Short Science, October 26, 2014

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 26 October, 2014, 5:19am
UPDATED : Sunday, 26 October, 2014, 5:19am

British gums were healthier in Roman era

Britons had far less gum disease in the Roman era than today, and oral health has seriously worsened despite the advent of toothbrushes and dentists, a study finds. A study of 303 skulls at the Natural History Museum, dating from the years 200 to 400 AD, found that only 5 per cent showed signs of moderate to severe gum disease (periodontitis), compared to around 15 to 30 per cent of adults nowadays. The study, led by a periodontist from King's College London, was published in the British Dental Journal. AFP


Scientists ponder calling time on age

Scientists from around are trying to decide whether to call time on the Holocene epoch after 11,700 years and begin a new geological age called the Anthropocene - to reflect humankind's deep impact on the planet. For decades, researchers have asked whether humanity's impact on the earth's surface and atmosphere mean we have entered the Anthropocene, or new human era. The term was coined in the 1980s by ecologist Eugene Stoermer. The Anthropocene Working Group, an international interdisciplinary body of scientists and humanists, has until 2016 to come up with a proposal to submit to the International Commission on Stratigraphy, which will decide the issue. Reuters


Lab closes in on reaching 'absolute zero'

An Italian lab has cooled a cubic metre of copper to within a tiny fraction of "absolute zero", setting a world record, the National Nuclear Physics Institute said. "The cooled copper mass ... was the coldest cubic metre in the universe for over 15 days," the INFN said on its website. "It is the first experiment ever to cool a mass and a volume of this size to a temperature this close to absolute zero [0 Kelvin]." The cubic metre of copper, weighing 400 kg, was brought to a temperature of six milliKelvins or minus 273.144 degrees Celsius. Absolute zero - considered the lowest possible temperature - is -273.15 degrees Celsius. AFP


Lasers create 3D images in thin air

Rotating spirals, fluttering butterflies and an apple's outline - these are free-floating images created by firing lasers into thin air at a Tokyo museum. Burton Inc. has invented a device which focuses intense laser light into a tiny spot, making the molecules emit white light. As the beam moves, what looks like 3D images of up to five metres appear. AFP