Young happy couple sitting on blankets in bed at home, giving presents and clinking glasses with rose champagne over fruits and a Valentine's Day gift on the bed, top view.
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Love is in the air! Valentine’s Day is just around the corner, and Nice News wants to help you make this year’s celebration a memorable one, no matter who’s on your shopping list. Though it’s widely marketed as a day for romance, the holiday isn’t just for those in relationships: It’s an opportunity to spoil or surprise anyone you’re fond of — whether they’re your mom, your best friend, your grandchild, your sweetheart, or the friendly grocery store security guard who sees you to your car safely each week. 

Everyone appreciates being thought of as someone special, so keep scrolling for our roundup of 25 Valentine’s Day gift ideas, featuring affordable options, delicious delights, luxurious items, and much more. 

Under $25

Anecdote Candles 

Bistro Tile Monogram Old Fashioned Glass 

The Good Life: Lessons From the World’s Longest Scientific Study of Happiness
*Also available from independent booksellers on Biblio

We’re Not Really Strangers Adult Card Game: Couples Edition

Gaiam Yoga Mats

Magnetic Poetry Kit

Gift Republic 100 Things to Do Bucket List Scratch Poster

Under $50

See’s Candies Chocolate Boxes

Herbivore Botanical Bath Ritual Soak + Soften Set 

Heart-Shaped Cordless Magic Bulb Light 

TruffleHunter Black, White, and English Truffle Oil Set

Little Words Project Custom Inspirational Bracelets

The Five Minute Journal by Intelligent Change

Under $100

Fresh Sends Flower Subscription 

Marcato Manual Pasta Maker From Italy

AromaTech Essential Oils Santal & Love Affair Set

Click & Grow Indoor Herb Garden Kit With Grow Light

Fellow Clara Coffee French Press 

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GiftRocket.com Spa or Restaurant Gift Certificates

Under $200

Lovebox Note Messenger

Brilliant Earth Crescent Diamond Bracelet 

Everdure CUBE Portable Charcoal Grill

Victrola Bluetooth Record Player With Built-In Speakers

Couples Camera Set 

Eberjey Pajama Sets 

RELATED: The Science of Great Gift-Giving: How to Select the Best Presents, According to Research

Puppy tilts head and crosses paws lying on sofa
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Just like us, dogs use body language to communicate: Their emotions are known to be seen via their tails, stances, and eyes. But what about those endearing head tilts they give when we’re speaking to them? According to scientists, they may also be telling us something.

Beyond looking cute, head tilts can be a sign your dog is trying to listen. “It’s believed that dogs tilt their heads as a way to orient sounds,” Dr. Ragen McGowan, an animal behavior scientist at Purina, told USA Today in July. “They may be positioning their heads and ears in a way that helps them better determine where a sound is coming from.” 

In other words, those tilted heads may be their way of saying, “I’m all ears!” McGowan did note, though, that sometimes humans encourage behaviors they find cute (like head tilts) by giving treats and extra affection, reinforcing the canine mannerism. 

RELATED: For Certain Small Animals, Time Flies Faster: Here’s Why

That said, if you’ve noticed your dog tends to head-tilt when you say a certain word, that may not be a coincidence. 

A  2021 study published in Animal Cognition showed that tilted heads may be linked to dogs “processing relevant, meaningful stimuli.” Specifically, dogs might move their heads subtly to the left upon hearing a familiar word, like the name of a toy, or seeing an object that triggers a memory. 

Researchers analyzed 40 dogs and placed them in two categories — “gifted word learner” (GWL) and “typical” — based on how they acted when the owner requested a specific toy. All the dogs in the study went through the same training program and were familiarized with the spoken object names; 33 were “typical” dogs (18 of which were border collies) and seven were GWL dogs (all border collies). 

“Only a few dogs can learn the name of objects (toys) even after a few exposures, while most (typical) dogs do not,” the study explained. 

The findings revealed the “gifted word learner” dogs tilted their heads more than the “typical” dogs (43% to 2%) when they heard a request for a toy. Therefore, the team suggested that the “difference in the dogs’ behavior might be related to hearing meaningful words (for the GWL dogs) and could be a sign of increased attention.”

