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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 Al-Ahram.

Art vandals
Pro- Morsi protesters break into the Malawi National Museum in the Upper Egyptian city of Minya and loot its artefacts. Nevine El-Aref reports
August 15, 2013

On Wednesday night protesters supporting deposed president Mohamed Morsi broke into the Malawi police station and the town council then entered the neighbouring Malawi National Museum (MNM) and looted some of its contents.

According to a press release sent by the Ministry of State of Antiquities (MSA),there was violence in Minya governorate as part of clashes across Egypt on Wednesday after security forces broke up pro-Morsi sit-ins at Rabaa Al-Adawiya in Nasr City and Al-Nahda Square in Giza. Pro-Morsi protesters invaded the MNM, adjacent to the town’s police station and Malawi council, and declared a sit-in in the museum’s garden. Protesters clashed with guards, breaking down the museum’s gate and succeeded in breaking into its halls, damaging and stealing some of its treasured artefacts. They also broke the MNM’s surveillance cameras and stole some stationary from the museum’s administrative department.

Minister of State of Antiquities Mohamed Ibrahim described the incident as a “great loss as the MNM houses a distinguished collection derived from the Tuna Al-Gebel and Ashmounein sites in Minya, which reflect the life of the ancient Egyptians during the Amarna period and Graeco-Roman era”.

Hat/tip to annetteboardman for this article.  She added to the story by writing "the museum was burned the next day and anything that was left was destroyed in the fire.  This is a horrible tragedy."   She also asked that I promote it to the featured story.  Since she almost never asks for such a thing, and this is an appropriate angle for this major story, I agreed to her request.

More stories after the jump.

Recent Science Diaries and Stories

17 August 2013, PTSD News Roundup: Bad Science edition
by hepshiba

I list all diaries I find that are about science, even the bad ones.

Green diary rescue: Solar panels on White House at last, wind farms rising, deniers no smarter
by Meteor Blades

This week in science: Who you gonna believe?
by DarkSyde


Egypt's Heritage Task Force on Facebook: Mallawi Museum List of Stolen Objects

Until a complete inventory is carried out on the Mallawi museum, please alert auction houses, antiquities shops and customs offices of the following objects that could have been looted today from the museum. We will also update this collection continuously. Some of the photographs be me repeated to give different and better angles to the objects.
Photos are courtesy of so many friends and colleagues!

Hat/Tip to annetteboardman for this story.

Discovery News: Screening Room: Gasland Heats Up The Fracking Debate

In this edition of the DNews Screening Room, Laci reviews the award-winning documentary 'Gasland', which provides an inside look at the rise and impact of hydraulic fracking in the US.

Discovery News: Hyperloop vs. High Speed Rail

Elon Musk's Hyperloop is one step closer to reality after the Tony Stark-esque entrepreneur finally released plans for his super fast transit system. Trace shares the exciting details and compares it other high speed transit systems out there.

Discovery News: Evolution Punishes the Selfish

You'd think being selfish would help a species survive... but you'd be wrong! Turns out not only is it important to be generous, our species' survival depends on it! Laci explains why.

Discovery News: What Food Will We Eat On Mars?

So say humans actually step foot on the Red Planet, what will those space pioneers eat once they're there? Anthony gives us a taste of what a Martian diet might consist of.

NASA Television: Something New in the Air On This Week @NASA

In his keynote address at the Aviation 2013 conference in Los Angeles, NASA Administrator Charlie Bolden shared a new strategic vision for the agency's Aeronautics Research Mission Directorate designed to help address looming challenges in global air transportation. The same day of Bolden's speech ... the Federal Aviation Administration announced a new computer software tool developed by NASA may soon help controllers better manage airline departures. Also, Bolden Briefed on Earth Missions, Martian Moons Eclipse Each Other, Airborne Mission Begins, Russian Spacewalk, Learning for the GLOBAL Environment, ADEPT Heat Protection, Stationary Orion Recovery Test, Dream Chaser Tow Test, Small Sat Conference and more!

Science at NASA: ScienceCasts: Comet ISON to Fly By Mars

Comet ISON is heading for a Thanksgiving Day brush with the sun, but first it's going to pay a visit to Mars. In this week's ScienceCast, researchers discuss what might happen when Comet ISON meets the Red Planet.

NASA Explorer: NASA | NPP Sees Aftermath of the Chelyabinsk Meteor

A meteor weighing 10,000 metric tons exploded only 23km above the city of Chelyabinsk in Russia on February 15, 2013. Unlike previous such events, this time scientists had the highly sensitive OMPS instrument on NPP to deliver unprecedented data and help them track and study the meteor plume for months. This video shows how accurately the model prediction coincided with the satellite observations.
Also see the story in the next section.


Lake County News: Space News: NASA tracks Russian meteor plume
Dr. Tony Phillips
Saturday, 17 August 2013 01:21

Atmospheric physicist Nick Gorkavyi missed witnessing an event of the century last winter when a meteor exploded over his hometown of Chelyabinsk, Russia.

From Greenbelt, Md., however, NASA’s Gorkavyi and colleagues witnessed the atmospheric aftermath. The explosion created a never-before-seen belt of “meteor dust” that circulated through the stratosphere for at least three months.

Shortly after dawn on Feb. 15, 2013, the meteor, or bolide, measuring 18 meters across and weighing 11,000 metric tons, screamed into Earth’s atmosphere at 41,600 miles per hour.

Hat/Tip to annetteboardman for this story.

PhysOrg: Cosmologist suggests universe might not be expanding after all
by Bob Yirka
Aug 14, 2013

( —Cosmologist Christof Wetterich of the University of Heidelberg has uploaded a paper to the arXiv server in which he claims it's possible that the theory of expansion of the universe might be incorrect. He suggests instead that the redshift observed by researchers here on Earth might be caused by an increase in the mass in the universe.

For nearly a century, the consensus among astrophysicists has been that the universe started with a Big Bang and has been expanding ever since. This hypothesis formed because researchers found that in analyzing the light emitted from stars, a redshift occurred—where its frequency changes as an object that emits light moves away from us. But Wetterich says the redshift might me due to something else—an increase in the total mass in the universe.

University of Maryland via PhysOrg: Voyager 1 has left the solar system, says new study
Aug 15, 2013

Voyager 1 appears to have at long last left our solar system and entered interstellar space, says a University of Maryland-led team of researchers.

Carrying Earthly greetings on a gold plated phonograph record and still-operational scientific instruments – including the Low Energy Charged Particle detector designed, built and overseen, in part, by UMD's Space Physics Group – NASA's Voyager 1 has traveled farther from Earth than any other human-made object. And now, these researchers say, it has begun the first exploration of our galaxy beyond the Sun's influence.

