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Welcome to Science Saturday, where the Overnight News Digest crew, consisting of founder Magnifico, regular editors jlms qkw, Bentliberal, wader, Oke, rfall, and JML9999, alumni editors palantir and ScottyUrb, guest editors maggiejean and annetteboardman, and current editor-in-chief Neon Vincent, along with anyone else who reads and comments, informs and entertains you with this week's news about science, space, and the environment.

Tonight, Overnight News Digest: Science Saturday is taking a break from highlighting the research stories from the public universities in each of the states having elections and caucuses.  The tour will resume next week with stories from Georgia, North Carolina, and Texas.

This week's featured story comes from

Michigan, Wayne State scientists part of team that discovered likely Higgs boson
Vince Lamb
Detroit Science News Examiner

More than two dozen scientists from Michigan research universities, including teams from the University of Michigan and Wayne State University, contributed to the discovery of a particle that fits the description of the Higgs boson.  They were part of an effort that included more than 1,700 scientists from the United States, including scientists from 89 universities and seven Department of Energy laboratories.  Many hundreds more from other countires also participated in research based at the Large Hadron Collider at CERN in Switzerland and the Tevatron collider at Fermilab in the United States.

If confirmed as the Higgs boson, the discovery of the particle culminates a search that began in 1964, when scientists proposed a particle that when coupled with other particles determines their mass.  Without this particle, and the Higgs field it represents, matter would have no mass.  Without mass, there would be no gravity, and thus no planets, stars, or galaxies, and therefore, no humans.

As Wayne State University scientist Robert Harr explained in a press release, "The Higgs boson is the last piece of a theory established nearly a half century ago. It plays a unique role in the theory and therefore we must see if what is found is the Higgs boson or something else.”

One University of Michigan scientist, physicist Gordon Kane, earned more than his share of the discovery.  He won $100 in a wager with Nobel Prize winner Stephen Hawking, who bet that the Higgs boson would never be discovered.  "I surely won," Kane said in a press release released Thursday, July 5th, "but I have not heard directly from him yet."  Hawking conceded in an interview with BBC.

I know, I led with my own article.  I couldn't resist, especially once I found a great local angle to the top science story of the week.

More stories on the Higgs boson, the current heat wave, and other science stories, after the jump.

Recent Science Diaries and Stories

Watch this space!

Why is it called the God Particle?
By DarkSyde

Explaining Derechos Part II: Structure and "The Beak"
by weatherdude

The July Sky Show @ Dawn
by jim in IA

The Inoculation Project Is Having A Party!
by nervousnellie

Why Is There No "Higgs boson-gate?"
by lowkell

15 Minute Photo Diary—4th of July Fireworks—The Higgsplosion
by palantir

Speaking of Sea-Level Rise. Or, "Mom, don't you know what I do for a living?"
by A Siegel

This week in science: From C to shining seas
by DarkSyde

Glycerol as a Biofuel.
by NNadir


Rapturous Applause for Higgs Boson Scientists: Photos
July 4, 2012

This morning, physicists from the $10 billion Large Hadron Collider (LHC) at CERN, near Geneva, Switzerland, announced something as profound as it was historic. Scientists, engineers and journalists lined up for hours ahead of the meeting, expecting big news.

At the CERN auditorium, the atmosphere was palpable before an obviously emotional and excited Joe Incandela, CMS lead scientist, took to the stage.

He had something very important to say...

NASA Television on YouTube: Next Expedition Crew on Deck on This Week @NASA

In Star City, Russia, at the Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center, Expedition 32 crewmembers, Cosmonaut Yuri Malenchenko, NASA Astronaut Suni Williams and Akihiko Hoshide of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency participated in traditional ceremonies in advance of their mid-July launch to the station. Malenchenko, Williams and Hoshide will complete their training at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. Upon their arrival to the space station, the trio will join ISS Commander Gennady Padalka, NASA astronaut Joe Acaba and Cosmonaut Sergei Revin -- the other three members of Expedition 32. Also, Orion is Unveiled at Kennedy Space Center to begin processing for its Exploration Flight Test-1 in 2014, some students and educators play rocket scientist during Rocket Week at Wallops Flight Facility, some pre-4th of July Solar fireworks captured by the Solar Dynamics Observatory and more!

