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  • www.theguardian.com Underground cave found on moon could be ideal base for explorers

    Researchers find evidence for cave accessible from surface – which could shelter humans from harsh lunar environment

    Underground cave found on moon could be ideal base for explorers

    Researchers find evidence for cave accessible from surface – which could shelter humans from harsh lunar environment

    Researchers have found evidence for a substantial underground cave on the moon that is accessible from the surface, making the spot a prime location to build a future lunar base.

    The cave appears to be reachable from an open pit in the Mare Tranquillitatis (Sea of Tranquility), the ancient lava plain where the Apollo 11 astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin first set foot on the moon more than half a century ago.

    Analysis of radar data collected by Nasa’s lunar reconnaissance orbiter (LRO) revealed that the Mare Tranquillitatis pit, the deepest known pit on the moon, leads to a cave 45 metres wide and up to 80 metres long, an area equivalent to 14 tennis courts. The cave lies about 150 metres beneath the surface.

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  • theconversation.com How old are South African fossils like the Taung Child? New study offers an answer

    Using a method applied directly to ancient hominin teeth, researchers have calculated the age of several important fossils.

    How old are South African fossils like the Taung Child? New study offers an answer

    One hundred years ago the discovery of a skull in South Africa’s North West province altered our understanding of human evolution. The juvenile skull was dubbed the Taung Child by Raymond Dart, an anatomist at the University of the Witwatersrand, who first described it. In 1924 Dart could not say exactly how old it was, but he announced that it belonged to a new species which he named Australopithecus africanus. It was the first evidence that confirmed British naturalist Charles Darwin’s assertion that apes and humans shared a long-ago common ancestor and that humanity originated from Africa.

    Following on from the Taung Child, new discoveries of Australopithecus africanus were made, many at Sterkfontein, about 70km south-west of Pretoria. Sterkfontein is located within the “Cradle of Humankind”, which is a Unesco World Heritage Site.

    In the century since the Taung Child was found and described, a great debate has developed about the geological ages of the Australopithecus fossils found at Sterkfontein as well as those from Taung and a third site, Makapansgat.

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  • Harnessing the Propulsive Force of Microalgae with Microtrap to Drive Micromachines

    Micromotors found within microorganisms possess a multitude of unique and advantageous properties, outperforming engineered motors developed thus far.

    Microorganisms possess remarkable locomotion abilities, making them potential candidates for micromachine propulsion.  Here, the use of Chlamydomonas Reinhardtii (CR) is explored, a motile green alga, as a micromotor by harnessing its propulsive force with microtraps.

    The micromachine empowered with two CRs facing the same direction exhibits complex, random-like motion with yaw, pitch, and roll movements, while the micromachine with four CRs in a circular position each facing the tangential direction of the circle demonstrates controlled rotational motion. These findings highlight the degree of freedom and movement potential of biohybrid micromachines.

    Taken together, the structures we have designed to efficiently trap CRs illustrate the potential of harnessing their propulsion force for the effective conversion into mechanical energy for micromachines. This strategy unveils new pathways in fundamental sciences by exploring the dynamics of CRs’ motion, as well as in the research area focusing on micromachines in the liquids that transform motion into work via the activities.

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  • phys.org Gnatalie is the only green-boned dinosaur found on the planet. She will be on display in LA

    The latest dinosaur being mounted at the Natural History Museum in Los Angeles is not only a member of a new species—it's also the only one found on the planet whose bones are green, according to museum officials.

    Gnatalie is the only green-boned dinosaur found on the planet. She will be on display in LA

    The latest dinosaur being mounted at the Natural History Museum in Los Angeles is not only a member of a new species—it's also the only one found on the planet whose bones are green, according to museum officials.

    Named "Gnatalie" (pronounced Natalie) for the gnats that swarmed during the excavation, the long-necked, long-tailed herbivorous dinosaur's fossils got its unique coloration, a dark mottled olive green, from the mineral celadonite during the fossilization process.

    While fossils are typically brown from silica or black from iron minerals, green is rare because celadonite forms in volcanic or hydrothermal conditions that typically destroy buried bones. The celadonite entered the fossils when volcanic activity around 50 million to 80 million years ago made it hot enough to replace a previous mineral.

    The dinosaur lived 150 million years ago in the late Jurassic Era, making it older than Tyrannosaurus rex—which lived 66 million to 68 million years ago.

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  • Three-dimensional genome architecture persists in a 52,000-year-old woolly mammoth skin sample

    Highlights

    •3D genome architecture is preserved in a 52,000-year-old woolly mammoth sample

    •PaleoHi-C makes it possible to assemble the woolly mammoth’s genome

    •Chromatin compartments also persist, enabling study of mammoth gene expression

    •We propose that dehydration led to a glass transition arresting molecular movement

    We hypothesize that, shortly after this mammoth’s death, the sample spontaneously freeze-dried in the Siberian cold, leading to a glass transition that preserved subfossils of ancient chromosomes at nanometer scale.

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  • phys.org Nearby exoplanet could be first known ocean world: Webb telescope

    A planet relatively close to Earth could be the first ever detected with a potentially life-sustaining liquid ocean outside our Solar System, according to scientists using the James Webb space telescope.

    Nearby exoplanet could be first known ocean world: Webb telescope

    A planet relatively close to Earth could be the first ever detected with a potentially life-sustaining liquid ocean outside our Solar System, according to scientists using the James Webb space telescope.

    More than 5,000 planets have been discovered outside of the Solar System so far, but only a handful are in what is called the "Goldilocks zone" — neither too hot or too cold — that could host liquid water, a key ingredient for life.

    The exoplanet LHS 1140 b is one of the few in this habitable zone, and has been thoroughly scrutinized since it was first discovered in 2017.

    It sits 48 light years from Earth, which equates to more than 450 trillion kilometers (280 trillion miles) — relatively close in the vast distances of space.

    The exoplanet had been thought to be a small gas giant called a "mini-Neptune" with an atmosphere too thick with hydrogen and helium to support alien life.

