Category Archives: News

A brief history of ants

By: Isabelle Baidoo

Although ants are seemingly small and insignificant creatures; their history is quite interesting and lengthy.

The ant (Formicidae) evolved from vespoid wasp ancestors in the Cretaceous Period roughly 145.5 million years ago. Today there are more than 13,800 species of ants that have been discovered, but scientists estimate that there are 22,000 species in total.

Ants are a Superorganism meaning they are a group of living organisms that work together as one to grow and develop. All ants play an important role in the colony. There are the ants that look after the baby ants, others that collect and prepare food, then there are the ants that dig and clean the nest. Some ants are born for their job, but others will change roles as they grow.

They live in colonies all over the world in almost every continent. Ants have snuck their way into Antarctica where they can only survive around humans. They live in trees, soil, rocks, logs, and small acorns or pinecones.

Defending their colony and their nest is a common struggle for ants. All ants can bite, and some have bodies specifically made for fighting. There’s also ants with stingers similar to bees, ants that squirt acid out of their abdomen, or ants that emit a potent smell. Although this seems rather violent, there are certain ants who don’t feel the need to fight and just hide or remain very still.

These colonies are mostly made up of female ants. Worker ants are all related and their mother is the queen ant of the colony. Once a year when a new colony is ready to be made, male ants and new queens are born. Both males and queens are born with wings. The males use these wings to fly and mate with the new queens, but their lives are very short because their only job is to mate. There is at least one queen per colony and many worker ants. Ants can be smarter than humans when they work together as a colony.

Ants’ lives begin with the mother laying a round squishy egg; which will eventually hatch into an ant larva. The ant larva eats and grows, then develops all the necessary adult body parts within its body; this is the pupa stage. They then shed their old skin and become an adult ant.

Ants come in a very wide variety of colors. Not all ants are just red, black, or brown. There are species of ants all over the world that range from green, gold, yellow, and even blue. In Australia there are shiny blue ants called Blue Ants. They can be bright metallic blue or green and are often found in flowers.

Some ants are farmer ants such as the leafcutter. There is a specific group of ants called “fungus-growing ants” that are fully self-sufficient; they create gardens of fungi to eat, and feed their fungi leaves and soil to keep it fresh. Then there are “rancher ants” who herd smaller bugs like aphids from plant to plant to help them cross safely from weather and predators. In return, the aphids provide sugar water to the ants.

Ants are commonly consumed in Asian, African, and Latin countries. Some popular edible ant species are: leafcutters, weavers, honey, and black ants. This is because they’re such a plentiful species and are relatively easy to locate.

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What’s the deal with eels?

By: Caden Kipfmueller

Freshwater eels are widely regarded as one of nature’s great mysteries. The gender and reproduction habits of this species have perplexed scientists and great thinkers alike for centuries. Ancient Greek philosopher Aristotle was famous for his belief that eels did not conform to gender in the same way that most species of fish do, and Sigmund Freud once was pushed to the brink of insanity when hundreds of dissections led to absolutely no new information on the topic.

Eels are one of the few species of animal that still has more questions than answers in modern biology, and it has taken most of human history to produce what still amounts to an incomplete understanding of the creature.

The lack of information that scientists have about eel reproduction is extensive. Eels have never been observed mating, either in captivity or the wild. Additionally, sexual organs have never been spotted on the eel at any stage of its life. Given the abundance of the species and its prominence around the world, this is an unprecedented phenomenon, and one that has never occurred before. Naturally, there is a great degree of speculation regarding how exactly more eels are made, but the most widely accepted theory is rather strange.

As the current scientific consensus agrees, freshwater eels begin their lives in the Sargasso Sea, a part of the Atlantic Ocean that is almost a highway of ocean currents, all going in different directions. At this time, scientists do not know why specifically the Sargasso Sea is the point of origin for eels, but the youngest eel larvae recorded have been located there. From the Sargasso Sea, eels begin to migrate to other parts of the world, swimming to freshwater locations by going against the current in rivers.

