Friday, August 31, 2012

Thinking about giving, not receiving, motivates people to help others

Thinking about giving, not receiving, motivates people to help others

Not good works, exactly, but interesting insight into what makes people do good things for other people, and how that might help benefit everybody involved.

"Helping, giving, volunteering, and other actions undertaken to benefit others play a critical role in protecting health, promoting education, fighting poverty and hunger, and providing disaster relief," the researchers write.
This new research suggests that self-reflection about giving can be a powerful tool for motivating helping and volunteering behaviors that benefit individuals and communities. When we reflect on positive experiences, it may be worthwhile to think about what we've given to others -- not only what we've received.
Some food for thought.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Wind Turbine Creates Water Out Of Air

For millions of people, spanning over 20% of the human race, getting access to fresh drinking water is a struggle that could cost them their lives. Droughts are catastrophic for the people living in these drier climates but one company, Eole Water, is working to change that. Developed by French inventor Marc Parent, a new windmill uses electricity to pull moisture from the surrounding air, turning it into drinkable water. Marc was inspired by the condensation on his air conditioner while living in the Caribbean and he began working on a turbine that would use the power of wind to generate electricty which he could use in turn to pull moisture out of thin air.

"Each unit can create 1,000 liters of drinking water using only moisture and powered only by wind. Let me highlight this word : CREATE. All existing solutions (wells, desalination, lakes/rivers pumping, etc.) only treat an existing source of water. Thus, what happens when there is no or no more water available?" stated Thibault Janin, the marketing and communication director of Eole Water,  "The WMS1000 can create water when there is no existing source available. That makes a difference. Our technology integrates water creation, water collection, water treatment and water local distribution.  The WMS1000 can produce and distribute water everywhere."

So far the turbines have been tested in France,  Abu Dhabi, and soon Dubai. The Dubai location will be opening by the end of the year and will be available to the public.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Man Creates Bicycle Library To Offer Books To The Homeless

Robson Mendonça spent a decade on the streets of San Paulo before a single book changed his life. After reason Orson Wells 'Animal Farm', Robson decided to stop drinking, study more, and finally got his life back on track. Now, the 61 year old former construction worker is working to bring that same hope to others who society may have written off. The homeless face many problems the average person doesn't think about, including not being able to check books out of a library. With no permanent address, they cannot borrow books by normal means. That's where Robson comes in. He began his initiative by walking around the busiest parts of the city and hand carrying books which the homeless could borrow from him.

When the non-profit Green Mobility heard about Robson's efforts, they donated a bicycle to him to assist. More donations began to roll in as well, these in the form of more books and now Robson's library boasts a hefty 30,000 volumes. He cycles around the city carrying as many as 300 books at a time and has so far had over 107,000 loans. The checkout process is one based on trust as there is no requirement for the borrower to be the one that brings the book back and often books are passed among a few people before being returned. The bicycle library also contains a solar powered laptop which three additional volunteers use to run literacy classes and help people find local shelters. Green Mobility is so excited about the success of Robson's library that they have decided to start more mobile libraries in as many as 12 other Brazilian cities. 

To read more, click here.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Illegal Logging In Mexico Butterfly Reserves Has All But Stopped

For 12 years, the Mexican authorities have struggled to stop illegal logging in the monarch butterfly reserves that were established in 2012. For many local farmers and familes, logging was the only income they knew and as many as 1,140 acres a year were being clear cut, leaving monarch butterflies with a smaller and smaller area to breed and rest during migration. The journey of the monarch is a tale of epic proportions with no one generation managing the entire round trip. The butterflies begin flying north in March, making their way all the way to Canada and returning to Mexico in the early weeks of November but the logging of their forests, coupled with harsh winters, had been causing a massive decline in their numbers.

This year marks the first time that no logging has been discernable from satallite photos, proving the efforts of the Mexican government, ecological groups, and private donors has helped. Many families that used to log have instead been shown how to start seedlings, replant trees, and build up tourism business based on the fascination people have with the butterfly migration. Authorities state that this change may not mean that all logging has stopped but the only operations still running at this time appear to be mostly individuals whose impact on the forest is much smaller.

