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Inspiring News Stories
Excerpts of Highly Inspiring News Stories in Major Media


Below are one-paragraph excerpts of highly inspiring news stories from the major media. Links are provided to the original stories on their media websites. If any link fails to function, click here. The inspiring news story summaries most recently posted here are listed first. You can explore the same list with the most inspiring stories listed first. See also a concise list providing headlines and links to a number of highly inspiring stories. May these articles inspire us to find ever more ways to love and support each other and all around us to be the very best we can be.


Note: This comprehensive list of inspiring news stories is usually updated once a week. See also a full index to revealing excerpts of key news articles on several dozen engaging topics.

Scientists Discover Microbes That Could Revolutionize Plastic Recycling
2023-05-26, Smithsonian Magazine
https://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/scientists-discover-microbes-that-c...

High in the Swiss Alps and the Arctic, scientists have discovered microbes that can digest plastics–importantly, without the need to apply excess heat. Their findings, published this month in the journal Frontiers in Microbiology, could one day improve plastic recycling. It's no secret that plastic pollution is a big, global issue. Since its production exploded during and after World War II, humans have created more than 9.1 billion tons of plastic–and researchers estimate that less than one tenth of the resulting waste has been recycled. To make matters worse, the most common recycling option–when plastic is washed, processed and turned into new products–doesn't actually reduce waste: The recycled materials are often lower quality and might later end up in a landfill all the same. Researchers are looking for solutions to the plastics problem. One process they've experimented with is breaking down plastics using microorganisms. Enzymes from the microorganisms found in the Arctic and Swiss Alps ... were able to break down biodegradable plastics at 59 degrees Fahrenheit. "These organisms could help to reduce the costs and environmental burden of an enzymatic recycling process for plastic," co-author Joel RÄ‚Ä˝thi [said]. Of the total 34 types of microbes examined, 19 were successfully able to break down a form of plastic called polyester-polyurethane, and 17 could break down two types of biodegradable plastic mixtures.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


More than 5,000 new species discovered in Pacific deep-sea mining hotspot
2023-05-25, The Guardian (One of the UK's Leading Newspapers)
https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2023/may/25/more-than-5000-new-specie...

Scientists have discovered more than 5,000 new species living on the seabed in an untouched area of the Pacific Ocean that has been identified as a future hotspot for deep-sea mining, according to a review of the environmental surveys done in the area. It is the first time the previously unknown biodiversity of the Clarion-Clipperton Zone (CCZ), a mineral-rich area of the ocean floor that spans 1.7m sq miles between Hawaii and Mexico in the Pacific, has been comprehensively documented. The research will be critical to assessing the risk of extinction of the species, given contracts for deep-sea mining in the near-pristine area appear imminent. Most of the animals identified by researchers exploring the zone are new to science, and almost all are unique to the region: only six, including a carnivorous sponge and a sea cucumber, have been seen elsewhere. One of the deep-sea animals discovered was nicknamed the "gummy squirrel", because of its huge tail and jelly-like appearance, he said. There are also glass sponges, some of which look like vases. The most common categories of creatures in the CCZ are arthropods, worms, members of the spider family and echinoderms, which include spiny invertebrates such as sea urchins, and sponges. "Our role as scientists ... is to provide the data," [biologist Dr. Adrian Glover] said. "Everyone who lives on this planet should be concerned about using it in a sustainable way. I see it as very positive that we can come up with a regulatory structure before mining takes place."

Note: Don't miss the incredible photos of these newly discovered deep-sea species, from the 'gummy squirrel' to deep-sea cucumbers. Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Dogs Do It, Birds Do It, and Dolphins Do It, Too. Here Are 65 Animals That Laugh, According to Science
2021-05-19, Smithsonian Magazine
https://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/study-finds-65-animals-laugh-180977...

