Tag Archives: reveals

New Image of Supermassive Black Hole Reveals Swirling Magnetic Fields

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Black holes push our understanding of physics to the very edge. There are plenty of theories about how the universe works near the event horizon of these massive collapsed stars, and the Event Horizon Telescope (EHT) project could tell us which ones are right. The EHT gave us the iconic 2019 image of a black hole, the first one ever produced. Now, the team has conducted new observations of the supermassive black hole at the center of galaxy M87, revealing magnetic field lines around the void. 

The Event Horizon Telescope is not a single instrument, but rather a network of radio telescopes spanning the globe. It includes famed facilities like the MIT Haystack Observatory, the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array, and the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy. By combining all these ultra-sensitive radio receivers, the EHT managed to image the supermassive black hole at the center of M87 in 2019. It was an amazing moment for science, as the image confirmed the previously only theoretical appearance of light swirling around the event horizon. 

That wasn’t the end of the project, though. The team has continued to scan M87, which sits some 53 million light-years away, to gather more data. In the latest update, the EHT project has created a new version of the image that shows polarized light around the event horizon. These whirlpool-like lines describe the magnetic field surrounding the black hole, giving scientists another chance to test the latest hypotheses.

Most of the matter and energy spiraling around a black hole falls into the event horizon, never to be seen again. However, some of it gets flung outward. Some of that is the energy that makes up the famous EHT images. More dramatically, some of it forms a relativistic jet that extends thousands of light-years from the plane of the galaxy. Astronomers are still trying to work out how a black hole can create jets larger than the galaxy itself. Understanding how the magnetic field lines behave around the event horizon is an important piece of the puzzle, according to researchers. 

With the new data, scientists are focusing on the role of ultra-hot magnetized gas. The polarized light indicates extremely strong magnetic fields around the event horizon help to push the gas away and keep it from falling into the event horizon. This is possible around a supermassive black hole like the one in M87 because the gravitational tidal forces are less intense than they would be around stellar-mass black holes. As physics tells us, gravity decreases with the square of the radius, so the spaghettification point is inside the event horizon of very large black holes. That’s just one of the many unintuitive things that make studying black holes so fascinating.

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Thousands of Toronto hospital staff haven’t got their COVID-19 shots, memo reveals

Thousands of staff at a Toronto hospital network have still not been vaccinated against COVID-19, prompting an internal email from its president, which has been obtained by CBC News, urging them to get immunized.

Roughly 4,000 employees of University Health Network (UHN) had not registered for their shots by Monday, according to the email sent that day by UHN president and CEO Dr. Kevin Smith.

“While our overall rate of uptake is very good, there are areas and programs where vaccination remains below 50 per cent of people,” Smith wrote.

“We must change this immediately.”

Smith also said he’s worried the hospital network’s supply of vaccines will be greatly reduced in the days ahead as Ontario “expands its list of priorities.”

The plea was made to staff at some of the highest risk for encountering the SARS-CoV-2 virus in the workplace, according to UHN spokesperson Gillian Howard, including those working in the emergency department, intensive care units, inpatient units and COVID-19 units.

Since the email was sent out, Howard said, around 1,000 more UHN workers had registered for their vaccinations, bringing the total to just over 18,000 people who will be vaccinated.

The network has set up a phone line and “vaccine ambassadors” to answer questions from staff, she said.

It was not immediately clear why some employees were slow to register.  

UHN includes multiple hospitals, including Toronto General Hospital, Toronto Western Hospital and Princess Margaret Cancer Hospital.

Early access

It’s not clear how many staff at other health-care networks and hospitals in the Toronto area have been vaccinated or signed up for their shots.

Women’s College Hospital, a separate facility from UHN, told CBC News around 664 of some 929 eligible staff members, about 71 per cent, have been vaccinated so far.


Toronto General Hospital is one of several sites that belongs to the network. (Sue Reid/CBC)

“However, this number is constantly changing as staff numbers fluctuate and we have many who are awaiting appointments in the coming weeks,” said spokesperson Jen Brailsford in an email. 

“This is also likely an underestimate as these numbers are based on self-reporting to occupational health.”

Toronto-area hospital sites had early access to the province’s vaccination rollout, with thousands of doses given to front-line workers and other staff in recent months.

Despite that, hospital outbreaks have continued. UHN alone is currently reporting three, affecting a handful of staff and patients. 

CBC News has also previously reported on how an estimated one-third of long-term care workers — who have been eligible since December — have not yet gotten their shots. 

