Thursday's eclectic bundle of good news nuggets.
Clever boffins at MIT are developing a new source of passive lighting that could one day light up our streets. Remarkably, this involves glow-in-the-dark plants. The relatively new field of “plant nanobionics” involves embedding nanoparticles into plants to enhance the natural abilities they already have or give them new ones. The result of their work creates plants that glow green after being exposed to light from the sun or LEDs. The team performed their technique on a variety of plants and found that just 10 seconds of exposure to blue LEDs make the plants glow 10 times brighter than the previous version and would give light for up to an hour. Happily, the nanoparticle implants had no adverse effects on the plants’ normal functions, like photosynthesis and water evaporation through their leaves. The researchers hope that they can continue developing the glowing plants so that they could one day be used to passively light up public areas, effectively reducing our energy consumption.
Heroes among us: Decades of war have left many people in Colombia without access to life's basic needs. At college, Jenifer Colpas learned about the vast social inequities people endure. "Something inside me [was] saying, 'You need to do something about it,'" she says. So she volunteered with organizations that help people in poverty. In 2015, with the help of friends, Colpas co-founded Tierra Grata. The non-profit provides access to clean water, solar-powered lights and electricity, along with eco-toilets and showers, for remote rural communities throughout Colombia. Tierra Grata currently serves 35 communities, and has helped an estimated 10,000 people. "We're covering their basic needs so they can start dreaming," Colpas told CNN.
Environmentalists just celebrated the largest dam removal in Kentucky’s history, which will restore biodiversity and improve ecosystems. The Green River is one of the most biodiverse rivers in the country, home to more than 150 fish species, more than 70 mussel species and 43 endemic species that exist nowhere else in the world.
.A team of scientists in India have developed a "thermostable" variety of insulin which eliminates the need to keep it refrigerated. This development is being hailed as a scientific breakthrough and will be a great help to diabetes patients across the world.
Australian cyclist uses GPS to recreate Nirvana’s Nevermind cover of a baby swimming underwater. Enthusiast marks album’s 30th anniversary with 150km ride around Adelaide using Strava to sketch naked baby.
Not quite flying pigs but Amsterdam's Schiphol airport is employing them to scare away birds and geese. The drift of 20 pigs has been put to graze on 500 acres of farmland between the two main runways in an effort to eat all the leftover crops, ward off birdlife and prevent bird strikes. "Even a single goose can do substantial damage to an aircraft," said the airport management.
A Chinese architecture website has announced almost 90 contenders for its annual Ugliest Building Survey. The public poll has thus far attracted about 30,000 votes for all kinds of skyscrapers, museums and hotels of varying aesthetics - but all considered to be worthy of an architectural raspberry. Among the top contenders: a museum that has been compared to pots of instant noodles, a violin-shaped church, and this matryoshka-shaped hotel in Manzhouli. Since the city is near the Russian border, Russian dolls of every shape and size abound - though this one certainly towers over the rest.
Jane Goodall launches effort in support of planting 1 trillion trees by 2030: Primatologist and conservation icon Jane Goodall has formally announced Trees for Jane, an initiative that will raise money for carefully-vetted reforestation and forest conservation projects around the world. 'Forests are part of the solution to many of the world's problems,' Goodall told Mongabay via a recent Zoom conversation. 'Planting the right trees in the right places and protecting existing forests can help slow climate change and species extinction, while also helping local communities.'
Fun Fact: Lake Malawi is vitally important to Malawi. It is the third-largest lake in Africa, but contains more species of fish - over 1,000 - than any lake in the world.
Dive in Deeper
Take a look at this remarkable - and the world's largest - anamorphic illusion, measuring 80m by 20m, in Seoul, South Korea.