Welcome to Science Saturday, where the Overnight News Digest crew, consisting of founder Magnifico, regular editors jlms qkw, Bentliberal, wader, Oke, rfall, and JML9999, alumni editors palantir and ScottyUrb, guest editors maggiejean and annetteboardman, and current editor-in-chief Neon Vincent, along with anyone else who reads and comments, informs and entertains you with this week's news about science, space, and the environment.
Between now and the end of the primary/caucus season, Overnight News Digest: Science Saturday will highlight the research stories from the public universities in each of the states having elections and caucuses during the week (or in the upcoming weeks if there is no primary or caucus that week). Tonight's edition highlights the science, space, environment, health, and energy stories from universities in the states of Delaware, Michigan, New Hampshire, and Rhode Island (list from Politics1.com) and will be the last to do so, as primary season is over.
To celebrate, here are a couple of evolution cartoons from I F*cking Love Science on Facebook, as suggested by jlms qkw.
Stories after the jump.
Recent Science Diaries and Stories
Watch this space!
When You Die...
by jim in IA
This week in science: Bird brains
We Built This
On Mars: Let the Science Begin
National Geographic News: Exclusive Pictures: Maya Murals Found in Family Kitchen
If these walls could talk, they'd solve a Maya mystery.
Five years ago Lucas Asicona Ramírez (far right, pictured with family) began scraping his walls while renovating his home in the Guatemalan village of Chajul. As the plaster fell away, a multi-wall Maya mural saw light for the first time in centuries, according to archaeologist Jaroslaw Zralka, who recently revealed the finds to National Geographic News.
Hat/Tip to annetteboardman for this story.
University of Michigan on YouTube: Survey shows that opinions about global climate change has shifted
A new survey by Barry Rabe and Christopher Borick of University of Michigan Ford School of Public Policy shows that people believe global climate change is occurring.
Michigan State University on YouTube: Behind-the-scenes with MSU Museum collections
Different members of MSU Museum discuss the museum's collections in storage and explain why museums collect.
To read more, go to http://news.msu.edu/story/behind-the-scenes-with-msu-museum-collections/.
NASA Television on YouTube: The Nation says Farewell to Neil Armstrong on This Week @ NASA
NASA Administrator Charles Bolden joined other agency officials and dignitaries at the Washington National Cathedral to honor the life and career of astronaut Neil Armstrong, the first man to walk on the moon, who died Aug. 25. The memorial was broadcast live on NASA Television and streamed on nasa.gov and the National Cathedral's website.
NASA Television on YouTube: NASA's Mars Curiosity Rover Report #6
A NASA's Mars Curiosity rover team member gives an update on developments and status of the planetary exploration mission. The Mars Science Laboratory spacecraft delivered Curiosity to its target area on Mars at 1:31:45 a.m. EDT on Aug. 6, which includes the 13.8 minutes needed for confirmation of the touchdown to be radioed to Earth at the speed of light. The rover will conduct a nearly two-year prime mission to investigate whether the Gale Crater region of Mars ever offered conditions favorable for microbial life.
Curiosity carries 10 science instruments with a total mass 15 times as large as the science payloads on NASA's Mars rovers Spirit and Opportunity. Some of the tools, such as a laser-firing instrument for checking rocks' elemental composition from a distance, are the first of their kind on Mars. Curiosity will use a drill and scoop, which are located at the end of its robotic arm, to gather soil and powdered samples of rock interiors, then sieve and parcel out these samples into the rover's analytical laboratory instruments.
NASA Explorer: NASA | MAVEN: Mars Atmospheric Loss
When you take a look at Mars, you probably wouldn't think that it looks like a nice place to live. It's dry, it's dusty, and there's practically no atmosphere. But some scientists think that Mars may have once looked like a much nicer place to live, with a thicker atmosphere, cloudy skies, and possibly even liquid water flowing over the surface. So how do you go from something like this--to something like this? NASA's MAVEN spacecraft will give us a clearer idea of how Mars lost its atmosphere, and scientists think that several processes have had an impact.
University of Delaware: Black hole lecture
Oct. 25 Vernon Lecture focuses on mystery at center of Milky Way
11:48 a.m., Sept. 11, 2012
High-powered telescopes are unveiling a big mystery shrouded in dust and sitting right smack in the middle of our Milky Way Galaxy. Stars are orbiting something — at a dizzying pace of up to 3,000 miles per second — and some of those stars have vanished.
“It’s a giant black hole,” says Mark Morris, a physicist at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), who has been observing it with the two telescopes of the W.M. Keck Observatory in Hawaii.
In the super-dense environment in a black hole, gravity is so great that nearby matter gets sucked inside, and even light can’t get out. Time also is believed to almost stand still inside these “bottomless pits.”
National Geographic News: Mars Rover Set to "Drive, Drive, Drive"—Headed for "Prize" Mountain
Plus: Why Curiosity may soon show its inner WALL-E
for National Geographic Books
Published September 13, 2012
With its extensive robotic-arm tests set to conclude Thursday, the Mars Science Laboratory rover—aka Curiosity—is ready to "drive, drive, drive," mission manager Jennifer Trosper of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) said in a press conference Wednesday.
The initial goal? "To find the right rock to begin doing contact science with the arm."
Once there, the rover can call on the most sophisticated suite of tools ever sent to an alien planet, including an x-ray spectrometer to identify elements in rocks, a supersharp close-up camera, and a lab-in-a-box that chemically analyzes samples dropped in by the arm.
