Posts tagged with "Good News Network"

‘Watch the birdie’: Man sets up camera inside bird box and attracts 41 million fans worldwide

August 4, 2021

A Leicester, England-based wildlife fan who set up a camera in a bird box to film a family of blue tits was stunned when the videos attracted 41 million hits in one month, reports the Good News Network.

Originally, 43-year-old John Chadwick started live-streaming footage of the birds with their chicks so his family could watch their progress before they flew the nest.

But just weeks after uploading the videos to YouTube, he racked up millions of views from around the world.

John recently told Good News Network, “It’s gone a little bit bonkers. I only wanted to show my neighbors, friends, nieces, and nephews what the birds were up to. I had no idea the films would attract such interest.

“To think that literally tens of millions of people have been avidly watching the birds from around the world is just incredible and quite overwhelming.”

The sound engineer, who has toured with Aerosmith and the Beatles’ Ringo Starr, bought the bird box on a whim during lockdown. He installed it on a willow tree in the back garden of his home in Leicester in March, and within hours two blue tits moved in and they had five chicks.

John said: “Within a day the birds moved in, and I wanted to know what was going on inside.

“I’d learnt how to livestream to help my local pub do their open mic, and over lockdown in February I bought a bird box camera,” said Chadwick, adding, “I started to livestream and do a highlights video every day—on the first day 100 people watched it. It showed things like the chicks being fed in the nests as the parents carried in caterpillars.

“Daily highlights continued, and about three days before the chicks fledged, I hit 100 subscribers.

But that wasn’t the end of it: “After three months of doing three hours editing a night of 15 hours of daily footage, I had 2,000 subscribers. I decided to put a final video together and keep it as short as possible—showing the birds going into the nests, the eggs hatching, and the chicks fledging.

“I put that up on June 7 and by Thursday 100,000 people had watched it, and by Saturday I had five million views.

“I went to a barbecue on Saturday afternoon and when I came back I had two million more In the first week I had done 10 million and now more than 41 million. It is just bizarre.”

Stranger yet, John’s videos are mostly watched by people in America and India, with UK audiences accounting for just 5% of his total views.

And despite the huge global success of the films, John is unlikely to make enough for a nest egg of his own.

He said: “My personal challenge to myself was to cross the threshold to get monetized, and then recoup the £150 (US$208) I paid for the camera and £90 (US$125) for the hard drive—it is due any day.

“Some people say they find it quite relaxing and some people are genuinely fascinated.”

Research contact: @goodnewsnetwork

Bow-WOW: Talent seems to be just as much a gift in dogs as it is in people

July 19, 2021

Whether it’s seeing a child take only a few seconds to learn Mary had a Little Lamb on the piano, experiencing getting wiped out by a much better player in a pickup basketball game, or witnessing someone’s encyclopedic memory while they rattle off statistics about geography, humans see natural talent every day.

Now, a study seeking the origin of “natural talent” in dogs has been published in Nature. What it found: Just as in humans, some particular pooches display more innate talent than others do.

According to The Good News Network, this story has a lot to do with border collies—a dog species that the authors of the study note has been bred for herding sheep and, therefore, has had to be extra-cognizant of owners’ calls, instructions, and whistles.

The American Kennel Club reported last year on a border collie named Chaser, who had 1,022 toys and knew the individual names of every on; while Science reported on one named Rico who knew the names of 200 toys and could very quickly retrieve those for which he had no name by using exclusion learning and inference at about the level of a three-year-old child.

Locating 34 dog owners across the globe using social media, researcher  Claudia Fugazza of Eötvös Loránd University in Budapest decided to test whether the pooches could attach specific names to all the toys they played with, and be able to recognize and respond to those names immediately.

Of those 34 dogs, only one border collie succeeded—a young female named Olivia, who sadly died of health complications before the trial could be finished.

But the work continues: “[W]e decided to set up a study in which both puppies and adult naïve dogs are systematically and intensively trained for learning at least two object names over a three-month period, and we used a strictly controlled testing method to assess the dogs’ learning outcome every month from the start of the training,” wrote Fugazza in her paper.

