Thanksgiving, which is observed annually on the fourth Thursday of November, is one of the most anticipated American holidays. The celebrations usually center around a delicious feast enjoyed with extended family members and friends. While the COVID-19 pandemic will put a damper on large in-person gatherings, the holiday can still be enjoyed with those living within the same household or part of the same social bubble. Here are some fun Thanksgiving tidbits to get the party started.
While giant panda cubs are always popular, 22-year-old Mei Xiang's latest offspring, born at the Smithsonian's National Zoo on August 21, 2020, is particularly so. The daily live-stream of the adorable male cub, whose birth brought much-needed cheer during the COVID-19 pandemic, has garnered over a million virtual visitors. Hence, it is only fitting that zoo officials are asking fans to help name the precious 12-week-old.
Stars that get too close to black holes usually end up getting sucked in by the strong gravitational forces of the dense space objects, from which no light can escape. Now, for the first time, researchers have been able to observe the cosmic phenomenon — nicknamed "spaghettification" because it pulls apart a star into thin "spaghetti-like" strands — in real-time.
The residents of Florida, which is home to over one million alligators, are no strangers to the apex predators. The massive animals are frequently encountered in swimming pools, ditches, and garages. In 2019, Palm Coast resident Donna Heiss even saw a 7-foot gator peeking through her window! However, the giant reptile recently spotted in Naples, Florida, impressed even the most jaded Floridians.
Soft robots, which can move around the ocean without harming sea life, are ideal for underwater exploration. However, they are rarely deployed because they are extremely slow and have a hard time maneuvering through the water. But that may change soon thanks to an innovative, self-propelling soft robot created by researchers at the University of California, San Diego.
Starting Thursday, November 12, 2020, over a billion people worldwide will begin celebrating Diwali, the Festival of Lights. Also known as Deepavali, the ancient tradition, which dates back over 2,500 years, is observed by Indians of many faiths, including Hindus, Jains, Buddhists, and Sikhs. While the commemoration lasts five days, the most important day — the celebration's namesake — falls on the third day. This year, Diwali will be celebrated on Saturday, November 14, 2020.
For non-believers, this year's second — and final — Friday the 13th is just the start of a weekend. However, for the estimated twenty million people in the US, and scores more worldwide, that suffer from "friggatriskaidekaphobia," or "paraskevidekatriaphobia," November 13, 2020, will be fraught with bad luck. Though some of the fear can be blamed on the Friday the 13th movie franchise, the day's bad reputation began long before the film’s hockey-masked villain, Jason Voorhees, made an appearance.
After almost a week of painstaking ballot counting, Joseph R. Biden Jr. was elected president of the United States on Saturday, November 7, 2020. The Associated Press — which bases its determination on freelance local reporters who accumulate vote counts from clerks in every county of the 50 states — announced that the former vice president had secured 290 electoral college votes, 20 more than the 270 needed to be selected the country's president.