Highlights of the week of June 19-25
This week saw the end of the search for the Bathyscaphe in the Atlantic and a heatwave in Europe.
OceanGate Titan sinks after explosion
On the morning of June 19, the OceanGate Titan submersible, carrying 5 passengers, began its descent to where the Titanic rests at the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean. Communication with the crew was lost 1 hour and 45 minutes later. Search crews began working in the area where the submarine sank. However, the search was unsuccessful.
By Friday, there was no doubt that all five people on board were dead. Search teams discovered the wreck on the seabed near the legendary Titanic. The theory is that the submarine's sinking was the result of an implosion.
An implosion is an inward explosion. It can happen when an object collapses due to gravity or becomes over-compressed. In the case of the submarine, some experts believe it was caused by enormous water pressure.
The sub's owner denies any design flaws. However, some scientists believe that a carbon fibre insert was the weak link in the bathyscaphe. Normally, deep-sea submersibles are made of strong metals such as titanium. These are also spherical to distribute the water pressure evenly. But the OceanGate Titan was re-designed to accommodate more passengers.
A final verdict has yet to be reached by forensic experts. According to the current version, the main cause of the crash is believed to implode. When the sides of the submarine are compressed at over 2,000 km/h, the air inside ignites. The explosion inside is followed by an explosion outside. The people on the inside were killed instantly before they even knew what had happened.
Another election in Greece
The conservative party of Kyriakos Mitsotakis won last May's elections, beating its nearest rival by 20 seats. That was enough for a majority in parliament, but the former prime minister is out for more.
A snap election could give him the coveted edge of more than 150 votes in the 300-seat parliament. Mitsotakis has commented on the impossibility of forming a "strong and stable government with a 'fragile' majority".
Mitsotakis' primary opponent in the election is Alexis Tsipras, a centre-left politician. The two politicians have differed over the recent shipwreck of migrant boats near the Greek coast. Mitsotakis fully supported the coastguard, while Tsipras said that human lives were more important.
But Greek society, fed up with the country's migration crisis, is now tending towards more conservative and austere policies. This could play into Mitsotakis' hands and give him the victory he so desperately wants.
Waters around Britain are warmer than they should be
An abnormal rise in temperature in the North Atlantic off the coast of Europe has been confirmed by the European Space Agency (ESA). The water there is now an average of 3 to 4 degrees warmer than it should be at this time of year. One of the main reasons is thought to be man-made, but some of the possible causes are still hidden from scientists.
The global temperature rise has already been felt in Canada, where wildfires have blanketed several American cities with smoke, as well as in China and Siberia, and in Europe. The danger of such an abundance of heat in the water of the oceans is not only a threat to the lives of sea creatures and fish but also an increased risk of storms.
Scientists have various hypotheses as to why the oceans are heating up so much this year. One reason is thought to be the weak winds in the Sahara. The winds blow dust from the desert and turn the atmosphere into a kind of reflective film. This prevents the oceans from heating up. This year, the trade winds have been weak and there is not enough dust in the atmosphere.
Nevertheless, it is clear that the dominant cause of abnormal warming is still the huge amount of CO2 that humans have been pumping into the atmosphere. The year 2024 is expected to be the hottest year on record for the planet.