Where are the stars in the sky? Picky birds, plastic in the Pyrenees and a famous stone circle. Our round-up of provoking thoughts, penetrating insights and digital curiosities…

A famous stone circle

About four thousand years ago, the Babylonians invented multiplication. But, as Wired writes, only last month, mathematicians have found a new and faster way to multiply. This might not bother your simple multiplication table but could help the brainiest of physicists and mathematicians break down large calculations.

Elsewhere, the BBC tells us, that the UK’s most famous stone circle was likely built by Anatolians. Researchers compared the DNA from Neolithic human remains found across Britain with that of people alive at the same time in Europe. Those Neolithic inhabitants reached Britain in about 4,000BC from populations originating in Anatolia – and Stonehenge construction probably began around 3,000BC.

Read more: Is the planet ready for 100-year olds?

Picky birds

Nightingales have been shunning the UK since the 1960s but are flocking to the German capital Berlin, The Guardian tells us. Charles Darwin’s very own great-great-granddaughter is behind an effort of trying and understand why and of analysing the bird’s songs for potential differences in dialect.

Elsewhere, The New Yorker asks: Can a robot pick strawberries? It takes speed, stamina and skill – and labour has become sparser and more expensive. But if you go by what drones can do today – probably – as Quartz suggests they can now inspect buildings, check crops, herd animals and more.

Read more: Everyday AI

Plastic in the Pyrenees

Microplastics are making their way everywhere. As Nature reports, the tiny plastic particles have now been sighted on remote mountaintops such as in the Pyrenees.

Another kind of pollution is spoiling the view for stargazers in England: light pollution. According to The Guardian, over half of the population in the country can see no more than 10 stars in the constellation of Orion with the naked eye.

Read more: Investing options as climate change accelerates