    However, new observations from the Webb telescope have confirmed that the exoplanet is in fact a rocky "super-Earth".

    It is 1.7 times bigger than Earth, but has 5.6 times its mass.

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  • Enhanced astronaut hygiene and mission efficiency: a novel approach to in-suit waste management and water recovery in spacewalks

    www.frontiersin.org Frontiers | Enhanced astronaut hygiene and mission efficiency: a novel approach to in-suit waste management and water recovery in spacewalks

    The current waste management system within the Extravehicular Mobility Unit (EMU) consists of a disposable diaper—the Maximum Absorbency Garment (MAG)—that c...

    Frontiers | Enhanced astronaut hygiene and mission efficiency: a novel approach to in-suit waste management and water recovery in spacewalks

    The current waste management system within the Extravehicular Mobility Unit (EMU) consists of a disposable diaper—the Maximum Absorbency Garment (MAG)—that collects urine and feces during extravehicular activities (EVAs) that last up to 8 h.

    Such exposure to waste for prolonged periods of time contributes to hygiene-related medical events, including urinary tract infections and gastrointestinal distress.

    Historically, prior to using the MAG, astronauts have limited their food intake or eaten a low-residue diet before embarking on physically demanding spacewalks, reducing their work performance index (WPI) and posing a health risk.

    Furthermore, the current 0.95 L In-suit Drink Bag (IDB) does not provide sufficient water for more frequent, longer-range spacewalks, which carry greater potential for contingency scenarios requiring extended time away from a vehicle. High transport costs per pound to space and resource scarcity exacerbate these challenges, underscoring the need for water-efficient waste management.

    This paper introduces a novel in-suit urine collection and filtration system developed in the Mason Lab at Weill Cornell Medical College that could address these hygiene and hydration concerns.

    The device would collect astronaut urine via an external catheter and filter it using forward and reverse osmosis (FO-RO) into potable water, creating a sustainable and hygienic circular water economy, enhancing astronaut wellbeing.

    This research aims to achieve an 85% urine collection rate using a modified MAG. The modified MAG will be made of a flexible compression material lined with antimicrobial fabric, and urine is collected through a silicone urine collection cup, which differs for male and female astronauts to conform to anatomy. Urine collection via a vacuum pump is triggered by a humidity sensor that detects the presence of urine in the cup.

    The FO-RO filtration system targets a minimum of 75% water recovery, while consuming less than 10% of EMU energy.

    To meet health standards, the filtrate maintains low salt levels (<250 ppm NaCl) and effectively removes major urine solutes (urea, uric acid, ammonia, calcium).

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  • Namida-ishi – Ichikawa, Japan

    www.atlasobscura.com Namida-ishi

    A single block in this stone staircase to the temple is mysteriously always wet.

    Namida-ishi

    A single block in this stone staircase to the temple is mysteriously always wet.

    GUHŌ-JI IS AN OLD TEMPLE in Ichikawa City, Chiba, originally founded in 737 though the complex has been rebuilt numerous times, most recently in 1972. Its main approach is a steep stone-step path, consisting of over a thousand blocks, one of which bears a curious story.

    On the 27th step (counting up), one block stands out, moist and mossy, worn and uneven while all the other steps are crisp-cornered. This particular block is known as Namida-ishi, which means “tear-stone.”

    According to the legend, master carpenter Suzuki Nagayori was transporting stone material from Izu to Nikkō, where a grand shrine of the Tokugawa shogun was being built, when his ship got stuck in Ichikawa. Unable to move on, he used the stone for Guhō-ji instead.

    When the government found out, Suzuki committed seppuku on the temple steps as a form of apology. It is said that his blood and tears are soaked into the one block, forever cursing it.

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  • Seeing is believing – The application of Three-Dimensional modelling technologies to reconstruct the final hours in the life of an ancient Egyptian Crocodile

    Highlights

    •A large crocodile mummy was studied using digital radiography and CT scanning

    •A radiodense fish hook and a small fish were visible in the stomach

    •Following data segmentation, the fish hook was recreated using stereolithography

    •Wax replicas of the fish hook were created from the STL file

    •Bronze replicas of the fish hook were investment cast using the lost wax method

    The application of non-invasive radiography (X-ray and CT) to an ancient Egyptian crocodile mummy demonstrated a high level of corporeal preservation achieved through artificial embalming.

    Analysis revealed numerous anomalies within the abdomen of the crocodile which merited further investigation using digital three-dimensional modelling technologies.

    Improving the clarity of the CT scan data enabled the authors to identify the anomalies which included a metal fish hook and a small fish.

    Segmentation of the CT scan data enabled the virtual extraction of the hook from within the confines of the mummy and its replication, firstly in plastic and then in its original material, bronze.

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  • Magnetostratigraphic dating of earliest hominin sites in Europe

    Highlights

    •This study helps resolve one of the longest controversies in paleoanthropology: when did early hominins arrive in Europe?

    •Three superposed hominin sites are dated between the Olduvai and Jaramillo magnetic subchrons (1.78–1.07 Myr) for the first time in Europe.

    •A Bayesian age-stratigraphic model provides Europe's oldest and most accurate early Pleistocene hominin ages.

    •Hominins with Oldowan tools entered Europe for the first time ~ 0.5 Ma after first leaving Africa.

    •This migration occurred ~0.5 Ma before the arrival of Acheulian technology in Europe.

    •Both African migrations are first reported in Spain, suggesting that the Strait of Gibraltar was a permeable barrier for early Pleistocene hominins

    The Orce region presents a unique European stratigraphic, paleontological, and hominin succession with >1 million years of the Early Pleistocene record.

    This study places three hominin sites within this record between the Olduvai and Jaramillo subchrons with dates of 1.32, 1.28, and 1.23 Ma.

    The Orce region recorded the first arrival of hominins in Europe ~1.3 Ma at the Venta Micena site, indicating that Europe was isolated from an Afro-Asiatic hominin world for >0.5 Ma, likely due to biogeographical barriers.

