1) There could finally be progress on assisted dying reform

With a major House of Lords debate due on the subject on Friday, it became apparent this week that opinions have begun to shift on the question of doctor-assisted suicide in Britain. Last weekend, the former Archbishop of Canterbury, Lord Carey, revealed that he had changed his view on the issue, and this was followed by a similar revelation by the greatly-respected Archbishop Desmond Tutu.

It should be noted that many religious leaders remain steadfastly opposed, but with opinion polls showing that the majority of the public favour reform, and the government's Care minister expressing his support, the long legislative impasse could finally be coming to and end.

2) The sea around the UK is getting warmer – and exotic fish are enjoying it

If you're staying in the UK for your summer holiday, you may be pleased to hear that the waters have been hitting temperatures of up to 18 degrees, which is 2 degrees higher than the normal average. It's good news if you dislike the shock that comes with dipping into English seas, and it's also proving popular with more exotic species of fish – one group of kayakers hauled a bluefin tuna out of the water in Cornwall last week. Unfortunately for swimmers, experts think the temperatures are also attracting barrel jellyfish, with more being spotted in English waters.

3) Some parents will go to astounding lengths to please their little darlings

When Jeremy Heaton's daughter Emily asked whether she would ever be a princess, the American father decided to take the question extremely seriously – determined to make the girl's dream a reality, Heaton travelled to Bir Tawil, an area of unclaimed desert between Egypt and Sudan, planted a specially designed flag and, in his daughter's name, declared the patch of land the "Kingdom of North Sudan".

Perhaps unsurprisingly, this fatherly gesture has divided opinions. Is it a heart-warming act of love, or the indulgence of a very spoilt child? We'll leave you to decide that one for yourselves.

4) It's been a good week for Anglican women...

A long and bitter campaign came to an end this week, as the Anglican communion's General Synod finally voted to allow the ordination of women bishops. Describing it as a "historic day", the Dean of Salisbury, the Very Reverend June Osborne, suggested the vote had struck a blow for the wider cause of women's rights: "I think it's going to change our society as well because it's one more step in accepting that women are really and truly equal in spiritual authority, as well as in leadership in society."

5) ... and a good week for women in the Cabinet (but is Dave guilty of tokenism?)

If women in the Anglican church were making great strides on Monday, on Tuesday it was the turn of women in British politics, as Nicky Morgan and Liz Truss were elevated to the positions of education secretary and environment secretary, respectively. With home secretary Theresa May, international development secretary Justine Greening and Northern Ireland secretary Theresa Villiers already in place, and three further women, Esther McVey, Lady Stowell and Lady Warsi, entitled to attend Cabinet, though not as full members, there are now 8 women with seats at the highest table in the land.

Prime Minister David Cameron will hope that his reshuffle is viewed as a signal of a modern and diverse Conservative Party but, for some commentators, it's a sign of a cynical approach to diversity. As New Humanist contributor Suzanne Moore pointed out in her Guardian column, the elevation of Morgan and Truss makes the Cabinet look less male-dominated ahead of next year's election, but Cameron's party remains dominated by white, middle-aged men.

6) Scientists are recreating the pressure at the heart of Jupiter

Physicists at the US National Ignition Facility have been crushing diamonds using the world's biggest lasers, all with the aim of studying what happens to material at the extreme pressures believed to exist at the heart of gas giants such as Jupiter and Saturn. 176 laser beams were focused on a diamond, compressing it to the core pressure of Saturn, which is 14 times that found at the centre of the earth.

With research into extra-solar planets finding that giants are common beyond our own Solar System, scientists hope their diamond-crushing experiments could shed light on the question of whether there is life on other worlds. "If we want to understand which planets beyond Earth may ultimately be habitable, we must develop a broad understanding of all the possible end products of planet-forming processes," explained Dr Ray Smith, of Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, California.

7) The sporting gaze will soon turn to Commonwealth Games – and gay rights is a major issue

With the World Cup drawing to a close in Rio de Janeiro last Sunday, attention will quickly turn to the 2014 Commonwealth Games, which open in Glasgow on 23 July. That's good news for anyone suffering from sporting withdrawal symptoms, but there are serious issues that need to be addressed around the Games. As human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell has been pointing out, 42 out of the 53 Commonwealth countries have laws criminalising homosexuality, and the Games offer an ideal opportunity to draw attention to the problem.

“Given the extreme homophobia and transphobia in most Commonwealth countries, it is very unlikely that most national selection committees would allow a lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or inter-sex (LGBTI) athlete to compete at Glasgow," says Tatchell. "David Cameron can help by making clear that such discrimination is incompatible with Commonwealth Games values and rules.”

8) Australia is going backwards on climate change

Australia's carbon tax, a highly controversial measure introduced in July 2012, was repealed this week by the country's senate. The law was passed by the previous Labor government, and its removal was a key promise of the new Liberal-National coalition under Tony Abbott, which was elected in 2013.

Abbott has said that scrapping the measure, which charged the country's 348 highest polluters 23 million Australian dollars for every tonne of greenhouse gases they produced, is "great news for Australian families", but opponents argue the move is a huge setback in the fight to avert climate change. In a statement, the Climate Institute noted that the removal of the tax leaves Australia "bereft of credible climate policy".

9) Arachnophobia can push people to extremes

Whether you're the one with the phobia, or you've had to take care of the situation for someone else, you'll know what the presence of a spider can do to basic human reason. Thankfully, some kind of fiasco involving a glass and a piece of paper is usually the furthest things go – the spider is removed, and everything returns to normal.

For one man in Seattle, however, an eight-legged invader has led to rather more unfortunate consequences. Having spotted one in his laundry room, the unnamed arachnophobe proceeded to douse the creature in spray paint, before setting fire to the spray jet and using it as an improvised flamethrower. The result: one burned down house, and £23,000-worth of damage. "There are safer, more effective ways to kill a spider than using fire," said Kyle Moore of Seattle fire department. "Fire is not the method to use to kill a spider."