Thursday's Good News Nuggets

Updated: Sep 15, 2021

Thursday's collection of good news snippets to perk up the day.

  • Prof Sarah Gilbert has had quite a year. The co-creator of the Oxford/AstraZeneca jab has been made a dame, been given an emotional standing ovation at Wimbledon – and now a Barbie doll has been made in her honour. Gilbert, who led the development of the Covid vaccine at Oxford University, said she initially found the gesture “very strange” but hoped it would inspire young girls to work in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).

  • Here is some good news for those with cardiac problems. Scientists at Northwestern University in the U.S. have created a temporary pacemaker that absorbs into patients’ bodies in just two months without needing an operation. It's the ideal short-term solution for those who have suffered a heart attack and are waiting for a permanent pacemaker to be fitted.

  • A new train ticketing startup in the UK offers even more green incentive to ditch the car and travel by rail. Trainhugger pledges to plant a tree for every journey booked its website, and also ploughs a third of its revenue into tree planting. The investment in nature comes at zero cost to the passenger: tickets cost the same as via their competitors, Trainhugger says. If that appeals to you, and it doesn't matter where you live, why not switch from searching on Google to Ecosia? Instead of taking the revenue generated by your searches, Ecosia translates its income into planting trees. Millions of them.

  • On the subject of trees, here's a lovely quote from William Blake, the English poet and painter (1757-1827): “The tree which moves some to tears of joy is in the eyes of others only a green thing that stands in the way. Some see nature all ridicule and deformity... and some scarce see nature at all. But to the eyes of the man of imagination, nature is imagination itself.”

  • Who knew that tomatoes had secret powers? A study has found that tomato plants deliberately make their fruit taste worse when approached by a predator. Researchers from Federal University of Pelotas in Brazil reported that the plants can sense a nearby insect and produce a cascade of electrical signals, which trigger the production of distasteful chemicals to fend off hungry animals.

  • In a welcome step forwards, female soldiers are now able to wear their hair in 'battle braids'. Formerly the rules in the British Army and the Royal Air Force mandated that women's hair be worn in a bun or above the collar, but now ladies have the choice of wearing their hair in a ponytail, plait, cornrows or braids as the armed forces seek to modernise.

  • BioNTech has announced plans to develop the world’s first mRNA-based malaria vaccine, in a potentially major step towards beating back the disease which still kills hundreds of thousands of people every year. The German pharmaceutical company produced its enormously successful Covid-19 vaccine along with Pfizer, and says it wants to start clinical trials of a shot to prevent malaria, made using similar technology, by 2022.

  • A team of former SpaceX rocket engineers have joined the race to build the first commercial zero-emission electric speedboat. The Arc Boat company, based in Los Angeles, said the first model of the Arc One boat would be available for sale by the end of the year. The 24ft long, 475-horsepower craft will cost about $300,000.

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