Scientists Discover Dozens of Monuments Hidden Below Stonehenge
Scientists have new evidence that there is more to Stonehenge — the ancient rock formations that stand alone in a field in Wiltshire, England — than meets the eye.
Based on cutting edge digital mapping technology, researchers at the University of Birmingham working as part of The Stonehenge Hidden Landscapes Project have discovered a treasure trove of new findings buried beneath the stones themselves.
According to the University, the new discoveries include 17 temples, burial mounds, shrines, and massive prehistoric pits that experts say appear to form astrological alignments. Many of the findings, such as a large timber temple that was likely used to treat and bury the dead, are even older than the prehistoric monument above them, which is dated to 3,100 BCE.
Scientists noted that the number of structures fundamentally alters the modern perception of Stonehenge from a single monolith to a sprawling complex that was occupied by a large number of people. One of the project leaders, Professor Vincent Gaffney, who is Chair in Landscape Archaeology and Geomatics at the University of Birmingham also indicated that the most recent discovery is likely only the tip of a massive archeological iceberg.
Despite Stonehenge being the most iconic of all prehistoric monuments and occupying one of the richest archaeological landscapes in the world, much of this landscape in effect remains terra incognita.”
Using radar technology developed at the Ludwig Boltzmann Institute in Vienna, teams of researchers have spent years gathering images from around Stonehenge. According to the institute’s Director Professor Wolfgang Neubauer, the techniques used in the discovery will likely be employed in future archeological research.
The developments of the Ludwig Boltzmann Institute for Archaeological Prospection and Virtual Archaeology (LBI ArchPro) offer Europe the opportunity to carry out fundamental archaeological research at a scale and precision never previously attempted.”
Meanwhile for something was erected over 4,000 years ago, Stonehenge has certainly seen its fair share of news of late. On his trip back from the NATO Summit in Wales last week, President Obama made his own impromptu trip to the site.
Harnessing solar power through the looking glass
Transparent Solar Concentrator Prototype
Researchers from Michigan State University have developed a new solar energy concentrator that, unlike previously constructed luminescent solar panels, does not tint the color of the sunlight shining through it.
An advantage of transparent solar technology is that, while less efficient at its current stage of development, users will reduce the load of lighting in their current household or workplace, according to Richard Lunt, professor of chemical engineering and materials science at Michigan State University.
“If you’re sitting in front of a window, one of the things you might notice is that the level of transparency is very high,” Lunt said.
Lunt explained that while there is a lot of energy in the visible part of the light spectrum, the infrared component not visible to the human eye actually makes up more than two-thirds of sunlight. By constructing a transparent concentrator specifically designed to pick up only non-visible wavelengths of light, the potential amount of electricity generated is only reduced by one-third. This is because visible light is allowed to pass through the glass without being captured and converted into electricity.
“If you consider covering a window with [opaque] photovoltaic solar paneling, you’d be converting light to energy at a loss,” Lunt said. “You’d be using some of that power to then power the lighting inside of the home or office, whereas if you made it transparent and let all of the light shine through, you’d get 100 percent lighting efficiency.”
The trade-off between designing buildings that use solar cell panels instead of windows is that while the opaque solar cell panels generate more energy, no natural light passes through them, according to Amanda Smeigh, program manager at the Solar Fuels Institute and a Ph. D. in chemistry from Michigan State University.
“Putting panels on windows works, but then your window becomes a wall,” Smeigh said. “In one regard you’re getting the best of both worlds—still generating electricity, just not as much.”
Smeigh said this technology provides a good opportunity for offsetting electricity usage in practical settings. For example, architects might cover the roof of a skyscraper in solar cells, which are more efficient but are also limited to operating within a more confined space, and use the transparent panels for the windows.
“You have a larger area of windows [on a skyscraper], so I could see it making a bigger difference in generating electricity than if you were to use only roof-mounted solar panels,” Smeigh said.
According to Lunt, solar concentrators have been around for many years, the idea was first developed in the 1970s. Lunt said the motivation driving the technology was the high cost of solar cells, and finding a method to direct light onto fewer cells would be cost-effective. He explained that researchers embedded a luminescent dye into inexpensive sheeting in order to absorb the different colors of the solar spectrum.
The efficiency of his team’s transparent technology is close to one percent, but Lunt said they believe they can get it to at least five percent, and optimally to seven percent with some additional design work, making its efficiency competitive with that of the more unsightly colored luminescent concentrators. Currently, non-transparent solar panels can reach a maximum efficiency of 25.6 percent, according to the National Renewable Energy Laboratory.
“You wouldn’t want to operate in a house with that kind of hideous orange or green light coming through,” Smeigh said. “So the fact that it’s colorless to the human eye is a significant improvement.”
The U.S. has seen an exponential increase in solar technology over the last six years, according to Carly Rixham, executive director of the American Solar Energy Society.
“The categories of solar technology include thermal, passive, concentrators and electric, which solar cells fall into,” Rixham said.
She explained that while one percent efficiency is not an impressive number when compared to the 25.6 percent efficiency the National Renewable Energy Laboratory reports can be obtained with photovoltaic panels, the potential practical application makes the transparent ones very valuable.
“In terms of efficiency, we can’t keep moving the carrot,” Smeigh said. “We can’t keep striving to hit goals without implementing them.”
A lake that mysteriously appeared in a drought-stricken region of Tunisia last month is being hailed as a miracle by locals but may in fact be radioactive.
Local shepherds discovered the large body of water along the Om Larayes Rd, about 25km from the southern Tunisian city of Gafsa, about three weeks ago, France24 reports.
Since then, hundreds of people have flocked to the oasis-like formation dubbed “Lac de Gafsa” or Gafsa Beach. Families swim there, youths leap from surrounding rocks into its clear waters and the curious – and the cautious – come equipped with scuba gear.
“Some say that it is a miracle, while others are calling it a curse,” France24’s Tunisian correspondent Lakhdar Souid said.
Authorities have offered no official explanation for the lake’s origins but local geologists believe seismic activity may have upset the water table and caused groundwater to rise to the surface.
Are these fun-loving locals being poisoned at this pop-up oasis?
Two weeks after the lake was discovered, Gafsa’s Office of Public Safety warned Tunisians that it was dangerous and not suitable for swimming in.
The region is rich in phosphate – and heavily mined for it – and there are fears the water is contaminated or even radioactive.
“But since there was no official ban on swimming in the lake, Tunisians continue to do so,” Mr Souid said.
“News of the lake’s appearance has spread like wildfire and now hundreds of people, eager to escape a heatwave, go there to swim. While the origins of this lake remains a mystery, our biggest concern right now is the quality of the water.
“This region is overflowing with large deposits of phosphate, which can leave behind radioactive residue so there is a real risk that this water is contaminated and carcinogenic (but) there is no security of any kind.”
Worryingly, the colour of lake, which is estimated to be between 18 and 20 metres deep has changed from a clear, turquoise blue in the first few days to a slightly murky green.”The site is certainly stunning and there are many large rocks perfect for diving but it has become infested with green algae, meaning that the water is stagnant and conducive to diseases,” Mr Souid said.
Despite the government warnings, more than 600 people have already taken a dip at Gasfa Beach, which now has its own Facebook page.
Reindeer herders find more craters in the far north in a deepening puzzle for scientists.
The funnel is a perfectly formed cone, say locals who are mystified at how it was formed. Its depth is estimated at between 60 and 100 metres and its diameter – more than four metres. Picture: Local residents
Millions of people around the world glimpsed the first giant hole after it was revealed by The Siberian Times hereand on The Siberian Times TV here.
Now news has emerged of two new similar formations in the permafrost, prompting more intrigue about their creation.
Theories range from meteorites, stray missiles, a man-made prank, and aliens, to an explosive cocktail of methane or shale gas suddenly exploding. The version about melting permafrost due to climate change, causing a release of methane gas, which then forces an eruption is the current favorite, though scientists are reluctant to offer a firm conclusion without more study.
First pictures from the big crater near Bovanenkovo gas field. Theories range from meteorites, stray missiles, a man-made prank, and aliens, to an explosive cocktail of methane or shale gas suddenly exploding. Pictures: Andrey Naumenko, ‘Yamal-Region’
The second is in the Yamal Peninsula – known to locals as ‘the end of the world’ – like the first. It is some hundreds kilometres from the first, which is close to a huge gas extraction plant at Bovanenkovo. This new crater in the Taz district, near the village of Antipayuta, has a diameter of about 15 metres.
A deputy of the regional parliament – or duma – Mikhail Lapsui has examined this latest phenomenon.
‘I flew by helicopter to inspect this funnel on Saturday 19 July,’ he said. ‘Its diameter is about 15 meters. ‘There is also ground outside, as if it was thrown as a result of an underground explosion.
‘According to local residents, the hole formed on 27 September 2013. Observers give several versions. According to the first, initially at the place was smoking, and then there was a bright flash. In the second version, a celestial body fell there.’
The Chief Scientist of the Earth Cryosphere Institute, Marina Leibman, told URA.RU website: ‘I have heard about the second funnel on Yamal, in Taz district, and saw the pictures.
‘Undoubtedly, we need to study all such formations. It is necessary to be able to predict their occurrence. Each new funnel provides additional information for scientists.’
This new crater in the Taz district, near the village of Antipayuta, has a diameter of about 15 metres. Pictures: Google maps, press service of the Governor YaNAO
The third crater and hole is in the Taymyr Peninsula, to the east of Yamal, in Kransoyark region. It was accidentally discovered by local herders, inhabitants of the northern village of Nosok.
The funnel is a perfectly formed cone, say locals who are mystified at how it was formed. Its depth is estimated at between 60 and 100 metres and its diameter – more than four metres.
The herders almost fell into the hole which lies on a pasturing route. They took pictures of the hole which were sent to scientists at the Norilsk Taimyr Explorers’ Club.
Experts – geologists, ecologists, and historians – have not come to a consensus about the origin of the funnel, say reports in the region.
‘It is not like this is the work of men, but also doesn’t look like natural formation,’ said one account.
The herders almost fell into the hole which lies on a pasturing route. They took pictures of the hole which were sent to scientists at the Norilsk Taimyr Explorers’ Club. Pictures: Google maps, Local residents
Further study is planned of this hole.
The first hole is around 70 metres deep with an icy lake at its bottom.
Please see our reports on the first hole here and here.
