A scuba diver found a 900-year-old sword and ancient anchors off Israel's Carmel coast last week.
The iron sword is 3 feet long and weighs 11 pounds. It likely belonged to a knight from the Crusades.
The diver was wearing a GoPro camera, and Israeli authorities released video of his discovery.
Shlomi Katzin didn't expect anything out-of-the-ordinary during his dive along Israel's Carmel coast.
The amateur scuba enthusiast was exploring the area's waters on October 9 when he came across a giant sword, covered in shells and marine life, 13 feet under the Mediterranean waves.
The weapon was more than 3 feet long, with a foot-wide hilt. Nearby, Katzin also found giant metal and stone anchors and bits of pottery nestled in a 1,000 square-foot patch of sandy bottom.
Fearing that shifting sands might bury the treasure, the diver carried his finds up to the surface and immediately contacted the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA). Israel has a law dictating that any artifacts found in the country be handed over to the authorities.
The agency thinks that the sword, which is made of iron, dates back to the Crusades - religious wars between Christians and Muslims in the Middle East between the 11th and 13th centuries.
"The sword, which has been preserved in perfect condition, is a beautiful and rare find and evidently belonged to a Crusader knight," Nir Distelfeld, an inspector for the IAA's Robbery Prevention Unit, said in a press release on Monday. "It is exciting to encounter such a personal object, taking you 900 years back in time to a different era, with knights, armor, and swords."
During his dive, Katzin wore a GoPro camera, and so he was able to film his own discovery. The IAA shared some of that footage with Insider and posted the video on its Facebook page. In it, you can see Katzin pick up the sword off the seabed and uncover several anchors as nearby lionfish watch. His breathing punctuates discovery after discovery as he uses flippers to maneuver.
The agency awarded Katzin a certificate of appreciation for good citizenship for handing in the sword.
Storms, currents, and waves bury and unbury ancient treasures
Local archaeologists had already been monitoring the area where Katzin went diving, about 650 feet from shore, because that part of the Carmel coast offers a natural cove. Ships have moored since the Crusades, the IAA said, so it's a prime place to look for artifacts.
But fickle undercurrents and waves constantly bury and unbury ancient treasures like those Katzin found.
"Even the smallest storm moves the sand and reveals areas on the sea bed, meanwhile burying others," Kobi Sharvit, director of the IAA's marine archaeology unit, said in the release.
According to Sharvit, the anchors found near the sword could be far more ancient than the weapon - dating back to the Late Bronze Age, 4,000 years ago.
The layer of sand that hid the sword is likely the reason it's so well-preserved.
Being entombed under the seabed meant that the sword wasn't exposed to oxygen, Sharvit explained to CNN. That protected it from rust. Still, it was covered in shells and other bits of marine life - the weapon weighed at least 11 pounds when Katzin turned it in.
The sword itself, however, is likely only 4.4 pounds, Sharvit said.
A relic of the Crusades
The cove where Katzin found the weapon is a mile or so from what was once a Crusader fortress, Sharvit told CNN. That, coupled with the sword's large size and shape, is what led experts to conclude that it probably belonged a knight from the Crusades.
Between 1096 and 1291, the Roman Catholic Church and western European nations sent Christian armies to reclaim holy sites in cities like Jerusalem and Constantinople, which were under Muslim control. Some battles during the Third Crusade occurred near Israeli beaches, since England's Richard I traveled south along the Carmel coast toward Jaffa to fight Saladin, a Muslim sultan.
The sword is now being examined in the IAA's National Treasures Department. Once the weapon is sufficiently cleaned and studied, the agency said it would ensure the finding is displayed to the public.
But that changes if you reach 108, according to a mathematical modeling study published last month. After that, your chance of death plateaus to an even 50-50 each year.
"Think of it like a coin flip - when you reach 108, you flip a coin on your birthday. If comes up heads, you live to your next birthday. If it comes up tails, you die before turning 109," Anthony Davison, a statistician at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology who co-authored the study, told Insider. "And if you get to a subsequent birthday, your probability of dying doesn't change."
By that logic, Davison's team wrote, this "would imply that there is no limit to the human lifespan."
It's a controversial idea - one that has not, of course, been borne out by reality.
The longest a human has ever lived is 122 years, 5 months, and 14 days - a record set by Jeanne Calment in France in 1997. The medical and technological advances of the last quarter-century haven't led anyone to pass that threshold, despite what statistical models suggest is possible. And although a human's average life expectancy has increased by decades in the last 100 years or so, our maximum life span hasn't shifted anywhere near as significantly.
Many biologists think extending human life to that degree is currently impossible. But they have long butted heads with mathematicians over the question of how much time we get on Earth.
Your chance of making it to 130 is less than one in 1 million
To come up with their numbers, Davison's team looked at mortality data from people who reached or passed age 105, including 1,100 supercentenarians (people age 110 or older), across a dozen European countries, Canada, and the US.
They found that fewer men reached these ages than women - the ratio was one man to every 10 women. But the 50-50 chance of survival was about the same across genders and geographic locations once people reached 108.
Still, even Davison said his results don't mean people can live forever. There's a catch to the coin toss: The population of people over 108 gets halved every year. So if 1,000 supercentenarians flip their coins, on average, 500 will die. Then 250 of those remaining will die the following year.
By extrapolating that math, Davison's group concluded that a person's chance of making it to 130 is less than one in 1 million.
Brandon Milholland, a geneticist at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine who was not involved in the study, told Insider that while it's statistically possible to live to any age, the probability is so exceedingly small that it doesn't make sense to assert there's no limit to the human life span.
In that sense, he said, the new study makes "a mountain out of a molehill."
"Someone could even live to 1,000, but the probability of that is one in 1 quintillion," Milholland added. (If all the humans who have ever lived in the history of the species were totaled up, we'd still fall short of 1 quintillion.)
Think of life like a log flume ride
Biologists assert that our bodies eventually reach a point after which the next disease or illness we get will kill us - that's our maximum life span.
Andrei Gudkov, chair of cell stress biology at Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center in Buffalo, New York, said that in order to calculate that maximum, experts look at the body's resilience. That's its ability to return to normal functioning after an illness or biological stressor.
Think of your life like a boat on a log flume ride - except the walls meant to keep the boat from falling out of the water get progressively shorter as the ride progresses. Those walls represent your body's resilience, which typically declines as you age. Imagine illness, then, as a force that pushes the boat toward the walls. At the beginning of your life, when the walls are high, your boat stays on track. But as you get older, those walls shorten, and the same pushes eventually force the boat over the edge and off the ride.
"When you reach the place where resilience goes to zero, even a small disease will make this final drop happen," Gudkov told Insider. "You can die from anything."
Resilience declines with age because as our cells duplicate over our lifetimes, they collect mutations. Eventually, those mutations render a cell incapable of functioning correctly.
But the precise limit of our species' maximum life span remains up for debate. A 2016 study suggested the upper end is 150, though research from Milholland's group the same year suggested an age closer to 125.
The new study's results, meanwhile, suggest that someone should be able to beat Calment's record by at least eight years.
"It is implausible that any upper limit to the human lifespan is below 130 years or so," the authors wrote.
Léo Raymond-Belzile, one of Davison's co-authors, told Insider that he "could see Joan's life record being broken in my lifetime."
'You've maxed out your chance of death'
The new study also brings up another hotly debated topic among aging experts: whether our risk of death ever flatlines.
A mathematical model from the 19th century, called the Gompertz equation, showed that a person's mortality risk increases exponentially as they age - that's how health insurance companies calculate premiums.
But Davison's study refutes that idea. His group's calculation instead suggests that after you reach 108, "you've maxed out your chance of death," as Richard Faragher, a biogerentologist from the University of Brighton, put it.
Faragher, who was not involved in the study, added, though, that "it's a poor comfort because your chance of dying remains so high."
"Even if such plateaus exist, they are not even compelling evidence that there is no limit to lifespan," he said.
One thing aging experts do agree on is that while average life expectancy has increased, there hasn't been a corresponding increase in our maximum life span.
"That means even if we're treating all age-related diseases, we still die from something that's ticking in us," Gudkov said.
However Raymond-Belzile suggested that, eventually, increasing life expectancies could change the known maximum age. That's because if enough people become supercentenarians, the chance that one of them lives beyond 122 also increases.
"The more people who play the game, the more chance that someone will be a lucky winner," he said.
When sawfly larvae are threatened by predators like ants, they emit a cocktail of nasty smells to defend themselves. These secretions can irritate a potential foe's antennae or nose.
Scientists wanting to study these smelly compounds - to understand which aspects of them deter predators, say, and why - face numerous challenges. Orchestrating meetups between sawflies, a wasp-like insect, and ants in the lab is expensive and logistically difficult. There's also a very limited amount of the insects' secretions.
So two researchers in Brussels took a different approach: They converted the chemical defenses of 16 sawfly species into sound using a synthesizer in order to study those instead.
The results of that process, known as sonification, are anything but pleasant to the human ear, according to a study published last week in the journal Patterns. The researchers played the sounds for people, and found that they disliked them as much as ants hate the odors.
"By listening to them for the first time, I rather imagined them like some short and intriguing 'space sounds,'" Jean-Luc Boevé, an entomologist from the Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences and co-author of the study, told Insider.
Take a listen. This is the sound of the chemical defense of one particular sawfly species, the Birch sawfly or Craesus septentrionalis. It's reminiscent of a haunted house soundtrack.
Boevé's research primarily focuses on direct analyses of the chemicals sawflies emit when threatened, but on the side, he's an amateur musician and composer. That's in part why he decided to try the sound approach - he first conceived of the idea in 2009.
"To be honest, I considered the sonification project so far-fetched myself that I set the project aside, sometimes for several months," he said in a press release.
But once Boevé and his co-author, Rudi Giot, finally got started on it, they chose 16 sawfly species' secretions to translate into sound. First, they parsed out which molecules were present in each smelly cocktail and in what amounts. Then they assigned various characteristics of those molecules - like their weight - a corresponding pitch, duration, and tone quality.
For example, smaller molecules like the acetic acid found in vinegar evaporate quickly, so Boevé and Giot assigned them high-pitched sounds. Larger molecules were given lower-pitched sounds. In total, the scientists created individual audio profiles for 20 molecules.
The sound below, for example, is of a dolichodial molecule, a compound also found in essential oils.
They then combined the sounds of each molecule present in a sawfly's chemical odor to construct the insect's soundtrack. If a molecule was highly concentrated in the insect's secretion, they assigned it a louder volume.
Boevé said he hopes the sonification process will give entomologists like him a new way to compare sawflies' chemical defenses with those from other insects. It may also offer researchers clues about which molecules repel predators most.
Unpleasant, scary sounds for humans
To test out the audio clips they created, Boevé and Giot examined people's reactions to the sounds and compared them to ants' reactions to the original scents.
They played the 16 secretion soundtracks, as well as the 20 molecule sounds, through speakers to about 50 study participants. Then the scientists measured how far people backed up to get to a "comfortable position" away from the noise.
Most of the study volunteers told Boevé and Giot that the high-pitched aspects of the soundtracks, as well as the volume, were what made them retreat. They described the sounds as unpleasant, even scary.
"Both test organisms literally moved away from a chemical versus audio source," the study authors wrote.
In other words, humans' reactions to the sounds resembled ants' responses to the odors.
"The correlation was a major surprise," Boevé said.
People in northern parts of the US should check out the sky on Monday night - there's a chance you'll see the northern lights.
Usually, the aurora borealis sticks close to Earth's magnetic north pole, in the Arctic. But during geomagnetic storms, the sun sends out an increased amount of energy and charged particles, which bombards Earth's magnetic field. That can lead the aurora to drift south.
To find out whether the lights could be visible where you live, NOAA's aurora forecast gives real-time updates about how far south the aurora borealis will be visible in the northern hemisphere. It also notes how far north its counterpart - the aurora australis, or southern lights - can be spotted in the southern hemisphere.
The best time to spot the northern lights is between 9 p.m. and 3 a.m. local time; head to a dark area away from city lights.
The northern lights are usually only seen in what's known as the auroral zone, or aurora oval - an area between 60 degrees and 75 degrees north latitude. They're mostly spotted in the winter, since this zone gets almost 24 hours of daylight between April and August. (Astronauts on the International Space Station, however, are often treated to spectacular views of the aurora.)
Storms like the one predicted for Monday expand that zone to latitudes farther south.
Both the northern and southern lights usually look like green ribbons in the sky, though they're occasionally peppered with red, pink, or blue hues. The phenomenon is the result of charged particles from the sun striking our planet. These get channeled to the poles by the Earth's magnetic field, where they interacting with particles in our atmosphere.
While some amount of this solar wind always floods the planet's atmosphere, sometimes the sun burps out an unusual surge of particles and super-hot plasma, known as a coronal mass ejection.
These geomagnetic storms can mess with the operations of satellites and electric infrastructure on the ground. The more solar wind interacts with our magnetic field, the stronger the potential impact. On Monday, NOAA predicts weak fluctuations in power grids and a minor impact on satellite orientations are possible.
NOAA rates geomagnetic storms on a scale of one to five, based on how much disturbance they cause. One is a minor storm that only slightly impacts satellites, while five is a major event that could cause widespread blackouts and damage electrical transformers.
Monday's storm is rated a two. About 600 of these storms occur every 11 years.
The higher the category, the farther south the aurora gets pushed. A storm rated five could lead people as far south as Florida and Texas to glimpse the northern lights.
Ole Ginnerup Schytzlast had never used a metal detector before. He first gave it a shot on a former classmate's land in Vindelev, Denmark in December.
Within hours of turning his detector on, Schytzlast stumbled across one of the largest treasure hoards ever found in the country.
"Well, that's the epitome of improbable luck," the rookie detectorist said in an interview with Danish outlet TV Syd earlier this month. "Denmark is 43,000 square kilometers, and then I happen to choose to put the detector exactly where this find was."
Over the last nine months, archaeologists from the Vejle Museums have carefully excavated Schytzlast's find. They've uncovered more than 22 golden medallions, coins, and pieces of jewelry that date back at least 1,500 years.
Added up, that's more than two pounds' worth of gold. So whoever buried the hoard was wealthy and powerful.
"Only a member of the absolute cream of society would have been able to collect a treasure like the one found here," Mads Ravn, head of research at Vejle Museums, said in a statement announcing the finding to the public earlier this month.
Ravn and his colleagues think the gold most likely belonged to an Iron Age chieftain who attracted skilled artisans to the area.
Medallions the size of saucers
Schytzlast didn't initially recognize the collection of gold - nicknamed the "Vindelev hoard," after where it was found - for what it was.
The first artifact he discovered resembled a small piece of bent metal, he told TV Syd.
"It was full of scratches and covered in mud," he said. "I had no idea, so all I could think of was that it looked like the lid of a can of herring."
But then he sent a photo of one of his finds to the Vejle Museums nearby, where Ravn took a look. The researcher told CNN that he nearly fell out of his chair.
"I told him he might as well just sell the detector now because he already peaked," Ravn said. "It doesn't get better."
Ravn sent archaeologists to the site, where they found numerous decorated medallions the size of saucers. These medallions, which are thicker than coins, are called bracteates.
They also uncovered bracelets, coins, and coins that had been made into pendants.
Possible ties to the Norse god Odin
The hoard dates back to the mid-6th century - suggesting an Iron Age society occupied the area before the Vikings arrived a few centuries later. Some of the pieces had embossed symbols that museum archaeologists didn't recognize.
Two pieces of gold in particular caught experts' eyes.
One bracteate depicts a braided man surrounded by a horse and a bird, with which the man seems to be communicating. Above his head are runes that roughly translate to "houar," or "the high one."
According to Ravn's team, the term could refer to the chieftain who buried the treasure. Myths also associate "houar" with Odin, the Norse god of wisdom and warfare.
Another coin depicts the Roman emperor Constantine the Great, who ruled almost 1,700 years ago. So the coin's presence in the hoard suggests people in this Iron Age group traded with other societies.
Burying gold to appease the gods
Experts aren't sure why the chieftain buried so much gold.
It's possible he hid the treasure to keep it safe from invaders during war. But more likely, Ravn said, the hoard was an offering.
A 2015 study found evidence that an ash cloud from a large volcanic eruption in 536 AD cooled the Scandinavian climate, causing crop failures and resulting in widespread famine. That's right around the time the hoard was buried. Archaeologists have also found other gold hoards in the nearby area that date to the time period following the eruption. Together, this suggests Denmark's occupants during the late Iron Age may have buried gold as a means of appeasing their gods during a chaotic time, according to museum experts.
The Vejle Museums in Jutland will exhibit the unprecedented find starting in February 2022.
While calls for mass insect murder may seem unnecessarily vicious, they're critical to stopping the spotted lanternflies' spread, according to Julie Urban, an entomologist at Pennsylvania State University.
"If you don't feel comfortably violently killing it, stick it in a container or plastic bag and throw it in the freezer," Urban told Insider. "Otherwise you might transport it."
Adult lanternflies hitchhike on clothing and in cars, and large masses of their eggs can be found on any smooth surface, including trees, buildings, and shipping containers.
While they're not harmful to people - these insects don't sting or bite - spotted lanternflies are a pernicious invasive species that prey on 70 different species of trees and plants, and can spell doom for grape vineyards and apple orchards.
Fast-spreading sap vampires
Spotted lanternflies are native to southeast Asia, originally found in India, China, and Vietnam.
But about seven years ago, they hitched a ride across the Pacific Ocean in shipping containers. The pests likely made their way to North America on slabs of cut marble, Frank Hale, a horticulturalist at the University of Tennessee, told Insider.
"The eggs remain dormant over the winter until they hatch out in the spring," Hale said, adding that the rows of eggs look like smears of dried mud.
People in Berks County, Pennsylvania, noticed the first spotted lanternflies ever found in the US in 2014.
As of July, residents in New Jersey, New York, Maryland, Delaware, Virginia, Connecticut, Ohio, and Indiana have reported seeing lanternflies, Hale reported in The Conversation. Last month, the pests sparked a federal investigation in Kansas when a boy displayed a lanternfly carcass at the state fair's insect exhibition.
Between July and December every year, lanternfly nymphs mature into adults, which not only spread out to feed but also immediately lay eggs that will become the next year's brood.
Adult spotted lanternflies, known as Lycorma delicatula, are sap eaters. They pierce the bark of trees and vines with their straw-like mouth, called a proboscis, and suck out the nutritious sap inside.
But the removal of all those nutrients can stress out the plant, Hale said, especially if a single tree gets overwhelmed by a multitude of lanternflies.
