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Welcome to Science Saturday, where the Overnight News Digest crew, consisting of founder Magnifico, regular editors maggiejean, wader, Man Oh Man, side pocket, rfall, and JML9999, alumni editors palantir, Bentliberal, Oke, jlms qkw, Interceptor7, and ScottyUrb, guest editor 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, health, energy, and the environment.

This week's featured story comes from JPL News/NASA and

Curiosity Rover: One Year on Mars

A look at the challenges and achievements of Curiosity's first year on Mars.

Curiosity's First Year On Mars In 2 Minutes

The Mars Science Laboratory landed on the Red Planet in August 2012. The imagery from August 2012 to July 2013, from the rover's Hazard-Avoidance camera, has been compiled to make this time-lapse.

See the Curiosity Rover's 1st Year On Mars in 2 Minutes (Video)
by Megan Gannon, News Editor
August 02, 2013 05:36pm ET

NASA's Mars rover Curiosity will celebrate its one-year anniversary on the Red Planet next week, and to celebrate the occasion, the space agency released a two-minute time-lapse video of the robot's first year of exploration.

The new Curiosity rover video draws on 548 fish-eye images from the rover's front Hazard-Avoidance Camera taken between August 2012 and July 2013. NASA released the clip without a soundtrack, and we added music (including the "Day of the Dog" by Matt Haick and? "Sin on Stage" by William Werwath).

More stories after the jump.

Recent Science Diaries and Stories

An End to Dead Zones?
by johnniec

Green diary rescue: Palm oil devastation, suing Enbridge, protesting coal
by Meteor Blades

Just for the hell of it, Science!
by Darwinian Detrius

The Daily Bucket: Salt Marsh Fishes
by matching mole

This week in science: Always the dollars
by DarkSyde


BBC: Dover's White Cliffs: Would you mine them for £1bn-worth of gold?

How do we decide what's worth saving and what we would happily see destroyed to make way for development? For The Editors, a programme which sets out to ask challenging questions, I asked what price, for example, for the White Cliffs of Dover?

Woven into the national fabric as a symbol of wartime defiance, the cliffs stand immortalised by the voice of Vera Lynn and images of soaring Spitfires.

A National Trust campaign has just raised over £1m to buy a key stretch of the cliff-tops to forestall any development.

Most people would probably agree that that was a good thing.

Hat/Tip to annetteboardman for this story.

The Weather Channel: Federal Sequester Furloughs Hurricane Hunters

The Weather Channel meteorologist Julie Martin reports because of mandatory furloughs due to the sequester may hamper the Air Force Reserve's hurricane hunters this season.
Video does not embed, but this cartoon by Wuerker gets the point across.

The Weather Channel: Weather Forecasting Bill Raises Eyebrows

A bill in the U.S. House of Representatives aims to direct money from climate change research to improving technology for weather forecasting. Meteorologist Mike Bettes has the story.

The Weather Channel: Town Will Disappear by 2025!

The Weather Channel host Matt Sampson tells us how storm erosion will wipe the city of Kivalina, Alaska off the Earth by 2025.

Discovery News: Film Review: Chasing Ice

In our debut episode of the DNews Screening Room, Trace gives us his review of the acclaimed documentary "Chasing Ice."

For a month of free Netflix instant streaming, go to:

The Weather Channel: Surprise Eruption in Yellowstone

The Weather Channel host Matt Sampson takes a look at the Steamboat Geyser, which erupted on Wednesday in an unpredicted blast that hasn't been seen in nearly a decade.

Discovery News: City Vs. Country- Which is Safer?

You'd think peaceful country living would do wonders for your health. No pollution, less violence, seems like the obvious way to go, right? But it isn't so cut and dry. Trace looks at risks, and life saving benefits of each.

Discovery News: Do Rich People Cheat More?

Turns out money DOES change a person--and not for the better. Looking at the results of a new study, Laci explains just how awful people can be when they've got cash-filled pockets.

NASA Television: DC Celebrates Curiosity on This Week @NASA

Celebration, when the Curiosity Rover safely found the surface of Mars on August 6, 2012 ... and celebration this week on Capitol Hill as NASA and members of Congress mark the one year anniversary of the Martian landing and showcase the ways the rover is helping us get to know Mars. During another event to celebrate Curiosity at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, members of the Curiosity team presented White House officials with a replica of the plaque flown on the mission and signed by the President. Curiosity's landing ignited a new generation of excitement which grew even more when the rover found evidence that Mars could've sustained life in the past. NASA and the rest of Earth looks forward to future finds on Mars from Curiosity and other missions. Also, Bolden Visits Wallops, Asteroid Mission Formulation Review, Following The Water, Preparing For Tomorrow, SLS Design Gets "OK", NASA Gets New Chief Scientist, X-Ray Eclipse, Commercial Crew Industry Day, Train Like An Astronaut, Promoting Stem & Safety and more!