"It's a somewhat controversial view, but we think Voyager has finally left the Solar System, and is truly beginning its travels through the Milky Way," says UMD research scientist Marc Swisdak, lead author of a new paper published online this week in The Astrophysical Journal Letters. Swisdak and fellow plasma physicists James F. Drake, also of the University of Maryland, and Merav Opher of Boston University have constructed a model of the outer edge of the Solar System that fits recent observations, both expected and unexpected.0


L.A. Times: Climate change may have caused demise of Late Bronze Age civilizations
By Melissa Pandika
August 15, 2013, 7:15 a.m.

Archaeologists have debated for decades over what caused the once-flourishing civilizations along the eastern Mediterranean coast to collapse about 1300 BC. Many scholars have cited warfare, political unrest and natural disaster as factors. But a new study supports the theory that climate change was largely responsible.

Analyzing ancient pollen grains from Cyprus, researchers concluded that a massive drought hit the region about 3,200 years ago. Ancient writings have described crop failures, famines and invasions about the same time, suggesting that the drying trend triggered a chain of events that led to widespread societal collapse of these Late Bronze Age civilizations.

Scientific American via Yahoo! News: Arctic Methane: And in the blue corner
By Grant Allen
August 17, 2013

So here we are on another exciting expedition to the Arctic. One of my roles in the project is to plan the flights that we will do and to coordinate the wider flight planning team. There are various things that have to be balanced and kept in mind and a lot of skill and people inform this very complex process. This involves designing the flight path to optimize sampling of the atmosphere within the constraints of the weather, the aviation rules and instrument requirements (e.g. calibrations) in order to meet the science objectives of the day. For MAMM, this means detecting small enhancements of methane and other trace gases and determining their source and source strength. Put simply, this means lots of low level flying and flying over wider areas to characterise the methane “background” and local (and long-range) emission sources. This blog details the planning process and other blog entries will discuss the science.

Hat/Tip to annetteboardman for these stories.

Mother Jones: Why This Year's Gulf Dead Zone Is Twice As Big As Last Year's
—By Tom Philpott
| Wed Aug. 14, 2013 3:00 AM PDT

First, the good news: The annual "dead zone" that smothers much of the northern Gulf of Mexico—caused by an oxygen-sucking algae bloom mostly fed by Midwestern farm runoff—is smaller this year than scientists had expected. In the wake of heavy spring rains, researchers at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration had been projecting 2013's fish-free region of the Gulf to be at least 7,286 square miles and as large as 8,561 square miles—somewhere between the size of New Jersey on the low end to New Hampshire on the high end. Instead, NOAA announced, it has clocked in at 5,840 square miles—a bit bigger than Connecticut. It's depicted in the above graphic.

Now, for the bad news: This year's "biological desert" (NOAA's phrase) is much bigger than last year's, below, which was relatively tiny because Midwestern droughts limited the amount of runoff that made it into the Gulf. At about 2,900 square miles, the 2012 edition measured up to be about a third as large as Delaware.

Smaller than expected though it may be, this year's model is still more than twice as large as NOAA's targeted limit of less than 2,000 square miles.


Georgia Public Broadcasting: Mid-Atlantic Dolphin Die-Off Leaves Scientists Puzzled
By Scott Neuman
August 17, 2013

Dead dolphins have been washing up in alarming numbers on mid-Atlantic beaches since July as scientists struggle to find a cause for the largest such die-off in a quarter-century.

More than 160 Atlantic bottlenose dolphins have turned up dead from New York to Virginia, says Charley Potter, a marine mammal collection manager at the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History, tells NPR's Weekend Edition Saturday.

While no definitive cause for the dolphin deaths has been determined, Potter says one possibility is the morbilivirus, a member of the same family of virus that causes measles and canine distemper.

Hat/Tip to annetteboardman for this story.


University of Stavanger (Norway) via PhysOrg: Cutting costs to the bone
Aug 15, 2013 by Ida Gudjonsson

A new and cheaper method for screening ancient bones to determine whether they contain DNA has been described in a PhD thesis by a conservator at the University of Stavanger's Archaeological Museum.

This approach could overcome a major problem of identifying useful genetic material in large collections of prehistoric bones without resorting to extensive and expensive laboratory studies.

Hege Ingjerd Hollund proposes a combination of three screening methods – microscope examination, inspection with ultraviolet light and infra-red spectrometry (a form of chemical analysis).

Hat/Tip to annetteboardman for this story.

University of Utah via MedicalXpress: Sugar is toxic to mice in 'safe' doses, study says
August 13, 2013

When mice ate a diet of 25 percent extra sugar – the mouse equivalent of a healthy human diet plus three cans of soda daily – females died at twice the normal rate and males were a quarter less likely to hold territory and reproduce, according to a toxicity test developed at the University of Utah.

"Our results provide evidence that added sugar consumed at concentrations currently considered safe exerts dramatic adverse impacts on mammalian health," the researchers say in a study set for online publication Tuesday, Aug. 13 in the journal Nature Communications.

"This demonstrates the adverse effects of added sugars at human-relevant levels," says University of Utah biology professor Wayne Potts, the study's senior author. He says previous studies using other tests fed mice large doses of sugar disproportionate to the amount people consume in sweetened beverages, baked goods and candy.


The Salt Lake Tribune via the The Oneida Daily Dispatch: Soda-drinking 5-year-olds are more aggressive
By Kristen Moulton, The Salt Lake Tribune
Published: Saturday, August 17, 2013

If your 5-year-old is always spoiling for a fight or breaking friends’ toys, there might be a reason: He’s swilling too much soda pop.

That’s the suggestion of new research published Friday in The Journal of Pediatrics by researchers at Columbia University, the University of Vermont and Harvard.

Shakira Suglia, an assistant professor of epidemiology at Columbia’s Mailman School of Public Health, and colleagues at the other universities say they found a correlation between 5-year-olds’ soft-drink consumption and aggression, attention problems and withdrawn behavior.

Hat/Tip to annetteboardman for this story.


Science Magazine: Neandertals Were No Copycats
August 12, 2013

Sometimes it seems Neandertals just can’t catch a break. Every time an archaeologist comes up with new evidence for something cool and clever they did, another researcher claims they learned it from their modern human cousins. But new discoveries of polished bone tools at two prehistoric sites in France suggest that Neandertals independently invented these finely made implements, without a helping hand from Homo sapiens. The finds may represent the best sign yet that Neandertals were no boneheads when it came to technological innovation.

