In celebration tonight's first set of articles are archaeological news, but there is lots of other cool stuff out there.
OND is a community feature on Daily Kos, consisting of news stories from around the world, sometimes coupled with a daily theme, original research or commentary. Editors of OND impart their own presentation styles and content choices, typically publishing each day near 12:00AM Eastern Time.Before anything else, though, check out this image/article:
OND Editors consist 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
Penguin power wins photo prize
By Jonathan Amos Science correspondent, BBC News
A scene containing a frenzy of plumage and bubbles as emperor penguins prepare to blast their way through a hole in the ice has earned Paul Nicklen one of the world's top photo awards.
The Canadian braved the extreme cold of Antarctica and attack by leopard seals to get the shot.
His picture won the Underwater Worlds category and the overall title in this year's Veolia Environnement Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition.
Neanderthals ... They're Just Like Us?
Well, not exactly. But new discoveries have had a surprisingly humanizing effect.
Sarah Zielinski for National Geographic News
Published October 12, 2012
The Neanderthals are both the most familiar and the least understood of all our fossil kin.
For decades after the initial discovery of their bones in a cave in Germany in 1856 Homo neanderthalensis was viewed as a hairy brute who stumbled around Ice Age Eurasia on bent knees, eventually to be replaced by elegant, upright Cro-Magnon, the true ancestor of modern Europeans.
Science has long since killed off the notion of that witless caveman, but Neanderthals have still been regarded as quintessential losers—a large-brained, well-adapted species of human that went extinct nevertheless, yielding the Eurasian continent to anatomically modern humans, who began to migrate out of Africa some 60,000 years ago.
Lately, the relationship between Neanderthals and modern humans has gotten spicier.
Sediment from Japanese lake provides more accurate timeline for dating objects as far back as 50,000 years.
The carbon clock is getting reset. Climate records from a Japanese lake are set to improve the accuracy of the dating technique, which could help to shed light on archaeological mysteries such as why Neanderthals became extinct.
Carbon dating is used to work out the age of organic material — in effect, any living thing. The technique hinges on carbon-14, a radioactive isotope of the element that, unlike other more stable forms of carbon, decays away at a steady rate. Organisms capture a certain amount of carbon-14 from the atmosphere when they are alive. By measuring the ratio of the radio isotope to non-radioactive carbon, the amount of carbon-14 decay can be worked out, thereby giving an age for the specimen in question.
Troy, the palatial city of prehistory, sacked by the Greeks through trickery and a fabled wooden horse, will be excavated anew beginning in 2013 by a cross-disciplinary team of archaeologists and other scientists, it was announced today (Monday, Oct. 15).
The new expedition will be led by University of Wisconsin-Madison classics Professor William Aylward, an archaeologist with long experience digging in the ruins of classical antiquity, including Troy itself. The new international project at Troy, to be conducted under the auspices of and in cooperation with Turkey's Çanakkale Onsekiz Mart University, will begin a series of summer-time expeditions beginning in 2013.
Ancient Egypt City Aligned With Sun on King's Birthday
Stephanie Pappas, LiveScience Senior Writer
The Egyptian city of Alexandria, home to one of the seven wonders of the ancient world, may have been built to align with the rising sun on the day of Alexander the Great's birth, a new study finds.
The Macedonian king, who commanded an empire that stretched from Greece to Egypt to the Indus River in what is now India, founded the city of Alexandria in 331 B.C. The town would later become hugely prosperous, home to Cleopatra, the magnificent Royal Library of Alexandria and the 450-foot-tall (140 meters) Lighthouse of Alexandria, one of the wonders of the ancient world. Today, more than 4 million people live in modern Alexandria.
Ancient Alexandria was planned around a main east-west thoroughfare called Canopic Road, said Giulio Magli, an archaeoastronomer at the Politecnico of Milan. A study of the ancient route reveals it is not laid out according to topography; for example, it doesn't run quite parallel to the coastline. But on the birthday of Alexander the Great, the rising sun of the fourth century rose "in almost perfect alignment with the road," Magli said.
