Daily Digest 7/24 – Good News Friday: How Helping People Affects Your Brain, COVID-19 Creates ‘Seismic Quiet’ Like No Other

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!


How Helping People Affects Your Brain (TOF)

Not only did the participants who chose to help a particular person display increased activity in two “reward centers” of their brain, but they had decreased activity in three other regions that help inform the body’s physical response to stress through blood pressure and inflammation.

A second study from the University of Pittsburgh, this time utilizing nearly 400 volunteers who were asked to self-report their “giving” habits, showed similar results.

Love Is Medicine for Fear (jdargis)

People’s fears vary widely. The pandemic aside, the answers I hear are all over the place, from leaders they don’t trust, to environmental problems, to simply being able to support themselves and take care of their families. According to Chapman University’s annual “Survey of American Fears,” almost 74 percent of Americans in 2018 were afraid of corrupt government officials, nearly 62 percent were afraid of pollution in bodies of water, and 57 percent were afraid of not having enough money for the future.

One way of dealing with these fears is to strive to eliminate the threats that caused them. But while social and economic progress is important and possible, there will always be threats to face and things to fear. The way to combat fear within ourselves is with its opposite emotion—which is not calmness, or even courage. It’s love.

Walmart turning 160 of its parking lots into drive-in theaters (Jen H.)

“The Tribeca Drive-In is much more than a fun, retro way to see movies — it’s one of the safest ways for communities to gather,” said Jane Rosenthal, CEO and co-founder of Tribeca Enterprises and Tribeca Film Festival.

Though Walmart has yet to specify which parking lots will be used, the retailer does say these events will be held at Walmart Supercenters across the U.S.

Supreme Court ruling ‘reaffirmed’ sovereignty (Jen H.)

“Many folks are in tears,” said Chaudhuri, ambassador of the tribal nation. “Despite a history of many broken promises, as is true with many tribal nations, the citizens feel uplifted that for once the United States is being held to its promises.”

Chaudhuri said the decision provides jurisdictional clarity and that the tribe will continue to work to improve the health, safety and welfare of tribal members and non-tribal members alike.

Pawtucket woman, 86, creates stuffed animal zoo on front lawn (Jen H.)

“I went through World War II which was tough but it’s nothing like what’s happening now everything is so sad,” said Connor. “People are walking up and down the street looking very sad and I thought well what can I do? I’m handicapped. I can’t go out there and do anything, but people love animals.”

NASA Names Headquarters After ‘Hidden Figure’ Mary W. Jackson (Jen H.)

“Mary W. Jackson was part of a group of very important women who helped NASA succeed in getting American astronauts into space. Mary never accepted the status quo, she helped break barriers and open opportunities for African Americans and women in the field of engineering and technology,” said Bridenstine. “Today, we proudly announce the Mary W. Jackson NASA Headquarters building. It appropriately sits on ‘Hidden Figures Way,’ a reminder that Mary is one of many incredible and talented professionals in NASA’s history who contributed to this agency’s success. Hidden no more, we will continue to recognize the contributions of women, African Americans, and people of all backgrounds who have made NASA’s successful history of exploration possible.”

VLT Telescope Captures First-Ever Image of a Multi-Planet System around a Sun-like Star (tmn)

Just a few weeks ago, ESO revealed a planetary system being born in a new, stunning VLT image. Now, the same telescope, using the same instrument, has taken the first direct image of a planetary system around a star like our Sun, located about 300 light-years away and known as TYC 8998-760-1.

With Covid-19, a Seismic Quiet Like No Other (jdargis)

Devices for measuring earthquakes go back at least to the early part of the 18th century, when pendulums were used to display ground motions. In 1895 an Irish engineer, John Milne, established on the Isle of Wight a modern seismometer center that quickly grew into the world’s first global network, with 30 overseas branches. By 1957, an international group of seismologists listed 600 stations. The devices can pick up vibrations not only from earthquakes and human activities but from hurricanes and the crashing of ocean waves on shorelines, as well as the impacts of rocky intruders from outer space.

To Navigate Risk In a Pandemic, You Need a Color-Coded Chart (tmn)

There’s no federal guidance for such questions, but there are beginning to be guides: color-coded charts that estimate the relative risks of everyday activities. They might look familiar, if you live in a place like Georgia where pollen count sliders tell you when it’s safe to go outside, or if you’ve visited US National Parks, where fire danger signs let you know it’s OK to light a campfire; they are mostly colored in the familiar hazard range of green-yellow-red. They come from individual scientists, from academic researchers, and from professional organizations, and they provide insight and support for the daily decisions of life in a pandemic: the equivalent of a traffic light flashing stop or go.

The Influenza Masks of 1918 (JK)

While some of the masks were made of improper material or were not used properly, most provided some level of protection against transmission by blocking droplets from the nose and mouth. Below, a collection of images from a century ago of people doing their best to keep others and themselves safe.

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Article suggestions for the Daily Digest can be sent to [email protected]. All suggestions are filtered by the Daily Digest team and preference is given to those that are in alignment with the message of the Crash Course and the “3 Es.”

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