Tuesday's Good News

Today's upbeat bundle of good news nuggets from around the world.

  • "Transient luminous event" sounds like a euphemism for a ghost, but it's actually a beautiful phenomenon that can sometimes be seen from the International Space Station. European Space Agency astronaut and current ISS resident Thomas Pesquet shared a view of an ethereal blue glow emerging over Europe. Transient luminous events are caused by upper-atmospheric lightning. The ISS is in a perfect position to study the colorful events, which are described using a series of fantastical names, including elves, sprites and giants.

  • Tanitoluwa "Tani" Adewumi has accomplished a lot in his 11 years. In 2017, he and his family fled their native Nigeria, worried about attacks by extremist group Boko Haram. Not even two years later, Adewumi won the New York State Chess Championship. That victory changed his family's life forever, and since then Adewumi has been on a blitz. He became a national master earlier this year, and is now on a quest to become the game's youngest grandmaster ever. How dedicated is he? He usually practices about seven hours a day, but it isn't unusual for him to be glued to a board for nine or ten hours instead. "Chess is everything to me, it's my life," says Tani. "That's how we came to where we are today."

  • NASA is diving into the all-electric future of transportation: The space agency has awarded contracts totaling $250 million to two firms to develop new electric propulsion technologies for short-range regional passenger aircraft in the United States.

  • The U.N. Human Rights Council has finally recognized access to a clean and healthy environment as a fundamental human right, adding it to others - like food, shelter, and freedom from slavery - laid out in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

  • A politician, a poet, a cultural leader, an actress and an astronaut: These are the woman who will grace the first edition of the US Mint's "American Women Quarters Program." Two of the women featured, astronaut Sally Ride and writer and civil rights activist Maya Angelou, were announced earlier this year. Now, they will be joined by Anna May Wong, known as the first Chinese American Hollywood star; Wilma Mankiller, the first woman to serve as principal chief of the Cherokee Nation; and Nina Otero-Warren, a suffragette who became the first Hispanic woman to run for Congress. The US Mint invited the public to submit names of women they view as American icons, and noted that the final choices all highlight legends who broke into fields that were, at the time, highly inaccessible to women or people of color. This program will continue until 2025, honoring five women with five quarters each year.

  • Equinor, the flagship producer of oil and gas giant Norway, is investing billions of dollars in blue hydrogen on a bet that it can make the fuel more cleanly than anyone else. The state-controlled oil firm is among energy companies across Europe stepping up plans for hydrogen as mounting pressure to fight climate change spurs massive shifts in investment. Equinor believes it has the edge in the race to commercialize the industry because it leaks less methane than its rivals. The company is focusing on blue hydrogen, which is made from natural gas and has been touted as key to cleaning up industries such as steel, cement and aviation.

  • With queues at the pubs and beauty salons, Sydney reopened yesterday after more than 100 days in lockdown. Thousands defied grey skies to flock to newly-reopened cafes, barbers and gyms to kick off what some have described as ‘freedom day.’

  • The biggest greenhouse in the US, located in Appalachia, Kentucky, has way more going for it than its size. This high-tech eden, called AppHarvest, uses robotics, artificial intelligence and complex data to grow up to 45 million pounds of tomatoes a year. This means the 60-acre complex can yield 30 times more per acre than open fields while using 90 percent less water, AppHarvest says. The facility collects data from over 700,000 plants using AI technology, and can monitor even the smallest details about soil, moisture and nutrients. Then, robots can carefully pluck the ripest tomatoes. This kind of absolute stability - a well-oiled machine, if you will, could help reduce the environmental impact of global food production.

  • Fun Fact: Mt. Everest isn't as close to the heavens as Mt. Chimborazo. How so? Earth isn't actually round, but oval, with an inflated middle. Although Ecuador's Mt. Chimborazo is only 20,564 feet in height, its equator location pushes it closer to the stars than Mt. Everest, at 29,035 feet.

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Splish Splash

To say this gorilla is enjoying its bath is an understatement. Hope the rest of your day is at least half as fun!