Author Topic: Weekly Science Headlines  (Read 582137 times)

Brother Mythos

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Re: Weekly Science Headlines
« Reply #1260 on: June 04, 2023, 08:17:29 pm »
"Archaeologists Discover the Oldest Known Blueprints"

We'll never know exactly how long ago one of our primate ancestors first scratched a symbol into the dirt with a stick, and another member of his/her community recognized the intended meaning.

But, we humans have been doing this sort of thing for a long time, and have become quite good at this form of communications.

As per the article:

"Stone Age hunters in the Middle East and Central Asia used giant stone structures to trap wild animals. Today, archaeologists refer to these massive constructions as desert kites because of how they look from above—like a kite with several long tails.

Now, in a study published last week in the journal PLOS One, researchers say they have found stone engravings that are accurate, to-scale depictions of desert kites that date to between 7,000 and 8,000 years ago. This makes them the oldest known realistic plans for large, human-made structures, the authors write."

To my surprise, the original journal paper this short article is based upon is not hidden behind a paywall. It may be accessed by clicking on PLOS One in the article's text. So, this time around, the institutionalized have no advantage over the rest of us.

Here's the link:    https://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/archaeologists-discover-the-oldest-known-blueprints-180982207/
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Brother Mythos

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Re: Weekly Science Headlines
« Reply #1261 on: June 10, 2023, 12:18:03 pm »
"Anger as pre-historic stones destroyed for French DIY store"

As per the article:

"A local archeologist in northwestern France's Carnac region believes 39 standing stones − known as menhirs − have been lost due to preparations for a DIY store.

Around 40 standing stones thought to have been erected by prehistoric humans 7,000 years ago have been destroyed near a famed archaeological site in northwest France to make way for a DIY store, an angry local historian has revealed.

The stones in Carnac were between 50-100 centimeters (20-40 inches) high and stood close to the main highly protected areas of one of Europe's largest and most mysterious pre-historic tourist attractions."

Now, there are a LOT of standing stones in the Carnac area. And, I have not been there for some time. But, Carnac did not appear to me to be anything close to being a tourist mecca. Even in the late spring the town was mostly empty. Lodging was very limited, and food was extremely limited. Uncle François had been there before, but even with him as our guide, we had to ask the locals where we could find an open restaurant. Only two were recommended, and only one of them was actually open for business. Even then, I remember only two other people dining there, in addition to our small family group.

My impression of the town of Carnac was that it's mainly a place where French people have small summer/vacation homes. I'm not making excuses for their actions, but it's possible this the reason the local politicians don't give a damn about a few, small, 7,000 year old standing stones being destroyed.

Here's the link:   https://www.lemonde.fr/en/france/article/2023/06/08/anger-as-pre-historic-stones-destroyed-for-french-diy-store_6030529_7.html
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Brother Mythos

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Re: Weekly Science Headlines
« Reply #1262 on: June 26, 2023, 10:41:14 am »
"What did Stonehenge sound like?"

As per the article:

"New research into the prehistoric site's acoustical properties is revealing that the stone circle may have been used for exclusive ceremonies."

Further:

"Thanks to Cox's recent studies, however, we now know a fascinating detail about one of the world's most enigmatic sites: it once acted as a giant echo chamber, amplifying sounds made inside the circle to those standing within, but shielding noise from those standing outside the circle. This finding has led some to ponder whether the monument was actually constructed as a ritual site for a small and elite group.
 
This breakthrough is a decade in the making. While researching "the sonic wonders of the world" 10 years ago, Cox began to ponder whether studying the acoustical properties of Stonehenge may help uncover some of its secrets. "I realised there was a technique in acoustics that had never been applied to prehistoric sites before, and that was acoustic scale modelling," he said. "I'm the first to make a scale model of Stonehenge or any prehistoric stone site."

In recent years, a large amount of research has been done on Stonehenge, the origins of the stones used in its construction, and other prehistoric structures in the Stonehenge area. This acoustical research, however, is entirely new to me.

Here's the main link: https://www.bbc.com/travel/article/20230601-what-did-stonehenge-sound-like

And, here's a link to the original scientific paper:   https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0305440320301394
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Re: Weekly Science Headlines
« Reply #1263 on: July 02, 2023, 12:10:38 pm »
"We’ve pumped so much groundwater that we’ve nudged the Earth’s spin"

As per the article:

"By pumping water out of the ground and moving it elsewhere, humans have shifted such a large mass of water that the Earth tilted nearly 80 centimeters (31.5 inches) east between 1993 and 2010 alone, according to a new study published in Geophysical Research Letters, AGU’s journal for short-format, high-impact research with implications spanning the Earth and space sciences.

Based on climate models, scientists previously estimated humans pumped 2,150 gigatons of groundwater, equivalent to more than 6 millimeters (0.24 inches) of sea level rise, from 1993 to 2010. But validating that estimate is difficult.

One approach lies with the Earth’s rotational pole, which is the point around which the planet rotates. It moves during a process called polar motion, which is when the position of the Earth’s rotational pole varies relative to the crust. The distribution of water on the planet affects how mass is distributed. Like adding a tiny bit of weight to a spinning top, the Earth spins a little differently as water is moved around.

“Earth’s rotational pole actually changes a lot,” said Ki-Weon Seo, a geophysicist at Seoul National University who led the study. “Our study shows that among climate-related causes, the redistribution of groundwater actually has the largest impact on the drift of the rotational pole.”"

It appears we're in the process of "terraforming" Earth in yet another way.

