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Scribbles on the margins of science.

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Formulaic pop


R&B diva Mariah Carey has somewhat surprisingly titled her latest album E=MC2, not as a homage to the main man Einstein, but because it's allegedly short for “Emancipation equals Mariah Carey times two”. Somebody please teach her some maths before she releases more music.

On the record

“Contrary to recent press reports, NASA offices involved in near-Earth object research were not contacted and have had no correspondence with a young German student.”

The agency denies accepting help from 13-year-old Nico Marquardt in working out how likely we are to be hit by the asteroid Apophis.


Nerdic Also known as 'geek speak', it is the fastest-growing 'language' in the world, adding about 100 new terms every year, including the verb 'to Google'.


GOING UP: Moon crops European Space Agency scientists find that plants can grow, without needing extra food, in crushed-up rock very like the lunar surface.

GOING DOWN: Space tourism Just as everyone else jumps on the space-tourism bandwagon, the world's top space-travel company, the Russian government, announces that it may stop selling space voyages in 2010, to save more seats for cosmonauts.

Sources: Mariah Daily Journal, NASA,, BBC, The China Post

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Sidelines. Nature 452, 923 (2008).

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