It's not often that a Friday is a holiday, so here's an eclectic bundle of positive news nuggets to help you enjoy it.
First came Wordle, the simple word game that took over the internet one colourful diagram at a time. Then came the spin-offs, including Nerdle for the more mathematically inclined. Now Worldle, a geographical guessing game, is attracting almost two million visitors a day after experiencing its own boom. The game provides a country’s silhouette and asks players to guess which it is, providing feedback in the form of distance and direction for wrong answers. A great family game for Easter!
After an outcry from Ukrainians on social media, London’s National Gallery has changed the name of Edgar Degas’ Russian Dancers to Ukrainian Dancers. Ukrainian heritage and culture are often mislabeled - casualties of the nation’s long history of occupation and association with its Eastern European neighbour. The change arrives amid a push for all cultural institutions to recognize distinctions between Russian and Ukrainian culture.
Greenfinch populations, which were previously in steep decline in the UK, are showing the first signs of recovery, according to the latest annual RSPB 'Big Garden Birdwatch' results. The citizen science survey gives a good idea of how bird populations are faring in Britain. This year almost 700,000 people took part, counting more than 11 million birds. Many scientists and bird enthusiasts had been worried about the greenfinch, which has experienced a population crash of 63 percent since 1993 after a severe outbreak of trichomonosis - but is now making a gradual comeback.
The psychedelic compound found in magic mushrooms helps to open up depressed people’s brains and make them less fixed in negative thinking patterns, a study has suggested. According to the study, psilocybin made the brain more flexible, working differently from regular antidepressants, even weeks after use. Professor David Nutt, head of the Imperial Centre for Psychedelic Research, said: “These findings are important because for the first time we find that psilocybin works differently from conventional antidepressants – making the brain more flexible and fluid, and less entrenched in the negative thinking patterns associated with depression. This supports our initial predictions and confirms psilocybin could be a real alternative approach to depression treatments.”
Rockets by Catapult
SpinLaunch, the company designing a catapult-like device to launch rockets into space without propellant, just signed an agreement with NASA. SpinLaunch's Orbital Accelerator system uses a rotating carbon fiber arm inside a 300-ft diameter steel vacuum chamber to accelerate a payload-carrying launch vehicle to speeds of up to 5,000 mph before launching it out of the chamber and up toward orbit. The company claims its system can eliminate more than 70 percent of the fuel and structures required for typical rocket launches. While it's in the early testing phase, the system could completely change the way the space industry deploys satellites by massively reducing the cost and environmental impact of smaller payload launches.
Quote of the Day
“Don’t be pushed around by the fears in your mind. Be led by the dreams in your heart.”
Roy T. Bennett
On this Day
15 April 1755: One of the most prominent literary figures of the eighteenth century, Samuel Johnson greatest work was his "Dictionary of the English Language". The task took Johnson nine years. Although not the first English dictionary it proved to be the most influential, its length was extensive and it included not only definitions but illustrations of usage.
Dive in Deeper
Extinct tree from the time of Jesus comes back to life.