MySci Roundup July 9: Oh, Brother!

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A big MySci happy 175th birthday shoutout goes to Sir George Darwin, the astronomer brother of the vastly more famous naturalist Sir Charles Darwin. Sir George came up with an equally fascinating and intellectually elegant theory, too, though unlike Charles’ theory of evolution, it’s been largely forgotten, for the reason that it’s been disproven. Sir George had the notion that the Moon had once been part of the Earth, but that it had been pulled away by Solar tides, leaving a hole that is now the Pacific Ocean, to form a separate body. It all fits together pretty neatly, huh? The problem is that when lunar rocks brought back by astronauts in 1969 were analyzed by researchers, they determined that our satellite is about four billion years old, while the Pacific Ocean only formed about 70 million years ago. Nevertheless, nice try, Sir George. And without further ado, here is the roundup of science stories on the Web that are nearly as clever but far truer.

The ‘Climategate’ scientists have been cleared of manipulating climate change data by investigators. The researchers at East Anglia Univesity’s Climatic Research Unit did get their knuckles rapped for being too cranky about sharing their data with their critics, but climate change-denying conspiracy theorists will have to come up with another shibboleth.

Discovery of ancient flint tools indicates humans inhabited the UK at least 780,000 years ago. It’s a find that will prompt paleontologists to revise their time lines, and place human settlement of the rougher climes of northern Europe far earlier than was once believed.

Solar-powered aircraft? Sure, and they could even fly at night, as a bunch of developers are now trying to demonstrate with a 24-hour flight.

Coincidence? World Cup losers tend to be countries with higher rates of cat-to-human brain parasite infestation. In the knockout round, seven of eight losers have been the countries with higher rates of Toxoplasma gondii parasite, neuroscientist Patrick House has noticed.

Search engines will soon watch video. A new algorithm will enable search engines to actually peruse video content directly, rather than relying on arbitrary text tags.

Magnetic Nanoparticles Can Remotely Control Worms. Laugh all you want, but this has potential applications for fighting cancer cells, too.