October 9, 2019

The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences awarded the 2019 Nobel Prize in Chemistry on Wednesday to John Goodenough, M. Stanley Whittingham, and Akira Yoshino "for the development of lithium-ion batteries," collectively creating "a rechargeable world."

Whittingham, a Briton at SUNY Binghamton, got the ball rolling in the 1970s, during the oil crisis, developing the first functional lithium battery, though it was too explosive to be commercially viable. Goodenough, a German-born professor at the University of Texas at Austin, doubled the lithium battery's potential, and Yoshino replaced Goodenough's cobalt oxide cathode with petroleum coke, ridding the battery of pure lithium and creating the first commercially viable lithium-ion battery in Japan in 1985.

"The result was a lightweight, hardwearing battery that could be charged hundreds of times before its performance deteriorated," the Swedish academy said. "Lithium-ion batteries are used globally to power the portable electronics that we use to communicate, work, study, listen to music and search for knowledge. Lithium-ion batteries have also enabled the development of long-range electric cars and the storage of energy from renewable sources, such as solar and wind power." Read more about their research at the Nobel Committee. Peter Weber

3:32 p.m.

The Trump administration's efforts to curb immigration look like they're working, The New York Times reports.

A report released Monday by the National Foundation for American Policy projects policies like Trump's recently-expanded travel ban or the public charge rule preventing immigrants who may rely on welfare assistance from entering the country will alter legal immigration to the U.S. for quite some time. But change may also be noticeable rather quickly. Legal immigration had already declined by 11 percent between the 2016 and 2018 fiscal years, and the NFAP report predicts the decline will have reached 30 percent by 2021.

That could have long-term consequences for U.S. economic growth, which will NFAP says will slow because the average annual growth rate of the U.S. labor force will also sputter as a result of the immigration decline. The report says the rate will slow somewhere between 35 percent and 59 percent going forward if the policies remain in place. "The significant decline in the annual level of legal immigration means lower long-term economic growth may be Donald Trump's most lasting economic legacy," the report reads. Read more from The New York Times and view the full report. Tim O'Donnell

2:58 p.m.

Harvard University epidemiologist Marc Lipsitch is predicting the coronavirus "will ultimately not be containable" and, within a year, will infect somewhere between 40 and 70 percent of humanity, The Atlantic reports. But don't be too alarmed. Many of those people, Lipsitch clarifies, won't have severe illnesses or even show symptoms at all, which is already the case for many people who have tested positive for the virus.

That's precisely why he doesn't think the virus can be stopped. Viruses like SARS, MERS, and the avian flu were eventually contained in part because they were more intense and had a higher fatality rate. In other words, if you were infected by the virus that caused SARS, chances were you weren't out and about. But because the current coronavirus, known as COVID-19, can be asymptomatic, or at least very mild, there's a better chance people will likely go about their day as normal. The down side, though, is that it becomes harder to trace and prevent. In that sense it's similar to the flu, which can also be deadly, but often passes without the infected person seeking medical care.

The Atlantic reports Lipsitch is definitely not alone in his prediction. There's an emerging consensus that the outbreak will eventually morph into a new seasonal disease, which, per The Atlantic, could one day turn "cold and flu season" into "cold and flu and COVID-19 season." Read more at The Atlantic. Tim O'Donnell

2:31 p.m.

Other planets, they're just like us!

It turns out Mars, Earth's red neighbor, also has earthquakes — er — marsquakes.

Thanks to NASA's InSight lander, scientists have confirmed that Mars is a seismically active planet, said Bruce Banerdt, the principal investigator of the mission, findings from which were published Monday in Nature Geoscience and Nature Communications.

The InSight mission landed on Mars in November 2018, to study the crust, mantle, and core, and to measure tectonic activity and meteorite impacts, in the planet's "first thorough checkup since it formed 4.5 billion years ago," per NASA.

So far, the mission has recorded 174 different seismic events in 235 Martian days. "The seismic activity is greater than that of the Moon, which was measured back during the Apollo Program, but less than Earth," Banerdt said in a teleconference, per Vice News.

"Knowledge of the level of seismic activity is crucial for investigating the interior structure and understanding Mars's thermal and chemical evolution," according to the findings.

The mission is set to last for at least an entire Martian year (687 Earth days). Read more about the latest on Mars at Vice News. Taylor Watson

2:14 p.m.

Attorneys for Vanessa Bryant filed a wrongful death lawsuit Monday against Island Express Helicopters, the company operating the aircraft that crashed in January, killing Bryant's husband, Los Angeles Lakers legend Kobe Bryant, their 13-year-old daughter Gianna, and the seven other people on board.

