On Sunday afternoon, the pilot of a Dana Air McDonnell Douglas MD-83, flying out of Abuja, called into the control tower at Lagos, the Nigerian mega-city where he was shortly scheduled to land, to report engine trouble. Two months earlier, one of the engines had lost power after a bird strike. Now, the pilot said he was having difficulty with two of the engines. On the ground, some people is the neighborhood of Ishaga, not far from the airport, heard a loud vibrating sound and came outside, where they saw the plane flying low. The McDonnell Douglas airliner, which at 148 feet was about as long as a 15-story tower is tall, slammed into the side of a building. The crash and the fire, which raged through the night, killed all 153 passengers. No one is sure how many people on the ground may have died; rescue workers are still digging through the rubble.
It may be some time before we know the full extent of the damage, and much longer before we understand what caused the crash. But as emergency workers and Nigerian officials comb through the Lagos crash site, photographers are there as well, capturing the surreal scene, as well as the shocked and grieving community that went, in a few brief moments, from a neighborhood to a disaster scene. Here are some of their photos, as well as the unnervingly prescient March 15 tweets of Nigerian-American author Teju Cole worrying about whether Nigerian aviation had really become so much safer since it suffered three high-profile crashes in a one-year period. "It's hard to shake the feeling that soon, too soon, another Nigerian plane will fall from the sky," he wrote.
Onlookers, who rushed out of their homes on hearing (and, reportedly, feeling) the crash, find the jet engines lying next to what appears to be an impact crater. Because of several fires, the first-responders found the crash scene flooded with smoke, giving these first photos from Ishaga an otherworldly feel. (AP).
Local residents hoist a firehose across the debris to help put out some of the fires that had started. Firefighers and other emergency workers struggled to arrive as quickly as possible, but were reportedly delayed by the infamous traffic in Lagos, which has sprawled ever-wider over recent years. (AP).
One of the volunteers stands on the plane's destroyed wing, waiting for a firefighter to arrive with another section of firehose. Seeing the remarkable number of locals who rushed toward the crash scene, rather than away, it's hard not to think of the Americans who pitched in at the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001. Though the events are obviously of different natures and scales, they share an ability to galvanize these communities to help one another in a time of catastrophe (AP).
A rescue worker -- it's not clear if he is a professional or simply a volunteering local -- combs through the rubble by hand, perhaps in an effort to recover some of the 153 people killed on the flight. (Reuters).
Onlookers discover a destroyed landing gear from the MD-83. It was still warm to the touch, according to the photographer. (AP).
Rescue workers and locals look over the crash scene in Lagos, one of the world's largest and fastest-growing cities and over 10 million people. The plane crashed in the neighborhood of Ishaga, which is only about two miles south of the Lagos airport. (Reuters).
Security officers and rescue workers struggled to keep onlookers, like those gathered on top of this building to watch, from interfering in their work. People, some helpful and some just curious, streamed in from Lagos's crowded nearby neighborhoods. (AP).
An official rescue worker looks over the scene at Ishaga. Nigeria has suffered a number of aviation disasters, including an October 2005 crash that killed 117 people, a December 2005 crash that killed 108, and an October 2006 crash that killed 106. Since then, Nigerian aviation standards are said to have improved. In 2010, the FAA gave it a category one safety rating, which the L.A. Timestranslates as "meaning the country complied with international safety standards in relation to training, technical expertise and other issues." (AP).
Rescue workers carry a body bag from the crash scene. "The fear is that since it happened in a residential area, there may have been many people killed," a government spokesperson warned, meaning the death toll could be well beyond the 153 on the plane. (Reuters).
Onlookers watch as a crane lifts the now-separated tail from the impact crater. (Reuters).
On Monday, the crash scene now quieter, officials marked off boundaries to separate the disaster zone from the still-functioning neighborhood that surrounds it. (AP).
