Participating in Group Sports Can Offset High Stress and Contribute to Academic Competence During Challenges

credit Steven Abraham

A new study found that having an active sporting hobby offset stress and contributed to academic competence even during the COVID-19 lockdowns.

The effect was calculated during the so-called two weeks to flatten the curve, and the researchers believe the observed effect was robust enough to be applicable in future periods of societal disruption.

Researchers at the University of Waterloo found that participation in activities such as fitness classes and drop-in sports before the pandemic was linked to lower levels of stress and higher levels of perceived competence to handle challenges and master school workload during the lockdown.

The study used factor and regression analyses based on self-reported responses from 116 students active in campus recreational sports at two-time points: January 2020, before the pandemic, and April 2020, after lockdowns.

“Our findings suggest that the impact of campus recreational activities on reducing stress went beyond the obvious physical health benefits and contributed to overall well-being even down the line,” said Steven Mock, a researcher in the department of Recreation and Leisure Studies.

“It’s possible that students who had learned how to deal with challenges and losses in the context of sport and recreational activity developed key skills such as adaptability that helped them manage with pandemic-related setbacks.”

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At the beginning of winter 2020, stress levels for students were generally low. Managing academic demands, building new relationships, and trying to achieve personal goals were the top three stressors at that time.

“Students had just come back from the holiday break, their academic workload was still low, and they were not anticipating any societal disruption such as COVID-19,” said co-author Narges Abdeahad, a former Ph.D. candidate in the department of Recreation and Leisure Studies.

By April 2020, after lockdowns had begun, the overall level of stress had increased to above the midpoint, and the top stressors had changed to online delivery of quizzes and exams, the influence of the pandemic on their lives, and managing academic demands.

“We also found that graduate students and, even more so, international students had very low participation in campus recreational sports pre-pandemic, which has wellness implications for these two groups of students,” said Abdeahad.

– Nicole Green, Unsplash

“Since campus recreational sports appear to help develop lifelong skills that offset stressful events, educational institutions should consider including campus recreational sports as a strategy to enhance student mental health and well-being.”

Theodore Roosevelt was a leading proponent of campus sports. Born a sickly child with asthma, his father told him he would have to build himself a body since God had given him a weak one.

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Roosevelt became an accomplished collegiate boxer and wrestler, activities he continued to partake in routinely even after entering the White House. He praised the development of sports in university, and “was delighted” to hear his children had taken it up.

“I always believe in going hard at everything, whether it is Latin or mathematics, boxing or football,” the president wrote in a letter to his son.

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Newly Discovered Enzyme Turns Air Into Electricity, Promising a New Clean Source of Energy

By Ameen Fahmy

Imagine being able to draw moisture from the air through your fingertips and create an electrical current as a result—that’s pure comic book superhero stuff right?

Not so, since researchers have been able to use a bacterial enzyme that conducts hydrogen to create electricity, literally out of thin air.

The discovery promises to open up a new field of clean energy that would take on all kinds of sci-fi forms.

Recent work by the team at Monash Biomedicine Discovery Institute at Monash University, Australia, has shown that many bacteria use hydrogen from the atmosphere as an energy source in nutrient-poor environments.

“We’ve known for some time that bacteria can use the trace hydrogen in the air as a source of energy to help them grow and survive, including in Antarctic soils, volcanic craters, and the deep ocean,” said Monash Univ. Professor Chris Greening. “But we didn’t know how they did this, until now.”

In their discovery paper published in Nature, the researchers extracted the enzyme responsible for using atmospheric hydrogen from a bacterium called Mycobacterium smegmatis. They showed that this enzyme, called Huc, turns hydrogen gas into an electrical current.

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“Huc is extraordinarily efficient,” notes co-author Dr. Rhys Grinter. “Unlike all other known enzymes and chemical catalysts, it even consumes hydrogen below atmospheric levels—as little as 0.00005% of the air we breathe.”

Laboratory work performed by Ph.D. student Ashleigh Kropp showed that it’s possible to store purified Huc for long periods.

“It is astonishingly stable,” she said. “It’s possible to freeze the enzyme or heat it to 80 degrees Celsius, and it retains its power to generate energy. This reflects that this enzyme helps bacteria to survive in the most extreme environments.”

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The bacteria that produce enzymes like Huc are common and can be grown in large quantities, meaning humanity could potentially have access to a sustainable source of the enzyme. Dr. Grinter says that a key objective for future work is to scale up Huc production. “Once we produce Huc in sufficient quantities, the sky is quite literally the limit for using it to produce clean energy.”

