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European Union wants to make sure Facebook forgets

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A right to be forgotten

"The European Union is to enshrine a 'right to be forgotten online' to ensure that, among other things, prospective employers cannot find old Facebook party photos of someone wearing nothing but a lampshade," The Guardian reports. "In a speech to the European parliament, the EU justice commissioner, Viviane Reding, warned companies such as Facebook that: 'A U.S.-based social network company that has millions of active users in Europe needs to comply with EU rules.' "

Older, wiser elephants

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"Elephants pay close attention to their elders," BBC News reports, "especially when they hear the sound of an approaching predator, scientists have found. A research team monitored African elephants' reactions when they heard the sound of lions roaring. Groups of animals with older female leaders, or matriarchs, very quickly organized themselves into a defensive 'bunch' when they heard a male lion. The findings are reported in the Royal Society journal Proceedings B. … 'Male lions present a very real threat [for elephants]" said [researcher Karen McComb of the University of Sussex] 'They can be successful in bringing down a calf even when alone.' Female lions, however, are unlikely to attack an elephant unless they are in large groups, and the researchers found that older female elephants were able to distinguish the sound of a male lion from a female. … 'Younger matriarchs didn't seem as bothered by male lions as they should have been,' Dr. McComb said."

Little looting in Japan

"Japanese people may well be more honest than most," Christopher Beam writes for Slate. "But the Japanese legal structure rewards honesty more than most. In a 2003 study on Japan's famous policy for recovering lost property, [Prof. Mark West of the University of Michigan Law School]argues that the high rates of recovery have less to do with altruism than with the system of carrots and sticks that incentivizes people to return property they find rather than keep it. For example, if you find an umbrella and turn it in to the cops, you get a finder's fee of 5 to 20 per cent of its value if the owner picks it up. If they don't pick it up within six months, the finder gets to keep the umbrella. Japanese learn about this system from a young age, and a child's first trip to the nearest police station after finding a small coin, say, is a rite of passage that both children and police officers take seriously. … Failure to return a found wallet can result in hours of interrogation at best, and up to 10 years in prison at worst."

Messages to past, future?

"Two U.S. physicists say if their theory is right, the Large Hadron Collider, the world's largest atom smasher, could be the world's first time machine," United Press International reports. "Vanderbilt University researchers Tom Weiler and Chui Man Ho say the machine could be capable of causing matter to travel backward in time. … 'Our theory is a long shot,' Weiler said, 'but it doesn't violate any laws of physics or experimental constraints.' One of the major goals of the collider is to discover the elusive Higgs boson, the particle that physics theories invoke to explain why particles like protons, neutrons and electrons have mass. If the collider succeeds in producing the Higgs boson, some scientists predict it will create a second particle, called the Higgs singlet, at the same time. Weiler and Ho's theory says these singlets should have the ability to jump into an extra, fifth dimension where they can move either forward or backward in time and reappear in the future or past. … '[I] scientists could control the production of Higgs singlets, they might be able to send messages to the past or future,' [Weiler]said."

No familiar faces

"A Vermont neighbourhood is being stalked by a renegade gray squirrel," Associated Press reports. "Several people in Bennington say they've been attacked by a squirrel over the last few weeks. Kevin McDonald tells the Bennington Banner he was shovelling snow when the squirrel jumped onto him. He says he threw the animal off, but it twice jumped back onto him. A game warden says there have been other reports, too. One woman is being treated for exposure to rabies, but Vermont Public Health veterinarian Robert Johnson says there's never been a case of a squirrel passing rabies to a human. Johnson says it's possible the squirrel was raised as a pet and lost its fear of humans. He says the squirrel might 'go ballistic' when it encounters people it doesn't recognize."

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Thought du jour

"Instead of looking on discussion as a stumbling block in the way of action, we think it an indispensable preliminary to any wise action at all."

- Pericles (circa 495-429 BC), Athenian statesman

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