Dec 11, 2010

Couple banned from hanging fairy lights for 'health and safety'

For the last 10 years, Ian and Linda Cameron have lit up the top floor of their tower block with a sparkling display of festive lights, enjoyed by thousands of people who can see them from miles around.
But this year the council told them to take them down because they are too dangerous.
The couple live on the 19th floor of Brighton's second highest clocks of council flats, right in the city centre, and for many, the switching on of their lights is the unofficial start to the Christmas season.

Last summer tenants in the block were ordered to remove their doormats from internal corridors because they were considered a fire risk.

Mrs Cameron, 53, said: "Now they are picking on our fairy lights. A woman from the housing office called me at home and told me to take them down immediately.

"I was quite upset because she talked to me like I was some kind of criminal. We only put them on when we are at home and turn them off at bedtime.

"I asked why and she simply said: 'Health and Safety.'

"Have they got nothing better to worry about?"

A Brighton and Hove Council spokesman said: "There is no suggestion that this action is 'suddenly' necessary. In fact, we are responding to a complaint from a member of the public and were not previously aware these lights were being suspended so high above the ground. Far from being 'health and safety gone mad', this is common sense.

"Where electric lights are being hung more than 100 feet high, we have a duty to ensure they are not a danger to passers-by."

Mr Cameron, 63, said: "People can see our lights right across the city. I've looped them along the balcony, which stretches half way round the top floor, every year since we moved in a decade ago and nobody has ever said anything before.

Read more at The Telegraph

Ancient Desert Oasis Echoes Eden

The waters of the Persian Gulf may cover one of humanity's oldest and largest footholds outside Africa -- according to archeologist Jeffery Rose in this month's issue of Current Anthropology.

A verdant oasis provided a sanctuary the size of Great Britain for humans from at least 74,000 years ago until 8,000 years ago. The Gulf Oasis, as the area is called, provided a refuge from the harsh deserts created by the Ice Age.

Humans may have inhabited southern Arabia for more than 100,000 years. While researchers previously considered the area a corridor between Africa and Eurasia, evidence from the Gulf Oasis shows humans used the coast region to create homesteads and survive dry spells while independently developing cultures and technologies. Archeologists find evidence of this in distinctively Arabian stone working techniques, Rose reports.

The Gulf Oasis expanded and contracted as the world's climate changed throughout the ages known as the Late Pleistocene and Early Holocene. Then, around 8,000 years ago, the Indian Ocean flooded into the basin, creating the Persian Gulf and driving out the humans.

The refugees, apparently, did not travel too far to find a new place to call home. Along the coast of the Persian Gulf, archeologists found more than 60 sites appearing suddenly from culturally advanced peoples, where before only a few hunter-gather camps dotted the landscape.

The Gulf Oasis refugees survived by a combination of fishing, date palm cultivation, and raising livestock. These newcomers managed to also continue their network of overseas trading. By 7,000 years ago, there is evidence that the refugees from the sunken oasis were also using irrigation in the northern portion of the coastline. Archeologists suggest that the irrigation developed there eventually led to the creation of cities.

UR The Gulf Oasis was at the southern tip of the Fertile Crescent, or Mesopotamia. The Fertile Crescent eventually gave rise to some of the first cities, including Ur, which was located in the southern portion of Mesopotamia. One famous resident of Ur was Abraham, considered to be the patriarch of the Jewish, Christian, and Muslim religions.

Read more at Discovery News

Apple chap knocks up ancient Lego computer

“Apple software engineer Andrew Carol has rather impressively put together a replica of the ancient Antikythera Mechanism – built entirely from Lego.

The mechanism, constructed around 80BC, was recovered from the wreck of a cargo ship off the Greek island of Antikythera in 1901, but wasn’t until 2006 revealed to be a planetary motion calculator.

Carol has, with a big bucket of Lego and the backing of Digital Science, demonstrated how the contraption may have been used to calculate eclipses:”

Via The Register

Dec 10, 2010

Red haired people do not feel more pain: doctors

People with red hair do not feel more pain or bleed more after operations, despite doctors' fears that they do, it has emerged.

Doctors treat red heads with trepidation, an article in the British Medical Journal said, because of their reputation for complications.

But surgeon Jonathan Barry from Morriston Hospital in Swansea and colleagues checked the evidence for such worries and found it was flimsy at best.

