This Week in the News (17th-24th February)
The Munich Security Conference
The 53rd edition of the annual Munich Security Conference took place between 17th and 19th February at the Bayerischer Hof hotel in the Bavarian capital. As the largest independent platform in the field, the international conference brought together over 500 high-ranking participants, among them 6 heads of state, 15 government leaders, 47 foreign ministers, 30 defence ministers, 59 representatives from international organizations and 65 business leaders, according to the Deutsche Welle. The event revolved around the theme “Post-Truth, Post-West, Post-Order?”, and featured panel discussions on current security issues such as the future of NATO and that of the West, terrorism and the situation in Syria. The officials who took the floor during the conference included the German chancellor Angela Merkel, US Vice-President Michael Pence, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg, UN leader Antonio Guterres and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov.
In Munich, a question which had been on everybody’s mind since the election of Donald Trump as the new President of the United States finally received a clearer answer as the American Vice-President Michael Pence assured those present at the conference and the entire world that the USA is committed to maintaining its cooperation with its partners within the framework of NATO, in this way indicating a change in President Trump’s views on the organisation which he had previously described as obsolete. However, Pence also stressed the need for a greater contribution of the NATO member states through increases in the amounts of funding allocated to defence.
A further achievement of the meetings in Munich was the renewal of a truce between the separatists backed by Russia and the Ukrainian army, which was brokered by Russian, Ukrainian German and French authorities attending the conference.
high-ranking = hochrangig
heads of state = Staatsoberhäupter
foreign ministers = Außenminister
defence ministers = Verteidigungsminister
representatives = Abgeordneten
to revolve around sth = sich um etw drehen
to take the floor = das Wort ergreifen
on one’s mind = auf dem Herzen
committed to do sth = sich verschreiben, etw zu tun
to maintain = aufrechterhalten
to stress = betonen
to allocate = zuteilen
renewal = Erneuerung
truce = Waffenstillstand
to back sb = unterstützen
to broker = vermitteln
NASA announces unprecedented discovery
A team of scientists led by Belgian astornomer Michaël Gillon from the University of Liège has discovered a solar system consisting of seven planets that display features similar to those of the Earth. Three of these, which lie within the so-called habitable zone of the system, are believed to have surface temperatures that make possible the presence of liquid water, a factor that could sustain alien life. With regard to the probability of biological activity existing on these planets, the scientists stated that any evidence they would obtain would be “strong, very strong or conclusive”. Such a discovery would offer the answer to a question which has been fascinating astronomers and humanity as a whole for centuries: are we alone in the Universe?
unprecedented = beispiellos
to display = (hier) aufweisen
features = Eigenschaften
to lie = (hier) sich befinden
habitable zone = Lebenszone
surface temperatures = Oberflächentemperaturen
to sustain alien life = außerirdisches Leben erhalten
conclusive = eindeutig
humanity, mankind = Menschheit
The international team working with the Spitzer Space Telescope found the planets orbiting TRAPPIST-1, an ultra-cool dwarf star locat 39 light years away from the Solar System in the constellation Aquarius. Although the distance between the star and its planets is small, the low temperature of TRAPPIST-1 allows for temperate conditions throughout the system. In astronomical terms, the star is relatively close to our Sun, however, with our current knowledge and available technology, mankind would need over 300,000 years to reach TRAPPIST-1. Sending a probe to the system is highly unlikely in the near future, but astronomers will continue their observations of the planets using NASA’s powerful space telescopes.
Since the first exoplanet was discovered in 1992, scientists have found 3,449 such astronomical objects, including some capable of sustaining life. However, the discovery announced by NASA on Wednesday is the greatest of its kind, considering the fact that all seven of the system’s planets resemble the Earth, with three of them even being potential candidates for qualifying as hosts of life, thus increasing the chances of our species finding out whether it is unique in the Universe or not.
A more comprehensive explanation of NASA’s huge discovery can be found at http://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-39034050
ultra-cool dwarf star = sehr kalter Zwergstern
constellation = Sternbild
(space) probe = (Raum)sonde
to qualify as sth = als etw bezeichnet werden können
The German National Indoor Athletics Championships
Last weekend, Leipzig’s Arena hosted the National Indoor Athletics Championships, which provided Germany’s best athletes with a dress rehearsal for the European Indoor Championships taking place on 3rd and 4th March in Belgrade. Among the stars of the event were shot-putter David Storl, triple-jumper Max Heß, long-distance runner Kostanze Klosterhalfen and hurdlers Cindy Roleder und Pamela Dutkiewicz, from whom top performances are expected in Serbia. At the European Championships, Germany will be represented by over 30 athletes.
to host = veranstalten
National Indoor Athletics Championships = Deutsche Leichtathletik-Hallenmeisterschaften
dress rehearsal = Generalprobe
shot-putter = Kugelstoßer
hurdlers = Hürdenläuferinnen