Today's eclectic bundle of good news nuggets.
Appalachian Botanical Company grows lavender on an old coal mine to make essential oil and other products. It's part of a race to clean up the millions of acres of post-coal mining land in the US. The farm could be a model for lands destroyed by coal mining across the country.
Meanwhile, on an assemblage of vacant lots and other pockets of unused land in the Bronx, gardeners from low-income neighborhoods have banded together to create over a dozen 'farm hubs,' co-ordinating their community gardens and their harvest. During the pandemic, the farm hubs of the Bronx have proved their worth, producing health-boosting crops like kale and collard greens, and are part of an urban gardening movement across the country dedicated to empowering residents of poorer neighborhoods by encouraging them to grow fresh food.
The Old Bailey has achieved gender parity for the first time as more women join the judiciary. An equal number of male and female full-time judges now sit at the historic criminal court in central London, including three mothers with school-age children. Judge Duran said: “I hope that by seeing female judges presiding over some of the most complex and difficult cases in England and Wales, it will inspire other young women and female practitioners to consider law and judicial appointment as a career.”
At a dam 2,500m (8,200 ft) high in the Alps, construction has begun on Switzerland's largest alpine solar plant aimed at helping the small country secure renewable energy throughout the year. The 2.2 megawatt solar plant project, which developers said makes more environmental than financial sense, is part of Swiss plans to plug the gap left by the phase-out of nuclear energy while also aiming to reach net zero in greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.
The US could have the Covid pandemic under control and achieve a return to “normality” by next spring, Dr Anthony Fauci said, if the “overwhelming majority” of the population is vaccinated. More than 400,000 people have been vaccinated in the US each day in August, with 171.1 million now fully protected. Now that Donald Trump is advising his fans to get vaxxed, it could happen.
There’s strong evidence that music is good for us – it can reduce anxiety and blood pressure, and improve quality of sleep. Furthermore, taking up a musical instrument as an adult can slow down your brain from ageing, increase cognitive ability, improve memory and even raise your IQ. It’s been shown to strengthen parts of the brain associated with hearing and motor skills in over-65s after playing for just four or five months.
In Coventry, England, a young girl has formed a rather extraordinary friendship with a bumblebee. While walking her dog, Lacey Shillinglaw, 13, noticed a bee laying in the road with a damaged wing. After helping the creature to safety, the bee became attached to the teen, and now accompanies her everywhere, including shopping and bowling with her friends. Newly named Betty, the bee ventures outside for pollen and nectar and then returns to sleep in a little pot beside Lacey's bed.
Did you know that a flea can jump distances 200 times their body length? They are able to jump 10 inches (25cm) vertically and up to 18 inches (45 cm) horizontally, making them one of the planets best jumpers relative to its size. It’s equal to a human jumping as high as New York's Empire State Building.
Dive in Deeper
Gorgeous short video showing a cute little hedgehog slowly waking from its slumbers.