Oetzi the 5300-year-old Mummy – an Unknown Branch of Human Family Tree
A 5300-year-old mummified body of a man whom scientists have fondly named as Oetzi, has really altered our understanding of the human family tree and its gene pool with a DNA pattern that shows that he did not belong to any known branch of human family tree.
Oetzi was found preserved in the ice of the Eastern Alps in 1991 and since 1998 he has been on display at the South Tyrol Museum of Archaeology in Bolzano, Italy. The examination of DNA of Oetzi has revealed that he has no match to any of the known existing races in Europe and most likely has no descendants today.
The scientists examined Oetzi’s mitochondrial DNA and found that it was unique in its structure. The mitochondrial DNA is always passed down to future generations by mothers and since no human being today carries the similar structure, it is safe to conclude that Oetzi has no descendants today.
He was about 46 years old when he met his violent death. Examinations revealed that he had been wounded by an arrow and possibly finished off with a mace blow to the face.
Although he fell into a subgroup called K1, his lineage did not match any of the three known K1 ‘clusters’. This really adds another chapter to the human family tree and our understanding of evolution.
Death toll passes 690 as Israel accused of targeting medical facilities
Health officials say Israeli strikes are preventing medics from tending the wounded and collecting the dead in Gaza
Ambulances have been struck by Israeli military attacks as they attempt to retrieve the injured (AFP)
Wednesday 23 July 2014 18:05 BST
Israel has struck more than 25 health facilities in the Gaza Strip since the beginning of its military offensive against the besieged coastal enclave earlier this month, according to Palestinian health officials.
The death toll in Gaza has soared since Israel launched a ground invasion on 18 July, with more than 690 killed and over 4,500 people injured in attacks on the strip. On the Israeli side three military officers were killed during Wednesday, bringing the death toll in Israel to 35, which consists of 32 soldiers and three civilian casualties.
Palestinian officials say the Israeli army has deliberately attacked medical facilities.
“Targeting the health facilities is an internationally condemned thing and a red line that should not be crossed,” Health Ministry Undersecretary Medhat Mehesen told a press conference at al-Shifa Hospital, Gaza’s largest medical facility, late on Monday.
“The Israeli troops have been targeting the health facilities and ambulance crews since the beginning of the military operation,” he added.
Four Palestinians were killed on Monday when Israeli troops shelled the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Hospital in the central town of Der al-Balah.
Officials also accuse Israel of stopping ambulances from reaching areas targeted by military strikes, which prevents medical professionals from tending to the wounded and collecting the dead.
A medic was killed on Sunday when Israeli soldiers fired at Palestinian ambulances as they attempted to enter the Shejaiya neighbourhood near Gaza City, a scene of deadly attacks at the weekend that killed scores of civilians and injured hundreds of others.
“We are afraid to see a repeat of what happened to Al-Aqsa Martyrs Hospital,” Mehesen said.
The health official warned of a humanitarian and environmental crisis in Gaza if Israeli troops continue to prevent Palestinian ambulances from reaching the affected areas to move victims’ bodies. He also called for international intervention to provide protection for hospitals and medical professionals against Israeli attacks.
More than 100,000 people have been displaced by Israel’s military offensive, according to UNRWA, which began on 7 July. Many of these people have taken shelter at more than 60 UN-run schools, which officials say have also come under attack.
On Tuesday, a school was shelled when a team of UN workers visited to inspect damage caused the previous day, according to officials who spoke anonymously to AFP.
“Yesterday we got reports that it [the school] was shelled and so today [Tuesday] we sent out guys down to investigate and see which side the fire came from,” said the official. “They went down there with Israeli clearance, and while they were there, they came under Israeli shelling,” he added.
The official said holes were blown through the walls of the school compound and that the gates had been blown off but that no one was injured in the attack. The school has now been evacuated and UNRWA has submitted a formal letter about the shelling to Israel, he added.
The UN Human Rights Council is meeting on Wednesday to discuss the Israeli operation in Gaza with strong criticisms expected. The Palestinians, supported by Arab nations, have submitted a request to the council for an inquiry to look into alleged war crimes and violations of international law carried out by Israel in Gaza.
Wednesday’s meeting in Geneva mirrors the council’s response to Israel’s Operation Cast Lead in 2009, which killed more than 1,400 Palestinians in Gaza. On that occasion the Goldstone Commission was established and its final report was damning of Israeli military attacks, leading to increased international calls for a boycott of Israel.
If the resolution calling for an inquiry is passed this time, a process will begin to set the parameters for a commission, as well as its composition and schedule. It is likely that Israel and the US would seek to delay this and work to narrow its mandate as much as possible.
‘Witch Hunt’: Fired MSNBC Contributor Speaks Out on Suppression of Israel-Palestine Debate
As Gaza body toll mounts, NBC executives crack down on criticism of Israel.
July 22, 2014
MSNBC contributor Rula Jebreal’s on-air protest of the network’s slanted coverage of Israel’s ongoing assault on the Gaza Strip has brought media suppression of the Israel-Palestine debate into sharp focus. Punished for her act of dissent with the cancellation of all future appearances and the termination of her contract, Jebreal spoke to me about what prompted her to speak out and why MSNBC was presenting such a distorted view of the crisis.
“I couldn’t stay silent after seeing the amount of airtime given to Israeli politicians versus Palestinians,” Jebreal told me. “They say we are balanced but their idea of balance is 90 percent Israeli guests and 10 percent Palestinians. This kind of media is what leads to the failing policies that we see in Gaza.”
She continued, “We as journalists are there to afflict the comfortable and who is comfortable in this case? Who is really endangering both sides and harming American interests in the region? It’s those enforcing the status quo of the siege of Gaza and the occupation of the West Bank.”
Jebreal said that in her two years as an MSNBC contributor, she had protested the network’s slanted coverage repeatedly in private conversations with producers. “I told them we have a serious issue here,” she explained. “But everybody’s intimidated by this pressure and if it’s not direct then it becomes self-censorship.”
With her criticism of her employer’s editorial line, she has become the latest casualty of the pro-Israel pressure. “I have been told to my face that I wasn’t invited on to shows because I was Palestinian,” Jebreal remarked. “I didn’t believe it at the time. Now I believe it.”
An NBC producer speaking on condition of anonymity confirmed Jebreal’s account, describing to me a top-down intimidation campaign aimed at presenting an Israeli-centric view of the attack on the Gaza Strip. The NBC producer told me that MSNBC President Phil Griffin and NBC executives are micromanaging coverage of the crisis, closely monitoring contributors’ social media accounts and engaging in a “witch hunt” against anyone who strays from the official line.
“Loyalties are now being openly questioned,” the producer commented.
The suppression campaign culminated after Jebreal’s on-air protest during a July 21 segment on Ronan Farrow Daily.
“We are disgustingly biased on this issue. Look at how much airtime Netanyahu and his folks have on air on a daily basis, Andrea Mitchell and others,” Jebreal complained to Farrow. “I never see one Palestinian being interviewed on these same issues.”
When Farrow claimed that the network had featured other voices, Jebreal shot back, “Maybe for thirty seconds, and then you have twenty-five minutes for Bibi Netanyahu.”
Within hours, all of Jebreal’s future bookings were cancelled and the renewal of her contract was off the table. The following day, Jebreal tweeted: “My forthcoming TV appearances have been cancelled. Is there a connection to my expose and the cancellation?”
Jebreal is the author of Miral, a memoir about her coming of age in the Israeli-occupied West Bank. Her former partner, Jewish-American filmmaker and artist Julian Schnabel, adapted the book into full length film. A widely published journalist and former news presenter in Italy, Jebreal was a vocal supporter of the now-extinct peace process and a harsh critic of Islamist groups including Hamas. Her termination leaves NBC without any Palestinian contributors.
According to the NBC producer, MSNBC show teams were livid that they had been forced by management to cancel Jebreal as punishment for her act of dissent.
At the same time, social media erupted in protest of Jebreal’s cancellation, forcing the network into damage control mode. The role of clean-up man fell to Chris Hayes, the only MSNBC host with a reputation for attempting a balanced discussion of Israel-Palestine. On the July 22 episode of his show, All In, he brought Jebreal on to discuss her on-air protest.
Malaysia Airlines plane crashes on Ukraine-Russia border – live
A Malaysia Airlines passenger plane has reportedly crashed in Ukraine, on the border with Russia. All the latest details here
This page will automatically update every 90 secondsOnOff
• Interfax reports that a Malaysian plane has crashed in Ukraine • The plane was flying from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur • 295 people were onboard • Reports that the plane could have been shot down
16.50 Reports suggest that the plane was shot down by a surface-to-air missile called a BUK.
Colin Freeman explains:
The BUK is a self-propelled, medium-range surface-to-air missile systems in the Soviet era and designed to engage cruise missiles, smart bombs, aircraf and and unmanned aerial vehicles. Modern versions can reach up to 80,000 feet.
16.47 Reaction to the plane crash is beginning to come in now.
This is from Carl Bildt, the Swedish foreign minister
16.45 Malaysian Airlines have confirmed that they have lost contact with the plane.
16.44 Here’s a more detailed route map, showing precisely where the plane dropped off the radar.
16.43 Nick Collins, The Telegraph’s transport editor, points out the following:
16.42 The Ukrainian interior ministry adviser, quoted by Interfax, says there are no survivors.
16.38 More footage is emerging of the scene, minute by minute.
This is the latest from YouTube
16.36 Our Washington correspondent, Raf Sanchez, has the following observation:
It’s still not clear what happened to today’s Malaysia Airlines flight but last night, as the US announced new sanctions on Russia, American officials suggested Russian weapons were behind the downing of a Ukrainian transport aircraft on Monday. Here’s what they had to say:
“On July 14th, Ukrainians lost an An-26 transport jet, which was shot down from an altitude of 21,000 feet, with eight crew on board. And only very sophisticated weapons systems would be able to reach this height.”
16.34 Interfax are saying that the plane was shot down.
16.28 Initial reports suggested that the flight could have been Malaysia Airlines MH17, which left Amsterdam at 12.14.
It was due to arrive in Kuala Lumpur at 06.09.
16.27 Unconfirmed reports on Twitter showed YouTube footage of a large pall of smoke in fields near Shaktersk.
The footage could not be verified.
16.20 The plane is thought to have crashed near Shaktersk.
16.15 Interfax news agency are claiming that a Malaysian passenger plane has crashed in Ukraine, near the Russian border.
“A Boeing Malaysian Airlines that was flying from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur began to descend about 50km before entering Russian airspace, and was subsequently found burning on the ground in Ukraine,” an aviation source told Interfax.