He wrote in the BMJ: "Red haired patients are traditionally regarded with a degree of trepidation by surgeons and anaesthetists alike due to a reputation for excessive bleeding, reduced pain threshold and a propensity to develop hernias."

Read more at The Telegraph

Mutual criticism is vital in science. Libel laws threaten it

“Recently we have seen a large number of fairly high-profile libel cases involving scientists and doctors, including Dr Peter Wilmshurst, Dr Henrik Thomsen, Dr Simon Singh, and my own.

In many of them, lawyers have been dismissive of any special pleading for science in the libel reform movement: if you want to step out and criticise, they explain, you should be aware of the implications and ready to defend your point. But in science, the assumptions and traditions are different, and with good reason. In science and medicine, criticising each others’ ideas and practices isn’t an aberration, or a special occasion: it’s exactly what you are supposed to do, all of the time, and with very good reason.

Medicine is almost unique among all human activities in that it’s possible to do enormous harm even when you set out with the absolute best of intentions, and there are many examples of this, even in mainstream healthcare. On paper, for example, it made perfect sense to give antiarrhythmics preventively to everyone who’d had a heart attack, rather than just the people who had abnormal hearth rhythms. But it turned out that this practice had killed more Americans than died in the whole of the Vietnam war.

In medicine, when you make a mistake about whether something works or not, it’s possible to cause death and suffering on a genuinely biblical scale.

That’s why we have systems to try and stop us making such mistakes, and at the heart of all these lies mutual criticism: criticising each others ideas and practices. This isn’t something that’s marginal, or tolerated by the profession. It’s something that is welcomed and actively encouraged. More than that, it’s institutionalised.”

Read more at The Guardian

Dec 9, 2010

Baby’s brain scan during birth

A team comprised of obstetricians, radiologists and engineers have built an “open” MRI scanner that allows a mother-to-be to fit fully into the machine and give birth there, the hospital announced on Tuesday.

The MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) scanner has already taken unique images of the body of a mother and the movement of her baby through the birth canal to the point where its head emerges into the world. The birth that took place in the scanner went smoothly and both mother and baby were in good health, a hospital spokeswoman said.

More at The Local

If you can teach computers to learn, NASA needs your help.

Sometimes the distortions are obvious, like in the Hubble image of a distant galaxy cluster above. But sometimes they’re too subtle to be picked out by human eyes, and can even be confused with noise from the telescope used to take the galaxies’ picture. So cosmologists have turned to machine learning algorithms that teach computers to recognize patterns.

“We’re trying to teach computers to pick out the correct shape given all sorts of other noise around the galaxy’s shape,” said NASA cosmologist Jason Rhodes, who is helping to organize the challenge. “We have our ideas as a community about how to do this, but we realized a few years ago that it was quite possible there were ideas we weren’t familiar with.”

The competition is designed to bring fresh ideas from machine learning and computer science experts. But the challenge is open to anyone.

Full details at Wired

Worshipping Baby

This interesting video is doing the rounds and is being described as a clear case of embedded cultural behaviour. We think it’s just a bit weird and at the same time funny.

Dec 8, 2010

The science of Christmas: Santa Claus, his sleigh, and presents

Sure, Santa Claus delivers presents to all the good children in the world. But how? And why? We take a look at the science of Christmas gifts. 


How fast does Santa travel?
If we assume that Santa has to travel 510,000,000km on Christmas Eve, and that he has 32 hours to do it (see here for the reasoning behind those numbers), then Santa will be travelling at 10,703,437.5km/hr, or about 1,800 miles per second, all night (assuming he never stops: some sort of sleigh-mounted present-launcher will be required to shoot gifts down chimneys while moving. The guidance system will have to be quite impressive, to avoid accidentally showering Afghan wedding parties with extra presents). It will probably also be advisable to have Santa catheterised to obviate the need for toilet breaks.
How much will his sleigh weigh?

Last year, we calculated Santa’s sleigh (carrying 700,000,000 Optimus Primes and dragged by three million reindeer) to weigh 1,232,300 metric tonnes. However, this year, thanks to the success of Toy Story 3, he will have to be carrying Buzz Lightyears, which have a boxed weight of 1.2kg compared to Optimus’s comparatively puny 659g. So that’s 840,000 tonnes of toys, which will require 5,600,000 reindeer to pull. Given each reindeer weighs around 272kg (600lb), the whole procession (assuming a weightless sleigh) will have a mass of 2,363,200 tonnes when standing still. Last year, however, we failed to take into account the relativistic increase in mass caused by the speed of the sleigh. Travelling at 10,703,437.5km/hr, or 0.97 per cent of light speed, the whole thing will have an apparent weight to a stationary observer of 2,363,310.33 tonnes.

