When 22-year-old giant panda Mei Xiang gave birth to a healthy cub on August 21, 2020, Smithsonian's National Zoo officials were both excited and anxious. That's because giant panda cubs, which weigh about 100 grams — the equivalent of a stick of butter — when born, are challenging to keep alive. Unable to see, hear, or crawl, the helpless infants are completely reliant on their mothers for food and protection. As it turns out, they had little to worry about. The newborn, who celebrated his eight-week birthday on October 16, 2020, is thriving under Mei Xiang's care and showing signs of becoming a feisty toddler.
Visitors enjoying a quiet breakfast at the Singita Ebony Lodge, a luxury hotel in South Africa's Sabi Sand Game Reserve, were treated to a rare encounter with a leopard in early September 2020. The handful of guests watched in awe —and a little trepidation — as the majestic animal, who appeared to be searching for a tasty morsel, calmly explored the various areas of the restaurant. Fortunately for the humans, nothing on the "menu" seemed to catch the leopard's fancy, and it left as abruptly as it had arrived.
On September 5, 2020, almost 800,000 fans worldwide tuned into American illusionist and endurance artist David Blaine's YouTube channel to witness his first major live event since 2012. Called Ascension, the stunt involved Blaine strapping himself to 52 colorful helium balloons and soaring into the clear blue skies above Arizona's Great Basin Desert.
Invented by French teenager Louis Braille in 1824, braille has enabled millions of visually impaired kids worldwide to learn to read and write. However, the system of raised dots, representing individual alphabet and numbers, can be complicated for younger students to grasp. As a result, parents and educators are increasingly shunning the tactile literacy system, which is taught using special textbooks, in favor of online learning programs. Now, Denmark's LEGO Group hopes to reverse the trend with the help of braille bricks that allow children to learn through play.
The San Francisco Zoo's annual "March of the Penguins," to celebrate the graduation of their Magellanic penguin chicks from "fish school," is usually attended by hundreds of cheering fans. Unfortunately, COVID-19 restrictions forced this year's ceremony, held on August 8, 2020, to be limited to a handful of lucky guests and officials. However, the lack of fanfare did not appear to bother the six adorable graduates proudly waddling over to their permanent home on Penguin Island.
Stephen Wamukota, a nine-year-old from Mukwa village in Western Kenya, is making headlines worldwide for his ingenious hand washing machine. The young boy came up with the idea after watching village residents, who do not have easy access to running water, struggle to find an effective way to wash their hands to avoid spreading and contracting COVID-19.
Summer 2020 has been exciting for stargazers. They have been treated to a once-in-a-lifetime visit from comet NEOWISE and had the rare opportunity to observe five planets and a full moon simultaneously, among other celestial events. Now, to top it all off, come the Perseids — the biggest and most spectacular meteor showers of the year.
Even those not normally interested in astronomy will find it hard to resist NEOWISE, the brightest comet to grace our skies since the 1997 appearance of Comet Hale-Bopp. The spectacular cosmic snowball of frozen gas, rock, and dust has been visible to those willing to wake up before dawn since early July. However, it has now risen high in the evening skies and can be viewed with the unaided eye by even the most casual stargazer.