Friday, December 19, 2008

Possible da Vinci sketches found on back of oil

Can you see anything? Infrared image shows drawings on the back of Leonardo da Vinci's The Virgin And Child With St Anne. (Reuters: E Lambert/C2RMF)
Three sketches possibly drawn by Leonardo da Vinci have been found on the back of one of the master's major works.

Describing the find as "an exceptional discovery", the Louvre museum said in a statement that the drawings were found when da Vinci 1500s oil Virgin And Child With St Anne was undergoing routine examination in the laboratory.


Intelligent soldiers most likely to die in battle

Flanked by tanks and under the cover of a smoke screen, Scottish guards charge into action on the Egyptian front at El Alamein during the second world war. Were the brightest at the front? (Image: AP/PA)
Being dumb has its benefits. Scottish soldiers who survived the second world war were less intelligent than men who gave their lives defeating the Third Reich, a new study of British government records concludes.

The unprecedented demands of the second world war – fought more with brains than with brawn compared with previous wars - might account for the skew, says Ian Deary, a psychologist at the University of Edinburgh, who led the study. Dozens of other studies have shown that smart people normally live longer than their less intelligent peers.


'Hobbit' Fossils Represent A New Species, Concludes Anthropologist

Homo floresiensis
University of Minnesota anthropology professor Kieran McNulty (along with colleague Karen Baab of Stony Brook University in New York) has made an important contribution toward solving one of the greatest paleoanthropological mysteries in recent history -- that fossilized skeletons resembling a mythical "hobbit" creature represent an entirely new species in humanity's evolutionary chain.

Discovered on the Indonesian island of Flores in 2003, controversy has surrounded the fossilized hominid skeletons of the so-called "hobbit people," or Homo floresiensis ever since. Experts are still debating whether the 18,000-year-old remains merely belong to a diminutive population of modern-day humans (with one individual exhibiting "microcephaly," an abnormally small head) or represent a previously unrecognized branch in humanity's family tree.


Thursday, December 18, 2008

What the F**K is Chanukah?

Chanukah? Hanukkah? Hanuka?
Chanukah, the Jewish Festival of Lights, begins at sundown on December 21 with the lighting of one candle on the eight-candle menorah. Every night an additional candle burns, until the eighth night, when eight candles are lighted.

To celebrate, we’ve answered eight questions about the mysteries of Chanukah – one for each night. And yes, one of the mysteries involves the proper spelling.


I found the G spot... No wait...

Hold Still
It has evaded lovers for centuries, but in February we learned that the elusive and semi-mythical G spot had been captured on ultrasound for the first time.

Emmanuele Jannini at the University of L'Aquila in Italy discovered clear anatomical differences between women who claim to have vaginal orgasms - triggered by stimulation of the front vaginal wall without any simultaneous stimulation of the clitoris - and those that don't. Apparently, the key is that women who orgasm during penetrative sex have a thicker area of tissue in the region between the vagina and urethra, meaning a simple scan could separate out the lucky "haves" from the "have-nots".


Wednesday, December 17, 2008

When Polar Bears Attack

Awww, So cute

5 Inventions That Enhanced Laziness

Although it’s hard to fathom why people bothered to go on living, there was once a time when folks had no choice but to sit up straight in their chairs, fiddle with buttons and zippers, climb stairs, hike to the outhouse, and add numbers with pencil and paper. After the jump, a paean to the inventions that made it easier to enjoy the simple pleasures of sinful idleness.


The Real Face of Cleopatra

Egyptologists worked for over a year to produce a digital 3D recreation of the face of Cleopatra, using ancient artifacts combined with modern imaging technology. The result is a beautiful face of mixed ethnicity.


Watching romantic comedies can spoil your love life.

Four Weddings and a Funeral
Rom-coms have been blamed by relationship experts at Heriot Watt University for promoting unrealistic expectations when it comes to love.

They found fans of films such as Runaway Bride and Notting Hill often fail to communicate with their partner.

Many held the view if someone is meant to be with you, then they should know what you want without you telling them.


King Tut's Father ID'd in Stone Inscription

King Tut
An inscribed limestone block might have solved one of history's greatest mysteries...who fathered the boy pharaoh King Tut?

