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12th - 25th Oct: Super-speedy Covid tests, jellyfish friends & video games that do good

Results from some COVID-19 tests are taking several days to relay results which is proving problematic to slowing the spread of the virus. A new test in development by Oxford University claims to be low-cost, highly accurate and able share results within minutes. The research team are hoping to have the product approved, and to the market by mid 2021. Watch this space… (Fast Company)

Over the past 60 years Singapore has lost nearly 90% of its mangroves to urban development. The new ‘Sungei Buloh Park Network’ is part of a reforestation campaign that aims to plant one million trees across the state by 2030, and in turn, improve living conditions for both humans and wildlife. (Mongabay)

A BBC World Service podcast ’People Fixing The World’ dives into the wonderful world of jellyfish and how scientists are finding wonderful ways that these sea creatures can help us solve big issues. (BBC)

Looking back, we can see just how much progress the climate change movement has made, with its successes including:

  • a ban on whale hunting,

  • the end of nuclear testing in the Pacific

  • the slow healing of the ozone layer following damage caused by aerosols

... to name just a few! Although the threats of climate change remain, recent history shows that the world can make change for the better, if it has to. (Guardian)

Researchers and scientists at the universities of Strathclyde and Edinburgh are hoping to have found a treatment superior to insulin injections, to treat type 1 diabetes.

Studies show that a successful cell transplants from a healthy individual to someone with severe type 1 diabetes, could help them produce their own insulin again. Current studies are trialling the use of alginate, extracted from seaweed, to cloak the cells before transplantation to avoid the use of anti rejection drugs which are necessary but carry serious side effects. Keep your eyes peeled for developments, that hope to treat diabetes with successful cell transplants as soon as diagnosed. (The Conversation)

Lual Mayen fled the Second Sudanese Civil War to become a refugee in a camp in Northern Uganda, where he lived for 22 years. Now living in Washington, DC, Lual is a video game developer and has launched ‘Salaam’ - a game that puts the player in the shoes of a refugee.

The game is free to play, but food, water and medicine, required for the survival of the player in the game, must be paid for and in turn, these same items are then delivered to real life refugees living in camps around the world.

Lual hopes the game will raise awareness of the struggles of refugees and empower people to support this community in need. (Posibl)

New earphone technology has been developed that can recognise facial expressions and lip read, even when your mouth is covered. The hope is for this technology to help those with hearing problems to be able to digitally lip read. The technology named ‘C-Face’ was developed by Cheng Zhang at Cornell University in New York and is the first technology of its kind to read a face, while being positioned in that same person's ears. (New Scientist)

Recent research carried out by the University of British Columbia hopes to challenge the idea that teenagers today are “self-serving” and instead, focus on the positive outputs this generation are demonstrating. We know that acts of kindness can often have a ripple effect, causing them to spread. This study sees this effect creating a “behavioural pattern” whereby young people are seeking opportunities to do acts of good, and to spread kindness. (Positive News)

Until recently, the role of women in Abs in Yemen, was in the home. Despite women being educated and completing university degrees, the ability to work was restricted. A new project set up in 2019 is helping to change these constraints. The Abs Station is a solar micro-grid, located 32km from the frontline of war, run entirely by women, helping to provide the local community with cheaper, cleaner, renewable energy. This transformative programme is now spreading with more stations emerging in Yemen, creating more affordable energy resources for locals, and more opportunities for women. (Aljazeera)

Maps have been used for centuries for us to view and understand the world better. Developments in satellite imagery can now offer us maps that give us a positive insight into how the world is reacting to important global issues. These maps show that digital divides are shrinking, with more than 85% of the population now with access to the internet. They show us that global education is better than ever before, with the average duration of schooling of those living outside North American and Western Europe doubling in the past 70 years. Not only is education improving, but children are living longer with child mortality rates dropping dramatically and overall lifespan increasing with people living longer and healthier lives than at any previous time in history. (Guardian)

It is claimed that icy dips can benefit both physical and mental health with cold swims being proposed as a potential treatment for depression. Whilst more common in the northern hemisphere, UK lido’s have seen a surge in memberships in recent years, potentially reflecting the “feel-good factor” of a cold dip. Still in early stages of development, scientists at the University of Cambridge have discovered that when bodies are exposed to cold water, they produce a protein called ‘RBM3’ that is believed to re-from lost connections in the brain and slow down dementia. (Positive News)

Environmentalists have shared their concerns regarding the risk of diminishing honeybees, but positive statistics show a surprising new increase in the number of colonies across the US. In a recent report by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, some US states are experiencing a rapid growth in their bee populations, particularly in Maine, where there has been a 78% increase in colony numbers since 2018.

Bees play a crucial role in pollinating plants and flowers and have suffered in recent years due to environmental changes. This new research is a hopeful sign of a population beginning to thrive once again. (My Modern Met)

A group of scientists have discovered that playing underwater sounds along vulnerable portions of Australia’s Great Barrier Reef, is attracting fish and encouraging them to stay longer in degraded areas, they would otherwise have left, causing further degradation. This study hopes that by replicating the noises of a healthy reef, young fish will stay in these quieter, degraded areas longer to help enrich the reefs and take steps to enable reef restoration. (Treehugger)

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