Today's smorgasbord of good news nuggets to perk up the day.
In another positive sign that the new Brazilian president is taking a radically different approach to the environment than his predecessor, Brazil's environmental regulator has just refused to grant a license for a controversial offshore oil drilling project near the mouth of the Amazon River, prompting celebration from environmentalists who had warned of its potential impact. The unique and biodiverse area is home to little-studied swaths of mangroves and a coral reef.
Secrets of Ageing
Scientists hope to unlock the secrets of ageing by body scanning tens of thousands of volunteers in the world’s largest human imaging study. Some 60,000 people were MRI-scanned nine years ago as part of the UK Biobank project, which has created the most comprehensive health research database on the planet. Now, by rescanning volunteers’ bone density, brains and other vital organs, researchers hope to get a clearer picture of how our bodies age, with the aim of spotting markers for illnesses like cancer, heart disease and dementia.
Have you heard of the Loess Plateau? It's one of the greatest regeneration stories of all time. In 1994, China and the World Bank got together to restore nearly four million acres of over-grazed, over-harvested lands in north-central China. In less than 20 years, it was transformed into green valleys and productive farmland, and it is now greener and wetter than at any other point in the last two centuries.
Work was recently completed on what's being hailed as the largest mass timber building in Asia. Designed by Pritzker Prize winner Toyo Ito & Associates, the project features impressive green design, including solar panels that produce more electricity than it needs. Called Gaia, and located in Singapore's Nanyang Technological University, the building may only reach a height of six floors, but it has a length of 220m (721ft) and a floorspace of 43,500 sq.m (roughly 468,000 sq.ft). To put that into perspective, the tallest timber tower, Mjøstårnet in Norway, reaches 18 floors. According to NTU, Gaia's energy efficient design means that it produces approximately 2,500 fewer tonnes (2,755 US tons) of CO2 per year compared to a standard building of its type and size.
There was more good news for the UK’s rainforests as the National Trust, a conservation charity, announced a major tree planting project that will join up fragments of the rare habitat in north Wales. The trust has created its largest ever tree nursery to support the project. It will grow and plant some 30,000 native Welsh trees a year, with a focus on rare and threatened species, including black poplar. Growing native trees locally from seed means built-in resilience to the uniquely damp and humid climate where scattered fragments of Celtic (or ‘temperate’) rainforest cling on.
Last fall, fourth-grade teacher Lisa Parenteau had no idea that by spring break, her students would be responsible for Mississippi having an official state fruit. After hearing about kids in Kansas getting the Sandhill plum named their state's fruit, it sparked a discussion in her classroom about whether their state had an official fruit. There wasn't one, and Project Blueberry was born. They chose blueberry as their official candidate since it's the most grown fruit in Mississippi, and asked their state representative to sponsor a bill. She agreed, and over spring break, the students went to the Mississippi State Capitol to watch the governor sign the bill into law. Parenteau said she was inspired by her students and "just let them guide me. Everybody tells me I did such a good job, but I didn't. The kids did it. I was just there for the ride."
"So, where's the Cannes Film Festival being held this year?" Christina Aguilera
On this Day
25 May 1961: In a speech before Congress, U.S. President John F. Kennedy committed the United States to land a man on the Moon by the end of the decade; the goal was achieved with Apollo 11 in 1969.
Special FX video compilation: Imagination meets technical wizardry!