Science & Technology
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Syringe

One-Fifth of Human Genes Have Been Patented, Study Reveals

A new study shows that 20 percent of human genes have been patented in the United States, primarily by private firms and universities.

Pharoah

New Archaeological Discovery in Bulgaria's Hisar

Marble consecrated slab stone from the Rome epoch was discovered in archaeological excavations by the director of Archaeological Museum in Hisar town doctor Mitko Madjarov.

The precious found has sizes 50 to 50cm and presents the three Rome nymphs - patronesses of the mineral springs.

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Monkey Wrench

Body clock 'cog' discovery may cure jet lag

The discovery of a new "cog" in the human body clock that governs sleep will enable significant advances in the treatment of jet lag and sleeping disorders, scientists claim today.

The body clock, which links the cycles of metabolism and behaviour to the cycle of day and night, can be disrupted by old age, disease, international travel and shift work.

The disruption can lead not just to problems with sleeping and eating, but also to serious illness.

However, researchers have discovered a molecule, called c-AMP, that plays an important role in keeping the body clock ticking.

Stormtrooper

Wartime naval legend HMS Exeter found off Java

The wreck of one of the Second World War's most famous warships has been found by deep sea explorers, 66 years after it was lost in battle.

The cruiser HMS Exeter, best known for its valiant role in the Battle of the River Plate when it hunted down the pride of the German navy, the Admiral Graf Spee, was located by divers searching the Java Sea.

The British vessel was sunk on March 1, 1942, when, with two escorts, the destroyer HMS Encounter and the American destroyer Pope, it was intercepted by nine Japanese warships.

All three Allied ships were lost in the action. The wreck of Encounter, which had passed up a chance to escape by turning back in a brave but futile attempt to protect Exeter, has also now been located.

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©Getty Images
Crowds at the quayside cheer HMS Exeter as she arrives in Plymouth

Bulb

Secret Strobelight Weapons of World War II

It might have been the greatest lost weapon of World War II. Major-General JFC Fuller, the man credited with developing modern armored warfare in the 1920's, called failure to use it "the greatest blunder of the whole war." He even suggested that British and American tank divisions could have overrun Germany before the Russians if it had been deployed.

I've been looking at a new range of strobing weapons which use flickering lights to subdue criminals and insurgents. But it turns out that the disorienting power of such lights was discovered decades before.

CDL1
©Unknown

Star

Dusty Galaxies: Astronomers use a new model of dust in galaxies to remeasure the total energy output of stars in the universe

Anyone gazing up on a dark clear night is greeted by the spectacle of thousands of powerful fusion reactors - the stars. These balls of extremely hot gas are generating unimaginably large quantities of energy. Even the stars within a cube of "only" one light year on a side, taken at a random position in the universe, generate on average 40 quadrillion kilowatthours in one year. This would be enough to meet the current energy consumption needs of mankind 300 times over. Even so, it now appears that from our vantage point we are only registering about half the total energy released by stars in our part of the universe; the other half is being absorbed by miniscule particles of dust floating in the vast expanses of interstellar space within galaxies. This is the conclusion reached by a team of astrophysicists from institutes around the world, including the Max Planck Institute for Nuclear Physics in Heidelberg. The results have implications for our understanding of the creation and evolution of galaxies through cosmic history (The Astrophysical Journal, 10 May 2008).

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©C. Howk (JHU), B. Savage (U. Wisconsin), N. A. Sharp (NOAO)/WIYN/NOAO/NSF
An edge-on view: The light-blocking effect of dust is particularly clear in the case of the galaxy NGC 891.

Question

Excess carbon dioxide to be stored underground

It may sound too strange to be true, but engineers are about to begin work on a project that would keep carbon dioxide out of the air by injecting it into the ground.

Magnify

Sight Recovery After Blindness Offers New Insights on Brain Reorganization

Studies of the brains of blind persons whose sight was partially restored later in life have produced a compelling example of the brain's ability to adapt to new circumstances and rewire and reconfigure itself.

Cow Skull

Parrot Fossil 55 Million Years Old Discovered In Scandinavia

Palaeontologists have discovered fossil remains in Scandinavia of parrots dating back 55 million years. Reported May 14 in the journal Palaeontology, the fossils indicate that parrots once flew wild over what is now Norway and Denmark.

Mopsitta tanta
©Dr David Waterhouse
Artists impression of the parrot-like bird 'Mopsitta tanta' dating back 55 million years. The fossils indicate that parrots once flew wild over what is now Norway and Denmark.

Parrots today live only in the tropics and southern hemisphere, but this new research suggests that they first evolved in the North, much earlier than had been thought.

The fossil parrot was discovered on the Isle of Mors in the northwest of Denmark - far from where you'd normally expect to find a parrot. It's a new species, officially named 'Mopsitta tanta'. However, already its nick-name is the 'Danish Blue Parrot', a term derived from a famous comedy sketch about a 'Norwegian Blue Parrot' in the 1970s BBC television programme 'Monty Python'.


Mail

How Did That Chain Letter Get To My Inbox?

New research shows the surprising paths taken by forwarded messages through the Internet.

Everyone who has an e-mail account has probably received a forwarded chain letter promising good luck if the message is forwarded on to others--or terrible misfortune if it isn't. The sheer volume of forwarded messages such as chain letters, online petitions, jokes and other materials leads to a simple question--how do these messages reach so many people so quickly?

New research into these forwarded missives by Jon Kleinberg of Cornell University and David Liben-Nowell of Carleton College suggests a surprising explanation.

In the past three decades, as more and more individuals have come online and begun using e-mail, the number of these mass-forwarded messages has grown substantially, reaching more and more people each year. It had been assumed that the messages traveled to e-mail users in much the same way that a disease spreads in an epidemic--people received the messages and passed them on to those they came in contact with, who, in turn, spread them to people they encountered, and so on. In recent years, some scientists, as well as marketers, have used the term, "viral," to describe this pattern.

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©Jason Koski/Cornell University Photography
Jon Kleinberg of Cornell University and David Liben-Nowell of Carleton College used a tree diagram to analyze the paths that forwarded e-mail petitions took through the Internet and into people's inboxes. The diagram allowed them to see how the messages got to people, and how many steps it took to get to them.