During this process, the eels undergo a variety of metamorphoses, the first of which is the transition from larvae to glass eel (a stage in the life of an eel named after the almost see-through pigmentation they take on during this phase). Once the eel has found a home in freshwater, it will settle. Life doesn’t change much for eels at this point, but they do still undergo some additional metamorphoses.

After an indeterminate time, the eel reaches what scientists regard as mating age. This age is different for every individual eel, and the range for when it could occur is dependent on a variety of factors in the eel’s environment. Upon reaching maturity, the eel heads back to the Sargasso Sea to mate, dying shortly after. As said before, scientists do not know exactly how eels mate, just that sexual organs likely develop during an additional metamorphosis to prepare for reproduction.

Ultimately, the freshwater eel is still very much a creature shrouded in mystery. It may be hundreds more years before more information is discovered about them, but given the recent rate of discovery in science, many feel like it is just a matter of time before the secrets of the eel are eventually revealed.

Standoff at Mall of America

By: Isabelle Baidoo

On April 22, 2023, there was a standoff between police and a man in a parking lot of the Mall of America in Bloomington, Minnesota. The surrounding roads were closed and people couldn’t get into the parking lot the standoff was taking place in. Although the roads and parking lot were closed the mall remained open throughout the altercation.

A shopper at the mall called 911 and said that there was a man with a large gun in the parking lot next to his car. This call then led to the standoff which began at around 4 PM.

People in a nearby hotel were evacuated as well as the people at the Canadian International Circus. Buses were also detoured from the mall until later that night due to the police activity.

When police arrived on the scene, the man refused to drop his gun and remained stationary while holding the gun. Around 4:52 PM crisis negotiators were communicating with the man attempting to persuade him to surrender.

The family of the gunman reports that he was having a mental health crisis which could have contributed to him not putting his gun down when asked by police and crisis negotiators.

Then at 6:15 PM, after a few hours of negotiation, the man decided to lock himself in his car and refused to leave. But then after about an hour and a half, he exited the vehicle and was taken into custody.

This is not the first time there has been a gunman at the Mall of America, this has been an issue for years. For example, one of the more recent shootings, on December 23, 2023, resulted in the death of a 19-year-old man, and 5 arrested teenagers.

After the murder in December, the Mall of America’s Vice President of Security, Will Bernhjelm, provided insightful information on how security is run at the mall and how they’re trying to prevent these incidents from happening. They have security officers on bicycles that patrol the parking lots, there are six K-9 officers at the mall that smell copious varieties of explosives, and they have security cameras everywhere, some you can see and some you can’t.

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Potential omicron illness coming?

By: Jasmine Williams

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Just when we thought COVID was done: it may be coming back says experts. According to the ‘Washington Post,’ the White House has received a warning about the possibility that the coronavirus may be coming back.

There’s a 20% possibility that COVID could come back in the next two years. A highly known scientist, Trevor Bedford, suggested that there could be a 40% percent chance of a similar omicron wave. He also conducted a statistical analysis about this possible new corona wave. This is what an immunologist and virgolist, Dan Barouch, said, “No one’s saying it’s zero. No one’s saying it’s 80 percent.” He added. “It’s more than an infinitesimal chance — and it is by no means a certainty.”

Experts in virology, immunobiology, and more, had spoken with White House officials about the virus being able to develop and mutate, bypassing protections from vaccines and treatments. These responses came, not instantly, as the administrators planned an end of the public health emergency on May 11.

Though in the US, the virus is considered finished, leaders and the coronavirus response team have other options made for long term pandemic protection. Senior officials are needing to implement more public health protections against the next threat. “One of my biggest worries is that we are losing time in preparing for the next pandemic,” assistant secretary of Health and Human Services, Dawn O’Connell, said.

Recently, the World Health Organization declared that COVID is no longer a worldwide health emergency. A director general, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, made an announcement saying, “[This] does not mean that COVID-19 is over as a global health threat.” He isn’t wrong, in fact there were a few confirmed cases and deaths recently. There were less than 80,000 cases in the US last week. Though it isn’t widely viewed that COVID isn’t fully gone and coming back, it’s still good to take precautions.