People seem to love nothing more than anthropomorphizing our non-human counterparts in nature. These videos might make us giggle, but what about the creatures that star in them, can they laugh? The answer, according to a new paper studying animals at play, may be yes–to the tune of some 65 species that researchers pegged as "laughing" during bouts of playful activity, reports Mindy Weisberger for Live Science. "This work lays out nicely how a phenomenon once thought to be particularly human turns out to be closely tied to behavior shared with species separated from humans by tens of millions of years," says Greg Bryant, a cognitive scientist at the University of California, Los Angeles and co-author of the study. Most of the 65 species identified by the study, which was published last month in the journal Bioacoustics, were mammals, such as primates, foxes, killer whales and seals, but three bird species also made the list. For animals, the researchers suggest, a laughing noise may help signal that roughhousing, or other behavior that might seem threatening, is all in good fun. "[Some actions] could be interpreted as aggression. The vocalization kind of helps to signal during that interaction that 'I'm not actually going to bite you in the neck. This is just going to be a mock bite,'" [said] Sarah Winkler ... the paper's lead author. "It helps the interaction not escalate into real aggression." Many of the animal laughs identified by the study sound nothing like a human chuckle. For example, Rocky Mountain elk emit a kind of squeal.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


After The Genocide, Author Witnessed How Rwandans Defined Forgiveness
2019-04-09, NPR
https://www.npr.org/2019/04/09/711314421/after-the-genocide-author-witnessed-...

It happened 25 years ago - up to 800,000 people in Rwanda killed - mostly from the minority Tutsi community, all of that over the course of just a hundred days. Today the hundreds of thousands of people who carried out those killings live among their victims. Journalist and author Philip Gourevitch has witnessed the unique way Rwandans have defined and navigated forgiveness after the massacre. In order to navigate the aftermath of the genocide, the Rwandan government set up this nationwide reconciliation process. So they set up a system of community courts - without lawyers - to sort of repurpose a system that really had only been used for small claims mitigation in traditional Rwanda, called gacaca, and have open, communal - what we might call a town hall - format for trials. And then the idea was to hold people accountable and have a system of punishment. And this system banked very heavily on encouraging confession and rewarding it. But the confessions were supposed to be also verified by the community. The motto of the gacaca courts was, truth heals. Forgiveness doesn't require trust. Forgiveness simply means letting go of the idea of getting even, forgoing the idea of revenge. Right? Now, even that's a big ask. But it means accepting coexistence. There's never been as comprehensive a reckoning with such communal violence or mass atrocity. It was an ongoing, multi-year confrontation with the past in the communities.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


A man spent 29 years in prison for a rape he didn't commit. The survivor just helped free him
2023-05-16, CNN News
https://edition.cnn.com/2023/05/09/us/patrick-brown-wrongful-conviction-vacat...

After spending 29 years in prison for the rape of his stepdaughter, a New Orleans man is free thanks to the help of the local district attorney's office and testimony from the victim herself, who has insisted for 20 years that he is not the man who raped her. Patrick Brown was convicted of raping his 6-year-old stepdaughter in 1994 after pleading not guilty in a trial in which the victim did not testify. Since 2002, the stepdaughter had repeatedly asked the DA's office under former administrations to review the case and prosecute the actual perpetrator, the release said. The office's civil rights division opened an investigation into the victim's case, found that the evidence corroborated her account and asked the court to rectify the case. "The attorneys in the Civil Rights Division in Orleans Parish are the only prosecutors I have ever worked with in Louisiana who truly take the admonition to ‘do Justice' seriously – as evidenced by the fact that they listened to the victim in this case the first time she reached out, instead of ignoring her like their predecessors did for more than 20 years," Kelly Orians told CNN. "The State is actively reviewing the viability (of) charges against the actual perpetrator," Orleans Parish District Attorney Jason Williams told CNN. Williams launched the civil rights division in part to "review cases of wrongful convictions and excessive sentences." The division has intervened in 284 cases since 2021, boasting an estimated $266 million in taxpayer savings on lifetime incarceration.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


The Lullaby Project helps incarcerated mothers connect with their kids through music
2023-04-16, NPR
https://www.npr.org/2023/04/16/1170315860/the-lullaby-project-helps-incarcera...

