The Daily: Mary Beard
Friday, 16 August 2013

The Daily: August 16

We scour the news so you don't have to

Written by Anna Savva
Mary Beard argues for more academics on TV
History professor Mary Beard is calling for more history programmes to be fronted by academics. Writing in an article for the Sheffield University website she argues that television history programmes have been dumped down in recent years, with too much reliance on to celebrity presenters who have little expertise on the subject matter. Beard famously had to fend off criticism because she is perceived to lack a 'TV friendly' appearance writes: 'We also need to claim – or keep – a place for specialists themselves, devising, writing and presenting programmes on what they really know about. All the evidence is that viewers appreciate being eyeball to eyeball with the expert.'
She is not the only one to have voiced criticism, art critic Brain Sewell recently criticised programmers for blighting TV with 'ever increasing vulgarity and ever lower intellectual levels.'

The demise of knee highs
Sales of knee high socks have fallen by 74% in the last two years. Once the standard attire for the army, navy and British school boys up and down the country, they are now being consigned to the history books. They are seen today as a sartorial sin by young men who prefer to wear ankle socks, or follow the sockless trend to flash a bare ankle above a pair of loafers or brogues. In response to dwindling demand, high street retailer Debenhams intends to halve its range of men's knee highs this autumn.
Ed Watson, a spokesman for the chain said: 'A garment which once symbolised Britain's imperial might is marching into history, bringing an end to a century long role of traditional male dress. The common phrase 'pull your socks up' could mean nothing to future generations. Knee length socks once conquered an empire, but now they seem to be fading into history.'

New mammal species discovered
Scientists from the Smithsonian Institution have discovered a new species of mammal living in the forests of Colombia and Ecuador. Named Olinguito, it is the only new species of mammal carnivore to have been identified in 35 years. It is believed to be the smallest member of the racoon family, measuring in at 14 inches in length, it weighs only 2lbs. It took scientists over a decade to identify the creature, whose remnants where first uncovered in a Chicago museum.
Speaking of the discovery, zoologist Kristofer Helgen said: 'The olinguito is a carnivore - that group of mammals that includes cats, dogs and bears and their relatives. Many of us believed that list was complete, but this is a new carnivore - the first to be found on the American continent for more than three decades.'

Coffee poses hidden health risk
A new study has found that drinking more than four cups of coffee a day could potentially put you at risk of an early death. The findings come from a large scale US study of more than 43,500 individuals between the ages of 20 to 87. T Participants that drank over 28 cups a week where 56% more likely to die younger, according to a report in the medical journal Mayo Clinic Proceedings. Researchers have suspect this is because excessive coffee consumption has adverse effects on the metabolism, stimulating the release of adrenaline and increasing blood pressure. The study flies in the face of recent research which named coffee as a great source of dietary antioxidants.
Dr Carl Lavie who co-authored the report said: 'There continues to be considerable debate about the health effects of caffeine, and coffee specifically, with some reports suggesting toxicity and some even suggesting beneficial effects.'

Modern Smart phone technology causing eye problems
Our increasing reliance on smart phone technology is having a detrimental effect on our eye health, according to leading eye surgeon David Allamby. Rates of young people diagnosed with short-sightedness have gone up 35% since smartphones were first introduced in 1997. Research has found that the average user of smartphones holds their handset at close proximity to their face, leading to increasing levels of myopia which should ordinarily stop developing in one's early 20s. With half of us spending an average of two hours per day using smart phones the problem is so common Dr Allamby as dubbed the phenomenon 'screen sightedness'.
'If things continue as they are, I predict that 40 to 50 per cent of 30-year-olds could have myopia by 2033 as a result of smartphones and lifestyles in front of screens,' he said.

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