Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games

The Commonwealth Games started with a bang in the Gold Coast, Australia, on April 4. The Games will be held over 11 days. More than 6,600 athletes and team officials are taking part in the events. Eighteen sports and seven para-sports will be played, including squash, badminton, beach volleyball, and para-triathlon.

 

 

The Commonwealth is a group of countries most of which were part of the British Empire in the past. There are 53 nations in the group. The Commonwealth nations encourage economic development and trade amongst themselves, and also promote democracy, human rights, and peace. The head of the Commonwealth is Queen Elizabeth II, the Queen of the United Kingdom.

 

The Commonwealth group came into existence in the form that it is today in 1949. The combined population of the Commonwealth countries is 2.4 billion, which is approximately a third of our planet’s population. A Commonwealth Day is annually celebrated on the second Monday of March. The group also holds a sports event for all the member countries called the Commonwealth Games, which are held every 4 years.

You can see a list of all the Commonwealth countries here. Here is a video about the Commonwealth.


Image Credits: http://thecommonwealth.org for the image of Queen Elizabeth II, https://www.gc2018.com for the image of the opening ceremony of the Commonwealth Games
Sources: http://thecommonwealth.org, https://www.gc2018.com

The Boat Races

On March 24, men’s and women’s rowing boat races were held on the River Thames in London, United Kingdom, between the country’s two famous universities, Oxford and Cambridge. The boat races between the two are an annual tradition and are referred to simply as “The Boat Races”. The distance of the races is 6.8 km (4.2 miles). This year, Cambridge won both the women’s race and the men’s. The Boat Race started in 1829 when two friends who went to the two universities challenged each other to a race. For the men’s race, Cambridge has won 83 times. Oxford is close behind with 80 wins. For the women’s race, Oxford has won 30 times, and Cambridge 43 times.

Image Credits: http://www.theboatrace.org for the map of the boat race image
Sources: http://www.theboatrace.org

April Fools Day 2018

Many celebrated April Fools’ Day on April 1. It is a day when many people around the globe play pranks and have fun fooling their friends. Why do people celebrate this day? Well, nobody knows for sure. However, one popular belief takes us back about 435 years, when the Catholic countries of Europe started following the Gregorian calendar, the calendar which most of us around the world follow today. It was introduced by Pope Gregory XIII in 1582. Before this, these Catholic countries followed the Julian calendar. When the Gregorian calendar was adopted, the start of the New Year was moved from April 1 to January 1. However, some people continued to celebrate the start of the New Year on April 1. They were considered foolish and people played pranks on them.

This year, many companies played pranks. Amazon announced a new service where it will deliver your favorite authors to your front door. Roku put out an advertisement for its socks that have built-in motion sensors to work as a remote control. Google Japan created a keyboard that allows you to swipe over it to form letters. T-Mobile is introducing the world’s first smart shoe phone. Jabra is also selling shoes, not with smartphones, but with speakers.

Burger King is launching a special edition of its Whopper sandwich made with chocolate and candied ingredients. Chegg, the online textbook rental company, is selling a pillow which helps you improve your memory as you sleep. If you draw food items on Adobe’s Illustrator CC, you can go order similar food items in case you get hungry while drawing. PetCo has started a new beauty salon where a stylist will make you look like your pet.

Here are 4 videos with some of the pranks. Hope you had fun tricking somebody or being tricked!

Did you know?

A famous April Fool’s joke was played on British television in 1957. A news story was presented about spaghetti growing on trees.

Image Credits: https://twitter.com/BurgerKing for Burger King’s chocolate burger image, Google.com for the keyboard image
Sources: http://www.beautifulbondsalon.com, https://twitter.com/BurgerKing, google.com, https://www.history.com

2018 Formula One begins

The 2018 Formula One (F1) World Championship, one of the most prestigious open-wheeled car races in the world, started on March 25 with the Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne, Australia. Sebastian Vettel of Germany won the race. He is with the Ferrari racing team.

 

 

Formula One consists of a series of races called Grand Prix. The number of Grand Prix races held in a year can change. The results of all the Grand Prix races are combined to determine the overall winner of the F1 Championship. The length of each race is around 300 km (200 miles). F1 started in Europe in 1950. Its roots are from Grand Prix motor racing which started in the early 1900s in France.

 

This year, there are going to be 21 Grand Prix races. The last race will be held on November 25 in Abu Dhabi, the capital of the United Arab Emirates. Fifteen drivers from ten teams are participating.

 

Image Credits: https://www.formula1.com for the Australian Grand Prix images, Morio for Vettel’s image
Sources: https://www.formula1.com

A bit more news

Symphony of the Seas, the world’s largest cruise ship, set sail on its first voyage with passengers from Spain to Italy. It is owned by the Royal Caribbean, and measures 238 feet tall and spans 1,188 feet long. It can accommodate over 8,000 people onboard.

 

 

Be ready on April 7th with a pillow. There will be feathers flying in parts of cities all over the globe. It is the International Pillow Fight Day and thousands of people gather in cities all over the world attacking each other with their pillows.

