science: November 2009 Archives

Doing a sudoko can help you lose weight 

275x250.jpgSpending an hour each day doing sudoko puzzles can help you keep trim, researchers have claimed.

The experts think battling with a challenging mental puzzle can burn off up to 90 calories for every 60 minutes spent trying to solve it.

While it doesn't exactly compete with the 800 calories you could burn on a treadmill in the same time, it's not bad for being sat at hoome.

It is said that while an 'at rest' mind uses 0.1 calories per minute, one which is being challenged burns through 1.5 calories every minute.

But make sure you don't have a cup of tea and chocolate biscuit while you do the sudoko - that would give you an additional 100 calories to burn off.

275x250.jpgDesigners have created a supersonic car which they claim will be able to reach speeds of 1,000 mph breaking the current land speed record.

The Bloodhound Super Sonic Car will essentially be a rocket with wheels and attached to a Eurofighter-Typhoon jet engine.

It will measure 12.8m-long, weight 6.4-tonne and be capable of travelling faster than bullet fired from a handgun. It will accelerate from 0-1,050mph in just 40 seconds.

The first attempt at breaking the 1997 record of 763mph will take place in 2011 -- after that they might test their bullet hypothesis.

Darwin book worth £60k found in toilet

275x250.jpgA rare first edition of Charles Darwin's "On the Origin of Species" is expected to be sold at auction for around £60,000 -- after it was found in a toilet.

The book, one of the first 1,250 copies ever printed, was discovered in an Oxford toilet where it had been left on a shelf.

While going to the loo, the son-in-law of the current owners spotted the On the Origin of Species, and thinking it looked old, gave it a closer inspection.

He then noticed a picture of the spine of the work and as he flipped the book open he realised it was a rare first edition.

At that point (but hopefully after pulling his trousers up) he told the owners who will sell the but at a Christie's auction today.

275x250.jpgBizarre sea creatures including an octopod dubbed Dumbo because of his giant ear-like fins, have been found as part of a deep sea census.

The previously unseen creatures live more than a mile beneath the ocean in pitch black conditions.

A total of 5,722 odd species were discovered as part of the Census of Marine Life - which used deep-towed cameras to give us a better picture of what lives in our oceans.

One such critter was the elephant-eared octopod (pictured) which was dubbed Dumbo of the deep - it is a six-foot-long cirrate octopod which was found on the Mid-Atlantic Ridge.

Another was the sea cucumber (below) whcih was found at 2,750 metres in the Northern Gulf of Mexico - I think looking at them we can see why they live in pitch black conditions.

SuperCroc was 12m long and ate dinosaurs

275x250.jpgAn ancient species of crocodile which weighed eight tonnes and snacked on dinosaurs has been discovered in the Sahara.

The 'SuperCroc' lived over 100 million years ago and was uncovered by a team from University of Chicago who have led a series of fossil croc hunting expeditions around the world.

But explorer-in-Residence (what a great job title) Prof Paul Sereno says Supercroc was, amazingly, not the oddest remains they found.

The also found a croc with dagger-like fangs, one which fed on plants or grubs - and one with a dog-like soft nose.

The crocs were (very scientifically) given the names, BoarCroc, RatCroc, PancakeCroc, DuckCroc and DogCroc. Click through to find out all about them.

Admin error could lead to fish extinction

275x250.jpgAn 80-year-old admin error could lead to the extinction of a fish species it has been claimed.

Experts say the mistake occurred in the 1920s when common skate were being classified by academics.

In an important piece of paperwork they were logged as a single species 'D. batis' - even though it was known that two existed, 'D. batis' and 'D. flossada'.

This has meant that for the past 80 years they have been fished as one species - resulting in the unmonitored depletion of the flapper skate (D. flossada) the more endangered species of the two.

As a result the risk of extinction is now far higher than previously expected. And you thought your mistake at the office was bad, at least you never wiped out an entire species.

Harry Potter invisibility cloak could exist

275x250.jpgScientists say a Harry Potter invisibility cloak could soon be real after they were given the go-ahead for a £4.9 million project.

Boffins from Imperial College London have been given the money by the Leverhulme Trust after proving that metamaterials can bend, control and manipulate light and other kinds of electromagnetic waves.

They will now work to create these materials - which lie at the border of physics and materials science - which are believed to be the key to invisibility.

It is claimed such a device would grab light as it approaches and forces it to flow smoothly around the cloak instead of striking it - rendering the object concealed beneath it invisible to the human eye.

While we don't pretend to understand the science behind this, we can't wait to be able to spend our days sneaking around under the cover.

275x250.jpgWhen you think cutting edge physics, pop-up books may not be the first thing that spring to mind.

But that hasn't stopped the boffins behind the Large Hadron Collider in Geneva from releasing a pop-up book about their experiment.

The 'Voyage to the Heart of Matter' book by Emma Sanders aims to explain the science behind the experiment in which protons travelling at nearly the speed of light collide 40 million times a second within the heart of particle detectors.

Pages detail how big the 27km tunnels are in relation to Geneva, how the particle detectors were built and readers are even able to build their own ATLAS device - one of the six particle detector experiments at LHC - albeit a non functioning paper one.

275x250.jpgScientists have developed a new test to measure the condition of old books and precious historical documents - on the basis of smell.

A team of academics from University College London say the musty smell of an old book is the result of hundreds of so-called volatile organic compounds (VOCs) released into the air from the paper.

This means that simply by 'sniffing' books it is possible to assess the condition and suggest how a book should be stored to keep it at its best.

It's claimed the new non-destructive "sniff" test could help libraries and museums preserve a range of prized paper-based objects.

The traditional test involves removing samples of the document which causes obvious physical damage… but at least doesn't get you a odd reputation with librarians. 

275x250.jpgBoffins claim they will soon be able to add nutrients, antioxidants and pro-biotics to make ice cream into a healthy food.

A team of ice cream researchers from the University of Missouri-Columbia say their advancements could soon make the frozen food a healthy alternative.

Using the remnants from grapes in wine-making they claim they are able to add things like fibre into the food without spoiling the taste or texture.

Even better they say it works best in rich flavoured ice creams like chocolate where the healthy additives don't impact on taste.

Suddenly parents won't have much to say when their child asks for a side-serving of ice cream with their Sunday lunch.

275x250.jpgThe X-ray machine has been named as the most important scientific invention by the London Science Museum.

A poll of over 50,000 people found that nearly one-in-five opted for the 100-year-old machines ahead of other innovations.

It beat off competition from the likes of the Apollo 10 capsule, Stephenson's Rocket and the Pilot ACE Computer which museum bosses had expected to do well in the vote.

But medical inventions took the top three slots with Penicillin and the DNA double helix coming in second and third place.

A spokesperson for the museum said: "X-rays have radically changed the way we see and understand our world - our bodies in particular." Yeah and they sure beat a photocopier for drunken scanning at the office Christmas party too.

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