Posts

F1 Race Car

Drivers Penalized After Photoshoot Causes Crash At Indy 500 Practice 

An attempted photo opportunity almost turned fatal during the opening lap of the Indianapolis 500 practice after Colton Herta crashed into both Scott McLaughlin and the wall at more than 200 mph. 

Rahal Letterman Lanigan had its three drivers slowly fan out across the Indianapolis Motor Speedway frontstretch during Thursday’s practice. The goal was to take a picture of the three cars for an Instagram promotion. IndyCar, however, claimed that they were unaware of the Rahal photo shoot, and therefore the track was “hot for the entire field.” 

Embed from Getty Images

McLaughlin and Simona de Silvestro luckily saw the three Rahal cars as they turned the corner so they were able to slow down to 170 mph, however, Herta could not see tha Rahal cars from his angle, so once by the time he noticed the other two drivers were slowing down, it was too late. 

He was likely going around 220 mph, and based on his vehicle’s positioning in relation to the other cars, it was impossible for him to not directly run into McLaughlin. At first, Herta was actually able to avoid McLaughlin, however, in his avoidance he ended up hitting the wall, which bounced his vehicle right back into McLaughlin. Both drivers were unharmed and their vehicles immediately went to the pit for repairs. 

IndyCar announced that Takuma Sato, Graham Rahal, and Santino Ferrucci will all be parked for the first 30 minutes of Friday’s critical practice due to the accident. 

Embed from Getty Images

“We were several hundred yards ahead of some other cars. It was a pit stop session and it was the first lap. I think maybe some people shouldn’t be in such a rush and the spotters maybe should have done a better job. It’s disappointing that something happened a quarter-mile behind us or thereabouts and we’ve got to pay a price for it,” team owner Bob Rahal said.

Rahal also complained that the “four Team Penske cars had done their own photo shoot on Tuesday, opening day of Indy 500 preparations. But track owner Roger Penske’s cars took the photo during a five-minute period the track was specified on the schedule as open only for non-competitive installation laps.”

“We’re going to miss 30 minutes of practice, you mean for what Roger did the day before, or Roger’s team I should say? We were at the start-finish line when it all happened and from what I understand, the Penske guys were going slower, so they didn’t have a problem with it. I’m disappointed with it and I’ll talk to IndyCar about it,” Rahal explained. 

Herta missed an hour of practice from the crash and luckily his vehicle was not damaged severely. “I was angry. I thought it was irresponsible that they were doing something like that going that slow,” Herta said. McLaughlin also took to social media to speak about the accident, telling the Rahal team he “hoped the photo turned out well,” with a video of the accident attached.

Abstract Outer Space

Why ‘Space Junk’ Is A Growing And Dangerous Problem 

China’s space agency made headlines this month after debris from a rocket launched by them crashed harmlessly into the Indian Ocean this past weekend, however, the 20-ton section of the rocket originally was thought to land in a major city and cause severe damage. The section of the rocket burned up when it reentered the atmosphere. 

The incident itself created a much larger discourse about the concept of “space junk” and how dangerous it actually is. The size of the rocket section and confusion over its potential trajectory has many wondering how we can trust our world’s scientists to avoid future incidents such as this from occurring.

Embed from Getty Images

The risk of rocket parts falling into populated areas has never been a bigger issue due to the fact that many countries have private companies that can expand space ambitions, which poses a major risk for existing satellite infrastructure and space exploration missions.  

According to reports there are about 6,000 satellites currently orbiting the Earth, and more than half of them are non-functional. If any of these satellites collide, they can break off and splinter into thousands of pieces that could strike other objects in orbit, and set off a massive chain reaction of complete space station destruction. 

NASA estimates there are at least 26,000 pieces of debris the size of a softball or larger that could destroy satellites or entire spacecraft simply due to the speed they’re travelling at. 

Andreas Kluth is a contributor to Bloomberg who believes that all of the world’s nations need to work together to clean up space: “The major powers must elevate space governance to the level of other threats to humanity, from climate change to nuclear proliferation. They should publicly label the problem a tragedy of the commons and signal their readiness to begin negotiations, regardless of other conflicts they have with one another. The U.S. is the obvious nation to take the lead. China, Russia and others should reciprocate.”

Embed from Getty Images

Steven Freeland agrees with Kluth’s point, and added that beyond just laws, the world needs to create a concrete plan for cleaning up the mess of debris that currently exists as well. 

“Beyond the legal technicalities, debris removal raises complex policy, geopolitical, economic, and social challenges. Whose responsibility is it to remove debris? Who should pay? What rights do non-space faring nations have in discussions? Which debris should be preserved as heritage?”

Others also believe that the nation’s responsible for the debris need to be held accountable for the extreme damage that’s being done in space, as well as the amount of lives they put at risk on Earth when they can’t predict the trajectory of these falling debris. 

“Why is it possible for China, or any other space-faring nation, to launch massive rockets and let them fall to earth willy-nilly? The answer to that is policy failure: Despite regulations on space flight and conduct, the issue of rocket reentry is loosely and poorly regulated, so countries cut corners and take their chances that a falling rocket won’t hit anything major,” explained Alex Ward of Vox Magazine.

Selling Home and keys

Supply of Homes for Sale Slumps in December

The final month of 2019 saw a greater slump in real estate sales than previously anticipated by the market. With the holiday season in tow, December is never a popular time to list a home for sale – however this past month’s supply of homes for sale was 12% lower when compared with the same month in 2018, according to realtor.com. This was also a much steeper decline than the 9.5% drop witnessed in November.

