Wrapping up the week with an upbeat collection of news nuggets.
A statue to the 19th century fossil hunter and pioneering palaeontologist Mary Anning, who was once “lost to history”, is finally set to be unveiled in 2022 in her home town of Lyme Regis, on England's south coast, after a schoolgirl’s four-year campaign. Campaigners have overcome bureaucratic red tape and have now been granted planning permission to site the bronze in “the perfect spot”, overlooking Black Ven cliffs on the Jurassic coast in Dorset, where she made her many Jurassic discoveries.
A team of scientists from the Nanyang Technological University in Singapore, and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health in the US have developed an astounding new material: food packaging that is not only biodegradable but antimicrobial as well. This means that the packaging, which is comprised of a type of corn protein called zein, along with starch and other natural compounds, kills microbes that contaminate foods. This product should soon increase food safety while reducing food waste by adding days to fresh foods’ shelf lives. And, of course, decrease plastic pollution.
A dog saved a hiker injured in the snowy Croatian mountains by lying on top of him for 13 hours until they were rescued, according to local media. The dog, called North, kept Grga Brkic warm after he fell while out hiking and was unable to move. The other two hikers with him were unable to reach them, so they raised the alarm. First responders credited the eight-month-old Alaskan Malamute with having helped keep Brkic warm. “Friendship and love between man and dog have no boundaries,” Croatia’s mountain rescue service said in a Facebook post.
What's amazing about the tiny, two-seat Citroen Ami is that it's actually a quadricycle. This not only means it’s road-legal but that it can, in theory, legally be driven by 14-year-olds. (Good luck with that one, parents.) Already available in France and due in the UK in the spring, the Ami has a top speed of 28mph and 42 miles between charges, making this £6,000 ($8,000) runabout perfect for two-person urban hops. Clever component-doubling keeps costs low - the doors, for example, open in opposite directions because the design uses the exact same component on both sides of the vehicle. Same with the front and rear bumpers, apart from the paint.
It’s a common joke that every British actor is in the Harry Potter films at some point (and if they weren’t, why on earth hadn’t they been asked?). This was no accident, however – the wizarding world’s creator, JK Rowling, demanded that the movies only had English actors - so the book adaptations successfully avoided ‘Hollywoodisation’ and, they say, became a hit because of it.
Joseph Stalin allegedly said that one death is a tragedy, a million, a statistic. Such is sometimes the case in the natural world. Mainstream media often focuses on how many species are endangered, or how many acres of forest is lost, or how many tons of CO2 went into the atmosphere - they often forget that conservation is usually achieved through many small victories. This Alaskan Island that used to be wealthy in seabird and mammal life was ignominiously-renamed “Rat Island,” but a total extermination campaign restored a near pristine ecosystem within just 11 years.
One of the big knocks against solar panels is how much land they take up. But what if there were a readymade source of open land near to cities and towns that was guaranteed not to be used for anything else? In good news, as it turns out, landfills are becoming prime real estate for solar farms, and one nonprofit believes the U.S. could increase the nation’s solar energy capacity by about 60 percent, simply by building solar farms on landfills.
Quote of the Day
“I hope that in this year to come, you make mistakes. Because if you are making mistakes, then you are making new things, trying new things, learning, living, pushing yourself, changing yourself, changing your world. You’re doing things you’ve never done before, and more importantly, you’re doing something.”
On this Day
7 January 1785: First balloon flight across English Channel by JP Blanchard and John Jeffries.
1927: Commercial transatlantic telephone service inaugurated between New York and London.
Dive in Deeper
Red Planet: 2021 was a busy year on Mars with three missions arriving in February. So what did we learn at Mars? Read on...
Lemurs Like Getting High
Millipedes are not just used as an insect repellant, they're also a popular way of getting high.