Posts tagged with "Good News Network"

Woman falls down mountain and writes hilarious review for leggings—giving them five stars

November 18, 2021

A woman was so impressed by the performance of a pair of leggings when she tumbled ‘down a mountain’ that she posted an Amazon review that has gone viral, reports Good News Network.

Cory H. posted photos of herself sprawled on a rocky slope—saying there was not even a hole in the pants after the accident. She wrote: “Can I just say that I will be reordering them in every color. Here is me rolling and sliding down a mountain because I was too scared to get up. My leggings did not rip—not even a little bit—and I got stuck on rocks and trees.”

Her photographic testimony spurred over 18,000 shoppers to mark her review as ‘helpful’.

The Amazon user enthusiastically left a five-star rating for the Raypose exercise leggings, which cost $13.99, encouraging others to “order them now.”

 Screenshots of the amusing review were posted on Twitter last week, racking up more than 400,000 likes.

 “I think about this twice per week,” a tweet said.

In response, another reviewer posted her own photo of the leggings in action, mimicking the image in amusing fashion by laying sprawled on her own hill.

Research contact: @goodnewsnetwork

The ‘upshot’: Photographer captures the stunning peak of a meteor shower

November 3, 2021

A photographer has captured the amazing peak of a meteor shower—as sparks are seen shooting across the night sky, reports the Good News Network.

Uroš Fink, a 31-year-oold shop worker, photographed the annual Perseid meteor shower, which takes place every summer, from the Mangart Saddle, the highest lying road in Slovenia. His image shows the colorful Milky Way dotted with nebulas as the Perseid meteors shoot across the night sky.

The Perseids “are considered the best meteor shower of the year,” according to NASA. You can be anywhere in the Northern Hemisphere to enjoy this show of speed and light.

Uroš said, “I could hardly wait for the day to come. Every year I am full of expectation to see the Perseids. I was standing on the edge of the abyss—sometimes it’s necessary to make a little effort and go outside your comfort zone to get a top image.

He further explained, “I did it because I have great desire and motivation to photograph the universe in combination with nature. I simply adore nature and everything related to the universe, so combining these two things into one image is something invaluable.”

Up there, high on the mountain on August 7, Fink says he kept thinking to himself, “Just let the weather hold out so I can capture as many meteors as possible on camera.”

According to Farmer’s Almanac, “Meteors occur when Earth rushes through a stream of dust and debris left behind by a passing comet (the Swift-Tuttle comet, in the case of the Perseids). When the bits strike Earth’s upper atmosphere, friction with the air causes each particle to heat and burn up. We see the result as a meteor.”

Research contact: @goodnewsnetwork

What a hoot! California vineyards halt use of toxic chemicals to protect grapes in favor of nesting owls

October 25, 2021

Napa Valley vintners are increasingly turning toward winged-laborers for their pest control—and away from super toxic pesticides that poison everything, including their wine, Good News Network reports.

Barn owls, in particular, but also hawks and other birds of prey, known as raptors, are being welcomed onto vineyards across California for their skill in rat-catching, vole-estation, and gopher-gobbling—and scientists studying the impact of these strategies are finding encouraging results.

For years, vintners in California were proud of the certain je ne sais quoi, inherent in their wines, which made Napa a world class destination for growing grapes.

But, they were using super-toxic “rodent-icides,” a type of poison used to kill the mice and voles that munch on vines. The poison had become an industry standard in the state up until the 1980s; when raptors, trapping, and other more holistic methods became more popular.

According to the environmental nonprofit, Napa Green, a trend toward chemical-free farming statewide is reflected in the threefold increase of organic winegrape acreage since 2005—with the number of organic acres doubling in just the last decade.

The organization says, “Napa Green Vineyard certification provides a pathway for growers to improve soil health; become carbon neutral to negative within six to nine years; and increase the resilience of vineyards, businesses, and our community.

One of the world’s most efficient pest controllers is the barn owl, which is found on six out of seven continents worldwide and is capable of eating 3,400 rodents each year.

Matt Johnson is a wildlife professor at Humboldt State University who began a program years ago to study raptor pest control in vineyards and research the results. One of his surveys found that, of 75 California wine makers, 80% purposely invite owls onto their property by constructing nest boxes.

“We’re working mainly in Napa Valley, where there are over 300 barn owl nest boxes,” Johnson wrote on his department’s webpage.

“You can literally put a barn owl nest box in the exact location where you think you have a problem with the small mammals, and voilà! The owls will start using that area,” John C. Robinson, a local ornithologist, told Bay Nature Magazine.

Johnson and his graduate students have found that barn owls like their boxes to sit about 9 feet off the ground, face away from the sun, adjacent to an unkempt field, and preferably far from forested acres.

Research contact: @goodnewsnetwork

A new mixed-income housing complex near San Francisco comes with its own farm

September 29, 2021

Have you ever wanted to live on a farm, but without having to do all of the hard work or needing to drive an hour to reach a major city?

In San Francisco, a mixed-income apartment complex has gone up in the neighborhood of Santa Clara that comes with its own 1.5-acre farm, managed by a professional urban farming company, which also welcomes help from residents, Good News Network reports.