Russia accidentally bombs its own city

By: Jasmine Williams

On Thursday, April 20, one of Russia’s fighter jets accidentally bombed a Russian city called Belgorod near Ukraine’s border, according to Russia’s military. According to ‘The Washington Post’, there were three injuries and a big hole in the street. There was damage to several cars, and apartments were shattered, and the walls were destroyed. Residents had to leave local hotels due to there being several damaged buildings.

The state television wanted to excitedly share the news of damage being done by the Russian military. Apparently, the blast was so strong that an idle car flew onto a one story building’s roof, says a local media report. The vehicle had been removed from the roof last Friday morning.

The bombing of Belgorod demonstrated the impact on Russians and their homes that Russia’s president, Vladimir Putin, attempted to stop; but failed. Putin had wanted his invasion to be a swift and victorious operation leading to the capture of Kyiv. But it became tedious and there seems to be no end. Experts in the military said that the weapon seemed to be fixed to a hindered explosion after the effect that had permitted it to reach underground systems.

According to Western intelligence and Russian military documents, the weapon has not been identified and we get an insight of why it happened. “It would all have been fine except for the chosen flight path over the city, which at night glows like a huge lantern and it’s impossible not to see it.” Additionally it added, “You can’t make mistakes like that. This should never ever happen again.”

At least I hope they didn’t say that last time it happened last October. A jet crashed in southern Russia’s border, directly into an apartment in Yeysk. The crash killed twelve people and more while still in their homes. Other Russian planes had caused destruction in their country prior to this incident.

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Race against time in Sudan: The looming crisis presents recurring issues in the region

By: Aeden Evenson-McDermott

Image taken from: -warns-of-civil-war-that-would-be-nightmare-for-the-world

With the recent natural disasters to the conflict of two generals fighting for control, Sudan finds itself caught in the crossfire of a serious combination of issues.

Going back to the fall of 2020, heavy rains brought flooding which caused much destruction to homes and resulted in people dying and many being displaced.

Over the last few years, rainfall is becoming more mainstream; it has increased the odds of further flooding and even drought. With the increase in temperatures, it also limits the water that does fall to evaporating and therefore reduces the normal amount of soil moisture.

With the reoccurring global warming issues, the flood waters have separated communities and created islands where families and communities are no longer necessarily connected.

It has furthered the call for various agencies to help with providing aid but is also creating challenges to getting around to reaching people. This also is impacting the current political crises at the moment.

The fierce fighting in Sudan has made civilian life all the more challenging. The two opposing generals are challenging each other for control with civilians being caught in the middle.

With over 450+ killed and thousands injured, according to the World Health Organization, Khartoum is essentially a war zone with intense fighting and much unrest.

The U.S. managed to broker a peace deal between the sides to stop the fighting while also allowing for civilian and government personnel to try and evacuate.

The diplomatic strategies are designed to ramp up evacuations along with trying to get both sides to negotiate a peace deal.

Officials and health agencies have become more concerned with what the effects of this will be to many already struggling. Healthcare facilities have been attacked and the current crisis is only deepening. A biological lab was also seized and this is quite concerning as there are many biological hazards that could occur if something were to go wrong. The World Health Organization (WHO) has spoken out and has expressed deep concern on this matter.

As the armed conflict escalates and deepens the unfortunate circumstances in Sudan, there has been no shortage of various foreign government involvements. The Russian mercenary group Wagner, headed by Yevgeny Prigozhin, has provided the RSF’s (The Rapid Support Forces) surface-to-air missiles. It has deepened the ties between Russia and the RAF.

Egyptian and American influence has also grown as it is a way for the two countries to eliminate instability in the region while also providing ways of brokering a peace deal and offering resolutions to end the conflict in diplomatic matters. The SAF (Sudan’s Armed Forces) has been backed more by Egypt, than the RAF, due to the RAF’s history of humanitarian violations and terrorism. The U.S. has stayed more distant from the groups but is still trying to help broker the peace deal.

Artemis 2 space exploration

By: Mushtaq Yonis

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A new mission to the moon is coming up next year, the Artmetis 2 exploration. This exciting journey is going to happen in the Orion MPCV spaceship.