More research needs to be done, but the study of head tilts could pave the way to answering more questions about how dogs learn and live. 

“The next step is asking more questions to get at what the head tilt really means,” Monique Udell, a human-animal interaction researcher at Oregon State University, told Science. “Can we use head tilting to predict word-learning aptitude, or attention, or memory?”

While every dog is different, with a unique style of body language, head tilts are one of the many physical cues that can help owners better understand how their pups experience the world — and us.

Close-up image of female person giving snack to a dog outdoors.
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Are humans inherently good or inherently selfish? Philosophers stretching back to the times of Socrates and Plato have debated human nature and its complexities. But only in recent decades have scientists and researchers started to pull back the layers on this complicated question. According to Scientific American, a set of studies conducted in 2012 by Harvard and Yale researchers determined that humans instinctively want to cooperate with others. Now, new research shows that humanity’s altruism extends to other species as well, and both our affinity and empathy for animals may begin at an early age. 

In a study conducted at the University of Michigan’s child lab and published on January 16 in the journal Human-Animal Interactions, researchers examined whether toddler-age children would help dogs that wanted treats or toys that were just out of reach. A total of 97 children, 2 and 3 years old, participated in an experiment in which they were introduced to a friendly dog that was confined to an enclosure, with toys and treats placed outside of the pups’ reach. 

The children helped 50% of the time when the animal expressed interest in the treat or toys. Meanwhile, they helped only 26% of the time if the dog ignored the item. Interestingly, children who lived with a pet dog were more likely to help in providing the item to the dog. Throughout the study, researchers recognized that the toddlers, even at their young ages, understood the dogs’ plights and also felt compelled to act without any reward in return. 

Tatsiana Volkava/ iStock

“These findings lend support to our hypothesis that children’s early-developing proclivities for goal-reading and prosociality extend beyond humans to other animals,” the study authors wrote. 

In an interview with The Guardian, Henry Wellman, a senior author on the study at the University of Michigan, explained how the team’s recent research casts human behavior in a new light. “It’s been known for a long time that toddlers will go out of their way to help struggling humans, even strangers. [The study shows] it applies to other animals too, like dogs they will never see again,” he told the outlet.

On a larger scale, the study could provide insight into animal domestication and “how human capabilities for interspecies care evolved,” per the study. For years, researchers have been perplexed by the mystery of why early humans decided to domesticate animals. Perhaps, one reason is due to this early fundamental state of caring. 

Dr. Rachna Reddy, lead author of the study, told The Guardian, “Animal domestication was really advantageous to human survival. It really enabled us to live and thrive, there’s a huge evolutionary benefit,” adding: “Why we came to domesticate animals is a big mystery, and this is one piece of evidence that might help us to understand that mystery.”

While the study focused solely on canines, the researchers mentioned that future studies would need to be done to examine how they react to other species like barnyard animals or cats. 

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Dogs and other pets are often a great help to older adults when it comes to companionship and overall well-being. However, illnesses and long hospital stays can complicate pet care, an issue Carie Broecker has been familiar with for over a decade. 

Broecker, who lives on California’s central coast, has long worked in animal rescue, and about 13 years ago adopted out one of the dogs she had been fostering to a woman named Alice. Five years later, when Alice developed emphysema, she reached back out to Broecker for help. Broecker stepped in to care for the beloved pet, named Savannah, while her owner went to medical appointments. 

Eventually, Alice was moved to hospice care. But rather than finding peace in her final days, she was consumed with worry about what would happen to her dog.

“I said, ‘I promise I will make sure that Savannah finds a good home,’” Broecker told CNN in July. “She was so relieved that I could make that promise to her.”

Witnessing the struggles both Alice and Savannah faced gave her an idea. “I remember it clear as day,” she said. “The whole concept of Peace of Mind Dog Rescue came to me: the name, and that we would take in dogs from senior citizens who were dying.”