NASA Television on YouTube: ScienceCasts: A Good Reason to Wake Up at Dawn

The brightest planets in the solar system are converging for a beautiful sunrise sky show in early July. on YouTube: Earth Sand Before Mars Sand -- Curiosity's Cousin Tested

The Mars Science Laboratory, currently en route to the Red Planet, may land on or near Martian sand dunes. NASA engineers are taking an identically weighted test-rover for a spin in surface conditions similar to driving on Mars. on YouTube: Toddler Star Throws Dual Tantrums Daily | Video

A young star in McNeil's Nebula called V1647 Ori has a pair of spots that are 1000 times hotter than the rest of its surface. These x-ray emitting spots are thought to be the connections to a disk of dust and gas that surrounds the star.


Discovery News: Fetal Solar System Aborted
Astronomers believe the star, mysteriously stripped of its planet-forming dust disk, still has the right stuff for making planets.
By Irene Klotz
Wed Jul 4, 2012 01:00 PM ET

For a long while, it looked like the young star known as TYC 8241 2652 1 was getting ready to make some planets.

The sun-like star, located about 450 light-years from Earth in the constellation Centaurus was encircled by a disk of warm, brightly glowing dust located about as far away from the star as Mercury orbits the sun.

But something strange happened between 2008, when the star was observed by a powerful ground-based infrared telescope in Chile, and 2010 when NASA's WISE infrared space telescope took a look: The dust was gone.

Discovery News: X-Rated: Sun Erupts With a Powerful Solar Flare
Analysis by Ian O'Neill
Fri Jul 6, 2012 09:02 PM ET

Ever since active region 1515 (AR1515) arrived on the solar scene, it's been crackling with flare activity. As if to upstage the Higgs boson announcement this week, AR1515 even blew its top on Monday, erupting with an M5.6 solar flare -- that was just shy of the energy of the most powerful type of flare.

But at 2308 UT (7:08 EDT/4:08 PDT) on Friday, the intense active region pockmarked with a complex of sunspots showed us what it's really made of and erupted with an X1.1 flare.

Although an X1.1 is powerful, it is still smaller than the X-class flares that occurred in March.

Discovery News: Spacecraft Raises Mercury Mysteries
Analysis by Ray Villard
Tue Jul 3, 2012 12:48 AM ET

Planetary astronomers say that some theories about the origin of Mercury need to be discarded, based on data from NASA's Mercury MESSENGER probe that settled into orbit around the barren planet in 2011.

MESSENGER -- an acronym for MErcury Surface, Space ENvironment, GEochemistry and Ranging -- revealed that Mercury is so chemically diverse that it could not have formed simply as a hot ball of molten iron as shown in most textbooks, researchers conclude. What's more, the planet is much more geologically diverse than our moon, which was once considered Mercury's cousin. via Discovery News: Earth Is Farthest From the Sun This Week
As a heat wave continues over parts of the U.S. it may be hard to believe our planet is at its farthest point from the sun.
Thu Jul 5, 2012 08:22 AM ET
Content provided by Tariq Malik,

With a heat wave roasting parts of the United States this week, it may seem strange that our planet is now actually at its farthest point from the sun this year. Strange, but true.

According to the U.S. Naval Observatory, the Earth reached a point in its orbit called "aphelion" at 12 a.m. EDT (0400 GMT) on Thursday (July 5). The Earth's aphelion is the spot where it is the farthest from the sun that it can get in a single year -- about 94.5 million miles (152 million kilometers).

To put that in perspective, the Earth is typically about 93 million miles (150 million km) from the sun. But because our planet's orbit is not a perfect circle (it's actually an ellipse) it has a farthest point and closest point to the sun. Earth's closest approach to the sun is called perihelion and occurs in early January.


Discovery News: Slug-Like Animal Resets Date of Animal Life
Analysis by Jennifer Viegas
Thu Jun 28, 2012 02:48 PM ET

Researchers have found the first physical proof that animals existed 585 million years ago, which is 30 million years earlier than previously documented, according to a new paper in the journal Science.

The proof isn't much to look at for the untrained eye. It resembles a mark left behind by someone dragging a stick across the ground. But the above image actually shows a fossilized track of a primitive slug-like animal, University of Alberta geologists Ernesto Pecoits and Natalie Aubet conclude. The animal measured about 1/4 of an inch long.

The pattern of the track indicates that the prehistoric slug-ish species likely was searching for organic material to eat in silty sediment. This sediment was at the bottom of a shallow ocean in what is now Uruguay.


Discovery News: World's Smallest Fly Decapitates Ants
Analysis by Jennifer Viegas
Mon Jul 2, 2012 12:56 PM ET

A newly discovered species, Euryplatea nanaknihali, is the world's smallest fly, and has the rather unsavory habit of biting off the heads of ants, according to a paper in the latest issue of the Annals of the Entomological Society of America.