San Marcos Mercury: Archaeologist adds to understanding of evolution
Posted by Brad Rollins
September 11, 2012
Excavation of an ancient bone bed at Cornelia, South Africa, near Johannesburg, recently uncovered a human molar and stone tools dating to about 1 million years ago, leading scientists a step closer to understanding human evolution.
The excavation was led by James Brink, head of the Florisbad Quaternary Research Department at the National Museum in Bloemfontein, South Africa. Britt Bousman of the Anthropology Department at Texas State University-San Marcos, dated the site in collaboration with Andy Herries of Australia’s La Trobe University, using a technique called paleomagnetism.
The molar, according to Jacopo Moggi-Cecchi from the Universitá di Firenze in Italy, is the oldest human remains to be discovered in South Africa’s Free State Province, and is either that of a Homo erectus or perhaps the more primitive Homo habilis.
Chinese Academy of Sciences via Physorg: Study: Peking Man an isolated population
September 11, 2012
Paleoanthropologists from the Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology (IVPP), Chinese Academy of Sciences, used both traditional metrics and recently developed 3D scanning techniques to explore the morphological variations of Peking Man's skulls at Zhoukoudian Locality 1, and found that the skull of the latest inhabitant did increase in every direction as compared to the earliest inhabitant, but the shape remained relatively stable. The slow evolutionary rates derived from11 cranial measurements indicate Peking Man is an isolated population. Researchers reported in the latest issue of Acta Anthropologica Sinica 2012 (3).
Peking Man is a collective name given to a group of hominid fossils found at Zhoukoudian in the suburbs of Beijing. Six skulls from Peking Man were discovered at Zhoukoudian Locality 1 since the official excavation in 1927.
Hat/Tip to annetteboardman for these stories.
University of Rhode Island: URI oceanographers find there is one-third less life on Earth
New estimate represents fewer subseafloor microbes
NARRAGANSETT, R.I. – August 29, 2012 -- Estimates of the total mass of all life on Earth should be reduced by about one third, based on the results of a study by a team of scientists at the University of Rhode Island’s Graduate School of Oceanography and colleagues in Germany.
The research was published this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science.
According to previous estimates, about one thousand billion tons of carbon is stored in living organisms, of which 30 percent is in single-cell microbes in the ocean floor and 55 percent reside in land plants. The researchers have now revised the number downward. Instead of 300 billion tons of carbon in subseafloor microbes, they estimate these organisms contain only about 4 billion tons. This reduces the total amount of carbon stored in living organisms by about one-third.
University of Delaware: Surviving without ice
Arctic crustaceans use currents, deep-water migration to survive sea ice melts
2:06 p.m., Sept. 13, 2012
With sea ice in the Arctic melting to record lows in summer months, marine animals living there face dramatic changes to their environment. Yet some crustaceans, previously thought to spend their entire lives on the underside of sea ice, were recently discovered to migrate deep underwater and follow ocean currents back to colder areas when ice disappears.
“Our findings provide a basic new understanding of the adaptations and biology of the ice-associated organisms within the Arctic Ocean,” said Mark Moline, director of the University of Delaware’s School of Marine Science and Policy in the College of Earth, Ocean, and Environment. “They also may ultimately change the perception of ice fauna as imminently threatened by the predicted disappearance of perennial sea ice.”
National Geographic News: New Monkey Discovered in the Congo
Posted by David Braun of National Geographic
on September 13, 2012
A monkey known as the lesula to local people in a remote part of the Democratic Republic of the Congo has been found to be a species new to science, researchers reported this week in the journal PLOS ONE. The species has been discovered just as it is being threatened with being hunted and eaten into extinction.
It is only the second new species of African monkey discovered in the last 28 years, according to PLOS ONE.
“The first lesula found was a young captive animal seen in 2007 in a school director’s compound in the town of Opala in the Democratic Republic of Congo,” the journal said in a news statement. “The young monkey bore a resemblance to the owl faced monkey, but its coloration was unlike that of any other known species.”
Michigan State University: Relieving plant stress could eventually help humans relax
Published: Sept. 13, 2012
EAST LANSING, Mich. — Humans could learn from how plants handle stress.
Federica Brandizzi, Michigan State University plant biologist, is using a grant from the National Institutes of Health to study how plants overcome stress as they grow. These pathways used to overcome stress are a key to growth. Without them plants, and animals, would die.
“When cells grow, they undergo trauma as growth is quite stressful,” Brandizzi said. “Since it’s very likely that these pathways have much in common between humans and plants, we should be able to gain insights into how plants and animals overcome stress and continue to grow as well.”
University of Rhode Island: URI engineering team improves lab-on-a-chip blood testing technology with smartphone app, hand-held biosensor
KINGSTON, R.I. – September 6, 2012 – A team of engineers and students at the University of Rhode Island has developed an advanced blood-testing technology that incorporates a smartphone application, a hand-held biosensor and a credit card-sized cartridge to provide rapid, accurate biological analysis and wireless communication of test results.
This new lab-on-a-chip technology improves upon a previous system announced by the URI team in 2011 that generated enthusiasm among many sectors of the health care industry. Several patents are pending on the invention.
“We went from a shoebox-size device last year to a hand-held device with several additional capabilities,” said Mohammad Faghri, URI professor of mechanical engineering and the lead researcher on the project. “The smartphone app turns the system on, monitors the assay, and sends the results securely back to your phone or to your doctor, all in about 20 minutes.”