In 2009, she brought her plan to fruition, co-founding Peace of Mind Dog Rescue with her friend, Monica Rua, who came up with another way the nonprofit could help: The women would also rescue senior dogs from shelters. 

“Carie and I had volunteered together at another dog rescue, and I was always heartbroken to see older dogs passed over or having a harder time in that environment,” Rua explained to The Washington Post in October. 

Since it was founded more than a decade ago, the organization, which has around 1,300 volunteers, has paired families with around 3,000 dogs and helped 2,000 more stay at home by assisting owners with tasks like daily walks through an offshoot called Helping Paw. Funded in part by a grant from the Animal Welfare and Assistance Group, the program also offers financial assistance to older adults, individuals in hospice care, and other people who are struggling to provide for their pets. 

These days, Broeker lives with her own four furry friends of advanced ages: Buddy, Sneakers, Conga, and Abbey, all rescued through Peace of Mind. She and her husband also publish a magazine called the Coastal Canine.

“We want to give dogs — and their owners — dignity in their older years,” Broecker told the Post of her work, later adding: “They deserve every kindness.”

Click here if you’d like to donate to Peace of Mind Dog Rescue

Mother is checking her daughters' diabetes by monitoring blood glucose.
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In November, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved the first preventative treatment for type 1 diabetes, a major step forward for those who have the lifelong illness. Now, individuals and families are beginning to reap the benefits of the breakthrough medication. 

According to the American Diabetes Association, roughly 1.9 million people in the U.S. were living with type 1 diabetes as of 2019. Though the onset of the disease usually occurs during childhood or adolescence, it can develop in adults as well. Called Tzield, the new treatment was developed by pharmaceutical companies ProventionBio and Sanofi, and is approved for people ages 8 and older who are in stage 2 of the illness to stop it from progressing. 

“We really have no preventative measure for type 1 diabetes to date,” Dr. Robert Gabbay, chief scientific and medical officer for the Association, told CNN after the approval. He added: “Finally, there is something that delays the onset of type 1 diabetes, and it’s so exciting.”

RELATED: Breakthrough Non-Hormonal Hot Flash Medications Could Soon Be Approved

The medication works by interrupting the autoimmune response caused by the disease, in which immune cells attack and destroy insulin-producing beta cells in the pancreas. Insulin helps blood sugar enter other cells, where it is then used for energy. In trials, Tzield delayed progression of the disease by slightly more than two years in most participants, though some saw benefits that lasted far longer. 

Mikayla Olsten entered a clinical trial for the drug at age 15, after a screening showed that she had four out of five types of autoantibodies that point to a person’s risk of developing the disease. Her sister had been diagnosed at age 9 with a “life-threatening” case of diabetic ketoacidosis, commonly associated with stage 3. Today, Olsten is 21 years old, and her condition hasn’t progressed in six years, her mother shared with CNN.

Joseph Rubash, an 11-year-old from Minnesota recently became the second person in the country to receive the treatment outside of clinical trials. The young boy is in stage 2 of the disease, meaning he does not yet need to take daily insulin shots, which typically begin in stage 3, according to a November press release by Provention Bio

“Every day without insulin, every day without having a high blood sugar, low blood sugar or hooked up to the pump is a gift,” his father, Joe Rubash, told Sanford Health, the largest rural health system in the United States, this month. His son began his course of treatment, which is given by intravenous infusion over 14 days, at a Sanford location about 30 minutes from the family’s home. 

“The future is full of hope,” Joseph’s mother Brenda added. “When we look at something like Tzield, we never imagined that would be possible. We hoped for it, but now there’s an intervention. We can do something potentially to delay that onset. And who knows in that two years what’s going to happen? What’ll be developed next to maybe further protect those cells?”

an illustration of NASA's asteroid hunter telescope in space
NASA/JPL-Caltech/University of Arizona

NASA is making big leaps in its goal of protecting Earth from cosmic threats. The space agency is currently working on a new telescope, dubbed the “next-generation asteroid hunter,” which promises to be a “game-changer” in identifying hazardous near-Earth objects.

