The Daily Dust delivering the best bric a brac, daily news and events with a British flavour » Tom Moran Mon, 15 Sep 2014 09:05:14 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Boozy Brits fall over due to crazy Spanish paving Thu, 24 Mar 2011 14:44:55 +0000 Tom Moran British tourists on the popular Costa Blanca now have a new excuse for falling over after a night on the Spanish lager.

A new patterned pavement in Alicante is reported to have caused “nausea and confusion”, with boozed-up Brits abroad being the most affected demographic.

The design, set in rows of diamonds at 90 degrees to each other, creates the optical illusion that the pavement is stepped when in fact it is flat.

Metro reports how the design has been confusing British tourists on their way home from the pub, causing some to fall over and others to suffer nausea.

Ex-pat Rich Poolton, 46, said: “After you’ve had a few drinks it definitely affects you.

“It confuses the eyes enough when you’re sober.  When you’ve been out it has, shall we say, a strong effect on your stomach.”

Image via Wikimedia

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Scottish man solves Rubik’s Cube in less than 10 seconds Mon, 08 Nov 2010 15:11:01 +0000 Tom Moran Breandan Vallance from Beith, Ayrshire, solved the Rubik’s Cube in a staggering 9.21 seconds at the UK’s Open Speedcubing Championship.

The 18-year-old from Scotland was crowned UK champion on Saturday after more than 50 masters of the iconic six-sided puzzle descended on Bristol’s Armada conference centre from all over the world.

The Rubik’s Cube, invented by Hungarian professor Erno Rubik in 1974 and licensed to Ideal Toys in 1980, celebrated its 30th anniversary this year.

More than 350 million cubes have been sold, and last year Prof Rubik unveiled his latest puzzling creation – the 3-D Rubik’s 360, bringing the popular into the 21st century.

Hat tip to Metro.  Image by Derek Hatfield.

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Brain takes less than a second to fall in love Thu, 28 Oct 2010 14:30:56 +0000 Tom Moran Are you one of those romantic dreamers who believes in love at first sight?

If so, your beliefs are accurate, according to a recent study revealing the brain takes less than a second to fall in love.

The study conducted by Syracuse University, which used functional magnetic resonance imaging to see how “love” affects the brain, discovered that it affected it pretty quickly – in one-fifth of a second to be precise.

The findings showed that 12 areas of the brain work together during the love process, releasing euphoria-inducing chemicals like dopamine, oxytocin, adrenaline and vasopressin.

What’s more, love’s high has been likened to a cocaine’s rush, and flies in the face of common belief that falling in love requires intimacy and six months of romantic dinners.

Hat tip to Alltop.  Image via Picasa.

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Nurse removes tooth – and 33 years of pain – from man’s ear Wed, 20 Oct 2010 14:18:41 +0000 Tom Moran A man who endured 33 years of chronic earache and partial deafness had cause for celebration Monday – after a nurse removed a tooth from his ear canal.

Stephen Hirst, 47, had suffered infections in his right ear since he was a teenager, along with pain and deafness due to a disintegrated eardrum.

But a nurse at the Royal Hallamshire Hospital in Sheffield got to the root of the problem, removing the tooth while simultaneously returning Mr Hirst’s hearing and swiftly ending his pain.

Mr Hirst, a former miner, told the Sheffield Star:

She didn’t say anything at first. Then she asked me: ‘Have you lost any teeth lately?’ I said I’d not had any teeth in my head for years.  Once I also fell and broke my two front teeth, or maybe I pushed it in when I was a kid or something. I am intrigued as to how it got there.

Hat tip to Discovery Online.  Image via Wikimedia Commons.

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Thief returns stolen laptop contents to owner on USB stick Tue, 19 Oct 2010 15:10:34 +0000 Tom Moran A university professor whose laptop was stolen has had the entire contents of the machine returned to him on a USB memory stick.

The unnamed professor, who teaches at Umeå University in northern Sweden, left his bag behind a door in his apartment stairwell while he went into the laundry room.

