Good Morning, G’nusies, on this fourth Thursday of March, 2022.

Please enjoy a mental health break courtesy of yours truly.  Not Yours Truly, my favorite restaurant here in Cleveland, OH, unless, of course, you have access to it.  I highly highly recommend the Notso™ fries if you have a chance.

On with the news!


Conservation efforts in Britain aren’t just successful; at times they’re amusing and a source of entertainment!

Road in London Closes for Nearly a Month to Protect Migrating Toads as They Hop to the Other Side

A 400-meter (1,300-foot) section of Church Road in Ham, near Richmond is blocked to motorists until the start of April so the creatures don’t get squished on their annual migration.

‘Toad patrol’ volunteers man the road—which meanders through a leafy stretch of Richmond Park—at night, but the road remains blocked off all day. And locals have been heaping praise on the conservation initiative.

The charity Froglife, which is responsible for recruiting volunteers, says the road, which is one of many across Britain that take part in the eco-conscious project, is among just a handful that remain completely blocked off to traffic.

Retired IT manager Robert Brown, who lives in Richmond, said, “I think it is fantastic. To have that amount of consideration for toads I think is incredible. I have never actually seen any toads and only once saw someone we thought might be a volunteer, but I think it is great… It is a very British thing to do.”

Retired customer services advisor Dorris Watt, from Ham, said, ‘’I think it is a good idea to protect the toads. This is not a road you desperately need to drive down and it has gone on without causing any complaints.


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@Goodable

In Turkey, a mother used to read lecture notes to her blind daughter, to help her get through law school.

On her daughter’s graduation day, what did the university do?

They gave a degree to the mother as well.

[Photo of graduation, with logo of Sakarya University on front of podium]


New non-petroleum-based plastics in development!

New Plant-Derived Sustainable ‘Plastic’ is Tough as Bone and Hard as Aluminum

A single wood cell wall is constructed from fibers of cellulose­—nature’s most abundant polymer, and the main structural component of all plants and algae. Within each fiber are reinforcing cellulose nanocrystals, or CNCs, which are chains of organic polymers arranged in nearly perfect crystal patterns. At the nanoscale, CNCs are stronger and stiffer than Kevlar. If the crystals could be worked into materials in significant fractions, CNCs could be a route to stronger, more sustainable, naturally derived plastics.

Now, an MIT team has engineered a composite made mostly from cellulose nanocrystals mixed with a bit of synthetic polymer. The organic crystals take up about 60 to 90 percent of the material—the highest fraction of CNCs achieved in a composite to date.

The researchers found the cellulose-based composite is stronger and tougher than some types of bone, and harder than typical aluminum alloys. The material has a brick-and-mortar microstructure that resembles nacre, the hard inner shell lining of some molluscs.

They tested the material’s resistance to cracks, using tools to initiate first nano- and then micro-scale cracks. They found that, across multiple scales, the composite’s arrangement of cellulose grains prevented the cracks from splitting the material. This resistance to plastic deformation gives the composite a hardness and stiffness at the boundary between conventional plastics and metals.

“If you could avoid shrinkage, you could keep scaling up, maybe to the meter scale,” [Abhinav] Rao says. “Then, if we were to dream big, we could replace a significant fraction of plastics, with cellulose composites.”


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@Goodable

GOOD NEWS ALERT:

MacKenzie Scott, Jeff Bezos’ ex-wife, is donating $436 million dollars to Habitat for Humanity.
It’s her biggest donation since she announced she was giving away most of her wealth.
The money will go to Habitat for Humanity International and 84 US affiliates.


News from this past Monday, International Forest Day:

There’s News of Victories for Forests Worldwide on International Forest Day

This year notes a turning tide in the global awareness of the value of trees. In several regions of the world, there are more acres of forest than there have been in the past 100 years: in Europe for example.

The recent meeting of the parties to the Paris Climate Accords have given rise to an international agreement between two dozen countries to end deforestation this decade. Locally-speaking, regional victories drive these global trends, and these movements will certainly go a long way to making every future International Day of Forests even more special because of what has been saved.

As part of a partnership between the Defense, Interior, and Agriculture departments of the U.S., 11,000 square miles (around 3 million hectares) of farms, forests, and wildlife habitat around Eglin Air Force Base will be protected, together with the help of non-profit conservationists and landowners, to create a unique mosaic of land systems called the Northwest Florida Sentinel Landscape.