"The trees use that energy to eventually make new leaves in the spring," he said. "If the plant doesn't store enough nutrients over the winter, then it could die."
Grapes, apples, and hardwood trees are particularly vulnerable to lanternflies.
What's more, the pests release a sticky residue known as "honeydew" onto bark and leaves when they feed. The coating can promote the growth of fungus or black mold, and block out the sunlight plants need to survive.
Using parasitic wasps to target lanternflies
Urban said she's heard of people using flamethrowers or salt pellet guns to exterminate a spotted lanternfly infestation. But her group at Penn State is working with the US Department of Agriculture to develop more effective ways of targeting the invasive species.
"It's not one silver bullet," she said.
The most promising ways of killing the pests "involve their natural enemies," she added.
Urban's group is looking into using two types of parasitic wasps - one that targets lanternfly eggs and another that attacks nymphs - to bring the pests under control.
Insecticides and pesticides are also useful, she said, though these methods can cause harm to other insects like butterflies and bees.
"The thing that's concerning is we don't want people applying pesticides everywhere," she said. "We don't want people to preventatively treat their trees before they see the threat."
Hale said he thinks it's too late to eradicate the lanternflies from the US, but a combination of insecticides and other biological controls could stop their future movement westward and north into Canada.
"They could spread across the continent if we don't do enough," he said, adding, "We're probably always going to have them in North America."
Billionaire Jared Isaacman chartered the flight from SpaceX and is both footing the bill and commanding the spaceship. He gave the other seats to Hayley Arceneaux, who survived bone cancer as a child and now works at St. Jude Children's Research Hospital; Chris Sembroski, an Air Force veteran who works for Lockheed Martin; and Dr. Sian Proctor, a geoscientist who serves as an analogue astronaut in simulations of long-term Mars missions.
SpaceX has tried to anticipate and plan for anything that could go wrong, according to Axios space reporter Miriam Kramer.
"They also have to prepare for worst-case scenarios like someone on the crew becoming a danger to themselves or others," Kramer reported on Axios' "How It Happened" podcast last week. "There are zip ties and medication on board in case somebody needs to be sedated."
'Nobody's gonna snap that way'
Spaceflight confines astronauts to a small space for days, weeks, or even months with the same few people. They can't shower or use the bathroom the way they're used to. They strap in to sleep. In orbit, their sinus cavities fill with fluids, like having a constant cold. They miss their family and friends. And if something goes wrong, they may fear for their lives.
So keeping equipment on a spacecraft to help subdue a crew member in case of emergency isn't a new idea.
NASA has a plan in place if astronauts on the International Space Station or traveling into orbit become violent or suicidal.
The agency did not respond to Insider's request for comment.
To alleviate the small chance that a crew member has an unexpected mental-health episode in space, like experiencing psychosis, NASA astronauts undergo extensive psychological assessments and check-ins before they launch to the ISS.
It's not clear what kind of assessments the Inspiration4 crew did. None of them have ever traveled to orbit, but they don't seem worried about the unlikely possibility that one of their fellow space tourists is going to lose it.
"Nobody's gonna snap that way, at least not that we've seen to date," Sembroski told Kramer on the podcast. "This is literally just, 'Ok, we have this equipment on board, well it's for that less than 1% chance of somebody needing a little bit of extra support just to maintain the safety of the crew.'"
Proctor, at least, has experienced some of the loneliness and isolation of being an astronaut before - during her participation in weeks-long simulations of moon and Mars missions.
"Sometimes, you know, there's a crew member you may want to kick out," she said in a press briefing on Tuesday. But she added that when the Inspiration4 crew ran a 30-hour flight simulation together, "there wasn't any of that."
"We lived together, we operated together, we had fun together," she continued. "And it got me so excited for when we do it up on orbit."
5 months of training to be a space tourist
To prepare for their mission, the Inspiration4 crew studied manuals, completed a program based largely on NASA's astronaut training, and hiked Mount Rainier together. They learned about the many parts of the Falcon 9 rocket and Crew Dragon spaceship, how everything works, and what can go wrong.
"We have like 3,000 pages across 100 different manuals. It was a lot. I don't think any of us really predicted that," Isaacman previously told Insider.
Isaacman has spent thousands of hours flying jets and ex-military aircraft, yet he said the training was still "more intense" than he expected, he said.
"I definitely underestimated it to some extent," he added.
As part of the training, the crew members used a centrifuge to mimic the feeling of a rocket launch. The machine has an effect akin to a spinning carnival ride that presses you against a wall. The group also took a parabolic flight, during which a plane flies in arcs up and down to create up to 30 seconds of weightlessness at a time.
