Convened by Dr.G., a Renegade Illuminati, convening Thee Temple [link], for knowledge, whimsy, and inspiration. Everything is true, nothing is forbidden!
Science & Futurism
* "Device ‘tricks’ brain into thinking broccoli tastes like chocolate" (2016-12-13, rt.com) [archive.is/3VQxd]
* "Artificial eggs grown in science lab create living mice" (2016-10-18, rt.com) [archive.is/7PZRJ]
* "Tasmanian devil’s milk could be key to combating drug-resistant superbugs – study" (2016-10-18, rt.com) [archive.is/zTTph]
* "Aliens could survive on a diet of radiation, study finds" (2016-10-12, rt.com) [archive.is/52V1H] [begin excerpt]: A bug found feeding off radioactive uranium has opened the possibility to scientists that alien life could survive on a diet of cosmic rays and not require light, oxygen and carbon - believed to be the building blocks of life here on Earth.
The bacterium Desulforudis audaxviator was found 2.8km beneath a gold mine in South Africa, completely deprived of all things required for photosynthesis. The discovery is leading scientists to rethink their theories on what is required to create life, according to a study published by the Royal Society [archive.is/lHjHf]. [end excerpt]
* "ExoMars Schiaparelli lander on course to touchdown on red planet" (2016-10-17, rt.com) [archive.is/KcJuh]
* "ExoMars probe to touch down on Mars, paving way for future landings" (2016-10-19, rt.com) [archive.is/ZOHoG]
* "No signal so far from ExoMars lander after descent to Red Planet" (2016-10-19, rt.com) [archive.is/0EZ7H]
* "China sends 2 taikonauts to space for 30-day orbital lab mission" (2016-10-16, rt.com) [archive.is/tlT2s]
* "Lunar bases must be 'sturdier' after higher rate of meteorites found battering moon" (2016-10-14, rt.com) [archive.is/Clrjx]
* "4,700 Potentially Dangerous Asteroids Lurk Near Earth, NASA Says" (2012-05-17, space.com) [archive.is/cilHg], illustration caption: This diagram illustrates the differences between orbits of a typical near-Earth asteroid (blue) and a potentially hazardous asteroid, or PHA (orange). PHAs have the closest orbits to Earth's orbit, coming within 5 million miles (about 8 million kilometers), and they are large enough to survive passage through Earth's atmosphere and cause significant damage.
* "#GiantMeteor2016: End of world better than Trump or Clinton, say 25% of millennials" (2016-10-19, rt.com) [archive.is/Wv7x1]
* "Voyager 2 points out unknown dark moons lurking behind Uranus" (2016-10-15, rt.com) [archive.is/CVZvN]
* "Ice world with insane 20,000-year orbit discovered in solar system" (2016-10-19, rt.com) [archive.is/nBymX]:
An icy planet with a staggering 20,000-year orbit has been discovered passing through our solar system, leading to the re-emergence of theories touting the existence of the fabled and mystical Planet 9.
L91, as the icy rock is called, is an enigma defying previously established gravitational patterns, and its discovery has added to mounting evidence that there are gravitational disruptions going on beyond what we can see, according to scientists working on the Outer Solar System Origins Survey.
Although L91 orbits our solar system’s sun, it never comes closer than 50 astronomical units, and at its farthest extreme it is a whopping 1,430 AU away. Each AU equals the distance between the Sun and Earth.
“It’s right at the limit of what we can detect,” said Michele Bannister, an astrophysicist at Queen’s University, Belfast, who introduced L91 to the world at the American Astronomical Society’s Division for Planetary Science meeting held there on Monday.
Wandering bodies like L91 have contributed to the idea that planetary systems aren’t static. It used to be the common school of thought that every celestial body in our solar system has followed a relatively unchanged path for the more than four billion years since its birth.
It has only been in the past decade that scientists have learned that even Jupiter and Saturn constantly wobble in distance from the sun.
At present, scientists still can’t determine L91’s size, and have conflicting views on what is disrupting its orbit. One theory is that it is influenced by Neptune.
L91 is believed to have been born with a far less exotic orbit, but current knowledge of Neptune’s trajectory, when taken together with L91’s, shows the orbit might have evolved over time to pass through the Oort cloud, then change again from interacting with something in our galaxy at large. This over time nudged L91 into its current orbit, the Neptune theory goes.