At just .4 millimeters in length, the fly is only a fraction of an inch in size. A house fly is 15 times bigger. A fruit fly is 5 times larger.

Discovery News: Gators Grabbed from Zoo in Reptile Robbery
Analysis by Tim Wall
Sat Jul 7, 2012 08:33 AM ET

The Audubon Zoo in New Orleans recently suffered a gator grab and go. Ten baby alligators were snatched from an exhibit at the zoo.

The sticky fingers of the thieves could well end up in the bellies of the tiny beasts, or at least receive nasty wounds and serious infections.

Discovery News: Navy Admits Whales and Dolphins in Harm's Way
Analysis by Kieran Mulvaney
Fri Jul 6, 2012 06:10 AM ET

Activists are taking to the Internet to protest a United States Navy proposal that one environmental organization has referred to as potentially causing whales "harm of staggering proportions."

The action is in response to the Navy's admission, in two Environmental Impact Assessments filed in May, that the use of active sonar in training and testing exercises off Hawaii and southern California, and off the Atlantic coast and Gulf of Mexico, could potentially unintentionally harm marine mammals a total of 33 million times over five years.

In an email to Discovery News, Zak Smith of the Natural Resources Defense Council said that this includes "nearly 2,000 deaths, nearly 16,000 instances of permanent hearing loss, and over 5 million instances of temporary hearing loss." And remember, these are the Navy's own figures.


Discovery News: How Heat Kills
A combination of hot temperatures, high humidity and preexisting health conditions can make heat dangerous.
By Emily Sohn
Thu Jul 5, 2012 09:55 AM ET

In the last two weeks, a third of Americans have endured a heat advisory or excessive heat warning. And temperatures from the Great Plains to the Atlantic coast are running a good 10 to 15 degrees above average.

As the mercury has soared, so too have heat-related deaths. The current count is 23, according to news reports. And with forecasts projecting continued steaminess -- along with continued power outages -- in many places, chances are that more people will succumb.

So, why can heat be so deadly?

Discovery News: Bad Mommies Could be Genetically Challenged
Being a 'good' mother or even wanting to be one at all, may depend more on genetics than we thought.
By Jennifer Viegas
Tue Jul 3, 2012 07:00 PM ET

Whether or not a woman is a good mother is at least partly controlled by genetics, according to a new paper that identifies a key responsible gene, AVPR1A, and in particular one of its alleles, called RS3.

The findings, published in the latest Royal Society Biology Letters, strengthen the growing body of evidence supporting that genetics can affect parenting skills.

“Based on previous studies and our current study, it is safe to say that some parental behaviors, such as sensitivity, supportiveness and responsiveness are, in part, genetically influenced,” co-author Ariel Knafo told Discovery News.


Discovery News: Drought in US Breaks Records
Analysis by Tim Wall
Fri Jul 6, 2012 11:54 AM ET

Brown lawns, drooping trees and wilted flowers blanket America as a record-breaking expanse of the nation withers in drought.

Currently, nearly 47 percent of the country suffers under drought conditions according to the U.S. Drought Monitor. If only the contiguous 48 states are considered, the figure jumps to approximately 56 percent.

The previous record was 45.87 percent in drought on Aug. 26, 2003, followed by 45.64 percent on Sept. 10, 2002. Considering only the lower 48, the numbers are 54.79 percent and 54.63 percent respectively.

Our Amazing Planet via Discovery News: What's Behind The Record Heat?
By Douglas Main,
July 3, 2012

Heat is beating records around the country: the first five months of 2012 have been the hottest on record in the contiguous United States. And that's not including June, when 164 all-time high temperature records were tied or broken around the country, according to government records.

That's unusual, since the most intense heat usually comes in July and August for much of the country, said Jake Crouch, a climate scientist with National Climatic Data Center. For example, only 47 all-time high records were tied or broken in June of last year.

Also, more than 40,000 daily heat records have been broken around the country so far this year, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Compare that with last year —the ninth warmest on record — when only 25,000 daily records had been set by this date.


Our Amazing Planet via Discovery News: Seriously, When Will the Heat End?
There's a small amount of good news for some of us.
Content provided by Douglas Main, OurAmazingPlanet
Fri Jul 6, 2012 03:39 PM ET

After an unusually oven-like June, the beginning of July has been sweltering, too. The heat didn't even take time off for Independence Day, with 262 daily high records tied or broken nationwide, mostly in the Midwest and the South,  according to government records. In comparison, only 60 records were set on July 4, 2011, and a mere 15 were set on that date in 2010.