In December, NASA announced in a press release that construction had begun on its Near-Earth Object Surveyor (NEO Surveyor) and outlined its goals for the telescope. The organization will send the device into space, to L1 Lagrange Point — 1 million miles from Earth, between our planet and the sun. Using two infrared heat sensors, NEO Surveyor will be able to identify both dark asteroids and comets and what NASA refers to as “Earth Trojans.”

Dark asteroids are currently harder to detect since they don’t reflect as much light. Likewise, Earth Trojans are cosmic bodies that travel from the direction of the sun. Due to the sun’s glare, it’s difficult for astronomers to identify these possible threats. Fortunately, NEO Surveyor would be able to spot these potential dangers, giving NASA early detection capabilities.

“For the first time in our planet’s history, Earth’s inhabitants are developing methods to protect Earth by deflecting hazardous asteroids,” Amy Mainzer, the mission’s survey director, said in a statement. “But before we can deflect them, we first need to find them. NEO Surveyor will be a game-changer in that effort.”

RELATED: NASA’s James Webb Telescope Delivers Deepest and Sharpest Infrared Image of Space

According to Cosmos Magazine, Earth is pummeled by 17 meteors each day, around 6,100 a year. Most of these pose little risk to humans, falling in uninhabited areas. In 2005, NASA made it its mission to identify 90% of near-Earth objects that are more than 460 feet in size and within 30 million miles of our orbit — objects that pose a significant risk should they impact the planet. 

Last year, the organization demonstrated its first planetary defense test against an asteroid, successfully changing its trajectory. NASA is no longer leaving Earth’s chances up to a game of blindly playing cosmic dodgeball, and NEO Surveyor is the next step in its plans.

So when should we expect the asteroid telescope to take to the stars? According to USA Today, it will be set to launch by June 2028. Back in November, the project passed a key technical and programmatic review milestone. But although construction is underway, it will take some time to complete. 

“The project team, including all of our institutional and industrial collaborators, is already very busy designing and fabricating components that will ultimately become flight hardware,” Tom Hoffman, NEO Surveyor project manager, said in the press release.

It won’t be long before NASA has a better surveillance of what is going on in our cosmic backyard. Cue audible sigh of relief.

A male Fender's Blue Butterfly with green background. Wings are closed.
GarysFRP / Getty Images

While it’s always a sad occasion when an animal goes extinct (such as the case of the Western black rhino in 2011), conservation efforts can revitalize a dying species and bring it back from the brink. Such is the case with Fender’s blue butterfly: The Oregon native species is moving off the endangered species list in February.

In a January 11 press release, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service revealed the butterfly species will now be reclassified as threatened as its population has boosted in recent years. According to the Federal Register, a species is classified as endangered when it has a decline in population due to one of five factors: threatened destruction or modification of habitat; threat from disease or predation; overkilling for commercial, recreational, educational, or scientific reasons; the inability to regulate its numbers as a species; or external threats, whether natural or manmade. 

“This is a tremendous success story — to go from nearly extinct to on the road to recovery,” said Craig Rowland, Oregon Fish & Wildlife Service state supervisor, in the press release. “We’ve only reached this point of being able to downlist because of successful partnerships with landowners, conservation agencies, businesses, other agencies, and the work of our national wildlife refuges to conserve Fender’s butterfly. This is yet another species that is making incredible strides in Oregon.”

Jeff Dillon/USFWS

There was a time when many thought the butterfly species had gone the way of the dodo bird. The Fender’s blue butterfly was initially thought to have gone extinct in 1937, but a small population was discovered in 1989. 

According to the Statesman Journal, less than 4,000 were believed to be alive when the species was placed on the endangered species list in 2000. But in a 2016 census, according to the news site, that number had blossomed to 29,000. Today, the Fender’s blue butterfly inhabits twice the acreage it did when it was classified as endangered and the “number of occupied sites has quadrupled,” per the press release. The species can be found in Lane, Linn, Washington, Benton, Polk, and Yamhill counties. 

