This winter, a flurry of 5 new Chicago writers and their fiction debuts
CHICAGO — This month, next month — and probably long into the future — if you pay any attention at all to the Chicago literary landscape, you’re going to need to acquaint yourself with a handful of fresh names. No fewer than five debut novels by Chicago authors arrive on shelves this winter, an unusually strong showing. All are talented fiction writers and all have landed healthy deals with major publishers. They tell tales from the Stateway Gardens housing projects, and about women linked mysteriously across centuries. They write about a forgotten science-fiction novelist, and about growing u...
Some flyers buy 'carbon offsets' to atone for airline climate sins. But does that do any good?
Having grown up with parents who encouraged recycling, Jenny Beightol has always been aware of her environmental impact. She doesn’t own a car, and bikes or takes public transportation to get around town.But the 32-year-old Chicagoan sometimes likes to travel to places like Mexico. This has led to soul searching, because scientists say that planes account for about 2.5% of global carbon dioxide production, which contributes to climate change.To ease her guilt, Beightol buys “carbon offsets,” which allow her to invest in environmental projects as a way of compensating for the greenhouse gas emi...
'Invisible oil' from Deepwater Horizon spill may have reached the Florida Keys
MIAMI — Florida Keys residents may not have seen massive tar balls and fish kills after the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill, but small concentrations of toxic crude were still reaching the islands and potentially harming marine life, as the extent of the deadly disaster in the Gulf of Mexico was worse than originally thought, according to a University of Miami study.Nearly a decade after the worst offshore oil spill in U.S. history killed 11 people and dumped 200 million gallons of crude into the ocean, researchers found discrepancies in the satellite footprint that was used to establish fish...
Inside a Philadelphia lab, scientists race to design a coronavirus vaccine
PHILADELPHIA — Faraz Zaidi and Daniel Park peered at a series of small, black blots that appeared on a clear sheet of plastic — confirming they had created a type of protein that, until January, was unknown to science.It was a signal alerting them to the presence of the microscopic “spikes” on a coronavirus — the infectious microbe that, at last count, had killed more than 1,000 people in China.Health officials worldwide have attempted to quell the outbreak by restricting travel, isolating infected people and quarantining others who were exposed to someone with the infection. But from the mome...
The Philadelphia Inquirer
Professor teaches tiny nanoparticles to prevent heart attacks
DETROIT — An associate professor from Michigan State University has helped invent a potential treatment for coronary artery disease — a sub-microscopic scouring process he likens to “taking out the garbage.”Bryan Smith, 40, came to MSU in late 2018 from Stanford University, where he and a few other extremely smart people figured out they could direct nanoparticles to tell cells to engulf and eat the arterial debris that can cause heart attacks.The hope, he says, is that their tiny Trojan horses “can reduce the need for bypass surgery, for stents and for other drugs.”Assuming it works, it’s pro...
The Detroit News
Trump's NASA budget calls for 12% increase in funds to achieve a 2024 moon landing
President Donald Trump is calling for a 12% increase in NASA’s budget for 2021, a bump largely targeted at transforming the administration’s goal of landing people on the lunar surface by 2024 from ambitious dream to tangible reality.The proposal requests $25.2 billion for NASA in 2021 — the agency got $22.6 billion in 2020 — with a dedicated $3.4 billion in funding for a human-rated moon lander system, the first time since the Apollo program in the 1960s that NASA could get dedicated funding for that kind of hardware. The space agency plans to return to the moon under a new program called Art...
Will Bunch: The most horrifying thing about Trump's State of the Union? The two words he never said
Imagine that it’s January 1941, and President Franklin D. Roosevelt is delivering his annual State of the Union address to a joint session of Congress. The planet is literally on fire from the Big One, World War II. Nazi Germany has overrun France and Adolf Hitler’s regime has been raining bombs on London for months. Japan has overrun much of Asia.But FDR begins his speech with a long riff on how great the American economy has done under his presidency — including some gratuitous swipes at his predecessor Herbert Hoover, even though it’s been eight years since Hoover left the Oval Office. Ther...
The Philadelphia Inquirer
SpaceX gets $80 million from NASA to launch its Earth Science mission in 2022
ORLANDO, Fla. — SpaceX will get $80.4 million from NASA to launch the agency’s 2022 Earth science mission, known as PACE.NASA announced this week that SpaceX would provide the thrust for the mission with a Falcon 9 rocket scheduled to launch in December 2022 from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.The 3,700 pound PACE spacecraft, which stands for Plankton, Aerosol, Cloud ocean Ecosystem, will analyze how climate change impacts the plant’s oceans and atmosphere. Scientists will also be able to investigate organism diversity in the marine food web, as well as gather additional data to improve glob...
Why you can't necessarily trust your smartphone's weather app
You know the feeling. That pang of excitement or dread — or a little of both — when you open a weather app on your phone and there it is, staring back at you: a snowflake.But that snowflake can be an unreliable indicator, according to local weather experts.The best smartphone weather apps rely on information provided by the National Weather Service, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and satellites. But apps can still vary widely in accuracy.“I think what happens is that they have computer models spitting out these forecasts seven to 10 days in advance when (forecasts) actuall...
The Seattle Times
Study: Mixing chlorine and drinking water can be toxic
Chlorine is the most commonly used chemical to disinfect water supplies and has been used as such since the early 1900s, according to the National Center for Biotechnology Information.A new study by researchers at Johns Hopkins University, however, finds there are unintended and toxic byproducts produced through this process.“There’s no doubt that chlorine is beneficial; chlorination has saved millions of lives worldwide from diseases such as typhoid and cholera since its arrival in the early 20th century,” wrote lead author Carsten Prasse, an assistant professor of environmental health and en...
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution