We're pleased to bring you "While You Were Out"—Verily's quick takes on the happenings of this week.
NASA reveals detailed, full-color images taken from James Webb Telescope
On Tuesday, NASA released five images taken from the James Webb Telescope – the most powerful telescope ever sent into space. The telescope, following in the footsteps of the Hubble telescope, produced some of the most incredible and detailed images of ancient celestials ever to be seen, giving us a visual of deep space and the past.
According to the Washington Post, the images include “colliding galaxies, a dying star shedding itself layer by layer, a glorious stellar nursery and the intriguing signs of water vapor and clouds on a giant planet whirling around a faraway star.”
The telescope captured images of faint infrared light emitted by the first stars and galaxies, not as they look today but as they looked more than 13 billion years ago.
The $10 billion telescope has been years in the making and finally launched into space from French Guinea in December 2021. The telescope has proven to be more powerful than those behind its conception had ever dreamed.
The first five images include:
A stunning landscape of “‘mountains’ and ‘valleys’ speckled with glittering stars,” that is a star-forming region in the Carina Nebula; Stephan’s Quintet, a grouping of five galaxies; the Southern Ring Nebula, the center of which is a star that has been sending out rings of gas and dust for thousands of years, approximately 2,500 light-years away; a spectrum of light that contains information about the makeup of planetary atmospheres, thousands of light-years away, including a distinct signature of water; an image of galaxy cluster SMACS 0723, which is the deepest and sharpest infrared image of the distant universe to date.
“The universe, it’s been out there. We just had to build a telescope to go see what was there,” operations project scientist Jane Rigby said. —Gabriella Patti
Twitter sues Elon Musk for backing out of ownership deal
Elon Musk is trying to back out of his deal to buy Twitter, arguing that the social media company didn’t provide him with enough data regarding the number of fake accounts on the platform. Twitter, which has seen its stock tank since it accepted Musk’s deal in April, is suing to make Musk hold up his end of the agreement.
Last week, a lawyer representing Musk released a letter reading, “For nearly two months, Mr. Musk has sought the data and information necessary to ‘make an independent assessment of the prevalence of fake or spam accounts on Twitter's platform’ … This information is fundamental to Twitter's business and financial performance and is necessary to consummate the transactions contemplated by the Merger Agreement. ... Twitter has failed or refused to provide this information.”
On Sunday, Twitter responded, saying that the “purported termination is invalid and wrongful.” Two days later, it filed a lawsuit against Musk in the Delaware Court of Chancery.
Columbia University law professor Eric Talley told Fox Business that there are now three likely outcomes: “Twitter wins and gets an injunction requiring Musk to close the deal, Twitter wins but is instead awarded damages, or Musk succeeds in proving Twitter’s misbehavior [which] allows him to walk away.” —Madeline Fry Schultz
Euro value dips below dollar
The euro hit its lowest value since 2002 this week, hitting parity with the dollar and even briefly sinking below that of the U.S. currency. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has sent European markets into turmoil. The Kremlin’s “maintenance” shutdown of the Nord Stream pipeline, which transports gas to the rest of Europe, has some worrying that Russia is cutting off its neighbors in retaliation for Ukraine sanctions, a move that could send the region into a recession.
“More than anything, higher energy prices and record inflation are to blame” for the euro’s sinking value, the AP reports. “Europe is far more dependent on Russian oil and natural gas than the U.S. to keep industry humming and generate electricity.”
The devaluing of the euro is not just caused by turmoil in Europe, though. It’s also linked to the dollar. Per AP, “Many analysts attribute the euro’s slide to expectations for rapid interest rate increases by the U.S. Federal Reserve to combat 40-year highs in inflation, which hit an annual 9.1% on Wednesday.”
When the Fed raises interest rates more than the European Central Bank, investors expect to see higher interest on dollar-based investments. That incentivizes more investors to buy dollars rather than euros, which raises the value of the dollar and lowers the value of the euro.
