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The Effects of Brexit Hit the Model Train Industry

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Residents of the UK are still feeling the impact of June’s Brexit vote. Inflation has spiked, the trade deficit has widened, and a temporary Marmite shortage sent part of the country into a panic. Now, the latest victim of the referendum’s aftermath is the model train industry. As the BBC reports, makers of toy trains are boosting their wholesale prices in Britain.

One of the latest companies to adjust for Britain’s growing economic troubles is Hornby. The top model train manufacturer is headquartered in the UK but they make their products in China. The value of the pound against the U.S. dollar has dropped by about 17 percent since the Brexit vote; because the raw materials used to build kits are purchased with dollars, Hornby's profits are shrinking.

To make up for the devaluation, Hornby announced earlier this month that they’ll be raising wholesale prices by an average of 10 percent. This marks the first price increase from the company in nearly three years.

Hornby isn’t the only figure in the model train scene forced to cope with the Brexit fallout. Dapol, a much smaller manufacturer based in Wales, has had to raise costs of their imported models by 10 to 20 percent.

Despite the pastime’s decline in popularity over the years, there are still plenty of enthusiasts out there willing to shell out $650 or more for a model train set. Time will tell if the cost increase is enough to turn off any longtime hobbyists.

[h/t BBC]

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science
2017 Ig Nobel Prizes Celebrate Research on How Crocodiles Affect Gambling and Other Odd Studies
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The Ig Nobel Prizes are back, and this year's winning selection of odd scientific research topics is as weird as ever. As The Guardian reports, the 27th annual awards of highly improbable studies "that first make people laugh, then make them think" were handed out on September 14 at a theater at Harvard University. The awards, sponsored by the Annals of Improbable Research, honor research you never would have thought someone would take the time (or the funding) to study, much less would be published.

The 2017 highlights include a study on whether cats can be both a liquid and a solid at the same time and one on whether the presence of a live crocodile can impact the behavior of gamblers. Below, we present the winners from each of the 10 categories, each weirder and more delightful than the last.

PHYSICS

"For using fluid dynamics to probe the question 'Can a Cat Be Both a Solid and a Liquid?'"

Winner: Marc-Antoine Fardin

Study: "On the Rheology of Cats," published in Rheology Bulletin [PDF]

ECONOMICS

"For their experiments to see how contact with a live crocodile affects a person's willingness to gamble."

Winners: Matthew J. Rockloff and Nancy Greer

Study: "Never Smile at a Crocodile: Betting on Electronic Gaming Machines is Intensified by Reptile-Induced Arousal," published in the Journal of Gambling Studies

ANATOMY

"For his medical research study 'Why Do Old Men Have Big Ears?'"

Winner: James A. Heathcote

Study: "Why Do Old Men Have Big Ears?" published in the BMJ

BIOLOGY

"For their discovery of a female penis, and a male vagina, in a cave insect."

Winners: Kazunori Yoshizawa, Rodrigo L. Ferreira, Yoshitaka Kamimura, and Charles Lienhard (who delivered their acceptance speech via video from inside a cave)

Study: "Female Penis, Male Vagina and Their Correlated Evolution in a Cave Insect," published in Current Biology

FLUID DYNAMICS

"For studying the dynamics of liquid-sloshing, to learn what happens when a person walks backwards while carrying a cup of coffee."

Winner: Jiwon Han

Study: "A Study on the Coffee Spilling Phenomena in the Low Impulse Regime," published in Achievements in the Life Sciences

NUTRITION

"For the first scientific report of human blood in the diet of the hairy-legged vampire bat."

Winners: Fernanda Ito, Enrico Bernard, and Rodrigo A. Torres

Study: "What is for Dinner? First Report of Human Blood in the Diet of the Hairy-Legged Vampire Bat Diphylla ecaudata," published in Acta Chiropterologica

MEDICINE

"For using advanced brain-scanning technology to measure the extent to which some people are disgusted by cheese."

Winners: Jean-Pierre Royet, David Meunier, Nicolas Torquet, Anne-Marie Mouly, and Tao Jiang

Study: "The Neural Bases of Disgust for Cheese: An fMRI Study," published in Frontiers in Human Neuroscience

COGNITION

"For demonstrating that many identical twins cannot tell themselves apart visually."

Winners: Matteo Martini, Ilaria Bufalari, Maria Antonietta Stazi, and Salvatore Maria Aglioti

Study: "Is That Me or My Twin? Lack of Self-Face Recognition Advantage in Identical Twins," published in PLOS One

OBSTETRICS

"For showing that a developing human fetus responds more strongly to music that is played electromechanically inside the mother's vagina than to music that is played electromechanically on the mother's belly."

Winners: Marisa López-Teijón, Álex García-Faura, Alberto Prats-Galino, and Luis Pallarés Aniorte

Study: "Fetal Facial Expression in Response to Intravaginal Music Emission,” published in Ultrasound

PEACE PRIZE

"For demonstrating that regular playing of a didgeridoo is an effective treatment for obstructive sleep apnoea and snoring."

Winners: Milo A. Puhan, Alex Suarez, Christian Lo Cascio, Alfred Zahn, Markus Heitz, and Otto Braendli

Study: "Didgeridoo Playing as Alternative Treatment for Obstructive Sleep Apnoea Syndrome: Randomised Controlled Trial," published by the BMJ

Congratulations, all.

[h/t The Guardian]

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This Tool Knows If Robots Are Coming for Your Job
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If you work as a cashier, you may want to polish your resume. According to the online tool “Will Robots Take My Job?” there’s a 97 percent chance your position will be replaced with technology in the not-too-distant future. Pharmacists, on the other hand, can breathe easier—they face a 1.2 percent risk level of unemployment by automation.

As Geek.com reports, the website, developed by Mubashar Iqbal and designed by Dimitar Raykov, can calculate the stability of 702 jobs. It pulls its data from a 2013 report titled "The Future of Employment: How susceptible are jobs to computerisation?” The original study projects that 47 percent of U.S. jobs risk becoming obsolete as technology advances.

To see which side of the workforce your occupation falls on, type your title into the search bar on the main page. The tool brings up your automation risk level (ranging from “Totally safe” to "You are doomed”), the job’s projected growth, and median salary and employment numbers from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

With some positions, like bank tellers (risk level of 98 percent) and telemarketers (99 percent), apps and automations are already starting to phase out human beings. Fortunately, there are still plenty of tasks a robot can’t be programmed to execute. So people with creative jobs, like writing songs or naming paint colors, are safe for now.

[h/t Geek]

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