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Thu, 29 Sep 2016
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Fragments of Ancient Egyptian Papyrus Found

© Museo Egizio, Torino
For 100 years, archaeologists have been trying to piece together fragments to this 3,000-year-old document, written on a papyrus stem. The Egyptian document enumerates all the Egyptian kings and when they ruled. Newly found fragments to the document should help in piecing together the puzzle.
Some newly recovered papyrus fragments may finally help solve a century-old puzzle, shedding new light on ancient Egyptian history.

Found stored between two sheets of glass in the basement of the Museo Egizio in Turin, the fragments belong to a 3,000-year-old unique document, known as the Turin Kinglist.

Like many ancient Egyptian documents, the Turin Kinglist is written on the stem of a papyrus plant.

Believed to date from the long reign of Ramesses II, the papyrus contains an ancient list of Egyptian kings.


Fossil of 10 Million-Year-Old Bird Found in Peru

© Reuters/Mariana Bazo
A palaeontologist shows the cranium of a bird, from the Pelagormithidae family.
Paleontologists working in Peru have found a fossil from a bird that lived 10 million years ago, scientists said on Friday after returning from the dig site on the country's desert coast.

The species of bird had a wing span of 19.7 feet and fed mostly on fish from the Pacific Ocean. It first appeared 50 million years ago and was extinct about 2.5 million years ago because of climate change, paleontologist Mario Urbina of Peru's Natural History Museum said.

Scientists discovered a rare fossil of the bird's head in Ocucaje, in the Ica region of Peru's southern coast, where an arid climate has preserved many fossils.


What Happens When a Language Dies?

India is extraordinary for its linguistic and cultural diversity. According to official estimates, the country is home to at least 400 distinct tongues, but many experts believe the actual number is probably around 700.

But, in a scenario replicated around the globe, many of India's languages are at risk of dying out.

The effects could be culturally devastating. Each language is like a key that can unlock local knowledge about medicinal secrets, ecological wisdom, weather and climate patterns, spiritual attitudes, and artistic and mythological histories.

In rural Indian villages, Hindi or English are in vogue with younger generations, and are often required travelling to larger towns for work.

In big cities, colonization, as well as globalization, has also spurred a switch to English and other popular languages.


Empty Coffins Found in Looted Egypt Tomb

Japanese archaeologists have unearthed four ancient wooden sarcophaguses, all of them empty, in an Egyptian tomb that had long ago been looted, antiquities chief Zahi Hawass said today.

The coffins, some embossed with images of Pharaonic gods, were in the Dahshur necropolis south of Cairo, Hawass said in a statement.

Coated in black resin and bearing yellow inscriptions, they belonged to a man, Tutpashu, and a woman named Iriseraa, the statement said.

The archeologists also found three wooden canopic jars, which the ancient Egyptians used to store the entrails of their mummified dead, and four ushabti boxes containing wooden figurines.


Galileo's Finger Goes On Display in Italy

A wizened finger belonging to Galileo Galilei, the only remaining part of the 17th century astronomer's body, is to go on display in Italy.

© Getty Images
Circa 1630, Italian astronomer, mathematician and natural philosopher Galileo Galilei, (1564 - 1642), known as Galileo.
The digit will be part of a landmark exhibition marking the 400th anniversary of his first observations of the skies.

The finger - the middle digit from Galileo's right hand - is mounted on a marble base and encased in a crystal jar.

It will be among 250 objects which will go on display in Florence as part of an exhibition entitled Galileo: Images of the Universe from Antiquity to the Telescope, which opens next month in Florence.

The finger was removed when the astronomer's body when it was exhumed from his unconsecrated grave and transferred to a mausoleum in a Florentine church in 1737. It is usually on display at Florence's Museum of the History of Science.


Meteorites Found in West Area to Go Up for Auction

Two pieces from a meteor that blazed across the Texas sky this month are going from the asteroid belt to the auction block.

Dallas-based Heritage Auction Galleries announced Thursday that it is putting two meteorites up for sale May 17. One is an 8-ounce specimen that could fetch up to $5,000.

The meteorites were discovered in the West area, about 70 miles south of Dallas, by an Arizona meteorite hunter whose trip was partially financed by an anonymous collector in New York, said David Herskowitz, natural history consultant for the auction house.