University of Delaware: State of Delaware Estuary
Kauffman contributes to report by Partnership for the Delaware Estuary
7:50 a.m., Sept. 14, 2012
Gerald Kauffman, director of University of Delaware’s Water Resources Agency, joined a group of local scientists to author a report on the Delaware Estuary that delivered both promising and cautionary news.
While the Delaware River and Bay continue to recover from the devastating effects of pollution, many species that inhabit the water are in danger, the report states.
The “State of the Estuary Report” was released by the Partnership for the Delaware Estuary on Sept. 6 in Wilmington. Last released in 2008, it assesses many factors that contribute to the health of the estuary, such as the species that inhabit the water, the surrounding land areas and the effects of local human population.
University of Michigan: Climate change likely to increase Lake Erie algae blooms and 'dead zones,' U-M ecologist says
September 11, 2012
ANN ARBOR, Mich.—Climate change is expected to increase the frequency of intense spring rain storms in the Great Lakes region throughout this century and will likely add to the number of harmful algal blooms and "dead zones" in Lake Erie, unless additional conservation actions are taken, according to a University of Michigan aquatic ecologist.
Climate models suggest that the number of intense spring rain storms in the region could double by the end of the century, contributing to an overall 30 to 40 percent increase in spring precipitation, said Donald Scavia, director of the U-M's Graham Sustainability Institute.
That increase, combined with the greater availability of phosphorous due to current agricultural practices in the Midwest, means that increased amounts of the nutrient will be scoured from farmlands and run into rivers that feed Lake Erie, fueling algae blooms and low-oxygen zones known as dead zones.
University of Rhode Island: URI oceanographer to examine why chemical pollutants persist in Arctic
NARRAGANSETT, R.I. – September 12, 2012 – Pollutants from throughout the Northern Hemisphere often make their way through the air and water to the Arctic, where they can persist for decades and affect the health of the people and wildlife that live there. Now a University of Rhode Island oceanographer is collaborating with scientists at Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology to better understand how and why various kinds of pollutants persist in the environment.
“The Arctic is a fascinating place,” said Rainer Lohmann, associate professor of chemical oceanography at the Graduate School of Oceanography. “It’s cold, so things degrade much slower. It’s in the Northern Hemisphere where more people live and where there are more pollutants. And its food web structure is long, so pollutants accumulate up the food chain into large marine mammals that people care about.”
National Geographic News: Santorini Bulges as Magma Balloons Underneath
Satellites, GPS confirm "Atlantis" island's swelling.
For National Geographic News
Updated 5:53 pm. ET, September 12, 2012
Santorini locals began to suspect last year that something was afoot with the volcano under their Greek island group. Wine glasses occasionally vibrated and clinked in cafes, suggesting tiny tremors, and tour guides smelled strange gasses.
Now satellite radar technology has revealed the source of the symptoms. A rush of molten rock swelled the magma chamber under the volcano by some 13 to 26 million cubic yards (10 to 20 million cubic meters)—about 15 times the volume of London's Olympic Stadium—between January 2011 and April 2012. The ballooning chamber even forced parts of the island's surface to rise upward and outward by 3 to 5.5 inches (8 to 14 centimeters).
The volcano has been quiet for 60 years, and these recent events don't indicate an imminent eruption, said geologist Nomikou Paraskevi of the University of Athens.
University of Delaware: Face to face
Research finds infants classify faces by gender, race
10:05 a.m., Sept. 10, 2012
Long before babies can talk — even before they can sit up on their own — they are mentally forming categories for objects and animals in a way that, for example, sets apart squares from triangles and cats from dogs, psychologists say.
Now, research conducted by the University of Delaware’s Paul Quinn, professor of psychology, and others indicates that babies as young as 3 months are also classifying faces by race and gender, showing a visual preference for the category they see most often in their daily lives, and that by 9 months they have difficulty recognizing the faces of people from less-familiar races.
"At 3 months of age, the Caucasian infants we studied showed a looking-time preference for Caucasian faces, and when we collaborated with researchers in China, we found the same preference among Asian infants for Asian faces," Quinn said, adding that most infants are exposed predominantly to members of one racial group, generally their own. "Also at 3 months, infants had the ability to tell apart different faces within their own race as well as within other racial groups, but by 9 months, they had lost that ability for races other than their own.
"It seems that, as time goes on during the infancy period, and we experience some categories more frequently than others, we begin to process those categories differentially."
University of Michigan: High school sports participation lowers major crime and suspensions
September 10, 2012
ANN ARBOR, Mich.—If high school administrators want to create a positive environment, they should encourage students to participate in sports.
When high schools have strong interscholastic sports participation rates, they report lower levels of major crime and fewer suspensions, according to a new University of Michigan study.
The research includes violent behavior and attempted rape among major crimes, and suspensions involving five or more days out of school.
Michigan State University: ‘Civilian cyber-warriors’ not driven by patriotism
Published: Sept. 10, 2012
EAST LANSING, Mich. — People who commit cyber-attacks against the government also tend to download music illegally and participate in physical protests. Surprisingly, however, they don’t appear to be acting out of some sense of national pride or patriotism.
Those are some of the findings to emerge from a Michigan State University study that for the first time begins to paint a profile of “civilian cyber-warriors,” or people who engage in attacks against domestic or foreign governments without support from military or government agencies. Cybercrimes pose a huge societal risk and have become a hot issue globally, yet little is known about the mindset behind them.
