Wrapping up the week with an eclectic bundle of good news nuggets from around the cosmos.
Tonight is the best night for Draconids in the Northern Hemisphere. Expect a flurry of meteors in the high northwest skies after nightfall with about 10 to 15 shooting stars an hour. With only a small sliver of moon to compete, the relatively dark skies will help sky-watchers enjoy these flashes of cometary debris. Like most other meteor showers, the Draconids are named after the constellation from which they appear to radiate - in this case, Draco, the dragon. The Draconids are best viewed from nightfall to midnight, when the shooting stars will appear highest in the sky.
First Vuna salad was added to the menu, now Vrimp is on there too as the world’s biggest food company capitalises on the growth of vegan and vegetarian diets with a new faux-seafood product. Nestlé describes Vrimp, made out of seaweed and peas, as an exciting innovation, with the alt-seafood having the same “authentic texture and flavour of succulent shrimps”. The company has even managed to mimic the distinctive shape using special moulds, meaning they can replace the real thing in a salad or poké bowl. The orange sweep of colour on the body has been replicated using paprika and carrot
Tunisia's president, Kais Saied, has named Najla Bouden, a senior civil servant in the higher education ministry and lecturer in geological engineering, as the first female prime minister of Tunisia, or indeed of any Arab country.
Eighteen months in loungewear while remote working during the pandemic have left professionals all over Europe hankering for fresh wardrobes as they embrace hybrid working. It is a boon for hard-hit retailers, says Reuters.
Beefy brown bear 480 Otis has been named the winner of Alaska’s popular Fat Bear Week contest, an annual competition comparing the pre-hibernation weight gain of the largest inhabitants of Katmai national park in the south-west of the state. The heavyweight champ, who has won the competition three times previously, was declared the winner, beating runner-up 151 Walker by more than 6,000 public votes.
Working with the cosmologist Dr. Thomas Hertog, a former colleague and long-time collaborator of Stephen Hawking, a Belgian mathematician has created an electronic music album derived from data gathered from black holes. A lot of the data Valery Vermeulen gathered came from the Voyager Satellite, which is currently sitting around 14 billion miles from Earth, and captures primarily electromagnetic radiation given off by various galactic objects. He then uses “data sonification” to transform the radiation readings into sound. Want to have a quick listen?
The coolest neighbourhoods in the world have been named by the influential Time Out guide, and Norrebro in Copenhagen has claimed the top spot. Coming second in the guide's annual ranking is Andersonville in Chicago, with Jongno 3-ga in Seoul seizing third place. Leith in Edinburgh comes fourth. The list was put together using a global survey of 27,000 city-dwellers, along with the opinions of local Time Out editors and city experts.
The chief executive of Mars, one of the world’s largest consumer products companies, has warned that “all too often” corporate commitments to cut greenhouse gas emissions fall short and threaten to undermine their credibility and necessary change on climate action. The company has now set out new science-based climate targets to achieve net zero greenhouse gas emissions across its business by 2050, including all those created by its suppliers and emissions from consumers using its brands. And, crucially, Mars will link executive pay to cutting greenhouse gas emissions.
The average car pumps out 4.5 tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere each year. That’s environmentally destructive, never mind the enormous health impacts. It just so happens that alongside CO2, the average passenger vehicle also produces about 21,000 liters of water each year, as a byproduct of combustion. It’s a waste of hugely valuable resources! What if we could capture them? Researchers suggest that using existing technologies, and scaling them down for cars, we could siphon off tons of CO2 - and huge amounts of waste water - from exhaust pipes and reuse them in indoor farms. That could help solve two of humanity’s biggest challenges: pollution and the need to increase food yields. Let's hope the team at Texas A&M University can get this idea to market.
Fun Fact: A mash-up of two words to make a new word (such as breakfast and lunch into brunch, or motel from motor and hotel) is called a portmanteau. In case you’re wondering, the word “portmanteau” itself is not a portmanteau; it’s a compound word that refers to a duel-sided suitcase.
Dive in Deeper
The Nubian Ibex
Capra nubiana is a desert-dwelling goat that gives birth to young atop tall windswept mesas. The mesa's steep cliff faces offer protection from predators. When the offspring are a few days old they must scale these cliff faces to reach food in the valleys below.