EVOLUTION NUMBER MINE: Yoko Ono and her late husband, former Beatle John Lennon, during a press conference given six days after their 1969 wedding in Gibraltar. Ono is appealing a court decision dismissing a lawsuit she filed against the producers and distributors of Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed for using a clip of Lennon's masterpiece Imagine without her permission. Image: © Hulton-Deutsch Collection/CORBIS
Imagine there's no evolution: Yoko says oh no to Expelled
Yoko Ono is incensed that the antiscience film Expelled: No Intelligence used a snippet of late husband John Lennon's 1971 paean to peace Imagine sans permission. So she sued the film's producers and distributors, demanding that they yank the track from the controversial movie, which stars Nixon-speechwriter-cum-actor-cum-pitchman Ben Stein. The BBC reports that the former Beatle's widow balked when, among other things, the film triggered a blogospheric backlash against her, because it appeared that she had authorized the song's use and, so, endorsed the movie's creationist antievolution claims. Joining Ono in the lawsuit against Premise Media Corporation; C&S Production, LP; and Rocky Mountain Pictures: Lennon's sons, Julian and Sean, and publisher EMI Blackwood Music, Inc. A federal judge in Manhattan this week nixed the complaint citing the "fair use" doctrine, which allows the use of copyrighted materials for the purposes of commentary and criticism. Can the two sides work it out? Apparently not—at least not yet. Ono says she plans to appeal the ruling. "It’s a pity that this decision weakens the rights of all copyright owners," she said in a statement. "One of the most basic rights I control by reviewing and choosing licenses is the right to say no. The filmmakers simply looted me of the ability to do so."
Dumb and dumber—a real plus if you're a fly
So much for smart living. At least if you're a fruit fly. Swiss scientists report in the International Journal of Organic Evolution that the mental giants (and here we speak relatively) among a bunch of flies they studied died at earlier ages than their blissfully ignorant compeers. Researchers Joep Burger and Tadeusz Kawecki at the University of Lausanne in Switzerland split a gaggle of fruit flies into two groups: one in which the critters remained in their natural state and the other, where flies were taught to associate smells with tastes such as sweet and sour and to expect an unpleasant experience if they, say, zipped into a rattling box. Over 30 to 40 generations, the researchers report, the learned insects developed better recall and the ability to avoid the shaking boxes. The downside: They only lived for 50 to 60 days whereas their stupid brethren lived an average of 80 to 85 days. The researchers told Bloomberg News that it's possible the flies with active brains burn more energy than the others; they note their findings may explain why flies, and other animals, never increased their mental capacity. The scientists said there's no indication the findings would hold in humans. (Good to know.)
Anthropological analysis: Women have been prized since 5000 B.C.
An analysis of a mass grave in southwest Germany led anthropologists at Durham University in England to conclude that men have considered women trophies for at least the past 7,000 years. The researchers report in the journal Antiquity that they analyzed the remains of 34 skeletons found in the plot and determined that the bones belonged to members of two rival tribes. Interestingly, the grave only contained the bones of men and children from the clans local to the area, but there were no female skeletons in the bunch. Their absence led to speculation that the area had been invaded and ransacked by a marauding group, believed to be made up of cattle herders who made off with the local women. "It seems this community was specifically targeted, as could happen in a cycle of revenge between rival groups," study co-author Alex Bentley said in a statement. "Our analysis points to the local women being regarded as somehow special and were therefore kept alive."