Today's smorgasbord of good news nuggets to perk up the day.
David Barber, the King's Swan Marker, conducts the annual Swan Upping on the River Thames. This is the annual census of the mute swan population on the river in which cygnets are ringed and weighed, and adult birds are given health checks. By prerogative right, the Crown enjoys ownership of all unmarked mute swans in open water. These days, Swan Upping is about conservation – a way of tracking the health of the swans – but the tradition, which dates to the 12th century, used to be about controlling the swan population in order to ensure there were some top-class feasts to be enjoyed.
Want a Free TV?
Back in May, a new startup emerged offering the prospect of a free 55-inch 4K television to avid gogglebox watchers. The catch? A second screen underneath feeding frequent adverts. Now Telly has started shipping the "free TV" to US households. Though Telly hasn't revealed how many ad-supported dual-screen TVs are being sent out, the company did attract more than 250,000 sign-ups in the first week of registration. If you like the thought of a free 4K television and don't mind being served up potentially distracting ads via the bottom screen, or sharing your viewer data directly with advertisers, reservations for future shipments are open now via Telly.
Bird Song Mimic
Researchers in Israel found a deposit of ancient bird bones clearly collected by people from 12,000 years ago. The 1,100 bones were discovered in the Hula Valley in Israel, forming a fascinating collection. Yet within these relics lay several carefully carved little surprises. Seven of these bird bones were crafted into flutes by the Natufians, a people who lived in the Levant region from 13,000 and 9,700 BCE. As described in Scientific Reports, researchers were able to identify and even replicate the bone flutes, which may have once been used to lure the birds of prey by mimicking their sounds.
Identifying Bird Song: The Merlin app offers quick identification help for all levels of bird watchers to enable us all to learn about the birds across the Americas, Europe, Asia, Africa, and Oceania. More...
Mental Decline Halved
Wearing a hearing aid nearly halves mental decline in people at risk of dementia, says a new study published in the Lancet. In recent years, several studies have shown a link between hearing loss and neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s, but it was unclear whether deafness was a symptom of the illness or one of the causes. Now a major study of nearly 2,000 adults has shown that providing hearing aids to those most at risk of cognitive decline cuts mental deterioration by 48 percent over three years in comparison to people who did not receive devices.
Student Loan Forgiveness
The US Department of Education has announced that over 804,000 borrowers will have $39 billion in Federal student loans automatically discharged. This is part of the Biden-Harris Administration's efforts to fix historical failures as the Department aims to correct the system and provide borrowers with the forgiveness they deserve, leveling the playing field in higher education. This announcement adds to the Administration's efforts, which have already approved over $116.6 billion in student loan forgiveness for more than 3.4 million borrowers.
Sam Farr has snapped a picture of himself in a barber chair every decade since the 1970s. And while the camera model changes over time, it’s the same two good friends - a barber and his customer - just getting older together. In 1973, the newspaper photographer snapped a black and white ‘selfie’ while his stylish barber Joe Pace was giving him a trim in Bath, England. In each photo the barber’s smile gets bigger as their friendship grows, and each time Sam is seen sporting a new camera.
Snoopy in Orbit
Snoopy, the zero-gravity indicator that flew to the moon on NASA's Artemis I mission, makes its public debut alongside other flown-in-space Peanuts artifacts in 'Snoopy in Orbit,' a new exhibit now open at the Charles M. Schulz Museum in Santa Rosa, California. The three Snoopy dolls on exhibit flew on three different missions. The oldest, made in 1969, began as Mike Massimino's personal boyhood toy. Forty years later, after he became a NASA astronaut, Massimino took his Snoopy with him on board the space shuttle Atlantis for the last mission to service the Hubble Space Telescope.
"We realize the importance of our voices only when we are silenced." Malala Yousafzai
On this Day
20 July 1969: The Eagle lunar landing module, carrying U.S. astronauts Neil Armstrong and Edwin (“Buzz”) Aldrin, landed on the Moon, and several hours later Armstrong became the first person to set foot on its surface.
Best of BBC's Funny Talking Animals.