Mid week round up of positive news nuggets from around the globe.
Oh My Gourd
Step aside, ultramarathoners: America has a new endurance athlete, and he’s as gourd as it gets. Duane Hansen has set a new world record after he paddled 38 miles down the Missouri River in a huge, hollowed-out pumpkin he grew himself. Hansen is described in a Facebook post as a “longtime Nebraska resident who enjoys growing large pumpkins, gourds and other vegetables as a hobby” and was inspired to vanquish the previous record after seeing another paddler attempt it. “Seems like a unique if not slightly crazy way to celebrate his 60th birthday, which was yesterday,” the post read.
For Peat's Sake
Sales of peat to amateur gardeners will be banned in England from 2024, the government has confirmed. The move follows a consultation and is part of a pledge to restore peat lands. That's good news as these wild, boggy places are sometimes referred to as the UK's rainforests, because of their ability to soak up vast quantities of carbon.
North Dakota is one of the nation’s top sunflower-producing states, using the cheery yellow flowers for everything from bird seed mixes to cooking oils. Known as a “superbloom,” the jaw-dropping phenomenon occurs every year toward the end of summer and the state has earned a reputation as the best place in the US to experience the vast sunflower blooms. Ukrainian immigrants first began planting sunflowers when they moved to North Dakota in the late 19th and early 20th centuries following the passage of the Homestead Act of 1862. Sunflowers are still an important plant for Ukrainians, both symbolically and economically. When they’re young, sunflowers turn their heads toward the sun as it moves in the sky, a behaviour known as heliotropism. But as they mature and start to produce seeds, they mostly point east, which scientists have learned helps the plants attract bees and ultimately reproduce.
The state of being close to someone or something. As in: Since James and Jill grew up in close propinquity, it is not surprising they played together as children.
Never Seen Before
Vincent Van Gogh's "hidden" portrait of two half-naked male wrestlers has been brought to life by British scientists 135 years after it was painted over by the artist. An X-ray of one of Van Gogh's floral paintings in a Dutch museum confirmed the existence of the artwork which the Dutch master had referenced as a student to his brother Theo on 22 January 1886, telling him: “This week I painted a large thing with two nude torsos - two wrestlers.” Now, 135 years after he reused the canvas, two British scientists have recreated the earlier composition in full colour with 3D textured brushstrokes in a project lasting five months.
France is working hard to push urban drivers out of cars and towards smaller and more environmentally responsible forms of transportation like electric bicycles. Ooh la la! France will now pay people to swap their old polluting car for an electric bicycle. The full €4,000 (nearly $4,000) incentive is awarded to those in lower income brackets who live in low-emission urban zones; the incentive reduced as income level rises.
Quote of the Day
“Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven't found it yet, keep looking. Don't settle. As with all matters of the heart, you'll know when you find it.” Steve Jobs
On this Day
31 August 1980: Lech Wałęsa signed an agreement to establish Solidarity, Poland’s first independent trade union. The charismatic leader of millions of Polish workers, he went on to become the president of Poland (1990-95). He received the Nobel Prize for Peace in 1983.
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