What better way to start the week than with an upbeat collection of positive news nuggets?
Not long after moving to Paris in 1921, American avant-garde artist Man Ray fell in love with the model and performer Alice Prin, who went by the nickname Kiki de Montparnasse. Kiki served as the Surrealist and Dada artist’s muse for much of the next decade and, in 1924, she posed for a photo that became Ray’s best-known work - and one of the 20th century’s most acclaimed pieces of art. Now, nearly 100 years later, it has sold at auction for $12.4 million, making it the most expensive photograph ever sold at auction.
Ukraine Bee Keepers
Ukraine is Europe’s top honey producer, making up to 100,000 tonnes of the sticky stuff each year, but the wretched Russians are likely to significantly dent that number. In a nation with more than 400,000 beekeepers, that will be catastrophic for both people’s pockets and pollinators. This is where Bees for Development comes in. The charity uses beekeeping as a way to help some of the world’s most disadvantaged people become self-sufficient. This year it is raising money for Ukrainian beekeepers. Funds will go towards helping these communities to rebuild apiaries and reestablish income. Donate here
Super Nature Reserve
Linking fragmented habitats is one solution to the biodiversity crisis – and that’s what England’s newest nature reserve hopes to achieve. The Somerset Wetlands ‘super nature reserve’ encompasses 6,140 hectares (15,200 acres) of saltmarsh, heath and wetland, where nationally significant populations of birds and insects live. The idea is to improve the quality of those habitats and boost connectivity between them. The project will bring together landowners and other local partners to improve ditches, streams and other waterways that link habitats. The Somerset ‘super reserve’ is England’s second. The first was launched in 2020 in Purbeck, Dorset.
There’s a roughly 3,600-mile-long (5,860-km) cable extending from Canada to the UK. The undersea cable is part of the internet’s vast hidden infrastructure, but this particular cable does something else too - it can double as a state-of-the-art array of more than 100 sensors that detect seismic activity. In recent tests, the cable registered a magnitude 7.5 earthquake that shook northern Peru, thousands of miles away. With any luck, this pilot is just the beginning. The technique has the potential to transform our Earth-monitoring capabilities.
Today's obscure word: Filipendulous - suspended by or strung upon a thread.
A team of researchers at the US Department of Energy's National Renewable Energy Laboratory has created a solar cell with a record efficiency of 39.5 percent, breaking the world record for solar cell efficiency. Amazingly, it has the highest efficiency recorded for any type of cell ever measured in real-world conditions. This performance improvement is really good news because average solar cell efficiency today is a rather modest 20 percent.
At the age of 48, Lhakpa Sherpa has just climbed Mount Everest for the 10th time, but all her life she has been rising to challenges. The Nepalese single mother was born in a cave and had no formal education. She always wanted to become a mountaineer, but her parents didn’t support her. However, she made her first ascent in 2000. In the years that followed, she struggled financially and yet she set several records as she continued climbing the mountain. Lhakpa’s fortunes have been slowly changing; she was recognized by the BBC as one of its most inspirational and influential women in 2016 and in recent years she has been able to secure sponsorships for some of her climbs. “I’ve had a challenging life. Mountains made me happy and relaxed. I will never give up. I want young women not to give up,” she said.
Nearly one million patients in the UK with insomnia will be prescribed a self-help app instead of sleeping pills. The Times said the “groundbreaking” move means GPs will now be offering Sleepio, a six-week digital therapy programme, as the first-line treatment. Experts at the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence believe the move could save the NHS money and reduce the use of potentially dependency forming medicines such as zolpidem and zopiclone. Sleepio is available in the UK and USA.
Quote of the Day
“I’ve got sunshine on a cloudy day. When it’s cold outside, I’ve got the month of May.” Smokey Robinson
On this Day
23 May 1998: The Good Friday Agreement is accepted in a referendum in Northern Ireland with 75 percent voting yes. And signed by Tony Blair and Bertie Ahern.
Dive in Deeper
Musical Mood Booster
Born to be Alive: Old time movie stars dance mash up.