The U.S. Fish & Wildlife thanked private landowners for the “key role” they played in revitalizing the butterfly’s population. At least 17 individuals signed Safe Harbor Agreements, in which they agreed to certain regulations and rules to preserve the species’ habitat. According to the Statesman Journal, thousands of Kincaid’s lupine were planted, which the butterflies need to survive. 

Quinn Read, Oregon policy director at the Center for Biological Diversity, told the outlet, “This little butterfly was nearly lost to Oregon, but now we can celebrate its recovery along with the 50th anniversary of the landmark law that saved this species.”

Still, there is more work to be done. While the Fender’s blue butterfly may no longer meet the endangered species criteria, they will remain on the threatened species list due to the ongoing threat caused by the loss of habitats.

Shot of an unrecognisable businesswoman sitting alone and using her computer while working from home
Delmaine Donson / iStock

Many of us spend large portions of our days sitting — whether we’re working, watching television, or participating in a hobby like reading or painting. While it may not come as a shock that staying seated for extended periods isn’t great for your health, a new study out of Columbia University suggests that the detrimental impact may be easily offset with a simple activity. 

Published on January 12 in the journal Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, the research determined that breaking up each half-hour of sitting with a light, five-minute walk significantly reduced systolic blood pressure (the pressure in your arteries when your heart beats) and lowered blood sugar levels throughout the day.

In a news release from Columbia University Irving Medical Center, lead author Keith Diaz, who is the director of the institution’s Exercise Testing Laboratory at the Center for Behavioral Cardiovascular Health, likened the decrease in blood pressure to results “you would expect from exercising daily for six months.” 

RELATED: One-Minute Bursts of Exercise Three Times a Day Are Linked to a Longer Life, Study Finds

The study was small: Diaz and his team tested 11 individuals. Each was “prescribed” five different exercise “snacks” throughout eight-hour periods of sitting in an ergonomic chair. In addition to testing out one-minute treadmill walks every hour and five-minute walks every half-hour, participants also tried one-minute walks every half-hour, five-minute walks every hour, and no walking at all. 

“If we hadn’t compared multiple options and varied the frequency and duration of the exercise, we would have only been able to provide people with our best guesses of the optimal routine,” Diaz, who is also an associate professor of behavioral medicine at the university, said in the release. The one-minute-per-hour and five-minute-per-half-hour walks came out on top in terms of physical health impact, but all of the walking regimens resulted in decreased fatigue and increased mood. 

“The effects on mood and fatigue are important,” said Diaz. “People tend to repeat behaviors that make them feel good and that are enjoyable.”

RELATED: Doctors in England Can Now Prescribe Walking, Cycling to Improve Mental and Physical Health

And that behavior doesn’t require a ton of effort. Speaking to CNN, the researcher said the walks can be as leisurely as just 1.9 miles an hour and still make a difference, a speed he referred to as much slower than most people typically walk.

Noting that “so many” people live sedentary lives — 25% of Americans are not active at all — he went on to stress that employers should also take note of the detrimental effects of prolonged sitting.

“There are these social norms where if you are up out of your desk, people think you’re not working,” he told the outlet, adding, “Sitting is an occupational hazard and a healthy employee is a more productive employee.”

So if you find yourself feeling down about how much time you spend in a chair or on the couch each day, know that improving your health and mood doesn’t require a complete lifestyle overhaul. For more ideas on how to incorporate simple movement into your daily routine, check out these tips

Close up of Nurse shark swimming in aquarium seabed. Ginglymostoma cirratum species in the family Ginglymostomatidae. Living in the Atlantic Ocean and Eastern Pacific
bennymarty / iStock

A study run by scientists from New England Aquarium’s Anderson Cabot Center for Ocean Life has found that some sharks are creatures of habit when it comes to breeding, and over a surprisingly long time span. The research, the world’s longest-running study of shark mating habits, also revealed other aspects of their mating behaviors.

Published in PLOS ONE in October, the study focused on the long-term behaviors of adult nurse sharks, in particular. One of the more surprising revelations? The nurse sharks were routinely returning to the same breeding grounds for nearly three decades.

