Friday, February 17, 2012

Things I learned this week

I learned that:
• There's an upgrade for everything in the U.S., even death. The affluent can select a burial plot at Mount Auburn Cemetery in Cambridge, MA starting at around half a million bucks. Woodlawn Cemetery in the Bronx is popular for the rich and famous. Prices there run to $3.5 million for an historic private mausoleum. And Donald Trump has announced that he is considering building a 1.5-acre cemetery next to his high-end golf course in Bedminster, NJ. No prices disclosed, but you can bet that good lies won't be cheap.

• The common belief that women have a higher pain threshold than men may be hokum. A Stanford study found that women tend to report much more severe pain than men, no matter the source of the pain.

• Transplanted human embryonic stem cells have improved the vision of two British women who had been registered as blind due to advanced macular degeneration. This is the first peer-reviewed scientific report showing that such cells can be transplanted safely.

• Guitarist Eric Clapton’s son, Conor, died at the age of four years old after falling from a full wall window that had been removed by a janitor to let fresh air in while he worked.

• A U.S. government-contracted lab has created a self-guiding bullet that is capable of hitting a target located a mile away. Using small fins to make in-flight corrections, it is capable of guiding its way to a target that is “painted” with a laser.

• Students from Yale University discovered a new type of fungus while on an expedition to the Amazon rainforest in Ecuador. It eats polyurethane, millions of tons of which are used annually for everything from garden hose to paint to packaging, and therefore it may help solve a major environmental problem in landfills.
How about that?

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