Wrapping up the week with an eclectic bundle of good news nuggets from around the world.
Malaysian artist Ronald Ong tells intriguing stories through his fantastic photo manipulations. His conceptual and minimalistic style leaves you questioning reality. For more of his extraordinary images, be sure to click on our photo-feature article below. They're fun, uplifting and bound to make you smile.
A French pensioner received a retirement gift he’d never forget when his colleagues decided to send him on a fighter jet experience day. The once-in-a-lifetime experience swiftly became a please-don’t-make-me-do-that-again one, when an unfortunate series of events ended in the reluctant 64-year-old passenger accidentally ejecting himself from the plane, reports IFLscience. The good news is that both the pilot and passenger landed safely, leaving us free to appreciate the magnificent comic timing of a story you couldn’t make up.
It was catalogued as an “antique carved wooden bird” when it was auctioned for £75 ($100) in 2019. Now it has been identified as Anne Boleyn’s heraldic emblem, the 16th-century royal falcon that probably adorned her private apartments at Hampton Court Palace – only to be removed after Henry VIII ordered her execution. Its true worth is believed to be about £200,000 ($271,000), says The Guardian. The exquisite and richly decorated oak carving is in such extraordinary condition that it even bears its original gilding and colour scheme. In 1536, barely three years after it was made, Boleyn was beheaded on bogus adultery charges – just because she could not give Henry a male heir, only a daughter, the future Elizabeth I. The falcon is to be placed on long-term loan to Hampton Court Palace by Paul Fitzsimmons, a Devon antiques dealer, who spotted it in an auction.
Every year, about 80,000 Eastern bar-tailed godwits, or kuaka in Māori, make one of the longest avian migration flights in the world, travelling south from their breeding ground in the Arctic, across the Pacific, to New Zealand. This year, a female godwit, identified as 4BYWW by the bands on her legs, was confirmed as having made the longest flight ever recorded by a land bird. She travelled non-stop from Alaska to New Zealand, a journey of 12,200km (7,580 miles) that took her 204 hours at an average speed of 59km/h (37mph).
Many people are terrified of needles in some way - roughly one in ten of us has a "high level" of needle phobia. In a time when vaccines are more vital than ever, such feelings make getting a jab much less likely. But a new robot has the potential to change that. Called Cobionix, it doesn’t require a needle to deliver a dose. Instead, it uses a high-pressure fluid jet, no thicker than human hair, to inject the vaccine’s contents into human tissue.
A UK firm developing technology to recycle electric car batteries plans to list on the London Stock Exchange in the coming weeks. Technology Minerals aims to be the first British company to recycle, recover and re-use the batteries on an industrial scale by reclaiming metals and materials used in their production.
Overstone Kondowe, the 42-year-old son of a teacher, is the first Malawian with albinism to become an elected MP, taking his seat in the new parliament this week - making history in the southern African country. It also marks a significant milestone in a continent where people with the hereditary lack of pigmentation in the skin, hair and eyes face severe discrimination and physical attacks.
Tamil Nadu became the second state in India to bring in new legislation in support of retail workers. The new law requires store owners to provide seating places for their employees and allow them to sit down whenever possible during the working day.
A new study has found that China's coastal wetlands have undergone significant recovery within the last 10 years after several decades of loss and destruction. An international team of researchers used satellite imagery to develop a series of maps that illustrated the changes that took place in three kinds of coastal wetland regions - tidal flats, salt marshes, and mangroves - between 1984 and 2018. In the study published in Nature Sustainability, they reported finding that coastal wetland areas started to rebound after 2012.
Proverbial rabbit out of the hat: China and the US have agreed to boost climate co-operation over the next decade. In an “unexpected” announcement at the Cop26 summit in Glasgow, the BBC said the world’s two biggest CO2 emitters agreed that both sides will “recall their firm commitment to work together” to achieve the 1.5C temperature goal set out in the 2015 Paris Agreement. Despite the nations’ being “global rivals on a number of issues”, the broadcaster added that Joe Biden and Xi Jinping are expected to hold a virtual meeting as early as next week.
Wise Words: "Smiling is a wonderful way to get a boost of happiness. The next time life presents you with a challenging situation, take a deep breath and smile." - Morris Pratt
Dive in Deeper
Surreal photography: Malaysian photographer Ronald Ong has taken photo manipulation to another level. You can follow him on instagram. In the meantime, here's some of his imagery to whet your appetite. Enjoy...
Vicarious Adrenalin Rush
Danny Macaskill tests the limits of mountain biking, riding down the infamous Dubh Slabs on the Isle of Skye...