Quidnunc: Tumbling on ice

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SO Dancing on Ice ended in unwelcome drama for Mark Hanretty on Saturday night when he took a tumble on the ice and dislocated his shoulder, bringing the live show to a tense halt. Although he bravely carried on after medics were able to push the shoulder back in and completed the final routine with celebrity partner Oona King, the Sheffield-born Labour politician, they lost the vote in the skate-off.

But at least the professional skater who coaches at iceSheffield left as something of a hero and the Twitterscope was soon abuzz with tributes, including ones from King (“the best pro partner I can ever ask for!!!”), head judge Robin Cousins, and even Torville and Dean (“Mark, the show must go on. What a pro. Well done sir”.

Dislocated shoulder or not Hanretty has been busy tweeting ever since, summed up by: “Thank you for so many incredibly kind & lovely messages! Just home & so glad to be with @iceflakeflurry Big thanks to #DOI physios!”

Iceflakeflurry, it appears, is his wife, Kathy, who is due to give birth to their first child any day now.

That certain smile

THE famous Mona Lisa smile may not be unique, according to academics at Sheffield Hallam University.

Working with colleagues at the University of Sunderland they have studied a lesser-known painting by Leonardo da Vinci that shows evidence of the artistic skill that would later give his most famous portrait her mysterious allure.

The study reveals that the subject of La Bella Principessa, painted by da Vinci before the Mona Lisa in the late 15th Century, also has an ‘uncatchable’ smile, in which the shape of her mouth appears to change according to view point.

Alessandro Soranzo, from Sheffield Hallam’s department of psychology, said: “The results from the experiments support the hypothesis that that there is a gaze-dependent illusory effect in the portrait of La Bella Principessa.” It is thought to depict Bianca Sforza, 13-year-old daughter of the duke of Milan, who died not long after, adding poignancy to her expression in her portrait.

“Although it remains a question whether the illusion was intended, given Leonardo’s mastery of the technique and its subsequent use in the Mona Lisa, it is quite conceivable that the ambiguity of the effect was intentional, based on explicit artistic skill and used in line with Leonardo’s maxim that portraits should reflect some ‘inner turmoil of the mind’.”

The study La Bella Principessa’s Uncatchable Smile will appear in the Psychological Science Journal.