Science & Technology

Bizarro Earth

New evidence of earliest North Americans

New evidence shows humans lived in North America more than 14,000 years ago, 1,000 years earlier than had previously been known.


The Mother of All Meteor Storms

Each generation seems to get a chance, or two, to see a mind-boggling display of shooting stars one night. The most spectacular displays in my memory are the 1999 and 2001 Leonid storms. Before my time, observers swore by the 1966 Leonids, and could not stop talking about the spectacular 1933 and 1946 Draconid storms. Those were not quite as intense as the Leonids, but the Draconids moved so slowly that several were seen gliding across the sky at the same time.

In the 19th century, the most spectacular storms were the 1872 and 1885 Andromedids, which were almost as strong as the Draconids and also very slow moving. At the time, Chinese astronomers wrote: "shooting stars fell like rain." From the counts of meteors in the west, we now estimate that rates peaked around two per second.


DNA sheds light on Minoans

Crete's fabled Minoan civilization was built by people from Anatolia, according to a new study by Greek and foreign scientists that disputes an earlier theory that said the Minoans' forefathers had come from Africa.


Bones find may be Roman

Archaeologists working in Oxford city centre have unearthed bones that could be more than 2,000 years old.

A team of archaeologists has been excavating a site between St Giles and Blackhall Road since mid January - and last week the diggers struck bone, uncovering what could be a mass grave.

Cow Skull

Oldest necklace in Americas found

Ancient necklace
A reconstruction of the gold and turquoise beads as a necklace

A necklace found near Lake Titicaca in southern Peru is the oldest known gold object made in the Americas, archaeologists say.

Radiocarbon dating puts its origin at about 4,000 years ago, when hunter-gatherers occupied the area. The researchers say it appears to have been fashioned from gold nuggets.


Supernova Alert: "Supernova Factories" Discovered


Two "supernova factories," rare clusters of Red Supergiant (RSG) stars, have recently been discovered. Together they contain 40 RSGs, which is nearly 20% of all the known RSGs in the Milky Way, and all 40 are on the brink of going supernova. "RSGs represent the final brief stage in a massive star's lifecycle before it goes supernova," said Dr. Ben Davies of the Rochester (New York) Institute of Technology. "They are very rare objects, so to find this many in the same place is remarkable."


Music File Compressed 1,000 Times Smaller than MP3

Researchers at the University of Rochester have digitally reproduced music in a file nearly 1,000 times smaller than a regular MP3 file.

The music, a 20-second clarinet solo, is encoded in less than a single kilobyte, and is made possible by two innovations: recreating in a computer both the real-world physics of a clarinet and the physics of a clarinet player.

The achievement, announced today at the International Conference on Acoustics Speech and Signal Processing held in Las Vegas, is not yet a flawless reproduction of an original performance, but the researchers say it's getting close.


Astronomers see 'youngest planet'

An embryonic planet detected outside our Solar System could be less than 2,000 years old, astronomers say.

Radio emissions from the HLTau system show the planet (top right)

The ball of dust and gas, which is in the process of turning into a Jupiter-like giant, was detected around the star HL Tau, by a UK team.

Research leader Dr Jane Greaves said the planet's growth may have been kickstarted when another young star passed the system 1,600 years ago.

Details were presented at the UK National Astronomy Meeting in Belfast.

The scientists studied a disc of gas and rocky particles around HL Tau, which is 520 light-years away in the constellation of Taurus and thought to be less than 100,000 years old.


The Belfast camera snapping planets across the universe

Ten new planets have been discovered by astronomers at Queen's University, it can be revealed today.

The extra-solar planets were spotted by high-tech "WASP" cameras on the Canary Islands and South Africa during a six month period.

Don Pollaco
Queen's scientist Dr Don Pollacco says the Belfast-built cameras have sparked a planet-finding production line


NASA's GLAST Satellite Gets Twin Solar Panels In Prep For Launch

Preparations for launching NASA's Gamma-ray Large Area Telescope (GLAST) satellite are underway at NASA's Kennedy Space Center (KSC), Fla. NASA KSC's "NASA Expendable Launch Vehicle Status Report" on March 20, noted that GLAST's twin solar panels have been attached. The panels will provide electrical power for GLAST after its launch into earth orbit.

At the Astrotech payload processing facility, General Dynamics technicians check GLAST before the installation of the solar arrays, as an overhead crane is lowered over it.