JPL News: What's up August 2013: Perseids and a Comet ISON Update Planets, Perseids, And Nebulas Light Up The Sky In August | Video

Saturn, Venus, Mars, Mercury and Jupiter will all be visible in the August night skies, as will the annual Perseid meteors. A number of nebulas will also be easy to find among the constellations.


University of Western Australia via PhysOrg: Closing in on Einstein's window to the universe
August 1, 2013

Nearly a century after the world's greatest physicist, Albert Einstein, first predicted the existence of gravitational waves, a global network of gravitational wave observatories has moved a step closer to detecting the faint radiation that could lead to important new discoveries in our universe.

David Blair is a Winthrop Professor of Physics at The University of Western Australia and Director of the Australian International Gravitational Research Centre at Gingin - 87km north of Perth. He leads the WA component of a huge international team that has announced a demonstration of a new measurement technique called 'quantum squeezing' that allows gravitational wave detectors to increase their sensitivity.

"This is the first time the quantum measurement barrier has been broken in a full scale gravitational wave detector," Professor Blair said. "This is like breaking the sound barrier: some people said it would be impossible. Breaking that barrier proved that supersonic flight was possible and today we know that it is not a barrier at all." Cold, Blue World: 'Small' Alien Planet Captured on Camera
by Elizabeth Howell, Contributor
July 31, 2013 03:43pm ET

A gas planet about four times the size of Jupiter may be giant, but it's one of the smallest alien planets ever captured on camera, according to a new study.

The planet's relatively small size and far distance from its star, called GJ 504, marked a milestone for Japan's Subaru Telescope, which took the discovery images in 2011, according to Adam Burrows, a co-author of the study.

"It's a demonstration of a technology that's been a long time coming," Burrows, an astronomer at Princeton University, said of the high-contrast camera used at Subaru to see the planet.


Stanford University via PhysOrg: Climate change occurring 10 times faster than at any time in past 65 million years
August 1, 2013

The planet is undergoing one of the largest changes in climate since the dinosaurs went extinct. But what might be even more troubling for humans, plants and animals is the speed of the change. Stanford climate scientists warn that the likely rate of change over the next century will be at least 10 times quicker than any climate shift in the past 65 million years.

If the trend continues at its current rapid pace, it will place significant stress on terrestrial ecosystems around the world, and many species will need to make behavioral, evolutionary or geographic adaptations to survive.

Although some of the changes the planet will experience in the next few decades are already "baked into the system," how different the climate looks at the end of the 21st century will depend largely on how humans respond.

RedOrbit: Global Rise In Violence May Be Another Effect Of Climate Change
Brett Smith for – Your Universe Online
August 2, 2013

From higher crime rates to a greater chance of social upheaval, a new study from researchers at Princeton University and the University of California, Berkeley predicts more violence across the globe will be one of the effects of climate change.

Based on an analysis of 12,000 years of historical and climate data culled from 60 different studies in fields ranging from archaeology to political science, the research team concluded an uptick in violence will accompany rising temperatures and lower precipitation levels, according to their report in the journal Science.

“We often think of modern society as largely independent of the environment, due to technological advances, but our findings challenge that notion,” said study co-author Edward Miguel, a professor of environmental and resource economics at UC Berkeley.


Norwich Evening News 24 (UK): South African beetle found in Norwich woman’s bunch of flowers
Michael Pollitt, Agricultural editor
Thursday, August 1, 2013 8:03 AM

A mysterious alien beetle was a surprise in a bunch of flowers for a young Norwich mum.

When her partner, Chris Holmes, presented her an anniversary gift including some colourful protea blooms, it apparently included a rare South African beetle – the first to be spotted in Britain since 1999.

Hat/Tip to annetteboardman for this story.


Red Orbit: Dolly The Sheep Creator Discusses Woolly Mammoth Clone
July 31, 2013

Ian Wilmut, creator of Dolly the sheep, says that woolly mammoth stem cells may be the way to go in order to bring the ancient behemoths back to life.

Wilmut, Emeritus Professor at the MRC Center for Regenerative Medicine at University of Edinburgh, wrote in The Conversation about his thoughts on how we could bring woolly mammoths back from extinction. The professor is best known for cloning Dolly, the first mammal to be cloned from an adult somatic cell.

The scientist wrote that the same methods used to create Dolly would not work for recreating a mammoth. However, he said there are other ways in which it would be “biologically interesting to work with viable mammoth cells if they can be found.”

