Mid week collection of positive news.
The world's largest mirror is as beautiful as ever and, one day - not too long from now - we'll all be able to travel to see it (or any other of the world's natural phenomena) again. Bolivia's enormous salt flats - Salar de Uyuni - cover about 4,000 square miles of the Bolivian highlands, are spectacular any time of year. But in the rainy season (December to April), when a thin sheen of water gathers on the surface, they become the largest mirror on the planet, reflecting the sky in perfect symmetry. Locals call it Heaven on Earth for the way it resembles the classic view of a celestial paradise. By day, you will be walking on clouds; by night, floating in the middle of the Milky Way. Dare to dream!
Talking of daring to dream: today's the day that The Donald passes, begrudgingly, the baton to Joe Biden. We all hope for better news from now on. You may already have heard that Lady Gaga will be performing at the inauguration, but how about Amanda Gorman? While she may not yet be a household name, she’s about to become much better known as she follows in the footsteps of Maya Angelou and Robert Frost to give the inauguration poem in D.C. The 22 year old LA native and National Youth Poet Laureate is the youngest person to ever be given this platform.
Kindness is good for physical health: Whilst there has been much discussion over the last year of the benefits of kindness for mental health, new research shows it's good for you physically too.
In 2003, the population of the European bison stood at just 1,800, leading scientists to classify the animal as “vulnerable”. This led to a number of conservation initiatives and the good news is that the population has now grown to 6,200.
Revival of art galleries: Private art collectors are once again building public galleries in England.
Billionaire Sir Jim Ratcliffe’s chemical group Ineos is donating £100m to Oxford University to fund research into antibiotics-resistant “superbugs”. The donation from Sir Jim - who is Britain’s fifth-richest person with a £12.5bn fortune - is one of the biggest in the university’s history and will be used to fund antimicrobial research.
Twitter misinformation falls dramatically: In the week following Twitter's permanent ban of Donald Trump, media intelligence company Zignal Labs found that the spread of lies and misinformation on the social media platform took a sharp fall.
Shh! We Have a Plan: Director Ian Nicholson and designer Sam Wilde brightened up the first lockdown with their delightful puppet versions of the picture book I Want My Hat Back. Now, they’re back with another set of eye-catching characters for a 15-minute adventure based on Chris Haughton’s book Shh! We Have a Plan. And this one introduces kids to opera, too, with a new score by Noah Mosely sung by soprano Abigail Kelly. English Touring Opera’s production is online until 25 January.
A vegan restaurant in south-west France has won a Michelin star, the first for an establishment serving only animal-free products in the country.
Sisu: The Finns thrive in the long, dark Arctic winter by channelling their inner grit, or sisu, which manifests by embracing their extreme weather - from cycling in snow or even ice swimming. Perhaps soaking in saunas - the national pastime of the 'happiest country in the world' three years in a row according to the U.N. - also has something to do with their inner glow.
For the first time in history, a combination of wind, solar, and other renewables overtook Germany’s coal, oil, and gas, for use as the country’s fuel source during 2020. A combination of the pandemic, lower demand for electricity, mild weather, cheaper natural gas, and various economic and market factors led to the historic numbers on the data sheets of Western Europe’s biggest consumer of fossil fuels, and the world’s fourth-largest economy.
Another gorgeous Christmas story: 7-year-old Emrie is a huge Harry Potter fan. The young girl is also visually impaired so her aunt, Katelyn, started a GoFundMe to collect the money needed to buy her all the books in braille. And when Emrie received the series at Christmas, she couldn’t contain her happiness. “Thank you, thank you, thank you to everyone who donated and made this Christmas extra special for my niece Emrie!’’ Katelyn wrote in a post.
World's most relaxing film: It's quite a claim! But this delightful 7 minute video may be just what you need at the moment. It was created based on advice of experts from the fields of stress, mindfulness, nature therapy and music therapy, and recorded on the West Coast of Zealand, in Denmark.