Omar Vidal of the environmental group WWF Mexico states that more education and policing efforts will be needed to stop these last holdouts of the logging days. There is hope, however, that the butterflies will be able to recover in numbers once the forests are stable again.

To read more, click here.

Monday, August 27, 2012

10 Yr Old Girl Convinces Smoothie Company To Stop Using Styrofoam Cups

It seems like it should be fairly obvious: a health food company that prides itself on being organic and good for the environment shouldn't be using styrofoam cups to serve its drinks. Stryofoam is horrible for the environment from the chemicals needed for its creation to the fact that it doesn't break down well once disposed of, but smoothie giant Jamba Juice in California was still serving its drinks using this harmful material. This didn't sit well with one 10 year old girl named Mia Hansen who decided to take matters into her own hands.

After buying a smoothie in June, she was greatly upset to find herself being handed a styrofoam cup. She headed right out and started a petition to ask Jamba Juice to change its ways. Within weeks, the petition went viral and gained over 130,000 signatures. Mia and her mother heard back after only three weeks. Jamba Juice had agreed to stop using styrofoam by the end of 2013. They will move to a much more ecologically friendly alternative and save thousands of cups from going to landfills where they would take many years to break down.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Surgeon Rides Children's Bike To Operating Room

A multi-car crash in Louisiana involving a tanker carrying flammable liquids and another 18 wheeler carrying beer resulted in a massive traffic jam. While inconvenient for most, this was disastrous for surgeon Catherine Baucom who was due in the operating room. With her patient waiting for medical aid, she knew she had to act quickly. With a single minded determination, Catherine made her way to a nearby friend's house in Baton Rouge. There, she borrowed the only means of transportation she could get: the bike of her friend's seven year old daughter.

Catherine peddled her way toward the hospital until she reached interstate 10. There, she encountered some police officers who gave her an escort the rest of the way. She was able to meet her patient in time and the operation was a success, all because of her dedication to her job and her determination that nothing would stand between her and helping someone in need.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Auto Shop Stands Up For Bullied Teen

Hate is no stranger to Jordan Addison. As an openly gay teen attending Radford University in Roanoke, VA, he has been the target of a great deal of closed minded aggression. Within the span of three months, Jordan's car had been vandalized four times. Hate words, anti-homosexual slurs, and even threats have been carved and painted onto his vehicle. The word "DIE" had been keyed into one of the doors. When Jordan took his car into a local repair shop, the totals came out to a whopping $2500, an amount that he simply couldn't afford as a college student.

That's when Richard Henegar, Jr., the manager at Quality Auto Paint and Body, stepped in to help. He worked with some other local businesses to include Parts Unlimited in Vinton, Advance Auto Parts, Moon's Auto Body, Rice Toyota, Val's Automotive, The Rod Shop, B&C Exterminating, Twists & Turns, AJ's Landscaping and Sunnybrook Auto Spa. Together, they not only repaired the damage to Jordan's car, they also added an additional $10,000 in upgrades for him.

"Once I saw the vandalism that was done to it, I said 'that’s uncalled for. We’re gonna fix your car.'" Henegar told news station WTVR, "That’s the least we can do."

Addison was left speechless in the face of this act of kindness.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Man Wins $250 in Groceries and Decides to Pay It Forward

Money is tight for a lot of people lately and news channel ABC7 out of California was trying to help out by doing a weekly Facebook giveaway of $250 grocery gift cards. They never expected that kindness to be paid forward quite the way it was however. Scotty Randall, a local from Santa Ana, won the weekly drawing but instead of spending the money on himself, he went down to his local Von's grocery store to give it away. He broke the money down into smaller denominations of $25 each and began scouring the store for people who looked like they could use a little help.

