Reader’s Scigest: 03-10-18

By Charlie Hetherington

Research by a member of Durham’s Paleopathology department has challenged thinking that Napoleonic era soldiers had healthier upbringings than average. Analysis of remains from a major battle near Vienna revealed that many suffered from defects – such as decayed teeth and weakened bones –  that showed similarly poor childhood health as ordinary people.


A study by Durham’s Psychology department has found that maternal mental health affects foetal brain development. Foetuses belonging to mothers reporting mental disorders were stimulated and the amount they blinked in response measured; anxiety caused foetuses to blink more and depression less. As blinking is a key indicator of neurological development, it raises questions over potential long-term effects.


The possibility of sabotage in space was raised this summer when an air leak was detected on the International Space Station. Initially thought to have been caused by a small meteorite, it was quickly realised a small hole had been drilled in a Russian module. The Russian Space Agency suggested ‘deliberate interference in space’ by a disgruntled cosmonaut, though experts think this may just be cover for faulty manufacturing. Luckily,  the solution was at hand for mankind’s greatest engineering achievement – duct tape!

Photograph: garyloke via Flickr Creative Commons

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