Isaacman and Proctor did fighter-jet training in Montana to brush up on their piloting skills, and the team spent time in a high-altitude chamber to experience the symptoms of oxygen deprivation, which could happen if the capsule loses cabin pressure.
Then in August, the group did their 30-hour simulation. Inside a Crew Dragon, they practiced a launch, ate a meal, and slept. Then they had to handle a hypothetical landing scenario in which they encountered problems with their navigation, flight computer, and communication systems.
Isaacman said he thinks the group's experience climbing Mount Rainier, a 14,410-foot active volcano covered in glaciers, will also prove useful during their spaceflight.
"They built some mental toughness. They got comfortable being uncomfortable, which is pretty important," he said. "Food sucks on the mountain. Temperatures can suck on the mountain. Well, that's no different than Dragon."
Unvaccinated Americans are 11 times more likely to die and 10 times more likely to be hospitalized from COVID-19 than people who are fully vaccinated, a new study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention revealed Friday.
But despite these elevated risks, nearly 1 in 5 US adults remains unwilling to get vaccinated.
A recent survey by Morning Consult, an intelligence company that specializes in online survey research, found that 17% of US adults don't intend to get COVID-19 shots, and another 10% aren't sure if they will get vaccinated - meaning more than one-quarter of Americans are vaccine hesitant.
The US has the second highest vaccine hesitancy rate out of 15 high-income countries, according to Morning Consult's analysis.
Russia has the highest rate, as shown in the chart below - 28% of residents there are unwilling to get their shots, and another 15% aren't sure if they will get vaccinated.
The analysis is based on at least 50,000 interviews with adults in the US and 14 other countries conducted between August 31 and September 6. The company asked respondents if they had been vaccinated, then gave them four different response options: "Yes," "No, but I will get it in the future," "No, and I am not sure if I will get it in the future," or "No, and I do not plan to get it."
Another chart by Our World In Data suggests a similar ranking: As of August 15, the US had a higher rate of vaccine hesitancy than 13 other high-income nations, according to that data. (The ranking does not include Russia.)
Vaccine hesitancy has been higher in the US throughout the pandemic
High levels of COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy isn't a new phenomenon in the US.
A February analysis found that vaccine acceptance rates in Southeast Asian countries like Malaysia, Indonesia, and China - which ranged between 91% and 93% - were nearly double the rates in Italy, Russia, Poland, the US, and France, which averaged 56%. The analysis examined surveys conducted across 33 different countries in December 2020, when vaccines weren't widely available.
A July study also revealed that COVID-19 vaccine acceptance rates were lower in the US and Russia than in less wealthy countries. On average, the vaccine acceptance rate across 10 low- and middle-income countries - Colombia, India, Nepal, Pakistan, and six African nations - was more than 80%. But the average acceptance rates in the US and Russia were 65% and 30%, respectively.
Concerns over side effects drives hesitancy in the US
About 54% of Americans are fully vaccinated as of Friday, up from 48% in mid-July, according to the Mayo Clinic.
In general, concerns over vaccine-related side effects and worry that vaccine clinical trials moved too fast are the top two drivers of vaccine hesitancy across all 15 countries, the Morning Consult survey found.
That said, the percentage of surveyed Americans who are unwilling to get vaccinated has been slowly decreasing since mid-March, when Morning Consult first started polling US adults.
Between March 10 and April 19, the percentage of those surveyed who were unwilling to get vaccinated hovered between 20% and 21%. By mid-July, that figure was 19%. By early September, it had dropped to 17% - meaning about one-fifth of formerly unwilling Americans had changed their minds in the last six months.
However, vaccine hesitancy dropped about twice as fast, on average, in the 14 other high-income countries included in the survey.
Imagine running about the length of a football field in 17 seconds - then doing that 422 times in a row. That's what it takes to run a marathon in under two hours.
Eliud Kipchoge, a two-time gold medal marathoner from Kenya, is the only person ever to achieve the feat. Two years ago, he ran 26.2 miles in 1 hour, 59 minutes, and 40 seconds.
A new documentary, "Kipchoge: The Last Milestone," explores how he did it. The event, called the Ineos 1:59 Challenge marathon and held in Vienna, Austria, was optimized to help him succeed - so much so that the international governing body of track and field didn't count it as a new record.
Kipchoge said he could not have run that fast without the dozens of people who helped him before and during the event.
"Teamwork, which I saw in Vienna in 2019, is extremely rare and good and that's why I performed well," he told Insider.
Kipchoge credited an international group of 41 runners who trained with him ahead of the race and served as a phalanx of pacers during the marathon. He also ran on a very flat course, in a Nike shoe designed to be more energetically efficient. A team also paid impeccable attention to his nutrition.
"It's not about me alone," Kipchoge said.
After failing once, Kipchoge was nervous
For the world's best male marathoner, the Vienna marathon offered redemption.
