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Joy

10 things that made us smile this week

Upworthy's weekly roundup of joy.

man and kitten playing guitar, kid in Bowser costume singing at piano, flying squirrel playing dead under broom handle

This week's list of delights includes some award-worthy performances.

What do you get when you combine a beautiful gentle parenting interaction, a whole school singing along with a 7-year-old performing "Peaches" in a Bowser costume and a flying squirrel pretending to be attacked by a broom?

You get this week's 10 things that made us smile, of course.

We hope you get as much joy and delight from these fabulous finds as we did. Enjoy!


1. 7-year-old performs 'Peaches' from 'The Super Mario Bros. Movie' and the crowd went wild

The song was originally performed by Jack Black, and it shot up the charts. Love how the kid played off the audience's enthusiasm.

2. Mom shares her autistic son's joy at attending a 'sensory friendly' showing of "The Little Mermaid"

Sometimes inclusivity means welcoming everyone into a space and sometimes it means creating spaces where everyone can feel welcome. Find out more about sensory-friendly film showings from major theater chains here.

3. Story of a troubled kid transformed by kindness and art holds important lessons for us all

Swipe through to read the whole story. A good reminder that hurt people hurt people, and that sometimes "bad" kids need people to see the good in them and to help them see it themselves.

4. Man reunites with firefighter who saved his life when he was 2 years old and introduces him to his own 2-year-old son

A beautiful full-circle moment. Read the full story here.

5. Flying squirrel repeatedly fakes its own death by broom handle

Not a headline you see every day, but that's the only way to describe it. Absolutely an Oscar-worthy performance. Read the full story here.

6. Someone captured a dad creating a core childhood memory for his daughter at a concert

Here's to the dedicated dads who delight in dancing with their daughters.

7. This owl's legs. That is all.

Owls look so dignified and regal until you see the silly pantalooned legs they're hiding under their feathers.

8. Woman has the best response to people telling her she was too old for outfits she was trying on

@jessicabuwick

Thank you for coming #graudation #graduationdresses #formaldresses

Jessica Buwick's initial video was a comical showing of outfits that didn't work either because they were too short or tight or the style was too confusing to wear, and some people decided to be critical of her choices…of the things she didn't wear. Both videos are hilarious. See the full story here.

9. Mom shares a beautiful example of 'connection then correction' with her 4-year-old who was acting out

Gentle, conscious parenting for the win.

10. Kitten-on-a-guitar needs to be a whole new musical genre

@xiagopluscami

Practicando con thiaguin. #thiago #xiagopluscami #gatitobebe #algocontigo #cover #acustico #algocontigoritapayes #guitarra #naranjito #

I don't know about you, but I would pay good money to see this concert.

That's it for this week! If you don't want to go searching for these posts each week and would like them delivered right to you instead, sign up for our free newsletter, The Upworthiest, here.

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Scientists tested 3 popular bottled water brands for nanoplastics using new tech, and yikes

The results were alarming—an average of 240,000 nanoplastics per 1 liter bottle—but what does it mean for our health?

Suzy Hazelwood/Canva

Columbia University researchers tested bottled water for nanoplastics and found hundreds of thousands of them.

Evian, Fiji, Voss, SmartWater, Aquafina, Dasani—it's impressive how many brands we have for something humans have been consuming for millennia. Despite years of studies showing that bottled water is no safer to drink than tap water, Americans are more consuming more bottled water than ever, to the tune of billions of dollars in bottled water sales.

People cite convenience and taste in addition to perceived safety for reasons they prefer bottle to tap, but the fear factor surrounding tap water is still a driving force. It doesn't help when emergencies like floods cause tap water contamination or when investigations reveal issues with lead pipes in some communities, but municipal water supplies are tested regularly, and in the vast majority of the U.S., you can safely grab a glass of water from a tap.

And now, a new study on nanoplastics found in three popular bottled water brands is throwing more data into the bottled vs. tap water choice.

Researchers from Columbia University used a new laser-guided technology to detect nanoplastics that had previously evaded detection due to their miniscule size. The new technology can detect, count and analyze and chemical structure of nanoparticles, and they found seven different major types of plastic: polyamide, polypropylene, polyethylene, polymethyl methacrylate, polyvinyl chloride, polystyrene, and polyethylene terephthalate.

In contrast to a 2018 study that found around 300 plastic particles in an average liter of bottled water, the study published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences in January of 2024 found 240,000 nanoplastic particles per liter bottle on average between the three brands studied. (The name of the brands were not indicated in the study.)

As opposed to microplastics, nanoplastics are too small to be seen by microscope. Their size is exactly why experts are concerned about them, as they are small enough to invade human cells and potentially disrupt cellular processes.

“Micro and nanoplastics have been found in the human placenta at this point. They’ve been found in human lung tissues. They’ve been found in human feces; they’ve been found in human blood,” study coauthor Phoebe Stapleton, associate professor of pharmacology and toxicology at Rutgers University’s Ernest Mario School of Pharmacy told CNN Health,

We know that nanoplastics are making their way into our bodies. We just don't have enough research yet on what that means for our health, and we still have more questions than answers. How many nanoplastics does it take to do damage and/or cause disease? What kinds of damage or disease might they cause? Is whatever effect they might have cumulative? We simply don't have answers to these questions yet.

