8.1.2023

 

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Good morning. It's Tuesday, Aug. 1, and we're covering America's first new nuclear reactor in decades, the passing of Pee-wee Herman's creator, and much more. First time reading? Sign up here.

 

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Need To Know
 

Nuclear Reactor Goes Live

Georgia Power Co. yesterday announced the commercial operation of the first new nuclear reactor built in the US in more than 30 years, powering utilities in Georgia, Florida, and Alabama.

 

The reactor, known as Unit 3, is one of two that began construction in 2009 at Plant Vogtle, southeast of Augusta, and can power 500,000 homes and businesses at full capacity. The reactor was initially expected to start generating power in 2016; however, the project faced delays and unexpected costs, which increased from $14B to $35B. The plant already has two reactors that have been operating since 1987 and 1989. Once all four units are operational—Unit 4 is expected early next year—the site will become the nation's largest generator of clean energy. Units 3 and 4 are expected to produce about 2,234 megawatts combined, enough to power more than 1 million homes and businesses. 

 

Nuclear energy currently accounts for about 18% of US power generation, and more US states are looking to the power source for clean energy. Experts say the US would need 200 gigawatts of advanced nuclear energy to power about 160 million homes. 

 

Actor Paul Reubens Dies

Paul Reubens, the actor behind the Daytime Emmy-winning 1980s children's show "Pee-wee's Playhouse," died Sunday in Los Angeles at age 70. A posthumous statement yesterday from the actor revealed a six-year struggle with cancer for the first time. 

 

Born Paul Rubenfeld in Peekskill, New York, Reubens rose to fame via the whimsical, bowtie-clad Pee-wee Herman role he developed as a member of an improv group (see bio). Following the success of 1985's Tim Burton-directed film, "Pee-wee's Big Adventure," Reubens became a mainstay in children's TV for half a decade via CBS' Saturday morning "Pee-wee’s Playhouse." The actor's reputation was tainted after pleading no contest to an indecent exposure charge at an adult movie theater in Florida in 1991, followed by a guilty plea to an obscenity charge in 2002.

 

Over an acting career spanning five decades, Reubens had supporting roles in major TV shows like "Blacklist" as well as feature films including "Batman Returns" and "Blow" alongside Johnny Depp. See his life in photos here

 

Euclid's First Images

The first test images of stars and galaxies taken by the European Space Agency's Euclid Space Telescope were released yesterday. The milestone comes about a month after Euclid launched, reaching its final orbit roughly 1 million miles away from Earth, or four times as far from Earth as the moon. See the images here.

 

Euclid is on a quest to survey more than 1 billion galaxies—each with roughly 100 billion stars—as it investigates the nature of dark energy and dark matter, which constitute 95% of the universe but remain poorly understood. The term “dark” refers to the properties known about each—dark matter exerts a gravitational pull on objects but doesn’t interact with light, while dark energy remains hypothetical and is needed to account for the expansion of the universe. 

 

The test images were taken to verify and review the operation of the instruments on the Euclid spacecraft. The images are largely unprocessed, meaning they contain unwanted distortions, such as cosmic rays that streak across the captured visual. More detailed and sharper images are expected in October.

In partnership with Incogni

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In The Know
 

Sports, Entertainment, & Culture

In partnership with ButcherBox

> Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin participates in first padded practice since suffering a cardiac arrest in January (More) | MLB's trade deadline set for tonight (6 pm, ET); see every deal leading up to the deadline (More)

Magnus White, rising cycling star and member of the US national team, dies at 17 after being struck by a vehicle during a training ride (More) | Angus Cloud, actor best known for HBO's "Euphoria," dies at 25 (More)

> US women's national team plays Portugal in their final World Cup group stage match; see results from this morning here (More) | See latest group stage standings and schedule (More)

From our partners: Free bacon for a year. Feel like your breakfasts, sandwiches, or BBQ are missing something? Join ButcherBox today to get 2 packs of uncured, humanely raised bacon free in EVERY box for 1 year. Along with your free bacon, enjoy grass-fed beef, free-range organic chicken, crate-free pork, and wild-caught seafood, delivered directly to your door. Sign up today and level up every meal with free ButcherBox bacon.

