Today's Good News

Updated: Sep 15

Getting the week off to an upbeat start with a bundle of good news nuggets.

  • Some female hummingbirds have evolved to look like males: Male birds are often colourful and ornate. These embellishments demonstrate the wearer is a suitable candidate for fatherhood and is not to be trifled with by other males. Why females are sometimes colourful too is more of a mystery. One idea is that if the sexes co-operate to raise their young - which birds often do - males as well as females must be choosy about their mates. But Jay Falk of the University of Washington has another explanation. In a paper in Current Biology he suggests it's a way for females to avoid being harassed when they are feeding.

  • Here's a bizarre story: A hiker was strolling through a remote corner of the Sierra Nevadas in Northern California when he came across the surreal sight of a sword sticking out of a stone. You will know that many centuries before this, a young Arthur was able to draw the sword out of a stone and became the king of England. The hiker was aware of this ancient tale and endeavoured to do the same but, sadly, failed. It turns out he's not the true king of England - or California.

  • Here's another weird story: A rare event has taken place in the Cala Gonone Aquarium in Sardinia, Italy. A smooth-hound shark gave birth to a baby shark without any male interference in the tank she has been living in for the past ten years with only another smooth-hound female and no males, reports Agenzia Italia. This could prove to be the first and only parthenogenesis example in this specific species of shark, and hence, the newborn female shark is named Ispera, which means Hope in Sardinian.

  • It has been a good week for Taskin Dasdan, a bellboy at the Korumar Hotel De Luxe in Aydin, Turkey - where Charles Courtney spent his holidays every year. Taskin struck up a firm friendship with Mr Courtney but, never in his wildest dreams, did Taskin think he would get a call from the UK to say he had been left a small fortune by the tourist. Although the exact amount of money left to Taskin is unknown, it is enough so that he will "never have to work a day in his life again".

  • If only plants could talk! Well, actually, they can. A company called Responsive Drip Irrigation has ‘translated’ certain plants' biochemical signals, allowing them to ‘listen’ to cries for water when they’re thirsty. It has the capacity to reduce water use in any system, from a well-manicured lawn to a rural vegetable farm in North Africa, and simply 'responds' by providing water. In further good news, it can reduce water use by 30-50 percent, revolutionizing the science and methods of irrigation in the face of a warming climate, longer droughts, and water shortages.

  • You will undoubtedly be aware of the obvious strategies for maintaining a healthy heart, such as regular exercise and eating less saturated fat. But studies show that there are other ways to reduce your risk of heart attack and cardiovascular disease, and that small, sustainable changes to your lifestyle can make a big difference to heart health. In a nutshell, they are: Five good friends, at least 6 hours sleep, one pet and 250 fewer calories a day.

  • The UK's National Health Service is to offer a cholesterol-lowering drug that could save tens of thousands of lives over the next decade. It is hoped that Inclisiran, described as a “game-changer”, will prevent thousands of heart attacks and strokes in the coming years.

  • A recent Runner’s World survey found that 84 percent of women have experienced “some kind of harassment that left them feeling unsafe” while running outdoors. To help address this issue, popular fitness tracking app Strava is making their location-sharing feature free for all users. Strava’s Beacon feature allows you to send your live workout tracking data to a trusted contact who can see your location in real time, where you started recording, and when you finish your run. The app allows you to send this data to anyone in your contacts, even if they are not Strava users.

  • Fun Fact: The red-billed quelea is the most common bird on Earth. There may not be any in your neighborhood, but that's not because there aren't an abundance of them. They live in sub-Saharan Africa and, according to the Audubon Society, there are as many as 10 billion of them.

Dive in Deeper

Flying Cows

After their summer sojourn in the high Swiss Alpine meadows some cows got a head start on their healthier herdmates when they got helicopter rides down the mountain.