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Happy birthday Curiosity, overpaid footballers, cheeky Einstein photo sells

By Sarah Tesh, Hamish Johnston and Michael Banks

It’s Mars Curiosity’s 5th birthday tomorrow! The NASA rover touched down on 5 August 2012 and has been exploring the red planet ever since. It has travelled more than 10 miles, studied more than 600 vertical feet of rock and even proved that Mars was once habitable. While a Mars birthday party for Curiosity would be a lonely affair, researchers at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center have programmed the rover to sing “Happy birthday” to itself using its Sample Analysis at Mars (SAM) instrument. To introduce ground samples into the rover, SAM resonates through a range of frequencies, so the researchers programmed the instrument to run through the frequencies of the celebratory song.

With the football season in Europe about to get into full swing, thousands of fans will soon be ascending the stands to cheer on their favourite star. But how do you know whether that player is worth their eye-watering salary? Well, computer scientists from the Lawrence Technological University in Michigan have crunched the numbers, looking at the wages of more than 6000 professional players in Europe in 2016/17 and comparing them to 55 attributes that reflect each player’s skillset such as speed, ball control, passing accuracy and aggression. The model estimates that the Barcelona player Lionel Messi is the world’s most overpaid player, estimating his salary at €235,000 per week – half of what it actually is. Other players who are apparently overpaid include the Paris Saint Germain midfielder Angel Di Maria as well as the Fenerbahçe striker Robin van Persie. The model also looked at underpaid players, finding that the Monaco midfielder Bernardo Silva is $100,000 underpaid. But can a professional footballer actually ever be underpaid?

That research comes the same week that the Brazilian player Neymar became the most expensive player ever after joining Paris St Germain from Barcelona for the astonishing fee of €222m. Neymar will be earning about €570,000 per week (after tax) and no doubt he will be wondering what to do with all his money.

It seems that photographs of Albert Einstein make good investments, after a print of the iconic snapshot of the pioneer of relativity sticking out his tongue fetched $125,000 at auction in the US. The photo was taken by Arthur Sasse in 1951 at a celebration of Einstein’s 72nd birthday. The physicist apparently loved it so much that he ordered several prints to send to friends.

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