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When nerds scribble, a rare gift, world executions Add to ...

Ups and downs

"What's the value of a pint of beer? Let the market decide, says a new restaurant in Manhattan where prices for food and beverages will fluctuate like stock prices in increments according to demand," Reuters reports. "The Exchange Bar & Grill, set amid the bustling shops and pubs of the Gramercy Park neighbourhood, is replete with a ticker tape flashing menu prices in red lettering as demand forces them to fluctuate. Customers can move prices for all beverages and bar snacks.… A glass of Guinness starts at $6, but could be pushed to a high of $8 or a low of $4, depending on popularity. So if one beer is in heavy demand, its price will rise, causing the cost of other equivalent drinks to drop."

When nerds scribble

Quinn Dombrowski, a student at the University of Chicago, has made a quiet project of studying the graffiti at the university's largest library, Regenstein. Her analysis of 1,700 samples has found:

- A U of C student is 63 per cent more likely to be happy than sad.

- The most frequently used word is "time."

- In general, students hate chemistry, finals, themselves, the University of Chicago, everyone and President Barack Obama.

- Students love Milton Friedman, chemistry, silence, Allison, the University of Chicago, tiramisu, life, chocolate cake - and tons more.

- Graffiti at the university is written in many languages and alphabets. She brought a hieroglyphic sample to an Egyptologist for translation. It said: "We did it twice in the morning."

Source: Chicago Tribune

A rare gift

"A new study finds that the vast majority of the population - 97.5 per cent, to be exact - does not have the ability to safely multitask while driving," Psych Central News reports. "University of Utah psychologists describe the group that can talk on a cellphone and drive safely as 'supertaskers' who constitute only 2.5 per cent of the population. … 'According to cognitive theory, these individuals ought not to exist,' says [psychologist Jason]Watson. 'Yet, clearly they do, so we use the supertasker term as a convenient way to describe their exceptional multitasking ability.' "

World executions

"China executed more people last year than the rest of the world combined, according to a report published [this week]by Amnesty International," The New York Times reports. "Amnesty said there were 'thousands' of Chinese executions in 2009 - the precise number is considered a state secret - and the rights group called on Beijing to divulge how many it carries out. The report said that at least 714 people were executed in 17 other countries, led by Iran, Iraq, Saudi Arabia and the United States. Methods of execution included beheading, stoning, electrocution, hanging, firing squads and lethal injection."

Preparation for life?

"A German university will soon give a group of lucky students the chance to play out their gladiator fantasies in an academic context," The Huffington Post reports. It cites the English-language newspaper The Local, which states: "Twenty students from the University of Regensburg plan to live and train in the style of Roman gladiators from 79 AD and stage a battle for scientific research this summer.… The student warriors, who are all studying various disciplines at the university, won't be eating pizza, hamburgers or steaks during their training. Instead they'll have berries and white beans on their plates as the ancient Roman doctor Galen recommended in his texts. They will also learn to fight wearing bronze helmets that weigh almost 5 kg at a camp that won't allow girlfriends, showers or washing machines."

Nerves of steel

"A Chinese zoo has been slammed for letting a three-year-old girl walk a tightrope eight metres above a tiger enclosure," Ananova.com reports. Zhang Xiaoyan traversed the 130-metre-long high wire with just her arms for balance and a thin safety strap. Horrified visitors to the zoo said the stunt amounted to child abuse. However, the director of Jiangxi Elite Children Arts Troupe said the little professional had been training since she was 1. "She has very good psychological control," he added, saying that she would retire at 7 and go to school.

Thought du jour

"The sway of alcohol over mankind is unquestionably due to its power to stimulate the mystical faculties of human nature, usually crushed to earth by the cold facts and dry criticisms of the sober hour."

- William James (1842-1910)

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