Things That Matter

Your Abuela Always Warned You About Eclipses But The One Yesterday In South America Was Truly Special

Yesterday, thousands of people in Chile and Argentina stood outside and gazed at the sky as day turned briefly to night during this year’s only total solar eclipse.

For two minutes, Earth’s moon completely blocked the sun, allowing observers in the path of its shadow to see solar prominences and the sun’s vast corona extending out into space.

Viewers across Chile and Argentina were treated to a particularly special solar eclipse yesterday.

Credit: @CNN / Twitter

Hundreds of thousands of tourists scattered across the north Chilean desert on Tuesday to experience a rare and irresistible combination for astronomy buffs: a total eclipse of the sun viewed from beneath the world’s clearest skies.

A solar eclipse occurs when the moon passes between the Earth and the sun, plunging the planet into darkness. It happens only rarely in any given spot across the globe.

The best views this time were from Chile’s sprawling Atacama desert north of the coastal city of La Serena, where a lack of humidity and city lights combine to create the world’s clearest skies.

The region had not seen an eclipse since 1592, according to the Chilean Astronomy Society. The next one is expected in 2165.

OMG, this is so cool!

Office workers poured from buildings late in the afternoon to catch a glimpse of the phenomenon and a run on special “eclipse-viewing” glasses downtown had led to a shortage in many stores, with street vendors charging as much as $10 for a pair of the disposable, cardboard-framed lenses.Advertisement

Northern Chile is known for clear skies and some of the largest, most powerful telescopes on Earth are being built in the area, turning the South American country into a global astronomy hub.

And you don’t get a chance to see this too often…

Credit: @NWSNorman / Twitter

Weather satellites captured a once in a lifetime shot showing the solar eclipse crossing the South Pacific Ocean together with Hurricane Barbara off the coast of Mexico. Que chido!

And, of course, the solar eclipse that’s taking place over Latin America is special!

Credit: @WIRED / Twitter

So solar eclipses aren’t super rare. In fact, they occur roughly every 18 months. Some of them last just a few seconds; others stretch up to seven minutes.

But today’s eclipse in South America is special for several reasons.

First, it takes place during a low-activity period in the solar cycle, called the minimum, meaning the views for certain researchers will be a little clearer and more nuanced given the lack of “clutter,” or activity such as flares and prominences emanating from the surface.

Also, it will pass directly over an area that is home to major astronomical research observatories, including the Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory, Gemini South, and the European Southern Observatory’s La Silla Observatory.

It’s also taking place across the Atacama Desert – a special place for viewing celestial objects.

Images have been pouring in on social media from across South America.

Credit: @AP_Images / Twitter

Like this amazing shot taken in Argentina.

And this one from the Andes Mountains in Chile.

Credit: @joabaldwin / Twitter

I mean, that’s an other worldly image right there.

And remember, whatever you do, don’t take this Twitter user’s advice.

Credit: @nostalgiabloom / Twitter

Or, you know, don’t follow our president’s lead either. Remember the eclipse of 2017 when he stared directly into the sunlight…? Yea, impossible to forget.

Are you already waiting for the next chance to see a solar eclipse?

Credit: @Forbes / Twitter

Well, depending on where you’re at you may be waiting awhile. Although, South America will have another chance next year as an eclipse will take a similar path in 2020.

For viewers in the US, we’ll have to wait until 2024 for our best shot when an eclipse will be visible from Mexico, across Texas, and up to Chicago, New York, and Maine.

READ: This Is What A Latino Household Is Like On The Day Of A Solar Eclipse

South America’s Beloved Llama Could Hold The Cure For Coronavirus – According To Actual Scientists

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South America’s Beloved Llama Could Hold The Cure For Coronavirus – According To Actual Scientists

VIB-UGent Center for Medical Biotechnology

Did that headline have you wondering wtf? Yea, me too. But according to actual, real scientists and medical researchers, there is legitimate potential for a Coronavirus cure thanks to llamas.

Ever since the beginning of the Coronavirus pandemic, scientists have been scrambling to find a cure. And now, thanks to old research and a llama named Winter, scientists feel they may be one step closer.

It’s true – a Belgian llama is being studied for her potential as a cure to the Coronavirus.

The race to find effective coronavirus treatments has led to an unlikely hero: a 4-year-old Belgian llama named Winter, whose antibodies show promise in blocking the novel Coronavirus that causes Covid-19 from infecting cells.

According to a new study published in the journal Cell, by an international team of researchers, antibodies found in the blood of llamas were able to stave off COVID infections. And it’s a very big deal. In fact, this is one of the very first antibodies that has proven to be neutralize SARS-CoV-2, according to Jason McLellan, from the University of Texas at Austin and co-author of the study.

The research is actually a few years old which means testing and production are already in the works.

The researchers built on previous research from four years ago in which they found that the antibodies from a then nine-month-old llama named Winter were able to neutralize both SARS-CoV-1 and MERS-CoV viruses over six weeks. These two viruses are also types of Coronavirus, which led the team to consider their use against Covid-19.