In addition to extreme heat during the day, it's not cooling off very much at night; in the first four days of July, 432 daily minimum high temperatures have been set (minimum high temperatures generally reflect nighttime conditions).

But there's a small amount of good news for those who are cooking in Chicago or withering in Washington, D.C. (both of which nearly broke all-time highs yesterday):  a "cold" front will be sliding east across the country, said National Weather Service meteorologist Greg Carbin. That should bring slightly cooler weather and possibly precipitation to the Midwest and surrounding areas by the beginning or middle of next week, Carbin told OurAmazingPlanet.

Our Amazing Planet via Discovery News: Chance of El Nino Developing Increases
Content provided by Douglas Main, OurAmazingPlanet
Thu Jul 5, 2012 04:34 PM ET

There's a greater than 50 percent chance that El Niño conditions will develop during the second half of 2012, the National Weather Service announced today (July 5).

When El Niño conditions are in place, water temperatures in the tropical Pacific are above average, which has far-reaching consequences for climate and weather patterns around the globe.

Based on the National Weather Service's prediction, the northern United States could be in for a warmer and drier winter than average, while the Southwest and Southeast could find itself with more rain than usual.

Discovery News: DC Derecho Disaster Explained
Analysis by Christina Reed
Mon Jul 2, 2012 08:50 AM ET

As the millions of people still without power today will attest, that was no ordinary wind storm on Friday.

An event that reportedly happens about once every four years, a fast and furious thunderstorm formed west of Chicago at about 11 a.m. and then raced at speeds upwards of 60 mph in a straight line across Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, West Virginia, Virginia, Maryland, and Washington, D.C. and out over the Atlantic Ocean by midnight, according to news reports.

Meteorologists call this kind of straight-lined fast moving thunderstorm a derecho. And this Friday's derecho already has its own wiki page.


Discovery News: Toxic Seas Spurred Mass Die-Offs
Analysis by Sarah Simpson
Sat Jun 30, 2012 06:55 AM ET

Poisonous seawater probably may have driven two of the earth’s best-known mass extinctions. The origins of the two toxins are worlds apart, but one of them is making a comeback.

We all know that an asteroid the size of Mt. Everest ended the reign of the dinosaurs when it struck Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula 65 million years ago. And we’ve heard all about the resulting firestorms, darkness and deadly gases that made trouble for life on land.

Geochemist Lee Kump of Penn State University says something more was going on in the oceans, where 93 percent of nannoplankton—the base of the marine food web—went extinct. Dust and smoke kicked up by the asteroid would have throttled photosynthesis for several months, but it took some 270,000 years for plankton populations to bounce back.


My Health News Daily via Discovery News: Why We Get Cranky When It's Hot
Sleep deprivation, dehydration and restrictions on activity can make an ugly combo.
Fri Jul 6, 2012 11:26 AM ET
Content provided by Rachael Rettner, MyHealthNewsDaily Staff Writer

Hot days certainly take a toll on our bodies, but they can also test our tempers, experts say.

Many people feel a little hotheaded when the mercury rises, said Nancy Molitor, an assistant professor of clinical psychiatry and behavioral science at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine.

In fact, hot and especially humid weather is known to be associated with increases in aggression and violence, as well as a lower general mood, Molitor said.


The Autonomous University of Barcelona (Spain) via Science Daily: Oldest Neolithic Bow Discovered in Europe

Researchers from UAB and CSIC have discovered the oldest Neolithic bow in Europe at La Draga Neolithic site in Banyoles yields. The complete bow measures 108 cm long and was constructed of yew wood.

Archaeological research carried out at the Neolithic site of La Draga, near the lake of Banyoles, has yielded the discovery of an item which is unique to the western Mediterranean and Europe. The item is a bow dating from the period between 5400-5200 BCE, corresponding to the earliest period of settlement. It is the first bow to be found intact at the site. It can be considered the most ancient bow of the Neolithic period found in Europe.

Al Ahram (Egypt): Egypt's Sphinx, Pyramids threatened by groundwater, hydrologists warn
New water pumping system at Giza Plateau has ecologists worried about possible damage to Egypt's best-known historical monuments
Nevine El-Aref , Thursday 5 Jul 2012

One month ago, Giza's antiquities inspectorate installed a new system to pump subterranean water out from under Egypt's historical Sphinx monument and the underlying bedrock.

Subterranean water levels at the Giza Plateau, especially the area under the valley temples and Sphinx, have recently increased due to a new drainage system installed in the neighbouring village of Nazlet Al-Seman and the irrigation techniques used to cultivate the nearby residential area of Hadaeq Al-Ahram.

