This Week’s Good News From Around The World (February 26th, 2017)

Bees

Teaching Bees to Play Ball Teaches Researchers More About the Insects

A study by researchers at the Queen Mary University of London indicates that bees may have more brainpower than we expect. As part of an experiment, scientists “taught” groups of honey bees to move a tiny ball from one point to another, by demonstrating the process with a dummy bee. The results of the experiment shed light on bee’s minds, and provide some hope that bees may be better equipped to adapt to environmental changes than previously thought. [TheConversation.com]

The Environment

Coca-Cola Supports Deposit Recycling System for U.K.

This week, Coca-Cola drew positive attention from environmentalists when it moved to support the idea of a deposit return system for plastic containers in the U.K. Adding a small deposit fee to the cost of commercial beverages in the U.K. would provide added incentive for people to return their containers to a depot instead of throwing them in the trash. Such systems are already in use in Canada, the United States, and Australia. [SAS.org.uk]

India to Power Nearly All Its Train Stations With Solar Energy

Indian Finance Minister Arun Jaitley announced this month that Indian Railways plans to implement solar power at 7,000 railway stations across the country. According to the minister’s announcement, crews had already begun installing solar panels at 300 of the stations. The nation currently has just over 7,100 stations in total. [CleanTechnica.com]


People

Life Expectancy and Education Levels Rise in Vietnam

Recently-released data indicates that Vietnam’s life expectancy at birth rose from 67.6 years to 75.8 years between 1980 and 2014. Education duration and gross national income per capita also saw increases. The changes are attributed to joint efforts by the Vietnamese government, USAID, World Bank, and other programs that were able to help the nation get back on its feet following the destruction of the Vietnam War. [BorgenMagazine.com]

Saudia Arabia Pledges $10 Million in Aid to Yemen

On Wednesday, Saudi Arabian president Abed Rabbu Mansour Hadi revealed that his country planned to donate $10 million in aid to the nation of Yemen. According to the announcement, $8 million of the aid money will go toward restoring infrastructure in areas where much of it has been destroyed by conflict with Houthi militia and terrorists, while the rest will go to Yemen’s central bank. [AlArabiya.net]

Statue of Liberty Draped With Welcoming Sign

A 20-foot-long banner reading “Refugees Welcome” appeared draped across New York’s Statue of Liberty on Tuesday. The installation of the banner coincided with announcements that the U.S. Department of Homeland Security would be doubling down on its harsher immigration restriction policies. Though the banner was quickly removed, it was the topic of much discussion on social media. [BBC.com]


Medicine

Vaccine Therapy Tests Offer New Hope for HIV Patients

In preliminary trials for a new HIV vaccine therapy, five patients were able to remain virus-free without their regular regimen of antiretroviral drugs. As of the below article’s run, the patients were ARV-free for 27 weeks. The remaining eight patients in the trial also remained virus-free for multiple weeks after receiving the vaccine therapy. Though researchers note that the results are mixed, they provide encouraging data to support the development of easier, more effective methods of HIV treatment. [DigitalTrends.com]

CPR App Helps Save a Life

An app called PulsePoint was at least partially responsible for saving the life of a man who went into cardiac arrest in Columbus, Ohio, on February 14th. The app alerts users who are trained in CPR when someone within 300 feet requires the procedure, allowing 20-year-old Brock Jenkins to perform CPR long enough for paramedics to arrive and stabilize the man. [NBC4I.com]

Brain-Computer Interfaces Help Paralyzed Patients Type With Record Speed

A study published this week in the journal eLife told the stories of three patients with paralysis who were able to utilize brain-computer interfaces to great effect. One patient, a 64-year-old man with a spinal cord injury, was able to “type” using a small brain implant at four times the previous speed record for such a device, suggesting encouraging improvements in the technology. [Spectrum.IEEE.org]


Science and Technology

NASA Funds New Space-Exploration-Oriented Research Institute

NASA is funding a new Space Technology Research Institute, with MTU professor Greg Odegard at its helm. The institute is set to receive a $15 million grant for 5 years, and will help bring together researchers and engineers from multiple fields to help NASA’s plans for deep space exploration. [MTU.edu]

Seven New Earth-Like Planets Discovered

On Wednesday NASA announced its discovery of seven new Earth-like planets in a system just 40 light years away from our own. The planets orbit a star called Trappist-1. According to NASA’s press release, liquid water could be a possibility on all seven of the planets, though more research will be required to determine the compositions of the planets’ atmospheres. [NASA.gov]

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Dallas Jeffs is a freelance writer, art school grad and lover of all things sci-fi. Visit her personal website HappySpaceNoises for book and art reviews, or follow her on Twitter.