Science News: DNA reveals details of the peopling of the Americas
Migrants came in three distinct waves that interbred once in the New World
By Tina Hesman Saey

The first people to settle the Americas had a distinctive genetic style, and additional waves of migrants added regional flair, a new analysis of mitochondrial DNA from Native Americans from Canada and the United States suggests.

About 15,000 to 18,000 years ago, the first migrant wave spilled from Asia down the Pacific coast and then pushed inland, eventually peopling the land from “the tip of South America all the way to Hudson Bay,” says Andrew Kitchen, a genetic anthropologist at the University of Iowa who was not involved in the new research. That first migrant wave contained the ancestors of all South and Central American tribes, and North Americans, too. But something different was going on in North America, an international team of researchers has discovered.
The analysis, published August 12 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, supports the widely accepted notion of an initial coastal migration wave. A second wave of migration probably left Siberia only a couple thousand years after the first wave. Instead of trickling down the coast, the second group slipped through an ice-free corridor running from Alaska into what is now southern Canada, the team found. The second wave never made it south of the present-day United States.

University College Dublin (Ireland) via PhysOrg: Replica of 10,000 year old mesolithic dwelling built by UCD experimental archaeologists on campus
Jul 25, 2013

Archaeologists from University College Dublin have built a replica of a Mesolithic or Middle Stone Age house on the Belfield campus to better understand how humans lived at the time.

The circular dwelling, with a six-metre diameter, is based on archaeological evidence from a site at Mount Sandel in Northern Ireland which dates from 7900-7600BC – this site is the earliest known evidence of human settlement on the Island of Ireland.
"Our reconstruction of this Mesolithic house is part of the UCD Centre for Experimental Archaeology," says Dr Graeme Warren, UCD School of Archaeology.

Fox News Latino: Archaeological Census Reveals Human Presence In Cuba 8,000-10,000 Years Ago

Havana –  An archaeological census performed by the Anthropology Institute within the Cuban Science, Technology and Environment Ministry has found that the human presence on the island hypothetically dates from between 8,000 and 10,000 years ago, local media here reported on Sunday.

The project that has been under way in Cuba for the past two years incorporates the research and experience of archaeologists, experts, historians, institutions and hobbyists and the officials heading it, as cited by the state-run Prensa Latina news agency, say it is expected to wrap up in January 2014.

The research uses maps with precise coordinates on the municipality level with the aim of providing a general idea about the aboriginal archaeological situation in the country, and it also includes a series of elements to allow the production of a more finished product: the Aboriginal Archaeological Atlas of Cuba.

Hurriyet Daily News (Turkey): Head of a goddess statue discovered in Aegean province

The head of an 8,000-year-old statue of a goddess has been found during excavations in Izmir’s Yesilova tumulus.

Associate Professor Zafer Derin said they had found very important pieces during this year’s excavations, adding that the four-centimeter head of the statue had a special meaning as it was the first of its kind discovered in Turkey.

Discovery News: Oldest Gaming Tokens Found in Turkey
by Rossella Lorenzi
Aug 14, 2013 12:50 PM ET

Small carved stones unearthed in a nearly 5,000-year-old burial could represent the earliest gaming tokens ever found, according to Turkish archaeologists who are excavating early Bronze Age graves.

Found in a burial at Bas,ur Höyük, a 820- by 492-foot mound near Siirt in southeast Turkey, the elaborate pieces consist of 49 small stones sculpted in different shapes and painted in green, red, blue, black and white.

"Some depict pigs, dogs and pyramids, others feature round and bullet shapes. We also found dice as well as three circular tokens made of white shell and topped with a black round stone," Haluk Saglamtimur of Ege University in Izmir, Turkey, told Discovery News.

The Irish Times: Laois ‘bog body’ said to be world’s oldest
4,000-year-old remains were discovered on Bord na Móna land in Co Laois in 2011
Eoin Burke-Kennedy

The mummified remains of a body found in a Laois bog two years ago have been found to date back to 2,000BC, making it the oldest “bog body” discovered anywhere in the world.

The 4,000-year-old remains, which predate the famed Egyptian pharaoh Tutankhamun by nearly 700 years, are those of a young adult male.

He is believed to have met a violent death in some sort of ritual sacrifice.

Monash University (Australia) via PhysOrg: Ancient artefact gets a good bake
Aug 15, 2013

An information technology academic's love of ancient languages and cultures has resulted in the preservation of a 4000 year-old artefact.

Dr Larry Stillman, from the Caulfield School of Information Technology at Monash University, usually spends his time researching the social effects of IT in community organisations.

His passion and original training however, is for the languages and cultures of ancient Mesopotamia which he studied for many years in Jerusalem and at Harvard University.

Boston Globe: Genetic study finds caste system in ancient India began about 2,000 years ago
By Carolyn Y. Johnson / Globe Staff
August 9, 2013

A large genetic study of hundreds of people in South Asia has allowed scientists to probe important transition points in the population’s history, pinpointing when two different groups of people mixed widely and then stopped. The study provides a genetic signature of cultural changes that occurred as the caste system was put in place in India.

Researchers have long known that at some point in history, South Asia was a melting pot for two different groups of people. The clues have been scattered in various scientific fields: the history, language, and ancient farming traditions of South Asia all bore the imprint of different origins. Sanskrit and Hindi, spoken in the north, are thought to be related to European languages, while Tamil and Telugu, spoken in the south, are unrelated. Agriculture in the north started earlier, some 8,000 years ago, and was distinctly related to the crops first domesticated in West Asia; farming in the south initially involved native plants.

But when did these two populations mix, and when did they stop?

University of Manchester (UK) via PhysOrg: 'Christians airbrushed women out of history'

A band of forgotten women were hugely influential in the rise of Christianity, a five-year study has found.

But Professor Kate Cooper, from The University of Manchester, says their contribution has been neglected by the mainstream churches in a new book out this month.

The study identifies dozens of forgotten Christian women who were influential in the first and second centuries, during a period when Christianity was - in some respects - more progressive towards women than today.

Horse Talk (NZ): Roman horseshoes found on remains of road
August 13, 2013

The scene is Londinium, the thriving metropolis at the centre of Roman Britain. A trader is driving his horse toward the local market, making use of a well-formed Roman road.

He is in the area of present-day Liverpool Street, but this is 2000 years ago. And it seems that even the much-vaunted roads that crossed the Roman empire occasionally fell short in the maintenance department.

This is another Crossrail find.

BBC: Hot summer unearths Roman discoveries in Wales

A rare Roman fort and marching camp have been discovered in Wales by aerial archaeologists during the hot summer.

