This Week in Words: Current Events Vocab for August 27–September 2, 2022

August 29, 2022
Stories about an enormous pumpkin, a valuable baseball card, and a delayed rocket launch all contributed words to this list of vocabulary from the week's news.
The Justice Department has released a heavily redacted version of the affidavit that was used to request a warrant to search former President Donald Trump's home. This sworn statement in writing from the FBI detailed the facts they had gathered suggesting that a search of Mar-a-Lago would provide evidence of a crime. The medieval Latin translation of affidavit is "he has stated on oath," from fidus, or "faithful."
People with knee pain caused by osteoarthritis, which occurs when repeated motion wears away the joint's cartilage, may soon have an alternative to knee replacement surgery. A new water-based gel should be available by 2023, according to scientists. The gel, which resembles incredibly strong Jell-O, seems to work even better than the rubbery tissue that naturally cushions bones as they move against each other. This artificial cartilage is also stronger than the real stuff.
French President Emmanuel Macron spent three days in Algeria as part of an initiative to acknowledge the damage done there by French colonialism. The country was a province of France for 132 years; its subjugation ended in 1962 following an eight-year war. Algerians remain deeply traumatized by the exploitative relationship with France 60 years after gaining independence. Macron's visit, intended to heal this pain, was met with skepticism by most Algerians.
A photography project featuring pairs of subjects who look uncannily alike despite being unrelated has inspired new research into the genetics of doppelgangers. Scientists found that the more people resemble each other, the more similar their DNA is. Comparing people with their lookalikes revealed that they share vital parts of the genome. The German Doppelgänger literally means "double-goer." It was originally used in a ghostly or spooky sense for an apparition of a living person.
Researchers studied more than 15,000 dogs in an effort to determine the causes of canine cognitive dysfunction. Their results suggest that a major factor in dog dementia is a lack of exercise; sedentary dogs were six times more likely to be diagnosed with conditions related to an aging brain. Symptoms can include disorientation, sleep disturbances, and inability to focus on a toy, treat, or face. Dysfunction adds the prefix dys-, or "bad," to function.
Mining the ocean floor for metals used in green technologies risks disturbing a unique ecosystem, scientists say. The material is found in polymetallic nodules formed over millions of years from shark teeth, fish bones, and sea water. Its use in electric car batteries makes it an appealing climate solution, but gathering it inevitably disrupts an entire community of fragile species that are found nowhere else on the planet, including thousand-year-old glass sponges.
Nebraska native Duane Hansen spent his sixtieth birthday breaking the Guinness World Record for “the longest journey by pumpkin boat.” After growing an enormous gourd, which weighed 846 pounds, Hansen scooped out the seeds and pulp inside it, climbed aboard, and paddled the giant squash down the Missouri River for 11 hours, covering about 38 miles.
While most animals used in research are protected by laws requiring that they be treated humanely, invertebrates are not. Experiments using animals without backbones, including worms, insects, and cephalopods, have no official oversight. As scientists begin to understand how intelligent some of these animals are, particularly octopuses, many argue that they deserve the same protection as rats and rabbits. The roots of invertebrate mean "not" and "joint of the spine."
President Biden announced a plan to cancel up to $20,000 in student loan debt and pause repayments until the beginning of 2023. Low-income students who received Pell Grants will be eligible for the most debt forgiveness under the new program. People with incomes of less than $125,000 per year will have at least $10,000 of the amount they borrowed to attend college wiped out. Loan is from a Germanic root meaning "to leave to someone."
On August 28, the $12.6 million sale of a 1952 Mickey Mantle baseball card broke a record, becoming the most expensive memorabilia ever sold at auction. The collectible card was printed by Topps and was originally sold in a pack that cost five cents. It commemorates the iconic athlete, who played for the New York Yankees during his whole career. Memorabilia shares a Latin root with memorable that means "worthy of being remembered."
Biologists are tracking death's-head hawkmoths by attaching tiny transmitters to their backs and following the insects in small planes. The unusual method allows researchers to trace the moths' migration patterns as they travel thousands of miles on their seasonal journeys. The hawkmoths migrate south from Europe in the fall, with a new generation returning north the next spring. Similar techniques have been used with birds in the past, but this is the first attempt with moths.
NASA's much-anticipated Artemis moon rocket launch had to be postponed on August 29, when engineers filling it with propellants discovered a problem with an engine. One of the four liquid-fueled rocket engines was found to have a "temperature issue." Since 1919, propellant has been used for "rocket engine fuel," from the sense of "that which drives forward" and Latin roots meaning "push" and "forward."
As part of a widespread effort to reduce the spread of rabies among mammals, particularly racoons, the USDA is distributing an oral vaccine. The program involves dispersing fish-flavored pellets that vaccinate animals against the fatal, highly infectious disease. In rural areas, the vaccine will be dropped from low-flying planes. In Latin, rabies means "madness or rage," which relates to the disease's effects on the central nervous system.
The war in Ukraine has forced the country's airports to close, making citizens more reliant on its railroads. Ukrainians depend on trains, which continue to run on schedule, to flee the country, to reunite with family members, and to move goods and weapons. Despite the ongoing danger, hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians are returning home, many of them on trains traveling from Poland to Kyiv. A Russian blockade of shipping ports means imported supplies also travel by railroad.
A new climate regulation in California will require all passenger cars and light trucks to be electric by 2035. The rule is the strictest in the country, and its effects will be significant in a state that sells more vehicles than any other. The California Air Resources Board approved the sweeping requirement, meant to encourage car makers to produce more electric cars and more consumers to buy them. The Latin root of regulation means "rule" or "straight piece of wood."
Five sculptures by underrepresented artists are on display at the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Queens this week, part of the U.S. Tennis Association's Fan Week. The three-dimensional art works are made of materials that include welded steel, aluminum, natural rock, and concrete. Sculpture is from the Latin sculpere, "to carve," and its root, scalpere, "to cut."
Dozens of researchers collected news stories about spider bites and analyzed them for sensationalism in a broad study of how exaggerated information spreads. They found that factual errors often start as local news items before rapidly spreading around the world. Biased and inaccurate details are often the quickest to be magnified, especially when they support a specific narrative. The myth that spiders often bite people is reinforced by the common fear of the mostly harmless arachnids.
Campgrounds across the U.S. have been busier than ever since the pandemic started, and now their owners are looking for new ways to keep visitors coming. Among the amenities some larger campgrounds have recently added to their basic tent and RV sites are cabins and yurts that can be rented for slightly upscale camping. Yurt is derived from the Russian yurta and its Turkic language root, which means "home or dwelling."

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