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Some of the world’s rarest and most precious metals, including platinum and iridium, could owe their presence in the Earth’s crust to iron and stony-iron meteorites, fragments of a large number of asteroids that underwent significant geological processing in the early Solar System.

Dr Gerhard Schmidt from the University of Mainz, Germany, has calculated that about 160 metallic asteroids of about 20 kilometres in diameter would be sufficient to provide the concentrations of these metals, known as Highly Siderophile Elements (HSE), found in the Earth’s crust. Dr Schmidt will be presenting his findings at the European Planetary Science Congress in Münster on Monday 22nd September.

Siderophile (iron-loving) elements are a group of high-density transition metals that tend to bond with metallic iron in the solid or molten state. The HSE group includes rhenium (Re), osmium Os), iridium (Ir), ruthenium (Ru), rhodium (Rh), platinum (Pt), palladium (Pd) and gold (Au).


An artificial meteorite designed by the European Space Agency has shown that traces of life in a martian meteorite could survive the violent heat and shock of entry into the Earth’s atmosphere. The experiment’s results also suggest that meteorite hunters should widen their search to include white rocks if we are to find traces of life in martian meteorites.

The STONE-6 experiment tested whether sedimentary rock samples could withstand the extreme conditions during a descent though the Earth’s atmosphere where temperatures reached at least 1700 degrees Celsius. After landing, the samples were transported in protective holders to a laboratory clean-room at ESTEC and examined to see if any traces of life remained. The results were presented by Dr Frances Westall at the European Planetary Science Congress on September 25th.


Life has been discovered in the barren depths of Rome's ancient tombs but it's not zombies or Knights Templars protecting secret treasure; it's two new species of bacteria found growing on the walls, and though they're not protecting any treasure, they may be helping to protect our cultural heritage monuments, according to research published in the September issue of the International Journal of Systematic and Evolutionary Microbiology.


American children are approximately three times more likely to be prescribed psychotropic medication than children in Europe, according to a new study published Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and Mental Health. The study claims that the differences may be accounted for by regulatory practices and cultural beliefs about the role of medication in emotional and behavioral problems.

Julie Zito led a team of researchers from the USA, Germany and the Netherlands who investigated prescription levels in the three countries. She said, "Antidepressant and stimulant prevalence were three or more times greater in the US than in the Netherlands and Germany, while antipsychotic prevalence was 1.5 to 2.2 times greater".


As a car accelerates up and down a hill then slows to follow a hairpin turn, the airflow around it cannot keep up and detaches from the vehicle. This aerodynamic separation creates additional drag that slows the car and forces the engine to work harder. The same phenomenon affects airplanes, boats, submarines, and even your golf ball.

In work that could lead to ways of controlling the effect with potential impacts on fuel efficiency and more, MIT scientists and colleagues report new mathematical and experimental work for predicting where that aerodynamic separation will occur.

Is there such a thing as 'math' dyslexia?

Daniel Ansari, an assistant professor and Canada Research Chair in Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience in the Department of Psychology at The University of Western Ontario in London, Canada, is using brain imaging to understand how children develop math skills, and what kind of brain development is associated with those skills.

Some children who experience mathematical difficulties have what has been termed developmental dyscalculia – a syndrome that is similar to dyslexia, a learning disability that affects a child's ability to read. Children with dyscalculia often have difficulty understanding the concept of numerical quantity. For example, they find it difficult to connect abstract symbols, such as a number, to the numerical magnitude it represents. They can't see the connection between five fingers and the number '5'.