India may launch its Own Digital Currency as Alien Life could be Discovered on ‘Hycean’ Exoplanets

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India may launch its own digital currency. Alien life could be discovered on Hycean exoplanets. T-Mobile suffers from a massive data breach. Apple reaches $100 million settlement with iOS app developers. Pfizer vaccine gets full FDA approval. Here are this week’s top stories.

1. India may launch its own Digital Currency

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Central banks around the world have been exploring digital currencies over the past few years due to a decline in cash users and a growing interest in cryptocurrencies. The central bank in India may launch its first digital currency trial programs at the end of the year. According to central bank governor Shaktikanta Das, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) is exploring various aspects of a digital currency, including security and its impacts on the market. The bank is looking between two choices: a centralized ledger for the digital currency or distributed ledger technology (DLT). A centralized ledger would allow the central bank to control the database and the currency, while DLT would allow multiple participants to access, share and record transactions simultaneously with no central administrator. There are several key differences between digital currencies controlled by an administrator and cryptocurrencies. They will be fully regulated so prices would remain stable, and they will have widespread acceptance, like their physical counterparts.

2. Alien Life could be Discovered on ‘Hycean’ Exoplanets

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Astronomers have long searched for exoplanets similar to Earth to locate Alien life, but now they are looking at different types of planets. Astronomers from the University of Cambridge have identified a new class of exoplanets called Hycean planets. These planets are covered in oceans, have hydrogen-rich atmospheres, are up to 2.6 times larger than the Earth, and have scorching temperatures of 200 degrees Celsius (392 degrees Fahrenheit). Researchers claim that the vast oceans could host microbial life comparable to the extremophiles located in the Earth’s oceans. Hycean planets are also prevalent in space, with the closest ones being 35 to 150 light-years away. These planets will likely be examined by NASA’s new James Webb Space Telescope, the powerful successor to the Hubble Space Telescope, which will launch this October.

3. T-Mobile Data Breach

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T-Mobile recently suffered from a significant data breach that leaked sensitive information of over 50 million customers. Stolen data includes customer names, dates of birth, SSNs, ID cards, and licenses. John Binns, a 21-year-old American who lives in Turkey, revealed to the Wall Street Journal that he was responsible for the attack. Binns accessed an unprotected router to access T-Mobile’s data center located in Washington, where stored credentials provided him access to over 100 servers. He started downloading the data at the beginning of August, and after two weeks, T-Mobile confirmed the breach. Through this hack, Binns was attempting to draw attention to his perceived persecution by the US government. He was allegedly kidnapped in Germany and put into a fake mental hospital. He also filed a lawsuit against the CIA, FBI, DOJ, and other government agencies demanding them to release any information they have on him. Binns situation will likely worsen rather than improve, and it remains unclear whether he worked alone. It is concerning to see how carriers like T-Mobile manage our data. They should not be allowed to keep sensitive data like SSNs, ID cards, and licenses in their unprotected servers.

4. Apple’s $100 Million Settlement

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Apple has reached an agreement to resolve the lawsuit in which a group of 67,000 iOS app developers sued Apple’s App Store for anticompetitive behavior and excessive fees. In the agreement, Apple will distribute $100 million among small developers who earned $1 million or less annually. It will also keep the App Store Small Business Program, which allows small developers to apply for a reduced 15 percent commission from their sales. Developers will be allowed to contact their customers to tell them about payment options outside the App Store. Apple plans to publish an annual transparency report about the App Store for developers, which will include “meaningful statistics about the app review process, including the number of apps rejected for different reasons, the number of customer and developer accounts deactivated, objective data regarding search queries and results, and the number of apps removed from the App Store.” Apple will also keep the current App Store Search system in place for at least the next three years. While Apple is helping developers, it could do a lot more. The company earned $22 billion in profit in its latest quarter.

5. Pfizer’s Coronavirus Vaccine gets Full FDA Approval

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The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has fully approved the Pfizer BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for Americans aged over 16. The vaccine remains to be available under emergency use authorization for Americans aged 12 through 15. With full approval, the vaccine can be marketed under the name Comirnaty directly to individuals. Hopefully, this approval will convince more Americans to get the vaccine. It may also push more businesses and schools to mandate vaccinations. There is also growing pressure on the FDA to authorize a vaccine for children under the age of 12. Many children have caught the virus due to the recent surge and the return to schools, and they are not completely immune to the delta variant. But, there have been cases of heart inflammation, known as myocarditis, linked to the vaccine in younger people. The FDA needs to ensure the vaccine is safe and effective for kids before authorizing it.

Above were my top stories for the week of August 29th, 2021. I hope you enjoyed them. Thank you and see you next week!

Curious High Schooler, who loves to share new and exciting stories. Email: lakshya5jain@gmail.com