Headlines may seem depressing, but there are good news and hopeful stories.
That’s why we’ve set ourselves a new task: to find out what’s going well in the world so we can tell you.
Here is the positive news for this week:
- New technologies are revealing secrets in one of the most searched for prehistoric landmarks in the world
- Spain is in a position to become the first European country to offer paid monthly leave
- An initiative that proves that laughter is really the best medicine
- How a group of scientists managed to grow plants on lunar soil, which could make staying on the moon longer a reality
- The initiative to install a vegetable garden in all prisons in England and Wales
Click the video above to learn more about each story, or continue reading below…
1. New technologies are revealing secrets in one of the most researched prehistoric monuments in the world
Stonehenge is a prehistoric monument located on Salisbury Plain, in Wiltshire, England.
But although it is immediately recognizable, in many ways it remains a mystery.
Archaeologists have not yet been able to figure out the function of Stonehenge and how and why it was built.
But new discoveries are helping to reveal some of those secrets.
A group of researchers from the University of Birmingham in England and the University of Ghent in Belgium have discovered thousands of prehistoric wells around Stonehenge thanks to new technological developments.
Researchers say this fundamentally changes their understanding of one of the world’s most extensively researched prehistoric sites.
The largest crater they found (four meters wide and two meters deep) is the oldest trace of human activity discovered so far at Salisbury Plain.
It dates back more than 10,000 years, to the early Mesolithic, when Britain was once again inhabited by fishermen after the last Ice Age.
Researchers believe the hole was likely dug as a hunting trap for large animals such as deer, wild boars, and larks, a type of wild ox that is now extinct. And they say it’s their best clue yet about what the landscape around Stonehenge would have looked like when it was built, which will now help them see what it might have been built for.
There are two really important breakthroughs, says Henry Chapman, one of the principal investigators at the University of Birmingham. “One of them may be less exciting, but it has to do with the way we systematically understand geophysical data. There are many studies out there, but extracting meaning from them, especially the aspects that don’t immediately make sense, is a huge step forward.”
They also identified Stonehenge’s oldest activity, “it goes back thousands of years before it was built. We’re talking over 10,000 years ago.”
“The idea that people who hunted and gathered, as we see now, built huge ditches (…) is something we didn’t really expect people to do for a long time, especially around Stonehenge.”
This discovery also highlights a different kind of archeology, “which we may start to see elsewhere as well.”
And while the views of Stonehenge are unique, the methods used by this team of researchers at Stonehenge can be applied to other historical sites. Indeed, sensing and computer analysis techniques could be the key to solving the oldest mysteries about archaeological sites around the world.
The question is: What will happen next?
Spain is in a position to become the first European country to offer paid monthly leave
The Spanish government is studying the possibility of allowing women to apply for unlimited “monthly leave” with no pay.
And if the bill is approved, it would be the first European country to take such a step.
According to leaked reports to the press, the law will save three to five days for women with severe menstrual cramps, but the government says there will be no limit to the number of days that can be taken.
Affected women will have to submit a medical certificate to their employer, and the leave will be paid through Social Security.
According to the Spanish Society of Obstetrics and Gynecology, about a third of women in their menstrual period experience severe pain known as dysmenorrhea. Its symptoms include severe abdominal pain, diarrhea, headache, and fever.
But despite this dire reality for one in three women worldwide, period leave is currently only granted in a few countries, including Japan, Taiwan, Indonesia, South Korea and Zambia.
The menstrual loss scale is part of a good set of proposals that will be sent to the Spanish Parliament for discussion and official approval.
Among them, reducing the value-added tax on feminine hygiene products in stores and providing them free of charge in social and educational centers.
Read more about the new law, in an article written by Laura Lash and Natalie Hoyt here.
3. An initiative that proves that laughter really is the best medicine
The NHS, the UK’s National Health Service, is officially introducing comedy courses to help trauma patients “see the funny side” of things, following the success of a pilot programme.
The programme, founded by British comedian Angie Belcher, is called Comedy on Referral and will allow patients to attend a free six-week course in which they learn how to write jokes based on their trauma, then act out on stage.
La comediante Angie Belcher, que ha trabajado con asesores sanitarios para desarrollar el curso dice que el gran cambio que ve en la gente es la confianza, “la comedia te da el poder de analizar tu historia y usarla de forma positivar para la positivnar The things.”
“Unleash your soul onstage and say, OK, I’m going to confess to something. I’m going to tell you about myself and analyze it and make people laugh too, it’s really powerful and real, a very fun thing.”
The program will be delivered in various locations across England, including eight London boroughs. Belcher says he is preparing another similar course for children with autism and ADHD.
How a group of scientists managed to grow plants on lunar soil, which could make staying on the moon longer a reality.
“Holy crap, plants can grow on lunar soil, and besides, we’ve now learned that there are some things we have to know and be able to do better if we want to farm (up there).”
For the first time, scientists were able to use lunar soil to grow plants. And the results are promising enough that NASA is already envisioning greenhouses there.
The possibility of growing plants on the Moon could make long stays outside Earth a reality in the future, which could bring enormous benefits to space research.
The lunar Earth was not collected by a robot, but by the same Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin, Apollo 11 astronauts in 1969.
Researchers at the University of Florida grew watercress, a small flowering plant native to Eurasia and Africa.
All the seeds sprouted, although they ended up stunted. But the scientists are happy with their results and plan to repeat the experiment.
This was the first step in what “we hope will be a very long, decades-long process of discovering these things, and when we go back to the moon, do it on the surface of the moon,” says Stephen Ellaro, a researcher and planetary geochemist at the University of Florida.
Growing plants on the moon is key to a long-term stay on the moon, says Robert Ferrell, a study co-author, as it helps provide not only food, but also clean air and water for astronauts and other visitors.
And the timing couldn’t be better, as NASA plans to return humans to the moon in 2025.
The initiative to install a vegetable garden in all prisons in England and Wales
A charity is planting gardens in prisons in England and Wales, and the project is paying off of all kinds.
The Orchard Project aims for every home in the UK to be within walking distance of a community park and this now includes prisons as well.
Orchards are a haven for animals and plants, and fruits that fall to the ground help healthy fungi grow in the soil, allowing plants to capture more water and more nutrients, as well as helping trees absorb more carbon.
The orchards were also a bonus for the guests. In addition to improving their environment, it offers them the opportunity to learn gardening techniques and gain skills that can help them find work upon release from prison.
Some of them also devote themselves to tending the orchard and getting paid for it. Guests can savor the fruits of their labor, as the orchard offers a variety of fruits and vegetables.
The project was funded by the Department of Justice, and so far staff in about 30 prisons in England and Wales have been trained in how to grow and care for a vegetable garden.
Thanks for reading and watching the good news summary. see you soon!