A memo from the Ontario Ministry of Long Term Care dated March 8 revealed an estimated 67 per cent of staff in nursing homes across the province have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, compared to over 95 per cent of residents.


UHN’s Dr. Susy Hota says the lack of vaccine uptake during the pandemic’s third wave is disappointing. (Craig Chivers/CBC)

According to public health ethics researcher Alison Thompson, an associate professor at the University of Toronto, hesitancy among health-care workers can lead to “tricky” ethical issues in the workplace, particularly in a hospital setting.

“It basically boils down to a matter of protecting patients and their right to having a safe space for care, and their colleagues being protected … versus their individual charter right to not have to be subjected to some kind of medical intervention against their will and consent,” she said.

‘Not a good track record’ 

Dr. Susy Hota, medical director of infection prevention and control at UHN, said the lack of vaccine uptake during the pandemic’s third wave is disappointing.

But she stressed that while these are medical professionals, they’re also dealing with the vaccine hesitancy that’s increasingly common among the general population.

“My hospital is huge. We’re like a community in ourselves, like a little village or town,” she said. 

“And there’s a diversity of different roles that people play here. And people come from different backgrounds, and different cultures and have had different past experiences.”

Hota says, from an infection control perspective, figuring out how to combat this hesitancy among health-care workers can be difficult.

“We haven’t been successful in mandating vaccinations in the past; there’s not a good track record,” she continued.

Could mandatory masks or other personal protective gear for unvaccinated workers be an option? It’s not that simple, Hota says.

For one thing, most infections in hospitals are thought to occur when workers aren’t conducting patient care and no longer wearing masks; like chatting in a break room. 

“Masking versus vaccination was tried for influenza, and that didn’t succeed,” Hota added.

Thompson agrees. If each individual employer tries to implement that kind of policy, it’s much less likely to be successful, she said.

“It’s much more effective, probably, if the provincial government were to mandate that vaccines have to be administered for health-care workers, with legitimate exemptions,” she said.

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Canadian star Ryan Reynolds reveals he’s ‘Bruce’ from viral Ottawa Public Health tweet

Ryan Reynolds has a confession to make: He’s “Bruce” the Ottawa Public Health intern who accidentally sent out a tweet on Super Bowl Sunday that congratulated the winner of the big game without removing the placeholder text. 

At least, that’s according to a tweet from the OPH account.


After the Super Bowl this year, the Ottawa Public Health (OPH) twitter account sent out a post congratulating the winner. 

Just one problem, the name of the winning team was missing, and the tweet seemed to imply that an employee named Bruce may have hit send too early.


The post got thousands of likes and interactions from people who believed that Bruce had really messed up. 

The next day, OPH piggybacked on its popularity with a thread explaining that the post wasn’t a mistake — rather it was a deliberate opportunity to discuss how to think critically about information online.


“Btw, we’re so touched by the outpouring of support for dear Bruce (who doesn’t exist, btw). It’s nice to see such kindness out there. Be critical of what you see online. Misinformation has consequences that go far beyond the wellbeing of ‘Bruce,’ ” read the final tweet in the thread. 

Enter Reynolds, the Golden Globe-nominated star of Hollywood blockbusters like Marvel’s Deadpool franchise, and an active, generous Twitter user.

According to an email from OPH, the actor has been following them since before the pandemic and reached out earlier this week to compliment their work. 

They got to talking and OPH pitched him the idea for a video where he admits to being Bruce the intern. He agreed and shot it for free.

In the video, Reynolds suggests he tweets for OPH from time to time, but simply forgot to finish that particular post.

While he said there’s nothing he can do about his mistake now, what people can do is stick to the COVID-19 basics, such as hand-washing, masking, distancing and getting vaccinated when it’s their turn.

“We were, to say the least, delighted when Mr. Reynolds agreed to participate,” OPH said. “We appreciate that Mr. Reynolds took the time out of his busy schedule to help us share this important public health message.”

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CBC | Health News

Ontario reveals more details on COVID-19 vaccination plan, but most won’t get a reservation for months

An online portal for booking appointments for COVID-19 vaccines in Ontario is set to launch on March 15, the head of the province’s immunization task force said Wednesday, but it will likely be months longer before many people are able to get a reservation.

The announcement from retired general Rick Hillier comes as members of the general public in both Alberta and Quebec will be able to start booking appointments this week.

Hillier said the delay in launching Ontario’s version is because the focus until that point will be on populations that don’t require an appointment, such as patient-facing health-care workers and essential caregivers for long-term care residents.

“I would have liked to have it earlier, quite frankly,” Hillier told reporters, adding that health authorities are working “furiously” to test the system.

