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- Back in late 2018 Earth dodged a bullet. Well, almost—a hefty space rock streaked through the upper atmosphere, detonating with the power of a nuclear bomb over an isolated stretch of the Bering Sea, between Russia and Alaska. Peter Brown further discovered information about the fireball detonation. He studies small bodies of the solar system with particular emphasis on bolides—large meteors that explode in Earth’s atmosphere. Brown pored over low-frequency sonic waves recorded by Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO) stations—so-called infrasounds emitted by large explosions.
- A flying space rock that broke up over the Bering Sea late last year has proved to be the third-largest object known to have struck Earth in recorded history, according to the Canadian researcher who was first to draw public attention to the incident. On March 8, Peter Brown, a professor of astronomy at Western University in London, Ont., was looking through low-frequency sound data gathered automatically by the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization when he noticed that an explosive event of unusual force had occurred on Dec. 18, centred on a point about 300 kilometres off the coast of Russia’s Kamchatka Peninsula. Soon after he posted word of his find on Twitter, more information about the event appeared on a NASA website that lists exceptionally bright meteors based on data gleaned from the U.S. Air Force. The data suggest that an incoming object about 10 to 14 metres across – roughly the size of a two-car garage – and weighing about 1,440 metric tonnes. The resulting explosion, estimated at 173 kilotons, was more than 10 times larger than the one produced by the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima in 1945.
- A new study led by researchers from Western University and Queen’s University Belfast shows that many students do not even open the feedback that is provided by their instructors online. The study also suggests that male students with low grade averages are far less likely to read feedback from faculty, but luckily there is a simple way to lessen this discrepancy. Paul Mensink, an assistant professor in Western’s Department of Biology and the Centre for Environment and Sustainability, explores the use of educational technology to enhance learning outcomes for students. Learning management systems (e.g., Blackboard, Canvas, Moodle, Docebo) are widely used by instructors across the post-secondary education sector to manage courses and upload assignment feedback online.
- The odds of a worst-case hurricane making landfall in Florida in any given year is low, insurance companies have sophisticated strategies for mitigating risk, and the financial system, by and large, is insulated from physically destructive events. The conventional wisdom is that a scenario like this is so unlikely to occur that it’s almost not worth discussing. However, in recent weeks VICE spoke with financial, political and scientific experts—including a former special assistant to President Barack Obama, the dean of science of a major Canadian university, and a UK organization on the global vanguard of disaster modeling—who believe that conventional wisdom has its limits. Without wanting to be seen as alarmists by overstating dangers, these experts think it’s crucial that we question and challenge common assumptions around financial risk.