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Scientists’ odd prescription to get rid of snakes

A rain of poisonous mice

"Dead mice laced with painkillers are about to rain down on Guam's jungle canopy," says Associated Press. "They are scientists' prescription for a headache that has caused the tiny U.S. territory misery for more than 60 years: the brown tree snake. Most of Guam's native bird species are extinct because of the snake, which reached the island's thick jungles by hitching rides from the South Pacific on U.S. military ships shortly after the Second World War. There may be two million of the reptiles on Guam now, decimating wildlife, biting residents and even knocking out electricity by slithering onto power lines," AP said. Acetaminophen, the active ingredient in painkillers including Tylenol, is toxic to the snakes. In Hawaii, more than 5,000 kilometres away, environmental officials have long feared a similar tree-snake invasion, though they anticipate more of a "snakes on a plane" scenario, AP said.

Lover charged with felony

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"Anthony Brasfield saw romance when he released a dozen heart-shaped balloons into the sky over Dania Beach with his sweetie," reports The South Florida Sun-Sentinel. "A Florida Highway Patrol trooper saw a felony. Brasfield, 40, and his girlfriend, Shaquina Baxter, were in the parking lot of the Motel 6 on Dania Boulevard when he released the shiny red and silver Mylar balloons and watched them float away Sunday morning," the Sun-Sentinel said. "Brasfield was charged with polluting to harm humans, animals, plants, etc. … Endangered marine turtle species and birds, such as wood storks and brown pelicans, seek refuge in John U. Lloyd State Park, about [2.5 km] east of the motel."

Bookshelf oddities

Since 1978, Britain's Diagram Prize for Oddest Book Title has been given to the year's most peculiarly named work. Some of the notable entries of previous years, compiled by The Telegraph:

An Arsonist's Guide to Writers' Homes in New England – Brock Clarke

What to Say When You Talk to Yourself – Shad Helmstetter

Truncheons: Their Romance and Reality – Erland Fenn

Competitive trashing

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"Would you like all of your Facebook friends to sift through your trash?" writes Evgeny Morozov of The Wall Street Journal. "A group of designers from Britain and Germany think that you might. Meet BinCam, a 'smart' trash bin that aims to revolutionize the recycling process. BinCam looks just like your average trash bin, but with a twist: Its upper lid is equipped with a smartphone that snaps a photo every time the lid is shut. The photo is then uploaded to Mechanical Turk, the Amazon-run service that lets freelancers perform laborious tasks for money. In this case, they analyze the photo and decide if your recycling habits conform with the gospel of green living. Eventually, the photo appears on your Facebook page. You are also assigned points, as in a game, based on how well you are meeting the recycling challenge."

The weight of guilt

"Metaphorically, if something's weighing on you, you feel responsible for it," says The

Boston Globe. "According to a new study, though, you can bring that metaphor to life,

literally – and harness it for good. When asked to write about a guilty experience, people who were wearing a heavy backpack reported more guilt than people wearing a light one. They also were more willing to perform an arduous task, choose a healthier snack and cheat less."

Thought du jour

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Like dogs in a wheel, birds in a cage or squirrels in a chain, ambitious men still climb and climb, with great labour and incessant anxiety, but never reach the top.

Robert Browning, English poet (1812-89)

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