The major Roman fort complex was spotted on parched grassland near Brecon, Powys, and the marching camp near Caerwent in Monmouthshire.

Aerial archaeologist Toby Driver said he could not believe his eyes when he spotted the fort from the air.

Discovery News: Mini-Colosseum of 'Gladiator' Emperor Found
by Rossella Lorenzi
Aug 13, 2013 07:05 AM ET

The Roman emperor Commodus might have cultivated the skills showcased in Ridley Scott’s blockbuster film “Gladiator” in a personal miniature Colosseum on his estate near Rome.

Archaeologists from Montclair State University, in New Jersey, believe that a large oval area with curved walls and floors made of marble is, in fact, the arena where the emperor killed wild beasts, earning the nickname “the Roman Hercules,” as recorded in historical writings.

Found in Genzano, a village southeast of Rome which overlooks Lake Nemi, a crater lake in the Alban Hills, the oval structure measures 200 feet by 130 feet and dates to the 2nd century.

BBC: Roman temple clues found during dig in Conwy Valley
August 15, 2013

The remains of what is suspected to be a Roman temple have uncovered by archaeologists who had been searching for a lost 11th Century church.

Archaeologists had been trying to find a Norman church on farmland in the Conwy Valley after baked remains became apparent during the hot summer of 2006.

But as the dig got under way the team realised there was a much older building on the site.

East Anglian Daily Times (UK): West Stow: Time team together again after 40 years
Matt Gaw
Saturday, August 17, 2013

A pioneering time team whose reconstruction of an Anglo-Saxon house helped change our understanding of the people that lived in Suffolk will reunite for the first time in 40 years.

The anniversary event at West Stow Anglo-Saxon Village will see the original group of Cambridge students, whose members include a professor of archaeology, an eminent psychiatrist and pop star guitarist Kimberley Rew, discuss their role in bringing history to life.

The reunion is part of Reconstructing History: 40 years at West Stow - a project to increase awareness of the Icklingham Road site and encourage people who may have taken pictures in the early 70s to come forward.

LiveScience: Trove of Pristine Shipwrecks May Be Buried Around Antarctica
By Tia Ghose, Staff Writer
August 13, 2013 07:01pm ET

The oceans surrounding Antarctica may be littered with buried shipwrecks in pristine condition, new research suggests.

Researchers came to that conclusion, detailed today (Aug. 13) in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B, after burying wood and bone at the depths of the Antarctic oceans and analyzing the handiwork of worms and mollusks more than a year later.

"The bones were infested by a carpet of red-plumed Osedax worms, which we have named as a new species — Osedax antarcticus — but the wood planks were untouched, with not a trace of the wood-eating worms," study co-author Adrian Glover, an aquatic invertebrates researcher at the Natural History Museum in London, said in an email. "The wood was hardly degraded either, after 14 months on the seafloor."

Hat/Tip to annetteboardman for these stories.


PhysOrg: Study offers clues about how conodonts used earliest vertebrate teeth
by Bob Yirka
Aug 15, 2013

( —Researchers from the University's of Bristol and Birmingham in the U.K. have made progress in identifying the ways that a conodont used its teeth—the earliest ever found in a vertebrate. In their paper published in Proceedings of the Royal Society B, the team describes how they used 3D modeling developed for use in testing I-Beams for use in construction to reveal the inner details of the teeth.

Agence France Presse via PhysOrg: Chinese super-rat roamed Earth 160 million years ago
August 15, 2013

A fossil of the oldest known ancestor of modern rats—an agile creature that could climb, burrow and eat just about anything—has been unearthed in China, scientists said Thursday.

The newly named species Rugosodon eurasiaticus had flexible ankles for tree-climbing and sharp teeth that could gnaw both animals and plants, according to the journal Science.

These adaptations helped the ancient rat-like rodents known as multituberculates become among the longest lived mammals in history, said the study led by Chong-Xi Yuan from the Chinese Academy of Geological Sciences in Beijing.

PLoS One via PhysOrg: Ostrich necks reveal sauropod movements, food habits
Aug 14, 2013

A new analysis of ostriches reveals that a computer model of long-necked sauropods used to simulate the dinosaurs' movements, featured in BBC's Walking with Dinosaurs and the focus of an installation at the American Museum of Natural History, New York, does not correctly reconstruct how flexible their necks were. The results are published August 14 in the open access journal PLOS ONE by Matthew Cobley from the University of Utah, with colleagues from the University of Bristol and Natural History Museum, London.

University of Alberta (Canada) via PhysOrg: Research is challenging basic assumptions about dinosaurs—and greatly expanding the number of known species
by Sarah Ligon
Aug 13, 2013

On an afternoon in May, drivers zip down Anthony Henday Drive in Edmonton and children race home from school, all unaware that, in a wooded creek bed just a few hundred metres away, University of Alberta paleontologists and about a dozen students are busy unearthing treasures buried nearly 73 million years ago.

This site, just a few minutes' drive from campus and not far from the Century Park LRT station, is one of the university's best-kept secrets: a graveyard containing the remains of at least a dozen dinosaurs.
Work by researchers based at the U of A has challenged many basic assumptions about dinosaurs—proving that some had feathers and that even the giant predators sometimes travelled in herds—while greatly expanding the number of known species and, occasionally, even pruning and grafting the dinosaur family tree.

LiveScience: Early Humans Lived in China 1.7 Million Years Ago
Charles Choi, LiveScience Contributor  
August 15, 2013 09:06am ET

An extinct species of tool-making humans apparently occupied a vast area in China as early as 1.7 million years ago, researchers say.

The human lineage evolved in Africa, with now-extinct species of humans dispersing away from their origin continent more than a million years before modern humans did. Scientists would like to learn more about when and where humans went to better understand what drove human evolution.

University of Kansas via PhysOrg: Researchers search for link between mammoth bones, early hunters
Jul 26, 2013

Researchers at the University of Kansas have been digging for clues that would tie the remains of a 15,500-year-old mammoth discovered in west-central Kansas with prehistoric human artifacts found nearby.

The bones and a knapping pile—stone flakes accumulated from tool-making activities —were unearthed in 2011 by heavy equipment terracing a field northeast of Scott City. Found about 50 yards apart, the bones and flakes were in the same shallow layer of sediment.

"It was intriguing to find a knapping pile and mammoth bones close together in the same geologic layer," said Rolfe Mandel, geoarchaeologist at the Kansas Geological Survey and professor in the KU anthropology department. "If we can determine that the people who created the flakes also killed the mammoth, it will prove that humans were in the Central Plains much earlier than currently proven."