Hat/Tip to annetteboardman for this story.


LiveScience: Does Happiness Increase As We Get Older?
By Fred Cicetti, Contributing writer
August 02, 2013 01:58pm ET

Question: Do we get sadder as we get older?

Answer: It seems that just the opposite is true. There's a lot of evidence that we get happier the older we get.

A Gallup telephone poll of 340,000 people across the U.S. showed that happiness comes with age. However, the poll didn't uncover the cause of this phenomenon.


Erie Times News via Mercyhurst team headed to storm-damaged Meadowcroft
By DANA MASSING, Erie Times-News

Rain is drawing James Adovasio back to Meadowcroft Rockshelter 40 years after he led the first professional excavation there.

A July 19 storm, which dumped inches of rain on the Pittsburgh area, damaged part of the National Historic Landmark in Washington County that some believe is the oldest site of human habitation in North America.

Adovasio, director of the Mercyhurst University Archaeological Institute, is headed to Meadowcroft today with a team of six that includes three students. They expect to spend at least 10 days digging in the still-wet sediment at the rock overhang where he first found 16,000-year-old burnt firewood in 1973.

The Hindu (India): African trackers help decipher Stone Age footprints in Pyrenees
July 31, 2013

Tsamkxao Cigae is a hunting guide at a tourist lodge in Namibia, his homeland. Animal tracks are an open book to him — he can tell which elephant in a herd has left a particular footprint.

If he wants to, he can even tell where his wife and children are by reading the tracks in his village. A mobile phone call isn’t necessary.

The hunting guide, 30, is a member of the San people of Namibia, hunter-gatherers also known as Bushmen and considered to be the best trackers in the world.

Nature (UK): Archaeology: The milk revolution
When a single genetic mutation first let ancient Europeans drink milk, it set the stage for a continental upheaval.
Andrew Curry
July 31, 2013

In the 1970s, archaeologist Peter Bogucki was excavating a Stone Age site in the fertile plains of central Poland when he came across an assortment of odd artefacts. The people who had lived there around 7,000 years ago were among central Europe's first farmers, and they had left behind fragments of pottery dotted with tiny holes. It looked as though the coarse red clay had been baked while pierced with pieces of straw.

Looking back through the archaeological literature, Bogucki found other examples of ancient perforated pottery. “They were so unusual — people would almost always include them in publications,” says Bogucki, now at Princeton University in New Jersey. He had seen something similar at a friend's house that was used for straining cheese, so he speculated that the pottery might be connected with cheese-making. But he had no way to test his idea.

The mystery potsherds sat in storage until 2011, when Mélanie Roffet-Salque pulled them out and analysed fatty residues preserved in the clay. Roffet-Salque, a geochemist at the University of Bristol, UK, found signatures of abundant milk fats — evidence that the early farmers had used the pottery as sieves to separate fatty milk solids from liquid whey. That makes the Polish relics the oldest known evidence of cheese-making in the world.

Red Orbit: Two Neolithic-Era Burial Halls Discovered in UK Countryside
July 30, 2013

Archaeologists from the University of Manchester and the Herefordshire Council have unearthed the remains of two large halls that were constructed more than 6,000 years ago. The burned and buried halls, which were discovered atop Dorstone Hill, near Peterchurch in Herefordshire, are believed to have been constructed between 4000 and 3600 BC.

Some of the charred wood at the site shows the character of the structure of the buildings as they may have looked above ground. The researchers suggest these buildings were used by entire communities, but do not have enough information to determine how large each structure was. However, based on the length of the Neolithic-era barrows beneath each of the buildings, the researchers estimate the halls to have been 100 and 230 feet long, respectively.

The team also believes the buildings were deliberately burned down after construction and the remains of the buildings were incorporated into two unique burial mounds on the hilltop. Even though the halls were burned, much detail is still preserved in the larger barrow. The team has found carbonized structural timbers, postholes that offer positions of original uprights and the burnt remains of stakes of the internal partitions. Also, the burial mounds are composed of burnt clay, which implies the daub from the walls of the buildings was used in the burial process.

The Daily Mail (UK) also covered this story in Unearthed, the ancient 'halls of the dead' that are 1,000 years OLDER than Stonehenge.

The Daily Telegraph (UK): 'Egyptian Mummy' discovered in German boy's attic
A German boy has discovered what appeared to by a bandaged Egyptian mummy in an old wooden chest in his grandmother's attic.
By Barney Henderson
02 Aug 2013

Experts were investigating whether the "mummy", which was inside a sarcophagus complete with death mask, canopic jar – used by ancient Egyptians to store removed organs – and other artefacts was a genuine, ancient Egyptian relic, a replica or something entirely different.

