Wednesday's science stories

Bryan Walsh, author of Future
Apr 7, 2021 - Science

So much depends on the wobble of a muon

The Muon g-2 ring, at the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory in Batavia, Illinois. Photo: Reidar Hahn/Fermilab, via U.S. Department of Energy

The results of high-energy physics experiments released on Wednesday open the possibility that a tiny subatomic particle called a muon may act in ways that break the known laws of physics.

The big picture: The experimental work — while still far from conclusive — underscores the fact that science still has much to learn about the fundamental workings of the universe, and it points the way toward further breakthroughs.

British COVID test firm LumiraDx enters $5 billion SPAC deal

LumiraDx, a British diagnostics startup that makes COVID-19 tests, has agreed to merge with special purpose acquisition company (SPAC) CA Healthcare Acquisition Corp. in a deal valued at $5 billion, the companies announced Tuesday.

Details: LumiraDx has also secured a $300 million loan from BioPharma Credit and another $100 million from Capital One Financial, per the statement.

Cold snap caused most Texas outages during storm, grid operator says

The U.S. and Texas flags fly in front of high voltage transmission towers in Houston in February. Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Weather-related problems were the leading cause of Texas power plants going offline during February's record cold snap that left millions of Texans in the dark, a preliminary report published Tuesday states.

Why it matters: These initial findings from the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT), which manages the flow of electric power in the state, indicate that many facilities were unable to cope with the extreme weather.

Miriam Kramer, author of Space
Apr 6, 2021 - Science

NASA's InSight lander feels Mars quake beneath it

InSight on Mars. Photo: NASA/JPL-Caltech

NASA's InSight lander on Mars felt two relatively large quakes shake the Red Planet last month.

Why it matters: InSight uses these shakes on Mars — caused by volcanic activity — to learn more about the interior of the planet.

Miriam Kramer, author of Space
Apr 6, 2021 - Science

"Space Hero" wants to take us all to orbit

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

The developers of the reality TV show "Space Hero" want to make space cool.

Why it matters: As spaceflight opportunities open up to more people who aren't professional astronauts, the space industry — which is largely insular and elite — will need to find ways to make space travel appealing to the public.

Miriam Kramer, author of Space
Apr 6, 2021 - Science

Russia is dialing up its military space ambitions

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Russia is staging shows of military might in orbit as its civil and commercial space sector loses its longstanding edge.

Why it matters: These demonstrations threaten to undermine responsible behavior in space, and could put U.S. military — and possibly commercial — assets in orbit at risk.

Updated Apr 6, 2021 - World

New Zealand to open quarantine-free "travel bubble" with Australia

Australian Prime Minster Scott Morrison and New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern in Sydney, Australia, in February last year. Photo: James D. Morgan/Getty Images

New Zealand will open a quarantine-free "travel bubble" with Australia from 11:59pm on April 18, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced Tuesday.

Why it matters: New Zealand tourism industry official Chris Roberts and Michael Barnett, an NZ Chamber of Commerce director, told Axios the plan could serve as a model for other countries.

Apr 6, 2021 - Health

New Utah law requires fathers to pay half of pregnancy costs

Gov. Spencer Cox at Southern Utah University in March. Photo: Utah governor's office/Facebook

A new Utah law requires biological fathers to pay half of women's pregnancy expenses.

Why it matters: While states like New York and Wisconsin have similar financial provisions for pregnancies, "Utah appears to be the first state to mandate prenatal child support," AP notes.

Updated Apr 6, 2021 - Health

Montana governor tests positive for COVID

Montana Gov. Greg Gianforte in Livingston in 2018. Photo: William Campbell-Corbis via Getty Images)

Montana Gov. Greg Gianforte (R) on Monday tested positive for COVID-19 after experiencing mild symptoms a day earlier, his office said in a statement.

The big picture: Gianforte will be isolating for 10 days as a precaution, his office added. He received his first dose of the Pfizer vaccine last Thursday.