Interfax said that 295 people were on board at the time.
Ukraine says jet shot down by missile from Russian plane
U.S. imposes tougher sanctions against Russia targeting two major Russian energy firms
The Associated PressPosted: Jul 17, 2014 7:00 AM ET Last Updated: Jul 17, 2014 10:45 AM ET
Ukraine says its jet downed by missile from Russian plane 2:21
An Air Force fighter jet has been shot down by an air-to-air missile fired from a Russian plane, a spokesman for Ukraine’s Security Council said Thursday.
Andrei Lysenko also said Ukrainian troops had been fired upon by missiles from a village just inside Russia.
Officials in Kyiv have recently accused Russia’s armed forces of being directly implicated in attacks on Ukrainian troops battling an insurgency near the border.
Lysenko said in a televised briefing that the pilot of the Sukhoi-25 jet that was hit on Wednesday evening was forced to bail out after his jet was shot down. He provided no further details.
Pro-Russia rebels, meanwhile, claimed responsibility for strikes Wednesday on two Ukrainian Sukhoi-25 jets.
The Defence Ministry said the second jet was hit by a portable surface-to-air missile, but added the pilot was unscathed and managed to land his plane safely.
Moscow denies Western charges that it is supporting the separatists in Ukraine or sowing unrest in its neighbour.
Russia’s Defence Ministry denied that it had shot down the plane and called the accusations “absurd,” Reuters reported.
“It is absurd, just like all the previous accusations from Kyiv’s leadership against Russia’s Defence Ministry,” Reuters quoted a ministry spokesman as saying.
Russia’s United Nations ambassador said Russia did not shoot down the plane, Reuters reported. “We didn’t do it,” said Vitaly Churkin when asked about the incident by reporters.
On Monday, Ukraine said one of its military transport planes carrying eight people was shot down by a missile fired from Russian territory. Security Service chief Valentyn Nalyvaichenko said he had “unconditional evidence” that Russia was involved in downing the craft.
Rebels claimed to have shot that plane down.
U.S. imposes tougher sanctions
The U.S. slapped tougher sanctions against Russia on Wednesday for its actions in Ukraine, prompting a strong reaction Thursday from Russian President Vladimir Putin, who said they will stalemate bilateral relations and hurt not only Russian, but also American businesses.
Russia’s benchmark MICEX was down 2.6 per cent in early afternoon trading Thursday upon news of the sanctions while Russia’s biggest oil company, Rosneft, was nearly five per cent down.
The U.S. sanctions target two major Russian energy firms including Rosneft, a pair of powerful financial institutions, eight weapons firms and four individuals.
The U.S. penalties, however, stopped short of the most stringent actions the West has threatened, which would fully cut off key sectors of Russia’s oil-dependent economy. But officials said those steps were still on the table if Russia fails to abide by the West’s demands to stop its support for the pro-Russia insurgents.
Deep Mystery: Theories Fly Over Giant Black Hole in Siberia
An enormous crater spotted near Yamal, northern Siberia, has people scrambling for explanations. Siberia’s Zvezda TV recently aired helicopter footage of the giant black hole, which appears to be hundreds of feet wide and according to reports was formed some two years ago. The grainy footage isn’t much to go on, and while scientists are en route to study the crater, speculation abounds.
Russia’s Emergencies Ministry has ruled out a meteorite strike, though such things have been common in Russia recently. And there are the usual out-there theories of UFOs and the like. But the real cause of the hole may simply be the area’s unique geology. One Australian scientist said it looked like a collapsed “pingo,” which is a huge chunk of ice that sits under the soil. But Anna Kurchatova, of the Sub-Arctic Scientific Research Center, has another explanation. The Yamal area (the name is Siberian for “End of the World”) is rich in natural gas, and a pocket of this combined with water and salt could have produced quite a large explosion if the permafrost were punctured by climate-change-induced thaw. The research expedition should yield further information.
Watch new footage of the mysterious giant hole that opened up in Siberia as a scientific expedition—with the country’s Emergencies Ministry represented—reaches the remote site and looks inside. An explosion below the ground is currently thought to be the most probable explanation—but the date and cause remain unknown.
If a Russian speaking reader could help with a detailed translation of the video it would be appreciated.
The Emergencies Ministry told Russia Today that a meteorite was not the cause of the hole. Evidence such as earth around the edge of the entrance appears to point strongly to an explosion from within the ground. However the mystery of how—and even when—the hole was formed in this distant region remains very much unresolved.
The hole sits around 1,800 miles east of Moscow in a huge 400 mile stretch of permafrost with a wide variety of animal species and that is famous for archaeological discoveries including wooly mammoths. The zone is also of key strategic importance for Russian oil and gas production.
A 28 inch layer of permafrost reportedly discovered around the edge of the hole—mentioned in the video—is puzzling given the amount of heat that would be expected to have been generated by an explosion of the magnitude necessary to create such a large crater. It is therefore possible that the remote site lay undiscovered for months if not years.
Members of the Russian Academy of Sciences are on the expedition and are said to be collecting samples of soil, air and water from the area. The hole reportedly has an outer diameter of around 200 feet and an inner diameter of around 130 feet. The depth is unconfirmed.
I decided I’m going to keep bringing this one back from the past till people get the possibilities of the development of this technology and what it is capable of…
Nitinol – Self Healing Meta Materials
The time gap between now and then…think about it
Pottery 20,000 years old found in a Chinese cave
BEIJING (AP) – Pottery fragments found in a south China cave have been confirmed to be 20,000 years old, making them the oldest known pottery in the world, archaeologists say.
The findings, which will appear in the journal Science on Friday, add to recent efforts that have dated pottery piles in east Asia to more than 15,000 years ago, refuting conventional theories that the invention of pottery correlates to the period about 10,000 years ago when humans moved from being hunter-gathers to farmers.
The research by a team of Chinese and American scientists also pushes the emergence of pottery back to the last ice age, which might provide new explanations for the creation of pottery, said Gideon Shelach, chair of the Louis Frieberg Center for East Asian Studies at The Hebrew University in Israel.
“The focus of research has to change,” Shelach, who is not involved in the research project in China, said by telephone.
In an accompanying Science article, Shelach wrote that such research efforts “are fundamental for a better understanding of socio-economic change (25,000 to 19,000 years ago) and the development that led to the emergency of sedentary agricultural societies.”
He said the disconnection between pottery and agriculture as shown in east Asia might shed light on specifics of human development in the region.
Wu Xiaohong, professor of archaeology and museology at Peking University and the lead author of the Science article that details the radiocarbon dating efforts, told The Associated Press that her team was eager to build on the research.
“We are very excited about the findings. The paper is the result of efforts done by generations of scholars,” Wu said. “Now we can explore why there was pottery in that particular time, what were the uses of the vessels, and what role they played in the survival of human beings.”
The ancient fragments were discovered in the Xianrendong cave in south China’s Jiangxi province, which was excavated in the 1960s and again in the 1990s, according to the journal article.
Wu, a chemist by training, said some researchers had estimated that the pieces could be 20,000 years old, but that there were doubts.
“We thought it would be impossible because the conventional theory was that pottery was invented after the transition to agriculture that allowed for human settlement.”
But by 2009, the team — which includes experts from Harvard and Boston universities — was able to calculate the age of the pottery fragments with such precision that the scientists were comfortable with their findings, Wu said.
“The key was to ensure the samples we used to date were indeed from the same period of the pottery fragments,” she said.
That became possible when the team was able to determine the sediments in the cave were accumulated gradually without disruption that might have altered the time sequence, she said.
Scientists took samples, such as bones and charcoal, from above and below the ancient fragments in the dating process, Wu said.
“This way, we can determine with precision the age of the fragments, and our results can be recognized by peers,” Wu said.
Shelach said he found the process done by Wu’s team to be meticulous and that the cave had been well protected throughout the research.
The same team in 2009 published an article in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, in which they determined the pottery fragments found in south China’s Hunan province to be 18,000 years old, Wu said.
“The difference of 2,000 years might not be significant in itself, but we always like to trace everything to its earliest possible time,” Wu said. “The age and location of pottery fragments help us set up a framework to understand the dissemination of the artifacts and the development of human civilization.”
Note: I am still waiting for some international agency to confirm this but as of now most reports are coming from credible television reporters…
Cuba, 15.02.2013 Residents of a locality ‘in the central region of Cuba said they had seen an object that fell from the sky and exploded with a great noise, which shook the houses of the place: it is learned from testimonies collected by local television. In service published this morning by Rodas, town in the province of Cienfuegos, witnesses described a very bright light that has come to have large size, comparable to that of a bus, before exploding in the sky.
Huge explosion in the sky in Cuba Meanwhile, also from Cuba has been reported in an explosion sky. In the central region of the island has seen an object that fell from the sky and exploded with a great noise, which shook the houses in the place, reports on local television. In a report released this morning by Rodas, town in the province of Cienfuegos, witnesses described a very bright light that has come to have large size, comparable to that of a bus, before exploding in the sky. Marcos Rodriguez, a resident in region, as defined by the issuer an expert, reported that “everything seems to indicate that it was a fireball, which is a fragment of stone and metal that enters the Earth’s atmosphere at high speed.” Experts are now examining the area for possible remains Rodas minerals falling from the sky, the TV station added. translated-
Another Meteor leaves Northern California starstruck
Posted: 02/15/2013 08:15:44 PM PST
Updated: 02/15/2013 08:25:26 PM PST
Reports of a huge shooting star overheard sent many readers to social media Friday evening, closing out a week graced by heavenly wonders like an asteroid passing close by earlier in the day and an unrelated meteor that fell to earth in Russia late Thursday.
It’ll pass within the moon’s distance from Earth – closer than the orbits of geosynchronous satellites. But it won’t strike us in 2013.
A near-Earth asteroid – called 2012 DA14 by astronomers – is passing very close to Earth today (February 15, 2013). Astronomers estimate that, when it’s closest to us, it’ll be within the orbit of the moon (which averages about a quarter million miles away), and closer than some high-orbiting communications satellites. 2012 DA14 will be about 17,200 miles (27,680 kilometers) away. Reuters is reporting than a meteorite has struck in Russia, injuring 500 people. It has not been confirmed whether the meteorite is associated with asteroid 2012 DA14, but astronomers do known that asteroids sometimes are accompanied by moon, or travel in swarms.
