Tag Archives | Science

The Penn Museum Finds 6,500-year-old Skeleton in its Cellar

How do you not know about an ancient skeleton in your basement?

Undated handout photo of a 6,500-year-old human skeleton, discovered in the basement of the Penn Museum in Philadelphia

A 6,500-year-old human skeleton, discovered in the basement of the Penn Museum in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania is seen in this undated handout photo courtesy of the Penn Museum. CREDIT: REUTERS/TOM STANLEY/PENN MUSEUM/HANDOUT VIA REUTERS

via Reuters:

A Philadelphia archaeology museum said on Tuesday its researchers have discovered an extremely rare 6,500-year-old human skeleton in its own basement, where it had been in storage for 85 years.

The Penn Museum, affiliated with the University of Pennsylvania, said it had lost track of all documentation for the skeleton which dates to roughly 4500 BC.

But the paperwork turned up this summer, as part of a project to digitize old records from a 1922-1934 joint expedition by the British Museum and the Penn Museum to modern-day Iraq.

Researchers were able to determine that the skeleton was unearthed around 1930 as part of an excavation into the Royal Cemetery of Ur led by Sir Leonard Woolley.

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What Do Philosophers Do?

An inside look into the life of the modern day philosopher.

The School of Athens, by Raphael, depicting the central figures of Plato and Aristotle, and other ancient philosophers exchanging knowledge.

The School of Athens, by Raphael, depicting the central figures of Plato and Aristotle, and other ancient philosophers exchanging knowledge.

via The Atlantic:

The romanticized version of what it’s like to be a philosopher must be one of the most appealing careers possible: read great thinkers, think deep thoughts, and while away the days in a beautiful office, surrounded by books, an Emeralite lamp, a hot mug of coffee, and perhaps a cat curled up by your feet. For the very few, your profound thoughts could revolutionize whole fields, herald new political ages, and inspire generations.

Of course, for many, academic philosophy proves a disappointment—an endless slog to publish, the tedium and heartache of departmental politics, and a dismal job market that tends to  people to far-flung college towns, far away from family and friends.

So what is a budding philosopher to do?

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Largest Living Organism is Not the Blue Whale

The largest living organism, once considered to be the blue whale, might not be what you expect. The discovery of a giant fungus in Oregon has claimed the prize.

W.J.Pilsak (Walter J. Pilsak, Waldsassen)

W.J.Pilsak (Walter J. Pilsak, Waldsassen)

via Scientific American:

The discovery of this giant Armillaria ostoyae in 1998 heralded a new record holder for the title of the world’s largest known organism, believed by most to be the 110-foot- (33.5-meter-) long, 200-ton blue whale. Based on its current growth rate, the fungus is estimated to be 2,400 years old but could be as ancient as 8,650 years, which would earn it a place among the oldest living organisms as well.

A team of forestry scientists discovered the giant after setting out to map the population of this pathogenic fungus in eastern Oregon. The team paired fungal samples in petri dishes to see if they fused (see photo below), a sign that they were from the same genetic individual, and used DNA fingerprinting to determine where one individual fungus ended.

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The Plot Thickens in the Siberian Crater Saga

Well, two new holes/craters/portals to hell have been found in Siberia.

via The Washington Post:

Two new craters have emerged in Siberia, deepening the giant hole saga. Though not as big as the first crater, which extended hundreds of feet in diameter, these new craters are just as strange.

One of the newly discovered holes is near the original — in a land referred to by locals as “the end of the world.” It’s around 45 feet in diameter and formed under unknown conditions. Same goes for the other new crater, which has a diameter of 13 feet, a depth of between 200 and 330 feet and was discovered by “mystified” herders near the village of Nosok in the icy Krasnoyarsk region.

This new crater in the Taz district, near the village of Antipayuta, has a diameter of about 15 metres.

This new crater in the Taz district, near the village of Antipayuta, has a diameter of about 15 metres. Photo via The Siberian Times

“It is not like this is the work of men,” one expert explained to the Siberian Times, which has been hot on the giant crater story from the get-go.

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Ancient Peruvian Astronomy Lab Uncovered

So this is awesome: archaeologists have found an ancient astronomy lab where it’s speculated that ancient people would track star movement.

Peruvian archaeologists found carvings that depict the stars and have lasted thousands of years. Silvia Depaz/Andina/Peru This Week

Peruvian archaeologists found carvings that depict the stars and have lasted thousands of years. Silvia Depaz/Andina/Peru This Week

via International Business Times:

Archeologists have stumbled upon a site where ancient people observed the stars thousands of years ago in Peru, a country famous for using drones to help uncover and map archeological treasures, as Reuters reported.

Excavators working on a complex at Licurnique, in the country’s northern region, have uncovered evidence of an “astronomical laboratory,” that dates back between 3,500 and 4,000 years, according to Peru This Week.