    Once hominins reached Iberia, they further dispersed into southern Europe. The archaeological record shows that a second wave of hominins with Acheulian lithic culture reached Europe (Iberia) after the Jaramillo, around 0.9 Ma.

    These chronologies suggest that the Strait of Gibraltar acted as a filter bridge for African species like hominins, Theropithecus, and hippos during the Early Pleistocene.

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  • www.theguardian.com ‘Amazing’ new technology set to transform the search for alien life

    A conference in the UK this week will outline new developments in a project to look for ‘technosignatures’ of other advanced species

    ‘Amazing’ new technology set to transform the search for alien life

    A conference in the UK this week will outline new developments in a project to look for ‘technosignatures’ of other advanced species

    It has produced one of the most consistent sets of negative results in the history of science. For more than 60 years, researchers have tried to find a single convincing piece of evidence to support the idea that we share the universe with other intelligent beings. Despite these decades of effort, they have failed to make contact of any kind.

    But the hunt for alien civilisations may be entering a new era, researchers believe. Scientists with Breakthrough Listen, the world’s largest scientific research programme dedicated to finding alien civilisations, say a host of technological developments are about to transform the search for intelligent life in the cosmos.

    These innovations will be outlined at the group’s annual conference, which is to be held in the UK for the first time, in Oxford, this week.

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  • www.popularmechanics.com A Controversial Pyramid Isn’t Actually 27,000 Years Old—and Now, the Mystery Deepens

    A claim of epic proportions met its match in peer review, sending archaeologists back to square one.

    A Controversial Pyramid Isn’t Actually 27,000 Years Old—and Now, the Mystery Deepens

    A claim of epic proportions met its match in peer review, sending archaeologists back to square one.

    A published study claiming the Indonesian pyramid Gunung Padang was crafted by humans 27,000 years ago was retracted by publishers.

    The study’s authors fight the retraction, but the archeological community backs it.

    Radiocarbon dating has proved the key sticking point.

    The fight over the science of an ancient Indonesian landmark has taken another turn in the archeological community—a controversial October 2023 study claiming that Gunung Padang is a pyramid created by humans 27,000 years ago was recently fully retracted from Wiley, the publishers of the journal Archaeological Prospection.

    Natawidjaja and his team aren’t budging. They claim the soil samples “have been unequivocally established as man-made constructions” that feature three distinct phases of construction. They claim the shapes, composition, and arrangement of the stone bolsters the argument.

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  • gizmodo.com Hypothetical Faster-Than-Light Particle Fits With Einstein Theory

    The tachyon, a hypothetical, faster-than-light particle previously thought unworkable with relativity, may have some tricks up its sleeve.

    Hypothetical Faster-Than-Light Particle Fits With Einstein Theory

    The hypothetical faster-than-light particle known as the tachyon may marry with the special theory of relativity, according to a team of physicists, making their existence more plausible.

    Tachyons are a type of hypothetical particle, meaning its existence remains a matter of speculation.

    The tachyon is also proposed to be superliminal, meaning it always travels faster than light.

    But nothing can move faster than light…right?

    The short answer is no, nothing can exceed the speed of light: 983,571,056 feet per second, or 299,792,458 meters per second. The longer answer is that it’s complicated; for example, quasiparticles created by clouds of electrons act as if they travel faster than light, though they do not.

    And while we’re musing on hypotheticals: If some other intelligent beings in the universe have figured out how to travel faster than light, evidence of their triumph may be detectable in the gravitational ripples produced by their technology, as proposed by a recent team of physicists.

    Like the tachyon itself, the work is very speculative. But such is the domain of these hypothetical particles. Researching stuff that moves faster than light was always going to require some imagination.

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  • Neanderthals and modern humans mingled early and often

    For decades researchers have been uncovering the genes living people owe to the extinct Neanderthals—a genetic legacy that boosts our immune systems, helps our blood clot, and may play a role in depression. Now, a study of ancient DNA turns the tables on Neanderthals and asks: What did they get from us?

    The Neanderthal-eye view allowed the researchers to date when the two groups mingled, finding they made babies together remarkably early: more than 200,000 years ago, not long after Homo sapiens coalesced as a species. The dalliances were repeated 105,000 to 120,000 years ago, and 45,000 to 60,000 years ago, the ancient Neanderthal DNA suggests. It argues mating was more common than previously thought.

    This new picture further blurs the boundaries between Neanderthals and modern humans. And it identifies features of the Neanderthal genome suggesting our big-brained, heavy-browed relatives were pitifully rare, which could help explain why they went extinct. “It’s alarming to see how small the Neanderthal populations were—this is a very powerful result,”

    Once seen as a separate species, Neanderthals have enjoyed a complete makeover in the 14 years since researchers first sequenced DNA in their fossils and found they interbred with modern humans. Most living people outside of Africa have inherited about 1% to 2% of their DNA from Neanderthals, perhaps from a prolonged period of mixing 45,000 to 60,000 years ago in Europe or the Middle East.

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  • gizmodo.com Chinese Asteroid Deflect Test Targets Near-Earth Object

    An upcoming Chinese mission will attempt to deflect a small asteroid in the ultimate showdown of planetary defense.

    Chinese Asteroid Deflect Test Targets Near-Earth Object

    China is targeting a small non-threatening near-Earth asteroid for a daring attempt to run into it at high speeds and move it off its course. The Chinese asteroid deflection test could happen as early as 2027, in a project similar to NASA’s recent DART mission.

    Asteroid 2015 XF261 is around 98 feet wide (30 meters) and had a recent encounter with Earth when it zipped past our planet at a distance of 31 million miles (50 million kilometers) on Tuesday, July 9. The near-Earth asteroid routinely passes by the planet twice a year, with the next flyby on February 21, 2025.

    Of the 31,000 near-Earth asteroids that have been discovered, about 2,300 are considered potentially hazardous by NASA. These are asteroids that come within 30 million miles of our planet.