As noted by Harold “Wes” Pratt, lead author of the study, via a press release: “When we started observing sharks at this site in the early 1990s, we could’ve never guessed that some of those same animals would still be mating here into the 2020s.”

The study also expanded information available about how long this species of slow-moving bottom feeders typically lives. Sharks observed appeared to be returning to the site well into their 40s and potentially longer, a surprising yet exciting insight as “nurse sharks were only thought to live for about 24 years,” the press release notes.  

pniesen / iStock

The study furthermore posits that “mating site use may be vital to species management.” According to Dr. Nick Whitney, one of the study’s co-authors and also a scientist with the aquarium, their environments play a critical role in shark reproduction. The site being monitored for the study is located in Dry Tortugas, Florida, where the female sharks enter its shallow waters to prepare for birth. The site is long-known to be an important breeding location for the nurse sharks.

However, Hurricane Ian may have forever altered the landscape of the site and its ability to serve as a breeding ground for the species — unknowns that remain to be seen.

“The longevity of these animals and the fact that sharks were first seen mating here in the 1800s suggest that this area is very important to their life cycle,” Dr. Whitney explained. “That’s why we’re concerned about the impact of the hurricane on these sharks and this site.”

“We have seen changes to the study site over the years from shifting sands caused by waves and storms, but this direct hit from Hurricane Ian appears to have altered the landscape dramatically,” according to Pratt, who added that the team doesn’t know “if it will still have the perfect combination of shallow, warm, still water with sandy bottom that seems to make it appealing to the sharks.”

The researchers are in the process of seeking funding so that they may return to the site in 2023 and determine to what extent the extreme weather event has impacted the shark population. Hopes remain high that both the study site and the sharks who frequent it will find a way to recover.

Cody Powers, Bloomberg Philanthropies

It might seem too easy, but some colorful paint and a little bit of creativity could be all that’s needed to transform roads and make them safer for pedestrians, cyclists, and drivers alike. Cities around the country have begun investing in asphalt art — painting murals on intersections, crosswalks, plazas, and sidewalk extensions. 

The Asphalt Art Initiative was created in 2020 by Bloomberg Philanthropies. Within its first year,  it helped cover “nearly 86,500 square feet of streets with artwork in 16 [U.S.] cities,” according to a news release by the City of East Providence, Rhode Island. It’s since expanded its grant program, and has now supported a total of 64 art projects in U.S. and European cities.

Cody Powers, Bloomberg Philanthropies

In April of 2022, the organization published research demonstrating just how much of an impact the colorful transformations have had. Data showed that implementing asphalt art projects led to a 50% decrease in the rate of crashes involving pedestrians or other vulnerable road users, a 37% decrease in the rate of crashes leading to injuries, and a 17% decrease in the overall crash rate. 

“It forces you to stop and look at your street differently,” Janette Sadik-Khan, New York City’s former transportation commissioner, told NBC News of asphalt art. “Drivers, when they see color and life on the street, they naturally slow down.” 

In an October news release announcing that Asphalt Art Initiative grants had been awarded to 19 European cities, she added: “Projects like these not only connect people, but make streets safer, and we encourage cities everywhere to paint their own transportation masterpieces.”

Eric Waters, Bloomberg Philanthropies
Matt Eich, Bloomberg Philanthropies
Jason Alden, Bloomberg Philanthropies
Volunteers help to paint the design of local artist Candy Carver as part of Bloomberg Philanthropies’ Asphalt Art Initiative at the Club Crossing intersection in Durham, NC
Travis Dove, Bloomberg Philanthropies
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A similar program out of Washington D.C., called Arts in the Right-of-Way and launched by the city’s District Department of Transportation, has also been adding color to crosswalks and curbs since 2019, according to People for Bikes. The program offers a design guide to help residents learn how to paint asphalt safely and without breaking any city ordinances, and provides an “art map” on its website for those who wish to visit the painted locations around town. 

Sean Carroll, Bloomberg Philanthropies

In addition to cultivating community and promoting safety, the colorful streets add an element of beauty to once-gray pavement — and who couldn’t use an extra dose of brightness while taking a walk or drive around town?