 

Scientists have identified a new star and have named it Icarus, with an official name of MACS J1149+2223 Lensed Star 1. Icarus is special because it is the farthest individual star ever seen. It is so far away that it has taken its light 9 billion years to reach us here on Earth. Our universe is approximately 13.8 billion years old, so this light is from a time when our universe was about 30 percent of its current age. That’s way before Earth existed, since the age of Earth is about 4.5 billion years.

 

On March 31, Botswana’s president stepped down as his term ended. A new president, Mokgweetsi Masisi, was sworn in. Gaborone is the capital of Botswana. The country is one of the world’s largest diamond producers. A citizen of Botswana is called Motswana.

 

 

Presidential elections were held in Costa Rica. It was Alvarado against Alvarado. There were two candidates with the same last name. Carlos Alvarado won with 60% of the vote. He is 38 years old and has been a rock singer, novelist, journalist, and a labour minister. Costa Rica’s capital is San Jose. The country’s government puts in a large effort to protect the land and keep the country “green”. Costa Rica is a country without an army – it has been without one for 70 years. Costa Ricans call themselves “ticos” (male) and “ticas” (female).

On March 31, Thunder Snow won the 2018 Dubai World Cup, a horse race held annually in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. The Dubai World Cup was started in 1996, and is known as the “richest” horse race since it gives out the largest prize money in horse racing (US$10 million). You can watch part of the race here.

Image Credits: https://www.royalcaribbean.com for the image of Symphony of the Seas, pillowfightday.com for the image of the pillow fight, NASA, ESA, and P. Kelly (University of Minnesota) for the image of Icarus, http://www.dubaiworldcup.com for Thunder Snow’s image, John Chibona for Masisi’s image, https://www.nacion.com for Alvarado’s image
Sources: https://www.royalcaribbean.com, pillowfightday.com, NASA.gov, https://twin-cities.umn.edu, http://www.dubaiworldcup.com, CIA World Factbook, CNN, http://www.dailymail.co.uk, https://www.usatoday.com, http://www.alautentico.com

Elections in Russia

Presidential elections were held in Russia, and the current president, Vladimir Putin, won another term in office. He won by a large margin – over 75% of the vote. Putin was expected to win. His main contender was not allowed to participate in the elections because he had been charged of misusing funds.

 

Putin has been either a president or prime minister of Russia since 1999. He served two terms as president from 2000 to 2008. The Russian constitution doesn’t allow a person to be the president for more than two back-to-back terms. Putin then became the nation’s prime minister. In 2012, he stood for elections and has been the president since.

Putin was born in 1952. He studied law, and then went on to work as an intelligence officer in the KGB, the state security agency for the Soviet Union.

Russia is the largest country in the world, but it used to be even larger. Russia was part of a country called the Soviet Union (USSR) until 1991, when the USSR split into Russia and fourteen other countries. The USSR was a communist country, and was formed in 1922, with Moscow as its capital city. Before the USSR was established, it was the Russian Empire and was ruled by emperors called czars until 1917. The last czar of Russia was Nicholas II (image).

 

One of the landmarks of Russia is the Saint Basil’s Cathedral in Moscow (image). It is about 450 years old. The deepest lake in the world is in Russia – Lake Baikal (1,637 meters or 5,371 ft). That is about 5 Eiffel Towers deep! Russia is very rich in oil and natural gas. Russian is the official language of the country, and its currency is the Russian ruble (RUB).

 

 

Russia has produced many talented people. Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky composed the music to the ballets The Nutcracker and Swan Lake. Dmitri Mendeleev (image) was a chemist considered by many to be the father of the periodic table of elements. Yuri Gagarin was the first human being to travel into space in 1961. Garry Kasparov is one of the world’s greatest chess players. “War and Peace” and “Anna Karenina” are two classic novels written by Leo Tolstoy. More recently, Sergey Brin, of Russian origin, co-founded a company many of you are familiar with called Google.

Here is a video about Putin.

Did you know?

Alaska, one of the states of the United States, was part of Russia, and was sold to the United States in 1867.

Image Credits: http://en.kremlin.ru for Putin’s image, Wikipedia.org for the image of USSR, http://www.moscow.info for the image of Saint Basil’s Cathedral, http://www.rsc.org for the image of Mendeleev
Sources: http://en.kremlin.ru, http://www.coldwar.org, biography.com, BBC, https://www.britannica.com, http://www.moscow.info, http://lakebaikal.org, CIA World Factbook, http://www.rsc.org, https://history.state.gov, NowThis World

A great scientist passes away

The world lost a great scientist on March 14. Professor Stephen Hawking passed away at the age of 76 in Cambridge, United Kingdom. He was born in 1942 in the UK. He went on to study physics and cosmology. When he was still a student, at about 22 years of age, he was diagnosed with motor neurone disease. He was told that he only had a few years to live.

He lived for many more years, but his illness restricted him to a wheelchair. He communicated using a computerized voice.