The main asteroid – 2012 DA14 – is not expected to strike us in 2013, NASA says. There was a remote possibility it might strike us in 2020, but that possibility has been ruled out also.
Asteroid 2012 DA14 will pass closest on February 15, 2013. As the image above shows, it will pass much closer than the orbit of the moon – closer even that orbiting geosynchronous satellites (22,000 miles). View larger. Image Credit: NASA
What will happen when Asteroid 2012 DA14 passes closely in 2013?
Most of us won’t see the large asteroid 2012 DA14 or be aware of its passage, in any way. 2012 DA14 is not large enough to alter the tides. It won’t cause volcanoes. It’ll just sweep closely past us – as millions of asteroids have done throughout Earth’s four-and-a-half-billion-year history – some in your own lifetime. It appears, however, that asteroid 2012 DA14 was accompanied by another object, which astronomers did not detect until it struck in Russia, injuring hundreds.
Asteroid 2012 DA14 will be within range for small telescopes and solidly mounted binoculars, used by experienced observers who have access to appropriate stars charts. Indonesia is favored for viewing, because it will be the middle of the night there when the asteroid is closest. Europe and the Middle East will also be in a location to view the asteroid, potentially. But this will be a challenging observation. Even those familiar with using binoculars and telescopes will some experience to track the object as it moves rapidly across the sky. Read more about who will see asteroid 2012 DA14 here.
Closest Earth approach will occur about 19:26 UTC when the asteroid will achieve a magnitude of less than seven, which is somewhat fainter than naked eye visibility. About 4 minutes after its Earth close approach, there is a good chance it will pass into the Earth’s shadow for about 18 minutes or so before reappearing from the eclipse. You can be sure experienced astronomers will be watching for that event, and hopefully some will capture video.
What do we know about asteroid 2012 DA14?
Asteroid 2012 DA14 is a little guy, compared to some asteroids. It is thought to be about 45 meters across (nearly 150 feet across), or about the length of half an American football field. Its estimated mass is about 130,000 metric tons.
If a space object 150 feet wide were to strike our planet, it wouldn’t be Earth-destroying. But it has been estimated that it would produce the equivalent of 2.4 megatons of TNT. How does that compare with other known impact events on Earth? In 1908, in a remote part of Russia, an explosion killed reindeer and flattened trees. But no crater was ever found. Scientists now believe a small comet struck Earth. That event has been estimated at 3 to 20 megatons. So 2012 DA14 is in the same approximate realm as the Tunguska comet (which, actually, might have been an asteroid instead). It would not destroy Earth, but it could flatten a city.
Of course, about 70% of our world is covered by oceans. That means the most likely landing spot of any incoming asteroid is in the water – not on a city or other populated area.
Astronomers at the Observatorio Astronómico de La Sagra in Spain discovered 2012 DA14 in early 2012. We know 2012 DA14′s orbit is similar to that of Earth. That is one reason the asteroid eluded astronomers until recently. You can be sure that many astronomers are carefully tracking 2012 DA14 now.
The orbit of 2012 DA14 is an inclined ellipse. In other words, it’s tilted sightly with respect to Earth’s orbit around the sun, and, like Earth’s orbit, it’s not circular but elliptical – like a circle that someone sat down on. According to Bad Astronomer Phil Plait, who appears to have used a computer program to look at its orbit:
The asteroid spends most of its time well away from our planet. However, the path of the rock does bring it somewhat close to the Earth twice per orbit, or about every six months. The last time it passed us was on February 16 , when it was about 2.5 million km (1.5 million miles) away, equal to about 6 times the distance to the moon. That’s usually about the scale of these encounters — it misses us by quite a margin.
Will 2012 DA14 strike Earth in 2020?
No. In March 2012, when a collision between 2012 DA14 and Earth in 2020 was stillremotely possible, I asked astronomer Donald Yeomans to clarify the risk. Yeomans is, among other things, manager of NASA’s Near-Earth Object Program Office at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. In March 2012, he told EarthSky that a 2020 collision between Earth and asteroid 2012 DA14 was …
… approximately one chance in 83,000, with additional remote possibilities beyond 2020. However, by far the most likely scenario is that additional observations, especially in 2013, will allow a dramatic reduction in the orbit uncertainties and the complete elimination of the 2020 impact possibility.
It turned out they didn’t have to wait until 2013. By May, 2012, astronomers had ruled out even the remote possibility of a 2020 collision.
Still, 2012 DA14 and asteroids like it are sobering.
Bottom line: The near Earth asteroid 2012 DA14 will have a very close pass near Earth on February 15, 2013. It will sweep approximately 21,000 miles from us – much closer than the moon’s orbit and closer than geosynchronous satellites. Its orbit around the sun can bring it no closer to the Earth’s surface on February 15, 2013 than 3.2 Earth radii. Meanwhile, a meteorite has struck in Russia, early in the day on Friday, February 15, 2013. It has not been confirmed whether the meteorite is associated with asteroid 2012 DA14, but asteroids do sometimes have moons, or travel in swarms.
Research Reveals Exactly How the Human Brain Adapts to Injury
For the first time, scientists at Carnegie Mellon University’s Center for Cognitive Brain Imaging (CCBI) have used a new combination of neural imaging methods to discover exactly how the human brain adapts to injury. The research, published in Cerebral Cortex, shows that when one brain area loses functionality, a “back-up” team of secondary brain areas immediately activates, replacing not only the un area but also its confederates.
“The human brain has a remarkable ability to adapt to various types of trauma, such as traumatic brain injury and stroke, making it possible for people to continue functioning after key brain areas have been damaged,” said Marcel Just, the D. O. Hebb Professor of Psychology at CMU and CCBI director. “It is now clear how the brain can naturally rebound from injuries and gives us indications of how individuals can train their brains to be prepared for easier recovery. The secret is to develop alternative thinking styles, the way a switch-hitter develops alternative batting styles. Then, if a muscle in one arm is injured, they can use the batting style that relies more on the uninjured arm.”
For the study, Just, Robert Mason, senior research psychologist at CMU, and Chantel Prat, assistant professor of psychology at the University of Washington, used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to study precisely how the brains of 16 healthy adults adapted to the temporary incapacitation of the Wernicke area, the brain’s key region involved in language comprehension. They applied Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) in the middle of the fMRI scan to temporarily disable the Wernicke area in the participants’ brains. The participants, while in the MRI scanner, were performing a sentence comprehension task before, during and after the TMS was applied. Normally, the Wernickearea is a major player in sentence comprehension.
The research team used the fMRI scans to measure how the brain activity changed immediately following stimulation to the Wernicke area. The results showed that as the brain function in the Wernicke area decreased following the application of TMS, a “back-up” team of secondary brain areas immediately became activated and coordinated, allowing the individual’s thought process to continue with no decrease in comprehension performance.
The brain’s back-up team consisted of three types of brain regions: (1) contralateral areas —areas that are in the mirror-image location of the brain; (2) areas that are right next to the impaired area; and (3) a frontal executive area.
“The first two types of back-up areas have similar brain capabilities as the impaired Wernicke area, although they are less efficient at the capability,” Just said. “The third area plays a strategic role as in responding to the initial impairment and recruiting back-up areas with similar capabilities.”
Additionally, the research showed that impairing the Wernicke area also negatively affected the cortical partners with which the Wernicke area had been working. “Thinking is a network function,” Just explained. “When a key node of a network is impaired, the network that is closely collaborating with the impaired node is also impaired. People do their thinking with groups of brain areas, not with single brain areas.”
Mason, the study’s lead author, noted that following the TMS, the impaired area and its partners gradually returned to their previous levels of coordinated activity, while the back-up team of brain areas was still in place. “This means, that for some period of time, there were two cortical teams operating simultaneously, explaining why performance is sometimes improved by TMS,” he said.
This research builds on Just’s previous research on brain resilience after stroke and brain training to remediate dyslexia. The studies are motivated by a computational theory, called 4CAPS, that provides an account of how autonomous brain systems dynamically self-organize themselves in response to changing circumstances, which the researchers believe to be the basis of fluid intelligence.
Just, who uses brain imaging to understand how brain processes underpin various types of human thought, has helped to establish Carnegie Mellon as a world leader in brain sciences. The university recently launched a Brain, Mind and Learning initiative to build from its research excellence in psychology, computer science and computation to continue to solve real-world problems.
Filip Coppens passed away in Los Angeles after fighting a rare form of cancer that was only merciful in that it did not prolong his suffering for too long. Some of you may now Filip from his appearances on Ancient Aliens but his work goes much deeper than that extremely reductionist presentation of AAT.
In fact, Filip recently wrote The Ancient Alien Question, that delved into the topic in a balanced, open-ended and dare I say skepticalfashion. His work on the topic- and all things weird and wonderful- is far more rewarding and challenging than the series itself. It was certainly a welcome corrective to the “flesh ‘n’ blood extra-treshtruls” mantra that has reduced the show to a laughingstock for so many.*
If you aren’t familiar with Filip’s work, please take this opportunity to delve into his website, which is a gemstone in the Reality-Based High Weirdness crown. Knee-jerking was anathema to Filip, who always erred on the side of open-minded caution.
Filip always realized that habeas corpus wasn’t just a legal formality, it was vital that alt.researchers end each sentence with a question mark until you can deliver the goods. Even if the Establishment never has to play by those rules (nor do hysterical Creationist shills, for that matter).
Filip, like Mac Tonnies, left us far too soon. But his (and Mac’s) work remains and if his way-too-early passing brings it to your attention for the first time, then take the opportunity to enrich your life with it. The bulk of Filip’s work deals with the secret history of ancient Europe and South America, and he spent a lot of time actually visiting the sites he wrote about.
The alt.research world is most certainly faced with some major challenges and there’s no sign on the horizon that it’s going to weather the coming storm front. There are a lot of dark forces with a lot of dark money who see it as a rich mission field for the gospel of fear, and it seems that their investment is really starting to pay off. In that, Filip’s passing seems like an omen.
I have never been more pessimistic as to where the field is going, particularly with the rise of Conspiricianity, which has the terrible gravity of a black hole and is sucking the feeble-minded into it like so much space-dust. Of course, all the fear-worship repels the same people Filip was trying to reach, turning them off to unconventional POVs, perhaps forever. Which is almost certainly the idea.
But perhaps the question becomes one of delivery. As I wrote recently, I was gobsmacked to see how dominant the high and the weird has become in Geekdom, even if it has to sneak through the back door, unannounced. But maybe the truly revolutionary thought contagions always do.