The ten-year-old, Alexander, made the mystery discovery while searching around his grandmother's flat in Diepholz, northern Germany.

Hurriyet Daily News (Turkey): Archeologists claim to have found ‘piece of Jesus' cross’ at church excavations in Turkey
SI.NOP - Anadolu Agency

Archaeologists conducting excavations at the Balatlar Church in the Black Sea province of Sinop have unearthed a stone chest with objects said to have a connection with Jesus Christ.

Art Daily: Archaeologists in Morelos find a Pre-Hispanic oven meant for ceramic production

MEXICO CITY.- At the foot of the El Tlatoani hill, west of the municipality of Tlayacapan, in Morelos, archaeologists of the National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH) recently discovered the burial of a decapitated warrior and a pre-Hispanic oven meant for ceramic production, both associated to the Late Classic Period (350-600 AD).

The archaeologist Raul Francisco Gonzalez Quesada, from INAH in Morelos, said that the individual’s burial was found during the excavation of the lower part of the mountain, which corresponds to what used to be an urban space with at least two monuments.

LiveScience: Ancient Feathered Shield Discovered in Peru Temple
Owen Jarus, LiveScience Contributor  
August 1, 2013

Hidden in a sealed part of an ancient Peruvian temple, archaeologists have discovered a feathered shield dating back around 1,300 years.

Made by the Moche people, the rare artifact was found face down on a sloped surface that had been turned into a bench or altar at the site of Pañamarca. Located near two ancient murals, one of which depicts a supernatural monster, the shield measures about 10 inches (25 centimeters) in diameter and has a base made of carefully woven basketry with a handle.

Its surface is covered with red-and-brown textiles along with about a dozen yellow feathers that were sewn on and appear to be from the body of a macaw.  The shield would have served a ritualistic rather than a practical use, and the placement of the shield on the bench or altar appears to have been the last act carried out before this space was sealed and a new, larger, temple built on top of it.

Red Orbit: Archaeologists Uncover Coffin Within A Coffin At Richard III Dig Site
Lawrence LeBlond for - Your Universe Online
July 30, 2013

During the University of Leicester’s month-long excavation of the Grey Friars church site where the remains of King Richard III were previously exhumed, a stone coffin was unearthed just last week. Upon the archaeologists’ decision to remove the lid of the coffin, the team made an unexpected discovery: another coffin buried within the first.

The team of Leicester archaeologists is now planning to investigate the contents of the smaller lead coffin. Apart from the discovery of the coffin within the coffin, the team notes this is also the first fully intact stone coffin to be discovered in Leicester in controlled excavations. The team also believes the coffin may contain one of the friary’s founders or possibly a medieval monk. While it is unknown who is in the box, the team says it is highly likely it is someone who was of high status.

Alaska Public Media: Archaeologists Uncover Pre-Contact Inupiat Village Near Kiana
By Daysha Eaton, KSKA - Anchorage |

A team of archaeologists from Brown University have uncovered a Native village site in Northwest Alaska that dates from just before first contact.

The village is one of the biggest archaeological sites discovered in the Arctic. Local residents hope the research will tell them more about their ancestors.

Science Magazine: 'Llullaillaco Maiden' May Have Been Drugged Before Sacrificed
2013-07-29 15:00

More than 500 years ago, three children climbed Llullaillaco volcano in Argentina and never came down, the probable victims of human sacrifice. Since their well-preserved mummies were discovered in 1999, scientists have studied them in hopes of reconstructing the last months of their lives. New evidence shows that all three regularly ingested coca and alcohol and suggests that the drugs might have played a more-than-ceremonial role in their deaths.

The children—a young boy and girl, and a female archaeologists call the Llullaillaco Maiden, whom new research estimates to have been 13 years old—were part of an Incan sacrificial ritual known as capacocha, in which children were killed or left to die from exposure at the peaks of high mountains. Found sitting within small shrines, the bodies were naturally mummified by the cold, dry climate of the nearly 7000-meter mountain.

Most of what scientists know about the lives of the Llullaillaco mummies comes from their hair. The Maiden, in particular, has long, tightly braided locks that had been growing for at least 2 years before her death. In 2007, scientists analyzed the carbon and nitrogen isotopes found in her tresses and detected a marked change in her diet about 1 year before she died, when she went from eating mostly potatoes to consuming more animal protein and maize.

The Herald (UK): Battle of Flodden recreated to discover how Scots pikemen died
Wednesday 31 July 2013

ARCHAEOLOGISTS are to recreate the Battle of Flodden in a bid to discover what caused the massacre of thousands of Scots pikemen.

Dr Tony Pollard, of Glasgow University, will carry out the experiment during a weekend to commemorate the 500th anniversary of the battle in which King James IV of Scotland died.

