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Back, back, back to the good old days
With only a month to go before the solstice, the government's winter fuel allowance is being supplemented by an air conditioning allowance, to offset thermal shock among the elderly, accustomed to cold weather at this time of year, and unaware of the global movement to return Earth's temperatures to the good old days when it was always sunny and even the snow was warm, way back in the Cretaceous.
When chickens stalked The Earth
That gives us good reason to turn to the latest batch of Ig Nobel prizes, possibly not the most prestigious annual science award ceremony, but certainly the most entertaining. The prizes are awarded to scientific achievements that “first make people laugh, then make them think”.

Researchers from Chile and the US attached sticks to the rear ends of chickens to see how it would make them walk. The chickens walked “in a manner similar to which dinosaurs are thought to have walk”, the scientists concluded triumphantly, publishing their results in a paper titled: “Walking Like Dinosaurs: Chickens with Artificial Tails Provide Clues about Non-Avian Theropod Locomotion”(The video is at the end of their paper).
Excitingly, the eminent palaeontologist Jack Horner is currently reverse-engineering a dinosaur from a chickens, by 'nudging' its DNA. The project, which began when Horner was working on Jurassic Park, is expected to bring back the good ol' days by 2020. 

Reversing Time's Arrow

The chemistry prize went to American and Australian researchers who managed to partially unboil an egg with a vortex fluid device, a high speed machine that converts unfolded proteins into folded proteins. One of the great sayings about chemistry is that most reactions can only go one way; 'You can't unboil an egg'. Well, now you can. Their machine not only untangles the proteins in albumen, but may change for ever the way we think of dairy products. It might even reverse cancer. There's a simple video of it HERE.

Reverse-engineering language

The Ignobel Prize for Literature went to researchers in The Netherlands and Australia "for discovering that the word 'huh' seems to appear in nearly every human language - and for not being quite sure why."
We are pretty sure we know why: it is part of our primitive vocabulary, the one we share with all other humans, and possibly dinosaurs, which dates back a long, long time, when life was simple, language was grunts, the Earth was baking hot all year including Christmas, all eggs were unboiled and we lived in daily dread of being eaten by giant chickens.
"Who's the turkey now!"
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The link to The Bigger Bang's website was broken on the last newsletter. Here it is again
December 9th,
2.30 & 6.30pm.
Huxley Lecture Theatre, University of Brighton BN2 4GJ
Tickets £8,
Family ticket £24 (4 people)
Available from
Huxley H608,

University of Brighton BN2 4GJ
Contact
d.campbell@Brighton.ac.uk. 07817 979 666

Stocking the stockings

Christmas shopping in Brighton couldn't be easier, now there are three science shops. And since they are branching out, shopping is getting easier elsewhere, too.
Whirligig: Now in Tunbridge Wells and Chichester as well as Brighton, Whirligig is curated by Peter Allinson, an ex-teacher who races from toy fair to toy fair, searching out the most educational products for his customers. He IS a whirligig.
Fun Learning, a shop which is always fun visiting, has a branch in Lewes too. They find games you never dreamed of, and alongside them they place kits and toys, all designed to get your hands and mind busy buzzing... oh, and the kids' minds too.
Rocket Science fills in all the spaces in between, with original and magical discoveries, some surreal, some only too real.
Buy your gifts right there,
don't check them out then buy on-line. Like in Peter Pan, every time you say 'I don't believe in shops', a shop somewhere dies.

There will be slightly more serious stories in the next newsletter.
Copyright © 2014 Brighton Science Festival, All rights reserved.
Our mailing address is:
richard@brightonscience.com
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