When the online portal, along with a telephone booking system, launch in March, Ontarians aged 80 and over will be the next priority. Hillier cautioned that anyone who is not in that age group, or who is not trying to make a reservation for a person in the 80-plus age group, will not be able to book an appointment in the weeks that follow.

Officials expect to begin vaccinating people 80 years and over by the third week of March. 

The proposed schedule in the following weeks, Hillier said, will look something like this as long as supplies of vaccine stay steady:

  • April 15: vaccinations begin for people 75 years old and over.
  • May 1: vaccinations begin for people 70 years old and over.
  • June 1: vaccinations begin for people 65 years and over.
  • July 1: vaccinations begin for people 60 years and over.

Essential workers, meanwhile, should begin getting their shots the first week in May, Hillier said, with the final decision about who qualifies in that category still to come from cabinet. The task force has already submitted its recommendations, he added.

Hillier wouldn’t say when those 60 years old and under who are not essential workers should expect to start getting shots. 

“A great question, we don’t need to answer it right now. Early summer is when we might be able to discuss that issue,” Hillier said.

WATCH | Retired general Rick Hillier on Ontario’s vaccine rollout timeline:

Ontarians aged 80 and over will be able to get their COVID-19 vaccinations in the third week of March, said retired general Rick Hillier, the head of Ontario’s vaccine task force as he outlined a series of dates for the vaccine rollout. 1:07

He also did not provide even a rough timeline for when people under 60 with underlying medical conditions or those living in higher-risk neighbourhoods might expect to be given a first dose of vaccine.

Hillier did say, however, that where Ontarians can expect to get a shot will be based on their postal code. They will be delivered through a combination of mass vaccination clinics, community centre programs pharmacies.

Asked why Ontario’s platform wasn’t launched sooner considering Alberta and Quebec residents will be booking vaccines imminently, Ford said at a news conference Wednesday that he respectfully disagrees the province is lagging behind.

Ford pointed to Alberta’s system crashing Wednesday on its first day of operations and said Quebec hasn’t administered a single second dose of the vaccine thus far.  

In a series of tweets, Dr. Isaach Bogoch, an infectious disease physician and member of the task force, said that primary care providers will help staff vaccination sites and will eventually be able to offer shots at their own clinics once additional vaccines are approved for use by Health Canada.

Several options on the horizon are more stable than the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines currently available, Bogoch said. Approval of further vaccines could “significantly speed up” the rough timeline offered by Hillier.


Ontario Premier Doug Ford watches a health-care worker prepare a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at a UHN vaccine clinic in Toronto on Thursday, January 7, 2021. (Nathan Denette/The Canadian Press)

Each public health unit will eventually be expected to give out up to 10,000 doses per day, though some larger health units should be doing considerably more, Bogoch said. For example, Toronto Public Health expects to have capacity for up to 400,000 shots per week, with most administered at nine mass vaccination sites, he added. 

As of Feb.14, all residents of long-term care and high-risk retirement homes — generally defined as those that provide memory care — who wanted a vaccine had been given their first shot.

So far the province has administered a total of 602,848 doses of COVID-19 vaccine, and 251,590 people have gotten both doses.

At a news conference Wednesday, Ford also announced Ontario will spend $ 115 million to provide tuition-free training to 6,000 prospective personal support workers. The programs, which are set to be up and running in April, will consist of paid placements with students completing in six months, rather than eight.

The government will also provide approximately $ 2,000 in financial assistance to some 2,200 students already completing studies in the PSW fields. 

Asked if the province will move to institute paid sick days for PSWs, Dr. Merrilee Fullerton, Ontario’s minister of long-term care, didn’t answer directly. 

1,054 new cases of COVID-19

The news comes as Ontario reported another 1,054 cases of COVID-19 and nine more deaths of people with the illness Wednesday morning. 

The additional cases include 363 in Toronto, 186 in Peel Region and 94 in York Region. 

Other public health units that saw double-digit increases were:

  • Simcoe Muskoka: 53
  • Windsor-Essex: 50
  • Thunder Bay: 45
  • Waterloo Region: 44
  • Ottawa: 40
  • Hamilton: 38
  • Durham Region: 35
  • Halton Region: 26
  • Niagara Region: 13
  • Middlesex-London: 10

(Note: All of the figures used in this story are found on the Ministry of Health’s COVID-19 dashboard or in its Daily Epidemiologic Summary. The number of cases for any region may differ from what is reported by the local public health unit, because local units report figures at different times.)

