14th September 2018
Photo: The Ocean Cleanup
The Sahara could become green. Researchers have found that if the world’s largest desert is used to house huge numbers of solar panels and wind turbines, it could start to grow vegetation. By reducing the amount of sunlight reflected off the ground and creating more evaporation by air circulation, the panels and turbines would have a major impact on the temperature and rainfall in the region. The Independent
Something was missing at North Korea’s national celebration. This weekend saw the rogue state celebrate its 70th anniversary with the usual military parade. But this year, nuclear weapons weren’t put on show. Instead, it appeared to focus on civilian groups, such as students, nurses and construction workers, with an aspirational vision to build the country’s economy. The Independent
Trying to get loads of good bacteria into your gut? It might not be worth it. Scientists at the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel studied how healthy people’s guts reacted to ingesting lots of probiotics and found they didn’t have much of an impact. They believe our guts simply expel the bacteria. Even though some people do benefit, it would appear the advantages of including probiotics in your diet aren’t universal. New Scientist
A giant plastic catcher has taken to the seas this week. The huge piece of engineering departed from San Francisco Bay and made its way to the ‘Great Garbage Patch’ in the Pacific Ocean (where circular currents are gathering plastic in one large area). Essentially a huge U-shaped tube that drifts on the surface of the water, it collects the floating plastic in its path so that making it can be removed from the water in one slick operation. If the not-for-profit organisation sticks to its plan of halving plastic pollution in each large ocean patch every five years, it will all be gone by 2040. BBC News
We need to stop saying ‘committed suicide’. A group of campaigners, including MPs and celebrities, published an open letter on World Suicide Prevention Day calling for the media to stop using the phrase, suggesting it implies suicide is a crime or a sin. They argued that this wording adds to the stigma and feeling of shame, which could prevent people struggling with their mental health to ask for help. Huffington Post
What do parents long to hear their children say? “The toys are all tidied away completely and put in the right boxes”. It won 35% of votes on a poll of 1,000 parents. “Let me tell you about what I learned at school today” and “I’ve got myself ready, so I can go to bed early” were the close runners up. It seems lots of parents have similar woes. BBC News
An ultra-marathon with a breast-feeding pit stop. British marathon runner, Sophie Power, was photographed taking a break during the 106-mile race in Mont Blanc to breastfeed her three-month-old son. “Oh my god I was in agony! Cormac usually feeds every three hours and it took me 16 to get to Courmayeur where he could first meet me”, she said. Daily Mail
A 7,200-year-old cheese has been discovered. Possibly the ripest cheese ever found, scientists have discovered remnants of the fermented animal milk on pottery from Croatia. Cheese-enthusiasts have long wondered about the origins of making cheese, and this early example suggests it could have all begun in the Mediterranean. Science Alert
How far would you go for free pizza? A Russian branch of Domino’s Pizza recently ran a promotion that promised customers 100 free pizzas for 100 years. All the lucky customers had to do was get a (real) tattoo of the brand’s logo. While the campaign was due to last two months, Domino’s was overwhelmed with responses and had to put a cap on winners within days of going live. It would appear some people didn’t get the memo though, as a spout of tattoos continue to appear on social networks in the hope of winning the now non-existent prize. D’oh! (or should that be ‘Dough’?). Metro
Stat of the week
560,000 emergency 999 calls are made a week – the equivalent of 30,000 million calls a year.
That’s leapt up from the 1,000 calls made a week when the emergency line was first introduced in 1937.
This weekend saw the UK’s first annual honorary 999 day, which has been organised to mark the work of our emergency services. It started with a fitting two-minute silence at 9am – on the ninth hour, on the ninth day, of the ninth month.