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”.
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 electric-powered 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.
Saudi woman defies driving ban
Heroes After continuing protests from campaigners around the world, Saudi Arabia last month finally announced an end to its ban on women drivers from June next year. One of those who helped secure the change by defying the ban, risking arrest and punishment, was university student Ashwaq al-Shamri who earlier this year jumped behind the wheel when the driver of her bus suffered a stroke.
“He told us that he felt dizzy and then suddenly stopped,” she says. “My colleagues tried to give him first aid and I drove to the nearest shop to get him cold water.” Ashwaq, who was taught to drive at a young age by her father to help with work on their farm, then drove the stricken driver to his house, so relatives could rush him to hospital in time for him to make a full recovery. “I am extremely proud of my daughter,” says Ashwaq’s father.
Sources: Achievement: The Guardian, 14.5.17. Transport: The Local (Norway), 10.5.17. Environment: The Guardian, 25.4.17. Heroes: The New Arab, 12.5.17