Monday, 14 January 2013


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Coolest Science Stories of the Week
Live Science, 13 January 2013.

Lost and found from Roman bath houses, buried treasure rediscovered and the why behind pruney fingers all made our picks for cool science this week. Check these out.

10. 'Aristotle' Sex Manual Up for Auction

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A sex and pregnancy manual from 1680 that was incorrectly attributed to Aristotle is going up for auction this month at Lyon & Turnbull in England.

"Aristotle's Compleat Master-Piece" may have been banned in Britain until the 1960s, according to some sources, though that is uncertain. One thing is for sure: "It was taboo and a lot of people didn't want their name on it," said Lyon & Turnbull book specialist Cathy Marsden, during an interview.

9. Down Roman Bath Drains

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Ever go swimming with rings on your fingers or hoops in your ears only to find your jewellery had vanished after your dip?

If so, you've got something in common with ancient Romans.

8. Simplest Clock Created

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A clock based on just a single atom - the simplest clock yet - has now been devised, researchers say.

This new device to measure time could help lead to a radically new way to define mass as well, scientists added.

7. Black Sea Treasure

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Residents of a town under siege by the Roman army about 2,000 years ago buried two hoards of treasure in the town's citadel - treasure recently excavated by archaeologists.

More than 200 coins, mainly bronze, were found along with "various items of gold, silver and bronze jewellery and glass vessels" inside an ancient fortress within the Artezian settlement in the Crimea (in Ukraine), the researchers wrote in the most recent edition of the journal Ancient Civilizations from Scythia to Siberia.

6. Asteroid Bigger Than Thought

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A European space telescope has captured new images of the huge asteroid Apophis, revealing that the potentially hazardous object is actually bigger than previously thought - and you have a chance to see the space rock yourself in two free webcasts tonight (Jan. 9).

Asteroid Apophis has long been billed as a "doomsday asteroid" because of a 2004 study that predicted a 2.7 percent chance of the space rock hitting Earth when it passes within 22,364 miles (36,000 kilometres) of the planet in April 2029, European Space Agency officials said. Later studies proved, however, that the asteroid poses no threat to Earth during that flyby, but astronomers continue to track the object since it will make another pass near Earth in 2036.

5. Brown-Eyed Guys Seem More Trustworthy

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Good news for all the brown-eyed guys out there: Men with chocolate-coloured irises are judged as more trustworthy than blue-eyed dudes.

But the results are somewhat complicated by the fact that it's not eye colour itself that's judged as trustworthy, but baby-faced features that seem linked to having brown eyes. The findings also come from a study of Czech participants, so the judgments could vary across cultures.

4. The Kilogram Gained Weight

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The kilogram may need to go on a diet. The international standard, a cylinder-shaped hunk of metal that defines the fundamental unit of mass, has gained tens of micrograms of mass from surface contamination, according to a new study.

As a result, each country that has one of these standard masses has a slightly different definition of the kilogram, which could throw off science experiments that require very precise weight measurements or international trade in highly restricted items that are restricted by weight, such as radioactive materials.

3. Why Fingers Get Pruney in Water

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Fingers may wrinkle when wet to help people grip wet objects, find researchers, who say the pruney feature may have helped human ancestors do the same in wet conditions.

When a person's hands and feet are soaked in water, wrinkles eventually develop on the tips of fingers and toes. Scientists once thought this puckering resulted from the outermost layer of skin absorbing and swelling with water, but recent studies revealed the nervous system actively controlled this wrinkling by constricting blood vessels below the skin.

2. Eye Meds Found on Ancient Shipwreck

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Ancient grey disks loaded with zinc and beeswax found aboard a shipwreck more than 2,000 years old may have been used as medicine for the eyes, researchers say.

These new findings shed light on the development of medicine over the centuries, scientists added.

1. Odd, Ancient Bird Found

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The fossil skeleton of a bird with strange teeth that lived 125 million years ago has been discovered in China. The bird had bizarre ridges on its teeth that may have enabled it to crack open hard-shelled insects and snails, the researchers said.

The unusual fossil, described in the January issue of the Journal of Vertebrate Palaeontology, was so well preserved that some of its stomach contents were still present. The new find sheds light on the range of foods Earth's earliest birds ate during the dinosaur era.

[Source: Live Science. Edited.]

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