x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

Dull and Boring join forces for tourism

Plus, weight goggles are food for thought; engineer boldly goes all out to make Starship Enterprise; Ikea calls in translators and more of the week's strangest stories in News You Can Lose.

Dull, a small village in Scotland, has formed a historic alliance with Boring, a town in the US state of Oregon.

The link was suggested by Elizabeth Leighton, who lives near Dull and came across Boring while on a cycling holiday in the United States.

Dull derives its name for the Pictish word for fields, while Boring is named after William Boring, the town's founder.

Since Dull has a single street and a population of just 84, and Boring is home to 10,000 people, the two communities are not allowed to officially twin.

Authorities in both communities are looking at other ways to exploit the link for tourism with a possible slogan: "Dull in association with Boring".


Food for thought

Japanese scientists have come up with special goggles that they claim can promote weight loss by making food look bigger.

Researchers at the University of Tokyo link the goggles to a computer programme that amplifies the size of food by as much as 50 per cent.

Takuji Narumi, an assistant professor, says: "By changing the size of the food and scaling it up we have shown that participants eat about 10 per cent less over the course of a day."

In tests, subjects ate nine per cent fewer biscuits when they appeared bigger. The programme can even make a person's hand remain the correct size.


To boldly go

An engineer has unveiled plans to build a full-sized working replica of the Starship Enterprise from the science fiction series Star Trek.

Giving his name only as "BTE Dan", the so-called curator of "Build the Enterprise" website says, with current technology, the ship would be ready in 20 years.

However, the project has run into a number of obstacles, including the cost, estimated at a trillion dollars, and would require the trebling of Nasa's budget.

The 21st century USS Enterprise would also lack a few of the refinements of Captain Kirk's command.

Unlike dilithium crystals, it would be nuclear powered, with ion engines rather than warp drive. The average 78 million km journey to Mars would still take three months, while Federation starships are said to be capable of 83 billion miles a second.


Swedish sound bites

Ikea has hired translators to make sure the names of its products are not open to double meaning.

The move comes after "Rendalen" a bed named after a town in Norway, was found to sound like an offensive word in Thailand. It also discovered the pot planter "Jättebra" could be confused with a similarly crude term.

Ikea, which has just opened its fifth-largest store in Bangkok, has now hired local translators to check out the rest of its catalogue.


Beacon unbecoming

A rescue beacon that was thrown away but accidentally left switched on has been found in a landfill tip.

Aircraft had already begun reporting emergency signals from the beacon, which was transmitting from the heart of a dump in New Zealand.

The owner had bought a new beacon and put the old one in the rubbish without removing the batteries.