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Brace for a tiny invasion

It's been a good week for - gnomes

Scorned, derided, belittled - suburbia's favourite garden ornament has long been left out in the cold.

But no more. The humble gnome can now stand tall, having been invited to the Chelsea Flower Show after the Royal Horticultural Society decided to end decades of resistance.

For years, gnome-fanciers have dressed up in appropriate garb and demonstrated at the show, protesting at unfair discrimination. This year they will be celebrating instead. Gnomes will not only be welcomed at the Chelsea Flower Show, they will feature as special guests. Celebrities are being invited to decorate dozens of the colourful creatures, which will then be auctioned off for charity.

In the society's rules for Chelsea, gnomes are classified as "brightly coloured mythical creatures", part of a ban on anything too garish. In 2009, the designer Jekka McVicar managed to smuggle a gnome into her garden but avoided punishment, perhaps because it wasn't too brightly coloured. And in 1993, an antique gnome from Leicestershire named Lampy, dating from the 1840s and insured for £1 million, was allowed in. Presumably Lampy's breeding, not to mention his wallet, helped his cause.

Lampy is the only survivor of what is believed to be the first gnomic invasion of Britain. Made in Germany, they were first imported by Sir Charles Isham, a believer in spiritualism and the supernatural. Gnomemania gripped the nation as the 19th century progressed, burgeoning with the growth of suburbs. Wielding wheelbarrows, brandishing axes or just quietly fishing, these little men developed a big reputation, eventually becoming the very embodiment of kitsch.

But the news from Chelsea may well signal the end of garden snobbery once and for all. Gnomes across the land can now hold their heads up high.

 

It's been a bad week for - space technology

In what must be the biggest reboot in the universe, the Large Hadron Collider has turned off its particle beams ahead of a two-year shutdown.

It turns out that the particle accelerator – best known for identifying a particle believed to be the Higgs Boson in late 2012 – has had technical problems since it was first switched on and has never run at full energy.

Now an unprecedented period of upgrade and repair – dubbed Long Shutdown 1 – is under way. When the LHC is back up and running in November 2014, scientists will be able to undertake the highest-energy collisions ever attempted.

Watch this space-

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