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What’s New on, June 5-11

It’s hot outside. You look like you could use four cool stories that made headlines this week at our European partner site,

i-dae2fca3ce321e91ba80a4d46155ea66-nuclearplant.jpgEurope-wide Nuclear Alarm
Last Wednesday evening we had to spend some hours knowing that a nuclear radiation alert had been issued throughout Europe. That long Wednesday evening we had to remain calm as we waited for some more detailed information. Christian of Frischer Wind and Beatrice of Neurons
reported all night until the cause of the alarm, a nuclear power plant in Krsko, Slovenia, was finally shut down. The plant had a leak in its cooling water system. Someone on the spot had incorrectly assessed the danger level and triggered the alarm, but this was announced the next day.

Only two days later, we learned of the International Energy Agency’s statement that we would need to build 32 new nuclear reactors per year till 2050 for climate protection. Neurons reported: “In numbers, this means 1,280 new nuclear power plants until 2050, four times more than exist today.”

European Soccer Championship
The 2008 UEFA European Football Championship started last Saturday. Florian Freistetter takes a look at the games through two unlikely lenses: astrology and homeopathy.

He analyzed some prophecies of astrologers, such as: “We can really be glad that
the Moon is in Leo and nowhere else: otherwise the fans wouldn’t promote
their teams with enthusiasm and passion.”

And he wondered about the astonishing 92 percent of doctors engaged for Bundeliga, the
German national league, that use homeopathic products. “Professional athletes seem to have a special penchant for superstition and to have no inhibitions against trying out even absurd theories if they promise an improvement of performance,” he writes.

(Weather)Man versus Machine
Frank Abel is weather guy on the radio and television and he works as a
media meteorologist at MC-Wetter (MC-Weather) in Berlin. He came to the idea to compare his own forecasts with Google forecasts in his blog, Weatherlog, and he succeeded. On Wednesday, Frank made his forecasts and pitted them against Google’s:

“I would challenge Google: which predictions are closer to the truth?
Therefore I’m now doing forecasts of the maximum temperature for two places
until Sunday. On Monday we will see who was closer to reality.”

He looked at two German cities, Paderborn and Freiburg. On Monday, he announced an overall difference of 18 degrees Celsius for Google and 9
degrees Celsius for his own predictions. The reasons: “Probably the provider for
Google Weather merely uses an analysis of so-called grid point data, where
specific geographical circumstances are not included.” His conclusion: “Whoever
lives in the vicinity of mountains should not rely on Google for the weather forecast. For lowland stations, the quality is often sufficient.”

Image of the Week
Although it isn’t the latest posting, we had this nice comic (in English!) at
Weitergen about males and females and their genomes.

That’s all for now. Note that links in this article are to blog posts in German—but their authors are usually happy to respond to comments in English. Danke!

Nuclear stack photo by Ben McLeod, via Flickr.

This newsletter is compiled by managing editor Beatrice Lugger.