Billionaires

Picture by Vladislav Reshetnyak

For many of us at the present moment, money is a resource to be spent wisely on canned food, essential supplies, and toilet paper, but there are those few who are directing their wealth more ambitiously. Billionaires around the world are donating money in support of everything related to eliminating the coronavirus, whether it be developing a vaccine or providing accurate information to the public. Jack Ma, founder of Alibaba, donated $14.5 million to two Chinese research organizations to assist in vaccine development. Bill and Melinda Gates donated $100 million to build infrastructure across the globe, treating patients in Africa and Southern Asia. Mukesh Ambani donated $66.7 million to the Indian Prime Minister’s coronavirus emergency fund, in addition to building a hospital exclusively for COVID-19 patients. Giorgio Armani, an Italian fashion designer, donated $1.42 million to two hospitals and a research institute. Mark Zuckerberg gave $25 million to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, which is currently researching treatments for the coronavirus. Money can mean different things to different people; wealth can be invested in luxury or in survival, but in just as many ways, it can be instrumental in changing other people’s lives.

Check out more at: https://www.businessinsider.com/billionaires-spending-hundreds-of-millions-on-coronavirus-research-2020-3

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Fundraising for Musicians

Picture by Melinda Modisette

Many musicians around the world are struggling in a number of ways. The dependence of a musician’s income on being able to perform in front of an audience can make life difficult even in the best of times, and with the majority of countries in lockdown, this dependence has become blatantly obvious. Luckily, many organizations are finding ways to hold these musicians afloat.

Thousands of avid amateur musicians in the past week have shared recordings of themselves playing piano on social media in support of a COVID-19 relief fund created by the MusicCares organization. With every clip, money is donated to the fund, and these donations will go towards helping those in the music industry who are unable to retain a steady income because of the coronavirus.

Read more (or donate) at https://www.steinway.com/musicares

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Car Insurance Refunds

Picture from Wallup

As cities go into lockdown, fewer and fewer cars are on the road, resulting in a greatly reduced need for car insurance. But, one may ask, what about the money I paid for insurance? Auto insurance companies, including Admiral in the UK and State Farm in the US, are actually refunding customers! Though they were in no way required to, these insurance companies understand that many people have already paid for a service that has become obsolete. In fact, insurers are offering payment holidays for those who are struggling to make payments. Admiral has additionally announced that they would waive any excess fees for emergency service workers and would provide a free courtesy vehicle if their vehicle was stolen or unsuitable to drive after an accident. Organizations and individuals in every area are finding ways to help out, ways we would never have expected.

Check out more at: https://www.theguardian.com/money/2020/apr/21/admiral-car-insurance-refunds-coronavirus-lockdown-claims?CMP=share_btn_tw

and https://www.marketwatch.com/story/some-auto-insurers-are-giving-refunds-because-of-the-coronavirus-outbeak-heres-how-you-can-get-a-break-too-2020-04-09

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A Changing Energy Economy

File:Renewable Energy on the Grid.jpg
Picture from Wikimedia Commons

In news unrelated to the COVID-19 pandemic, data regarding the world’s energy consumption in the past year shows a promising trend. Renewable energy sources, including solar, wind, geothermal, and others, made up the vast majority of global energy source expansion. Of all the addition to the earth’s total power usage, over 70% consisted of renewable forms of energy, with around 90% of this contribution being solar and wind energy. 

While the total proportion of energy that is renewable still stands at around 30%, this number is a growing percentage every year, as more of the net increase comes from renewables. More and more countries are recognizing and responding to the benefits of renewable energy, both in terms of economic stability and environmental protection. Although it may seem like those in support of renewable energy are the minority, renewable energy is becoming the majority when it comes to energy expansion.

Read more at https://www.goodnewsnetwork.org/renewables-accounted-for-three-quarters-of-new-energy-2019/

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Out of the Woods

Picture by Mona Meng

By Arthur Vines

It’s been a hard couple of months.  Americans have been stuck at home for the most part, no movies, no social gatherings, restaurants are closed.  We’ve been wearing masks if we go into a store (or we should have been). Paychecks aren’t coming in, but the bills never stop.  Certain food and household items have been in short supply. 

Don’t get me wrong.  Of course things could be worse.  Certainly Americans have an easy life compared to many in the world, even during the current lockdown. We have running water and electricity.  We have access to food and necessities.  Just thinking about those who are less fortunate should make us feel better about our own situation.

But right now, many of us are unemployed, we’re broke, worried about bills, afraid for the health of our families, uncertain of the future – all things that we never had to experience before.  Americans want to work, we want to pay our bills, we want to earn the “good life” that we’re used to.  But we’ve been laid off and locked down.  The house payment is due on the first of the month, and we don’t have it.  The wolf is at the door.  We don’t know what to do.  We just want this nightmare to end.  We want things to get back to normal.

But wait – what’s this we’re hearing?

Some states are opening up again. People are at the beach in Florida.  Businesses in some states will resume operation soon. 

Promising trials of existing medicines for treatment of the virus are underway, apparently with promising results.

Some large American companies converted manufacturing facilities to produce urgently needed medical products, such as masks and ventilators.

The ventilator shortage didn’t get as bad as we feared.  NYC is able to share with other locations now.

Doctors are investigating the use of antibodies derived from the blood of recovered patients to treat new patients.

Russia and Egypt have sent medical supplies to the US.

Sweden never issued a stay-at-home order, and they seem to be doing OK.