 

Science & Technology

> OpenAI's GPT-3 language model can reason as well as an average college student, study finds; leaves open the question of whether it mimics human reasoning or represents a new cognitive process (More)

> European Space Agency demonstrates guided reentry of a roughly one-ton satellite, an approach allowing operators to avoid populated areas when satellites crash back to Earth after their mission ends (More)

> Scientists discover new cell types involved in the visual systems of fruit flies; discovery was enabled by a new technique that labels individual neurons and tracks their development (More)

 

Business & Markets

> US stock markets close higher (S&P 500 +0.2%, Dow +0.3%, Nasdaq +0.2%); S&P 500 and Nasdaq close up for fifth consecutive month (More)

> Eurozone July inflation of 5.3% drops from June’s 5.5%; Q2 gross domestic product expands by 0.3% (More)

> Walmart increases stake in Indian e-commerce startup Flipkart with $1.4B purchase from hedge fund Tiger Global (More)

 

Politics & World Affairs

> At least six people killed and 75 injured after Russian missiles hit central Ukrainian city of Kryvyi Rih; separately, Wagner Group suspends new member recruitment indefinitely (More) | See more war updates (More)

> Islamic State affiliate claims responsibility for deadly bombing during political rally in Pakistan that killed at least 54 people and injured nearly 200 others (More) | See our previous write-up (More

> Carlos De Oliveira, property manager of former President Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago estate, appears in court in classified documents probe for charges related to obstruction of justice and lying to investigators (More) | Judge denies Trump's bid to halt Fulton County, Georgia, 2020 election interference probe; grand jury indictment expected to come within next three weeks (More

 

In-Depth

> The Mail-In Psychic

The Walrus | Rachel Browne. How a copywriter convinced over a million people in the US and Canada to mail money in exchange for psychic services, and how it became one of the biggest mail-order scams in North American history. (Read)

 

> 'Kids These Days'

Insider | Kelli María Korducki. A dive into intergenerational feuds between Gen Z, Millennials, Gen X, and Boomers, highlighting how these generational conflicts can hinder understanding and cooperation among the different age groups. (Read)

In partnership with Incogni

Identity Theft Affects 1 in 3 Americans

 

… and how do these crooks get ahold of your personal info? Data brokers. They buy (and sell) your address, phone number, and SSN on the internet, profiting off your misfortune.

 

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Please support our sponsors!

Best of Etcetera—July 2023
 

Editor's note: More than 9 million monthly clicks can't be wrong. Here are the most popular stories we ran in July. Enjoy!

 

(7/25/23) The eight habits that could add up to 24 years to your life

 

(7/13/23) A third of US couples have opted for a “sleep divorce.” 

 

(7/12/23) The 100 best books of all time

 

(7/31/23) The risks of mouth-breathing during sleep—and how to stop.

 

(7/13/23) Meet Maddie, the 2023 Gerber Baby.

 

(7/25/23) The US states with the best (and worst) school systems

 

(7/18/23) Florida suburb hit by rabbit invasion.

 

(7/17/23) The year's funniest pet photos

 

(7/24/23) Actor Keanu Reeves attends a random wedding.

 

(7/6/23) A stunning shot of an aurora over an Icelandic waterfall

 

(7/26/23) Where high earners are moving to in the US

 

(7/20/23) Why you should avoid the term “Ozempic face.” 

 

(7/26/23) The most iconic diners in every US state

 

Clickbait: Please be careful with fireworks, unlike this family

 

Historybook: "Moby-Dick" author Herman Melville born (1819); American frontierswoman Calamity Jane dies (1903); Sniper kills 14, wounds 31 at University of Texas (1966); MTV launches with "Video Killed the Radio Star" as first video (1981).

"It is better to fail in originality than to succeed in imitation."

- Herman Melville

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