It was the good news story of the week - a painting depicting the Gospel scene of the mocking of Christ which had been displayed in a French woman's house until she decided to have it appraised earlier this year - reportedly sold for $US26.8 million this week. The elderly French woman, who lives in Compiegne, has believed to work to be a Greek religious icon and was unaware of its value when she had it appraised earlier this year. Turns out to be a work by 13th century Florentine painter Cimabue (aldo known as Cenni di Pepo, he was the master of the famed painted Giotto) and is only one of 11 of his works remaining. Measuring just 25 x 20 centimetres, it was auctioned in Senlis, near Paris on Sunday.

 

 

A treehouse in the US state of Tennessee, often described as the world's largest, has reportedly burned down. The five storey property - which features an even higher tower - was made of scrap lumber and entwined around seven trees. Located in the woods in Crossville, it was the work of architect-turned pastor Horace Burgess, who told the Knoxville News Sentinel he had been called by God to build it. The property, which became known as the Minister's Treehouse, proved something of a local tourist attraction until 2012 when the state fire marshall forced Burgess to shut the gate (he had since sold the property). The building reportedly only took 15 minutes to burn to the ground. Burgess, meanwhile, told a local TV crew he was "OK with it being gone". PICTURE (MAIN PAGE): Roger Smith/licensed under CC-BY-NC-ND 2.0)

It can be a ratrace on the roads at peak hour - but for these drivers, that's a permanent state of affairs. Scientists, led by a team at the University of Richmond in the US, have reportedly taught a group of rats how to drive tiny cars in a bid to demonstrate just how sophisticated the brains of rats really are. The vehicles, based on a modified robot car kit, feature a simple mechanism using an electrical circuit made out of an aluminium plate and copper wire to allow the rats to steer. The researchers report that 17 rats were trained to drive around a four metre square course using bits of cereal as rewards over a period of several months. The scientists, who are studying the flexibility of brains, found that learning to drive seemed to relax the rats. Doesn't seem to be the case for humans.