When someone is pregnant and they're incarcerated, separation after they give birth is almost immediate. At a women's prison outside Columbia, S.C., a project is underway to help reconnect a few mothers with their children through the creation of lullabies. Ashley [is] incarcerated at the Graham Camille Griffin Correctional Institution, and she's taking part in the prison's pilot songwriting program, working with graduate students from the University of South Carolina School of Music. Together, the grad students and the mothers chart out lyrics, workshop the melodies and collaborate on the layers of musicality needed to get the lullabies just right for a vocalist with the university. Ashley has five children, including her most recent. She says the hardest part of this is being away from them as she counts down the days till her parole or release. And she says the good graces of the students is not lost on those serving out their sentences. "It's - yeah, they could be volunteering anywhere else, like an elementary or something," [said Ashley]. "But they took their time to come to a prison. And even though we are here for crimes and we are sitting here being punished and everything, we're still human, and we still have families that care about us. And everybody makes mistakes, and we're here paying for our mistakes. So any mother out there that has kids, and they're your world, let them know it."

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


The Library Where the ‘Books' Are Human Beings
2021-11-29, Reasons to be Cheerful
https://reasonstobecheerful.world/human-library-borrow-person-locations/

"Don't judge a book by its cover" is the kind of advice most people forget when they meet Joel Hartgrove. Maori tattoos cover his neck, ears and his shaved skull. Hartgrove is an open book. You can borrow him for 20 minutes, talk to him about his time in the Australian army, his Indigenous roots, his tattoos, anything you'd like. You'll find you're speaking with a deep thinker who answers nosy questions with humor and heart – a common trait among the "books" available for loan in Ronni Abergel's library. "They are stigmatized," Abergel says of his collection, "maybe because of their weight, their looks, their profession, their religious, sexual or political orientation, or because they survived abuse and traumas. We can't just judge someone on face value." Abergel, 48, is the director of the biggest and most beautiful library in the world: the Human Library, where you borrow people instead of books and speak with them about their lives. His library rules are simple: Treat the books respectfully; bring them back on time and in the same shape you borrowed them; don't take them home. "They will answer any question you have the courage to ask," Abergel promises. The Human Library is now active in 80 countries, with branches in Texas and Tokyo, Bangladesh and Berlin. Every reader who visits, virtually or in-person, chooses two or three topics that interest them: rugby, depression, refugees, sex work, cancer, grief. "There is a great book hidden in all of us, and most of us would be bestsellers," Abergel believes.

Note: Don't miss a deeply moving series called HUMAN by filmmaker Yann Arthus-Bertrand, who spent three years collecting real-life stories from thousands of people in 60 countries. Their stories, although unique to them, speak to the human condition and the parts of life that unite us all: love, happiness, poverty, war, and the future of our planet.


The scientists coaxing back nature with sound
2023-05-19, BBC News
https://www.bbc.com/future/article/20230519-the-sound-recordings-used-to-coax...

Beyond human hearing, a cacophony of natural clicks, whistles and hums pass all around us, linking billions of living beings in networks of sound. Mother whales whisper to their young so predators can't hear them. Bees emit unique buzzing signals to distinguish threats from specific predators. Turtle embryos synchronise their collective moment of birth by making sounds through their shells. And unknown fish species buzz to one another in the depths – their very identities one of nature's countless sonic mysteries. What if tapping into these sounds could allow us to not only to learn more about the natural world, but actually help to begin healing it? An emerging appreciation for the biological importance of sound has led to new strategies for environmental conservation. From microscopic larvae lost at sea to birds that travel hundreds of miles from home, conservationists are now starting to use the sounds of nature to guide them back to where they belong. "Sound is so important," says Cheryl Tipp, curator of wildlife and environmental sound at the British Library. "In the natural world, it's used in mating displays, in territorial disputes, as alarm signals." For humans trying to support nature, meanwhile, sound can be used to identify new species, monitor populations and assess the health of ecosystems, she says. There is now a growing interest in the use of sound to accelerate habitat restoration itself, by coaxing certain species to certain locations using their very own sounds.

Note: Listen to a fascinating interview with biologist and innovation consultant Janine Benyus, who explores the power of biomimicry, a practice that learns from and mimics the strategies used by natural systems and species alive today. Benyus proposes that biomimicry can solve some of the gravest of societal and environmental problems by discovering how nature has already solved some of these challenges.


A Biodiversity Hotspot Flourishes as Costa Rica Puts Nature on the Payroll
2023-05-15, Reasons to be Cheerful
https://reasonstobecheerful.world/costa-rica-paying-locals-protect-wildlife-b...