This mission will include a lunar flyby, which is when a spaceship orbits the moon without landing. The first flyby was the Soviet Union’s in 1959.

The Artemis 2 will have 4 crew members whose names are Jeremy Hansen, Reid Wiseman, Victor Glover, Christina Koch. Reid Wiseman as the commander, Victor Glover as the pilot, and Christina Koch and Jeremy Hansen as the mission specialists.

If you don’t know, there are 3 Artemis missions:

  • Artemis 1 – was an uncrewed test of the Orion spaceship on November of 2022
  • Artemis 2 – crewed flight that will take place in November of 2024
  • Artemis 3 – crewed flight that will land on the moon and will take place no earlier than 2025

The Artemis missions are a series of lunar exploration missions that have been designed to send humans farther into space than they have ever been before.

The crew will fly the Orion, which is an exploratory vehicle designed for longer flights beyond the moon. It will fly 8889 km beyond the moon and then return to Earth. The mission will take a minimum of 10 days.

This mission will be the first time with astronauts who are women and POC. For a reminder the crew will not be landing on the moon but instead will be doing a flyby.

NASA will also collect information about the moon’s environment and potential challenges astronauts might encounter. This will be used for NASA’s goals in establishing a permanent human presence on the moon.

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Jupiter: A world more than its size

By: Trump Vang

Looking at the night sky many objects shine brightly. The moon is easily the brightest out of these objects, followed by Venus and then Jupiter. Despite it being much farther away than most other visible objects, Jupiter still shines brightly due to its size.

Jupiter is known as a gas giant. This term refers to worlds that are mainly composed of gasses and other substances. These types of planets won’t have a solid surface, rather showing a mix of clouds and atmospheric storms.

A day on the planet lasts around 9 hours, being the fastest out of any object in our solar system. Although its year is much longer at a whopping 12 Earth years. In relation to Earth’s calendar system, it’s like having roughly 10,450 days within a year.

It stands as the biggest, largest and most massive planet within our solar system. In past times, humans named the planets after certain aspects they held; Jupiter was named after the king of the Roman gods due to its enormous size. Although, the planet has much more to show than just its mass.

Its appearance shows a multitude of colors in band-like layers created from its clouds. Although its most distinct aspect is a storm known as the ‘Big Red Spot’ on its ‘surface’. Unlike storms on Earth, the ‘Big Red Spot’ is more permanent, having lasted over 300 years. Its furousity doesn’t stop there, as its size is also unmatched, being nearly three times as big as the Earth in its entirety.

The planet also contains a strange relationship with the Earth. Earth has always been under attack by asteroids, or large space rocks. Often an asteroid may pass close to Earth, but as of this moment, it has been a long time since we’ve had a collision with them. One of the main reasons for this is Jupiter’s influence on them.

Image taken from: Image taken from

Without the planet, the existence of life could have never had a chance through the abundant asteroid collisions. So how does Jupiter affect the paths of these asteroids? Due to its large size, Jupiter is able to disrupt the orbits of asteroids, sending them out into far space, far away from the reaches of Earth. Through this, our planet was given the time to grow and produce life, bringing us to where we are today.

Jupiter is an interesting world with many quirks and aspects, from its storms to its presence and influence on other celestial objects. Taking a look at the massive planet, it stands as not only the giant in our solar system, but a world full of colors and gasses orbiting through space.

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According to science these 8 foods make you happy

By: Jasmine Williams

I don’t think you would say diets make you happy, but they actually can, and play crucial roles in our happiness. Whether we know it or not, they affect how we feel. Here are the top eight food favorites that make you happy, according to ‘CNET’.

1. Dark chocolate
This is personally not my favorite, or really anyone’s, but it is more healthy for the body because it has half the sugar than any other chocolate. Here are three components that correlate with feelings of happiness in chocolate. Serotonin is a messenger that brings satisfaction, happiness, and optimism. Theobromine is not as strong, but can boost your mood like phenylethylalanine. Phenylethylalanine is another amino acid but it creates dopamine, which acts like an antidepressant.

