An eclectic bundle of good news nuggets to help ensure the weekend gets off to a sunny start.
For lovers of sushi, sakura and sumo, it’s been a long time coming. The good news is that Japan has just taken another step towards travel normality. As countless other countries enjoy a post-pandemic tourist rush, Japan has remained firmly off the travel map for more than two years. Only since earlier this summer have a small number of tourists on official guided group tours been permitted to visit. However, the nation will now allow non-guided package tours from all countries to visit – just in time for the nation’s fiery annual display of autumn leaves.
Compostable “coffee balls” made using a seaweed-based cover instead of plastic will hit the European market next year. Swiss co-operative Migros has released a small compostable ball of pressed coffee – CoffeeB – that it claims works just like conventional plastic and aluminium capsule systems but does not cause any waste. The coffee balls are encased in a thin, flavourless, seaweed-based cover that can be discarded with the spent coffee after use. This brilliant solution could save thousands of tons of plastic waste.
A Scottish woman who found she could detect Parkinson's through smell has inspired scientists to develop a swab test that could be used to diagnose it. Joy knew her husband Les had Parkinson's more than 12 years before he was diagnosed when she identified a change in the way he smelled and now researchers in Manchester, England, have created a new method which they say can detect the disease in three minutes. Further study will be required to validate the findings before they can develop a diagnostic test that could be used in clinics or by doctors - but it's positive progress.
Heaping things into a pile. As in: 'Please tidy up properly – don't just cancatervate everything!'
Professor Brian Cox has set a new Guinness World Record for the most tickets sold for a science tour – after 230,873 people saw his 2019 show Universal. It marks the second time the physicist has broken his own record, having previously done so with his 2017 live tour after selling 158,589 tickets, which itself bettered his own previous record. Cox, 54, who is currently on his 2022 world tour Horizons: A 21st Century Space Odyssey, said “It is wonderful that so many people want to spend an evening contemplating our place in the universe."
Brad and Joy Ryan, grandson and grandmother, have set a goal of visiting all 63 national parks. Since they started the quest in 2015, they have made it to 62. The national park project began spontaneously seven years ago; Brad was stunned when his grandmother – who he knew was deeply fond of nature – told him she had never seen a mountain in person. At the time, he was beginning his final year of veterinary school at Ohio State University, and Joy had been a widow for 20 years and was living alone in the same tiny town where she grew up. “I wanted to be able to offer an opportunity for my grandmother to see that first mountain,” said Brad. So he asked Joy - then 85 - if she would be interested in a road trip to Great Smoky Mountains National Park. They made that trip, and many, many more. In the process they became best friends. “It’s beyond anything I ever could have imagined in my life,” said Joy. Once the pair completes their national park quest, they plan to start visiting state parks.
US Solar Panels
The Arizona-based renewable energy company First Solar has pledged $1.2 billion to expand domestic solar panel manufacturing, a move it says will create hundreds of new jobs and significantly expand U.S. solar capacity. The announcement comes on the heels of the passage of the Inflation Reduction Act, the United States’ most comprehensive legislative effort ever to stem global warming. The law greenlights hundreds of billions of dollars in federal grants, loans, and other investments for clean energy projects, including tax credits for U.S.-made solar panels.
Quote of the Day
“The things you do for yourself are gone when you are gone, but the things you do for others remain as your legacy.” Kalu Ndukwe Kalu
On this Day
10 September 2000: Andrew Lloyd Webber's musical Cats closed after 7,485 performances; it was the longest-running show on Broadway until it was surpassed by Lloyd Webber's Phantom of the Opera in 2006.
'Beautiful Earth' by Annemieke van Leeuwen.