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  • The most ancient human genome yet has been sequenced—and it’s a Denisovan’s

    The genetic sequence he unveiled is the oldest high-quality human genome yet—80,000 years older than the previous record holder: a Neanderthal that lived about 120,000 years ago.

    The new results come after more than a decade of effort to find fossilized bones and a second genome of a Denisovan, the mysterious archaic human discovered through its DNA 14 years ago.

    That first Denisovan genome came from a girl’s pinkie finger bone dated between 60,000 to 80,000 years ago. The genomes of both Denisovans and the ancient Neanderthal all came from the same cold, fossil-rich site: Denisova Cave in the Altai Mountains of Siberia.

    Denisovans are primarily known from their DNA. Researchers have the genome of the girl, as well as bits of nuclear and mitochondrial DNA from fragmentary fossils—teeth, a toe bone—of seven additional individuals, all also from Denisova Cave.

    Scientists have also identified some Denisovan DNA in living humans, including in Papuans and Han Chinese people, acquired from past interbreeding.

    DNA in sediments showed that Denisovans were first in the cave 300,000 years ago, and later lived in a cave on the Tibetan Plateau.

    The scanty fossils reveal this archaic human had larger molars than did the Neanderthals and a robust lower face, known from a jawbone in China. But no one really knows what Denisovans looked like.

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  • gizmodo.com Pentagon Publishes Report on Material From a Reported Alien Aircraft

    Oak Ridge National Laboratory scientists studied the scrap of metal and decided it’s just a failed 20th century experiment into magnesium alloys and not alien at all.

    Pentagon Publishes Report on Material From a Reported Alien Aircraft

    "Although the long chain of custody for this specimen cannot be verified, public and media interest in the specimen warranted a transparent investigation that adhered to the scientific method,” the report said. “The specimen’s physiochemical properties are claimed to make the material capable of “inertial mass reduction” (i.e., levitation or antigravity functionality), possibly attributable to the material’s bismuth and magnesium layers acting as a terahertz waveguide.”

    "Many experimental [magnesium] alloys failed for reasons not well understood at the time of testing, e.g., stress corrosion cracking,” the AARO said in its press release. “Unsurprisingly, records of failed [magnesium] alloy designs are scant. Neither AARO nor ORNL could verify the specimen’s historical origin. Unverifiable, conflicting personal accounts complicate its undocumented chain of custody.”

    Neither the press release nor the Oak Ridge report mention Roswell, New Mexico, but pinpointing the recovery date of the material to 1947 makes it likely that whoever gave the sample to To The Stars has claimed that’s where it came from.

    “This specimen has been publicly alleged to be a component recovered from a crashed extraterrestrial vehicle in 1947, and purportedly exhibits extraordinary properties, such as functioning as a terahertz waveguide to generate antigravity capabilities,” the AARO said in the press release. “Considering all available evidence, AARO assesses that this specimen is likely a test object, a manufacturing product or byproduct, or a material component of aerospace performance studies to evaluate the properties of [magnesium] alloys.”

    https://gizmodo.com/pentagon-publishes-report-on-material-from-a-reported-alien-aircraft-2000469433?utm_source=press.coop

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  • www.rawstory.com Why consciousness may have evolved to benefit society rather than individuals

    Why did the experience of consciousness evolve from our underlying brain physiology? Despite being a vibrant area of neuroscience, current research on consciousness is characterised by disagreement and controversy – with several rival theories in contention. A recent scoping review of over 1,000 art...

    Why consciousness may have evolved to benefit society rather than individuals

    The problem for scientific models of consciousness remains accommodating these intuitive accounts within a materialist framework consistent with the findings of neuroscience. While there is no current scientific explanation for how brain tissue generates or maintains subjective experience, the consensus among (most) neuroscientists is that it is a product of brain processes.

    If that’s the case, why did consciousness, defined as subjective awareness, evolve?

    Consciousness presumably evolved as part of the evolution of the nervous system. According to several theories the key adaptive function (providing an organism with survival and reproductive benefits) of consciousness is to make volitional movement possible. And volition is something we ultimately associate with will, agency and individuality. It is therefore easy to think that consciousness evolved to benefit us as individuals.

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  • www.businessinsider.com Photos show the mysterious ancient objects that mountaineers are finding on the Alps' melting glaciers

    Hikers and mountaineers are finding ancient human artifacts in the melting glaciers of the Alps.

    Photos show the mysterious ancient objects that mountaineers are finding on the Alps' melting glaciers

    Photos: Archaeological Mysteries Hikers Are Finding in the Alps

    Hikers and mountaineers are stumbling on mysterious ancient objects in the Swiss Alps, and their discoveries are keeping archaeologists busy.

    From the Iron Age to the Ancient Romans to the Middle Ages, people traveled across the Alps's icy mountain passes with cows, mules, oil, wine, skis, weapons, and more.

    Their lost or abandoned belongings are now surfacing as the mountains' glaciers melt, revealing clues about past civilizations and eras.

    Like the statue, many glacier artifacts are organic materials — wood, plant materials, leather — things that don't survive well at lower altitudes where they aren't frozen.

    That means artifacts like these are not common in archaeological digs. They don't have analogs in ancient cities or tombs — places that provide the context to figure out an item's purpose.

    In the case of this statue we have no comparison.

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  • Stunning 3D chromosomes in frozen mammoths may help resurrect the beasts

    The first sign that Erez Lieberman Aiden and his team were onto something special was the ice age beast’s hairdo. Woolly mammoth hides that froze, thawed, and refroze tend to go bald. But the mammoth that had perished some 52,000 years ago in Siberia had retained a tangle of chestnut-brown hair over much of its body, suggesting it had stayed frozen since the animal died.

    The closer the scientists peered, the more wonders they beheld. A microscope revealed the mammoth’s hair follicles. Looking even closer, they saw loops of chromatin—the DNA and proteins that make up chromosomes—preserved in a glasslike state in which the molecules are packed tightly.