Scientists are working to develop a vaccine against the virus so we don’t have to go through this again.

A random study in Santa Clara county by Stanford Medical School found that 35 times more people than expected had antibodies against the virus, indicating they had it and recovered, perhaps never realizing they were ill. People with antibodies are probably immune to the virus.  Maybe more of us are immune than we thought.

Tests kits are being manufactured right now, and better tests are being developed. 

So, even though we’re not quite out of the woods yet, and things aren’t going to be back to normal for a while, stop and look around.  Exciting things are happening.  Cheer up.  Hope is in the air.  Hang on just a little bit longer.  I think we can see light at the end of the coronavirus tunnel.

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Inspiration

It is hard to be motivated when you are struggling. It’s hard to keep going when you are lost in an indefinite future. A jellyfish caught in the middle of the sea, tossed and turned to the rhythm of the foaming waves. Your body, structureless, taking form only as the deep waters allow. But from ashes the red bird rises. It is the hardships that spin our minds into dream, each one in contact with the Possible, an invisible reality for you to bring to everyone else. It is the fight that gives us the motivation to stand up and brush off. It gives the artist strength to breathe form into a blank white page. It gives the engineer a problem to solve. It gives us an incentive.

Times are trying now, but that is life.

A constant pursuit of the Possible.

The drawings included in the gallery today are from an artist in California, taking inspiration from these difficult times. Do something you love today!

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Hero Healing Kits

Picture from the Good News Network

The risk of being infected with COVID-19 is obvious to everyone. Doctors and nurses especially are surrounded by hazards, and we all feel sympathy for those who put themselves at risk to fight the virus. For many doctors, however, the physical toll of working long hours and wearing protective clothing is a struggle in itself. Wearing a face mask for long hours can cause rashes and irritation.

To help combat the physical effects that these doctors are facing, a medical student in Baltimore and her Rottweiler are encouraging people to donate care packages with lip balm, moisturizer, baby powder, and other self-care products to hospitals. The pair themselves have already prepared over a thousand packages (or “hero healing kits”) and plan to distribute them to local hospitals in the near future.

This initiative has not only helped many medical workers already, but spread the idea to other states, where similar projects are now taking place.

Read more at: https://www.goodnewsnetwork.org/dogtor-delivering-hero-healing-kits-to-hospital-workers/.

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Twice as Efficient Solar Energy Developed

Photo by Pixabay

Featuring NEW writer Megan Blackwell!

Despite the world’s apparent shutdown, people all over are still working as hard as ever to make the world a better place. Tom Hanks films SNL from his apartment, teachers put videos of themselves reading picture books online for kids to watch at home, and researchers continue to look for ways to improve renewable energy.

Nine such people at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory have been doing just that – they’ve created a new, incredibly efficient solar cell: the six-junction III-V solar cell with 47.1% efficiency rate. Solar cells make up solar panels, and the average efficiency rate of a regular, single junction solar cell is around 15-20%. A ‘junction’ is a layer of semiconductor materials in a solar cell that use sunlight to produce an electric current through electron diffusion. The six-junction III-V solar cell is able to dramatically expand its efficiency by using six ‘junctions’ instead of the usual one, each of which is designed to capture a designated part of the solar wavelength spectrum. By increasing the amount of light energy, they can take in, the solar cells increase the amount of energy that they can produce. Also, by concentrating the light using mirrors, the tool containing the six-junction solar cell and its constituent parts is thinner than a human hair!

New research like this is helping to open avenues into expanding renewable energy and make human life more sustainable. While the world may seem grim, good things are still happening!

Check out more at: https://www.nature.com/articles/s41560-020-0598-5 and https://www.goodnewsnetwork.org/solar-cell-sets-world-records-for-47-percent-efficiency/

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Pet Adoption Increases!

Picture by Helena Lopes

During the COVID-19 pandemic, humans have been forced to stay at home and away from communal locations to avoid spreading the disease. Our interaction with strangers and the opportunities to meet people in person are at an all time low. Animals, on the other hand, are being adopted by families in record numbers.

In animal shelters across the country, dogs, cats, birds and other inhabitants are being taken home by families and individuals looking for a new companion, leaving many shelters full of empty cages. Not only this, but donations of food, blankets, and other goods to these shelters have seen an increase as well.

People’s love for animals, it seems, is independent of the problems and fears in our own lives.

Check out more at: https://www.wired.com/story/coronavirus-pet-adoption-boom/?utm_source=nl&utm_brand=wired&utm_mailing=WIR_Daily_041020_CoronavirusUpdate&utm_campaign=aud-dev&utm_medium=email&utm_term=WIR_Science&bxid=5cc9e011fc942d13eb1e7e28&cndid=43496695&esrc=&source=EDT_WIR_NEWSLETTER_0_SCIENCE_ZZ

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Ducklings Follow in Formation Behind Police Officer

Picture by Pixabay

Today’s news may be short, but it is unbelievably sweet!

Last Saturday in Houston, Texas, as a police officer was patrolling park grounds, he reunited a family, but not a human one. He led seven fuzzy ducklings who had waddled astray to their mother. As he gestured for the ducklings to follow, they lined up, in single file, and raced to catch up to the wide strides of the officer. In this formation, he heartwarmingly led them home.

Check out more at: https://www.ksat.com/news/local/2020/04/12/adorable-video-shows-houston-police-sergeant-leading-little-chicks-back-to-their-mom/

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