Two and half months ago, Nigerian-American author Teju Cole worried on Twitter about the safety of Nigerian aviation. He cited the recent power outages at airports in Abuja and Lagos -- the departure and destination cities of Sunday's flight -- and the 2005 and 2006 disasters that had so shaken Nigeria. In retrospect, depending on your perspective, his warning can seem chillingly prescient, distressingly unheeded, or perhaps just a coincidence. Either way, they were widely circulated at the time and, with President Goodluck Jonathan's as-predicted show of mourning, resonate again today.
A new anatomical understanding of how movement controls the body’s stress response system
Elite tennis players have an uncanny ability to clear their heads after making errors. They constantly move on and start fresh for the next point. They can’t afford to dwell on mistakes.
Peter Strick is not a professional tennis player. He’s a distinguished professor and chair of the department of neurobiology at the University of Pittsburgh Brain Institute. He’s the sort of person to dwell on mistakes, however small.
“My kids would tell me, dad, you ought to take up pilates. Do some yoga,” he said. “But I’d say, as far as I’m concerned, there's no scientific evidence that this is going to help me.”
Still, the meticulous skeptic espoused more of a tennis approach to dealing with stressful situations: Just teach yourself to move on. Of course there is evidence that ties practicing yoga to good health, but not the sort that convinced Strick. Studies show correlations between the two, but he needed a physiological mechanism to explain the relationship. Vague conjecture that yoga “decreases stress” wasn’t sufficient. How? Simply by distracting the mind?
No one will ever find a closer exoplanet—now the race is on to see if there is life on its surface.
One hundred and one years ago this October, a Scottish astronomer named Robert Innes pointed a camera at a grouping of stars near the Southern Cross, the defining feature of the night skies above his adopted Johannesburg. He was looking for a small companion to Alpha Centauri, our closest neighboring star system.
Hunched over glass photographic plates, Innes teased out a signal. Across five years of images, a small, faint star moved, wiggling on the sky. It shifted just as much as Alpha Centauri, suggesting its fate was intertwined with that binary system. But this small star was closer to the sun than Alpha. Innes suggested calling it Proxima Centauri, using the Latin word for “nearest.”
The dim red star soon entered the collective imagination, inspiring dreams of interstellar travel. Gravity has linked the star to the Alpha Centauri system, but our culture of science and storytelling has linked it to the solar system. Today, that link will grow stronger, when an international team of astronomers announces that this nearest of stars also hosts the closest exoplanet, one that might look a whole lot like Earth.
Do mission-driven organizations with tight budgets have any choice but to demand long, unpaid hours of their staffs?
Earlier this year, at the encouragement of President Obama, the Department of Labor finalized the most significant update to the federal rules on overtime in decades. The new rules will more than double the salary threshold for guaranteed overtime pay, from about $23,000 to $47,476. Once the rules go into effect this December, millions of employees who make less than that will be guaranteed overtime pay under the law when they work more than 40 hours a week.
Unsurprisingly, some business lobbies and conservatives disparaged the rule as unduly burdensome. But pushback also came from what might have been an unexpected source: a progressive nonprofit called the U.S. Public Interest Research Group (PIRG). “Doubling the minimum salary to $47,476 is especially unrealistic for non-profit, cause-oriented organizations,” U.S. PIRG said in a statement. “[T]o cover higher staffing costs forced upon us under the rule, we will be forced to hire fewer staff and limit the hours those staff can work—all while the well-funded special interests that we're up against will simply spend more.”
City dwellers spend nearly every moment of every day awash in wi-fi signals. Homes, streets, businesses, and office buildings are constantly blasting wireless signals every which way for the benefit of nearby phones, tablets, laptops, wearables, and other connected paraphernalia.
When those devices connect to a router, they send requests for information—a weather forecast, the latest sports scores, a news article—and, in turn, receive that data, all over the air. As it communicates with the devices, the router is also gathering information about how its signals are traveling through the air, and whether they’re being disrupted by obstacles or interference. With that data, the router can make small adjustments to communicate more reliably with the devices it’s connected to.
This much is obvious: Young people don’t buy homes like they used to.
In the aftermath of the recession and weak recovery, the share of 18- to- 34 year olds—a.k.a.: Millennials—who own a home has fallen to a 30-year low. For the first time on record going back more than a century, young people are now more likely to live with their parents than with a spouse.