    From that exquisite slab of skin, the researchers assembled the mammoth’s genome and the 3D architecture of its chromosomes. The structure closely resembles that of modern elephants and showed the genome in action, revealing clues to which genes were active in mammoth skin.

    Knowing the structure of the mammoth genome may put wind in the sails of controversial efforts to resurrect the beast.  The next big forefront in the field will come from novel chemistry to unlock deeper time fossils,” older than 1 million years.

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  • Michigan Dogman

    In folklore, the Michigan Dogman was a creature allegedly witnessed in 1887 in Wexford County, Michigan, United States. It was described as a seven-foot tall, blue-eyed, or amber-eyed bipedal canine-like animal with the torso of a man and a fearsome howl that sounds like a human scream. According to legends, the Michigan Dogman appears in a ten-year cycle that falls on years ending in 7.

    This creature was unknown to most of the modern world, until very late in the 20th century. It is said to have been stalking the area around the Manistee River since the days when the Odawa tribes lived there.

    The first alleged encounter of the Michigan Dogman occurred in 1887 in Wexford County, when two lumberjacks saw a creature which they described as having a man's body and a dog's head.

    In 1937 in Paris, Michigan, Robert Fortney was attacked by five wild dogs and said that one of the five walked on two legs.

    Reports of similar creatures also came from Allegan County in the 1950s, and in Manistee and Cross Village in 1967

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  • www.nature.com Repeated plague infections across six generations of Neolithic Farmers - Nature

    Population-scale ancient genomics are used to infer ancestry, social structure and pathogen infection in 108 Scandinavian Neolithic individuals from eight megalithic graves and a stone cist, showing that Neolithic plague was widespread.

    Repeated plague infections across six generations of Neolithic Farmers - Nature

    In the period between 5,300 and 4,900 calibrated years before present (cal. BP), populations across large parts of Europe underwent a period of demographic decline

    We find that the Neolithic plague was widespread, detected in at least 17% of the sampled population and across large geographical distances.

    Taken together, our findings provide a detailed reconstruction of plague spread within a large patrilineal kinship group and identify multiple plague infections in a population dated to the beginning of the Neolithic decline.

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  • phys.org Astronomers find surprising ice world in the habitable zone with JWST data

    A team of astronomers has identified a temperate exoplanet as a promising super-Earth ice or water world.

    Astronomers find surprising ice world in the habitable zone with JWST data

    A team of astronomers has identified a temperate exoplanet as a promising super-Earth ice or water world.

    This is the first time we have ever seen a hint of an atmosphere on a habitable zone rocky or ice-rich exoplanet. Detecting atmospheres on small, rocky worlds is a major goal for JWST, but these signals are much harder to see than for giant planet atmospheres.

    The planet, located about 48 light-years away in the constellation Cetus, emerges as one of the most promising habitable zone exoplanet candidates known, potentially harboring an atmosphere and even a liquid water ocean.

    ___________

    Transmission Spectroscopy of the Habitable Zone Exoplanet LHS 1140 b with JWST/NIRISS

    https://arxiv.org/abs/2406.15136

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  • theconversation.com Look up! A once-in-a-lifetime explosion is about to create a ‘new’ star in the sky

    Astronomers and stargazers around the world are excited to witness a rare event that only happens once every 80 years – a recurrent nova.

    Look up! A once-in-a-lifetime explosion is about to create a ‘new’ star in the sky

    Any night now, a “new star” or nova will appear in the night sky. While it won’t set the sky ablaze, it’s a special opportunity to see a rare event that’s usually difficult to predict in advance.

    The star in question is T Coronae Borealis (T CrB, pronounced “T Cor Bor”). It lies in the constellation of the northern crown, prominent in the Northern Hemisphere but also visible in the northern sky from Australia and Aotearoa New Zealand over the next few months.

    Most of the time T CrB, which is 3,000 light years away, is much too faint to be seen. But once every 80 years or so, it brightly erupts.

    A brand new star suddenly seems to appear, although not for long. Just a few nights later it will have rapidly faded, disappearing back into the darkness.

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  • www.independent.co.uk Nasa spots ‘surprise’ X shapes in Earth’s atmosphere

    Nasa has discovered “surprise” X and C shapes in the Earth’s atmosphere - and scientists are struggling to explain them. While these alphabetical shapes have been observed before, Nasa’s Global-scale Observations of the Limb and Disk (GOLD) mission sees them more clearly than other instruments have...

    Nasa spots ‘surprise’ X shapes in Earth’s atmosphere

    Nasa has discovered “surprise” X and C shapes in the Earth’s atmosphere - and scientists are struggling to explain them.

    While these alphabetical shapes have been observed before, Nasa’s Global-scale Observations of the Limb and Disk (GOLD) mission sees them more clearly than other instruments have and is now finding them where and when scientists didn’t expect.

    These unexpected appearances tell scientists that something else must be involved in forming these X shapes. Computer models suggest that the X could develop when changes in the lower atmosphere pull plasma downward.

    “The X is odd because it implies that there are far more localized driving factors,” said Jeffrey Klenzing, a scientist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, who studies the ionosphere.

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  • phys.org Archaeological evidence shows centuries of intensive economic growth in Britain under Roman rule

    A team of anthropologists and behavioral specialists from several institutions in the U.S., working with a colleague from the U.K., has found that following the conquest of Great Britain in AD 43 by the Romans, the region experienced intensive economic growth.

    Archaeological evidence shows centuries of intensive economic growth in Britain under Roman rule

    To gain insight into how Roman rule may have impacted Britain, the research team looked at three types of artifacts: buildings, coins and pottery. More specifically, they looked at how such artifacts changed in the years after the Roman conquest. Houses got bigger, they noted, and as people grew richer, they became more careless with their coins, resulting in more of them being lost between floorboard cracks.

