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Heartwarming / Real Life Science

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  • In a poor Malawian village racked by cholera, famine, and superstition, a young boy gets kicked out of school because he can't afford the tuition. The boy, however, loves science and learning, and is determined to keep learning. So... he fishes out scraps of books from the local dumpster. He finds a book on basic electricity, and sees a picture of a windmill that generates electricity. His imagination sparked, he spends the next year and a half digging through trash cans and other stuff people have either thrown away or are about to throw away; to find the parts necessary to make his windmill. People call him mad, but his parents tell him to keep working at it. One day, the boy calls his village together (Please keep in mind, the highest technology anybody in the village owns is an AA battery and maybe a Walkman) and holds up a single light bulb attached to a windmill that looks like a reject from a Dr. Seuss book. The villagers laugh at him... UNTIL... the light bulb flickers. As the wind picks up, the rickety windmill spins, and suddenly the light bulb shines, like a single candle in the night. The stunned villagers cheer the boy wildly. Soon word of the boy's genius spreads (remember, he basically just brought his village out of the third world, a feat that whole governments sometimes fail to achieve). The new found hi-tech is used to aid in getting clean water to use for the crops, thus alleviating the devastating famine. And the kicker... the boy gets a scholarship to COLLEGE in South Africa and is called a hero by Al Gore himself. Nobody has the audacity to make up a story like this. Just Google William Kamkwamba. Better yet, here's a entry on him from The Other Wiki.
  • For all of humanity's obsession with the Robot War trope and all its related tropes, anecdotal evidence from the US military suggests that humans seem to be perfectly capable of bonding with their robotic brothers-in-arms. It doesn't even matter that the robots are not sentient or not designed to evoke a sympathetic response; humans develop attachments to them, assign personalities to them, risk their lives to save them and mourn their destruction. It kind of gives you hope that if/when true Artificial Intelligence is developed, humanity will be able to peacefully coexist with it.
    • One manufacturer of these robots has gone on to say that one of the oddest, yet hardest things he has ever seen was when he saw big, tough soldiers come to him on the verge of tears, giving him a thoroughly bomb-blast destroyed robot and begging him to fix it.
    • On a lighter note, a US Army base was thrown into chaos for a day when their million-dollar experimental bomb disposing robot vanished, at the end of the day, they learned the identity of the thieves- two soldiers on a day pass who had taken the robot fishing.
  • This Tumblr post about the drive behind space exploration and the building of the Mars rovers, especially the last line:
    the robots can say, when they made us, they called us discovery; they called us curiosity; they called us explorer; they called us spirit. they must have thought that was important. and they told us to tell you hello.
    • On a similar note, this post about how the Curiosity rover sings itself Happy Birthday every year.
      We built a little robot and called it Curiosity and flung it into the stars to go and explore places we can’t get to because its name is in our nature and then just because we could, we taught it how to sing.
  • When Opportunity was declared dead on February 13, 2019, Twitter users thanked the rover for everything, with some people starting a petition to bring her home;and there are speculations on how to repair her, by the first human missions to Mars (either by NASA, or Elon Musk's Project Starship).
  • The contents of the Voyager Golden Record. Despite our wars, our pettiness, and our greed, we look to be more than what we are, and we look for others living out there so that we can deliver to them a message from all of humanity of hope, friendship, and goodwill.
    Sumerian greeting: May all be well
    Cantonese greeting: How's everyone? Wish you peace, health and happiness
    Arabic greeting: Greetings to our friends in the stars. May time bring us together
    Hebrew Greeting: Peace.note 
    • A short message in Latin, not a greeting, but an encouragement: Per aspera ad astra; Through hardships to the stars.
  • When interviewed shortly before returning to Earth before a total of 340 days on the International Space Station, astronaut Mark Kelly said that he had most missed 'human contact' in space.
  • The Apollo 8 Mission. 1968 had been a really bad year, with the Vietnam War and many other things. Yet these three men went up there, knowingly risking their lifes, managed to become the first people to leave Earth's gravitational field... and one of the things they brought back was the photograph of an Earthrise, as seen from the Moon. TIME chose them as the Men of the Year. As the telegraph received by Borman said, "Thank you, Apollo 8. You saved 1968."