Either way, Filip Coppens left this Samsara but not before leaving behind a few cheat-codes for those who truly want to hack the reality mainframe. Take advantage of them.
* Even still, Filip didn’t shrink from rebutting the deliberately-misleading, crypto-Creationist disinfo recently released by two longtime apparatchiks for the totalitarian Dominionist-Reconstructionist syndicate (which Sun readers realize was spawned bydoctrinaire fascists like Jerry Falwell and Sun Myung Moon). Their “work” is explicitly produced as part of their ridiculous “ministries”; they won’t tell you but they’ll tell their “brethren” that their agitprop is about proselytizing not scholarship. The dictionary definition of shilling, in other words.
Filip didn’t shrink away (like too many others, out of ignorance or something else) from pointing that inconvenient truth out. I don’t know if the disease took hold before or after that confrontation- and I certainly hope that one has nothing to do with the other- but Filip’s energy and attention to detail is always second to none.
New kind of magnetism discovered: Experiments demonstrate ‘quantum spin liquid’
Image: Tianheng Han
December 20, 2012 by David Chandler
MIT physicists grew this pure crystal of herbertsmithite in their laboratory. This sample, which took 10 months to grow, is 7 mm long (just over a quarter-inch) and weighs 0.2 grams.
Following up on earlier theoretical predictions, MIT researchers have now demonstrated experimentally the existence of a fundamentally new kind of magnetic behavior, adding to the two previously known states of magnetism. Ads by Google Permanent Magnets & More – Alnico, Rare Earth, Permanent plus many more! Come & request a quote. – allstarmagnetics.com Ferromagnetism—the simple magnetism of a bar magnet or compass le—has been known for centuries. In a second type of magnetism, antiferromagnetism, the magnetic fields of the ions within a metal or alloy cancel each other out. In both cases, the materials become magnetic only when cooled below a certain critical temperature. The prediction and discovery of antiferromagnetism—the basis for the read heads in today’s computer hard disks—won Nobel Prizes in physics for Louis Neel in 1970 and for MIT professor emeritus Clifford Shull in 1994.
“We’re showing that there is a third fundamental state for magnetism,” says MIT professor of physics Young Lee. The experimental work showing the existence of this new state, called a quantum spin liquid (QSL), is reported this week in the journal Nature, with Lee as the senior author and Tianheng Han, who earned his PhD in physics at MIT earlier this year, as lead author. The QSL is a solid crystal, but its magnetic state is described as liquid: Unlike the other two kinds of magnetism, the magnetic orientations of the individual particles within it fluctuate constantly, resembling the constant motion of molecules within a true liquid. Finding the evidence There is no static order to the magnetic orientations, known as magnetic moments, within the material, Lee explains. “But there is a strong interaction between them, and due to quantum effects, they don’t lock in place,” he says.
Although it is extremely difficult to measure, or prove the existence, of this exotic state, Lee says, “this is one of the strongest experimental data sets out there that [does] this. What used to just be in theorists’ models is a real physical system.” Philip Anderson, a leading theorist, first proposed the concept in 1987, saying that this state could be relevant to high-temperature superconductors, Lee says. “Ever since then, physicists have wanted to make such a state,” he adds. “It’s only in the past few years that we’ve made progress.” The material itself is a crystal of a mineral called herbertsmithite. Lee and his colleagues first succeeded in making a large, pure crystal of this material last year—a process that took 10 months—and have since been studying its properties in detail. Ads by Google Exercise Your Brain – Games You Didn’t Know Existed to Fight Brain Decline and Aging. – http://www.lumosity.com “This was a multidisciplinary collaboration, with physicists and chemists,” Lee explains. “You both … to synthesize the material and study it with advanced physics techniques. Theorists were also crucial to this.” Through its experiments, the team made a significant discovery, Lee says: They found a state with fractionalized excitations, which had been predicted by some theorists but was a highly controversial idea. While most matter has discrete quantum states whose changes are expressed as whole numbers, this QSL material exhibits fractional quantum states. In fact, the researchers found that these excited states, called spinons, form a continuum. This observation, they say in their Nature paper, is “a remarkable first.” Scattering neutrons To measure this state, the team used a technique called neutron scattering, which is Lee’s specialty.
To actually carry out the measurements, they used a neutron spectrometer at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) in Gaithersburg, Md. The results, Lee says, are “really strong evidence of this fractionalization” of the spin states. “That’s a fundamental theoretical prediction for spin liquids that we are seeing in a clear and detailed way for the first time.” It may take a long time to translate this “very fundamental research” into practical applications, Lee says. The work could possibly lead to advances in data storage or communications, he says—perhaps using an exotic quantum phenomenon called long-range entanglement, in which two widely separated particles can instantaneously influence each other’s states. The findings could also bear on research into high-temperature superconductors, and could ultimately lead to new developments in that field, he says. “We have to get a more comprehensive understanding of the big picture,” Lee says. “There is no theory that describes everything that we’re seeing.” Journal reference: Nature Provided by Massachusetts Institute of Technology
The United States and some European allies are using defense contractors to train Syrian rebels on how to secure chemical weapons stockpiles in Syria, a senior U.S. official and several senior diplomats told CNN Sunday.
The training, which is taking place in Jordan and Turkey, involves how to monitor and secure stockpiles and handle weapons sites and materials, according to the sources. Some of the contractors are on the ground in Syria working with the rebels to monitor some of the sites, according to one of the officials.
The nationality of the trainers was not disclosed, though the officials cautioned against assuming all are American.
One of the aims, the sources said, is to try to get real time surveillance of the sites because the international community would not have time to prevent the use of the weapons otherwise. The program could explain how U.S. intelligence was able to learn what U.S. officials said was evidence the Assad government is mixing precursors for chemical weapons and loading those compounds into bombs. The intelligence, one U.S. official told CNN last week, came not just from satellite surveillance, but also from information provided by people. The official would not say whether the human intelligence came from telephone intercepts, defectors or people inside Syria.
The U.S. military is also working with neighboring Jordan’s military to train for the potential to secure chemical weapons sites. But U.S. troops cannot train rebel forces because the United States has only authorized nonlethal aid for the opposition.
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad seems to be backing off, at least for now, on the possible use of chemical weapons, after the major international outcry over the military activity, according to several sources. CNN reported Friday that the bombs are not being moved to any delivery devices and that the United States was not aware of any significant additional movement of chemical materials.
The Russians, who have allied with Syria, sent several strong messages to the Assad government over the past week against using chemical weapons, saying doing so would be a red line and Assad would lose Russia’s support if he did. However, the sources said that the lull in activity could be short-lived and they believe that, if desperate enough, Assad would not hesitate to use such weapons.
Archaeologists discover latest hoard of gold in Europe
Beautifully-preserved treasures found in Bulgarian historical site
Thracian artefacts are more than 2,000 years old
May be linked to Phillip II of Macedon, Alexander the Great’s father
Archaeologists have unearthed ancient golden artefacts, including a tiara with animal motifs and a horse head piece, during excavation works at a Thracian tomb in northern Bulgaria.
The significant finds are dated back to the end of the fourth or the beginning of the third century BC and were found in the biggest of 150 ancient tombs of a Thracian tribe, the Getae, that was in contact with the ancient Greeks.
The findings, at the Omurtag mount near the village of Sveshtari, also included a golden ring, 44 applications of female figures as well as 100 golden buttons.
Touching history: An archaeologist displays a gold tiara engraved with a lion’s head and other animals found at the Bulgarian tomb. It is part of an incredible and historically-significant haul
Intricate: History experts say the finds are likely to be remnants from the ritual burial of Gath ruler Kotela, one of the father-in-laws of Philip II of Macedon, the father of Alexander the Great. (Right) A golden horse head piece
‘These are amazing findings from the apogee of the rule of the Getae,’ said Diana Gergova, head of the archaeologist team at the site of the ancient Getic burial complex situated near the village of Sveshtari, some 400 km northeast from Sofia.
‘From what we see up to now, the tomb may be linked with the first known Getic ruler Cothelas,’ said Gergova, a renowned researcher of Thracian culture with the Sofia-based National Archaeology Institute.
Gergova explains that it seemed the treasure was wrapped in a gold-woven cloth because a number of gold threads were discovered nearby.
“These were, most likely, remnants from a ritual burial”, said the professor, adding the team expects to discover a huge burial ground, probably related to the funeral of the Gath ruler Kotela, one of the father-in-laws of Philip II of Macedon – Alexander the Great’s father.
Crafted: A pair of golden artefacts that date back to the end of the fourth or beginning of the third century BC
Valuable: The artefacts are Thracian. Modern Bulgaria is viewed as the geographical cradle of Thracian civilisation
She notes this is a unique find, never before discovered in Bulgaria, according to Novinite.
One of the tombs there, known as the Tomb of Sveshtari, is included in the World Heritage List of U.N. education and culture agency, UNESCO, for its unique architectural decor with half-human, half-plant female figures and painted murals.
The find is so significant that Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borisov has arranged to see it at the National Archaeological Museum in Sofia where the treasure is currently placed.
The Thracians, ruled by a powerful warrior aristocracy rich in gold treasures, inhabited an area extending over modern Romania and Bulgaria, northern Greece and the European part of Turkey from as early as 4,000 BC.
They lived on the fringes of the Greek and Roman civilisations, often intermingling and clashing with the more advanced cultures until they were absorbed into the Roman Empire around 45 AD.
Archaeologists have discovered a large number of artefacts in Bulgaria’s Thracian tombs in recent decades, providing most of what is known of their culture, as they had no written language and left no enduring records.
Insight: The excavations near the village of Sveshtari have been a rich source of information about the mysterious Thracians
PUBLISHED: 21:13 GMT, 11 November 2012 | UPDATED: 08:25 GMT, 12 November 2012
Venice ‘high water’ floods 70% of city
Venetians direct anger at forecasters after ‘exceptional and unpredictable’ rise in sea waters floods homes and businesses.
People sit at a table in flooded St Mark’s Square in Venice, Italy Photograph: Luigi Costantini/AP
Tourists attached plastic bags to their legs or stripped off to take a dip in St Mark’s Square in Venice on Sunday as rising sea waters surged through the lagoon city. High water measuring 1.49 metres (5ft) above the normal level of the Adriatic sea came with bad weather that swept Italy over the weekend, causing floods in historic cities including Vicenza as well in the region of Tuscany 250 miles further south.