“We were surprised to find that nationalism and patriotism were not predictors for cyber-attacks,” said Thomas Holt, MSU associate professor of criminal justice and lead author on the study. “When officials attempt to identify today’s civilian cyber-warriors, they shouldn’t necessarily be looking for the person who is politically radical.”
University of New Hampshire: UNH Researcher Investigates Character Development with $1.1 Million Templeton Grant
September 10, 2012
DURHAM, N.H. – A University of New Hampshire professor is among a group of researchers who will conduct a comprehensive evaluation of the worldwide essay contest the Laws of Life Essay Contest to determine if the project, sponsored by the Templeton Foundation, has a lasting impact on participants.
Victoria Banyard, professor of psychology, will join researchers at Sewanee University and Marquette University to conduct the study, which has been funded by a more than $1.1 million grant from the John Templeton Foundation to Sewanee University.
“We know from past research that narratives about our lives are a component of well-being and also of changing our behavior in positive ways. We know that even relatively brief interventions that involve writing and narrative can have a positive impact on mood, health, and behavior. This study is an opportunity to investigate how a narrative exercise presented at a key moment in the lifespan, the transition from adolescence to adulthood, may act in conjunction with other positive coping factors to promote positive development,” Banyard said.
Sidmouth Herald (UK): Big dig on Sidmouth hill before cliff erodes
Saturday, September 15, 2012
The Jurassic Coast was laid bare last week as an archaeological dig uncovered Sidmouth’s prehistory.
More than 120 people made the trek up High Peak to Saturday’s archaeological open day, held as part of the ‘Unlocking Our Coastal Heritage Project’.
University of Mainz (Germany) via Physorg: Roman military camp dating back to conquest of Gaul throws light on part of world history
September 14, 2012
In the vicinity of Hermeskeil, a small town some 30 kilometers southeast of the city of Trier in the Hunsrueck region in the German federal state of Rhineland-Palatinate, archaeologists from Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) have confirmed the location of the oldest Roman military fortification known in Germany to date
These findings shed new light on the Roman conquest of Gaul. The camp was presumably built during Julius Caesars' Gallic War in the late 50s B.C. Nearby lies a late Celtic settlement with monumental fortifications known as the "Hunnenring" or "Circle of the Huns," which functioned as one of the major centers of the local Celtic tribe called Treveri. Their territory is situated in the mountainous regions between the Rhine and Maas rivers. "The remnants of this military camp are the first pieces of archaeological evidence of this important episode of world history," comments Dr. Sabine Hornung of the Institute of Pre- and Protohistory at JGU. "It is quite possible that Treveran resistance to the Roman conquerors was crushed in a campaign that was launched from this military fortress."
Burton Mail (UK): Repton's big dig unearths a hidden Roman history
CONSTRUCTION workers have discovered evidence of Roman settlements while preparing to build a new science block at a school.
Site workers from the Bowmer and Kirkland building company unearthed a series of ditches, pits and enclosures while digging land at Repton School in Willington Road, Repton.
Specialist archaeologists were called in who believed the findings were evidence of Roman and Saxon settlements from between the third and sixth centuries AD.
This is Leicestershire (UK): Richard III dig: Leicester visitor centre needed 'to capitalise on King'
Saturday, September 15, 2012
Plans are under way to capitalise on the enormous potential of the story of Richard III.
Scientists have not yet confirmed that the skeleton found beneath the Greyfriars car park is that of the last Plantagenet king, but University of Leicester archaeologists have said they are quietly confident it is.
University of Leiceister via In Loughborough: Search for King Richard III enters new phase after momentous discovery has potential to rewrite history
University of Leicester
Posted on 14/09/2012
Historic findings of human remains- including a man with apparent battle wounds and curvature of the spine - have been revealed by an archaeological team from the University of Leicester.
The University of Leicester has been leading the archaeological search for the burial place of King Richard III with Leicester City Council, in association with the Richard III Society. The dig, now in its third week, has yielded dramatic findings of human remains which the University will now subject to rigorous laboratory tests.
The stunning findings of human remains excavated by the archaeologists came from the Choir of the Grey Friars Church.
United Press International has more in DNA may confirm lost British king is found
LEICESTER, England, Sept. 13 (UPI) -- Archaeologists digging for the grave of Britain's King Richard III say "strong circumstantial evidence" suggests a skeleton is that of the lost king.
National Geographic Magazine: Sky Caves of Nepal
Cliffside caves in the former kingdom of Mustang are giving up their secrets.
By Michael Finkel
Photograph by Cory Richards
The skull, a human skull, was perched atop a crumbly boulder in the remote northern reaches of the Nepalese district of Mustang. Pete Athans, the leader of an interdisciplinary team of mountaineers and archaeologists, stepped into his harness and tied himself to a rope. He scrambled up the 20-foot boulder, belayed by another climber, Ted Hesser.
When he reached the skull, he pulled on blue latex gloves to prevent his DNA from contaminating the find, and gradually removed it from the rubble. Athans was almost certainly the first person to hold this skull in 1,500 years. Dirt spilled from the eye cavities. He placed it in a padded red bag and lowered it to three scientists waiting below: Mark Aldenderfer of the University of California, Merced; Jacqueline Eng of Western Michigan University; and Mohan Singh Lama of Nepal’s Department of Archaeology.
LiveScience: 16th-Century Trial Records Reveal Priest's Magic 'Superpowers'
Owen Jarus, LiveScience Contributor
On Jan. 30, 1540, in Mexico City, at a time when Spain was carving out an empire in the New World, an epic trial got under way.
