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Sun, 18 Mar 2018
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Egypt Ignores Rebuff and Demands British Museum Return Rosetta Stone

Egypt's most senior antiquities official will visit Britain tomorrow to push on with a campaign to have the Rosetta Stone returned from the British Museum to its native country.

Speaking in his offices, amid piles of Pharaonic books, museum records and archaeological dig requests, Zahi Hawass, the head of Egypt's Supreme Council of Antiquities, said he would not be swayed by the British Museum's refusal to return the item, which he considers the "icon of Egyptian identity".

Dr Hawass, who will meet egyptologists in London, has been encouraged in his campaign by his success in securing the return of five ancient fresco fragments from the Louvre in Paris . Dr Hawass is also pursuing the return of the Queen Nefertiti bust from Neues Museum, Berlin, the Dendera Zodiac from the Louvre and a bust of the pyramid builder Ankhaf from the Boston Museum of Fine Art.

Dr Hawass, 52, said he has an "entire department" working to uncover evidence of other stolen Egyptian antiquities.

Bizarro Earth

Climategate: A Willful Ignorance

"Future generations will wonder in bemused amazement that the early 21st century's developed world went into hysterical panic over a globally averaged temperature increase of a few tenths of a degree, and, on the basis of gross exaggerations of highly uncertain computer projections combined into implausible chains of inference, proceeded to contemplate a roll-back of the industrial age." - MIT Professor Richard Lindzen, PhD, Atmospheric Science

"On such (climate) models we are supposed to wager trillions of dollars - and substantially diminished freedom."- George F. Will, syndicated columnist, Washington Post
Long ago I took one science course in college because it was required, not because I had any great interest in science. The course was zoology and only my end of semester paper on raccoons, an assigned subject, avoided a failing grade. To this day, more than 50 years later, I still recall that its Latin name was Procyon lotar.


Scientists Reveal Key Structure from Ebola Virus

Scientists at The Scripps Research Institute have determined the structure of a critical protein from the Ebola virus, which, though rare, is one of the deadliest viruses on the planet killing between 50 and 90 percent of those infected.

Described in the advance, online Early Edition of the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), the research reveals how a key component of the Ebola virus, called VP35, blocks the human immune system, allowing the virus uncontrolled replication. The structure represents a major step forward in understanding how the deadly virus works, and may be useful in the development of potential treatments for those infected.

"After infection, the virus and immune system are in a race," said Erica Ollmann Saphire, Ph.D., associate professor at Scripps Research, who led the three-year effort to solve the structure. "If the virus can hide its molecular signatures, it can suppress immune responses and replicate unchecked. This new understanding of the mechanism that Ebola virus uses to evade the immune system opens the door for developing drug therapies."


Ancient Temple Architects May Have Been Chasing a Buzz From Sound Waves

Emerging archaeology in a new study highlighted by the Old Temples Study Foundation suggests that sound and a desire to harness its effects may have been equally important as vision in the design of humankind's earliest ancient temples and monumental buildings.

Six-thousand-year-old ancient temples are giving up acoustic clues for modern scientists. Intriguing new research on ancient temples in Malta and highlighted by the Old Temples Study Foundation is resonating through international archaeology and interdisciplinary classics research. Reaching beyond the scope of traditional archaeology, a multi-disciplinary approach has opened a new dimension for the study of the ancient world.


Why we shouldn't release all we know about the cosmos

Europe's Planck satellite will measure the big bang's afterglow with unprecedented precision
Cosmologists are doing the happy dance. The European Space Agency's Planck mission is busy surveying the cosmic microwave background, aka the "echo" of the big bang, and in 2013 will release a feast of data that promises to deliver profound new insights into the origin of the universe.

Surely a victory for science? Only, it seems, if cosmologists can resist the temptation to gorge themselves on all those goodies.

A trio of astronomers have warned that, unless we use the information sparingly, we risk squandering a once-in-eternity opportunity (see arxiv.org/abs/0909.2649). If the whole data set is released at once, as is planned, any new ideas that cosmologists come up with may have to remain untested because they will have no further data to test them with.

