Wednesday's eclectic bundle of good news nuggets from around the globe to perk up the day.
Take a guess at what this photo depicts. Looks like a luminescent galaxy or something, right? It's actually an aerial view of the mud flats of Lake Natron in Tanzania, where flamingos (the little dots that look like stars) gather to feed in the shallow, algae-rich waters. The shot is one of many featured in the African Wildlife Foundation's inaugural Benjamin Mkapa African Wildlife Photography Awards. The competition, named after the late Tanzanian president and longtime AWF board member, hopes to encourage African people to take a more active role in conservation. After all, as CEO Kaddu Sebunya said, all of this beauty and life is part of their heritage.
They look like they should be loping across the African savanna, scouting for scraps from a lion’s kill. But golden jackals, a wolf-like creature about the size of a large dog, have just turned up in Tuscany in the heart of Italy. One was captured on film by a photo trap this week in a nature reserve near Florence, says The Telegraph. The species’ traditional range is southern Asia, the Middle East and parts of the Balkans but in recent years a remarkable westwards expansion has been underway. The jackal, which weighs up to 30lb, has been spotted as far north as Norway, as well as in France, Poland, Switzerland, Austria and Germany, and now in the Apennines of Italy.
Researchers at a lab owned by the U.S. government have passed a crucial milestone on the way to their ultimate goal of achieving self-sustaining nuclear fusion. The experiment at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) has enabled researchers to say that this advancement puts them at the threshold of fusion ignition, which is defined as a sustainable and never-ending powerful energy source. In further promising news, it also marked the first time the output exceeded the energy absorbed by the fuel used to trigger it, according to Science Alert.
Everything is looking pretty good for Chamila Suranga, the owner of the world's largest natural corundum blue sapphire, weighing 310 kilograms. The sapphire was put on display in Sri Lanka after Buddhist monks chanted blessings for the gemstone before it was unveiled. The stone was found in the gem-rich Ratnapura area where local people had previously found the world's largest star sapphire cluster in a backyard by accident. Caveat: international organisations are yet to certify the precious stone.
As well as saving millions of animals from being slaughtered, lab-grown meat produces a fraction of the emissions of conventional farming, and uses next to no land. What’s believed to be the largest lab-grown steak ever produced has just been unveiled by Israeli firm Mea Tech. The 4oz steak was grown from tissue samples taken from a cow and then 3D printed to resemble a regular steak. In July, another Israeli firm, Future Meat Technologies, opened the world’s first lab-grown meat factory.
Aristocats: Roaming the grounds of the Hermitage Museum, in St. Petersburg, Russia are a group of cats that are treated like royalty. The cats are fed and cared for by the staff at the Hermitage and there's even a special room just for cats who grow tired of mingling with commoners. The museum even has a dedicated press secretary for the cats! They were added to the site in the 1990s by the museum's director to give a human (or feline?) face to the wealth of historic treasures housed therein, reports CNN. The cats now mainly prowl the basement, catching mice and walking among the museum's more than three million works of art and artifacts. Oh, what a life!
A new Tesla Cybertruck prototype with an updated design has been spotted on the automaker’s Fremont factory test track. It’s the best look we had at the upcoming electric pickup truck in a while. Tesla unveiled the Cybertruck back in 2019 and for the longest time, only a single prototype of the electric pickup truck has been spotted out in the wild and at Tesla events. The vehicle program has been delayed with production now expected in late 2022.
After a decades-long run as one of the world’s best-performing stocks, Apple is on the verge of reaching US$3 trillion in market value. If it were a country, it would be the fifth largest economy in the world, behind Germany.
“It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it.” Aristotle.
On This Day
The first US law school was established at University of Pennsylvania on 15 December 1791. In 1840 Napoleon Bonaparte receives a French state funeral in Paris, 19 years after his death. 1964: Canada's House of Commons votes to approve the red Maple Leaf Flag. 1979: Chris Haney and Scott Abbott release the board game Trivial Pursuit.
Dive in Deeper
Vital Fungal Networks: This year, for the first time, scientists will set out on a journey to map out one of the final frontiers of uncharted knowledge on the planet: the fungal networks that basically make up our planet's circulatory system. Read on...
Coral Reef Sounds
This recording, made three years after a massive rebuilding of coral reef on a 10-acre plot in Indonesia, proved not only that the reef had recovered, but that soundscapes of fish here are far richer than ever expected. Many of the sounds have never been recorded before. It's probably the most remarkable thing you'll hear all week.