  • The plaque of the Apollo 11 moon mission reads: "Here men from the planet Earth first set foot upon the moon July 1969, A.D. We came in peace for all mankind". For all mankind.
    • President Nixon's phone call to the moon during the mission on the surface. The landing was a Moment of Awesome. The telephone call, especially for persons who value the logical and miraculous mind of man, is definitely Heartwarming.
      Hello Neil and Buzz. I'm talking to you by telephone from the Oval Room at the White House. And this certainly has to be the most historic telephone call ever made. I just can't tell you how proud we all are of what you've done. For every American, this has to be the proudest day of our lives. And for people all over the world, I am sure they too join with Americans in recognizing what an immense feat this is. Because of what you have done, the heavens have become a part of man's world. And as you talk to us from the Sea of Tranquility, it inspires us to redouble our efforts to bring peace and tranquility to Earth. For one priceless moment in the whole history of man, all the people on this Earth are truly one. One in their pride in what you have done. And one in our prayers that you will return safely to Earth.
    • The Challenger and Columbia memorials at Arlington Natl. Cemetery. "They touched the face of God" indeed.
  • During the Apollo 11 mission, scientists in NASA weren't entirely sure that the lander would be able to reconnect with the orbital craft. Two days before the landing, William Safire was asked to prepare a speech in the event that Armstrong and Aldrin became stranded on the Moon. While it thankfully never had to be delivered, it's still incredibly moving to read today.
    "Fate has ordained that the men who went to the moon to explore in peace will stay on the moon to rest in peace. These brave men, Neil Armstrong and Edwin Aldrin, know that there is no hope for their recovery. But they also know that there is hope for mankind in their sacrifice. These two men are laying down their lives in mankind's most noble goal: the search for truth and understanding. They will be mourned by their families and friends; they will be mourned by their nation; they will be mourned by the people of the world; they will be mourned by a Mother Earth that dared send two of her sons into the unknown. In their exploration, they stirred the people of the world to feel as one; in their sacrifice, they bind more tightly the brotherhood of man. In ancient days, men looked at stars and saw their heroes in the constellations. In modern times, we do much the same, but our heroes are epic men of flesh and blood. Others will follow, and surely find their way home. Man’s search will not be denied. But these men were the first, and they will remain the foremost in our hearts. For every human being who looks up at the moon in the nights to come will know that there is some corner of another world that is forever mankind."
  • Many of humankind's artifacts launched into space will survive for millions of years, possibly outlasting our civilization. Should there come a day where humanity disappears for one reason or another, our ultimately legacy will be these probes, messages, signals, and remnants sent into the unknown. Not weapons or tools of war, but explorers and messages of friendship for anyone who might be out there.
  • This video of the Jet Propulsion Lab as Curiosity lands on Mars. They start off sitting quietly, waiting with a mixture of nervousness and anticipation...and then they hear the announcement that it's landed safely and everyone just explodes with joy. Several scientists actually start jumping up and down in sheer delight.
  • Astronaut Eugene Cernan, the last man to walk on the moon, wrote his daughter's initials -TDC- in the lunar dust before they returned to earth. Just like the astronauts' footprints, they'll remain up there for millions of years. He later said he wished he'd written Tracy's name, not just her initials. Years later, astronaut/artist Alan Bean painted a picture of a large rock near the landing site where they'd climbed and taken many samples; he asked Cernan to write his daughter's name as he would have done at the site, and included it on the side of the rock. It's called Tracy's Boulder.
  • This video and this video, featuring a baby boy and a 29 year old woman respectively, both born deaf, hearing for the first time. Medical science gave them their hearing, no one who has seen these videos has failed to choke up in the good way.
  • Jonas Salk's greatest achievement was developing the vaccine for Polio, a disease so widespread and crippling in parts of the world that China had 80 million people vaccinated in 1993, and is still a big problem in third world countries. A man who could have become one of the richest scientists in the history of humanity said these words when regarding a patent "Could you patent the sun?". Because of this work, Polio went from hundreds of thousands of cases per year to about a thousand... Tens of millions of children, able to walk, because a man would rather do the right thing rather than get rich...
    • This is so heartwarming, that Jonas Salk being the original "Good Guy Greg" (a reddit macro series) is practically a meme.