But he was dismayed to discover a thief had made off with the bag containing his laptop and other personal items.  It was returned a short time later minus the computer.

“It is my life. I have documented everything in it that has happened in the last 10 years and beyond,” said the professor.

But in an incredible twist, the contents of his laptop were posted to him a week later on a USB stick, which must have taken several hours to download. The professor added:

“I am very happy.  This story makes me feel hope for humanity.”

Hat tip to the Telegraph.  Image by Oxyman, via Wikimedia.

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Marmite Monument Unveiled in Burton Tue, 19 Oct 2010 14:49:44 +0000 Tom Moran Marmite gave the ultimate “love it or hate it” product to the world, and now it’s given a £15,000 stone monument of the smelly spread to the good people of Burton-on-Trent.

Dubbed “Monumite”, the 6ft-tall stone jar took 71 hours to carve and has received a mixed response among locals.

Ian Tennant, 36, called the statue “pointless” and added: “It doesn’t even say Marmite on it”.

But Michael Blackstock, 27, from Barton-Under-Needwood, Staffordshire, was more upbeat about the new addition to Burton’s streetscene as he enthused:

I think it’s fantastic – it’s the perfect way to celebrate one of the best things about Burton.  Marmite fans nationwide now have a reason to come to the town to make a pilgrimage for one of our country’s best-known brands.

And in anticipation of those pilgrims, its makers said the 80cm “lid” will “provide seating for children as well as being a platform for adults at public events”.

Hat tip to the Telegraph.  Image by Tamorlan, via Wikimedia.

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Christmas Number One could be a silent night for X Factor Fri, 15 Oct 2010 15:14:00 +0000 Tom Moran This year’s bid to keep X Factor off the Christmas top spot is underway with a tune made up of four and a half minutes of silence.

The track 4’33″ by composer John Cage – dubbed “Cage Against the Machine” – has generated more than 30,000 fans on Facebook. Fan Sophia Rose Feinbaum posted:

“It would certainly be a QUIET christmas! Beats all those cheesy ‘Jingle Bells’ and ‘Santa Claus Rock’ variants at any rate.”

Others joked about potential remixes and videos to compliment the silent song.

Last year a similar internet petition topping 895,000 fans helped Rage Against The Machine’s Killing In The Name beat X Factor winner Joe McElderry from climbing to Christmas number one.

Hat tip to Metro.  Image via Wikipedia.

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Sacked: Finnish newsreader drinks beer on live TV Fri, 15 Oct 2010 14:28:11 +0000 Tom Moran In an apparent prank, Finnish newsreader Kimmo Wilska drank beer live on air and got blasted – by his bosses.

Mr Wilska, Finland’s best known English-language anchor, was delivering a story about the country’s licensing laws when he whipped out a beer and took a swig.

The stunt was intended to amuse the studio crew rather than appear on live broadcast, but unfortunately for Mr Wilska, the camera cut back at the wrong moment, forcing him to spill booze on his suit before wrapping up the show.

He was fired for the gag, but like all good rebels he has cultivated a fan base pleading for him to be reinstated.

Facebook fan Vilhjálmur Ólafsson wrote: “Come on, you guys. It was a joke…”

Here is how “Beergate” played out:

Kimmo Wilska Beergate

Watch full broadcast here.  Hat tip to Metro.

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Man converts canal barge into German U-boat Mon, 11 Oct 2010 08:00:38 +0000 Tom Moran A sinking feeling came over the Leeds-Liverpool Canal after a man spent £50,000 converting his barge into a German U-boat.

Proud captain Cyril Howarth, 78, a naval history fan, spent 12 months converting his narrow boat into a replica of the feared wartime menace at a Liverpool boat yard.

During the war U-boats sank 3,000 allied ships but thankfully Cyril’s torpedo tubes are not capable of firing live rounds.

But Cyril said that might soon change: “There is just some electrics to sort out below decks.”

And even 65-years on, U-boats are still an alarming sight on the Leeds-Liverpool Canal.

