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Good morning. It's Friday, Aug. 11, and we're covering the devastation from wildfires in Hawaii, a key measurement in the world of particle physics, and much more. First time reading? Sign up here.


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Need To Know

Hawaii Fire Rages

The death toll from the wildfires in Maui has risen to at least 53 people, with dozens more injured, as the fast-moving fire spread across the Hawaiian island that is home to more than 160,000 residents. The Maui fires are at least 80% contained and the Big Island fires are at least 60% contained as of this writing.


The fires were spurred by low humidity and dry conditions brought on by a moderate drought affecting over a third of Maui's 735 square miles. The fires were intensified by powerful winds from Hurricane Dora, a storm located around 1,000 miles away from Honolulu, bringing enhanced winds to the island.


Thousands have been evacuated, with at least 14 rescued after seeking refuge in the ocean. In the town of Lahaina—once the capital of the Kingdom of Hawaii—more than 270 buildings were damaged or destroyed, including the historic Baldwin Home, which had been standing since the 1830s.


On average, an estimated 0.5% of Hawaii’s total land area burns each year. See photos of the damage here.


Muon Measurement Mystery

New measurements of subatomic particles known as muons have confirmed earlier results in much greater accuracy while potentially pointing to a previously undiscovered fundamental force in the universe. The experiment has been called the "most precise" in the history of particle physics. 


Muons resemble electrons but are 200 times heavier and decay within microseconds. Under study is how the particles wobble when traveling through magnetic fields, a phenomenon caused by what is known as quantum foam. The results confirm the degree of wobbling deviates significantly from theoretical predictions. Scientists say the precision of the measurement points to two potential causes—either the current Standard Model is incomplete, or some calculations used within its framework are inaccurate. 


The Standard Model, which describes three of four universal forces in a unifying framework, is one of the most well-tested theories in science. Despite its success, it fails to account for gravity, among other challenges.


Violence in Ecuador

Ecuadorian President Guillermo Lasso declared a state of emergency in the country yesterday, one day after a presidential candidate running on an anti-corruption and anti-gang platform was killed while exiting a campaign event. Lasso said Aug. 20 national elections would proceed as planned, despite the shooting. 


The killing of Fernando Villavicencio, a current lawmaker and former journalist, came during the middle of evening rush hour, with the shooter firing into a crowd of civilians. The brazenness of the shooting accentuates a surge of violence in Ecuador, driven by gangs fighting for control of the country's cocaine supply routes since 2016. The country's homicide rate has jumped more than 450% over the past five years, to almost 27 murders per 100,000 people. 


Separately, Dutch officials said yesterday they had captured a record cocaine shipment worth an estimated $662M in street value


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In The Know

Sports, Entertainment, & Culture

> The 75th Emmy Awards postponed until Jan. 15 from original date of Sept. 18 due to ongoing writers and actors strikes (More) | Writers guild and film and TV producers to resume negotiations today (More)

> "Barbie" banned in Kuwait and Lebanon ahead of Middle East release due to gender and sexuality themes (More) | Taylor Swift announces “1989 (Taylor’s Version)” album to be released Oct. 27 (More)

> The 2023 FIFA Women's World Cup quarterfinal begins; see latest bracket and predictions (More) | England's star forward Lauren James suspended two matches for red card from prior match (More)


Science & Technology

In partnership with LiquidPiston

> Virgin Galactic conducts second successful commercial spaceflight, and its first with private-paying tourists onboard; company is expected to begin running space tourism flights once a month (More)

> Paleontologists discover "ice mouse" fossil, a tiny mammal that lived among dinosaurs roughly 73 million years ago; find sheds light on the polar ecosystem during the late Cretaceous period (More)

> Scientists successfully reverse hearing loss in mice using gene therapy; animals were given enzymes activating a specific gene responsible for auditory functions (More)

From our partners: A quantum leap in engine technology. Battery power may be the rage, but the combustion engine is experiencing a renaissance. Toyota and BMW are selling cars with hydrogen-powered engines as a clean energy alternative—which is great for LiquidPiston, whose engine is both HEV and Hydrogen compatible. They already have $30M in contracts, and you can ride shotgun as an investor. Invest in LiquidPiston here.


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Business & Markets

> US stock markets close higher (S&P 500 +0.03%, Dow +0.2%, Nasdaq +0.1%); July consumer price index up 3.2% over last year (More)

> Supreme Court blocks Purdue Pharma bankruptcy that would have shielded the Sackler family from civil lawsuits related to the opioid epidemic (More)

> Tapestry, owner of brands such as Coach and Kate Spade, to acquire Capri Holdings, owner of brands such as Versace and Michael Kors, for $8.5B (More)


Politics & World Affairs

> Iran moves five US prisoners to house arrest, part of a reported deal that would unfreeze $6B in humanitarian aid for the country; The US may also transfer a number of Iranian citizens detained for violating sanctions to Iran (More

> Ukraine announces a sea corridor to allow ships with food and grain exports to leave the Black Sea, a potential test of Russia's blockade around the region (More) | See updates on the war here (More)

> Former President Donald Trump and aide Walter Nauta plead not guilty to additional charges related to allegedly mishandling classified documents at Trump's Mar-a-Lago residence (More)



> Finding Your Voice

Psyche | Sophie Scott. A vocal expert provides insights into the connections between our deepest beliefs about ourselves and others and how we use our physical voices. (Read)


> The Art of the Obituary

Press Gazette | Killian Faith-Kelly. An insider's look at the daily work of Damian Arnold, the Times UK's senior obituary writer, with reflections on the importance of a life well-lived. (Read)

> Our Many Useless Body Parts

Wired | Dr. Jeffrey Laitman. From male nipples to the coccyx, this anatomical expert engagingly breaks down the previous (and, in some cases, current) purposes of the human body's vestigial parts. (Watch)


> Empty Office Buildings

Search Engine | PJ Vogt. (Podcast) Explaining the many obstacles to transforming empty downtown commercial buildings into apartments amid the housing shortage. (Listen)

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Clickbait: Tech billionaire cage fight could get downgraded to a lively debate.


Historybook: Author and historian Alex Haley born (1921); Apple cofounder Steve Wozniak born (1950); Actress Viola Davis born (1965); Final US ground combat unit leaves South Vietnam during Vietnam War (1972); Robin Williams dies by suicide (2014).

"Either you deal with what is the reality, or you can be sure that the reality is going to deal with you."

- Alex Haley

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