    As living standards improved, so did the quality and diversity of pottery used for preparing and eating meals. In making such comparisons, the research team was able to watch how economic growth impacted the people who had been conquered.

    They found that in many cases, it had been what they describe as intensive—it greatly exceeded the type of growth that would have been expected for the region if the Romans had not arrived with their advanced technology and rules of business conduct.

    _________

    Identification and measurement of intensive economic growth in a Roman imperial province

    https://www.science.org/doi/10.1126/sciadv.adk5517

    5
  • Curse of the pharaohs

    The curse of the pharaohs or the mummy's curse is a curse alleged to be cast upon anyone who disturbs the mummy of an ancient Egyptian, especially a pharaoh. This curse, which does not differentiate between thieves and archaeologists, is claimed to cause bad luck, illness, or death. Since the mid-20th century, many authors and documentaries have argued that the curse is 'real' in the sense of having scientifically explicable causes such as bacteria, fungi or radiation.

    Curses relating to tombs are extremely rare, possibly because the idea of such desecration was unthinkable and even dangerous to record.

    They most frequently occur in private tombs of the Old Kingdom era.

    The tomb of Ankhtifi (9–10th dynasty) contains the warning:

    "any ruler who... shall do evil or wickedness to this coffin... may Hemen ([a local deity]) not accept any goods he offers, and may his heir not inherit".

    The tomb of Khentika Ikhekhi (6th dynasty) contains an inscription:

    "As for all men who shall enter this my tomb... impure... there will be judgment... an end shall be made for him... I shall seize his neck like a bird... I shall cast the fear of myself into him"

    Scientific speculations

    It has been suggested that the toxic spores of the fungus Aspergillus flavus, besides possibly contributing to deaths following a 1973 tomb opening in Poland, may also have contributed to some of the allegedly Tutankhamun-related deaths, particularly the deaths of Lord Carnarvon, George Jay Gould, and Arthur Mace, though the link has been disputed (at least in Carnarvon's case).

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  • www.thecollector.com Who is Buried in the Valley of the Kings?

    The famous Valley of the Kings is home to tombs, famous archaeological discoveries, and even hauntings. Who were the royals that ended their lives here centuries ago?

    Who is Buried in the Valley of the Kings?

    The famous Valley of the Kings is home to tombs, famous archaeological discoveries, and even hauntings. Who were the royals that ended their lives here centuries ago?

    There are 64 tombs located throughout the valley, ranging in size and scale. Some are simple pit tombs, while others are ornate burial chambers with labyrinths of numerous rooms. The valley was the principal burial site for rulers of Egypt’s New Kingdom, which lasted from approximately 1550 to 1077 BCE. In addition to the pharaohs themselves, these ruler’s wives, relatives, and pets are buried in the valley. Some of the tombs remain unidentified.

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  • phys.org Crew of NASA's earthbound simulated Mars habitat emerge after a year

    The crew of a NASA mission to Mars emerged from their craft after a yearlong voyage that never left Earth.

    Crew of NASA's earthbound simulated Mars habitat emerge after a year

    The crew of a NASA mission to Mars emerged from their craft after a yearlong voyage that never left Earth.

    The four volunteer crew members spent more than 12 months inside NASA's first simulated Mars environment at Johnson Space Center in Houston, coming out of the artificial alien environment Saturday around 5 p.m.

    The first CHAPEA crew focused on establishing possible conditions for future Mars operations through simulated spacewalks, dubbed "Marswalks," as well as growing and harvesting vegetables to supplement their provisions and maintaining the habitat and their equipment.

    1
  • www.scientificamerican.com Not Everyone Has an Inner Voice Streaming Through Their Head

    The extent to which people experience “inner speech” varies greatly, and the differences matter for performing certain cognitive tasks

    Not Everyone Has an Inner Voice Streaming Through Their Head

    The extent to which people experience “inner speech” varies greatly, and the differences matter for performing certain cognitive tasks

    Participants with weak inner voices did worse at psychological tasks that measure, say, verbal memory than did those with strong inner voices. The researchers have even proposed calling a lack of inner speech “anendophasia” and hope that naming it will help facilitate further research. The study adds to growing evidence that our inner mental worlds can be profoundly different. “It speaks to the surprising diversity of our subjective experiences,” Lupyan says.

    Psychologists think we use inner speech to assist in various mental functions.

    6
  • www.coasttocoastam.com Art's Parts | Coast to Coast AM

    Investigative reporter Linda Moulton Howe offered a detailed update on "Art's Parts" (supposed pieces of the Roswell crash) which Art said he received about a month before, and originally thought were a hoax. With her help, tests were done on four of the pieces.

    Art's Parts | Coast to Coast AM

    About the show

    Investigative reporter Linda Moulton Howe offered a detailed update on "Art's Parts" (supposed pieces of the Roswell crash) which Art said he received about a month before, and originally thought were a hoax. He was sent a second shipment that claimed to be a part of the outer skin of the UFO. The man who sent the parts said that his grandfather was a member of the Roswell retrieval team. Linda described the parts as little squares, two ellipticals, a circle, and a very thin ten-inch long blade that looks almost like a piece of ribbon.

    With her help, tests were done on four of the pieces, which had curious anomalies. They were pure aluminum on the surface. The tests on the second group of parts revealed a very thin layer of bismuth. Art read a fax from a nuclear scientist who said the claimed facts about the objects were a physical impossibility. Art welcomed the scientist on the air in the second hour, who commented that the information Howe has is "pretty interesting to say the least." Linda also shared updates on the chupacabras, and took calls from listeners.

    The last two hours consisted of news and Open Lines.

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  • www.ladbible.com 'Best ever UFO footage' caught on camera had it's authenticity '100%' confirmed

    UFO experts have weighed in on a video captured by Pilot Jorge A. Arteaga which appears to show a very suspicious flying object in the skies.

    'Best ever UFO footage' caught on camera had it's authenticity '100%' confirmed

    Every now and again footage emerges and rattles even the biggest alien skeptics.

