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chinadaily.com.cn 2019-02-25 14:44


>Cambridge mulls typed exams
The increasing illegibility of students' handwriting has prompted Cambridge University to consider ending 800 years of tradition by allowing laptops to replace pen and paper for exams. Academics say that students are losing the ability to write by hand en masse because of their reliance on laptops in lectures and elsewhere. Sarah Pearsall, a senior lecturer at Cambridge's history faculty, said: "Fifteen or 20 years ago, students routinely wrote by hand several hours a day, but now they write virtually nothing by hand except exams. ... It is difficult for both the students and the examiners as it is harder and harder to read these scripts." The university has launched a consultation as part of its digital education strategy after piloting an exam typing method in the history and classics departments.



>NASA looks for 'joker'
Astronauts have traditionally been serious, sensible types with the "right stuff" who can be trusted to fly equipment worth billions of pounds. But any mission to Mars will need a "joker" or "class clown" figure to be successful, according to NASA research. A sense of humor will be vital for any team to keep morale high on a two-year trip to Mars. Jeffrey Johnson, professor of anthropology at the University of Florida, is advising NASA's Human Exploration Research Analog. He said: "Groups work best when they have somebody who takes on the role of class clown. These are people that have the ability to pull everyone together, bridge gaps when tensions appear and really boost morale." But he added: "Being funny won't be enough to land somebody the job. They also need to be an excellent scientist and engineer and be able to pass a rigorous training regime."



>UK mulls 'fast fashion' tax
British MPs are demanding a "fast fashion" tax on retailers such as Boohoo and ASOS to help deal with waste generated by the industry thanks to a throwaway clothes culture. The charge would amount to £1 per item and would fund the collection and recycling of the £140 million worth of clothes discarded by Britons every year. Politicians also want schools to teach children how to make and repair garments in a return to the "make do and mend" approach from the Second World War. Britons buy around 1.1 million tons of new clothing each year – equating to 26.7 kg per person – in a fast fashion culture fuelled by online retailers which sell dresses for as little as £5. Around 430,000 tons are thrown in household bins, most of which goes to landfill, while many fast fashion items are made from plastic and shed billions of polluting particles into sewers, rivers and seas.



>Polar bears invade town
Parents in a remote Russian archipelago are scared to send their children to school after a "mass invasion" of polar bears into residential areas, state news agency TASS reported. Novaya Zemlya, located off Russia's northeastern arctic coast, has been swarmed by dozens of polar bears since December. The region's largest settlement, Belushya Guba, with a population of about 2,500 people, has reported more than 50 sightings. Local administrator Alexander Minayev said bears had attacked people and entered buildings. Polar bears are increasingly coming into contact with humans as climate change reduces their sea-ice habitats, forcing them on land for longer periods of time. The World Wildlife Fund has helped set up patrols in some arctic communities to prevent potentially fatal encounters.

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