Can reindeer fly?
We feel we should leave this to the Telegraph’s former science editor Dr Roger Highfield, who has written an entire book of that name. “Somewhere in the North Pole, or perhaps buried in a vast complex under Gemiler, there must be an army of scientists experimenting with the latest in high-temperature materials, genetic computing technologies and warped spacetime geometries, all united by a single purpose: making millions of children happy each and every Christmas”, he says. He takes a look at a few of the possibilities.
A rocket-powered sleigh is out of the question: the fuel costs would be prohibitive (not that that has stopped people drawing up possibilities). But if Santa’s elves - “undoubtedly the most spectacular research and development outfit this planet has ever seen” - have worked a way of warping space-time, allowing the sleigh to sit in a small bubble of space that itself moves, it could travel faster than light. Alternatively, wormhole technology could provide cosmic short-cuts, and would have the benefit of permitting time-travel, removing the constraint of having to get all the work done in one night.
But this all involves a powered sleigh. The reindeer themselves still need to be able to fly. This could be achieved by genetic engineering, altering the reindeer so their lungs are huge and filled with helium; they could even be born with wings and stabiliser fins. Or, as Professor Ian Stewart, Warwick University maths professor and occasional Telegraph contributor, points out: “Reindeer have a curious arrangement of gadgetry on top of their heads which we call antlers and naively assume exist for the males to do battle and to win females. This is absolute nonsense. The antlers are actually fractal vortex-shedding devices. We are talking not aerodynamics here, but antlaerodynamics.” At the speeds the reindeer have to travel to deliver gifts, their antler-tips would, apparently, create enough lift to allow them to fly.
Check out Can Reindeer Fly?: The Science of Christmas, by Dr Roger Highfield, for more information.

Read more at The Telegraph

The Science of Christmas: the First Noel

Virgin birth, the star over Bethlehem - you know the story. But does it have a basis in scientific fact? We take a look. 


The Star of Bethlehem
Upon Christ’s birth, legend has it, a star appeared in the sky over Bethlehem, leading the three magi to the manger where Jesus lay. The question of whether it had a non-miraculous astronomical explanation - was there really an extra bright star that night? - has been debated for some time.
Two possible explanations are: a conjunction of Jupiter and Venus, which would have taken place about 2BC, and would have appeared as a single bright star; and a supernova, which was recorded by Chinese astronomers in 5BC. Since it turns out that King Herod, in whose reign Christ was supposed to have been born, died in the spring of 4BC, we can probably rule out the planetary conjunction theory.

So, you heard it here first: the Star of Bethlehem, if it really happened, was, probably, a supernova. Or a divine miracle, obviously.

Jesus's birthday

If the planetary-conjunction hypothesis is correct (we know we're suggesting it's not, but bear with us), we can put an exact date on Jesus's birth - 17 June, 2BC. Which would make Jesus a Gemini. Unfortunately, as we've seen, King Herod, who plays a significant part in the story, was almost certainly dead by then.

The more plausible supernova hypothesis places Christ's birth in March or April 5BC, making Jesus either Pisces, Aries or Taurus.

Virgin birth (parthenogenesis)

The thing that needs explaining here is not a virgin giving birth. It’s the fact that it doesn’t happen more often. It’s the whole strange sexual reproduction business that’s confusing: various theories have been put forward to explain it, but none has been fully accepted. The most widely held seems to be that it is an advantage in the evolutionary arms race against parasites.

But parthenogenesis does happen in the animal world. Insects do it all the time, notably some species of bees and wasps, as do various crustaceans and molluscs. Further up the complexity scale, sharks and some reptiles - including the mighty Komodo dragon and boa constrictor - have been known to give birth without the input of a male. At least one species of lizards, the New Mexico whiptail, has no males at all.

Among our fellow mammals, alas, it doesn’t happen, at least not in nature, although it has been induced in the laboratory. But if the Virgin Mary was a Komodo dragon - which the New Testament at no stage denies - the story is entirely plausible.

Read more at The Telegraph

Spanish Woman Claims to Own the Sun

“Would you want to own a property that’s older than the dinosaurs? Along the lines of billions of years old? Well, a woman in Spain has laid claim to the sun.

