Get your motor running, get out on the… alleyways of Porto

Friday, 31 October, 2014

A driver’s eye view of a trail bike race through the narrow laneways of Porto, Portugal… could this be something inspired by similar sorts of scenes that we’ve seen in action films?

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To boost your work out performance turn on the music

Friday, 31 October, 2014

I find listening to music a great help when it comes to meeting deadlines, so it stands to reason – wouldn’t you think – that the same music can prompt athletes, or those undertaking demanding exercise, to push themselves:

Intense, highly demanding exercise has many health benefits and one signal drawback. It can be physically unpleasant, which deters many people from beginning or sticking with an intense exercise program. An encouraging new study, however, suggests that listening to music makes strenuous workouts feel easier and may nudge people into pushing themselves harder than they had thought possible.

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You may be an air traffic controller for drones in the making

Friday, 31 October, 2014

In ten years time some of us will be working in jobs that don’t yet exist. There could be no doubting that. And one of these roles could be as an air traffic controller for drones, which may soon populate the airways in far greater numbers than they presently do.

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How long is a chess piece likely to last in a game?

Friday, 31 October, 2014

When it comes to the longevity of chess pieces kings, unsurprisingly, survive the longest, followed, possibly surprisingly, by certain pawns.

This survival rate however is dependent upon them reaching the opposite end of the playing board, and being promoted, or exchanged for another more powerful piece, such as a queen.

The situation with the c-d-e pawns is very interesting. The most survivable central pawn is the White c-pawn (42%), while White’s d-pawn is the most doomed of all the chessmen (24%) – more so even than the knights (~26%). There’s a pleasing symmetry in the survival rates of the White and Black c- and e-pawns that suggests they’re frequently exchanged on the d-file. Bishops survive around 35% of the time, with the kingside bishops slightly more likely to survive than queenside ones.

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A trailer for Jacques Prévert’s poem “Tant de Forêts”

Thursday, 30 October, 2014

A trailer for a short film, created by French illustrators and animators Burcu Sakur and Geoffrey Godet, based on “Tant de Forêts”, a poem written by the late Jacques Prévert.

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To slow down ageing we need to party and live as if it were 1992

Thursday, 30 October, 2014

Might it be possible to slow down ageing by way of a… live-in placebo of sorts? I heard of this story sometime ago, but in 1981 eight men, aged in their 70s, spent five days living in surrounds converted to convey the impression that it was 1959.

What was found at the end of the men’s mock 1959 stay? All appeared to have shown some signs of having reversed the ageing process:

At the end of their stay, the men were tested again. On several measures, they outperformed a control group that came earlier to the monastery but didn’t imagine themselves back into the skin of their younger selves, though they were encouraged to reminisce. They were suppler, showed greater manual dexterity and sat taller – just as Langer had guessed. Perhaps most improbable, their sight improved. Independent judges said they looked younger. The experimental subjects, Langer told me, had “put their mind in an earlier time,” and their bodies went along for the ride.

In addition to living twenty years in the past, it seems giving up soft drink may also be a good idea, when it comes to slowing down ageing.

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Now we’re cooking with… blood

Thursday, 30 October, 2014

I’ve heard of animal blood being used as a cooking ingredient before – blood sausages spring to mind, not that I’ve ever tried them – but didn’t realise its culinary applications were quite so extensive

Yet from Scotland to Italy, Spain to Russia, and Tanzania to China, many traditional dishes still use blood. A few modern chefs have dared, in recent years, to whip up dishes like blood tarts with fig soaked in grappa and espresso, blood custard with rosemary topped with pickled pears, and blood-chocolate pudding with bing cherries.

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Following that morning coffee to its logical, if absurd, conclusion

Thursday, 30 October, 2014

I don’t really want to lower the tone here, but I’m going to anyway… while our morning cup of coffee has all sorts of benefits, for some there is a distinct, delayed reaction type, downside

In brief: For many (although not for everyone), the caffeine in coffee stimulates muscles in the colon causing peristalsis, the contraction and relaxation of intestinal muscles that causes bowel movements. For those who suffer from workplace bathroom anxiety (I count myself among them), the morning cup of coffee is a strange ritual that begins with pleasure and then devolves into shame, anxiety, and fear. The gut- and sphincter-clenching, nerve-wracking need to finish one’s personal business before someone else enters the bathroom, the obsession with one’s shoes being recognized, irrational fear that our coworkers will giggle and whisper or worse, pointing and laughing.

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This under water crystal palace will leave you breathless, for real

Wednesday, 29 October, 2014

Stig Severinsen, who can hold his breath for twenty-two minutes, swims among, and through, icebergs. A beautiful, yet dangerous, environment… despite appearances, the ice is razor sharp, this is clearly not an undertaking for the faint of heart.

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Stories about ghosts that nurses have seen

Wednesday, 29 October, 2014

I once spent a month staying at a hotel when I was somewhere, and every evening when I came in there’d be a young woman with straight blonde hair, sitting on the stairs, always engaged in a FaceTime conversation, in Spanish, with, I came to notice, the same male.

I never saw her at any other time. Curious as to who she was, I asked the manager about her one morning. He looked blankly at me. He knew of no such guest, especially one who had been staying there as long as I had.

That’s not quite how things unfolded, and that’s not quite meant to be a ghost story, but I thought I’d try it out nonetheless.

Anyway to bookmark for later tonight… ghosts may well contravene the second law of thermodynamics, but these ghost stories, as told by nurses, may have you doubting the axiom that nothing unreal exists, for a spine chilling couple of minutes at least.

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