An ordained Catholic priest named Pedro Ruiz Calderón was being prosecuted for practicing black magic. The priest actually bragged about the powers he had acquired according to records a researcher is working on publishing.
He claimed to be able to teleport between continents, make himself invisible, make women fall in love with him, predict the future, turn metals into gold, summon and exorcise demons and, most importantly, discover buried treasure.
Discovery News via LiveScience: Medieval Shipwreck Discovered in Danube River
Rossella Lorenzi, Discovery News
Hungarian archaeologists have found what they believe may be an intact medieval shipwreck in the Danube river.
Partially buried in mud and gravel near the riverbank at Tahitótfalu, some 18 miles north of Budapest, the flat bottom river wreck has yet to be excavated.
A preliminary survey from the Argonauts Research Group in cooperation with the county museum of Szentendre, revealed that the ship is about 40 feet long and 10 feet wide. The archaeologists could distinguish oak floor-planks, floor-timbers, and L-shaped ribs. They also noticed that the junction piece of the bottom and the side wall of the wreck is carved from a single log.
BBC: Race to save Alaskan Arctic archaeology
By Nick Crumpton BBC News, Aberdeen
A recently discovered 500-year-old Alaskan settlement is rapidly disappearing into the Bering Sea.
The exquisitely preserved frozen site provides a spectacular insight into the Yup'ik Eskimo culture.
Researchers from the University of Aberdeen are using isotope analyses on recovered Eskimo hair to investigate how humans adapted to rapid climate change in the Arctic village.
The research was discussed at the British Science Festival.
The Mercury Sun (Australia): Port Arthur springs surprises
ARTEFACTS unearthed at the Port Arthur Historic Site nearly four decades ago have finally been analysed and the findings have surprised archaeologists.
The items, including toys, lace-making tools and crockery, had been hidden away in boxes at the site because of tragic circumstances.
But the invaluable pieces have at last been dusted off and the historical information they have revealed has changed experts' understanding of life at the penal colony.
The belated analysis has also brought the work of a promising young archaeologist to fruition.
The Canadian Press via the Star Phoenix: Bones and artifacts found, but so far no ships
Automated sub to be used in hunt
By Dene Moore, The Canadian Press
September 10, 2012
Archeologists involved in the hunt for the wreckage of the Franklin Expedition in Canada's Arctic have discovered human remains they believe are from a member of the doomed crew.
Despite bad weather that has hampered some of their plans, the journey has been a productive one so far, says the chief of underwater archeology for Parks Canada, and it should get even better with the addition of an automated underwater vehicle from the University of Victoria.
"Work is going well ... (but) we haven't found the ships yet," Marc-Andre Bernier said in a telephone interview after leaving the Canadian Coast Guard icebreaker Sir Wilfrid Laurier last week.
What they have found in a search on land are more artifacts from the ill-fated expedition. At Erebus Bay, where at least a dozen members of the Franklin crew are known to have died, more human remains have been recovered.
Discovery News: Oldest Message in a Bottle Found
Analysis by Rossella Lorenzi
Thu Sep 6, 2012 01:45 PM ET
A Scottish skipper has found the oldest message ever in a bottle at sea, Guinness World Records said.
According to the record-keeping organization, Andrew Leaper, skipper of the Shetland fishing boat "Copious," made the discovery on April 12 when hauling in his nets in the North Sea off the coast of Shetland.
He later learned that the message in bottle had been adrift for 97 years and 309 days. This surpasses the previous record by more than five years.
Amazingly, it was Leaper's friend Mark Anderson who set the previous record in 2006 by retrieving another Scottish bottle as he was skippering the same boat.
Berkshire Hathaway via Business Wire and Market Watch: DHL Assists in Recovery of American WWII Decorated Flier in Poland
Equipment shipped from Ohio to Poland will be used to recover last American officer in the Stalag Luft III German prison camp
MIAMI, Sep 10, 2012 (BUSINESS WIRE) -- DHL Global Forwarding, the air and ocean freight specialist within Deutsche Post DHL, assisted in the transportation of archeological equipment from Columbus, OH to Poland for surveying of the site for exhumation of a decorated World War II lieutenant. The air freight shipment will arrive in Lubin, Poland where the historical excavation of 1st Lt. Ewart T. Sconiers, the last American officer to be recovered from the Stalag Luft III German prison camp, will take place. The recovery will be conducted by the United States Joint Prisoners of War, Missing in Action Accounting Command (JPAC).
Hat/Tip to annetteboardman, who sent in the above articles.
National Geographic News: Albatross's Effortless Flight Decoded—May Influence Future Planes
Birds can glide thousands of miles without flapping.
National Geographic News
Published September 7, 2012
Airplane designers are getting new ideas from the albatross, long considered a master of efficient flight.
Through a method called dynamic soaring, the bird—with a wingspan of up to 12 feet (3.7 meters)—can glide thousands of miles without flapping.
Now, in a study that mixes biology with aeronautical engineering, researchers have come closer to figuring out how the birds ride the currents. And their findings may be used to innovate aircraft of the future.
University of Michigan: Measuring mercury levels: Nano-velcro detects water-borne toxic metals
September 10, 2012
ANN ARBOR, Mich.—A strip of glass covered in hairy nanoparticles can cheaply and conveniently measure mercury, which attacks the nervous system, and other toxic metals in fluids.