Rome resident Mirko Curti stumbles upon tomb piled with bones while chasing wayward feline near his apartment
Tom Kington in Rome
guardian.co.uk, Thursday 18 October 2012 09.52 EDT
Rome may not exactly be short of catacombs, but one discovered this week is more deserving of the name than the city's countless other subterranean burial chambers. For Mirko Curti stumbled into a 2,000-year-old tomb piled with bones while chasing a wayward moggy yards from his apartment building.
Curti and a friend were following the cat at 10pm on Tuesday when it scampered towards a low tufa rock cliff close to his home near Via di Pietralata in a residential area of the city. "The cat managed to get into a grotto and we followed the sound of its miaowing," he said.
2,000-year-old bison bone bed 'destroyed' on Crow Reservation
Archaeological team to assess damage
Archeologists in 2010 uncovered a prehistoric bison kill site on the Crow Indian Reservation near Hardin. Westmoreland Resources Inc. hopes to strip mine coal on the land as part of a proposed expansion to its Absaloka Mine. The archeological site was discovered as part of a National Historic Preservation Act investigation into the planned mine expansion. To the dismay of tribal officials and anthropologists, the site was eventually excavated with a back hoe in 2011.
A team of archaeological investigators, anthropologists and Crow tribal officials today are headed to the site of a 2,000-year-old bison kill site that was unearthed last summer as part of Westmoreland Resources Inc.’s plans to expand its Absaloka Coal Mine.
The site, known as the Sarpy Creek Bison Kill site, was first discovered during a resource identification effort required under the National Historic Preservation Act for the company to expand the mine.
Online Sleuthing Casts Doubt on 'Gospel of Jesus' Wife'
Jeremy Hsu, TechNewsDaily Senior Writer
Date: 16 October 2012
A copied error from an online translation of the Gospel of Thomas may be the "smoking gun" that strongly suggests the Gospel of Jesus' Wife, a controversial papyrus fragment that supposedly refers to Jesus being married, is a forgery, scholars say. If the text is fake, it would represent an extraordinary tale of how an amateur with no knowledge of a long-dead language could fool some of the world's leading experts by using a readily available Internet tool — and how scholars countered by rallying online to swiftly investigate the case together.
The business card-size fragment of papyrus stirred up worldwide controversy with a line of text that reads "Jesus said to them, 'My wife …'" Many skeptical scholars suggested the document was a forgery in the weeks following the announcement of the discovery by Harvard historian Karen King — and their early suspicions have evolved into solid theories and findings as they talked through Facebook posts, blogs and e-lists.
One of the most compelling arguments for the fragment being a forgery has emerged from Andrew Bernhard, an Oxford University graduate and author of the book "Other Early Christian Gospels" (T & T Clark, 2006). He published an online paper last week pointing out a pattern of similarities between the Gospel of Jesus' Wife and the Coptic Gospel of Thomas — similarities that include grammatical errors and line breaks found only in the online word-by-word translation of the Gospel of Thomas.
Mali Islamists bulldoze more Sufi tombs in Timbuktu
By Reuters Staff
October 19, 2012
Heavily armed Islamists bulldozed the tombs of three local Sufi saints near Mali’s desert city of Timbuktu on Thursday, residents said, the latest in a series of attacks in the rebel-held north that critics say threaten its cultural heritage.
“They arrived aboard six or seven vehicles, heavily armed,” said Garba Maiga, a resident of Timbuktu, listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site for its ancient shrines. “They flattened everything with a bulldozer and pulled up the skeletal remains.”
October 19 2012 at 06:00pm
Yagour, Morocco - Morocco's government has denied claims that Salafists had destroyed stone carvings dating back more than 8,000 years in the High Atlas mountains.
“The reports that these stone carvings were damaged, as you can see, is not true,” Communications Minister Mustapha Khalfi told journalists, on a government organised trip to the Yagour plateau.
“It is one of our goals to protect these pre-historic monuments, which reflect Morocco's cultural diversity and the deepness of our history,” Khalfi told AFP.
MEXICO CITY.- A set of 12 burials, inside basalt boxes, were discovered by archaeologists of the National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH – Conaculta) in the southeast part of Nayarit. Given the great quantities of human bones that were contained in each burial, archaeologists consider this finding as a type of pre Hispanic cemetery about 1000 years old.