When Vons heard about the good deed, they matched the earlier gift card with another $250 one so Scotty could do even more good deeds with it. One of the families who received a card was the Olsen family. Mr. Olsen was shopping with his three children when Scotty gave him the gift card. The timing could not have been better as it was Mrs. Olsen's birthday and her elated family could now afford to buy her cards and flowers to celebrate.

Scotty's good deeds didn't stop at the grocery store however as he also gave money to the Contreras family after their name was given to him by the Boys and Girls Club of Garden Grove. David Contreras is returning to the Army and will once again be away from his two kids and wife.

Scotty is now eligible for for a grand prize drawing of $5000 from Vons and says that if he wins, he will once again be looking to pay the money forward to other families in need.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Man Lifts SUV Off Friend

When a simple tire change went horribly awry, trapping Brooklyn native Rob Brown under his SUV, help came from an unlikely source. His neighbor, 48 year old Carlos Castro, heard his cries for help and rushed to his friend's aid. Carlos is not a large man by any means but in a moment of need, he found the strength to lift the back end of the SUV by it's hitch so that Rob could wiggle free. Science tells us that this is because in moments of emergency, the body floods our system with adrenaline and cortisol,  giving mucles get a much needed boost but Rob doesn't care about all of that. He just knows that Carlos is his hero for saving his life.  

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

1.7 Million Raised For Nikola Tesla Museum

Most people have never heard of Wardenclyffe or Shoreham, New York, but mention the name Nikola Tesla and intellectuals everywhere will chatter excitedly about this unsung hero of modern science. When the world was still living in a time of candlelight, Tesla was inventing the concept of alternating current, the very system we use today to power our homes. Want to know more about Tesla? Read here.

Wardenclyffe was the final laboratory that Tesla used before his passing and he had intended to build a tower there that would have provided free energy to the entire world. When the project lost funding in 1917, however, the land was sold off to film and paper manufacturers. The laboratory and tower foundation still remain to this day and the land recently went up for sale again. Two bidders were eyeing the property, one a non-profit intent on building a Nikola Tesla museum and the other a developer who intended to build a retail center. Faced with the prospect of losing this part of history to a new Walmart, popular comedy site The Oatmeal put out a plea to all of geekdom to ask for help in outbidding the retailer.

The goal had been set at $850,000 but within days that number had been smashed through by generous donations. The fundraising efforts are now at over $900k and growing with a full 39 days of fundraising left. The money already raised, when combined with a matching contribution from NY, will be more than enough to purchase the property and any additional funding will go toward the building of the museum.

Since the campaign started last week, it has raised an average of $145,000 per day, $6,000 per hour and $100 per minute, with contributions coming from 102 countries, according to an infographic by Indiegogo. So far, 20,000 people have donated.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Soldiers make a boy's wish come true

Soldiers make a boy's wish come true : News :

Ladd Anderson's leukemia has kept him from doing a lot of things he wanted to do (like seeing his big brother graduate, and following his example of enlisting into military service). So when the Army Reserve found out about this through the Make-A-Wish foundation, they gave him the chance to participate in the Reserves, giving him a uniform and a "command" as they built a bridge for Marquette's annual sailboat race.

Video of the story:

Monday, August 20, 2012

Vancouver Superhero Helps The Homeless

When you mention the word death, most people don't think of kindness and generosity but one Vancouver man is changing that perception. He calls himself Thanatos, named after the Greek god of death, and he's doing a lot of good for the homeless in his area. Thanatos, who prefers to keep his real identity secret, stated that one day while working downtown, he really began noticing all of the homeless in the area. People were living and dying in the street and the sight of that struck him.

"I was told by a police officer that some people on the street had nothing better to look forward to than death. That really stung, that really hurt me,” he told a local newspaper. "So I said if that’s the case, then death better get out there and start taking care of these people. I developed this persona to go out there and help."
With that, Thanatos set out to change as many lives as he could. He roams around doing good deeds for those who need them most including handing out water bottles and slips of paper with the word "friend" on them. Anything to bolster the morale of those who most people had forgotten. His efforts have paid off in large ways for at least one young woman who went from a $400 a day herion addiction to a full time job working downtown at a social services office.

