Wed, 28 Jan 2015 16:46 UTC
According to a study, published in the Nature Communications journal, the fossil, dubbed Penghu 1, is the first such discovery in Taiwan. It was picked up off on the seafloor that was part of the Asian mainland in the Pleistocene Epoch, which lasted from about 1.8 million years ago to approximately 11,700 years ago.
Although Homo sapiens are the only surviving human lineage, there were other human species or hominin roaming the earth. These include Homo erectus, believed to be our direct ancestors, Neanderthals and their close relatives Denisovans, as well as hobbit-like Homo floresiensis.
The fossil discovered in Taiwan might add another name to the list.
Mon, 26 Jan 2015 14:23 UTC
Known as Princess Ukok, after the high altitude plateau on which she was discovered, her body was decorated in the best-preserved, and most elaborate, ancient art ever found. While her discovery was exciting, particularly given how intact her remains were, her face and neck skin had deteriorated, with no real clue as to what she once looked like.
However, now her face has been revealed to the world for the first time following the work by Swiss taxidermist Marcel Nyffenegger.
Comment: Archaeology studies have come a long way in respecting indigenous traditions. May the Princess rest in peace after sharing so much about her culture.
Thu, 22 Jan 2015 00:00 UTC
Humanity has not been unlucky enough to observe at first hand the effects of a large impact, so to investigate whether a massive asteroid would spark off a global wildfire we had to turn to the laboratory. We have modelled, for the first time, the heat generated by the impact and what it meant for the planet's plants. Our research is published in the Journal of the Geological Society.
This all happened 65m years ago at the end of the Cretaceous period, when dinosaurs still roamed the earth. Suddenly, between 60 and 80% of all living species became extinct. Until the 1980s, this catastrophic loss of life was a mystery, but then scientists found a clue - traces of the element iridium in rocks of this age. Iridium generally falls to Earth with extraterrestrial objects. This suggested a massive asteroid collided with the planet and that this could be responsible for the mass extinction.
Comment: Is history repeating? Fireball sightings are on rise. The Chelyabinsk meteor explosion should serve as a reminder of what humanity has coming for it.
But first, some context
In September of 1991 hikers in the Ötzal Alps along the border of Austria and Italy happened upon the mummified corpse who became an archaeological celebrity. After Ötzi died at the hands of unknown attackers one late spring or early summer around 3500 BC, his body and belongings were left in a small gully where they were entombed beneath an alpine glacier. A combination of glacial meltwater and extreme cold resulted in natural mummification of his body.
Thanks to more than two decades of analysis, scientists arguably know more about Ötzi's health and final days than those of any other ancient human. He died at around 45 years of age after being shot in the back with a stone-tipped arrow and bludgeoned. In the 12 hours preceding his death he climbed into the mountains from an Italian valley, and ate a last meal consisting of grains and ibex meat.
Ötzi suffered a variety of ailments, including advanced gum disease, gallbladder stones, lyme disease, whipworms in his colon, and atherosclerosis. Researchers have sequenced Ötzi's entire genome, identified a genetic predisposition to heart disease, and determined that he has 19 surviving male relatives in his genetic lineage. However, a new studyshows the Iceman still has secrets left to reveal.
Thu, 01 May 2014 16:08 UTC
One of the most difficult things to explain to American university students is how capitalism and communism share far more in common than they do in conflict. In fact, regardless of how it is explained, the old saw that the two approaches are "opposites" can never quite penetrate. Even worse, explaining to students and their bewildered parents that the US banking and industrial conglomerates financed the Soviet Red revolution and built Soviet industry is also maddeningly impossible.
One simple way to explain it is to say that, for bankers in the modern era, the state's control of the entire economy from one place is what bankers believe paradise to look like. There is one plan, one banking system and one social system in place; this means that banks merely forward the cash, both expecting the state, not the economy as such, to reimburse them with the requisite interest. In other words, the command economy is the most congenial to banks. There is no necessary connection between private banking and a state-owned economy. It is just as simple for a banker to work for the Party as it is for Goldman-Sachs.
Capitalism and socialism are based on materialism. Production and utility alone are considered goods, and efficiency in methods is considered the sine qua non of ethical contemplation. Both systems are oriented to technology, hold to a linear view of history, and seek the mechanization of all aspects of humanity. As they both develop, the economic system and the state merge into a single machine. The error of the libertarians has always been their insistence that the state and private capital are opposed. Quite the opposite is true. Large concentrations of capital are deeply embedded in the state, using it as both a personal bodyguard and as a regulator that keeps market entry impossibly high. The defeat of the Justice Department by Microsoft in 2010-2012 shows the imbalance of power between private capital and the state.