Yes, you read that correctly: THE sun in the sky — the 4.5-billion-year-old celestial giver of light and heat and well, life to all things on Earth, is now owned by Angeles Duran, or so she asserts after legally registering our closest star with a notary public, the global news agency Agence France-Presse reports.

Duran told the Spanish newspaper El Mundo that she decided to try to become the sole owner of the sun when she heard about how Nevada entrepreneur Dennis Hope posted a similar claim in 1980 with the United Nations for ownership of the moon and proceeded to sell acres of lunar real estate — not exactly a traditional holiday stocking stuffer.

Hope has so far sold more than 2 million 1-acre slabs of the moon, which he offers for $22.49 on his Lunar Embassy website. He’s even expanded his available properties to include prime areas of Mercury, Venus and Mars.

In her quest to own the sun, Duran has used the same loophole as Hope by getting around the United Nations Outer Space Treaty, adopted in 1967, that stipulates “outer space is not subject to national appropriation by claim of sovereignty, by means of use or occupation, or by any other means.”"

Read more at AOL News

Judas Priest announce farewell tour

After 40 years of screaming for vengeance, the ageing metal gods are to take on the world with one final tour
With typical elegance and restraint, Judas Priest have announced their farewell tour. After 40 years of screaming for vengeance, the British metal band are ready to rest their voices, retiring from the road after a final worldwide romp.

Starting next year, the Epitaph tour will offer fans a last chance to see the ageing metal gods. Judas Priest will "be going out strong", "rocking the planet", and "hitting all the major cities throughout the world ... with all guns blazing and amps cranked to 11", according to a press release. The only dates revealed so far are a string of European summer festivals, including London's High Voltage in July.

Judas Priest have worked tirelessly throughout a four-decade career. Singer Rob Halford has not always been with them, but at 59 he still has one of the most vital voices in vintage metal. It is not clear whether the band will continue recording after they have ceased touring.

For those who are unable to catch Judas Priest live, there is some consolation: farewell tours are often followed by comeback gigs. Acts such as the Who, Kiss, Barbra Streisand and Ozzy Osbourne have all bade us adieu only to return for one last hurrah, or, er, several.

Judas Priest have sold more than 40m albums worldwide.

From The Guardian

Dec 7, 2010

Mimicking a foreign accent helps you communicate

Britons abroad really should imitate the person they are talking to if they are struggling to understand a very strong foreign accent, psychologists have found.
Just by employing the same pronunciations will help them understand and be understood by the person they are speaking with, the researchers found.
However, it does not mean going over the top with a comedy impression, such as a French accent in the style of 'Allo 'Allo, the Second World War sitcom famous for the catchphrase "listen very carefully I shall say this only once" uttered by Michelle "of the Resistance" Dubois.

The findings could explain the notorious clip of ex-England manager Steve McClaren giving a press conference in English but with a strong Dutch accent when managing local side FC Twente.

According to research published in the journal Psychological Science, it turns out he may have been doing exactly the right thing, no matter how ridiculous others thought he looked.

The study, conducted jointly by researchers from the University of Manchester and Holland's Radboud University, suggest a natural tendency to mimic another's accent.

In particular, when talking to a person with a very strong regional or foreign accent, the one with a less pronounced accent will adopt a style and tone of the other.

The researchers set up a series of experiments with Dutch students, putting them into conversational situations with strangers adopting a variety of accents.

Some would speak Dutch with a strong regional accent.

Others would do so but in a made up accent where the vowels would be switched round to make it totally unfamiliar.

The volunteers were told to either respond normally or do so trying to mimic the accent they heard and then transcribe what was being said to them.

Read more at The Telegraph

Last meals: weird requests on death row

Prisoners on America's death row are traditionally allowed anything they would like to eat for their last meal before they are executed. Here are some of the more unusual requests submitted to prison staff. 

Thomas J Grasso: mussels and SpaghettiOs
Grasso was executed in 1995 for using Christmas tree lights to strangle an 85-year-old woman. His bizarre last meal request was for two dozen steamed mussels, two dozen steamed clams, a Burger King double cheeseburger, six barbecued spare ribs, two large milkshakes, a tin of SpaghettiOs with meatballs, half a pumpkin pie and strawberries and cream.
Unfortunately for him, the length or complexity of his list seemed to confuse kitchen staff who made one crucial mistake. Grasso's last words were: "I did not get my SpaghettiOs, I got spaghetti. I want the press to know this.”