Venice’s high water, or “acqua alta”, said to be the sixth highest since 1872, flooded 70% of the city and was high enough to make raised wooden platforms for pedestrians float away. The record high water in Venice – 1.94 metres in 1966 – prompted many residents to abandon the city for new lives on the mainland.
Venetians bombarded Facebook with moans about the city’s weather forecasters, who had predicted just 1.2 metres of water on Saturday, before correcting their forecast at dawn on Sunday.
“How come the people from the council who put out the wooden platforms were predicting 150cm?” asked Matelda Bottoni, who manages a jewellery design shop off St Mark’s Square, which floods when water reaches 105cm. “Many residents and shopkeepers had gone to the mountains for the day and did not have time to rush back.”
Bottoni is so used to floods she has installed waterproof furniture and an angled floor. “I cannot keep the water out, but at least I can make sure it goes straight back out when it recedes,” she said.
Matteo Secchi, a hotelier and head of a protest group, who grew up in ground floor flat in Venice and recalls splashing into water on getting out of bed, said his hotel was only safe up to 140cm. “This morning the lagoon came right into the hotel entrance, and this is not clean water – you to mop with disinfectant twice after it goes down,” he said. “The British tourists don’t complain but the Americans can’t understand how it’s possible.”
Secchi complained that a running event around the city had not been cancelled on Sunday. “As Venetians were trying to fix their homes and shops, people were running down the flooded streets splashing everyone with water,” he said.
Alessandro Maggioni, the city’s assessor for public works, defended the Venice weather centre, describing the high water as “exceptional and unpredictable”. The Moses flood barrier system being built to protect the lagoon, due for completion in 2015, would have kept the city dry, he said. “Meanwhile, there is no rise in the incidence of high waters,” he said.
Bottoni disagreed. “My shop now has some form of flooding 100 days a year, up from 30-40 days when I moved in just 10 years ago.” But she does not plan to leave. “I was born and raised here and will stay here for the satisfaction of being in Venice.”
Lissadell Beach, Co Sligo, strewn with dead starfish
Extreme weather conditions have killed tens of thousands of starfish and left them strewn across a sheltered beach. A carpet of pink and mauve echinoderms, a family of marine animals, appeared yesterday morning on Lissadell Beach in north Co Sligo. The adult starfish, measuring between 7cm and 20cm in diameter and estimated to be up to 50,000 in number, stretched along 150 metres of the strand. Marine biologist and lecturer at Sligo Institute of Technology Bill Crowe speculated that they had been lifted up by a storm while feeding on mussel beds off shore. “The most likely explanation is that they were feeding on mussels but it is a little strange that none of them were attached to mussels when they were washed in,” he said. He added that if they had died as a result of a so-called ‘red tide’ or algal bloom, other sealife would have been washed ashore with them. “These were almost all adult size and the typical starfish variety that is found in the North Atlantic but there was nothing else mixed in with them,” he said. Surveying the unusual scene, he placed some in a bucket of seawater to test whether they were alive, but while this prompted a slight response from one or two of the creatures, the vast majority were dead. Tim Roderick, District Conservation Officer with the National Parks and Wildlife Service, agreed the phenomenon was most likely caused by recent bad weather. “They turned up almost certainly as a result of an exceptional storm event. “A storm hit the seabed where these sub-tidal animals were and lifted them up and washed them ashore,” he said. A spokesperson for the Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government said that investigations were continuing into how they came to be washed ashore but initial indications pointed to the stormy weather, which has been a feature in the north-west in recent days. In a similar episode earlier this year, thousands of dead starfish washed ashore on Youghal Beach in Co Cork. Scientists speculated that they, too, had been thrown on to the beach by an underflow, which was probably caused by a storm at sea.
Source Irish Independent
(For the record I don’t agree with the mussels, undertow, or storm theory. Marine animals have a very delicate and sensitive ecosystems that is required of their survival. I think their is more evidence of changing variations in these ecosystems that could affect the vitality of the creatures than anything else.)
Giant eyeball washed up on a Florida beach has created a buzz on the internet and in the marine biology community.
This Thursday, Oct. 11, 2012 photo made by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission shows a giant eyeball from a mysterious sea creature that washed ashore and was found by a man walking the beach in Pompano Beach, Fla. on Wednesday. No one knows what species the huge blue eyeball came from. The eyeball will be sent to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Research Institute in St. Petersburg, FL. (AP Photo/Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, Carli Segelson)
9:25 PM EDT October 11. 2012 – A huge, softball-size eyeball has washed up on the shores of Pompano Beach, Fla., and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission has sent it off for study to identify the mystery creature to which it belongs, the Orlando Sentinel reports.All that’s known about the orb, separated from its owner, is that it’s big and it is blue, based on theSentinel piece.The commission has shared the photo on its Facebook page, where followers are suggesting everything from a giant squid to Bigfoot.A man spotted the eyeball Wednesday and reported it to the commission, the Sentinelreports.”He was walking along the beach and found it and thought it was something cool,” Carli Segelson, commission spokeswoman, told the news organization.Wildlife officers placed the eye on ice, the Sentinel reports.It will be studied by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Research Institute in St. Petersburg, Fla., according to the news organization.
E.I.R.S. researcher Sema Yilmaz in Turkey, update HERE
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According to a press release from the Bellevue, Washington-based company, a new system featuring “light-weight eyewear working with advanced contact lenses,” would provide sharpened real-world vision while projecting an immersive display into the wearer’s line of sight.
Scroll Down For Video Illustrating The iOptik System
The hands-free system could provide map data, as well as potentially receive live feeds from fellow soldiers’ head-mounted cameras, drones and satellites — and display them all on a translucent screen that doesn’t impede one’s field of vision, according to FOX News.
The company hopes to receive FDA approval for its product this year, and has already received an order for a prototype from the Department of Defense, FOX News reports.
While this kind of battlefield technology has been attempted before, it usually ends up manifested as a bulky helmet with a limited field of vision, according to Innovega’s website.
The “micro- and nano-fabricated optical elements” in Innovega’s contact lenses would eliminate the for awkward headgear and open up the display to the full range of human vision — about 120 degrees.
In the below video recorded at the 2012 Consumer Electronics Show, Innovega CTO Randall Sprague talks about the commercial applications of the product’s augmented reality (AR) display, likening it to one’s “own personal IMAX.”
The overlay of data onto real-world vision that Sprague describes bears some similarity to Google’s Project Glass. Other companies, such as eyewear manufacturer Oakley, have also been working on their own augmented reality displays.
WATCH: Combat Applications Of Innovega’s iOptik System
For more cutting-edge hands-free tech, check out Google’s “Project Glass” prototype (below).
The October 3 spillover of violence in Syria across the border to Turkey has added a new edge to the campaign Prime Minister Erdoğan’s Administration has been waging to convince its allies and friends that Syria is spinning out of control, increasingly threatening regional peace and stability, and warranting a firmer response.
Syrian mortars fell on the town of Akçakale, which lies close to the border and south of one of Turkey’s larger cities in that part of the country, Şanlıurfa. Turkey promptly fired back. This exchange occurred in a context of ongoing activity along the border in this area. It includes a recent rebel attempt to take control of a border crossing post there. In the aftermath of that fight, Syrian forces have reportedly been engaged with rebel forces quite close to the border. The mortar fire could have been accidental (though this seems highly unlikely for a military as proficient as Syria’s) but more likely was intended to strike at support base(s) used by the rebels, who probably have been passing back and forth across the border for some time. Turkey has been signaling that further provocations from the Syrian side would be met with a sharp reply. Toward that end, its military had reinforced its positions in the area and moved to better control movements across the border so as to minimize the possibility of incidents or miscalculations. It also determined to punch the Syrians hard if their actions close to the border got out of hand.
5,000-Year-Old Mummy DNA Part of New Human Extinction Mystery
The so-called Tyrolean Iceman, a 5,000-year-old mummy found in an Alpine glacier roughly two decades ago, lived in an era when people were smelting copper and living in cities. But a recent study of his mitochondrial DNA — circlets of genetic material passed on solely through mothers — revealed something astonishing about this recent human ancestor. He is from a distinct genetic group that mysteriously disappeared. Perhaps no one sharing his genetic lineage survived into the present day. Or perhaps humans are evolving so quickly that even our close ancestors are genetically distinct from us in significant ways.
When Tyrolean Iceman was defrosted in 2000, researchers took some DNA from his intestines and sequenced it. But that was only his nuclear DNA, inherited from both parents, and it revealed that he was related to a large group of Europeans who share a common ancestor. The new study, which will be published November 11 in Current Biology, allowed researchers to examine the mummy’s lineage in more detail. And that’s when they realized how different he was from modern populations.
Said Franco Rollo, a co-author of the study:
We have obtained evidence of a significant genetic difference between present-day Europeans and a representative prehistoric human—despite the fact that the Iceman is not so old—just about 5,000 years. This doesn’t simply mean that Ötzi had some ‘personal’ mutations making him different from the others but that, in the past, there was a group—a branch of the phylogenetic tree—of men and women sharing the same mitochondrial DNA. Apparently, this genetic group is no longer present. We don’t know whether it is extinct or it has become extremely rare.
What this reveals is that even large groups of genetically similar people can completely disappear from the gene pool in a relatively short time. This should shore up current theories that hold humans are actually evolving very rapidly.
SOURCE: The Complete Mitochondrial Genome Sequence of the Tyrolean Iceman [via Current Biology]
Photosystem-I (green) is optically excited by an electrode (on top). An electron then is transferred step by step in only 16 nanoseconds. (Credit: Christoph Hohmann (NIM))
Solar Cell Consisting of a Single Molecule:
Individual Protein Complex Generates Electric Current
ScienceDaily (Oct. 2, 2012) — An team of scientists, led by Joachim Reichert, Johannes Barth, and Alexander Holleitner (Technische Universitaet Muenchen, Clusters of Excellence MAP and NIM), and Itai Carmeli (Tel Aviv University) developed a method to measure photocurrents of a single functionalized photosynthetic protein system. The scientists could demonstrate that such a system can be integrated and selectively addressed in artificial photovoltaic device architectures while retaining their biomolecular functional properties.
The proteins represent light-driven, highly efficient single-molecule electron pumps that can act as current generators in nanoscale electric circuits.
The interdisciplinary team publishes the results in Nature Nanotechnologythis week.