You should have seen the faces of the locals when they woke up and found a battleship grey German navy U-boat in their midst.

Hat tip to the Metro.  Image via Flickr.

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Nesting Dormice blamed for ticket machine failure Thu, 07 Oct 2010 16:57:35 +0000 Tom Moran A couple of dormice have taken the rap for a faulty ticket machine, causing passengers to miss their trains.

The rare edible dormice were found nesting inside a “permit to travel” machine – or a ticket machine to those of us unfamiliar with railway jargon – at Little Kimble station in Buckinghamshire.

The animals were detained and transferred to the custody of St Tiggywinkles wildlife hospital.  Mark Cooper, the station’s Customer Service Manager, said:

We were glad to see the animals taking such an interest in the Chiltern Railways services from Little Kimble.

The chilterns have been home to the Edible Dormouse, also known as Glis Glis, for more than 100 years, but British law prohibits the animals’ release back into the wild.

The mouse-induced-ticket-failure is certainly a refreshing change from the usual faulty points and signals.

Hat tip to the Metro.  Image via Michael Hanselmann, Wilipedia.

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Prince Charles hits the dance floor Wed, 06 Oct 2010 06:32:23 +0000 Tom Moran Prince Charles seized the opportunity on a visit to Jodhpur in India to boogie on down with local villagers.

The Prince of Wales was on a water conservation tour when the rhythm of the drum apparently gripped him with a sudden urge to show off the royal dancing ability.

And with awkward woodenness becoming of most aging dads, the prince strutted his stuff to the delight of the assembled crowd.

Check out the dance here.

Image by Allan Warren, Wikipedia.

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Austrian town hosts European Beard and Moustache Championship Mon, 04 Oct 2010 16:06:41 +0000 Tom Moran The Austrian town of Leogang has played host to a contest in which 150 beards and moustaches, along with their proud owners, competed in the ultimate hairy face-off.

Last weekend’s European Beard and Moustache Championship saw a variety of hirsute faces fighting it out in categories like “full natural” and “freestyle”.

The only close shave of the event, which drew hairy types from eight different countries, came after losing Italian competitors tried to have the contest declared void, claiming Italy had invented the “sport” in the 1970s and that the rules – growing an outrageous beard? – had somehow been changed.

But one wise and no doubt be-whiskered official quelled the squabbling, commenting:

Men with beards and big moustaches look very manly and this sort of squabbling is unbecoming in men of hair.

The World Beard Championships last came to Britain in 2007, when London’s Handlebar Club hosted the event in Brighton.  The star of the show was a beard commemorating London’s Tower Bridge.

Hat tip to the Metro.  Image via Wikimedia.

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Horse chestnut shortage threatens Conker World Championships Fri, 01 Oct 2010 17:02:22 +0000 Tom Moran A poor horse chestnut crop has put the World Conker Championships in jeopardy as organisers launched a desperate plea for help.

Organisers are struggling to find 1,000 “high quality” conkers for the annual event hosted by Ashton Conker Club in Northamptonshire.

Around 450 competitors from all over the world are expected to take part in the event on October 10, but attacks by the invasive leaf minor moth have devastated local conker supplies.

A spokesman for the Ashton Conker Club said:

With the World Conker Championships less than two weeks away it now seems that conkers are going to be in short supply.  The trees that have provided most of the conkers in previous years are definitely having a year off and the organisers of Ashton Conker Club are having to look further afield for nuts of the right calibre.

Ashton Conker Club is appealing to anyone within a 20 mile radius with trees producing good conkers to get in touch.  And it is a pretty exact science:

The conkers need to be roundish in shape and about three centimetres in diameter.

Last year’s event was won by Tam Gormley, of Peterborough, while Sue Howes took the female crown.

Hat tip to the Telegraph.  Image by Sharon Cooper, Wikimedia.

