The week's good news: Dec. 15, 2022
When their flight was canceled, 13 strangers rented a van and went on a road trip
After their evening flight from Orlando to Knoxville was canceled earlier this month, 13 passengers decided to band together and hit the road, renting a van so they could get to Tennessee by morning. In all, 13 people decided to drive to Knoxville, including Carlos Cordero, his partner, and their daughter. "We got a really good vibe, because these are regular normal wholesome people trying to get home and having things that they need to take care of," he told CNN Travel. At the start of the trip, passenger Alanah Story pulled out her phone and asked the others to introduce themselves for a TikTok video. She chronicled the drive to her followers, who were curious about how it would go. Cordero drove most of the way, as the passengers chatted or tried to get some sleep. "Everybody was awesome," he said. "It almost went too perfect. There was no traffic. Everyone got along, everyone pitched in. It was just seamless." While the passengers caution that people need to follow their instincts and not hop into cars with strangers, they all felt safe during the drive, and many plan on keeping in touch. "I feel like this situation for me specifically kind of restored my trust in humanity a little bit," Story said.
Daughter's wish to get customers to her mom's restaurant comes true
Overnight, everything changed for Taco-Bout-Joy. This restaurant in Glenview, Illinois, is owned by sisters Joy Milan and Kack Keomanivong. On Dec. 8, Milan's daughter Isabel posted a video on TikTok of the empty restaurant, adding the caption, "It breaks my heart to see my mom watching the door every day, waiting for a customer to walk in. I wish I could give her customers for Christmas." Her TikTok quickly went viral, with thousands of people commenting that they would love to support Taco-Bout-Joy. The next day, Isabel shared an update: her video had generated a lot of interest in the restaurant, and so many orders came in they had to ask friends and family to help in the kitchen. "We're amazed by the support and we're still taking it all in," she captioned the clip. In the comments, several people said they drove for hours to try the taco shop, while others said they planned on visiting as soon as possible. The response, Isabel said, has been "incredible."
90-year-old graduates from college, 71 years after her 1st class
Joyce DeFauw is a super senior in more ways than one. The 90-year-old graduated from Northern Illinois University on Sunday, earning her bachelor's degree in general studies more than 70 years after she first enrolled in classes. "I could just jump and shout and run and howl," she told Good Morning America. DeFauw, a great-grandmother of 26, studied elementary education and home economics at NIU in the early 1950s, but dropped out after three years to get married and start a family. She never stopped thinking about her college days, and three years ago, her children encouraged her to go back to school, buying her a computer so she could start online classes in August 2019. During the hard times, DeFauw remembered how many people were rooting for her, from her professors to her classmates to her friends and family, and "I just couldn't give up," she told GMA. Her advice to others in similar circumstances is to "keep going, don't give up. You might feel like it and all that, but just hang in there because the end will come and you will be victorious."
Los Angeles County gives girl permission to have a unicorn in her backyard
A young resident of Los Angeles County officially has permission to keep a unicorn in her backyard — as soon as she can track one down. On Nov. 14, Los Angeles County Animal Care and Control received a letter from a girl named Madeline, asking for approval to keep a unicorn in her yard. "Please send me a letter in response," she added. Two weeks later, the head of the agency, Marcia Mayeda, wrote Madeline back, sending her a unicorn license "for when you can find one" and a stuffed unicorn that will have to do until then. As part of the deal, Mayeda told Madeline that any glitter she puts on her unicorn must be nontoxic and biodegradable, and she has to give the unicorn its favorite treat, watermelon, once a week.
Scientists announce major breakthrough in nuclear fusion
It was announced on Tuesday that U.S. government scientists at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory's National Ignition Facility have for the first time created a nuclear fusion reaction that produced more energy than it had consumed. This fusion ignition is "one of the most impressive scientific feats of the 21st century," Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm said. "Ignition allows us to replicate for the first time certain conditions that are found only in the stars and the sun," and "this milestone moves us one significant step closer" to having zero-carbon fusion energy "powering our society." To create nuclear fusion — essentially producing a miniature star by fusing two hydrogen atoms together to form helium and energy — the scientists pointed 192 lasers at a small container holding a pellet of deuterium-tritium fuel smaller than a peppercorn. They fired 2.05 megajoules of energy at the capsule, and the reaction returned 3.15 megajouls, or about 1.5 times more energy. Kim Budil, director of the Livermore Lab, said "very significant hurdles" remain before nuclear fusion is ready for commercial use, but she now believes it's just "a few decades" away, not 50 or 60 years, as previously expected.