As expected, the shortage of homes for sale has taken the biggest hit at the low end of the market, but the drain in supply is actually accelerating across all markets, including the most expensive properties. The end of the year saw the supply of entry-level home priced at less than $200,000 drop more than 18% annually, compared to the 16.6% drop witnessed in November. Midrange houses priced between $200,000 and $750,000 dropped 10.2% annually, compared with November’s decline of 7.4%, while the top end houses priced over $1 million reported a drop of 4.4% annually compared with November’s 2% slump. The median listing price on a U.S. home is currently just under $300,000.

While low-cost homebuilders are continuing to tap into a market of millennials – around 4.8 million of whom will be turning 30-years old in 2020 and looking to buy for the first time – the supply of houses being built and listed simply isn’t able to meet the sizable demand.

The drop noted in December suggests continuing unevenness in the housing market, with many predictions expecting historically low levels of houses for sale to come. December’s slump represents a loss of approximately 155,000 listings, compared to the same period in the previous year, and the amount of new listings is decreasing as well.

Embed from Getty Images

So what is causing this difficult time for the housing market? Higher prices are discouraging many potential movers from listing their homes; increasing numbers of older homeowners are choosing to stay where they are rather than selling their property; and a large number of investors have spent the past decade transforming previously sellable homes into rental properties, which has removed them from the market for prospective buyers.

Real estate is a local business however, meaning not all markets are encountering the same effects. While areas such as California, Seattle, San Francisco and San Jose all encountered a 30% drop in inventory in December, the major markets of San Antonio, Las Vegas and Minneapolis-St. Paul saw their supply of for-sale homes increase. This may appear to suggest that the struggling locations have simply faced an unfortunate year, but the problem is far more widespread than just a few bad districts.

Demand for houses will inevitably increase into the year. With mortgage rates still low potential buyers have greater purchasing power available, but this short supply is likely to push prices up across the board, and currently the majority of new homes in the U.S. are already on the mid to high end of the scale. While many builders are beginning to develop lower-cost properties, as well as ramping up production in general, it will likely be some time before their efforts begin to make a real impact across the market.

Embed from Getty Images

So what next for the housing market? If you believe the gloomiest predictions, the U.S. could be due for another market crash. Just like in 2008, slow wage growth has made it difficult for potential buyers to keep up with the rising house prices. Property sales are currently expected to drop by 1.8% this year, and it’s likely that potential buyers pull out as they struggle to afford the few properties on sale. Combined with a greater uptake of low mortgage rates, this does not paint a pretty picture for real estate. As sales decline, prices may follow – this could leave buyers struggling to make payments on houses that were too expensive for them in the first place.

This is a worst-case scenario prediction however. New homes are being built across the country and the rate is increasing – construction began on 1.37 million new homes in November 2019, a 3.2% increase on October’s numbers and a 13.6% increase on the same month a year prior. If these numbers are accurate and production is successfully ramped up, the construction industry may be able to alleviate the strain that the housing market is currently facing.

Right now, the best advice may be for prospective buyers to hold on to their cash. Low mortgage rates may seem tempting, but the lack of houses available will mean paying out an unjustifiable fee overall. The situation may improve further into the year as more and more properties are built, but if possible it’s worth waiting to see if the market steadies out over the coming years before making such a sizable investment.

Cruise Ships

Two Cruise Ships Collide, Injuring Six

The last thing you’d want to experience when vacationing on a cruise is an accident that stops the festivities and puts people in danger. But that’s exactly what happened to passengers on two cruise ships which collided today off the coast of Cozumel, Mexico, injuring six. Fortunately, nobody sustained any serious or life-threatening injuries, and both ships were deemed to be seaworthy despite the damage, meaning passengers are able to complete their cruise as scheduled. The collision of the two ships, the Carnival Glory and the Carnival Legend, was captured on video and frightened passengers, who heard the sound of cracking and shattering glass and were told to evacuate rooms close to the scene of the accident. Indeed, as can be seen in the video, much of the Carnival Legend’s dining hall was destroyed in the impact, though fortunately no one was directly struck by the colliding ship. One passenger was hurt while rooms were being evacuated, though, and five more passengers arrived at the Carnival Glory’s medical center for evaluation, having sustained minor injuries.

Embed from Getty Images

As of yet, it is unclear exactly what led to the collision, which occurred around 10 a.m. this morning as one ship was maneuvering to dock and ran into the other ship which was already docked. For now, Carnival officials have advised the ships’ passengers to spend their day in Cozumel as they continue to assess the damage to the ships and manage the aftermath of the accident. According to passengers of the Carnival Glory who spoke with CNN about the incident, high winds and ocean currents were factors that led to the crash, though a full investigation has yet to be completed. While passengers who were close to the point of collision screamed as they witnessed the frightening event, most of each ships’ passengers barely noticed the crash, describing it as feeling like the boat had been jolted by a large wave. Carnival has not yet said whether it would compensate the customers who underwent the frightening ordeal for its mistake.

Embed from Getty Images

While incidences like this are rare, particularly as technology and safety standards have evolved, passengers of cruise ships do occasionally find themselves in the middle of accidents that at best put a damper on their vacation and at worst threaten lives. While today’s collision is relatively minor, all things considered, more serious events have taken place on cruise ships in the past. Everybody knows that the Titanic sank after colliding with an iceberg over a century ago, but this is not the deadliest accident on a cruise ship in history; that would be the destruction of the MV Wilhelm Gustloff, which was built by the Nazis and was sunk by torpedoes fired from a Russian submarine in 1945, killing over nine thousand passengers. More recently, a generator fire left the Carnival Triumph without electricity for days, disabling the boat’s sewage system and causing the ship’s passengers and crew tremendous stress. And in 2012, the Costa Concordia, which had room for 4,200 guests, sank after hitting an underwater rock, killing 32 passengers.