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That’s the sound of northern lights ‘clapping’

The largest solar storm in five years sent a huge wave of radiation into Earth's atmosphere creating a brilliant show of the aurora borealis near Yellowknife on Thursday March 8, 2012.


Applause in the North

"The northern lights of Earth are more than just dazzling light shows – they also generate their own strange applause too, a new study reveals," says The Christian Science Monitor. "The same energetic particles that create the dancing, dazzling northern lights high up in Earth's atmosphere also produce strange 'clapping' noises just 230 feet (70 metres) from the ground, [Finnish] researchers said. The results vindicate folk tales and reports by wilderness travellers, which have long described sounds associated with the northern lights … Scientists still aren't sure exactly how the auroral sounds are created. They can be quite variable, ranging from claps and crackles to muffled bangs and sputtering sounds. Because of this sonic diversity, several different mechanisms might be at work, researchers said."

Doctors and the Internet

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"Patients do trust their doctor's advice but still like to consult the Internet to get better educated and play an active role in their care, according to a new University of California, Davis, study," reports Psych Central. "For the study, researchers surveyed more than 500 people who were members of online support groups and had scheduled appointments with a physician. 'We found that mistrust was not a significant predictor of people going online for health information prior to their visit,' said Xinyi Hu, who co-authored the study as part of her master's thesis in communication. 'This was somewhat surprising and suggests that doctors need not be defensive when their patients come to their appointments armed with information taken from the Internet.'"

The goddess in her bathroom

"A classically inspired peep show has been set up by a Turner Prize-winning artist in the middle of the National Gallery" of Britain, reports Orange Co. UK. "Mark Wallinger took to Twitter to find six women, all called Diana, willing to take turns to be spied upon while they sit naked in a mocked-up bathroom. The work, also called Diana, is inspired by three paintings by Titian which form the centrepiece of the exhibition and featured scenes from Greek mythology. … Visitors to Wallinger's work can look through peepholes, blinds and a keyhole to catch a glimpse of the women who perform the role of Diana working in two-hour shifts." The artist said there were very few rules for what his models could and could not do but they had to behave "suitably goddess-ish."

Soda or pop?

"For those of you still wondering whether to say 'soda' or 'pop' when referring to your sugary drink, one researcher took the trouble and analyzed Twitter data to answer your question," reports MSNBC. "Edwin Chen, a data scientist at Twitter, geo-tagged every tweet with the mention of 'soda,' 'pop' or 'coke' to see who was saying what, where. (And yes, any tweet that specifically referred to Coca-Cola was taken out.) So what did he find: 'Soda' rules the two coasts, 'pop' is king in the Midwest, and the South only drinks 'coke.'" Comparing his data to tweets worldwide, he found that "pop" is really only said in Canada and the U.S.

Neck lifts for boomers

"It used to be that cosmetic surgeons would not treat the neck alone," writes Gloria Hochman in The Philadelphia Inquirer. "Men and women who coveted a tight neck and enviable profile had to endure a full face-lift. But 20 years ago [Dr. Joel J.] Feldman, who practises in Cambridge, Mass., published the results of his work on a corset platysmaplasty, a procedure that, through a small incision tucked under the chin, could tighten the muscles of the neck and reshape the jaw line. Today, a growing number of surgeons are using that procedure or a variation of it to address the neck only. New York surgeon Alan Matarasso says that half the lifts he does each year are solely neck lifts."

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Market first, film later

"A remake of the sci-fi action movie Robocop that doesn't start production until September and won't hit theatres until August, 2013, has already kicked off its marketing campaign online," says the Los Angeles Times.

"A new website for the film's fictional corporation Omnicorp launched over the weekend and immediately went viral. … While it's not unusual to kick off promotional campaigns with digital content designed to go viral, Robocop is starting particularly early, more than a year before the film appears in theatres. In addition, since the movie doesn't even begin shooting until the first week of September, there are no images or footage to show the public."

Thought du jour

"Leadership is the art of getting someone else to do something you want done because he wants to do it."

- Dwight Eisenhower, U.S. president (1890-1969)

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