Another week, another edition of the good news bulletin to liven up the day.
This is our selection of good news to make you happy about the direction of the world.
A revolutionary Swiss water battery will become one of the main sources of renewable energy in Europe. In England, drugs save lives falling from the sky. The unusual return of a Canadian rocker’s guitar after half a century. Virtual reality manages to replicate the benefits of exercise thanks to visualizationA great advance in the understanding of the song of the whales.
Click on the video above to learn more about each story, or continue reading below…
1. A revolutionary Swiss water battery will become one of the main sources of renewable energy in Europe.
It has taken 14 years to complete, but Switzerland has finally activated a huge “water battery” that has a capacity to store 20 million kilowatt-hours, the equivalent of about 400,000 electric car batteries. And it is also powered by renewable energy.
The green battery will become one of the main sources of renewable energy in Europe, playing an important role in stabilizing the electricity supply in Switzerland and on the European continent.
It stores any excess electricity from renewable sources by pumping water.
The system uses two large water tanks located at different heights.
When water pumps from the lower lake to the upper one it “charges” the battery. And when the direction of the pump is reversed, the flow of water turns a turbine that generates hydroelectric power.
The battery can generate large amounts of hydroelectric power, enough to power some 900,000 homes.
2. In England, drugs save lives falling from the sky.
The British National Health Service will start using drones to transport chemotherapy drugs to cancer patients on the Isle of Wight, cutting delivery time from four hours to just 30 minutes.
The drones will transport the doses from Portsmouth, on British mainland, to a hospital on the island.
The unmanned aerial vehicle will be able to carry up to 20kg of doses, and each delivery will replace two trips by car and one by seaplane or ferry, reducing carbon emissions and speeding up the process.
Many of the chemotherapy drugs have very short lives, so this new delivery method will offer a better option for cancer patients living on the island, many of whom have to travel to the mainland for treatment.
According to the British government, cancer patients in England will be the first in the world to benefit from the new delivery method.
“It is clear that the pace of change and improvement is only accelerating as our fantastic staff try to make the most of advances that could change patients’ lives,” said NHS Director General Amanda Pritchard.
3. The unlikely return of a Canadian rocker’s guitar after half a century.
In 1961, $400 was a lot of money, but that’s what 18-year-old Canadian Randy Bachman needed to buy the guitar of his dreams, a 1957 Gretsch, so he worked several jobs to afford it.
Bachman became a music legend, writing hits like American Woman on guitar, until the day it was stolen from a Toronto hotel 46 years ago. He was devastated, and never stopped looking for her.
“This guitar was magical. It was my tool, my hammer, to make songs, make music and make money,” he said.
Luckily for Bachman, one of his Canadian fans is something of a digital detective, spending hours poring over images of the same model until he located the exact guitar thanks to a unique mark in the wood grain.
It was owned by a Japanese musician named Takeshi, who had bought it in a Tokyo store in 2014 without knowing the story behind it.
“I had it and played with it for eight years. I’m very sad to return it now, but I know he’s been feeling sad for 46 years, it’s time for someone else to live on the side of sadness,” Takeshi said.
In exchange, Bachman presented Takeshi with another guitar, a Gretsch nearly identical to the original, made the same week as his.
“They’re both the same guitar, they’re so similar, they’re amazing,” said Bachman, “But this one has something special about it and it’s the only one, so it’s fantastic.”
4. Virtual reality manages to replicate the benefits of exercise thanks to visualization
A study conducted by a group of researchers in Japan suggests that exercising in immersive virtual reality has similar effects to the real thing.
From disease prevention to promoting mental health and reducing stress. It is proven that moving our body is essential for our well-being. But for many people, such as patients with reduced mobility or people with physical or neurological disorders, exercise is not an option.
In the Japanese experiments, participants watched themselves “run” for 30 minutes from a first-person perspective, and their heart rate increased and decreased according to the virtual movements.
After the training session, the neural benefits, such as reduced stress and anxiety, were found to be the same as those that occur after actual physical activity.
The potential of immersive VR for clinical purposes has impressive potential.
“This type of virtual training represents a new frontier, especially in countries like Japan, where there are high-performance demands and an increasingly aging population,” Professor Dalila Burin, who led the study, said in a statement.
5. A breakthrough in the understanding of whale song.
Whales are exceptionally intelligent creatures. They sing to communicate, locate food, socialize, and meet.
And its song is perhaps the most complex in the animal kingdom, which turns out to be especially fascinating for marine biologists, who have not been able to decipher it.
But researchers at the University of Queensland have made a breakthrough. They have discovered that humpback whales can learn highly complex songs from whales in other regions, without simplifying or omitting anything at all.
“Whales learn from each other. Even if it’s very, very complicated, they can copy everything,” Dr Jennifer Allen, principal investigator at the University of Queensland Veterinary School, tells Euronews.
Allen says the findings are a “huge, surprising and rare phenomenon. The point is that we don’t see this level of cultural exchange outside of humans.”
The results support the theory that whales learn their songs on shared migratory routes, such as in New Zealand, or in shared feeding grounds, such as in Antarctica.
The researchers hope the results will provide a model for further studying the evolution of cultural communication in animals and humans.
“It’s a new clue that contributes to the understanding of the global picture of how humans evolved their cultural communication to the point where we have, because we have evolved beyond any species,” he explains.
“But how did we do it? It seems that this segmented learning is one of the big pieces of the puzzle.”
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