News for Nerds - The Buried Treasure Edition

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  • Posted by: Dom Testa|
  • 7/26/2013 |
  • 10:00 am
News for Nerds - The Buried Treasure Edition

Welcome back to News for Nerds! This week we learn a simple (and bizarre) way to make cake taste better, we explore the mystery of Saturn's rings, and we find yet another example of men being stubborn. But first: buried treasure!

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A team of American treasure hunters has made a shocking discovery at the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean: $77 million worth of silver that dates back to World War II.

The loot was hidden aboard a British steamship called the SS Gairsoppa, which was on its way from India to Great Britain in 1941 when it was sunk by a German U-boat torpedo. The wreckage was originally discovered in 2011 as part of a $20 million expedition by Florida-based Odyssey Marine Exploration. Finding the ship at all required some pretty impressive detective work. Archaeologists had to cross-reference old shipping documents, war records, and even calculate marine drift patterns to get a general idea of the location.

But because the ship was situated at a depth of nearly 3 miles, locating the SS Gairsoppa was only half the battle. Unable to dive that far, the Odyssey Marine team had to get creative.

The solution? They brought in Remotely Operated Vehicles, which are basically submarine drones with arms. Even then, going through the entire ship, compartment by compartment, decades after it had first sunk, was tedious. They eventually found newspapers from 1941, financial documents, letters addressed with Indian postage -- and, bingo, more than 100 tons of the Queen's silver.

The recovered treasure is now being held at an undisclosed location in England, and will soon be transported to the Royal Mint -- just in time to be converted to commemorative coins for little Prince George.

Visit NBCNews.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

- from NBC News

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When it comes to strategies for losing weight, it seems like the trends shift and contradict each other nearly every day. But beware: not every fad diet is a good idea.

One recent example that has been getting some attention is a modified fasting diet, where you skip breakfast as a means of lowering your overall caloric intake. But we've always been told that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Is it really a good idea to skip it altogether?

No, it isn't. In fact, more and more research shows that missing breakfast can do some serious damage to your heart. Harvard University studied 27,000 men over a period of 16 years, and found that men who skipped breakfast were 27% more likely to have heart problems. Says Dr. Leah Cahill, "The take-home message is eat in the morning when you wake up, preferably within an hour."

In other heart-health news, a recent study at Rhode Island showed that patients who get heart surgery during the waning full moon cycle were less likely to die, and spent less time in the hospital overall. And not just slightly less time. The overall average is about 14 days of hospital recovery time, whereas patients who got heart surgery during a full moon averaged about 10 days. That's significant.

So what gives? No one really knows. but the evidence is pretty strong, and it's part of a growing body of evidence that reinforces the idea that timing matters. A 1989 report showed that a new moon is associated with increased risk of a ruptured aneurysm. Other studies have shown that medical errors and mortality rates are higher in July, when med students begin their residencies. Anesthesia complications tend to be worse later in the day, possibly because of doctor fatigue.

It's hard to control all of these strange factors, so maybe we should start with the things we can control. And that starts with eating breakfast.

- from The BBC and The Daily Express

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Here are a few other cool science stories you might enjoy:

  • Anyone familiar with social media knows that the 'selfie' -- a self-portrait, often taken with a camera phone -- is one of the most common forms of expression. Well, how's this for a selfie? NASA's Cassini spacecraft recently took some color photos of Earth from about 900 million miles away. Spectacular!
  • Speaking of Cassini, did you know that it is currently orbiting Saturn, snapping pictures and sending back all sorts of cool data? Have you ever wondered where Saturn gets its rings? As someone who was written a book series that involves that part of the solar system, I get asked that question all the time. Here's the answer.
  • If you've ever heard a guy approach a lady and spew a cheesy pickup line -- "Are your legs tired? Because you've been running through my mind all day." -- and wondered, Does he actually think that line works? The answer is yes, he probably does. Turns out that men are just animals, after all. Even the great bowerbird sticks to the same courting strategy, regardless of success or failure. (Courtesy of NFN fan Sharla.)
  • And finally, scientists who aren't busy studying heart disease or trying to cure cancer have determined that singing Happy Birthday before eating your cake actually makes it taste better. So, uh, there you go. (Courtesy of NFN fan Jean-Marie.)

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That's all for now! I'll be back with more News for Nerds next week, but be sure to follow me on Facebook and Twitter, and to sign up for the free e-Newsletter so that you can properly get your nerd on every single month! And please send any juicy News for Nerds tips to me right here!

2 Responses to "News for Nerds - The Buried Treasure Edition"
  • Tyler July 26, 2013 6:04 am
    I'm not convinced, Dom. What are your thoughts on this: www. bornfitness. com/does-skipping-breakfast-cause-heart-attacks/ "The study becomes even more interesting when you review the lifestyle behaviors of the subjects. As we all know, smoking isn’t good for your health and is tied to heart disease. So that would be an important variable to consider when drawing any correlational conclusions between a behavior (skipping breakfast) and a health condition (heart attacks). In research we call these confounding variables, and all too often they are completely ignored. This study was no exception. From the subjects used, breakfast skippers were three times more likely to smoke than breakfast eaters. (And no, this does not mean skipping breakfast leads you to smoking). Naturally, it would be fair to question: Is it skipping breakfast that’s causing the heart issues or the smoking? This study was not designed in a way that could answer that question, but it needs to be asked." It begs the question of breakfast skippers are potentially more likely to lead a poor lifestyle, but heart disease? I don't know that can be shown, based on this study...
  • Dom July 26, 2013 6:04 am
    Tyler, it's an excellent point. And, for that matter, the other points raised on Adam Bornstein's blog are also good . . . if THEY'RE right. Everyone has an agenda, and we could quite easily see a new study next week that insists something completely different. The point I definitely agree with is that other factors loom large. And if, as you suggest, breakfast-skippers are more prone to other issues which might affect their health, then the entire study comes into question. One of Born's observations, however, stuck with me: WHEN you eat isn't nearly as important as WHAT you eat. The common-sense angle of that - to me - is undeniable. Tyler, thanks for your feedback! Dom

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