Friday, 28 September 2012

The Daily: September 28

Written by Ellen Blake
Science roundup
NASA's Curiosity Rover has beamed back images that suggest Mars was once covered in waist deep streams of water. The pictures were of conglomerates, rocks made of gravel and sand, which show recognisable evidence of contact with water. Scientists claim that the rounded nature of the pebbles found suggest they have been transported and eroded by water, supporting the theory that the rover has found a network of ancient streams. In a media briefing NASA described how the rocks were likely to have settled there "several billion years ago" but the streams could easily have persisted for "thousands to millions of years".

The world's first live footage from inside a volcano has been recorded by New Zealand adventurer and volcanologist Geoff Mackley. Mackley and a support team of two lowered themselves 1,200ft into the crater of the Marum Volcano on Vanuatu's Ambrym Island off the coast of Australia on 13 September. At just 30ft from the heart of the "lake of furiously boiling lava", a surge from the 1,150 degree magma would have proved fatal for the team. Mackley put their success down to "the right people and the right equipment", which includes their heat-proof suits that allowed them to stand inside the crater for an impressive 45 minutes.

Pink Panther star, Herbert Lom, dies aged 95
The actor Herbert Lom, best known for his portrayal of Charles Dreyfus in the Pink Panther films, has died. The Czech born actor's depiction of the frustrated and manic boss of hapless and incompetent Clouseau became a highlight of the films and cemented Dreyfus as a film icon. Speaking of the infamous role Lom said "it was a godsend when I was offered the part, but it did become a double edged sword...and I lost a lot of dramatic roles as a result". Lom's family has said that he passed away peacefully in his sleep.

Letters forgotten by Royal Mail for 23 years
Royal Mail has the unenviable task of trying to reunite a bundle of letters with their intended recipients 23 years after they were sent. The pile of undelivered mail was left in the postbox in Birmingham New Street Station after it was taped up and taken out of service. The box was closed because of complaints that customers were trapping their hands in its narrow flaps and then decommissioned when station security was improved across the country. A spokesperson for Royal Mail has said that they believe "customers continued to post letters, oblivious to the fact it was not being emptied" but the mystery still remains unsolved.

Strictly's Aliona Vilani fractures ankle
Strictly professional dancer Aliona Vilani will miss the first live show after a hairline fracture to her ankle. The dancer, who won the competition last year with Mcfly's Harry Judd, injured her ankle during training with her Strictly partner Johnny Ball. Though the prognosis is good, with experts estimating she will be ready to dance again in two to four weeks, Aliona will miss out on the opening stages of the competition. A statement from the show said that Aliona will attend a further appointment tomorrow to "confirm her condition" but no details have been released on who will partner Ball during her recovery.

Fellowes to pen Downton prequel
Julian Fellowes, the writer responsible for the hit period drama Downton Abbey, has revealed that he is writing a prequel to the series focusing on the courtship between the Earl and Countess of Grantham. Fellowes spoke of how the pair "had a slightly troubled courtship, because she was in love with him before they married...and he married her entirely for money" and how he felt "there was something sort of quite nice in there". Fellowes hinted that he would write the prequel in book form but, with producers keen to ensure the longevity of the series, it would undoubtedly be adapted for television. However, Downton fans may be waiting quite a while for this story as Fellowes also asserted that "for me, any other books or plays or films should follow at the end of the television show".

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