Egypt Independent: Living-Main news en The bongs are wrong on London's Big Ben <img src="" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-media_thumbnail" width="152" height="114" /><div>The most famous clock in the world is wrong: the bongs of London&#39;s Big Ben have been mysteriously running fast over the past fortnight, clocksmiths admitted.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>The Great Clock that towers over the British parliament can be out by up to six seconds, with its keepers admitting the cherished national icon is &quot;a little temperamental&quot; at 156 years old.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Over the past two weeks, the early bongs have messed up BBC domestic and world radio transmissions that broadcast the hour chimes live.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>The Houses of Parliament&#39;s three dedicated clocksmiths have tried to rectify the problem, but are somewhat mystified as to why it has swung so far out of step.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&quot;The error started building up and went slightly unnoticed over a weekend,&quot; clocksmith Ian Westworth told BBC radio.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&quot;We don&#39;t know why it happened. You&#39;re talking about a 156-year-old clock; it does have a little fit every now and then. It&#39;s a little temperamental.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&quot;Imagine running your car for 24 hours a day, 365 days a year for the last 156 years.&quot;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Clocksmiths regulate the mechanism by stacking heavy old one penny coins on the pendulum, or removing them.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&quot;You can&#39;t just wind the hands forward. You have to make a very gradual change by adding coins to speed the clock up or taking weight off to slow it back down again,&quot; said Westworth.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Initial attempts by the team to correct the mechanism made the clock run slow.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&quot;We have been up there most days just getting it right,&quot; said Westworth.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&quot;Traditionally we have to go up three times a week to wind the clock.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&quot;We phone up the speaking clock and at five minutes to the hour, start a stopwatch, go up to the belfry, stand by the bell and the hammer.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&quot;As it strikes the bell we&#39;ll stop the stopwatch. We can tell if it&#39;s going slightly fast or slow.&quot;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Big Ben is the name of the Great Bell at the top of the 96m-high Elizabeth Tower, but the moniker is often used to refer to the tower itself, which looms over the Houses of Parliament.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>The 13.7-ton bell, with its distinctive bongs, sounds out the hours over central London, while different chimes mark every quarter hour.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>There are two theories as to how the bell came to be known as Big Ben.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>The most likely explanation is that it was named after Benjamin Hall, the engineer whose name is inscribed on the bell, but some believe it is named after Ben Caunt, a champion heavyweight boxer of the 1850s.</div> Wed, 02 Sep 2015 16:04:00 +0000 AFP 2456957 at sites/default/files/photo/2014/05/09/484151/big_ben.jpg During childhood, learning grammar and music go hand-in-hand <img src="" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-media_thumbnail" width="152" height="114" /><p><span style="line-height: normal;">A child&#39;s ability to distinguish musical rhythm could enrichen his understanding of grammar, according to what is believed to be a first-of-its-kind study at the Vanderbilt Kennedy Center in Nashville, Tennessee.</span></p><div>Working with 25 six-year-old children who were developing normally, research fellow Reyna Gordon, Ph.D., from the Department of Otolaryngology started by testing them for standard music aptitude.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>The computer-based test asked them to judge whether two slightly differing or identical rhythms were just that.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Next, the children played a computer game developed by Gordon and her colleagues involving a beat-based assessment that tested their understanding of melodies.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>The research team then assessed the children&#39;s grammar skills by asking them to discuss several photographs and taking note of how they spoke.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Children who performed well in one test also performed well in the other, Gordon found, even though the tests were different and regardless of IQ, socioeconomic status and experience playing music.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Gordon concludes that since both speech and music contain rhythm, children who are able to detect variations in music timing might also be more able to detect variations in speech.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>This would give them an advantage in learning a language, she says. Gordon hopes her work will help educators to recognize music&#39;s unique role in brain development and inspire more music education worldwide.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>The study was published in the journal Developmental Science.</div> Wed, 02 Sep 2015 15:58:00 +0000 AFP 2456955 at sites/default/files/photo/2015/09/02/43/screen_shot_2015-09-02_at_6.29.24_pm.png London’s colourful Notting Hill Carnival kicks off <img src="" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-media_thumbnail" width="152" height="114" /><p><span style="line-height: normal;">London&#39;s Notting Hill Carnival kicked off with a riot of color despite grey skies on Sunday, in a celebration of Caribbean culture reputed as Europe&#39;s biggest street party.</span></p><div>Performers on stilts and wearing bright pink wigs, and dancers in feathered headdresses and rainbow outfits entertained the crowds that packed the streets of west London.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>About a million people are expected to attend the two-day event.