Five Lessons Learnt This Week

This week in Five Lessons Learnt (our round-up of all the important lessons the week has taught us), we’ve learnt how technology could take over the world, why you should fake it ’till you make it, not to drink too much water and exactly what our choice of wheels says about us…

1. What your car says about you

Screen Shot 2014-12-03 at 09.58.10A survey in China has compared the images of luxury car brands to find out just what other drivers think of their owners. One hundred owners of each brand of car were surveyed – and the results are interesting, to say the least.

Apparently, BMW drivers are seen as newly rich, materialistic showoffs by other drivers. Audi owners are thought to be mature, experienced government officials, while Mercedes drivers were seen as successful, cultured entrepreneurs (and also had the highest income of all those surveyed, for what it’s worth). Land Rover drivers didn’t come out well: other drivers perceive them to be young showoffs with new money. Cadillac drivers were seen as mature and successful – in contrast to Infiniti owners, who were perceived to be glitzy and glamorous while having the lowest income of those surveyed.

And Volvo? Their drivers are highly-educated, valuable members of society who are family orientated and morally upright (*cough* boring *cough*).

If you’re looking for some new wheels, ditch the stereotypes and find out why we love Trion Supercars.

2. How tech could destroy mankind

Screen Shot 2014-12-03 at 11.36.02Will machines rise up and destroy us? It might sound like something out of a science fiction film (and the idea has inspired plenty), but physicist Stephen Hawking has spoken up this week to warn us that artificial intelligence could spell the end humankind.

Hawking believes that the primitive forms of artificial intelligence we’ve developed so far are very useful, but that if we continue to delve further, the development of a full artificial intelligence could spell the end of the human race. His argument is that once a machine is capable of thinking for itself, it could learn to make improvements to itself, slowly becoming more intelligent and eventually becoming all-powerful. Humans, limited by slow biological evolution, would be powerless to stop the process, Hawking argues.

What do you think? (If you’re a computer, we hope not a lot…)

Just in case, we’re sticking with the old-fashioned Brick – there’s no risk of that taking over the world anytime soon.

3. Why you should fake it ’till you make it

Screen Shot 2014-12-03 at 12.03.12Not advice we recommend you apply to your trading strategy… but it seemed to be working for student Francisco Nicolas Gomez Iglesias – until he got himself arrested, that is.

The Spanish law student dubbed “Little Nicolas” had been enjoying the high life by passing himself off as various government officials, including a secret service agent and an adviser to the deputy prime minister. He was living a double life, studying for his degree in-between lunching with business executives and politicians – and even gaining access to the VIP box in Real Madrid stadium, receiving thousands of pounds for brokering a property deal and shaking hands with King Felipe IV at his coronation – all through his impersonations.

His fun couldn’t last, though. He was arrested after trying to get into a party at the US Embassy and charged with fraud, forgery and impersonating government officials after his house was found to be full of fake government vehicle permits, a police siren and official Civil Guard and National Police licence plates.

He’s currently on bail awaiting prosecution – and has amassed 37,000 Facebook fans and a viral online following thanks to his alleged scam.

4. How water can kill you

Screen Shot 2014-12-03 at 13.53.57Poison expert Deborah Blum, from the American Chemical Society, has pointed out that many substances that are harmless in small doses can actually be toxic if you ingest too much of them – and believe it or not, water is one of them.

It might seem innocent enough – after all, you drink it every day – but it turns out water in large volumes can literally poison you, turning into what Blum describes as “a cleverly evil compound that knows how to turn a lock in your body and harm you”.

Luckily, though, you’d need to drink an awful lot of water before it would pose you a problem. Scientists measure toxicity of a substance based on the lethal dose 50, or LD50 – what level of it would kill 50 percent of a test population. For water, a 165 pound person would have to guzzle about 6 litres all in one go – so you’re probably pretty safe.

Just to be on the safe side, we recommend mixing up your water intake with the occasional beer – here are 10 new ones to try!

5. Don’t lose your head

brain-512758_640…or your brain. This week, a university in Texas misplaced 100 human brains in jars of formaldehyde. They’d been stored in the university since almost 30 years ago, when 200 brains were transferred to the university as teaching materials. As the university only had room for half of them, the rest were sent to the basement.

But the school was in for a shock on Tuesday when professors realised the spare brains had gone walkabouts. The university plan to investigate how the brains went missing, but psychology professor Lawrence Cormack admitted that “it’s entirely possible word got around among undergraduates and people started swiping them for living rooms or Halloween pranks.”

(Living rooms?! Are we reading that right?)