Luckily, the antibodies from Winter – who’s now four years old – also fought off SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.

Apparently, llamas produce special nano-bodies that make their blood unique among animal species.

Credit: VIB-UGent Center for Medical Biotechnology

Surprisingly, this isn’t the first time llamas have been used in antibody research, as The New York Times reports. Llama antibodies have been used in work related to HIV and influenza, where they helped discover promising therapies.

Thanks to the llamas’ antibodies’ small size, they can connect with different parts of the virus more easily. Llamas like Winter are well suited to this kind of research because they produce nanobodies — about half the size of the antibodies a human would make — that occur in sharks and camelids (such as llamas, alpacas and camels).

“The binding of this antibody to spike is able to prevent attachment and entry, which effectively neutralizes the virus,” Daniel Wrapp, Dartmouth Ph.D. candidate and co-author, explained in the statement.

So what does this all mean for a potential vaccine or treatment?

Credit: VIB-UGent Center for Medical Biotechnology

Vaccines have to be given a month or two before infection to provide protection,” McLellan said in the statement. “With antibody therapies, you’re directly giving somebody the protective antibodies and so, immediately after treatment, they should be protected.”

“The antibodies could also be used to treat somebody who is already sick to lessen the severity of the disease,” McLellan added.

“There is still a lot of work to do to try to bring this into the clinic,” Xavier Saelens, a molecular virologist at Ghent University in Belgium and co-author, told the Times. “If it works, llama Winter deserves a statue.”

And we couldn’t agree more.

The US, Colombia Deny Any Involvement In What Venezuela’s Nicolás Maduro Calls Failed Invasion

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The US, Colombia Deny Any Involvement In What Venezuela’s Nicolás Maduro Calls Failed Invasion

nicolasmaduro / Instagram

Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro accused both the U.S. and Colombian governments of trying to stage an invasion. President Maduro accused made the accusations towards the beginning of May when two Americans were arrested with a group of other people.

Both the U.S. and Colombia have denied any report of an attempted coup on Venezuela.

On May 3, a group of Venezuelan rebels and two Americans allegedly began a coup attempt in Venezuela. They began on the northern tip of the country and reportedly had plans to take control of Maracaibo and Caracas. They were all immediately captured and 8 Venezuelans in the group were killed during the conflict.

According to the Daily Mail, Jordan Goudreau, 43, was involved with the coup and told a close friend about it. It is alleged that Goudreau bragged about having a contract with the U.S. government to protect oil interests in Venezuela.

The mercenaries behind the attempted coup claim to have done security for a President Trump rally in 2018.

Goudreau, who has been described as the mastermind of the coup attempt, owns the security company Silvercorp. An old Instagram post shows the Florida-based company running security for a Trump rally back in 2018. The company has since deleted the Instagram posts after news broke about their failed attempt to train Venezuelan rebels and capture the South American country.

“He came out to Colorado,” Drew White, Goudreau’s former business partner told Daily Mail. “He said he had a deal from the State Department to protect oil interests in Venezuela. He was saying it was handed to him directly. He was saying it was directed and passed down by the State Department, that it was a legitimate operation and they also had some private funding backing, which isn’t unusual with these kinds of things. Essentially he was like, ‘We’re going to topple Maduro.’ At that point I was like, ‘This doesn’t seem legitimate” and we broke ways.”

Goudreau claims that the Trump administration and Venezuelan resistance leader Juan Guaidó green-lit the operation.

The U.S. and Venezuela have had a contentious relationship over the past few years. The political unrest in Venezuela has continued to draw criticism from the international community as Venezuelans have protested for a new leader. When the relationship with Trump soured, Maduro began to claim that the U.S. was attempting to overthrow the government.

Both the U.S. and Colombian governments have denied any involvement in the alleged coup.

Reports state that the group of men attempting to topple the Venezuelan government did nothing to hide their plan. The security group was tweeting their plans to the open-world alerting anyone with a Twitter account to their plans. SilverCorp USA has since deleted their Twitter account. Experts and officials have decisively denied any collaboration between the mercenaries and the two governments.

“There is no way that I can see any kind of U.S. involvement,” Fernando Cutz, who served as a Latin America adviser on the National Security Council under both Obama and Trump, told the Huffington Post. “There were no logistics, the numbers were a joke, they clearly didn’t have any intel. A group of high schoolers would have done a better job.”

Social media has spent time dragging the security company over its failed coup attempt.

There is still a lot of speculation swirling around the “coup.” However, Goudreau’s friend is pretty sure that the missions was not as official as Goudreau claims.

“He’s a good man,” White told Daily Mail. “He was the best man at my wedding. We have a lot of history together and it never seemed like he was lying like that. But once you started looking at it, none of it really added up. He kept asking to meet with people for funding. But typically with a State Department contract, the funding is shored up. You might have some private entities helping here and there. But it was pretty obvious that it was not a state-sanctioned activity.”

READ: Venezuela’s President Maduro And Opposition Leader Guaidó Are Allegedly In Secret Talks And The World Wants To Know The Details