Other scientists from places as prestigious as Caltech still insist on a more mysterious explanation, but one they maintain is no less plausible than Neptune. Konstantin Batygin believes the Neptune analogy “is not needed,” and points to the arcane Planet 9 – a supposed ice giant with an orbit far more distant than Neptune’s.
Batygin and another Caltech astronomer, Mike Brown, believe Planet 9’s gravitational pull is behind the trajectories of the minor planets orbiting beyond Neptune. They jointly published their hypothesis in January of this year.
The discovery of L91 comes amid a whole series of recent scientific revelations about space – from our plans to colonize Mars in the near future, to the discovery of Earth-like and potentially habitable planets within our galactic reach.
Perhaps even more exciting is the next step, which involves photographing these worlds and learning more about their climates and chemical compositions. The privately-funded Project Blue – the first telescope that hopes to photograph planets in the habitable zone of our space neighborhood – may play a key role in this. Our nearest hope is in the Alpha Centauri constellation, which is a modest 4.22 light years from Earth and home to the most recently discovered potentially habitable planet.
* "Terracotta Army probably designed by Greeks who arrived in China before Marco Polo – researchers" (2016-10-13, rt.com) [archive.is/3ESVX] [begin excerpt]:
Marco Polo may have been beaten to China by 1,500 years according to new evidence. Not only did the travelers get to China earlier than previously believed, but they played a key role in the county’s iconic Terracotta Army according to researchers.
“By systematically examining the First Emperor’s main tomb and subsidiary burials we have discovered something more important even than the Terracotta Army,” Professor Zhang Weixing, lead archaeologist at the tomb site, told BBC documentary makers.
The revised timeline of the West’s presence in China emerged after new pieces of evidence including DNA was discovered in China’s Xinjiang province dating back to the Third Century BC. Tests on the DNA show it to be of European origin.
Researchers also believe the sudden appearance of life-sized statues in China around this time point to a presence of Greek artists, who would have brought their sculpting techniques to the East following Alexander the Great’s reign. Prior to this, Chinese statues were typically no taller than 20cm.
“I imagine that a Greek sculptor may have been at the site to train the locals,” Professor Lukas Nickel, chair of Asian art history at Vienna University said when speaking about China’s famous Terracotta Army, consisting of life-sized models of the soldiers of the First Emperor of China. [end excerpt]
Illustration from Smithsonian.org, showing how the terracotta soldiers looked for their eventual burial at the foot of the White Pyramid of the First Dynasty of the Yellow River civilization:
* "What two Oxford archaeologists discovered while flying over ancient Jordan; From an aerial perspective, Robert Bewley and David Kennedy have recorded sites across the Middle East and North Africa through their digital photography" (2016-10-12, AP Newswire) [archive.is/6yKdg]
* "Statue of ancient goddess draws thousands to Black Sea city" (2016-09-15, dailysabah.com) [archive.is/eq3XJ]
* "Adidas of Ancient Rome: Ancient Fashion Unveiled with Discovery of Roman Shoe Hoard" (2016-10-12, ancient-origins.net) [archive.is/PgHTs] [begin excerpt]:
A team of archeologists has discovered more than 400 ancient Roman shoes in the Vindolanda fort in Northumberland, England, including some that resemble modern-day shoe styles. The site, located just south of Hadrian's Wall, was an ancient settlement for Roman soldiers and their families.
During the excavation work, which lasted the whole summer, the researchers were uncovering one shoe after another. It was a huge challenge, but every single piece is priceless. According to the researchers, every single shoe is like a time machine, and a window into the everyday life of the person who once wore it. [end excerpt]
We are used to finding Roman shoes at Vindolanda but the discovery of 421 Roman shoes during the 2016 excavations at Vindolanda was astonishing. The shoes uncovered from the Severan fort ditch and dating to c. AD 212 will give us an unparalleled demographic census of conceivably the whole community who lived at the site nearly 2,000 years ago.
Each shoe costs us between £80 and £100 pounds to conserve and we need your help!
The volume of shoes found this season has resulted in a specifically re-adapted building to start the conservation process. We receive no external funding towards our excavation, conservation and research costs.