Weapon-making techniques abandoned 400 years ago have been brought back especially in order to recreate scenes from the battle during the event at Etal, near Flodden in North Northumberland on Saturday and Sunday.

University of Buffalo: UB archaeologists hunt for 200-year-old grist mill
Published August 1, 2013

UB archaeologists who have been digging to find the remains of the oldest grist mill in Erie County say that it may not be where everyone thought it was.

Excavation director Douglas Perrelli, director of the UB Archaeological Survey, says they now have evidence that the circa 1803 mill built in Clarence by Asa Ransom may have been located at a different site than the two grist mills that replaced it.

They derived this hypothesis from a brief summer excavation behind the Asa Ransom House on Main Street in Clarence that was initiated by Perrelli and archaeologist Joseph McGreevy, a member of the faculty of Clarence Senior High School and a member of the board of directors of the Clarence Historical Society and the Clarence Historic Preservation Commission.

Art Daily: New evidence contributes to unprecedented portrait of enslaved life at James Madison's Montpelier

ORANGE, VA.- The Montpelier Foundation today announced findings from new archaeological excavations at the lifelong home of James Madison – Father of the Constitution, Architect of the Bill of Rights, and Fourth President of the United States. Discovered by teams of professional archaeology staff, students and visitors participating in special “Archaeology Expeditions,” two newly revealed subfloor pits provide an initial footprint for field slave quarters on the Montpelier landscape.

“Montpelier is unique among archaeological sites in the United States with regards to our ability to recreate and visualize the experience of enslaved life,” said Matthew Reeves, Ph.D., Director of Archaeology and Landscape Restoration at James Madison’s Montpelier. “Because the fields have lain fallow since Madison’s time, the sites we are discovering are virtually undisturbed. We are meticulously documenting available evidence from the sites so we can begin to reconstruct the farm in a way that will authentically represent the complexity of life on the plantation.”

Art Daily: Mexican archaeologists find the bow of a 210-year-old canoe in the State of Baja California

MEXICO CITY.- In the southern limits of the state of Baja California, in the dunes of one of the coasts of the lagoon complex of Ojo de Liebre and Guerrero Negro, archaeologists rescued the bow of a 210-year-old canoe. It is speculated that either this canoe was fabricated by Bajacalifornian Indians or it was dragged by north currents and reused by the groups that inhabited the peninsula.

This vestige, found in the Manuela Lagoon, is part of a series of canoe discoveries registered by the National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH), throughout the Bajacalifornian coast of the Pacific ocean, all along the Rosarito Beach all the way towards El Vizcaino; here they have also found wood trunks that derive of great and now extinct trees in the peninsula.

Irish Examiner: Dig reveals full extent of convicts' mass grave on Spike Island
By Eoin English
Archaeologists have identified for the first time the full extent of a convicts' mass grave on what was once a notorious concentration camp-style prison in Cork harbour.
Irish Examiner Reporter
Thursday, August 01, 2013

The Spike Island Archaeological Project team, led by UCC archaeologist, Dr Barra Ó Donnabháin, has identified up to 250 previously unmarked burial plots, all dating from Famine times, within a walled cemetery area on Spike Island in Cork Harbour.

“We have always known that this area contained graves but we never knew how many,” Dr Ó Donnabháin said.

“There were about 11 headstones in this area, all dating from 1862, but which are not now in their original locations.”

Stuff (NZ): Secret city rewriting NZ history

Thousands of secret treasures discovered under Christchurch are rewriting New Zealand history.

The finds, which range from ornamental swords to church organs, pony remains and rollerskates, have "opened a huge window into the past", revealing how everyday people lived in 19th century Christchurch.

The findings have also proven for the first time that there were Maori settlements in Southshore and Lyttelton before European settlement.

This is Local London (UK): Archaeologists appeal for information about mysterious bunker at Martin Primary School in Plane Tree Walk in Finchley
By Ruth Halkon, Reporter
11:30am Wednesday 31st July 2013 in News

Archaeologists have been left dumbfounded after they unearthed a “mysterious” bunker in a school playing field.

Hendon and District Archaeological Society uncovered the reinforced concrete structure while excavating at Martin Primary School in Plane Tree Walk, East Finchley.

The group can find no records of the hole in any maps or documents and no one it has talked to remembers it being built.

Hat/Tip to annetteboardman for these stories.


Red Orbit: Bigger Bird Brains Developed Before Dinosaurs Could Fly
August 1, 2013

Feathered dinosaurs actually developed the larger brains needed for flight before actually taking to the skies, according to a new study published Wednesday in the journal Nature.

