Oddly Enough

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Prize day disappointment A teacher in the Chinese town of Micheng set off a bomb at an awards ceremony for outstanding educators, killing himself and five other teachers. Kuang Yingxue, 38, was frustrated whenpassed over for a citation. Officials were unsure whether it was suicide or an accident, but said that he also had marital problems.

Gifted children Researchers at the University of Chicago found children as young as three can add and subtract. They just lack the verbal skills to give the answers.

Gifted slugs University of California researchers discovered that leeches and slugs can solve complex mathematical problems. "Using only 40 or so neurons, a leech can add, subtract, compute sines and cosines, and manipulate trigonometric identities with a facility that would shame any 15-year- old maths student," said Bill Kristan and John Lewis. By touching a leech at sensitive points on its skin, they showed that it was able to calculate exactly the right direction in which to bend to escape the stimulus. Another group in Sweden have detected similar high-level mathematic skills in some butterflies.

PTA damages A handicapped woman whose son was expelled from a Florida kindergarten because she missed too many parent-teacher meetings won $53,500 compensation last week. A written contract allowed her to miss two meetings, but she missed a third while undergoing dialysis in hospital. The school board attorney, who called the verdict disappointing, told jurors the mother knew she couldn't miss so many meetings when she enrolled her son at the school.

Driven to school Researchers at Ohio State University say learning is one of 15 fundamental desires that drive us all. Others are: food, honour, fear of rejection, sex, exercise, vengeance and power.