🐤 Sailing away

There might be an answer on the horizon in the ongoing search for eco-friendly seafaring.

Wednesday | May 24th, 2023
Early Chirp

Happy Wednesday, chirpers! If you haven’t had enough political talk on Twitter lately, be sure to tune in this afternoon when Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is expected to announce his 2024 presidential bid in a conversation with Elon Musk.

-Chris Agee

-$160.54 (-1.26%)
Dow Jones
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S&P 500
-$47.05 (-1.12%)
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$400.12 (1.49%)
$11.01 (8.69%)
*Market data for this issue is from May 23rd, 2023 at 7:35pm EST

🏦 Markets: All three major indexes finished Tuesday lower, but futures rebounded after the closing bell. The Dow Jones and S&P 500 both shed more than 1% of their value.

Market researcher Bill Merz explained that the latter index has been acutely impacted by the ongoing impasse regarding a looming debt crisis.

He said: “The impact of that is likely to remove liquidity from the broader capital markets. Especially more recently, [that] has really overlapped with, or it has correlated with, S&P 500 in general stock performance.”


The Breakdown

A quick look around the world.

The Breakdown YouTube screenshot/Amazon

🖐️ Gimme five: If you’re fortunate enough to look younger than your age, you might get tired of bartenders asking for your ID before serving you alcohol. Well, Amazon has you covered. It has unveiled a new device allowing individuals to simply scan their palms. It’s similar to the process used at certain Amazon stores to allow shoppers to scan their unique handprint instead of using a card or cash to pay. The ID verification application is debuting at Coors Field in Colorado.

🏀 Abdicating the throne: NBA legend LeBron James adopted his nickname “King James” during his prime, but recent remarks signal that his reign might be coming to an end. After two decades dominating the pros, he recently told Bleacher Report that he’s “not sure if [he’ll] be back in the fall when the season begins.” The final year in his current contract is a player option, so as he explained, he has “got a lot to think about.”

🏨 London calling: From King James, let’s move on to Queen Bey. A five-night concert series by Beyonce is coming to the United Kingdom later this month, and London is expecting a big turnout. Unfortunately for about 30 homeless families living in a local hotel, the situation has caused their temporary displacement. Reports indicate the individuals evicted from a Travelodge in Enfield have found a place to stay in the meantime.

🌀 State of emergency: A potential “direct hit” from a devastating typhoon was the subject of an emergency declaration this week in Guam. The U.S. territory’s governor issued the warning on Tuesday as the intense storm followed a path toward the island with landfall possible today. Low-lying areas were instructed to seek higher ground and the National Weather Service told everyone on the island to find shelter in “solid, reinforced concrete structures.”

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Behold The Surprising Resurrection Of Massive Sailboats

Could this be the remedy to a major environmental problem?

Behold The Surprising Resurrection Of Massive Sailboats Oceanbird

While early seafaring expeditions and global trade relied almost exclusively on wind power, modern ships typically rely on powerful engines to propel them through the water.

The ongoing push for clean energy and a stunning advancement in efficiency, however, might bring about a resurgence of wind-powered ships.

Birth of the “wingsail”

Before you start envisioning a supersized version of your uncle’s dinghy, let’s clarify that this new generation of ships is much different than anything in the past.

One intriguing example is the Oceanbird Wing 560 and it’s expected to be completed later this year.

Here are some specs:

  • It will be more than 130 feet high.
  • The surface will cover more than 6,000 square feet.
  • It will tip the scales at about 200 metric tons.

So what kind of sail will capture enough wind to move this behemoth from one port to the next? Oceanbird Managing Director Niclas Dhal explained.“It’s more like an airplane wing that you put on top of a ship rather than a normal sail, that’s why we call it a wingsail.”  

The future of ocean travel?

While the Oceanbird Wing 560 might be getting a lot of attention, it’s hardly the only example of this new era.

With about 90% of the world's trade goods being shipped internationally, this is a clear priority for governments and environmental advocacy groups. Just five years ago, the International Maritime Organization set an ambitious target of cutting greenhouse gas emissions in half (compared to 2008 levels) by 2050.

And the University of Melbourne’s Christiaan De Beukelaer said that target is “not enough by any measure to meet the temperature targets that are in the Paris Agreement.”The organization will establish a revised goal this summer, and wingsail power could be a pivotal piece of the puzzle.

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Solve today's crossword and win a prize!

Highest score wins an Amazon gift card!


*Prizes are sent out via email the next day by 11am EST.


Can A Four-Day Week Work In America’s Public School System?

The notion is gaining traction in districts across the United States.

Can A Four-Day Week Work In America’s Public School System? Giphy

Over the past several years, there’s been an increased push for a four-day workweek. Some studies show that productivity remained steady or even improved when employees received three days off each week.

But can the same be said for students? Hundreds of school districts across the U.S. have started to shift toward the four-day model — but the results have been mixed.

Blame the pandemic

Although about 650 districts had eliminated one day of education during the week as of 2019, COVID-19 shutdowns seemed to accelerate the trend. Combined with the need for many schools to cut costs, there are currently about 200 additional districts with four-day weeks now compared to prior to the pandemic.

Thousands of individual schools are included in this trend and many more are expected to make the change in the near future. While some of these districts are in rural or suburban areas, it’s starting to catch on in big cities like Denver, Phoenix, and San Antonio.

Scheduling problems

On paper, there are some intriguing arguments in favor of giving students a three-day weekend. But for parents who have already established their schedule around a five-day school week, such a change comes with lots of anxiety and not enough answers.

Furthermore, researcher Andrea Phillips said it might not work out in the long run for school districts either — especially if the four-day week model continues to gain popularity in the business sector.

“One of the advantages of the four-day school week is that you can take that extra time that you’re not in school to go to doctor’s appointments or other things,” she explained. “If businesses, primarily medical, moved to a four-day week themselves, kids are going to have to start missing school again to go to the doctor.”

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‘Da Vinci’ Just Rewrote The Rulebook For Lung Transplants

A patient said he woke up from the surgery without any pain at all.

‘Da Vinci’ Just Rewrote The Rulebook For Lung Transplants LESZEK SZYMANSKI/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock

Organ transplants are notoriously complex surgeries — and replacing a patient’s lung is no exception. But as technology continues to advance, surgical teams are making the most of the latest tools at their disposal.

The Da Vinci code

That brings us to a groundbreaking procedure recently conducted in Spain. According to reports, a robotic device affectionately referred to as Da Vinci has successfully conducted a lung transplant without needing to break ribs in the process.

The traditional method involves cutting through the rib cage, but Da Vinci can achieve the same result with a less invasive strategy.

According to Dr. Albert Jauregui of Vall d’Hebron Hospital (where the transplant took place), the new procedure involves making an initial incision under the patient’s sternum.

“This allows us to open only the skin, and to insert this lung little by little," he explained.

By essentially deflating the donated lung, it can be inserted through a cut that measures just over three inches.

A speedier recovery

With less trauma to the body, experts say patients will generally have a better post-op prognosis and experience less pain overall.

Naturally, Jauregui is optimistic that this process will soon begin to spread to other hospitals around the world.

Robots are already being used extensively in a variety of medical procedures, from pediatrics to cardiology. But the success of Da Vinci in completely automating such a significant task is a giant leap forward.

A robotic surgical system was employed to assist in a lung transplant at New York’s Mount Sinai Hospital, but it only provided limited assistance to surgeons in that case.

As for the patient who received his lung via robot, 65-year-old Xavier said: “From the moment I regained consciousness and woke up from general anasthesia, I had zero pain.”

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Early Chirp

Written by Chris Agee

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