Concluding the week with an upbeat collection of positive news nuggets.
Rhode Island is the latest US state that has committed to 100 percent renewable electricity. Governor Daniel McKee has made it official by signing the bill into law that commits Rhode Island to get all of its electricity from renewable energy sources no later than 2033. In fact, that commitment means Rhode Island has committed to getting to 100 percent renewable electricity faster than any other state. Adding in newbie Rhode Island, 10 states already have 100 percent clean or renewable energy commitments for the electricity sector. Work is underway at 10 other states to set the same renewable energy commitments.
A collaborative effort led by EPFL’s Photovoltaics and Thin Film Electronics Laboratory in partnership with the famous innovation center, CSEM, has smashed through the efficiency record for tandem silicon-perovskite solar cells. This is significant as the researchers have surpassed the milestone of 30 percent for the first time using low-cost materials and established two certified world records, pushing the technology beyond the limits of silicon.
In an age when travel must have been gruelling and dangerous, King Arthur didn’t half get about. There is scarcely a corner of the UK, from the coast of Cornwall to the Hebridean island of Iona, which doesn’t claim some sort of connection with this mythical warrior-king. Archaeologists are now investigating one such site called Arthur's Stone. It's a neolithic burial chamber that perches on a hilltop in Herefordshire. It’s a rather fine example of a dolmen, a large flat stone supported by other stones. Evidence that he was ever there is very slim indeed – and that’s putting it politely - but the quest must go on!
In the late 19th century, gray squirrels were introduced to the UK from the United States. Since then, the gray squirrel population has exploded - to the detriment of the county’s woodlands. These squirrels strip the bark of trees to get at the sap beneath, and British forests are now under strain from the bushy-tailed troublemakers. The good news is that scientists have developed a humane way to reduce the gray squirrel population and save the trees: squirrel contraceptives. This plan is currently in its testing phase and will soon be ready for field trials. Government scientists say this contraceptive makes male and female gray squirrels infertile.
Random Fun Fact
The current American flag was designed by a high school student. It started as a school project for Bob Heft’s junior-year history class in 1958, and it only earned a B-minus. His design had 50 stars, even though Alaska and Hawaii weren’t states yet; Heft figured the two would earn statehood soon and showed the government his design. After President Dwight D. Eisenhower called to say the design was approved, Heft’s teacher changed his grade to an A.
A collection of almost 30,000 rarely seen images of the black diaspora in the UK and the US, dating from the 19th century to the present, has been launched as part of an educational initiative to raise awareness of the history of black people in the UK. The Black History & Culture Collection is owned by Getty Images - which holds one of the largest photo collections in the world - and Getty is making these photos free to use for not-for-profit or educational purposes. The collection grants access to images for educators, researchers and content creators, allowing them to tell untold stories from black history and culture that go beyond narratives of enslavement and colonisation.
Humans have been farming for thousands of years, but they’re not the only mammal to tend and harvest their crops. A biology professor and an undergraduate student at the University of Florida have discovered that southeastern pocket gophers promote and defend meandering tunnels of underground roots and collect them for food. In their study, recent University of Florida graduate in zoology Veronica Selden and University of Florida professor Jack Putz assert that the gophers’ root-cropping endeavors are a sort of basic farming.
Quote of the Day
“Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.”
On this Day
15 July 1799: The Rosetta Stone is found in the Egyptian village of Rosetta by French Captain Pierre-François Bouchard during Napoleon's Egyptian Campaign.
Originally acknowledged as the foremost expert on chimpanzees, she now travels the world urging humanity to take better care of our shared home. Read on...
After decades of decline, Irish whiskey is roaring back - fuelled by new offerings and younger drinkers. Read on...
After the hugely entertaining and massively successful 2009 movie Avatar, it's good to know the sequel is hitting cinemas in December. Here's their second trailer to whet your appetite.