This is Good News Friday, where we find some good economic, energy, and environmental news and share it with PP readers. Please send any positive news to [email protected] with subject header "Good News Friday." We will save and post weekly. Enjoy!
The Education Department has partnered with more than 100 correctional facilities, and agreed to provide prisoners either classroom instruction, online programs or a hybrid of both. The department said it received more than 200 applications from schools that wanted to be involved.
Across Canada, ordinary citizens, distressed by news reports of drowning children and the shunning of desperate migrants, are intervening in one of the world’s most pressing problems. Their country allows them a rare power and responsibility: They can band together in small groups and personally resettle — essentially adopt — a refugee family. In Toronto alone, hockey moms, dog-walking friends, book club members, poker buddies and lawyers have formed circles to take in Syrian families. The Canadian government says sponsors officially number in the thousands, but the groups have many more extended members.
The rescue package will not prevent Puerto Rico from missing the payment due on Friday on a $2 billion debt, and Republican congressional leaders labored to the end to reassure conservatives that the bill is not a bailout. Instead, the legislation would allow the island’s government to restructure its $72 billion total debt so it can manage payments, and create a bipartisan oversight board mostly of outsiders to guide what is sure to be a painful recovery process.
The new discovery, estimated to be about 54 billion cubic feet in size in just one small region of the valley, could fill more than 1.2 million MRI scanners—of which there are only an estimated 25,000 actually in existence throughout the world. Humans use around eight billion cubic feet of helium per year, so it represents a sizeable addition to the dwindling total reserves previously believed to be available, but it also gives hope for helium prospectors. Previously, the gas was always discovered by accident, but the team’s discovery will now allow people to proactively hunt for more.
Is There Life After Leather? (jdargis)
Sam Hudson is part of a growing group of scientists returning to renewable resources for material development. The resulting textiles are slowly moving out of the lab and into the commercialisation phase, which means you could someday see them as an option at your local car dealer. Carmakers are searching for novel combinations of comfort, performance and good looks with, in many cases, a healthy dose of sustainability. Materials science has progressed to the point that you can make a truly luxurious synthetic fabric, or lend new qualities to tried-and-true options. Not that there’s anything wrong with velour.
Antarctic ozone hole beginning to heal (jdargis)
As the ozone layer heals, it is expected that seasonal growth of the ozone hole will occur later in the season. Observations of the 2015 ozone hole were in line with these expectations. In 2015, the ozone hole was considerably smaller during the months of August and September than it was during previous years. Although it reached record size during October of that year, the authors’ climate and atmospheric models indicate that this was an anomaly related to volcanic eruptions.
Most of the farms under Ray Benson’s purview turn out commodity crops like corn, soybeans, and cotton. His aim: to help big ag leave a smaller environmental footprint. Benson, who studied agronomy and crop science as a University of Arkansas grad student, advocates for technology that helps area farmers monitor and, ultimately, reduce the amount of water, fertilizer, and pesticides used in their fields.
The 6,000 Year Old Telescope (jdargis)
They also may have been used for ceremonious rites of passage, researchers say. “Similar suggestions have been made for the ritual use of caves in the Neolithic of the Mediterranean, for instance,” Daniel Brown, an astronomy lecturer at Nottingham Trent University, told me in an email. The idea Brown and his colleagues are exploring is whether stellar alignment was a key component of rituals in these ancient spaces. One theory, he says, is that the structures were designed to reveal a certain star to a person staying in the chamber—where the aperture would make the star visible days or even a week before it could be seen otherwise.
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