BBC: Mohenjo Daro: Could this ancient city be lost forever?
By Aleem Maqbool BBC News

Pakistani officials say they are doing their best to save one of the most important archaeological sites in south Asia, Mohenjo Daro. But some experts fear the Bronze Age site could be lost unless radical steps are taken.

It is awe-inspiring to walk through a home built 4,500 years ago.

Especially one still very much recognisable as a house today, with front and back entrances, interconnecting rooms, neat fired brick walls - even a basic toilet and sewage outlet.

Astonishingly, given its age, the home in question was also built on two storeys.

But it is even more impressive to walk outside into a real Bronze Age street, and see all of the other homes lining it.

Indo Asian News Service via Yahoo! News India: China's earliest wine unearthed in tomb
By Indo Asian News Service | IANS India Private Limited – Fri 6 Jul, 2012

Beijing, July 6 (IANS) Liquid found inside an ancient wine vessel unearthed in China's Shaanxi province is believed to be the earliest wine in the country's history, dating back to the time of the West Zhou Dynasty (1046 B.C.-771 B.C.), archaeologists said.

The wine vessel made of bronze was found in a tomb of a noble man of the dynasty in Shigushan Mountain in Baoji city, Xinhua reported.

Royal Ontario Museum: Life of an Isis statue, Bequest Sir Robert Mond, ROM
Submitted by: Susan Stock and Franziska Schlicht, ROM Conservation
by Royal Ontario Museum on June 19, 2012

948.34.41, Seated Isis, was brought to conservation in 1994 for examination and cleaning.  It was clear that the head had been over-cleaned and the body was over-restored.  The previous restoration had left the sculpture reclining, incorrectly, on a modern throne.  Horus, as a young boy, would have sat across her lap, but he is missing.

My job was to improve the appearance of the object in preparation for display.

BBC: Large Roman cemetery discovered in Norfolk

Archaeologists have discovered 85 Roman graves in what has been hailed as the largest and best preserved cemetery of that period found in Norfolk.

The site at Great Ellingham, near Attleborough, has been excavated over the last four months and the findings have now been revealed.

Among the skeletons, which have been exhumed for further study, there were some which were beheaded after death.

The cemetery is thought to date from the 3rd/4th Century.

Reuters India: Archaeologists dig up bog army bones in Denmark
By John Acher
COPENHAGEN | Wed Jul 4, 2012 1:22am IST

(Reuters) - Danish archaeologists said on Tuesday they had re-opened a mass grave of scores of slaughtered Iron Age warriors to find new clues about their fate and the bloody practices of Germanic tribes on the edge of the Roman Empire.

Bones of around 200 soldiers have already been found preserved in a peat bog near the village of Alken on Denmark's Jutland peninsula.

Experts started digging again on Monday, saying they expected to find more bodies dating back 2,000 years to around the time of Christ.

Financial Times (UK): A layer-cake of time: Crossrail’s archaeology
By Alice Fishburn

London’s Crossrail project, one of Europe’s biggest engineering projects, is also the source of a spectacular array of archaeological finds

Digging up part of an ancient shipwreck is usually less of a concern for London construction workers than bursting a water main. But, then again, most London construction workers aren’t employed on one of the biggest engineering projects in Europe: Crossrail. For the hundreds of men sweating in orange high-visibility clothing on the Limmo Peninsula site in east London, dealing with archaeological finds is part of the day job. In March this year, during deep excavation in the main shaft on site, they uncovered what looked like a fragment of a boat, probably dating from the 12th to 15th century. The on-site archaeologist immediately stepped in.

When you are dealing with a city as old as London, the past is sometimes only a spadeful of soil away. But for most city dwellers, the concrete means that you’re never going to get down that deep. Vast construction projects such as Crossrail, which will put 21km of new tunnels through the capital, offer a rare and valuable window into the past. Among the most extensive archaeological explorations in recent years, it is already producing finds that carve through British history: prehistoric animal bones at Royal Oak, skeletons from Liverpool Street, remains of a Tudor mansion under your feet at Stepney Green. What is more, the excavations must fit into a carefully choreographed programme that waits for no piece of pottery.

Science Nordic: Legendary Viking town unearthed
By Niels Ebdrup
July 2, 2012 - 05:00

The hidden centre of power for the first Danish kings may well have popped up from the soil in Northern Germany. Archaeologists have surprisingly found some 200 houses and piles of weapons.

Danish archaeologists believe they have found the remains of the fabled Viking town Sliasthorp by the Schlei bay in northern Germany, near the Danish border.