In the study, lead author Amy Balanoff, a research associate at the American Museum of Natural History and a postdoctoral researcher at Stony Brook University, and her colleagues, used CT scans to analyze the skulls of feathered but flightless dinosaurs.

They discovered “the reptiles’ brains were much more like that of Archaeopteryx, which is thought to be the first bird and lived 150 million years ago, than had been previously thought,” explained Richard Gray, Science Correspondent with The Telegraph. “It means these other flightless dinosaurs may have already taken key evolutionary leaps towards becoming modern birds by developing ‘flight ready brains.’”

United Press International: Genome of horse linked to extinct human species decoded in Russia

NOVOSIBIRSK, Russia, July 31 (UPI) -- Russian scientists say they've decoded the genome of a 50,000-year-old hose whose remains were found alongside those of an extinct subspecies of humans.
The Denisova horse's genome was about a 30-percent match for certain populations of modern horses, an institute spokeswoman said.

Hat/Tip to annetteboardman for these stories.


University of Western Australia via PhysOrg: Early civilisation sleeping giant waits off north west coast
August 1, 2013

The untold story of how ancient Australians once walked a vast submerged sand plain dissected by rivers and rugged outcrops awaits discovery off WA's north-west coast, according to a leading expert from The University of Western Australia.

Dr Ingrid Ward has spent the last eight years in the UK, where the creation of three-dimensional reconstructions of the submerged landscape of Europe's North Sea has helped bring to life a wealth of existing and new archaeological finds and fossils, including Palaeolithic hand-axes, Mesolithic bone and antler implements, and fossil mammoth, elk and other fauna. Yet almost nothing is known about the submerged landscapes of the southern hemisphere.

Now based at UWA, Dr Ward is confident that there are equally amazing landscapes waiting to be discovered 20km off the north-west Australian coastline and 30m below sea level around the Dampier Archipelago.

BBC: Ice core data supports ancient space impact idea
By Simon Redfern Reporter, BBC News
August 1, 2013

New data from Greenland ice cores suggest North America may have suffered a large cosmic impact about 12,900 years ago.

A layer of platinum is seen in ice of the same age as a known abrupt climate transition, US scientists report.

The climate flip has previously been linked to the demise of the North American "Clovis" people.

The data seem to back the idea that an impact tipped the climate into a colder phase, a point of current debate.

Hat/Tip to annetteboardman for these stories.


University of Colorado-Boulder via PhysOrg: Team develops new water splitting technique that could produce hydrogen fuel
August 1, 2013

A University of Colorado Boulder team has developed a radically new technique that uses the power of sunlight to efficiently split water into its components of hydrogen and oxygen, paving the way for the broad use of hydrogen as a clean, green fuel.

The CU-Boulder team has devised a solar-thermal system in which sunlight could be concentrated by a vast array of mirrors onto a single point atop a central tower up to several hundred feet tall. The tower would gather heat generated by the mirror system to roughly 2,500 degrees Fahrenheit (1,350 Celsius), then deliver it into a reactor containing chemical compounds known as metal oxides, said CU-Boulder Professor Alan Weimer, research group leader.

As a metal oxide compound heats up, it releases oxygen atoms, changing its material composition and causing the newly formed compound to seek out new oxygen atoms, said Weimer. The team showed that the addition of steam to the system—which could be produced by boiling water in the reactor with the concentrated sunlight beamed to the tower—would cause oxygen from the water molecules to adhere to the surface of the metal oxide, freeing up hydrogen molecules for collection as hydrogen gas.


Autonomous University of Barcelona (Spain) via PhysOrg: First experimental signs of a New Physics beyond the Standard Model
July 31, 2013

The Standard Model, which has given the most complete explanation up to now of the universe, has gaps, and is unable to explain phenomena like dark matter or gravitational interaction between particles. Physicists are therefore seeking a more fundamental theory that they call "New Physics", but up to now there has been no direct proof of its existence, only indirect observation of dark matter, as deduced, among other things, from the movement of the galaxies.

A team of physicists formed by the professor of Physics at Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona (UAB) Joaquim Matias, Javier Virto, postdoctoral researcher at the same university, and Sebastien Descotes Genon, from the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS) / Université Paris-Sud, has predicted that New Physics would implie the existence of deviations in the probability of a very specific decay of a particle, the B meson. Detecting these small deviations through an experiment would be the first direct proof of the existence of this fundamental theory.


Harvard University via PhysOrg: New coating turns ordinary glass into super glass
August 2, 2013

A new transparent, bioinspired coating makes ordinary glass tough, self-cleaning and incredibly slippery, a team from the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard University and Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS) reported online in the July 31 edition of Nature Communications.

