Thursday's bundle of uplifting news nuggets.
On 3 June 1944, a remote North Atlantic weather station operator - in County Mayo on the west coast of Ireland - noticed that her barometer was dropping fast, indicating a storm was going to pass over the English Channel before long. Her name was Maureen Flavin Sweeney (now aged 98), and her weather report, which postponed the D-Day landings by 24 hours, saving thousands of lives, recently won her an official honor in the Congressional Record.
More than 100 wildflower meadows have been planted in Germany's largest cities over the past three years and are coming into full bloom this summer to transform urban landscapes. The aesthetics are a bonus for a scheme with a serious purpose: the protection of Germany's population of wild bees. The country is home to about 580 species of wild bee, of which an estimated 300 can be found in Berlin.
In good news for the relentless beneficial advance of renewable energy, almost two-thirds of wind and solar projects built globally last year will be able to generate cheaper electricity than even the world’s cheapest new coal plants, according to a report from the International Renewable Energy Agency.
The Bank of England's newly-designed £50 note featuring the portrait of Alan Turing has entered circulation, coinciding with what would have been the computer pioneer and wartime codebreaker's birthday. The £50 note is the least frequently used of the Bank's collection, but there have still been 357 million of them in circulation this year - the equivalent of one in 13 banknotes.
Finally, some good news from India, as the country ramps up its vaccination programme, giving 8 million jabs in a single day this week.
Two co-workers catching up on news at work serendipitously turned into a life-saving exchange. They both work at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta and, by coincidence, their husbands were both on a waiting list for kidney transplants. As the women chatted about the ups and downs of their husbands’ conditions, the subject of blood types came up and the women suddenly realized they might be potential donor matches for the other’s husband. And, after tests - guess what - they were! So each woman duly donated a kidney to the other's husband!
A new French start-up has announced plans for a network of overnight services out of Paris from 2024. Midnight Trains is hoping post-Covid interest in cleaner, greener travel will generate interest in its proposed “hotels on rails”, which aims to connect the French capital to 12 other European destinations. The founders say the aim is not to match the famous – and expensive – luxury of the Orient Express but offer a smarter alternative to the basic, state-run SNCF sleepers and short-haul flights. Key to the service will be “hotel-style” rooms offering privacy and security, and an onboard restaurant and bar.
Dive in Deeper
All at Sea
Denmark's $34 billion artificial energy islands have now been given the green light and could solve Europe's power problem.