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8 Other World Leaders Who Got Divorced in Office

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By Keith Wagstaff

On Thursday, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced that he and his wife, Lyudmila, were getting divorced after 30 years. The media has been speculating over their marriage ever since rumors surfaced in 2008 of an affair with Alina Kabaeva, an Olympic gold medal–winning gymnast half Putin's age.

"It was a joint decision: We hardly see each other, each of us has our own life," Putin said on state television after attending the ballet with his wife. The couple were married in 1983 and have two daughters, Maria and Yekaterina.

While it's relatively rare for world leaders to get divorced in office, it has happened before.

1. President Nicolas Sarkozy, France

Nicolas Sarkozy became the first French president to get divorced in office when he separated from his wife, Cécilia, in 2007. It only took a year for Sarkozy to marry Carla Bruni, a singer-songwriter and former model who can count Mick Jagger and Eric Clapton as exes. The couple is still together, living in Paris with her son from another marriage and their baby daughter.

2. Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, Italy

Considering Silvio Berlusconi's legendary philandering and fondness for "bunga-bunga" parties, it wasn't a surprise when he got divorced from his wife, former actress Veronica Lario, in 2009. Earlier this year he blamed "feminist, Communist judges" for reportedly forcing him to pay Lario 26 million euros a year.

3. President Alvaro Colom, Guatemala

One of the only world leaders to be accused of a sham divorce, President Alvaro Colom filed for divorce from his wife, Sandra Torres, in March 2011. At the time, his opponents called it a "cynical political ploy" to skirt a law saying that close relatives of the president couldn't run for office. Despite the separation, the court ruled she was still violating the constitution when attempting to succeed her husband, paving the way for eventual presidential winner Otto Perez Molina.

4. President Nelson Mandela, South Africa

The 38-year marriage between Nelson Mandela and his wife, Winnie, survived apartheid but ended six years after he was released from prison. In a 1996 court preceding, the 77-year-old Mandela claimed Winnie was having an affair. The two had only been married for five years when Mandela was sentenced to prison in 1963 on political charges.

5. President Hugo Chavez, Venezuela

Hugo Chavez was known for having a string of mistresses, but he was only married twice. He divorced his second wife, Venezuelan radio journalist Marisabel Rodriguez, in 2004, with her blaming his infidelity and him blaming her bad temper.

6. Prime Minister Andreas Papandreou, Greece

Before Andreas Papandreou took office, adultery was a crime in Greece. He promptly overturned that law, and, unsurprisingly, proceeded to divorce Margaret, his wife of 38 years, in 1989 to marry his mistress, Dimitra Liani, an air stewardess more than 30 years younger than him.

7. President Alberto Fujimori, Peru

It doesn't get much messier than this. Alberto Fujimori and his wife, Susana Higuchi, filed for divorce in 1995 after she accused his family of corruption and he accused her of "unloyalty and blackmail." The public fight included him locking her out of the presidential palace and telling the press he was looking for a new wife "who is intelligent and has beautiful legs." In 2006, he got remarried from his jail cell in Chile, where he was being held on corruption charges.

8. King Henry VIII, England

Perhaps the only divorce to spur an entirely new religion, Henry VIII split from Catherine of Aragon after falling in love with Anne Boleyn, the sister of his mistress, Mary Boleyn. After failing to get an annulment from Rome, Henry married Anne in 1533, paving the way for him to become the supreme leader of the Church of England. Boleyn was the second of his eventual six wives and the first one to be executed.

Sources: Associated PressBBC (2)(3)(4), The Guardian (2), The Huffington PostThe New York TimesReutersThe Telegraph

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How a Particle Accelerator Is Helping to Unearth Long-Lost Pieces of Art
Oli Scarff, Getty Images
Oli Scarff, Getty Images

A particle accelerator is revealing the people in 150-year-old photographs whose features had been lost to time, Science News reports.