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Chance of alien life on Earth-like planet: “100 per cent” Thu, 30 Sep 2010 16:12:28 +0000 Tom Moran An astronomer has concluded that the chances of alien life existing on a recently-discovered “Earth-like” planet are 100 per cent, the Telegraph reports.

The planet, known as Gliese 581g, was discovered orbiting within the “habitable zone” of a nearby star, meaning liquid could exist on its surface.

Prof Steven Vogt, who led the team that discovered it, said Gliese 581g is a similar size to Earth with a mass that suggests a rocky surface and enough gravity to hold an atmosphere.

It is as yet unclear whether the planet holds water, a precursor for life, but Prof Vogt said “I have almost no doubt about it.”

Personally, given the ubiquity and propensity of life to flourish wherever it can, I would say, my own personal feeling is that the chances of life on this planet are 100 percent.

Gliese 581g is the first of around 500 planets discovered outside Earth’s solar system to be considered habitable.

Prof Vogt estimates that one in five to 10 stars in the universe are orbited by planets within the habitable zone.

And with an estimated 200 billion stars in the galaxy, around 40 billion planets could potentially support life, he added.

The truth is out there, and maybe the aliens are too!

Image via Wikimedia Commons.

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Russell Brand strips naked to promote autobiography Wed, 29 Sep 2010 15:38:22 +0000 Tom Moran Russell Brand isn’t known as someone who abides by convention, which he demonstrated recently in extreme lengths to promote the second part of his autobiography.

In an unusual attempt to promote the work, Brand posted a picture of himself on his Twitter page, naked with just the book and a banana to hide his manhood.

A caption beneath the photo read:

Erotic literature? #bookywook2 – this time it’s personal. Tomorrow.

Brand plans to promote the book in a more conventional manner tomorrow at London’s Hackney Empire.

He will be joined by Jonathan Ross and likely a salvo of tasteful gags to help the event run smoothly.

But don’t worry, the book from the photograph will not be among the signed copies, since Brand tweeted to a fan:

That copy was destroyed for hygiene reasons.

Hat tip to Metro.  Image by Twitter.

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George Lucas set to release Star Wars in 3D Wed, 29 Sep 2010 15:02:40 +0000 Tom Moran After a barrage of 3D films leaping off the screen over the last year, including Avatar and Alice in Wonderland, director George Lucas has decided to release his Star Wars saga into the three dimensional realm.

A statement from Lucasfilm said:

There are few movies that lend themselves more perfectly to 3D; from the Death Star trench run to the Tatooine Pod race, the Star Wars Saga has always delivered an entertainment experience that is completely immersive.  The cutting edge conversion will take that immersion to the next thrilling level.

Lucas was previously reported saying he was not a big fan of 3D because the technology to create convincing visual effects was not yet within grasp.

But the recent success of 3D films using new technology has inspired him to apply the effects to Star Wars.  But it will not happen overnight:

John Knoll, visual effects supervisor at Industrial Light and Magic, which will supervise the project, said:

We will take our time, applying everything we know both aesthetically and technically to bring audiences a fantastic new Star Wars experience.

Hat tip to the Telegraph.  Image via Wikipedia.

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Vulcan bomber could be set to make “final flight” Mon, 27 Sep 2010 13:33:41 +0000 Tom Moran The last airworthy Vulcan bomber that triumphantly returned to the airshow scene in 2008 has taken to the sky in what could be its final flight.

Vulcan XH558, one of the last truly great all-British aircraft, gained its wings again after a mammoth restoration effort funded by public donations and Heritage Lottery.

But the Vulcan to the Sky Trust, which operates the aircraft, needs to raise £400,000 by the end of October for XH558 to continue to thrill airshow crowds across Britain.

The Vulcan’s latest flight, which could be its last, saw it take off from Coventry airport for an airshow appearance in aid of Help for Heroes.

Squadron Leader Martin Withers, awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross for his Vulcan mission during the Falklands War in 1982, strongly advocates the aircraft’s educational role.  He said:

The Vulcan is the most powerful symbol of a remarkable period in British history that we must never forget.

