QUIRKY WORLD ... Down with the kids.... tutor sets ‘Breaking Bad’ question

BRITAIN: Chemistry students at the University of York were surprised by an exam question asking how Walter White made crystal meth in Breaking Bad.

The first-year students were asked to demonstrate their understanding of how methamphetamine is made in the hit TV show.

The question began: “In the TV show Breaking Bad, the main character Walter White synthesises methamphetamine 3 according to the synthetic scheme shown below.”

They were asked to go on to demonstrate their understanding of the chemistry behind the process.

The question was set by chemistry lecturer Professor David Smith, who said on Twitter: “I’m particularly proud of the ‘Breaking Bad’ exam question I set our 1st years this year.” He later tweeted: “Obviously any students scoring full marks on my exam question will be reported to the DEA.”

Rifle range

US: Researchers are trying to crack the mystery surrounding the discovery of a weathered, rusted, but once-prized Winchester rifle in the mountains of remote eastern Nevada.

The Model 1873 gun, manufactured in 1882, was found leaning against a juniper tree on a rocky outcrop in Great Basin National Park during an archaeological survey in November.

Herbert Houze, former curator of what became known as the Cody Firearms Museum at the Buffalo Bill Centre of the West in Cody, Wyoming, said Winchester Model 1873 rifles such as the one found in Nevada were so valuable that whoever owned it leaned it against the tree — then was unable to find it. “You just don’t leave a gun like that there,” he said.

The rifles, which sold for $35 to $50 in the 1880s, now can fetch up to $15,000(€13,000) in excellent condition.

Near miss, relatively

US: An asteroid a third of a mile across will pass close by the Earth on January 26.

The space rock, code-named 2004 BL86, is expected to reach a point about 1.2m kilometres from our planet, or three times the distance to the Moon.

Although far enough away to be safe, the flyby counts as a narrow encounter in astronomical terms.

It will be the closest any asteroid comes to the Earth until the predicted fly-past of another rock,1999 AN10, on August 7, 2027.

Latest estimates suggest that AN10, which is 0.6 miles across, could approach as close as 30,000km.

Dr Don Yeomans, retiring head of the US space agency Nasa’s Near-Earth Object Programme office at the jet propulsion laboratory in Pasadena, California, said: “Monday January 26 will be the closest asteroid 2004 BL86 will get to Earth for at least the next 200 years.

“And while it poses no threat to Earth for the foreseeable future, it’s a relatively close approach by a relatively large asteroid, so it provides us a unique opportunity to observe and learn more.”

The asteroid is likely to be bright enough to spot with small telescopes and strong binoculars.

Annus horribilis

The presenters of 'Top Gear', from left, Richard Hammond, Jeremy Clarkson, and James May. 'It would have been a terrible gag if we'd planned it,' said Hammond.

BRITAIN: Top Gear boss Andy Wilman said last year was “an annus horribilis” for the motoring show after it came under fire over claims of racism and caused a near-riot while filming in Argentina.

Presenter Jeremy Clarkson had to apologise when unscreened footage emerged of him mumbling the n-word while reciting the children’s nursery rhyme “eeny, meeny, miny, moe” to choose between two cars and the show was also censured by Ofcom for breaching broadcasting rules after Clarkson used a “racial” term during the show’s Burma special.

The year ended with the show’s crew forced to flee Argentina after trouble erupted when it emerged they were using a Porsche with the registration number H982 FKL, which some people suggested could refer to the Falklands conflict of 1982. Protests were organised by Argentinian veterans and stones were thrown at vehicles being used by cast and crew.

Mr Wilman told Broadcast Magazine’s Talking TV podcast: “We’re knackered after last year because last year was a horrible year. I think it was a, what did the Queen say, an annus horribilis, I think it was.”


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