If you’re planning a European vacation this summer, the news is good for you: In the 19 countries that use the euro, you’ll find that your dollar goes a bit further. —MFS
Actress Constance Wu gets vulnerable about the impact of social media and mental health
Actress Constance Wu, who is perhaps best known for her roles in Crazy Rich Asians and The Eternals, shared a statement on Twitter, Thursday night explaining that she nearly took her life following social media backlash to some unhappy tweets she shared following the renewal of her show, Fresh off the Boat.
In 2019, after learning of the show’s renewal, Wu tweeted that she was “so upset,” igniting criticism. Wu later explained that her discontent was due to the fact that the renewal of the show would take her away from a “passion project.” Wu quit social media shortly after.
After a three-year hiatus, Wu shared a note on Twitter explaining that she was scared to return to social media because she “almost lost her life from it.” The backlash over her tweets, particularly from fellow Asian Americans, led her to feel suicidal. She shared that one fellow Asian actress had sent a direct message and had “told me I’d become a blight on the Asian American community.”
“Looking back, it’s surreal that a few DMs convinced me to end my own life, but that’s what happened. Luckily, a friend found me and rushed me to the ER,” Wu said “And even though I’m scared, I’ve decided that I owe it to the me-of-3-years-ago to be brave and share my story so that it might help someone with theirs,” she wrote.
Wu said that the experience of going through such a difficult time is why she wrote her book, Making a Scene, why she took a step back from Hollywood and why she is speaking out today. —GP
HBO shows dominate Emmy nominees
This year’s Emmy nominees are out, and HBO/HBO Max blew the competition out of the water with a whopping 140 nominations. HBO’s corporate family drama Succession led this year’s Emmy nominees with 25 nods, followed by Apple+ comedy Ted Lasso (20) and HBO’s class-conscious dramedy The White Lotus (20).
Other notable nominations include a dozen or more nods for Only Murders in the Building, Euphoria, Ozark, Stranger Things, and The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel.
Outstanding drama series nominations went to Better Call Saul, Euphoria, Ozark, Severance, Squid Game, Stranger Things, Succession, and Yellowjackets. Outstanding comedy series nominations went to Abbott Elementary, Barry, Curb Your Enthusiasm, Hacks, Only Murders in the Building, Ted Lasso, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, and What We Do in the Shadows.
Netflix’s Squid Game, which quickly became its most-watched show of all time, is the first non-English-speaking series nominated for an Emmy. Real-life con man (or woman) stories were popular this year, and The Dropout, The Tinder Swindler, and Inventing Anna each received nods.
What about the snubs? Sadie Sink, who plays Max on Netflix’s Stranger Things, was notably left off the roster. So was This is Us, which just ran its final season. The most-watched TV series in the U.S., Yellowstone, was also shut out.
If you care to tune in to which of your favorite shows win big, the Emmy Awards will air on September 12. —MFS
Good News of the Week
A long-hidden self-portrait of artist Vincent Van Gogh was discovered at the National Galleries of Scotland, hidden on the back of another painting by the artist.
The previously unknown work was discovered during an X-ray for the 1885 painting, Head of a Peasant Woman, as the museum prepped for an upcoming exhibition.
The portrait is on the back of the canvas, covered by layers of glue and cardboard, the museum said in a statement. Experts believe the self-portrait was covered up by these materials in the early 20th century before the Head of Peasant Woman was displayed.
"Moments like this are incredibly rare," Frances Fowle, senior curator of French art, said in a statement. "We have discovered an unknown work by Vincent van Gogh, one of the most important and popular artists in the world."
This is not the first time a hidden Van Gogh work has been found on the back of one of the artist’s paintings. Van Gogh was also known to paint over previous works. While the museum is uncertain as to whether they will be able to recover the artist’s self-portrait, the ghostly X-Ray image gives a fairly detailed look at the bearded artist, wearing a hat and a neck kerchief. —GP
Watch of the Week
A new movie featuring actresses Carey Mulligan and Zoe Kazan will explore the investigation that led to the 2017 New York Times exposé on disgraced producer Harvey Weinstein. The movie, titled She Said, is set to be released in November 2022. Weinstein currently awaits trial this October for charges of rape and sexual assault against five women over nine years in LA county.