We at the Dust wish XH558 and her team the best of luck.

Hat tip to the Telegraph.  Image via Gregdetours, Wikipedia.

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Fire Brigade rescues cat – and owner – from tree Fri, 24 Sep 2010 15:02:50 +0000 Tom Moran They say the fire brigade no longer comes to the rescue of cats up trees, but get stuck trying to rescue one and they will rush out with sirens blaring.

That is what happened on Sunday, when Chris Wall alerted firefighters to her home in Leatherhead where husband Mike and cat Jadis were stuck 30ft up a tree.

Mr Wall had climbed up to rescue the six-year-old cat when the ladder he was using twisted against the trunk, making it difficult to get back down safely.

His wife, Chris, said:

Mike wasn’t very happy. He was up there for about 40 minutes, so it definitely wore him out.  I hadn’t any wine so I gave them [firefighters] a bag of cat biscuits as a small thank you because one of them had cats himself.

Surrey Fire Service commented that the events of the day were “definitely a bit out of the ordinary”.

Hat tip to the Metro.  Image by CADIX, Wikimedia Commons.

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Deodorant to protect New Zealand’s bad B.O. birds Fri, 24 Sep 2010 14:01:46 +0000 Tom Moran Scientists are trying to develop a deodorant to prevent New Zealand’s native birds falling prey to predators.

The country has an abundance of native bird life but no native land mammals, meaning introduced animals like cats and stoats have had a devastating effect on our local feathered friends.

Researchers at Canterbury University believe bad body odour – a common problem among New Zealand birds such as the famous kiwi – could be to blame.

Birds emitted a strong smell when preened to produce wax to protect their feathers, but this odour was lost from their overseas counterparts that evolved alongside land mammals.

Researcher Jim Briskie said kiwis smelled like mushrooms or ammonia, while the flightless kakapo parrot gave off an odour similar to “musty violin cases”, alerting predators to an easy meal.

He told the Dominion Post newspaper:

Down the line, if we do find some species are particularly smelly or vulnerable, perhaps I can design a deodorant for kiwis.

Kiodorant, perhaps?

Hat tip to the Telegraph.  Image by Maungatautari Ecological Island Trust.

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Robot World Cup takes place in Bangalore Thu, 23 Sep 2010 15:03:39 +0000 Tom Moran The Robot World Cup has taken place in Bangalore, India, with 17 countries from around the world competing for the presigious title.

Fifty two teams kicked off the tournament designed to encourage young people to think about engineering and technology.

The Federation of International Robot-soccer Association (FIRA), as it is known to those involved, is now in its 15th year.

While there is no clear sign yet of the golden boots of David Beckham among the electronic contenders, organisers say the technology is improving each year.

Founded in 1997, FIRA is an international organisation facilitating competitive football – usually 5-a-side – competitions between autonomous robots.

And with Scotland’s innovative move to employ robots in a Stirlingshire hospital, perhaps this is one football tournament the country should enter to ensure progressing beyond the first round!

Image by Brad Beattie, Wikipedia.

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Yorkshire Terrier Billy claims world’s oldest dog title Thu, 23 Sep 2010 14:13:02 +0000 Tom Moran Billy the Yorkshire Terrier has laid claim to the title of world’s oldest dog despite being as playful as a pup.

Blind in one eye from a cataract and now missing most of his teeth, Billy still manages two walks each day and enjoys playing with his owner at the ripe old age of 22.

Betty Holdsworth, 71, adopted Billy from an RSPCA branch in Halifax in June, but did not realise at first just how old he was.

Alex Darwell, from the RSPCA, said that at the time he was brought in the previous owner had told them Billy was 21, which the vet confirmed.

Mr Darwell said:

He has more energy than a lot of younger dogs which come in to see us, he’s brilliant.

Guinness World Records shows the title of world’s oldest dog belongs to a 21-year-old kelpie cross from Melbourne, Australia.

The kelpie does not turn 22 until December, and Billy has now laid claim to the title.

