Weekend edition: The best of the week's reads

Generic pilots

A collection of some of the best reads from the BBC News website this week, with an injection of your comments.

Crash investigators say that Germanwings flight 4U9525 was probably crashed deliberately by its co-pilot Andreas Lubitz. The inexplicable nature of Lubitz's actions raised the question of how pilots are mentally assessed. Rookie pilots are not psychologically tested at flight schools in the UK. Once at an airline they are subject to a medical every year (for older pilots every six months). Tristan Loraine, a former BA captain, says he was never psychological profiled during his career. "The medical was having an ECG, peeing in a bottle, having a blood test and all that." But Prof Robert Bor, author of Aviation Mental Health, argued that testing can only get you so far. Observing people's behaviour is more telling, and pilots are under close scrutiny from colleagues. And extreme cases like this - while rare - can never be totally prevented. The Magazine also looked at the initial lines of inquiry after the crash. And how stringent cockpit security procedures allowed Lubitz to lock out the pilot.

How are pilots psychologically screened?

How are cockpits locked?

Germanwings: What are the main lines of inquiry?

464 gray line
The big sleep
Man taking part in a sleep study

If you tried to get eight hours' sleep last night but failed, don't worry. Most people get between six and eight hours - and research suggests that people who get less than six hours, on average, are less prone to die early than those who get more than eight. It could be that people who sleep for more than eight hours sometimes have an underlying health problem that is not yet showing in other symptoms. Or it could be that there is something unhealthy about being inactive for such long periods.

Why a long night's sleep may be bad for you

464 gray line
The big fish
Danube salmon in a museum in Germany A 25kg Danube salmon from the Loisach River, now in the German Hunting and Fishing Museum, Munich

"Honestly it was THIS big!" tweets My Legoman. He's imagining the scene when someone catches a salmon from the Sava River in Slovenia. That's because some of the salmon in the Danube and its tributaries are as big as a man. But campaigners are warning that dams on the Sava could threaten the fish's habitat. Conservationist Gerry Ryan was struck by the quotation from a Riverwatch director, who noted that Europeans cry out about the plight of the last tigers in Asia but seem blind to the threat to "these last tigers of our own".

The beast of the Danube

464 gray line
Saddest word
Birth certificate

"There's a name, they say. What you got that for? My father was killed on The Somme, that's why. Oh, they say, I wouldn't want to be named after that."

That's 98-year-old Tiny Somme Hammond. Her father Herbert Gray was killed in the Battle of the Somme five months before her birth. Herbert's widow Emma never talked about his death with her daughter and never really explained why she called her only child Somme. But every time she signs her name she's reminded of the father she never met. Professional genealogists Your Family Story tweeted that she wasn't alone. "There were 14 children called Somme born between 1916 and 1918. I wonder how many were fatherless?", they ask. We got them to have a look and they tweeted back that "all 14 (with forename Somme) still had fathers so they must have chosen the name". Historian Jane Roberts also points out that there's a long history of naming children after war events, including Inkerman, Mafeking and even Delvillewood.

A baby called Somme

464 gray line
Pregnancy myths
Scan of foetus

"I was told if you eat too many lemons, your baby will have pimples when he/she is born." That's from Vanita Basson, who was one of many readers to share on Facebook the myths they had been told about what to eat when you're pregnant. Kay Parke emailed us to say she was told to drink Guinness every day - she was anaemic and the idea was that the famed Irish stout would give her a good dose of iron. The advice dished up varies wildly across the world. Women in Japan are told that spicy food can give their baby a short temper, in China people are told crab will make their baby mischievous and in Nigeria people are warned that eating snails will make their baby "sluggish".

The myths about food and pregnancy

464 gray line
Here are some things we've enjoyed this week from elsewhere around the web:

The torments of Ronnie O'Sullivan, snooker's greatest player - The New Yorker

What a journalist's seven-year walk around the world reveals about global policing - The Marshall Project

I teach human evolution to creationists - Slate

Subscribe to the BBC News Magazine's email newsletter to get articles sent to your inbox

More on This Story

More from the Monitor