QUIRKY WORLD ... Humans would be more efficient if bird-brained

England:  Humans could be more efficient if they learnt from pigeons and stopped thinking about what they were doing, say scientists.

Switching between making a phone call and writing an email was error-prone because humans stopped doing one thing to start another.

Scientists at the University of Exeter compared a human’s ability to switch between tasks with that of pigeons’. The birds’ way of doing tasks associatively caused no decrease in accuracy, but humans made more mistakes when they switched tasks.

Pound for pound

England:

The falling value of money means that £1.80 in the year the Queen was born would have the same spending power as £100 today.

Lloyds Bank Private Banking said the impact of inflation, with its 56-fold increase in retail prices, means £55.7m is the equivalent of £1m in 1926.

The average price of a loaf of bread is now £1.02, but in 1926 it would have been under 2p; a pint of beer is £2.57 today and was 2p in 1926.

Heroes to villains

USA:

Superheroes, Iron Man, the Hulk, and Anna from Frozen, have been arrested in New York City’s Times Square — for accosting tourists, demanding cash, and refusing to give them change.

The street performers were held hours after the city began to paint rectangles in pedestrian plazas to confine costumed characters. The colour-coded ‘designated activity zones’ are meant to rein in the pushy panhandlers who have flooded the area, in some cases harassing passers-by to take photos with them in exchange for tips.

Under a law signed by mayor Bill de Blasio, street performers and costumed characters can be issued summonses, or be arrested, if they are caught operating outside the eight 2.5m x 15m rectangles.

Noah’s Ark in collision

Norway:

A wooden exhibition ship built as a representation of Noah’s Ark has collided with a Norwegian coastguard boat in Oslo harbour, damaging both vessels.

The coastguard said the Ark — a 70m, Dutch-built model of the biblical ship, used as a floating museum — was being towed into the harbour when it ran into the Nornen patrol vessel, which was moored at a quay. No-one was injured.

Kenya:

A three-hour nationwide blackout in Kenya was caused by a monkey, the national power company said.

The Kenya Electricity Generation Company said a wandering primate climbed onto the roof of Gitaru Power Station, in central Kenya, and fell onto a transformer, tripping it.

This caused other machines in the station to trip, resulting in the loss of 180MW from the plant, triggering a national blackout.

The statement did not say whether the monkey survived the incident.

Raft man gets the drift

USA:

A man on a piece of plywood in a marina was swept out by the Hudson River and wound up two nautical miles away near Governor’s Island. He had been preparing to watch the sunset.

The man drifted into the river on an 2.5m-long piece of plywood on Thursday, around 4:45am, half an hour before the sun came up, New York Fire Department captain Louis Guzzo said.

“At first, we just thought it was debris,” Guzzo said. “You wouldn’t put this thing on a lake, much less New York harbour.”

The man stayed on the wood because he did not want to jump into the water and lose his phone while swimming back, but the plywood floated farther out into the harbour’s busy commercial lanes.


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