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Rockmelons originated in Asia, not Africa

A recent study has revealed that the cultivated rockmelon originated in Asia, not Africa, as previously thought. The research compared the DNA of melons around the world and also found new species that could provide plant breeders with a goldmine of new traits.
Until now, scientists have thought the cultivated rockmelon (Cucumis melo) originated in Africa because morphological studies suggested the closest relative was there, said Ian Telford, of the University of New England.

But Telford and colleagues have now found previously overlooked species of melons in Australia and around the Indian Ocean, which are genetically more similar to rockmelon than the African melons. “Morphology has led us astray so often,” said Telford.
The researchers used DNA sequence data to compare some 100 melons and cucumbers across the world.

The researchers have also found evidence confirming suspicions that the cucumber originated in Asia.

Televisions outnumbering people in Oz households

Owing to a decline of flat-screen prices and change in viewing habits, televisions are fast outnumbering people in the average Australian household, according to industry research group GfK.

Experts have also said that sales of televisions larger than 101.6 centimetres (40 inches) recorded 75 per cent growth in the past year, with 1,40,000 sold in the six weeks leading up to the Soccer’s opening round World Cup match against Germany on June 13.
But due to an average fall of 700 dollars in the cost of TVs since May 2009, overall revenue in the category has increased by a marginal amount.

“We’re trying to put more features in the products to hold them up in price,” said Mark Leathan, head of marketing consumer electronics for Samsung as saying.
The launch of 3D in home entertainment has also exerted downward pressure on prices of regular TVs.

The rapid changeover has contributed to Australians owning an average 2.4 televisions, with that figure expected to rise to 3.1.

In contrast, the average household will shrink to just 2.4 people by next year, according to the Bureau of Statistics.

Computer programme resurrects ‘lost’ languages

A new computer programme has successfully decoded a written language last used in Biblical times. The success could lead to ‘resurrecting’ ancient texts that are no longer understood.

Created by an MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) team led by Regina Barzilay, the programme translates written Ugaritic, which consists of dots and wedge-shaped stylus marks on clay tablets, and was last used around 1200 BC in western Syria.
Through repeated analysis, the programme linked letters and words to map nearly all the Ugaritic symbols to their Hebrew equivalents in a matter of hours.

The programme uses Hebrew as reference and compares symbol and word frequencies and patterns in Ugaritic. “It’s not always going to be the case that there are closely related languages that one can use,” said researchers.

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