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Space ambassador in the UN? Add to ...

Welcome, saucers

"A space ambassador could be appointed by the United Nations to act as the first point of contact for aliens trying to communicate with Earth," The Daily Telegraph reports. "Mazlan Othman, a Malaysian astrophysicist, is set to be tasked with co-ordinating humanity's response if and when extraterrestrials make contact. Aliens who landed on Earth and asked, 'Take me to your leader,' would be directed to Ms. Othman," who is head of the UN Office for Outer Space Affairs.

The dullness defence

In a year, McIntosh County in rural Georgia spends $17,000 (U.S.) to replace about 550 street signs, Associated Press reports. Frequently stolen signs bear names such as Green Acres, Boone's Farm and Mary Jane Lane - sharing monikers with a TV show, a cheap wine and a slang term for marijuana. The signs for Harmony Hill, with its alliterative name, also get swiped regularly. County commissioner Mark Douglas says he has the answer: Choose boring new names for streets.

Why people choke

Sian Beilock, a University of Chicago psychologist, has written a book about the cause of and cure for the lapses suffered by athletes, competitors and other performers, Psychcentral.com reports. Choke: What the Secrets of the Brain Reveal About Getting It Right When You Have To explains that thinking too much about what you are doing because you are worried about losing a lead or about failing in general can lead to "paralysis by analysis." This paralysis occurs when people try to control every aspect of what they are doing in an effort to ensure success. But this can backfire, disrupting what was once a fluid, flawless performance.

Eggcorn

The changing of a word or phrase through mishearing or reinterpretation (e.g. "Let's nip it in the butt"), as now defined by the Oxford English Dictionary Online.

- The Boston Globe

96

Per cent of the universe that has unknown components; 23 per cent is thought to be poorly understood dark matter and 73 per cent is dark energy, which is completely enigmatic.

- Discover magazine

15,000

The amount in rupees ($350) a woman in India has been fined for feeding a dog belonging to a high-caste couple. Its owners have kicked the dog out.

- BBC News

1,904

The length in pages of the suicide note posted online by a man who killed himself on Harvard's campus last month. His mother says he would have wanted others to know about his work.

- Huffingtonpost.com

Thought du jour

"It's not what they take away from you that counts. It's what you do with what you have left. Never give up and never give in."

- Hubert Humphrey (1911-1978), U.S. politician

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