The Daily: December 1
Monday, 01 December 2014

The Daily: December 1

We scour the news so you don't have to

Written by Octavia Sheepshanks
New list of UK's most popular baby names revealed
The website Babycentre has announced its list of the most popular baby names for 2014. Its list of the top 100 baby names in the UK demonstrates an "enormous" surge in Arabic names. For the first time, Muhammad has topped the list of the most popular male names, a jump up of 27 places, and alternate spellings such as Mohammed are also included. For girls, Sophia proved the most popular name of the year. The name Maryam has shown the greatest increase for girls, jumping 59 places to number 35, Nur is a new entry at number 29, while Omar, Ali, and Ibrahim are all new to the boys' top 100. The managing editor of BabyCentre, Sarah Redshaw, said: "Traditionally, Muhammad is often the name given to the first-born boy in Muslim families. With the increase of other Arabic names plus Aarav, an Indian boys' name, the top 100 shows the ever-increasing diversity of the UK today."

Could Mona Lisa be artist's mother?
A new book, due to be published next year, suggests not only that Leonardo da Vinci used his own mother as inspiration for the Mona Lisa, but that she was a Chinese slave. According to Angelo Paratico, author of Leonardo Da Vinci: A Chinese scholar lost in Renaissance Italy, there are strong links between da Vinci and China. Paratico claims to have uncovered strong evidence over the past two years to support this. Mr Paratico told the South China Morning Post: 'I am sure up to a point that Leonardo's mother was from the Orient, but to make her an oriental Chinese, we need to use a deductive method. One wealthy client of Leonardo's father had a slave called Caterina. After 1452, Leonardo's date of birth, she disappeared from the documents. She was no longer working there.' Da Vinci's father was a legal notary and it is believed his mother was named Caterina, and, so say some reports, was a local peasant. Paratico's work, however, suggests that it is more likely she was a slave. The notion that the Mona Lisa was da Vinci's mother was first posed by Sigmund Freud in 1910.

Electricity generating tree developed by French scientists
After three years of research, scientists have revealed a prototype of a 'wind tree', which uses turbines concealed within plastic leaves to generate power. The greatest potential benefit of the tree is that it is much less unsightly than wind turbines, so will hopefully be able to be used in people's homes and in city centres. The 26ft prototype is currently installed in the Pleumeur-Bodou commune in Brittany in northwestern France. But aesthetics are not the only appeal of the tree, which can generate electricity on twice the number of days as a conventional wind turbine due to its ability to generate power on winds of just 4.5mph.The tree will sell for £23,500. Meanwhile, there have been developments in a less artificial botanical field: scientists are claiming that the effects of global warming will cause flowers to smell up to nine times sweeter. A study, published in the journal Global Change Biology, suggests that a temperature increase of between 1 and 5 degrees Celsius will greatly increase the ability of flowers to produce their fragrant scents. This effect is likely to be greater in cooler countries such as the UK, and would have a particularly strong impact on fruit trees. However, for most people, this news will do little to diminish the dangers posed by global warming.

Gillian Anderson's 'raw' Blanche DuBois wins her Best Actress award
Her portrayal of Blanche DuBois in Tennessee Williams' A Streetcar Named Desire, on at the Young Vic this year between July and September, has won Gillian Anderson the Best Actress Award in the Evening Standard Awards. Sunday evening heralded the 60th anniversary of the awards, held at the London Palladium. Anderson attended in a black strapless tiered gown adorned with yellow daisies and wore her hair in a chignon. Reviews of Anderson's performance at the time included a five star accolade from the Daily Telegraph: "Never have I seen a production of the play that was so raw in its emotion, so violent and so deeply upsetting - Gillian Anderson giving the performance of her career. An absolute knock-out." However, she was up against serious competition, as other nominees included Kristin Scott Thomas for Electra, Helen McCrory for Medea, Tanya Moodie for Intimate Apparel, and Billie Piper for her performance in Great Britain.

Young people departing the capital in record numbers
The highest number on record of thirty-something Londoners are heading to other parts of the UK. 58,220 people between the ages of 30 and 39 left London between June 2012 and June 2013, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS). Instead of leaving for the countryside, those who leave London are choosing to settle in other cities. Birmingham is the preferred option, followed closely by Manchester and then Nottingham and Oxford. The departure of ambitious young workers to more provincial locations is likely to be beneficial for the economy, it has been suggested. Ed Cox, director of the IPPR North think-tank, believes that the enhanced outlook of other UK cities is attracting the young professionals." He told The Observer that "we are starting to see the benefits of the recovery, particularly for higher-skilled jobs that are being created in cities outside London."

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