Fri, Dec 25, 2009 - Page 6 News List

World News Quick Take

AGENCIES

■UNITED KINGDOM

Snappy crackers guaranteed

Researchers have devised what they say is a guaranteed method of pulling crackers to avoid disappointment, reports said yesterday. The experts say the method for always winning the long end of the cracker, and therefore the prize inside, is in the angle that you grip it — and they have released a mathematical formula to follow. You are guaranteed success if you follow the formula O=11xC/L+5xQ, which is based on the angle, grip and quality of the cracker. You must first multiply the circumference of the cracker in inches (C) by 11 before dividing that number by the length (L) of the barrel. Take that total and add it to the figure you get when you multiply the quality (Q) — either 1, 2 or 3 depending on whether the cracker is cheap, standard or premium — by five, the Daily Mail said. The formula ought to produce a figure between 20 and 55 degrees, which is the optimum pulling angle (O). The cracker should also be pulled 2.54cm from the end of the tail. A quality control team at Debenhams department store pulled hundreds of crackers in the run-up to Christmas before discovering the winning formula.

■GERMANY

Helpful boy pulled over

A seven-year-old boy was stopped by police in the northern town of Reinfeld while trying to plow snow with a front loader he borrowed from his parents’ business. Officers found the boy atop the 3.5m-tall excavator after he had cleared a street and was driving back to the parking lot. “He opened the door, got out and admitted immediately that he did not have a driving license,” the police report said. When asked why he had begun plowing, he said his father had complained about the state of the roads. He saw the key in the ignition of the vehicle and took off.

■UNITED STATES

New roach discovered

A Rockefeller University study appears to have uncovered a new species of cockroach in New York City. “The cockroach is genetically modified. Species don’t differ more than 1 percent, this cockroach is 4 percent different, which suggests it is a new species of cockroach,” said Mark Stoeckle, an expert on genomics and DNA barcoding at the university. The previously unidentified creepy-crawly was uncovered as part of a project undertaken by two high-school students, Brenda Tan, 17, and Matt Cost, 18, under Stoeckle’s supervision. The pair trawled New York apartments, stores and street, collecting 217 specimens between November last year and March. They took samples from supermarket food, the remains of an insect found in a box of fruit, a feather from a duster, dried dung and a cockroach and matched DNA sequences using the Barcode of Life Database and GenBank. The American Museum of Natural History laboratory identified 170 genetic codes, leading the researchers to identify 95 different animal species, including some that were unexpected. “A feather from a duster yielded ostrich DNA. A delicacy labeled ‘sturgeon caviar’ instead turned out to be from the paddlefish. A popular Asian snack was revealed as giant flying squid. Bison DNA was found in a dog biscuit,” the pair wrote on the university Web site.

■UNITED STATES

Hallyday home for Xmas

French rocker and entertainment icon Johnny Hallyday has left Cedars-Sinai Hospital in Los Angeles after about two weeks of hospitalization for back surgery. Hallyday’s press agency says the 66-year-old star joined his wife and two daughters at their Los Angeles home.

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