"We can now say that Tutankhamun was the child of Akhenaten," Zahi Hawass, chief of Egypt's Supreme Council of Antiquities, told Discovery News.


Tuesday, December 16, 2008

New Species Alert! Hot Pink Millipede, Collosal Spider, and Tiny Deer Emerge.

Desmoxytes purpurosea
For the last ten years, two new species a week have been identified in the Greater Mekong, a swath of diverse ecosystems along the Mekong River in Southeast Asia. In a new World Wildlife Fund report, scientists say they have documented at least 1,068 new species since 1997.

These aren’t run-of-the-mill species, either. Take Desmoxytes purpurosea, a bubble-gum pink “dragon” millipede that looks like a Halloween prop. Scientists found the thumb-sized centipede just sitting around on rocks and palm trees. Its shocking pink color is actually a warning to would-be predators: get too close and they’ll have to contend with the deadly cyanide that the millipede secretes.


The CSI Effect

If there were no cops, prosecutors or defense attorneys, the television airwaves would probably be far less crowded. Over the past 60 years, these professions have dominated prime-time schedules. Why? They offer formulas ready-made for drama: A brand-new conflict is presented to the protagonist each week, promising to be full of mystery, intrigue, and ... predictability. Viewers can rely on the fact that near the end of the viewing hour, one crucial piece of evidence will appear and lead to the capture of the elusive killer, or to the acquittal of the wrongly accused defendant. Then comes the philosophical musing that wraps everything up neatly, providing a clean slate for next week's episode.

Real life is rarely so cut-and-dried. And while some may argue that cop and lawyer shows are merely entertainment, actual cops and lawyers claim these shows can make their already-difficult jobs even harder.


The Yawn Explained: It Cools Your Brain

The Yawn Explained
If your head is overheated, there's a good chance you'll yawn soon, according to a new study that found the primary purpose of yawning is to control brain temperature.

The finding solves several mysteries about yawning, such as why it's most commonly done just before and after sleeping, why certain diseases lead to excessive yawning, and why breathing through the nose and cooling off the forehead often stop yawning.


Monday, December 15, 2008

Stone Age string: Unearthed, the twine that was twisted into shape 8,000 years ago

8,000 year old string
Our ancestors made it by twisting together what seem to be fibres of honeysuckle, nettles, or wild clematis, and used it in their struggle for survival as the last ice age ended.

Editor Mike Pitts said of the string: 'It is a fantastic find. I don't think the average person realises what an important piece of technology string has been over the ages.'


Thursday, December 11, 2008

92% of women like to go solo

MORE women than ever before are taking time out to pleasure themselves, a survey revealed today.

The poll reveals nine out of 10 are regularly taking time out for some solo action - the highest number ever.

The survey results clearly show how women’s attitudes and practices have changed over the decades - 92 per cent of women admitting to touching themselves this year, compares with only 74 per cent in 1979 and 62 per cent in 1953.


42 Magnificent Works of Modern Earth and Land Art
Land art is at the heart of history and the human experience, from primitive cave drawings to ancient stone henges. In modern times, increased artistic freedom coupled with technical and conceptual innovations have liberated land artists to create ever more amazing works of natural sculpture and earth architecture. Some of these are mind-boggling in scale while other smaller works are astonishing for the amount of thought, effort and material that went into their making.


Fingerprints Can Reveal Drug Use, Medical History

The new technique attaches the iron oxide particles to antibodies and suspends them both in a liquid solution, which is then drizzled over a fingerprint. If the chemical that a specific antibody targets is present, the molecules latch onto it and glow.

Drugs aren't the only chemicals the new tests could detect. Cancer, diabetes, heart disease and other medical conditions produce specific chemicals also secreted in sweat and oil. By tweaking the antibodies on the particles, forensic scientists could test for a variety of medical conditions. This could help police track down a suspect by, say, watching the local kidney dialysis clinic if the suspect has kidney failure.


Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Snowflakes as you've never seen them before

Hexagonal prism
These snowflakephotos were taken by Kenneth Libbrecht of CalTech, using a specially-designed snowflake photomicroscope. They show real snow crystals that fell to earth in northern Ontario, Alaska, Vermont, the Michigan Upper Peninsula, and the Sierra Nevada mountains of California.


