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Sun, 20 Aug 2017
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Sherlock

Mass Cemetery Unearthed by Archaeologists in Syria

Archaeologists have unearthed a mass cemetery carved in rocks near al-Basel Hospital in Syria.

According to the Global Arab Network, archaeologists at the Syrian Department of Antiquities in Tartous discovered the graveyard.

The cemetery consists of 7 rooms including burial chambers with some bodies inside. There were no findings or any clay or bone fragments in those chambers, said Marwan Hassan, Director of the Department.

A hole discovered in the western wall of the cemetery, was thought to be a passage to a small hall.

Another hole, opposite to this one, was found in the eastern wall leading to another hall which includes two rooms and a solo tomb.

Three vessels, two small golden pieces and clay lamp were also discovered inside the tomb.

Meteor

Catastrophic Darkness

Image
© Donald E. Davis
This painting depicts an asteroid slamming into tropical, shallow seas of the Yucatan Peninsula in what is today southeast Mexico. The aftermath of this immense asteroid collision, which occurred approximately 65 million years ago, is believed to have caused the extinction of the dinosaurs and many other species on Earth.
New studies of mixotrophic algae have shown how such organisms could survive the darkened skies that follow a major asteroid impact. Such studies indicate how life manages to survive after a mass extinction event.

A dinosaur-killing asteroid may have wiped out much of life on Earth 65 million years ago, but now scientists have discovered how smaller organisms might have survived in the darkness following such a catastrophic impact.

Survival may have depended upon jack-of-all-trades organisms called mixotrophs that can consume organic matter in the absence of sunlight. That would have proved crucial during the long months of dust and debris blotting out the sun, when plenty of dead or dying organic matter filled the Earth's oceans and lakes.

"Mixotrophs are very good at stabilizing situations by using whatever resources are there, and can often provide what resources there aren't," said Harriet Jones, a biologist at the University of East Anglia in the UK. "They're very good at coping in extreme environments, and enabling other organisms to live."

Meteor

Jupiter Captured Comet as Temporary Moon

Image
© NASA
Jupiter's gravity well has been known to capture objects - evidenced by the recent impact on the gas giant discovered by amateur astronomer Anthony Wesley. But one object captured by Jupiter in the mid 1900's was later able to escape from the planet's clutches.

Researchers have found comet 147P/Kushida-Muramatsu was captured as a temporary moon of Jupiter, and remained trapped in an irregular orbit for about twelve years. "Our results demonstrate some of the routes taken by cometary bodies through interplanetary space that can allow them either to enter or to escape situations where they are in orbit around the planet Jupiter," said team member Dr. David Archer.

With this discovery, five such objects have now been discovered where the phenomenon of temporary satellite capture (TSC) has occurred, but this new research suggests it might happen more frequently than was expected. Kushida-Muramatsu orbited Jupiter between 1949 and 1961, the third longest capture period of the five objects.

Info

Master gene creates armies of natural-born killers

Discovery of the master gene behind the front-line troops of the body's immune system could promise a host of new treatments for disease. Called E4BP4, the gene kick-starts production of natural killer (NK) cells in the bone marrow.

Mice genetically engineered to lack the gene were able to make all other components of the immune system - such as B cells which produce antibodies and T cells which attack pre-selected targets - but not NK cells. This suggests that E4BP4 is indispensable for their production. "Now we know which gene is at the top of the hierarchy, it opens the door to the whole machinery for making them," says Hugh Brady of Imperial College London.

Brady and colleagues hope it may now be possible to develop drugs that artificially boost production of NK cells, helping patients to combat infections or cancer. Patrolling the bloodstream, the spleen and the lymph nodes, NK cells are the body's first line of defence against disease, rapidly identifying and destroying cells that have turned cancerous or been invaded by viruses.

Blackbox

How to short-circuit the US power grid

Image
© Dan Tuffs / Rex
Attackers could cause a cascade of failures in the US west-coast electricity grid
Predicting how rumours and epidemics percolate through populations, or how traffic jams spread through city streets, are network analyst Jian-Wei Wang's bread and butter. But his latest findings are likely to spark worries in the US: he's worked out how attackers could cause a cascade of network failures in the US's west-coast electricity grid - cutting power to economic powerhouses Silicon Valley and Hollywood.

Wang and colleagues at Dalian University of Technology in the Chinese province of Liaoning modelled the US's west-coast grid using publicly available data on how it, and its subnetworks, are connected (Safety Science, DOI: link).

