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The Week in Good News: A Lake on Mars, an Alzheimer’s Drug, 76 Ducklings

Sometimes it seems as if we’re living under a constant barrage of heavy news. But it isn’t all bad out there. This feature is meant to send you into the weekend with a smile, or at least a lighter heart. Want to get The Week in Good News by email? Sign up here.

Here are seven great things we wrote about this week:

For years, “follow the water” has been the mantra of humanity’s search for life beyond Earth.

Well, the water has been found — by Italian scientists working for the European Space Agency’s Mars Express mission. A 12-mile-wide Lake, hidden beneath an ice cap, is the first significant source of liquid water found on the planet. It appears to be similar to underground lakes found on Earth.

Cue David Bowie — is there life on Mars?

“It is liquid, and it’s salty, and it’s in contact with rocks,” Enrico Flamini, the former chief scientist of the agency, said. “There are all the ingredients for thinking that life can be there, or can be maintained there if life once existed on Mars.” Read more »

An encouraging milestone was reached in the quest to treat Alzheimer’s: For the first time in a large clinical trial, a drug was able to both reduce plaque in the brain and slow the progression of dementia.

More extensive trials will be needed to know if the drug is truly effective, but if the results are borne out, it may be the first to successfully attack both the brain changes and the symptoms of Alzheimer’s. Read more »

Her name is Susan Unterberg, and she’s stepping out from behind the curtain after 22 years and $5.5 million of gift-giving. She revealed herself as the founder and sole patron of the grant Anonymous Was a Woman, which supports underrecognized artists over the age of 40.

In a recent interview, Ms. Unterberg, 77, said she came forward so that she could work more openly on behalf of women who are artists, and try to inspire other philanthropists.

“I’m eager for the grant to become better known,” she said. “Women have been anonymous for far too long.” Read more »

Shopping can be stressful for people with autism. So for one hour a week, Morrisons will dim the lights and silence the music, easing sensory overload to give autistic shoppers a better experience.

The chain said in a statement: “Listening to customers, we found that one in five had a friend or family member with autism and many liked the idea of being able to shop in more comfort at 9-10 a.m. on a Saturday.”

The move has been welcomed by the National Autistic Society, which said that even small changes can make a big difference. Read more »

A New Zealand firm that let its employees work four days a week while being paid for five found that the change increased productivity.

“Supervisors said staff were more creative, their attendance was better, they were on time, and they didn’t leave early or take long breaks,” Jarrod Haar, a human resources professor, said. “Their actual job performance didn’t change when doing it over four days instead of five.”

The firm, Perpetual Guardian, which manages trusts, wills and estates, hopes to make the change permanent. Read more »

Riding a dirt bike is illegal in most American cities. So the event that Benjamin Charles, a Harlem bike rider, put together at the Pocono Raceway in Pennsylvania was a welcome and theraupetic escape for enthusiasts.

Phil Rinaldi, who came to the race track from Connecticut, began riding seriously in 2016 after he had testicular cancer.

“I don’t feel any of the pain that I have to normally deal with in my life,” he said between laps on the track. His signature move is popping a wheelie, then leaning back and covering his face with both hands. “I can’t draw a picture. I can’t paint; I can’t do pottery; I can’t do art like that. But you know, when I get on my bike, that’s my art.” Read more »

Yes, you read that correctly: 76 tiny, quacking fluffballs. The duck in charge, a common merganser, is affectionately called Mama.

Mama’s picture (and her trailing brood — most of which can’t possibly be her own) has been circulating among bird conservationists. A photographer, Brett Cizek, stumbled upon the extraordinary family in late June on Lake Bemidji in Minnesota.

“It kind of compels you just to look and wonder: How?” Mr. Cizek said. “How did this happen? How is this mom taking care of all of these ducklings? She just looks really proud and stoic in the photo.”

We applaud you, Mama. Read more »

Follow Des Shoe on Twitter: @DesNYT.

The post The Week in Good News: A Lake on Mars, an Alzheimer’s Drug, 76 Ducklings appeared first on JoelsBlog.



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