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Popular Elsewhere

16:26 UK time, Tuesday, 10 May 2011

A look at the stories ranking highly on various news sites.

A popular Guardian story asks if they have found the stupidest answer to a quiz show question ever. The question on the Million Pound Drop was whether, in 1954, Roger Bannister went into space, ran a sub-four minute mile or become the first man ever to put the toilet seat down. "Andrew and Vanessa ummed" says the article. "They ahhed" it continues. "Then, out of nowhere, Andrew had a breakthrough. Eyes burning with pure knowledge, he shouted 'I think I've seen Bannister written on a toilet!' Vanessa was more cautious, wailing 'Who KNOWS this?' before eventually agreeing on the toilet thing as well."

The Guardian article lists their appearance alongside previous game show contestants' thoughts:

  • Cambridge University is in Leicester

  • A famous landmark in Paris is Hawaii

  • Three states of matter are solid, liquid and jelly

And if you're wondering, Mr Bannister was the first man to run a mile in less than four minutes.

The world's most dangerous road is in mountain passes of Pakistan according to al-Jazeera's most read story. The average driver gets paid $60 a month but as workers wouldn't accept such risky work as driving through the Lowari Pass for that money, some are offered $90 bonus each way. Something young drivers "find difficult to resist". Negotiating the curves becomes a physical battle, the article says, and the goal is to "simply go downhill without ever stopping and pray that no truck is on its way up".

A popular story in More Intelligent Life looks at the conundrum of the love song. The trouble is, the article argues, that the best lyrics are from the most dysfunctional relationships. It says that if creates art about you, it's probably because the relationship itself was difficult and unfulfilling. The article points out that several artists remarked it is the intensity of a break-up that fuels their creative process. But, it asks, what about the intensity of a new relationship? It suggests that the reason why the intoxication of early love inspires music is because at that stage of a relationship artists would rather spend time with their new lover than write music.

The biggest hitter on ABC News is about snakes escaping to residential areas in Memphis, Tennessee. They have been forced to flee their homes after the Mississippi River floods.

A popular story on the New York Times asks why children with attention deficit disorder can't sit still in the classroom but can stare at computer and TV screens for hours. Dr Christopher Lucas, associate professor of child psychiatry at New York University School of Medicine is quoted as saying that the difference lies in how many rewards children get. In a classroom they would have to sustain attention in the absence of rewards. On the other hand computer games give frequent intermittent rewards. The accumulation of points might release the neurotransmitter dopamine.

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