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Sunday was Family Day, featuring a children&#39;s parade to the sound of varied music styles, while Carnival-goers tucked into Caribbean food such as jerk chicken on the sidelines.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>The bright costumes made a contrast with the overcast sky, as the weather stayed dry despite predictions of rain.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Lightning and heavy downpours have been forecast for the grand finale parade on Monday, which follows a 5km parade route, featuring 60 bands and dancers in exotic carnival costume.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&quot;It&#39;s an opportunity for kids to run around and see something different, interact with different people and experience the food, smells, sounds and dancing,&quot; said William Medley, 35, a London tech worker. &quot;It&#39;s a fantastic party atmosphere.&quot;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>But the carnival is also notorious for sporadic gang-related violence and robbery.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Police said there were 92 arrests on Sunday, including for theft and assaults, after 143 people were arrested in the run-up.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&quot;Unfortunately given the large number of people the event attracts, there will always be some who see it as an opportunity to commit crime,&quot; said Superintendent Robyn Williams, Scotland Yard&#39;s spokeswoman for the celebrations.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&quot;I say to those who plan to cause trouble, do not come; we will do everything in our power to make things difficult for you.&quot;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>There were 6,000 police on duty at the carnival on Sunday, with 7,000 due to provide security on Monday.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Police said they had seized 350 canisters of nitrous oxide, known as laughing gas and long used as an anaesthetic, which has been the center of controversy in Britain as its popularity has grown as a party drug.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>The Notting Hill Carnival started in the 1960s, when the area had a large population of immigrants recently arrived from the Caribbean and was notorious for its slums &ndash; a far cry from today when it is one of London&#39;s most expensive places to live.</div> Tue, 01 Sep 2015 15:00:00 +0000 AFP 2456889 at sites/default/files/photo/2015/09/01/43/photo_50880.jpg Mexican, Brazilian destinations among this year’s best for shoulder season travel <img src="" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-media_thumbnail" width="152" height="114" /><p><span style="line-height: normal;">For the childless traveller, the empty nester, or the lucky families with built-in babysitter grandparents, take advantage of the off-peak travel season to book a trip to Banff, Cancun or Cuba.</span></p><div>Because according to experts at Cheapflights, the shoulder month of September is a prime time for travel: the kids are back in school, families are hunkering down to resume their everyday routines, and hotels are looking to fill the empty beds left by summer holidaymakers with enticing prices.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>This season, savvy travelers may want to consider destinations like Banff, The Algarve, Portugal, Cancun, Cuba and Rio de Janeiro for their off-season travel, for reasons that range from politics, currency fluctuations and unusual storm activity.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Here are some of the top 2015 shoulder destinations as picked by Cheapflights:</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div><strong>Banff, Alberta, Canada</strong></div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>It can be difficult to take in the full splendor of the Canadian Rockies when you&rsquo;re elbow jockeying with fellow travelers for selfie space and the best vantage point. Come September, the crowds have thinned, and the second wave of fall foliage tourists have yet to descend. Take advantage of the quiet time to soak in the surrounding in the calm before the new storm.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div><strong>The Algarve, Portugal</strong></div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Take advantage of the struggling euro and seasonal discounts with a trip to the southernmost tip of Portugal. During the month of September, the beaches remain sun-soaked and the mercury is still high enough for seaside lounging. Moreover, it&rsquo;s easier to find seats on waterfront restaurants and terraces, now that the crowds have returned home.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div><strong>Cancun, Mexico</strong></div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>While a particularly active El Nino season is expected to stir up trouble in the Pacific this year, it&rsquo;s also keeping the Caribbean and Atlantic relatively cool and calm, with fewer than normal hurricanes forecast for the region, points out Cheapflights.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>That means decreased odds of having to spend your holidays washed out by gale-force winds and storms during your Mexican vacation. Take advantage of slashed prices, child-free resorts and summer weather at resort towns across Mexico.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div><strong>Cuba</strong></div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>This Caribbean island also fits under the &ldquo;calm before the storm&rdquo;, but for reasons that have nothing to do with violent weather systems. Cheapflights advises booking a trip to Cuba before it&rsquo;s forever transformed by the advent of American tourism.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div><strong>Rio de Janeiro, Brazil</strong></div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>While summer is on its last legs in the Northern Hemisphere, consider heading across the equator to Brazil, where temperatures are back on the rise after their version of winter. October is classic shoulder season for Rio, points out Cheapflights, with cheaper hotel rates and airfare in advance of Carnival.&nbsp;</div> Tue, 01 Sep 2015 14:53:00 +0000 AFP 2456887 at sites/default/files/photo/2015/09/01/43/screen_shot_2015-09-01_at_5.00.40_pm.png