  • The doctors and nurses during the SARS CoV-1 virus period, living and sleeping in wards and corridors, unable to see their families, facing an unknown and incurable disease, yet never giving up and skipping town.
    • Older Than They Think. When The Black Plague was sweeping Europe, and being a priest or nurse at the side of the thousands of dying would be a death sentence, the Church decreed that all those who stayed at the side of the dying would be given a free pass to Heaven. No one can say they didn't deserve it.
    • And with the current COVID-19 pandemic, this situation is happening again.
  • The fact that the entire world managed to set aside their differences, during the Cold War no less, to ensure the smallpox virus would never harm another person again. Best of all, in 1980, they succeeded.
  • The Antarctic Treaty, being the first international treaty after World War II that followed the policy of peaceful coexistence. Its goals are to protect the ecological balance in Antarctica, to enable scientists to do research about the continent, and also exchange their data, to encourage international cooperation, and also to use Antarctica for peaceful purposes. Mining of mineral resources was forbidden, and so were nuclear tests or any activities from the military.
    • Now, keep in mind the treaty is from 1959, and took effect in 1961. Despite the Cold War, it compromised free data exchange between Russian and American scientists (both countries signed the treaty from the beginning). It should also not be taken for granted that countries who claimed a certain piece of land for themselves, sometimes overlapping with the claims of another country, signed a treaty that forbade military action and instead researched the continent together. Despite that, the treaty is still valid and has never been broken.
  • Archeology can be heartwarming too. It is common for Archeologists to find human skeletons with deformities or disabilities that prevented a person from caring for themselves, yet many of these skeletons also indicate that the disabled people lived to old age. The only conclusion is that people as far back as the Paleolithic Era cared for and looked after the disabled members of their community.
  • The Lovers of Valdaro are two 6000-year-old skeletons found embracing each other in a lover's embrace in a Neolithic tomb in San Giorgio near Mantua, Italy, in 2007. It's speculated they were a male and female who died together at age 20. Even more heartwarming, they were not separated after excavation.
  • The Hasanlu Loverswere two skeletons from 800 B.C found in a tomb in Solduz Valley in the West Azerbaijan Province of Iran. They were found in an embrace and kissing.
  • Children during the stone age loved finger painting. Archeologists studying the Rouffignac caves discovered that one of the caverns was so covered with children's drawings of animals that they believe the area was set aside specifically for them as a playroom. Some of them are too high up on the walls for a child to reach, so an adult must have held them up or sat them on their shoulders. One of the smallest children, a two year old, was believed to have been guided by an adult while they were drawing as a kind of art lesson. The article ends beautifully with a quote:
    "What I found in Rouffignac is that the children are screaming from the walls to be heard. Their presence is everywhere. And there is a five-year-old girl constantly shouting: 'I wanna paint, I wanna paint'."
  • The Lazarus Taxon, especially the species thought to be extinct due to human causes turn out to be alive all this time.
  • Botanists discovered that a plant called the sea rocket actually shares resources with its siblings but competes with non siblings. Familial love isn't unique to the animal kingdom.
  • Humanity has a reputation for killing things, but we're the first species in the history of the Earth with not only the capacity to save other organisms from extinction, but the will to do so.
    • The Humpback Whale, which had its population decline by 90% by the 1960's, has made such a comeback that the decision was made to take it off the endangered species list in September of 2016. It's yet to reach pre-whaling numbers, but it's still an amazing recovery.
    • The Laysan Duck (a tiny, nearly flightless relative of the mallard) had its population nosedive thanks to the introduction of non-native species like rats and rabbits to the Hawaiian Islands. The record low came in 1912, when it was estimated the entire species comprised of seven adults and five ducklings. After these invaders were eradicated in the 1920's the duck's population began to recover, with populations also being reintroduced to nearby islands. If all goes according to plan, the duck could be removed from the endangered species list as early as 2019.
  • With all the politicized debate about climate change, the controversy over "greenwashing" by corporations, and the "doomers" who feel there is no real chance to stop the planet's destruction, very little media attention is being given to individuals who are already doing something. See The Al-Baydha Project, Dhun, Sambhav and the Loess Plateau Restoration Project. You can do something simply by planting native grasses, trees or bushes in your yard.