Life

‘Danger behind the beauty’: more solar storms could be heading our way

By Daniel Lawler PARIS, May 18, 2024 (AFP) – Tourists normally have to pay big money and brave cold climates for a chance to see an aurora, but last weekend many people around the world simply had to look up to see these colourful displays dance across the sky. Usually banished to the poles of Earth, the auroras strayed as far as Mexico, southern Europe and South Africa on the evening of May 10, delighting […]

First crewed flight of Boeing Starliner postponed again

WASHINGTON, May 17, 2024 (AFP) – The first crewed launch of Boeing’s Starliner to the International Space Station has been delayed again due to a technical issue, NASA said Friday. The launch in Florida was scheduled for Tuesday but NASA said it is now planned for May 25 to allow teams to further assess a helium leak linked to the service module, which sits on top of the rocket. Earlier this month, a Starliner launch […]

OpenAI disbands team devoted to artificial intelligence risks

SAN FRANCISCO, May 18, 2024 (AFP) – OpenAI on Friday confirmed that it has disbanded a team devoted to mitigating the long-term dangers of super-smart artificial intelligence. OpenAI weeks ago began dissolving the so-called “superalignment” group, integrating members into other projects and research, according to the San Francisco-based firm. Company co-founder Ilya Sutskever and team co-leader Jan Leike announced their departures from the ChatGPT-maker this week. The dismantling of an OpenAI team focused on keeping […]

‘Dad’s going up in a rocket!’ French businessman set for launch

WASHINGTON, May 18, 2024 (AFP) – He arrived in Texas, tried on his flight suit for the first time, and is now preparing to live out his childhood dream. On Sunday, French entrepreneur Sylvain Chiron will board a Blue Origin rocket and blast off into space, joining the select group of humans who have ventured beyond Earth’s bounds. “I never thought I’d get to do this,” the 52-year-old, who hails from the mountainous southeastern region […]

Early forest fires prompt evacuations in Canada

MONTREAL, May 12, 2024 (AFP) – Thousands of people fled their homes Sunday in western Canada as hundreds of wildfires beginning earlier than usual portend a difficult fire season. The small town of Fort Nelson in the province of British Columbia was among the areas threatened by flames. “Fires are really all around us from the west to the northeast,” Mayor Rob Fraser told AFP as he urged hundreds of people who have stayed put […]

Third time could prove lucky for aurora viewers around the world

By Issam AHMED with AFP bureaus around the world WASHINGTON, May 13, 2024 (AFP) – Anyone who missed the dazzling auroras dancing across night skies earlier this weekend will get another chance Sunday evening, as the powerful geomagnetic storm hitting the Earth is expected to intensify yet again. “Several intense Coronal Mass Ejections are still anticipated to reach the Earth’s outer atmosphere by later today,” the US National Weather Service said. Those ejections — expulsions […]

First patient to get gene-edited pig kidney transplant dies

WASHINGTON, May 12, 2024 (AFP) – The first living patient to receive a genetically modified pig kidney transplant has died two months after the procedure, the US hospital that carried it out said. “Mass General is deeply saddened at the sudden passing of Mr. Rick Slayman. We have no indication that it was the result of his recent transplant,” the Boston hospital said in a statement issued late Saturday. In a world first, surgeons at […]

Second night of auroras seen ‘extreme’ solar storm

  By Lucie AUBOURG with AFP bureaus around the world WASHINGTON, May 12, 2024 (AFP) – Auroras lit up skies across swaths of the planet for the second night in a row on Saturday, after already dazzling Earthlings from the United States to Tasmania to the Bahamas the day before. A powerful solar storm — which could continue into Sunday — has triggered spectacular celestial shows usually confined to the far northern reaches of the […]

First ‘extreme’ solar storm in 20 years brings spectacular auroras

By Issam AHMED WASHINGTON, May 11, 2024 (AFP) – The most powerful solar storm in more than two decades struck Earth on Friday, triggering spectacular celestial light shows in skies from Tasmania to Britain — and threatening possible disruptions to satellites and power grids as it persists into the weekend. The first of several coronal mass ejections (CMEs) — expulsions of plasma and magnetic fields from the Sun — came just after 1600 GMT, according […]

Boeing Starliner crewed mission postponed shortly before launch

By Miguel J. Rodriguez Carrillo with Issam Ahmed in Washington CAPE CANAVERAL, May 7, 2024 (AFP) – The first crewed flight of Boeing’s Starliner spaceship was dramatically called off around two hours before launch after a new safety issue was identified, officials said Monday, pushing back a high-stakes test mission to the International Space Station. Astronauts Butch Wilmore and Suni Williams were strapped in their seats preparing for liftoff when the call for a “scrub” […]

China to launch first probe to return samples from Moon’s far side

By Hector Retamal with Qian Ye WENCHANG, China, May 3, 2024 (AFP) – China is set Friday to launch a probe to collect samples from the far side of the Moon, a world first as Beijing pushes ahead with an ambitious programme that aims to send a crewed lunar mission by 2030. A rocket carrying the Chang’e-6 lunar probe is scheduled to blast off from the Wenchang Space Launch Center in southern China’s Hainan province […]

Pet dogs and strays suffer in Asia heatwave

By Sailendra Sil with Rose Troup Buchanan in Bangkok Soaring temperatures across Kolkata have brought life in much of the Indian megacity to a standstill, but veterinarian Partha Das cannot recall a time when he was more busy. His clinic has been swamped by distressed members of the public carrying in beloved pets suffering nosebleeds, severe skin rashes and lapses into unconsciousness in a relentless heatwave suffocating much of South and Southeastern Asia over the […]