Last Tuesday, India’s Mars Orbiter Mission (coined MOM) took off with no foreseen complications. The primary goal of this mission is to prove to the international community that India has the capability to reach space and perform experiments, as told by representatives of India’s space agency. If the 300 day mission is successful, India will become the 4th country to have successfully sent a probe to the Red Planet.
A Soyuz rocket was launched earlier this week, carrying the Sochi Olympic torch for the Winter Olympic season. Russia, being next year’s host, wished to display the torch in a new way, attempting to resemble a strong, modern nation. Two Russian cosmonauts will take the torch on its first-ever space-walk, exiting the space station and televised live for all to see.
Significant decreases in inflation have forced European Central Bank (ECB) board members to reduce interest rates to 2.5% from the regular 5%. Inflation rates have reflected a weak European economy; prices have frozen in Greece, the EU’s most financially unstable member. ECB president Mario Draghi believes that the lower interest rates will help promote business in the EU, bringing the area back to the desired 2% inflation. The value of the Euro dropped over 1% shortly after the announcement.
The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have made an official statement that partially hydrogenated oils, a major source of trans fat, is no longer considered “reasonably safe.” The FDA will begin a 2 month consultation period to discuss ways of removing trans fats from the food industry. Although it will be a slow adjustment, the FDA believes that US industries have the means to remove all partially hydrogenated oils from their products. Initial speculations indicate that this will save over 7,000 lives as well as over 20,000 heart attack victims every year.
Recent data collected by NASA’s Kepler spacecraft indicates that there could be approximately 40 billion Earth-size planets that are habitable. Erik Petigura, a graduate student at the University of California, Berkley, completed his three-year calculation of information collected by the Kepler spacecraft. Accordingly, one out of every five stars similar to our sun contains an Earth-sized planet orbiting in its sweet spot, also known as the ‘Goldilocks zone.’ These planets have very similar properties to our Earth, leading scientist to reimagine the possibilities of life similar to that on our planet.
The Islamic organization Hamas has replaced textbooks approved by current Palestinian Authority with those of their own creation. These textbooks are a way of spreading the militant beliefs of Hamas through a younger generation. The text includes over exaggerated war statistics and does not recognize the state of Israel to any extent. The text also rejects Jewish biblical claim to the land, claiming that they “are a nation which had been annihilated.” Israeli authorities expressed outrage at the news.