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Inside out

Back page gossip from the 20 July issue of Research Europe

Hi ho silver lining Good news from the University of Oxford, where researchers have calculated that it’s extremely unlikely that Earth will be struck by a celestial event cataclysmic enough to end all life on the planet in the next billion years. Such “sterilisation” would require Earth’s oceans to boil away, Rafael Alves Batista and colleagues posited in the journal Scientific Reports. Less encouraging is that they were considering survival from the point of view of tardigrades—microscopic animals capable of withstanding temperatures and pressures that would reduce a human to dust. 

You win or you die Characters in the notoriously violent TV series Game of Thrones have their own survival issues, even without Earth being hit by asteroids. But Celine Cunen, a PhD student in mathematics at the University of Oslo, has worked out that the mortality rate in the programme is actually very similar to that in the real-life Wars of the Roses in 1400s England. However, nobility fare better than commoners in the show, whereas in real life this pattern was reversed. So if war breaks out, turn your ancestral swords into ploughshares to increase your chances.

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