World News

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The Power of Music

It has been found that patients who listened to their favourite music whilst undergoing surgery required much less sedation. Other studies have shown that music before and during surgery reduces blood pressure and nervousness, while playing music after abdominal surgery can reduce post-operative pain.

Jewellery

Jewellery has been worn for thousands ofyears, but recently the oldest beads known have been discovered. They were found in South Africa and have been dated to 75,000 years ago. They were made of shells, all with holes and wear marks in similar positions. The shells came from small animals found in rivers at least 20km away, and seem to have been selected for specific size.

Europe’s oldest civilization

Archaeologists have discovered some of Europe’s oldest civilization, a network of dozens of temples built between 4800 4600 BC. More than 150 giant monuments have been located in modern-day Germany, Austria, Hungary and Slovakia. Constructed of earth and wood, they have ramparts and palisades up to half a mile long, and are of circular construction, and are often associated with other buildings, such as longhouses.

Species are disappearing

The Millennium Ecosystem Assessment (MA) is the most comprehensive audit to date of the health of the planet. They have found that species are disappearing at between 100 to 1,000 times faster than the background levels seen in the fossil record. A third of all amphibians, a fifth of all mammals and an eighth of all birds are now threatened with extinction, and it is estimated that 90% of the larger predatory fish in the oceans have gone since the beginning of industrial trawling. And these are just the vertebrates, the species we know most about. Dr Georgina Mace is director of science at the Institute of Zoology in London, “Changes in biodiversity were more rapid in the last 50 years than at any time in human history. Future models are very uncertain, but all of them tell us that as we move into the next 100 years, we will be seeing extinction rates that are a 1,000 to 10,000 time those in the fossil record.”

Beat the winter blues

A café designed to help people beat the winter blues has been set up at the Science Museum in London, it offers free 20 minute light treatments to counter the effect of dark winter days. SAD, seasonal affective disorder, causes symptoms ranging from lethargy or anxiety to severe depression. It is not fully understood, but exposure to bright balanced spectrum light can be an effective treatment in up to 90% of cases. It is though that the light triggers a change in chemical production within the brain, raising levels of serotonin and slowing production of melatonin.

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