When asked how she turned her life around, her answer is "Death came and told me I had to change the way I was living. Death saved me."

Thanatos is part of the Real Life Superhero Project, a group of like minded individuals who dress as heroes and perform acts of kindness. It may seem over-dramatic to some or childish behavior to others but Thanatos sees dressing up as a means to an end. By wearing the colorful costume, he can bring attention and light to the very real and somber issue of homelessness in Vancouver's downtown East Side neighborhood.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Man Builds Himself Bionic Hands

When Sun Jifa went out fishing one afternoon 8 years ago, he had no idea it would change his whole life. The Chinese fisherman had been attempting to use a homemade bomb to catch more fish when it exploded prematurely and took both of his hands from him. Sun tried to get assistance from the hospital but while they were able to save his life, he simply could not afford the prosthetic limbs they offered as a replacement for his own. Not having the money to afford the prosthetics didn't stop Sun though and he spent the next 8 years working on constructing a pair for himself.

This year, his efforts finally saw fruition. Sun has crafted a set of metal limbs which he can control through a series of wires where his elbows attach.

"I control them with movements from my elbows and I can work, love normally and feed myself just like anyone else," said Jifa.

Now, he plans to try and perfect his prototype in the hopes of helping others who simply can't afford the prices for current prosthetic limbs. The ones he is using now are steel and therefore heavy and tiring to wear for long periods of time. They can also become uncomfortable in extreme temperatures. If Jifa is successful in his design attempts, however, he may be able to assist a lot of people. There are approximately 24 million individuals living in China currently who have limb disabilities. 

Friday, August 17, 2012

Our Apologies

I'm sure some of you may be asking yourself what on earth happened to GNN! Well, I'm out of town for the weekend and didn't get an opportunity to update on Thursday. :( I shall be back and posting on Sunday. Please bear with us till then and enjoy this lovely video detailing the stories of Stephan and Bebe, two lovely Haitian children who are now facing a much brighter future after the amazing kindness brought about by Random Acts and their supporters.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Good Samaritan Saves Life of 82-Yr-Old Veteran

When N.C. veteran Albert Cinquepalma entered O'Hare airport to make his connecting flight, he had no idea that his life was about to hang in the balance. The 82 year old veteran was taking an escalator when his travel bag got caught in the feed. Albert toppled backward and fell down the escalator, tearing the skin from his arm along the way. The bleeding was profuse and airport staff informed Albert that the medical staff would not be able to get to him for at least 20 minutes. Fortunately for Albert, more immediate aid was at hand.

A fellow traveler, Ted Russell, saw the commotion and stopped to offer his help. Ted is a salesman for a product called Quik Clot, an emergency clotting bandage currently used on the field of battle by deployed soldiers. Ted quickly bandaged the wounds on Albert's arm and the bleeding was finally stopped. Once assured that his charge would be ok, the humble salesman then left without thought of reward or applause.

Albert was later taken to Chicago's Resurrection Hospital and despite the severe injuries to his arm, he fully recovered. Moved by the kindness of the stranger who stopped to help him, Albert used the empty Quick Clot package to lead him back to the man who had saved him. He contacted Quick Clot who put him in touch with Ted where the veteran was finally able to express his thanks.

"If anyone is a hero, it’s Albert and what he did for our country," Russell said after the call from Cinquepalma.

Cinquepalma served in the Heavy Weapons Infantry, 7th Division, 32nd Regiment, Company D for an 81mm mortar platoon during the Korean War. He took fire in the back on June 2, 1951, when he was a forward observer.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Aurora Man Pays For Movies For Strangers

For the people of Aurora, CO, and many around the country as well, the theatre has become a place of fear or, at the very least, some measure of concern after the brutal killing spree that left 12 dead and many more wounded. One Aurora man is doing something about that however. Jason Cole, a teacher and father, decided that the actions of one madman should not keep people living in fear. He worked with friends and family to raise money, enough for 1300 movie tickets, and then gave them all away to the people of Aurora.