According to texts from the 8th century, the town served as the centre of power for the first Scandinavian kings.

But historians have doubted whether Sliasthorp even existed. This doubt is now starting to falter, as archaeologists from Aarhus University are making one amazing discovery after the other in the German soil.

This is Hull and East Riding (UK): Iron Age evidence halts college redevelopment

BUILDING work has been halted at a city college after workers discovered signs of Iron Age settlements.

The discovery was made on the fields at Wilberforce College in east Hull.

The findings were unearthed while builders were digging for an all-weather sports pitch, part of redevelopment work at the college.

Experts from Humber Field Archaeology have now moved on to the site to begin excavating the area and documenting their findings.

Voice of America: Mali Islamists Destroy Ancient Timbuktu Sites
Posted Monday, July 2nd, 2012 at 5:45 pm

Islamist militants in Mali's historic city Timbuktu destroyed and damaged ancient sites for a third straight day, defying international threats of prosecution.

Witnesses say the al-Qaida-linked group Ansar Dine targeted the 15th-century Sidi Yahya mosque on Monday, tearing off the entrance door. The door is considered sacred and was to remain closed until the end of the world.

Current Archaeology (UK): Raising the Curtain: Excavating Shakespeare’s lost playhouse
By Carly Hilts
July 6, 2012

Immortalised in Henry V as ‘this wooden O’, the Curtain Theatre in Shoreditch was home to Shakespeare’s company of players until the completion of the Globe in 1599. Yet despite staging some of the playwright’s most famous works, barely 50 years after its opening in 1577 the theatre faded into obscurity and was lost– until now. Chris Thomas told Carly Hilts what has been found.

In 1597, following a dispute with their landlord, a group of disgruntled actors literally upped sticks, dismantling their theatre and transporting its timbers to Southwark where they were used to build a new playhouse: the Globe. The players were the Lord Chamberlain’s Men, and among their number was an up-and-coming performer and playwright called William Shakespeare. But where were the men to earn their living while the Globe was under construction?

The Guardian (UK): Victorian domestic treasure trove found at Greenwich naval college
Champagne bottles, bowler hats and clay pipes among priceless hoard bricked up under Old Royal Naval College steps
Maev Kennedy, Sunday 1 July 2012 09.53 EDT

A priceless hoard of Victorian rubbish – including champagne bottles, tennis balls, sports shoes, bowler hats, medicine jars, clay pipes and tobacco tins – has been discovered bricked up under steps leading to the imposing courtyard at the Old Royal Naval College in Greenwich.

The haul is so precisely the kind of domestic junk that any untidy householder shoves into a cupboard before an unexpected visitor, that archaeologists wonder if it represents just that, a hasty cleanup before a grand event at a site where royalty were regular visitors.

"It's the great thing about archaeology, it doesn't matter whether it's Roman or Victorian, things are always going to turn up which take you completely by surprise – and this was a real surprise and a bit of a mystery," said Nigel Jeffries from Museum of London Archaeology. "We were the first people to handle these objects since the space was bricked up 130 years ago. Was somebody just told to get rid of this stuff quickly – and spotted a convenient hole under the steps which was too good to pass by?"

Shropshire Star (UK): Pure joy at Shropshire Hoard find in Bitterley
Wednesday 4th July 2012, 7:00PM BST.

Unearthing the Bitterley Hoard represented a moment of ‘pure joy and excitement’ for Shropshire antiquities expert Peter Reavill.

Mr Reavill was alerted to a farmer’s field in Bitterley by retired engineer Howard Murphy, 66, of Ludlow, after he had found a silver coin. Remarkably, Mr Murphy resisted the temptation to unearth a pot stuffed with silver and gold coins, deciding to leave it to the experts.

Mr Reavill said: “I can’t speak highly enough of Mr Murphy. He did exactly the right thing. Instead of trying to unearth the pot of coins, he left them in the ground.

“That meant the site was left intact so that archaeologists could do their work. It helped because we were able to recover the pot without any significant damage.

BBC: 'Mystery' building unearthed at Woodchester Mansion

Archaeologists working at Woodchester Mansion near Stroud have uncovered a "mystery" building not marked on any maps.

A team digging at an old stable block behind the main house unearthed the structure.

The excavations are part of an ongoing project by the National Trust to restore Woodchester's "lost" parkland.

Archaeologist Jim Gunter said the buildings may have been used for storage during World War II.

Hat/Tip to annetteboardman, who sent in the above articles.


