This week in Five Lessons Learnt, find out how Tetris can reduce addictive behaviours, when computers will be able to appreciate your bad jokes and why you should always check your spelling (and avoid climbing into household appliances – don’t ask). Read on for this week’s best funny, alternative and just plain weird news…
1. You can swim in the sky
Afraid of heights? You might want to stop reading now. Developers have been given planning permission to build the world’s first “sky pool” – a swimming pool literally suspended in the sky. The pool will bridge the gap between two residential buildings in Nine Elms in London and will be made entirely of 20cm thick glass. So you’d better not be shy of people seeing you in your cossie.
Part of a $1 billion development in Embassy Gardens, the new pool will offer swimmers will have a view right through the pool floor to the street 10 storeys (or 110ft) below, as well as a panoramic view of Westminster and the London Eye. The development will also have a rooftop terrace, bar, loungers, a spa and an orangery – all at 11oft high.
All you have to do to get access is shell out $602,000 to get your hands on an Embassy Gardens apartment…
2. Always check your spelling
One mother learned this the hard way this week when a particularly spectacular autocorrect fail resulted in her ordering her daughter a birthday cake topped with a “wee blind girl” instead of a “wee blond girl”.
Marie Seggie was somewhat confused when daughter Laura’s 21st birthday cake arrived topped with a little girl holding a white cane – but the family soon realised they were victims of an autocorrect fail.
Thankfully, they all saw the funny side of it (and so did Twitter when a picture of the epic cake fail went viral).
And this is the reason why autocorrect may well be one of the best technical innovations of our time. Not because it accurately corrects spellings. Just because it’s hilarious when it goes wrong.
3. Don’t climb into your washing machine
Not news to most of us, really. But an anonymous (and presumably pretty embarrassed) guy from New South Wales, Australia must have missed the memo. After somehow getting his entire lower body wedged in his washing machine, he remained stuck for three hours before a fire crew arrived to free him.
The rescue operation took over an hour as firefighters had to dismantle the entire machine in order to extract him. Somewhat unsurprisingly, a spokesperson from Bankstown Fire and Rescue revealed that it’s the first washing machine extraction the team have ever undertaken. Despite being in a lot of discomfort, the man was eventually freed from the machine unscathed.
No details have been released as to how the guy ended up in the washing machine in the first place. Frankly, we’re not sure we even want to know…
4. Playing Tetris could help you kick that coffee habit
Researchers have found a new tool that could prove useful in reducing cravings for food, drugs and other addictive behaviours – playing Tetris. The block-shifting puzzle game from the 1980s has been found to reduce cravings for everything from wine to sleep by up to a fifth.
In the experiment 31 undergraduates were prompted seven times a day to report cravings, as well as being encouraged to proactively provide details of any craving they experienced. Fifteen members of the group were asked to play Tetris for three minutes before reporting on their cravings again – and the study consistently found that playing the game helped diminish cravings.
Whether it was food, coffee, cigarettes, beer, wine, sleep or even activities like playing video games or socialising with friends, playing Tetris consistently reducing the craving. Researchers reckon it’s because craving something requires vividly imagining it, and Tetris occupies the mind and stops the imagination from focusing on the vice in question. Although we reckon this school of thought could just produce a whole lot of Tetris addicts. Still, as addictive behaviours go, there’s a lot worse…
5. Computers are developing a sense of humour
Good news if your friends, family, neighbours, colleagues and anyone else who’ll listen are getting tired of your bad jokes… soon, your computer will be able to understand the punchline. Microsoft are currently working on an artificial intelligence system that teaches computers to be funny.
The system is currently being used to rank cartoon and caption-entry contest entries from the New Yorker magazine. The contest rakes in 5,000 entries a week, so it’s hoped that a computer will be able lighten the load of sorting through the pile of entries. Currently, the system didn’t always match the New Yorker editors’ choices, but all of the editors’ favourites did appear in the computer’s top 55.8% of choices.
Next, researchers are hoping to train computers to come up with their own jokes in specific circumstances. We can’t wait to hear what they come up with…