According to Lourdes Garcia Barajas and Jose Beltran Medina, archaeologists of the INAH Center in Nayarit, this funerary finding is unique since it’s theGermany Tries to Halt Baltic Shipwreck Plunderinguary tradition that had been unknown in the region, with the only related findings being shaft tombs or osseous remains cramped inside clay pots. Until this finding, never had they found osseous remains inside basalt boxes.
The experts detailed that they found complete skeletons both inside and around the mortuary containers –most of which were determined to have been burned given their black coloring– also, they found bones inside ceramic pots contained in the basalt boxes, which is why specialists haven’t been able to determine the total number of individuals that had been interred.
The burials were found near the foot of the volcano Ceboruco (2280 meters [7840 feet] tall). This volcano is part of the Mexican Neo-volcanic axis, whose greatest eruption occurred in 1000 AD; the volcanic rock that covered the burials was the element that helped determine (in a preliminary manner) the temporariness of the pre Hispanic remains.
VietNamNet Bridge – Considering the 500-year-old ancient wreck that contains antiques in the sea of Binh Chau commune in Quang Ngai province as the "fortune" from the sea, hundreds of fishermen stoned the police and explorers to prevent them from exploring the ship on October 13.
On the morning of October 13, while the authorities were making a survey at the shipwreck, dozens of fishermen of Binh Chau commune swam to the sea to stone police officers and explorers. Some policemen were injured.
Dr. Doan Ngoc Khoi, Deputy Director of the Museum of Quang Ngai, who commanded the survey, said that while the divers and experts were doing their job, about 60 fishermen swam to the site.
"At first they pretended to swim, and then they moved closer to the wreck. Waterway traffic police took two canoes to remind them to not enter the restricted area but they stoned the police. Two policemen were wounded in the head and arm," Dr. Khoi said.
By David Crossland
Alarmed at the looting of historically valuable shipwrecks in the Baltic Sea, German archaeologists have started attaching underwater signs designating them as protected monuments. Hobby divers and trophy hunters are damaging a precious maritime legacy stretching back thousands of years, they warn.
The two-man U-boat was discovered lying at a depth of 18 meters near Boltenhagen off Germany's Baltic Sea coast in 2000. Its plexiglass turret hatch was intact and closed, which prompted authorities to designate it as a war grave because the crew of the vessel, of a type used by the German navy towards the end of World War II to evade Allied sonar detection and sink ships, was believed to still be inside.
Then someone dived down and removed the hatch in 2002. The local government responded by sealing the gap with a steel plate. But there have since been attempts to break it open.
Surprising trend in galaxy evolution (w/ Video)
October 19, 2012 by Francis Reddy
A comprehensive study of hundreds of galaxies observed by the Keck telescopes in Hawaii and NASA's Hubble Space Telescope has revealed an unexpected pattern of change that extends back 8 billion years, or more than half the age of the universe.
"Astronomers thought disk galaxies in the nearby universe had settled into their present form by about 8 billion years ago, with little additional development since," said Susan Kassin, an astronomer at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., and the study's lead researcher. "The trend we've observed instead shows the opposite, that galaxies were steadily changing over this time period."
Exoplanet around Alpha Centauri is nearest-ever
By Jason Palmer Science and technology reporter, BBC News
Astronomers have found the nearest planet outside our Solar System, circling one of the stars of Alpha Centauri just four light-years away.
The planet has at minimum the same mass as Earth, but circles its star far closer than Mercury orbits our Sun.
It is therefore outside the "habitable zone" denoting the possibility of life, as the researchers report in Nature.
However, studies on exoplanets increasingly show that a star with one planet is likely to have several.
At the very least, the work answers the question first posed in ancient times about planets around our nearest stellar neighbours.
Amateur Astronomers Help Experts Keep Tabs On Tumultuous Jupiter
April Flowers for redOrbit.com – Your Universe Online
In ancient Rome, Jupiter was the King of the gods and the god of sky and thunder with his mighty thunderbolt. He would certainly be pleased with the changes occurring on his namesake planet. Jupiter the planet is continually being peppered with small space rocks, the atmosphere is changing colors in wide belts, hotspots are vanishing and reappearing, and clouds are gathering and dissipating over various regions.