“This is a really exciting discovery that could be a game changer in addressing climate change. It speaks to the strength of Monash research in developing smart solutions to the world’s most pressing problems. A big congratulations to [the team] what a fantastic achievement,” said Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Professor Rebekah Brown, who was not involved in the study.

WATCH an explainer video below… 

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Good News in History, March 21 – Good News Network


53 years ago today, the first-ever San Diego Comic-Con was put on by organizers Shel Dorf, Richard Alf, and Ken Krueger. Estimated to generate economic value exceeding $180 million every year, Comic-Con is the world’s largest such convention, celebrating pop culture and sci-fi’s enriching impact on our civilization. READ a bit more… (1970)

Comic Con 2013, San Diego CC 2.0. Pat Loika

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the genesis of Comic-Con was a series of meetings in a bookstore. In Ocean Beach, San Diego, a group of eight comic and sci-fi enthusiasts met at Ken Krueger’s Alert Books. It was here the idea for a kind of convention coalesced.

The first one-day convention was called the Golden State Comic-Minicon, and eventually grew into what it is today by drawing on the organizational abilities of other recreational societies such as the Society for Creative Anachronism and the Mythopoeic Society.

MORE Good News on this Date:

  • Johann Sebastian Bach, the German composer was born (1685)
  • Holy day for the Bahá’í Faith annually (calendar began in 1844)
  • The zipper was first patented by Swedish engineer Gideon Sundback who emigrated to the US at age 25 and perfected the “Separable Fastener” while working at the Universal Fastener Company in New Jersey (1917)
  • British troops liberated Mandalay, Burma from WW II occupation (1945)
  • In Cleveland, Ohio, Alan Freed presented the first rock and roll concert — a mix of black and white musical performers and audience members billed as Moondog Coronation Ball, in an era when almost all performances, radio stations and record labels were segregated by race (1952)
  • With President Johnson providing 4,000 troops to ensure their safety, civil rights protesters began their 54-mile, 5-day march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama to demand voting rights, which later that year they won–with the Voting Rights Act (1965)
  • San Francisco proclaimed the first Earth Day (1970)
  • The memorial to John Lennon in New York City was unveiled on a Central Park knoll across from the apartment where he was killed, a tract of land purchased by Yoko Ono in memory of her late husband that became known as Strawberry Field (1984)
  • After 12 years, Randall Adams was released from prison when his murder conviction was overturned thanks to the film The Thin Blue Line, which challenged evidence (1989)
  • Namibia gained independence after 75 years of South African rule (1990)
  • Twitter was launched as a micro-blogging service by Jack Dorsey, who planned it for eight days until the first tweet was sent: “I am trying to install my twitter” (2006)
  • The US Congress passed a Health Care Reform bill to reform insurance practices that deny coverage to sick Americans and dependent children up to the age of 26 (2010)

Happy 43rd Birthday to Ronaldinho Gaúcho, simply one of the most entrancing footballers to ever live. The Brazilian won FIFA Player of the Year twice and the Ballon d’Or during his 5-year spell with FC Barcelona. Some players are remembered for their sheer goal-scoring numbers, others for their intelligence, but Ronaldinho is one of those rare players who was remembered for it all: goals, assists, technique, speed, but most of all it was his ability to control a football. It was as if his personality was a gravitational field which kept the ball orbiting around him. He won national titles in Italy and Spain and won the 2002 FIFA World Cup with Brazil. WATCH the best dribbler in history… (1980)

Ronaldinho after scoring a goal for Flamengo. CC 2.0 Alex Carvalho.

Zlatan Ibrahimović stated, “Prime Ronaldinho was phenomenal. He made his opponents look like children.” When receiving the ball on the wing where he would often stand in order to have more space, there were few players who could stop him as he went off on one of his trademark dribbles, which included Harlem Globetrotter-esc tricks normally reserved for the most casual playground games between kids. He always played with a smile, and played to make people smile, and remains one of only two Barcelona players to receive a standing ovation from rivals Real Madrid.

“When you play with him and see what he does with a ball, nothing surprises me any more. One of these days, he will make the ball talk,” said Barcelona teammate Eiður Guðjohnsen of Ronaldinho, December 2006.

152 years ago today, journalist Henry Stanley began his trek from Zanzibar on a secret mission to find a missing explorer, missionary David Livingstone.

The Wales-born British-American had been sent to find him by the New York Herald newspaper because Livingstone was one of the most popular British heroes of the late 19th century.

