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Shipwrecked bubbly gives chemists a taste of the past

Champagne bottles from shipwreck

Champagne recovered from a shipwreck off the coast of the Finnish Åland archipelago in the Baltic Sea has given chemists a glimpse of past winemaking methods.

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Champagne preserved at the bottom of the Baltic Sea for 170 years has given chemists a glimpse of past winemaking methods.

In 2010, researchers collected 168 remarkably well-preserved bottles of the bubbly booty from a shipwreck. Possibly the most striking feature of the champagne is its sweetness, measuring more than 140 grams per liter of sugar (champagne nowadays typically has sugar in the range of zero to 50 grams per liter). The cloying sweetness comes from grape syrup, rather than grape juice, used when making the champagne, chemists report April 20 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

At first, wine-tasting experts described the spirit in terms such as “animal notes,” “wet hair,” and “cheesy.” But after a little time to breathe, the champagne showed “grilled”, “spicy” and “smoky” notes.


Smart card taps track clogs on London's Tube

By Ashley Yeager 5:33pm, April 20, 2015
To make public subway systems more efficient, researchers track smart card taps and flag problem stations.

Sky’s brilliant hues may help bodies keep time

By Ashley Yeager 3:00pm, April 17, 2015
The internal clocks of mice are sensitive to changes in the sky’s colors. Humans’ clocks may work similarly, offering a tool to trump jet lag.

Low levels of lead linked to lower test scores in children

By Beth Mole 12:00pm, April 17, 2015
A large study in grade-school children finds that even low blood levels of lead may be associated with poor school performance.
Planetary Science,, Earth

The moon is about as old as we thought it was

By Helen Thompson 6:00am, April 17, 2015
Meteorite heat signatures pinpoint the age of the collision that created the moon — confirming many previous lunar age estimates.
Astronomy,, Cosmology

Map pinpoints location of invisible dark matter

By Andrew Grant 3:05pm, April 14, 2015
A new map shows that dark matter is concentrated in regions that contain a lot of ordinary matter in the form of galaxy clusters.
Planetary Science

Atmospheric water may be giving Saturn its spots

By Helen Thompson 10:57am, April 14, 2015
Planetary scientists think that water in Saturn’s atmosphere could be driving the massive storms that appear every few decades in the ringed planet’s atmosphere.
Plants,, Science & Society

Plants suck in nicotine from nearby smokers

By Susan Milius 12:27pm, April 13, 2015
Peppermint plants can build up nicotine from tobacco dropped on their soil or smoked indoors.

Saying ‘I’ and ‘me’ all the time doesn’t make you a narcissist

By Bruce Bower 4:15pm, April 10, 2015
People who utter lots of first-person singular pronouns such as "I" and "me" score no higher on narcissism questionnaires than peers who engage in little "I"-talk.
Genetics,, Evolution

Mountain gorilla genome reveals inbreeding

By Tina Hesman Saey 5:26pm, April 9, 2015
Mountain gorillas are highly inbred, with good and bad consequences.
Paleontology,, Ecology

Tyrannosaurs fought and ate each other

By Helen Thompson 3:23pm, April 9, 2015
Evidence from a tyrannosaur skull and jaw fossils add to the argument that the ancient reptiles fought and weren’t above scavenging their own.
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