Hat/Tip to annetteboardman for these stories.


Geological Society of America: Calving Sand Dunes, Stress Fields in Southern California, and Devonian Black Shale
New Geology articles posted online ahead of print 12 August 2013

Boulder, Colorado, USA – New Geology postings discuss a vanished link between Antarctica and Australia; the West Salton Detachment fault in California, USA; chemical interaction between peridotite and intruding melts in the Northern Apennines, Italy; calving barchan dunes; the nature of black shale in the Late Devonian Appalachian Basin; the August 2008 avulsion belt of the Kosi River, India; reef island formation; and a one-year record of eight quakes within dune deposits of the Navajo Sandstone, Utah, USA.


University of Washington via PhysOrg: Wireless devices go battery-free with new communication technique
by Michelle Ma
Aug 13, 2013

We might be one step closer to an Internet-of-things reality. University of Washington engineers have created a new wireless communication system that allows devices to interact with each other without relying on batteries or wires for power.

The new communication technique, which the researchers call "ambient backscatter," takes advantage of the TV and cellular transmissions that already surround us around the clock. Two devices communicate with each other by reflecting the existing signals to exchange information. The researchers built small, battery-free devices with antennas that can detect, harness and reflect a TV signal, which then is picked up by other similar devices.

The technology could enable a network of devices and sensors to communicate with no power source or human attention needed.

Think Progress: America’s Electric Grid Is Far Too Vulnerable To Extreme Weather, And Needs An Update
By Jeff Spross
August 12, 2013 at 3:00 pm

Work on America’s electrical grid has slowed to a crawl, even as the power outages caused by severe weather are on the upswing. That’s the takeaway from a new report out of the President’s Council of Economic Advisers and the Department of Energy. It found that economic damage from weather-related power outages now averages between $18 and $33 billion per year — and went as high as $75 billion in 2008 and $52 billion in 2012 thanks to Hurricanes Ike and Sandy, respectively.

The backstory to this is a decades-long slowdown in construction and upkeep on the nation’s electrical grid. The Obama Administration report compiled data showing that transmission line construction began as early as the 1880s, and peaked at nearly 10,000 miles built per year in the late 1960s. But it’s been a long drop since then to about 1,000 miles per year in the mid-2000s, leaving 70 percent of the nation’s transmission lines and power transformers over 25 years old.


Science Network WA via PhysOrg: 'Listening' to black holes form with gravity waves
by Geoff Vivian
Aug 16, 2013

New technology that breaks the quantum measurement barrier has been developed to detect the gravity waves first predicted by Einstein in 1916.

Professor David Blair was one of 800 physicists from around the world who announced a breakthrough in measurement science last month.

"Gravitational wave astronomy is going to be the new astronomy that's likely to really revolutionise our understanding of the universe," he says.


University of Southern Denmark via EurekAlert!: The day before death: A new archaeological technique gives insight into the day before death

The day before the child's death was not a pleasant one, because it was not a sudden injury that killed the 10-13 year old child who was buried in the medieval town of Ribe in Denmark 800 years ago. The day before death was full of suffering because the child had been given a large dose of mercury in an attempt to cure a severe illness.

This is now known to chemist Kaare Lund Rasmussen from University of Southern Denmark – because he and his colleagues have developed a new methodology that can reveal an unheard amount of details from very shortly before a person's death. Mercury is of particular interest for the archaeologists as many cultures in different part of the world have been in contact with this rare element.

"I cannot say which diseases the child had contracted. But I can say that it was exposed to a large dose of mercury a couple of months before its death and again a day or two prior to death. You can imagine what happened: that the family for a while tried to cure the child with mercury containing medicine which may or may not have worked, but that the child's condition suddenly worsened and that it was administered a large dose of mercury which was, however, not able to save its life", says Kaare Lund Rasmussen.

Hat/Tip to annetteboardman for this story.

The Conversation via PhysOrg: Upsalite: Scientists make 'impossible material'... by accident
by Andrew Bissette, The Conversation
Aug 13, 2013

Researchers in Uppsala, Sweden accidentally left a reaction running over the weekend and ended up resolving a century-old chemistry problem. Their work has led to the development of a new material, dubbed Upsalite, with remarkable water-binding properties. Upsalite promises to find applications in everything from humidity control at home to chemical manufacturing in industry.

Maria Strømme and colleagues at Uppsala University, whose work appears in the journal PLOS ONE, have modified a procedure dating back to 1908 to make a powdered and dry form of magnesium carbonate (MgCO3). The reaction ingredients are all cheaply available: magnesium oxide (MgO) and carbon dioxide (CO2), dissolved in methanol, a common industrial solvent. The result is pure, dry MgCO3.

Dry in this case means very dry. In the chemical sense, it means void of almost any water molecules at all.

Science Crime Scenes

M.I.T. via PhysOrg: Encryption is less secure than we thought
Aug 14, 2013

Information theory—the discipline that gave us digital communication and data compression—also put cryptography on a secure mathematical foundation. Since 1948, when the paper that created information theory first appeared, most information-theoretic analyses of secure schemes have depended on a common assumption.

Unfortunately, as a group of researchers at MIT and the National University of Ireland (NUI) at Maynooth, demonstrated in a paper presented at the recent International Symposium on Information Theory (view PDF), that assumption is false. In a follow-up paper being presented this fall at the Asilomar Conference on Signals and Systems, the same team shows that, as a consequence, the wireless card readers used in many keyless-entry systems may not be as secure as previously thought.

Science, Space, Environment, and Energy Policy

The Standard-Times via Southern Rhode Island Newspapers/Rhode Island Central: RIDOT purchases Native American site in Narragansett
August 16, 2013

NARRAGANSETT—The Rhode Island Department of Transportation (RIDOT) and the Rhode Island Attorney General Peter F. Kilmartin announced Wednesday the purchase of 52 acres along Salt Pond in Narragansett, which have been discovered to hold significant, pre-colonial Native American material.

The site has been the subject of intense litigation, since its discovery in 1991, between the state and private developer Downing/Salt Pond Partners, who wanted to build 54 housing units on the land.

“As a state, we have made a commitment to protect our unique heritage,” Attorney General Kilmartin said in a statement. “Through this acquisition, we have preserved one of the most important Narragansett Indian archeological sites in our state, while also providing additional open space in this ecologically sensitive area of Rhode Island.”

Hat/Tip to annetteboardman for this story.