Researchers at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (EPFL), Northwestern University and the University of Michigan found that their new method can measure methyl mercury, the most common form of mercury pollution, at unprecedentedly small concentrations. The system, which could test for metal toxins in drinking water and fish, is reported in the current edition of Nature Materials.
Methyl mercury dumped in lakes and rivers accumulates in fish, reaching its highest levels in large, predatory fish such as tuna and swordfish. Young children and pregnant women are advised to avoid eating these fish because mercury can affect the developing brain and nervous system. While metals in drinking water are measured periodically, these measurements say little about migratory fish, including tuna, which may pass through more polluted areas.
Wayne State University: Wayne State University research team proposes new type of nanocarriers to treat cancer and inflammatory diseases
September 10, 2012
A Wayne State University (WSU) research team in the Eugene Applebaum College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences has developed a novel approach to the design of nanocarriers for treatment of metastatic cancer and inflammatory diseases.
Published in the prestigious international chemistry journal Angewandte Chemie, the study “Dual-function CXCR4 Antagonist Polyplexes to Deliver Gene Therapy and Inhibit Cancer Cell Invasion” introduces a new type of nanocarriers that have unique dual functionality. “The nanocarriers not only limit metastasis and inflammation, but also deliver additional therapeutic agents with anticancer or anti-inflammatory activity,” said Associate Professor David Oupicky, Ph.D., who heads the research team in the college’s Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences.
In describing the design, Oupicky said, “Published reports suggest that certain drugs, called CXCR4 antagonists, can limit tumor growth and metastasis in various cancers. This makes the CXCR4 receptor a suitable target for the development of combination nanocarriers that control cancer metastasis and can deliver a second knock-out punch.”
University of Delaware: Wind power's potential
UD-Stanford team calculates maximum global energy potential from wind
4:28 p.m., Sept. 10, 2012
Wind turbines could power half the world’s future energy demands with minimal environmental impact, according to new research published by University of Delaware and Stanford University scientists in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
The researchers arrived at the determination by calculating the maximum theoretical potential of wind power worldwide, taking into account the effects that numerous wind turbines would have on surface temperatures, water vapor, atmospheric circulations and other climatic considerations.
“Wind power is very safe from the climate point of view,” said Cristina Archer, associate professor of geography and physical ocean science and engineering at UD.
Science, Space, Health, Environment, and Energy Policy
USA Today via Great Falls Tribune: Greek treasures take a hit
by Nikolia Apostolou, Special for USA TODAY
ATHENS -- They survived wars, plunderers, earthquakes, millions of tourists and nearly 2,000 years of time. But they may not survive Greece's debt crisis.
The great ruins of ancient Greek civilization are being imperiled by massive budget cuts Greece is imposing to qualify for European bailout funds after years of overspending, say preservation experts.
"Hadrian's Arch and the Temple of Olympian Zeus are in danger of falling down," said Despina Koutsoumba, head of the Association of Greek Archaeologists.
The Guardian (UK): Rome bans lovers' padlocks to safeguard ancient bridge
Italian officials want to 'restore decorum' to Milvian bridge, which became focal point for tradition inspired by cult novel
Tom Kington in Rome
Tuesday 11 September 2012 10.36 EDT
Thousands of "love padlocks" fixed to an ancient Roman bridge by passionate couples have been sliced off with bolt cutters and dumped in a warehouse to save the bridge from damage.
Teenage lovers in Rome have for years written their initials on padlocks, locked them to Rome's Milvian bridge and sworn eternal love for each other before hurling the key into the Tiber, a habit that has caught on at bridges around the world, particularly in Paris.
The trend, which was inspired by characters in the 2006 cult Italian teen novel I Want You by Federico Moccia, first prompted Roman officials to set up posts for the padlocks to be attached to after a lamppost threatened to collapse under their weight on the bridge, which was first built in 206 BC.
Care 2: 5 Discoveries That Would Make Indiana Jones Proud
by Kristina Chew
With so much violent conflict in the world today, many important archeological sites are in grave danger. Timbuktu in Mali, Aleppo in Syria: today they are home to rape, murder, war and political unrest. Militant Ansar Dine Islamists linked to Al Qaeda are now in control of all of northern Mali and have reportedly vowed to destroy the storied mausoleums of Timbuktu, a cultural and intellectual center that played a huge role in the propagation of Islam throughout Africa in the 15th and 16th centuries.
Aleppo, a key site in the history of Christianity and well-traversed by people from many ancient civilizations, has seen weeks of fierce fighting between the forces of Syria President Bashar al-Assad and rebel fighters. The city’s Temple of the Storm God dates from the third to the second millennium BCE and is one of the oldest structures in the world — and shelling and military helicopters now threaten its existence.
Timbuktu and Aleppo are both UNESCO World Heritage Sites. So were the statues of Buddha of Bamiyan that were built in the early 6th century and destroyed with dynamite in March 2001 by the Taliban.
With all this in mind, here are five recent archaeology finds that remind us why the study and preservation of the past matters more than ever in our digital age.
Newsweek Pakistan: Who Owns Antiquity?
Two U.S. museums wrestle with the provenance question.
By Blake Gopnik
From the Sept. 21, 2012, issue.
In 1966, curators at the archaeological museum of the University of Pennsylvania bought a pile of gorgeous Bronze Age jewelry from a Philadelphia dealer. They couldn’t know their purchase would change how museums work.
