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Outside the Circle

Brothers Tamerlan Tsarnaev, 26, and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, 19, are suspects in the Boston Marathon bombing. Tamerlan was killed in a shootout after a high speed pursuit by police. Dzhokhar escaped, but was found hiding in a boat in a backyard in Boston.

Suspected Boston bombers found

After days of searching and questioning, the two individuals who set off two bombs at the Boston Marathon, Monday, April 8, have been found. Dzhokhar Tsarnaev and his brother Tamerlan had recently entered into a radical form of Islam that encouraged them to post Anti-American, jihadist videos on social media.

Tsarnaev was found this past Friday, covered in blood and hiding in a boat in a Franklin Street backyard in Watertown, MA. He was discovered when the owner of the boat and surrounding property called 911 after becoming suspicious of this activity. Neighbors in the area reported hearing over 30 gunshots. Police collected at the Franklin Street home where several explosions were heard, possibly from concussion grenades, after a robot neared the boat. About two hours later, at approximately 9 p.m., the suspect, who appeared to be injured from a shootout that occurred somewhere between Thursday and Friday, was taken to Beth Israel Hospital.
Thursday evening the two brothers killed a Massachusetts Institute of Technology police officer, 26-year old Sean Collier, and carjacked an SUV from a man who later managed to escape. The Tsarnaev brothers used this vehicle to lead the police on a chase through the city streets that involved over 200 shots fired and the explosion pipe bombs made by the brothers. The pursuit ended when Tamerlan, 26, was shot several times, but his brother Dzhokhar managed to escape. Friday morning, Tamerlan was pronounced dead at Beth Israel Hospital Deaconess Medical Center.

Tim Alben, Massachusetts State Police Colonel, announced just after the suspect was caught, “We are so grateful to bring justice and to bring closure to this case. We have a suspect in custody.” The family of the eight-year-old boy, Martin Richard, who died in the bombing, said, “Tonight, our family applauds the entire law enforcement community for a job well done, and trust that our justice system will now do its job.”

Earthquake devastates China 

A southwestern area of China called Sichuan Province was hit by a powerful earthquake that killed at least 132 Saturday morning. Additionally, more than 5,500 people were injured, and many more are still trapped. The earthquake struck at 8:02 a.m. local time in Ya’an city, and was a product of the same fault line that caused the 2008 earthquake that killed 87,000 people in Chengdu, the provincial capital.

Longmen, one of the townships affected by the earthquake, reported that 90 percent of the homes had been destroyed and most people had not yet been recovered. Lushan County, which is part of Ya’an, said that in their area, 600 people had been injured, 135 of them seriously. Premier Li Keqiang flew from Beijing to Sichuan on Saturday afternoon. Xinhua, the state news agency, quoted Li as he gave a small speech, “The current most urgent issue is grasping the first 24 hours after the quake’s occurrence, the golden time for saving lives, to take scientific rescue measures and save people’s lives.” Li then took a helicopter to Lushan County’s main hospital to visit the injured.

The China Earthquake Networks Center reported that the earthquake had a magnitude of 7.0, and it occurred six miles underground. Its shallow location caused most of the destruction. Zhang Linpeng, a resident in the area, told the news, “Now the houses on both sides of the street have become dangerous buildings. I’ve seen people trapped in the ruins and some people died. Many of the injured have been pulled out.” Efforts to rescue trapped individuals have run into problems such as landslides.

Over 7,400 soldiers and armed police officers were sent to the earthquake zone along with two helicopters, 1,400 provincial rescue workers, 180 emergency response doctors, 120 professional rescue vehicles, and six search-and-rescue dogs. Additionally, approximately 80,000 inmates were evacuated from their prisons in the area as a precaution. The earthquake was strong enough to be felt hundreds of miles away in Yunnan, Gansu, and Shaanxi Provinces. By the middle of the day, the number of aftershocks was over 200. Out of those 200 aftershocks, 15 had a magnitude of over 4.0.

Russia launches animals into space 

Friday, April 19, saw an interesting mix of geckos, mice, gerbils, and other animals being launched into orbit. This month-long experiment will allow Russians to study how space travel affects living creatures. Scientists assure that the animals will return to the Earth alive. The animals were launched into orbit at about 6 a.m. EDT aboard a Russian-built Soyuz 2 rocket that left from Baikonur Cosmodrome, Kazakhstan, in Central Asia.

The rocket contained the Bion-M1 space capsule which has enough room to house 45 mice, eight Mongolian gerbils, 15 geckos and many other species. The animals will stay in orbit approximately 357 miles above Earth. Scientists on the ground will monitor the animal’s health throughout the experiment. Nicole Rayl, project manager for NASA’s portion of the mission, told that “There has been a long history of this kind of biological research over the past 40 years, and NASA and the Russian side have been collaborating for that entire time, which is pretty remarkable. But each mission brings a unique focus, be it the actual duration of the mission or the specimens being flown down.”

The last time Russia decided to send animals into orbit was 17 years ago. The mission carried rhesus monkeys, geckos, and amphibians into orbit for 15 days. This new mission however, is the longest flight of its kind in the 40-year existence of Russia’s science program. When asked about this significance, Rayl said, “The unique nature of this mission is that it’s a 30-day mission, so it’s longer than a lot of the other animal and biological missions we’ve flown. The big importance for us is that we get to compare data from this longer mission with better analytical tools that we have today [compared] to the mission we’ve flown in the past that were similar but not exactly the same.”

The spacecraft carrying the animals will beam information about the health of the animals and the conditions inside the capsule. Scientists hope that by monitoring this information, they will be able to make predictions about the effects of long-term space travel on living things. One of the effects they are looking for specifically is the effect of microgravity and radiation on sperm motility in mice. Scientists believe that it is important to understand if people will be able to procreate in space.

Scientists will also be looking for the interactions of bodily systems while in space. “We often have very targeted scientific experiments where we have one investigator looking at say, “cardiovascular system function,” said Rayl. “[Bion-M1] is different because we have nine investigators [in] total looking at a whole organism approach to spaceflight.” After their month in orbit, the animals’ spacecraft will fall to Earth and scientists will run tests on the collected animals.

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