October 2010 Archives

Use oozing pumpkins to scare the children this Halloween.


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After tragedy, there was joy in the gorilla enclosure at London Zoo yesterday with the arrival of a new baby - the first to be born there in 20 years.

And now staff are starting the delicate process of introducing the as-yet unnamed male to the head of the family - hulking Kesho.

The newborn western lowland gorilla was born to mother Mjukuu, 12, on Tuesday.

His father, Yeboah, died at the zoo in March after arriving in November 2009. He had been brought in as a mate to three female gorillas, Mjukuu, Zaire and Effie.

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A group of prehistoric people mastered a difficult and delicate process to sharpen stones into spears and knives at least 75,000 years ago, more than 50,000 years earlier than previously thought, according to a report.

This technique, known as pressure flaking, allowed for the more precise shaping of stones to turn them into better weapons for hunting.

"These points are very thin, sharp and narrow and possibly penetrated the bodies of animals better than that of other tools," said Paola Villa, a curator at the University of Colorado Museum of Natural History.

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Astronaut Pete Conrad is hoisted up by a Navy helicopter from the Atlantic Ocean following the historic Gemini V mission in 1965.

Conrad and his command pilot Gordo Cooper spent eight days going around the Earth as NASA prepared for the moon landings.

Gemini beat the previous record for time in orbit - held by the Russians - and was the first indication that America was overtaking the Soviets in the Space Race.

Conrad, who had a reputation for having a punchline on hand, called the mission "eight days in a garbage can".

Click on the image to embiggen.

Weird Science Friday Links

By Daniel Smith on Oct 29, 10 10:00 AM

Bored at work? Counting down the hours to the weekend?

Then Weird Science can help (as long as the boss doesn't spot ya!).

Weird Science Friday Links give you a nudge towards stuff you'll hopefully find more diverting than the stack of papers in front of you!

The scale of the universe.

Gallery of computation.

Galileo vs the Church.

Welcome to hooker mountain - crime in San Fran.

Five thousand years of history in the Middle East in 90 seconds.


Nimble-fingered touch-typists catch errors without even noticing them using an unconscious "autopilot", research has shown.

Scientists made the discovery after conducting experiments designed to separate what typists see on the screen and feel with their fingers.

In the first, the researchers secretly used a computer program to insert random false "typo" errors or correct mistakes typists had actually made.

They found that typists generally blamed themselves for the errors the program had inserted, and took credit for the corrected errors.

But their fingers told a different story.

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Just as imagined in the TV series Star Trek, the galaxy really could be filled with Earth-like planets capable of supporting life, new research suggests.

A study of nearby stars similar to the Sun shows that almost one in four could have Earth-size planets.

They have only not been detected yet because of the technical difficulties involved, scientists believe.

Many of these worlds may occupy the fabled "Goldilocks zone" - the orbital path where conditions are not too hot or cold but "just right" to support liquid surface water, and possibly life.

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Africa did not give birth to the ancestors of monkeys, apes and humans as is often believed, new research suggests.

Instead the earliest "anthropoids" colonised Africa from Asia, it is claimed.

New fossils discovered in central Libya and dating back 39 million years contain a surprising variety of species, say scientists.

Asteroids close to Earth

By Daniel Smith on Oct 28, 10 12:00 PM


This handy infographic reveals which pits of rock swing closest by our own planet.

These Near Earth Objects aren't due to hit us, though, as that honour will go to horrible space stone we've yet to spot.

The physics of a wet dog

By Daniel Smith on Oct 28, 10 10:00 AM

Well, it's more like how a wet dog gets dry!

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Daniel Smith

Daniel Smith - a long time ago, in a galaxy far away just north of Watford, Daniel fancied himself as a scientist but turned out to be the worst scientist since that bloke who mapped out all those canals on Mars that turned out to be scratches on his telescope's lens. Luckily, he is now not working on the Large Hadron Collider inadvertently creating a black hole that would swallow the world but is safely behind a desk writing this blog, bringing you the fantastical underbelly of nature... weird science.

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