Danish astronomer Tycho Brahe exhumed to solve mystery [via the BBC]
16th century Danish astronomer Tycho Brahe’s corpse has been exhumed in Prague in an attempt to confirm a cause of death. Brahe, who served as a mathematician for Bohemian Emperor Rudolf II, had previously had his 1601 death attributed to a bladder infection. A 1901 exhumation, however, tested his hair and found traces of mercury. Scientists are now hoping to use fragments of his bone and clothing to search for new clues.
Mystery of Australian twins shot in US [via ABC News]
Two 29-year-old twin sisters from Australia appear to have shot each other at a shooting range south of Denver — and police aren’t yet certain which one died and which one survived. Although little information is available, police have video footage of just outside where the shooting occurred, and have video of one twin falling to the ground. Witnesses said there had been no fight and that the sisters had been talking prior to the incident. The surviving twin is in stable but critical condition.
Ears could make better unique IDs than fingerprints [via Wired]
Scientists have developed a new way to identify people in addition to fingerprints: the ear. Using an algorithm called “image ray transform,” scientists can identify people with 99.6 percent accuracy based on measurements of their outer ear. Proponents of the technology note that fingerprints can rub off or become callous over time, but ears stay roughly the same. Critics, however, charge there is no scientific proof ears remain the same and hold up fingerprinting’s 100-year history of accuracy.
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British spy found dead in bath was padlocked into sports bag [via The Telegraph]
The strange case of Britain’s dead spy continues to reveal new twists. MI6 agent Gareth Williams, 31, was found dead in his apartment August 23. New details recently emerged during an inquiry that Williams’ body was discovered by police padlocked inside a large sports bag in the bathtub. Two autopsies have not yet discovered the cause of death, and police say the situation is “suspicious and unexplained” (duh).
Man sued for drunkenly losing $1.35M painting [via The New York Daily News]
Manhattanite James Haggerty is being sued by some (presumably former) friends after he drunkenly lost their $1.35 million painting. Haggerty was supposed to transport the painting, “Portrait of a Girl” by Jean Baptiste Camille Corot, to a potential buyer at a hotel. Security footage shows that, after the buyer turned down the offer, Haggerty sloshed out of the hotel, painting in tow, and had lost it the next morning.
Battle Brews Over Michelangelo’s ‘David’ [via The New York Times]
A report commissioned by Italy’s federal government says that Michelangelo’s classic sculpture ‘David’ is owned by the nation, not the city of Florence, where it resides. Proceeds from tourists viewing ‘David’ topped $7 million last year and went to the federal Culture Ministry. The report concluded the sculpture, which was commissioned by the Florentine Republic in 1501, belongs to Italy because the nation legally succeeded the republic.
Dorothy Sucher, Reporter in Press-Freedom Case, Dies at 77 [via The New York Times]
Reporter Dorothy Sucher died August 22 at the age of 77. Sucher was deeply involved in a landmark freedom of the press Supreme Court case, 1970’s Greenbelt Cooperative Publishing Assn. v. Bresler. Sucher had reported on city residents accusing developer Charles Bresler of “blackmail” during a public meeting. Bresler sued for libel, but ultimate the court found that “when accusations that technically amount to a criminal charge are made during heated public debate, they cannot constitutionally be the basis of a libel or slander judgment if it is clear that there was no intention to accuse anyone of criminal conduct.”
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