In this study, each month, a scientist visits a dog’s house and tests to see if he or she can retrieve an object based on it name. As each dog succeeds, another word is added.

Perhaps the surprising thing is that of the 34 dogs, 19 were border collies, and 18 of them failed to learn a single name. Also interesting was that, outside of the study, their same research method found that six border collies that could already learn names could continue to learn more.

The hypothesis was that some dogs with certain neurological plasticity owing to either early-life training or breed-activity would have better abilities.

However, the dogs learned the names of toys “irrespectively of the age of the subjects and despite intensive training,” the researchers wrote, concluding by saying that “while a few rare individuals can rapidly master multiple object names, we suggest that the capacity to learn object-names in dogs shows analogies with exceptional performance (talent) in humans.”

It seems that it’s just as hard to find out why Mozart was Mozart as it is to find out why Chaser the border collie was Chaser the border collie.

Research contact: @goodnewsnetwork

Carrying a tune: That song stuck in your head is helping your brain with long-term memory

June 23, 2021

If you have watched TV since the 1990s, the sitcom theme songI’ll Be There for Youhas likely been stuck in your head at one point or another.

New research from the University of California-Davis suggests these experiences are more than a passing nuisance. In fact, they play an important role in helping memories form, not only for the song, but also related life events like hanging out with friends—or watching other people hang with their best buddies onFriends, the Good News Network reports.

“Scientists have known for some time that music evokes autobiographical memories, and that those are among the emotional experiences with music that people cherish most,” says Petr Janata, UC Davis professor of Psychology and co-author of the new study.

“What hasn’t been understood to date is how those memories form in the first place and how they become so durable, such that just hearing a bit of a song can trigger vivid remembering,” notes Janata.

The paper, “Spontaneous Mental Replay of Music Improves Memory for Incidentally Associated Event Knowledge,” has been published online in the Journal of Experimental Psychology.

This new research offers an initial glimpse into these mechanisms and, somewhat surprisingly, finds that the songs that get stuck in your head help that process of strengthening memories as they first form, the authors said.

Thus, this is the first research to link two of the most common phenomena people experience with music—earworms (having a song stuck in your head) and music-evoked remembering.

For their latest study, the researchers worked with 25 to 31 different people in each of three experiments, over three different days, spaced weeks apart. Subjects first listened to unfamiliar music, and then, a week later, listened to the music again, this time paired with likewise unfamiliar movie clips. In one instance, movies were played without music.

The research subjects, all UC Davis undergraduate and graduate students, were subsequently asked to remember as many details as they could from each movie as the music played. They were also quizzed about their recollection of the associated tunes and how often they experienced each of the tunes as an earworm. None of them had formal music training.

The more the tune played, the more accurate the memory, Good News Network reports—and, critically, the more details the person remembered from the specific section of the movie with which the tune was paired.

With only one week between when they saw the movie, and when they were asked to remember as many details from the movie as they could while listening to the movie soundtrack, the effect of repeatedly experiencing a tune from the soundtrack as an earworm resulted in near-perfect retention of the movie details.

These people’s memories, in fact, were as good as when they had first seen the movie. Additionally, most subjects were able to report what they were typically doing when their earworms occurred, and none of them mentioned the associated movies coming to mind at those times.

“Our paper shows that even if you are playing that song in your mind and not pulling up details of memories explicitly, that is still going to help solidify those memories,” Janata said.

The authors said they hope the research, which is ongoing, could eventually lead to the development of nonpharmaceutical, music-based interventions to help people suffering from dementia and other neurological disorders to better remember events, people and daily tasks.

Research contact: @goodnewsnetwork

Something looks ‘fishy’: Dutch citizens are using a “doorbell” to help fish pass through the canal gate

April 23, 2021

Tasked with helping to ensure that Utrecht’s canals remain full of marine life—and coincidentally, with convincing everyone it wasn’t an April Fools’ Day joke—two ecologists in the Dutch city have introduced the world’s first “fish doorbell.”

An underwater, live-streaming camera at the “Weerdsluis” lock door allows residents to ring a virtual doorbell heard by the local lock keeper when they see that fish are trying to get through, Good News Network reports..

