Today's upbeat collection of good news nuggets.
The luck of the Irish: A farmer, whose family had owned the land for generations on the Dingle Peninsula, just discovered an “untouched” ancient tomb. He turned over a rock and spotted a stone-lined passageway beneath it. When archaeologists surveyed the chamber, they determined that it dates to between 2000 B.C. and 500 B.C. but could be even older. Bronze Age wedge tombs like the one pictured above are fairly common but the newly discovered tomb is an oddity as "wedge tombs are usually visible above ground, but this one is completely concealed."
Meanwhile, 300 million miles away, NASA added to its ever-growing list of 'firsts' this week by converting carbon dioxide extracted from Mars' atmosphere into pure, breathable oxygen. The extraction of oxygen from Mars' carbon-rich atmosphere was carried out by a small experimental instrument, known by the snappy acronym MOXIE - which is rather less of a mouthful than Mars Oxygen In-Situ Resource Utilization Experiment.
Back on Earth (all of it) Jessica Nabongo has been putting in the miles. She recently became the first black woman to visit every nation. That's 195 countries (193 United Nations member states plus the two non-member states, the Holy See and the State of Palestine). What did she learn? “Travel with kindness, travel with positive energy and without fear.” Of course, it won't be long now before we can all start travelling fearlessly again.
Secret Santa in Spring: Stranger makes the wishes of two small girls come true.
Britain is no longer in a pandemic, experts tell The Daily Telegraph, as new data show the vaccination programme is reducing symptomatic Covid infections by up to 90 percent. In the first large real-world study of the impact of vaccination on the general population, researchers found that the rollout is having a major impact on cutting both symptomatic and asymptomatic cases.
Finally, Europe is getting its act together: The European Commission said it expects to seal the world's biggest vaccine supply deal within days, buying up to 1.8 billion doses of Pfizer's Covid-19 vaccine for the next few years. The agreement would be enough to inoculate the 450 million EU population for two years and comes as the bloc seeks to shore up long-term supplies. European Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen said on Friday that the EU will have enough to inoculate at least 70 percent of EU adults by the end of July.
Optimism among UK manufacturers is rising at the fastest rate in 48 years, as hopes of an economic rebound are lifted by the covid vaccination programmes. The CBI’s latest industrial trends survey shows that manufacturing optimism has jumped at its quickest pace since April 1973 (which, incidentally, was the year that Britain joined the EU), with firms anticipating a surge in output and new orders in the next quarter.
Pressure mounts on banks: In good news for the planet, investors managing $11 trillion have called on the world’s biggest banks to phase out financing of fossil-fuel companies and throw their weight behind the goals of the Paris climate agreement.
Despite South Africa averaging more than 2,500 hours of sunshine a year, solar energy generates less than 1 percent of its electricity. SA's largest supermarket chain, Shoprite, has decided that's crazy and wants solar energy to power 25 percent of its outlets within five years.
Your eVTOL will be arriving shortly: Remember life before Uber? Getting a ride from a taxi by sticking your arm out from a street corner seems almost quaint now. The same is true of product delivery. We're on the edge of a wild new revolution in getting stuff from point A to point B. It’s time to meet eVTOL aircraft.
Bravery and kindness: A few days ago, Mayur Shelke, an Indian railway worker saved a boy's life after he fell on the railway track - seconds before the train would have hit him. The story went viral on social media and the second instalment of the story has too, after he gifted half of the reward money he received from the Railway Ministry to the boy's family.
Designs have been revealed for a temporary outdoor performance space on the banks of the River Avon that the Royal Shakespeare Company hopes will be “a symbol of regeneration” for theatre. Its new garden theatre, due to open in July and seating up to 500 people, will have performances of The Comedy of Errors, a production that was in rehearsal when everything abruptly closed down in March 2020. The RSC says it's the ideal production for the occasion as it's Shakespeare’s funniest and shortest play.
In 1961, Ben E King released a song that became one of the most enduring of all time: Stand by me. This re-interpretation of his classic will brighten your day.