Good News


Reader's Digest International - - Contents - BY TIM HULSE

Jump for joy

ACHIEVE­MENT Ver­dun Hayes had wanted to take a para­chute jump for a decade when he fi­nally took the plunge (lit­er­ally) last year. Noth­ing un­usual in that—we of­ten take time be­fore get­ting round to ful­fill­ing our dreams. But what makes Ver­dun a lit­tle dif­fer­ent is that he first had the idea of leap­ing out of a plane at the age of 90, and his first jump, at the age of 100, made the for­mer Sec­ond World War army lance-cor­po­ral from the county of Devon the UK’s old­est sky­diver.

But that wasn’t enough for Ver­dun. This sum­mer he took to the skies again and be­came the old­est per­son in the world to sky­dive, at the age of 101 years and 38 days. His tan­dem jump from 15,000ft was ac­com­pa­nied by three gen­er­a­tions of his fam­ily. As he landed, the in­trepid cen­te­nar­ian said “hooray” and an­nounced that he was “over the moon”.

The jump raised money for the Royal Bri­tish Le­gion, which pro­vides sup­port for the UK’s armed forces com­mu­nity. Its spokesman said the or­ga­ni­za­tion was “very proud of Ver­dun’s achieve­ments”.

“We want to give peo­ple back a piece of their dig­nity.” Hair­dresser Claus Nie­der­maier, founder of the Bar­ber An­gels Brother­hood, an

or­ga­ni­za­tion that gives free hair­cuts to the homeless in Ger­many.

Elec­tric ship will sail it­self

TRANS­PORT We’ve all heard of self-driv­ing cars, but how about self-sail­ing ships? Two Nor­we­gian com­pa­nies aim to launch the world’s first au­ton­o­mous and elec­tricpow­ered cargo ship next year, sav­ing 40,000 lorry jour­neys a year.

The Yara Birke­land will be able to carry around 100 con­tain­ers at a speed of 12 to 15 knots. It will have a range of 65 nau­ti­cal miles, en­abling it to trans­port fer­til­izer be­tween three ports in south­ern Nor­way. Al­though it will ini­tially be manned, re­mote op­er­a­tion is sched­uled for 2019, with fully au­ton­o­mous op­er­a­tion in 2020.

“With this new con­tainer ves­sel we re­duce noise and dust emis­sions, im­prove the safety of lo­cal roads, and re­duce NOx and CO2 emis­sions,” says Svein Tore Holsether, chief ex­ec­u­tive of the fer­til­izer com­pany.

Worms wage war on plas­tic

EN­VI­RON­MENT A chance ob­ser­va­tion that the lar­vae of wax moths were able to eat their way out of a plas­tic bag has led sci­en­tists in

Spain and the UK to be­lieve they may have found a so­lu­tion to the huge amounts of plas­tic waste ac­cu­mu­lat­ing in land­fill sites.

The next step is to find out whether the worms were eat­ing the plas­tic for food or just as a means to es­cape.

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