The Ministry of Education also reported 112 school-related cases: 89 students, 18 staff members and five people who were not identified. As of yesterday, 16 of Ontario’s 4,828 publicly-funded schools were closed due to COVID-19.

Ontario’s lab network completed 54,852 tests for SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, and logged a test positivity rate of 2.4 per cent. 

The seven-day average of new daily cases rose to 1,084. A steep drop in the seven-day average that began on Jan. 12 has levelled out.

According to the Ministry of Health, there were 675 people in Ontario hospitals with COVID-19 as of yesterday. Of those, 287 were being treated in intensive care and 182 needed a ventilator.

The nine deaths reported today bring Ontario’s official toll to 6,893. 

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CBC | Health News

Bitcoin hits new all time high after Tesla reveals it has stockpiled $1.5B of it

Bitcoin hit a new all time high on Monday morning after electric car maker Tesla revealed that it has stockpiled more than $ 1.5 billion US worth of the cryptocurrency, and will soon start accepting it as a form of payment for its products.

Tesla revealed in a regulatory filing on monday that it converted $ 1.5 billion US into bitcoin in January, as part of its investment strategy for funds not currently needed to maintain operations,” and may acquire and hold digital assets from time to time or long-term.”

“Moreover, we expect to begin accepting bitcoin as a form of payment for our products in the near future, subject to applicable laws and initially on a limited basis, which we may or may not liquidate upon receipt,”the automaker said.

That lit a fire under bitcoin’s price, which jumped about nine per cent to more than $ 43,000 US.

The price of the cryptocurrency has risen by 50 per cent this year, on the heels of a 300 per cent spike in 2020.

Bitcoin enthusiasts are drawn to the cryptocurrency as a store of value, partly because governments around the world have been spending exorbitant amounts of borrowed cash in a bid to stimulate the economy through the pandemic. That has raised fears that inflation will at some point be a major problem, which would devalue fiat currencies such as U.S. and Canadian dollars.

“Whether there is someone out there that would actually buy a Tesla with bitcoin now is another thing but this is a big move by the company,” said Craig Erlam  with foreign exchange firm OANDA.

BlackRock, the world’s largest money manager, and payment firms Square and PayPal are already among those who either currently hold bitcoin, or accept it as payments, and speculation is rising that more could soon, too, as it gains legitimacy.

“If this becomes a trend in corporate treasuries the downside of staying on the sidelines will only become costlier over time,” said Maya Zehavi, a blockchain consultant.

“Some other companies may be tempted to follow but the vast majority will be far too cautious to expose themselves to the volatile world of cryptos. Musk isn’t one to shy away from bold moves though and has now put his money (well, Tesla’s) where his mouth is,” said Erlam, adding that he could see the bitcoin hitting $ 50,000 US soon if momentum continues. “Either way, it’s off to the moon we go.”

Dennis Mitchell, CEO of Toronto-based money manager Starlight Capital, says his company doesn’t hold bitcoin in any of its funds, but he does say he expects the volatility to continue.

“Personally I have zero of my own personal assets in bitcoin and that’s not going to change any time soon [but] when Musk tweets the signal being sent is that demand is going to increase,” he told CBC News in an interview.

“I would anticipate greater demand going forward.”

That seems to be already the case in the short term, as a number of cryptocurrency exchanges reported having difficulty processing orders amid sudden demand.

San Francisco-based cryptocurrency exchange Kraken said it had temporarily disabled sign-ups after heavy traffic led to connectivity issues with its website, while peers Gemini and Binance said their systems were currently experiencing difficulties.

Digital currencies news site CoinDesk said it was experiencing difficulties but has so far managed to keep up normal operations.
 
“Our platform is fully up and running and has been throughout the recent trading surges,” CoinDesk said.

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CBC | World News

Meghan Markle reveals she had a miscarriage in July

The Duchess of Sussex has revealed that she had a miscarriage in July, giving a personal account of the traumatic experience in hope of helping others.

Meghan described the miscarriage in an opinion piece in the New York Times on Wednesday. She wrote: “I knew, as I clutched my firstborn child, that I was losing my second.”

Meghan and husband Prince Harry have an 18-month-old son, Archie.

The duchess, 39, said she was sharing her story to help break the silence around an all-too-common tragedy.

“Losing a child means carrying an almost unbearable grief, experienced by many but talked about by few,” she wrote.

“In being invited to share our pain, together we take the first steps toward healing.”

