“World’s loneliest plant” is looking for his match

Daily Edition • May 30, 2024


Social media trends come and go like the tide, but every so often one catches our eye as being particularly heartwarming and Nice News-worthy. Enter: the recent surge of young people filming their Gen X parents dancing to Bronski Beat’s “Smalltown Boy,” an ’80s hit. The videos are wholesome and the dance moves often hilarious, but they also encapsulate something deeper. Salon’s Gabriella Ferrigine writes that the trend has “inadvertently served as a unique reminder of our parents’ personhood, not as our guardians, but as people independent of that association.” Read her reflection and watch some of the clips.

Must Reads


Matchmaking, Nature Edition: AI Is Helping “the World’s Loneliest Plant” Find a Partner

When it comes to finding a perfect match, it can be hard out there — even for plants. Taking a cue from modern dating, researchers are harnessing artificial intelligence technology in hopes of finding a female partner for the only known Encephalartos woodii, also known as E. woodii or “the world’s loneliest plant.”

Thought to be one of the most endangered organisms in existence today, the E. woodii was discovered in South Africa in 1895. However, more than a century after being spotted and propagated in various botanical gardens for safekeeping, the plant’s offshoots haven’t been able to naturally reproduce, as no female has been found.

It mirrors a classic tale of unrequited love,” project lead Laura Cinti said in a statement. Cinti and a team of researchers at England’s University of Southampton are conducting a unique matchmaking project in which they’re scouring thousands of acres of forest using drones and AI — and they’re starting where E. woodii was first found.

“I’m hopeful there is a female out there somewhere, after all there must have been at one time,” Cinti said. “It would be amazing to bring this plant so close to extinction back through natural reproduction.” Learn more about the plant looking for a match.

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Emotional Support Helps Families in Low-Income Areas Move Neighborhoods: Study

It’s no secret moving can be stressful and expensive. And for low-income families who want to move into neighborhoods with better opportunities, it can feel downright impossible. But what if these families had a “modest amount of logistical assistance”? That’s the question a research team at MIT asked — and the answer is that a little emotional support goes a long way.

During a randomized experiment in 2018 and 2019 in the Seattle area, researchers gave low-income families housing vouchers with just over $1,500 per month. Then they divided the families into two groups, with only one of them having a “navigator” who provided customized help, explaining everything from lease agreements to how to rent a moving truck.

This personalized help proved to be transformative, as 53% of the families with a navigator made their desired move a reality, compared to 15% in the other group. Nathaniel Hendren, an MIT economist and co-author of a recent paper on the experiment, explained in a statement: “Just pairing people with [navigators] broke down search barriers and created dramatic changes in where they chose to live.”

The research prompted Congress to twice allocate $25 million — once in 2019 and again in 2022 — to run different versions in eight other metro areas; officials are still awaiting the results. See which cities have given it a try.


Gen Zers Are Reversing a Teen Employment Trend

Gen Z is bringing back 2000s fashion, digital cameras — and jobs? That’s right, according to a recent Axios report, Gen Z teens are working more than millennials did at the same age, changing up a decades-long decline.

Per data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, about 38% of teens are working or looking for work, marking a 14-year high. The rate is still low compared to when boomers and Gen Xers were growing up — it was closer to 60% in the 1980s, but the number of teens in the labor force has been “steadily falling” since, dropping especially low in the 2000s.

Several factors are said to be contributing to the current uptick in teen employment, including higher wages and the need to support families amid inflation. Luckily, there’s been an increase in supply alongside the demand: Employers are expected to add 1.3 million summer jobs for teens in the coming months.

Jean Twenge, a psychologist and author of Generations, explained that teens working is an overall good thing. “There is something lost when there are more young people who enter the workforce after college with no work experience,” she said. “When they learn those lessons about how important it is to show up on time and do a good job and sometimes you have to listen to the boss, all of it builds conscientiousness for later in life.” Check out a list of places hiring for part-time summer jobs.

In Other News

  1. Yale University has a new president, Maurie D. McInnis, and she’s the first woman to hold the role on a permanent basis.
  2. The federal government is partnering with 21 states to upgrade the nation’s electrical grid.
  3. A new malaria vaccine was delivered to the Central African Republic, sending officials on a mission to “reach every child at risk.”
  4. Drawings of gladiators were discovered in Pompeii, and archaeologists believe they were sketched by children who witnessed the battles in person.
  5. Sister, sister: Two adorable female lemur pups, Nova and Evie, were born at a Scottish safari park last month.

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Inspiring Story

“There it is!”

Growing up in landlocked Oklahoma, Alicia and her brother dreamed of visiting the ocean together one day. When her brother died before they had a chance to make the trip, she soaked up the special experience in his memory. Watch the moving moment.

Photo of the Day

Manhattanhenge — a phenomenon in which the setting sun aligns perfectly with the New York City grid — took place on Tuesday and Wednesday, drawing crowds of people to certain streets. Anyone who missed it, though, will have another chance in July.

HP’s New Printer Plan Is Risk-Free (and Includes Ink)

In an effort to make printing as seamless and stress-free as possible, HP is rolling out the All-In Plan. The affordable, monthly subscription includes a new printer, automatic ink replenishment, and uninterrupted printer protection backed by expedited 24/7 live support. And you can test it out for 30 days with no upfront expenses or obligations.

Odds & Ends

🚘 An iconic Porsche is going (hybrid) electric

📖 See inside the Met’s book conservation lab

🧦 Ditch the mugs and BBQ sets and get dad something different this Father’s Day*

⛰️ “Jet suits” are real — and potentially lifesaving

*Indicates a Nice News brand partnership or affiliate

Quote of the Day

“This world is but canvas to our imaginations.”


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