“Astronomical [observations] were engraved on a flat-surface rock, which were used to track stars,” its report said. It added that the petroglyphs were likely used in forecasting rain and weather patterns to help farmers. “It is worth exploring without a doubt.”

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Oldest Medical Report of Near-Death Experience Discovered

What an amazing thrift store find.

Cover of the book "Anecdotes de Médecine," by Pierre-Jean du Monchaux (1733-1766) Credit: Archive.org - Book contributor: Fisher - University of Toronto. Digitizing sponsored by University of Ottawa

Cover of the book “Anecdotes de Médecine,” by Pierre-Jean du Monchaux (1733-1766)
Credit: Archive.org – Book contributor: Fisher – University of Toronto. Digitizing sponsored by University of Ottawa

via Live Science:

Reports of people having “near-death” experiences go back to antiquity, but the oldest medical description of the phenomenon may come from a French physician around 1740, a researcher has found.

The report was written by Pierre-Jean du Monchaux, a military physician from northern France, who described a case of near-death experience in his book “Anecdotes de Médecine.” Monchaux speculated that too much blood flow to the brain could explain the mystical feelings people report after coming back to consciousness.

The description was recently found by Dr. Phillippe Charlier, a medical doctor and archeologist, who is well known in France for his forensic work on the remains of historical figures. Charlier unexpectedly discovered the medical description in a book he had bought for 1 euro (a little more than $1) in an antique shop.

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Genetic Engineering and Our Obsession with Beauty

chu20140727aBut once we learn how to democratize movie-star looks through genetic engineering, will we be satisfied? Most likely not. As looks become less of a differentiator, we will appreciate other personal characteristics more, such as kindness and intelligence.”

via Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies:

A Korean woman was on the verge of divorce because her husband no longer found her attractive and was having an affair. Nothing worked in her efforts to save the marriage and as a last resort she underwent cosmetic surgery. The result was so dramatic and her son didn’t recognize her when she returned home.

Even more dramatic was her husband’s attitude towards his new “goddess”: no more mention of divorce, and he was now  willing staying at home all the time! This seems to be a true story as the woman appeared on a TV show. Unfortunately the show is in Korean, but you can see many amazing “before-and-after” faces on this short video.

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“Fanbots” to Fill Seats for Korean Baseball Team

“Fanbots” will allow fans to attend the Hanwha Eagles’ games via robots. The robots will electronically show the faces of cheering fans.

Screen Shot 2014-07-26 at 4.27.27 PM

via Popular Science:

The Hanwha Eagles of Daejeon, Korea, have been on a long losing streak, the BBC reports… but they are winners in our hearts here at Popular Science. That’s because they have decided to amp up their fans by giving them access to three rows of telepresence robots. Not able to score a ticket to an Eagles game? No problem. These robots will be able to cheer, chant, show the faces of remote fans on their own screen faces, and hold up LED panels showing encouraging texts from fans.

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Middle Aged Chinese Man Finds Out He’s a Woman

Well, at least this isn’t as traumatizing as waking up from surgery to find your penis gone.

Human metaphase chromosomes were subjected to fluorescence in situ hybridization with a probe to the Alu Sequence (green signals)and counterstained for DNA (red)

Human metaphase chromosomes were subjected to fluorescence in situ hybridization with a probe to the Alu Sequence (green signals)and counterstained for DNA (red)

via Science World Report:

Mr. Chen headed to the hospital when he started having a severe stomach ache, along with blood in his urine. During a medical visit, the 44-year-old Chinese resident discovered that he was actually a menstruating woman.

Doctors said they were shocked to learn of the news, after studying Chen under a full body examination. Besides having a penis, he also had a full set of female reproductive organs.

“He was wearing men’s clothes with short hair, so we didn’t think that he would be a female at the beginning,” said a spokesman from the First People’s Hospital of Yongkang, where Chen was treated, via the Daily Mail.

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Fecal Transplants Let Packrats Eat Poison

Neotoma_cinerea_(bushy_tailed_woodrat)

Bushy tailed North American woodrat.

Eating shit could literally save your life!*

Via ScienceDaily:

Woodrats lost their ability to eat toxic creosote bushes after antibiotics killed their gut microbes. Woodrats that never ate the plants were able to do so after receiving fecal transplants with microbes from creosote-eaters, University of Utah biologists found.

The new study confirms what biologists long have suspected: bacteria in the gut — and not just liver enzymes — are “crucial in allowing herbivores to feed on toxic plants,” says biologist Kevin Kohl, a postdoctoral researcher and first author of the paper published online today in the journal Ecology Letters.

The study of woodrats, also known as packrats, raises two concerns, according to Kohl and the study’s senior author, Denise Dearing, a professor and chair of biology:

  1. Endangered species may lose diversity of their gut microbes when they are bred in captivity. When they are released to the wild, does that leave them unable to consume toxic plants that once were on their menu?
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