Elon Musk’s Tesla Roadster Is Headed to the Asteroid Belt

A red car for a Red Planet. That’s what Elon Musk was hoping for when he launched his own Tesla Roadster on SpaceX’s first Falcon Heavy rocket Tuesday (Feb. 6), headed for an orbit that might have extended out to the orbit of Mars. But his car, it turns out, is taking a detour through the asteroid belt.
In a late-night update, Musk announced that the Falcon Heavy stage did survive its daring slog through the Van Allen belts.

“Third burn successful,” Musk wrote on Twitter. “Exceeded Mars orbit and kept going to the Asteroid Belt.”

Starman and the Roadster are now flying in a long, elliptical orbit around the sun. At its farthest point, that orbit extends nearly 243 million miles (390 million kilometers). That’s 2.61 times the average distance between Earth and the sun, which is, on average, about 93 million miles (150 million km).

For reference, Mars orbits the sun at an average distance of 142 million miles (228 million km). At their closest point to the sun, Starman and the Roadster will fly just inside Earth’s orbit, according to the diagram.

So, yeah. That’s one epic trip.

At a news conference after Tuesday’s Falcon Heavy launch, Musk said the Roadster will orbit the sun for millions, perhaps even billions, of years.

He wondered what aliens might think if they ever came across the Roadster drifting through space. After all, SpaceX packed other weird items in the car, among them a small toy Hot Wheels Roadster (complete with a miniature Starman) on the dashboard.

“Maybe [it will be] discovered by an alien race, thinking, ‘What were these guys doing? Did they worship this car? Why do they have a little car in the car?'” Musk said. “That will really confuse them.”

If you’re close to retirement, here’s where to hide from market volatility

Retirees and those approaching retirement can’t diversify away all of the risk in their portfolios, but they can certainly protect some of their savings against market gyrations.

Investors are grappling with two threats at the moment: The prospect of rising interest rates and stock market volatility. The Dow Jones industrial average tumbled by 1,175 points or 4.6 percent on Monday.

“It’s not just stocks getting crushed, also bonds are being crushed,” said Douglas Boneparth, president of Bone Fide Wealth in New York City. “If your goal is preservation, neither would be your friend right now.”

That’s why financial advisors with clients who are near retirement or who have short-term goals are recommending that they keep a chunk of their savings in cash, certificates of deposit and money market funds.

“As long as you don’t panic, all you need to worry about is the money you’ll need for the next three to four years,” said David Mendels, director of planning at Creative Financial Concepts in New York City. “Let the rest ride.”

Here’s how to use your “safe assets” wisely.
The right bonds

Last year’s gains were enough to make this recent bout of volatility seem scary: Consider that the S&P 500 was up nearly 20 percent for 2017.

“Clients have had the feeling that at some point, we had to have more volatility in the market,” said Gerald Jarzabek, senior vice president at The BCJC Group of R.W. Baird in Cleveland.

“Everyone is preparing clients for the 5 percent to 10 percent correction we’ve been waiting for,” he said.

Instead of yanking assets out of the market altogether, advisors have continued rebalancing portfolios and investing some of those proceeds in high-quality short-term bond funds.

Amazon to deliver Whole Foods groceries in two hours for Prime users

Amazon will start delivering groceries from Whole Foods via its two-hour Prime Now delivery service, the e-commerce giant announced Thursday.

Customers in Austin, Cincinnati, Dallas and Virginia Beach will be the first to get the service with Amazon planning to expand the offering across the U.S. this year.

Amazon Prime customers, who pay a $99 yearly subscription for the service, can buy thousands of items across fresh and organic produce, bakery, dairy, meat and seafood, the company said.

Two-hour delivery will be free and a one-hour option costs $7.99 on orders of $35 or more.

The service will be available daily from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m.

Amazon acquired Whole Foods last year for $13.7 billion. Since then it has been looking to integrate the business. The e-commerce titan has been cutting prices and even began selling its Echo smart speaker device in Whole Foods stores.

How your brain may have shielded you from depression after the 2016 election if you didn’t like the result

For some people the election of Donald Trump was a glorious moment of triumph. For others, it was a debilitating moment of trauma. But for a team of researchers at UCLA, it was the perfect opportunity to test how the brain responds to political distress.

“A lot of research on stress in the brain looks at events that occur on an individual level,” said Sarah Tashjian, a graduate student in psychology at UCLA who led the work. “We wanted to see if we could extrapolate that to a larger event like a shift in the political climate”

In a study published this week in the Journal of Neuroscience, Tashjian and her advisor, UCLA psychology professor Adriana Galvan, report that the election of Trump led some people who felt distressed by the result to become clinically depressed, but not all of them.

So, why did some distressed people get depressed while others didn’t?

To come to this conclusion, the researchers recruited 60 study participants from Los Angeles — 40 who said they expected to be negatively affected by the result of the election; and 20 who said they were not affected at all, to serve as a control.

(Because all study participants were given an MRI — a considerable expense — the sample size was rather small.)

The volunteers completed a suite of surveys that indicated the level of their distress over the election and whether they exhibited any depression symptoms such as lack of appetite or bouts of crying. They also answered questions about how much social support they get from friends and family, as well as their personal discrimination experiences.

Next, volunteers were sent to an MRI machine, where the researchers measured their brain’s response to getting a monetary reward, missing out on getting a monetary reward, and losing money.

The authors were particularly interested in activity in two regions of the brain — the nucleus accumbens, which is embedded deep in the brain; and the medial prefrontal cortex, which is the area of the brain above the eyes. These regions have a strong connection to each other, and both are involved in what scientists call “reward circuitry.”

“When something feels good, or you get social support, money, or candy, this part of the brain gets really excited,” Galvan said.

That dinosaur-killing asteroid also triggered massive magma releases beneath the ocean, study finds

The asteroid that hit Earth 66 million years ago appears to have caused huge amounts of magma to spew out of the bottom of the ocean, a new study of seafloor data finds.

The discovery, described in the journal Science Advances, adds to the portrait of an extinction event that was as complex as it was deadly.

For decades, researchers have pointed to a cataclysmic asteroid smashing into the planet as the reason the dinosaurs, and many other species of life on Earth, were wiped out during what’s formally known as the Cretaceous-Paleogene extinction event (named for the periods that came before and followed after it). That impact, which scientists think left the roughly 110-mile-wide Chicxulub crater in the Gulf of Mexico, would have vaporized living things nearby and sent choking clouds of debris into the air, obscuring the sun.

But scientists have also pointed to another culprit: the Deccan Traps in present-day India, one of the largest volcanic provinces in the world, which just happened to be going gangbusters at the time of the extinction event. The ash and noxious gases from the Deccan Traps are really what killed the dinosaurs, some scientists say, downplaying the asteroid’s role.

“People still argue about which one was actually the primary driver of environmental changes that resulted in the death of dinosaurs,” said senior author Leif Karlstrom, an earth scientist at the University of Oregon in Eugene.

Researchers have also suggested that perhaps the two were connected — perhaps the asteroid triggered Deccan Trap volcanism, producing a brutal one-two punch that ultimately knocked out roughly three-quarters of the Earth’s plant and animal species. But recent work has shown that the traps started spewing roughly a quarter-million years before the asteroid hit, Karlstrom said.