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First batch of James Webb Space Telescope images and data released by NASA



Two side-by-side deep field images from the MIRI and NIRCam instruments of NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope, a revolutionary apparatus designed to peer through the cosmos to the dawn of the universe, show composites made from images at Mid-Infrared (L) & Near-Infrared (R) and released July 12, 2022. 

Nasa | Reuters

A new era of astronomy has begun.

NASA on Tuesday released a full batch of images and data from the James Webb Space Telescope, providing a tantalizing first look at the cosmic mysteries that could be untangled in the years ahead by humanity’s largest and most powerful space observatory.

Among the newly released images are breathtaking views of a distant galaxy group called Stephan’s Quintet that was discovered in 1877, a stellar nursery called the Carina Nebula that plays host to many stars that are several times larger than the sun, and the Southern Ring Nebula, a huge expanding shell of gas around a dying star.

“Every image is a new discovery and each will give humanity a view of the universe that we’ve never seen before,” NASA Administrator Bill Nelson said during an event held at the Goddard Space Flight Center to introduce the images.

The long-awaited release of the Webb telescope’s first images comes after NASA and the White House gave the public a sneak peek a day early, unveiling a stunning view captured of a patch of sky overflowing with bright galaxies.

The so-called “deep field view” showed massive clusters of galaxies in the foreground that are magnifying and distorting light from fainter and much more distant celestial objects behind them.

That image, along with the full series released Tuesday by the space agency, hint at the sheer power and unparalleled capabilities of the $10 billion-Webb telescope. Scientists have said the observatory, which will be able to see deeper into space and in greater detail than any telescope that has come before it, could revolutionize human understanding of the universe.

This week’s release included the Webb telescope’s first spectrum of an exoplanet, showing light emitted at different wavelengths from WASP-96b, a planet outside our solar system that was discovered in 2014. WASP-96b, located more than 1,000 light-years away from Earth, has roughly half the mass of Jupiter and is primarily made up of gas, according to NASA.

While WASP-96b is too hot and located too close to its parent star to be considered habitable, Webb’s spectrum revealed the presence of water vapor in the planet’s atmosphere.

Webb’s observations of exoplanets, including with instruments sensitive enough to study the chemical fingerprints of their atmospheres, could help guide the search for potential life beyond Earth.

A group of five galaxies that appear close to each other in the sky: two in the middle, one toward the top, one to the upper left, and one toward the bottom are seen in a mosaic or composite of near and mid-infrared data from NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope, a revolutionary apparatus designed to peer through the cosmos to the dawn of the universe and released July 12, 2022. 

Nasa | Via Reuters

The Webb telescope, a collaboration among NASA, the European Space Agency and the Canadian Space Agency, launched into space Dec. 25, 2021. After spending more than six months testing and configuring the spacecraft’s various instruments, NASA officials said the observatory’s science operations are now ready to begin in earnest.

The spacecraft, which is the size of a tennis court, is equipped with infrared “eyes” that can pierce through dust and gas that might otherwise make some stars, galaxies and celestial targets undetectable. As such, the telescope is expected to provide first-of-its-kind infrared views of the universe, and capture some never-before-seen cosmic objects.

Telescopes like Webb can essentially peer back into the universe’s history because it takes time for light to travel through space. This means that light detected by Webb from the most distant galaxies in the cosmos provides insight into the universe as it was billions of years ago.

Billed as the successor to the prolific Hubble Space Telescope, the Webb observatory is designed to study the earliest stars and galaxies in the universe. Researchers have said that Webb could unlock mysteries from as far back as 100 million years after the Big Bang — observations that could help astronomers understand how the modern universe came to be.

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Kim Kardashian, Floyd Mayweather crypto scam lawsuit dismissed



A federal judge on Wednesday dismissed a proposed class action lawsuit by investors against the founders of the cryptocurrency EthereumMax, as well as celebrity endorsers including Kim Kardashian and boxer Floyd Mayweather Jr. over their promotion of the cryptocurrency on social media.

Investors who bought EMAX tokens alleged they had suffered losses after taking the word of the celebrity influencers about the value of the crypto. The suit claims the defendants engaged in a conspiracy to artificially inflate the value of the EMAX tokens.

Judge Michael Fitzgerald wrote that he recognized that the lawsuit’s claims raised legitimate worries about “celebrities’ ability to readily persuade millions of undiscerning followers to buy snake oil with unprecedented ease and reach.”

“But, while the law certainly places limits on those advertisers, it also expects investors to act reasonably before basing their bets on the zeitgeist of the moment,” wrote Fitzgerald, of the Central District of California.

