🐤 The search continues

One Harvard professor is leading the way in our search for alien life.

Tuesday | August 29th, 2023
Early Chirp

Happy Tuesday, chirpers! For folks across several generations, one of the perks associated with a day off from school was plopping down on the couch to watch Bob Barker host “The Price is Right.”

He taught us the “actual retail price” of countless supermarket products as well as the importance of controlling the pet population.

Bob Barker died over the weekend at the age of 99 and touching tributes from his “Happy Gilmore” rival Adam Sandler, his “TPIR” successor Drew Carey, and many others continue to pour in.

-Chris Agee

$114.48 (0.84%)
Dow Jones
$213.08 (0.62%)
S&P 500
$27.60 (0.63%)
$0.00 (0.17%)
-$93.34 (-0.36%)
-$0.07 (-5.34%)
*Market data for this issue is from August 28th, 2023 at 4:35pm EST

🏦 Markets: There was some tentative optimism on Wall Street to start the week. Building on the first winning week since last month, Monday saw each of the three major indexes add a fraction of a percent by the time the closing bell rang.

But all eyes are on the next few days to provide some clearer indications about the overall state of the economy. More quarterly earnings reports are coming, as are the latest stats about consumer confidence and inflation.


The Breakdown

A quick look around the world.

The Breakdown Shutterstock

📉 Major crash: Prior to Monday, it had been well over a year since Evergrande’s stocks were traded on the Chinese exchange. But it was clear that the once-dominant real estate company was in dire trouble, losing the equivalent of more than $5 billion in the first half of 2023 alone. When trading finally commenced this week, its stock value dropped by a devastating 87% in one day. Its latest market cap represents a loss of 99% compared to its all-time high.

✈️ Cheap flights: There are tons of websites all competing to show you what the lowest ticket price is for your air travel needs. But Google might be in the process of outdoing all of them with its new program. According to reports, the search engine giant has compiled tons of historical data that provides a glimpse into not only which carriers are offering the best deals but when shoppers should buy a seat in order to get the lowest price possible.

💸 Major delays: American Airlines is facing fines that total more than $4 million in connection with 43 flights that were delayed for more than three hours each on the tarmac. It’s the biggest fine ever imposed by the Department of Transportation for such delays since the agency started handing down such penalties about a decade ago. The incidents occurred between 2018 and 2021 and passengers aboard the impacted flights were not allowed to exit the planes.

⛽️ Mixing fuels: As Floridians prepared for Tropical Storm Idalia to make landfall on Sunday, Gov. Ron DeSantis made an announcement that threw a wrench into some residents’ evacuation plans. Due to “human error” that resulted in diesel fuel being pumped into tanks meant for gasoline, there was “potentially widespread” contamination across the panhandle stemming from Citgo-serviced gas stations at the Port of Tampa after 10 a.m. on Saturday.

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Meet The Harvard Professor On A Quest To Find E.T.

His mission started with a strange sighting back in 2017.

Meet The Harvard Professor On A Quest To Find E.T. Giphy

Alien theories aren’t limited to fringe conspiracists anymore now that officials are on the record indicating we’ve had some sort of contact with extraterrestrial life forms.

Then there’s Harvard University theoretical astophysicist Avi Loeb, who’s on a mission to find evidence on this mysterious subject.

It all started in 2017

Although Loeb’s curiosity clearly predated this date, it was on Oct. 19, 2017, when astronomers on the Hawaiian island of Maui discovered a strange object in the sky.

Experts called it Oumuamua, which is a Hawaiian word that roughly translates to “messenger.”

Here are some of the ways it differed greatly from a run-of-the-mill asteroid:

  • Its shape was long and thin, commonly compared to that of a cigar.
  • It sped up unexpectedly as it approached the sun.
  • It didn’t have the signature tail of a comet that would’ve explained its speed.

The discovery sparked a number of competing theories, but none of them quite satisfied skeptics … including Loeb, who took a particular interest in Oumuamua.

The light sail theory

When discussing the hurdles of interstellar space travel, the biggest one is an ability to travel at high speeds over long distances. One hypothetical solution is known as a light sail, which could theoretically allow solar rays to fuel a metallic sheet much the way that a sailboat harnesses the wind’s power.

