This Week in Words: Current Events Vocab for June 11–June 17, 2022

June 13, 2022
Stories about Queen Elizabeth, Justin Bieber, and superworms all contributed words to this list of vocabulary from the week's news.
An investigation has revealed that a New York City skyscraper may have been designed and built without the involvement of an architect. The building, a 51-story hotel in the city's Hudson Yards neighborhood, is still under construction. Retired architect Warren L. Schiffman was hired by the project's developers to sign off on the design but never actually saw the plans. Architect is from the Greek arkhitekton, "master builder."
On June 12, the Senate reached a bipartisan agreement on gun safety legislation. Enough senators from both sides of the aisle support the bill, which was written by 10 Democrats and 10 Republicans, to ensure it will move through the chamber. The legislation includes background checks for young gun buyers and bans domestic abusers from having guns. Bi- means "two," and partisan derives from a Latin word meaning "part of a faction or party."
Engineer Katya Echazarreta has become the first Mexican-born woman to travel to space. A nonprofit organization selected her to join five other passengers on Blue Origin's suborbital rocket, which traveled far enough outside the earth's atmosphere for them to experience weightlessness. Echazarreta is currently working toward her Master's Degree in engineering at Johns Hopkins University after a stint working at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California.
A Scottish man has purchased the entire Italian hamlet where his ancestors lived. Cesidio Di Ciacca shares a name with the tiny rural village, Borgo I Ciacca, whose dwellings and barns he began buying 10 years ago. Di Ciacca now owns the whole community and has restored its dwellings and vineyard. Hamlet is from the Old French hamelet, "small village," and its root, ham, "village."
An endangered iguana native to the British Virgin Islands is outnumbered by a deadly predator: feral cats. The Anegada rock iguana, or Cyclura pinguis, is found on the small island of Anegada, which has about 300 full-time residents. The large, spiny adult lizards can defend themselves against the growing feline population, but newly-hatched babies are being "eaten like popcorn," scientists say. A new push to trap and hand-raise the iguanas to adulthood is underway.
On June 15, the Federal Reserve said it will raise the interest rate by .75 percent, its largest increase in nearly 30 years. The hike is an attempt to quell inflation, which has pushed prices higher over the past several months. As costs of food, fuel, and goods have risen, economic fears have disrupted the stock market, which dropped sharply this week before stabilizing. Central banks worldwide are following suit, as most countries face similar rates of inflation.
Scientists are studying a worm — specifically the larvae of the darkling beetle — in hopes of developing a way to break down Styrofoam, a substance that lasts for centuries before it even begins to decompose. Because these "superworms" can digest Styrofoam unless they're given antibiotics, researchers are taking a closer look at microbes in their digestive systems. These tiny organisms may hold the key to future methods of processing packing foam and other long-lasting plastics.
In fields across Angola, unexploded underground mines are a constant danger to people and a deterrent to farmers, who are afraid to till the soil. The explosive devices are deadly reminders of the country's long civil war, which ended in 2002. New, all-woman teams of "deminers'' use metal detectors and a rigid safety protocol to find and remove bombs. The "explosive" use of mine comes from the verb, meaning "dig," and the practice of digging under enemy forts to lay bombs.
Jennifer Wilcox, a scientist who advises the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Fossil Energy and Carbon Management, says that the agency's current mission is developing "technologies that minimize climate impacts of our continued dependence on fossil fuels.” The department will focus on carbon capture, removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere after it's been emitted by burning fuel, in an attempt to decrease the harm caused by our continued use of oil and gas.
Scientists say a heatwave in the southwestern U.S. has been especially dangerous for landscapers and other outdoor workers. New research shows that morbidity caused by extreme temperatures, including illnesses like heat stroke and heat exhaustion, rises with years on the job. People who spent more than five years working outdoors were at greater risk of becoming sick or injured from high heat. The Latin morbus, "disease," is the root of morbidity.
NASA announced a new study of UFOs, which the agency calls "unidentified aerial phenomena." Starting this fall, a dedicated team will spend nine months investigating unexplained sightings in the sky. Astrophysicist David Spergel, who will lead the group, said, "We don't know what makes up 95 percent of the universe." Phenomenon is from a Greek word that means "that which is seen," and its earliest use was for ordinary facts. By the 1770s, it meant "extraordinary occurrence."
A new study of monarch butterflies found that although summer breeding populations have fallen in some areas, they've increased in others. By counting monarchs in all of North America, researchers learned that their numbers remained about the same from year to year. The results seemed to balance fears over the declining winter populations of the bright orange butterflies. Population has a Latin root meaning "a people" or "a multitude."
A team of scientists from the University of Pittsburgh is developing prosthetic limbs that have a sense of touch. Researchers affiliated with the university's Rehab Neural Engineering Labs are experimenting with various ways to give artificial hands and feet the ability to feel sensations, by linking them to the nervous system of the person wearing them. The Greek root of prosthetic means "added or fitted to."
The reign of Britain's Queen Elizabeth is now officially the second-longest of any monarch in history. The queen has ruled her domain for more than 70 years, breaking the record of King Bhumibol Adulyadej, who reigned over Thailand from 1946 until 2016. French King Louis XIV is still the longest-serving monarch to occupy the throne, which he did for 72 years. The Latin root of reign means "rule, direct, or keep straight."
On June 12, the United States lifted its requirement for travelers to show Covid-19 test results before boarding planes entering the country. Previously, passengers on international flights were obligated to prove they'd tested negative. While the CDC said the requirement was no longer necessary, given the availability of vaccines and masks, the agency continues to recommend testing prior to traveling.
Google placed senior software engineer Blake Lemoine on leave last week after he claimed that the company's artificial intelligence technology was sentient. Lemoine had clashed with his supervisors for weeks over his belief that Google's Language Model for Dialogue Applications has consciousness and a soul. A Google spokesperson said a team of ethicists had confirmed that the A.I. cannot feel things. Sentient and sense share a Latin root that means "feeling."
Pop star Justin Bieber announced on YouTube that he had been diagnosed with Ramsay Hunt syndrome, which causes partial facial paralysis. The neurological disorder, which is related to a virus that causes both chickenpox and shingles, occurs in some cases when a nerve in the head becomes infected. Bieber's condition is rare, and full recovery is possible. Syndrome, "a number of symptoms coming together," is from a root meaning "run together."
On the second day of the congressional hearings to investigate the January 6, 2021 attack on the U.S. Capitol, several members of former President Trump's inner circle testified. Former Attorney General William Barr was one of numerous witnesses whose testimony stated that Trump's claims of election fraud were false. The Latin root of testify is testificari, "bear witness" or "demonstrate."
After several infectious disease experts said that monkeypox might spread through airborne transmission, the CDC issued a statement dismissing the possibility. Officials there stated that the virus "is not known to linger in the air," but is passed from person to person through close physical contact. A current monkeypox outbreak has infected at least 45 people in the United States. The Latin root of transmission means "send over."
Climate scientists are warning that if the planet continues to heat up at its current pace, the Siberian tundra is at risk of vanishing completely. This ecosystem, which is distinguished by a frozen subsoil beneath wide-open plains with very little vegetation, supports species including polar bears, Arctic foxes, caribou, and more. Tundra derives from a word meaning "high-topped hill" in Sámi languages.

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