QUIRKY WORLD ... A daily look at some of the world’s stranger stories

BORIS BIKE v VENTOUX

QUIRKY WORLD ... A daily look at some of the world’s stranger stories

ENGLAND: London mayor Boris Johnson has praised three friends who took a “Boris bike” on a gruelling trip up a French mountain before returning it with 22 seconds to spare before the 24-hour rental limit expired.

Matthew Winstone, Ian Laurie and Robert Holden paid the £2 (€2.36) daily hire charge for the bike, which they took from New Kent Rd in Southwark, south London, at 3.58am on Oct 26. They then took it by van through the Eurotunnel and drove to Mont Ventoux, a Tour de France landmark, where Mr Holden, from Teddington, south-west London, pedalled the three-speed 23kg bike to the top.

The group managed to get the bike back to London by 3.57am the following day — just in time to avoid the £150 Transport for London fee for going over 24 hours. Their efforts have so far raised more than £3,600 for Macmillan Cancer Support which was chosen because Mr Holden’s father suffered from the disease.

SMART BRA COULD PREVENT OVER-EATING

ENGLAND: Scientists have developed a smart bra which can measure the wearer’s mood to help prevent over-eating.

MC Schraefel, a professor in computer science and human performance design from the University of Southampton, has helped design the bra which is fitted with sensors which monitor heart and skin activity. The data from the prototype device is then analysed by a smartphone app which can highlight when “emotional eating” is most likely to occur and offer advice to the wearer. The app can then provide suggestions such as carrying out calming breathing exercises to reduce the user’s stress levels.

Prof Schraefel said: “Emotional states, habitual practices, like snacking in front of the TV or grabbing a cookie when stressed, often go undetected by us but they have real effects on our wellbeing.”

The bra is a result of a study called Food And Mood: Just-in-Time Support For Emotional Eating, authored by researchers from the University of Southampton, Microsoft Research, and the University of Rochester, US.

Brazil customs seizes a ton of human hair

Brazil: Customs at São Paulo’s international airport said they had impounded a cargo containing a tonne ofhuman hair from India worth $400,000 (€72,709).

The importer declared the value of cargo — long ponytails held together with elastic bands and packed into boxes — “as just $15,000 (€4,600)”, a spokesman said. “But during inspection it turned out the true value is $400,000.”

Customs also said the importer “was not the real intended recipient of the human hair cargo”. The spokesman urged “consumers of this type of product always to ensure if the supplier respects National Sanitary Surveillance Agency requirements” on sterilising and disinfecting imported hair.

LIBRARIANS HONOURED

USA: Some were praised as inspirations for young people, others for their work on digital projects and still others as tireless researchers.

The American Library Association has announced that 10 librarians were named winners of the I Love My Librarian award. Each will receive $5,000 (€3,636).

Winners include Jennifer J Jamison of Atlantic High School in New Jersey, cited for using e-book devices to encourage children to read.

DIAL-A-CAROL

USA: The phones are jingling off the hook at Dial-a-Carol, a student-run project on the University of Illinois’ Champaign campus.

It is a hotline of sorts for people who prefer hearing holiday music sung by a choir of amateurs who have been up all night studying.

Last year, the student volunteers took more than 4,000 calls from people all over the world requesting such holiday tunes as ‘Jingle Bells’, ‘White Christmas’, and ‘Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer’.

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