An international team of scientists led by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) has been studying the changes, and their findings were presented at the American Astronomical Society’s Division for Planetary Sciences Meeting in Reno, Nevada.
“The changes we’re seeing in Jupiter are global in scale,” Glenn Orton, senior research scientist at JPL, said. “We’ve seen some of these before, but never with modern instrumentation to clue us in on what’s going on. Other changes haven’t been seen in decades, and some regions have never been in the state they’re appearing in now. At the same time, we’ve never seen so many things striking Jupiter. Right now, we’re trying to figure out why this is all happening.”
Orton and his colleagues have been taking images and maps of Jupiter at infrared wavelengths from 2009 to 2012. They compared these images with high-quality visible images from the increasingly active amateur astronomy community. First they observed a fading and return of the brown-colored South Equatorial Belt from 2009 to 2011. Then they noticed the same fading and darkening of the North Equatorial Belt, which grew whiter in 2011 to an extent not seen in more than 100 years. In March 2012, the belt started darkening again.
Watching active volcanic eruptions should definitely be done from a distance, but a group of California researchers has figured out how to do it from the comfort of home. Using an ingenious combination of Earth-based telescopic surveys and archival data, they have gathered nearly 40 distinct snapshots of effusive volcanic eruptions and high temperature outbursts on Jupiter's tiny moon, Io, showing details as small as 100 km (60 miles) on the moon's surface.
Apparently, there just aren’t enough genomes for Craig Venter to sequence here on Earth, so he's making plans to send a DNA sequencer to Mars.
"There will be life forms there," Venter said, with his usual confidence, at a Wired Health conference this week in New York.
If he can build a machine to find it, the next steps would be to decode its DNA, beam it back to Earth, put those genetic instructions into a cell and then boot up a Martian life form in a biosecure lab.
It may sound far-fetched, but assuming that there is DNA to be found on the Red Planet - a big assumption, to be sure - the notion of equipping a future Mars rover to sequence the DNA isn't so crazy.
Venter has already sent his yacht around the globe to scoop up seawater and sequence whatever DNA it found in marine microbes. He has also been working on technology to create small genomes from scratch and insert them into living cells to bring these organisms to life. The difference now is that all of this technology would be applied to Mars.
Curiosity Mars rover starts 'to eat dirt'
Nasa's Curiosity rover has ingested its first Martian soil sample.
The robot has taken a pinch of dust into the CheMin instrument, one of its two big onboard analytical tools.
It is a key moment for the $2.6bn mission - Curiosity's internal apparatus will play a central role in its investigation of the Red Planet.
"The most important thing about our mobile laboratory is that it eats dirt - that's what we live on," chief scientist John Grotzinger told the BBC.
CheMin provides definitive mineralogy – it uses X-ray diffraction to identify and quantify the minerals present in the rocky material that has been swallowed.
Scientists have put a new turn on the theory of how the Moon was created.
It has long been thought that the lunar body resulted from an impact between the early Earth and another planet-sized object 4.5 billion years ago.
But this theory predicts Earth and its satellite should have a quite different chemical make-up - and the data shows in fact they are very similar.
Now, new modelling reveals that if the Earth had a much faster spin before the impact, the theory fits the chemistry.
Earth Science -- Geology, Environment
A verdict in the trial of seven top Italian scientists for manslaughter for underestimating the risks of an earthquake which killed 309 people in L'Aquila, central Italy, in 2009, is expected on Monday.
"The verdict is expected on October 22," said Enzo Musco, a lawyer for Professor Gian Michele Calvi who is one of the defendants.
The prosecutor's office has asked for sentences of four years in prison for each of the seven who were all members of the Major Risks Committee.
The committee met in the central Italian city on March 31, 2009—six days before the powerful earthquake devastated the region—after a series of small tremors in the preceding weeks had sown panic among local inhabitants.
Scientists have discovered why the 'broken world' following the worst extinction of all time lasted so long – it was simply too hot to survive.
