Hola, this is your Good News round-up. These are this week’s positive developments:
Meat made of thin air could reduce world hunger and fight climate change; NASA is on its way back to the moon after 50 years, promising many advances for humans on earth beyond space knowledge; people with complete paralysis are able to walk again thanks to an important breakthrough; a group of rats is being trained to help rescue workers find and communicate with victims in unreachable places; and the vending machine for poetry on the streets of Slovenia.
Click the video above to get the full digest and find out more on the following:
1. Meat made of thin air could reduce world hunger and fight climate change
By 2050 the number of people living on the planet is expected to reach 10 billion people. This is likely to bring a 70 per cent increase in the demand for food production.
That’s a heavy demand for Planet Earth, but luckily some people are working on sustainable alternatives to feed the growing population. One of these ideas is a protein made out of thin air.
Air Protein mimics nature’s conversion of carbon dioxide and, in a few hours, transforms thin air into meatless protein with the same amino acid profile as animal protein.
And the story doesn’t end there, Air Protein can not only make complete proteins, but also create essential vitamins, such as vitamin B12, which is usually lacking in vegan and vegetarian diets.
Watch the video above and meet Dr. Lisa Dyson, Founder & CEO of Air Protein.
2. Space travel promises many advances for humans on earth
NASA’s Artemis rocketship is on its way to the moon after an epic launch, 50 years after the final Apollo lunar mission.
Artemis’ goal is to take astronauts to the lunar surface before the end of the decade and establish a sustainable base there for the future human exploration of Mars.
But why is it good news that we’re going back to the moon?
We are using space technology in our everyday lives without realising it, says Dr Farhan Asrar, global faculty member with the International Space University, physician and assistant professor at the University of Toronto.
One example is infrared thermometers, which were “actually developed by the space agencies initially,” he says.
Similarly, the origins of modern telemedicine (the practice of providing remote medical services), which was particularly useful during the pandemic, also has its origins in these space organisations, who had to “take care of astronauts during their space missions.”
Whenever we talk about climate change, measurements are taken based on satellite technology, which can also be traced back to space technology, he says.
Historically, space agencies have stepped up to help during times of crises, most recently during the COVID-19 pandemic, and the Canadian Space Agency also “made a commitment that any kind of technology or programs has to have benefits for earth-based applications,” says Asrar.
“But also now the space world is a global village, and it just brings everyone together.”
3. People with complete paralysis are able to walk again thanks to an important breakthrough
Walking involves a sophisticated communication system in which our brains send commands to the lumbar spinal cord, where the neurons that orchestrate walking live.
It’s such a delicate system that spinal injury can cut off communication with the brain and render our limbs nonfunctional. The consequence can be permanent paralysis.
But there’s been a major breakthrough that brings hope and promise for around 10,000 of those who are injured per year in the EU.
In 2018, neuroscientist Grégoire Courtine from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne used epidural electrical stimulation to make people with paralysis walk again.
Three of the participants in Courtine’s trial had severe or complete motor paralysis and minimal sensation in their legs, but he enabled them to walk on their own, with a walker or with crutches.
Now the same team has improved the technology, making it much more precise, so that even those who had been completely paralysed could control electrodes planted in the spine in order to move. Using an electronic device and a Bluetooth connection, groups of neurons are stimulated, and this in turn activates certain muscles, enabling patients not only to walk, but in some cases to swim or even cycle.
4. A group of rats is being trained to help rescue workers find and communicate with victims in unreachable places
You might remember the agonising weeks of the Tham Luang cave rescue when rescuers flew in from around the world to save a Thai junior football team trapped in a cave.
Efforts to locate the group took weeks, no contact was made for more than a week after that, and the rescue operation was threatened by rising water levels with strong currents.
However, if Belgian non-profit APOPO is successful, search and rescue efforts in the future could have a new, very small, ally to help execute their difficult job: a rat in a tiny hi-tech backpack.
Because of their size, agility and keen sense of smell, rats are proving to be a valuable tool for existing search and rescue efforts.
APOPO has traditionally trained rats – which they call “HeroRATs” – and dogs to sniff out landmines and detect outbreaks of tuberculosis, but now they are also training rats to locate humans in disaster zones.
Once trained, the rats are fitted with a technology-enabled backpack to enable real-time wireless audio-visual communication to the outside.
Find out more about hero rats on NEXT, the future-focused section of Euronews.
5. The vending machine for poetry on the streets of Slovenia.
The Ljubljana, a new poetry machine, known locally as the “Poemomat”, will print out any poem you want for a euro. And it can also read it to you with a computer-generated voice.
The machine is expected to go on tour, and authors say they hope that one day there will be many such machines all over Slovenia.
Watch the video above to see the Poemomat work and recite a poem in Slovene.
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And remember, it can be hard to find among the headlines, but some news can be good news.