Monday's eclectic bundle of positive news nuggets to get the week off to a cracking start.
Sharbat Gula gained international fame in 1984 as an Afghan refugee, after the war photographer Steve McCurry’s photograph of her, with piercing green eyes, was published on the cover of National Geographic. Now, NatGeo's green-eyed “Afghan Girl” has arrived in Italy as part of the west’s evacuation of Afghans after the Taliban takeover of the country, the Italian government has announced - about probably the most famous woman in the world whose name you never knew. It's good to know she's safe.
Nasal Alzheimer's vaccine to start human trials for the first time: Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston Massachusetts will soon begin Phase I trials of a nasal vaccine designed to prevent or slow the progression of Alzheimer's disease. The main aim is to determine if the vaccine is safe and can be tolerated at the dosages planned. If successful, the same mode of treatment could be used for other neurodegenerative diseases.
A recent paper in Scientific Reports announces that one of Mozart's pieces - the Sonata for Two Pianos in D Major K448 (known as known as Mozart K448) - has the effect of calming the brains of people with epilepsy, alleviating certain harmful brain 'events.'
Imagine looking through an old tin full of seemingly worthless coins and finding one that's rather special. Well, that's what happened to a fortunate Brit who found an extraordinarily rare coin with a face value of just pennies when it was minted in mid-17th century New England. The silver one shilling coin made in Boston in 1652 - considered the finest example of the roughly 40 such coins known to still exist - was recently found in the UK inside a candy tin. The coin of rudimentary design has the initials NE for New England on one side, and the Roman numeral XII, for 12, the number of pennies in a shilling, on the other. In good news for the lucky Brit, it's just been sold at auction for $350,000.
The elders of the Wahpeton Dakota Nation had long prophesized that the return of the plains bison to their ancestral lands would portend a welcome turn of events for Canada’s First Nation peoples. They may not have known, however, that it would take just eight months for this prediction to come true, as the herd’s hooves uncovered four petroglyphs, or rock carvings, and an accompanying tool used to create the ancient artworks. Wanuskewin - a National Historic Site that stands on land once occupied by Indigenous peoples - announced the find last week. It's dated to between 300 and 1,800 years ago, with a probable age of around 1,000 years old.
Harnessing the power of the waves creates green jobs as well as renewable energy. So it's good news that the UK is to invest £20m annually in the country’s fledgling marine energy sector. Industry leaders said the fund would help the sector scale up, bringing greater diversity to the nation’s green energy mix. “As an island nation with superb tidal energy resources to harness, it’s clear that tidal stream should have a key role to play in our shift to clean energy,” said Dan McGrail, CEO of Renewable UK.
It’s the world’s fastest shark, however the shortfin mako has been unable to outswim fishing fleets – and its population in the North Atlantic has plummeted. But help is at hand. The EU, UK, Canada, Senegal and other Atlantic fishing nations have just agreed to ban catches of the mako. The shark is hunted for its meat and fins, with the EU reportedly landing three-quarters of the 2020 mako catch. “At long last, we have the basis for a game-changing rebuilding plan,” said Ali Hood, director of conservation at the Shark Trust.
Housework can boost your brain! Researchers in Singapore found that regular chores at home, such as vacuuming, making beds and cleaning windows, is linked to sharper mental abilities among older people. Their paper, published in the British Medical Journal, was based on a study of 500 adults. Cognitive scores were found to be 8 percent higher in over-65s who did high volumes of regular housework, compared to those doing less. So, go grab the duster!
By the way: Don't believe anyone who says the word "wharf" is an acronym for "warehouse at river front". Complete rubbish; the word has an eminently respectable etymology from Old English. The word wharf comes from the Old English hwearf, cognate to the Old Dutch word werf, which both evolved to mean "yard", an outdoor place where work is done, like a shipyard (Dutch: scheepswerf) or a lumberyard (Dutch: houtwerf).
Dive in Deeper
Very few of us have been lucky enough to gaze upon a Namibian Quiver Tree forest, but now's your chance from the comfort of your armchair.