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Half the heat on Earth comes from radioactivity Add to ...

Our fiery hot Earth

"Half of the extraordinary heat of the Earth that erupts on its surface volcanically and drives the titanic motions of the continents is due to radioactivity, scientists find," reports the website Our Amazing Planet. "This new discovery shows that the planet still retains an extraordinary amount of heat it had from its primordial days." Japanese scientists studied geo-neutrinos - emitted by decaying radioactive materials within the Earth - for more than seven years. "The researchers found the decay of radioactive isotopes uranium-238 and thorium-232 together contributed 20 trillion watts to the amount of heat Earth radiates into space … As huge as this value is, it only represents about half of the total heat leaving the planet. The researchers suggest the remainder of the heat comes from the cooling of the Earth since its birth."

Weather forecaster as egghead

"As the nation moves through a year of remarkable floods, droughts and its deadliest tornado season in half a century, the broadcast meteorologist has emerged as an unlikely hero," says The New York Times. "… 'The weather is more extreme, the floods are wetter and the droughts are drier,' said Chris Vaccaro, a spokesman for the [U.S.]National Weather Service. 'That's going to have real implications on society, and it elevates the need for more information and a need for those on-air personalities. It's beyond what to wear for a day or do I need to carry an umbrella.' Gone are the days when the local weather guy had to climb on a tricycle at the clown parade, and Diane Sawyer, who got her start delivering forecasts in Louisville, Ky., was called a weather bunny. Now, the forecaster is the egghead of the newsroom. Most have advanced degrees that include courses in calculus and atmospheric thermodynamics."

Who gains weight?

"A new study derived from an examination of over 50 years of data shows how personality traits can influence weight gain," reports Psych Central. "In particular, people with personality traits of high neuroticism and low conscientiousness are likely to go through cycles of gaining and losing weight throughout their lives. Researchers determined impulsivity is the strongest predictor of who will be overweight. Study participants who scored in the top 10 per cent on impulsivity weighed an average of 22 pounds more than those in the bottom 10 per cent. 'Individuals with this constellation of traits tend to give in to temptation and lack the discipline to stay on track amid difficulties or frustration,' according to the research team, led by Angelina Sutin, PhD, at the [U.S.]National Institute on Aging."

Hospitals take hostages

"When a woman who has just given birth cannot afford to pay medical fees, there is a risk in Indonesia that her baby will be taken hostage," reports BBC News. Arist Merdeka Sirait, secretary-general of the national commission for child protection, says: "In 2010, our commission received 36 reports of baby hostage-taking by hospitals, clinics and private midwives. Those were just the cases that were reported … There are lots of cases where, if the mother can't pay, the baby becomes the property of the hospital. They then believe they have a right to sell the baby to someone else."

The most-stolen books

Bookstores frequently shelve these titles behind the counter, Publishers Weekly says:

- Anything by Charles Bukowski;

- Anything by William S. Burroughs;

- On the Road by Jack Kerouac;

- The New York Trilogy by Paul Auster;

- Anything by Martin Amis;

- Honourable mentions: Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, by Hunter S. Thompson; anything by Don DeLillo; The Virgin Suicides by Jeffrey Eugenides; Steal This Book by Abbie Hoffman.

Lost in translation

As Hollywood relies more on international audiences to bolster profits, says Associated Press, translators must try to create subtitles and dubbing that make movies acceptable overseas. "Elena Barciae writes Spanish subtitles for Central and South America using a single translation, a process she likens to being forced to create a generic language that would cover the United States, Great Britain, Australia and New Zealand. 'The more slang, the harder it gets because slang tends to be very localized,' says Barciae, a 25-year veteran in the business. 'Simple words are affected, too. Bicho means bug everywhere except Puerto Rico, where it's a slang word for a part of the male anatomy. That wouldn't go over too well for the title of A Bug's Life, would it?'"

Drive-in sex boxes

"Strait-laced Swiss officials have finished work on a series of drive-in sex boxes where hookers can entertain their [customers]- without disturbing the peace," reports Orange News U.K. "The raunchy lay-bys were knocked up by council staff after thousands of complaints by householders whose homes overlook the thriving red-light district in Zurich. … Police spokesman Reto Casanova said: 'We can't get rid of prostitution so we have to learn how to control it.'"

Thought du jour

"Strength is the capacity to break a chocolate bar into four pieces with your bare hands - and then eat just one of the pieces."

Judith Viorst (1931-)

American author

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