Ted Cruz Picks Carly Fiorina as Runningmate

Carly Fiorina.

Image: Carly Fiorina | Biography

Texas Senator and presidential hopeful Ted Cruz has chosen another once-presidential hopeful, Carly Fiorina, as his pick for the vice presidency. The announcement comes just days after Donald Trump won all five Republican presidential primaries. Cruz now cannot enter the National Convention as a first-ballot winner without winning more delegates—104 percent of those remaining, in fact. Choosing a runningmate now may bolster Cruz’s campaign, which some consider the only possible alternative to a Trump presidency.

“After a great deal of consideration and prayer, I have come to the conclusion that if I am nominated to be the president of the United States that I will run on a ticket with my vice presidential nominee Carly Fiorina,” Cruz said at a rally in Indianapolis.

Fiorina then joined him on stage under a new logo that showed both their names. “There is a lot at stake, and in fact, this is a fight, this is a fight for the soul of our party and the future of our nation,” she said. “I’ve had tough fights all my life. Tough fights don’t worry me a bit.”

Earlier this month, Cruz and fellow candidate Gov. John Kasich of Ohio decided to form a kind of “alliance,” in which Kasich would not pose any competition in Indiana if Cruz withdrew from Oregon and New Mexico, in an attempt to thwart the Trump campaign’s disconcerting progress.

Cruz is not viewed well by the majority of American women in general election polls. Fiorina is also not well-received by women. And even though by his campaign’s own admission, Fiorina does not bring more than a modest boost to Cruz’s bid, selecting her as a runningmate comes at a smart time, given Trump’s recent remarks about women. The calculated move could deal a blow to Trump’s runaway campaign.

Regarding Cruz’s selection, Trump tweeted a short video of Fiorina criticizing Cruz during her own campaign. “Ted Cruz is just like any other politician: he says whatever he needs to say to get elected,” she said. Trump tweeted the video with a simple, “Agreed!”

“I have seen [Fiorina] day in, day out, on the campaign bus, going from stop to stop to stop that she is careful, she is measured, she is serious, she doesn’t get overly excited, she doesn’t get rattled by whatever is thrown at her,” Cruz said.

Regardless of what you think of the pair, American politics are having an interesting year.

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Did We Find an Exoplanetary System Back in 1917?

A planet floating through the stars.

Image: Shutterstock

Astronomers use a process called stellar spectra to determine the chemical makeup of a star, performed by looking at the kind of light the star creates over the spectrum. In this way, they can determine what kinds of material a star consists of, which can in turn tell them how old or hot it is. They can also use this to see what kind of objects lie in between that star and the Earth, based on how the light interacts with other objects in the way.

Although they use computers for this now, these spectra were previously recorded on glass plates, about 250,000 of which are held in the Carnegie Institute of Science library. One such plate, made in 1917 by then-observatories director Walter Adams, details the spectrum of a white dwarf star found by Dutch-American astronomer Adriaan van Maanen that same year.

The plate shows the chemical composition of the star, which is like a much older version of our own, and also contains some spots that indicate something in orbit around that star. Thanks to this, astronomers have determined that van Maanen’s star is a “polluted white dwarf” which has huge rings of rocky planetary remnants orbiting it.

While we haven’t found evidence of it yet, many astronomers think that these white dwarfs must still have planets orbiting them, otherwise the orbital patterns of the rings wouldn’t make sense. If that’s the case, then this plate would be the earliest evidence of an exoplanetary system on record. That means there are planets there, something we’ve been discovering with greater frequency around the galaxy thanks to techniques like stellar spectra.

Whether or not there are planets orbiting this star will need to be verified with more research, but we have better technology for these kinds of things now, so hopefully we can figure that out before too long.

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Harriet Tubman to Replace Andrew Jackson on $20 Bill

A late 1800s photo of Harriet Tubman.

Image: Harriet Tubman | H. B. Lindsley/Library of Congress

The Treasury Department announced today that it would remove Andrew Jackson from the $20 bill and put freedom fighter Harriet Tubman in his place. She helped rescue hundreds of Black Americans from slavery. The change stems from a petition to replace Jackson—it’s worth remembering that he owned slaves—with Tubman, signed by many and sent to President Obama.

Tubman’s position on the currency is an important historical gesture. Tubman worked tirelessly to free so many people from what is arguably the darkest part of American history. As the widow of a war veteran, she also used the pension she received from the government to help in her service as a nurse, scout, cook, and spy during the Civil War.

