Wednesday's Good News

Updated: May 7

Mid week collection of positive news snippets from around the world.


Man standing beside a lake at night admiring the Northern Lights
Kirkjufell, Iceland
Roman and Greek

Many people have 'seeing the aurora borealis' on their Bucket List, but do you know where the name for this atmospheric phenomena comes from? Most agree that its origin is from 1619, when Italian astronomer Galileo Galilei used the term aurora borealis to describe the northern lights. He named the phenomenon after Aurora, the Roman goddess of sunrise, and Boreas, the god of north wind in Greek mythology.


The purple and white flowering head of a giant orchid
Photo: Maria José Valera Jiménez | Wikimedia Commons, CC-BY-SA-4.0
Giant Orchids

Giant orchids have been discovered in Oxfordshire, growing wild in UK for the first time. The plant has been expanding north from the Mediterranean and can reach a maximum height of 30cm (12 inches). Sean Cole, co-author of Britain’s Orchids, welcomes the new species of Himantoglossum robertianum. “It comes from the near continent, so it’s kind of semi-natural to us,” he said. Early pollinators have been seen on the flowers. “Our local bees have welcomed them, so then why shouldn’t we?”


Ordinary looking residential buildings clad in an energy efficient Ecoworks coat
Credit: Ecoworks
Clever Coat

A German renovation firm is raising a lot of interest in their ability to make old buildings really energy efficient simply by putting a big ‘coat’ on them. Taking a 3D scan of a house, they prefabricate wood panels of identical shape and scale to be attached to the outside and, remarkably, have turned the most inefficient buildings in Germany into net-energy producers. Called Ecoworks, the panels they make come with built in solar panels and insulation, and it can all be installed on the host building incredibly quickly. Better yet, they’re made from wood that’s been harvested after its achieved optimal carbon capture.


Teenage boy exploring a forest using a compass
Deeper Knowledge

A new natural history GCSE (roughly equivalent to SATs in the US) is about to be launched in the UK, focusing on how pupils can protect the planet. The qualification will be available from September 2025 and is expected to be announced by the education secretary, Nadhim Zahawi, tomorrow. The Department for Education said the qualification would allow pupils to learn about organisms and their environments, as well as environmental and sustainability issues, “to gain a deeper knowledge of the natural world around them”. Pupils will also develop skills for future careers in conservation, “from understanding how to conserve local wildlife to conducting the fieldwork needed to identify species”, the DfE said.

 

“There is a powerful force unleashed when young people resolve to make a change.” Primatologist Jane Goodall

 
Young women applying nasal spray up her nose
All Covid Variants

A groundbreaking treatment in the form of a nasal spray, which could protect people from all Covid variants will advance to human trials after successful lab tests. The new spray contains “potent” proteins which target the virus’s weak spots and prevent it from infecting the body, say researchers at Northwestern University and the University of Washington. The virus-hunting proteins could offer an alternative to vaccines, which require a healthcare professional to administer. Furthermore, they can be produced on a large scale, making them far more cost-effective to manufacture and are stable in high heat. There is also a high chance the treatment could be self-administered using a one-time nasal spray.


Financial Help

The World Bank is preparing a $170bn package of financial help in response to the overlapping global crises of war, pandemic and inflation that are hitting the poorest countries particularly hard, its president has said. David Malpass warned that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine had added to pressures caused by the pandemic and the soaring cost of living, and there was a need to provide assistance quickly. Under proposals that will be discussed with the World Bank’s member governments at this week’s spring meeting of the Washington-based organisation, $50bn would be spent over the next three months, with a further $120bn of financing provided over the following year.


Coastline of the Swedish city of Malmo
Malmo, Sweden, where 60 percent of buildings are heated by trash.
1% to Landfills

Sweden sends only a tiny amount of its waste to landfills - it recycles nearly half and burns the other half to generate electricity and heat. This waste-to-energy procedure makes it possible to phase out landfills and replace Russian gas while earning Sweden $100 million per year. Its 34 waste-to-energy plants supply 1.4 million households with heat and 780,000 households with electricity. While most Swedish power comes from hydro and nuclear, the waste plants reduce greenhouse gases by keeping trash out of landfills. However, the cleanest waste-to-energy power plant in the world is in Denmark's capital city, topped by an artificial ski slope that's open all year round.

 
Quote of the Day

“Don’t underestimate the value of Doing Nothing, of just going along, listening to all the things you can’t hear, and not bothering.” Winnie the Pooh

 
On this Day

20 April 1611: First known performance of Shakespeare's Macbeth, at the Globe Theatre in London.

 

Dive in Deeper


Biscuit-Loving Bear


A wild bear in Italy has walked nearly 100 miles across rugged terrain to return to the town from which it was banished after it raided a bakery. Read on...


Camelot


Royal graves from the time of King Arthur have been discovered. Read on...

 
Comedy Mood Booster

Always Look on The Bright Side of Life - North Korean Edition - from the Department of Whimsy Enforcement.