He had tried to run a sub-2-hour marathon on a Formula One track in Monza, Italy in 2017, but fell 26 seconds short. According to the new documentary, humid weather, a lack of sufficient carbohydrates ahead of the race, and the absence of a supportive crowd scuttled Kipchoge's effort.
"Failure is part of the challenge you encounter as an athlete," he said.
So he was nervous to try agin.
"The night before, I woke after 2 o'clock but I didn't sleep again," he says in the documentary, adding, "The pressure is really huge."
Kipchoge didn't talk to anybody the morning of the Ineos marathon. Then he gathered his initial group of pacers and they ran together to the starting line.
The documentary shows Kipchoge pause briefly after the starting gun, then get to work.
Immediately, his coach Patrick Sang knew this time would be different.
"When it started, it was beautiful," Sang says in the film."As a coach, you look at the body language. I saw the eyes of Eliud in the camera, he was very focused and relaxed."
Kipchoge said that's because he was more confident in his training: "What makes my mind to be more relaxed is the culmination of training for four or five months."
Half a million people across 196 countries tuned into the live broadcast.
The perfect track and a flock of pacers
Ineos, the UK-based petrochemical company that sponsored Kipchoge's second attempt, selected Prater Park in Vienna because it offered a route that has a 2.7-mile straightaway with roundabouts on either end. Minimizing curves was crucial, since they require runners to exert more energy than sprinting straight. And the entire route had just 8 feet of incline.
Event organizers transformed the two roundabouts into banked turns by repouring the asphalt in those parts of the course. That made them titled at an angle, a change that saved Kipchoge 12 seconds, according to the documentary.
Additionally, a team of researchers including Spencer Barden, an consultant for British Athletics, ran computer simulations and tests inside a wind tunnel to determine the optimal formation for Kipchoge's pacesetters.
In 2017, the pacers ran ahead of him in a V pattern, like geese in flight. But in Vienna, Kipchoge's team formed a Y to minimize air resistance, with five runners in front of him and two at his heels. The runners in that mobile shield rotated about every 11 minutes. The pacers knew where to run thanks to laser beams projected behind a pacing car that drove 50 feet in front of the flock. The car showed Kipchoge his time for every kilometer.
"My job was just to follow the formation," Kipchoge says in the film.
The pacers reduced Kipchoge's drag by about 83%. Ross Tucker, a sports scientist who consults for World Rugby, suggested the pacers and car combo saved Kipchoge two minutes.
He wore specialized Nike shoes, and nutritionists tracked his water and carbs
The Ineos organizers even tried to get the best weather for Kipchoge: Meteorology experts looked at Vienna's temperature, humidity, wind, and precipitation forecasts before picking October 12, 2019.
Then three days ahead of the race, Kipchoge's nutritionists put on a carb-loading diet. During the marathon, cyclists passed Kipchoge drinks and energy gels. In real time, nutritionists measured how much fuel Kipchoge consumed as he ran and modulated his subsequent intake accordingly.
After Prince Harry told Oprah Winfrey that climate change and mental health are two of the "most important issues facing the world today," the New York Post threw the words back at him. In a story earlier this week, the Post reported that the "double-talking dilettante" had taken a private plane from Colorado to California.
London mayor Sadiq Khan, an anti-pollution advocate, got similar treatment from The Sun, another Murdoch-owned publication, for flying 32,000 miles between 2016 and 2019 and purchasing 4.3 million paper towels in a year.
According to Michael Mann, an atmospheric science professor at Pennsylvania State University, these types of stories are part of a larger strategy: Groups that support the continued use of fossil fuels have increasingly begun to point out climate advocates' seemingly hypocritical behavior, rather than denying that climate change is real. It's one of many new strategies the fossil-fuel industry has adopted, according to Mann's latest book "The New Climate War."
Mann told Insider that in his view, "2009-2010 was the last hurrah for good old fashioned climate-change denialism." By 2019, 62% of Americans agreed that climate change was affecting their day-to-day lives.
"It's beyond not being able to deny the science," he said. "It's now a matter of having to deny reality."
So instead of hammering the "climate change isn't happening" message, the fossil-fuel industry now seems to be fostering finger-pointing and infighting among environmentalists. That siphons time and attention away from efforts to bring about systemic changes to cut emissions - policies like carbon taxes, incentives for renewable energy, or restrictions on fossil-fuel infrastructure.
"What better way to discredit thought leaders and key messengers than to tar them as hypocrites based on accusations that they don't walk the walk?" Mann said.
'Mr. Global Warming?'
Leonardo DiCaprio, Al Gore, and Barack Obama have all been targets of this "climate hypocrisy" line of attack.
