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China is creating a ‘magpie bridge’ to the far side of the moon

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Although it’s sometimes called the “dark side” of the moon, it’s not actually dark. The moon circles the Earth and gets illuminated by the sun in a tidal lock orbit, meaning the orbital period matches its rotational period. In other words, the same side is always facing us, and that’s where nearly all lunar missions have landed.



The Chang’e 4 mission will land on the surface and dispatch a rover for observation and analysis. Direct communication through the enormous mass of the moon is not possible, so Queqiao will provide a relay link to Chinese mission control. It will station itself at a Lagrange Point, a spot of gravitational equilibrium “behind” the moon as viewed from Earth.

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The name Queqiao means “bridge of magpies” and it comes from a folklore tale, as the state-owned Xinhuanet media outlet explains: “In a Chinese folktale, magpies form a bridge with their wings on the seventh night of the seventh month of the lunar calendar to enable Zhi Nu, the seventh daughter of the Goddess of Heaven, to cross and meet her beloved husband, separated from her by the Milky Way.”

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As detailed by Spaceflight Insider, Queqiao is part of Chang’e 4, China’s fourth lunar mission. The two Chang’e 1 and Chang’e 2 probes orbited the moon in 2007 and 2010, and Chang’e 3 landed a rover on the moon’s surface in 2013. The experimental Chang’e 5 T1 mission, launched in 2014, sent a capsule around the moon and returned to Earth. The capsule demonstrated its capability by surviving re-entry, and in 2019 Chang’e 5 will land on the lunar surface, collect rock and soil samples, then lift off and return them for scientific study.

Aside from its relay duties, Queqiao also includes a radio scanner known as the Netherlands-China Low-Frequency Explorer. Because it’s in the “shadow” of the moon, unaffected by the Earth’s interference, it can search for ancient radio signals of very low frequencies dating back to the early formation of the universe and perhaps even the Big Bang itself.

“Underlying the strong humming sound from the Milky Way, there are some emissions from the early phase of the universe and it will recur at certain frequencies,” astrophysics professor Heino Falcke told Quartz. “If you don’t have much background noise you may be able to see some certain frequencies and that tells us something about the universe. It requires an extremely quiet environment.”

The lander-rover duo Chang’e 4 will launch and land on the moon later this year, and China has made no secret of their plans for a manned mission to the moon in the future.

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Nigeria: Zamfara claims 3,000 lives lost to Gunmen

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The Zamfara State government has claimed that it has lost 3,000 lives, with the state government spending some N17bn in the past seven years on fighting against banditry in the state.



 The Secretary to the Government of Zamfara, Prof Abdullahi Shinkafi, made the disclosure on Sunday in Gusau at a town hall meeting, organised by the Nigerian Bar Association to find a lasting solution to the worsening insecurity in the state.According to Shinkafi, “the banditry has resulted in the death of over 3,000 people, destruction of over 2,000 homes, burning of over 500 cars and kidnapping of over 500 people for ransom.

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He recalled that the crisis which started as a minor clash between herders and farmers had been taken over by armed bandits, who had carried out about 40 attacks.

He attributed the banditry to the shortage of manpower in the state, stressing the need for more indigenes to show interest in joining the security services to protect the state.

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Health & Lifestyle

Usual triggers of Schizophrenia

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The exact causes of schizophrenia are unknown. Research suggests a combination of physical, genetic, psychological and environmental factors can make a person prone to developing the condition.

Some people may be prone to schizophrenia, and a stressful or emotional life event might trigger a psychotic episode. However, it’s not known why some people develop symptoms while others don’t.



 Things that increase the chances of schizophrenia developing include:Genetics

Schizophrenia tends to run in families, but no single gene is proved to be responsible. It’s more likely that different combinations of genes make people more vulnerable to the condition. However, having these genes doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll develop schizophrenia.

Evidence that the disorder is partly inherited comes from studies of twins. Identical twins share the same genes. If one twin develops schizophrenia, the other twin has a one in two chance of developing it, too. This is true even if they’re raised separately unlike in the case of unidentical twins.

While this is higher than in the general population, where the chance is about 1 in 100, it suggests genes aren’t the only factor influencing the development of schizophrenia.

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Brain development

Studies of people with schizophrenia have shown there are subtle differences in the structure of their brains. These changes aren’t seen in everyone with schizophrenia and can occur in people who don’t have a mental illness. But they suggest schizophrenia may partly be a disorder of the brain.

Neurotransmitters

Neurotransmitters are chemicals that carry messages between brain cells. There is a connection between neurotransmitters and schizophrenia because drugs that alter the levels of neurotransmitters in the brain are known to relieve some of the symptoms of schizophrenia.

Research suggests schizophrenia may be caused by a change in the level of two neurotransmitters: dopamine and serotonin. Some studies indicate an imbalance between the two may be the basis of the problem. Others have found a change in the body’s sensitivity to the neurotransmitters is part of the cause of schizophrenia.

Pregnancy and birth complications

Research has shown people who develop schizophrenia are more likely to have experienced complications before and during their birth, such as: low birth weight, premature labor, lack of oxygen (asphyxia) during birth

Stress triggers

Triggers are things that can cause schizophrenia to develop in people who are at risk. The main psychological triggers of schizophrenia are stressful life events, such as: bereavement, losing your job or home, divorce, end of a relationship, physical, sexual or emotional abuse

These kinds of experiences, although stressful, don’t cause schizophrenia. However, they can trigger its development in someone already vulnerable to it.

Drug abuse

Drugs don’t directly cause schizophrenia, but studies have shown drug misuse increases the risk of developing schizophrenia or a similar illness. Certain drugs, particularly cannabis , cocaine, LSD or amphetamines, may trigger symptoms of schizophrenia in people who are susceptible.

Three major studies have shown teenagers under 15 who use cannabis regularly, especially “skunk” and other more potent forms of the drug, are up to four times more likely to develop schizophrenia by the age of 26.

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