The scientist investigated the photosystem-I reaction center which is a chlorophyll protein complex located in membranes of chloroplasts from cyanobacteria. Plants, algae and bacteria use photosynthesis to convert solar energy into chemical energy. The initial stages of this process — where light is absorbed and energy and electrons are transferred — are mediated by photosynthetic proteins composed of chlorophyll and carotenoid complexes. Until now, none of the methods were sensitive enough to measure photocurrents generated by a single protein. Photosystem-I exhibits outstanding optoelectronic properties found only in photosynthetic systems. The nanoscale dimension further makes the photosystem-I a promising unit for applications in molecular optoelectronics.
The first challenge the physicists had to master was the development of a method to electrically contact single molecules in strong optical fields. The central element of the realized nanodevice are photosynthetic proteins self-assembled and covalently bound to a gold electrode via cysteine mutation groups. The photocurrent was measured by means of a gold-covered glass tip employed in a scanning near-field optical microscopy set-up. The photosynthetic proteins are optically excited by a photon flux guided through the tetrahedral tip that at the same time provides the electrical contact. With this technique, the physicists were able to monitor the photocurrent generated in single protein units.
The research was supported by the German Research Foundation (DFG) via the SPP 1243 (grants HO 3324/2 and RE 2592/2), the Clusters of Excellence Munich-Centre for Advanced Photonics and Nanosystems Initiative Munich, as well as ERC Advanced Grant MolArt (no. 47299).
World’s First Controllable Molecular Gear At Nanoscale Created
Researchers in Singapore have invented a molecular gear of the size of 1.2nm whose rotation can be deliberately controlled. (Credit: A*STAR Institute of Materials Research and Engineering (IMRE), Singapore)
Scientists from A*STAR’s Institute of Materials Research and Engineering (IMRE), led by Professor Christian Joachim,* have scored a breakthrough in nanotechnology by becoming the first in the world to invent a molecular gear of the size of 1.2nm whose rotation can be deliberately controlled. This achievement marks a radical shift in the scientific progress of molecular machines and is published in Nature Materials.
The world’s most sensitive digital camera has begun peering into deep space, and the barred spiral galaxy NGC 1365 looks to be staring right back. Some 60 million light-years from Earth, NGC 1365 stars among the first pictures from the new 570-megapixel Dark Energy Camera, released Tuesday.
Built at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory in Illinois, the extremely sensitive camera is now perched atop a Chilean mountain—the better to absorb the faint light of galaxies as far as eight billion light-years away.
Beautiful as the new pictures may be, the real work begins in December with the kickoff of the largest galaxy survey yet, which scientists hope will shed light on one of astronomy’s biggest puzzles.
“The expansion of the universe is speeding up, and that’s one of the great mysteries of science, because gravity pulls things together and should be slowing this down,” said Dark Energy Survey director Josh Frieman. “So there must be something else pushing it apart. Dark energy is a name for this phenomenon that we don’t understand.”
NICO spends a lot of time looking in the mirror. But it’s not mere vanity – Nico is a humanoid robot that can recognize its reflection – a step on the path towards true self-awareness. In fact, Nico can identify almost exactly where its arm is in space based on the mirror image. Justin Hart and Brian Scassellati at Yale University have taught Nico to recognize the arm’s location and orientation down to accuracy of 2 centimetres in any dimension. It is a feat of spatial reasoning that no robot has ever accomplished before.Nico is the centrepiece of a unique experiment to see whether a robot can tackle a classic test of self-awareness called the mirror test. What does it take to pass the test? An animal (usually) has to recognise that a mark on the body it sees in the mirror is in fact on its own body. Only dolphins, orcas, elephants, magpies, humans and a few other apes have passed the test so far.
Precise recognition of where its body is in space will be key if Nico is to get to grips with the mirror test, which by its nature is performed in 3D. Before it does, though, the robot will to learn more about itself. The team plan to teach Nico how to recognize where its torso and head are, what shape they are, and their colour and texture so it can see and react to the mark on its body. Nico already understands how to connect movement of its limb to motion in its reflection, another important skill it achieved in an experiment in 2007.
“What excites me is that the robot has learned a model of itself, and is using it to interpret information from the mirror,” says Hart. He and Scassellati presented the work last month at the Conference on Artificial Intelligence in Toronto, Canada.
Mary-Anne Williams of the University of Technology Sydney, Australia, points out that robotic self-awareness is crucial if robots are ever going to work safely alongside humans. “Many robots today not only do not recognize themselves in a mirror, but do not recognize their own body parts directly,” she says. “For example, a robot may be able to look downwards and see its feet but not recognise them as its own.”
Self-awareness is a basic social skill and without it robots will struggle to interact with people effectively, Williams adds.
Physicists have demonstrated quantum teleportation over a distance of more than 88 miles (143 kilometers) – a new record.
“Our experiment shows how mature ‘quantum technologies’ are today, and how useful they can be for practical applications,” study team member Anton Zeilinger, a physicists in the Austrian Academy of Sciences, said in a statement.
“The next step is satellite-based quantum teleportation, which should enable quantum communication on a global scale. We have now taken a major step in this direction.”
In this week’s issue of the journal Nature, Zeilinger and his team describe how they successfully transmitted quantum states between the two Canary Islands of La Palma and Tenerife.
Quantum teleportation involves the exchange of quantum states instantaneously between two parties at distances that, in theory at least, can be infinitely long. The process works even if the location of the recipient is unknown.
Quantum teleportation could one day be harnessed to transmit messages, scientists say, or enable the construction of quantum computers.
But for such applications to work, the particles that encode the quantum states have to be transported reliably over long distances without deteriorating.
The new achievement indicates that such a feat is feasible, at least for the distances involved in satellite-to-Earth communications.
“Our latest results are very encouraging with a view to future experiments in which we either exchange signals between Earth and satellites or send messages from one satellite to another,” study coauthor Rupert Ursin said in a statement.
It might not have the name recognition of Fermilab’s late, lamented Tevatron, or the Large Hadron Collider at CERN, but results from the BaBar experiment at the SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory continue to yield interesting results hinting at potential new physics.
No, this is not the iconic cartoon elephant beloved of children over generations. BaBar is a particle accelerator, so named because it was designed to measure the decay of B-mesons and their antiparticles, known as B-bar mesons. The international collaboration is especially interested in the question of why there is matter but little antimatter in our universe, among other questions.
Antimatter is the same as regular matter except that each particle has an opposite charge. So whereas an electron has a negative charge, its antimatter counterpart, a positron, has a positive charge and they annihilate each other when they get too close.
A long time ago, when our universe was still in its earliest birthing throes, matter and antimatter were colliding and annihilating each other out of existence constantly.
This process slowed down as our universe gradually cooled, but there should have been equal parts matter and antimatter — and there weren’t. Instead, there were slightly more matter particles than antimatter.
We know this because we can see the remnants of the survivors of that cosmological massacre all around us: every bit of matter in our observable universe, from galaxies to dust mites and everything in between, exists because matter won that long-ago war of attrition.
Measuring the precise differences between matter and antimatter was one of the original objectives of BaBar. From 1999 until 2008, BaBar recorded the collisions of more than 9 billion pairs of electrons and positrons. But physicists continue to analyze the data, searching for further clues to some of the most challenging puzzles in particle physics.
The pinnacle of BaBar’s scientific achievement was the confirmation of a 40-year-old theory explaining the matter/antimatter asymmetry. That data and measurement resulted in the awarding of the 2008 Nobel Prize in Physics to theorists Makoto Kobayashi and Toshihide Maskawa, who first developed the theory.
Their work has been incorporated into the Standard Model of physics, the theoretical framework that includes all known particles — only the Higgs boson remains undiscovered — and three of the four fundamental forces. But there’s a problem: the theory vastly underestimates the degree of asymmetry in the universe, which is why experiments like BaBar continue to search for new sources of asymmetry in particle interactions or decay patterns.
Physicists are only able to recognize the heavier particles produced in accelerator collisions by the electronic signatures they leave behind. These “signatures” are nuclear decay patterns. B-bar mesons only exist for fractions of a second before they decay into other secondary particles.
Decay patterns are like branching generations in the family tree, and every bit as complicated. In the case of the B-bar meson, the particle decays into a D meson, an anti-neutrino, and a tau lepton, so that is the signature BaBar’s detectors look for.
According to the Standard Model, this particular decay pattern should occur only once in every 100 times a B meson is produced in the collision. But the latest results indicate that it occurs more frequently than predicted.
It is not yet statistically significant enough to claim abona fide discovery: the level of certainly of the excess is around 3.4 sigma, while a 5 sigma result is required to claim discovery. Most 3-sigma results ultimately go away as further data is added to the analytical mix.
Nonetheless, this is an intriguing indication that the Standard Model might be showing signs of cracks. It builds on an earlier result from BaBar announced in February that found an unusual imbalance in the decay of charged B mesons — a potential source of the matter/antimatter asymmetry.
Negatively charged B mesons decayed into the expected three charged K mesons 30 percent more often than positively charged B mesons. It’s another 3-sigma result (2.8 sigma, to be precise), but it’s one more chink in the Standard Model’s armor.
Researchers are now looking to their colleagues in the Belle collaboration, another experiment studying the same kind of particle collisions. If Belle observes similar asymmetries in those crucial decays, that may comprise sufficiently compelling evidence that there is physics beyond the Standard Model.
Images: (top) A technician works on the BaBar detector. Source: SLAC. (middle) BaBar collaboration, SLAC. (bottom) Conceptual illustration of B-bar meson decay. Source: Greg Stewart, SLAC.
Analysis by Jennifer Ouellette
Tue Jun 19, 2012 05:18 PM ET @ http://news.discovery.com/space/babar-data-hints-at-new-physics-120619.html
The world peace invitation and release of technology
Following the meeting of the Keshe Foundation with the world ambassadors invited to Brussels on 21 April 2012, now our invitation goes to the nations of the world through their ambassadors and their leaders to attend a gathering on 6 September 2012 at the Keshe Foundation Center in Ninove, Belgium (or in any other place the nations may choose).
Mr. Keshe, News of Barack Obama’s censorship of the Keshe technology is disgusting to all of us here in the US that have been anxiously following your developments. Could you please cite the specific Executive Order that created this situation. The White House posts allegedly all executive orders at this URLhttp://www.whitehouse.gov/briefing-room/presidential-actions/executive-orders, I would like to report this on my own website, but a specific identification to verify the claim.
The space defense technology developed by the Keshe Foundation using magnetic and gravitational force fields (Magravs) has proved to be the best method for blocking magnetic field communication systems at any frequency.
