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Archive for Current Events – Page 3

Hello, Pluto!

There’s been some wacky deliberation in the past few years regarding the legitimacy of Pluto’s title as a planet, leaving my childhood as flotsam and jetsam because “facts” and stuff. Shattered nostalgia aside, we’re getting an up-close view of the planet-turned-dwarf-planet this morning, as the New Horizons spacecraft becomes the first spacecraft to do a fly-by of Pluto.

After a nine-and-a-half year and three billion mile journey, NASA’s spacecraft will come within 8,000 miles of the planet’s (I’m going to call it a planet) surface. New Horizons has already sent some incredible—and insanely detailed—photos back to Earth, including this one which debuted on Instagram that has already gone viral.

With the recent debate over the future of the space program, it is stories like this that remind us how important it is, and how electrifying it can be. Space exploration ignites the imagination. Twenty years ago the only photos of Pluto consisted of an obscure bright dot from an enhanced telescope. Now we are viewing high resolution images of a planet billions of miles away. If that doesn’t excite you, then you might be completely hollow inside.

Next stop for New Horizons? No one is really sure. There’s a chance it’s destroyed by other interstellar objects, or it continues on into space until it becomes a rogue interstellar object itself. Whatever becomes of the spacecraft, we should all take a moment to appreciate how awesome it is that we’re now seeing Pluto up-close-and-personal for the first time.

Image credit: NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Southwest Research Institute.

World Champs!

Top of the world! The U.S. Women’s National Team absolutely dismantled Japan on Sunday evening en route to their record third World Cup trophy. United States forward Carli Lloyd shattered all scoring expectations early, securing a hat trick within 16 minutes, and the FIFA Women’s World Cup Final shattered all ratings expectations by drawing over 22 million viewers—the highest-watched soccer event in U.S. history.

Soccer is here, folks, and it is here to stay.

Last summer I made a similar statement when the numbers came back for the U.S. Men’s National Team matches in the World Cup (and the photos and videos of massive crowds flooding bars and watch parties.) With the returns from the Women’s World Cup, it’s apparent that the viewership was not an aberration. Even Major League Soccer, a neophyte in the top tier of the sport that has struggled for a sustained audience since its inception in 1997 is seeing a ratings increase.

With the CONCACAF Gold Cup set to begin tonight—the U.S. Men take on Honduras at 9:00pm EST—, #SoccerSummer2015 will roll on, and the positive ratings will continue to roll in.

One thing that ratings don’t measure is heart—and the ladies of the USWNT showed it in spades. They recovered from a sloppy start to the tournament against Australia and their lethargic draw against Sweden and found their stride at the right time, besting the world’s top team, Germany. They took the chip on their shoulder from 2011’s loss against Japan to the field—the 5-2 score line showed it—and won their third piece of World Cup hardware, as well as the hearts of millions of Americans. Congratulations, ladies!

Implications for Future SpaceX Flights?

When NASA discontinued the Space Shuttle Program in 2011, the next logical question was: what becomes of manned space missions?


Since NASA decommissioned that storied program, numerous private companies have been jockeying for position—and contracts—from the government agency to produce the next vehicle that will become the permanent replacement for the shuttle. Elon Musk’s SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket and Orbital ATK’s Antares have hogged the majority of the limelight, but unfortunately of late, for the wrong reasons.

On Sunday morning, SpaceX’s Falcon 9 exploded shortly after liftoff from Cape Canaveral. The catastrophic loss has been initially attributed to an over-pressurized oxygen tank. The event was the second failed launch in the last eight months among the companies looking to become the standard-bearer for US spaceflight.

The results do not inspire confidence.

The vehicle losses—by SpaceX and Orbital ATK—occurred on resupply missions to the International Space Station, which are integral to the survival of the astronauts and cosmonauts aboard. While the crew has plenty of supplies on the ISS, these failures may trigger a budget-cutting reaction from a Congress that is seeking to defund excess programs.

Space flight is interwoven in the fabric of the American spirit, and it is paramount that we continue to explore the Great Unknown. That said, the safety of those who choose to board these vehicles trumps all, and there needs to be a reevaluation of the current organizations set to replace the Shuttle Program.

Our Hearts Are With South Carolina

In an extremely tragic event last Wednesday, a gunman stole the lives of 9 people at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina. The shooter—acting on apparent racial motivations—was apprehended the following day in Shelby, North Carolina.

These stories have become frighteningly common.

At PR/PR we want to extend our heartfelt condolences to the families of the victims of this heinous act, who bravely—and symbolically—filed into the pews of the AME Church for Sunday service to display solidarity against hatred and violence.

Places of worship and spirituality should not be locations of massacre. But fear and division will not dominate our nation. Together, as Americans, we will move forward from this abhorrent event.

We stand behind South Carolina as they mourn and put back the pieces that were shattered last Wednesday evening.

Apple Releases Streaming Music Service

Long rumored, now confirmed—Apple is throwing their hat into the music streaming ring. At yesterday’s WWDC conference, the tech mega-giant unveiled “Apple Music,” an online streaming service that will compete with industry stalwarts Spotify. The grapevine was filled with whispers of Apple’s potential foray into the streaming market when they acquired Dr. Dre’s Beats Electronics for $3B last May, and on June 30th the service will become a reality for consumers.

The main question though: what separates it from Spotify? Aside from Taylor Swift—not much. Like Spotify Premium, the service still requires a monthly fee ($9.99, $14.99 for a family of six), and will contain essentially the same library.

But this is where Apple has always excelled. They take already established technology—some faltering consumer-wise, like tablets—and swoop in with their own offering, somehow making boatloads of money and creating the industry standard. There’s no arguing that Apple makes a top-of-the-line product, but they’ve famously withheld features already present on other tech companies’ offerings, just to provide them later and market their inclusion as massive selling points (my Apple mouse didn’t have a right-click button until 2009.)

It almost sounds counterintuitive, but it always works. And as Apple is one of the most profitable companies on the planet, there’s obviously genius behind their motives.

So while their streaming service may not be much different than Spotify, do not count on its ability to compete. Apple consumers are famously enthusiastic about its products—almost to the point of being cultish—and when you have a motivated customer-base, they’re likely to buy-first and ask questions later.  At the end of the day, the consumer wins in this scenario, because you can believe both Apple and Spotify will strengthen their efforts to put out the best service possible.