Posts Tagged Metro
(Hat tip to @TomChivers)
Look at me, boldly breaking press embargoes to bring you the FACTS. What IS the formula for the perfect cup of tea?
You might have thought that George Orwell answered that fairly conclusively years ago, but if you did then you are clearly an idiot. After all, George Orwell was just an author, journalist and political campaigner. What the hell do writers know about tea?! No, to answer this question we need the help of cargo cult science!
Good thing Cravendale’s taken the hit and hired scientists from Northumbria University to tell us the secret of good tea. Spoiler warning: the answer’s “Cravendale”.
Some of the more sceptical among you might be wondering how they tested this, and how awfully convenient it was that this research, which appears to have been funded by Cravendale, just happened to prove that Cravendale made the best cup of tea. Well, how can you argue with this experimental methodology:
Following the brewing process, teabags were removed and varied amounts of semi-skimmed Cravendale milk [0ml, 5ml, 10ml] were added to samples for our sensory advisory panel.
The panel’s results reveal that the ideal amount of milk to be added is 10ml.
Yep! They compared Cravendale milk to no milk at all, and shockingly found that Cravendale tastes better than nothing. This must prove Cravendale is the best milk ever, QED.
Incidentally, 10ml isn’t much milk at all, really – it’s less than half a single measure of spirits, after all. You’d think that if you were trying to test the ideal amount of milk to put in tea, you’d try everything from “no milk at all” to “nothing but milk”, but to be fair I guess the scientists involved had more important things to do than indulge the bizarre PR-driven whims of a milk filtration company.
There’s no mention of sugar in the paper, and certainly no mention of anything more exotic – a spoonful of honey, a dollop of cream, or a splash of lemon, for instance. I assume Cravendale hasn’t figured out how to filter sugar or lemon juice yet. They have however found time to make some truly groundbreaking progress in the field of thermodynamics, however:
The optimum temperature to drink tea at is 60°C. With the addition of Cravendale milk, our brews were able to reach the optimum temperature after just six minutes, two minutes faster than regular black tea.
Yes, adding a cold liquid to a hot liquid will in fact cool the hot liquid down! Of course, this only works with Cravendale milk – as everyone knows, if you add regular supermarket own-brand milk to tea, the tea just keeps getting hotter and hotter!
Still, all this stuff about “things cooling down over time” is pretty state of the art – I mean, Isaac Newton only figured out his law of cooling 300 years ago. Thank goodness Cravendale is on the cutting edge.
Anyway, based on all this research, the scientists at Northumbria have come up with a formula for the perfect cup of tea. Are you ready for this piece of extremely rigorous mathematics? Here goes:
TB + (H2O @ 100°c) 2minsBT + C(10ml) 6minsBT = PC (@ OT60°c)
where TB = teabag, BT = brewing time, C = Cravendale milk, OT = optimum temperature and PC = perfect cuppa.
Look how science-y that is! There are letters and numbers and plus signs all over the place! And they say “H2O” instead of “water” – only a true scientist would do that! Also according to that formula you should keep your tea brewing for 6 more minutes after you add the milk which sounds like a one-way trip to astringency-town to me, but then I’ve never written my tea making instructions down in the form of algebra, so what do I know?
This “research” has been embargoed until tomorrow morning – let’s see if any of the papers are stupid enough to run with it.
Anyway, this was quite a long post, so you should probably treat yourself to a nice cup of tea now. Just remember to use own-brand milk.
The question: Could ‘supermoon’ next week disrupt Earth’s weather?
The web was yesterday awash with apocalyptic warnings that the movement of the moon will trigger tidal waves, volcanic eruptions and even earthquakes next week.
The conspiracy theorists claim that on March 19, the moon will be closer to Earth than at any time since 1992 – just 221,567 miles away – and that its gravitational pull will bring chaos to Earth.
But astronomers have dismissed the claims as pure nonsense.
The Sun and Metro have both managed to be much worse than the Mail. The Sun has the headline “‘Disaster’ as Moon closes in” while Metro has “‘Supermoon’ may cause weather chaos for coastal Britain“. Bear in mind that the Moon comes almost this close twice a month – the only thing that makes this time “super” is that it happens to coincide with a full moon, and even then, that happens every 2 or 3 years. This will cause slightly higher tides, yes, but according to the NOAA, these happen 3 or 4 times per year (since they can be triggered by new moons and nearly-full moons too) and the change in the tide is only around 2%.
The Telegraph‘s coverage is better – there’s far less doom – though as much as I hate to be a party pooper, it’s going to be less dramatic than they make out. On average. the moon’s “angular diameter” – the amount of the sky it fills up – is 0.259 degrees. In other words, the moon would appear the same size as a five pence coin held 1.99 metres (6 feet 6 inches) away from your face. During the supermoon, its angular diameter is 0.274 degrees- the same as a five pence coin held 1.88 metres (6 feet 2 inches) away. That’s roughly a 6% increase in size – and this increase happens twice every month.