The Osa Peninsula on Costa Rica's west coast occupies just 0.001 percent of the planet's surface area, yet is home to an estimated 2.5 percent of all the biodiversity in the world. Inhabited by jaguar, tapir and close to 400 species of birds, the forests here – and others like them around the world – combat biodiversity loss and play a key role in capturing carbon and fighting climate change. "For us it has been important because before, we protected [the forests], we looked after them, but we didn't receive anything for it," says Lineth Picado Mena, a rural farmer living on the peninsula and participant in the government's Payments for Environmental Services (PES) program. "Now we can support ourselves with what we have." By paying landowners for ecosystem services, the government incentivizes them to conserve the environment. That counteracts the market forces that put pressure on landowners to convert tropical forests to farmland or other land uses. In Costa Rica, the PES program's annual budget is between $20 million and $25 million, of which 92 percent is funded from a sales tax on fossil fuels, while nearly six percent comes from water usage fees. This allocation is fixed and provides assurance that funds will be available each year. The remaining amount is collected through various government initiatives, such as carbon credits and public-private partnerships. The program ... is credited with turning Costa Rica's deforestation rate from one of the highest in the world to a net reforestation.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


The secret to why exercise is so good for mental health? 'Hope molecules'
2023-05-04, The Guardian (One of the UK's Leading Newspapers)
https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2023/may/04/exercise-mental-health-...

One of the most interesting health research projects of the past decade or so has looked at how exactly exercise makes us feel good. Research shows that there appears to be a clear scientific reason, that we can see at a cellular level. When muscles contract, they secrete chemicals into the bloodstream. Among these chemicals are myokines, which have been referred to as "hope molecules". These small proteins travel to the brain, cross the blood-brain barrier, and act as an antidepressant. They do this by improving our mood, our ability to learn, our capacity for locomotor activity, and protect the brain from the negative effects of ageing. This has been referred to as "muscle-brain cross-talk". They're also responsible for improved metabolism, reduced inflammation, and increased muscle strength. Myokines are not solely responsible for feeling good: exercise also releases neurotransmitters such as dopamine, noradrenaline and serotonin that have a positive impact on our brains. So when you're feeling low, it's tempting to do a Netflix binge, or spend hours scrolling on social media comparing others' lives to yours, and feeling increasingly sad. This is especially true for teenagers. The antidote we know clearly from epidemiology and biology is to just get moving: whether it's joining a team, going for a long walk, or finding a community gym or yoga class. You'll certainly feel more hopeful afterwards.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Inside Too Good To Go's Mission To Make Unused Food Accessible To All
2023-04-21, Forbes
https://www.forbes.com/sites/stevenaquino/2023/04/21/inside-too-good-to-gos-m...

Food costs, especially in times of inflation, can be exorbitant. Likewise, getting to a brick-and-mortar grocery store may well be logistically impossible due to health and/or mobility concerns. It's also true having limited access to food may be detrimental not merely because a person lacks basic sustenance, but also because certain medications work only when taken with food. Without it, those drugs may cease to work as effectively, if at all. Founded in 2016 in Copenhagen by five entrepreneurs, the team at Too Good To Go is trying to curb food insecurity around the globe by fighting food waste. On its website, Too Good To Go (TGTG) reports 2.8 billion tons of food is wasted every year. The app, available on iOS and Android, features a number of partner businesses–bakeries, supermarkets, and restaurants–nearest a user's location that are giving away so-called "Surprise Bags" of unsold food. Rather than perfectly good food wasting away in a waste basket somewhere, TGTG users can stop by said businesses and pick up the food for themselves. The app's UI is similar to those of on-demand food delivery services like ... DoorDash, UberEats, and Postmates. Users are able to see which places are available, what they may get, and then sign up to pick up the items at a designated time. To date, TGTG boasts 4.2 million users and 9,790 businesses on its platform. Earlier this month, the company ... announced they are carbon neutral and have saved 100 million bags in the last seven years.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


The Surprising Role of Blind Women in India's Health Care System
2023-05-18, Reasons to be Cheerful
https://reasonstobecheerful.world/blind-women-detect-breast-cancer-india/

