The Red & Black
November 2019 Issue

Voyager 2 Enters Intersellar Space

NASA scientists confirmed that Voyager 2 entered interstellar space on November 5, 2018. Recently, scientists released five papers documenting findings from each one of Voyager’s five working instruments. The instruments are designed to collect data on magnetic fields, a wide range of energetic particles, and plasma (gas made of charged particles). These findings detail the “cosmic shoreline” where the heliosphere ends and interstellar space begins (the heliosphere is the region of space filled by high-energy particles from our sun). As Voyager left the outer solar system, its instruments detected a sharp decline in particles originating from the sun and a sharp increase in cosmic rays.

The numbers proved that Voyager had left the solar system. Voyager 2 was the second spacecraft to exit the heliosphere, the region of space protected by our sun’s influence. Voyager 2’s sister spacecraft, Voyager 1, exited the heliosphere at a different location in 2012. However, neither spacecraft is completely in the clear: though they have left the heliosphere, both have yet to reach “undisturbed interstellar space” free from the influence of our sun. Scientists have combined and compared data from the two probes in order to learn more about both our sun behind them and the space ahead of them. For example, we have learned that the heliosphere acts like the hull of a ship sailing through space; however, the hull is a bit leaky and allows streams of the sun’s particles to escape. The sides of the ship are more porous than the front, where the sun is located and where the hottest and most compressed particles are. Outside of the ship, cooler particles are still bombarding Voyager. These “cooler” particles are still tens of thousands of degrees Celsius, but they are far more sparse than the particles spat out by our relatively violent sun.

The Voyager probes are humanity’s ambassadors to the stars. They were launched over 40 years ago to take images of and record data from the outer planets of our solar system. They were successful in this mission and continued operating far beyond their five-year lifespan. Each Voyager has a golden plated record with images, photos, and sounds of Earth. In addition, each record details Earth’s location relative to nearby stars. In the event that aliens find one of our probes, they will learn about us from these records. These Voyagers have served humanity for four decades; they still have several more years of life until they finally go dark.


What is Quid Pro Quo?

There have been three little words thrown around a lot as of late. They are a part of a Latin phrase that nobody seems to entirely understand. “Quid Pro Quo” seems like meaningless words in a dead language, but in reality, they may become the most important words spoken in the past decade. Enough talk, it's time for a lesson in Latin, history, and constitutional law!

For those who don’t take Latin, “Quid Pro Quo” directly translates to “something for something,” but the best explanation for the term is in the saying “if you scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours.” It’s a trade. That’s it… or is it? Well, yes. However, in the case of the impeachment inquiry, it could become incredibly important.

We currently know of two possibilities of a Quid Pro Quo. The first, and most famous, involves the July 25 phone call between President Trump and the Ukranian President, Volodymyr Zelensky. The deal was that Trump would unfreeze the $391 million in military aid to Ukraine if Zelensky opened an investigation into Vice President Joe Biden’s son, Hunter and another into Ukranian interference in the 2016 election. The second of these two cases was debunked by cybersecurity company CrowdStrike, the FBI, and other US intelligence agencies.

Quid Pro Quos come in many flavors, including bribery, extortion, and harassment cases. They are generally pretty obvious. If person A gives person B $50,000 to keep quiet about something illegal, that makes whatever Person A did even more illegal. This is where Trump withholding military aid comes in to play. In doing that, he asked the leader of a foreign nation to get dirt on the son of a presidential candidate in a bid to try and knock him out of contention. Finally, we’ll look at a proven example of a Quid Pro Quo. In 2018, New York Assemblyman, Sheldon Silver, awarded funds to a Columbia University cancer researcher and made millions off of it. This is a classic example of a Quid Pro Quo: Mr. Silver, a Manhattan Democrat, supported Mr. Taub’s research, and Mr. Taub, in return, sent clients to a law firm that gave Mr. Silver money. In conclusion, you can see that these three Latin words could become some of the most important in American history.