The lawsuit alleges the passengers were killed as a direct result of the "negligent conduct" of the helicopter's pilot Ara Zobayan, who was also killed in the crash, making the company "vicariously liable in all aspects."

Zobayan was Bryant's longtime pilot. The 27-count complaint argues he failed to abort the flight, monitor the weather, and keep a safe distance between the helicopter and natural obstacles, noting Zobayan was cited in 2015 for violating visual flight rules minimums, The Los Angeles Times reports. The suit reportedly seeks unspecified compensatory and punitive damages.

The helicopter crashed into a hillside in Calabasas, California, last month on a morning that has been described as intensely foggy.

Vanessa Bryant on Monday spoke at a public memorial in Los Angeles for her husband and daughter. Read more at The Los Angeles Times. Tim O'Donnell

1:25 p.m.

Harvey Weinstein has officially been convicted of rape, and Time's Up is hailing this as a "historic moment."

The disgraced movie producer on Monday was found guilty of forcibly performing oral sex on Mimi Haleyi in 2006 and raping Jessica Mann in 2013. Weinstein, who was acquitted on the more serious charges of predatory sexual assault, pleaded not guilty and denied all allegations of non-consensual sex.

Time's Up CEO Tina Tchen in a statement on Monday highlighted the significance of the Weinstein verdict, which comes more than two years after the flood of sexual misconduct allegations against him helped ignite the #MeToo movement.

"This trial — and the jury's decision today — marks a new era of justice, not just for the Silence Breakers, who spoke out at great personal risk, but for all survivors of harassment, abuse, and assault at work," Tchen said.

Tchen went on to say that the verdict "sends a powerful message to the world of just how much progress has been made since the Weinstein Silence Breakers ignited an unstoppable movement," adding that now, "abusers everywhere and the powerful forces that protect them should be on notice: There's no going back."

Gloria Allred, attorney for several Weinstein accusers, also celebrated the verdict on Monday, saying, "This is a new day for victims of gender violence."

Weinstein on Monday was sent right to jail, where he'll await his sentencing on March 11. His lawyer said on Monday he plans to appeal and that "the fight is not over." Brendan Morrow

12:50 p.m.

Coronavirus? Never heard of her.

Fox Business host Charles Payne is attributing Monday's massive stock market drop — which is widely considered to be connected to the deadly coronavirus outbreak — to Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.).

According to Payne, Sanders' recent presidential primary win in Nevada is what caused the Dow Jones Industrial Average to tumble to its biggest one-day point drop in three years, rather than the deadly COVID-19 outbreak that has claimed over 2,600 lives and continues to surge in new countries.

Sanders decisively won the Nevada Democratic caucuses Saturday, boasting high numbers in the Democratic primary's most diverse contest thus far. Payne pointed to a dive in several health insurance stocks following Sanders' win, saying "the Bernie factor is finally rearing its head in the stock market."

Sanders' has made health care the hallmark of his campaign, but Payne attributing this to the stock market plunge might be a little iffy.

China, where the outbreak originated, boasts the world's second-largest economy, so it shouldn't be too surprising that the largest economy would be affected. Both the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq Composite fell 3.2 percent and 4 percent, respectively, on Monday, and several major industries, including several that rely heavily on Chinese consumers, have taken hits.

Still, Payne said this may be the first time Wall Street is taking "Sanders very seriously."

But Payne should know that age-old wisdom tells us Sanders' Nevada win wouldn't travel far anyway — what happens in Vegas is supposed to stay in Vegas. Marianne Dodson

12:48 p.m.

Sen. Bernie Sanders' (I-Vt.) recent comments about the late Cuban leader Fidel Castro are brewing up a storm among Florida lawmakers, especially in the Democratic Party.

During a 60 Minutes interview Sunday evening on CBS, Sanders argued it was unfair to malign every aspect of Castro's regime, praising achievements like the country's literacy program. He condemned its authoritarian nature, but despite that clarification, Sanders' comments were enough to cause a backlash in Florida, which is home to a large Cuban-American population, including refugees from the Castro era. Some Democratic lawmakers even went so far as to say that if Sanders is the Democratic nominee, it could hand Florida, which always a crucial and often controversial swing state in presidential elections, to President Trump in November.

Rep. Stephanie Murphy (D-Fla.) said the comments will likely "alienate" Florida voters, and Rep. Debbie Mucarsel-Powell (D-Fla.) said his words were "unacceptable."

Meanwhile, State Rep. Javier Fernandez (D) said the 60 Minutes interview is a "perfect illustration as to why" Sanders is the Democratic presidential candidate "least capable" of winning Florida and that "our country and party deserve better." Tim O'Donnell

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