"Both specimens are extensively covered with fresh fusion crust from burning through the atmosphere," Herskowitz said.

Light Sabers

Population: The elephant in the Pathocracy's room

Uncontrolled population growth threatens to undermine efforts to save the planet, warns John Feeney. In this week's Green Room, he calls on the environmental movement to stop running scared of this controversial topic.

Our inability to live as we do, at our current numbers, without causing pervasive environmental degradation is the very definition of carrying capacity overshoot

It's the great taboo of environmentalism: the size and growth of the human population.

It has a profound impact on all life on Earth, yet for decades it has been conspicuously absent from public debate.

Comment: The photo and accompanying caption appear in the original article. Note how what appears to be a group of women trying frantically to get somebody's attention (possibly an aid worker handing out food?) is juxtaposed with a caption that expounds the "need to halt the human-caused degradation of Earth's natural environment."

Perhaps an implied message here is that these worthless brown women (probably Muslim, but who cares?) are an excessive burden on the planet's resources and are thus to blame for the degradation of our once pristine playground?

The author pleads that the "taboo" of population control/reduction be broken. Judging by some of the 1,500 comments this article received on the BBC's website, many read the article not with revulsion but unmitigated relief. Perhaps they subconsciously interpreted it as a nod from authority to openly express their natural inclination towards ideas that revolve around removing "useless eaters" for lebensraum.

Regardless of any sanitary spin dressed over population reduction, the brutal reality is that genocide through economic, social and military warfare is already under way.


Colors Of Quasars Reveal Dusty Universe

The vast expanses of intergalactic space appear to be filled with a haze of tiny, smoke-like "dust" particles that dim the light from distant objects and subtly change their colors, according to a team of astronomers from the Sloan Digital Sky Survey (SDSS-II).

"Galaxies contain lots of dust, most of it formed in the outer regions of dying stars," said team leader Brice Ménard of the Canadian Institute for Theoretical Astrophysics. "The surprise is that we are seeing dust hundreds of thousands of light-years outside of the galaxies, in intergalactic space."

To discover this intergalactic dust, the team analyzed the colors of distant quasars whose light passes in the vicinity of foreground galaxies on its way to the Earth.


The Search for an Ancient Supernova in the Antarctica

© Keith Vanderlinde/NSF/Antarctic Sun
Ice cores from the Earth's polar regions may contain chemical traces of ancient supernovae.

Japanese scientists have journeyed to Antarctica to recover evidence of alterations to Earth's atmosphere, caused in medieval times by supernovae recorded by ancient scholars - including obscure Irish monasteries where monks later interpreted them signs of the Antichrist. No, this isn't the plot of the next Dan Brown novel (or a Dan Brown fan-fiction written by an X-Files addict): this is real science.

Supernovae release terrific amounts of energy, as in "If one happened too close the planet would be sterilized" truly terror-inducing terrific. Some of this energy is fired off as gamma rays, which can travel thousands of light-years and still pack enough of a punch after to alter the atmosphere - which is exactly what happened in 1006 and again in 1054, when gamma rays blasted the upper atmosphere and created spikes in NO3 levels. There was also quite a lot of visible light, creating a star visible even during the day which was noted by various Chinese, Egyptian and even monastic records.

To access past records of the atmosphere, a team of Japanese scientists carefully extracted 122 meters of ice core from Antarctica. Even better, to locate events on such a stretch of frozen time you use known volcanic atmosphere-altering events as reference points - in other words, these guys use exploding mountains as a ruler.


Philosophy's Great Experiment

Philosophers used to combine conceptual reflections with practical experiment. The trendiest new branch of the discipline, known as x-phi, wants to return to those days. Some philosophers don't like it.

© Unknown
Katja Wiech is a cheerful young German researcher who is fascinated by pain. She's discovered many things - for example, when devout Catholics are given electric shocks while looking at a picture of the Virgin Mary they feel less pain than atheists do when administered the same unpleasant treatment.

She works in a set of rooms at the end of a maze of corridors in the John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford. In one room sits a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scanner. The magnet of this machine is so powerful it can seize a mobile phone from your hand,sending it flying through the air.

Her subjects lie flat on the scanner's bed, their head inside its white tube. A computer by their feet provides various stimuli - images, questions and so on - and is operated from an adjacent room divided off by a glass screen. The noise is very loud. There's a panic button if her subjects freak out.