Unlikely stories don't come much more unlikely than this. I was fascinated to read on The Great Beyond (the blog of the Nature news journalists and editors) about an unusual kind of beauty contest – one for the Russian nuclear industry. From the post, which is by Alison Abbott:
"Russia’s sixth such contest is now ongoing. Any female between 18 and 35 who works for the industry in the former Soviet republics may enter Miss Atom 2009, reports the German news magazine Der Spiegel. And nearly three hundred have done so. Their pictures are displayed in an online gallery with text supporting their candidature – and, of course, their vital statistics. Some of the more serious beauty contestants say they hope for world peace. More career-orientated contestants say things like “I don’t need a modelling course – I am, after all, an employee of the company ‘Atomtrudesurcy’ ”. "
The online gallery of entrants is at the "nuclear.ru" website. I did not spot any men, though I confess to not looking too hard – there are more than 12 pages of entries, with 30 pictures per page. Apparently, visitors to the gallery can vote, and the three winners (to be announced on 5 March) will be rewarded with holidays to Cuba, Morocco and the Adriatic (I was thinking perhaps Cumbria, Pennsylvania and, er, the Ukraine might be more appropriate).
Ilya Platonow, organiser of the contest, told Der Spiegel that with its promotion of all that is healthy and beautiful in the controversial energy sector, the contest should finally torpedo ‘the cliché of dangerous and threatening nuclear energy’.