The new coating could be used to create durable, scratch-resistant lenses for eyeglasses, self-cleaning windows, improved solar panels and new medical diagnostic devices, said principal investigator Joanna Aizenberg, Ph.D., who is a Core Faculty Member at the Wyss Institute, Amy Smith Berylson Professor of Materials Science at SEAS, and a Professor of Chemistry and Chemical Biology.

The new coating builds on an award-winning technology that Aizenberg and her team pioneered called Slippery Liquid-Infused Porous Surfaces (SLIPS)—the slipperiest synthetic surface known. The new coating is equally slippery, but much more durable and fully transparent. Together these advances solve longstanding challenges in creating commercially useful materials that repel almost everything.

Science Crime Scenes

Agence France Presse via Naharnet (Lebanon): Romania Recovers Ancient Gold Coins, Jewels
by Naharnet Newsdesk

Romania recovered gold coins and silver jewels dating back to the first century BC that were stolen from the site of Sarmizegetusa Regia, the capital of the ancient Dacian people, the national history museum said Tuesday.

"The recovery of five coins and 14 pieces of jewelry is the crowning of more than two years of efforts made by prosecutors, policemen and by Romanian and German experts," the museum said in a statement.

The coins, from the era of king Koson (1st century BC), were stolen from Sarmizegetusa between 2004 and 2007, museum director Ernest Oberlander-Tarnoveanu told Agence France Presse.

Egypt Independent: Ancient Coptic icons seized at Cairo airport
July 31, 2013

Customs officers at Cairo airport have seized three ancient Coptic icons that someone attempted to smuggle to the United States.

Customs chief Mohamed al-Shahat said that personnel was suspicious of a parcel that was being shipped to the United States. “We found three ancient Coptic icons in it,” he said.

Bloomberg Businessweek: Syria Looters Armed With Bulldozers Seek Treasure Amid Chaos (1)
By Caroline Alexander and Donna Abu-Nasr
July 29, 2013

When the uprising against Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad began two years ago, satellite images showed the ruins of the ancient Hellenic city of Apamea surrounded by green farmland. A year later, photos reveal a moonscape blighted by hundreds upon hundreds of holes.

Looters in bulldozers armed with automatic weapons are exploiting the mayhem of Syria’s civil war to seize sites including Apamea, founded in 300 B.C. by one of Alexander the Great’s generals, where colonnaded streets stretch for almost 2 kilometers (1.2 miles) along a hilltop.

“It’s tragic, objects from archaeological sites risk being lost without us ever knowing they existed,” said Jonathan Tubb, keeper of the Middle East department at the British Museum. “It can be callous to talk about this in the face of appalling human loss, but Syria’s cultural heritage is of such great importance to our understanding of human history that it’s only right we’re concerned.”

The Art Newspaper: Italian police seize huge haul of illicit antiquities
More than 500 works, estimated to be worth around €2m and intended for the black market, have been recovered
By Tina Lepri and Ermanno Rivetti.
August 1, 2013

Police in southern Italy have seized a large haul of well-preserved artefacts that were illegally excavated between the two southern towns of Benevento and Foggia, near Naples. A total of 584 antiquities were recovered, estimated to be worth around €2m and intended for sale on the black market.

Investigations are ongoing, but so far 21 tombaroli, or graverobbers, have been identified by police, while a 46-year-old man from the area has reportedly been charged with handling stolen archaeological objects after investigators searched his property in the nearby town of Castelpagano.

Hat/Tip to annetteboardman for these stories.

NPR: Lifelong Gag Order Imposed on Two Kids in Fracking Case
By Susan Phillips
August 1, 2013 | 12:16 PM

Two young children are forbidden from speaking about Marcellus Shale or fracking for the rest of their lives. The court action stems from a settlement in a high-profile Marcellus Shale lawsuit in western Pennsylvania.

The two children were 7 and 10 years old at the time the Hallowich family settled a nuisance case against driller Range Resources in August 2011. The parents, Chris and Stephanie, had been outspoken critics of fracking, saying the family became sick from the gas drilling activity surrounding their Washington County home.

According to court testimony released Wednesday, the parents were desperate to move and reluctantly agreed to a gag order that not only prevents them from speaking of Marcellus Shale and fracking, but also extends to their children.

Science, Space, Environment, and Energy Policy via Yahoo! News: Protection of Apollo Moon Landing Sites Sparks Controversy
By Leonard David, Space Insider Columnist

A new bill introduced into the U.S. Congress would establish the Apollo Lunar Landing Sites National Historical Park on the moon. However, the proposal is seen by some as lightning rod legislation, sparking controversy in legal and public circles.