On a sunny March morning in Bengaluru, Ayesha Banu and Noorunnisa walk up to the stage of Nitte Meenakshi Institute of Technology. Their white canes folded and held aside, they speak to a packed hall of students and teachers about their work as Medical Tactile Examiners (MTEs). "We assist doctors in detecting the early signs of breast cancer in women," Banu speaks into the mic. "Using the first two fingers of both hands, we examine women's breasts for abnormalities." She explains that blind women like herself and Noorunnisa are especially well-suited to this profession because of the "high tactile sense in our fingertips, which helps us find tiny lumps in the breast." Tactile breast examinations, or TBEs, are clinical breast examinations specially designed for blind women trained as MTEs. Employing MTEs for routine breast cancer screening – and reaching women in their communities and workplaces – could help in the early detection of cancer and save lives, says Dr. Poovamma CU, the breast specialist under whom Banu and Noorunnisa work. Studies prove that in the absence of sight, blind people's brains can develop a heightened sense of touch, as well as hearing. Through the MTE training, a woman with vision impairment is able to empower another woman, by offering her preventive health care. In a recent Indian study where two MTEs conducted TBEs on 1,338 women, their success rate of detecting malignant cancers was over 78 percent, and the miss rate, only one percent.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring disabled persons news articles.


Local communities are buying medical debt for pennies on the dollar–and freeing American families from the threat of bankruptcy
2023-03-10, Fortune
https://fortune.com/2023/03/10/local-communities-are-buying-medical-debt-for-...

No one chooses medical debt. Many Americans who fall ill have no choice but to rack up debt in order to stay healthy or, in some cases, stay alive. For the underinsured and uninsured, incurring debt is inevitable. In a June 2022 survey, 40% percent of adults said they were burdened with medical debt. But progress on this issue is already underway. A recent report found that medical debt has fallen by almost 18% since 2020. This change is no coincidence, rather it points to the real impact that relief programs ... have had on everyday Americans. One such program comes out of my city of Toledo, Ohio. In November, Toledo City Council passed a community-scale medical debt relief initiative in partnership with Lucas County. We partnered with the national charity RIP Medical Debt and devoted $800,000 of Toledo's ARPA funds (and $800,000 of the matched commitment from Lucas county) to medical debt relief. The way it works is simple: RIP Medical Debt purchases debt for pennies on the dollar and then relieves the debt. Our groundbreaking program will wipe out as much as $240 million in medical debt for as many as 41,000 people at a cost of only $1.6 million. There are no administrative hurdles for community members to overcome. Instead, relief recipients are simply sent a letter informing them their debt has been canceled. Two-thirds of Americans (67%) would support the Toledo model for medical debt relief being adopted in their community, including strong majorities of Democrats, Republicans, and Independents. 

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Minnesota's Prison-to-Grilled-Cheese Pipeline Is Changing Lives
2023-04-27, Reasons to be Cheerful
https://reasonstobecheerful.world/minnesota-all-square-prison-entrepreneurs/

All Square in Minneapolis, Minnesota ... with its bright pink neon sign buzzing in the window on Minnehaha Avenue, is serving up much more than gooey sandwiches. Launched in September 2018 by a civil rights lawyer, All Square is a social enterprise that uses its restaurant (and a food truck) to right the wrongs of the American criminal justice system. The staff of All Square "fellows" is a rotating cohort of formerly incarcerated people. During the nine-month fellowship, employees receive not only a living wage, but also wraparound services like therapy sessions, professional development support and access to funding opportunities. To date, All Square has provided 48 fellowships, $2.8 million in wages ($1.6 million of which has gone directly to formerly incarcerated Minnesotans), 400 therapy sessions, and more than $60,000 in micro-grants for seed capital and debt alleviation. The overarching goal of All Square is to offer a true second chance at life post-incarceration that is otherwise systematically denied through near insurmountable restrictions to necessities like housing and jobs. Leveraging entrepreneurship to sidestep the inability to access traditional employment is just what Onika Goodluck, one of the original 14 fellows, did. Turned onto the program by her probation officer, Goodluck applied and after two interviews, landed the gig. After 10 years of on-and-off incarceration ... she says that therapy has made the biggest difference.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Pope Francis gives women right to vote in bishops' meeting for first time
2023-04-26, The Guardian (One of the UK's Leading Newspapers)
https://www.theguardian.com/world/2023/apr/27/pope-francis-gives-women-right-...

