Science & Technology


Ancient Egyptians May Have Had It Rough

Despite leaders' best intentions, and contrary to common depictions of abundance and wealth, ancient Egyptians might not have had the most desirable conditions or lifestyles. Art records from the city of Amarna have long depicted prosperity; however new evidence reveals otherwise.

The unusual features of Pharaoh Akhenaten, who founded the city commonly known today as Amarna, are seen here in this family group

Genetic Signatures in Lebanon Traced Back to the Crusades

A genetic anthropological study known as The Genographic Project has found what is believed to be faint genetic traces left by medieval crusaders in the Middle East.

The team has uncovered a specific DNA signature in Lebanon that is probably linked to the Christian crusades of the 7th and 8th centuries.

This discovery was noted when researchers found that some Christian men in Lebanon carry a DNA signature originating from Western Europe.


Why matter matters in the universe

A new physics discovery explores why there is more matter than antimatter in the universe.

The latest research findings, which involved significant contributions from physicists at the University of Melbourne, have been recently published in the prestigious journal Nature.

The paper reveals that investigation into the process of B-meson decays has given insight into why there is more matter than antimatter in the universe.
Evil Rays

Solar flares set off sunquakes

Solar flares make the Sun ring like a bell, researchers in Denmark have found.

Christoffer Karoff and Hans Kjeldsen of the University of Aarhus say that these outbursts in the Sun's outer layers drive oscillations throughout the Sun "in the same way that the entire Earth is set ringing for several weeks after a major earthquake."

This possibility was first proposed in the 1970s, but has not been demonstrated until now. "It's the first observational evidence of this that I'm aware of," says Günter Houdek, a solar physicist at the University of Cambridge in England who was not involved with the work.

The quakes caused by flares should be visible on other stars.
Cow Skull

Fossil find is oldest European yet

Spanish jawbone is earliest human remains from Western Europe.

Spanish palaeontologists have dug up the remains of a 1.2-million-year-old humanlike inhabitant of Western Europe. The fossil find shows that members of our genus, Homo , colonized this region far earlier than many experts had thought.

The primitive hominin - represented by just a fragment of jawbone bearing a handful of wobbly-looking teeth - lived in what is now the Sierra de Atapuerca region of northern Spain, an area already known as a treasure trove of early human remains.

©EIA/Jordi Mestre
The petite jaw suggests the oldest-found European was probably female.

Saturn Moon Resembles Comets

Saturn's bizarre moon Enceladus is a little more mysterious after the recent Cassini flyby found it to be remarkably like a comet in its internal chemistry.

"A completely unexpected surprise is that the chemistry of Enceladus, what's coming out from inside, resembles that of a comet," says Hunter Waite of the Southwest Research Institute, principal investigator for the Cassini Ion and Neutral Mass Spectrometer. "To have primordial material coming out from inside a Saturn moon raises many questions on the formation of the Saturn system."

Rats capable of simple problem-solving: study

Rats can learn rules and apply them to new situations, an ability which is thought to be a keystone of human thought, according to a study released Thursday.

Toddlers, primates and even birds have been known to solve problems by applying rules learned from experience in a new context, but some scientists have argued that other non-primates lack this rudimentary skill.

But in a paper in the journal Science, British researchers at University College London and Oxford University reported that rats also have some capacity for abstract thought.

©AFP/File/Alexander Joe
An African rat. Rats can learn rules and apply them to new situations, an ability which is thought to be a keystone of human thought, according to a study released Thursday.

NASA science director quits

The chief executive of NASA's science mission directorate has decided to quit the agency after less than a year in the post. Alan Stern will be replaced temporarily by Edward Weiler, the director of NASA's Goddard Space Flight Centre. Stern, who declined to comment, has not yet publicly revealed the reasons behind his decision.

Alan Stern

French recording may be world's first

SAN FRANCISCO - At first listen, the grainy high-pitched warble doesn't sound like much, but scientists say the French recording from 1860 is the oldest known recorded human voice.

The 10-second clip of a woman singing "Au Clair de la Lune," taken from a so-called phonautogram, was recently discovered by audio historian David Giovannoni. The recording predates Thomas Edison's "Mary had a little lamb" - previously credited as the oldest recorded voice - by 17 years.

US biologists shed light on how deadly virus becomes infectious

CHICAGO - Biologists have mapped how a deadly class of viruses including dengue, West Nile, yellow fever and encephalitis become infectious in a pair of studies published in the journal Science.

"This is possibly the most detailed understanding of how any virus matures," said study author Michael Rossmann of Purdue University in Indiana.