3 Good Things: Beach body positivity, a witchcraft exoneration and a map of 200 million proteins

Karlotta Freier / For The Times

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Storm the beaches

Every body is a beach body.” That’s the word from Spain, home to some of the world’s most beautiful islands and beaches. The Spanish government’s Ministry of Equality tweeted recently: “Summer is for us too. Enjoy it however, wherever and with whoever you want. Today we raise a toast to a summer for every woman, without stereotypes and without aesthetic violence against our bodies.” A poster for the ministry’s new campaign shows a diverse group of people on the sand — different body types, skin colors and ages. Yes, the Ministry of Equality actually is a thing, and yes, it should definitely make people in the United States jealous.

A little magic left in the world

An eighth-grade civics teacher and her students lobbied for three years to overturn the 1693 conviction of Elizabeth Johnson Jr., who confessed to witchcraft during the Salem trials and was sentenced to death. Until Thursday, she was the only remaining individual convicted at the Salem witch trials who had not been exonerated. Thanks to a dedicated teacher, that wrong was righted last week with a stroke of the Massachusetts governor’s pen.

Imagining 200 million building blocks of life

Mapping genomes was an exciting start. Now scientists have used artificial intelligence to interpret those DNA instructions — from humans and other animals, as well as plants, bacteria and other organisms — to guess how 200 million naturally occurring proteins are formed and shaped. That could prove to be the crucial missing link between genome data and practical applications. For instance, researchers are using AI-generated data about the shape of a protein made by the parasite that causes malaria. With that knowledge, they hope to target antibodies that could bind to the protein and halt the disease. Expect to hear a lot more from this frontier of medicine.


And one more ...

Three lifestyle choices are associated with lower risk for dementia as we age. Daily exercise is one. Another is social interactions. The third is most surprising: doing housework. Time to pull out the old chore chart....

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May 6, 2022