Pope Francis has decided to give women the right to vote at an upcoming meeting of bishops, an unprecedented change that reflects his hopes to give women greater decision-making responsibilities. Francis approved changes to the norms governing the Synod of Bishops, a Vatican body that gathers the world's bishops together for periodic meetings, following decades of demands by women to have the right to vote. The Vatican on Wednesday published the modifications he approved, which emphasise his vision for the lay faithful taking on a greater role in church affairs that have long been left to clerics, bishops and cardinals. Ever since the Second Vatican Council, the 1960s meetings that modernized the church, popes have summoned the world's bishops to Rome for a few weeks at a time to debate particular topics. At the end of the meetings, the bishops vote on specific proposals and put them to the pope, who then produces a document taking their views into account. Until now, the only people who could vote were men. But under the new changes, five religious sisters will join five priests as voting representatives for religious orders. In addition, Francis has decided to appoint 70 non-bishop members of the synod and has asked that half of them be women. They too will have a vote. The aim is also to include young people among these 70 non-bishop members, who will be proposed to the pope by regional blocs, with Francis making a final decision.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Researchers Use Algae to Power a Computer for Months
2022-05-17, Smithsonian Magazine
https://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/researchers-use-algae-to-power-comp...

Researchers have discovered how to use cyanobacteria–commonly called blue-green algae–to continuously power a microprocessor for a span of more than six months. The system, which uses inexpensive and largely recyclable materials, contains a type of non-toxic photosynthetic algae called Synechocystis, per a statement. The research was published in the journal Energy & Environmental Science. "We were impressed by how consistently the system worked over a long period of time–we thought it might stop after a few weeks but it just kept going," says Paolo Bombelli, a researcher from the University of Cambridge's Department of Biochemistry and lead author of the paper. The scientists created an enclosure out of aluminum and clear plastic and put the bacteria inside it. The device, which is about the size of a AA battery, was placed on a windowsill in Bombelli's home during Covid-19 lockdown in 2021 and remained there from February to August. The bacteria powered an Arm Cortex M0+ processor–a microprocessor widely used in the network of appliances connected to the internet, also called the Internet of Things (IoT). The cyanobacteria produced energy even without light, perhaps because they process some of their food in the dark, which generates an electrical current. Several billion IoT devices already exist, and that number is expected to rise to one trillion by 2035. Powering all those devices would require 109,000 tons of lithium, which is three times more than what the world produced in 2017.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Seal's mystery ability to tolerate toxic metal could aid medical research, say scientists
2023-04-29, The Guardian (One of the UK's Leading Newspapers)
https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2023/apr/29/seals-mystery-ability-to-...

One of the world's most isolated aquatic mammals, Arctocephalus philippii, can tolerate high levels of cadmium, as well as other metallic pollutants, without suffering ill effects. A. philippii is the second smallest species of fur seal and lives only on the Juan Fernández archipelago and one or two nearby islands in the Pacific Ocean, hundreds of miles off the coast of Chile. By the 19th century, the species had disappeared and was believed to be extinct until, in the 1960s, a small colony was found in a cave on the island. Since then, the Juan Fernández seal, which has become a protected species, has slowly recovered and has a population of around 80,000. "We collected samples of their faeces and found they contained extremely high levels of cadmium and other elements such as mercury," said Constanza Toro-Valdivieso of Cambridge University's conservation research institute. "The discovery was very surprising," she said. "Cadmium is poisonous to mammals but somehow these seals were processing it and passing it through their digestive systems and seem to be suffering little harm in the process." High levels were found not only in its faeces but in the bones of seals that had died of natural causes. The researchers also found high levels of silicon in their bones, which may be offsetting the impact of cadmium, they suggest. "The discovery that these animals appear to tolerate high levels of cadmium in their bodies has important medical implications," said Toro-Valdivieso. "These animals have a lot to tell us."