Life's Little Mysteries via Discovery News: What If the New Particle Isn't the Higgs Boson?
There are subtle indications that the particle may not, in fact, be the Higgs.
Content provided by Natalie Wolchover, Lifes Little Mysteries
Fri Jul 6, 2012 07:55 AM ET

Physicists at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) say they've discovered a new "Higgs-like" particle: a bundle of energy that has most of the trappings of the long-sought Higgs boson. They're not naming the newcomer outright, because there are subtle indications that the particle may not, in fact, be the plain old Higgs itself, but rather a close doppelganger.

Don't let that disappoint you. To the contrary, Harvey Newman, a high-energy physicist at the California Institute of Technology and a member of the Compact Muon Solenoid (CMS) experiment (one of two LHC experiments that discovered the new particle), said finding a more exotic variety of Higgs boson is actually "one of the most exciting things that can happen." Here's why.


University of Nottingham (UK) via Science Daily: 'Trophy Molecule' Breakthrough May Result in Cleaner, Cooler Nuclear Energy
July 2, 2012

Experts at The University of Nottingham are the first to create a stable version of a 'trophy molecule' that has eluded scientists for decades.

In research published in the journal Science, the team of chemists at Nottingham has shown that they can prepare a terminal uranium nitride compound which is stable at room temperature and can be stored in jars in crystallized or powder form.

Previous attempts to prepare uranium-nitrogen triple bonds have required temperatures as low as 5 Kelvin (-268 °C) -- roughly the equivalent temperature of interstellar space -- and have therefore been difficult to work with and manipulate, requiring specialist equipment and techniques.

The breakthrough could have future implications for the nuclear energy industry -- uranium nitride materials may potentially offer a viable alternative to the current mixed oxide nuclear fuels used in reactors since nitrides exhibit superior high densities, melting points, and thermal conductivities and the process the scientists used to make the compound could offer a cleaner, low temperature route than methods currently used.


Agence France Presse via Discovery News: Japan Says Fukushima Disaster Was Man-Made
A parliamentary probe into the nuclear disaster at Fukushima found humans at fault for the post-tsunami disaster.
Thu Jul 5, 2012 11:13 AM ET

Last year's Fukushima nuclear accident was a man-made disaster caused by Japan's culture of "reflexive obedience" and not just the tsunami that hit the plant, a damning parliamentary report said Thursday.

Ingrained collusion between plant operator Tokyo Electric Power, the government and regulators, combined with a lack of any effective oversight led directly to the worst nuclear accident in a generation, the report said.

"They effectively betrayed the nation's right to be safe from nuclear accidents. Therefore, we conclude that the accident was clearly 'man-made'," said the Fukushima Nuclear Accident Independent Investigation Commission.

Science, Space, Environment, and Energy Policy

The Billings Gazette via the Casper Tribune: BLM investigates looting of Wyoming archaeological site
By MARTIN KIDSTON The Billings Gazette
Posted: Friday, July 6, 2012 7:00

Anyone with information about the Shoshone Canyon looting is asked to contact Special Agent Mike Ramirez with the BLM at 406-896-5151 or BLM Cody Law Enforcement Ranger Ron Lewis at 307-578-5931. The “Report Violations Hotline” is 1-888-358-2310.

CODY — The looting of an archaeological site in the Shoshone Canyon west of here has law enforcement officials with the Bureau of Land Management offering a reward for the capture and conviction of those responsible.

Special Agent Mike Ramirez with the BLM in Billings, Mont., said that while the case remains under investigation, it is clear the looting was not the random act of casual collectors.

“This wasn’t something somebody stumbled upon,” Ramirez said. “It’s quite evident that the people who dug this site did it on purpose. They actively pursued it and obliterated it, along with any hopes of recovering things.”

Ramirez couldn’t speak of the site in detail given the ongoing investigation. The Shoshone Canyon is located between Cody and Yellowstone National Park.

Agence France Presse via Dawn (Pakistan): Karachi police seize illegally-dug Gandhara antiquities

KARACHI: Authorities in Karachi have seized dozens of precious antiquities dating from Pakistan’s ancient Gandhara civilisation, illegally dug from the country’s restive northwest, officials said Friday.

The haul included statues of Buddha, life-sized idols, bronze artefacts, utensils and decorative plaques, Qasim Ali Qasim, director of Sindh province archaeology department, told AFP.

Police intercepted a flatbed truck in Karachi and found the antiquities from the 2,000-year-old civilisation hidden under plastic and wooden items, officials said.

