Oddly Enough

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Surfing BSc: Plymouth University has announced a world first with a three-year course leading to the award of a BSc (Hons) in surfing. "This is the first academically rigorous surf science course in the world - we couldn't even find one in California," said Dr Malcolm Findlay, a senior lecturer in marine studies. Dr Colin Williams, head of surfing, said applicants would need A-levels as well as surfboards. "Surf-related recreation is a multi-million-dollar industry, which encompasses oceanography, marine biology, coastal ecology, and design and materials technology." The course will consist of modules in areas such as surf skills, surfing culture, a history of surfing and a "scientific analysis of surfing itself". There will be research opportunities in board, wetsuit and accessory design. Dr Williams explains, "We expect our students to be highly motivated because they'll be studying something that interests them." The course, which begins in September, has the backing of the British surf industry.

Peaking early: A 15-year-old Nepalese schoolboy is seeking to become the youngest person to climb Everest. Arbin Timilsina, who has government permission to make the attempt in the current spring climbing season, wants to stand on top of the world's tallest peak before he is 16. "There is no time. I have to rush," said Timilsina, who turns 16 in June. "If I succeed in my attempt, every child in the world will be encouraged to climb," he maintains. Another Nepalese climber, Shambu Tamang, holds the record for the youngest person to scale the mountain, accomplishing the feat in 1973, when he was 17 years old. Timilsina has no previous climbing experience, but has trained rigorously in Nepal and India. He says he has mastered climbing techniques and would use bottled oxygen on the climb.

Baby boom: Like many towns in Norway, Sel, 125 miles north of Oslo, wants to be the birthplace of the country's first baby of the Millennium, and now local nursery schools are trying to help parents to get their timing right. One school will stay open on the weekend of 10-11 April to give parents time to get in the mood without being interrupted. Aiding their efforts is Sel's Nordlandia Hotel, although it believes the best date to get pregnant is 30 March. On that day, the hotel is offering free rooms to all couples on two conditions: that they are from Sel, and that they are married or live together.