Hat tip to the Yorkshire Post.  Image via Wikipedia.

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Russian “artists” flip police cars in protest Thu, 23 Sep 2010 07:00:56 +0000 Tom Moran A group of Russian “artists” whose previous works included drawing a giant penis on a bridge and releasing thousands of cockroaches into a court room, have created their latest masterpiece – flipping over police cars.

The group, known as Voina, tipped eight patrol cars in one night to protest alleged corrupton in the St Petersburg constabulary.

Group spokesman Alexei Plutser-Sarno said on his blog:

The police won’t pursue us. We have neither money nor property, so there’s nothing to get from us. The werewolves in epaulettes don’t work for no reason and for free.

Art expert David Riff commented:

The aim of art is to provoke and oppose, and Voina is the only group now which still performs these kinds of things.

Hat tip to the Metro.  Image by Cesar Aparato, Flickr.

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MI6 book reveals truth behind James Bond’s dinner jacket Wed, 22 Sep 2010 15:58:36 +0000 Tom Moran A new book about MI6, the Secret Intelligence Service, has revealed the truth behind James Bond’s perfectly pressed dinner jacket.

Whether he’s crashing a tank through downtown Moscow, skiing away from armed bad guys in the Alps, or removing a wet suit to reveal a classy tuxedo beneath, Bond always looked immaculate.

MI6: The History of the Secret Intelligence Service by Professor Keith Jeffrey recounts the story of an MI6 agent put ashore on a Dutch beach near a seaside casino in 1941.

In a bid to spy on German-occupied Holland, the agent, Pieter Tazelaar, wore a special rubber suit over a full dinner jacket and tie, sprinkled with Hennessy XO brandy to add to his cover as a party-goer.

The book also tells the story of secret agent Wilfred “Biffy” Dunderdale who is thought to have inspired the James Bond character.

The son of a British naval engineer born in Odessa, he spoke fluent Russian and combined his secret life with a love of wine, women and song.

Professor Jeffrey’s states that:

He was a great friend of Ian Fleming, and claimed that he found parts of his own stories in the James Bond novels.

Hat tip to the Scotsman.  Image via Wikipedia.

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Police urge drug-trafficking parrot to squawk Wed, 22 Sep 2010 14:45:04 +0000 Tom Moran A parrot has been detained by police in Columbia in the hope that it will squawk on its drug-trafficking owners.

The gang fled their Barranquilla warehouse containing £100,000 of cocaine after the bird spotted police and warned them to:

Run, run or the cat will get you.

Police now hope the parrot will give them the clues they need to crack the case, including names, phone numbers and the like.

Presumably the parrot has the right to remain silent, but one officer remarked:

Parrots like to talk and we’re good listeners.

Hat tip to the Metro.  Image via Wikipedia.

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Parting of the Red Sea “Might have Happened”, say Scientists Tue, 21 Sep 2010 18:13:31 +0000 Tom Moran Scientists have concluded that the Old Testament epic in which Moses led the Israelites through the parting Red Sea could really have happened.

Studies suggest that powerful winds would have generated freak weather conditions sufficient to part the shallow waters of a nearby spot in the Nile Delta, believed to be the most likely location of the Exodus story.

Some experts believe an ancient branch of the Nile once flowed into a coastal lagoon called the Lake of Tanis.

Using new computer modelling, scientists found that a 63 mph wind lasting 12 hours could have driven the waters back into the lake, creating a land bridge two miles long and three miles wide.

The phenomenon would have lasted about four hours, fitting Biblical accounts of Moses leading the Israelites through the parted Red Sea before the waters rolled back to drown the pursuing Eqyptians.

Carl Drews, from the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colorado, said:

The simulations match fairly closely with the account in Exodus.  The parting of the waters can be understood through fluid dynamics. The wind moves the water in a way that’s in accordance with physical laws, creating a safe passage with water on two sides and then abruptly allowing the water to rush back in.

Hat tip to the Mail.  Image via Wikimedia.

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