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Some of the world's biggest football clubs have agreed to join a new European Super League (ESL) that will rival the current Champions League competition, one of the biggest club tournaments in world football.

While the new ESL won't replace domestic leagues like England's Premier League and Spain's La Liga, the clubs that compete in it face the threat of being kicked out of their domestic leagues by Europe's football governing body.
Why are these big clubs doing this?

Money seems to be the driving force. The ESL says it will result in a greater distribution of revenue throughout the game.

Football club revenues have been hit hard by the Covid pandemic with disrupted fixtures and lack of spectators. Big clubs have superstar players with multi-million pound salaries that need to be paid.

"The formation of the Super League comes at a time when the global pandemic has accelerated the instability in the existing European football economic model," said a joint statement released by the 12 founding clubs on Sunday.

The new annual European tournament "will provide significantly greater economic growth and support for European football via a long-term commitment," the statement added.

It is offering "uncapped solidarity payments" to European football which will grow in line with league revenues. ESL says these will be "substantially higher than those generated by the current European competition and are expected to be in excess of €10bn (£8.6bn)" during the early stages.

A statement from the new competition said: “AC Milan, Arsenal, Atlético Madrid, Chelsea, Barcelona, Inter Milan, Juventus, Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United, Real Madrid and Tottenham Hotspur have all joined as founding clubs.

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The ancient Egyptians are famed for their fondness of all things feline. There's no shortage of cat-themed artifacts — from larger-than-life statues to intricate jewelry — that have survived the millennia since the pharaohs ruled the Nile. The ancient Egyptians mummified countless cats, and even created the world's first known pet cemetery, a nearly 2,000-year-old burial ground that largely holds cats wearing remarkable iron and beaded collars.

But why were cats so highly valued in ancient Egypt? Why, according to the ancient Greek historian Herodotus, would the Egyptians shave their eyebrows as a mark of respect when mourning the loss of a family cat?

Much of this reverence is because the ancient Egyptians thought their gods and rulers had cat-like qualities, according to a 2018 exhibition on the importance of cats in ancient Egypt held at the Smithsonian National Museum of Asian Art in Washington, D.C. Specifically, cats were seen as possessing a duality of desirable temperaments — on the one hand they can be protective, loyal and nurturing, but on the other they can be pugnacious, independent and fierce.

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One of the last times I stepped outside my Brooklyn apartment without a mask on was in early spring 2020, just before the state issued a mask mandate. I remember because as my dog peed on a tree, a neighbor asked me pointedly where my mask was. Where I live, almost everyone wears a mask when they go outside. If a person sipping from an iced coffee with their mask pulled down approaches someone else on the sidewalk coming the other way, they will usually yank the mask back up, as if they’ve been caught partially dressed. The other day I noticed a woman sitting on a hill in the middle of a field with her face covered. There was no one near her.

For a while now, this has felt a little unnecessary, if understandable, given that we were still learning things about the virus and were trying to be as careful as possible. But now, as we’ve come to know more about the virus, as vaccinations are ramping up, and as we’re trying to figure out how to live with some level of COVID in a sustainable way, masking up outside when you’re at most briefly crossing paths with people is starting to feel barely understandable. Look: I believe masks (and even shaming) are indispensable in controlling the spread of the coronavirus. Despite early waffling, public health experts are virtually unanimously in support of them and have remained so even as our early dedication to scrubbing surfaces and Cloroxing veggies wound down.

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In recent years there has been an exhaustive study of red dwarf stars to find exoplanets in orbit around them. These stars have effective surface temperatures between 2400 and 3700 K (over 2000 degrees cooler than the Sun), and masses between 0.08 and 0.45 solar masses. In this context, a team of researchers led by Borja Toledo Padrón, a Severo Ochoa-La Caixa doctoral student at the Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias (IAC), specializing in the search for planets around this type of stars, has discovered a super-Earth orbiting the star GJ 740, a red dwarf star situated some 36 light years from the Earth.

The planet orbits its star with a period of 2.4 days and its mass is around 3 times the mass of the Earth. Because the star is so close to the Sun, and the planet so close to the star, this new super-Earth could be the object of future researches with very large diameter telescopes towards the end of this decade. The results of the study were recently published in the journal Astronomy & Astrophysics.

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NASA has chosen SpaceX to build spacecraft that will take humans to the Moon for the first time since the Apollo program wrapped up in 1972 — first reported by The Washington Post. The agency announced SpaceX had won the contract for the Artemis lunar lander at a press conference this afternoon. The company beat out Blue Origin (which teamed up with key aerospace players like Lockheed Martin) and defense contractor Dynetics to win the $2.9 billion contract. It was previously expected that NASA would select two of the companies.

NASA tends to pick multiple contractors for its key programs to promote competition and to ensure there are several options in case a provider can't make good on its proposal. It chose all three for the initial step of the contract last year but it has decided to go all in on SpaceX.

The company pitched its Starship for the Artemis missions. Although SpaceX has been encountering problems with the reusable spacecraft during testing (all of the prototypes have crashed and/or exploded thus far), NASA seems confident the company can get it right. SpaceX is still planning to take Starship into orbit later this year. The agency also explained that the reusable nature of the Starship factored into its decision.

The contract is a major victory for SpaceX. It's already working with NASA to ferry astronauts to and from the International Space Station, with the next mission scheduled for April 22nd.

When the Artemis program spun up under the Trump administration, the goal was to take astronauts back to the Moon in 2024, but the timeline for the project is under review. NASA doesn't currently have the funding it needs to make the mission happen by 2024 either.

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In fascinating new research, cosmologists explain the history of the universe as one of self-teaching, autodidactic algorithms.