This is a problem unique to cosmology. In other sciences, additional information is always available: you can always reset and rerun an experiment, or go out into the field to collect more data. Because of our fixed location in the universe, however, cosmology doesn't have that luxury. There is only a finite amount of information we can gather about the universe, and once we gather all there is to know about one aspect of it - in this case the temperature fluctuations in the cosmic microwave background - the well runs dry.


Life on Mars theory boosted by new methane study

Scientists have ruled out the possibility that methane is delivered to Mars by meteorites, raising fresh hopes that the gas might be generated by life on the red planet, in research published tomorrow (Wednesday 9 December 2009) in Earth and Planetary Science Letters.

Methane has a short lifetime of just a few hundred years on Mars because it is constantly being depleted by a chemical reaction in the planet's atmosphere, caused by sunlight. Scientists analysing data from telescopic observations and unmanned space missions have discovered that methane on Mars is being constantly replenished by an unknown source and they are keen to uncover how the levels of methane are being topped up.


Researchers examine correlation between political speeches, voting

Although politicians are often criticized for making empty promises, when it comes to their voting records, their words may carry more weight than previously thought, according to findings by two Penn State information technology scientists.

The researchers used a computer model to compare voting records from the 110th Congress -- Jan. 3, 2007 to Jan. 3, 2009 -- to each senator's floor statements on the issues to determine whether the two matched up.

They did this by creating a computer-based regression model to scan the floor speech text and compare it to each senator's DW-Nominate score, a measure of how conservative he or she is based on voting record.

Cow Skull

Bad Teeth Tormented Ancient Egyptians

© Getty Images
A systematic review of more than 3,000 mummy analyses reveal ancient Egyptians suffered from periodontal diseases, abscesses and cavities.

Worn teeth, periodontal diseases, abscesses and cavities tormented the ancient Egyptians, according to the first systematic review of all studies performed on Egyptian mummies in the past 30 years.

After examining research of more than 3,000 mummies, anatomists and paleopathologists at the University of Zurich concluded that 18 percent of all mummies in case reports showed a nightmare array of dental diseases.


California gives green light to space solar power

© Mafic Studios
In space solar power concepts, solar panel arrays would gather sunlight in orbit, then beam it to Earth
Energy beamed down from space is one step closer to reality, now that California has given the green light to a deal involving its sale. But some major challenges will have to be overcome if the technology is to be used widely.

On Thursday, the California Public Utilities Commission gave its blessing to an agreement that would see the Pacific Gas and Electric Company buy 200 megawatts of power beamed down from solar-power satellites beginning in 2016.

A start-up company called Solaren is designing the satellites, which it says will use radio waves to beam energy down to a receiving station on Earth.

The attraction of collecting solar power in space is the virtually uninterrupted sunshine available in geosynchronous orbit. Earth-based solar cells, by contrast, can only collect sunlight during daytime and when skies are clear.


Ancient Roman City Found Off Libyan Coast

Italian archaeologists have discovered the remains of an ancient Roman city submerged off the coast of Libya.

The remains of the city date back to the 2nd century A.D. and were found by archaeologists and experts from Sicily and the University Suor Orsola Benincasa of Naples, involved in the ArCoLibia archaeology project.

The discovery took place on the Cape of Ras Eteen on the western side of Libya's Gulf of Bumbah, as archaeologists were searching the area for shipwrecks and the remains of ancient ports.

Archaeologists instead found walls, streets, and the remains of buildings and ancient tombs. After a careful analysis, the experts realized the area extended for over a hectare.

Experts also said that the city could have been destroyed by a strong tsunami after an earthquake which struck the eastern coastal region of Cyrenaica in 365 A.D.

According to a statement released by Sicilian authorities, the city flourished through the manufacture of imperial dye, a purple pigment used to colour the clothing of the Roman elite.