The 24 gold objects had come to Penn with no trace of where they’d been unearthed, or how. That left scholars there without much clue about why and when the gold had been worked, or by whom—and with the suspicion that it had been dug up by looters. Frustrated, they decided to take steps to prevent this kind of “homelessness” for other antiquities. In 1970, they issued a declaration (a Philadelphia tradition, after all) insisting that the Penn museum would no longer acquire ancient objects whose history could not be properly tracked. Later that year, a UNESCO convention on cultural property suggested the same rule for all other museums, and since then, reputable institutions have pretty much toed that line.
Time: Syria’s Looted Past: How Ancient Artifacts Are Being Traded for Guns
The ongoing civil war in Syria, a land brimming with history, has led to a dangerous, tragic surge in the looting and smuggling of Syrian antiquities
By Aryn Baker / Majdal Anjar, Lebanon | @arynebaker
September 12, 2012
Abu Khaled knows the worth of things. As a small-time smuggler living along the porous border between Syria and Lebanon, he has dabbled in antiquities as much as the cigarettes, stolen goods and weapons that make up the bulk of his trade. So when a smuggler from Syria brought him a small, alabaster statue of a seated man a few weeks ago, he figured that the carving, most likely looted from one of Syria’s two dozen heritage museums or one of its hundreds of archaeological sites, could be worth a couple thousand dollars in Lebanon’s antiquities black market. So he called his contacts in Beirut. But instead of asking for cash, he asked for something even more valuable: weapons.
“War is good for us,” he says of the community of smugglers that regularly transit the nearby border. “We buy antiquities cheap, and then sell weapons expensively.” That business, he says, is about to get better. Fighters allied with the Free Syrian Army units battling the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad have told him that they are developing an association of diggers dedicated to finding antiquities in order to fund the revolution. “The rebels need weapons, and antiquities are an easy way to buy them,” says Abu Khaled, who goes by his nickname in order to protect his identity.
Hat/Tip to annetteboardman for these stories.
Michigan State University: New national fitness program aimed at keeping kids active
Published: Sept. 11, 2012
EAST LANSING, Mich. — The President’s Council on Fitness, Sports and Nutrition has announced they are phasing out their Youth Fitness Test, which dates back to 1966, and replacing it with the Presidential Youth Fitness Program.
The new program adopts an assessment called Fitnessgram, which minimizes comparisons between children and instead supports students as they pursue personal fitness goals for lifelong health. It assesses cardiovascular fitness, body composition, muscle strength, muscular endurance and flexibility.
Joe Eisenmann, a member of the MSU College of Osteopathic Medicine in the Department of Radiology’s Division of Sports and Cardiovascular Nutrition, played a key role in helping develop Fitnessgram’s cut-off points, which determine if a child is in the healthy fitness zone or needs improvement. He is a member of the scientific advisory board for Fitnessgram.
University of Rhode Island: Pharmacy, health care leader delivers sobering news about cost, effectiveness of U.S. health care
URI College of Pharmacy symposium delivers compelling messages
KINGSTON, R.I. – September 17, 2012 – The United States currently spends $2.5 trillion on health care annually, the most of any country in the world, but America’s infant mortality rate is 28th in the world.
Only 30 percent of sick Americans receive same-day care, and medical errors kill as many as 98,000 Americans a year.
Those chilling facts punctuated Friday’s keynote address at the University of Rhode Island’s College of Pharmacy Symposium, “Drug Therapy in the 21st Century: Discovery and Clinical Use.”
The Leader-Post (Canada) via The Star Phoenix: Sask. student helps unearth victims of war
By Vanessa Brown, The Leader-Post
September 5, 2012
On a hot, dusty day in late May, Danee Wilson and a team of volunteer archeologists begin their search. It is the last of three planned digs in which Wilson, a University of Saskatchewan archeology student, travelled to Spain to participate. If anything, the previous two outings were surer bets than this one. But they didn't find anything.
Wilson is wary as she fights the summer heat and walks to the edge of Abenojar, a small town in south central Spain, where a mass grave of human remains is believed to be located. She is not sure her trip will go as planned.
But this time is different. On the third day of digging in a cramped enclave near the local cemetery, the team discovers a skull. As their shovels and pickaxes go deeper, they unearth the bodies of three victims killed in the early 1940s during Gen. Francisco Franco's regime.
Brown Daily Herald: Archaeology profs present summer dig findings
From measuring fragments of monasteries in Paris to performing some of the first archaeological explorations of the tiny Caribbean island of Montserrat, professors in Brown’s archaeology department has had a busy summer. Speaking to a packed audience in Rhode Island Hall Wednesday, six archaeologists presented the work they and their teams completed this season in an attempt to concisely answer the oft-asked question, “So what’s the best thing you found?”
Answers to this question were numerous and highlighted the diversity of projects undertaken by the department.
Red and Black: UGA professor says archaeology work in Caribbean 'fun'
Victor Thompson’s research doesn't take place in a library or museum.
His research is at an island in the Caribbean.
Thompson is a University anthropology professor specializing in archaeology. He recently traveled to the island of Mustique with his wife, who is a fellow anthropologist, and colleagues from the University of Oregon and the Netherlands.
The group worked to answer some basic questions about the history of the island, such as when it was colonized and how it fits into the larger picture of the development of the surrounding islands.
Yuma Sun: Just digging it — Otondo students trowel as archaeologists for the day
BY SARAH WOMER - SUN STAFF WRITER
September 14, 2012 4:28 PM
A class of fifth-grade students at Otondo Elementary had the opportunity to become archaeologists for a day using a sandy plot of land behind their school as an excavation site.