Robert Buell: a single black olive
Buell was sentenced to death for the murder and sexual assault of an 11-year-old, Krista Harrison, in 1982. Buell insisted he was innocent despite being sentenced to 121 years in prison for other rape charges.
His last meal request was for a single black olive with the seed removed.

Gerald Lee Mitchell: a bag of Jolly Ranchers
Mitchell was convicted of murdering a man who would not hand over a necklace he wanted, and was also accused of robbing and shooting two men in a drug deal.
His last meal may not have been nutritious but was certainly colourful: a bag of Jolly Rancher sweets in assorted flavours.

Read  more at The Telegraph

What Would Happen If Every Element On The Periodic Table Came Into Contact Simultaneously?

“There are two ways to go about testing this, neither of which are practical. One requires the energy of dozens of Large Hadron Colliders. The other could yield a cauldron-full of flaming plutonium. Both, however, would probably create carbon monoxide and a pile of rust and salts rather than a cool Frankenstein element.

If you toss single atoms of each element into a box, they won’t form a super-molecule containing one of everything, explains Mark Tuckerman, a theoretical chemist at New York University. Atoms consist of a nucleus of neutrons and protons with a set number of electrons zooming around them. Molecules form when atoms’ electron orbitals overlap and effectively hold the atoms together. What you get when you mix all your atoms, Tuckerman says, will be influenced by what’s close to what.

Oxygen, for example, is very reactive, and if it is closest to hydrogen, it will make hydroxide. If it is nearest to carbon, it will make carbon monoxide. “That random reactive nature applies to pretty much all elements,” Tuckerman says. “You could run this experiment 100 times and get 100 different combinations.” Certain elements, such as the noble gases, wouldn’t react with anything, so you’d be left with those and a few commonly found two- and three-atom molecules.

Ramming the atoms together at 99.999 percent the speed of light—the top speed of particles in the Large Hadron Collider, at the CERN particlephysics lab near Geneva—might fuse a few nuclei, but it won’t make that cool Frankenstein element. More likely, they would meld into a quark-gluon plasma, the theoretical matter that existed right after the universe formed. “But they would last for a fraction of a second before degrading,” Tuckerman says. “Plus, you’d need 118 LHCs—one to accelerate each element—to get it done.””

Read more at Pop Sci

Dec 6, 2010

Magicians, it seems, have an advantage over neuroscientists

“There is a place for magic in science. Five years ago, on a trip to Las Vegas, neuroscientists Stephen Macknik and Susana Martinez-Conde realized that a partnership was in order with a profession that has an older and more intuitive understanding of how the human brain works. Magicians, it seems, have an advantage over neuroscientists.

“Scientists have only studied cognitive illusions for a few decades. Magicians have studied them for hundreds, if not thousands, of years,” Martinez-Conde told the audience during a recent presentation here at the New York Academy of Sciences. [Video: Your Brain on Magic]

She and Macknik, her husband, use illusions as a tool to study how the brain works. Illusions are revealing, because they separate perception from reality. Magicians take advantage of how our nervous systems — our eyes, sense of touch, minds and so on — are wired to create seemingly impossible illusions.

After their epiphany in Las Vegas, where they were preparing for a conference on consciousness, the duo, who both direct laboratories at the Barrow Neurological Institute in Arizona, teamed up with magicians to learn just how they harness the foibles of our brains. Their discoveries are detailed in their new book, “Sleight of Mind: What the Neuroscience of Magic Reveals about Our Everyday Deceptions” (Henry Holt and Company, 2010).

The psychological concepts behind illusions are generally better understood, but they treat the brain as something of a black box, without the insight into brain activity or anatomy that neuroscience can offer, they write.”

Read more at Live Science

New Psychology Theory Enables Computers to Mimic Human Creativity

“A dealer in antique coins gets an offer to buy a beautiful bronze coin. The coin has an emperor’s head on one side and the date “544 B.C.” stamped on the other. The dealer examines the coin, but instead of buying it, he calls the police. Why?

Solving this “insight problem” requires creativity, a skill at which humans excel (the coin is a fake — “B.C.” and Arabic numerals did not exist at the time) and computers do not. Now, a new explanation of how humans solve problems creatively — including the mathematical formulations for facilitating the incorporation of the theory in artificial intelligence programs — provides a roadmap to building systems that perform like humans at the task.

Ron Sun, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute professor of cognitive science, said the new “Explicit-Implicit Interaction Theory,” recently introduced in an article in Psychological Review, could be used for future artificial intelligence.