For the first time, Madalena Kozachuk, a Ph.D. candidate at Canada’s Western University, and a team of scientists used an accelerator called a synchrotron to scan daguerreotypes, an ancestor of modern photography.

before and after image of a damaged dagguereotype
Kozachuk et al. in Scientific Reports, 2018

Invented by French painter and physicist Louis Daguerre, daguerreotypes were popular from around the 1840s to the 1860s. They were created by exposing an iodized silver-coated copper plate to a camera (the iodine helped make the plate's surface light-sensitive). Subjects had to sit in front of the camera for 20 to 30 minutes to set the portrait, down from the eight hours it took before Daguerre perfected his method. Photographers could then develop and fix the image with a combination of mercury and table salt.

Because they’re made of metal, though, daguerreotypes are prone to tarnish. Scientists can sometimes recover historical daguerreotypes by analyzing samples taken from their surface, but such attempts are often both destructive and futile, Kozachuk wrote in a study published in Scientific Reports.

Kozachuk found that using a particle accelerator is a less invasive and more accurate method. While some scientists have used X-ray imaging machines to digitally scan other historical objects, such instruments are too large to scan daguerreotypes. Reading the subtle variations on a daguerreotype surface requires a micron-level beam that only a particle accelerator can currently produce. By tracing the pattern of mercury deposits in the tarnished plate, the researchers were able to reveal the obscured image and create a digital photo of what the daguerrotype looked like when it was first made.

before and after image of a recovered dagguereotype
Kozachuk et al. in Scientific Reports, 2018

“When the image became apparent, it was jaw-dropping,” Kozachuk told Science News. “I squealed when the first face popped up.”

Scanning one square centimeter of each 8-by-7 centimeter plate took about eight hours. The technique, though time-intensive, may allow museums and collectors to restore old daguerreotypes with minimal damage.

“The ability to recover lost images will enable museums to expand their understanding of daguerreotype collections, as severely degraded plates would not otherwise have been able to be studied or viewed by interested scholars,” Kozachuk wrote.

[h/t Science News]

Courtesy of October Films
This Scientist's Idea of the 'Perfect' Human Body Is Kind of Terrifying
Courtesy of October Films
Courtesy of October Films

The perfect human body has the legs of an ostrich, the heart of a dog, and the eyes of an octopus, according to anatomist Alice Roberts. And it’s utterly terrifying.

With the help of anatomical artist Scott Eaton and special effects designer Sangeet Prabhaker, Roberts created a life-size replica of herself that fixes many design flaws inherent to the human body, Motherboard reports. Roberts unveiled the sculpture on April 23 at the Science Museum in London. On June 13, the BBC released a documentary about the project.

Among the flaws Roberts’s sculpture corrects are humans’ inferior ears, spine, and lungs. Roberts borrowed anatomy from reptiles, birds, and other mammals to create a Frankenstein-esque creature straight from the island of Dr. Moreau.

The sculpture of Alice 2.0, left, with Alice Roberts, right
Courtesy of October Films

The sculpture has legs like an ostrich because, as Roberts says on her website, the human knee is complex and prone to failure. Like humans, ostriches are bipedal, but they are far better runners. Bird-like lungs that keep air flowing in one direction, not two, make running and other aerobic activities easier for the perfect human to manage. And a chimpanzee’s sturdier spine and a dog’s heart (which has more connected arteries, leading to lower heart attack risk) make Roberts’s alternate self more resistant to injury and disease.

Roberts’s ideal human body also has skin like a frog that can change shades based on the environment, and large, bat-like ears that amplify sound. Roberts also fixed humans’ backwards retina, which produces a natural blind spot, by borrowing from octopus eye anatomy.

Perhaps most disturbing of all is the baby head poking out of the sculpture’s marsupial pouch. Roberts says marsupial pregnancy would be far easier on the human body and more convenient for parents on the go.

“This could be a human fit for the future,” Roberts says at the end of a trailer for her BBC documentary.

[h/t Motherboard]


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