The truth is out there

A weekly look at the World: This week, the neolithic Jackson Pollock, nuclear insects and the truth about a canine's guilty looks
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The Independent Online

The periodic table is set to have a new addition in the form of a super-heavy element first discovered 13 years ago. The element, number 112, was created by a team in Germany who combined zinc and lead. The time has now come for its original discoverers to argue over who gets to have their name enshrined in the table; the team's previous discoveries, roentgenium and meitnerium, were both named after their leading scientists.

Even Jackson Pollock looks soft in comparison; the Western world's first artist was an ice-age hunter, according to a Floridian anthropologist who claims a piece of bone languishing under a fossil hunter's sink for two years contains carvings constituting the oldest artwork in the Western hemisphere. The 10,000-year-old fragment is believed to have come from a mammoth, a mastodon or a giant sloth slayed at the end of the last ice age, which makes this neolithic Damien Hirst a tough customer indeed.

Spare a thought for US teen Jessica Terry, who, after eight years of agony, diagnosed her own condition in a high-school science class. The 18-year-old was examining slides of her own intestinal tissue, which had already been looked over and given the all-clear by a specialist, when she noticed a granuloma, an indicator of Crohn's disease.

Most Brits couldn't tell their spleen from their pancreas, according to a new study from King's College London. More than half of 700 people surveyed failed to locate the heart on a diagram, and only one-third placed the lungs. One small sliver of hope; more than 85 per cent of people can find their intestines, proving, perhaps, that we at least still know our arses from our elbows.

It's a decade since Imperial College London's John Pendry first formulated the idea for his theoretical superlens capable of filming scientific processes on an atomic level. Thanks to new techniques for creating flat films of silver though, Nicholas Fang from the University of Illinois has put the science into practice and broken the record for resolution with a lens capable of capturing images one-twelfth of the wavelength of light.

Attack of the nuclear wasps sounds like a summer blockbuster, but this week experts found a number of radioactive wasps nests in Hanford, Washington, after the insects built their hives using material from a local nuclear reservation. The site, created as part of the Manhattan Project, was the source of the cesium and cobalt used to build the "fairly highly contaminated" nests, which number in the thousands.

It's not only beauty; guilt is in the eye of the beholder too, at least when it comes to the case of man's best friend, a researcher at Barnard College in New York has found. Having duped dog owners into thinking their dog had misbehaved, Alexandra Horowitz found their perception of a canine's guilty looks bore no correlation to the dog's behaviour. In fact, studies showed dogs who had misbehaved were less likely to be perceived to appear guilty than those who hadn't.