The Scottish Christian missionary’s fame as an explorer of Africa was built upon his mapping of rivers there and his obsession for learning the source of the Nile.

After he was not heard from for years, the later-knighted Sir. Stanley, intent on a scoop, set off with a well-equipped caravan backed by American money, making his way for 8 months through a country disturbed by fighting and illness to Lake Tanganyika, where he found the hero, ill and short of supplies, and greeted him with the now-famous words, “Dr. Livingstone, I presume?”

The two then proceeded to explore the region together and discovered there was no connection between Africa’s Great Lake and the north-flowing Nile. On Stanley’s return, he wrote a book about his experiences: How I Found Livingstone; travels, adventures, and discoveries in Central Africa. (1871)

2011 photo by Sam Hughes, CC license

Happy 65th Birthday to the ‘actor’s actor’ Gary Oldman, who finally won an Academy Award for his 2018 lead role as Winston Churchill in Darkest Hour. Regarded as one of the greatest screen actors of his generation, he has portrayed Lee Harvey Oswald, Beethoven, and Sid Vicious; and played Commissioner Gordon in the The Dark Knight Batman trilogy, as well as Sirius Black in the Harry Potter series. WATCH a YouTube video to see what great actors say about him… (1958)

And, 38 years ago today, Canadian paraplegic athlete Rick Hansen began his circumnavigation of the globe in a wheelchair to raise money for spinal cord injury medical research.

By D. Gordon E. Robertson, CC license, Wikipedia

After a 26-month trek through 34 countries, four continents, and along 40,000 km (25,000 miles), Hansen arrived back in Vancouver to cheering crowds at the BC Place Stadium on May 22, 1987. His Man In Motion World Tour raised $26 million. (1985)

43 years ago today, Pink Floyd’s single, Another Brick in the Wall, hit No.1 on Billboard, beginning an 11-week domination at the top of the charts. From their rock opera album The Wall, written by bassist Roger Waters, it is a protest song against rigid schooling—and features a local elementary school choir. Called (Pt. 2), it became their only No.1 single in the U.S. and U.K., and many other countries—and it sold over four million copies worldwide.

The British band recorded the children singing at Islington Green School, close to Pink Floyd’s studio. Alun Renshaw, head of music at the school, was enthusiastic, and said later: “I wanted to make music relevant to the kids – not just sitting around listening to Tchaikovsky. I thought the lyrics were great – ‘We don’t need no education, we don’t need no thought control’ … I just thought it would be a wonderful experience for the kids.” Renshaw hid the lyrics from the headteacher, fearing she might stop the recording. At the suggestion of producer Bob Ezrin, they also added elements of disco—and the song even reached number 57 on the disco chart.

The full LP, The Wall, also hit No.1 on the US album chart for a 15-week run. The group’s third US No.1, it went on to sell over 23 million copies in the US alone. The Wall is still the third largest-grossing album in the US, behind Michael Jackson’s Thriller and Eagles’ Greatest Hits. WATCH the band’s official animated music video… (1980)

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Self-Taught Oklahoma Architect Builds Round Barn Inspired by US Capitol and Fueled by Dedication–LOOK

Jay Branson – YouTube

Jay Branson, a self-taught architect, started building a round barn in rural Oklahoma to process his grief.

Its beauty draws strangers off the highway in Oklahoma, and a gentle kind of obsession mixed with down-home prairie demeanor saw the barn turn into something more like a cathedral.

The story begins decades ago when Branson went to visit a friend in Washington D.C., where he stood under the dome of the US Capitol and wanted dearly forever after to build a round structure with a dome.

Growing up a chiseled farmhand turned handyman, Branson is entirely self-taught in architecture and home-building, and built houses in the tiny decaying town of Marshall, Oklahoma. When his first wife Julie passed away, he needed a project to keep his mind going.

Settling on a round barn to park his motor home, his neighbor suggested he turn it into a wedding venue, which struck him as a good idea.

After completing the large main area using interlocking concrete-filled foam and rebar blocks that fit together like LEGOS, he began to imagine what a dome might look like, and produced a sketch of the interlocking octagons and diamonds that would form the arched ribs of the dome to be built with poplar wood.

It draws the gaze up to an oculus where natural light floods the space and regularly causes visitors to shed a tear.

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For 7 years Jay Branson has been all alone out there on the plains, although he occasionally got help from his new wife and always has the company of his dog. But for the most part, this quiet, self-deprecating man has built one of the most impressive structures in the county, all by himself.

