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It’s not often that new planets are discovered, and even less common to have ordinary people being asked to name a new planet. South Africans, though, are being granted this rare honour thanks to the discovery of an exoplanet by local scientists in 2012.

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People who are asked what makes a song a hit might say it’s the fact that it’s catchy, or that it’s got great lyrics, or even that it’s sung by an attractive person. They would be wrong, according to science.

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An entirely new class of black holes may be lurking in the universe, according to findings published recently by researchers from Ohio State University. For some time now, scientists have hypothesised that there's a class of black holes with a mass that falls in between neutron stars and classic black holes, and it seems that these latest findings prove the hypothesis.

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Most people have heard the phrase “it’s two minutes to midnight”, when the end of the world is being predicted. Some may know that the term refers to the Doomsday Clock, which is a figurative measurement of how close we are to apocalypse, but few are aware of the fact that the Doomsday Clock is very real – and is currently sitting at two minutes to midnight.

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Since DNA was sequenced in the 1970’s, scientists have been trying to find ways to isolate and remove those genes that cause illness in humans. While some have criticised scientists for “playing God” in this manner, predicting that their research could lead to many unforeseen complications, others are looking forward to the day when the risk of diseases such as cancer and multiple sclerosis is removed from the human experience.

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If you’ve never heard of attribution science, you are not alone. It’s a new – and somewhat contentious – area of research.

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Whenever we click ‘I agree’ on the End User Licence Agreement on a software product or social media site, we are agreeing to allow that company access to all the data we generate on their platform. That data can be used in a variety of ways, usually for marketing purposes, although sometimes it’s used in less honest ways (think of how Facebook’s data was misused in the US presidential election).

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Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa is arguably the most famous painting in the world, with millions of tourists from around the world coming to see the artwork every year. As a result, the Louvre recently had to renovate the room in which she sits to accommodate the increasing numbers of visitors.

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The beginning of October marked the 50th anniversary of Monty Python’s Flying Circus. The ground-breaking sketch comedy show subverted the common comedy tropes of the time, and went on to inspire generations of comedians – despite being censured by the BBC for not being funny throughout its four seasons on air.

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Crown Publications, one of South Africa’s largest business-to-business publishing houses, came into existence in 1986. Since then, the company has grown from producing a single magazine, Electricity SA (renamed Electricity+Control), to publishing six monthly magazines, three quarterlies, and a number of engineering handbooks.

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