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The Week in Good News (30/03)

3rd April

Posted by Kristen Stockdale

You might not think that the discovery of a new type of spider is good news, but these little arachnids have been described as “tiny, little, colourful kittens.” And as if that wasn’t good enough, the pattern on their abdomen is apparently reminiscent of Van Gough’s The Starry Night. Find out more >>

Scientists have debuted a system which translates human thoughts directly into text. The researchers have said such a system could be the basis of a speech prosthesis, effectively allowing you to think text directly into a computer. Mind blown. Find out more >> 

New research suggests that many animals, from birds to wolves, have an ability to process and represent numbers. Arguably, a form of counting – something once thought to be a uniquely human skill. This finding is significant in the study of animal cognition, a field that has grown exponentially in recent years. Find out more >>

Humpback whale numbers have grown 10% each year from just a few hundred in 1968 to more than 40,000 at present. Largely as a result of the 1986 ban on commercial whaling, humpbacks – as well as gray and blue whales – are on the way to a ‘stunning recovery’. Find out more >>

Conservators have discovered paintings on the inside of the coffin of a mummy after she was lifted out of it for the first time in more than 100 years. The mummy is around 3000 years old and will be displayed in the new City Hall Museum in Perth, Australia. Find out more >>

Almost 100 critically endangered hawksbill sea turtles have hatched on a deserted beach in Paulista, Brazil. The town’s environmental secretary described the event as “ really beautiful because you can see the exact instant they come out of their eggs and… watch their little march across the beach. It’s marvellous. It’s a wonderful, extraordinary feeling.” Find out more >>

Cortical Labs, an Australian startup, is building ‘hybrid computer chips’ that use biological neurons extracted from mice embryos and human skin cells. The aim is to mimic the human brain in order to reduce the amount of power current AI systems need to operate. Find out more >>

It turns out that mice have facial expressions too. Researchers at the Max Planck Institute of Neurobiology have identified subtle changes in the face of a mouse when they show disgust, pleasure, or anxiety. The findings may help investigations around disorders in emotional processing in humans, such as anxiety disorders or depression. Find out more >>

Scientists have broken open bits of old oceanic crust and found them full of microbes. It’s not yet clear how these microbes survive, and yet they seem to be thriving. This finding supports the possibility that microbial life might be present throughout the oceanic crust – a layer of rock as thick in some places as Mount Everest is tall. Find out more >>

Edible insects are set to be approved by the EU in a move which could see countries produce quality high-protein foods from locusts, mealworms, and crickets. Eating insects (also known as entomophagy) could help to fight world hunger and reduce pollution. There are plenty of insects to go around, and insect farming produces fewer greenhouse gases. Find out more >>

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