Powerful Volcano Eruption And Tsunami Cause Widespread Damage In Tonga

The Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha'apai volcano — an underwater volcano located 40 miles (65km) north of Nuku'alofa, the capital of the Kingdom of Tonga — has erupted a couple of times over the past few decades. However, its January 15, 2022, explosion was like none other seen on Earth in over 30 years. The spectacular 13-mile-wide eruption, with a sonic boom heard 6,000 miles away in Alaska, spewed large plumes of ash and gases as high as 19 miles. The massive waves that followed triggered tsunami warnings in Peru, New Zealand, Japan, and the US West Coast.

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Kane Tanaka, The World's Oldest Living Person, Just Turned 119!

While birthdays are always a cause for celebration, Kane Tanaka's was especially so. On January 1, 2022, the Japanese supercentenarian turned 119, extending her record as the world's oldest living person for another year. Tanaka has held the Guinness World Title since turning 116 in 2019. She also garnered the all-time Japanese age record in September 2020 when she clocked an impressive 117 years and 261 days!

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Large Deposit Of Hidden Water Discovered On Mars

Researchers have long suspected that Mars was once home to several rivers, lakes, and perhaps even oceans. But while they have been able to detect ice, and some salty lakes, in the planet's polar regions, finding water in other areas has proved elusive. Now, scientists have finally found evidence of a large water reservoir just a few feet below the surface of the Red Planet's Valles Marineris canyon system.

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Seven Thrilling Olympic Events Debuting At The 2022 Beijing Games

The XXIV Olympic Winter Games will officially start with a grand opening ceremony at the National Stadium in Beijing, China, on February 4, 2022. The two-week-long sporting extravaganza, which ends on February 20, 2022, will feature a record 109 competitions over 15 disciplines in seven sports. Among them will be seven new exciting events. Here is a brief preview of each.

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NASA's James Webb Space Telescope Is Fully Deployed

The James Webb Space Telescope (Webb) — the world's largest and most complex science telescope — was successfully launched into space atop a European Ariane 5 rocket on December 25, 2021. The $10 billion revolutionary space observatory — a joint effort between NASA, the European Space Agency, and the Canadian Space Agency — is designed to detect the faint infrared light from the earliest stars and galaxies formed over 13.5 billion years ago.

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Honoring The Life And Legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Martin Luther King Day, which will be observed on January 17, 2022, is about more than honoring the legacy of the American civil rights activist. It is the only US federal holiday designated as a national day of service — a "day on, not a day off." Americans are encouraged to celebrate the occasion by participating in service activities to help their local communities.

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Animals At Smithsonian's National Zoo Enjoy Snow Days!

The season's first winter storm — which brought significant snowfall to the Washington, DC, area on January 3, 2022 — could not have come at a better time for the residents of the Smithsonian's National Zoo. With the park closed to visitors due to the inclement weather, the animals were able to welcome the New Year with several snow days all to themselves.

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South Africa Mourns The Loss Of Anti-Apartheid Icon, Desmond Tutu

Desmond Mpilo Tutu, a leading activist in South Africa's fight against apartheid, passed away on December 26, 2021. The 90-year-old retired archbishop, who also spearheaded the country's smooth transition from apartheid to democracy, had been battling prostate cancer since 1997. Mr. Tutu was laid to rest at a state funeral at St. George's Cathedral, Cape Town, on January 1, 2022.

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Finally, A Millipede Species That Lives Up To Its Name!

The name millipede, which translates to a "thousand feet," is a bit of a misnomer. Many species of the arthropods have fewer than 100 legs, and even the record holder — the Illacme plenipes — boasts a "mere" 750 legs. Now, a team led by Virginia Tech entomologist Paul Marek has finally found the world's first "true" millipede — one with over 1,300 legs!

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Goodbye 2021, Welcome 2022!

On December 31, 2021, the world happily bid farewell to yet another year of COVID uncertainties and welcomed 2022 with high hopes. The celebrations were scaled back, or in some cases even canceled, due to the rapid spread of the new coronavirus variant, Omicron. However, the variant's milder symptoms and lower fatality rates has renewed optimism that the pandemic would soon be behind us. Here are some of this year's most spectacular fireworks displays from around the world.

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Santa Claus Around The World

For most Americans, Santa Claus is a jolly, white-haired man in a red suit. However, that is just one depiction of the generous being that brings toys to well-behaved children on Christmas Eve. Other countries have their own versions of Santa Claus who, in some cases, do not even appear during Christmas! Here are a few of the many portrayals of Santa-like figures from around the world.

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NASA's Parker Solar Probe "Touches" The Sun!

On December 14, 2021, NASA officials revealed that the Parker Solar Probe had successfully pierced through the Sun's outer atmosphere — the corona — and "touched" the star. The historical feat was achieved on April 28, 2021, during the spacecraft's eighth flyby, when it was about 8.1 million miles away from the star. The space probe spent five hours collecting magnetic and solar particle data from the Alfvén critical surface — the point that marks the end of the Sun's atmosphere.

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Orangutans Have Distinct Artistic Styles Too!

To a casual observer, the artwork in the image above may appear to be the scribbles of a toddler or — as is the case here — orangutans. However, a new study by French scientists has found that the seemingly random patterns showcase the primate artists' distinct style and ability, and possibly even state of mind.

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The Winter Solstice Explained

On Tuesday, December 21, Northern Hemisphere residents will enjoy the shortest day of 2021. Known as the winter solstice, it also marks the start of the astronomical winter season. This means that while the days following will grow longer, they will also be colder. Conversely, Southern Hemisphere residents will celebrate the summer solstice — the beginning of their astronomical summer — with the longest day and shortest night of the year.

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Tesla's Latest Electric Vehicle Is Just For Kids!

Elon Musk has been teasing fans with the Tesla Cybertruck — the company's first all-electric truck — and the equally futuristic Tesla Cyberquad All-Terrain Vehicle (ATV) since 2019. However, the car manufacturer has yet to begin production on either model. Instead, the company made up for the delay by announcing the release of the all-electric Cyberquad for Kids on December 1, 2021.

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Archaeologists Unearth "Lost" Egyptian Sun Temple

Egyptian archaeologists have discovered thousands of ancient structures — and even entire cities. However, finding the six sun temples constructed by the Fifth Dynasty pharaohs has proved elusive. Only two had been found until recently, and the last one was unearthed 50 years ago.

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WestJet's 2021 Christmas Miracle Is All About Reuniting Loved Ones

WestJet Airlines' annual "Christmas Miracle" videos, which capture employees providing much-needed holiday cheer to those in need, are legendary. Past "miracles" include flying in gifts and snow to the Dominican Republic and hosting a holiday party for a town devastated by a forest fire. In 2020, WestJet employees delivered 12,000 care packages with essentials and gifts to families hurt by the COVID-19 pandemic. This year, the company wants to reunite families for the holidays.

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