Jay Branson – YouTube

“I just started cutting,” Jay told his great-niece, Hailey Branson-Potts, reporting for the LA Times. “You know, if you figure the circumference of any structure that’s round, and divide it into segments, there’s a way. You’ve just got to make it even, get it exactly right, and just start building.”

MORE GREAT ARCHITECTURE: Secret to Durability of Roman Concrete that Has Stood Test of Time for Over 2,000 Years Finally Discovered

Round barns have a fascinating history. They were considered by early ranchers as more economic because feeding the animals becomes a continuous motion around the edge. They were also believed to be spiritually superior since the “devil couldn’t hide in the corners,” and the round shape doesn’t provide a flat wall to be knocked over by a tornado.

Branson is currently fighting a battle against recurrent prostate cancer, and is attempting to design demonstration-sized pieces for several unfinished areas like the bridal suite, so in case something should happen to him there is some evidence for someone else to understand how to move forward.

WATCH the stirring documentary report by the LA Times below… 

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Almost Every Cat in Viral Tik Tok Video is Adopted from the Kansas City Animal Shelter

credit Wayside Waifs Animal Shelter – Tiktok

With the knowledge that dogs are easier to adopt out than cats, a Kansas City animal shelter took to social media with a simple, yet clever video to even the odds.

But Wayside Waifs Hospital and Shelter did more than even them, they managed to get all but two of their shelter cats adopted after the video went viral on TikTok, garnering a million views, and 2,500 shares.

In the video below, shelter workers are asked to recommend a cat with a specific personality type as a way of giving the felines, with only a name and a picture, a bit more character.

“It was actually something that one of our feline care technicians thought of. What kind of animal likes people? What kind of animal would wanna snuggle with the other kittens?” Casey Waugh with Wayside Waifs said.

The video went viral, as commenters from The Philippines, Brazil, the UK, and others all cheered on the shelter for their admirable efforts.

One commenter even offered to relocate to Kansas City if the shelter was hiring, which they are as it turns out.

WATCH the video here… 

@waysidewaifs Our Feline Care Techs give you the real scoop! #adoptdontshop #fyp #shelterpetsoftiktok #funny #booktok #booktropes #booktrope #catsoftiktok ♬ original sound – waysidewaifs

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Scientists Find Methane Actually Helps Cool the Planet, Offsetting 30% of the Heating Effect


Years ago, climate scientists begin to suppose that methane was the most critical greenhouse gas for humanity to target, but continual advancements in the science of methane show it may actually be harmless.

As the planet absorbs heat from the sun, it would naturally radiate this long-wave energy back out into space. The greenhouse gasses trap the heat inside the atmosphere. This is called a greenhouse effect.

However, scientists and UC Riverside have found that methane also absorbs short-wave energy, which through the creation of cooling clouds, actually cancels 30% of the heat the gas creates through its greenhouse effect.

Specifically, it creates more low-level clouds that offset the short-wave energy from the sun and fewer high-level clouds which increase the outward radiation of long-wave energy from the Earth.

“This has implications for understanding in more detail how methane and perhaps other greenhouses gases can impact the climate system,” said Robert Allen, UCR assistant professor of Earth sciences. “Shortwave absorption softens the overall warming and rain-increasing effects but does not eradicate them at all.”

They also found, as Allen says, that methane cancels 60% of increased levels of precipitation predicted under global warming models, yet more good news for cities and towns in or near flood zones.

For a number of reasons, this could be a revolutionary discovery. The EPA says that methane’s greenhouse effect is 34 times that of CO2.

Using the US as an example, methane accounts for only around 10% of the nation’s emissions. The lifespan of a methane molecule in terms of its ability to affect climate is around 9 years.

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This means that methane emitted 9 years ago is no longer causing a greenhouse effect. By contrast, the greenhouse effect of CO2 molecules is more than 1,000 years.

If methane is 30% less harmful and prevents 60% of harmful changes in precipitation, while only existing for 9 years, it means that millions of dollars in labor and capital can be reallocated to operations targeting CO2 and other greenhouse gasses like nitrous oxide.

MORE GOOD CLIMATE NEWS: EU Smashes 2020 Climate Target, Records 34% Drop in Emissions to Lowest Level Since 1990

In a paper published in 2021, Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) member and Oxford professor of geosystem science Myles Allen showed that over-accounting for methane’s effect, particularly from animal agriculture, risked “the reputation of environmental policy, and… undermining public confidence.”

Just weeks ago, the IPCC released another report on the estimations on the process of climate change, full of “now or never” language. The UC Riverside scientists say the report didn’t include their paper, and that their conclusion may have been different if they had known about it.

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