Trinidad Express via Stabroek News (Guyana): Shipwrecks project to boost Tobago tourism
By Stabroek editor  

(Trinidad Express) Within its 116 square miles of land and the waters that surround it, Tobago possesses a vibrant culture and rich heritage that the Tobago House of Assembly (THA) remains committed to preserving. Through the Division of Tourism and Transportation, the THA continues to develop an authentic tourism product that reflects the island’s history and provides visitors with a taste of old-world charm.

The THA recently granted permission to a team of archaeologists to lead the scientific investigation of a cultural heritage project in the Scarborough Harbour. Led by Dr Kroum N Batchvarov, assistant professor of maritime archaeology at the University of Connecticut and Affiliated Scholar of the Institute of Nautical Archaeology, the team will exhume the wrecks of the Dutch ships sunk in these waters during the 1677 battle between a French squadron and the Dutch West Indies Company.

Hat/Tip to annetteboardman for this story.

Science Education

The Hawkeye: Of biblical proportions
BHS grad goes on dig of ancient village of Huqoq

Despite majoring in history and anthropology, 21-year-old Sarah Nevling never has watched an "Indiana Jones" movie in its entirety.

She doesn't have to watch a Hollywood movie about archaeology for a vicarious thrill, though. Nevling just spent a month digging through the remains of an ancient Jewish village and synagogue in northern Israel, and the wonders she found far outweigh any fiction she could watch.

A Burlington native who graduated from Burlington High School and attends the University of Oklahoma, Nevling grew up wanting to be an archaeologist - ever since she saw a video about ancient Egypt in middle school.

"I thought that was so cool," she said.

Hat/Tip to annetteboardman for this story.

Agence France Presse via Discovery News: California High-Speed Rail to Begin Construction
The controversial project, connecting Los Angeles and San Francisco, may begin construction later this year.
Sat Jul 7, 2012 07:51 PM ET

The US state of California has approved the first phase of construction of a much anticipated yet controversial high-speed rail project linking Los Angeles and San Francisco, officials said.

Following years of contentious debate, state senators voted 21-16 Friday to allocate about $8 billion for the initial stretch of tracks for a line that is expected to see trains speeding along at up to 220 miles an hour (355 kph).

"The legislature took bold action today that gets Californians back to work and put California out in front once again," Governor Jerry Brown, a Democrat and longtime proponent, said after the vote on the eve of the summer recess.

Science Writing and Reporting

Discovery News: Orgy? Tough Life For Blue-blooded Horseshoe Crab
Analysis by Kieran Mulvaney
Tue Jul 3, 2012 06:44 AM ET

In his new book, Horseshoe Crab: Biography of a Survivor (Ruka Press), Fredericks details the various uses of the American horseshoe crab, and the impacts such uses may have had.

Native inhabitants of the Delaware Bay region apparently used the telsons as spear tips for catching fish; farther north, some would also use them as fertilizer, placing one or two in the ground around corn stalks. Colonists and their descendants caught wind of this latter technique, and by the mid-nineteenth century, as many as 4 million crabs per year were being taken from Delaware Bay for this purpose. That figure declined over the decades, in line with diminishing horsehose crab numbers and a change in the focus of the fertilizer industry, but as the populations began to rebound, they were hit again by the growth of eel and conch fisheries to feed the Asian market and by the use of horseshoe crabs as bait for those fisheries.

Science is Cool

Discovery News: Search for Amelia Earhart's Plane Begins
On the 75th anniversary of her disappearance, an expedition heads out to prove once and for all that Earhart landed and perished on a remote island.
By Rossella Lorenzi
Mon Jul 2, 2012 10:17 AM ET
Courtesy of TIGHAR

Components of Amelia Earhart's plane might have floated for weeks in the waters of an uninhabited island in the southwestern Pacific republic of Kiribati, according to new analysis of a photograph taken three months after the disappearance of the glamorous aviator on July 2, 1937, during a record attempt to fly around the world at the equator.

Shot by British Colonial Service officer Eric R. Bevington in October 1937, during an expedition to assess the suitability for future settlement and colonization of Nikumaroro, a deserted island between Hawaii and Australia, the grainy photo has prompted a new expedition to find pieces of Earhart's long-lost Lockheed Electra aircraft.

"We will depart Honolulu on July 3rd aboard the University of Hawaii oceanographic research ship R/V Ka Imikai-O-Kanaloa. In about eight days we should get to Nikumaroro, where we will carry out a deep-water search for the wreckage," Ric Gillespie, executive director of The International Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery (TIGHAR), told Discovery News.

Hat/Tip to annetteboardman for this story.

Originally posted to Overnight News Digest on Sat Jul 07, 2012 at 09:09 PM PDT.

Also republished by SciTech.

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