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The NAZI origins of NASA

Full spectrum dominance: The Nazi-American race to control space

Operation Paperclip was the Office of Strategic Services (OSS) program used to recruit the scientists of Nazi Germany for employment by the United States in the aftermath of World War II (1939/45). It was executed by the Joint Intelligence Objectives Agency (JIOA), and in the context of the burgeoning SovietAmerican Cold War (1945/91) one purpose of Operation Paperclip was to deny German scientific knowledge and expertise to the USSR.

Although the JIOAs recruitment of German scientists began after the European Allied victory (8 May 1945), US President Harry Truman did not formally order the execution of Operation Paperclip until August 1945. Truman's order expressly excluded anyone found to have been a member of the Nazi Party, and more than a nominal participant in its activities, or an active supporter of Nazi militarism. Said restriction would have rendered ineligible most of the scientists the JIOA had identified for recruitment, among them rocket scientists Wernher von Braun and Arthur Rudolph, and the physician Hubertus Strughold, each earlier classified as a menace to the security of the Allied Forces.

To circumvent President Trumans anti-Nazi order, and the Allied Potsdam and Yalta agreements, the JIOA worked independently to create false employment and political biographies for the scientists. The JIOA also expunged from the public record the scientists' Nazi Party memberships and régime affiliations. Once bleached of their Nazism, the US Government granted the scientists security clearance to work in the United States. Paperclip, the projects operational name, derived from the paperclips used to attach the scientists new political personæ to their US Government Scientist JIOA personnel files.
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Did rise of ancient human ancestor lead to new stone tools?

Ancient Tools
© PNAS
Scientists have unearthed more than 350 ancient tools in Konso, Ethiopia that were used by humans' ancient ancestors. The tools, which span roughly 1 million years of evolution, show a gradual progression to more refined shaping.
Scientists have unearthed and dated some of the oldest stone hand axes on Earth. The ancient tools, unearthed in Ethiopia in the last two decades, date to 1.75 million years ago.

The tools roughly coincided with the emergence of an ancient human ancestor called Homo erectus, and fossilized H. erectus remains were also found at the same site, said study author Yonas Beyene, an archaeologist at the Association for Research and Conservation of Culture in Ethiopia.

Collectively, the finding suggests an ancient tool-making technique may have arisen with the evolution of the new species.

"This discovery shows that the technology began with the appearance of Homo erectus," Beyene told LiveScience. "We think it might be related to the change of species."

The findings were described today (Jan. 28) in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Bizarro Earth

Destruction of Timbuktu manuscripts is an offence against the whole of Africa

© Photograph: Sebastien Cailleux/Corbis
Libraries like the Ahmed Baba institute were rescuing Africa's history from oblivion.
This was an assault on world heritage comparable with the demolition of the Buddhas of Bamiyan by the Taliban in 2001

The reported destruction of two important manuscript collections by Islamist rebels as they fled Timbuktu is an offence to the whole of Africa and its universally important cultural heritage. Like their systematic destruction of 300 Sufi saints' shrines while they held Timbuktu at their mercy, it is an assault on world heritage comparable with the demolition of the Buddhas of Bamiyan by the Taliban in 2001.

The literary heritage of Timbuktu dates back to the 15th and 16th centuries when the gold-rich kingdoms of Mali and Songhai traded across the Sahara with the Mediterranean world. It took two months for merchant caravans to cross the desert, and while gold and slaves went north, books were going south.
R2-D2

Scientists strive to save dying spoken language of Jesus

British scientists are attempting to preserve the Aramaic language spoken by Jesus and tied to Hebrew and Arabic.

Professor of linguistics at the University of Cambridge, Geoffrey Khan, has begun a quest to record the ancient language that's been around for three thousand years before it finally disappears.

Prof Khan decided to record the language after speaking to a Jew from Erbil in northern Iraq. "It completely blew my mind," Khan told Smithsonian.com.
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Mass human sacrifice? Pile of ancient skulls found

Mexican Artifact
© Christopher Morehart
An artifact depicting Tlaloc, a Pre-Columbian water god, was found at the human sacrifice site at Lake Xaltocan, Mexico.
Archaeologists have unearthed a trove of skulls in Mexico that may have once belonged to human sacrifice victims. The skulls, which date between A.D. 600 and 850, may also shatter existing notions about the ancient culture of the area.

The gruesome find, described in the January issue of the journal Latin American Antiquity, was located in an otherwise empty field that once held a vast lake, but was miles from the nearest major city of the day, said study co-author Christopher Morehart, an archaeologist at Georgia State University.

