Harry Potter Statue Unveiled in London
A bronze statue of Harry Potter playing the fictional sport Quidditch was recently unveiled at London’s Leicester [LES-ter] Square.
The statue is the ninth monument placed at Leicester Square as part of Scenes in the Square, a trail of statues that pays tribute to iconic movie characters. The statue was inspired by a scene from the first Harry Potter movie, in which the titular character flew for the first time while playing Quidditch, a sport played using flying broomsticks. It was placed near the cinema where Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone premiered 19 years ago.
3D Eye, the company that created Harry Potter’s statue, used stills from the movie as its reference to complete the life-size artwork. The company made a miniature model first before sculpting the final piece with clay. A steel frame inside the statue helps keep it upright. The final statue was cast using fiberglass and painted with a bronze finish.
To give the illusion that the statue is flying, it is held up about one meter above the ground by a pole that is covered by plants and vines.
Ros Morgan, the chief executive of the group that launched Scenes in the Square, was over the moon when he learned that the next statue was going to be of Harry Potter. He said that he is honored to have a character who is so important to the UK film industry on the trail.
Other statues in Leicester Square created before the Harry Potter statue include Bugs Bunny, Mary Poppins, Mr. Bean, Batman, and Wonder Woman. They will remain in the square until 2023.
Scientists Discover Evidence of Ongoing Human Evolution
Australian scientists are suggesting that they have found evidence that humans are continuing to evolve at a rapid rate.
The scientists believe that small but significant changes in the human body such as the absence of wisdom teeth and the presence of the median artery in the forearm are evidence that humans are still evolving. According to researcher Teghan Lucas, some babies are born without wisdom teeth because human faces are becoming shorter, with smaller jaws that have less room for teeth. She noted that these anatomical changes are happening as a result of the changes in our ancestors' diets as they learned to cook and process foods more.
The research also revealed that more people have the median artery, the main blood vessel responsible for blood supply in the hand and forearm. The median artery develops while a baby is still in the womb but usually disappears before birth. It is then replaced by two other arteries, the radial and ulnar arteries.
However, the researchers found that more people have retained the median artery since the 1880s, making all three arteries present in their forearms. Currently, around 35% of people have all three arteries, and experts predict that the majority of the population will have them by 2100.
According to Lucas, their findings show that humans are evolving much faster compared to any other point within the past 250 years, which contradicts the belief that human evolution has already reached its final stage.
Online Encyclopedia to Undergo First Website Redesign in a Decade
Online encyclopedia Wikipedia has begun redesigning its website for the first time in 10 years.
Since its launch in 2001, Wikipedia has become one of the best-known sources of information online. Its articles, which are available in almost 300 languages, are written and edited by volunteers around the world. Although the mobile app underwent some changes in 2015 and 2019, the desktop version has remained the same since 2010.
In a blog post, Wikimedia Foundation project manager Olga Vasileva wrote that the website is getting a redesign to address its cumbersome desktop interface, which users find difficult to use. Plans to revamp the website began last year and new features will roll out one by one. Wikimedia hopes to finish the project in 2021.
The first change will be a collapsible sidebar. This will make it easier for users to read content because they will no longer be distracted by the menu on the left side of the page. Other improvements include a new logo, a redesigned table of contents to improve page navigation, and better search functionality.
Vasileva said she is aware that the process of changing Wikipedia’s website will be long and complicated. She said that users may experience bugs while the improvements are ongoing, but she encouraged them to check the changes and send feedback. Additionally, Vasileva promised that the website’s final design will be more intuitive, but it will not stray too far from the Wikipedia branding that is familiar to all users.
Retail Company Fined for Data Privacy Violation
H&M Germany was fined millions of dollars for violating its employees’ data privacy.
The Hamburg Commissioner for Data Protection and Freedom of Information (HmbBfDI) reported that managers at H&M’s customer service center in Nuremberg have been keeping notes on employees’ personal information since 2014. Some pieces of information include employees’ vacations, illnesses, religious beliefs, and family issues. The data was gathered from office meetings and one-on-one conversations. Managers used the data to evaluate employees’ performance.
Originally, the personal information collected was only accessible to about 50 managers, but a technical issue caused the data to be available to the entire company for a few hours in October last year. The incident alerted the watchdog to H&M’s illegal practices, which resulted in a hefty fine of over $41 million.
According to Commissioner Johannes Casper, H&M showed a complete disregard for its workers’ data privacy and a grave violation of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), a law that requires businesses to protect the personal information of European Union citizens. He believes the fine is fair and appropriate to deter other companies from violating their employees' rights.
In a press release, H&M took full responsibility for the incident and apologized to the Nuremberg customer service center employees. The company will review the HmbBfDI’s decision and make amends by paying anyone who worked at the customer service center after May 2018 for at least one month. H&M has also taken action to protect employees’ personal information by replacing the center’s management and conducting additional data privacy and labor law training for its leaders.
Popular Diet Not Effective in Losing Weight, Study Says
A new study found that intermittent fasting, a diet method that involves eating only during certain hours of the day, does not have a significant impact on weight loss.
Intermittent fasting is currently one of the most popular dieting methods in the US. Many people who follow this diet usually skip breakfast and only take meals for an 8-hour period, often between noon and 8 p.m.
While previous data showed that intermittent fasting could lead to weight loss, most studies were only done on animals. This prompted researchers from the University of California San Francisco to investigate if the diet is really effective for humans.
In the study, the researchers gathered 116 overweight or obese participants and split them into two groups. Participants in the first group were instructed to eat breakfast, lunch, and dinner every day, while those in the second group were instructed to eat only between noon and 8 p.m. Both groups could eat to their hearts’ content, and exercising was optional.
After three months, the researchers found that there was no significant difference in the amount of weight lost by the two groups. However, results showed that the fasting group had lost more muscle compared to the other group. The researchers found this result concerning because losing muscle may have adverse effects on people’s health.
Some dietary experts find the study’s results questionable. According to them, the study was too short to see significant weight loss among the participants. They also pointed out that intermittent fasting should be complemented by other diets to be effective.
Researchers Confirm Effective Way to Communicate with Cats
Psychologists from the University of Portsmouth and the University of Sussex in the United Kingdom have discovered how humans can effectively communicate with cats.
The researchers affirmed that mimicking a cat’s “smile” can help humans build rapport with their feline companions. Cats smile not by showing their teeth like humans do but by narrowing their eyes and blinking slowly. Previously gathered anecdotal evidence from cat owners has suggested that this expression lets cats know that humans are friendly and open to interaction.
The study’s results showed that cats were more likely to be friendly with and approach humans who performed the gesture. The results were true not only for people familiar to the cats but also for those that the cats had no previous contact with.
To test the effectiveness of this gesture, researchers conducted two experiments. The first experiment involved 21 cats and their owners. The second experiment involved 24 cats and the researchers, with whom the cats had no prior contact.
In the first experiment, the owners were instructed to blink slowly when their cats looked at them. In the second one, the researchers performed the slow blink when the cats looked at them. Cameras recorded the faces of the cats and humans participating in both experiments. These recordings were then compared to recordings of situations when humans did not do the slow blink.
The results of the first experiment showed that the cats approached their owners when they did the gesture. The results were similar for the second experiment involving the researchers, despite the cats not being familiar with them.
University of Sussex psychologist Tasmin Humphrey said that understanding positive interactions between cats and humans can enhance people’s understanding of how to better take care of felines. Humphrey and her fellow researchers believe that their findings can be used in different settings like animal shelters and veterinary clinics. They also believe that the study helps people know more about cats and their way of thinking, which can add to the knowledge about the under-studied species.