Their aim was to examine the potential for cascade failures, where a major power outage in a subnetwork results in power being dumped into an adjacent subnetwork, causing a chain reaction of failures. Where, they wondered, were the weak spots? Common sense suggests they should be the most highly loaded networks, since pulling them offline would dump more energy into smaller networks.

Magnify

Loo unflushed for 500 years is archeologists' goldmine

© heraldscotland.com
Finds in the Paisley drain could be a rich source of history
Archaeologists from Glasgow University yesterday began digging in the grounds of Paisley Abbey, hoping to shed light on life in a medieval Scottish monastery.

The team, backed by volunteers from Renfrewshire Local History Forum, is carrying out a 12-day excavation of an ancient drain that lay undisturbed until its discovery in 1990.

An initial excavation revealed an arched corridor almost 6ft high, and uncovered pottery fragments and gaming pieces, a complete chamber pot, and other artefacts.

Question

How to Measure What We Don't Know

How do we discover new things? For scientists, observation and measurement are the main ways to extract information from Nature. Based on observations, scientists build models that, in turn, are used to make predictions about the future or the past. To the extent that the predictions are successful, scientists conclude that their models capture Nature's organization. However, Nature does not reveal secrets easily - there is no way for observers to learn everything about a process, so some information always remains hidden from view; other kinds of information are present, but difficult to extract. In a recent study, researchers have investigated how to measure the degree of hidden information in a process (its "crypticity") and, along the way, solved several puzzles involved in extracting, storing, and communicating information.

In their study, James Crutchfield, Physics Professor at the University of California at Davis, and graduate students Christopher Ellison and John Mahoney, have developed the analogy of scientists as cryptologists who are trying to glean hidden information from Nature. As they explain, "Nature speaks for herself only through the data she willingly gives up." To build good models, scientists must use the correct "codebook" in order to decrypt the information hidden in observations and so decode the structure embedded in Nature's processes.

In their recent work, the researchers adopt a thorough-going informational view: All of Nature is a communication channel that transmits the past to the future by storing information in the present. The information that the past and future share can be quantified using the "excess entropy" - the mutual information between the past and the future.

UFO

Spacecraft Using Gravity to Fall Through Space

Image
© Ted Debosz
Space travel: celestial surfers could travel down gravitational tubes to cut fuel use.
Spacecraft 'could surf gravitational tubes' to make solar travel more efficient

Gravitational corridors could help spacecraft travel the solar system like ships carried on ocean currents, making longer and cheaper journeys possible, it has been claimed.

Scientists in the US are trying to map the twisting "tubes" so they can be used to cut the cost of space travel.

Each one acts like a gravitational version of the Gulf Stream, created from the complex interplay of forces between planets and moons.

Comment: In G I Gurdjieff's book Beelzebub's Tales to his Grandson, the Captian of the space ship Karnak explains that one Saint Venoma founded space travel on his observation of the law of falling.


Telescope

A Great Week to See the Milky Way

Image
© REUTERS/Amr Abdallah Dalsh
The moon rises over Cairo, September 10, 2009.
The moon is at new phase on Sept. 18 and during this upcoming week will appear as a gradually diminishing crescent of light in the after midnight-hours, and won't be much of a hindrance to stargazing. This combined with the fact that at this particular time of the year the hazy skies of summer are giving way to clearer skies and cooler overnight temperatures means that this is an optimum week to check out the beautiful summer Milky Way.

As soon as darkness falls, it becomes evident as a wide glowing arch of variety and beauty, stretching across the sky from the northeast to southwest. Sweep with binoculars from the Scorpion's tail, through the Summer Triangle, and then down to Cassiopeia and Perseus. You'll find concentrations of stars, clusters, large apparent gaps (such as the "Great Rift" in Cygnus), and more stars than you probably thought existed.

Sun

Surprise In Earth's Upper Atmosphere: Mode Of Energy Transfer From The Solar Wind

Image
© SOHO image composite by Steele Hill (NASA))
In addition to emitting electromagnetic radiation, the sun emits a stream of ionized particles called the solar wind that affects Earth and other planets in the solar system.
University of California - Los Angeles atmospheric scientists have discovered a previously unknown basic mode of energy transfer from the solar wind to the Earth's magnetosphere. The research, federally funded by the National Science Foundation, could improve the safety and reliability of spacecraft that operate in the upper atmosphere.

"It's like something else is heating the atmosphere besides the sun. This discovery is like finding it got hotter when the sun went down," said Larry Lyons, UCLA professor of atmospheric and oceanic sciences and a co-author of the research, which is in press in two companion papers in the Journal of Geophysical Research.