Inverse Daily: Here's the Latest on Tropical Storm Dorian

It’s the end of August, which means we’re deep in the heart of hurricane season. And right on schedule, Tropical Storm Dorian is moving toward the United States.

Hey everybody! This is Sarah from Inverse and this is Inverse Daily. Today we’re diving into the events and decisions that will shape tomorrow, so I hope y’all are ready for a sneak peak into the future.

That is, if I can get over the news of today. Did you guys see the trailer for The King? Looks like fall’s hottest accessory is going to be a bowl cut.

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”The full question should be, What can I do next?, and always next, because you’re never going to be done.”

— Mary Annaïse Heglar, climate justice essayist.

Ring of Fire

Since the beginning of August, a record number of forest fires has swept through the Amazon Rainforest in Brazil. This situation emerged from a deadly mixture of deforestation and negligent policy. It’s tricky to say what the solution will be: On Tuesday, Brazil’s government initially refused the $22 million world leaders offered as a means to combat the flames, then went back and basically said well maybe.

All of that political back-and-forth doesn’t change the fact that an Amazon in flames comes with serious repercussions, one of which is the release of carbon monoxide. You can see this release on Inverse: Stunning maps produced by NASA show a time lapse of the carbon monoxide output from the fires between August 8 and 22, and make clear that this is not an event that will singularly affect Brazil. NASA notes that while at a high altitude carbon monoxide has little effect on breathable air, but when it’s swept downward it plays a role in air pollution and climate change.

Examine the scope of the Amazon rainforest fires.

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Brace for Impact

It’s the end of August, which means we’re deep in the heart of hurricane season. And right on schedule, Tropical Storm Dorian is moving toward the United States and the Caribbean. It’s expected to reach Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic as a Category 1 hurricane this Wednesday and Thursday, and move towards the Bahamas and possibly southeastern mainland United States later this week in a weakened state.

A “tropical storm” is a generic term used to describe an organized system of clouds and thunderstorms that originate over tropical waters. What makes a storm a hurricane is where it’s located — if a tropical storm forms over the North Atlantic Ocean and Northeast Pacific, it’s a hurricane. Meanwhile, our categorical system links back something called the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale. If it’s a Category 1 that means there’s sustained winds that are measuring at 74 to 95 miles per hour. Curriently, Dorian isn’t expected to make it past that category — but as it’s flying by previously hurricane-afflicted places like Puerto Rico, recovery still might not be easy.

Get the latest on Tropical Storm Dorian here.

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Starhopper, Showstopper

On Tuesday in Boca Chica Beach, Texas, SpaceX’s “Starhopper” flew around 150 meters into the air in an impressive display of the company’s Raptor engines. The squat prototype rocket is designed to be a shorter version of the Starship, the vessel aimed at sending the first humans on a manned mission to Mars. From here, SpaceX is planning to send a larger prototype into the air that could reach up to 20 kilometers.

Tuesday’s launch follows a previous failed attempt the day before. “Starhopper”‘s Monday launch was stopped by an issue with the rocket’s spark plugs. Musk later explained that the ship suffered an issue due to bad wiring. As Tesla works to remove spark plugs and other parts of a combustion engine design from the world’s cars, it seems Musk can’t escape issues with the device. If androids dream of electric sheep, Musk definitely dreams about spark plugs.

Learn more about the test flight here.

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Musk Reads

Elon Musk is pushing the boundaries of where we can go and what we can do. Don’t miss a beat by signing up for Musk Reads, our newsletter about all things SpaceX, Tesla, and The Boring Company.

Sign up here.

Spread the Solar

Utah’s gearing up to flick the switch on one of the most ambitious solar energy projects ever. The Soleil Lofts project covers 600 apartment units, five megawatts of solar panels and 12.6 megawatt-hours of battery storage. A spokesperson for battery provider Sonnen describes it to Inverse as the world’s first residential apartment virtual power plant, and it’s set to become the latest such plant of its kind in the United States.

Virtual power plants could provide a more sustainable solution to the fossil-fueled energy grids of yesterday. Instead of a giant energy plant pumping out electricity to nearby residents, systems like the Sonnen project place panels on individuals’ roofs and allow communities to share the energy. There’s no single point of failure, the results are shared more efficiently, and it ensures a steady flow of power no matter the current state of the sun.

Learn about your friendly neighborhood solar schemes.

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Itch and Poke

Getting a tattoo is something that anyone from Otzi the Iceman to the Avengers considers checking off their bucket list. However, while new body art can be beautiful, it can sometimes come with an unwanted side-effect. It’s estimated that 10 percent of people tattooed suffer an adverse reaction like an allergy.

A study released Tuesday took a stab at explaining why. While previous research has demonstrated a link between certain ink colors and allergic reactions, this paper posits that, at times, people could be negatively responding to traces of metal that entered their body because of eroded needles. While subsequent studies examining this hypothesis are needed to say whether there’s a definitive connection, this team did find that when a needle encounters a specific white pigment used to make colors brighter it can suffer abrasions. In turn, worn down needles mean that chromium and nickel particles can enter the skin. That can ignite allergies — and means that BB-8 tattoo isn’t as cute as you thought it would be.

Find out why tattoos can affect your health.

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Today’s Good Thing

Today, that’s the work being done to protect the ocean. United Nations delegates are currently working to draft a new Global Ocean Treaty. The goal is that this treaty will help protect and preserve marine life in ocean areas that are beyond any sort of national jurisdiction. Meanwhile, Caribbean Island nations have signaled their own commitment to keeping the ocean pollution free with the implementation of a wide-ranging chemical and waste management program.

Meanwhile …

  • Not eating for 36 hours is shown to be a surprisingly sustainable diet, new study shows.
  • 5G is almost here, but based on research around Apple’s next iPhone, it seems the general public doesn’t know or care.
  • The latest Rise of Skywalker footage may confirm a major spoiler about Rey and Kylo.
  • Rise of Skywalker: Did this ominous space ship reveal actually confirm a rumor about a secret Sith Fleet?

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Meanwhile, I’ll be thinking about that time at Inverse when learned we descended from bags with teeth.