100% of your £80 donation to ‘conserve a shoe’ will go directly towards the laboratory costs.
As of October 15, there are 390 shoes left to be preserved. Please go fund the preservation process!
Thank you for supporting us, it really does make a difference.
* "Beneath Peru zoo, traces of ancient dog sacrifices" (2016-10-13, phys.org) [archive.is/eT7wh]
* "X-rays uncover surprising techniques in the creation of art on ancient Greek pottery" (2016-10-13, by phys.org) [archive.is/Nbs5x]
* "Pyramid scheme: Mysterious chambers found hidden in ancient Giza structure" (2016-10-18, rt.com) [archive.is/PxOzG]
* "Chamber of secrets: Ancient Egyptian pyramid defense ‘machine’ protected pharaoh’s tomb from within" (2016-07-15, rt.com) [archive.is/iJZlf]
* "Laser Scans Unveil a Network of Ancient Cities in Cambodia" (2016-09-19, nytimes.com) [archive.is/2wzX7], photo caption: An aerial lidar image of Ta Prohm, founded in the late 12th century.
* "How LIDAR Scans Reveal Angkor's Hidden City" [youtube.com/watch?v=o6Kq4XF1zKU]
* "Vikings' mysterious abandonment of Greenland was not due to climate change, study suggests" (2015-12-07, adn.com) [archive.is/lsOEN]
* "Ancient Viking rune stone, missing for 200 years, unearthed in Sweden; The nearly complete stone was found outside a local church" (2016-10-10, mnn.com) [archive.is/VdWTg], photo caption: A portion of the millennial-old runic inscription discovered outside a church in Sweden.
* "Ring-Shaped Geoglyphs Found Near Ancient Town in Peru" (2016-09-23, livescience.com) [archive.is/fMr2M], photo caption: One of the complex circular geoglyphs the team mapped at Quilcapampa, in the Sihuas Valley in Peru, has at least six rings arranged in an irregular pattern.
* "Ancient Meteorite Impact Rained Debris On US East Coast" (2016-10-13, space.com) [archive.is/1Ead9]
* "Ice Age bison-cattle hybrid did exist, DNA evidence shows" (2016-10-19, rt.com) [archive.is/DxEc7] [begin excerpt]:
Paintings of the species were previously seen on the walls of the Marsoulas caves in France, estimated to be 15,000 years old.
Teaming up with bison conservation researchers and paleontologists, Cooper and his team studied DNA from ancient teeth and bones discovered across Europe, the Urals and the Caucasus.
"The dated bones revealed that our new species and the Steppe Bison swapped dominance in Europe several times, in concert with major environmental changes caused by climate change," said Dr. Julien Soubrier, who co-authored the study.
The team then worked with French cave researchers, who showed them paintings matching the age of their unidentified species. The steppe bison, ancestor of the modern American bison, was depicted in one painting, while another species with shorter horns and small humps was shown in another.
The team believes this second species, with its similarity to the modern European bison, is the Higgs Bison.
"It dominated during colder tundra-like periods, without warm summers, and was the largest European species to survive the megafaunal extinctions. However, the modern European bison looks genetically quite different as it went through a genetic bottleneck of only 12 individuals in the 1920s, when it almost became extinct. That's why the ancient form looked so much like a new species." Cooper said.
Scientists team believe the species originated 120,000 years ago, as a hybrid of the steppe bison and the extinct Aurochs, the large wild ox from which modern domesticated cattle are descended.
The results of the study were published in Nature Communications [archive.is/ywTB5].
Miscellany & Errata
* "The mystery of an island that isn't there" (2012-11-23, blog.aucklandmuseum.com) [archive.is/FcYz]
* "Google's Phantom Island May Have 19th-Century Roots" (2012-11-26, livescience.com) [archive.is/8dCJy]
* "It came from Hurricane Nicole: 14lb lobster caught in Bahamas" (2016-10-18, rt.com) [archive.is/e0TIj]
* "German U-boat ‘attacked by sea monster’ found on seabed off Scotland" (2016-10-19, rt.com) [archive.is/qbCcw]
* "Mysterious ‘angel’ spotted in South Carolina skies" (2016-10-19, rt.com) [archive.is/FcjK7]