Country Life Today: Why the search is on for Britain’s shiniest grass

How solar energy will work far better with shiny grass; a barbecue that set fire to a nature reserve; and the best qualified lifeguard in history.

Wanted: Britain’s shiniest grass

The future viability of solar panels could rest not so much on our number of sunshine hours, but instead on finding shinier grass to make the most of new ‘bi-facial’ panels capable of harvesting sunlight from above and below.

Lightsource BP, a subsidiary of BP which focuses on solar energy, has been working with seed growers in Norfolk to find the shiniest possible varieties, following a promising test on the lush green grassland of Northern Ireland.

‘What we don’t know at this stage is whether the best grass will prove to be a wide-blade cattle-grazing grass or a finer golf course variety,’ says Chris Buckland, the company’s technical director.

Full story (The Guardian)

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This video will make you wonder how anyone ever survives a lightning strike

The boat’s owner, Drew Plominski, had been prepping the craft for a year to take part in an ocean race. Needless to say, he’s now had to pull out.

Full story (Boston Globe)

Add indoor air pollution to the list of things that keep you up at night

You know how the room feels so much better when you let in some fresh air? It turns out that’s because of all the people around you breathing too much.  ‘COin bedrooms and offices may affect cognition and cause kidney and bone problems,’ reports The Guardian, as they discuss research from a team led by Dr Michael Hernke of the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Offices, classrooms, trains, planes and bedrooms all reach the 1,000 parts per million concentration where trouble could start, apparently.

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‘Traditionally, the team say, it had been thought that CO2 levels would need to reach a very high concentration of at least 5,000 parts per million (ppm) before they would affect human health. But a growing body of research suggests CO2 levels as low as 1,000ppm could cause health problems, even if exposure only lasts for a few hours.’

Full story (The Guardian)

Stat of the Day


The number of rivets which had to be replaced in the Super Submarine Spitfire currently being prepared for a round-the-world trip to mark the 80th anniversary of the world’s most famous fighter plane. Work on the plane — which has been done out in all-silver — is progressing well, though engineers are currently having trouble working out how to fit the iPad and USB charger ports which will be used for navigation.

Full story (Daily Telegraph)

The barbecue that burned down a nature reserve

The Bournemouth Echo reports that a disposable barbecue is the most likely cuprit for the blaze at Alder Hills Nature Reserve. Experts say the damage is so bad that the reserve could take 20 years to recover.

Full story (Bournemouth Echo)

And finally… If you’re going to almost drown while on holiday, try to do it when a swimming world champion is on the same beach

Italian swimming star Filippo Magnini — twice a world champion, and an Olympic bronze medallist — rescued a man from drowning this week while on holiday in Sardinia with his girlfriend. One of Magnini’s fellow sun-worshippers, Andrea Benedetto, apparently got into trouble at Cala Sinzias, and found himself being hailed out of the water by the 37-year-old.

Filippo Magnini: 'I did what I had to do.'

Filippo Magnini: ‘I did what I had to do.’

‘I just did what I had to,’ the swimmer told Italian sports newspaper Corriere dello Sport.

‘The bather was in a lot of trouble: he was quite frightened, he was really stuck and had swallowed some seawater.

‘When I reached him he wasn’t even able to speak, and it wasn’t easy to lift him on to the raft, so we laid him on an airbed that some other bathers had nearby.’

Full story (Daily Mail)