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The Spill: The Ocean’s Sound Waves

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The Year of Quiet

Marine biologists and oceanographers are calling 2020 the year of quiet and have set about gathering as much information as possible before the world speeds up to travel and commerce levels seen before the COVID-19 pandemic. According to one such researcher, Professor Peter Tyack, University of St Andrews, “Lockdown slowed global shipping on a scale that would otherwise be impossible.” And that makes for an ideal climate – before, during, and after – to gauge the effect on marine life.

There is a wealth of information to be discovered of human interaction within the ecosystems of ocean processes. For instance, many types of fish use the sound of a coral reef to know where to settle. But the advent of progress – construction, military activity, commercial shipping, even simple surveys –has drowned out the ocean soundscape. The noise pollution in the ocean is what scientists say causes the beaching of whales and other marine life. They simply get lost and find themselves stranded after their soundscape is interrupted, primarily due to the use of ship sonar.

An ocean acoustic expert from the University of New Hampshire is excited to be gathering this information. Professor Jennifer Miksis-Olds explains what can be learned by simply listening. “One of my goals is to build a global ocean soundscape map, where you could see the sounds of shipping routes, see migration patterns of whales – from their song – and even learn about climate change from the sounds of icebergs calving.”

Marine life just got a boost from the global pandemic. Researchers will continue to compile data and make recommendations for turning the manmade volume down in oceans worldwide.

Lost Golden City

A New City Discovered in the Valley of Kings

Egyptians are heading back in time to the golden age of pharaohs near the current city of Luxor. Luxor has long been called the legendary Valley of the Kings. Recently, archaeologists discovered an ancient city buried near Luxor. This “lost golden city” is the largest ever found in Egypt. It dates back 3,000 years and is the most significant discovery in Egypt, dating back to when Amenhotep III ruled. The city was also in use during the time of Tutankhamun, who was called the “boy king.”

Excavations began in 2020 in search of the lost city that had eluded archeologists for decades. The team began digging and sifting between the temples of Ramses III and Amenhotep III some 300 miles south of Cairo. Finding mud bricks with Amenhotep III stamped upon them convinced researchers they were in the right spot. Indeed. Bricks turned into full-scale roadways, walls, and rooms still filled with tools and accessories of daily life: dishes, water vessels, baking ovens, jewelry, and scarab beetle amulets.

Amenhotep III died around 1354 but lived a life of riches and power. He inherited an empire that extended from Sudan to the Euphrates River in present-day Iraq.

Egypt has been celebrating its ancient history this year. Just recently, the mummified remains of Amenhotep and his wife, Queen Tiye, were paraded along with 18 other ancient kings and queens from the Egyptian Museum in Cairo to the new National Museum of Egyptian Civilization. The mummies were moved in the order that they had ruled, carried on decorated golden vehicles. They were also accompanied by music and fireworks, as well as replica horse-drawn chariots. The road and vehicles were specially modified to give the mummies a smooth ride to their new home.

The event was, of course, called the Pharoahs’ Golden Parade.

Georgia Strikes Out With MLB

MLB was scheduled to hold its traditional All-Star Game in Atlanta this summer. Still, after hearing about Georgia’s new election law, organizers decided to move to a state with looser voting rules – or so the league thought. Colorado is the new chosen location of the MLB game. At first glance, the Mile High folks have similar voting laws on the books. So, what is the scoop?

MLBA bill named the Election Integrity Act of 2021 was recently passed and signed into law by Governor Brian Kemp to tighten voter security and prevent fraud. Critics – including the MLB – think the law will hinder instead of help Georgians vote at the polls or by mail.

Both Colorado and Georgia require some form of government ID to register to vote – a government-issued passport, driver’s license, or utility bill with home address can be used in both states. Georgia now allows 17 days of early in-person voting; Colorado has 15. The primary difference, however, is that – for the most part – Coloradans vote by mail. Every registered voter in the state receives a ballot 15 to 20 days before the election, and they can simply drop the ballot in the mail or at a dropbox. And there are a lot of dropboxes. In the 2020 election, Colorado had one dropbox per 9,400 active registered voters.

Each U.S. state passes its own voter laws. There is no federal mandate for identification, vote by mail-in ballot or in-person at the polls, nor the times of day the polls are open. Should there be such a federal mandate? Would a national law help or hurt the right to cast a ballot?

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