Beyond the Bricks: Week of 01/27

The United Kingdom Leaves the European Union

BBC reported that the United Kingdom (U.K.) stopped being a member of the European Union (EU) on Jan. 31, 2020. This has been commonly referred to as "Brexit" or the British exit.

Back in 2016, a public vote was held in the U.K. that gave citizens the choice; they could remain in the EU or to leave it. Fifty-two percent voted to leave.

Now the U.K. has entered a transition period where it will continue to follow the same rules and trading relations, reported the BBC. During this period, the U.K. and EU will work together to determine what the future of their relationship looks like.

This transition period is to last 11 months and give both sides breathing room while many topics are still negotiated. One large topic for discussion is the new trade agreements that the U.K. will have. Other aspects of the future relationship that have to be ironed out include law enforcement, data sharing, supplies of electricity and gas and access to fishing waters.

The terms of the departure are laid out in a separate document referred to as the withdrawal agreement.

New Images of the Sun

Images of the sun showing the greatest amount of detail, thanks to a new telescope, were released on Jan. 30, 2020. CNN reported that the images were taken by the National Science Foundation’s Daniel K. Inouye Solar Telescope, which is based in Hawaii.

These new images share more detail about the surface of the sun revealing more information than prior technologies could, reported ScienceAlert. These new details have helped reveal the behavior of the solar surface, as well as how the sun impacts Earth.

Large cells on the surface of the sun have been revealed to help create convection, as the surface cools, the heat from below rises above it creating a current. 

The telescope and images also gave light to the sun’s corona, which is the outer atmosphere of the star. The corona is much hotter than the surface of the sun, around one million degrees Kelvin, where as the surface sits at just six thousand Kelvin.

This better understanding of the heat of the corona has also given more information of solar winds and could lead to a better understanding of space weather and solar storms.

Caribbean Earthquake

On Jan. 28, 2020, a 7.7-magnitude earthquake hit the Caribbean reported NPR. The earthquake struck off the coast of Jamaica, Cuba and the Cayman Islands. BBC reported that in Miami several offices were evacuated after the earthquake struck.

There were no immediate reports of major damage or injury, but videos on social media documented the event, from damaged streets to sinkholes opening up due to violent shaking. Vibrations were reported as far as 708 km from the epicenter.

The earthquake led to a tsunami warning for a large area of the Caribbean as waters shifted; however, the alert was later cancelled.

Knolly Moses, an ad executive in Jamaica is quoted by NPR as saying, “This one was serious. It put the fear of God into many people today.”

The earthquake was deemed a magnitude of 7.3 before being upgraded due to the severity of the shaking and vibrations. The epicenter was about 86 miles northwest of Montego Bay, Jamaica.