10 things you need to know this morning in Australia

Picture: Magic Leap

Good morning.

1. The Aussie is roaring and back above 78 cents for the first time since mid 2015, the S&P 500 closed above 2100, and iron ore and crude are both rising sharply again. Yes, it’s still 2016. And with the S&P 500 at 2100, it’s closing in on its all-time high, which might actually help the ASX 200 shake off its fear of pushing too far, too fast in trade today. SPI200 futures are up 31 points, 0.6%, overnight, and with oil surging 3%, it’s looking like a good day.

2. Most forecasters entered the year thinking the Aussie was headed for the mid 60 cent region. Some were heard muttering “60 cents”. But even when commodities crashed, the battler stuck it out in the 68 region. As at 7.30am AEST, the AUD/USD currently buys .7812, up an impressive 0.8% from Monday’s closing level. And a full 10 cents on the start of the year. Crazy.

3. It was a big weekend in the box at the Irish Outdoor Track and Field Championships. Especially when 2016 Olympian Michelle Finn stepped up for the women’s 4x400m. True to form, Finn – seen here in second place – stormed past the leader with 200m to go and was cruising to victory:

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Here’s the final lap. But when watching UCC’s Niamh Moore steal it from Finn on the line, for the love of Jesus, Mary and Joseph, please have the sound turned on:

4. A council in South Australia may ban the use of cricket balls in parks for safety reasons. “Someone will die,” said councillor Carol Martin. Yes, they will. One day. And in this infinite universe, the probability of a councillor dying somewhere from thinking too much about things to ban is 99.9% certain too. Yet we persist with local government elections. There’s more on our new nanny state here.

5. Space. The final frontier is closer than ever. Or at least, bits of it is, on Friday morning when the Lyrid meteor shower starts bombarding Australia. It’s not one of the year’s best, but can deliver up to one shooting star a minute. Best conditions are pre-dawn, 3-5am. The next shower will be May 5’s Eta Aquariids – it’s on our handy calendar of every meteor shower for the year.

6. It’s also good to know that when we do get to live in houses on Mars, we won’t have to go outside to grow our fruit and veg. Thanks to MIT student Heather Hava, we’ll have this mechanical Peter Cundall bot to do it for us.

7. If you thought the US was draining its coffers to fight all the wars right now, here’s something to make your eyes water:

Image: Norwich University’s Online Master of Arts in History Program

More than a trillion dollars a year to fight WWII. That was more than a third of the USA’s GDP and if you were in a high tax bracket, it was lifted to 94% to help pay for it. So yeah, war is expensive. But it can also be beautiful, like this video of Saab’s gorgeous “smart fighter” Gripen jet, which is almost ready to be shipped out after 30 years in development.

8. George R.R. Martin said he already has an idea for a ‘Game of Thrones’ TV spin-off. Nope, says HBO showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss.

9. If Magic Leap is really this good:

Apple should buy it, says Dave Smith. Up until now, virtually no one had tried the most hyped augmented reality goggles on the future market. But Wired’s Kevin Kelly was just given a spin on a prototype, and came away saying of all the VR/AR technologies in production, Magic Leap is “the best at creating the illusion that virtual objects truly exist”.

10. This New Zealand town lets 1000 sheep loose in its streets every year. Some of them even make it back home on their wobbly legs.

BONUS ITEM: A reader yesterday thought that in the spirit of yesterday’s item about the explosion of Popocatepetl in Mexico, we might appreciate this incredible piece of pop artistry from Mexico in the 90s:
Yes. Yes, we did.

Have a great day.