La Serena, Jul 2 (AP/UNB) — Tens of thousands of tourists flocked to cities and towns across northern Chile to stake out spots in one of the world's best locations to witness Tuesday's total solar eclipse.
Millions are expected to gaze at the cosmic spectacle that will begin at 10:24 a.m. local time (1824 GMT) in the South Pacific and sweep along a path 6,800 miles (11,000 kilometers) across open waters to Chile and Argentina, the only places that the total eclipse will be seen aside from an uninhabited island out in the ocean.
The eclipse is expected to make its first landfall in Chile at 3:22 p.m. (1922 GMT) in La Serena, a city of some 200,000 people where the arrival of more than 300,000 visitors forced the local water company to increase output and service gas stations to store extra fuel. Police and health services were also reinforced.
The total eclipse will begin there at 4:38 p.m. and last about 2½ minutes.
"I came to La Serena to watch the total eclipse with a friend following a recommendation," said Stephanie Bouckurt from the United States. "They told me that nothing compares to a solar eclipse, so that's why we're here. We're super excited."
Northern Chile is known for clear skies, and some of the largest, most powerful telescopes on Earth are being built in the area, turning the South American country into a global astronomy hub.
The town of La Higuera will also be plunged into total darkness.
"We hope this milestone will transform (our town) into a tourist attraction, so that visitors ... can come to La Higuera and take a picture where there once was a total sun eclipse," Mayor Yerko Galleguillos said.
Town officials distributed more than 2,000 cardboard-frame protective eyeglasses at local schools and community centers while workers built statues of huge sunglasses and a darkened sun on a local square.
"These glasses are going to give (students) the opportunity to protect themselves and witness this spectacle that we've all been waiting for so eagerly," said Alejandra Zuñiga, director of the Juan Pablo Muñoz school in La Higuera.
A solar eclipse occurs when the moon passes between the Earth and the sun and scores a bull's-eye by completely blocking out the sunlight.
"It's going to be very dark and we're going to have a Milky Way in its full splendor," said Chilean astronomer María Teresa Ruiz. "I invite you to look at hundreds of thousands of stars."
Thousands of visitors also trekked to neighboring areas of Argentina where the eclipse also will be total.
The San Juan provincial government installed telescopes and public viewing areas. Meanwhile, astronomers in Buenos Aires province planned to offer yoga and meditation classes during the eclipse, which will also be partially visible in other South American countries.
Total eclipses are relatively rare for a particular spot. In 2017, millions of people in the United States witnessed the phenomena, with a full solar eclipse visible in parts of 14 states and a partial eclipse seen in nearly the entire country. It was the first such widespread eclipse in the U.S. since 1918.
Dhaka, Jul 2 (AP/UNB) - You can run a race, hit a museum, shoot off a rocket or count down to the moment 50 years ago that Neil Armstrong first stepped foot on the moon.
There's no shortage of events and exhibits celebrating the historic moon landing. Museums, galleries, concert halls, movie theaters and towns with an Apollo 11 connection will be marking the anniversary over the next few weeks, particularly for the July 16 launch, July 20 moon landing and July 24 splashdown.
In downtown Wapakoneta, Ohio — Armstrong's birthplace — the festivities include the Moon Festival Pageant, a Run to the Moon race and a "Wink at the Moon" concert, a nod to his family's request after Armstrong died in 2012.
In Huntsville, Alabama, where the Saturn V rocket was developed, there'll be dancing in the streets. Residents will moonwalk down the roads of "Rocket City," reliving the day they danced in the streets in 1969.
The U.S. Space and Rocket Center is also going for a world record. On July 16 at 8:32 a.m. local time, exactly 50 years after Apollo 11 astronauts blasted off for the moon, the museum will attempt to set a Guinness World Record by launching 5,000 model rockets simultaneously.
"It's going to be epic," said Pat Ammons, spokeswoman for the museum and its popular space camp. The cardboard rockets will be set up in circles representing the five F-1 engines that propelled Saturn V into space.
The museum has also invited space fans around the world to launch their own rockets that day. So far, people from 29 countries have joined, including Argentina, Vietnam and China, Ammons said.
