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Top athletes think fast

"A new study suggests that elite athletes are able to process cognitive information faster than most," says Psych Central. "Researchers discovered Olympic medallists in volleyball excelled not only in their sport of choice, but also in how fast they take in and respond to new information. Investigators from the University of Illinois studied 87 top-ranked Brazilian volleyball players and 67 of their nonathletic contemporaries. Researchers discovered that being an athlete minimizes the performance differences that normally occur between women and men. Specifically, female athletes were more like their male peers in the speed of their mental calculations and reaction times, while nonathletic females performed the same tasks more slowly than their male counterparts."

Daisy's new dinosaur

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"A prehistoric flying reptile has been named after the five-year-old girl who found the fossil on a trip to the Isle of Wight," reports The Daily Telegraph. "Daisy Morris, who is now 9, picked up the fossil at Atherfield beach on the Isle of Wight in 2009. Her family took it to Martin Simpson of the University of Southampton, who found that the 115 million-year-old specimen was a new species, which will be called Vectidraco daisymorrisae. Vectidraco means 'dragon from the Isle of Wight.' Simpson said: 'I knew I was looking at something very special. The fossil turned out to be a new genus and species of small pterosaur, which would without doubt have been washed away if it had not been found by Daisy.'"

NATO looks at cyber-war

"State-sponsored cyber-attacks must avoid sensitive civilian targets such as hospitals, dams, dikes and nuclear power stations, according to an advisory manual on cyber-warfare written for NATO, which predicts that online attacks could in future trigger full-blown military conflicts," says The Guardian. "The handbook, written by 20 legal experts working in conjunction with the International Committee of the Red Cross and the U.S. Cyber Command, says full-scale war could be triggered by online attacks on computer systems. It also states that so-called 'hacktivists' who participate in online attacks during a war can be legitimate targets even though they are civilians."

You want passenger pigeons?

"[I]t could be years before scientists succeed in bringing species back from extinction," writes Gina Kolata in The New York Times. "But many species are now gleams in scientists' eyes as they think of ways to bring them back. … [S]hould humans bring back extinct species even if they can? The questions are practical as well as ethical, issues of unintended consequences. Before humans killed them, the [United States] had three billion to five billion passenger pigeons. They would take days to cross a city, noted Hank Greely, the director of the Stanford Center for Law and the Biosciences at Stanford University. 'They left cities covered in an inch of guano.' "

Sitters for the rich

"The concentration of wealth in the finance industry has spawned a boom in high-end services – from chefs to chauffeurs, from kids' soccer tutors to standardized test gurus," writes Daniel Gross of The Daily Beast. "Now the bull market has given rise to expensive babysitters who keep high-powered adults out of trouble. We've known for years about the existence of sober minders in Hollywood. Now investment bankers, attorneys and other professionals with limitless budgets can shell out $1,900 a day to employ a 24/7 Sober Companion, a live-in coach who spends every waking minute making sure the client doesn't use [drugs or alcohol]. … That means travelling to and from work with the client, sitting in on boardroom meetings at the office, and taking a seat at family dinner."

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Thought du jour

"[Virtue] needs a director and guide. Vice can be learned even without a teacher."

Seneca the Younger

Roman philosopher (5 BC-65 AD)

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