Celebrating the start of the weekend with a global round up of positive news.
That Looks Like Me
In a feat only a few non-human animals have accomplished so far, a common dark-furred mouse has passed what’s known as the mirror self-recognition test, according to researchers from the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center. Joining the likes of killer whales and bottlenose dolphins, plus a number of primates, the mouse 'the mirror test', backed up by gene mapping, that suggests it possess well-developed self-recognition.
Most Read on Wiki
Remember what you searched for in 2023? Well, Wikipedia has the receipts. English Wikipedia raked in more than 84 billion views this year, according to numbers released by the Wikimedia Foundation, the non-profit behind the free, publicly edited online encyclopedia. And the most popular article was about ChatGPT (yes, the AI chatbot that’s seemingly everywhere today). By the way, in case you hadn't guessed, the image above of a mouse staring at a mirror was generated by AI.
Siblings Make History
In the last decade, few have fit the chess prodigy descriptor as well as India's Rameshbabu Praggnanandhaa. He was 10 years old when he became the then-youngest International Master, the second-highest title after Grandmaster. He became the second-youngest Grandmaster in 2018. Meanwhile, another chess-playing member of his family diligently awaited her turn - Praggnanandhaa's sister Vaishali, who is older than him by four years. She's now just become only the third-ever female Grandmaster. It also makes the siblings from Chennai, India, the first Grandmaster brother-sister pair in history.
Good news for makers of panettone. Sales of the Italian sweet bread are outstripping Christmas pudding sales in upmarket British shops. Selfridges and Waitrose both reported a jump in demand. If you haven't tried it, the team at OGN Towers highly recommend it.
Starting in January, most stores in Colorado won’t be allowed to provide single-use plastic carryout bags without charging a fee, and Rhode Island’s ban on plastic bags will launch on the same date. That makes 13 states across the United States that now ban single-use plastic carryout bags statewide, says Florida Phoenix, whilst bemoaning the fact that Florida isn't one of them. What about all the other states too? For perspective, since the UK government banned free single-use plastic bags, use has fallen by 97 percent - thus keeping millions of bags out of landfill.
An online platform where you can explore a collection of antique world maps, celestial maps, atlases, globes and books of knowledge. Something you'd like to explore this weekend? If so, click Oculi Mundi.
In a good sign of progress, deforestation is dropping in key regions of the world. Emissions from deforestation and degradation declined by 56 percent and 87 percent, respectively, in Indonesia between 2015 and 2022, and by 7 percent and 19 percent in the Congo Basin in 2022 compared to 2021. And there's some good news coming for the Amazon region, too. A new analysis has shown that deforestation across the nine Amazonian countries so far this year is down 56 percent from the same period a year ago, in a major turnaround for a region that's vital to curbing climate change, reports Reuters. And, last week, Brazil launched its $205 million Arc of Restoration program to restore degraded woodlands amounting to 23,000 square miles (60,000 km2) in the Amazon by 2030. Saying: 'Avoiding deforestation is no longer the answer to the climate crisis. We need to be more ambitious.'
“I wonder if the snow loves the trees and fields, that it kisses them so gently? And then it covers them up snug, you know, with a white quilt; and perhaps it says, ‘go to sleep, darlings, till the summer comes again.’” Lewis Carroll
On This Day
9 December 1868: The world's first traffic light was erected near Westminster Bridge in London; however, it was removed a month later after a gas leak caused one of the lights to explode.
Ithaka: A powerful life poem, read by Sean Connery.