This Week In Words: November 14–20, 2020

November 17, 2020
Bad news about the virus, good news about vaccines, a brilliant meteor shower, and a car made of garbage. These subjects and more contributed words to this week's roundup of current events vocabulary.
Archaeologists have discovered over 100 mummified bodies at the Egyptian burial site called Saqqara. Each mummy lies inside a brightly painted wooden coffin, and the burial chambers in which they were found are also full of other objects and artifacts. Most of the mummies date from 600–100 B.C.E. and have not been disturbed since that time. Saqqara is about 20 miles outside of Cairo and was used as a burial ground for over 3,000 years. "Archaeology" means "the study of ancient things" in Greek.
Iran has increased its stockpile of uranium above the amount that was allowed under the agreement put in place during the Obama administration to curb Iran's nuclear program. President Trump voided that deal in 2018, and reimposed sanctions to punish Iran for its nuclear program. Though the country now has enough uranium to make two atomic bombs, the material would need to be enriched — purified to a highly concentrated state — in centrifuges before it could be used in weapons.
After a year-and-a-half of work, a group of Dutch students has built a working electric car entirely out of trash and waste materials. The chassis is made of polyethylene soda bottles and flax, and the body is build from harder plastics. Some of the plastic was recovered from the ocean, and other materials were reclaimed from household waste. The yellow two-seater, named "Luca," can go 56 miles per hour.
Twitter launched its new "Fleets" feature: temporary Tweets that expire after 24 hours. The company hopes that the ephemeral nature of these posts will make users engage more, since they can share thoughts and ideas that won't stay on their timeline. The posting, sharing, and responding functions for Fleets are closely modeled on Snapchat and Instagram. "Ephimeros" is Greek for "lasting only a day."
One of President Trump's challenges to the presidential election results involves what are known as faithless electors: members of the Electoral College who switch their votes from the popular vote winner in their state. Some states have provisions requiring electors to vote for the popular vote winner, but some do not. Trump's team is using this argument in states where he did not receive the electoral votes he expected, but many legal experts do not believe that this strategy will work.
Recent research has shown that Alexander Hamilton, one of America's founding fathers and namesake for the hit the musical, owned slaves. Though Hamilton advocated for the abolition of slavery, he also helped others to buy and sell slaves. According to newly discovered documents, he also bought slaves to work in his own household. Founding, meaning "beginning" or "establishment," has a Germanic root that it shares with "foundation:" the base of a building.
According to a new study, an ingredient in some brands of mouthwash can kill the coronavirus in a matter of seconds. Products containing at least 0.07 percent cetypyridinium chloride appeared to be highly effective at killing the virus in human saliva. Gargling with the mouthwash for 30 seconds was sufficient to reduce the viral load in patients' mouths. Gargle comes from the French "gargouille," meaning "throat."
Hurrican Iota passed over Central America, bringing heavy rains and flooding that inundated many low-lying areas including cities and towns. The massive category 5 storm — the second so far in November to hit the region — is the latest storm of this strength ever recorded, with winds of up to 125 miles per hour doing extensive damage to buildings. "Inundare" means "to overflow" in Latin.
As Covid-19 spreads out of control through much of the country, governors are imposing mask mandates that require them to be worn in public. Several of these governors had earlier resisted calls for such requirements. One example is Republican Governor Kim Reynolds of Iowa, who said she didn't want to do it, but that the seriousness of the disease demanded this response. She said that she hoped it would help to prevent a much more serious shutdown in the near future.
President Barack Obama's memoir "A Promised Land" released in print, audio, and digital formats. The book is 786 pages long, and besides recounting his two terms in the White House it also lays out his hopes for the country's future. The book sold 890,000 copies in the 24 hours following its release. A second book is planned, but no release date has been given. "Memoire" is French for "memory."
This week the Earth passes through the cloud of dust and ice left behind by Comet Temple/Tuttle, creating what's known as the Leonid meteor shower as these little bits of debris burn up in our atmosphere. The Leonids can be among the brightest and most impressive of the year, occasionally producing more than 1,000 little streaks of light an hour across the night sky. Most years are less dramatic, averaging 15–20 per hour.
A SpaceX Crew Dragon rocket brought four astronauts to the International Space Station, the first of several long-duration missions that this spacecraft will perform for NASA in the coming years. The new crew members will join the three already aboard the ISS and stay there for six months. A replacement crew of four will arrive on another Crew Dragon just prior to their departure.
The CEOs of Facebook and Twitter testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee to answer questions about the steps they took to stop the spread of misinformation before and after the election. These questions come as the Justice Department prepares to bring antitrust suits against both companies, accusing them of being monopolies that illegally stifle competition. "Monopolia" means "one seller" in Greek.
A $1 million gift from Dolly Parton to Nashville's Vanderbilt University for coronavirus research contributed to the development of Moderna's experimental vaccine that appears to be extraordinarily effective in preventing Covid-19. The country superstar is well known for her philanthropy; her foundation has given many millions to educational and other charities since she founded it in 1986.
Dustin Johnson won The Masters Tournament, tying the all-time record of 20-under-par for a major golf tournament and breaking the course record at the Augusta National Club by two strokes. This is Johnson's first Masters win, and his second major title. Golf was invented in Scotland, and putt — the gentle stroke used on the green to tap the ball into the hole — originated in the word "put."
In response to the news that the rights to her first six albums had been sold to a private equity firm, Taylor Swift announced that she would be re-recording all her early material. She said that she was not informed of the sale beforehand, and was not offered an opportunity to buy the rights herself. Right can mean a number of things, but in this case it refers to the legal ownership of intellectual property — like songs and album art — and the ability to sell or license them.
President-Elect Biden announced the names of people he chose to fill a number of key White House staff positions after he takes office in January. Cabinet secretaries require confirmation by the Senate, but these jobs do not. He chose a number of trusted allies and people who worked on his campaign to fill important advisory and communications posts. " Staff" has a number of meanings. In this case it refers to people who run an organization under one executive.
The coronavirus has surged throughout the country, with infection rates breaking records on a daily basis. With over 10 million confirmed infections and over a quarter million deaths, experts predict that the coming winter will be much worse than the spring was. New cases have risen to over 120,000 per day, and the coming holidays will likely make the situation worse as people travel and gather against the advice of doctors and public health officials.
About a week after the announcement of Pfizer's vaccine being around 90 percent effective against Covid-19, Moderna announced that its vaccine is nearly 95 percent effective. Both medicines require two injections a few weeks apart, and both use a new method that teaches human immune cells to recognize the spike proteins on the virus's surface. These and other vaccines will need more study before they can be produced and distributed widely.
Court cases in Georgia, Michigan, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania that aimed to reverse the election outcomes in those states were all dropped. The Trump campaign has lost a number of other cases attempting to have absentee ballots thrown out or vote results overturned and has appealed some of those rulings. Some of the law firms hired by the campaign have withdrawn from recent cases, and the President has hired Rudy Giuliani, his personal lawyer, to represent the campaign in Pennsylvania

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