of SpaceX's 22nd cargo resupply mission that delivered over 7,300 pounds of equipment and supplies — including treats like fresh apples and oranges — to the station. NASA researchers hope that the tiny critters will enable them to better understand the impacts of space travel on the human body.
On the heels of the spectacular May 26, 2021, total lunar eclipse comes another celestial spectacle. On June 10, 2021, some lucky stargazers will witness this year's first of two solar eclipses. Since it is an annular, not a total, eclipse, the Sun's edges will be visible around the Moon, transforming the star into a stunning "ring of fire."
While scientists have managed to recover and examine thousands of meteorites, finding their origin or even whether they are from icy comets or rocky asteroids has proved elusive. Now, for the first time, a team of international researchers has traced the source of a boulder-sized rock that landed in Botswana to an asteroid named Vesta. Boasting a diameter of about 326 miles, it is one of the largest and brightest rocks in the asteroid belt that circles the Sun between Jupiter and Mars.