On August 11th, Jason and his friends stood outside of a few theatres in Aurora and passed out the free tickets to those standing in line. The reactions ranged from cynasism to intense gratitude but Jason knows they made a difference that day. One woman who had been scared to go to the movies after the shootings, this act of kindness gave her the bravery to try again while being bolstered by the kindness of those around her. A mother brought her teenage son and and his friends to the Arapahoe Crossing theater in Aurora to hand out tickets in memory of their friends who were killed in the shootings on July 20. For them, it was a chance to heal and they told their story to those who recieved tickets. Tears were shed and hearts healed for the loss.

One family responded with cynisism at first, a discomfort at the idea of some company trying to do a promotion at the theatre but once Jason and his friend explained that the tickets were just for the sake of kindness, frowns turned to genuine smiles. Thanks to the bravery, kindness, and thoughtfulness of Jason and his friends, the people of Aurora were able to share joy and love in the face of tragedy.

"You can choose the light or the dark, and you change the world with each choice you make. I said that, in a world where one person can traumatize an entire region with his actions, it's up to the rest of us to choose the light." - Jason Cole

Monday, August 13, 2012

Man Uses Unlimited Air Miles To Help Strangers

Most kids straight out of high school have dreams of traveling the world before heading off to college and eventually their chosen careers. Some manage it and come back with photos and a few fun stories of their travels but for one young man, the stories are a bit different. Daniel, a reddit user going by the name Generique, decided that he didn't just want to travel: he wanted to use his trips to help people instead. He has a family member who works for an unnamed airline and he's allowed to travel anywhere in the world, paying only departure taxes along the way. With this in mind, he posted made a post on reddit that quickly got attention.

"I want to have a Reddit-powered epic summer adventure. As a result of having a family member employed by a large airline, I have the ability to travel non-rev status (if there’s empty seats and no one ahead of me in line), paying only departure taxes. I’d rather not disclose the specific airline, in case I get into shenanigans that might reflect on them.

"Want me to hand deliver a letter to someone across the country or overseas? Attempt to help you with homework? Volunteer at your organization for a day? Need an extra pair of hands to do that landscaping project you’ve been putting off for months? Know a sweet hiking spot but have no one to go with?"

Within 24 hours, thousands of comments had come in with 300 of them being requests. Some were heartwarming, some down right bizzare, but Daniel picked among the plethora of responses and chose his favorites. He made a list and began checking them off one by one. Some of the tasks included were helping someone move a couch in Denver, teaching English at a school in Thailand, sitting for a self portrait in San Francisco, and washing a family car. The car is Daniel's favorite so far as the family has a son with Down's Syndrome and Leukemia and they were immensely grateful for the kind act Daniel performed.

With his list of 30-40 items finally checked off, Daniel has returned home and is preparing for college. He says he plans to do this adventure again next summer in the hopes of cheering up more people and doing more kind deeds. 

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Deaf Man Finally Hears Music For The First Time

Austin Chapman and his new hearing aid.

For film maker Austin Chapman, music had always been a mystery he could never quite comprehend. He could see people gyrating on the dance floor or singing at the top of their lungs in their cars, but their actions were foreign to him. Austin had been born "proufoundly deaf", which meant that while he wasn't totally without the ability to hear, sounds were so drastically reduced that they were little more than muffled noise without a hearing aid. Even with his old aids, the subtle changes that made music so powerful were totally lost on Austin. The devices meant to help him hear were simply not able to pick up the higher frequencies in music.

"All music sounded like trash through my hearing aids," he confessed on his film studio's blog. Last week, however, Austin was fitted with a new set of hearing aids and suddenly his world was turned on it's head. "The first thing I heard was my shoe scraping across the carpet; it startled me. I have never heard that before and out of ignorance, I assumed it was too quiet for anyone to hear. I sat in the doctor’s office frozen as a cacophony of sounds attacked me."