DiCaprio started a multi-million dollar environmental conservation fund and used his 2016 Oscars speech to talk about the climate crisis. But when he flew from France to New York in a private jet to accept an environmental award later that year, the headlines followed.
"Hollywood hypocrite's global warming sermon," the Herald Sun's read. (The Herald Sun also belongs to Murdoch's news empire.) The New York Post called DiCaprio a "megapolluter" and "Mr. Global Warming," and suggested that the actor's flight "expanded his carbon footprint by 8,000 miles in about 24 hours."
Gore, meanwhile, is known for the 2006 documentary "An Inconvenient Truth." But after he starred in a sequel to the film in 2017, an op-ed in The Daily Caller suggested that Gore's home devoured 34 times more energy than the average US household. The Daily Caller, founded by Tucker Carlson, received $3.5 million in funding from the Koch Family Foundations and the Charles Koch Institute in the last decade. According to Greenpeace, the Koch brothers spent $15 million to finance 90 groups that attacked climate science and policy between 1997 and 2018.
The Daily Caller piece was written by Drew Johnson, founder of the Beacon Center of Tennessee, a libertarian think tank. Johnson was, for the most part, doubling down on a tactic that had worked for him a decade earlier.
"He tells other people how to live and he's not following his own rules," Johnsen told ABC in 2007, after the center published a report describing how Gore's 20-room home used 20 times as much electricity as the average American house.
The criticism of Obama came in 2019, when an op-ed in the Hill blasted him for buying a house in Martha's Vineyard. Purchasing ocean-front property, the piece argued, suggests one isn't actually worried about sea-level rise. The article was written by Katie Pavlich, an alumna of the Young Americans' Foundation - an outreach organization of the conservative movement with financial ties to the Koch Brothers.
"If the former president is truly concerned about sea levels rising as a result of climate change," Pavlich wrote, "his latest real estate purchase places doubts on his sincerity."
That type of argument, Mann said, directs attention away from the companies emitting the carbon that contributes to sea-level rise.
"It would be funny if it weren't so pernicious," he added.
Shaz Attari, a climate-communications researcher at Indiana University Bloomington, thinks this new tactic is working. Her research suggests that scientists and communicators with large carbon footprints have less credibility than those with reduced carbon consumption, and that people are more likely to support policies or recommendations if the leader promoting them has a small carbon footprint.
"When it comes to message uptake, advocates are judged for inconsistency between their behavior and advocacy," Attari told Insider. "This judgement is dominated by flying or home energy consumption."
Attari said she even once gave a talk in New York City about reducing personal energy use, and someone in the audience asked: "Hey, you flew to this meeting - why should I listen to what you say?"
"The tactic of carbon shaming is quite an effective way of inciting infighting among climate advocates," Mann said. "There are armies of bots and trolls deployed to generate these arguments online of, 'Why do you fly?' 'Why aren't you a vegan?'"
Mark Maslin, an Earth science researcher at the University College London, told Insider that "attacking the messenger has always been part and parcel" of fossil-fuel interests' strategy to counter environmental movements.
What's changed, he said, is the tenor of these attacks, which Maslin says have escalated into a vicious pageantry of "climate sadism."
Take, for example, the backlash against Greta Thunberg. The teenage activist is a difficult target for the hypocrisy argument, since she doesn't eat meat or fly. One staff member at the Heartland Institute, a Koch-funded think tank, did point out that the boat Thunberg once used to cross the Atlantic was made of plastic, but for the most part, conservatives and anti-environmentalists have chosen to target Thunberg's personality instead.
Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro called her a "little brat" in 2019. Donald Trump said she had an "anger management problem."
"The blowback is directly related to the impact you're having," Kristen Cobb, a climate scientist from Georgia Tech, told Insider. Thunberg's movement, she added, was "striking a nerve with every single human on the planet at that point."
The Heartland Institute even briefly worked with the German anti-environmental group EIKE to hire a German teenager, Naomi Seibt, to fashion herself as an antithesis to Thunberg.
"Many people believe I'm being pushed as an 'Anti-Greta,'" Seibt told Insider last year.
"It's wrong to look up to her as a climate puppet and symbol," Seibt said of Thunberg, adding, "I don't want people to panic about the world ending."
"The Anti-Greta just shows how cynical they are," Mann said, adding, "they think it's all a shell game about distraction and deception - that's what they've got left."
In Prince Harry's case, reports about his plane flights do seem to have discredited the prince's climate agenda. A recent Newsweek poll in the UK found that 66% of respondents viewed the prince as "hypocritical on air travel." But the number most stories about Harry's trip left out is the US's total emissions from fossil fuels: 4,853 million metric tons of carbon in 2019 alone.
Harry's private flight from Aspen to Santa Barbara, meanwhile, emitted at most 9 metric tons of carbon dioxide.