Wrapping up the week with an eclectic bundle of good news nuggets to brighten the day.
Never Seen Before
A dying star called V Hya is making astronomers very excited as it's blowing out "smoke circles" in a pattern never seen before and could, therefore, substantially expand stellar theories. The researchers believe the new observations will provide new insight into the final moments of red giants before they become white dwarves or disintegrate into nebulae, before repeating the cycle that forms stars throughout the universe.
Act of Kindness
Leslie Wagner from Arkansas tells the story about a day in the supermarket when the clerk tallied up my groceries, it was $12 over what I had on me. I began to remove items from the bags when another shopper handed me a $20 bill. “Please don’t put yourself out,” I told him. “Let me tell you a story,” he said. “My mother is in the hospital with cancer. I visit her every day and bring her flowers. I went this morning, and she got mad at me for spending my money on more flowers. She demanded that I do something else with that money. So, here, please accept this. It is my mother’s flowers.”
Clean Energy Record
2021 was a landmark year for renewable energy as 38 percent of the world's demand for power was met by clean energy sources, significantly higher than coal’s contribution, of 36 percent. Ember, a climate and energy think-tank revealed these figures in its annual report.
Thanks to the efforts of a neuroscientist and a biomedical engineer and the CEO of a German-based neurobiotechnology company, a totally locked-in patient was able to type out words and short sentences to his family via a brain implant. The findings of this study are not only emotionally charged for the patient but give valuable insight into the experience of a “locked-in” person and invalidates the previous theories about the communicative abilities of individuals who have lost their voluntary muscle control entirely. This includes the movement of their eyes or mouth.
Sound on Mars
NASA's Perseverance mission has achieved another historic first: The rover that landed on Mars in February 2021 has discovered the speed of sound on the red planet. The scientists behind the experiment used the Perseverance SuperCam microphone and a laser aboard the rover that can trigger a perfectly timed noise. They showed definitively that the speed of sound near the surface of Mars is 787 feet per second. That's roughly a third slower than Earth's 1,086 feet per second.
An Oscar First
Meanwhile, back on Earth, where the Oscars are often criticised for their lack of diversity, there was a beautiful example of inclusion during the 94th Academy Awards, as Troy Kotsur became the first deaf man in the history of the Oscars to win an award for acting. The movie in which he acted, “CODA” also took home the top award for best picture. Kotsur’s heart-wrenching supporting performance portraying a deaf fisherman trying to connect with his hearing daughter touched the voters, leading to his impressive win.
John Deere, the world’s largest farming implements producer, just unveiled a self-driving tractor to plow farms by day or night without a driver. John Deere say that the 8R autonomous tractor will “enable farmers to place seeds, spread nutrients, and harvest their crops without having to touch the steering wheel.” The opportunity to double or triple the labor inputs to capitalize on short periods of ideal temperature and moisture should mean significant improvements in yield per acre for farmers.
Quote of the Day
"Don't cry because it's over, smile because it happened." Dr. Seuss
On this Day
1 April 1976: Steve Jobs, Ronald Wayne and Steve Wozniak formed Apple Computer Inc.
Dive in Deeper
Eilean Donan Castle
Enjoy a quick sunset visit to one of Scotland's most recognisable landmarks.