Daily Digest: Syria in turmoil, finding a lake under Antartica, marshmallow cannon

John Hageman

Here’s your Daily Digest for Feb. 8

Homs, the third largest city in Syria, is in turmoil for the fifth straight day as clahes between pro-government and opposition forces continue, according to the BBC. Although embattled President Bashar Assad promised to end the violence, “activists say tanks are on the streets, and pro-government militias are murdering civilians in their homes.” BBC correspondents describe the environment as one of “hysteria and despair.” Thousands have been killed in the violence since last March. On Wednesday, a European Union official told the Associated Press that it would impose tougher sanctions on Syria. Meanwhile, Russian officials are trying to help resolve the situation with reforms without requiring Assad to step down, proposal that has so far been rejected by opposition leaders. Russia, along with China, voted against a United Nations resolution last week that would call for new leadership in Syria.

From the “Sci-Fi movie plot” file: Scientists in Russia have reached a freshwater lake in Antartica that has been hidden under the ice for 20 million years. “There is no other place on Earth that has been in isolation for more than 20 million years Lev Savatyugin, a researcher with the AARI who was involved in preparing the mission, told The Associated Press. “It’s a meeting with the unknown.” Have these people never seen Alien v. Predator? The “unknown” usually means giant aliens that have been frozen in time but will one day rise again to fight each other in a sub-par action movie. What scientists hope to find, however, is bacteria that can help them understand the origins of life.

President Obama hosted a science fair at the White House Tuesday, where he fired a marshmallow at the wall using a high-pressure air cannon.