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Scientists prove that women are better at multitasking than men

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It is an age old complaint – that men are incapable of doing more than one thing at once.

Researchers decided to test the truth of the commonly held belief after discovering that no scientific research had ever been done into it.

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They found that when women and men work on a number of simple tasks – such as searching for a key or doing easy maths problems – at the same time, the women significantly outperformed the men.

Scientists believe that the results show that females are better able to reflect upon a problem, while continuing to juggle their other commitments, than men.

Professor Keith Laws, a psychologist at the University of Hertfordshire, who led the research, said: “We have all heard stories that either men can’t multitask or that women are exceptionally good at multitasking.

“But there didn’t appear to be any empirical evidence for this. It was all based upon folklore and hearsay when I looked through the scientific literature.”

Prof. Laws gave 50 male and 50 female students eight minutes to perform three tasks at the same time: carrying out simple maths problems, finding restaurants on a map and sketching a strategy for how they would search for a lost key in an imaginary field.

As they performed the tasks, the volunteers also received a phone call that they could either chose to answer or not. If they did answer, they were given an additional general knowledge test while they continued to carry out their other activities.

While women were able to preform well in all four activities at once, men performed, on average, worse when it came to planning to search for the key.

Professor Laws said: “Men are supposed to have better spatial awareness than women, so they should have outperformed the women on the map task and the key task.

“But of all the tasks we gave, the key searching task also requires planning and some kind of strategy.

“Men tended to start their search in a less logical place such as the centre of the field and they would not cover the whole area when they were outlining their search. women tended to enter in one corner and search in concentric circles or lines.

“It shows that women are better at being able to stand back and reflect for a moment while they are juggling other things.”

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The ‘bewildering’ council road signs

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It is the county known as “The Rose of the Shires”, an evocative description that has long appeared on road signs welcoming visitors.

But officials have been criticised after replacing the wording with the “bewildering” new slogan: “Welcome to Northamptonshire – let yourself grow”.

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The replacement signs cost £25,000 and have been erected on roads entering the county as part of a campaign to rebrand the area.

It is one of a series of schemes across the country in which councils have replaced traditional boundary signs with new boards featuring what motorists describe as “sloppy slogans”. The cost of the schemes runs into hundreds of thousands of pounds.

Other new signs, uncovered in a survey by The Sunday Telegraph, include:

– “Welcome to Tower Hamlets – let’s make it happen” introduced at a cost of £29,677

– “Welcome to the Borough of Tunbridge Wells – Love Where We Live” (£1,994)

– “Proud to be part of Sandwell – Great people, great place, great prospects” (£20,430)

– “Welcome to Newham – a place where people choose to live, work and stay” (£95,039)

– “Welcome to Oldham – many places one destination” (£30,000)

– “Hertfordshire – County of Opportunity” (£2,142)

- “Hyndburn – an excellent council” (£25,566)

The phrase “let yourself grow” was the result of a £100,000, two-year rebranding project by council and business leaders in Northamptonshire, after research found that the county lacked a distinctive image.

Those involved included Terry Hanby, a branding expert from Cambridge University, as well as a local design agency, Impact.

Northamptonshire Enterprise Ltd, a company set up as part of the project by the county council, the tourist board and regional business organisations, paid for the new signs to be erected and the old ones removed.

A spokesman for the company – which is represented by an Oxfordshire-based communications company – defended the slogan, saying: “The phrase is something to incorporate what the company stands for.

“It symbolises growth and prosperity and represents our mission to make Northamptonshire and everything within it high-quality.”

However, motorists have criticised the signs.

Professor Stephen Glaister, director of the RAC Foundation, said: “First and foremost signs should give drivers information. Tacking on some sloppy slogan like ‘Let’s make it happen’ seems to be a waste of time and money.

“There’s enough PR speak elsewhere without having it on our roads.”

Marie Clair, from the Plain English Campaign, added: “Northamptonshire seems to be marketing itself as a bag of compost. What is wrong with telling us a little about an area’s history or activities or local features?

“These signs are bizarre, bland, bewildering and banal. These are weird, hippyish phrases that sound like a throwback to the 1960s. They mean absolutely nothing. They tell you nothing.

“These are public information signs. They are meant to tell you something. What is wrong with something clear and informative? It is a disgrace to know the amount of money being spent on them.

“These sorts of signs are infuriating to motorists and yet they give the first impression of a place – and not a good impression.”

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‘Duck Man’ catches five ducklings before they crash to earth

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To the mother duck, positioning her nest 15 feet above street level must have seemed like an ideal way of protecting her brood from predators.

The only problem was how to get the ducklings back to the (very hard) ground and on to water in one piece once they were hatched.

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Enter Joel Armstrong, a bank official also known as ‘Duck Man’. With skills an England goalkeeper could only dream of, Mr Armstrong caught all five ducklings in quick succession as they tumbled from their nest high above the concrete pavement.

Saved from injury and possible death, the ducklings were placed on the ground next to mum and then guided by Mr Armstrong the quarter of a mile through busy traffic to the nearest river.

The ducklings’ remarkable journey of survival was captured last week by a Sunday Telegraph photographer, who followed their progress from the nest to their first swim in the water.

The series of photographs show the ducklings, still unable to fly, tumbling from a building ledge and being caught by Mr Armstrong before they hit the concrete.

As crowds gather, they walk along the pavement, cross three roads and then jump into the water. In the final shot they swim into the distance to live (hopefully) happily ever after.

Mother duck laid her eggs in the middle of June in a nest overlooked by Mr Armstrong from his office window.

Each day, Mr Armstrong would go to work at Sterling Savings bank in the American town of Spokane in Washington State and wait patiently for the eggs to hatch.

“Once the last one hatches, I know I have about 24 hours before it’s time for them to leave the nest,” explained Mr Armstrong, 44.

“When mother duck starts looking down, I run out of the office and wait for the ducklings to jump. The mother jumps first, quacks at the ducklings above and they follow.

“The tricky part this time was when two jumped at pretty much the same time. Luckily I am ambidextrous and I caught one in one hand and one in the other.”

Mr Armstrong, a father-of-two who admits to better than average hand-eye co-ordination, has had practice at duckling-catching, having performed his heroics twice before in 2008 and again last year.

He’s not sure if it’s the same duck laying eggs each time, admitting: “They all look the same.”

To date he has caught 26 ducklings in three years. And no, he hasn’t dropped one yet.

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