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SOCIAL STUDIES

Cornell brings the outdoors inside to help students deal with stress Add to ...

Students get turfed

“Grass lawns brought indoors are helping students at Cornell University in New York deal with the stress of final exams, school officials said,” reports United Press International. “The school’s department of design and environmental analysis has used sections of turf to create grassy oases of calm in the lobbies of two libraries as well as two science buildings on campus. … ‘Being in touch with nature helps people be calmer, and they feel refreshed and productive,’ school administrator Eveline Ferretti said.”

Do cats kill humans?

“An Illinois man planned to kill a rival for his wife’s affections by electrocuting him and then framing the victim’s cat for the murder,” writes columnist Brian Palmer at Slate.com. “Brett Nash was arrested for the bizarre plot in January and pleaded guilty [last] Tuesday. Do cats ever kill people? Not grown-ups. Rabies deaths notwithstanding, the Explainer is unaware of any incidents in which a house cat has killed its able-bodied adult owner. Cats can, however, inflict a pretty gruesome mauling. In 2010, a postpartum cat in Idaho bit her owner 35 times, going back for a second round of scratches and bites after the owner washed off the blood. Last year, a Cleveland man was airlifted to a hospital after a brawl with his tabby cat.”

Crackdown on railway rudeness

France’s state-owned railway operator, SNCF, will deploy an army of inspectors with tough new powers to eradicate bad manners on the nation’s trains, says The Daily Telegraph. Complaints about rude or unruly passengers have rocketed by 25 per cent this year. To stamp out impolite behaviour, “some 2,700 inspectors will impose a new array of tougher fines. Passengers caught with feet on seats will pay €45 ($58); those who smoke will be fined €68 and anyone pulling the emergency brake without reason can expect to pay between €165 and €700. … Under draft plans, more serious offenders may also be sent on ‘citizenship courses’ to be taught good manners.”

Glassblowing by phone

“The Chihuly app, a new iPhone application that launched Wednesday, allows users to create virtual blown glass by blowing into the phone’s microphone,” says The Huffington Post. “‘It’s taking a thousand-year-old craft and merging it with a brand new technology,’ said Joe Alexander, chief creative officer for the Martin Agency, one of the app developers.” Mr. Alexander said that the glassblowing app tries to replicate the blowing, shaping and sculpting involved in real glassblowing. Users can further manipulate the ‘glass’ with their fingertips.

Robot swims to Australia

“A self-controlled swimming robot has completed a journey from San Francisco to Australia,” says BBC News. “The record-breaking 16,700-kilometre trip took the PacX Wave Glider just over a year to achieve. Liquid Robotics, the U.S. company behind the project, collected data about the Pacific Ocean’s temperature, salinity and ecosystem. … Liquid Robotics still has a further three robots at sea. A second is due to land in Australia early next year. Another pair had been heading to Japan, but one of them has suffered damage and has been diverted to Hawaii for repair.”

Thought du jour

Prosperity does not exalt the wise man, nor does adversity cast him down.

Seneca the Younger, Roman stoic philosopher (circa 5 BC – 65 AD)

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