From the Beast

15 of the World’s Most Amazing Houses
Little boxes on the hillside aren’t for everyone. While some people might be content with a cookie-cutter home in a bland suburban neighborhood, others create truly one-of-a-kind homes with incredibly imaginative shapes and materials. In addition to the 70 amazing houses around the world that we’ve featured before, here are 15 jaw-dropping examples of architecture from a decaying wooden skyscraper in Russia to a mushroom-shaped home in Cincinnati that looks like it was custom-made for Dr. Seuss.


Plastic Made To Conduct Electricity

A plastic-metal hybrid as a granulate or a strand. In the next step the conductive material can be plasticized (softened) again and applied as a printed circuit board. (Credit: Copyright Fraunhofer IFAM)
Plastic that conducts electricity and metal that weighs no more than a feather? It sounds like an upside-down world. Yet researchers have succeeded in making plastics conductive and cutting production costs at the same time.


Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Men Are Red, Women Are Green, Study Says

People Judge Sex Based On Skin Tone
Men tend to have reddish skin while women's is more green, according to a new psychological study.

"If it is on the more red end of the spectrum (the face) had a higher probability of being male. Conversely, if it is on the green end of the spectrum (the face) had a higher probability of being female," Tarr said.


British DNA database 'breached human rights'

Britain has led the world in forensic DNA profiling for law enforcement - but now the European Court of Human Rights has ruled that the UK's national DNA database has gone too far.

In a landmark judgment on 4 December, the court ruled that Britain must remove more than 800,000 of roughly 4.5 million profiles in the database, and destroy the retained DNA samples.


Monday, December 8, 2008

General Motors: Myths And Reality

The auto business is different from other endeavors, so some traditional business rules do not apply.

Forget what some people in the media are saying. General Motors is not going out of business. Yes, the company is in a terrible crisis, but even if the business here completely fails, GM's foreign empire--in Europe, Brazil and China--will carry on the fight.


The Greatest Game Ever Played

Mike Ditka, Dan Reeves and Chuck Knox are just some of the coaches who served under Vince Lombardi, Tom Landry and Weeb Ewbank.
America's obsession with football is almost universally accepted, but the roots of this obsession began 50 years ago in a game played at Yankee Stadium between the New York Giants and Baltimore Colts.



Psychological Warfare, Psychological Operations (PSYOP),
Black Propaganda, and Aerial Propaganda Leaflets


Top 10 Crazy Cults

Cultist groups have permeated society ever since people could chat and share ideas en masse, although modern cult experts today often clash about what, exactly, makes a group of people a cult. What's a loony organization to one expert is often seen by others as a religion or sect.


Top 10 Crazy Cults

Heaven's Gate
Cultist groups have permeated society ever since people could chat and share ideas en masse, although modern cult experts today often clash about what, exactly, makes a group of people a cult. What's a loony organization to one expert is often seen by others as a religion or sect.


The Science Behind Some Popular Phrases

Photo: Shenghung Lin [Flickr]
Once in a Blue Moon: A neat description of "not very often," it refers to the second full moon within a month - a rare thing indeed. Full moons happen about every 29.5 days, and since a typical month runs between 30 to 31 days, the likelihood of two in a month is slim. But over the course of a century there'll be 41 months with two full moons, so once in a blue moon really means - if you want to get literal - once every 2.4 years.


Friday, December 5, 2008

10 great moments in beer history

December 5, 1933
The word beer comes from the Latin word 'bibere' meaning 'to drink'.
The Greek goddess of agriculture, Ceres, is the root of the Spanish word for beer, cerveza. Beer is the world's oldest and most widely consumed alcoholic beverage in the world.

December 5, 1933 was a great day in American history.
It was the day Congress ratified the 21st amendment and ended the Noble Experiment, Prohibition.

So to celebrate the 75th anniversary of the freedom to drink,
we present 10 great moments in the history of beer.


The History of Utensils (Spork Included)

Before utensils, everything was finger food. Here’s how some of our common eating tools wound up on our placemats.

This article was written by Liz Hunt and excerpted from the mental_floss book In the Beginning: The Origins of Everything.


It took 90 minutes for Daily News to 'steal' the Empire State Building

Daily News reporter William Sherman in front of the Empire State Building
In one of the biggest heists in American history, the Daily News "stole" the $2 billion Empire State Building.

