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Windy forecast, Internet crunch and safer bus travel Add to ...

Windy forecast

Tuesday marks the beginning of Atlantic hurricane season, which runs to the end of November. The U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration forecasts 14 to 23 named storms. Eight to 14 of these could develop into hurricanes, it says. The season could be one of the most active on record, with between three and seven major hurricanes - Category 3 or higher, which means sustained winds of 178 kilometres per hour.

Source: BBC News

Internet crunch?

"The Internet as we know it is reaching its limits," reports Matt Ford for CNN.com. "Within 18 months, it is estimated, the number of new devices able to connect to the World Wide Web will plummet as we run out of 'IP addresses' - the unique codes that provide access to the Internet for everything from PCs to smart phones. … Currently, the Internet is built around the Internet Protocol Addressing Scheme version 4 (IPv4), which has around four billion addresses - and they're fast running out. Four billion no doubt seemed a huge amount when the system was designed in the 1970s. … [T]ere is a replacement, IPv6, which has trillions more addresses available and ready to go. The problem is that businesses are proving slow to adapt their technology to IPv6, leaving experts fearful that we might be heading for a crunch within 18 months."

Safer bus travel

A bus company in China has launched a new "drive safely" campaign - by hanging big bowls of water next to their drivers, Orange UK News reports. The Longxiang Public Bus Company in Changsha, Hunan province, says bus operators must drive gently to avoid spilling any water. Drivers are expected to ensure the bowls are still full when they finish their shifts, reports the Xiaoxiang Morning Post. And the company warns drivers that CCTV will be studied to make sure they do not top up the bowls with water.

Empathy v. racism

"Scientists have long known that when people witness the pain of another person, they often vicariously feel physical discomfort themselves," writes Richard Alleyne in The Daily Telegraph. "But the new evidence suggests the power of the effect depends on whether the person is the same colour as them. And the more signs of racial prejudice a person shows, the less empathy they are likely to have with other races' pain. … In the study, with people of Italian and African descent, participants were asked to watch and pay attention to short films depicting needles penetrating a person's hand. A brain scanner then recorded how many pain neurons were firing in their brain. Researchers found there was significantly less if the person watched was from the different race. … But when [scientists]made up a race, they found this was not true." Prof. Salvatore Aglioti, of the University of Rome, said that the second result showed that racism is not inherent but learned. When we have no prejudice, we are more likely to empathize.

Marrow transplants

"Scientists in the U.S. claim to have used a bone-marrow transplant to cure mental illness, in a study that could have profound implications for patients with psychiatric problems," Ian Sample reports in The Guardian. "Bone-marrow transplants are routinely used to treat leukemia and other life-threatening diseases, but have never been used to treat mental-health problems. The team, led by a Nobel Prize-winning geneticist, found that experimental transplants in mice cured them of a disorder in which they groom themselves so excessively they develop bare patches of skin. The condition is similar to a disorder in which people pull their hair out, called trichotillomania. 'A lot of people are going to find it amazing,' said Mario Capecchi at the University of Utah, who won the Nobel Prize for medicine in 2007 for his work on mouse genetics. 'That's the surprise: Bone marrow can correct a behavioural defect.' "

How to beat a hexing rap

By some estimates, 40 per cent of court cases in the Central African Republic are witchcraft prosecutions, writes Graeme Wood in The Atlantic magazine. The accused are facing criminal punishment for hexing their enemies or assuming the shape of animals. Lawyer Bartolome Goroth told him the trials generally ended with an admission of guilt in exchange for a modest sentence. "I asked how one determined guilt in cases where the alleged witches denied the charges. 'The judge will look at them and see if they act like witches,' Goroth said, specifying that 'acting like a witch' entailed behaving 'strangely' or 'nervously' in court. His principal advice to clients, he said, was to act normally and refrain from casting any spells in the courtroom."

Thought du jour

"To say that there is a case for heroes is not to say that there is a case for hero-worship. The surrender of decision, the unquestioning submission to leadership, the prostration of the average man before the Great Man - these are the diseases of heroism, and they are fatal to human dignity. … History amply shows that it is possible to have heroes without turning them into gods. And history shows, too, that, when a society, in flight from hero-worship, decides to do without great men at all, it gets into troubles of its own."

- Arthur Schlesinger Jr.

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