Keeping the week on an upbeat track with today's bundle of good news nuggets.
Maria Carrillo was going out to walk her dogs when she noticed a discarded fast-food bag with something gleaming at the bottom, with the words “Games of the XXXII Olympiad Tokyo 2020,” five Olympic rings and the Greek goddess Nike. The gold medal belonged to Jordyn Poulter of the 2020 U.S. Women’s Volleyball Team, which won the medal in the Summer Olympics for the first time in the team’s history. Poulter, who has played volleyball since age 7, said it was a lifelong dream to stand on the Olympic podium. About two weeks after it was stolen from her car, California police arrested a suspect but didn't find her medal. Poulter was in Canada for a volleyball tournament when she learned it had been found. “It’s crazy that it was stolen and crazy how it was found. But I’m really happy to have it back.”
29-year-old Aminata Touré, whose parents arrived in Germany from war-torn Mali in 1992 – she was born shortly afterwards – has just taken up her post as the first Black female cabinet minister in Germany. Not only are Touré and her family extraordinarily proud of her accomplishments, but her rise to success as a politician has also inspired Black people across Germany who've seen little Black representation in political positions.
Far, Far Away
Actor Mark Hamill spotted a familiar sight for Star Wars fans that NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope apparently overlooked. Amusingly, Hamill tweeted one of the telescope’s first full-color images - a 4.6 billion-year-old galaxy cluster that NASA described as the “deepest and sharpest infrared image of the distant universe to date” - that shows a familiar object in the frame. Hamill, who played the Death Star-crushing Luke Skywalker in Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope, wrote “#BeenThere - DestroyedThat” alongside a slightly edited version.
Random Fun Fact
Koala’s have fingerprints almost identical to human. It is so hard to distinguish between the fingerprints of koalas and humans that even under a microscope it is hard to tell. There are even reported cases of a koala’s fingerprints confusing forensics at crime scenes.
Fans of Formula E will be pleased to know that next year will see significant changes for the all-electric racing series, including a much more powerful, much faster racing car and changes to some rules to make the races interesting. The next gen cars will be 50 percent more powerful and 20 percent lighter - which should add some extra spice to the 2023 season.
Plastics are inexpensive and widely used organic polymers, but their durability hinders biodegradation. A species of worm with an appetite for polystyrene could be the key to plastic recycling on a mass scale. Now, researchers at the University of Queensland’s School in Australia have discovered the common Zophobas morio ‘superworm’ can eat through polystyrene, thanks to a bacterial enzyme in their gut. Their findings offer new insights into plastic degradation and could help tackle plastic pollution. "Superworms are like mini recycling plants, shredding the polystyrene with their mouths and then feeding it to the bacteria in their gut. The breakdown products from this reaction can then be used by other microbes to create high value compounds such as bioplastics," said Dr. Rinke from UQ’s School of Chemistry and Molecular Biosciences. Scientists will research how to grow the gut bacteria in labs and further test its ability to degrade polystyrene; next they will look into how to upscale the process to the level required for an entire recycling plant.
Clean Energy Support
The U.S. Department of Energy has announced a raft of funding to help remove obstacles that are stymieing the development of clean energy technologies. Seven national laboratories will receive a total of $18.4 million through the Technology Commercialization Fund, an annual funding opportunity that was established in 2005. The DOE said that this year’s funding is meant to address “barriers, gaps, and root causes of commercialization challenges” that are currently making it difficult for clean energy technologies to make it to the marketplace.
Quote of the Day
“The good life is a process, not a state of being. It is a direction, not a destination.”
On this Day
19 July 1903: French bicyclist Maurice Garin won the first ever Tour de France, which covered 2,428 km (1,508 miles).
Up to a million flamingos gather on the edges of Lake Bogoria, a saline, alkaline lake fringed with giezers, in Africa's Great Rift Valley.