‘I tried to imagine how we’d heal’

In a startlingly intimate account of her experience, the duchess described how tragedy struck on a “morning that began as ordinarily as any other day: Make breakfast. Feed the dogs. Take vitamins. Find that missing sock. Pick up the rogue crayon that rolled under the table. Throw my hair in a ponytail before getting my son from his crib.

“After changing his diaper, I felt a sharp cramp. I dropped to the floor with him in my arms, humming a lullaby to keep us both calm, the cheerful tune a stark contrast to my sense that something was not right.”

Later, she said, she “lay in a hospital bed, holding my husband’s hand, I felt the clamminess of his palm and kissed his knuckles, wet from both our tears. Staring at the cold white walls, my eyes glazed over. I tried to imagine how we’d heal.”

‘A vital step’

Sophie King, a midwife at U.K. child-loss charity Tommy’s, said miscarriage and stillbirth remained “a real taboo in society, so mothers like Meghan sharing their stories is a vital step in breaking down that stigma and shame.”

“Her honesty and openness today send a powerful message to anyone who loses a baby: this may feel incredibly lonely, but you are not alone.”

Meghan, an American actress and star of TV legal drama Suits, married Harry, a grandson of Queen Elizabeth, in a lavish ceremony at Windsor Castle in May 2018. Their son was born the following year.

Early this year, the couple announced they were quitting royal duties and moving to North America, citing what they said was the unbearable intrusions and racist attitudes of the British media. They recently bought a house in Santa Barbara, Calif.

The duchess is currently suing the publisher of Britain’s Mail on Sunday newspaper for invasion of privacy over articles that published parts of a letter she wrote to her estranged father after her wedding.

Last month, a judge in London agreed to Meghan’s request to postpone the trial from January until fall 2021. The decision followed a hearing held in private, and the judge said the reason for the delay request should be kept confidential.

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CBC | World News

Pro female soccer players being overlooked, left behind during pandemic, survey reveals

Women’s professional soccer players have seen wages cut or suspended amid the coronavirus pandemic in 47 per cent of the nations surveyed by international players’ union FIFPro.

FIFPro collected data from players’ associations from 62 countries. In the survey released Wednesday, 69 per cent of the women said that communication about the virus was poor or very poor, and 40 per cent reported that they had received no physical or mental health support during the outbreak.

In April, FIFPro released a report warning of COVID-19’s impact, saying it is “likely to present an almost existential threat to the women’s game if no specific considerations are given to protect the women’s football industry.”

And indeed there were setbacks, in part because federations experienced dramatic financial consequences from cancelled matches and tournaments, as well as restrictions on attendance.

FIFA said at the height of the pandemic all but four of its 211 member federations had ceased play. The global impact of the virus on the game was estimated to be $ 14 billion US.

In June, the FIFA Council approved a $ 1.5 billion relief effort, portions of which were dedicated to women’s soccer. FIFA also introduced eight new development programs for member associations in September, designed to further grow the women’s game.

Women in 52% of the countries FIFPro surveyed said their federations hadn’t reached out to national team players during the pandemic. The period covered in the survey was July-October.

FIFPro’s survey involved 62 players’ associations, or about 95 per cent of the union’s membership. Only 16 of the top women’s leagues is amateur. Based in the Netherlands, FIFPro represents about 65,000 pro soccer players.

The report did note some positive developments, including the National Women’s Soccer League vow to pay salaries for players regardless of whether they took part in the league’s Challenge Cup tournament or fall series in local markets.

It also pointed to the Netherlands, where players lobbied to allow the women’s league to return to play with the men’s league.

“Like most industries, women’s football is being severely affected by the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, and the findings of this survey highlight what we have said from the outset, that both players and the game itself need strategic support to get them through these tough times,” FIFPro chief women’s football officer Amanda Vandervort said in a statement. “To that end, we also identified great cases of innovation and advancement in which new solutions are showcasing the unique potential of women’s football to thrive today and in the future.”

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CBC | Soccer News

‘Twilight’ Director Catherine Hardwicke Reveals If She’d Ever do a ‘Midnight Sun’ Movie (Exclusive)

‘Twilight’ Director Catherine Hardwicke on If She’d Ever do a ‘Midnight Sun’ Movie (Exclusive) | Entertainment Tonight

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Dakota Fanning Reveals What She’d Tell Her Younger Self and Reflects on First TV Role (Exclusive)

Dakota Fanning Reveals What She’d Tell Her Younger Self (Exclusive) | Entertainment Tonight

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‘Superstore’ Actor Ben Feldman Reveals He Underwent Spinal Surgery

Ben Feldman Reveals He Underwent Spinal Surgery | Entertainment Tonight

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