Hawking was courageous and brilliant. He was known for his work with black holes and relativity. His work has helped us better understand how our universe works and how it began. Hawking received numerous awards. He wrote several science books, and one of his most regarded books is “A Brief History of Time.”

Hawking will be cremated and his ashes will be laid to rest in Westminster Abbey, London, UK. Some famous scientists have been buried in the same Abbey, including Sir Isaac Newton (buried in 1727) and Charles Darwin (buried in 1882).

Here are two videos about Hawking.


Did you know?

March 14 is celebrated as Pi Day in some countries around the globe. One of the world’s greatest scientists, Albert Einstein, was born on Pi Day. And now we have lost one of the world’s greatest scientists, Stephen Hawking, on Pi Day.

Image Credits: http://www.cam.ac.uk for Hawking’s images
Sources: https://www.cambridge-news.co.uk, http://www.cam.ac.uk

Everest cleanup campaign

Mount Everest has the title of the highest point on Earth. In recent times, it is also being called the world’s highest garbage dump. In the last 65 years, over 5,000 people have successfully climbed Mount Everest, and many more have made the attempt. They have left behind an estimated 100,000 kg (220,000 lb) of trash including oxygen tanks, water bottles, poop, food wrappers, and much more. The Nepali government has a rule where every climber that goes above the Everest Base Camp (which is at an approximate height of 5,300 m or 17,380 ft) has to come back with 8 kg (18 lb) of trash. However, there still is plenty of trash on the mountain.

 

The government of Nepal is on a mission to clean up the mountain. Sherpas have been collecting non-burnable waste, stuffing them into bags, and carrying them on yaks. These sacks of garbage are being flown on little planes to Kathmandu, Nepal’s capital, where the trash is recycled.

Sherpas are a group of people who live in the mountainous region of Nepal. Some of them work as mountain guides who help people climbing the mountain by carrying their stuff, helping put up tents, cooking food, and also fixing ropes on the mountain that the climbers use.

 

Mount Everest sits on the border between Nepal and China and has a height of 8,848 m (29,029 ft). The first two people to climb its peak were Edmund Hillary (from New Zealand) and Tenzing Norgay (from Nepal) on May 29, 1953.  May is considered one of the best months to climb to the top of Mount Everest, and on a day with good weather, there can be a human traffic jam in certain sections of the climb.

Image Credits: https://www.facebook.com/UNDPNepal for the cleanup images, Jamling Tenzing Norgay for the image of Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay
Sources: New York Times, Lonely Planet, https://www.facebook.com/UNDPNepal, https://www.facebook.com/SPCCNepal, https://thehimalayantimes.com

Earth Hour 2018

Earth Hour will be celebrated on March 24 from 8:30pm to 9:30pm (your local time). Earth Hour is an annual event where people, businesses, and cities around the globe are urged to turn off as many lights and electrical gadgets as they can for one hour. While this saves electricity, the bigger goal is to create awareness in people about simple changes they can make in their lifestyles to help our planet. Earth Hour began in Sydney, Australia, in 2007. Last year, hundreds of millions of people in 187 countries and territories turned off their lights for an hour. Over 12,000 of the world’s landmarks and monuments, such as the Sydney Harbour Bridge (Australia), the Burj Khalifa (UAE), and the Eiffel Tower (France), also participated by going dark. Here is a video about Earth Hour.

Image Credits: https://www.earthhour.org for the image of the globe
Sources: https://www.earthhour.org

Chile and Bolivia in a dispute

Lawyers of both Chile and Bolivia are presenting their cases to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) this month. A few years back, Bolivia had filed a case against Chile at the ICJ asking for land access to the Pacific Ocean. Currently, Bolivia is a landlocked country. However, this wasn’t always the case.

 

Chile and Bolivia are two neighboring countries that lie on the western side of South America. Both countries were colonies of Spain. Chile got its independence in 1818 and Bolivia in 1825. In 1879, Chile declared a war on Peru and Bolivia. The war was known as the War of the Pacific. Before the war, Bolivia had a coastline along the Pacific Ocean of nearly 240 miles, separating Chile and Peru. By the time the war ended (1883), both Peru and Bolivia lost parts of their land to Chile. Bolivia lost the land that gave it access to the Pacific Ocean, making Chile and Peru neighbors. In the image, boundaries before the War of the Pacific are colored and after are marked by black lines.

 

To show support for Bolivia’s request to the ICJ, thousands of Bolivians gathered to hold a blue flag. It was no ordinary flag, it measured about 200 km (124 miles) in length.

The International Court of Justice is part of the United Nations and one of its functions is to settle disputes between countries. It is based in The Hague, Netherlands.

 

Image Credits: http://www.icj-cij.org for the image of the ICJ meeting, https://twitter.com/evoespueblo for the image of the flag, Keysanger and Wikipedia for the image of the map of the boundaries
Sources: https://www.britannica.com, http://www.icj-cij.org, http://www.businessinsider.com, http://www.dw.com, www.slate.com, CIA World Factbook