Thu, 22 Jan 2015 14:44 UTC
Anthropologists from the University of Kent, working with researchers from University College London, the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig (Germany) and the Vienna University of Technology (Austria), have produced the first research findings to support archaeological evidence for stone tool use among fossil australopiths 3-2 million years ago.
The distinctly human ability for forceful precision (e.g. when turning a key) and power "squeeze" gripping (e.g. when using a hammer) is linked to two key evolutionary transitions in hand use: a reduction in arboreal climbing and the manufacture and use of stone tools. However, it is unclear when these locomotory and manipulative transitions occurred.
Dr Matthew Skinner, Senior Lecturer in Biological Anthropology and Dr Tracy Kivell, Reader in Biological Anthropology, both of Kent's School of Anthropology and Conservation, used new techniques to reveal how fossil species were using their hands by examining the internal spongey structure of bone called trabeculae. Trabecular bone remodels quickly during life and can reflect the actual behaviour of individuals in their lifetime.
The researchers first examined the trabeculae of hand bones of humans and chimpanzees. They found clear differences between humans, who have a unique ability for forceful precision gripping between thumb and fingers, and chimpanzees, who cannot adopt human-like postures. This unique human pattern is present in known non-arboreal and stone tool-making fossil human species, such as Neanderthals.
Thu, 22 Jan 2015 13:51 UTC
"Everyone sat in their homes in silence, windows shut as tightly as possible," she said.
The 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz, to be attended by world leaders and survivors, raises painful questions for residents of Oswiecim where Nazi occupiers created one of the most relentless extermination machines in history, claiming the lives of an estimated 1.5 million people.
How did their parents go about their daily business when such inhumanity was taking place just the other side of a barbed wire fence? How much did they know of what was going on?
Comment: See also: Holocaust 2.0: Coming soon!
Fri, 17 May 2013 07:11 UTC
Though Gordon Wasson was both chairman for the Council on Foreign Relations and the Vice President of Public Relations for J.P. Morgan Bank, he is most famous as the individual who "discovered", or more accurately popularized, magic mushrooms. An article in Life magazine described fantastic visions and experiences Wasson claimed to have had while under their influence (see Life, May 13, 1957 - Seeking the Magic Mushroom). Wasson's claims were the first description of the effects of psilocybin ("magic") mushrooms presented to the general public.
Irvin saw troubling implications in his discovery. He was aware, of course, of the CIA's infamous Project MK-ULTRA, in which the organization had given LSD to unsuspecting U.S. citizens. He also knew of the many conspiracy theories claiming that the government has been somehow involved with the creation of the "drug culture." He was also aware of Dave McGowan's research on the drug and music movement that had come out of Laurel Canyon in the 1960's, which showed that many of the "rock idols" who created it were the children of members of military intelligence.
Thu, 22 Jan 2015 11:12 UTC
From the time that Martin Luther King Jr.'s name came to national prominence in December, 1955, J. Edgar Hoover began monitoring his activities, even as King and his closest associates mistakenly presumed, according to Andrew Young, that "we thought of the FBI as our friends, the only hope we had." By 1959, Hoover had decided, on his own and without higher authorization, to order his agents to burglarize the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) offices to obtain personal information about Dr. King and install telephone wire taps as well as "bugs" to record non-telephonic conversations and assorted other noises. This brazenly illegal activity, of which there were many other cases in addition to King's, continued into the Kennedy administration. By 1961, the freedom rides that had begun that year revealed which side the FBI was really on, and it was not King's. Attorney General Robert Kennedy had attempted to bring the wiretapping under control, however by that time the SCLC and King had begun fighting back, culminating in a special report attacking the FBI on January 8, 1962. By then, the FBI had obtained evidence that two people in King's entourage, Stanley Levison and Jack O'Dell, had ties to the American Communist Party, making it difficult for the Kennedys to cooperate with King until that issue was dealt with or, conversely, for them to end the surveillance under the continuing pressure wielded by Hoover.
Comment: For further information about the MLK assassination, see:
MLK assassinated by US Government: King Family civil trial verdict