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Body & Brain

Knights’ bodily burden, go-to-sleep nerve cells, rat empathy and more in this week’s news

2:43pm, July 22, 2011

It’s hard being a knight
Knights decked out in battle gear use twice as much energy to storm the castle as their less shiny counterparts. Scientists from the U.K. and Italy tested energetic demands using fight interpreters wearing replicas of 15th century armor, which added roughly 40 percent to the interpreters’ body weight. Metal-clad fighters took shorter, shallower breaths and used about double the energy they used when unarmored, whether walking or running on a treadmill, the team reports online July 20 in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B. Swinging metal-encased limbs required 63 percent more mechanical power. The authors suggest that heavy suits of armor may explain why French knights were walloped by the British during the Battle of Agincourt. —Nadia Drake

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