Science Education

NPR: Crowdsourcing Ideas For A Better School
by Robyn Gee
August 12, 2013

In my previous life as a high school English teacher, I often felt disconnected from everyone making the decisions that affected how I did my job. A new curriculum handed down from the district. Tutorials to learn how to process student data. Elective classes swapped out for study halls. I just learned to roll with the punches.

But crowdsourcing tools are slowly working their way into the education policy world, designed to give teachers and district employees more say on big decisions that affect their school environment.

A notable success story is the Poway Unified School District in San Diego, which was spotlighted in Education Week for building a site called InnovationU. The site called for all district employees to submit ideas that could help improve the safety of students and staff at school.

Science Writing and Reporting

University of Huddersfield (UK) via PhysOrg: Archaeologist locates the real location of the Battle of Bosworth
Aug 14, 2013

A new book, co-authored by Dr Foard and the historian Professor Anne Curry, describes the background to the battle and the archaeological project to find out where it was actually fought.
The new book by Glenn Foard and Anne Curry - Bosworth 1485: A Battlefield Rediscovered (published by Oxbow) – describes the archaeological project and its findings, including conclusions about the place where Richard III (pictured above) perished. The book will be launched on Sunday, 18 August when the two authors will give a talk at the Bosworth Battlefield Heritage Centre during a major weekend of re-enactments and special events.

Hat/Tip to annetteboardman for this story.

Science is Cool

M.I.T. via PhysOrg: Targeting product design for the developing world
by Jennifer Chu
Aug 12, 2013

Designing products for the developing world can be a hit-or-miss endeavor: While there may be a dire need for products addressing problems, such as access to clean water, sanitation and electricity, designing a product that consumers will actually buy is a complicated process. More often than not, such products—even those that are distributed at no charge—go unused due to poor quality, unreliability or differences in cultural expectations.

And yet, an increasing number of organizations, companies and startups are targeting products at developing countries for one very practical reason: money. Rising economies like China and India represent potentially massive emerging markets, a large portion of which are made up of small "microenterprises"—informal, mom-and-pop businesses of five or fewer people that generate limited income.

In a new MIT study (view PDF), researchers suggest that microentrepreneurs are a promising and largely untapped market. They say designers will have more success in developing countries by targeting products to microentrepreneurs, particularly if such products are designed to help make these small businesses money.

Agence France Presse via The Huffington Post: Peru's Drones Used For Agriculture And Archaeology
By Luis Jaime Cisneros
Agence France Presse
August 15, 2013

Drones are most often associated with assassinations in remote regions of Pakistan and Yemen but in Peru, unmanned aircraft are being used to monitor crops and study ancient ruins.

Forget Reapers and Predators -- the drones used here are hand-held contraptions that look like they were assembled in a garage with gear from a hardware store.

They are equipped with a microcomputer, a GPS tracker, a compass, cameras and an altimeter, and can be easily programmed by using Google Maps to fly autonomously and return to base with vital data.

Hat/Tip to annetteboardman for these stories.

M.I.T. via PhysOrg: New approach assembles big structures from small interlocking pieces
by David Chandler
Aug 15, 2013

MIT researchers have developed a lightweight structure whose tiny blocks can be snapped together much like the bricks of a child's construction toy. The new material, the researchers say, could revolutionize the assembly of airplanes, spacecraft, and even larger structures, such as dikes and levees.

The new approach to construction is described in a paper appearing this week in the journal Science, co-authored by postdoc Kenneth Cheung and Neil Gershenfeld, director of MIT's Center for Bits and Atoms.

Gershenfeld likens the structure—which is made from tiny, identical, interlocking parts—to chainmail. The parts, based on a novel geometry that Cheung developed with Gershenfeld, form a structure that is 10 times stiffer for a given weight than existing ultralight materials. But this new structure can also be disassembled and reassembled easily—such as to repair damage, or to recycle the parts into a different configuration.

This research was the result of answering the question, "Can you 3-D print an airplane?"

Originally posted to Overnight News Digest on Sat Aug 17, 2013 at 08:59 PM PDT.

Also republished by Astro Kos and SciTech.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar: 2013 Green Cruise (29+ / 0-)

    If it's time for Woodward Dream Cruise, then it's also time for Green Cruise.  Here's Crystal Proxmire's video of the hightlight's of last Saturday's event, 2013 Ferndale Green Cruise

    Again, I didn't go, both because I still don't have a bike and because I thought the parade was going to be held on Sunday.  Next year, I make sure I'll have the right date and own a bike of my own.  I'm too big for my wife's.

    Originally posted at Crazy Eddie's Motie News.

    Science Saturday is open for business fun!

    "The party of ideas has become the party of Beavis and Butthead." ~ Paul Krugman.

    by Neon Vincent on Sat Aug 17, 2013 at 05:44:48 PM PDT

  •  Heavy Coffee Consumption = Higher Death Risk? (11+ / 0-)

    From USA Today: Drinking more than 28 cups of coffee a week may be harmful for people younger than 55

    In the study published online in the journal Mayo Clinic Proceedings, men younger than 55 who drank more than 28 cups of coffee a week (four cups a day) were 56% more likely to have died from any cause. Women in that age range had a twofold greater risk of dying than other women. The study looked at 43,727 men and women ages 20-87 from 1971 to 2002.

    "From our study, it seems safe to drink one to three cups of coffee a day," says the study's second co-author Xuemei Sui. "Drinking more than four cups of coffee a day may endanger health," says Sui, assistant professor of exercise science with the Arnold School of Public Health at the University of South Carolina in Columbia. She defines a cup of coffee as 6 to 8 ounces.

    The study did not find a higher death risk for adults 55 and older. Sui says there may be a bias — the research may not include unhealthy older people because they might have already died.

    •  Wasn't it just last year... (9+ / 0-)

      that news reports were saying Coffee Drinkers May Live Longer?

      Your morning cup of coffee may start to taste even better after a major government study found that frequent coffee drinkers have a lower risk of dying from a variety of diseases, compared with people who drink little or no coffee.

      The report, published online in The New England Journal of Medicine on Wednesday, analyzed the coffee-drinking habits of more than 400,000 men and women ages 50 to 71, making it the largest-ever study of the relationship between coffee consumption and health.

      •  Too much of a good thing (8+ / 0-)

        Technically you can die from drinking too much water

        I want 1 less Tiny Coffin, Why Don't You? Support The President's Gun Violence Plan.

        by JML9999 on Sat Aug 17, 2013 at 09:50:00 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  H2O (9+ / 0-)

          I've only heard of that connected to people taking ecstasy, but it happens.

