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Hi Tech Pays Tribute to Eiffel Tower's 19th-Century Origins

Arguably the most widely recognized structure in the world, the Eiffel Tower was designed to stand for only 20 years -- and some predicted it would collapse long before then.

Even as it was being built for the 1889 Universal Exhibition, a professor of mathematics sagely calculated that when the tower was two-thirds complete, its legs would buckle and the whole thing would come tumbling down, crushing workers and houses alike.

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Placido Domingo Says Performing at 70 'a Marvel'

Spanish tenor Placido Domingo, who underwent surgery last year to remove cancerous polyp from his colon, Wednesday described performing at his age as a "marvel" as he turns 70 this month.

"To be in Madrid singing, with my family and friends, on such an important day for me is part of my birthday present," he told a news conference ahead of a special birthday performance in the Spanish capital.

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Scientists Find 'Oldest Ever' Winery in Armenia

Archaeologists said Tuesday they had found the world's oldest known winery in a cave in Armenia, indicating that humans were distilling grapes during the Copper Age, more than 6,000 years ago.

"This is, so far, the oldest relatively complete wine production facility, with its press, fermentation vats and storage jars in situ," said Hans Barnard, the lead author of an article about the study published Tuesday in the peer-reviewed Journal of Archaeological Science.

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Iran Bans 'Alchemist' Author

Brazilian author Paulo Coelho, who wrote the worldwide bestseller "The Alchemist," accused Iran Monday of banning his books.

"My books have been published in Iran since 1998, in different publishing houses," Coelho wrote on his website, noting estimates that over six million copies of his books have sold in the country.

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Youthful Vienna Ballet Continues Revival

A youthful premiere of contemporary choreographies by Jiri Bubenicek, Paul Lightfoot and Jiri Kylian on Sunday proved the Vienna Ballet was well on the path to a renaissance.

"Schritte und Spuren" (Steps and Traces), the third premiere under Manuel Legris's five-month-old reign as ballet director, showed a fresh company light years away from stuffy old productions.

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New Call To Protect Romanian Church From Gold Mine Project

The Romanian Academy on Wednesday urged the ministry of culture to include a former Roman site in its tentative list for UNESCO World Heritage to protect it from a Canadian gold mine project.

Two other organizations involved in the conservation of cultural heritage, Pro Patrimonio and the Romanian branch of the International Council of Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS), joined the call.

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Madrid's Prado Suffers Drop in Visitor Numbers

Madrid's prestigious Prado Museum said Tuesday that visitor numbers were down slightly last year despite some star exhibitions, such as one by English master J.M.W. Turner.

Some 2.732 million people visited the Prado in 2010, down from 2.764 million the previous year and the first decline since it opened a new ultra-modern wing in 2007.

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Iran Shops Banned from Selling Valentine Gifts

Shops in Iran have been banned from selling Valentine cards and gifts as the traditional lovers' day gains increasing popularity in the Islamic republic, the ILNA news agency reported on Sunday.

"In the run-up to Valentine's Day on February 14 the printing works owners' union issued a directive banning the printing and distribution of any goods promoting this day," ILNA news agency reported.

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Palestinian Psychiatrist Wins Olof Palme Prize

Palestinian psychiatrist Eyad El-Sarraj on Tuesday won the 2010 Olof Palme Prize for his "self-sacrificing and indefatigable struggle for common sense, reconciliation, and peace" in the Middle East, the Swedish jury said.

El-Sarraj, who in 1977 became the first psychiatrist to practice in Gaza, is the founder of the Gaza Community Mental Health Program (GCMHP), a non-governmental organization focused on improving the mental well-being in the Palestinian community.

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Cretan Tools Point to 130,000-Year-Old Sea Travel

Archaeologists on the island of Crete have discovered what may be evidence of one of the world's first sea voyages by human ancestors, the Greek Culture Ministry said Monday. A ministry statement said experts from Greece and the U.S. have found rough axes and other tools thought to be between 130,000 and 700,000 years old close to shelters on the island's south coast.

Crete has been separated from the mainland for about five million years, so whoever made the tools must have traveled there by sea (a distance of at least 40 miles). That would upset the current view that human ancestors migrated to Europe from Africa by land alone.

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