The world is despite its shortcomings a wondrous place and humans are by far the most interesting species on its surface. Every week we’ll sneak a peek into current events that made the weird side of the newspapers.
This week we’ll learn that British girls are the fattest in Europe, how driverless cars will change the world, what’s going on with Antarctica, that hot sauce manufacturing is a stinky business, and that Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg has been summoned to appear in an Iranian court.
The latest global study on obesity shows that 29.2 percent of females under 20 in the UK are either overweight or obese. Only Greek girls are on par, falling just 0.1 percent short.
According to the study, people all over the world have been gaining an exorbitant amount of weight since 1980 when the number of overweight and obese people stood at 857 million, compared to today’s figure of 2.1 billion.
“The challenge of obesity is at the heart of current debate about the health of the nation and we are working closely with local authorities, the National Health Service and the voluntary community sector to tackle this complex issue,” said professor John Newton of Public Health England.
Google has unveiled a pint-sized car with a top speed of 25mph that doesn’t require a driver, which they believe can change the world for the better.
There are some obvious advantages after a night out, but there are also concerns that millions of people will lose their jobs.
Safety is arguably the prime reason why anyone should argue for driverless cars. They tend to send a lot less sms messages, drive drunk, race friends away from traffic lights or doze off. With 1.2 million people killed in traffic every year, people are probably not the best option behind the wheel.
However, taxi drivers and pizza delivery could become a thing of the past which would render millions of people out of work. Of course, new jobs will be created to build the high-tech infrastructure required, but it’s not likely to offset the losses.
Antarctica is melting at an alarming rate and launched so many icebergs into the ocean that sea levels have raised about 2 meters in just 100 years.
Last time the icy continent was diminishing at a similar pace was 14,600 years ago.
Researchers say that a point of no return has not only been reached, but already passed and the ongoing process of retreat and destabilization will continue to contribute to rising oceans for centuries to come.
“An unusual strong flow of warm water towards Antarctica may have triggered these events. Our model experiments reveal further that the associated melting in turn increased the warm water flow, thus providing a positive feedback. This is a perfect recipe for rapid sea level rise, Axel Timmermann, professor at the International Pacific Research Center of the University of Hawaii, said.
Residents of Irwindale, California, have learnt the hard way that grinding chili is stinky business.
A hot sauce plant just outside the 1,400-strong town has been at odds with the city council since it started operations in 2013.
Before long, locals started complaining over spicy odours that burned their throats and eyes and the city council took legal action against Huy Fong Foods, makers of Sriracha hot sauce, via a lawsuit. The issue has gone back and forth for months, but both parties have finally agreed to put the lawsuit to rest and look to the future.
City officials met with company CEO David Tran behind closed doors recently and managed to come to an agreement. Tran said after the meeting that his plant has installed stronger filters to block fumes when the chili-grinding season starts in August.
Facebook-owned apps Instagram and WhatsApp have been blocked by an Iranian court over privacy concerns and Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg has been ordered to appear in a different Iranian court to answer complaints by individuals who say those apps have invaded their privacy.
The social media site is already blocked in the country and so is Twitter and YouTube, but it hasn’t stopped senior officials like Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif from tweeting regularly. The ban has had little effect on those who knows how to access proxy servers.
It’s highly unlikely that Zuckerberg will actually appear in any Iranian court as there is no extradition treaty between the United States and Iran. This is not the first time courts there have issued summons and rulings that have been more or less impossible to carry out.