          Scientific American: Drinking Too Much Water Can Kill

          Earlier this year, a 28-year-old California woman died after competing in a radio station's on-air water-drinking contest. After downing some six liters of water in three hours in the "Hold Your Wee for a Wii" (Nintendo game console) contest, Jennifer Strange vomited, went home with a splitting headache, and died from so-called water intoxication.

          There are many other tragic examples of death by water. In 2005 a fraternity hazing at California State University, Chico, left a 21-year-old man dead after he was forced to drink excessive amounts of water between rounds of push-ups in a cold basement. Club-goers taking MDMA ("ecstasy") have died after consuming copious amounts of water trying to rehydrate following long nights of dancing and sweating. Going overboard in attempts to rehydrate is also common among endurance athletes. A 2005 study in the New England Journal of Medicine found that close to one sixth of marathon runners develop some degree of hyponatremia, or dilution of the blood caused by drinking too much water.

          Hyponatremia, a word cobbled together from Latin and Greek roots, translates as "insufficient salt in the blood." Quantitatively speaking, it means having a blood sodium concentration below 135 millimoles per liter, or approximately 0.4 ounces per gallon, the normal concentration lying somewhere between 135 and 145 millimoles per liter. Severe cases of hyponatremia can lead to water intoxication, an illness whose symptoms include headache, fatigue, nausea, vomiting, frequent urination and mental disorientation.

  •  "Many Shapes, Colors, And Shades Of... Ugly" (11+ / 0-)

    Anglerfishes are members of the teleost order Lophiiformes. They are bony fishes named for their characteristic mode of predation, wherein a fleshy growth from the fish's head (the esca or illicium) acts as a lure like the one found in angling.

    Anglerfish occur worldwide, some are pelagic, others benthic; some live in the deep sea (e.g., Ceratiidae) others on the continental shelf (e.g., the frogfishes Antennariidae and the monkfish/goosefish Lophiidae). Pelagic forms are most laterally (sideways) compressed whereas the benthic forms are often extremely dorsoventrally compressed (depressed) often with large upward pointing mouths.

  •  I remember wen there (9+ / 0-)

    were a spate of meteor stories

    A meteor weighing 10,000 metric tons exploded only 23km above the city of Chelyabinsk in Russia on February 15, 2013
    Magnifico posted a comment like "What we need is blades. Giant Meteor Blades to slice them up before they land".
    I sent it to top comments and later told Meteor Blades about it.
    He loved the story.

    Ceiling Cat rules....srsly.

    by side pocket on Sat Aug 17, 2013 at 09:26:38 PM PDT

  •  Dead zones (8+ / 0-)

    As Michael Pollan wrote in The Omnivore's Dilemma that the Maya called themselves "Corn People", but as he explained Americans are corn people and then some. Our agricultural policy is geared toward growing cheap, abundant corn.

    Dead zones could be shrunk if we cut back on the amount of corn we grew or if we reduced the use of fertilizers by adopting organic farming methods. Corn, as the Mother Jones article notes, "uses titanic amounts of nitrogen and phosphorus, the two main nutrients behind the dead zone". Less cheap U.S. corn would help Mexican farmers too.

    We, as a society, could also decide we don't need to have big, green lawns any more either. Not only do they suck up water, but also are often over fertilized.

  •  Thank you Neon Vincent ... (7+ / 0-)

    for more good science stuff. Did you see my kos mail?

    The good thing about science is that it's true whether or not you believe in it.― Neil deGrasse Tyson

    by maggiejean on Sat Aug 17, 2013 at 09:42:55 PM PDT

  •  Iran Has 18K Centrifuges Iran Ex Nuke Chief (6+ / 0-)

    Iran Has 18,000 Centrifuges For Uranium Enrichment, Outgoing Nuclear Chief Claims

    TEHRAN, Iran -- Iran's outgoing nuclear chief says Tehran has a total of 18,000 centrifuges for uranium enrichment – a process that can be a pathway to making nuclear weapons. The number is higher by a third than publicly known.

    Fereidoun Abbasi's announcement came as he handed over his post Saturday to Ali Akbar Salehi, appointed by new President Hasan Rouhani.

    Abbasi says 10,000 centrifuges currently operating are of an older model, IR-1, while about 7,000 more of the same model are ready to be installed along with just over 1,000 centrifuges of an advanced new model.

    The U.S. and its allies fear Iran is seeking to produce nuclear weapons. Tehran says its nuclear program is peaceful.

    Reuters has it too
    (Reuters) - Iran has installed 18,000 uranium-enrichment centrifuges, the country's outgoing nuclear chief was quoted as saying by Iranian media on Saturday.

    The U.S. and its Western allies are pressing Iran to curb its uranium enrichment program, which they suspect is aimed at developing a nuclear weapons capability, but Iran refuses and insists its nuclear activity is for purely peaceful purposes.

    New Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, a former nuclear negotiator who oversaw a previous deal to suspend Iran's uranium enrichment, has welcomed new talks with world powers over the program but has insisted on Iran's right to enrich uranium.

    Iran has 17,000 older "first-generation" IR-1 centrifuges, of which 10,000 are operating and 7,000 are ready to start operations, the ISNA news agency quoted Fereydoun Abbasi-Davani, outgoing head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI), as saying.

    I want 1 less Tiny Coffin, Why Don't You? Support The President's Gun Violence Plan.

    by JML9999 on Sat Aug 17, 2013 at 09:43:10 PM PDT

  •  So many great things to read! Thank You!! (8+ / 0-)

    It will be your fault when I stay up too late tonight ;)

    if a habitat is flooded, the improvement for target fishes increases by an infinite percentage...because a habitat suitability index that is even a tiny fraction of 1 is still infinitely higher than zero, which is the suitability of dry land to fishes.

    by mrsgoo on Sat Aug 17, 2013 at 09:46:23 PM PDT

  •  Early Christian women (6+ / 0-)

    "Christianity was quite revolutionary in the way it treated its women, especially when you realise how sexist the ancient world was.


    It wasn't until the Roman Emperor Constantine's conversion to Christianity, in around 313 AD, the religion became institutionalised: male bishops were now government officials and women came to be seen as players in the background rather than public figures.

    I think it is pretty safe to concluded that Christianity as practiced in the 21st century is a far cry from the way it was practiced in 3rd and 4th centuries.
  •  Caste system (6+ / 0-)

    If India's caste system is only 2,000 years old, then I wonder what event or events caused it to form in the first place?

    “There’s been a big debate in archeology about how that happened.”

    The researchers believe that instead of a new population invading south Asia, both populations were already present in India. Thus, the mixing doesn’t represent a surge of newcomers, but more likely the breakdown of some cultural or traditional barrier that had led to a natural separation between the two groups.

