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Adults like to watch Chris Angel or David Blaine because we know the stunts are controlled, but there is always the chance they might off themselves. We get some fun out of figuring out the impossible and it's more challenging than figuring out how to cheat at Wii Fit.

Impossible tricks have a different effect on kids: a new experiment announced today at the BA Festival of Science in Liverpool says learning magical feats can boost children’s confidence and social skills.

The study, conducted by Rebecca Godfrey, Dr Sarah Woods, and Professor Richard Wiseman from the University of Hertfordshire, involved assessing the effect of teaching secondary school children some seemingly impossible illusions, including how to magically restore a rope that has been cut in half, and read another person’s mind.

Here's something you probably know. When asked, people say they would choose “good” snack rather than a “bad” one, and they probably mean it, but when the goodies arrive, they may just go ahead and get the bad one.

In an article in the September/October 2008 issue of the Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior, Dutch researchers found that there is a substantial inconsistency between healthful snack choice intentions and actual behavior.

Witness the Waffles of Doom.

When an electrical current passes through a wire it emanates heat – that's where we get toasters and the light bulbs Al Gore hates - but some materials violate this rule at low temperatures and carry current without any heat loss.

That's where we get superconductor research.

Andrea Bianchi, a professor in the Department of Physics at the Université de Montréal, and his colleagues say that, contrary to previous belief, superconductivity can induce magnetism, which has raised a new quantum conundrum.

Some human populations may rely on biological factors in addition to social factors when selecting a mate, according to a recent study in PLoS Genetics. Scientists in China, France, and the United Kingdom report genomic data showing that immunity traits may be involved in mate choice in some human populations.

In several species it has been shown that the Major Histocompatibility Complex (MHC), a large genomic region involved in immune response, influences mating selections and that this may be mediated by preferences based on body odor. Some previous studies have reported a tendency for humans to prefer MHC-dissimilar mates, encouraging heterozygosity at MHC loci in offspring and resulting in improved immune response.

However, other studies, both directly in couples and also indirectly in "sweaty T-shirts" experiments, have reported conflicting results.


When the world's land was congealed in one supercontinent 240 million years ago, Antarctica wasn't the forbiddingly icy place it is now. But paleontologists have found a previously unknown amphibious predator species that probably still made it less than hospitable.

The species, named Kryostega collinsoni, is a temnospondyl, a prehistoric amphibian distantly related to modern salamanders and frogs. K. collinsoni resembled a modern crocodile, and probably was about 15 feet in length with a long and wide skull even flatter than a crocodile's.


The term "Kryostega" translates to 'frozen' and 'roof,' which refer to the top of the skull. The scientists named the species for James Collinson, a professor emeritus of Earth sciences at Ohio State University who made important contributions to the study of Antarctic geology.




MIT neuroscientists have tricked the visual brain into confusing one object with another, demonstrating that time teaches us how to recognize objects. This discovery, they say, could lead to robots with actual 'recognition' ability.

It may sound strange, but human eyes never see the same image twice. An object such as a cat can produce innumerable impressions on the retina, depending on the direction of gaze, angle of view, distance and so forth. Every time our eyes move, the pattern of neural activity changes, yet our perception of the cat remains stable.

A possible explanation is suggested by the fact that our eyes tend to move rapidly (about three times per second), whereas physical objects usually change more slowly. Therefore, differing patterns of activity in rapid succession often reflect different images of the same object. Could the brain take advantage of this simple rule of thumb to learn object invariance?