The daily: new chief of girl guides
Thursday, 15 November 2012

The Daily: November 15

Written by Catriona Grew
The Mary Celeste of Space: scientists discover first ever free-floating planet
Astronomers have long speculated the existence of a nomadic planet that wanders through space uninhibited by the gravity field of a star, but have never been able to furnish their theory with evidence - until this week’s discovery of free-floating planet CFBDSIR2149. Investigations carried out by a team of French and Canadian scientists suggest that the planet (which is currently travelling through space 100 light years away from our own solar system) is between four to seven times the mass of Jupiter, approximately 50-120 million years old, and has a surface temperature of 400C. The combination of these characteristics rules out the possibility of the planet being a “brown dwarf” star –that is, a failed star that never managed to initiate a nuclear reaction in its centre. One potential explanation for this curious planet is that it was flung away from nearby stars during its formation. Dr Delorme of the Joseph Fourier University in Grenoble points out that “if this little object is a planet that has been ejected from its native system, it conjures up the striking image of orphaned worlds, drifting in the emptiness of space.”

‘Slumdog Millionaire’ screenwriter adapts novel about the Iraq war
Simon Beaufoy, the Oscar-winning screenwriter of ‘Slumdog Millionaire’, is adapting US writer Ben Fountain’s critically acclaimed novel ‘Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk’ for a new Film4 project. The book has been dubbed ‘The Catch 22 of the Iraq War’ and was nominated for the US National Book Award this year: it charts the story of five US servicemen who survive a firefight in Iraq in 2005, and are brought home by the Bush administration for a victory lap. Robert McCrum describes it as “a clever and imaginative take on the classic American combat novel”, that will prove similarly compelling on-screen.

Extreme flower-arranging – enormous floats dominate floral parade in Dutch town
A procession of vibrant wild animals sculpted from papier mache, wire, and tens of thousands of dahlias recently enlivened the Dutch town of Zundert (Van Gogh’s birthplace) for a particularly flamboyant rendition of the annual Bloemencorso, or flower parade. First held in 1936, the colourful event sees the town’s twenty districts compete to produce the best floral float. The parade is presided over by a jury which ultimately decides upon the best float and elects a winning district.

New chief of Girl Guides: “we are the ultimate feminist organisation”
Julie Bentley, the new head of Girl Guides, intends to combat “the pressure of celebrity culture” and to teach young women that “self esteem and inner belief are going to determine what they do with their lives, not looking nice”. Her remarks come as a response to a recent Girl Guides study which revealed that two thirds of girls believe women are still judged more on their looks than their ability, and that one in three would consider plastic surgery. Despite being regarded as a rather radical appointment – she formerly ran the Family Planning Association – Ms Bentley is expected to modernise the programme and broaden its appeal. She has already affirmed that the derelict Girl Guide stereotype of itchy brown uniforms, sewing and baking is gone: “Guides in 2012 are more likely to be navigating a muddy ravine, going overseas to help on an Aid project or going to one of our pop concerts. Girl Guides should not be pigeon-holed”.

Mo Farrah tries his hand at painting
The Team GB hero has taken a break from long-distance running to try his hand at painting: he has painted a portrait of himself holding his two Olympic golds aloft, whilst performing his signature ‘Mobot’ dance-move. Along with several other major sports personalities, he has donated his work to an auction in aid of the national charity Willow Foundation, which provides positive and life-enhancing special days for seriously ill 16 to 40-year-olds. The online auction kicks off on 22nd November, and will include pictures by Dame Kelly Holmes, Jermain Defoe, Wayne Rooney and Steven Gerrard.

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