2. Bananas
Bananas are not everyone’s favorite fruit but they can maintain your mood. Bananas are rich in B6, a vitamin that creates serotonin. One medium size banana has around 0.4 mg.

3. Coconut
Many people have not tried coconut, I’m one of them, but it’s scientifically proven that coconuts can boost your energy. It is known to have medium-chain triglycerides, which are a type of fat.

4. Coffee
A lot of people drink coffee. About 1 million people, and a 2016 meta-analysis says that coffee can lower the risk of depression.

5. Avocado
Avocado has nutrients including choline, a component that is used to maintain your nervous system and mood. Avocados are rich in vitamin B. Vitamin B has shown to lower stress levels.

6. Berries
A 2016 study showed that eating fruits and vegetables in general can improve mental health. But berries are plentiful in flavonoids (antioxidants). They can reduce depression symptoms.

7. Fermented food
Foods like kimchi, kombucha and yogurt, go through the fermentation process. They create probiotics that lead to a healthy gut. Important because 90% of serotonin comes from healthy guts.

8. Mushrooms
Mushrooms are full of vitamin D which has been known to have qualities of stimulants that can increase your mood. To get the full effect, let your mushrooms get some sunlight before cooking.

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With tensions looming in Ireland and Northern Ireland, Biden aims to cool off the situation, and will also visit his Irish roots in Ireland

By: Aeden Evenson-McDermott

As President Biden left for his planned trip to the Irish and UK regions, the White House called it “tremendous progress” referring to progress made since The Good Friday Agreement, which was signed 25 years ago, which aimed to end the violence occurring throughout the region.

The United States’s push to secure more economic stability for the Northern Irish was at the forefront but has coincided with the wounds of the past being reopened.

The Good Friday Agreement’s aim was to help with reunifying the predominantly Irish Catholics known as “Republicans” with those who wanted to remain a part of the U.K., mostly being Protestants, known as the “Unionists”. This period of high tensions was known as “The Troubles” and resulted in over 3,500 deaths.

When the actual Good Friday Agreement got signed on April 10, 1998, both sides stopped fighting and created shared power between the Republican and Unionists to make up Northern Ireland’s government. The U.K., as a part of the agreement would be limited to bolstering Northern Ireland’s military.

With the increased tensions now being focused on trade deals and reoccurring drawbacks from the post-Brexit era, the political issues for the British Unionists are mounting. The Northern Ireland Unionists are increasingly worried about how the deal leaves EU Measures in place, which allows for Northern Ireland to be closer to the Republic of Ireland, which is an EU member, while Northern Ireland is in the U.K. With the threat rising, a few issues have surfaced. A police car had Molotov cocktails thrown at it, a bomb plot, and a few suspected pipe bombs in Creggan cemetery.

President Biden’s visit to Northern Ireland was to help “keep the peace” during a time when the U.K. government is walking a tightrope in regard to Northern Ireland.

It remains to be seen whether or not Biden’s visit eases tensions or the tension remains.

With less than 24 hours spent in Northern Ireland, President Biden would head to Dublin, the capital of Ireland, and address the local Dublin parliament and attend a gala banquet before setting out to explore his ancestral roots.

He focused on the here and now with the imminent future rather than the stories of the past, but this would also be to point out the great accomplishments Ireland has made.

Through seeing distant family members and taking in the sights and sounds of Ireland, Ireland is becoming a steadfast ally in Europe and especially with the U.S. and this broadened the relations between the two governments.

Since the war in Ukraine started back in February of 2022, Ireland has taken in over 75,000 refugees and has also strongly condemned Russia for the invasion.

Ireland stands as a beacon of freedom of hope and has gained a foothold of liberal ideals while many other countries are struggling with the uptick of the far-right.

Through his adventures, President Biden would be enriched in Irish culture and customs, and would visit his ancestors’ home towns of Ballina and Mayo and would reflect on his family’s journey to America and living in Scranton, Pennsylvania. And as his Irish Catholic grandfather, Ambrose Finnegan always said to Joey growing up, “Keep the faith”.