The end-Permian mass extinction, which occurred around 250 million years ago in the pre-dinosaur era, wiped out nearly all the world's species. Typically, a mass extinction is followed by a 'dead zone' during which new species are not seen for tens of thousands of years. In this case, the dead zone, during the Early Triassic period which followed, lasted for a perplexingly long period: five million years.
Global temperatures directly affect the acidity of the ocean, which in turn changes the acoustical properties of sea water. New research suggests that global warming may give Earth's oceans the same hi-fi sound qualities they had more than 100 million years ago, during the Age of the Dinosaurs.
The reason for this surprising communication upgrade is that whales vocalize in the low-frequency sound range, typically less than 200 hertz, and the new research predicts that by the year 2100, global warming will acidify saltwater sufficiently to make low-frequency sound near the ocean surface travel significantly farther than it currently does—perhaps twice as far.
Canadian government 'knew about sea fertilizing'
October 20, 2012 by Deborah Jones
Organizers of a controversial ocean fertilization project off Canada's west coast said officials knew of the undertaking but did not stop it, and that it violated no laws.
The project, carried out by a small aboriginal village together with US businessman Russ George, involved used a fishing boat to scatter 120 tonnes of iron sulphate last August into the Pacific Ocean west of Haida Gwaii, an archipelago off British Columbia.
(Phys.org)—The western half of the continental U.S. and central and northern Alaska could be in for a warmer-than-average winter, while most of Florida might be colder-than-normal December through February, according to NOAA's annual Winter Outlook announced today from the agency's new Center for Weather and Climate Prediction in College Park, Md.
Forecasters with NOAA's Climate Prediction Center say a wavering El Niño, expected to have developed by now, makes this year's winter outlook less certain than previous years.
"This is one of the most challenging outlooks we've produced in recent years because El Niño decided not to show up as expected," said Mike Halpert, deputy director of NOAA's Climate Prediction Center. "In fact, it stalled out last month, leaving neutral conditions in place in the tropical Pacific."
When El Niño is present, warmer ocean water in the equatorial Pacific shifts the patterns of tropical rainfall that in turn influence the strength and position of the jetstream and storms over the Pacific Ocean and United States. This climate pattern gives seasonal forecasters confidence in how the U.S. winter will unfold. An El Niño watch remains in effect because there's still a window for it to emerge.
UK experiences 'weirdest' weather
By Roger Harrabin Environment analyst
The UK has experienced its "weirdest" weather on record in the past few months, scientists say.
The driest spring for over a century gave way to the wettest recorded April to June in a dramatic turnaround never documented before.
The scientists said there was no evidence that the weather changes were a result of Man-made climate change.
But experts from three bodies warned the UK must plan for periodic swings of drought conditions and flooding.
The warning came from the Environment Agency, Met Office and Centre for Ecology & Hydrology (CEH) at a joint briefing in London.
Hong Kong announced new targets in its bid to cut emissions from power plants, part of an ongoing effort to tackle air pollution in the Chinese city that is regularly covered in smog.
Hong Kong on Friday announced new targets in its bid to cut emissions from power plants, part of an ongoing effort to tackle air pollution in the Chinese city that is regularly covered in smog.
The government said it aims to slash emissions of three of the five main air pollutants measured by authorities by between 6 and 17 percent from 2017, compared to their 2015 targets announced two years ago.
The power generation sector accounts for 50 percent of the city's sulfur dioxide (SO2), 25 percent of nitrogen oxides (NOx) and 16 percent of respirable suspended particulates (RSP) emissions, according to the Environmental Protection Department.
"The tightened emission allowances will help improve the air quality in Hong Kong and the Pearl River Delta region," a department spokesman said.
World pledges more money to protect biodiversity
October 20, 2012 by Mariette Le Roux
Efforts to stem the worrying loss of Earth's dwindling natural resources received a boost Saturday when a UN conference in India agreed to double biodiversity aid to poor countries
But in a week that saw 400 plants and animals added to a "Red List" at risk of extinction, some observers said this was not enough to reverse the decline in species and habitats that humans depend on for food, shelter and livelihoods. A quarter of the world's mammals, 13 percent of birds, 41 percent of amphibians and 33 percent of reef-building corals are now at risk of extinction, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature.
