Spain's three-month-long lockdown order imposed to curb the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic was finally lifted on June 22, 2020. To celebrate the joyous occasion, the Gran Teatre del Liceu in Barcelona, Spain — one of Europe's oldest and most famous opera houses— staged its first live performance since mid-March. While every seat was occupied, there was not a human to be found. Instead, the sold-out audience comprised 2,292 potted plants carefully selected from local nurseries.
With less than 55,000 grizzly bears left in the wild across North America, the sighting of even one is a cause for celebration. Hence you can only imagine how delighted Cara Clarkson and her family were when they spotted two young grizzlies — one with rarely seen all-white fur— foraging alongside the Trans-Canada Highway near Banff, Canada, on April 26, 2020.
The unwarranted death of George Floyd, an unarmed African American man, by a Minneapolis, MN, police officer on May 25, 2020, has reignited the debate about race-based police abuse. Protestors argue that the current law enforcement system encourages systemic racism and are calling for nationwide police reform. In addition to changing the laws, activists are also making a strong case for "defunding the police."
With the days getting increasingly longer and warmer, the Northern Hemisphere summer may seem to be well on its way. However, though the meteorological season, which evenly splits the 12 months of the year into four seasons, started on June 1, 2020, the astronomical summer will not begin until June 20, 2020. Called summer solstice, it is the day when the North Pole is most inclined towards the Sun, allowing residents of the Northern Hemisphere to enjoy the longest day (and shortest night) of the year. Conversely, Southern Hemisphere residents will celebrate the astronomical start of winter, or winter solstice, with the shortest day (and longest night) of 2020.
Identifying the chemical makeup of pigments used in ancient documents, paintings, and watercolors is critical to restoring and conserving the precious artworks. However, despite numerous efforts, scientists had been unable to determine the source of folium, a popular blue dye used to color manuscripts in Europe during the middle ages — from the 5th to the 15th century. Now, a team of researchers from Portugal has finally uncovered the mysterious ingredient responsible for the gorgeous blueish-purple tint that helped bring ancient illustrations and texts to life.
As if the COVID-19 pandemic has not been difficult enough, 2020 has another "trick" in store for the residents of Southwest Virginia, parts of North Carolina, and West Virginia. This one will come in the form of millions and millions of noisy cicadas who are gradually emerging from their 17-year underground hibernation to spend the final few weeks of their lives mating and breeding. Dubbed Brood IX, the alien-like insects are expected to peak in mid-June, with as many as 1.5 million specimens emerging per acre. The visit, however, will be short-lived, and most will be gone by July.
Since May 26, 2020, cities across the US have been gripped by protests seeking justice for George Floyd, an unarmed African American man who died in police custody on May 25, 2020. The incident has led to one of the biggest displays of unrest seen in America in 50 years and reignited the debate about law enforcement and race relations globally. From May 30 to June 1, 2020, thousands of demonstrators in cities across the world — from London to Berlin to Auckland to Brazil — marched in solidarity with their US counterparts to demand justice for Floyd and to protest against the mistreatment of minority groups in their respective countries.
Astronauts aboard the International Space Station (ISS) are always thrilled to welcome new crew members to the orbiting laboratory. However, the May 31, 2020, arrival of NASA astronauts Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley on SpaceX's Endeavour was particularly exciting. It was the first piloted launch from American soil since the US Space Shuttle program was retired in 2011 and the first human spaceflight performed by a public-private partnership — NASA and SpaceX.