Tech news stories

Astronomers Look Back 11 billion years To Witness the First, Primitive Spiral Galaxy
3rd November 2017 | | Ancient, Space, Tech

The most ancient spiral galaxy discovered to date is revealing its secrets. Researchers combined gravitational lensing with the Near-infrared Integral Field Spectrograph in Hawai‘i to verify the vintage and spiral nature of this galaxy. The galaxy, known as A1689B11, existed 11 billion years in the past, just 2.6 billion years after the Big Bang, when the Universe was only one fifth of its present age. It is thus the most ancient spiral galaxy discovered so far.

Buyer Beware: The Online Bazaar for Looted Antiquities
1st November 2017 | | Ancient, Humans, Tech

A flood of potentially stolen art objects from the Middle East is showing up on Amazon, eBay, Facebook and WhatsApp, often ensnaring unsuspecting buyers.  Law enforcement officials say the online outlets have become a vexing challenge as they battle a wave of looting that is stripping heritage sites of ancient artifacts. According to US and European government officials, revenue from the sales is often used to finance various types of terrorist and criminal groups that also use the trade to launder other illicit income including drug and weapons trafficking.

Slow Flow of Human Integration May Have Doomed Neanderthals
1st November 2017 | Ancient, Humans, Tech

What killed off the Neanderthals? It’s a big debate, and now a study says that no matter what the answer, they were doomed anyway.  Our close evolutionary cousins enjoyed a long run in Europe and Asia, but they disappeared about 40,000 years ago after modern humans showed up from Africa.  They based their conclusion on a computer simulation that represented small bands of Neanderthals and modern humans in Europe and Asia.

Cold Temperatures Caused Nasal Structure Similarities Between Neanderthals and Modern Humans
1st November 2017 | Ancient, Humans, Tech

An international team of researchers has found that Neanderthals and modern humans both evolved in ways that allowed for better breathing through the nose in a cold climate. In their paper published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the group also notes that there were similarities in the ways that both adapted to the cold.

Brain Scans Can Now Identify People with Suicidal Thoughts
1st November 2017 | | Humans, Tech

Suicide is the second leading cause of death among American adolescents, taking the lives of 7 in every 100,000 people aged 15 to 19 each year. Public health interventions focus mostly on prevention, but it’s hard to tell which people are most at risk. However, a breakthrough in brain imaging research reported in Nature Human Behaviour could soon change that.

Scientists Identify Quantum Material that Mimics Brain’s Ability to Forget
1st November 2017 | | Humans, Tech

Biological brains are the most complex and powerful learning machines that scientists know of, and figuring out how they work is one of the great tasks of modern science. Among the many mysteries of brain science is the question of how memory works; how we remember things. But another often overlooked but key function of how our brains work is the question of how we forget.

NASA Investigates Use of Medical-Like Tools to Study Solar System Samples
1st November 2017 | Space, Tech

A diagnostic tool, similar in theory to those used by the medical profession to non-invasively image internal organs, bones, soft tissue, and blood vessels, could be equally effective at “triaging” extraterrestrial rocks and other samples non-destructively before they are shipped to Earth for further analysis.

Indigenous Cultures and High Tech Drones Reveal Secrets of Yamal Siberia
1st November 2017 | Earth, Humans, Tech

Yamal is home to the Nenets people, indigenous reindeer herders that migrate with their animals across the tundra. This same tundra has, in recent decades, formed the lifeblood of the Russian natural gas economy. The history of the Nenets and their current challenges are complex, but they play an important part in the way this larger social-ecological system works.  This field entry from Nat Geo’s Explorer’s Journal by guest blogger Jeff Kerby also contains a short video.

The Long Strange History of Flying Saucer Patents
31st October 2017 | | Tech, Weird

According to Google Patents, around 192 flying saucer patents are listed as being produced in the US, with three particular surges in their creation—an initial jump in the years between 1953 and 1956, a second wind between 1965 and 1971, and an unusually dramatic surge in such inventions between the years 2001 and 2004, with 37 flying saucer-related patents filed during that particular period.

Totally Adorable Bee-Bot Can Do it All
31st October 2017 | | Tech

RoboBee is an aerial-to-aquatic robot that weighs just six-thousandths of an ounce (175 milligrams). These bots were first reported in 2014 in the journal Bioinspiration and Biomimetics, when, after 12 years of trying, Harvard roboticists finally got the tiny insect-inspired devices to flutter. Since then, they’ve made a robot that can swim and fly.

Technology Can Help Ease Disaster Fatigue
30th October 2017 | | Humans, Tech

Earthquakes! Shootings! Wildfires! Storms! ~ Psychologists are seeing more disaster fatigue – also being called Bad News Blues – these days from some of the most horrific news imaginable.  Aside from turning off phones and blocking problematic websites, this article from the New York Times details steps we can take to steer our emotions and our well-being back toward the positive.

Cataclysms: A Lifetime Spent Chasing Planetary Catastrophe
29th October 2017 | | Ancient, Earth, Tech

Evidence of asteroid impacts and other extreme events on Earth can prove elusive, especially with continual processes on and below Earth’s surface work to obliterate the evidence. Michael Rampino reveals what he’s found in his latest book called Cataclysms: A New Geology for the Twenty-First Century.

Debunked: The Rise and Fall of the Viking ‘Allah’ Textile
29th October 2017 | Ancient, Humans, Tech

Under expert scrutiny by a Medieval Islamic Art Historian and Archaeologist, the truth is out.  The Viking textile from Birka has no Arabic on it at all.  For news media, “truthiness” should not be sufficient cause to run a story, especially in this age of relentless accusations of “fake news.”  When the medieval period, and particularly the Viking era, is used as an ideological weapon, with some scholars even risking their careers to fight the false appropriation of history, and when other groups like ISIL use similarly false narratives about the medieval past to justify the murder of thousands, it matters that we get this right. The media can report on the genuine diversity of the global Middle Ages without resorting to trumped-up scholarship. But scholars need the media to seek them out, consult experts, and get the facts correct. In other words, the Viking ‘Allah’ story tells us more about ourselves than it does about either Vikings or Islam.  Article contains multiple images and complex Kufic explanations from the challenging expert’s Twitter account.

Marijuana Compounds Made in GM Yeast Could Help Epilepsy
29th October 2017 | | Earth, Humans, Tech

A non-psychoactive compound found in marijuana plants called cannabidivarin (CBDV) has shown promise in the treatment of severe cases of epilepsy. However, to treat just 10 percent of people with epilepsy would require around 1500 tons of pure CBDV.

An Artist’s Hunt for Singing Sands from Deserts Around the Globe
29th October 2017 | Earth, Tech

It’s a sonic phenomenon that occurs in only certain pockets of desert around the world. The sound of sand grains shuffling down hot slopes that can recall the angry buzz of bees or the deep, groaning thrums of a didgeridoo group. Scientists refer to these shifting dunes as “singing” or “booming” sands, which for centuries mystified explorers from Charles Darwin to Marco Polo. We know now that these strange sounds are caused by the vibrations of grains avalanching, at relatively slow speeds, down dunes, and that the grain size and speed influence the notes of these curious hums of nature.

Mapping the Mysterious Ancient Sheela-na-gigs Across Ireland
29th October 2017 | Ancient, Humans, Tech

No one can say for certain when, how, where, or why the Sheela-na-gigs were made, or even what they are meant to represent.  With the new map, one can expect that the often peaceful and secluded settings where these figures lay will start seeing more foot traffic, as curious travelers sojourn to meet the Sheela-na-gigs themselves and come up with their own meanings.

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