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This week’s Good Stuff: An iconic inventor, an Oscars prediction and a great cat guy

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Do humans need to hibernate? The scientific answer is “no,” but you’re definitely not alone if you yearn to be ensconced in a cozy bedsheet burrito most of the time. Recent studies show there’s a reason behind our wintertime sleepiness, and it has to do with the fluctuation of daylight and how it affects our circadian rhythms (also our beds are so very warm). Some easy fixes? Pay extra attention to your “sleep hygiene,” including what activities you do before bed and if your sleep area is comfortable and free of distractions. Also, research shows getting natural light in the hours after you wake up can help your body and mind adjust a little bit better — even if that natural light also seems to hate mornings this time of year.

Our favorites this week

Get going with some of our most popular good news stories of the week

Actors dressed as Darth Vader and Luke Skywalker have a lightsaber battle during an exhibition is Australia. Inventor Lanny Smoot had a big hand in bringing the magic of lightsabers into the real world. - Scott Barbour/Getty Images
Actors dressed as Darth Vader and Luke Skywalker have a lightsaber battle during an exhibition is Australia. Inventor Lanny Smoot had a big hand in bringing the magic of lightsabers into the real world. - Scott Barbour/Getty Images

A movie magic legend
Lanny Smoot has built one of the coolest careers ever. The Disney research fellow and imagineer has amassed 106 patents and counting, and has created the magic (ahem, complex engineering) behind the extendable lightsaber used in Disney Live Entertainment, the new HoloTile floor, which Disney calls “the world’s first multi-person, omnidirectional, modular, expandable, treadmill floor,” and the interactive koi ponds at Hong Kong Disneyland Hotel. Now, his prolificacy and impact in the theatrical technologies and special effects field have earned him an induction into the 2024 National Inventors Hall of Fame. “I love to create. I love to come up with inventions … just wanting to make good things that will amaze and enchant people,” Smoot said of the honor. He got especially emotional when he realized the only other Disney employee to make the National Inventors Hall of Fame was … Walt Disney himself!

- Read the whole story here.

Buffalo Bills place kicker Tyler Bass - Frank Franklin II/AP
Buffalo Bills place kicker Tyler Bass - Frank Franklin II/AP

A win for cats

Last weekend,  Tyler Bass had what can only be described as a very bad day. The Buffalo Bills kicker missed a game-tying 44-yard field goal late in his team’s 27-24 playoff loss to the Kansas City Chiefs. As if that wasn’t enough, he received all kinds of harassment online for the error. However, a no-kill, non-profit cat adoption agency in Western New York had his back. The Ten Lives Club posted a message to social media after the game saying, “WE STAND WITH TYLER BASS. DON’T BULLY OUR FRIEND.” The group, which Bass has worked with in the past, called for fans to show their support for the kicker by pledging donations to the organization in the amount of $22 in Bass’ name (Bass wears jersey No. 2 for the Bills). “Tyler doesn’t deserve any of the hate he’s receiving,” their post read. “He’s an excellent football player and an even better person who took the time to help our organization and rescue cats last year. Leave our friend alone.” People responded — big time: The Ten Lives Club says it has received over $150,000 of pledged donations. See? Why be mean when you could be kind? It pays off in ways you can’t imagine.

- Read the whole story here.

Female northern white rhinos Fatu, 19, left, and Najin, 30, right, the last two northern white rhinos on the planet, graze in their enclosure at Ol Pejeta Conservancy in Kenya in 2019. - Ben Curtis/AP
Female northern white rhinos Fatu, 19, left, and Najin, 30, right, the last two northern white rhinos on the planet, graze in their enclosure at Ol Pejeta Conservancy in Kenya in 2019. - Ben Curtis/AP

Coming back from the brink
The race to save the northern white rhino, a species so close to extinction that there are only two known left in the world, has taken a sci-fi movie-level turn. The team at the BioRescue project has successfully impregnated a southern white rhino via in vitro fertilization, creating a possible path for restoring the species. The sperm was collected from a southern white rhinoceros named Athos, who lives at Zoo Salzburg in Austria. The egg cells were retrieved from Elenore, a southern white rhinoceros living in the Pairi Daiza Zoo in Belgium. The samples were then transferred to Italy and fertilized in vitro. Sadly, the mother rhino acting as a surrogate was found dead last November of what scientists suspect was a bacterial infection. However, she was pregnant when she died – proof that the IVF Hail Mary had worked. Now, those involved in the project are in the process of finding another surrogate and are confident they can try again.

Read the whole story here.

Raise a glass to …

Actor Lily Gladstone attends the 14th Governors Awards in Los Angeles, California. - Mario Anzuoni/Reuters
Actor Lily Gladstone attends the 14th Governors Awards in Los Angeles, California. - Mario Anzuoni/Reuters

Actress Lily Gladstone. Yes, she’s earned vast critical acclaim for her work in the film “Killers of the Flower Moon.” Yes, she has built some beautiful advocacy and pride for the Blackfeet Reservation in northwestern Montana where she grew up. Yes, she’s a rising indigenous film icon. That’s all amazing! But she is also one of the few, the proud, the people who can say they are living up to their high school yearbook superlatives! A photo has been circulating from Gladstone’s Class of 2004 high school yearbook, originally posted by the actress herself, in which she was heralded as “most likely to win an Oscar.” Given that she was just nominated for one, it’s pretty spot-on.

Read the whole story here.

(PS — You better hope my high school yearbook superlative doesn’t come true or I’m gonna be president and then you’ll all be sorry.)

Hear, hear!

It’s more than right. It’s what I view as the standard and first things first is you have to have a world where you’ve got to be willing to be vulnerable enough to say the word ‘love,’ to say, “We do this because we love our brothers,” and when you use that term, I think it takes these guys to a place where they think about brotherhood and teammates and what that means to them, almost as a family member.

- Minnesota Vikings head coach Kevin O’Connell on leading with love and empathy in the NFL

Football isn’t exactly known for its lovey-dovey vibes, but I am so enchanted by this interview CNN’s Poppy Harlow did with Kevin O’Connell. Though the Vikings missed the playoffs this year, 38-year-old O’Connell had a lot of refreshingly un-ironic things to say about the power of love. Another good one from the interview, which is definitely worth your time:

When you build things the right way and people trust you, they know you’re going to be the same guy every day. They know you’re going to hold them accountable.”

We love healthy masculinity!

Shameless animal video

The smell of popcorn was just too irresistible for this baby moose, who wandered into a Kenai, Alaska movie theater to get a snack.

See you next week!

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