Prairie Post

5 things you absolutely must know today

1. Jason Collins becomes the first openly gay athlete in major American sports

In a first for major American sports, 12-year NBA veteran Jason Collins publicly announced he’s gay in this week’s edition of Sports Illustrated. As one might have expected, Collins’ statement was met with tons of support as well as responses from athletes who don’t seem to understand what it means to be gay, like this Tweet from Miami Dolphins receiver Mike Wallace:

“All these beautiful women in the world and guys wanna mess with other guys SMH…”

Though Collins’ announcement seems like it shouldn’t be such big news, it’s a milestone moment for professional sports in America. [Atlantic]

2. EU hopes to ban chemicals in pesticides to save bees

After a recent study by the European Food Safety Agency showed that some chemicals in pesticides pose a “high acute risk” to honey bees, the European Commission wants to ban all use of the chemicals. Critics have argued that there isn’t enough research to support the claim that the three neonicotinoids are damaging to bee populations, and that a moratorium of the sort proposed by the European Commission would be harmful to food production. Regardless, Europe will have to find a solution soon—bee populations have continued to drop and, according to EU Health Commissioner Tonio Borg, bees “contribute over 22 billion euros ($29 billion) annually to European agriculture.” [BBC]

3. Virgin Galactic completes their first rocket-powered flight

Virgin Galactic, the space tourism company owned by Richard Branson, broke the speed of sound yesterday with its first rocket-powered flight of Spaceship Two. Achieving a top speed of Mach 1.2, the 10-minute flight took the craft to a maximum altitude of over 16,000 metres, returning to Earth with a smooth landing in New Mexico. The company hopes to begin its space tourism program by late 2013 or early 2014. The trip, which will cost $200,000, will take a group of six people on a two and a half hour partial orbit of Earth, most of which will be zero gravity. [Atlantic, Virgin Galactic]

4. NASA releases images of massive storm on Saturn

NASA has given us another reason to not want to live on the planet Saturn. The Cassini spacecraft, which has been orbiting Saturn since 2004, recently captured images of a 2000 kilometre-wide storm on the northern pole of the planet. Scientists don’t know how long the storm has been brewing, but they say it’s been stuck at the pole for years. NASA says the clouds on the outer edge of the storm are traveling at 530 km/h or, for a completely useless comparison, as fast as a Top Fuel dragster. [NASA]

5. World Wide Web turns 20

Twenty years ago today, CERN published a statement that made World Wide Web available to the public. Though other systems used the internet at the time, World Wide Web made it possible for the average person to access information without first having to get a degree in computer programming. So what did the web look like when CERN started the project? Well, the first website was very simple and extremely boring—a far stretch from the mess of Tweets, porn, and comic sans conspiracy theories it would eventually become. Thanks CERN! [CERN]

Mark Schram grew up on a ranch in southwestern Manitoba and now writes out of Winnipeg. If you would like to offer him a job or ask him about how to pull a calf, you can contact him at