Here's the link:    https://news.agu.org/press-release/weve-pumped-so-much-groundwater-that-weve-nudged-the-earths-spin/

And, here's the link to the original research paper:    https://agupubs.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1029/2023GL103509
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Re: Weekly Science Headlines
« Reply #1264 on: July 23, 2023, 11:31:51 am »
"Quasar 'clocks' show Universe running five times slower soon after Big Bang"

The phenomena being written about is called "Cosmological Time Dilation." However, this name is not mentioned in the article. Worse, some of the more popular science news websites are displaying very misleading captions when reporting about this phenomena.

As per the article:

"Einstein’s general theory of relativity means that we should observe the distant – and hence ancient – universe running much slower than the present day. However, peering back that far in time has proven elusive. Scientists have now cracked that mystery by using quasars as 'clocks'.

“Looking back to a time when the universe was just over a billion years old, we see time appearing to flow five times slower,” said lead author of the study, Professor Geraint Lewis from the School of Physics and Sydney Institute for Astronomy at the University of Sydney.

“If you were there, in this infant universe, one second would seem like one second – but from our position, more than 12 billion years into the future, that early time appears to drag.”"

Unfortunately, the original scientific paper is paywalled, so only the institutionalized among us are able to view it.

Here's the link to the summary article:      https://www.sydney.edu.au/news-opinion/news/2023/07/04/quasar-clocks-show-universe-appears-five-times-slower-after-big-bang-einstein-relativity.html

However, here's a link to the earlier arxiv.org paper:      https://arxiv.org/abs/2306.04053
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Re: Weekly Science Headlines
« Reply #1265 on: August 05, 2023, 12:04:45 pm »
"X marks the unknown in algebra – but X’s origins are a math mystery"

This is, admittedly, a 'fluff piece,' but I found it to be an interesting short story about some of the history of mathematics.

As per the article:

"You might be most familiar with x from math class. Many algebra problems use x as a variable, to stand in for an unknown quantity. But why is x the letter chosen for this role? When and where did this convention begin?

There are a few different explanations that math enthusiasts have put forward – some citing translation, others pointing to a more typographic origin. Each theory has some merit, but historians of mathematics, like me, know that it’s difficult to say for sure how x got its role in modern algebra."

So, if you also have an interest in the history behind the continuing development of mathematics, you might enjoy reading this article.

Here's the link to the article:      https://theconversation.com/x-marks-the-unknown-in-algebra-but-xs-origins-are-a-math-mystery-210440
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Re: Weekly Science Headlines
« Reply #1266 on: October 10, 2023, 12:23:44 pm »
"Antimatter falls down, not up: CERN experiment confirms theory"

As per the article:

"Physicists have shown that, like everything else experiencing gravity, antimatter falls downwards when dropped.

This outcome is not surprising — a difference in the gravitational behaviour of matter and antimatter would have huge implications for physics — but observing it directly had been a dream for decades, says Clifford Will, a theoretician who specializes in gravity at the University of Florida in Gainesville. “It really is a cool result.”"

Well, I'm glad that issue has been finally settled.

Here's the link:   https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-023-03043-0
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Re: Weekly Science Headlines
« Reply #1267 on: November 04, 2023, 07:08:51 am »
"Starfish bodies aren't bodies at all, study finds"

As per the article:

"The heads of most animals are easily identifiable, but scientists haven’t been able to say the same for sea stars until now.
 
A starfish has five identical arms with a layer of “tube feet” beneath them that can help the marine creature move along the seafloor, causing naturalists to puzzle over whether sea stars have defined front and back ends — and if they have heads at all.
 
But new genetic research suggests the opposite — that sea stars are largely heads that lack torsos or tails and likely lost those features evolutionarily over time. The researchers said the bizarre fossils of sea star ancestors, which appeared to have a kind of torso, make a lot more sense in evolutionary terms in light of the new findings.
 
The findings were published Wednesday in the journal Nature.
 
“It’s as if the sea star is completely missing a trunk, and is best described as just a head crawling along the seafloor,” said lead study author Laurent Formery, postdoctoral scholar at Stanford University and the University of California, Berkeley, in a statement. “It’s not at all what scientists have assumed about these animals.”
 
The revelations, made possible by new methods of genetic sequencing, could help answer some of the biggest remaining questions about echinoderms, including their shared ancestry with humans and other animals that look nothing like them."

Well, since it should be perfectly obvious that a starfish isn't really a "fish," I suppose it's not too surprising that they don't really have "arms" either. Still, it did take modern genetic sequencing to bring it to a head.

Here's the link:   https://www.cnn.com/2023/11/02/world/starfish-head-body-plan-scn/index.html
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Re: Weekly Science Headlines
« Reply #1268 on: Yesterday at 01:08:23 pm »
"More than a meteorite: New clues about the demise of dinosaurs"

"McGill researchers challenge current understanding of dinosaur extinction by unearthing link between volcanic eruptions and climate change"

As per the article:

"What wiped out the dinosaurs? A meteorite plummeting to Earth is only part of the story, a new study suggests. Climate change triggered by massive volcanic eruptions may have ultimately set the stage for the dinosaur extinction, challenging the traditional narrative that a meteorite alone delivered the final blow to the ancient giants.

That’s according to a study published in Science Advances, co-authored by Don Baker, a professor in McGill University’s Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences.

The research team delved into volcanic eruptions of the Deccan Traps—a vast and rugged plateau in Western India formed by molten lava. Erupting a staggering one million cubic kilometres of rock, it may have played a key role in cooling the global climate around 65 million years ago."

There's a link to the detailed study within the article.

Here's the link to the article:       Dinosaur Extinction - More Than a Meteorite
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