Tuesday's collection of good news nuggets to perk up the day.
Hubble's latest image share is a good one for fans of cosmic razzle-dazzle. You're seeing NGC 6717, a globular cluster that forms a piece of the constellation Sagittarius. But where it appears to you, a person on the ground staring up at the sky, as a pinprick of light amidst other pinpricks of light, to Hubble it's something much more magnificent. A globular cluster is like a little miniature galaxy. It's a collection of stars, sometimes numbering in the thousands, that are gathered together in a roughly spherical formation. They're held together by immense gravitational forces that often make a cluster's central region more densely packed.
Shortly after the sun rose over central Paris yesterday, the first of the orange-clad rope technicians hopped over the top of the Arc de Triomphe and began to abseil down the landmark unrolling a swathe of silvery blue fabric that shimmered in the early light. The monumental feat of wrapping the Arc de Triomphe in 25,000 sq metres of recyclable material and posthumously fulfilling a 60-year dream for the artist Christo, had begun. Expect to see lots of photos in the press of the wrapped Paris landmark in the coming days and weeks.
The Biden administration has announced its support of a Department of Health and Human Services plan aimed at reducing prescription drug prices nationwide. The plan’s three “guiding principles” are: making drugs more affordable, improving competition within the industry, and encouraging innovation. The plan is part of Democratic legislators’ $3.5 trillion spending plan, and takes a more aggressive angle on slashing drug prices compared to similar legislation floated in the past.
Pediatric surgeon Dr. Robert Parry always takes a moment to make sure a scar isn't the only lasting memory of a child's surgical procedure. He surprises them with a hand-drawn dressing featuring a character or something that personally interests them. Parry, 62, estimates he's created 10,000 bandages featuring cartoon characters, animals, cars and other designs for his young patients at Akron Children's Hospital in Ohio. For Parry, the reward is knowing he made a difference. "During a time of stress for families, it's nice to be able to help them smile and laugh," he said. "This is something positive that I can do for them, which is what I like most about it."
After the highest Dutch court found in 2019 that the government was breaking EU law by not doing enough to reduce excess nitrogen in vulnerable natural areas, the country has been battling what it is calling a “nitrogen crisis”. Daytime speed limits have been reduced to 100kmph (62mph) on motorways to limit nitrogen oxide emissions, gas-guzzling construction projects were halted and a new law pledges that by 2030 half of protected nature areas must have healthy nitrogen levels. Now civil servants at the finance and agriculture ministry have drawn up proposals which include slashing livestock numbers by 30 percent, one of the most radical plans of its kind in Europe.
Chilean scientists have announced the discovery of the first-ever southern hemisphere remains of a type of Jurassic-era "winged lizard" known as a pterosaur. Fossils of the dinosaur, which lived some 160 million years ago in what is today the Atacama desert, have now been confirmed to be of a rhamphorhynchine pterosaur - the first such creature to be found in Gondwana, the prehistoric supercontinent that later formed the southern hemisphere landmasses. The creatures had a wingspan of up to two meters, a long tail, and pointed snout.
Ikea is poised to buy Topshop’s former flagship store on London’s Oxford Street, once the jewel in Sir Philip Green’s retail empire, for an estimated £385m, creating a new London home for the Swedish furniture brand. The Oxford Street site, one of the most prominent locations on the UK’s premier high street, has been occupied by Topshop since 1994. The sale is good news for Topshop's pensioners as the sale will complete the top up of their depleted pension fund.
Fin whales are basically the Barry White of the ocean. The deep, bellowing songs that males use to attract mates are considered to be the loudest of all marine life and can be "heard up to 1,000 kilometers (600 miles) away," according to Scientific American. They can also be used to sonically map out the ocean floor thanks to the fact that the sound can reach depths of 2.5 kilometers (1.6 miles) under the water, which bounces back and provides researchers with accurate measurements. The really good news is a 2021 study in Science showed how using a fin whale's song can be far more useful and have less of a negative impact on sea life than using a large air gun, which is the typical tool researchers rely on.
Did you know that there's a website that tracks the world's population in real time? As of 2021, the overall human population is estimated to be more than 7.8 billion people. And if you want to watch that increase in real time, you can tune into the World Population Clock, which shows the upticks and downticks as babies are born and people die. You can also see the current populations of different countries.
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Nature Mood Booster
Cute otters intimately filmed by spy camera as part of the fabulous BBC Spy in the Wild series. Enjoy!