Equipped with the necessary tools, students conducted an archaeological dig — digging up artifacts that their instructor buried; measuring how deep in the ground it was found, weighing it, tagging and bagging it.
Teacher Michele Van Voorst said that after the students discovered the items they would return to the classroom to clean and inspect them in order to draw conclusions about what they found. She said she hid a myriad of artifacts from toys and coins to chicken bones and arrowheads.
Hat/Tip to annetteboardman for these stories.
University of Rhode Island: URI pharmacy students, faculty to experience a new healthy, sustainable building
KINGSTON, R.I. –September 4, 2012 – University of Rhode Island pharmacy students and faculty have moved to a new academic home - a sunny, environmentally friendly building constructed in the Kingston campus' new North Science District.
The $75 million pharmacy building, which opens officially today, will feature bright open classrooms and laboratories, healthy indoor work spaces, energy-efficient lighting systems, high-technology mechanical systems, and a site footprint with a minimal impact on the natural environment.
The sophisticated five-story, 144,000-square-foot science facility was designed by Payette architects of Boston and is expected to earn a "Gold" rating in the U.S Green Building Council's LEED® rating system. The Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design program is an established international system for measuring the sustainability qualities of new and renovated buildings. URI has already constructed six LEED certified buildings, with five others in planning or construction.
“The Rhode Island building codes are already very progressive in promoting energy-efficient and environmentally sustainable projects, and this building design goes far beyond those baseline requirements,” said Thomas Frisbie-Fulton, director of Campus Planning and Design at URI.
University of Rhode Island: URI Continues to Go Green with New Recycling Program
KINGSTON, R.I.- September 13, 2012- The University of Rhode Island recycling program started the year off right, recycling approximately 8 tons of cardboard during the three-day period when students moved back to campus for the new school year.
From Sept. 1 to Sept. 3, at each residence hall, a URI recycling worker helped parents and students sift through the trash and cardboard, before disposing of more than 80 cubic yards of cardboard in a separate bin.
“When the parents came out of the dorm rooms, we asked them for the cardboard, and some said that they wanted to take it home so it could be recycled. They were pleasantly surprised to learn that we were recycling here at the University of Rhode Island,” said Mary Brennan, recycling coordinator for the last year and a half.
Science Writing and Reporting
LiveScience: 'Lost' City of Atlantis: Fact & Fable
Benjamin Radford, LiveScience Contributor
Atlantis is a legendary "lost" island subcontinent often idealized as an advanced, utopian society holding wisdom that could bring world peace. The idea of Atlantis has captivated dreamers, occultists, and New Agers for generations.
In the 1800s, mystic Madame Blavatsky claimed that she learned about Atlantis from Tibetan gurus; a century later, psychic Edgar Cayce claimed that Atlantis (which he described as an ancient, highly evolved civilization powered by crystals) would be discovered by 1969. In the 1980s, New Age mystic J.Z. Knight claimed that she learned about Atlantis from Ramtha, a 35,000-year-old warrior spirit who speaks through her. Thousands of books, magazines and websites are devoted to Atlantis, and it remains a popular topic.
Hat/Tip to annetteboardman for this story.
Science is Cool
Laboratory Equipment: LEGOs Used to Conserve Ancient Mummy Case
Thu, 09/13/2012 - 8:44am
Thanks to an ambitious conservation project and some tiny pieces of plastic, the ancient Egyptian mummy case of Hor is now on display in the Fitzwilliam Museum, at Cambridge Univ.
The conservation of the cartonnage mummy case was undertaken with the assistance of the Department of Engineering, who helped construct clever frames to support the delicate case during conservation and a new display case with internal supports using LEGO.
Monmouth College via Galesburg Planet: Lecture: Agatha Christie, archaeology and Alzheimer’s
By Barry McNamara - Monmouth College
on September 13th, 2012 at 9:00 am
University of Toronto staff member Amy Barron will present an archaeology lecture at Monmouth College on Sept. 18 at 7:30pm in the Morgan Room of Poling Hall.
Titled “Agatha Christie, Archaeology and Alzheimer’s,” the talk is free and open to the public. It is sponsored by MC’s classics department, in cooperation with the Western Illinois Society of the Archaeological Institute of America (AIA). CPDUs are available for attending the lecture.
Hat/Tip to annetteboardman for these stories.
Michigan State University: Reading the classics: It’s more than just for fun
Published: Sept. 14, 2012
EAST LANSING, Mich. — Reading a classic novel such as “Pride and Prejudice” can be entertaining, but, according to new research by a Michigan State University professor, it also can provide many other benefits beyond that.
Natalie Phillips, an MSU assistant professor of English, and her team placed study participants in an MRI machine and monitored their brain flow while reading the works of Jane Austen.
The results, she said, were surprising, in that blood flow was increased in areas of the brain far beyond those responsible for what cognitive scientists call “executive function,” regions normally associated with tasks that require close attention, such as studying, doing complex math problems or reading intensely.
“What took us by surprise is how much the whole brain transformed in shifting from pleasure to close reading, and in regions far beyond those associated with attention and executive functions,” Phillips said. “In one subject, for example, we saw literary analysis activating areas of the brain that we use to place ourselves spatially in the world and areas dedicated to physical activity.”
Phillips said this work could shed new light on the debate regarding the value of studying literature and majoring in the humanities.