With his new hearing in place, Austin set out to figure out why there was so much fuss over music. That night, his friends began to offer him a whole range of music with tastes ranging from Rolling Stones to Michael Jackson and more. While sitting in the car, Austin heard Motzart's Lacrimosa for the first time and found himself moved to tears.

"At one point of the song, it sounded like angels singing and I suddenly realized that this was the first time I was able to appreciate music. Tears rolled down my face and I tried to hide it. But when I looked over I saw that there wasn’t a dry eye in the car."

With his world suddenly opened, Austin reached out to the Internet for help in picking music to take in. He posted to the popular site Reddit and received incredible support and feedback with over 14,000 responses to his original request for music within mere hours of his post. Despite this, Austin states that he still enjoys silence the most as it helps him think, but he is immesurably greatful for all of the suggestions on music selection.

"The Reddit commenters also helped me realize what a gift I have now, being able to enjoy utter silence and music at the same time. Not just that, but in a virginal unbiased way that very few people have," he told the Huffington Post.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Churchs Hold Dinner For Islamic Families

When a suspicious fire burned down a local mosque in Joplin, MO, most of the Islamic families in the town were left with no place to hold the celebratory dinner known as Iftar, a breaking of the fast which marks the month of Ramadan.Their worries were allieviated in the most unexpected of ways, however, when local Christian churches extended their hands and opened their doors to their fellow townspeople.

The churches of St. Philip's Episcopal Church, South Joplin Christian Church, United Hebrew Congregation, First Community Church, and Peace Lutheran Church have all invited local members of the Islamic Society of Joplin to celebrate their holiday within the normally Christian halls. In a time when being a Muslim often casts suspicion upon worshippers, it is heartwarming to see men and women putting aside their religious differences and offering support in the name of human kindness.

Friday, August 10, 2012

How an Indian wrestler defied gender taboos -

How an Indian wrestler defied gender taboos -

Geeta Phogat has overcome both economic and gender hurdles to be India's first female Olympic wrestling contender. The most amazing quote comes from her grandmother:

 "Now my grandmother, who used to want sons, says that she does not really want boys anymore. She says I'm the lion of the family."
So cool! Go, Geeta! Keep on being an amazing inspiration!

Thursday, August 9, 2012

$3100 Cash Returned To 90 Year Old Widow

90 year old Evelyn Weiner got an unexpected surprise when she turned in an old film canister for processing.She had sent the 70 year old rolls of film off to be converted to DVD format by a Georgia company called Yes Video. An employee at the company discovered more than just film in the canister though. Hidden inside was also $3100 in cash which the late Mickey Weiner had hidden away in hopes of someday using it to take his wife on a trip to Isreal. Sadly he never got that chance and Evelyn had no idea he had stashed the money away.
It would have been easy enough for the Yes Video employee to simply pocket the money themselves but instead they worked to notify Mrs. Weiner of her good fortune and the money was returned to her. She sees this act as a renewal of her faith in the humanity of others and a sign that her husband is still watching over her to this day.
"When you pick up the newspaper or watch the television, everybody's bad, everybody steals," she stated, "And here, somebody hands me money that I didn't know was there."

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Gold Medal For a Fallen Olympian

Daniel Gyurta and Alexander Dale Oen

In an incredible act of sportsmanship, Olympic gold medalist Daniel Gyurta has pledged that he will share his victory with a fallen friend. Earlier this year Norwegian swimmer Alexander Dale Oen passed away unexpectedly from cardiac arrest. Later reports found he had been suffering from heart disease, a fact which had left his friends and fellow swimmers in shock. Oen had been seen as a favorite for the Olympics gold after he won the 100m breaststroke championships less than a year ago and his passing has affected many whose lives he had touched.

When Daniel Gyurta won gold in the 200m men's breaststroke, he decided to honor the memory of his friend and fellow swimmer in the best way he knew how. He is sending his gold medal off to be replicated in exact detail so that he may send a copy of it to Oen's family. Sharing a gold medal is no small deal either as it marks Gyruta as one of the best swimmers in the world, a title he is more than happy to share with his friend.

