Health “Ah! That smells like the old days!” exclaims an old lady as she catches a whiff of a coffee substitute she remembers from her youth. Her companion points to a large pot on a radiator. It’s used for boiling nappies, she explains to their hostess, who is showing them round her home. But this is no ordinary home. And these are no ordinary visitors.
The ‘House of Memories’ is a replica of an apartment from the 1950s at Den Gamle By Museum in Aarhus, Denmark. It is intended for visitors living with Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia.
The idea is to trigger memories—and early memories tend to be the best preserved and most easily recalled by association. So it is left to the sights and sounds to trigger recollections. Visitors leave noticeably lightened, and museum worker Henning Lindberg says he’s witnessed people talking for the first time in years and recalling stories their children have never heard.
Like all institutions, the house has to move with the times. There’s a plan to give it an upgrade soon—to the 1960s.
France acts on plastic
Environment The French love a picnic, and they love a glass of wine. But these pleasures can come at some cost to the environment. Every year, the nation throws away billions of non-biodegradable plastic goblets and other plastic utensils. As well as picknickers, vending machines and fast food restaurants are also culprits.
But now the French government has decided to ban sales of all single-use plastic plates, cutlery, cups and glasses from 2020, unless they are made of bio-sourced materials that can be broken down in a home composter.
Acid pollution declines
Ecology Danish researchers have discovered that man-made acid pollution of the atmosphere is almost back to pre-industrial levels.
For the first time, they were able to distinguish between man-made acids, caused mainly by fossil fuel consumption, and those produced by volcanic eruptions or forest fires. Production of the former reached its peak in the 1970s, but following clean air acts in Europe and the US, and effective industrial filtering methods, man-made acid pollution has now fallen to 1930s levels.
An Emotional Reunion Gordon Draper was sorting through some books in his secondhand bookstore in northeast England, when an envelope fell out. Inside was a letter and a photograph of a woman holding a small girl. It was addressed to “Bethany” and signed “Mam”. Draper realized it was a final letter from a dying mother to her daughter.
So he decided that he must track Bethany down. And that’s how Bethany Gash, now 21 and a mother herself, was reunited with the letter she had lost at the age of nine, five years after her mother died.
“I wanted to burst out crying,” she said. “The lengths he went to track me down, it was so overwhelming.”
Sources: Health: NPR, 13.9.2016 x.x.2016. Environment: Washington Post, 19.9.2016. Ecology: University of Copenhagen, 19.9.2016. Heroes: Washington Post, 9.9.2016