A majority of Madagascar's palms face extinction due to land clearing, an environment protectigroup says.
The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) said 83% of the 192 tree varieties had been added to its threatened species list.
The group called the figures "terrifying", saying the tree loss also endangered animals and put people's livelihoods at risk.
The findings bring the global number of species at risk of dying out to 20,219.
Radar helps solve painted lady migration mystery
By Matt Bardo Reporter, BBC Nature
The mystery of an annual disappearance of a UK butterfly has been solved, scientists say after tracking the painted lady's migration on radar.
They found that the butterflies do not die in this country at the end of summer, as some believed, but make a high altitude escape south - one leg of a 9,000-mile migration.
The team analysed 60,000 sightings from British observers for the study.
The discoveries are "astonishing", says Richard Fox, a co-author on the paper.
The findings are based on data from 2009 and published in the journal Ecography.
Scientists from the Wildlife Conservation Society, the American Museum of Natural History, City University of New York, and other organizations have published the first range-wide genetic analysis of the bowhead whale using hundreds of samples from both modern populations and archaeological sites used by indigenous Arctic hunters thousands of years ago.
In addition to using DNA samples collected from whales over the past 20 years, the team collected genetic samples from ancient specimens —extracted from old vessels, toys, and housing material made from baleen—preserved in pre-European settlements in the Canadian Arctic. The study attempts to shed light on the impacts of sea ice and commercial whaling on this threatened but now recovering species. The study appears in the most recent edition of Ecology and Evolution.
A controversial study that linked genetically modified corn to cancer in lab rats is a "scientific non-event," six French scientific academies said on Friday.
"This work does not enable any reliable conclusion to be drawn," they said, adding bluntly that the affair helped "spread fear among the public."
The joint statement—an extremely rare event in French science—was signed by the national academies of agriculture, medicine, pharmacy, sciences, technology and veterinary studies.
It was sparked by research published in September that said rats fed with so-called NK603 corn and/or doses of Roundup herbicide developed tumours.
Leaves of the plant that yields carob—the substitute for chocolate that some consider healthier than chocolate—are a rich source of antibacterial substances ideal for fighting the microbe responsible for listeriosis, a serious form of food poisoning, according to a report in ACS' Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.
Nadhem Aissani and colleagues explain that the increase in antibiotic-resistant bacteria has fostered a search for new natural substances to preserve food and control disease-causing microbes. They cite a need for new substances to combat Listeria monocytogenes, bacteria that caused food poisoning outbreaks in a dozen states with three deaths so far this year. Carob has attracted attention as a potential antibacterial substance, but until now, scientists had not tested it against Listeria. Carob may be best-known as a substitute for chocolate that does not contain caffeine or theobromine, which makes chocolate toxic to dogs.
New data being presented at IDWeek 2012 shows the fatal risk that influenza poses even for children without underlying health conditions and the effectiveness of school-based vaccination programs in protecting student populations. Together, these findings support the crucial public health message that families should take the flu virus seriously every year.
One study viewed influenza from an epidemiological perspective, analyzing U.S. pediatric influenza-associated deaths over an eight-year period and finding that 43 percent of the deaths occurred in children with no health conditions, such as asthma or diabetes, that would have predisposed them to being at high risk of serious flu complications. Moreover, the study found that those young, previously healthy patients succumbed faster. The median duration of illness from onset of initial symptoms to death was four days in children with no underlying high-risk health conditions compared with seven days in children with at least one such condition.
Important news you didn’t know you needed to know:
Kissing Your Dog Could Give You Gum Disease
October 19, 2012
Michael Harper for redOrbit.com – Your Universe Online
It’s time once again to look to a 90s Romantic Comedy for sage advice to guide us through our every day lives.
In the words of Janeane Garofalo in the 1996 movie “The Truth About Cats and Dogs,” “You can love your pets, but just don’t LOVE your pets.”
Another lesson learned from this film: Be yourself. Don’t try to be Uma Thurman.
It seems the latest from the journal Archives of Oral Biology holds that kissing a dog straight on the mouth can actually exchange diseases between canine and human. It sounds crazy, I know, but Japanese researchers have found that this form of sharing affection with a pet could lead to gum disease.