Eclectic global round up of positive news nuggets to get the weekend off to a sunny start.
Male contraceptives have traditionally been limited to condoms or vasectomies, which aren’t ideal solutions for many reasons. Now scientists have demonstrated a promising new method that takes the form of a pill that can be taken just before sex, greatly reducing fertility for 24 hours. Thus far, a male contraceptive has eluded science. Past attempts keep turning out to be ineffective, have too many side effects, take a long time to kick in or wear off, or some combination of these. But a new drug, developed by scientists at Weill Cornell Medicine, seems to solve all those problems. When tests are concluded, we'll let you know.
There's a Swedish philosophy known as “lagom” (lah-gomm), which translates to “just the right amount.” Living lagom means developing a mindset focused on balance, sustainability and living in the moment. It’s learning to appreciate what we have instead of striving for what we don’t.
Fresh Air - Finally!
Construction workers unearthed a life-size marble statue of a Roman emperor dressed as Hercules while repairing a Roman sewer. “I doubt anyone was expecting a find like this under these circumstances,” says Jane Draycott, an archaeologist and historian at the University of Glasgow. “A nice surprise amongst the sewage!” The statue’s face doesn’t resemble Hercules, but experts say it looks like Decius, the Roman emperor who ruled from 249 to 251 C.E.
Arctic Fox Recovery
Just over 20 years ago, the arctic fox was close to extinction in Sweden and Norway. Then there were only 40 to 60 individuals left. Since then, it has had a remarkable recovery and 2022 was a record year. The Swedish Environmental Protection Agency registered 164 new fox litters in 2022. In addition, 88 puppies became adults during the year. In total, the researchers estimate that there are now over 550 full grown arctic foxes in Sweden, Norway and Finland (which are now also included in the inventory).
EU Ends ICE by 2035
Members of the European Parliament have just passed a law requiring automakers to achieve a 100 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions from new cars sold in the EU by 2035. Because gasoline- and diesel-powered cars are inherently incompatible with such a target, the law effectively spells the end of the internal combustion engine (ICE) in the EU’s 27 member states.
Automotive brand Nissan has collaborated with sportswear company New Balance to create the Kicks 327 - a car that resembles a giant drivable trainer. Created to promote Nissan's electric Kicks SUV, the collaboration is a play on the car's name, which is slang for trainers.
The SUV is adorned with a body wrap to give it the appearance of a grey New Balance 327 trainer. The shoe's suede upper was replicated with a graphic print above the wheel arches, while laces were emblazoned on the vehicle's bonnet and the collar, tongue and eyestay were replicated on the roof. Keep an eye out for it if you're in Tokyo.
Finally Retiring at 91
In the more than four decades she spent as a crossing guard, Louise Kobs, 91, helped countless children in Levittown, New York, get to and from school safely. "It was the greatest job," Kobs told WABC. The great-grandmother was 50 years old when she started working as a crossing guard, and her son, Kevin, said her family spent years asking her to retire, but she kept telling them no. Finally, she decided it was time, and her last day at work, Nassau County declared it "Louise T. Kobs Day." People came out in droves to celebrate her, stopping Kobs to give her flowers and hugs. She was "a staple of the neighborhood," one parent told WABC, and another said she "always brightens your day."
Solar Over Canals
Project Nexus is a new $20 million pilot in California’s Turlock Irrigation District. The team is exploring solar over canal design, deployment, and co-benefits using canal infrastructure and the electrical grid. Project Nexus will explore whether the solar panels reduce water evaporation as a result of midday shade and wind mitigation; create improvements to water quality through reduced vegetative growth; reduce canal maintenance as a result of reduced vegetative growth; and of course, generate renewable electricity. If all 4,000 miles of California’s canals were covered with solar panels, that could produce 13 gigawatts of renewable power. A gigawatt is enough to power 750,000 homes, so that would be enough power for 9.75 million households. For perspective, there are 13 million households in California.
"Don't forget to tell your favorite people that you love them."
On this Day
18 February 2006: American speed skater Shani Davis became the first Black athlete to win an individual Winter Olympics gold medal when he placed first in the men's 1,000-metre long-track final at the Games in Turin, Italy.
Funny Talking Animals: Another collection of hilarious short clips from the BBC's Walk on the Wildside.