Down under, landmark legislation in Western Australia will end native logging and secure 1,544 square miles (400,000 hectares) of one of the most diverse native forests on Earth. Activists have campaigned for decades to protect these forests, containing rare tingle, jarrah, karri, marri, tuart, and wandoo trees found nowhere else on the planet, which had been increasingly depleted by logging.


I’m just gonna start out this one by saying, “We all need this today. And every day.  So thanks.”

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@Goodable

Just in case you needed it today, a reminder that this is how they weigh koalas.

[Picture of camera-facing koala sitting in the fork of a Y-shaped branch on a piece of wood on top of a scale]

from Kangaroo Island Koala and Wildlife Rescue Centre.


Two Newly-Identified Species of See-Through ‘Glass’ Frogs Found in Ecuador

Two new species of glass frog were found living in the same 6,200-acre reserve, showing just how much is yet to be discovered in the tropical Andes.

The newly-discovered hyalinobatrachium mashpi lives on the southern side of the Guayllabamba river valley, which separates its territory from that of another frog species, hyalinobatrachium nouns.

When biologist Juan M. Guayasamin and his companions entered the Guayllabamba area looking for species of glass frogs, they found several specimens that seemed to have all the same features.

It was only back at the lab when Guayasamin and the rest of the research team were sequencing the DNA of the new frogs into the glass frog genetic database that they realized they were dealing with two totally unique species.

“What we are thinking is that the valley has kept these frogs from mixing with each other,” Guayasamin told National Geographic, noting that the two groups were found living merely 13 miles from one another. “When you have populations separated by a geographic barrier, you start having an accumulation of mutations in each group, and in time, they become genetically different.”


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@Goodable

Good Science Alert:

NASA just discovered sixty-five new exoplanets.

That means there’s now over 5000 planets confirmed outside our solar system.

Mind = blown.


If you protect them, they can recover:

500% Boom in Numbers of Eggs Laid By Breeding Green Sea Turtles

A breeding ground for green turtles has seen a 500 percent boom in the numbers of clutches of eggs laid since hunting them was banned.

Back thenm around 2,000-3,000 clutches of eggs were laid a year—a figure that stands at 12,000-15,000 in the last data from 2019.

And with Aldabra’s turtle population still being well below estimated pre-exploitation population numbers, the increase is likely to continue.

Study lead author Adam Pritchard, from the Centre for Ecology and Conservation on Exeter’s Penryn Campus in Cornwall, said, “Green turtles have suffered massive historical population declines due to intensive harvesting of nesting females

“The ongoing population increase of Aldabra’s green turtles is testament to long-term protection, and offers some clear evidence of the fact that we can be optimistic about marine conservation, well enacted.” [Professor Brendan Godley, assistant research supervisor]


The kids are all right:

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@Goodable

In California, a kindergarten class set up a hotline where they give out pep talks.

People can call to get advice, motivational messages, and words of encouragement.

It’s the cutest thing you’ll hear all day.

[Short recording with soundbars]


Rumors of my their demise have been greatly exaggerated:

‘Comical-Looking’ Bat Thought to Be Extinct is Found Again After 40 Years in Dense Rainforest

“It’s astonishing to think that we’re the first people to see this bat in so long,” said Dr. Jon Flanders, Director of the organization, in a statement last week.

Flanders joined a multi-national team of experts on an expedition to survey a dense cloud forest in Rwanda, where they were delighted to find the ‘lost species’.

“We knew immediately that the bat we had captured was unusual and remarkable,” said Dr. Winifred Frick, BCI’s Chief Scientist. “The facial features were exaggerated to the point of comical. Horseshoe bats are easily distinguishable from other bats by characteristic horseshoe shape and specialized skin flaps on their noses”.

Catching this elusive species also allowed the team to collect additional information to ensure it is easier to find in the future – including recording the first-ever echolocation calls that Hill’s horseshoe bat emits as it hunts for insects.

“Knowing the echolocation calls for this species is a game-changer,” said Dr. Paul Webala, Senior Lecturer at Maasai Mara University, and one of the team’s lead scientists.


That’s it for me, folks!  Play us out!

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This is a Creative Commons article. The original version of this article appeared here.

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