Celebrating the start of the weekend with a global collection of upbeat news nuggets.
A tomato that went missing on the International Space Station in March has been found, exonerating the astronaut who'd been accused of eating it. The Red Robin dwarf tomato was grown as part of a Nasa project to study how plants fare in microgravity, and was harvested by Frank Rubio. When it went missing, the finger of suspicion pointed at him - but last week, a fellow astronaut revealed that the tomato had been located. It seems that Rubio had merely failed to secure it properly, and it had floated away.
For almost 40 years, the site of the infamous Chernobyl nuclear power plant has been a ghost town, but it's possibly getting some new energy in the form of a massive wind farm that could power up to 800,000 homes in Kyiv, Ukraine's capital. While some legitimate concerns about the safety of the radiated zone need to be figured out, the idea of producing clean, renewable energy on the site of one of the biggest power-related disasters of all time would be the perfect way to turn a terrible situation into something positive.
'Saxophone Santa' is now in his 39th year spreading Christmas cheer all over Southern New England. “I’ve always been a big fan of Christmas since childhood and with this, seeing the magic of Christmas and the magic of Santa, it's great." With the Christmas season approaching, Saxophone Santa - aka Kevin McMahon - is a busy guy.
US High Speed Rail
The Biden administration has announced the largest federal investment in passenger trains in decades, with $8.2 billion in new funding for high-speed rail and other projects nationwide. That's good news because rail travel is considered a relatively clean way to get lots of people from point A to B, especially compared with aviation - but the U.S. rail network is sorely lagging behind that of peer nations in Europe and Asia. The 2021 bipartisan infrastructure law, which been a key part of President Biden's domestic agenda, is helping to fund these rail projects.
It has long been considered a missing link in Europe’s burgeoning night train network but, this week, the new Berlin-Paris sleeper filled that gap. The old service between the two cities was canned in 2014 when cheap flights looked to have sounded the death knell for long-distance night trains. However, an unlikely rail revival has since taken root amid concern about plane emissions. Rail firms are now falling over themselves to launch night trains.
Research teams have transformed the renewable material into optically transparent wood through the processes of removing color and precisely matching internal light refraction. The resulting material has a strength that rivals steel, allows 85 percent of light to pass through it, with superior thermal insulation than glass, and “smart” electrochromic functionality for adjustable sun blocking. These custom variants enable wood to substitute glass across a wide range of products, such as smartphone screens and windows.
We are nearing a time when most of Earth’s power will be generated 93 million miles away by the largest power plant in the solar system: the sun. That’s according to researchers from the UK’s University of Exeter, who claim we have surpassed a “tipping point,” as solar panel costs, use, and availability are all improving at impressive rates. Their report shows solar panel costs dropped 15 percent per year from 2010 to 2020, while the amount of energy systems can produce has gone up 25 percent, leading experts to predict the sun will likely be our top power source by 2050.
“I love snow for the same reason I love Christmas. It brings people together while time stands still.” Rachel Cohn
On This Day
16 December 1946: French fashion designer Christian Dior and his backer Marcel Boussac found fashion house Christian Dior.
Enlightening short quotes about life.