    Maybe something along the lines of the 1% and the 99%?
  •  solving energy (5+ / 0-)

    aug 15-18 2013

    Clean Energy is National Security
    Led by moderator Jim Calaway, a distinguished panel including T.Boone Pickens, retired General Wesley Clark and Vice Admiral Dennis McGinn discuss possible solutions to national security problems involving energy.

    If we don't recognize that this is a truly unique moment in America's constitutional history, our generation's going to regret it forever. ~ Senator Ron Wyden

    by anyname on Sat Aug 17, 2013 at 10:59:19 PM PDT

  •  rewind: OSS (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    basquebob, kurt, Neon Vincent, petral


    History/Profile:  In June 1942, the Office of the Coordinator of Information was saved from the chopping block by becoming the Office of Strategic Services. With its new status under the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the OSS broadened its mission from intelligence collection and research to focus on espionage and guerilla warfare behind enemy lines. There was still debate over how broad the mission of OSS should be, so the agency remained in administrative limbo throughout the rest of 1942.
    With the future of the OSS being decided in committees, its officers and agents began to show the first fruits of their labor. The OSS was particularly successful during Operation Torch, the Allied invasion of North Africa in November 1942. This success lead the Joint Chiefs to issue a charter for the OSS on 23 December 1942, which made the OSS an equal partner in the intelligence community with ONI and G-2, and tasked the agency with "the planning, development, coordination and execution of the military program for psychological warfare," with a proviso to compile "such political, psychological, sociological and economic information as may be required by military operations." Essentially, this meant that the business of OSS would now clearly be to support the military through sabotage, espionage and commando raids. Donovan was brought back to active duty with the rank of brigadier general, and approval was given to transfer military personnel to the OSS in large numbers. This "militarization" of OSS became complete in January 1943, when the agency was reorganized to focus on paramilitary operations:

    Organization of the Office of Strategic Services, January 1943
    While new branches were added throughout 1943, this remained the organization of the OSS until the end of war. Donovan now had a clear plan: OSS researchers and spies would keep command informed of the enemy's strength and capabilities, while OSS saboteurs would disrupt the enemy's lines of communication and divert their attention from the front. Rarely would the branches of the OSS ever coordinate their efforts in such a singular manner; but, taken in the broad overview of the war, this is how the OSS went to war.

    The militarization of the OSS not only changed its organization but also its personnel. While the Ivy League Anglo-Irish conservatives that dominated COI continued to represent those who staffed the headquarters, the OSS officers in the field took on a very different character. These officers needed to work with the mutually-hostile political and ethnic factions within resistance movements, and it was found that the best people for this job were New Deal liberals, whose political sympathies made them ideal to work with the leftists dominating the European underground. Exiles and ethnic Americans were also recruited to fill out the ranks, and some four thousand women joined the OSS, though few served overseas and fewer still in occupied territory. A small number of criminals were also given a safe haven in the OSS, as they possessed the kind of skills necessary for espionage (forgery, fraud, smuggling, burglary, theft, assault, and murder) as well as contacts in the criminal underworld of occupied nations.

    Ever since the war began, COI and OSS both faced the problem of their civilians being called up for military duty. While some local draft boards allowed occupational deferments, it wasn't until mid-1943 that the OSS had the power to give out draft deferments and military commissions. Until then, the OSS had their personnel inducted into the military, given basic training and rank as enlisted men, and then had the War Department reassign them back to their positions at the OSS. These enlisted personnel were allowed to wear civilian clothes in the United States, while the civilians in the OSS assigned to paramilitary operations wore "civilian" uniforms in the field. Many civilians joined the OSS with the promise of an officer's commission, only to remain at enlisted rank because the allotment was full. These policies meant that people in high positions of authority often had no higher rank than private or corporal, and could even be in charge of captains and majors assigned to the OSS.

    Though the OSS was now allowed to recruit military personnel, it could take five weeks to pass the security check, two weeks for the paperwork, at least three weeks for training, and then two weeks to transport them to the field. Once in the field, many of these people lacked commissions as military officers, and had to barter (or steal) resources from REMF's (Rear Echelon Mother Fuckers) because they lacked the proper rank. This situation wasn't helped by the bitter enmity existing between Donovan and the chief of G-2, General George Strong, which resulted in OSS operations being hindered by Army officials who denied transportation and other resources.

    Despite all this conflict, the OSS remained Donovan's "league of gentlemen," a close-knit community whose recruits, no matter their background, shared a passion for their work and an "us-against-them" attitude towards the conventional military. Conversely, OSS also earned its reputation as "Oh So Social" and the "Cloak and Dagger Club," once described as "one of the fanciest groups of dilettante diplomats, Wall Street Bankers, and amateur detectives ever seen in Washington." While the men and women in the field were invariably more focused than the dilettantes at headquarters, there was always something amateurish about the OSS. The agency was known to spend its money freely, and was resented as an easy-out for the well-to-do to avoid combat and play at spying. Indeed, the culture of improvisation within OSS could be clumsy and amateurish, allowing lesser officers to goldbrick the war away; but, it also gave better officers the freedom to carry out daring plans that produced huge rewards.

    As the OSS was changing within, its relationships with its allies was also in flux. While Roosevelt and the Joint Chiefs were signing the orders creating the OSS in June 1942, Donovan was in England negotiating with Britain's Special Operations Executive (SOE). The two agencies agreed to cooperate in the field in June 1942, dividing up the theaters of operations. In Europe, SOE was initially responsible for France, the Low Countries, Poland, Czechoslovakia, and most of Norway and the Balkans, and the OSS was responsible for Finland, Bulgaria, Romania, and northernmost Norway. Elsewhere, the OSS was responsible for North Africa, China, Manchuria, Korea, the Southwest Pacific, and the Atlantic islands, while SOE was responsible for the Middle East, India, West Africa, and East Africa. Both SOE and the OSS shared Burma, Thailand, Malaya, Sumatra, Germany, Italy, Sweden, Switzerland, Portugal, and Spain. Either agency was allowed to operate in any region with the permission of the party to which that region had been assigned. SOE gained the manpower and resources of the OSS, while the OSS gained the training, equipment, advice and access to the infrastructure that SOE had built in Europe since 1940.

    If we don't recognize that this is a truly unique moment in America's constitutional history, our generation's going to regret it forever. ~ Senator Ron Wyden

    by anyname on Sat Aug 17, 2013 at 11:31:45 PM PDT

  •  A tour de force of information, thanks. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Neon Vincent

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