If you could compare the two side by side, you would see the difference – if you’ve got a small telescope or a decent pair of binoculars, then a supermoon should be a great opportunity to have a look up there – but otherwise, you probably couldn’t tell (the moon illusion causes the size of the moon to appear to vary by way more than 6% anyway). At any rate, the Telegraph‘s illustration is… a little exaggerated.
Damn, I wish I hadn’t wasted the headline “Sexing up” yesterday.
“School children face GCSE sex test… at the age of 11“, according to yesterday’s Mail, while its stablemate Metro tells us “Schools to teach ‘sex GCSE’“. If you just went by the headlines, you might assume that this means 11 year old children are doing an intensive GCSE-level course on the details of sexuality – you don’t have to be especially cynical to suspect that might be a load of rubbish.
In fact, both stories revolve around the Level 1 Award in Sexual Heath Awareness offered by the Northern Council for Further Education. According to the NCFE, the course takes all of 9 hours to teach, and is aimed at “pre-16” children. Now, “pre-16” could mean an 11 year old, but it could equally mean a 14 or 15 year old and, sure enough, the Mail admits deeper in its article:
The Department for Education has also agreed to give schools public funding to teach the qualification to 14-year-olds, but it could in theory be offered to pupils as young as 11.
So any schools that do provide it to children that young do so outside the DfE, and it seems unlikely that headteachers would choose to burden 11 year olds, fresh out of primary school, with extra exams anyway.
Metro and The Daily Express today reheat a Telegraph article from a few days ago on latest sentencing statistics, which reveal that in 2008 the maximum sentence for burglary was not used. For some reason, the papers consider this a major news story, and some sort of damning sign of a weak justice system.
The maximum sentence for burglary is 14 years – no matter how you look at it, 14 years of someone’s life is an incredibly long time – and is set aside for only the most extreme cases. After all, if most burglars were being given the maximum sentence, what do you give the even more extreme ones?
The Express goes further, with the headline “10,000 burglars get light sentences”, which quite plainly isn’t true. The 10,000 figure is the total number of burglaries committed last year, so that would mean every single burglar got a light sentence. The CPS recommends a bare minimum of 9 months – and even then, only for first time offenders who didn’t use force and stole from an empty building – and while 9 months isn’t incredibly severe, even that’s barely “light”. A repeat offender or someone who targets the elderly will get in excess of 4 years, and case law recommends 8.
There are a long list of aggravating factors given by the CPS – targeting vulnerable people, vandalism, professional planning, racial motivation, the use of force, injury caused to the victim, and so on. It seems unlikely that most burglaries will involve all or most of these, which is presumably why maximum sentences are rare. Since I’m not a lawyer, I can’t say for certain whether perhaps someone should have been given the maximum sentence last year, but from a statistical point of view, it’s perfectly reasonable that no-one would get a full 14 year sentence.
Another day, another immigration panic. This time, it’s Metro, warning “UK population will be ‘largest in Western Europe by 2050’“,* though the Express mentions it too in less detail.
The population will jump to 77million by the middle of the century with France, which has more than double Britain’s land area, in second place with 70million inhabitants.
Germany, currently the EU’s biggest country with 81.6million people, will see its population slump to 71.5million, owing to low birth rates, fewer immigrants and ageing population.
This is a multipurpose blog post; since an article like like comes out every week (I’d probably have written something like this after the infamous “1-in-5 Britons will be ethnics” article, but there were bigger problems with that than just misleading use of data) I’ll try to be as general as I can.
“Women’s contraceptives ‘reduce animal attraction factor’ for men” says Metro today, in an article that is in NO WAY just an excuse to show a naked woman wearing a contraceptive patch. Ah yes, the well-known scientific measure, the ‘animal attraction factor’. Incidentally, I’m not sure why ‘reduce animal attraction factor’ is in quotes, since no-one said it, but it does indicate one important thing – this study has only been done on animals.
The Independent, The Mail, Metro, Sky News, CBS News, ABC News, FOX News, TIME, Newsweek and The Hindustan Times, among many others, have all carried in the past few days some variant on the following:
[A] dating site with a strict ban on ugly people, has launched a virtual sperm and egg bank for people who want to have beautiful babies.
By “an online sperm and egg bank”, what they actually mean is a forum on their site to let people exchange details and get in contact with donation clinics. Now, as you can probably imagine, there are a whole host of ethical, legal and logistical difficulties behind this, and you’d think this would make some interesting copy. How can a public forum respect donor anonymity laws? What prevents people from passing off other people’s gametes as their own? What stops people from using the service to send sperm directly from donor to recipient, which carries with it all kinds of disease risks?
And more to the point, what’s new? Solicited gamete donation has been around for decades (just ask the LGBT community), and most countries with legal donation frameworks permit the recipients to choose based, to a greater or lesser extent, on the donor’s appearance. So why is every news outlet reporting this as some sort of groundbreaking news?
Well, there was a press release.*