NASA will mark the occasion on the eve of the landing anniversary with a live, 1 ½-hour broadcast on NASA TV from several sites, including Kennedy Space Center in Florida, the launch site for Apollo 11 crew of Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins.
The Astronaut Scholarship Foundation is throwing an astronaut golf tournament, astronaut parade and astronaut pub crawl in Florida. And there's nowhere better to learn about the moon landing than the Wings Over the Rockies Air and Space Museum's weeklong "Apollopalooza " in Denver.
Peanuts character Snoopy will make appearances in his astronaut regalia at Comic Con in San Diego and at Space City in Toulouse, France for the countdown to man's first steps.
Can't join Snoopy? NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston and the Armstrong Museum in Wapakoneta will do public countdowns as well. And as part of their weeklong celebrations on the National Mall, the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum will host "The Eagle Has Landed ," a free late-night celebration with scavenger hunts, stargazing and a countdown.
Some of the world's famous art galleries are also joining in the fun. Iconic and some rare drawings, paintings, films, astronomical instruments, photographs and even cameras that were flown in space will go on display.
New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art will open five galleries bedecked with images of the moon dating from the dawn of photography in the 1830s. And the National Gallery of Art in Washington is putting together an exhibit celebrating a century of lunar photographs including the earliest lunar images by Warren de la Rue and Lewis M. Rutherford.
"It's just extraordinary how magical these photographs are," said art historian and exhibit curator Diane Waggoner.
For a history crash course, theaters and museums are bringing the Apollo 11 mission back to life.
The new IMAX film "Apollo 11: First Steps" combines never-before-seen footage and audio recordings. Starting on July 8, PBS will air its "Chasing the Moon " documentary series. And the Hollywood film "First Man" is available to stream.
The National Air and Space Museum will have Armstrong's refurbished spacesuit out for the first time since 2003. It also put statues of his spacesuit in baseball stadiums around the country. A Smithsonian exhibit featuring the Apollo 11 command module that flew astronauts to the moon is now on display at Seattle's Museum of Flight and travels to Cincinnati this fall.
Beginning Monday, the public can visit NASA's Apollo-era Mission Control in Houston that was recently restored to the way it looked 50 years ago.
"I think it conveys a great history of what humans have been able to accomplish," said Tracy Lamm of Space Center Houston.
Albuquerque, Jun 29 (AP/UNB) — Taxpayers and patients in the U.S. could save millions of dollars a year if they were able to pay what people in other countries do for insulin and other medications required by diabetics, a lawmaker said Friday.
U.S. Rep. Deb Haaland, a New Mexico Democrat, released a report she had commissioned from a congressional oversight office on the high costs of diabetes medications in her district, which includes the state’s most populous area.
The review found that the costs are burdening patients — from those on Medicare to those without any insurance.
Haaland said what’s happening to constituents in her district is no different than in countless districts across the country.
Haaland called the findings startling, noting that Medicare does not have the ability to negotiate drug prices so the costs to the federal program are more than six times higher than in the United Kingdom and nearly nine times more than in Australia, for example.
The average insulin price nearly tripled from 2002 through 2013, and prices have risen 10% or more a year since then, forcing many diabetics to ration their insulin.
Physicians and other experts said Friday that some patients are embarrassed to say they can’t afford the medications and have ended up hospitalized as a result.
“It’s just wrong. Plain and simple,” Haaland said.
The congresswoman outlined the findings while flanked by children and parents who have been dealing with diagnoses of Type 1 diabetes.
About 30 million Americans and more than 420 million people worldwide have diabetes. Most cases are Type 2, the kind tied to obesity. Patients with diabetes don’t produce enough insulin to control their blood sugar, or their body uses insulin inefficiently, forcing them to inject the hormone, usually several times a day.
In Haaland’s district, there are an estimated 17,000 seniors and disabled Medicare beneficiaries who have been diagnosed with diabetes, according to the report.
The top 50 diabetes medications cost the Medicare program and beneficiaries in the district more than $16 million in 2016. The report contends they could see a savings of anywhere from $8 million to $12 million if prices were comparable to what patients pay in neighboring Canada, the United Kingdom and Australia.