The system is capable of jamming all communication lines and when used correctly can directly block all communication in a large area even from a distance.
This means that with a minimum effort all satellite communications can be blocked.
The US spy drone captured by the Iranians. Credit: AFP
An United States advanced militairy drone, spying above Iran territory in no-fly zone, was captured by Iran on the date of December 4th 2011. The drone was not crashed, not shot out of the air, but safely captured by an Iranian aircraft, based on Keshe technology. Obama asked polite to get their drone back.
M.T. Keshe was ‘kidnapped’ in Canada over false nuclear weapons concerns
Belgium inventor who claims counter-gravity, propulsion, and free energy generator technologies has been derailed by Ad van den Elshout who has been fraudulently representing the company without authorization, including saying it is involved in nuclear weapons research.
It’s been over a year since we reported on something from Stichting the Keshe Foundation in Belgium. Things have been quiet over there, at least from a public knowledge vantage point. But that is not because nothing has been happening. They’ve been through some severe drama in the past year.
Mehran Tavakoli (MT) Keshe is the one who claims to have a counter-gravity technology and energy generating technology that would enable the kind of flight attributed to UFOs – rapid flight, sudden trajectory change, run on energy harvested freely from the environment. They are involved in research in the sub-plasma nuclear structure. He also claims to have the ability to capture CO2 and methane into liquid form through a nanotechnology and create energy in the process. He also claims to have amazing healing technologies.
Then on January 7, I was informed of the following post by Keshe on his forum:
‘Brilliant’ nuclear scientist who worked at Cern laboratory jailed for plotting attacks for Al-Qaeda
Adlene Hicheur, 35, sentenced to five years after police intercepted emails to terrorist group
By PETER ALLEN @ http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2139575/Brilliant-nuclear-scientist-worked-Cern-laboratory-jailed-plotting-attacks-Al-Qaeda.html
A brilliant nuclear scientist working at the Cern nuclear laboratory was today sentenced to five in prison for plotting attacks on behalf of Al-Qaeda.
Adlene Hicheur, who is French and from an Algerian background and who studied in England, was arrested in 2009 after police intercepted emails he sent to the Islamic terrorist organisation.
Judges sitting at Paris Correctional Court said the 35-year-old should serve five years, with one suspended.
Sentenced: A court sketch of physicist Adlene Hicheur, who worked for the European Centre for Nuclear Research in Switzerland, speaking during his trial in Paris
Hicheur has been on remand for two-and-a-half years since his arrest in October 2009, when he was a researcher at the European Organisation for Nuclear Research (Cern), a complex studying the start of the universe – or the ‘Big Bang’.
Prosecutor Guillaume Portenseigne said Hicheur had used his privileged position to act as a ‘technical advisor for terrorist attacks’, keeping in regular contact with Al-Qaeda operatives by email.
‘I see lots of confusion and inaccuracies,’ said Hicheur, referring to evidence which was mainly written in Arabic.
‘The police interpreter has done a good job to make me look indefensible,’ he added.
Hicheur’s trial comes in the wake of 23-year-old Mohammed Merah murdering seven victims in the south west of France earlier this year.
Technology: The Cern laboratories near Geneva is home to the large hadron collider experiment which aims to understand the birth of the Universe
Both men grew up on French council estates, came from Algerian backgrounds, and have alleged links with radical religious groups who wanted to start a global jihad.
Referring to Merah murdering French troops in two French towns, Hicheur’s lawyer Patrick Baudouin said: ‘Clearly, the events of Toulouse and Montauban don’t appear to create the most favorable conditions for the trial of Adlene Hicheur.’
Mr Baudouin added: ‘Hicheur must not become a scapegoat for a case he has nothing to do with.’
After completing a thesis on high energy in 2003, Hicheur was a postgraduate at the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory, at Chilton, near Didcot, Oxfordshire.
Tension: Hicheur’s trial comes in the wake of 23-year-old Mohammed Merah murdering seven victims in the south west of France earlier this year
Hicheur was arrested by anti-terrorist police in October 2009 at his parents’ flat on an estate on the outskirts of Lyon, in eastern France – close to CERN, which straddles the Franco-Swiss border.
Detectives and security agents found masses of Al-Qaeda literature at his own flat nearby, including advice on how to carry out terrorist crimes.
Hicheur had also been corresponding by email with Mustapha Debchi, a known member of Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) based in Algeria.
On March 1, 2009, Hicheur wrote an email to Debchi proposing ‘possible targets in Europe, and particularly in France.’
On March 10, Hicheur sent another saying: ‘Concerning the subject of targets – they differ depending what you want to achieve following the hits.
‘For example: if it’s about punishing the state because of its military activities in Muslim countries like Afghanistan, then it should be a purely military objective.
‘For example – the air base at Cran-Gevrier, near Annecy, in France. This base trains troops and sends them to Afghanistan.’
Debchi wrote to Hicheur in June 2009, and asked: ‘Do not beat around the bush: are you prepared to work in a unit becoming active in France?’
Hicheur replied on June 6: ‘Concerning your proposal, the answer is of course YES..’
Prosecutors said the email exchanges ‘crossed the line of simple debate on political or religious ideas and entered the sphere of terrorist violence.’
The Encyclopedia of DNA Elements (ENCODE) project, an international collaboration of more than 440 scientists in 32 labs in United States, the United Kingdom, Spain, Singapore and Japan, has announced the results of a five-year study of the regulation and organization of the human genome.
Vitruvian Man by Leonardo da Vinci / the ENCODE project’s logo (Stanford University / leonardodavinci.stanford.edu / ENCODE project)
“The ENCODE project not only generated an enormous body of data about our genome, but it also analyzed many issues to better understand how the genome functions in different types of cells. These insights from integrative analyses are really stories about how molecular machines interact with each other and work on DNA to produce the proteins and RNAs ed for each cell to function within our bodies,” said Dr Ross Hardison of Pennsylvania State University, a co-author of reviews in the Journal of Biological Chemistry.
“The Journal of Biological Chemistry recognized that the results from the ENCODE project also would catalyze much new research from biochemists and molecular biologists around the world. Hence, the journal commissioned these articles not only to communicate the insights from the papers now being published but also to stimulate more research in the broader community,” he said.
The human genome consists of about 3 billion DNA base pairs, but only a small percentage of DNA actually codes for proteins. The roles and functions of the remaining genetic information were unclear to scientists and even referred to as ‘junk DNA.’ But the results of the ENCODE project is filling this knowledge gap. The findings revealed that more than 80 percent of the human genome is associated with biological function.
The study showed in a comprehensive way that proteins switch genes on and off regularly – and can do so at distances far from the genes they regulate – and it determined sites on chromosomes that interact, the locations where chemical modifications to DNA can influence gene expression, and how the functional forms of RNA can regulate the expression of genetic information.
The results establish the ways in which genetic information is controlled and expressed in specific cell types and distinguish particular regulatory regions that may contribute to diseases.
“The deeper knowledge of gene regulation coming from the ENCODE project will have a positive impact on medical science,” Dr Hardison said. “For example, recent genetic studies have revealed many genomic locations that can affect a person’s susceptibility to common diseases. The ENCODE data show that many of these regions are involved in gene regulation, and the data provide hypotheses for how variations in these regions can affect disease susceptibility.”
Bibliographic information: The ENCODE Project Consortium. 2012. An integrated encyclopedia of DNA elements in the human genome. Nature 489, 57–74; doi: 10.1038/nature11247
German researchers have succeeded in proving the presence of elemental fluorine in a mineral called antozonite.
The most reactive chemical element, fluorine, has been claimed not to occur in nature. First direct evidence from in situ NMR spectroscopy now proves that elemental fluorine indeed occurs in nature as an occlusion in antozonite (Didier Descouens)
Fluorine is the most reactive of all chemical elements and calls for extremely careful handling. It is so aggressive that glass laboratory instruments cannot resist it and even bricks burn when exposed to fluorine gas. Yet elemental fluorine has numerous industrial applications including corrosion prevention or fuel tank diffusion barriers and it is used for the production of sulphur hexafluoride, which serves as insulating material in high voltage switches.
Because of its extreme properties, until now chemists were convinced that fluorine cannot occur in nature in its elemental form, but only as a fluoride ion, for instance in minerals such as fluorite (CaF2), also known as fluorspar. A certain variety of it, the so-called fetid fluorite or antozonite from the Maria mine in Woelsendorf in the Upper Palatinate, Germany, has been an object of contention in science for some 200 years. When crushed, it emits an unpleasant, pungent smell.
A number of eminent chemists, among them Friedrich Woehler (1800-1882) and Justus von Liebig (1803-1873), proposed various substances to explain the odor. Over the years, scientists resorted to olfactory tests, chemical analyses and complex mass spectrometer studies – coming to very different conclusions.
Next to elemental fluorine, substances like iodine, ozone, phosphorus compounds, arsenic, sulphur, selenium, chlorine, hypochlorous acid and hydrofluorocarbons were made responsible for the smell. Direct evidence that this fluorspar has inclusions of fluorine and that the gas does not form during crushing was lacking hitherto.
Now, finally, a team led by Dr Florian Kraus of the Technische Universitaet Muenchen and Dr Joern Schmedt auf der Guenne of the Ludwig-Maximilians-University has succeeded in directly proving the presence of fluorine in antozonite beyond any doubt. Their results appear in a paper in the journalAngewandte Chemie.
Using NMR spectroscopy, the scientists were able to identify the fluorine in-situ and thereby put an end to the long discussions about the cause for the odor of stinking fluorspar.
“It is not surprising that chemists doubted the existence of elemental fluorine in fetid fluorite,” the researchers said. “The fact that elemental fluorine and calcium, which would normally react with each other at once, are found here side by side is indeed hard to believe.”
However, in the case of antozonite there are very special conditions: the elemental fluorine is generated through minute uranium inclusions in the mineral, which constantly emit ionizing radiation and thus split the fluorite into calcium and elemental fluorine.
The fluorine remains in minute inclusions, separated from the calcium by the non-reactive fluorite and thus retains its elemental form. The ionizing radiation also leads to the formation of calcium clusters, which give antozonite its dark color.
Bibliographic information: Jörn Schmedt auf der Günne, Martin Mangstl, Florian Kraus. 2012. Occurrence of Difluorine F2 in Nature—In Situ Proof and Quantification by NMR Spectroscopy.Angewandte Chemie International Edition. Article first published online: 4 July 2012; doi: 10.1002/anie.201203515