That could explain Oumuamua’s unusual travel, Loeb theorized in a 2018 paper. If true, of course, that would mean it was created by intelligent life somewhere in the cosmos.

With an estimated 100 billion planets in our galaxy alone, the thought isn’t all that far-fetched, he argues.

He went on to launch the Galileo Project, which aims to combine eyewitness accounts and hard scientific evidence to determine once and for all whether we’re all alone in the universe.

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us news

What’s Behind This Massive Secret Land-Grab Next To San Francisco

A group of influential investors seems to have big plans for the property.

What’s Behind This Massive Secret Land-Grab Next To San Francisco Shutterstock

Given its proximity to Silicon Valley and a vibrant urban atmosphere, San Francisco has long been a hub of tech upstarts and other innovative businesses.

In recent years, however, there’s been some suspicious activity on the outskirts of the city, resulting in speculation that a brand new city might be competing for a piece of the action.

The $800 Million Project

Anything short of a billion might not register as big bucks when we’re talking about massive companies like Apple, Google, and Meta, but it’s certainly worth noting when a mysterious group called Flannery Associates drops $800 million to buy up a bunch of land adjacent to San Francisco.

The project dates back at least five years, and for quite a while no one knew exactly who was behind it. Details have recently emerged, however, and it points to a pretty bold proposition.

According to reports, the ultimate goal appears to be the creation of an entirely new city funded by tech titans where they can create a sort of digital-age utopia.

Who’s behind it?

Evidence suggests that former Goldman Sachs trader Jan Sramek is at the helm of Flannery Associates — and the list of investors in this project reads like a who’s who of Big Tech.

  • LinkedIn co-founder Reid Hoffman
  • GitHub CEO Nat Friedman
  • Emerson Collective founder Laurene Powell Jobs

There’s also investors Marc Andreessen and Chris Dixon of the firm Andreessen Horowitz as well as venture capitalist Michael Moritz, who seemed to indicate the motivation for this new city is to allow investors (along with a privileged few) to escape San Francisco, which has been beset by social problems including homelessness and crime in recent years.

In addition to homes, insiders say the city will boast parks, a solar energy farm, and more than a million new trees.

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creative corner Cherry Blossoms by Lael Salaets (IG: @lael_salaets) Cherry Blossoms by Lael Salaets (IG: @lael_salaets)
world news

India’s Space Agency Provides Stunning Views Of The Moon’s South Pole

The country is celebrating its massive achievement on social media this week.

India’s Space Agency Provides Stunning Views Of The Moon’s South Pole @isro/X

It might have been a few decades late to the party, but the fourth nation to successfully land a spacecraft on the moon is making up for it by offering some never-before-seen images.

The Chandrayaan-3 lunar module landed as planned last week, becoming the first such craft to touch down on the south pole of Earth’s natural satellite. And in the days since then, we’ve all gotten a glimpse of what it looks like up there.

Made for the social media age

As with virtually all newsworthy events these days, the Indian Space Research Organization took to X — the platform formerly known as Twitter — to share photos and video captured by the module and its on-board lunar rover.

In a post on Friday, the rover can be seen rolling down a ramp and onto the moon’s surface. Subsequent updates from the ISRO noted that the rover was operating as intended and had already moved about 26 feet.

The following day, a new video shot from the perspective of Chandrayaan-3 showed the rover move further away until it was almost no longer visible.

Encountering an obstacle

A post uploaded yesterday morning showed what happened when the rover came close to a moon crater. Fortunately, it had been programmed to avoid such obstructions and, as a pair of images showed, successfully changed its course to bypass the gaping hole.

Now that everything appears to be in order, the ISRO is ready to get on with the mission at hand. As officials previously indicated, the lunar landing is intended to showcase India’s space-exploration technology while conducting scientific research and experimentation on the moon’s surface.

Some data has already been released, including a chart showing the difference in temperatures between the surface and a few inches into the lunar dirt.

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Early Chirp

Written by Chris Agee

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