Today's bite sized chunks of good news from around the world.
In good news for Londoners and tourists alike, the clock face of Big Ben has just been revealed for first time since 2017 to show conservation work and restoration of original colour scheme. The 96m clock tower above the Houses of Parliament, which houses the Great Bell, known as Big Ben, has been mostly hidden from view since a £80m ($108m) conservation projection began four years ago. Using paint analysis and Charles Barry’s original watercolour designs, conservationists have reinstated a Prussian blue and gold colour scheme for the dials and clock hands. They believe the black paint of the clock dials and stonework that many associate with the national symbol was chosen in the 1930s to mask the effects of pollution.
If you like number patterns, here’s something to look forward to this year: Shortly after 10pm on 22 February, the time and date will consist of a single repeating digit – the last time it will happen this century. 22:22:22/22/2/22
Having saved the world as James Bond, as well as helping to save Britain’s cinema industry last year, Daniel Craig has been given a special honour by receiving the same award as the fictional 007. Mr Craig is made a Companion of the Order of St Michael and St George (CMG) in the New Year's Honours List, having bowed out as Bond with the release of No Time To Die in September. The order of chivalry was founded in 1818 and its holders are appointed by the Queen - who clearly has a great sense of humour.
Water had been melting from the rooftop of Tammy Shriver's home in Michigan onto the tree branches below. As a freeze-thaw-freeze sequence took place amid changing winter temperatures, a natural ice sculpture emerged. Not unreasonably, she's convinced it looks like a hummingbird.
That’s a wrap: French plastic packaging ban for fruit and veg now in force. Law bans sale of carrots, bananas and other items in plastic as environment groups urge other countries to follow. Emmanuel Macron has called the ban on plastic packaging of fresh produce “a real revolution” and said France was taking the lead globally with its law to gradually phase out all single-use plastics by 2040. The government believes the ban will cut more than 1bn items of single-use plastic packaging a year. The environment ministry said there must be curbs on the “outrageous amount of single-use plastic in our daily lives”.
Houseplants are all great natural indoor air purifiers, but some are especially effective for improving indoor air quality. But, according to NASA, the Areca butterfly palm tree is so good at filtering air that it has declared it the best purifying plant for your home or office. For more ideas, see Plants for a Healthier Home
From smartphones to laptops and EVs, lithium-ion batteries are everywhere. Now a new company breaks batteries down and extracts around 95 percent of the valuable materials for reuse, and investors are lining up. Recycling plants in Canada and New York have the capacity to salvage tens of thousands of tons of spent batteries each year, removing waste and aiding the creation of a semi-circular battery economy. Li-Cycle, borrowing the periodic table’s abbreviation for Lithium, also claims their “Spoke and Hub” proprietary recycling method is cost-effective, allowing battery manufacturers to actually afford recycled material.
The Quadrantid meteor shower could be about to set the standard for 2022 – just days after it begins. The spectacle will light up tonight's dark skies in the northern hemisphere with as many as 50 meteors an hour. Look towards the Plough.
Quote of the Day
"You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream." C.S. Lewis
On this Day
3 January 1977: Apple was incorporated by Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak.
1987: Aretha Franklin is first female artist to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
2009: The Bitcoin network is created as the first block of the digital currency is mined by a person or group of people using the name Satoshi Nakamoto.
Dive in Deeper
2021 Grassroot Climate Victories: For decades, standing up to powerful fossil fuel industries was, mostly, a lost cause. But in recent times, the tide has turned. Today, the reality is that everyday people are making a difference in the fight to cut emissions. Here are some inspiring examples... Read on
Giant Pandas Love Snow
There are few things more delightful than giant pandas on a snow day. The animals at the Smithsonian’s National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute woke up to a winter wonderland...