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Twenty-three cars are setting off on a remarkable race across the desert.
From a distance, the cars look like any other rally cars tearing down the dusty roads. But closer inspection reveals that something odd is going on. There’s no-one sitting in the driving seat of any of the cars. Nor are they being steered by remote control.
This is the Grand Challenge, the worlds toughest race for robot vehicles – cars that drive themselves. There is $2m £1m on offer to the car that completes the 135 mile course in the fastest time. To win it the cars will have to drive 20 times further than any robot car has ever driven itself before.
More at MSNBC.com
Bird brained they might be, but crows are the MacGyvers of the avian world, able to turn twigs and even their own feathers into tools for getting at hard-to-reach food. But while young crows are born with a propensity for crafting tools, it’s only after watching their elders make and use tools that they become truly proficient, a new study suggests.
Compared to other crows, those from the Pacific island of New Caledonia, located east of Australia, are master tool makers and users, second only to humans and on level with chimps when it comes to finding novel uses for everyday objects. In their natural forest environment, the midnight-black birds fashion twigs, leaves and even their own feathers into tools for rooting out insects in dead wood.
More at The Herald – Life
So many bats have infested the town’s historic district that the sky turns black with each sunset and the neighborhood is calling on Batman to come to the rescue.
That’s what the local bat remover goes by. George Perkins often makes public appearances in the caped crusader’s costume and drives his own Batmobile – a retro-styled Chrysler Prowler with bat emblems. Callers to his office in Eufaula, Ala., known as Bat Cave 1, or Union Springs, Ala., known as Bat Cave 2, hear the “Batman” TV show theme while on hold.
The bat-weary residents of Americus aren’t laughing. The problem is even too big for Batman, and now the state has promised to help. The Georgia Department of Natural Resources has proposed a long-term plan that includes surveying the bat population, possibly training city workers to do bat removals for needy homeowners and building bat houses in safe areas where the flying mammals can continue providing environmental benefits without being a nuisance.
“They’re perpetual crap machines,” said Tripp Pomeroy, who moved to the town of 17,000 in 1989 to work for Habitat for Humanity, which has its global headquarters here.
More at NEWS.com.au
A prized dairy cow is putting her best foot forward again after an Australian-first effort to fit a prosthetic limb. Latrobe dairy farmer Geoff Heazlewood admits it was just a whim when he suggested Theresa, a two-year-old heifer, get an artificial leg. But the response to the throw-away line on ABC Radio’s Country Hour has amazed Mr Heazlewood and his wife Anne.
Last weekend Theresa was fitted with a new leg, just three months after one of her rear legs was amputated after a fall down an embankment. It followed offers from four people with experience in making prosthetics, including Launceston’s Charmaine Gooding who made and fitted the limb.
“She volunteered her time but gave us no guarantees, did some work and that’s where we are at now,” Mr Heazlewood said.
A week after fitting the artificial leg, made of timber and fibreglass, everything is going well.
Mr Heazlewood said the cow seemed to take a few minutes to get used to the new leg, but had adjusted fairly well.
Romanian witches are hiring English teachers so they can cash in on the country’s EU entry by targeting new clients.
Local ‘celebrity’ white witch Ioana Sidonia is the latest witch to start having English lessons so she can cast spells for new English-speaking clients when Romania joins the EU in January. She said: “My magic powers told me that not only would Romania prosper from joining the EU, but that it would bring me lots of English-speaking clients. There will be lots more foreigners around and by learning English I can help them. Until now the only words of English I could speak were the names of different whiskies. I thought I should expand my vocabulary.”
More at Ananova
The M6 has been named Britain’s most haunted road in a new Halloween survey.
The M6’s spooky reputation follows with reports of phantom Roman soldiers, a ghostly woman and a lorry driving against the flow of traffic. Motorists have also reported eyes looking out from bushes in Platt Lane, Leigh, Manchester – the scene of a mining disaster years previously.
The A9 in the Highlands was the second most haunted after a family reported seeing an ornate coach and horses, along with bewigged footmen.
Passengers on a broken-down train were shocked when they were asked if they could fix it.
The London to Manchester Virgin train was halted at Rugby station in Warwickshire when a windscreen wiper broke. The train manageress pleaded over the tannoy [intercom, Yank] for any passengers with nuts, bolts or cable ties to go to the front of the carriage.
Four men stepped forward to help, reports The Sun. One of them, Damian Gaskin said: “It was unbelievable. I had a few basic tools with me so I went to help. One man had a foot on the platform with his other stretched across the windscreen. He was straddling the train. he told me he was a passenger and fixed the electrics on a service the week before.”
A Virgin spokesman said: “After several repair attempts passengers got off the train and boarded a later service.”