Thursday's collection of good news nuggets from around the world.
More good news for lovers of chocolate: You probably already know that there’s science behind that feeling of bliss as you tuck into your favourite chocolate bar (preferably quality, dark stuff) as chocolate contains tryptophan, which increases production of serotonin, also known as the happy hormone. Now, a study by University College London has found that consuming chocolate with a high cocoa content (yes, the dark stuff) was found to reduce the risk of depression by 70 percent. So, enjoy savouring a few squares of dark chocolate today!
The pandemic has forced many of us to reassess our relationship with work, and prompted some countries to flirt with a four-day working week. Spain is leading the charge. Its government is currently trialling the idea with firms interested in changing things up. “With the four-day work week, we’re launching into the real debate of our times,” said Iñigo Errejón of the Más País party, which proposed the idea. “It’s an idea whose time has come.” The idea is to improve work-life balance and improve both wellbeing and productivity. Scotland has also pledged to trial the four-day week, while some forward-thinking corporations have launched their own experiments. Unilever, a multinational consumer goods company, has been trialling the concept with employees in New Zealand. And last week, Canon UK announced that it will pilot a four-day week with no loss of pay, with the trial being monitored by academics at the universities of Cambridge and Oxford.
A large supermarket chain in the Netherlands is opening hundreds of "chat checkouts" in an effort to combat loneliness. Jumbo supermarkets will be opening up 200 Kletskassas, or "chat checkouts" where customers can take their time and talk rather than pay for their groceries as quickly as possible. The first Kletskassa was opened in 2019 in Brabant. Its success prompted the company to plan for another 200 to be operative in 2022. "Many people, the elderly in particular, can feel lonely. As a family business and supermarket chain we have a central role in society. Our shops are a meeting place and that means we can do something to combat loneliness. The Kletskassa is just one of the things we can do," Jumbo CCO Colette Cloosterman-Van Eerd said.
Act of kindness: Elementary school teach donates her kidney to 8 year old student Natasha. Jodi Schmidt, was unaware of her student’s problems until she stumbled upon a Facebook post by her parents, who hoped to find a suitable donor. It didn’t take long for Schmidt to make up her mind. “I didn’t think anything of it,” she told CNN. “Then it totally just hit me, and I told myself I’m going to get tested for it.” Schmidt turned out to be a perfect match and the surgery was successful. “She’s part of my family. I love her a lot,” Natasha said about her teacher.
An auction of seabed plots for major offshore wind projects around the Scottish coast has just concluded. Seventeen projects covering a total of 7,000km2 have been chosen in the first such leasing round in a decade. They have a combined potential generating capacity of 25GW - well above the expected auction outcome of 10GW. 1GW is roughly enough to power 750,000 homes. Scotland already has 1.9GW of operational offshore wind, and another 8.4GW in construction or advanced development. Tot all that up, and it will eventually be enough power for approximately 25 million homes. That's got to be good news!
In good news for the visually impaired, a Swiss startup has unveiled a smart harness that uses autonomous driving technology to help the sight-impaired avoid collisions while walking. The wearable technology is called Biped.ai and it employs in-built 3D cameras that can be paired with headphones to warn users about the position of objects in their immediate surroundings. “The vest sits on the shoulders, and thanks to its 3D cameras, can detect and predict the trajectories of all surrounding elements, a few seconds in advance, just like an autonomous vehicle. It generates 3D audio feedback to warn the users about the position of the important elements around them,” he continued.
'Strange metal' behaviour was first noticed around 30 years ago. These materials are composed of copper-oxides and are high-temperature superconductors, meaning they can transfer electricity very efficiently, withstanding much higher temperatures with less energy loss than normal conductors. The way in which they do this has baffled scientists ever since, due to the complex mathematics that is needed to understand their incredible powers. However, a team from Brown University is now getting closer to understanding this phenomenon. This could have hugely beneficial implications. Once scientists understand what gives superconductors these properties, humans may be able to harness their powers of energy efficiency, such as creating energy lossless power grids - thus radically reducing our carbon footprint on the world.
Quote of the Day
“Thousands of candles can be lighted from a single candle, and the life of the candle will not be shortened. Happiness never decreases by being shared." Buddha
On this Day
20 January 1778: British explorer Captain James Cook landed at Waimea, on Kauai island, becoming the first European to visit Hawaii.
Dive in Deeper
Laughter: It's not just us! A recent study has found that the joy of laughter is actually quite common in the animal kingdom too. Read on...
Masterpiece of Love
To attract a female, the Japanese Puffer fish will work 24 hours a day, for an entire week, to create the most stunning sand art.