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Driver Trapped In Speeding Car At 125 Mph 1176

Hugh Pickens writes writes "The Guardian reports that Frank Lecerf was driving his Renault Laguna in Northern France when the car's speed jammed at 60mph. Then each time he tried to brake, the car accelerated, eventually reaching 125mph and sticking there. While uncontrollably speeding through the fast lane as other cars swerved out of his way, he managed to call emergency services who immediately dispatched a platoon of police cars. Realizing Lecerf had no choice but to keep racing along until his fuel ran out, they escorted him at high speed across almost 125 miles of French motorway, past Calais and Dunkirk, and over the Belgian border. After about an hour, Lecerf's tank spluttered empty and he managed to swerve into a ditch in Alveringem in Belgium, about 125 miles from his home. 'My life flashed before me,' says Lecerf. 'I just wanted it to stop.' His lawyer says Lecerf will file a legal complaint over 'endangerment of a person's life.'"

Mathematician Predicts Wave of Violence In 2020 397

ananyo writes "In a feature that recalls Asimov's Foundation series and 'psychohistory', Nature profiles mathematician Peter Turchin, who says he can see meaningful cycles in history. Worryingly, Turchin predicts a wave of violence in the United States in 2020. Quoting from the piece: 'To Peter Turchin, who studies population dynamics at the University of Connecticut in Storrs, the appearance of three peaks of political instability at roughly 50-year intervals is not a coincidence. For the past 15 years, Turchin has been taking the mathematical techniques that once allowed him to track predator-prey cycles in forest ecosystems, and applying them to human history. He has analyzed historical records on economic activity, demographic trends and outbursts of violence in the United States, and has come to the conclusion that a new wave of internal strife is already on its way. The peak should occur in about 2020, he says, and will probably be at least as high as the one in around 1970. 'I hope it won't be as bad as 1870,' he adds." We recently discussed similar research into predicting violence in the short term.

Chinese Boy Claims To Have Cat-Like Night Vision 171

Oswald McWeany writes "Reports swirling around the Internet are that a boy in China may have cat-like night vision. The boy with eerie blue-eyes was able to fill out a questionnaire in the dark and his eyes reflect like a cat's when a light is shined on them. No reports yet if he marks his territory or is litter box trained."

Consumer Ethanol Appliance Promised By Year's End 365

Newscloud brings us news of a startup called E-Fuel promising to ship a home-brew ethanol plant, the size of a washer-dryer, for under $10,000 by the end of this year. We've had plenty of discussions about $1/gal. fuel — these guys want to let you make it at home. The company says it plans to develop a NAFTA-enabled distribution network for inedible sugar from Mexico at 1/8th the cost of trade-protected sugar, to use as raw material for making ethanol. A renewable energy expert from UC Berkeley is quoted: "There's a lot of hurdles you have to overcome. It's entirely possible that they've done it, but skepticism is a virtue."

Methane-Eating Bacteria Could Combat Global Warming 218

realwx writes "New Zealand scientists have found a bacterium, named 'Methylokorus infernorum,' that eats a key global warming chemical. Found in a hot spring, the bug lives off of methane emissions from geothermically active areas. A scientist quoted in the article stated that a cubic meter of liquid containing the bacterium would consume about 11kg of methane each year. 'But Dr Stott cautioned that such an application was probably some years into the future. He said it was unlikely the micro-organism, which prefers acidic conditions of about 60C, could ever be added to sheep or cows' food to stop the animals releasing methane.'"

Patterns in Lottery Numbers 563

markmcb writes "Most everyone is familiar with the concept of the lottery, i.e., random numbers are selected and people guess what they will be for a cash prize. But how random are the numbers? Matt Vea has conducted a pattern analysis of the MegaMillions lottery, which recently offered a sum of $370M (USD) to the winner. Matt shows that the lottery isn't as random as it may seem and that there are 'better' choices than others to be made when selecting numbers. From the article, 'A single dollar in MegaMillions purchases a 1 in 175,711,536 chance of landing the jackpot ... a player stands a mildly better chance of winning a partial prize through the selection of weighted numbers.'" Includes some excellent charts of his analysis.

OLPC Experiments With Cow-Powered Laptops 189

An anonymous reader writes "The One Laptop Per Child Project (OLPC) is toying with a novel source of power for its low-cost XO laptops: cows. "We plan to drive a dynamo (taken from an old Fiat) through a system of belts and pulleys using cows/cattle," wrote OLPC's Arjun Sarwal, in an October 21 e-mail posted to one of the group's discussion lists. Sarwal and others are now finalizing the design of the cow-powered generator."

You can tell the ideals of a nation by its advertisements. -- Norman Douglas