    One person who managed to capture pretty eerie footage is pilot Jorge A. Arteaga, whose video recorded during a flight has been called the 'best UFO footage ever' - and has also been found to be 100 per cent authentic.

    Arteaga was travelling through the skies above Antioquia, Colombia, when he spotted a strange object hurtling through the sky.

    Captured in brought daylight, the mysterious, square-like object shoots out of the clouds and past Arteaga's cockpit in a matter of seconds.

    He was able to quickly grab his camera and record the object - which appeared to be light in colour and pointed at one end - as it flew towards him before quickly speeding off.

    Arteaga would later claim that he and his co-pilot had spotted the item floating in the air between the cities of Medellín and Santa Fe, before it drastically picked up speed and beelined towards them.

    The pair had originally wanted to follow the UFO, but later abandoned the search after it suddenly began to hurtle towards them.

    5
  • theconversation.com Oldest living culture: our new research shows an Indigenous ritual passed down for 500 generations

    Matching new archological findings with ethnographic records, we can show ritual fireplaces have been in continuous use for at least 12,000 years.

    Oldest living culture: our new research shows an Indigenous ritual passed down for 500 generations

    What we found was extraordinary. Under the low, subdued light in the depth of the cave, buried under layers of ash and silt, two unusual fireplaces were revealed by the tip of the trowel. They each contained a single trimmed stick associated with a tiny patch of ash.

    A sequence of 69 radiocarbon dates, including on wood filaments from the sticks, date one of the fireplaces to 11,000 years ago, and the deeper of the two to 12,000 years ago, at the very end of the last Ice Age.

    Matching the observed physical characteristics of the fireplaces with GunaiKurnai ethnographic records from the 19th century shows this type of fireplace has been in continuous use for at least 12,000 years.

    The miniature fireplaces are the remarkably preserved remains of two ritual events dating back 500 generations.

    Nowhere else on Earth have archaeological expressions of a very specific cultural practice known from ethnography, yet traceable so far back, previously been found.

    0
  • www.thecollector.com Pompeii: Frozen in Time or an Ever-Evolving Landscape?

    Pompeii is traditionally remembered for the eruption which covered the city in ash. However, there is more to this story than most people realize...

    Pompeii: Frozen in Time or an Ever-Evolving Landscape?

    In October 79 CE, 2000 Pompeiians lost their lives and a city that once covered 160 acres vanished under a blanket of ash and debris. A terrifying eruption from Mount Vesuvius, the volcano that towers above the Bay of Naples, buried the city, leaving it abandoned and undiscovered for around 1600 years.

    Most of the Romans in the area believed Mount Vesuvius to be a mountain; very few had identified it as a potentially dangerous volcano that sat on their doorstep. Even Pliny the Elder, the famous Natural Historian, did not list Mount Vesuvius in his list of volcanoes.

    The towns of Pompeii and Herculaneum, as well as the luxury villas at Stabiae and Oplontis, were rediscovered in numerous archaeological campaigns, although the first findings were completely accidental. The initial discovery of Pompeii was in the 16th century, but it was not until the 17th century that proper explorations began.

    The first sponsored excavation was funded by Charles III of Bourbon, the King of Naples, in 1748. This was mostly about treasure hunting and recovering high-quality artifacts, especially those that used precious metals and materials; many were placed in private collections in Naples and can still be found there today. Some famous wall paintings were also removed and taken to be framed elsewhere while others suffered tremendous damage, sadly, sometimes beyond repair. Houses were even backfilled after clearance and the increase in pressure thanks to the added earth caused further problems.

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  • theconversation.com A struggling people languishing across barren lands? No, evidence shows life in ancient Saudi Arabia was complex and thriving

    Archaeologists are helping us reimagine life in ancient Saudi Arabia. With ‘packable’ housing, diverse diets and evidence of trade, these communities were more complex than we once thought.

    A struggling people languishing across barren lands? No, evidence shows life in ancient Saudi Arabia was complex and thriving

    To date, little has been known about people living in north-western Saudi Arabia during the Neolithic – the period traditionally defined by the shift to humans controlling food production and settling into communities with agriculture and domesticated animals.

    Nomadic or mobile?

    We assume these people didn’t stay in one place, since they lived in buildings that could be partially dismantled and moved. Goats and sheep also need fresh pastures and water to survive.

    That said, these people spent enough time at each site to justify the time and effort required to source and manipulate basalt blocks weighing up to one tonne each. This suggests they returned to these locations time and again for hundreds of years, if not more than 1,200 years.

    They left behind materials collected from near and far. While the local basalt was sufficient for everyday tools, the best materials made from chert (a tough sedimentary rock) were brought up to the Harrat Uwayrid to make fine arrowheads, drills and scrapers.

    They also collected red stone to be crushed into pigment. It may have been used for rock art, or perhaps for painting bodies and hides.

    Small shells were brought from the Red Sea (some 120 kilometres away) to make beads. Other objects we found included bracelets and pendants carved and polished from exotic stone.

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  • phys.org A concentrated beam of particles and photons could push us to Proxima Centauri

    Getting to Proxima Centauri b will take a lot of new technologies, but there are increasingly exciting reasons to do so. Both public and private efforts have started seriously looking at ways to make it happen, but so far, there has been one significant roadblock to the journey—propulsion.

    A concentrated beam of particles and photons could push us to Proxima Centauri

    Getting to Proxima Centauri b will take a lot of new technologies, but there are increasingly exciting reasons to do so. Both public and private efforts have started seriously looking at ways to make it happen, but so far, there has been one significant roadblock to the journey—propulsion.

    To solve that problem, Christopher Limbach, now a professor at the University of Michigan, is working on a novel type of beamed propulsion that utilizes both a particle beam and a laser to overcome that technology's biggest weakness.

    According to their calculations, a 5g probe like the one that the Breakthrough Initiatives project is working on could be pushed up to 10% of the speed of light, allowing it to reach Proxima b in 43 years.