It’s become en vogue to argue that young people’s turn against homeownership might be a good thing. After all, houses are not always dependable investment vehicles, a lesson the country learned all too painfully after the Great Recession. Without being anchored to any one city from their mid-20s and into their 30s, young people who don’t own are free to roam about the country in search of the best jobs. What’s more, given the copious advantages of a college degree in this economy, perhaps many young people could be commended for investing in their intelligence, professional networks, and abilities rather than devote that same income to a roof, floor, and furniture.
Donald Trump’s campaign manager says he’s actually winning, thanks to “undercover” supporters. Plenty of past presidential hopefuls have mistakenly believed the same.
A candidate or operative on a campaign that's losing has three options: despair; accept what’s happening and try to fix it; or deny. Right now, the Donald Trump campaign is exhibiting all three.
For despair, there are the staffers who are reportedly “suicidal” inside Trump Tower, and those who have simply quit. For acceptance, Trump himself has admitted he’s in trouble. But newly promoted campaign manager Kellyanne Conway is taking the denial route.
“Donald Trump performs consistently better in online polling where a human being is not talking to another human being about what he or she may do in the election,” she told the British outlet Channel 4. “It’s because it’s become socially desirable, if you’re a college educated person in the United States of America, to say that you’re against Donald Trump.”
The U.S. presidential nominee’s anti-Islam rhetoric has motivated some to speak out against stereotypes.
Donald Trump has effectively declared Muslims the enemy, accusing them of shielding terrorists in their midst, pushing to ban them from entering the country, and suggesting that the United States should start thinking seriously about profiling them. In response, some American Muslim women are speaking out against Trump and his anti-Muslim rhetoric.
“I never really felt like I was ‘the other’ until now,” said Mirriam Seddiq, a 45-year-old immigration and criminal-defense lawyer from Northern Virginia who recently started a political-action committee called American Muslim Women. “It’s a strange realization to have, but it’s what motivated me to do this. There are so many misconceptions about Muslim women, and I want to help counter that narrative.”
Finally, an explanation for Bitchy Resting Face Nation
Here’s something that has always puzzled me, growing up in the U.S. as a child of Russian parents. Whenever I or my friends were having our photos taken, we were told to say “cheese” and smile. But if my parents also happened to be in the photo, they were stone-faced. So were my Russian relatives, in their vacation photos. My parents’ high-school graduation pictures show them frolicking about in bellbottoms with their young classmates, looking absolutely crestfallen.
It’s not just photos: Russian women do not have to worry about being instructed by random men to “smile.” It is Bitchy Resting Face Nation, seemingly forever responding “um, I guess?” to any question the universe might pose.
This does not mean we are all unhappy! Quite the opposite: The virile ruler, the vodka, the endless mounds of sour cream—they are pleasing to some. It’s just that grinning without cause is not a skill Russians possess or feel compelled to cultivate. There’s even a Russian proverb that translates, roughly, to “laughing for no reason is a sign of stupidity.”
A new survey suggests the logistics of going to services can be the biggest barrier to participation—and Americans’ faith in religious institutions is declining.
The standard narrative of American religious decline goes something like this: A few hundred years ago, European and American intellectuals began doubting the validity of God as an explanatory mechanism for natural life. As science became a more widely accepted method for investigating and understanding the physical world, religion became a less viable way of thinking—not just about medicine and mechanics, but also culture and politics and economics and every other sphere of public life. As the United States became more secular, people slowly began drifting away from faith.
Of course, this tale is not just reductive—it’s arguably inaccurate, in that it seems to capture neither the reasons nor the reality behind contemporary American belief. For one thing, the U.S. is still overwhelmingly religious, despite years of predictions about religion’s demise. A significant number of people who don’t identify with any particular faith group still say they believe in God, and roughly 40 percent pray daily or weekly. While there have been changes in this kind of private belief and practice, the most significant shift has been in the way people publicly practice their faith: Americans, and particularly young Americans, are less likely to attend services or identify with a religious group than they have at any time in recent memory.