CURRENT EVENTS

'Doomsday Vault' Flooding Sparks Quick Repair
May 21, 2017
Scientists in Norway are working to repair flooding at the "Doomsday Vault." The Svalbard-based repository of nearly 1 million seed samples from over the world is intended to aid in efforts to recover from a worldwide catastrophe or, at the least, provide seeds for a crop that disappears because of extinction. However, melting permafrost has resulted in water streaming into the entrance tunnel to the vault. The vault, on the island of Spitsbergen, can hold up to 4.5 million seed samples. Nearly one-quarter of that amount are already stored within the vault, which was built more than 400 feet into solid rock.

Ringling-Barnum Big Top Down for Good
May 21, 2017
The final curtain has come down on the nation's oldest circus. The Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus has closed after nearly 150 years of providing what was billed as the "Greatest Show on Earth." Feld Entertainment, which owns the circus, announced in January 2017 that the circus would close and in May 2017 that elephants would no longer be part of the lineup. The circus had two shows in its final season. The more traditional, three-ring variety had its final show in Providence, R.I., on May 7. The more futuristic circus spectacle, which was called "Out of the This World," had its final show in Uniondale, N.Y., on May 20.

Ready, Set, AlphaGo: Another Man-AI Matchup
May 21, 2017
It's Deep Blue and Garry Kasparov all over again. The famous chess struggle between a grandmaster and a computer made headlines twice, most recently in 1997, when the computer won. Now, the game is Go, an equally ancient game that artificial intelligence has mastered. AlphaGo, an AI program developed by Internet search engine Google, made headlines around the world in 2016 by defeating Lee Se-Dol, a South Korean grandmaster, 4–1. The match, which took place in Seoul, was the first win recorded by a computer player over a human player. In what could be billed as a rematch, the reigning human Go champion, China's Ke Jie, will challenge AlphaGo in a three-game series. The games will take place in Wuzhen, China, and will run on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday.


IN THE SPOTLIGHT

5-year-old Youngest-ever Speller at National Bee
May 22, 2017
For the second year in a row, a contestant will set the record for the youngest ever to compete at the Scripps National Spelling Bee. This year's record-setter is Edith Fuller, from Tulsa, Okla. She is 5. Fuller performed better at the Oklahoma northeastern regional bee than dozens of other competitors, some more than twice her age. She correctly spelled 37 words in five hours of competition. Her final correctly spelled word was "jnana," a Sanskrit word that means an elevated state of knowledge. Other words Edith spelled correctly include alim, colloquial, jacamar, minaret, nisei, odori, sevruga, and virgule.

Ghana Sends Speller to American Bee for 10th Year
May 22, 2017
The Scripps National Spelling Bee features not only American contestants but students from several other countries, including Ghana. The African country has had its own national bee for 10 years. The 2017 Ghana representative at the (American) National Bee is Lily Tugah (center), a 12-year-old attendee of the Solidarity International School in Ashaiman. Nearly 200 other students participated in the event, which took place in Accra. Lily correctly spelled baculiform to win. The competition lasted 12 rounds.

The National Spelling Bee
The Scripps National Spelling Bee takes place each year at the end of May, at a location near Washington, D.C. Featuring nearly 300 contestants, the event is seen as a national championship of spelling, and students from around the world practice fiercely in order to qualify.


THIS WEEK IN HISTORY

Brooklyn Bridge Opens to the Public
After a 14-year construction period, the Brooklyn Bridge finally opened to the public on May 24, 1883. It was the world's longest steel-suspension bridge. When it opened, it was the longest suspension bridge in the world.

 

 

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