An international space crew has just embarked upon a 520 day mission to Mars. There's just one catch - it's only a pretend mission. They're playing at space.
According to MSNBC, six people have agreed to lock themselves into a fake spacecraft for 520 days, in order to be experimented on, with the aim of seeing if it's possible for a group of men to tolerate each other's company for the time needed to get to Mars.
The enormous experiment, which is being organised by a Russian team with help from the European and Chinese space agencies, will mimic a 250 day trip to Mars, a 30 day jaunt around its rocky surface, then the 240 day return to Earth - all happening in real-time in a 550 cubic metre facility in Moscow.
And to make things even more unbearable, their internet connection to earth will be delayed and occasionally interrupted, to copy the harsh realities of trying to use Twitter in space.
Monkey brain training
Our traditional look at the many and varied ways scientists waste their time and our money takes in both monkeys and robots this week, with news that a group of scientists have taught a monkey how to mess around with a robot arm - using the power of thought alone.
MONKEY DO: We're working on getting a monkey trained-up to write Weird Tech. It's just learning about possessive apostrophes and will soon be ready
This tells us a couple of things - monkeys are more intelligent than we may have previously thought, and scientists really ought to stop mucking about and get on to proper things that will benefit all of mankind, like phone batteries that last - not drunken party tricks involving Meccano and chimps.
The two cutest and most popular things known to man have come together, with another group of animal-bothering scientists teaching a dolphin how to communicate - using one of Apple's beloved new iPads to ensure they get on the news.
The dolphin, called Merlin, has been using a waterproofed version of the fashionable touchscreen device to learn how to "associate symbols with objects" according to PopSci, with the eventual aim being to teach Merlin so many of the nuances of language he'll be able to learn a "symbolic language" and start chatting away. Merlin is currently poking his nose at a blue brick with a question mark on it and wondering what it signifies. It's hard to explain that to a dolphin.
Last of all, if you're wondering if it's worth saying 'To hell with it' and giving up restraining yourself in the crisps aisle at lunch time, here's a way to see what you'd look like super-sized and enormously obese - iPhone app Fatbooth.
WARP FACTORY: Now, what would I look like ginger and covered in Vaseline?
Created by the same team responsible for the AgingBooth app, FatBooth does a similarly impressive job of warping your features - this time by piling a whole extra person's worth of weight onto your face. The Daily Mail pulled off an uncharacteristically amusing series of celebrity comparisons, ending with a fat-warped photo of John Prescott - which it remarked "showed little difference".
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