What better way to start the week than with a bundle of positive news nuggets?
Pale Blue Dot
"There is perhaps no better demonstration of the folly of human conceits than this distant image of our tiny world. To me, it underscores our responsibility to deal more kindly with one another and to preserve and cherish the pale blue dot, the only home we've ever known," wrote Carl Sagan in his book Pale Blue Dot. The passage is a meditation on an extraordinary image taken in 1990 at the fringes of our solar system, showing Earth as nothing more than a, well, pale blue dot. "That's here. That's home. That's us," Sagan wrote. These words took on new meaning last week when NASA released new images from the James Webb telescope. In these images, we can see up to 13.1 billion light-years away, to when the universe was new. What a privilege it is to be alive. What a privilege to be here right now, together, on this pale blue dot.
On a mission to cut out pesticide and fertilisers, Vergenoegd Löw The Wine Estate, a winery in Cape Town, South Africa, employs about 1,600 ducks to help ward off pests around their precious grapevines. Troops of flightless Indian Runner ducks are cajoled on a 14-day circuit through the vineyard, eating and fertilizing the ground as they go. Vineyard staff got the idea from rice paddy workers in Asia, where ducks are used for similar purposes.
Nelly Cheboi knows the power a single computer can hold. She grew up in poverty in Kenya, and through her family's hard work, was able to to go college in the US on a scholarship. That's where she discovered her passion for computer science and realized how many doors are unlocked when you have a mastery of technology. Her nonprofit, TechLit Africa, uses recycled computers to create technology labs in schools in rural Kenya. Through her work, thousands of children like her can see a brighter future on screen.
Random Fun Fact
Cats have fewer toes on their back paws. Like most four-legged mammals, cats have five toes on the front, but their back paws only have four toes. Scientists think the four-toed back paws might help them run faster.
A round of applause for Chris Hemsworth, for being a thoughtful coworker. Natalie Portman recently said that Hemsworth, her co-star in the new movie Thor: Love and Thunder, stopped eating meat before filming their kiss scene because Portman is vegan. Honestly, that's just nice! For the record, Portman says Hemsworth eats a lot of meat. (He does give off big meat-eater energy, doesn't he?) It's the little things...
Did you know that plants have been making aspirin for millions of years? And humans have been using it as far back as Neanderthal times for self-medication? The pain medication can be found in trees and sunflowers alike in an unprocessed form called salicylic acid, created in response to when a plant is experiencing stress. A group from California's UC Riverside conducted a study to find out more about this phenomenon, with the hopes of applying this to improve plants’ survival chances against climate change. “We’d like to be able to use the gained knowledge to improve crop resistance,” explained co-first author Jin-Zheng Wang. “That will be crucial for the food supply in our increasingly hot, bright world.”
Quote of the Day
“If you want light to come into your life, you need to stand where it is shining.”
On this Day
18 July 1976: For her performance in the uneven parallel bars at the Olympic Games in Montreal, Nadia Comăneci of Romania became the first gymnast to be awarded a perfect score of 10 in an Olympic gymnastic event.
Lots of old movie clips cleverly spliced together to sync with Boney M's Rasputin.