That's not to say there's no cause for concern. We do know that certain levels of microplastic exposure have been shown to adversely affect the viability of cells. Nanoplastics are even smaller—does that mean they are more likely to cause cellular damage? Science is still working that out.

According to Dr. Sara Benedé of the Spanish National Research Council’s Institute of Food Science Research, it's not just the plastics themselves that might cause damage, but what they may bring along with them. “[Microparticles and nanoparticles] have the ability to bind all kinds of compounds when they come into contact with fluids, thus acting as carriers of all kinds of substances including environmental pollutants, toxins, antibiotics, or microorganisms,” Dr. Benedé told Medical News Today.

Where is this plastic in water coming from? This study focused on bottled water, which is almost always packaged in plastic. The filters used to filter the water before bottling are also frequently made from plastic.

Is it possible that some of these nanoplastics were already present in the water from their original sources? Again, research is always evolving on this front, but microplastics have been detected in lakes, streams and other freshwater sources, so it's not a big stretch to imagine that nanoplastics may be making their way into freshwater ecosystems as well. However, microplastics are found at much higher levels in bottled water than tap water, so it's also not a stretch to assume that most of the nanoplastics are likely coming from the bottling process and packaging rather than from freshwater sources.

The reality is, though, we simply don't know yet.

“Based on other studies we expected most of the microplastics in bottled water would come from leakage of the plastic bottle itself, which is typically made of PET (polyethylene terephthalate) plastic,” lead author Naixin Qian, a doctoral student in chemistry at Columbia University, told CNN Health. “However, we found there’s actually many diverse types of plastics in a bottle of water, and that different plastic types have different size distributions. The PET particles were larger, while others were down to 200 nanometers, which is much, much smaller.”

We need to drink water, and we need to drink safe water. At this point, we have plenty of environmental reasons for avoiding bottled water unless absolutely necessary and opting for tap water instead. Even if there's still more research to be done, the presence of hundreds of thousands of nanoplastics in bottled water might just be another reason to make the switch.

Megan Montgomery and Jason McIntosh on their wedding day

If you were to look at Megan Montgomery's Instagram account, you'd see a beautiful, smiling woman in the prime of her life, her youth and fitness the envy of women the world over. You'd even see some photos of her with her husband (#datenight), with comments saying things like "Aww, gorgeous couple!"

But beneath her picture-perfect feed was the story of a woman in an abusive relationship with her husband—one that would start with his arrest shortly after they got married, and end 10 months later with him shooting her to death in a parking lot.

In a Facebook post, one of the people who was out with Megan the night of her murder detailed how her estranged husband had come to their table, put his hand on her neck and shoulder, and escorted her out of the building.

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All GIFs and images via Exposure Labs.


Photographer James Balog and his crew were hanging out near a glacier when their camera captured something extraordinary.

They were in Greenland, gathering footage from the time-lapse they'd positioned all around the Arctic Circle for the last several years.

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Education

Unearthed BBC interview features two Victorian-era women discussing being teens in the 1800s

Frances 'Effy' Jones, one of the first women to be trained to use a typewriter and to take up cycling as a hobby, recalls life as a young working woman in London.

Two Victorian women discuss being teens in the 1800s.

There remains some mystery around what life was like in the 1800s, especially for teens. Most people alive today were not around in the Victorian era when the technologies now deemed old-fashioned were a novelty. In this rediscovered 1970s clip from the BBC, two elderly women reminisce about what it was like being teenagers during a time when the horse and buggy was still the fastest way to get around.

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Family

4-year-old's emotional intelligence is off the charts and people are giving kudos to his mom

The bedtime conversation between Aldie and his mom is incredible to witness.

Aldie knows how to articulate his emotions better than most adults.

Sometimes they even stand out from grownups. Take young Aldie, for example, whose ability to articulate his feelings exceeds many adults. When you find out he's barely 4 years old, hearing him calmly talk about his emotions and good choices is all the more remarkable.

Aldie's mom, Jonisa Padernos, tells Upworthy that she's felt he was "really special" since he started talking in full sentences at 20 months. "Believe it or not, he had no major tantrums in his toddler years because he was always able to express [himself] with his words," she says.

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We get to see the world through Mr. Kitters' eyes.

Have you ever wondered what it's like to be a cat? To watch the world from less than a foot off the ground, seeing and hearing things humans completely miss, staring out the window for hours while contemplating one of your nine lives?

Well, thanks to one person, we need wonder no more—at least about what-they're-seeing part.

The TikTok channel Mr. Kitters the Cat (@mr.kitters.the.cat) gives us a cat's-eye view of the world with a camera attached to Mr. Kitters' collar. And the result is an utterly delightful POV experience that takes us through the daily adventuring of the frisky feline as he wanders the yard.

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