"It's absolutely remarkable to think about this little nothing on the landscape having potentially evidence of the largest mass human sacrifice in ancient Meso-America," Morehart said.
Sherlock

Archeologists revise image of ancient Celts: 2,600-year-old grave suggest they were much more sophisticated than previously thought

The Celts were long considered a barbaric and violent society. But new findings from a 2,600-year-old grave in Germany suggest the ancient people were much more sophisticated than previously thought. The little Bettelbühl stream on the Danube River was completely unknown, except to local residents. But that changed in the summer of 2010 when a spectacular discovery was made just next to the creek.
Not far from the Heuneburg, the site of an early Celtic settlement, researchers stumbled upon the elaborate grave of a Celtic princess. In addition to gold and amber, they found a subterranean burial chamber fitted with massive oak beams. It was an archeological sensation that, after 2,600 years, the chamber was completely intact.

The wooden construction was preserved by the constant flow of water from the Bettelbühl stream. "In dry ground, the wood wouldn't have had a chance to survive over so many centuries," said Nicole Ebinger-Rist, the director of the research project handling the find.
Sherlock

28,000 year-old bone and ivory art from Siberia

A late 2012 article in the journal Antiquity featured the well preserved and extensive bone and ivory artifacts recovered from the Yana Rhinoceros Horn Sites, six 28,000 year old sites located above the Arctic Circle in far eastern Siberia. Yana RHS is important for a number of reasons, not the least is its age and location, east of the Verkhoyansk Range in Siberia, and thus close enough in time and space to be a candidate site for the initial colonists of the Americas. Putting the article in Antiquity allowed the researchers to show off color images of the artifacts, some of which lead archaeologist Vladimir V. Pitulko was kind enough to let me use in this new photo essay.
© Vladimir V. Pitulko and Antiquity
28,000 Year Old Ivory plaques with complex patterns of dots, dashes and lines, from Yana RHS.
Blackbox

300-million-year-old tooth wheel found in Russian coal: scientists

Tooth wheel
The Earth was so young 300 million years ago, the first land animals had yet to evolve into dinosaurs, most scientists believe.

If that's the case, how do you explain the discovery in Russia of a piece of a gear shift -- a common machine part -- embedded into a hunk of 300-million-year-old coal. Has this artifact been correctly identified? And if so, who could have made this thing? And for what purpose?

According to Komsomolskaya Pravda, a resident of Vladivostok -- near the borders of China and North Korea -- named Dmitry, recently noticed something odd about a hunk of coal he had obtained to heat his home during the winter.

A metallic-looking rail or rod was pressed into the coal, prompting Dmitry to contact biologist Valery Brier, in the seaside Primorye region.
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DNA shows ancestry of present-day Asians, Native Americans

DNA
© AFP
Present-day Asians and Native Americans are descended from a group of people who were already in China 40,000 years ago, according to an analysis of fossil DNA published this week.

The genetic analysis showed that the early modern humans in Beijing had already diverged genetically from the ancestors of modern-day Europeans.

The researchers took nuclear and mitochondrial DNA from a leg bone found in the Tianyuan Cave in China in 2003.

Using this, they reconstructed the genetic profile of the leg's owner, a person who lived at a very interesting time in the history of modern humans, the researchers said in a statement Monday.

"This individual lived during an important evolutionary transition when early modern humans, who shared certain features with earlier forms such as Neanderthals, were replacing Neanderthals and Denisovans, who later became extinct," said lead author Svante Paabo, of the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology.
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Earliest evidence of chocolate in North America

Chocolate Bowls
© Peabody Museum of Archeology and Ethnology/Harvard University
Chocolate by the bowlful. - These pottery bowls from the American Southwest show traces of several compounds in chocolate.
They were humble farmers who grew corn and dwelt in subterranean pit houses. But the people who lived 1200 years ago in a Utah village known as Site 13, near Canyonlands National Park in Utah, seem to have had at least one indulgence: chocolate.

Researchers report that half a dozen bowls excavated from the area contain traces of chocolate, the earliest known in North America. The finding implies that by the end of the 8th century C.E., cacao beans, which grow only in the tropics, were being imported to Utah from orchards thousands of kilometers away.

The discovery could force archaeologists to rethink the widely held view that the early people of the northern Southwest, who would go on to build enormous masonry "great houses" at New Mexico's Chaco Canyon and create fine pottery, had little interaction with their neighbors in Mesoamerica. Other scientists are intrigued by the new claim, but also skeptical.

The new research is "exciting, no doubt. ... Archaeologists have been looking for Mesoamerican connections to the Southwest for 100 years," says Robert Hard of the University of Texas, San Antonio, who specializes in the archaeology of the Southwest and was not involved in the new study. But, he says, "I'm not convinced this is chocolate."

The findings stem from collaboration between Dorothy Washburn, an archaeologist at the University of Pennsylvania's University Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology in Philadelphia, and her husband William Washburn, a chemist at Bristol-Myers Squibb in Princeton, New Jersey. In an earlier study, they detected evidence of cacao in pottery from 11th century burial sites in New Mexico's Chaco Canyon and in vessels from other Southwestern sites. As a follow-up, the scientists tested bowls excavated in the 1930s from Site 13, which dates to roughly 770 C.E.
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