The Agrihood building consists of 361 units—181 of which are priced below market rate. Specifically, 10% are reserved for moderate income renters, and 165 for low-income seniors and veterans. The complex also comprises 30 townhomes and features a central 1.5-acre organic farm that can produce 20,000 pounds of food every year.

Each week the produce is brought to an on-site location and sold at a deep discount for residents. The full list of produce is posted on Agrihood’s website, and includes superfoods, comfort foods, orchards, perennial foods, and native foods.

“Our goal throughout this endeavor has been to provide the affordable housing that we urgently need in Santa Clara through a truly creative, community-driven process,” says the brochure.

“Not only are we providing a really unique living experience for the residents that live on the property, but we’re also taking a very deliberate approach to encouraging the health and wellness of our residents by incorporating the farm, hopefully, into their daily and weekly lifestyles,” Vince Cantore, who is vice-president of Core Companies, the firm leading the Agrihood project, told Fast Company recently.

Attempting to address the housing shortage in San Francisco, Agrihood is actually built on the site of what used to be one of the many orchards that covered Santa Clara in decades past.

Urban farming and gardening are growing in popularity, with some cities, parks, or neighborhoods attempting to include community gardens, forest gardens, or urban farms into development plans.

It’s a critical way that urban areas can increase food security, reduce the carbon footprint that food racks up during transportation, and increase access to healthy food for low-income communities in food deserts.

Research contact: @goodnewsnetwork

Friend or foe? A certain type of smile can repair relationships that have been damaged by mistrust

September 10, 2021

They say it takes 400 muscles for each of us to smile—but, interestingly enough, a team of scientists at Queen’s University Belfast has found that we use those facial muscles in ways that can be interpreted very differently by viewers.

 Indeed, according to a report by Good News Network, the researchers found that subtle differences in the way in which a person smiled had not-so-subtle impacts on the opinions that test participants formed about the smiler.

 “Smiling at another person does not always lead to trust and cooperation,” said Dr. Stephanie Carpenter a post-doctoral fellow in the Niedenthal Emotions Lab at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and a co-author of the study. “Subtle differences in a smile can have a real impact on whether people trust each other and choose to cooperate. In fact, the way you smile in a good or bad situation can impact whether people trust you.”

 While playing a set of economic games, such as those that require trust to create value for both players, or which can confer more value for a single person willing to deceive, the subject individual first displayed uncooperative behavior and thus triggered a loss of trust or confidence in his or her partner.

 It was then that, depending on the characteristics of the smile made at game’s end by the subject, the participants altered their expectations of how the smiler would behave during the next game.

 Three different smiles were used, which were labeled as reward, dominance, and affiliation.

After untrustworthy or uncooperative behavior, a reward smile—a big ear-to-ear smile like a kid who got the ice cream he was begging for, and a dominance smile, a smirk-y sign of superiority, elicited very little trust, expectations of change in behavior, and positivity when compared with a totally neutral expression, or a look of regret, meaning that sometimes smiles can create even stronger negative feelings than not smiling.

 However the “affiliation smile,” which seems to have a hint of regret, like the smile a someone might make after consoling a dear friend, created a desire to repair the broken relationship and to trust the person who had just done something unfair.

 “Think about movie villains, for example in James Bond films,” said Dr. Magdalena Rychlowska from Queen’s University, who led the research published in Cognition and Emotion journal. “They often make happy smiles when something bad has happened or is about to happen. This context makes these otherwise happy and normal smiles feel threatening and unpleasant.”

 She adds, “The findings of this study show the power of subtle facial expressions and the positive consequences that an affiliation smile can have in difficult situations. It also highlights the importance of social context—a happy smile that could be read as a signal of trustworthiness in one setting can, in another setting, be seen as evidence of bad intentions.”

 Mastery of the smile then, can be an excellent way of getting out of difficult social situations, while the lack thereof can be an excellent way of getting into one.

 Research contact: @goodnewsnetwork

Swim buddies: See the moment a shark ‘poses’ for a selfie with a diver, and cracks the same huge smile

August 12, 2021

A diver recently “clicked” with a whale shark. Indeed, 36-year-old William Drumm found a large friend swimming about 20 miles off the coast of Isla Mujeres in Mexico—and decided to document the occasion with a selfie.

Whale sharks often swim with their mouths open and William thought it would make a good shot to imitate them, reports Good News Network.

After a few tries, he managed to get the perfect image. The Coloradan explained that whale sharks are “so amazing.” The largest sharks on the planet, they “are often swimming with their mouths open as they filter tiny plankton from the water.”

On Instagram he described the encounter, noting that there were “millions of fish eggs in the water, which is likely what attracts all of these sharks every year. A whale shark can consume 30,000 calories or more per day, feeding on some of the smallest prey imaginable!”

Even without the photo, it would have been an unforgettable experience: “I felt so excited and honored to share the water with so many of these beautiful behemoths,” Drumm said, adding, ”Never have I seen so many whale sharks—at least 100 in a single day.”

Research contact: @goodnewsnetwork

‘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