This year's penultimate collection of good news nuggets.
Thomas Pesquet, a French astronaut currently aboard the International Space Station posted this incredible image of aurora lights snaking out over the planet. Pesquet captured the shot from his vantage point 250 miles above the Earth and it’s one of the best pictures of the aurora ever taken from the ISS, but Pesquet didn’t specify if it was the Northern or Southern Lights.
A 62-year-old Australian man, paralyzed following his diagnosis with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, has become the first individual to send out a message on social media using a brain-computer interface (BCI). “no need for keystrokes or voices. I created this tweet just by thinking it. #helloworldbci” he wrote in his tweet.
Act of kindness: Teenagers built a shelter for a five-year-old boy who uses a wheelchair after noticing he got wet while waiting for the school bus in winter. Ryder Killam has had to battle rain, wind, and snow for about 15 minutes every day, using only a patio umbrella as protection. But after hearing about his problem, local students in Bradford, Rhode Island, got to work and built him his own bus shelter for the bottom of his driveway during their carpentry lessons. Ryder’s father said, “Ryder uses it every day before school and his nurses wait inside it every day while they await his return home. He does like to go hang out in it from time to time as his fort as well."
You may have had some mistletoe hanging in an advantageous spot in your home over Christmas. And you probably know that mistletoe is spread through the branches of trees courtesy of birds eating their berries and then pooping. But you may not know that some species shoot seeds from their fruits by building up water pressure within their berries and exploding. “It’s really cool - they can fly really long distances,” says a Smithsonian botany research associate, adding that "in some cases as far as 20 feet and at speeds up to 30 miles per hour."
A British Columbia couple has gifted a large parcel of land containing pristine old growth forest and rich riverside habitats to the Nature Conservancy of Canada. Harvey and Carol Thommasen donated the 122-hectare parcel in B.C.'s Central Coast and part of the Nuxalk Nation's traditional unceded territory, now called the Snowshoe Creek Conservation Area, through the federal government's ecological gifts program. "It's a very significant gift," said the Nature Conservancy of Canada. The land is part of the Bella Coola Valley, with floodplains and riverside habitats and old growth forest. It is home to five species of Pacific salmon, grizzlies and multiple species of birds. The Nuxalk Nation has managed this territory for thousands of years.
Giant millipedes as long as a car and weighing 50kg once hunted across northern England, experts have revealed, following the discovery of a 326 million year old fossil - that's more than 100 million years before the age of dinosaurs. The largest fossil of a giant millipede was found by a “fluke” on a Northumberland beach after a section of cliff fell on to the shore. In order to get so big, the creature, known as Arthropleura, must have found a nutrient-rich plant diet and may even have been a predator, feasting on other invertebrates or small amphibians.
Anyone with even a passing interest in cricket will be aware that the Australians have thrashed England in the Ashes series Down Under, in a case of the 'ruthless versus the toothless', so it's hardly surprising that an Aussie reader has felt inclined to send OGN this text photo. Some sports fans will find it hilarious, whilst others will not. Apologies to the latter.
Adele, Abba and Ed Sheeran helped boost vinyl sales in the UK this year. Almost a quarter of the albums bought this year were on vinyl, says the BBC, with Abba’s Voyage the biggest-seller. Sales of CDs continued to fall, but cassette sales, which represent a tiny fraction of the music market, increased for a ninth consecutive year.
Many cities with severe winters use salt to melt ice and make roads safer, but while this helps out drivers, it's not great for the environment. About 16 million tons of salt are used on US roadways each year, contaminating waterways and natural ecosystems while degrading steel infrastructure. Now, some communities are turning to a more eco-friendly alternative: the humble beet. The extract of sugar beet can be combined with traditional ice-melting chlorides to effectively lower the freezing point of water - just like salt - but without the same corrosive and ecologically damaging effects. The good news is that more and more cities are choosing to adopt the practice each year.
“Life is about accepting the challenges along the way, choosing to keep moving forward, and savoring the journey.” Roy T. Bennett
On This Day
30 December 1924: Astronomer Edwin Hubble formally announces the existence of other galactic systems at a meeting of the American Astronomical Society.
Dive in Deeper
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