The scientists, including physicists from Brown University and the Flatiron Institute, say the universe has probed all the possible physical laws before landing on the ones we observe around us today. Could this wild idea help inform scientific research to come?

In their novella-length paper, published to the pre-print server arXiV, the researchers—who received “computational, logistical, and other general support” from Microsoft—offer ideas “at the intersection of theoretical physics, computer science, and philosophy of science with a discussion from all three perspectives,” they write, teasing the bigness and multidisciplinary nature of the research.

Here’s how it works: Our universe observes a whole bunch of laws of physics, but the researchers say other possible laws of physics seem equally likely, given the way mathematics works in the universe. So if a group of candidate laws were equally likely, then how did we end up with the laws we really have?

“The notion of ‘learning’ as we use it is more than moment-to-moment, brute adaptation. It is a cumulative process that can be thought of as theorizing, modeling, and predicting. For instance, the DNA/RNA/protein system on Earth must have arisen from an adaptive process, and yet it foresees a space of organisms much larger than could be called upon in any given moment of adaptation.”

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Just 3% of the world’s land remains ecologically intact with healthy populations of all its original animals and undisturbed habitat, a study suggests.

These fragments of wilderness undamaged by human activities are mainly in parts of the Amazon and Congo tropical forests, east Siberian and northern Canadian forests and tundra, and the Sahara. Invasive alien species including cats, foxes, rabbits, goats and camels have had a major impact on native species in Australia, with the study finding no intact areas left.

The researchers suggest reintroducing a small number of important species to some damaged areas, such as elephants or wolves – a move that could restore up to 20% of the world’s land to ecological intactness.

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Research has long shown that regular exercise has a slew of health benefits like helping to prevent high blood pressure and type 2 diabetes.

Now researchers say regular activity could help protect against severe Covid hospitalizations.

In a new study published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, researchers and physicians at Kaiser Permanente Fontana Medical Center in Southern California, the University of California, San Diego, and other institutions found that Covid patients who regularly exercised before becoming sick were the least likely to be hospitalized, admitted to the ICU and die as a result of their illness.

The study looked at data from nearly 50,000 adult patients in California diagnosed with Covid-19 from January 2020 to the end of October 2020.

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As nearly 2.3 billion Christians all over the world, get ready to celebrate Easter or the Resurrection of Jesus Christ this coming Sunday, bakers and confectioners are preparing to meet the demand for the traditional Easter Eggs that have been part of the festival for centuries.

Saint Bede the Venerable, the sixth century Franciscan monk in his book “Ecclesiastical History of the English People”, traced the origin of the English word ‘Easter’ to Eostre or Eostrae, the Anglo-Saxon goddess of spring and fertility. Other interpretations believed that the word came from in albis, a Latin phrase that was recognised as the plural of alba or dawn and became eostarum in Old High German.

Many Easter-time traditions have roots that can be traced to non-Christian and Pagan celebrations. Since Medieval times, Pagan festivals celebrating spring have used the Egg as an ancient symbol of new life. The Spring or Vernal Equinox when the day and night have approximately the same length, was celebrated as a period of renewal.

Apart from their historical use as symbols of fertility, in early centuries eggs were so highly valued that they were used as currency to pay salaries especially to clerics and pastors. From a Christian perspective, Easter Eggs are believed to represent Jesus’ emergence from the tomb after his resurrection. Just as Jesus rose from the tomb, the egg symbolised new life emerging from the eggshell.

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Virgin Galactic rolled out its newest spaceship Tuesday as the company looks to resume test flights in the coming months at its headquarters in the New Mexico desert.

Company officials said it will likely be summer before the ship—designed and manufactured in California—undergoes glide flight testing at Spaceport America in southern New Mexico. That will coincide with the final round of testing for the current generation of spacecraft, which will be the one that takes British billionaire and Virgin Galactic founder Sir Richard Branson to the fringes of space later this year.

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This artist's concept is of a Jupiter-mass planet orbiting the nearby star Epsilon Eridani. Located 10.5 light-years away, it is the closest known exoplanet to our solar system. The planet is in an elliptical orbit that carries it as close to the star as Earth is from the Sun, and as far from the star as Jupiter is from the Sun.

Epsilon Eridandi is a young star, only 800 million years old. It is still surrounded by a disk of dust that extends 20 billion miles from the star. The disk appears as a linear sheet of reflecting dust in this view because it is seen edge-on from the planet's orbit, which is in the same plane as the dust disk.

The planet's rings and satellites are purely hypothetical in this view, but plausible. As a gas giant, the planet is uninhabitable for life as we know it. However, any moons might have conditions suitable for life.

Astronomers determined the planet's mass and orbital tilt in 2006 by using Hubble to measure the unseen planet's gravitational pull on the star as it slowly moved across the sky. Evidence for the planet first appeared in 2000 when astronomers measured a telltale wobble in the star.

Source: nasa.gov

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Something’s fishy in the southern constellation Phoenix.

Strange radio emissions from a distant galaxy cluster take the shape of a gigantic jellyfish, complete with head and tentacles. Moreover, the cosmic jellyfish emits only the lowest radio frequencies and can’t be detected at higher frequencies. The unusual shape and radio spectrum tell a tale of intergalactic gas washing over galaxies and gently revving up electrons spewed out by gargantuan black holes long ago, researchers report in the March 10 Astrophysical Journal.

Spanning 1.2 million light-years, the strange entity lies in Abell 2877, a cluster of galaxies 340 million light-years from Earth. Researchers have dubbed the object the USS Jellyfish, because of its ultra-steep spectrum, or USS, from low to high radio frequencies.

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