This week in science – Oct. 6

Read books to read minds

According to a study, reading literary fiction will improve your ability to read other people. Arria Belli/Flickr Commons

According to a study, reading literary fiction will improve your ability to read other people. Arria Belli/Flickr Commons

Reading literary fiction will improve your understanding of how others think, according to a study published in the October issue of Science.

The study is careful to distinguish between literary fiction and popular written fiction, but admits it’s a murky boundary. According to the study, literary fiction focuses more on character development and psychological motivation, whereas popular fiction focuses on plot.

Those who read literary fiction performed better on a test where they had to look at pictures of actors’ eyes and attempt to determine the emotion they were conveying.

The group that read literary fiction was contrasted with groups that read popular fiction, non-fiction or nothing.

Find out more: www.npr.org

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Chicken nuggets contain little meat

The chicken nuggets that you eat may be less than 50 per cent chicken meat. yoppy/Flickr Commons

The chicken nuggets that you eat may be less than 50 per cent chicken meat. yoppy/Flickr Commons

Take chicken nuggets from two U.S. national fast food chains, mix them with chemicals and analyze the results to determine what’s in them and what do you get? Only 40 to 50 per cent chicken meat according to a study published in The American Journal of Medicine.

Between the two chicken nuggets, there was a mixture of fat, blood vessels, nerves, skin cells, organ linings, cartilage and bones.

The offending fast food chains were not identified, as the authors of the study did not intend the study to be an analysis of the state of the chicken nugget. The primary purpose, as the researchers told Reuters Health, was to serve as a reminder that not everything that tastes good is good for them

Find out more: www.reutershealth.com

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Shape-changing metals

Scientists discovered a type of metal that will change shape based on temperature without causing any internal damage to the material.

This type of metal isn’t new, it’s known as a martensite. They are also known as memory metals, as the molecules will re-align in an orderly fashion. The old martensite metals were composed of nickel and titanium. These old metals will degrade over time with repeated changes however.

The new metal is made from zinc, gold and copper, and can change a virtually unlimited number of times with no internal degradation of the metal.

This new martensite metal has applications in any process that involves changing temperatures, even potentially allowing solar panels to point at the sun themselves as the metals change according to the changing sun.

Find out more: www.bbc.co.uk