This bill change comes as part of a few other changes to American currency. The Treasury Department had already announced that depictions of women would be placed on bills. New designs are to be released by 2020, in time for the hundred-year anniversary of women’s suffrage and the 19th Amendment to the Constitution. Those bills would not enter into circulation for another ten years.

Andrew Hamilton, whose face graces the $10 bill, is staying right where he is. A woman’s image could be placed on the back of that bill and others. The currently-popular musical about Hamilton has propelled his cult following.

Some women, however, would like to see Hamilton replaced with another woman’s image. A win for the “hottest” founding father meant a loss for many women who could have been placed on the bill, some say.

“It’s yet another ‘wait your turn’ moment for American women,” says Cokie Roberts, a political commentator.

Still, for now, placing Tubman on the bill is a good way to promote visibility for her story, the Civil Rights movement, and is perhaps one way the government wants to show solidarity with current civil rights movements and activists.

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Dwindling Sumatran Rhino Populations Can Be Saved

A Sumatran rhino munches on greens outside.

Image: A Sumatran rhino | National Geographic

Sumatran rhinos, like pretty much every species of rhino, are in danger of going extinct. Following the recent death of the last African black rhino, this is saddening, though not surprising, news. There may be a silver lining for Sumatran rhinos, though, following the conclusion of a study that caps 13 years of research.

Scientists have discovered that one of the most significant contributions to the decline of Sumatran rhinos is their inability to breed with frequency. Their populations are simply too small to sustain them, which coincides with ideas about minimum populations in other creatures, such as honey bees. There comes a point in any species where too few animals means the species, or at least a specific population of it, can’t survive.

In this case, there’s an extra twist: female rhinos that don’t reproduce for long periods of time develop tumors within their reproductive tracts, making it even harder for them to reproduce. They can’t find suitable mates, so they go too long without reproducing, which compounds the problem.

Researchers who have been studying the Sumatran rhino think they have an idea of how to save the species: total protection and stimulation of breeding. Basically, rhino populations must be moved to areas where they can be protected and observed, and they need to be assisted in reproduction, much like we do with many domesticated animals. The combination of these two efforts should help the rhinos to at least stabilize as a species.

It’s too late to apply similar practices for a number of other species, such as the African black rhino, but there are plenty of endangered species that could benefit from these discoveries. Numerous species have had their habitats destroyed or been hunted to near extinction, but with some effort we can help them overcome these dangers and survive, maybe even prosper.

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Ecuador Earthquake Death Toll Reaches 272

A rescue crew works in an earthquake's rubble.

A rescue crew works to recover people from an earthquake’s rubble in Guayaquil, Ecuador on Sunday | CNN

The number of deaths following a massive 7.8-magnitude earthquake in Ecuador has reached 272, said Ecuador’s president, Rafael Correa. That number is expected to continue to rise over the next several days as crews work through the rubble and look for signs of life. An additional 2,527 people were injured in the quake. Teams from around the world, including Switzerland, Spain, and several other Latin American countries have come to aid in the search and recovery.

The major earthquake hit Saturday about 7 in the evening as people were going about their business. Strong tremors collapsed overpasses, collapsing drivers, and bringing large buildings to the ground. A shopping mall collapsed with shoppers inside. Roads were overturned and shattered, making access to remote places extremely difficult for search and rescue crews. Six coastal provinces including Guayas, Manabi, Santo Domingo, Los Rios, Esmeraldas, and Galapagos, are all in declared states of emergency.

Ecuador’s earthquake coincides with two that struck Japan’s Kyushu region also over the weekend, killing at least 41 people. The first quake, a 6.2-magnitude event, killed 9 people Saturday. People were already on alert for more quakes when a 7.0-magnitude earthquake struck a day later. The earthquakes injured 968 people, according to Japan’s disaster management office.

“When the second earthquake came everything shook and I thought I might die,” said Taiki Hishida, 38, who was caught in the quake and evacuated with his wife and two children. “It was just pitch black in the middle of the night and everything just started to go wild.”

As of yet, experts cannot say if the Japan and Ecuador earthquakes are related. Ordinarily, seismologists don’t believe that earthquakes are related across the ocean, but there is a possibility that “remote triggering” occurred, causing earthquakes very far away. There is a faint possibility that the earthquakes are related, but it’s not likely.

For comparison, Ecuador’s earthquake was nearly 16 times stronger than the 7.0-magnitude earthquake that rocked Japan. Though an enormous earthquake, this is not Ecuador’s largest: that title belongs to an 8.8-magnitude quake that occurred on January 31, 1906.

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