"I’m sure that he would have won the 100 here in London," Gyurta said, according to the Guardian. "This is the least I can do to pay respect to my friend."

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Ontario Theif Apologizes And Returns Stolen Goods

Canada has a reputation for being one of the most polite countries in the world and one remorseful thief may be proving that true. A family, who wish to remain unnamed, recently woke up to a surprise waiting for them on their front porch: a bag containing a game console, a digital camera, $50, and a note. The family was shocked to realize that the items were those that had been stolen from them earlier in the week while they were out walking their dog. The would-be thief had apparently had a change of heart and had returned all of the stolen goods along with $50 to repair the screen door that had been damaged during the theft.

Part of the note that was included read as follows:

"I can't put it into words how sorry I am ... This is the first and last time I will ever commit a crime ... Please find it in your hearts to forgive the stranger who harmed you. It was nothing personal and I didn’t go through any of your personal belongings. I have been having a very hard time financially lately and I made the worst mistake of my life."

Police are still looking for the theif but an on-line debate has begun raging on whether the person should still be arrested. If the point of jail is to punish the guilty and rehabilitate them, then this theif seems to have already learned that lesson and many are arguing that they should be left alone if not commended for beind kind enough to return the stolen goods rather than simply throw them away.

Click here for video.

Monday, August 6, 2012

NASA Makes Historic Mars Landing

At 1:32 am EDT, NASA rover Curiosity landed safe and sound inside a large crater on Mars. The descent to the martian surface was one of the most perilous in the history of space robotics. There was no room for error as the car sized rover used a combination of parachute, rockets, and a tether to navigate the 7 mile drop to the surface. Applause erupted throughout the NASA command center as their dreams and hard work finally came to fruition.

With budget cuts and the cancellation of the space shuttle program still fresh in their minds, the NASA scientists who have worked on Curiosity see this landing as especially meaningful. There has not been another astrobiology mission to Mars since the late 1970s and scientists are eager to see what their rover comes back with. Within minutes of its landing, Curiosity was already sending back spectacular photos of a distant world. The project is slated to last an entire 2 years, during which the rover is slotted to search for signs of potential life as well as evidence that life may have existed at one point.

To read more and see a video of the touchdown, please click here.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Turkeys and Apologies

We here at GNN apologize for not having our normal daily post up at noon. There was some delay in getting it ready. By way of apology, please have this video of the Turkey Whisperer. I dare you not to at least giggle.

Cancer "Stem Cell" Discovery Could Revolutionize Treatments

It's the dreaded word that no patient wants to hear: cancer. For many years, it simply meant there was no hope but doctors have continued to struggle with new and improving ways to treat this deadly disease. Now, a medical break-through may be on the horizon. For the past few years, scientists have hinted that some solid forming tumors may be linked back to particular cells that cause their growth. These cancer "stem cells" are sometimes left behind when treating a tumor and patients experience regrowth. Proof was lacking, however, that such cells really existed.

Now, three separate teams of scientists, all working on independent studies, have found proof that these stem cells do exist. This could mark a major turn in how doctors treat tumors in their patients. Previous treatments all aimed at removing the tumor itself but now doctors may begin aiming at these stem cells to prevent the tumor from growing larger. Once it is removed, killing the stem cells would also mean no relapses. There is some concern that the cancer stem cells appear very similar to normal stem cells responsible for regenerating healthy tissue in the body. This means targeting them may risk damaging the healthy stem cells as well. For now, research is on-going with emphasis being placed on providing distinction between healthy and cancerous stem cells as well as how to target only the malignant kind.

The discovery and proof of the cancer stem cells is still a major step in the right direction according to Prof Hugo Snippert of the University Medical Centre in Utrecht. "Cancer stem cells change the paradigm. The goal of shrinking tumours may well turn out to be less important than targeting the cancer cells in that tumour," he stated, "Many argued that these cells did not exist. But we have shown for the first time there is such a thing as a cancer stem cell and that tumours are maintained by them."