    Alternatively, they also calculated that a much larger probe of around 1kg could reach the system in around 57 years. That would allow for a much more exciting payload, even if the probe would zoom through the Proxima Centauri system at a significant fraction of the speed of light.

    0
  • www.universetoday.com Basketball-Sized Meteorites Strike the Surface of Mars Every Day

    How often does Mars suffer from hypervelocity impacts that create 100 meter craters? Data from NASA's InSight lander has the answer.

    Basketball-Sized Meteorites Strike the Surface of Mars Every Day

    If you want to live on Mars, watch your head; it's raining space rocks. Researchers studying seismic data from NASA's Mars Insight mission estimate that 280 to 360 meteorites strike the surface of Mars, making a new crataer. This new estimate is about five times larger than predicted by previous estimates that used orbital imagery. On average, an 8-meter crater is created once a day, and a 30-meter crater is created about once a month.

    During about three years of recording time, InSight and SEIS detected 70 VF events. 59 of them had good distance estimates, and according to the researchers, a handful of them were “higher quality B VF events,” meaning their signal-to-noise ratios are strong. “Although a non-impact origin cannot be definitively excluded for each VF event, we show that the VF class as a whole is plausibly caused by meteorite impacts,” the authors explain in their paper.

    This led to a new estimate of Mars’s impact frequencies. The researchers say that between 280 and 360 meteoroids about the size of basketballs strike Mars each year and excavate craters greater than 8 meters (26 ft) in diameter. That’s almost one every day at the upper end. “This rate was about five times higher than the number estimated from orbital imagery alone. Aligned with orbital imagery, our findings demonstrate that seismology is an excellent tool for measuring impact rates,” Zenhäusern said in a press release.

    Impact rates on different bodies in the Solar System are one way of understanding the age of their surfaces. Earth’s surface is young because the planet is so geologically active. Earth is also much easier to study in greater detail, for obvious reasons. But for bodies like the Moon and Mars, impact rates can tell us the ages of various surfaces, leading to a more thorough understanding of their history.

    Orbital images and models based on preserved lunar craters have been the main tools used by planetary scientists to infer impact rates. The data from the Moon was used to extrapolate Mars’ impact rate. But there are problems with that method. Mars has more powerful gravity and is closer to the source of most meteors, the asteroid belt.

    That means more meteoroids strike Mars than the Moon, and that had to be calculated somehow. Conversely, Mars has widespread dust storms that can obscure craters in orbital images, while the lunar surface is largely static. Mars also has different types of surface regions. In some regions, craters stand out; in others, they don’t. Trying to accurately account for that many differences when extrapolating impact rates from the Moon to Mars is challenging.

    This work shows that seismometers can be a more reliable way to understand impact rates.

    0
  • phys.org Treasures beneath the ocean floor? Seawater plays role in gold formation

    Understanding how gold forms is crucial for knowing where to find it and how to extract it sustainably. McGill researchers have answered a long-standing question in geology that could lead to new ore discoveries.

    Treasures beneath the ocean floor? Seawater plays role in gold formation

    Understanding how gold forms is crucial for knowing where to find it and how to extract it sustainably.

    The deposit, now on land due to plate tectonic processes, originally formed in a submarine oceanic island arc about 183 million years ago. After analyzing the samples at McGill and the University of Alberta, they found seawater had mixed with ore fluids in the Earth's crust to form gold.

    Clues from soured milk

    The findings build on the McGill team's 2021 discovery that gold nanoparticles combine to form high-grade gold deposits, in a process akin to the way proteins clump together to form curds when milk sours.

    1
  • www.scientificamerican.com To Follow the Real Early Human Diet, Eat Everything

    Nutrition influencers claim we should eat meat-heavy diets like our ancestors did. But our ancestors didn’t actually eat that way

    To Follow the Real Early Human Diet, Eat Everything

    Fossils of the earliest known hominins indicate that they walked upright on two legs but still spent a lot of time in trees. They don’t appear to have made stone tools and probably subsisted on a diet similar to that of chimpanzees and bonobos, our closest living relatives—which is to say mostly fruits, nuts, seeds, roots, flowers and leaves, along with insects and the occasional small mammal.

    For the entire first half of our known history, hominins seem to have maintained this plant-based diet—they left no material trace of meat eating. It’s not until nearly three million years after our lineage got its start that there’s any evidence that they exploited large animals for food.

    The oldest possible evidence of meat eating by hominins comes from Dikika, Ethiopia. There researchers found fragments of bone from goat- and cow-size mammals bearing marks suggestive of butchery that occurred at least 3.39 million years ago.

    The butcher, in this case, was probably Australopithecus afarensis, the small-brained, small-bodied hominin species to which the famous Lucy fossil belongs—the only hominin species known from this time and place. Although no tools were discovered, based on the pattern of damage to the bones, the researchers concluded that A. afarensis used sharp-edged stones to strip flesh from the bones and struck the bones with blunt stones to access the marrow inside.

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  • www.nasa.gov NASA, Partners Conduct Fifth Asteroid Impact Exercise, Release Summary - NASA

    For the benefit of all, NASA released a summary Thursday of the fifth biennial Planetary Defense Interagency Tabletop Exercise. NASA’s Planetary Defense

    NASA, Partners Conduct Fifth Asteroid Impact Exercise, Release Summary - NASA

    Although there are no known significant asteroid impact threats for the foreseeable future, hypothetical exercises provide valuable insights by exploring the risks, response options, and opportunities for collaboration posed by varying scenarios, from minor regional damage with little warning to potential global catastrophes predicted years or even decades in the future.

    To help ensure humanity will have the time needed to evaluate and respond to a potentially hazardous asteroid or comet, NASA continues the development of its NEO Surveyor (Near-Earth Object Surveyor), an infrared space telescope designed specifically to expedite our ability to discover and characterize most of the potentially hazardous near-Earth objects many years before they could become an impact threat. The agency’s NEO Surveyor’s proposed launch date is set for June 2028.

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