Key moments in the conquest of space: A Videographics

Dec 2022 A strategic and political challenge, the conquest of space generated intense competition between the US and the Soviet Union during the Cold War. In 1957 the Soviets were first to place a satellite, Sputnik, into orbit. A few weeks later a dog became the first living creature in space. Laika did not survive the journey. In 1961 Soviet astronaut Yuri Gagarin became the first human to orbit the Earth. 1963: his compatriot Valentina […]

Shetland sanctuary fights to save seals as pollution takes toll

by Stuart GRAHAM Agence France Presse Shetland, United Kingdom (AFP) — Pollution is taking its toll on seal populations on the Shetland archipelago, known for its rugged coastlines, dramatic cliffs and diverse wildlife. On the edge of a coastal pool on one of Scotland’s Shetland Islands, Pixie, a plump grey seal grunts and rolls towards the water to retrieve a fish that’s been left for its lunch. Pixie is one of hundreds of rescued seals, […]

Indonesian farmers fight for their land in nickel mining boom

by Marchio GORBIANO Agence France-Presse WAWONII, Indonesia (AFP) — Three women with machetes stood guard at their farm hilltop on Indonesia’s Wawonii Island, directing their blades towards the nickel miners working in the forest clearing below. “I pointed the machete at their faces. I told them: ‘If you scratch this land, heads will fly, we will defend this land to the death’,” said 42-year-old villager Royani, recounting a recent encounter with some of the miners. […]

Warnings over AI and toxic beauty myths dog TikTok’s Bold Glamour filter

by Alex PIGMAN with Glenn CHAPMAN in San Francisco Agence France Presse Washington, United States (AFP) — TikTok’s latest sensation is a real-time filter called Bold Glamour that sashays right past debates over toxic beauty standards on social media, going all in on giving users a new face. Quietly released to the app’s more than a billion users, Bold Glamour convincingly blends a user’s real face with an AI-generated ideal of a supermodel, drawing both […]

Scientists use TikTok to explain, fight climate change

by Luca MATTEUCCI Agence France Presse Paris, France (AFP) — With his moustache caked in icicles and frozen droplets, glaciologist Peter Neff shows his 220,000 TikTok followers a sample of old ice excavated from Antarctica’s Allan Hills. The drop-shaped fragment encapsulates tiny air bubbles, remnants of 100,000-year-old atmosphere. The greenhouse gases trapped inside carry precious information on Earth’s past climate, explains @icy_pete as he brings the translucid nugget closer to the camera. A growing number […]

Peru returns seized Roman coins to Italy

LIMA, Peru (AFP) — Peru on Thursday returned a collection of 73 Roman coins, some from the second and fourth centuries, to the Italian embassy in Lima, the foreign ministry said. The coins were seized from a Peruvian woman in 2021 at the international airport in Cusco, a tourist hub and gateway to the world renown Machu Picchu Inca citadel. Peru’s deputy foreign minister, Ignacio Higueras, told reporters that the collection of 73 coins “are […]

Health warnings as Bangkok chokes on pollution

BANGKOK, Thailand (AFP) — Nearly 200,000 people in Thailand have been admitted to hospital because of air pollution this week, officials have said, with Bangkok shrouded in a harmful haze. The Thai capital, home to an estimated 11 million people and one of the world’s most popular tourist destinations, has been blanketed for days by an unpleasant yellow-grey mix of vehicle fumes, industrial emissions and smoke from agricultural burning. More than 1.3 million people have […]

Rare West African lion cubs caught on camera in Senegal

Dakar, Senegal (AFP) — At three months old, even future kings of the savannah like to play. In Senegal, a video of three cubs that would have hardly been imaginable a few years ago, has given hope that the revered West African lion, which has been decimated over time, will be revived. The US-based wild cat conservation organisation Panthera has released never-before-seen images of a lioness and three cubs spotted in February by remote cameras […]

Massive Australia wildfires increased Antarctic ozone hole: study

by Kelly MACNAMARA Agence France Presse Paris, France (AFP) — Smoke from monster wildfires in Australia caused a chemical reaction that widened the ozone hole 10 percent, researchers said Wednesday, raising fears that increasing forest fires could delay the recovery of Earth’s atmospheric protection against deadly UV radiation. Severe summer heat and drought helped drive the deadly “Black Summer” fires from late 2019 to early 2020, which destroyed vast swathes of eucalyptus forest and enveloped […]

White tiger cub found dumped on Greek street: animal park

Athens, Greece (AFP) — Greece’s leading animal park on Wednesday said it had recovered a rare white tiger cub found abandoned on a nearby street earlier this week. Attica Zoological Park outside Athens said the four-month-old female cub, which was found beneath a garbage bin near the premises, was paralysed from the waist down. “No one knows where it came from or how it got here,” park founder Jean Jacques Lesueur told Proto Thema daily, […]

UK cyber security firm warns over ChatGPT

London, United Kingdom (AFP) — British cyber security firm Darktrace on Wednesday warned that artificial intelligence bot ChatGPT may have increased the sophistication of phishing scams. Content creation bot ChatGPT, Silicon Valley’s latest app sensation, was launched by Microsoft-backed start-up OpenAI in November. “Darktrace does not believe that ChatGPT has yet lowered barriers to entry for threat actors significantly,” the firm said in a results statement. “But it does believe that it may have helped […]

Kenyan innovators turn e-waste to bio-robotic prosthetic

by Mary KULUNDU Agence France Presse Nairobi, Kenya (AFP) — Twoportraits of Albert Einstein hang on the walls of a makeshift laboratory on Nairobi’s outskirts, inspiring a pair of self-taught Kenyan innovators who have built a bio-robotic prosthetic arm out of electronic scrap. Cousins Moses Kiuna, 29, and David Gathu, 30, created their first prosthetic arm in 2012, after their neighbour lost a limb in an industrial accident. But their latest invention is a significant […]