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Botanist Stefano Mancuso: ‘You can anaesthetise all plants. This is extremely fascinating'
2023-04-15, The Guardian (One of the UK's Leading Newspapers)
https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2023/apr/15/scientist-stefano-mancuso...

Stefano Mancuso is a pioneer in the plant neurobiology movement, which seeks to understand "how plants perceive their circumstances and respond to environmental input in an integrated fashion". Mancuso teaches at the University of Florence, his alma mater, where he runs the International Laboratory of Plant Neurobiology. He has written five bestselling books on plants. "Communication means you are able to emit a message and there is something able to receive it, and in this sense plants are great communicators. If you are unable to move, if you are rooted, it's of paramount importance for you to communicate a lot," [said Mancuso]. "Plants are obliged to communicate a lot, and they use different systems. The most important is through volatiles, or chemicals that are emitted in the atmosphere and received by other plants. It's an extremely sophisticated form of communication, a kind of vocabulary. Every single molecule means something, and they mix very different molecules to send a specific message. My approach to studying consciousness in plants ... started by seeing if they were sensitive to anaesthetics and found that you can anaesthetise all plants by using the same anaesthetics that work in humans. This is extremely fascinating. We were thinking that consciousness was something related to the brain, but I think that both consciousness and intelligence are more embodied, relating to the entire body."

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


'Bees are sentient': inside the stunning brains of nature's hardest workers
2023-04-02, The Guardian (One of the UK's Leading Newspapers)
https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2023/apr/02/bees-intelligence-minds-p...

When Stephen Buchmann finds a wayward bee on a window inside his Tucson, Arizona, home, he goes to great lengths to capture and release it unharmed. This March, Buchmann released a book that unpacks just how varied and powerful a bee's mind really is. The book, What a Bee Knows: Exploring the Thoughts, Memories and Personalities of Bees, draws from his own research and dozens of other studies to paint a remarkable picture of bee behavior and psychology. It argues that bees can demonstrate sophisticated emotions resembling optimism, frustration, playfulness and fear, traits more commonly associated with mammals. Experiments have shown bees can experience PTSD-like symptoms, recognize different human faces, process long-term memories while sleeping, and maybe even dream. Approximately one-third of the American diet, including many fruits, vegetables and nuts, relies on bees for pollination. In the past, bee research has focused on their role in crop pollination, but the work being pioneered by Buchmann and his contemporaries could force an ethical reckoning with how the animals are treated. Can large-scale agriculture and scientific research continue without causing bees to suffer, and is the dominant western culture even capable of accepting that the tiniest of creatures have feelings, too? Buchmann hopes an ethical shift will happen as details about the emotional lives of invertebrates – especially bees – are shared with the public.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Magnetic Crystals, Guides for Animals, Found in Humans
1992-05-12, New York Times
https://www.nytimes.com/1992/05/12/science/magnetic-crystals-guides-for-anima...

An intriguing claim that human brain cells possess crystals of a highly magnetic mineral known as magnetite was described today by Dr. Joseph Kirschvink, a professor at the California Institute of Technology. The 38-year-old geobiologist said he believed that magnetite crystals enabled animals from bees to whales to navigate by using the earth's magnetic field. He said he doubted that they supported any sensory capability in humans, although he suspected that they might account for the possible influence of strong electromagnetic fields on human health. That magnetite, one of the hardest metals on earth, is synthesized by the human brain "is sure to astound most scientists," Dr. Kirschvink said, but what it is doing there is a "total mystery." It might be a vestige from evolution and serve no purpose, he said. Or it could play a role in biology, explaining why electromagnetic fields have been associated with brain cancer and leukemia and why certain odd blips, called spin echoes, show up on magnetic resonance images of the brain. Each human brain on average contains seven billion particles of magnetite, weighing a total of one-millionth of an ounce. Magnetite interacts over a million times more strongly with external magnetic fields than any other biological material, Dr. Kirschvink said, including the iron in red blood cells. If only one cell in a million contains magnetite, he said, magnetic fields could exert an effect on the tissue.

Note: Robert O. Becker's classic book "The Body Electric" presents amazing scientific experiments showing the importance of electrical fields and magnetic crystals in the human body. Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


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