A lock is a gate that raises or lowers canal boats into different levels of water separated by two doors, and a sluice is a small fish-sized door that allows water (and fish) to pass between them.

“You have to see the Oudegracht (the canal) as a motorway for fishing. Sometimes you see literally dozens of fish floundering in front of the lock gate, so a fish jam is created,” says underwater nature expert Mark van Heukelum.

“The Weerdsluis is the link between the Vecht [River] and the Kromme Rijn [River]. In winter the fish swim deeper, it is warmer and safer there. In the summer they want to go to shallow water so that they can reproduce,” he adds, according to AD.

Van Heukelum came up with the doorbell idea when—while working with wildlife ecologist Anne Nijs on a project to highlight the biodiversity in Utrecht’s canals—they noticed how lock keeper Patrick opened the sluice to allow a large group of arriving fish to pass through.

Nijs says it’s a great way to connect residents with their aquatic neighbors, and noted that when Van Heukelum took the idea to the municipality they were very excited. The only uncertainty was why create a camera and a signal to Patrick when they could just install a motion-activated sensor?

Van Heukelum explains: “Technically that is probably possible, but this is of course much more fun,” he says. “I am already addicted to it myself and watch it every night. You suddenly see a large pike swimming by or a lobster. It would be nice if you could spot a rarer fish such as a bindweed or bleak. Or maybe an eel.”

Research contact: @goodnewsnetwork

Monkey see, monkey do: Chimps from two Czech zoos are Zooming each other daily

March 24, 2021

If there were anyone in our society who didn’t know how to use Zoom, they do now. The demand for the video call platform has, well, zoomed during the course of the pandemic, and its popularity is even crossing the species boundary, Good News Network reports.

Chimpanzees at two Czech zoos are, like the rest of us, staying in contact via Zoom, as the zoo staff seek to give them some company and stimulation during the long hours of isolation.

Chimp gang Dingo, Babeta, Bonnie, Suzi, Chispi and Mat at Safari Park Dvur Kralove have had their lives Zoom-displayed on giant screens in front of the simians at a Brno Zoo enclosure 90 miles away, and vice versa.

There are no confusions over whether the default speaker is selected, or if the mute button is on, as the sound is off entirely, but that hasn’t stopped the two groups from enjoying the company of their cousins.

Reuters reports that it didn’t always seem like a family reunion. “At the beginning they approached the screen with defensive or threatening gestures,” said Gabriela Linhartova, one of the ape keepers at Dvur Kralove Zoo east of Prague.

“It has since moved into the mode of ‘I am in the movies’ or ‘I am watching TV’. When they see some tense situations, it gets them up off the couch, like us when we watch a live sport event,” Linhartova says.

While observing the others’ day-to-day lives, the chimps have taken to other human behaviors, such as shoveling things like peanuts into their mouths while they watch—reminding this author of the “junk food movie nights” of his childhood.

According to Good News Network, for those who want to get in on the fun, there is a live stream on the zoo’s website where the calls—streamed daily from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. (CET)—will continue until the end of this month at least.

Research contact: @goodnewsnetwork

Amazing bubble wrap artist creates masterpieces by injecting paint into each bubble

March 10, 2021

What’s more addictive than squishing bubble wrap and hearing that satisfying “pop-pop-pop” sound? For one New York-based painter, the answer is using that material to create some truly amazing art that could be the modern-day version of Pointillism made famous by Georges Seurat in the late 19th Century.

There are many famous schools of art: the Impressionists, the Surrealists, and the Cubists, to name a few. But while Bradley Hart’s work most closely mirrors the Pointillists—he’s even re-created Seurat’s famous painting “A Sunday on the Grande Jatte” using his unique technique—Hart might most appropriately be termed an “Injectionist,” reports the Good News Network.

Hart’s latest creation is an homage to rap legend Notorious B.I.G. “I load thousands of syringes with paint in preparation to begin the injection,” he said in an interview with ABC’s Localish program, “I’ve done portraits of the likes of Marilyn Monroe, Kurt Cobain Michael Jackson, David Bowie, John Lennon.”

