Researchers analyzing 3,000-year-old pottery shards from Honduras have found evidence of the earliest man-made chocolate product. A chemical breakdown of material found on the shards led them to believe that it contained a wine-like beverage made from the fermented pulp of the cacao plant. This discovery pushes back the earliest documented use of cacao by 500 years.
A recent Harris Interactive poll of American adults has found that the Bible is the most popular book in the country among both men and women. Rounding out the top 10 are favorites that have topped best-seller lists for years:
Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
Lord of the Rings series by J.R.R. Tolkien
Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling
The Stand by Stephen King
The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
Angels and Demons by Dan Brown
Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand
The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
According to a recent study, your brain makes decisions several seconds before you even know about it.
Researchers from the Max Planck Institute used brain scanners to monitor brain activity as test subjects made a decision to push a button with either their right or their left hand. There was a noticeable difference in brain activity between a decision made to use the right hand and a decision made to use the left hand. Not only that, but the scientists found that the brain activity took place at least seven seconds before the subject made the "conscious" choice to push the button.
A French company has created a road surface that turns pink when the air temperature drops to near freezing. Its purpose is to warn drivers of possible icy conditions on roadways. The color of the surface reverts to normal when it warms up.
The technology is still being tweaked to make sure it can stand up to constant traffic and exposure to summer temperatures.
New fossil finds have lent credence to the theory that elephant trunks evolved to work as snorkels. The fossils, from a purported elephant ancestor the size of a large pig, were found in an area of Egypt that was made up of swamps and rivers in prehistoric times. Chemical analysis of the fossil teeth showed that the animal lived in fresh water and ate freshwater plants.
A competing theory holds that elephant trunks evolved to serve as a fifth appendage that could reach beyond the animal's tusks.
A group of French and German engineers are one step closer to creating lightning on command. The team fired pulses from an extremely powerful laser into clouds above New Mexico recently. The pulses caused an increase in the electrical activity in clouds that precedes a lightning strike.
The activity was too weak to create actual thunderbolts, but the scientists believe faster, more powerful laser pulses will do the trick. They hope to use this technology to "disarm" thunderstorms by draining their power before they reach sensitive sites, such as rocket launch pads housing satellites.
So you can't find your cellphone. No problem. You just pick up another phone and call it so you can listen for the ring. (Ah-hah! It was wedged between two cushions on the couch!) But what if there is no other phone where you're at? A new service, PhoneMyPhone.com, is there to help. Go to the website, enter your cell number, and they will call your phone instantly. The service is free.
So if it's flying around the room right side up, just how does a fly land on the ceiling? Here's how: It places its front legs above its head as it approaches the ceiling. Then it grabs the surface with the tiny suction cups on those front feet, and swings its body up until its back legs make contact as well.
If you died tomorrow, would your family be able to put your affairs - especially your finances - in order? One way to make sure they can is to create a single master document that lists all your bank accounts, debts, assets, life insurance policies, Social Security benefit records, retirement accounts, etc. Include the account numbers, as well as contact information for the company, lender, or bank. Keep a copy of this document in a safe place - a safety deposit box, for example - and make sure family members know it exists and where to find it. You could also give a copy directly to your closest trusted relative.
UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization) maintains a list of the world's most-translated authors. The current top 10, with works that have been translated from and into English and hundreds of other languages and dialects, are:
Hans Christian Andersen
(Source: National Geographic)
Anti-virus software, firewalls, spyware blockers. Our computers are full of features to stop hackers from stealing our confidential data. But computer security researchers have recently found a new way to bypass all that security.
A German team from Saarland University uses telescopes to focus on the reflection of computer screens on glasses, bottles, teapots, spoons, and even eyes. They can read 12-point type from up to 15 feet away, and 18-point type from 30 feet. As far as they know, no one has yet exploited this technique to "hack." But to be on the safe side when you're working on your computer, keep an eye out for people lurking around with telescopes.
More Groundbreaking Research at the International Space Station
Back in February, we told you about plans to launch a paper airplane from the International Space Station. Such serious research more than justifies the tremendous cost of the station. But Japanese scientists have been at it again, this time searching for an answer to the age-old question: Do boomerangs work in low gravity?
After testing inside the space station, they found that the answer is... yes. Sadly, experts say boomerangs wouldn't work in the vacuum of space.