The judge found that the plaintiffs’ allegations were insufficiently backed, especially “given the heightened pleading standards” for fraud claims, according to his ruling in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles.

In addition to Kardashian, Mayweather and former Boston Celtics star Paul Pierce, the defendants in the case included Steve Gentile and Giovanni Perone, the co-founders of EthereumMax, and Justin French, a consultant and developer for the cryptocurrency, court documents state.

Fitzgerald in his ruling said he would allow lawyers for the plaintiffs to refile their suit after amending some of their claims under a number of the statutes cited in the original complaint, which included the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, also known as RICO.

“We’re pleased with the court’s well-reasoned decision on the case,” Michael Rhodes, a lawyer for Kardashian, told CNBC.

The dismissal came weeks after investors in fallen crypto exchange FTX filed a class-action lawsuit against former FTX CEO Sam Bankman-Fried and celebrity advertisers for the company, among them NFL superstar Tom Brady, for allegedly overstating the value of the crypto tokens in promotional messaging.

And the ruling came two months after Kardashian agreed to pay $1.26 million, and not to promote cryptocurrency for three years, to settle claims by the SEC for her failure to disclose a $250,000 payment touting EthereumMax on her Instagram account.

Fitzgerald in his ruling Wednesday said the EthereumMax lawsuit reflects a broader conflict surrounding celebrity and influencer promotional schemes.

“This action demonstrates that just about anyone with the technical skills and/or connections can mint a new currency and create their own digital market overnight,” Fitzgerald wrote in his dismissal.

Investors sued EthereumMax and its celebrity advertisers in January after a slew of influencers started snagging sponsorships to promote cryptocurrencies to their millions of social media followers.

Kardashian’s Instagram post in June 2021 had written, “Are you guys into crypto??? This is not financial advice but sharing what my friends told me about the Ethereum Max token.”

Her post included “#ad” at the bottom, indicating she had been sponsored. But it did not disclose her $250,000 payment from EthereumMax.

Mayweather promoted EMAX at a boxing match and a large Miami bitcoin conference in June 2021.

But by January, the cryptocurrency had lost 97% of its value.

Fitzgerald at a hearing last month indicated he was inclined to dismiss the case.

Bloomberg News, in an article about that hearing, said that an attorney for the plaintiffs in the suit asked the judge to allow him to revise the suit’s racketeering claims to show how the statements by the celebrity defendants harmed the investors.

“If plaintiffs had known the true facts related to the promoters’ financial interest in the tokens, and that they were being paid to shill these tokens, they wouldn’t have paid as much for the tokens as they did,” the attorney, John Jasnoch, told Fitzgerald, according to a transcript cited by Bloomberg.

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Cathie Wood says the Fed is making a serious mistake as bond market flashes worst signal since 1980s



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How the U.S. became a global corn superpower



The United States has just about 90 million planted acres of corn, and there’s a reason people refer to the crop as yellow gold.

In 2021, U.S. corn was worth over $86 billion, according to calculations from FarmDoc and the United States Department of Agriculture.

According to the USDA, the U.S. is largest consumer, producer and exporter of corn in the world.

“We’re really good at [corn production],” Seth Meyer, chief economist at the USDA, told CNBC. “And that’s why you see big acres, big demand, export competitiveness.”

It’s not just what we eat.

“We turbocharged the value of corn through the application of science,” Scott Irwin, agricultural economist and professor at the University of Illinois, told CNBC.

Corn is in what we buy, including medications and textiles, and corn is turned into ethanol, which helps to fuel cars across the nation.

The rest of the world relies on U.S. corn, too. 

At $2.2 billion in 2019, corn is the most heavily subsidized of all crops in the country.

“A lot of these subsidies … do get embedded into the cost of farmland and they essentially bid up the price of farmland marginally,” Joseph Glauber, senior research fellow at the International Food Policy Research Institute and former USDA chief economist, told CNBC. “So the benefits accrue largely to those who own land.”

The federal crop insurance program’s net spending is forecast to increase to nearly $40 billion from 2021 through 2025, according to the Congressional Budget Office.

At the same time, farmland values have reached all-time record highs.

“Do we get the corn acres because we’ve got the support, or do we have the support because we have the corn acres?” Meyer said, posing the chicken-and-egg question about the nation’s grain superpower.

Watch the video above to learn more about how corn fuels the U.S. economy from its people to its vehicles, the power of the corn belt states, the role of subsidies and where government policy for the industry may go from here.

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