Invented in 1957, bubble wrap was originally intended to be marketed as textured wallpaper. What turned out to be a hard fail from the decorator point of view turned out to be a boon to the shipping industry—and to Bradley Hart.

“Researching the history of bubble wrap and realizing that it was meant to be wallpaper brought me around to this great idea,” Hart told Art Insider. “What is a painting—short of the cultural significance and historical value it may obtain over time? It’s ostensibly a wall covering.”

To date, Good News Network notes, Hart has completed just over a hundred injection paintings. The painstaking process involves filling row after row of tiny bubble wrap cells with different hues of acrylic paint to create an image. He estimates it takes four or five days to preload the 1,800 to 2,500 syringes his paintings require from a palette containing 116 colors.

Each project produces two separate paintings—the pixelated picture in front, and an impressionist image rendered by the drippings from the back—and takes between three weeks to a month to complete.

When he started out, Hart was only able to inject a few cells at a time before having to step back to review his progress. He’s since invented a computer algorithm that gives him a working bird’s eye view. While it makes the process faster, it’s still time-consuming.

Hart’s philosophy is simple. “Every drop of everything is potentially art,” he told Localish. “I’ve been very lucky and very thankful for the luck that I’ve been afforded. The art world has kind of enveloped me and help lift me up… It’s been really a big blessing.”

Research contact @goodnewsnetwork

Get paid $3,200 to create art on a remote Michigan island for three weeks

March 1, 2021

If you’re an artist who’s always dreamed of getting your Gauguin on with an immersive island getaway where you can fully indulge yourself in all things nature, you just might be in luck, reports Good News Network.

Located a few miles east of Michigan’s Keweenaw Peninsula in Lake Superior, Rabbit Island may not be Tahiti, but it does boast 91 forested acres of practically pristine paradise and the call for its annual artist’s residency program is now open.

Three lucky applicants will score three-week residencies scheduled to take place sometime from mid-June to mid-September of this year.

If that’s not inspiration enough, the Rabbit Island Foundation also is offering a $3,200 stipend to sweeten the pot. (Past recipients have used the funds to facilitate research, cover travel expenses, purchase supplies, and procure materials.)

All that interested applicants have to do is the following:

Per their website, the Rabbit Island Residency, launched in 2010 “is a platform to investigate, expand, and challenge creative practices in a remote environment. By living and working on Rabbit Island residents engage directly with the landscape and respond to notions of conservation, ecology, sustainability, and resilience.”

Rabbit Island comprises a native ecosystem that’s never been developed or subdivided—and is held in trust so that it never will be. According to Good News Network, bald eagles share the tree-filled landscape with indigenous reptiles, nesting birds, salamanders, salmon, and native lake trout.

While it’s a glorious untamed environment, it’s likely not suited to anyone who can’t do without creature comforts, doesn’t have previous camping experience, or can’t cope with the whims of changing weather. (Intermittent wind and rain are normal; water temperature ranges from 48° to 68° F; air temperature ranges from 40° to 90° F.)

Wifi/cell phone service? Check. Kitchen and library? Check. Open-air studios with tools and equipment? Check. Indoor plumbing? Can you say, “outhouse?”

To commemorate and promote the residency, the Rabbit Island Foundation annually creates a publication featuring the work and research of each resident and also promotes extensively via its social media channels and online archive.

Not a Post-Impressionist? No worries. The call is open to “visual artists of all disciplines, as well as writers, poets, architects, designers, musicians, filmmakers, composers, and choreographers.” In addition to individual applications, small collaborative groups are also encouraged to apply.

Research contact: @goodnewsnetwork

A stunning 3D-printed home just popped up on Zillow for half the price of comparable listings

Febraury 8, 2021

A brand-new 3D-printed home is currently available for sale on Zillow at 34 Millbrook Lane in Riverhead, New York, Good News Network reports.

At $300,000, it costs 50% less than comparably sized houses in the area, and the manufacturer, Patchogue, New York-based SQ4D—which specializes in autonomous robotic construction—hopes to use it as a jumping-off point to tackle housing shortages in the city and surrounding towns.