Some U.S. lawmakers are pushing to give Medicare authority to negotiate directly with drugmakers for better prices. Also pending is legislation that would reauthorize and increase spending for national diabetes research programs.
“Getting out information I think and raising the issue is the best way we can get all of us to care about this issue,” Haaland said.
James and Kelly Martinez talked about the midnight and 3 a.m. glucose checks they have to do with their two daughters. The family’s insurance deductibles are so high that they end up paying out of pocket for most of what they need.
Katie Bone also has Type 1 diabetes. She remembers feeling achy and thirsty and getting headaches before her diagnosis. She ended up in urgent care and soon learned — at the age of 11 — what it meant to be diabetic.
Now 13, Katie said Friday she can do anything but dreams of living in a world where she doesn’t have to change her insulin pump, put on a glucose sensor or take 10 shots a day to stay alive.
Her mom, Tammy Bone, has counted the days — 892 — and all the finger pricks — 3,649 — since her daughter’s diagnosis. She described the disease as unyielding and pervasive.
“There is so much we do not know about diabetes, but what we do know is that insulin is non-negotiable,” she said. “In order to get the very best possible outcomes, people with diabetes need access to affordable insulin and diabetes management tools.”
Jerusalem, June 29 (Xinhua/UNB) -- Israeli researchers have discovered how sea urchins build their skeleton, which could lead to new treatment for cancer, the northern University of Haifa (UH) reported on Thursday.
In the UH study published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), it was found that the sea urchin builds its skeleton in much the same way as mammals and other vertebrates develop their circulatory system.
This means that about 550 million years ago, the sea urchins, along with other echinoderm phylum animals, made a change in their genetic program of building blood vessels, and turned it into a calcium-based skeleton.
According to the researchers, it is easier to change an existing program than to build a whole new genetic one.
Thus, animal phylums independently developed their way of taking minerals from the environment to build a skeleton, and there is no "ancestor" who developed one way that everyone inherited.
The researchers focused on the process of biomineralization (in the embryonic stage), in which an animal uses the minerals it absorbs from the environment and turns them into skeletons - with in sea urchins the mineral is calcium carbonate.
The researchers found that the skeleton that develops in the sea urchin embryos is tubular, very similar to the structure of a human's blood vessels, except that instead of blood inside the tube there is calcite.
The researchers also showed that the vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) gene, which is responsible for the formation of the vascular system in humans, also plays an active role in the formation of the skeleton of sea urchins.
VEGF is known to play an active role in the formation of cancer metastases, providing them with new blood vessels with oxygen supply.
Therefore, a better understanding of VEGF control mechanisms can help fight cancer and develop new drugs.
In addition, by learning how the sea urchin controls the features of crystals, as it does with calcite crystals, it will be possible to produce strong artificial crystals in any form.
Dhaka, Jun 28 (AP/UNB) - Get ready to see another world from the eyes of a dragonfly — at least, a robotic one.
NASA said Thursday that it's sending a drone called Dragonfly to explore Saturn's largest moon, Titan. Using propellers, the drone will fly and land on several spots on the icy moon to study whether it can support microbial life.
The nuclear-powered mission is part of NASA's competitive New Frontiers program, which launched the New Horizons spacecraft that became the first to visit dwarf planet Pluto.
Dragonfly beat out nearly a dozen proposed projects, including a mission to collect samples from a nearby comet. The drone is slated to launch in 2026 and arrive at Titan in 2034. The plan is to land on some of Titan's dunes and later on a crater. Development costs for the mission are capped at around $850 million.
"What really excites me about this mission is that Titan has all the ingredients needed for life," said Lori Glaze, director of NASA's planetary science division.
Titan is a haze-covered world with a thick atmosphere. The moon has lakes of methane, mountains of ice and an ocean below the surface, making it an attractive place to explore whether its environment can support primitive life.
"We are absolutely thrilled, and everyone is just raring to go and take the next steps in exploring Titan," said project leader Elizabeth Turtle of Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel, Maryland.
Titan was last studied by the international Cassini-Huygens mission. In 2017, the Cassini spacecraft plunged into Saturn, ending two decades of exploration.