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Wed, 01 Dec 2021
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The world's oldest cases of mercury poisoning revealed in Copper Age Iberia

cinnabar mercury ore
© Moha El-Jaw - Shutterstock
A lump of cinnabar ore from which mercury is extracted
A recent paper published in the International Journal of Osteoarchaeology and in which researchers from the University of Seville participate, explores the complex relationship between humans and mercury over time.

In this article, entitled "The use and abuse of cinnabar in Late Neolithic and Copper Age Iberia", a team of 14 specialists in biology, chemistry, physical anthropology and archaeology have presented the results of the largest study ever carried out on the presence of mercury in human bone, with a sample of a total of 370 individuals from 50 tombs located in 23 archaeological sites in Spain and Portugal dating from Neolithic, Copper Age, Bronze Age and Antiquity, thus encompassing 5000 years of human history.


Pfizer whistleblower sinks vaccine trial integrity

Story at-a-glance
  • According to a whistleblower who worked on Pfizer's Phase 3 COVID jab trial, data were falsified, patients were unblinded, the company hired poorly trained people to administer the injections, and follow-up on reported side effects lagged way behind
  • Brook Jackson was the regional director of Ventavia Research Group, a research organization charged with testing Pfizer's COVID jab at several sites in Texas. Jackson repeatedly "informed her superiors of poor laboratory management, patient safety concerns, and data integrity issues," and when her concerns were ignored, she finally filed a complaint with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration
  • The FDA did not follow up on her complaint. Ventavia was not one of the nine trial locations audited, and Pfizer did not bring any of those issues up when applying for emergency use authorization for its COVID shot
  • Documentation shared by Jackson shows a Ventavia executive had identified three site staff members who had falsified data
  • After being notified of Jackson's complaints, Pfizer contracted Ventavia to conduct four additional trials — one for COVID shots in children and young adults, one for the COVID jab in pregnant women, a booster shot trial, and an RSV vaccine trial

Fireball 4

Asteroid-driven showers might be more common than previously thought

Asteroid Bennu
© NASA/Goddard/University of Arizona/Lockheed Martin
Bennu ejecting particles from its surface on Jan. 19, 2019.
Every day, thousands of small rocks — dust grain- to pebble-sized — cross paths with Earth's atmosphere and burn up. More organized collisions, known as meteor showers, are visible to us when the planet passes through whole clouds of rocky debris.

These fragments were long thought to come strictly from comets whose crusts had been heated by the Sun and cracked open. But early in 2019, NASA's OSIRIS-Rex spacecraft (short for Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification, and Security-Regolith Explorer) captured images from the near-Earth asteroid Bennu that flipped that line of thinking on its head.

The images showed small bits of rock launching off the asteroid's surface. Some of the rock fell back to the surface and some went into orbit around Bennu for several days, but about 30 percent was ejected with enough speed that its pieces escaped the asteroid's gravity and began to orbit around the Sun.

"This was surprising," says Robert Melikyan, a graduate student at the University of Arizona's Lunar and Planetary Laboratory. "Bennu doesn't have a lot of volatile material that can heat up and break up the way comets do."

Melikyan and a team of researchers modeled the evolution of the asteroid's dust cloud in a study published in the Journal of Geophysical Research: Planets earlier this year and found that the particles both spread out around Bennu's orbit and follow a similar elliptical path around the Sun.


New study suggests wormholes may be viable shortcuts through space-time after all, new study suggests

Black hole
© NASA / JPL-Caltech
Wormholes, or portals between black holes, may be stable after all, a wild new theory suggests.

The findings contradict earlier predictions that these hypothetical shortcuts through space-time would instantly collapse.

The sea change comes because tiny differences in the mathematics of relativity, which is used to describe such wormholes, end up dramatically changing our overall picture of how they behave.

A game of metrics

First, some background on how general relativity operates. Relativity is like a machine. Put in certain objects — say, a mass or an arrangement of particles — and the machine spits out how that collection will behave over time due to gravity. Everything in general relativity is based on movement in space and time: Objects start at certain physical coordinates, they move around, and they end up at other coordinates.

Comet 2

Signs of a Tunguska like event in Chile 12000 years ago

Halley's Comet
© Wikimedia
Hello and welcome! My name is Anton and in this video, we will talk about a detection of a bolide explosion in Chile 12000 years ago.


Widespread glasses generated by cometary fireballs during the late Pleistocene in the Atacama Desert, Chile


Black Cat

Computer pioneer warns the metaverse 'could make reality disappear'

the metaverse
One of the world's leading computer engineers believes the metaverse, the idea that caused Mark Zuckerberg to rebrand his whole company, could one day 'make reality disappear.'

