The Atlantic Daily: A Whole New World

Astronomers found a potentially habitable planet, Italy suffered a 6-point earthquake, reality TV got a lot nicer, and more.

Kornmesser / Reuters

What We’re Following

Hello, Neighbor: Astronomers have discovered a possibly habitable planet orbiting our closest neighboring star, Proxima Centauri. The planet, known as Proxima Centauri b, is orbiting its star at a distance that could let it harbor liquid water. Scientists are now racing to figure out whether it really does hold life; thanks to the new probes and telescopes now being built, the answer could come with in our lifetimes.

Choosing Sides: Turkish forces, under the protection of U.S. aircraft, crossed the Syrian border today, aiming to drive ISIS—and Syrian Kurdish rebels—out of the region around the border city of Jarabulus. While the U.S. supports the Kurdish rebels, who are also fighting ISIS, Turkey sees them as a threat. As U.S.-Turkey relations are reaching their lowest point in decades, Vice President Biden has promised the U.S. will drop their support for the Kurds if they don’t withdraw.

Spotlight on Muslim Women: “I never really felt like I was ‘the other’ until now,” says Mirriam Seddiq, an American Muslim lawyer, about Donald Trump’s anti-Muslim rhetoric. Seddiq has started a political action committee aimed at countering stereotypes against Muslim women—and, eventually, helping more Muslim women run for office in the U.S. Elsewhere, Canadian mounted police will now be allowed to wear the hijab as part of their official uniforms—but in France, women are being fined for wearing burqini swimsuits on the beach, and this series of photos captures what the ban means for Muslim women.


The sun rises after an earthquake in Amatrice, Italy, on August 24, 2016. At least 120 people are dead and scores more are missing after the magnitude-6 quake. See more photos here, and read all the updates from our news team here. (Massimo Percossi / ANSA via AP)


“If someone dies of a herpes infection, their temporal lobes look like soup.” Peter Strick, a neuroscientist

“Can you imagine Lockheed Martin or Boeing putting up with a government contract that didn’t allow for overhead?” Heather Iliff, who advocates for nonprofits in the D.C. area

“I can’t let it go. My soul is attached there.—a Syrian-American pulmonologist who started a WhatsApp group for doctors to advise clinicians in Syria’s war zone

Evening Read

Megan Garber watches the 11th-season preview of The Voice and notices how competition shows have gotten noticeably nicer:

The whole thing was warm and wonderful and ooey and gooey and an extremely far cry from the old days of The Voice’s ideological predecessor, American Idol. What The Voice is similar to, though, … is The Great British Baking Show, whose judges offer encouragement to their contestants even, and especially, when they fail. And The Bachelor and The Bachelorette, where one of the most common claims among the star singletons is, “I’m trying to do the right thing.” And Project Runway and Dancing with the Stars and America’s Next Top Model and The Biggest Loser and RuPaul’s Drag Race—competition-based reality shows that, episode by episode, opt for supportiveness over sadism.

Sure, television’s versions of “reality” can sometimes be as cruel as reality itself; these days, though, many of the non-scripted shows on offer are finding ways to celebrate, and commercialize, kindness. Welcome to the era of empathy TV.

Read on here, as Garber contrasts that niceness with the increased violence among the prestige dramas of TV’s golden age.

What Do You Know?

1. In American prisons, ____________ are increasingly being used as currency, according to a new study.

(Scroll down for the answer, or find it here.)

2. Scientists in China have trained a ____________ to accurately identify humans based on their body shape about 90 percent of the time.

(Scroll down for the answer, or find it here.)

3. The fastest-growing consumer group in the U.S., ____________, has an estimated buying power of $825 billion.

(Scroll down for the answer, or find it here.)

Reader Response

How do you talk to your kids about rape and alcohol? A mother of two daughters writes:

I think that most of your readers’ comments about teaching children about their bodies and their right to keep their bodies safe from unwanted behaviors from others are fine for younger children. I think that most of us have been doing a good job with younger children.

But when it comes to teens and young adults, I think we are still tiptoeing around the elephant in the room: booze. I’m about as politically correct a person as you can imagine, but I refuse to pretend that there is nothing a woman can do to make rape less likely. Staying in control of one’s faculties may not prevent all attacks, but it will make them less likely to happen. Rapists choose their victims for their vulnerability, and a woman fully aware of her own surroundings is safer than one who is drunk—not absolutely safe, but certainly safer.

Read more here. Do you agree or disagree, particularly as a parent or college student who’s recently had this kind of talk? Tell us your own experience via And read an interview with a nurse who works with sexual-assault survivors here.

Look Back

On this day in 1891—125 years ago—Thomas Edison patented the motion-picture camera. As Annie Nathan Meyer wrote in our January 1914 issue:

The eye-deep of the movies cannot be surpassed. I remember clearly my first performance—even in those pioneer days which crackled and spluttered and flashed their way across my bewildered eyes,—how I enjoyed the shaking of the lazy, fat shoulders of a huge driver who was guiding a team of horses across the tracks. I cannot help how this confession sounds even if by my frankness the reader no longer thinks me worthy of addressing him in this matter at all—for the truth will out, that I really found the literalness of the picture highly amusing.


Thirsty snakes swim, doctors improvise, money train missed, author’s ashes auctioned, Ryan Lochte redeemed.