This week in Five Lessons Learnt: energy efficient aliens, speech mix-ups, invisibility cloaks and why you’re never too old…
1. Aliens are stupid… or just really energy efficient
If you’ve been living in fear of an invasion by a super-advanced breed of aliens, you can probably sleep easy tonight. A group of scientists reckon they’ve proved that there are no Type III (a.k.a., really really really technologically advanced) species in our universe – because if there were, their waste heat emissions would create a civilisation “footprint”.
In theory, a Type III civilisation (for reference, humans are about two centuries away from reaching Type I status, which puts us somewhere on the “mildly intelligent ape” scale by comparison) would be so technologically advanced that their existence would produce masses of waste heat which astronomers would spot a mile off.
So there probably aren’t any superbreeds out there – unless they’ve just figured out how to become so energy efficient that they produce very low waste heat emission products? Head scientist Professor Garrett says this is unlikely, and almost impossible within the limits of our current understanding of physics – but then, what’s to say they don’t understand physics better than we do? We are talking about a super race, after all… *cue dramatic ominous music*
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2. Fail to prepare, prepare to fail
And preparing, but preparing for the wrong event is also pretty bad too. As Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe found out after accidentally reading the wrong speech at the opening of parliament.
The president recited a speech he’d actually already given during his state-of-the-nation address on the 25th August. The first time he gave the speech, he was heckled by opposition MPs, so this time around his audience had been pre-warned to behave and not to disrupt proceedings. So although it quickly became apparent they were being subjected to the same speech for a second time, members sat quietly and applauded politely at the correct intervals.
His spokesman apologised for the mishap and said the error was because of a mix-up in the president’s secretarial office. Someone’s going to pay for that…
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3. Buzz Lightyear can’t drive
Or maybe the real lesson here is don’t change your name to something stupid if you don’t want to run into admin issues. Toy Story enthusiast Sam Stephens (aka Buzz Lightyear) found this out the hard way after changing his name to celebrate reaching his £2,000 fundraising target for the Brighton Marathon in support of a children’s cancer charity CLIC Sargent, and to raise awareness for the fund.
Buzz/Sam researched his name change beforehand and even contacted the DVLA, who said as long as deed poll didn’t flag up the name, there shouldn’t be a problem. However, he quickly ran into issues – first of all, receiving a fine for gross misconduct from the FA after writing his new name on a team sheet when playing for his local side. Devon FA since apologised and rescinded the fine after being notified that Buzz was in fact his legal name. But the DVLA weren’t so malleable, and refused to issue Buzz with a driving license claiming that it could bring the country into “disrepute”.
So back to Sam Stephens it is. To infinity and beyond… and back down to earth. Just like that.
A driving license is essential to zooming around in these cool new motors revealed at the Frankfurt Motor Show. It’ll be worth changing his name back to drive one of these…
4. Now you see it, now you don’t
If you could choose any superpower, what would it be? Chances are a few of you would say “invisibility”. Well, good news for any wannabe Invisibles – a real-life invisibility cloak will soon be a reality.
Scientists have successfully tested an invisibility cloak (like the one made famous by JK Rowling’s Harry Potter series) made up of microscopic rectangular gold blocks that conform to the shape of an object and can render it invisible. Basically, the cloak’s surface reroutes light waves in order to make 3D objects undetectable to the human eye.
The scientists believe it will take as little as five to ten years to make the cloak practical to use, and are already planning applications for it – like hiding aircraft and soldiers, or even disguising pimples and beer bellies.
Will you be in line for an invisibility cloak when they hit the market? Here’s 7 more Future Tech Trends worth getting excited about…
5. You’re never too old
Wonderfully demonstrated by 93-year-old WWII veteran Maria Koltakova, who took part in her first parachute jump this week and said it was “like dancing in the sky”. The former Soviet combat medic did the jump in memory of her brother Evgeny, who died in 1945 fighting the Japanese in Russia.
And she loved it – so much that she’s planning to do another jump to celebrate her 94th birthday and has even suggested a trip to space.
The sky’s the limit…
If you fancy taking on a challenge like Maria, do it for a good cause and check out our list of Charity Events to get involved in here.
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