In a recent op-ed, Louis Rosenberg, a computer scientist known for developing the first functional augmented reality system at Air Force Research Laboratory and founding virtual reality company Immersion Corporation, believes that by integrating virtual reality and augmented reality and having people interact in the digital realm for a significant portion of their day, it could 'alter our sense of reality' and distort 'how we interpret our direct daily experiences.'

'Our surroundings will become filled with persons, places, objects, and activities that don't actually exist, and yet they will seem deeply authentic to us,' Rosenberg penned in the piece, published by Big Think.

Although he did not specifically mention old Zuckerberg or Meta by name, Rosenberg made a clear reference that he is deeply worried about the 'platform providers' that will have the infrastructure.

'...I am concerned about the legitimate uses of AR by the powerful platform providers that will control the infrastructure,' Rosenberg added.

Evil Rays

'Trigger warning' device for classrooms and parties sounds alarm when it detects offensive language or jokes


The Themis will emit irritating sounds when it detects offensive speech has been said around it.
A new trigger-warning detector which sound alarms when it detects offensive speech has been unveiled at Dubai Design Week.

The Themis is a lamp-sized device intended to 'moderate' debate in classrooms and universities and 'manifest political correctness' into a product.

The small device could even be used to police language at dinner parties and family gatherings and its developers have said it hopes that Themis will encourage 'self-critique'.

Comment: One would hope that the Themis is a network-ready device, so the authorities can be alerted any time offensive speech is detected. An annoying 2-minute alarm isn't really a sufficient penalty for the egregious crime of wrong speech. After all, self-policing isn't as effective as actual policing.

See also:


Yale researchers report 'Remdesivir-resistant' Covid mutation

© Reuters / Ulrich Perrey
A person holds an ampule of Remdesivir, an investigational Covid-19 treatment.
Researchers have discovered what's believed to be the first Covid-19 mutation resistant to the antiviral drug Remdesivir outside of the lab, according to a new preprint study.

In research published earlier this week ahead of peer review, scientists at Yale and the University of Washington School of Medicine said they found the mutation in a woman aged in her 70s, who was severely immunocompromised at the time she received Remdesivir due to cancer treatments.

Though such mutations have been produced in vitro during lab studies, they "have not been reported" in a real-life setting previously, the researchers said, noting that the finding is "limited to a single case" and requires further confirmation, but nonetheless "suggests that Remdesivir can impart selective pressure" and drive the evolution of the virus in infected cells.


All your memories are stored by one weird, ancient molecule

virus infect cell
© Chris Manfre
Much as a virus infects host cells, Arc can deliver genetic material to brain cells.
We actually borrowed our ability to form memories from viruses.

How does memory work? The further we seem to dive in, the more questions we stumble upon about how the function of memory first evolved. Scientists made a key breakthrough with the identification of the Arc protein in 1995, observing how its role in the plastic changes in neurons was critical to memory consolidation.

This protein is already a big deal, but the Arc picture just got a lot more interesting. In a study published Thursday in the journal Cell, a team of researchers at the University of Utah, the University of Copenhagen in Denmark, and MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology in Cambridge, UK, argue that Arc took its place in the brain as a result of a random chance encounter millions of years ago. Similar to how scientists say the mitochondria in our cells originated as bacteria that our ancient ancestors' cells absorbed, the Arc protein seems to have started as a virus.

Comment: Despite being mired in the materialistic conception of memory and 'evolution', this finding is fascinating. If the scientists would let go of their preconceptions of materialistic memory storage and random chance evolution, science might actually take great leaps forward in the understanding of how the brain works.

See also:

Microscope 1

Breaking down fungal biofilm defenses provides potential path to treating sticky infections

Candida albicans
© Wikimedia Commons
Candida albicans
The microbes that make us sick often have ways to evade our attacks against them. Perhaps chief among these strategies is a sticky, armor-like goo, called the biofilm matrix, that encases clusters of disease-causing organisms.

This defense works, sometimes in tragic ways. For example, biofilms form readily and invisibly on medical devices like catheters and implants and are highly resistant to drugs that might otherwise treat them. The infections they cause cost tens of thousands of lives and billions of dollars a year in the U.S.

"There are no approved antimicrobials to treat biofilms. The only way to treat a biofilm is to physically remove it from the body," says David Andes, a professor of medicine at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health.

In a new study designed to better understand and combat these structures, Andes and his collaborators identified some of the key proteins in biofilms of the fungus Candida albicans that control both how they resist antifungal drugs and how they become dispersed throughout the body.