Monday, August 19, 2013

Earliest known iron artifacts came from meteorite, researchers say | The Space Reporter

Earliest known iron artifacts came from meteorite, researchers say | The Space Reporter

According to a news release from the University College London, researchers have demonstrated that ancient Egyptian iron beads kept at the UCL Petrie Museum were made from pieces of meteorites, as opposed to iron ore. The ancient Egyptian beads, which chart their inception to outer space, also precede the rise of iron smelting by 2,000 years.

Painstakingly crafted into thin sheets before being  shaped into tubes, the nine beads were initially joined together into a necklace along with other enticing minerals like gold and gemstones, showing the high value of this alluring material more than 5,000 years ago.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Swallow's Nest

Swallow's Nest - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The Swallow's Nest (UkrainianЛастівчине гніздоLastivchyne hnizdo)[nb 1] is a decorative castle located between Yalta and Alupkaon the Crimean peninsula in southern Ukraine. It was built between 1911 and 1912 in Gaspra, on top of 40-metre (130 ft) high Aurora Cliff, to a Neo-Gothic design by the Russian architect Leonid Sherwood.[nb 2] The castle overlooks the Cape of Ai-Todor of theBlack Sea and is located near the remnants of the Roman castrum ofCharax.[2] Swallow's Nest is one of the most popular visitor attractions in Crimea, becoming the symbol of Crimea's southern coastline.[3][4][5]
The building is compact in size, measuring only 20 m (66 ft) long by 10 m (33 ft) wide.[6] Its original design envisioned a foyer, guest room, stairway to the tower, and two bedrooms on two different levels within the tower. The interior of the guest room is decorated with wooden panels; the walls of the rest of the rooms are stuccoed and painted.[6]An observation deck rings the building, providing a view of the sea, and Yalta's distant shoreline.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

'Gate to Hell' found in Turkey

It sounds like the plot for a new Indiana Jones film.

Archaeologists say they have discovered the 'Gates of Hell', the mythical portal to the underworld in Greek and Roman legend.

The site, in the ancient Phrygian city of Hierapolis, now Pamukkale in southwestern Turkey, is said to closely match historical descriptions of what was known as Ploutonion in Greek and Pluutonium in Latin.

In its heyday, a small temple with traditional Greco-Roman pillars was said to have stood next to wall with steps leading down to a cave doorway filled with foul and noxious gasses.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Super-dense alien planet could be entirely new type

Mysterious dense "super-earths" discovered by Kepler could be the "fossil cores" of wandering ice giants.

Among the most mysterious finds of NASA’s Kepler space mission to find exoplanets are bodies too heavy for their size. In some cases, planets the size of Earth are denser than pure iron, according to a report in the journal Nature.
No standard theories about planet formation could explain such dense bodies. “There is no way to explain that in the Solar System,” says Olivier Grasset, a geophysicist at the University of Nantes in France.
But scientists believe these planets could be the "fossil cores" of ice giants similar to Neptune that veered too close to their suns, according to research presented this week at a meeting on exoplanets at the Royal Society in London. These cores would have formed under the intense pressure of their outer layers -- 5 million times the atmospheric pressure on Earth - and temperatures up to 6,000 kelvin.

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Wednesday, March 13, 2013

crystal found at bottom of English Channel may be a fabled sunstone

Historians have long wondered at the ability of Vikings explorers to travel long stretches of open water. Some say they used transparent calcite crystals — whose properties can allow a skilled sailor to guess the position of the sun during overcast or foggy days — as navigational aids.

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Monday, March 11, 2013

Stonehenge Was Ancient Rave Spot

British researchers unveiled a new theory for the origins of Stonehenge, saying the ancient stone circle was originally a graveyard and venue for mass celebrations.
The findings would overturn the long-held belief that Stonehenge on Salisbury Plain in southwestern England was created as a Stone Age astronomical calendar or observatory.
A team led by Professor Mike Parker Pearson of University College London said Stonehenge, a UNESCO World Heritage site, is both older and had a different function than previously thought.
"In many ways our findings are rewriting the established story of Stonehenge," Parker Pearson said.
The archaeologists carried out a decade of research which included excavations, laboratory work and the analysis of 63 sets of ancient human remains.
They said the original Stonehenge appeared to have been a graveyard for elite families built around 3000 BC, 500 years earlier than the site that is famous today.
The remains of many cremated bodies were marked by the bluestones of Stonehenge, Pearson said.
Further analysis of cattle teeth from 80,000 animal bones excavated from the site also suggest that around 2500 BC, Stonehenge was the site of vast communal feasts.
These would have been attended by up to one tenth of the British population at one time in what Parker Pearson said resembled "Glastonbury festival and a motorway building scheme at the same time."
It seemed that ancient people traveled to celebrate the winter and summer solstices but also to build the monument, he said.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Cluster of 35 Ancient Pyramids and Graves Discovered in Sudan

About 2,000 years ago, a kingdom named Kush flourished in what is now known as Sudan. Sharing a border with Egypt, the people of Kush were highly influenced by the other civilization. The result was that they built pyramids: lots of them. At one particular site known as Sedeinga, pyramid building continued for centuries. Now archaeologists have unearthed at least 35 of these small pyramids along with graves.
Discovered between 2009 and 2012, the pyramids were densely packed. In one field season alone, researchers discovered 13 pyramids within 5,381 square feet--only slightly larger than an NBA basketball court. So why was the density of the pyramids so great? Researchers theorized that since this building continued over centuries, the people of Kush used whatever space was available at the site, packing in pyramids in between others to make better use of the space.


Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Harbingers of Death: Predicting Supernovae

A massive outburst may give a month’s advance notice of when certain giant stars will go supernova. That’s not great for evacuation plans, but perfect for observers who want to catch a supernova in action.

Three years ago a giant star gave us a signal of its impending destruction just 40 days before it happened. In a fit of frenzy, the star sent gas hurtling outward at 2,000 kilometers per second (4.5 million miles per hour), more than twice the speed of the fastest solar wind. Six weeks later the entire star exploded as a Type IIn supernova, leaving behind a tiny, dense stellar corpse.

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Sacrificial skull mound in Mexico puzzles experts

MEXICO CITY (AP) — Archaeologists say they have turned up about 150 skulls of human sacrifice victims in a field in central Mexico, one of the first times that such a large accumulation of severed heads has been found outside of a major pyramid or temple complex in Mexico.
Experts are puzzled by the unexpected find of such a large number of skulls at what appears to have been a small, unremarkable shrine. The heads were carefully deposited in rows or in small mounds, mostly facing east toward the rising sun, sometime between 660 and 860 A.D., a period when the nearby city-state of Teotihuacan had already declined but the Aztec empire, founded in 1325, was still centuries in the future.

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Thursday, January 24, 2013

Dung beetles guided by Milky Way

When dung beetles roll their tiny balls of poop across the sands of South Africa on a moonless night, they look to the glow of our Milky Way galaxy as a navigational aid, researchers report.
"Even on clear, moonless nights, many dung beetles still manage to orientate along straight paths," Marie Dacke, a biologist at Sweden's Lund University, said in a news release. "This led us to suspect that the beetles exploit the starry sky for orientation — a feat that had, to our knowledge, never before been demonstrated in an insect."

Monday, January 21, 2013

Gamma-ray burst 'hit Earth in 8th Century'

In 2012 researchers found evidence that our planet had been struck by a blast of radiation during the Middle Ages, but there was debate over what kind of cosmic event could have caused this.

Now a study suggests it was the result of two black holes or neutron stars merging in our galaxy.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

100-year-old deathbed dreams of mathematician proved true

While on his death bed, the brilliant Indian mathematician Srinivasa Ramanujan cryptically wrote down functions he said came to him in dreams, with a hunch about how they behaved. Now 100 years later, researchers say they've proved he was right.
"We've solved the problems from his last mysterious letters. For people who work in this area of math, the problem has been open for 90 years," Emory University mathematician Ken Ono said.
'For a brief window of time, he lit the world of math on fire.'
- Emory University mathematician Ken Ono
Ramanujan, a self-taught mathematician born in a rural village in South India, spent so much time thinking about math that he flunked out of college in India twice, Ono said.
But he sent mathematicians letters describing his work, and one of the most preeminent ones, English mathematician G. H. Hardy, recognized the Indian boy's genius and invited him to Cambridge University in England to study. While there, Ramanujan published more than 30 papers and was inducted into the Royal Society.
"For a brief window of time, five years, he lit the world of math on fire," Ono told LiveScience.
But the cold weather eventually weakened Ramanujan's health, and when he was dying, he went home to India.
It was on his deathbed in 1920 that he described mysterious functions that mimicked theta functions, or modular forms, in a letter to Hardy. Like trigonometric functions such as sine and cosine, theta functions have a repeating pattern, but the pattern is much more complex and subtle than a simple sine curve. Theta functions are also "super-symmetric," meaning that if a specific type of mathematical function called a Moebius transformation is applied to the functions, they turn into themselves. Because they are so symmetric these theta functions are useful in many types of mathematics and physics, including string theory.
Ramanujan believed that 17 new functions he discovered were "mock modular forms" that looked like theta functions when written out as an infinte sum (their coefficients get large in the same way), but weren't super-symmetric. Ramanujan, a devout Hindu, thought these patterns were revealed to him by the goddess Namagiri.
Ramanujan died before he could prove his hunch. But more than 90 years later, Ono and his team proved that these functions indeed mimicked modular forms, but don't share their defining characteristics, such as super-symmetry.
The expansion of mock modular forms helps physicists compute the entropy, or level of disorder, of black holes.
In developing mock modular forms, Ramanujan was decades ahead of his time, Ono said; mathematicians only figured out which branch of math these equations belonged to in 2002.
"Ramanujan's legacy, it turns out, is much more important than anything anyone would have guessed when Ramanujan died," Ono said.
The findings were presented last month at the Ramanujan 125 conference at the University of Florida, ahead of the 125th anniversary of the mathematician's birth on Dec. 22.
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