Published: Thursday 30 September 2004

start telling stories: Being a maths wizard and a great storyteller may appear completely different, but a new study by Canada's University of Waterloo suggests that preschool children's storytelling abilities are predictive of their mathematical ability. In the study, children aged three and four were shown a book that contained only pictures and were asked to tell the story to a puppet. Two years later, the kids were tested for the mathematical abilities. It was found that children who scored well in the mathematics test were also good at storytelling. As per the study's authors, the findings suggests that building strong storytelling skills in the preschool years may help kids learn mathematics.

earthquake predictor: Scientists at Stockholm University of Sweden have developed a method to predict earthquakes with the help of geochemistry. The method involves metering the content of certain metals in underground water, which changes before and after an earthquake. The chemistry of Ice Age water was sampled from a 1.5-kilometre-deep well in northern Iceland and was monitored for 10 weeks before and one year after an earthquake. The researchers found that levels of iron and chromium, manganese, zinc and copper increased in the groundwater before the earthquake. After the tremor they returned to their normal levels.

mercury danger: During recent tests conducted by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), it was found that every fish sample was contaminated with mercury. More than 55 per cent samples contained mercury levels that exceed EPA's safe limit for women of childbearing age, and 76 per cent exceeded the safe limit for children under age three, as per the report Reel Danger: Power Plant Mercury Emissions and the Fish We Eat.

european weather crisis: As per a study, Europe is warming up more quickly than the rest of the world, and cold winters could disappear almost entirely by 2080 as a result of global warming. Heat waves and floods are likely to become more frequent, threatening the elderly and infirm, and three-quarters of the Swiss Alps' glaciers might melt down by 2050, states the study by the European Environment Agency. The average number of climate-related disasters per year doubled over the 1990s compared to the previous decade, costing economies around US $11 billion a year, the report further adds.

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