Wrapping up the week with some bite sized chunks of good news to brighten the day.
A giant waterlily grown at Kew Gardens has been named as new to science, in the first discovery of its type in more than a century. Scientists at the south-west London garden suspected for decades there could be a third species of giant waterlily and worked with researchers in its native home in Bolivia to see if their thesis was correct. Specimens of this large aquatic plant have been sitting in the herbarium at Kew for 177 years, and in the national herbarium of Bolivia for 34 years, but it was commonly thought to be one of the other two species. But when they grew them and tested their DNA, they discovered it was an entirely new species. Indeed, with leaves growing up to three metres, it is also the largest giant waterlily on the planet.
India Plastics Ban
India has implemented a ban on single-use plastics on items ranging from straws and packaging films to cigarette packets to combat worsening pollution in country whose streets are strewn with waste. Announcing the ban, the government dismissed the demands of food, beverage and consumer goods companies to hold off the restriction to avoid disruptions.
40 years after they went extinct in the region, the Peace Parks Foundation (PPF) has moved black and white rhinos from South Africa to Mozambique's Zinave National Park, which has over 400,000 hectares and more than 2,300 other reintroduced animals. This initiative is a part of a campaign to save the endangered species by relocating them to safe havens where they have a chance to increase their population. PPF is hoping to relocate over 40 rhinos in the next two years to Mozambique. The project manager, Anthony Alexander, said that the group has already brought in certain predators and many elephants to the park and that it was now rhinos' turn. "It's very exciting now to complete the presence of historical species in the park," Alexander said.
An imaginary world created by a child.
Two years after beginning his journey photographing the stars, Brennan Gilmore has accomplished a major goal: photographing the Andromeda galaxy. Our neighbor in the sky, Andromeda is a spiral galaxy similar to our own Milky Way. Sitting 2.5 million light-years away, it remains a bright spot in the atmosphere. However, it took some time to build up the skills and acquire the equipment to achieve an image Gilmore was happy with. The final result was well worth the wait, as the image went viral after he posted it online and even ended up in Newsweek.
Finnish researchers have installed the world's first fully working "sand battery" which can store green power for months at a time. The developers say this could solve the problem of year-round supply, a major issue for green energy. Using low-grade sand, the device is charged up with heat made from cheap electricity from solar or wind. The sand stores the heat at around 500C, which can then warm homes in winter when energy is more expensive. Concerns over sources of heat and light, especially with the long, cold Finnish winter on the horizon are preoccupying politicians and citizens alike. This may well represent a simple, cost-effective way of storing power for when it's needed most.
Environmental groups are suing Dutch airline KLM, alleging that adverts promoting the company's sustainability initiative are misleading. The groups say it's the first lawsuit to challenge so-called airline industry "greenwashing". They argue that KLM adverts and their carbon-offsetting scheme create the false impression that its flights won't make climate change worse. However, KLM says its statements are "based on solid arguments." The good news, of course, is that this puts polluters on notice that environmentalists will come for you in the courts if you don't behave properly.
Quote of the Day
“The world is full of painful stories. Sometimes it seems as though there aren't any other kind and yet I found myself thinking how beautiful that glint of water was through the trees.” Octavia E. Butler
On this Day
8 July 1497: Vasco da Gama sailed from Lisbon with a fleet of four vessels, and he ultimately opened a sea route from western Europe to India by way of the Cape of Good Hope, ushering in a new era in world history.
Dive in Deeper
Flying Visit to Versailles
The palace, gardens and fountains of the Palace of Versailles seen from the sky.