Global round up of good news nuggets to help put a spring in your step.
If you haven’t been there yourself or seen it in tourism ads, you may recognize gorgeous Maya Bay from the 2000 film The Beach, starring Leonardo DiCaprio. In the movie, Maya Bay is the setting of a jealously guarded secret beach, whose location cannot be exposed to the public because it is too pristine and beautiful to ruin with tourists. However, thanks to the movie, word got out and it was swamped, forcing the Thai government to close it for ocean protection and to allow the Maya Bay ecosystem time to recover. The good news is that it has now recovered and re-opened. The waters are crystal clear, resting beneath enormous limestone cliffs and cloudlike white sand. Visitors are now strictly limited and must book ahead. Maya Bay’s restorative time has brought back hundreds of blacktip reef sharks, schools of fish, and over 30,000 colonies of coral, which are critical to ocean health.
Nearly 80 years after World War II, an impressionist painting named 'Flowers' (a 1913 still life by the German artist Lovis Corinth) will be returned to its rightful owners after being looted by the Nazis. Nine great-grandchildren, who are the descendants of the Mayer couple, who owned the artwork, will accept the painting from the Royal Museums of Fine Arts in Brussels. For decades, the museum held onto the painting, unable to locate an owner. The original couple owned 30 paintings in total, but this is the first to be recovered. “This restitution, the first by the Museums of Fine Arts, is a very strong signal," said Thomas Dermine, secretary of state. "Even decades later, justice can triumph... To repair is to remember and to remember is to avoid the return of the worst.”
Cycling to School
An emergence of 'bike bus' initiatives, or groups of bikers biking together, are being used as a zero-emission form of travel for kids to and from school. In cities like San Francisco, bicycle-related accidents are not infrequent. But when traveling in groups, the cyclists are more eye-catching than individual bikers, creating a safer way of traveling in urban areas. With parents and chaperones at either end of groups to maintain safety, students from all across the country are boarding these bike buses. Just like a similar initiative in Barcelona.
The little-known Turlock Irrigation District in California has taken a bold and ambitious step to put solar panels on its open water canals. The project is the on-ground test of a study by researchers at the University of California, published last year. The study used simulations to calculate that California's open canal system could save 63 billion gallons of water every year if it put a lid on top of its canals. Bright idea! Installing solar panels would also help the canals become a hub of renewable energy, producing about one-sixth of California's energy requirements.
Whilst there was much chat yesterday about Twosday - as the date 22/2/22 was both a palindrome and an ambigram - let's not do a disservice to the rest of February as every date until the end of the month will be a palindrome. Maybe not everywhere, but it certainly will be in America.
Archaeologists in the United Arab Emirates are excited to have uncovered the country's oldest known buildings, dating back at least 8,500 years. The buildings are located on the island of Ghagha, west of the city of Abu Dhabi and are "simple round rooms," which have stone walls that are still preserved up to a height of almost a metre (3.3 feet). Hundreds of artifacts were also uncovered, among them finely worked stone arrowheads that would have been used for hunting. The discovery shows the existence of Neolithic settlements before long-distance maritime trade routes developed.
A flotilla of British-built heat-sensing satellites is to be launched into Earth orbit to pinpoint badly insulated buildings across the planet. Seven thermal-imaging probes are being constructed in Guildford (and will be launched over the next two to three years), and are intended to play a key role in the battle against global heating by showing how homes, offices and cities can be made more energy efficient. The aim of Satellite Vu’s programme is to carry out a constant, worldwide survey measuring heat emanating from buildings. This will be achieved using high-definition infrared radiation detectors that will show where buildings are leaking significant levels of energy, and which are wasting power - so they can get them fixed!
Quote of the Day
"Wine is constant proof that God loves us and loves to see us happy."
On this Day
23 February 1886: "The Times" of London publishes the world's first classified ad.
Dive in Deeper
World's Best Mimic?
The lyre bird of southern Australia is not only able to mimic all the other birds in the forest, it can also mimic a camera with a motor drive, a siren and a chainsaw. Truly remarkable.