Called the Apollo Lunar Landing Legacy Act, the bill — House Resolution (H.R. 2617 — was introduced July 8 by Rep. Donna Edwards of (D-Md.) and was co-sponsored by Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-Texas).

In introducing the bill, Edwards said that the Apollo history, "as preserved on the lunar surface, is now in danger, as spacefaring commercial entities and foreign nations begin to achieve the technical capabilities necessary to land spacecraft on the surface of the moon."

Agence France Presse via Arab News (Saudi Arabia): Iraq seeks to promote tourism despite deadly violence
August 1, 2013

AS IT TRUNDLES down busy roads, the minibus packed with tourists would be unremarkable except for two things — its passengers are Westerners and the city they are in is Baghdad.

Iraq is no stranger to tourism, with countless people, mostly Iranians, visiting its religious shrines, but now the country that touts itself as the “cradle of civilization” also wants a different kind of visitor.

Keen to ease a reliance on Iranian visitors, officials in Baghdad want to promote tourism from elsewhere, and believe visitor numbers can be increased threefold.

Hat/Tip to annetteboardman for these stories.

Science Education

BBC: Roman Orpheus mosaic to be displayed at Bristol museum

A mosaic floor discovered during the building of the Bristol to Bath section of Brunel's Great Western Railway, in 1837, is going on public display.

The mosaic, one of only nine of its kind, was found in a Roman villa in Newton St Loe.

It illustrates the story of Orpheus, a mythical poet and musician, charming a circle of wild animals.

Wiilliamsburg-Yorktown Daily: Eighth-Grade Archaeology Camper Finds Revolutionary War Button at Yorktown
By Brittany Voll
August 1, 2013

The rain on June 24 did more than just water the plants. It likely loosed a Revolutionary War-era button from a bank of land after more than 230 years, planting it in full view of an eighth-grade archaeology camper.

As Finney Lynch, an eighth-grade student at The Covenant School in Charlottesville, walked the path from the Archer Cottage next to Cornwallis’ Cave at Yorktown to the Watermen’s Museum on June 25, she spotted a button in the muddy ground.

Hat/Tip to annetteboardman for these stories.

Science Writing and Reporting

Mmegi (Botswana): Archaeologists and modern day witch doctors

Every society has fears, real and imagined. In traditional African society one such fear was a threat from a witch doctor. For example, if your cattle strayed into the farm of a witch doctor you would hasten to pay generous compensation before he made you 'see a miracle'.

If, however, his cattle strayed onto your farm you would be expected to suffer in silence as witch doctors were thought to possess powers, including control of where lighting would strike next.  During last week's international conference of archaeologists here in Gaborone I discovered that scribes can be modern day witch doctors, at least if the altercation between Sandy Grant and some university archaeologists is anything to go by.

At the centre of the row was the fact that Sandy Grant was attending an archaeology conference without paying the registration fee.  I would have thought these would not be required from a scribe as he could be covering the proceedings.  However, the archaeologists claimed, he was also selling his books in an area reserved for entrepreneurs who had incurred stall and conference fees.

Hat/Tip to annetteboardman for this story.

Science is Cool Sci-Fi Film 'Europa Report' Melds Space Fantasy and Fact
by Miriam Kramer, Staff Writer
August 02, 2013 06:30am ET

NEW YORK — The minds behind the movie "Europa Report" allowed reality to shape the fictional world they created.

Everything from real NASA science to the commercial space industry played a role in the script and making of the film, released in theaters today (Aug. 2), but "Europa Report" was initially much smaller in scope.

"At first it was just me and a bunch of books," screenwriter Philip Gelatt told the packed crowd at the movie's New York premiere here at the American Museum of Natural History. "There are two parts of the science: There's the space travel and then the science of Europa. I thought I had a pretty good handle on the space travel concept, so I started with the Europa science and then once there was a version of the script that was just me and the books, then we started talking to scientists which got much more intense and specific." 'Star Trek's' Shuttlecraft Galileo Warps Into Space Center Houston
by Robert Pearlman, Contributor
July 31, 2013 02:08pm ET

HOUSTON — The first shuttlecraft from the original 1967 "Star Trek" television series has landed at a real-life space center for its final away mission.

Space Center Houston, the official visitor center for NASA's Johnson Space Center in Texas, unveiled the newly-fan-restored Shuttlecraft Galileo on Wednesday (July 31) during a science fiction celebrity-studded event that featured one of the original actors from the full-scale spacecraft's debut episode.

Actor Don Marshall, who portrayed Starfleet Lieutenant Boma "The Galileo Seven," helped launch the prop's public display.

Originally posted to Astro Kos on Sat Aug 03, 2013 at 08:58 PM PDT.

Also republished by Overnight News Digest and SciTech.

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