And it wasn't that hard.

The News swiped the 102-story Art Deco skyscraper by drawing up a batch of bogus documents, making a fake notary stamp and filing paperwork with the city to transfer the deed to the property.

Some of the information was laughable: Original "King Kong" star Fay Wray is listed as a witness and the notary shared a name with bank robber Willie Sutton.

The massive ripoff illustrates a gaping loophole in the city's system for recording deeds, mortgages and other transactions.

The loophole: The system - run by the office of the city register - doesn't require clerks to verify the information.


Thursday, December 4, 2008

10 Fun Facts About Charles Darwin

Charles Darwin
Everyone knows about Charles Darwin and his theory of natural selection, but did you know that he once ate an owl, just for kicks? Or that he almost didn't make it aboard HMS Beagle because of the shape of his nose? Behold Neatorama's 10 Fun Facts About Charles Darwin:


Wednesday, December 3, 2008

My Hobbies

By: Scott Adams, Inc

Cal Study: Poor Kids Lack Brain Development

University of California, Berkeley, researchers have shown for the first time that the brains of low-income children function differently from the brains of high-income kids. In short, they don't perform as well.
In a study recently published in the Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, scientists said that normal 9- and 10-year-olds, differing only in socioeconomic status, have detectable differences in the response of their prefrontal cortex, the part of the brain that is critical for problem solving and creativity.

"This is a wake-up call," Knight said. "It's not just that these kids are poor and more likely to have health problems, but they might actually not be getting full brain development from the stressful and relatively impoverished environment associated with low socioeconomic status: fewer books, less reading, fewer games, fewer visits to museums."

Kishiyama, Knight and Boyce suspect that the brain differences can be eliminated by proper training.


Sick babies denied treatment in DNA row

BABIES with a severe form of epilepsy risk having their diagnosis delayed and their treatment compromised because of a company's patent on a key gene.

It is the first evidence that private intellectual property rights over human DNA are adversely affecting medical care.


Tuesday, December 2, 2008

The Gentleman Boxer

Well-educated, well-off, from a good family . . . what makes Tor Hamer fight?

Why would anyone with half a brain—and a desire to keep it intact—have any interest in joining a waning enterprise like boxing?

"What the fuck is he fighting for?" the Voice overheard a veteran boxing reporter ask when he was informed of Hamer's pedigree.


Top 10 Fugitives in the World Still on the Run

When it comes to people committing crimes, most fugitives try to do it in a way so that police and law enforcement officials won’t be able to find them. While some succeed, most do not, simply because as humans we make mistakes, and others will eventually pick up on those mistakes. In the world of crime, those who are caught are sentenced and usually spend time in jail or some other place that’d make the common person freak.

However, those who have not been caught, well…let’s just say they’re either lucky, smart, or just really good at hiding and escaping from the police. Or, they have some sort of high connection to those in elite places in society. Though government agencies pledge to one day catch these men, it has already proven to be much harder than anyone would have thought. Here are the top 10 fugitives that were never caught.


Monday, December 1, 2008

2,700 Year Old Blond-Haired, Blue-Eyed Mummy Found In China

While international media is abuzz over the discovery of the world’s oldest stash of marijuana, a glaringly-obvious fact was inconspicuously left in the article: the pot stash was part of the tomb of a blond-haired, blue-eyed man who lived in China some 2,700 years ago.

Chinese legend is full of blond-haired, blue-eyed people who brought Buddhism to China and organized society there. Fully-preserved mummies showing clear Nordic facial structure, including red, and blond hair, were first discovered in the graveyards of the Tocharians in the Chinese Takla Makan desert back in the 1980’s. In January of this year, archaeologists using genetic testing have proven that Caucasians roamed China’s Tarim Basin 1,000 years before East Asian people arrived


10 Facts About Diamond You Should Know

Photo: Fotografiert von Mario Sarto
There's no denying that diamonds are a traditional symbol of romance and love. Why, a man needs a diamond ring to ask the woman of his dream to marry him, right? But was it always that way? Did you know that someone worked very, very hard to make diamond rings de rigueur in marriage proposals? Or that diamonds aren't actually very rare at all? Or that they make lousy investments?

Here 10 Facts About Diamonds You Should Know: