Today's upbeat collection of positive news nuggets to perk up the day.
Who knew that monkeys can fish? Snow monkeys, also known as the Japanese macaque, have to survive in freezing conditions. Many live in the Japanese Alps, where in the winter months’ snow cover limits much of their summer food supply. To make matters worse, the deep valley the monkeys reside in means no escape from these harsh conditions. The macaque is forced to have to look elsewhere in their environment to make up for the depleted food source. A new study has uncovered where this alternative food comes from. Thanks to active volcanoes in the area, temperatures in flowing streams are at a constant of around 5˚C. This means many tasty snacks can still survive in the water, such as brown trout. The snow monkeys take advantage of these fish, pulling them out of the water to feast upon with their sharp claws.
Community spirit: Meanwhile, in similar temperatures, students in Western Pennsylvania had a snow day last week, but instead of staying home or meeting for an indoor workout, teens on the Bethel Park High School football team were instructed by their coach to get outside and help their neighbors. The coach announced that the team's weightlifting session in the gym was cancelled - but he had an alternative assignment for the young men: "Find an elderly or disabled neighbor and shovel their driveway… that’s your workout.” He also told the boys not to accept any money. By mid-morning more than 27 of the athletes were texting photos to the coach, with some saying they were on their 6th driveway.
One more snow-themed item for you: Anyone who has spent a lot of time outdoors in the snow knows how important it is to protect your eyes. The bright sun bouncing off the white snow can lead to snow blindness, a very uncomfortable situation caused by too much exposure to UV light. But, did you know that indigenous peoples in the Alaska region have been creating eyewear to protect themselves for thousands of years? Called ilgaak in Inuktitut and nigaugek in Central Yupik, these snow goggles look a bit different than the ones you'd use when hitting the ski slopes. The goggles created by the Inuit and Yupik peoples have two thin slits and are carved out of a variety of materials. Wood, bones, and even whale baleen are all used to fashion these googles, which are still produced today. The small slits not only reduce glare and reflection, but they can actually improve vision. By focusing the light, the slits act much as a pinhole camera would and help sharpen and focus vision.
Technology game-changer: A team from the Stanford School of Medicine has invented the fastest DNA sequencing tool yet. Using this, individuals can have their three billion plus nucleotides read in just over five hours, a record breaking time! The implications of this technology are enormous. Fast diagnoses allow for faster turnover of patients in critical care units, leading to fewer tests needing to be carried out, achieving cheaper treatment, more accurate diagnosis, plus quicker recovery times.
Grannygram: At the other end of the technology spectrum, a Spanish engineer has invented a simple 'grannygram' machine that prints out WhatsApp messages and photos to make it easier for his 93 year old technophobic grandmother to keep up to date with family news. The telecommunications engineer built a machine that fitted inside an empty strawberry box to automatically receive and print out posts from messaging platforms and social media. In a viral Twitter thread that gained more than 10,000 likes and retweets, Mr García explained how he made his “contraption” out of a receipt printer, a Raspberry Pi mini-computer and a SIM card.
Act of kindness: 21 year old Trenton Lewis is a single father, providing for his 14 month old daughter Carmen. Trenton started working at the UPS facility in Little Rock, Arkansas and had to walk 11 miles every day to get to work for the 4 a.m. shift. He didn’t tell anyone for 7 months. But at some point, his fellow workers found out. Soon enough they raised almost $2,000 and kept it a secret preparing for “the big reveal”. Recently, they asked Trenton to come to the parking lot for a brief “union meeting” where they surprised him with the keys to his new 2006 Saturn Ion. “I was emotionally moved. My heart just fell,” Trenton recalled. “God always has something for you. I’m never going to forget this ever.”
Quote of the Day
"How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world." Anne Frank
On this Day
27 January 1880: Thomas Edison patents electric incandescent lamp.
Dive in Deeper
Finally, a Solution for Non-Recyclable Plastic: In a world of disposable everything, single-use plastics continue to be a problem. Until they are all banned (don't hold your breath), a Los Angeles based company has a solid, practical solution for single use and non-recyclable plastics, and it's already being put to good use. Read on...
Tahiti: Divers Discover Pristine Reef
A spectacular coral reef has been found between 35 and 70 metres below sea level near Tahiti, and it seems to be in good health. Forming part of a reef that stretches for over three kilometres and measuring 70 metres across at its widest, it may be one of the largest reefs found at such depths.