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Good News Wednesday

Updated: Mar 14, 2022

Mid week collection of upbeat news nuggets from around the globe.


Golden retriever sniffing for nests in some rocks.
Image: Mark Bolton/RSPB
Man's Best Friend

Could man’s best friend also be an ally for seabirds? Conservationists in the UK think so. Sniffer dogs have been trained to detect two threatened seabirds: European storm petrels and Manx shearwaters. The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds said the findings showed that dogs could help determine the presence of ground-nesting seabirds at sites where they have not been spotted. This information could then be used to inform strategies to protect the birds.


Slot machine in a Las Vegas casino.
Jackpot!

In January, an unknown man hit the jackpot at the Treasure Island Casino in Las Vegas. However, due to a slot machine malfunction, he walked away, unaware of his winnings. When they found out, the Nevada Gaming Board launched an extensive investigation to identify the lucky person. Staff spent hours reviewing the surveillance footage and analyzed the ride-share data that the Nevada Transportation Authority provided. “By the time an extensive review of the slot machine and the communications technology was completed, confirming the jackpot had been won, Mr Taylor had returned home to Arizona,” the Nevada Gaming Control Board commented. Three weeks later, the board reached out to Robert Taylor and notified him that he was the winner of the jackpot worth $229,368.52.


Logo of the 10 billion tree tsunami campaign.
10 Billion Trees

Three years ago, Pakistan launched the Ten Billion Tree Tsunami, a plan to reforest vast swathes of one of the most deforested countries in the world over 10 years. Critics scoffed, but they’re being forced to eat their words: the country has now planted nearly 2 billion trees, and is also conducting one of the biggest mangrove restoration projects in the world.


Bat falcon sitting on a post.
Joao Quental, CC license
Birder Paradise

Excited birders are flocking to Texas to see a Bat Falcon, that normally lives thousands of miles to the south, after it made its first ever recorded appearance in the U.S. This particular individual, suspected of being a juvenile, began making headlines after the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service posted some images of the bird. Border Report tells the story of Ray Sharpton, a 77-year old retiree, who hopped in his car at 3 a.m. and drove 34 hours from upstate New York to see the bird, adding that there are even birders coming from Europe to see it.


W & C

Whilst it's heartening to read, see and hear about the near universal condemnation of Vladimir Putin, one of the most surprising statements came from Prince William and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, as normally the royal family keep their opinions to themselves on such matters. On their official Twitter and Instagram accounts, the royal couple spoke out: "In October 2020 we had the privilege to meet President Zelenskyy and the First Lady to learn of their hope and optimism for Ukraine's future. Today we stand with the President and all of Ukraine's people as they bravely fight for that future." They closed the message with an icon of the blue and yellow Ukrainian flag and their initials: W & C.


Meanwhile, reports The Economist, Russians in every major city and region have taken to social media using the hashtag #нетвойне - meaning “no war” in English - to protest against Mr Putin’s invasion.


Vegetables growing under glass covered in red awning.
Alexander Soeriyadi | LLEAF Pty Ltd
Redhouses

For centuries, humans have used greenhouses to help plants grow. Now, as it turns out, it might be much better if instead of greenhouses, we built redhouses. The red spectrum of light stimulates the leaves of plants to produce more chlorophyll, and an Australian ag-startup is wielding this basic science to create thick red films to cover existing greenhouses in order to boost plant production. The films are made from special dyes that absorb and diffuse photons from the green spectrum of light, and emit it again as red light to increase plant photosynthesis. This, cleverly, reduces the amount of light which the plants can’t use, and the diffusion of the light they can use is done so more evenly. Luminescent-Light Emitting Agriculture Films was founded by scientists from a partnership between the Universities of New South Wales and Western Sydney.


Little baby sleeping, wearing a diaper.
Re-Usable Nappies

Nappies (or diapers, depending on which side of the Atlantic you live) added to roads 'doubles life of surfaces' according to a project being piloted in Wales. Why? Because fibre from nappies is added to bitumen glueing together asphalt road surfaces to make them stronger and more resilient. The good news is that the trial road doesn't smell like a discarded nappy and it's hoped the idea will offer a solution to the nappy waste problem, with about 140 million disposable nappies tossed in the bin annually in Wales.

 
Quote of the Day

"Even I don't wake up looking like Cindy Crawford." Cindy Crawford

 
On this Day

2 March 1933: The landmark monster movie King Kong had its world premiere; in addition to pioneering special effects, it was the first significant feature film to star an animated character.

 

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