Synopsis of last week's important good news from around the world.
Bookfind of The Century: In 2007 a retired Canadian doctor paid US$14,256 for a well-used second edition of Andreas Vesalius' De humani corporis fabrica, one of the most influential books in history. His magnum opus, published in the 16th century is now regarded as the foundation of modern human anatomy. The canny Canadian doctor just sold his copy for US$2,228,000.
Vesuvius Challenge: A team of three students won $700,000 this week for using artificial intelligence to read the first passages of a 2,000 year old scroll that was carbonised in the volcanic eruption of 79 AD. The team successfully identified over 2,000 of the text’s Greek letters and was “met with widespread amazement” by the review team of papyrologists.
New Era: Women's football in the UK is set for a revolution as the two top divisions will be owned and run by the clubs themselves. The women's league is now aiming to become, over the next 10 years, the first billion-pound women's football league in the world.
Wild Pandas: China’s efforts to protect panda habitats are paying off, with the wild population of giant pandas increasing from 1,100 in the 1980s to 1,900 today.
2024 Olympic Medals: The Paris medals have been unveiled and are embedded with actual pieces of the Eiffel Tower.
US Jobs: Job creation in the US surged in January, as the economy continued to defy predictions of a slowdown. This extends a streak of job gains that has surprised economists. "The US employment data provided a shock, beating expectations by miles, with earnings much higher than expected as well," said Neil Birrell from Premier Miton Investors.
World's Largest Deep-Sea Coral Reef: Scientists have just finished mapping the largest deep-sea coral reef in the world, which runs for hundreds of miles off the Atlantic coast of the United States. “It’s eye-opening - it’s breathtaking in scale,” said Stuart Sandin, a Scripps Institution marine biologist. It's discovery and mapping will enable scientists to better understand and preserve this marine treasure for future generations.
Somali Women on TV: It’s one of the world’s most gender unequal countries, so the launch of a current affairs show led by women is both good news and a big deal in Somalia. The show, due to air from March, will be produced by Bilan, an all-women media team that launched last year to provide a female perspective on the country.
Secrets of The Universe: Officials at CERN (home to the famous Large Hadron Collider near Geneva) are pressing ahead with plans for a new $21.5bn machine that would be at least three times bigger than the existing particle accelerator. It's hoped the subterranean device (with a 60 mile circumference) will help scientists unlock more secrets of the universe.
Common Sense: Voters in Paris have approved an increase in parking fees for SUVs. Vehicles weighing over 1.6 metric tons will have hourly parking fees tripled as the city seeks to become a more bikeable and pedestrian-friendly. Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo proposed the increased parking rates, noting that these larger vehicles “threaten our health and our planet” as well as take up too much space.
New Quarters: The U.S. Mint has released images of the 5 new quarters that will enter the currency this year, showcasing five women who have impacted American history. In the past, U.S. currency has largely and almost exclusively depicted men, and the Mint's program is an effort to try and address this imbalance.
Historic Moment: In a historic moment for global health, the world’s first malaria vaccine just started being administered in Cameroon. The rollout is being hailed a “transformative chapter in Africa’s public health history,” and 19 more countries will also introduce the vaccine this year. “For a long time we have been waiting for a day like this … it brings more than just hope, it brings a reduction in the mortality and morbidity associated with malaria.”
Snow Leopards: The first-ever snow leopard survey in India has confirmed the country is home to 718 big cats, roughly 10-15 percent of the global population. The survey reported that understanding the precise population is important because the apex predator indicates the health of - and challenges facing - the entire Himalayan ecosystem.
Fully Sequenced: Scientists have finally sequenced the entire Y chromosome, one of the human sex chromosomes present in males. The feat has been "notoriously difficult" because of the Y chromosome's "complex repeat structure," according to the research paper published in the journal Nature.
Blue Card: A blue card may soon be introduced to football as part of sin-bin trials - and could become the first new card to be used in the sport since the advent of yellow and red cards at the 1970 World Cup. The new sin-bin protocol could see players removed from the field for 10 minutes if they commit a cynical foul or show dissent towards a match official. A decision is to be made by the International Football Association Board on 2 March.
Mini Nuclear: Britain’s first “private” nuclear power station using mini reactors given green light for cheap, clean energy.
Female Education: In India, the number of women enrolling in higher education increased by a remarkable 32 percent between 2015 and 2022, from 15.7 million to over 20 million. There has also been a notable increase in enrolment across all levels of education for female students.
Conservation Mosaic: Over the past 25 years, small towns across Bolivia have protected over 100,000 km2 (38,600 sq. miles) of the Amazon, creating a 'conservation mosaic' almost the size of Iceland. "Piece by piece, we are knitting together the fabric of conservation in the Amazon. Local communities have kept their eyes on the prize. They are having a big impact on the Amazon, for the benefit of us all," says Eduardo Forno, Vice President, Conservation International - Bolivia.
Portugal Powers Up: According to Reuters, renewable power sources made up 61 percent of Portugal’s electricity in 2023, up from nearly 50 percent in the year prior. With one of the highest ratios of renewable energy in Europe, the country is well on the way to its goal of generating 85 percent of its annual electricity from renewable sources by 2030.
Energetic Enzyme: Scientists at King's College London have developed an innovative way to recycle single-use plastics using enzymes found in laundry detergents. The chemical recycling process can break down the plastic within 24 hours - which is 84 times faster than current 12 week industrial methods - and even allows for the production of high-quality reusable materials, offering a possible solution to the environmental challenges posed by plastic waste.
EU Coal Nosedive: Wind and solar produced a record 27 percent of the European Union's electricity in 2023 - above a quarter for the first time. Coal and gas took a corresponding nosedive, with the former falling to its lowest ever level at just 12 percent of the EU’s electricity generation. Overall, renewables rose to a record 44 percent share of EU power in 2023.
Gravitricity: One of Europe's deepest mines is to be transformed into a colossal battery.
Masters of Disguise: Funny photo compilation of cats hiding in plain sight.
Cultural Phenomenon: The extraordinary reach of Super Bowl commercials.
Birthday Photo: What did the Hubble Space Telescope photograph on your birthday?
It's Good to Laugh: Another OGN collection of amusing jokes.
Top Performers: Last week's most popular (some hilarious) articles, plus the most watched mood boosting video.