Beyond the Bricks: Week of 4/8
by Abby Bratton | published Apr. 19th, 2019
Military Coup in Sudan
A military coup took place in Sudan on April 11, 2019. The deposed president, Omar al-Bashir, was arrested after holding power for almost thirty years. BBC News reported that he was replaced with coup leader Lieutenant General Awad Ibn Auf, who then resigned a day later. His position was taken over by Lieutenant General Abdel Fattah Abdelrahman Burhan.
According to Ibn Auf, the military will maintain control for two years, at which point elections will be held. However, the head of the military council’s political committee, Lieutenant General Omar Zain al-Abidin, said that the two-year period is the upper limit on how long the military will retain control, and it may be as little as a month before they transition to a civilian government.
The coup occurred after months of protests stemming from currency devaluation and government cuts to food and fuel subsidies. These measures were imposed to curb an economic crisis tied to the struggling oil industry. The demonstrations were organized by the Sudanese Professionals Association and a majority of the protesters were women. Even after Bashir’s removal, demonstrations continue as the leaders of the movement urge protesters to remain in the streets until civilian rule is established.
WHO Emergency Committee Discusses Ebola Outbreak in Democratic Republic of the Congo
An outbreak of the Ebola virus was declared in Congo on August 1, 2018. As of April 11, 2019, there have been 1,140 confirmed cases of the disease and 698 confirmed deaths, according to the DRC Ministry of Health. Sixty-six probable deaths have been linked to the outbreak as well, which is now the second-deadliest Ebola crisis in history.
The World Health Organization (WHO) called for a meeting of the Emergency Committee for Ebola virus disease in the Democratic Republic of the Congo on April 12, 2019.
According to the WHO, “It was the view of the Committee, the ongoing Ebola outbreak ... does not constitute a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC). However, the Committee wished to express their deep concern about the recent increase in transmission in specific areas, and therefore the potential risk of spread to neighbouring countries.”
The Associated Press said that part of the reason for this concern is the frequency of conflicts with rebel groups in the region of the outbreak, which heightens suspicions against external health workers. Doctors Without Borders closed two clinics earlier this year after they were attacked. International Rescue Committee member Tariq Riebl was quoted by The Associated Press as saying that, “Given the average number of cases we’re seeing now, [the outbreak] is not going to be over for at least another six months or more.”
Israeli Lander Crashes on the Moon
Israel’s Beresheet spacecraft crashed into the moon on April 11, 2019. If the landing was successful, it would have marked both the first Israeli mission to land on the moon and the first privately funded mission.
The craft was constructed by SpaceIL and Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI), and the mission’s objective was to conduct scientific experiments, as well as to gather pictures of the lunar surface. According to Space.com, however, SpaceIL and IAI representatives said that their true mission was to advance Israel’s space program and technological expertise, as well as to engage younger people in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.
Communication was lost with the lander as it neared the surface and it crashed shortly after. Despite the failed landing, SpaceIL and IAI are being awarded a million dollars from the X Prize Foundation for their efforts. Although it did not land, Beresheet did make it into lunar orbit and sent pictures of the moon back to Earth. BBC News reported that the cause of the crash was likely a technical glitch, and that testing will be carried out to further understand what happened.
First Image of a Black Hole
On April 10, 2019 the Event Horizon Telescope team announced that they had successfully photographed a black hole for the first time in human history. The news was released in a series of six papers published in The Astrophysical Journal Letters.
The photograph itself is of a supermassive black hole about 55 million light-years away from Earth in the Messier 87 galaxy. The black hole has approximately 6.5 billion times more mass than the sun. It was imaged by linking eight radio telescopes around the globe, then rendered using an algorithm developed by computer scientist Dr. Katie Bouman.