Daily Bites: Week of April 23
Apr 27: Australia Announces ANZAC 2015
During World War I, Australia and New Zealand (together known as ANZAC) joined the Allied forces in their first major military operation. Along with troops from the U.K, British India and France, they set out to capture the Gallipoli peninsula in Turkey. The Turkish Ottoman empire was supporting Germany. Winston Churchill, then British Prime Minister, wanted to capture Constantinople (present day Istanbul), and open up the waters of the Black Sea to the Allied navy forces.
On April 25, 1915, the Allied forces landed on Gallipoli but met stiff resistance. The operation was not successful and many soldiers died. Australia and New Zealand collectively mark this somber day as ANZAC day. It is a day to commemorate not just those who died in World War I, but all those who lose their lives in military operation for their country.
Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard has announced in a visit to Turkey that the two nations will jointly mark the centenary (100th anniversary) of the Gallipoli invasion in 2015. Australia will celebrate 2015 as Year of Turkey -- to highlight the nation, its culture and its role in the modern world.
Apr 26: Now We Know How Glaciers Melt..
For a while now, we have been hearing about the increased raet of glacier melts, and how chunks of arctic sea shelves are breaking apart. So far, everyone had assumed it was the increased temperature and warm air that is causing the ice to melt.
Now we know how it really happens. In a recent study, scientists used lasers to measure the thinning of ice on the floating edges of the ice chunks. They found the ice melting from below as a result of warm water getting under the floating ice. This happens even when the air temperature remains cold. The study further shows that a change in wind patterns over the poles is causing warm water currents to move towards Antarctica.
According to the Hamish Pritchard, the lead scientist from the British Antarctic Survey - "These studies and our new results suggest Antarctica’s glaciers are responding rapidly to a changing climate.”
Apr 25: 'Gold Rush' For Meteor Remnants
Most shooting stars you see at night time are small pieces of rock and debris entering the earth's atmosphere and leaving a bright trail as they burn up. Last Sunday, residents in some parts of California and Nevada witnessed a bright fiery ball in the daytime sky followed by a sonic boom.
Turns out this was no small rock -- this meteor weighed about 75 tons (about the size of a minivan) and exploded with an energy equivalent to 5 kiloton of mass! Fortunately, the meteor disintegrated completely before impacting Earth. But it seems to have kicked up a different kind of dust -- a 'gold rush' for meteor remains among collectors and meteor researchers!
Robert Ward, or 'AstroBob' as he is known, was the first to find two nickel-sized meteor pieces. Ward, who has collected meteor pieces in every continent except Antarctica, knew immediately that this was no ordinary rock. It is a rare meteorite known as CM -- carbonaceous chondrite, that is rich in amino acids and organic compounds. It is believed to be 4-5 billion years old!
Apr 24: A Sixteen Year Old's Lucky Day!
Sixteen-year-old Misaki Murakami from Japan could not believe his luck. A soccer ball with his name on it was found on Alaska's Middleton Island by David Baxter and his wife Yumi -- all the way across the Pacific Ocean!
The ball with Misaki's name written on it was swept out to sea in March 2011 when a tsunami triggered by a devastating quake struck Japan. On the day of the disaster, Misaki was home sick and fled to higher ground with his family. Fortunately, he survived but his home was swept away and along with it, all of his memories.
"I'm very grateful as I've so far found nothing that I'd owned," he told reporters on Sunday. The ball was given to him by his classmates in 2005 when he moved schools.
Apr 23: Dutch Government Collapses
Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte has resigned after talks to agree a new austerity package (reduce Government spending) failed over the weekend. The Netherlands parliament is a coalition Government formed with the support of 3 political parties.
The Government collapsed when Rutte's political ally, Geert Wilders of the Freedom Party could not agree with the ruling party to reduce the Dutch deficit to 3 percent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) according to EU rules. Wilders felt that the EU rules would hurt the country's economy which is currently in recession.
Netherlands is expected to post a deficit (when Government expenses is more than taxes or revenues earned by the Government) of 4.6 per cent this year. Netherlands is one of the few countries in Europe that still boasts of a credit rating of AAA (the strongest rating). With the recent turmoil in the country and the shaky situation of the country's finances, there is fear that the credit rating of the country may be downgraded. The collapse of the Dutch Government throws in jeopardy the financial talks among EU nations on how to control spending and smoothen the already fragile financial situation in the region.
Until general elections can be held - probably in summer, Rutte will continue as Prime Minister.