The Sideshow
  • Take a trip to the Bank of England’s gold vault

    It's a video that would make 007 supervillain Goldfinger drool. A professor and cameraman were allowed inside the Bank of England's gold bullion vault, where they captured footage of tons and tons of gold bars.

    All told, the bars are worth an estimated $315 billion. The scientist in the video, Professor Martyn Poliakoff, explains that the Bank of England and other central banks keep the gold locked up because while other forms of currency rise and fall, the value of gold is relatively stable throughout the years.

    [Related: Economic uncertainty chips away at gold prices]

    The vault, of course, is very secure. And yet, the decor is a bit drab. Blue metal shelves. Boring green floor. Based on the heist movies we've seen, we were expecting the vault to look like the inside of an Apple store. Instead, it resembles a high-school basement.

    Poliakoff doesn't lament that he can't sneak a bar or two under his jacket. Rather he expresses regret that the gold is just sitting in a vault when it

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  • Cells grown from human urine could provide a breakthrough in research (Agence France-Presse)A new scientific study claims that human urine can be converted into brain cells. And the surprising discovery may extend beyond practical applications, allowing a way to circumvent the controversial debate over stem cell research.

    The study, published online in Nature Methods and conducted by a team led by Chinese stem-cell biologist Duanqing Pei, found that cells generated from human waste might someday be used to study disease and even in therapeutic treatments for neurodegenerative diseases.

    Plus, there's a potential added bonus to the discovery: Embryonic stem cells possess a high risk of developing tumors, which reportedly would not be an issue with cells taken from the urine samples.

    The process works by transforming cells present in the urine into precursors of brain cells, known as neural progenitor cells. The study says the cells found in urine are a "much more accessible source" than cells found in skin and blood samples.

    "This could definitely speed things up," James Ellis,

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  • A 1934 photo showing the "Brontosaurus" wearing the wrong skull (Carnegie Museum)This may be old news to dinosaur history experts around the world, but many of us have continued to be fascinated by the Brontosaurus, which never actually existed.

    Still, as NPR reported Sunday, the story of how the Brontosaurus legend began is a fascinating tale that sheds light on the far-from-perfect origins of scientific discovery.

    In 1877, two paleontologists were competing to see who could make the most discoveries of dinosaur remains. Othniel Charles Marsh and Edward Drinker Cope were bitter personal rivals who sometimes took extreme measures to show up one another. Their rivalry was so intense, it became known as the Bone Wars.

    [Slideshow: Strange and unusual creatures]

    "There are stories of either Cope or Marsh telling their fossil collectors to smash skeletons that were still in the ground, just so the other guy couldn't get them," Matt Lamanna, curator at the Carnegie Museum of Natural History in Pittsburgh, told NPR's "All Things Considered." "It was definitely a bitter, bitter rivalry."

    At the height of their rivalry, Marsh discovered a partial skeleton of a long-necked, long-tailed dinosaur that was missing a head. To hurry along the process so he could claim the credit, he substituted the skull of another dinosaur and dubbed the finding Apatosaurus.

    "Two years later, his fossil collectors that were working out West sent him a second skeleton that he thought belonged to a different dinosaur that he named Brontosaurus," Lamanna said.

    Read More »from The Brontosaurus never existed: A tale from the Bone Wars

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  • Wenger upbeat as injured Gunners return
    Wenger upbeat as injured Gunners return

    Arsene Wenger is upbeat about a strong second half of the season showing from an Arsenal side set to capitalise on the return of injured players like Mesut Ozil and Mikel Arteta. Wenger expects Ozil and Arteta to return to action in January, while Theo Walcott, Aaron Ramsey and Laurent Koscielny are due back imminently to help reignite the Gunners' quest for a top-four finish in the Premier League. The Christmas schedule features fixtures against QPR, West Ham and Southampton and Wenger believes Arsenal, who occupy sixth place in the table, will soon be in a position to realise their potential.

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