Neurophilosopher scoops BBC, New Scientist

The title is a swipe at the ridiculous use of punctuation by the American mass media, but it’s absolutely true!

Last Thursday I posted a film clip of Jesse Sullivan, the world’s first recipient of a ‘bionic arm’; later, I updated the post with some pics of Claudia Mitchell, the former US Marine who has just been fitted with the same device. The next day, the BBC reported the story of Claudia Mitchell.

On September 6th, I wrote a short post entitled ‘The ancient Egyptians used nanocosmetics’; yesterday, New Scientist reported that the ancient Greeks ‘invented a quantum dot dye’.

Now you know where to look for the newest, most exciting science news!

So was it the ancient Egyptians or the ancient Greeks who invented nanocosmetics/ quantum dot hair dyes? My money’s on the ancient Egyptians, and that’s not because I’m Egyptian! The ancient Greeks are credited with discovering or inventing many things that they actually learnt from other peoples – medicine being a prime example. Why would quantum dot hair dyes be any different?

Here’s the abstract of the Nano Letters paper in question:

Lead-based chemistry was initiated in ancient Egypt for cosmetic preparation more than 4000 years ago. Here, we study a hair-dyeing recipe using lead salts described in text since Greco-Roman times. We report direct evidence about the shape and distribution of PbS nanocrystals that form within the hair during blackening. It is remarkable that the composition and supramolecular organization of keratins can control PbS nanocrystal growth inside a hair.

According to this, the ancient Egyptians invented the lead-based chemistry on which the dye recipe is based. The recipe itself is described in text since Greco-Roman times. This probably refers to the Greco-Roman period in ancient Egyptian history, which began in 332 BC with the conquest of Egypt by Alexander the Great, and ended in 395 AD. Coincidentally, the late Greco-Roman period in Egypt is characterized by early Christian art.

(Note to American mass media: when listing two items, they should be seperated by and, not a comma.)

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