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Man's Dying Wish To Leave Tips Goes Viral

We recently brought you the story of Aaron Collins and his last wish for his family to raise $500 and leave it as a tip for some unsuspecting waiter or waitress at a pizza place. His family was able to fulfill that dream and they posted a video of the good deed on-line. Since that day, a little over a month ago, the video has gone viral along with the message of kindess that spurred it. People have generously donated to the Aaron's Last Wish fund with totals already breaching $50k and growing. The family now has enough funding to continue their kind acts once a week for the next 2 years. Sean, Aaron's brother, has already passed out another $1500 to 3 more service staff and videos can be seen on their facebok page.

For the people on the receiving end of these tips, they are a breath of relief during a time of economic turmoil. One waitress is working three jobs at once just to get through college while the other two have young children at home that they are trying to provide for. Aaron's legacy will go to good use with all three.

To read more, click here.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Tiger Population in Nepal Doubles

Extinction is a very real threat for the Bengal tigers living near Nepal and in 2009, that's just what researchers thought would happen. Only 18 total adult tigers had been spotted in Bardia National Park that year, a paltry number that worried conservationists. Hidden cameras had been placed around the park in the hopes of counting just how many of the majestic cats were still around and when the shockingly low numbers came to light, the Nepalese government began working closely with park rangers to double security. Poachers are the number one threat to the tigers and for years, the locals had been trying to stop the killings on thier own.

Fortunately, the cause has been taken up by high level politicains who have pressed to add more guard posts and offered greater support for the rangers cracking down on poaching. Over 300 poachers were caught in 2011 alone. The results of this increased secrutiy have had a noticable impact though and researchers are elated to find that the population of tigers has doubled, going from 18 in 2009 to 37 in 2011. For more information, click here.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

80-Year-Old Lobster Rescued from a Boiling Connecticut Pot

People Are Awesome: 80-Year-Old Lobster Rescued from a Boiling Connecticut Pot - News - GOOD

Sometimes the folks who benefit from kind deeds aren't people at all. Lobsters need love, too! The best part is that the lobster in question was released into a habitat that's safe from fishing boats, so he's not likely to be caught someplace else.

(Photo by flickr user Patrik Neckman)

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Company Turns Bombs Into Jewelry to Help Laos Farmers

The aftermath of a war is rarely thought about when the powers that be are coming up with tactics. Sadly, this was the case with the country of Laos during the Vietnam war. In an effort to prevent communism from taking hold there during a Lao rebellion, the US dropped over 2 million tons of explosives. The total population of Laos is only 6 million, making that one ton of explosives for every 3 people. The number is staggaring. With the war long behind most other countries, the people of Laos are still struggling with the daily reality of unexploded ordinance (UXOs) littered around their country. It makes farming an extremely risky undertaking.

That's where NY designer, Elizabeth Suda comes in. During her time working for Coach, she became curious about the countries where their merchandise came from and she was shocked to discover the story of Laos in the process of her travels. What she found there wasn't just a people living with daily terror, however, but a people trying to make the best of a bad situation. The locals had taken to disarming the bombs and melting down the metals they were made from to reforge them into spoons. This one simple idea, of turning items meant to destroy into items meant for daily use, inspired Suda to take up the cause. She has begun working heavily with the Lao people under her company Project: peaceBOMB.

"Watching the artisans transform deadly pieces of history into spoons, something useful, I felt this story had to be told," remembers Suda. "In an instant, I thought of making a bracelet and it was just one of those moments.They were already doing this: this was their own innovation through their own initiative."

Suda has worked hard to ensure that the jewelry created by the company isn't just your typical fare either. She designs the pieces to truly stand on their own as beautiful works of art that any person would be proud to own. The irony of US citizens buying back jewelry made from the very bombs their country dropped on Laos is not lost on her and she feels it's a fitting situation. The generousity of those who purchase from Project: peaceBOMB are helping the Lao people to clear their lands of deadly UXOs. Since the company started, they have sold enough jewelry to clear 10,000 square meters of bomb-littered land. To read more about this amazing inititive, click here.