Using its pioneering technology, the 3D-printed home can be erected on the spot; so that it features approximately 1,500 square feet of living space, with a detached two-car garage—all on a quarter-acre with a garden.

Inside the structure, the open-floor plan includes three bedrooms and two full bathrooms. The 3D-printed material is actually made of concrete, and therefore has much better energy efficiency and durability. SQ4D also offers a 50-year limited warranty on the house.

SQ4D is one of a number of construction firms now armed with humungous 3D printers, and looking to direct the revolutionary technology towards the inefficiencies and high costs of the housing industry.

Requiring merely three laborers on-site to oversee the job, SQ4D can print a concrete building (without a roof) in one-third of the normal time frame required for such work.

Research contact: @goodnewsnetwork

Film festival is ‘screening’ candidates for solo 7-day stay at remote lighthouse to watch movies

January 12, 2021

The Gothenburg Film Festival is conducting a “pandemic cinema experiment” in the form of a contest. For the experiment, one candidate will be chosen from applicants around the globe—and that plucky individual will self-isolate and watch films at the famous Pater Noster Lighthhouse on the craggy island of Hamneskäroff the west coast of Sweden, reports Good News Network.

The annual festival, launched back in 1979, is the largest such event in Scandinavia. Over ten days each year at the end of January and beginning of February—in 2021, from January 30 through February 6—about 450 films from 60 nations are screened for 115,000 visitors.

However, things have changed during the age of the coronavirus pandemic, Creative Director Jonas Holmberg recently told CBC’s “As It Happens.” He says the experiment aims to examine how social distancing has transformed the movie-watching experience. The most obvious change is the shift from in-person to online and at-home movie viewership.

While on the island, the winning cinephile will get free room and board along with unlimited access to this year’s festival roster of films. “They are totally isolated. They are not allowed to bring anyone, of course, but also no phone and not even a book,” Holmberg said, adding, “…It will be only this person and the sea, the waves, the sky and the 60 different premieres that we are screening at the festival.”

According to the festival website, “Göteborg Film Festival 2021 will be anything but conventional. No crowds, no parties, no sold-out cinemas. This year’s festival focus, Social Distances, explores the new world that has emerged in the wake of the pandemic. What does film mean to us when we are isolated from everything else? To investigate, we are opening a brand-new cinema. In the middle of the ocean.

Requisites for the winner, according to Holmberg, are the following:

  • The person must be a true film fan
  • He or she must either enjoy or tolerate solitude; and
  • Since he or she will be expected to document the experience with a video diary, it’s crucial to be an adept communicator.

“They will talk about how life is on the island and how these special conditions have affected the relationship to the films that they have seen,” Holmberg says.

The winner will live in the lighthouse keeper’s home but all movies will air in a purpose-built, one-person cinema inside the lighthouse. Interested film lovers should apply at the festival website by January 17.

Note: For security reasons another person will remain on the island during the winner’s stay there. Each day, the two will have a short meeting to see if any assistance is needed with practical matters. During this short meeting, the winner also will get access to a computer  Pad to record his or her daily video diary, which will be sent to the film festival’s communication department for distribution.

Research contact: @good newsnetwork

‘Thirst’ aid: Does drinking lots of water lead to happiness and health?

December 24, 2020

Does being properly hydrated have a transcendent effect on our lives? A new survey of 2,000 Americans has found that those of us who drink six or more glasses of water daily tend to be more optimistic, energetic, and successful, according to a report by Good News Network.

Indeed, the poll—conducted by OnePoll on behalf of Bosch Home Appliances—established that people who drink a half dozen or more glasses of water per day are the most likely to strongly agree that they are “very happy” (41%).

Compare that to those who self-report drinking less than one glass per day: Only 12% strongly agree with that same statement.

What’s more, 40% of those who drink six or optimistic by nature, compared to just 10% of those who drink less than one glass of water a day.

Refreshment also could be the key to waking up feeling refreshed. The study found that those who drink six or more glasses woke up feeling exhausted fewer times each week (2.59) than those who drink less than one glass of water a day (3.14).

Research contact: @goodnewsnetwork