“As a psychological theory, this theory pushes forward the field of research on creative problem solving and offers an explanation of the human mind and how we solve problems creatively,” Sun said. “But this model can also be used as the basis for creating future artificial intelligence programs that are good at solving problems creatively.”"

Read more at Science Daily

Dec 5, 2010

It's painfully easy to trick the mind into seeing things that aren't there

Why do clever people believe stupid things? It's difficult to make sense of the world from the small atoms of experience that we each gather as we wander around it, and a new paper in the British Journal of Psychology this month shows how we can create illusions of causality, much like visual illusions, if we manipulate the cues and clues we present.

They took 108 students and split them into two groups. Both groups were told about a fictional disease called "Lindsay Syndrome", that could potentially be treated with something called "Batarim". Then they were told about 100 patients, slowly, one by one, each time hearing whether the patient got Batarim or not, and each time hearing whether they got better.

When you're hearing about patients one at a time, in a dreary monotone, it's hard to piece together an overall picture of whether a treatment works (this is one reason why, in evidence-based medicine, "expert opinion" is ranked as the least helpful form of information). So while I can tell you that overall, in these results, 80% of the patients got better, regardless of whether they got Batarim or not – the drug didn't work – this isn't how it appeared to the participants. They overestimated its benefits, as you might expect, but the extent depended on how the information was presented.

The first group were told about 80 patients who got the drug, and 20 patients who didn't. The second group were told about 20 patients who got the drug, and 80 patients who didn't. That was the only difference, but the students in the first group estimated the drug as more effective, while the students who were told about 20 patients receiving it were closer to the truth.

Why is this? One possibility is that the students in the second group saw more patients getting better without the treatment, so got a better intuitive feel for the natural history of the condition, while the people who were told about 80 patients getting Batarim were barraged with data about people who took the drug and got better.

This is just the latest in a whole raft of research showing how we can be manipulated into believing that we have control over chance outcomes, simply by presenting information differently, or giving cues which imply that skill had a role to play. One series of studies has shown that if you manipulate someone to make them feel powerful (through memories of a situation in which they were powerful, for example), they imagine themselves to have even greater control over outcomes that are still purely determined by chance, which perhaps goes some way to explaining the hubris of the great and the good.

Read more at The Guardian

Babies and young children are immune from 'catching' yawns

A new study, however, has revealed that babies and young children are immune to "catching" yawns until they reach the age of five years old.

The surprising findings have shed new light on this mysterious phenomenon, which scientists describe as contagious yawning.

It has been known for decades that yawning can be infectious, leaving adults unable to stile a one if they see someone else opening their mouths wide in a yawning action.

More recent research has revealed that chimpanzees and even dogs can catch yawns from those around them, including from humans, but little is known about why we yawn and why it appears to be so infectious.

Psychologists at the University of Stirling, however, have now discovered that infants and young children are not prone to the contagious aspect of yawning. Instead, they only ever yawn spontaneously.

Dr Jim Anderson, a reader in psychology at the University of Stirling who led the research, which is published in the Royal Society journal Biological Letters, believes the findings will help to shed new light on how the human brain develops as we grow up and what makes us yawn.

He said: "The exact reason why we yawn isn't really understood very well at all, but there is no doubt that as adults it is highly contagious.

"People who score highly for empathy are significantly more likely to show contagious yawning. What we know from other research is that one part of the brain that continues to develop through out childhood is the frontal cortex and that the frontal lobes play a role in social decision making and the ability to empathise.
"That would tie in with the gradual development of contagious yawning during childhood."

In the study, Dr Anderson and his colleague Alisa Millen, studied the yawning behaviour of 22 infants and toddlers while they were shown video footage of other children, adults and animals yawning. They were also shown footage of their mother yawning.

The researchers found that the children did not yawn in reaction to the footage.

Read more at The Telegraph

'Godfather' mansion for sale in New York

The owners of the Staten Island home are asking $2.9 million (£1.85 million).

The film was directed by Francis Ford Coppola. It starred Marlon Brando as the fictitious mobster Vito Corleone and actors Al Pacino and Robert Duvall. Scenes were filmed inside and outside the 4-acre estate.

Owner James Norton says his mother kept many artefacts from the movie, including Brando's cue cards.

The house features two fireplaces, a basement pub, a four-car garage and an in-ground pool.

Read more at The Telegraph