The Earth is Spinning Faster as Monkey Pox Spreads
The Earth is spinning faster than usual and recently recorded its shortest day ever. Monkey Pox is spreading worldwide, but cases remain low as the virus is not as contagious as Coronavirus. Amazon is acquiring iRobot for $1.7 billion to gain more access to data. The US is reporting record job growth despite an economic downturn. Tonga’s Volcano eruption could warm the Earth for years. Here are this week’s stories.
Earth is Spinning Faster Than Usual
The Earth is spinning faster than usual and recently recorded its shortest day ever. According to the National Physical Laboratory in England, June 29, 2022 was 1.59 milliseconds less than the average day. A typical day lasts 24 hours or 86,400 seconds, but the pace of Earth’s rotation has sped up in recent years, shortening some days by milliseconds. Some scientists believe that earthquakes or the Earth’s core are causing the acceleration, while some believe that the constant melting and refreezing of ice caps on the tallest mountains are influencing the rotational momentum of the planet. Either way, the Earth has been spinning faster since 2016, and these milliseconds can add up to make a significant difference. To account for this difference, some researchers have proposed a negative leap second, where clocks would skip one second, but it would likely cause more harm than good. Meta engineers and researchers say that this practice could have a “devastating effect on the software relying on timers or schedulers” and result in data and server crashes. Leap seconds have been added in the past because of this phoneme, but it is hard to do with today’s state of technology.
Monkey Pox Continues to Spread
Monkey Pox has been infecting people for decades, but for the first time, there is a global outbreak of the virus, putting scientists on high alert. The virus is endemic in Central and West Africa, where there have been thousands of cases, but now thousands of new cases are being reported across the world, especially in Europe and North America. The US has reported over 7,500 cases, and Spain is at 5,000, while German and United Kingdom are approaching 3,000 cases. Initial Monkey Pox symptoms are flu-like, including fever, chills, exhaustion, and headache, followed by enlarged lymph nodes. Then rashes start to emerge and spread to other parts of the body. The virus usually spreads through infected animals or prolonged close contact with an infected individual, and it only becomes contagious when symptoms emerge. It spreads through person-to-person contact and is not nearly as infectious as Coronavirus. Monkeypox is still considered an outbreak, and there is already one FDA-approved vaccine to prevent the disease. This disease, in its current state, should not present any problems.
Amazon is Acquiring iRobot for $1.7 Billion
Amazon has signed an agreement to acquire iRobot, an American technology company that builds robots for a household, for about $1.7 billion in an all-cash transaction. iRobot is known for its Roomba vacuums and mops, which autonomously clean homes using sensors that can detect obstacles. With this acquisition, Amazon will be able to add these Roomba robots to its line of smart home products, which includes Alexa and Ring doorbells, and get access to tons of data. Roomba vacuums include cameras that keep track of floor plans and habits so they can clean harder and smarter. Amazon can take advantage of this by collecting data on households, like how big a home is or how old a couch is, which Amazon can use to sell more items. Over the past few years, Amazon has been trying to expand into multiple industries. Many oppose the acquisition because Amazon is becoming too powerful in several industries and already has too much data. Amazon has acquired over 80 companies, including OneMedical last month for $3.5 billion, Whole Foods in 2017 for $13.7 billion, and Hollywood studio MGM for $8.5 billion. Critics called for US regulators to block the purchase, arguing it endangers privacy, but the deal will likely go through and is subject to regulatory approval.
US Reports Record Job Growth Despite Recession
The US has officially gained all jobs lost during the pandemic despite being in a recession. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, nearly 530,000 jobs were added in July. The unemployment rate dropped to 3.5%, the lowest since 1969. The labor market is so strong that there were over 11 million job openings in May, but only 6 million Americans were unemployed. Still, a recession is inevitable with high inflation, high-interest rates, and a shrinking GDP. The US economy has shrunk for the second straight quarter, hitting a widely accepted rule for identifying recessions. Gross domestic product (GDP), a key measure of economic output, fell by 0.9% annually in the second quarter after declining by 1.6% earlier this year. Inflation remains extremely high at 9.1% year-over-year, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, and the Federal Reserve continues to raise interest rates to combat high inflation, but it will likely tip the US economy into a recession. In the 11 times the Federal Reserve increased interest rates, the Fed has successfully dodged recession only three times. Because of the high inflation rate, Americans are also saving less. Americans saved only 5.4% of disposable personal income in May, down from 12.4% last year.
Tonga’s Volcano Could Be Warming the Earth
Earlier this year, in the island nation of Tonga, located north of New Zealand, an underwater volcano exploded with the force of a nuclear bomb. The undersea volcano Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai exploded in a blast 600 times stronger than the bomb unleashed on Hiroshima at the end of World War II. It was felt from Antarctica to Alaska, and it triggered a tsunami. A new study estimates that the eruption sent 146 trillion grams of water vapor into Earth’s stratosphere, or enough water to fill 58,000 Olympic-sized swimming pools. In the 18 years that NASA has taken measurements, no other eruption has sent this much water vapor into the atmosphere. Experts say this water vapor will remain in the atmosphere for years and possibly decades before dissipating. It will trap more heat into the atmosphere and worsen the depletion of the ozone layer by boosting specific chemical reactions.
Above were my top stories for the week of August 7, 2022. Thank you, and see you next week!