This Week in Words: Current Events Vocab for October 29–November 4, 2022

October 31, 2022
Stories about recreational fear, astronaut shelters on Mars, and King Tut's tomb all contributed words to this list of vocabulary from the week's news.
affirmative action
The Supreme Court heard arguments in two cases whose outcome could end affirmative action at U.S. colleges and universities. Questions from the conservative Justices suggest they will rule against the established practice of improving opportunities for students whose race, gender, sexuality, or religion have historically made it harder for them to get into selective schools. Experts say ending the policy would cause a sharp drop in college admissions for Black and Latino students.
Researchers have located nine caves on Mars that may be used in the future as shelters for astronauts. The group of geoscientists pinpointed caves that would be accessible to space travelers whose missions took them to the red planet, and large enough to protect them from its harsh environment. NASA aims to get humans on Mars by 2033. Astronaut means "star sailor" in Greek, from root words astro-, "star," and nautēs, "sailor."
For two days after he lost to Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva in Brazil's October 30 presidential election, President Jair Bolsonaro refused to admit defeat. On November 2, he reportedly told several members of Brazil's supreme court "It's over," although he did not officially concede in a speech he gave that day. Concede has meant "agree or yield" since the 1630s, and it was first used in 1824 to mean "admit defeat in an election."
Country music legend Dolly Parton said in an interview that she will no longer go on tour but will continue to play occasional concerts. Parton, who is 76, also has plans to release a rock album. Her last traveling concert series took place in 2016, when she visited more than 60 North American cities with her band. Parton said she wants to stay closer to family going forward, although she won't stop writing and playing music.
Until 2018, celebrating Halloween was illegal in Saudi Arabia. This year, citizens of the conservative Islamic country embraced the spooky holiday wholeheartedly, and the government even sponsored a " horror weekend." Costume shops sold scary outfits, residents set up haunted houses, and terrifying ghouls, mummies, vampires, and witches roamed the streets of the capital city, Riyadh. The root of horror means "to bristle or shudder."
The artist Hock E Aye Vi Edgar Heap of Birds, of the Cheyenne and Arapaho nation, has a new show at New York's Hannah Traore Gallery with work featuring his distinctive printmaking technique. He uses prints and their "ghost prints" as a metaphor for the Native experience in America. Heap of Birds describes these reverse copies, in which a plate is run through a press without applying more ink, as "faint, very diminished," and representative of the diminished status of Native Americans.
Scientists examined elephants' brains to learn more about the amazing abilities of their trunks in a new study. By examining the neurons that control elephants' faces (including their trunks), researchers found they have far more nervous system cells directing their facial movements than any other land mammal. Enormous-eared African elephants have 12,000 neurons controlling just their ears. In comparison, humans have about 9,000 facial nerve cells in total.
Recent research has helped experts understand why some people seek out scary situations, such as horror movies, true-crime podcasts, and haunted houses. So-called recreational fear is a "learning tool," according to one scientist who studies it. Having fun while being scared is a safe way to practice dealing with seriously frightening situations. An additional benefit is the rush of adrenaline that follows a feeling of terror. The root of recreational means "invigorate."
Recent polls show several extremely close midterm races that will determine which political party controls the Senate. Incumbent Democratic senators in Georgia and Nevada are polling neck-and-neck with their Republican challengers. Similar standoffs in other states point to an uncertain outcome as to who will dominate the legislative body after the November 8 election. Senate derives from a root meaning "old man."
Car thefts are on the rise in Portland, Oregon, and a team of amateur sleuths is on the case. People whose own vehicles have been stolen are banding together and scouring streets, alleys, and empty lots in search of each other's missing cars. Their goal is to track down the stolen vehicles before they're sold for parts. The volunteer detectives have found more than 10,000 purloined autos so far in 2022. The Old Norse root of sleuth is sloð, "trail."
A century after the tomb of the Egyptian pharaoh Tutankhamun was unearthed, Egyptologists continue to argue about what other secrets the 3,000-year-old burial chamber might hold. One theory suggests that King Tut's mausoleum has undiscovered rooms beyond the main vault where his mummified remains lay, possibly leading to the tomb of Nefertiti, his stepmother. Scans of the area have so far been inconclusive. The Greek root of tomb means "burial mound."
In its annual climate report, the International Energy Agency said the ongoing war in Ukraine is likely to increase the speed of Europe's transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy sources. Natural gas shortages have spurred more coal burning, but the agency predicts it will soon be replaced by wind turbines, solar panels, nuclear power plants, and heat pumps. The IEA says the shift will move faster than previously expected as countries end their reliance on Russian oil and gas.

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