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21 June

In the headlines

Banging sounds have been picked up by sonar equipment in the search for the missing submersible around the wreck of the Titanic, raising faint hopes that its five passengers could still be rescued. The underwater craft has less than 24 hours’ worth of oxygen left. UK inflation remained at 8.7% last month, the same figure as April, defying expectations that it would fall. The Bank of England, which was predicted to raise interest rates to 4.75% tomorrow, may now increase them even further, to 5%. England had bagpipes hundreds of years before Scotland, says The Sun. A new study has found references to the divisive instrument in English texts as far back as 1288, whereas they first appear in Scotland in 15th-century carvings. “Och aye the not so new.”


If you’re not into the uber-sleek, “eye-bleedingly dull” quiet-luxury outfits popularised by Succession, says Hannah Betts in The Critic, try “rock chick chic”. The trend celebrates a more dishevelled, Fleetwood Mac-esque style, a la Riley Keough – Elvis’s “hot-panted granddaughter” – in the Amazon series Daisy Jones & The Six. To achieve the look, think boho bras, flared jeans, cowboy boots and velvet capes. The aim isn’t to look “actively unwashed” – but there’s certainly a bit more leeway for smudged eyeliner and bralessness than with “niche normcore”.


America’s nuclear energy industry is entirely dependent on Moscow, says The New York Times. To encourage disarmament during the Cold War, the US agreed to buy uranium that was enriched by the peaceful side of Russia’s nuclear programme. This totally hollowed out America’s own uranium industry, so US companies now spend around $1bn a year buying the fuel from Russia’s state-owned nuclear agency. They’re not alone: “nearly a dozen countries around the world depend on Russia for more than half their enriched uranium”.


The Francis Ford Coppola Winery in California, owned by the prolific film director, is launching a “Coppola Pizza WineLine” advising users on the vino that best complements their pizza topping. From 1 July, carb-loving consumers in the US can text 601-706-WINE to get a recommendation from an expert sommelier.

Staying young

A quick daytime nap is good for the brain, according to noggin boffins at UCL. The team found that nappers’ brains were 0.9 cubic inches larger than those of non-nappers – equivalent to delaying ageing by between three and six years. They recommend keeping siestas to less than half an hour.

Tomorrow’s world

According to the Turing test, devised by the eponymous British mathematician in 1950, a machine can be classed as intelligent if it convinces someone it’s human in a text conversation. Given that some modern chatbots can already do this, says Bloomberg, one AI luminary wants to move the goalposts. Mustafa Suleyman, a founder of DeepMind, proposes that we should judge a machine on its ability to act, not talk: so give an AI $100,000 and see if it can turn it into $1m by selling things online. “Suleyman expects AI will pass this more practical threshold some time in the next two years.”

Snapshot answer

It’s “Platform 9 3/4s”, the winner of the 2023 Best Illusion of the Year Contest. Matt Pritchard’s video, in which a Lego car appears to drive through a solid wall, is an “anamorphic illusion” – something that looks completely distorted when viewers watch from a specific angle. Click here to see how it works.



“Lead us not into temptation. Just tell us where it is, we’ll find it.”

American humourist Sam Levenson