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luni, 11 martie 2013

Geneticists Estimate Publication Date of The Iliad

Scientists who decode the genetic history of humans by tracking how genes mutate have applied the same technique to one of the Western world's most ancient and celebrated texts to uncover the date it was first written.

The text is Homer's "Iliad," and Homer -- if there was such a person -- probably wrote it in 762 B.C., give or take 50 years, the researchers found. The "Iliad" tells the story of the Trojan War -- if there was such a war -- with Greeks battling Trojans.

Did a Comet Really Chill and Kill Clovis Culture?

A comet crashing into the Earth some 13,000 years ago was thought to have spelled doom to a group of early North American people, and possibly the extinction of ice age beasts in the region.

But the space rock was wrongly accused, according to a group of 16 scientists in fields ranging from archaeology to crystallography to physics, who have offered counterevidence to the existence of such a collision.

Harnessing the power of a tornado

Back in 2007, we here at DVICE reported an interest in energy derived from tornados. Well, that idea has become more concrete over the years, and now Peter Thiel (founder of PayPal and early Facebook funder) has, through his Breakout Labs fund, given $300,000 to a Canadian company called AVEtec. That money is to work on designs and prototypes for “atmospheric vortex energy.”

Which means what, exactly? Not like you can just tap a tornado and go for it. Well, the basic idea is there would be a circular chamber into which warm air is released at tangential angels. This would create a rising cortex that is controlled by the colder air above the chamber. Turbines at the base of the chamber would spin and bam, there you have an artificial tornado.

Radiation ring around Earth mysteriously appears, then dissipates

High above Earth’s surface float two rings of energetic charged particles, and for about four weeks in September, they were joined by a third. The temporary ring may have formed in response to a solar shock wave that passed by Earth, researchers report online February 28 in Science.

The discovery could force scientists to revisit decades of ideas about the structure of the Van Allen belts, donut-shaped rings of radiation trapped in orbit by the planet’s magnetic field. Those revisions could improve predictions of space weather and scientists’ understanding of the space environment near Earth, resulting in better protection for manned and unmanned spacecraft that navigate those areas.

Supermassive black hole spins super-fast

In this artist's conception a supermassive black hole is surrounded by a hot accretion disk, while some inspiraling material is funneled into a wispy blue jet. New measurements show that the black hole at the center of galaxy NGC 1365 is spinning at close to the maximum possible rate. This suggests that it grew via "ordered accretion" rather than by swallowing random blobs of gas and stars. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech 

Imagine a sphere more than 2 million miles across - eight times the distance from Earth to the Moon - spinning so fast that its surface is traveling at nearly the speed of light. Such an object exists: the supermassive black hole at the center of the spiral galaxy NGC 1365. 

Grotesque Mummy Head Reveals Advanced Medieval Science

In the second century, an ethnically Greek Roman named Galen became doctor to the gladiators. His glimpses into the human body via these warriors' wounds, combined with much more systematic dissections of animals, became the basis of Islamic and European medicine for centuries.

Galen's texts wouldn't be challenged for anatomical supremacy until the Renaissance, when human dissections — often in public — surged in popularity. But doctors in medieval Europe weren't as idle as it may seem, as a new analysis of the oldest-known preserved human dissection in Europe reveals.

Fresh excavations to start at largest Harappan site

PUNE: After a gap of 13 years, excavation work will start once again at Rakhigarhi, estimated to be the largest Harappan civilization site located in Hisar district of Haryana. This early Harappan settlement, considered bigger than Mohenjo-daro, was listed among the 10 most endangered heritage sites in Asia just last year by the Global Heritage Fund, which is, incidentally, partnering with city-based Deccan College Postgraduate and Research Institute that will start fresh excavations at Rakhigarhi this year.