Wrapping up 2021 with a smorgasbord of good news nuggets from around the globe.
Hats off to 6 year old Kendall Rae Johnson: She's now officially the youngest certified farmer in Georgia. She was declared so by the state's governor and has the proclamation to prove it. The young farmer first learned about growing food from her great-grandmother who taught her to replant collard green stems in the dirt instead of throwing them away, and Kendall Rae is sharing her love of farming by teaching other kids how to plant fruits and vegetables. Each month, she hosts a gardening club to spread awareness about farming, and participants get to help her plant and harvest food from her farm.
Wanted: All-in-one landlord, pub manager and monarch for remote UK island. Piel Island, home to a ruined castle and a pub, is hiring. It's a small island off the coast of northwest England, reachable by ferry between April and September, and it's currently home to one couple, a booming population of seals, a badly damaged 14th-century castle, and a pub called the Ship Inn, which is believed to be more than 300 years old. The pub is owned by the local government council, which is hiring a landlord to look after and operate it in the summer, when it opens for tourists. Oh, and the monarch title is purely symbolic. Fancy the job? Apply here
Mr Spock, the half-human, half-Vulcan science officer, first portrayed by Leonard Nimoy in Star Trek: The Original Series and subsequent films, was known for his shrewd intelligence, his cool logic, and his pointed ears. The National Air and Space Museum say they are excited to announce that a new prop from Star Trek has joined their collection: a set of Spock ear tips from Nimoy’s personal collection. These ear tips were made for Nimoy to transform into Mr. Spock in the filming of The Original Series and were taken home from set by the actor, who hand-built a display box to keep them safe. In good news for Trekkies, his children Adam and Julie have just donated their father’s keepsake ears to the museum.
A team of researchers at the Spanish Astrobiology Centre in Madrid may have just made an astounding discovery by spotting a vital component of the simplest phospholipid in space. Phospholipids are molecules that comprise the membranes of all cells on Earth. The team thinks the discovery of the phospholipid component, known as ethanolamine, indicates that all of the precursors for life could have originated in space. The researchers made the discovery by analyzing light from an interstellar cloud of gas and dust called Sagittarius B2. Their paper on the subject has not yet been peer reviewed. And while this doesn’t answer the question of how life began on Earth, it’s still an indication about where the building blocks of life might have come from, and has potentially far-reaching implications for ideas of life's origin on Earth.
“Did you know that at any given time, the atmosphere contains six times more water than all the rivers on the planet put together?” says David Hertz of Studio of Environmental Architecture in California. “The most important source for drinking water is all around us - the air that we breathe. So the question is: How do we harvest this?” Hertz explains his solution is based on condensation: When hot air touches a cool surface, atmospheric humidity condenses. The Skysource boxes can be heated up with either solar power or biomass. Even in drought-stricken California, each box can easily produce over 2,000 liters per day, more water than Hertz's architecture studio and nearby gardens can consume. Time Magazine named it one of the best inventions of the year.
Danish energy firm Orsted has announced that the Hornsea 2 offshore wind farm off the coast of Scotland has produced its first energy. This important milestone means that Hornsea 2 will be the "world’s largest operating offshore wind farm" once it is fully operational in 2022 and will further cement the UK's position as the Saudi Arabia of wind. Hornsea 2 covers an area of roughly 178 square miles (462 km²) and will use 165 turbines when fully operational, giving it a capacity of more than 1.3 gigawatts - enough to power one million homes.
Postmen on canary-yellow e-trikes are whizzing around Hamburg’s extensive network of municipal bike lanes with quiet efficiency. The battery-powered vehicles are seen by the German national postal service, Deutsche Post, as key to its rapid ecological transition, which is already hailed by experts as an example the world can learn from. The company has publicly said “climate change is the central challenge of our time,” and aims to be carbon neutral by 2050.
Scientists say the Omicron variant could lead to a “complete decoupling” of Covid case and death rates and end the coronavirus epidemic. The study, by the University of Pretoria and the National Institute for Communicable Diseases in South Africa, found that if the pattern seen in the country is repeated globally, “we are likely to see a complete decoupling of case and death rates, suggesting that Omicron may be a harbinger of the end of the epidemic phase of the Covid pandemic, ushering in its endemic phase”.
Quote of the Day
“Great spirits have always encountered violent opposition from mediocre minds. The mediocre mind is incapable of understanding the man who refuses to bow blindly to conventional prejudices and chooses instead to express his opinions courageously and honestly.” Albert Einstein
On This Day
31 December: Ottawa was named capital of Canada by Queen Victoria this day in 1857.
In 1904, first New Year's Eve celebration held in Times Square, New York City.
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