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In the News 2-09-11

In China news today…

Mine is bigger than yours.

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They built the world’s largest supercomputer [2]. They built “Optimus Prime”, the world’s largest transformer (out of recyclable materials, I might add). Apparently they like the “mine is bigger than yours” concept, because now China has built the world’s largest bridge.

At 26.4 miles long, the Qingdao Trans-Oceanic Bridge [3] is the world’s longest sea bridge. The bridge is expected to shorten the commute for about 300,000 residents by about 20 miles each way. The bridge cost $9 billion to connect the city of Qingdao to its ever-expanding suburbs. In addition, the bridge set some world records, including longest sea bridge and the first bridge to have an intersection over water.

And they aren’t letting up. China’s continued infrastructure investments show that they feel the need to keep ahead of the continued massive economic growth by not slowing up on larger projects; an even bigger bridge is in the works.

I guess the first one really whet their appetites. (Sorry, I couldn’t resist.)

Too bad they didn’t have GPS.

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A traffic update would have been nice. Repairs on the freeway that had begun back in August of last year on a freeway west of Beijing, China caused a 60 mile, 10,000 vehicle traffic jam [5] that finally began to break up after 10+ days. Roadside residents “made a killing” on selling food and water while weaving in and out of the bumper-to-bumper nightmare. The freeway is favored by tourists visiting a popular stretch of the Great Wall.

A traffic jam due to construction? Who’d-a thunk it?

And finally…

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Bobby Fischer may be her hero, but just before Christmas, Hou Yifan became the youngest ever female chess grandmaster at the age of 14, even earlier than her hero Bobby Fischer (who was at the ripe old age of 15 and a half when he did the same).

“My parents always gave me a choice about playing, but they said that if I wanted to play chess, then I should focus on it completely,” she says, adding that such attitudes and parental expectations are simply the norm for Chinese children. The difference is her success.

“I also have my other studies and I still have some time to do other things, like swimming, listening to music and reading books. I love to read. I recently just finished Oliver Twist for my English study which is a great book.”

At just 16, Hou Yifan is already the third-ranked woman player in the world. She is now one of the 10 Chinese players in the women’s top 100, which would have been unthinkable 10 years ago when not a single Chinese woman made the elite list, in addition to being the fourth women’s world champion to emerge from China in the last 20 years.

Bridges, supercomputers, transformers and traffic jams notwithstanding, China’s Hou Yifan are one of claim to fame that is truly phenomenal.

Have a productive week!

~Lori Cline